2019 Site Selection: Validating Postal Votes

[Facing]: Johan Anglemark, Mark Linneman, Eemeli Aro, Emma England. [Opposite] Paul Taylor, Ben Yalow, Kate Secor.

By James Bacon: (Chair of the Dublin in 2019 bid). I’m observing the postal vote process. The administrator and the team are assisted by members of the Dublin in 2019 team and committee, people from six countries are taking part. Walter Jon Williams has joined us for a few moments, as I look on. Neutral separators are handling and ensuring it’s all correctly managed.  Worldcon 75 staff check against, their data and the level attention to detail and slow and steady methodical progress is taken seriously. The integrity of the procedure is impressive and I’m stunned at the knowledge of those here who deal with inevitable errors that may have occurred.

Here with me from the Dublin Team are Emma England, Ben Yalow and Paul Taylor. The bids are welcome and indeed expected to help and participate in the whole process, everything is run by volunteers, although this is something I have not done before and it feels like we are momentarily connected to people from far-flung places who want to participate in the decision-making process of who will get to host the Worldcon in 2019.

From Worldcon 75 there is Kate Secor, Michael Lee, Eemeli Aro, Mark Linneman and Johan Anglemark.

The large stack of envelopes is impressive and I’m allowed to photograph some of the stamps which I like. I love post and in many ways this is fabulous post.

Post has arrived at the US address from New Zealand, Germany, Canada and of course United States. The votes arriving at the Helsinki are even more varied with votes from Ireland, United Kingdom, Sweden, Austria, New Zealand, and Germany.

The process takes over two hours but the atmosphere is lovely and it’s an amazing thing to see the mechanics of this process which has existed in this form since 1983.

Science Fiction has permeated so much of our culture that some of the stamps used have particular relevance and make me smile.

More votes will be hand-carried and passed to the voting table from tomorrow and then of course everyone present here is entitled to vote.

 

Pixel Scroll 1/24/2016 I Saw The Best Scrolls Of My Generation Destroyed By Pixels, Filing Hysterical Numbered

(1) THE FINNISH. Finland hosts the World Science Fiction Convention in 2017 — but if you can’t make it to Helsinki, hit the library: more and more Finnish speculative fiction authors are getting English translations, as NPR reports in “Finnish Authors Heat Up The Speculative Fiction World”.

In the middle of Johanna Sinisalo’s novel The Core of the Sun, the reader is interrupted by an ad. It’s for Fresh Scent, a personal fragrance available from the State Cosmetics Corporation of Finland. It’s marketed to woman, although “marketed” is an understatement. In Sinisalo’s nightmarish, alternate-reality vision of her homeland, a tyrannical patriarchy splits women into two classes — docile “eloi” and undesirable “morlocks,” terms cheekily drawn from H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine — as part of an oppressive national health scheme that crosses insidiously over into eugenics.

The ad for Fresh Scent is just one of the novel’s many fragmentary asides. In additional to its more conventional narrative, which centers on Vanna, a woman with an addiction to chili peppers (it makes sense a skewed sort of sense, really), The Core of the Sun is made up of epistolary passages, dictionary entries, article excerpts, transcripts of hearings, scripts for instructional films, homework assignments, folk songs, and even fairytales that exist only in Sinisalo’s twisted version of the world. Chillingly, one passage concerning the social benefits of human sterilization is taken from a real-world source, a Finnish magazine article from 1935.

There’s a streak of scathing satire to the book’s fragmentary science fiction, and in that sense it sits somewhere between Margaret Atwood and Kurt Vonnegut — but Sinisalo crafts a funny, unsettling, emotionally charged apparition of the present that’s all her own.

(2) SPEAKING OF COLD PLACES. The New York Times captioned this tweet “A Wookie Chills in Washington (Not Hoth)”

(3) AN ALARMING INSIGHT.

(4) DEATH OF A GOLDEN AGE. Saladin Ahmed’s Buzzfeed article argues “Censors Killed The Weird, Experimental, Progressive Golden Age Of Comics”.

In the 1940s, comic books were often feminist, diverse, and bold. Then the reactionary Comics Code Authority changed the trajectory of comic book culture for good.

The comics themselves exhibited wild stylistic variety. A single issue of Keen Detective Funnies could contain one story with gorgeous Art Nouveau-ish illustration, and another with glorified stick figures. The comic books of the Golden Age were also significantly more diverse in terms of genre than today’s comics. On newsstands across America — in an era when the newsstand was an urban hub and an economic juggernaut — comic books told tales of True Crime, Weird Fantasy and Cowboy Love, Negro Romance, and Mystery Men. And Americans bought them.

Even as Amazing-Man and Blue Beetle were rescuing helpless, infantilized women, badass superheroines like the Lady in Red, the Spider Queen, and Lady Satan were stabbing Nazis and punching out meddlesome, sexist cops.

(5) NOW THAT SHE HAS OUR ATTENTION. Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s post “Business Musings: Poor Poor Pitiful Me Is Not A Business Model” actually is not a rant telling writers to buck up, it’s a discussion of the true levers of culture change. But it begins with a rant….

Granted, in the recent past, the major publishing companies were the only game in town. But they are no longer the only game in town. A major bestselling writer can—and should—walk from any deal that does not meet her contractual and business needs.

Hell, every writer should do that.

But of course most writers won’t. Instead, an entire group of them beg for scraps from the Big All-Powerful Evil Publishers, proving to the publishers that writers are idiots and publishers hold all the cards.

I already bludgeoned the Authors Guild letter last week, so why am I going back to the same trough? Because this poor-poor-pitiful-me attitude has become the norm in the publishing industry right now, and I’m really tired of it.

The big battles of 2014 and 2015, from all of the fighting over the meaning of Amazon in the past few years to the in-genre squabbling over the Hugo awards that science fiction indulged in last year to the hue and cry indie writers have treated us to over the various changes in Kindle Unlimited since its inauguration have all had the same basic complaint.

Someone—be it a publisher (that Amazon is Evil argument) or a writer (the rest of it)—believes they’re entitled to something, and when they don’t get that something, they complain loudly, on social media or in traditional media or via group letter or through (in sf’s case) hateful spiteful posts about the opposing parties.

Only a handful of people take responsibility for the situation they’re in—if, indeed, they are responsible. Only a few actually analyze why the situation exists.

(6) HIGH PRAISE. The first line in David Barnett’s review of Charlie Jane Anders’ All the Birds is —

Imagine that Diana Wynne Jones, Douglas Coupland and Neil Gaiman walk into a bar and through some weird fusion of magic and science have a baby. That offspring is Charlie Jane Anders’ lyrical debut novel All The Birds In The Sky.

Do you think that’s a lot to live up to?

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 24, 1888 — Typewriter “copy” ribbon patented by Jacob L. Wortman. Harlan Ellison still uses one.
  • January 25, 1984 – Apple’s Macintosh computer went on sale. Price tag: $2,495.

(8) TRI ROBOT. Mickey Zucker Reichert, the author of To Preserve, is a working physician and the author of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot Trilogy (To Protect, To Obey, To Preserve). The third book will be published in hardcover by Roc in February.

Nate, has been Manhattan Hasbro Hospital’s resident robot for more than twenty years. Nate’s very existence terrified most people, leaving the robot utilized for menial tasks and generally ignored. Until one of the hospital’s physicians is found murdered with Nate standing over the corpse.

As programmer of Nate’s brain, Lawrence Robertson is responsible for his creation and arrested for the crime. Susan Calvin knows the Three Laws of Robotics make it impossible for Nate to harm a human. But maybe someone manipulated the laws to commit murder.

(9) DOUGH-REY. Kip W. pays tribute to characters from that billion-dollar movie The Force Awakens.

Poe, a flier; a fast male flier
Rey, who scavenges a bit,
Maz, a host who knows the most,
Finn, a white shirt drone who quit,
Snoke, a hologram quite tall,
Ren, a very angry joe,
Beeb, a droid head on a ball,
Which will bring us back to Poe. Poe, Rey, Maz, Finn, Snoke, Ren, Beeb, Poe!

(10) FLEXIBILITY. Nick Osment analyzes the benefits of reading science fiction in “What We Can Learn From a Time Lord: Doctor Who and a New Enlightened Perspective” at Black Gate.

If tomorrow you stepped inside a time machine and found yourself standing in the yard of this man who is separated from being your neighbor only by the passage of a century, then suddenly his opinions would become somewhat more relevant because now you would actually have to interact with him. But they would not become any more credible to you just because you were now hearing them face-to-face. You would still hear them from the vantage of having come from the future.

Now imagine your life today not as if you were living in your own time but as if you were visiting from a hundred years in the future. The weight given by proximity, i.e., these people are my neighbors, is leveled off, much the way that visiting that long-dead neighbor would be. Detach yourself from all the noise of the television and the Internet and your workplace, your college, your local pub. See it from a more objective position — of not being of this time, with the knowledge that this time, too, will pass, and all these people who are speaking right now; they all, too, will be dead and most of them forgotten.

(11) BIGGER ON THE OUTSIDE. 11.22.63, the eight-part event series based on Stephen King’s 2011 novel, premieres Presidents Day, February 15 on Hulu.

11.22.63 is a thriller in which high school English teacher Jake Epping (James Franco) travels back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy — but his mission is threatened by Lee Harvey Oswald, falling in love and the past itself, which doesn’t want to be changed

 

(12) LONG TAIL OF SALES. Fynbospress summarizes the impact of streaming on the music business, and explains the parallels in book publishing to Mad Genius Club readers in “The Importance of Being Backlist”.

In summary, if publishing continues to mirror music, then streaming will continue to increase, but frontlist sales may continue to fall, and it become harder and harder to get discovered in the initial release period. However, backlist volume is growing, and people are discovering their way through the things that have been out there a while. So, while you can and should do some promotion of your latest release – if it fails to take off, don’t despair. Instead, write the next book, the greatest book you’ve written yet. Sometimes you make your money on the initial release surge, and sometimes, it’ll come in having a lot of things out there all bringing in an unsteady trickle.

(13) TWO COMIC CONS MAY SETTLE. A settlement may be at hand in the San Diego Comic-Con’s suit against the Salt Lake Comic Con for for trademark-infringement. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that on Thursday, attorneys for both conventions asked the judge to extend a procedural deadline so that they could work “diligently” on a settlement. The conventions have scheduled a meeting with Adler on Wednesday in San Diego.

Drafts of the agreement have been exchanged,” according to the Thursday court filing requesting the extension, “and the parties hope to soon reach agreement as to all terms.”

San Diego Comic-Con is a trademarked name, and lawyers have argued that the similarity of “Comic Con” in the name of the Salt Lake City event has confused people into thinking the event is somehow associated with San Diego’s convention.

As Salt Lake’s organizers have seen it, the legal battle isn’t just between them and the flagship convention; it’s a threat to the dozens of other comic book conventions around the world that also use “comic con” in their names. Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder and chief marketing officer Bryan Brandenburg previously asserted that if San Diego wins the case, the precedent will allow it to do this to other organizations.

(14) RING OF POWER. Jim C. Hines snapped this photo at Confusion:

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

Cornell and CONvergence

Michael Lee of CONvergence, where Paul Cornell will appear in July, sends his answers to my survey questions about the gender balance initiative.

> Do you think Cornell’s initiative will change or has already changed your approach?

> Do you have any comments on Paul Cornell’s and Si Spurrier’s actions?

Michael Lee: It’s possible that since our convention’s theme is Women Characters and Creators this year, and we’ve had Paul as a guest, I might have something to add.

I’m the head of activities at CONvergence, and that means the programming department reports up to me, and I also sit on the board of directors for our non-profit. I was also a programming head for five years before that. This is primarily my own thoughts here, and isn’t an official CONvergence statement.

CONvergence had Paul Cornell as a guest of honor two years ago, and he’s returning on his own this year. He’s a popular and fantastic panelist and participant, and I respect what he’s trying to do here. Our convention theme this year is “Women Characters and Creators in Science Fiction in Fantasy” — and the organization chose to make all of our guests this year women, in part because we haven’t historically been as representative as we could have been with guests of honor, and we’re trying to do better. Our membership is very evenly matched with men and women, as well as having a mix of men and women on our staff all the way up to our board of directors.

One thing I did was I started to track the overall distribution a little closer than before in response to Paul’s request in our programming database for CONvergence — not because I expected that each panels will balance 50/50, and we don’t have genders identified for all of our panel participants. We’re still in the process, so I don’t know where we’re going to end up, and I’m sure we’ll have things that work well and things that don’t.

I believe that the threat of civil disobedience to make spontaneous programming replacements is something that most conventions can avoid with some co-operation with participants. I know that he’s made his request about being on gender-balanced programming items to CONvergence’s programming team, and that’s not really much different of a request than people who don’t want panels before noon, or don’t want to be on a panel with someone they don’t get along with, or that they want to be on a panel with their friends, or any number of other requests that people make to program teams. I know that we try to plan our programming schedule out far enough that we’re trying to work with Paul on specific items, just as we try to balance a lot of peoples’ desires to see what they want in programming.

I think Paul’s efforts have helped emphasize the issue of women on convention panels, and I think that is a good discussion to have. I think we’ve seen that across the wide variety of responses you’ve already had on this subject, by a lot of people that I have a lot of respect for.

I think it’s part of a larger movement that we’ve been seeing, not just in SF fandom, but also very strongly in comics fandom and Doctor Who fandom (which Paul is actively a part in as well), and other parts of the culture (like technology) where women making their presence known and acknowledging the institutional barriers to women (as well as other groups) in the culture. And really, I think it’s important for those of us that are conrunners toot just making programming participants more varied, but also making a stronger more diverse mix as guests of honor. And it’s also to seek out and be happy when you see a more varied mix of creators in books, comics, and television shows. We’re after all in a world where perhaps the most successful fantasy book series and the most successful science fiction book series are written by women. That needs to be reflected in our conventions as well.

Thanks,

Michael Lee