Pixel Scroll 3/15/17 I’m Scrolling On My Knees Looking For The Answer

(1) NO FLY ZONE. John Brunner in The Shockwave Rider said that ‘The future arrives too soon and in the wrong order.’ And here’s proof of that — “French hoverboard inventor banned from flying in France”.

The man who invented the Flyboard Air has been barred from flying his jet-powered hoverboard in France, sparking a debate over the country’s policies on innovation. In a Facebook post on March 10th, Franky Zapata, founder of the company that bears his name, said there is a “strong probability that the Flyboard Air will never fly again in France,” after officials from the French air gendarmerie told him he would be placed under criminal investigation if he continued to pilot the craft. Zapata added that he will now be “obliged to leave France” in order to continue his work.

“That is how innovators are treated in our country,” Zapata wrote in a French-language post. “I leave you [to] imagine my disgust after having produced more than 10,000 ‘made in France’ Flyboards.”

(2) DO YOU DIG IT? A road that is too close to Stonehenge will probably be buried, but there are many issues with the proposed tunnel.

It’s one of the world’s most famous ancient monuments: an instantly recognisable icon from a forgotten world, a place for quiet wonder and contemplation.

And yet for many people, the first and perhaps only glimpse they get of Stonehenge is from a traffic jam on the A303, one of the main routes between London and southwest England.

This could be about to change. A bold £1.4bn plan proposes ripping up much of the existing road and replacing it with a new route that includes a 2.9km (1.8 miles), deep-bored tunnel just a few hundred metres south of Stonehenge….

A far bigger priority is ensuring that the context of the wider landscape is preserved, such as that the sightlines between the area’s various monuments and barrows – thought to have been deliberately designed by the Neolithic engineers of ancient Britain – are left intact.

For instance, a key area of concern with the current proposal, and something that McMahon and others hope to be able to persuade Highways England to address, is the positioning of the western entrance. “It’s too close to one of the major funerary monuments in the landscape called the Normanton down barrow cemetery,” says McMahon, “and the road coming out also sits for part of its route on the same astronomical alignment as the midwinter setting Sun.”

(3) GRAMMAR’S SLAMMERS. Walter Jon Williams declares “Victory for the Oxford Comma”:

I stand proudly with the Oxford comma, as it stands for reason, clarity, and mitigates against incertitude.  (Try reading that sentence without the Oxford comma and see where it gets you.)

I am pleased to know that the US Court of Appeals agrees with me, insofar as they ruled that a missing Oxford comma was the deciding factor in the case of Kevin O’Connor v. the Oakhurst Dairy….

(4) 10-SIDED DICE YES, BLACK HELICOPTERS NO. An Ars Technica writer at SXSW found “The CIA uses board games to train officers – and I got to play them”.

Clopper recalls one day in 2008 when his “boss’s boss” called him into a meeting and asked him to develop new internal training exercises. Normally, these exercises test whether recent lessons and seminars have been absorbed by officers, and they usually involve “teams, flip charts, and briefings,” Clopper says. “Incredibly boring.” But Clopper had now been at the CIA long enough to reshape its exercises, his boss said, and he got excited: “I’m a gamer. I enjoy games, video games, tabletop games. Could we bring games into learning?”

He used SXSW to present three board games made for his training exercises over the span of a four-year period, one of which is still in development. The first is the one we got the most hands-on time with during SXSW: Collection. If that dry-as-a-desert name isn’t a good indicator, rest assured—this is not a game meant for retail or for the highest ratings at BoardGameGeek.

Collection compares favorably to the popular cooperative game Pandemic. In Clopper’s game, a group of players must work together to resolve three major crises across the globe. The object is for players, who each represent different types of CIA officers, to collect enough relevant intel to resolve all three crises. If any one of the three impending disasters boils over (as represented by three increasing “fire” meters), the team loses. Every game must have at least three players to fill the roles of “political analyst,” “military analyst,” and “economic analyst.” Those three are only able to collect intel in their specific fields, while additional players (up to seven on a team) have their own specialties.

The difficulty comes from the low number of actions each player can do per turn, along with how quickly the fire meter ratchets up.

(5) WIZARDRY. Bradbury biographer Sam Weller tells why you should “Pay Close Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain: 8 Things I Learned About Writing from Ray Bradbury”.

In 12 years, as one might imagine, I observed many of Bradbury’s creative secrets. I peered behind the Oz-ian curtain, as it were, and paid close attention. Bradbury was a master storyteller and visionary artist who created across an unprecedented nine decades. Fahrenheit 451. The Martian Chronicles. Dandelion Wine. Something Wicked This Way Comes. Massive collections of poetry. Massive collections of essays. Hundreds of short stories across every conceivable genre. He owned and operated his own theatre company. He wrote episodes of The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. On a whim, he scripted an animated short film that was later nominated for an Oscar. He earned an Emmy for an animated television adaptation of his own YA novel, The Halloween Tree. Bradbury developed architectural concepts for shopping malls, the 1964 World’s Fair and EPCOT. There is a crater on the moon named, by NASA, for Ray Bradbury’s book 1957 novel-in-stories, Dandelion Wine.

The man was a force.

Not surprising then, that much of my own creative ethos is culled from what I learned working alongside Ray Bradbury….

(6) HARRIS OBIT. Jack Harris, producer of the original horror film The Blob (1958) died March 14 at the age of 98. He was also a producer or executive producer of Paradisio (1962), Beware! The Blob (1972), Schlock (1973) and other genre films.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • The Ides of March – Julius Caesar finds out what happens when you keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

(9) TODAY IN BEER HISTORY

  • March 15, 1937 – H.P. Lovecraft joins the choir invisible.

(10) FRANCHISE CROSSOVER. CBS gets its clicks on Route 66 with “19 Star Trek References on The Big Bang Theory”. First is —

“Game over, Moon Pie.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Wil Wheaton is a regular guest star on The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon’s arch nemesis makes his first appearance in “The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary” (Episode 5, Season 3), where he tricks Sheldon into throwing a Mystic Warlords of Ka’a card tournament.

(11) APOCALYPSE IN REVERSE GEAR. The Guardian interrupted the memorial service for paper books with this flash – “Ebook sales continue to fall as younger generations driver appetite for print”.

Readers committed to physical books can give a sigh of relief, as new figures reveal that ebook sales are falling while sales of paper books are growing – and the shift is being driven by younger generations.

More than 360m books were sold in 2016 – a 2% jump in a year that saw UK consumers spend an extra 6%, or £100m, on books in print and ebook formats, according to findings by the industry research group Nielsen in its annual books and consumer survey. The data also revealed good news for bricks-and-mortar bookshops, with a 4% rise in purchases across the UK.

While sales through shops increased 7% in 2016, ebook sales declined by 4%. It is the second year in a row that ebook sales have fallen, and only the second time that annual ebook sales have done so since industry bodies began monitoring sales a decade ago.

(12) PERIODICAL PERFORMANCE. The March ratings are up at Rocket Stack Rank. Sarah Pinsker, Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali, and Michael Flynn have the top-ranked stories.

(13) EQUALS? Natalie Luhrs does her annual slice-and-dice of the Locus Recommended Reading List to show how many listed works are by people of various genders and races.

I wrote yesterday that one problem with pure counting exercises is that they don’t tap into the experience or emotion of the subjects. Today in Luhrs’ report I ran into a further  question – if the goal is diversity, and an analyst is considering numbers in isolation, what number equals winning? This came to mind when I read this passage in her section on race. Luhrs found that works by people of color on the list increased from 15.61% to 26.47% in one year. She commented —

Race Breakout by Year, Percentages

Nearly three quarters of the works are still by white people. Representation of POC has jumped by over 10% and that is a really good thing, but I believe there is still room for improvement.

Does Luhrs have a target number in mind that Locus has yet to reach, or is she failing to put in perspective what seems to be a radical effort to get diverse works listed?

(14) GROWTH IN AFRICAN SFF. This isn’t the first time someone has asked “Why Is science fiction so white?” The news is that the question was posed today by a journalist in Zimbabwe, Mako Muzenda.

The presence of these spaces – websites, magazines and publications – goes a long way in introducing readers to different writers, and getting aspiring authors the visibility they need. Ivor Hartmann has been involved in speculative fiction since 2007, with the release of his first book Earth Rise. After going from publisher to publisher, looking for someone to put his book on the market, Hartmann (a Zimbabwean) was finally able to get his story out with Something Wicked, which at the time was the only science-fiction magazine for the whole of Africa.

“While I did publish it with them (Something Wicked), I was distressed at the lack of publishing venues for speculative fiction in Africa. So rather than moan about it I started up an online weekly magazine,” explains Hartmann. His decision led to the creation of StoryTime, which ran for five years until Hartmann switched to solely publishing anthologies. With enough experience in the industry behind him, Hartmann decided to take the plunge and address the inadequacies in African science fiction head-on with AfroSF, the first Pan-African science fiction anthology.

“Of course, now there are loads of African online magazines but back then it was all new territory for writers and readers. No longer were we held back by the excruciating logistics and heavy capital needed to run a print magazine.”

What had started off as a fringe movement is growing into a vibrant community of people dedicated to letting Africa’s voice be heard in speculative fiction….

(15) IN THE JURY ROOM. The Shadow Clarke Jury has produced three more thoughtful reviews.

The Underground Railroad is, perhaps, the best novel of 2016.

I qualify that statement only because I have not read every novel published in 2016. Nobody has. But I have seen nothing to suggest that I am wrong in this assessment. And I am not alone in this view; the novel has, after all, won America’s National Book Award.

I consider it the best, in part, because it is a novel that speaks to the moment the way that few other books do. It captures the screams of Ferguson, the anger of Black Lives Matter, the despair in the face of the renewed racism that celebrated the last American election. It is a book that places the experience of being black in America today on a trajectory that puts it closer to slavery than we ever like to think. And it does all of this with intelligence, with beauty, with subtlety, with wit and with invention. It uses the tools of the novel the way those tools are meant to be used, but so seldom are.

It is a book that held me with its first sentence, and continued to hold me, with horror and delight, through to its last sentence.

It is a good novel, perhaps the best novel; but does that mean it is the best science fiction novel?

What is Kavenna’s book actually about, though? This question is harder to answer than it first appears, no doubt intentionally so. As suggested above, the outline appears simple: Eliade Jencks, having failed to enter Oxford as a student, takes a job waiting tables in the cafe of the Tradescantian Ark Musuem and continues to conduct her researches in the evenings and weekends. While working at the cafe she makes the acquaintance of a Professor Solete, an eminent don whose magnum opus is the eponymous Field Guide to Reality, a theory of everything that will finally bring together his lifelong researches into the nature of life, death and the origins of the universe. Unfortunately, Professor Solete dies before the book can be published, and when his acolytes enter his rooms in search of the manuscript they find only a locked box, labelled ‘For Eliade’.

I start with Achimwene because he reminds us that one of the central themes of Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station is the telling of stories, and science-fiction stories in particular. Indeed, the narrative itself is an embodiment of a pivotal moment in sf storytelling: the move from short story to novel. The earliest sf novels weren’t novels as such; they were formed from several closely connected short stories, sometimes reworked to strengthen those connections, and were known as ‘fix-ups’. Central Station is a fix-up par excellence, bringing together Tidhar’s various Central Station stories, some of them substantially reworked, with a couple of new stories added to the mix, and a Prologue that introduces the novel as an act of storytelling, while itself participating in the act of storytelling not once but twice.

(16) A (SUIT)CASE OF CONSCIENCE. Is this “the perfect Tyrion Lannister cosplay” as Reddit  says, or in incredibly bad taste? YOU decide!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Merrick Lex, Andrew Porter, JJ, Mark-kitteh, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 2/5/16 The Rough Guide To Neveryon-Neveryon Land

(1) KILL YOUR DARLINGS. Jason Cordova of Mad Genius Club thinks after a month of writing, you need “NaDecEdMo!”

Why is that, though? Why do we get to have a NaNoWriMo and not a NaDecEdMo? Because NOBODY wants to be that butthead who is celebrating an author who is gutting their baby.

That’s what editing is, in a nutshell. It’s taking out that precious baby of yours and changing it, ruthlessly making it better. It’s a rough, rough time for an author when this is going on. The author is feeling insecure about their novel as is, and now they have to look at it with a critical eye. That cute scene that you really liked but now doesn’t really fit into the story as much? Gutted like a day old fish on Market Street.

(2) SALE. Francis Hamit of Brass Cannon Books is running an experiment – and you can save.

A consultant has told us selling e-books for 99 cents each will inspire those customers who like them to then buy the print edition to have forever. . What the heck! We’ll try it. All fiction e-books and mini-memoir are now going for 99 cents each in e-book form for a limited time only. Starting February 5th, 2016.

(3) PLYING THE KEYBOARD. Nancy Kress asked her Facebook followers

Since I am always behind the curve on everything, I have just become aware that nowadays people put one space after a period in manuscripts instead of two spaces. Is this widespread? Do I need to learn to do this? I’ve been doing it the other way for 40 years; old habits die hard.

(4) BY THE NUMBERS. Natalie Luhrs of Pretty Terrible looks for statistical evidence of bias in “A Brief Analysis of the Locus Recommended Reading List, 2011-2015”.

I want to preface this by saying that I believe that the Locus staff works very hard on this list and intends for it to be as comprehensive as they can make it. I know how hard it can be to stay on top of the flood of fiction and other affiliated works that are produced each year.

But I also believe that Locus has a responsibility to think about their biases so that lists of these type don’t inadvertently perpetuate structural inequalities–as our field’s magazine of record, this Reading List is published around the same time that Hugo nominations open and while qualified members of SFWA are filling out their Nebula nomination ballots.

One of her many graphs shows —

…The majority of the authors or editors of the works included on the Locus list are male–over 50% each year. Female authors or editors come in second in the 35-40% range. Mixed gender collaborations are next, followed by non-binary authors and editors….

(5) A NEWS STORY ABOUT NO NEWS. Bleeding Cool gives a status on some aging litigation in “Disney Pursuing Stan Lee Media For Half a Million, Finds Bank Accounts Emptied”.

With Hillary Clinton running for President, her association with convicted drug dealer and fraudster Peter F Paul and Stan Lee Media may well hit the headlines again.

Paul run the (then) largest political fundraiser ever for her Senatorial campaign and tried to get Bill Clinton onto the board of his company Stan Lee Media. The company was set up to exploit Stan Lee‘s name after he left Marvel Comics, to benefit from his new creations for comics, TV and films.

It all went sour rather. And Stan Lee Media – a company no longer associated with Stan Lee – has spent the last ten years trying to claim rights to all Stan Lee’s creations from Marvel – and now Disney. Despite six courts saying they have no claim.

Stan Lee Media have claimed that Lee transferred all his creative rights to the company in exchange for a large sum of money, and that includes Spider-Man, The Avengers, the Hulk. X-Men, Thor and the like. Unfortunately the courts really don’t see it that way. And Disney was awarded almost half a million in costs.

ScreenRant continues, adding its two bits:

The ongoing issue has come up again largely because of old political connections involving Stan Lee Media co-founder Peter F. Paul, a businessman and former convicted drug-dealer notorious for a series of allegedly illegal international political dealings. Paul fled the country during the initial SLMI investigation for Sao Paulo, which became a mini-scandal in United States politics when it was uncovered that Paul had been a major financial backer of Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate Campaign and had even lobbied for former president Bill Clinton to join Stan Lee Media’s board of directors. Paul at one point produced videos supposedly showing Stan Lee himself participating in campaign-finance calls with the Clintons as proof of his (Lee’s) complicity in the company’s bad dealings (Lee counter-sued over the matter). However, it didn’t stop Paul from being convicted to a ten year prison term in 2009 for fraud.

(6) MESKYS’ GUIDE DOG PASSES AWAY. It’s as if the beginning of the New Year also signaled the opening of the floodgates of misery, with one sad loss after another.

Ed Meskys, a blind sf fan, reports, “This morning I lost Gyro (public name ‘Killer Dog’) my guide dog with 9 years of service, just weeks past his age of 11…. He had been welcome at many conventions, SF and [National Federation of the Blind]. He will be my last dog guide as I am weeks short of 80, cannot bend to pick up after a dog, and have trouble with stairs….”

(7) NIRASAWA OBIT. Kaiju designer Yasushi Nirasawa , (1963–2016) died February 2. The Japanese illustrator, character designer, and model maker was known for his work Kamen Rider Blade, Kamen Rider Kabuto, and Kamen Rider Den-O and the creatures in the GARO series.

(8) MITCHELL OBIT. Edgar Mitchell, who 45 years ago became the sixth man to walk on the moon, died February 4, on the eve of his lunar landing anniversary. He was 85.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 5, 1953 – Walt Disney’s Peter Pan premiered.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 5, 1914 – William S. Burroughs.

(11) SCIENCE SHOWS CANADIANS ARE NICER. Oliver Keyes says “When life gives you lemons, make science”.

Ever since my writeup on leaving R my blog has been getting a lot more traffic than usual and many more comments. Usually this would be fine except the topic means that a lot of those comments are blathering about whiny SJW babies or actual death threats. 28 at the last count.

But, sure, it’s the social justice people who are oversensitive and fly off the handle…

This isn’t a formal study so my definition of arsehole can be basically whatever I want it to be. I settled for any comment which exhibited one of the following traits:

  1. Accused me of lying about everything that had happened to get some benefit that apparently comes alongside threats, harassment and weird emails. Nobody has explained to me what this benefit is but I eagerly await my cheque in the mail from the nefarious SJW cabal apparently causing me to make shit up;
  2. Contained threats, goading-towards-suicides, or generally obscene and targeted harassment;
  3. Used terms like “SJW” or “pissbaby” or “whinging” or really anything else that indicated the author had, at best, a tenuous grasp on how the world works;
  4. Was premised on the idea that I was “oversensitive” or “overreacting” which is pretty rich coming from people whose idea of acceptability includes insulting people they’ve never met on somebody else’s website.

So I took this definition and hand-coded the comments and grabbed the data. We ended up with 107 users, of whom a mere 40 weren’t arseholes, producing 183 comments in total. Then I worked out their referring site and geolocated their IP address, et voila.

(12) RABID PUPPIES. Vox Day posted his picks in the Best Fanzine category.

This appears to be one of those increasingly misnamed and outdated categories, but based on the previous nominees, it has apparently become the functional equivalent of “best SF-related site”. Using that as a guideline while keeping the eligibility rules in mind, here are the preliminary recommendations for Best Fanzine:

Black Gate succumbed to the genetic fallacy in turning down last year’s nomination; regardless of whether John O’Neill will do the same or not again this year, it remained the best SF-related site in 2015.

People I respect have suggested I publicly demand that Vox Day remove File770 from the Rabid Puppies slate. Then having done so, if Day fails to comply and I ultimately receive a Hugo nomination, they feel I can accept it with a clear conscience.

If I understand Steve Davidson correctly, he wants everyone to make a public statement repudiating slates. I don’t think people are unclear on how I feel about slates, thus it really becomes a question whether — by modeling that behavior — I want to encourage Steve to go around hammering people who don’t post the equivalent of an oath. I don’t.

Consider this point. I have been planning to nominate Black Gate because I’ve been reading it since last year’s Hugo contretemps brought it to my attention, and think they do a terrific job. What if they don’t make a public declaration? Should I leave them off my ballot? And thereby fail to do what I tell every other Hugo voter to do, nominate the stuff they think is the best?

I’m not voting for Black Gate because of a slate, and I don’t intend to be prevented from voting for it by a factor that has nothing to do with what I think about the quality of its work. That’s also why I’m choosing not to follow the advice I received about handling File 770’s apperance on the slate, though the advice is well intended.

(13) NUCLEAR TOY. In 1951, A.C. Gilbert, inventor of the Erector Set, released the U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory.  Using real radioactive materials, one could witness mist trails created by particles of ionizing radiation.

The set included four Uranium bearing ore samples, and originally sold for $49.50.  That would be $400 in today’s dollars.

Gilbert atomic science set COMP

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, and James H. Burns for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 12/14 The Trixels Scroll

(1) SURREAL CEREAL. “When I just saw this, I did suddenly wonder, ‘Is nothing sacred?’” says James H. Burns.

Trix Pic-12142015-001 COMP

(2) RED LIGHT AT MORNING. Bob Byrne’s “The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: ‘Rudolph’s Performance Review’”  at Black Gate continues his tradition of holiday humor.

You’d think the reindeer with the shiny red nose would have knocked his annual review out of the park after that foggy Christmas Eve, eh? Well, that Santa is one tough reviewer. Read on, and I wish you a safe, happy and blessed Merry Christmas….

(3) DON’T LINK. Jenneral Geek’s theory about Doctor Who’s most popular episode suggests “’Blink’ Might be Even More Timey-Wimey Than You Think”.

Now, you may also remember a flirtatious babe from the same episode named Billy Shipton. Billy is a detective investigating the disappearance of people in relation to Wester Drumlins. This is what brings us to the lovely meet-cute in which Billy Shipton and Sally Sparrow flirt in front of a dusty blue police box. Billy gets Sally’s number and when he asks for her full name she retorts, “Sally Shipton” without thinking, followed by her instant mortification and departure. Cut scene and fast forward – Billy gets Weeping Angel’d back to 1969 where he receives instructions from the Doctor not to contact Sally Sparrow until after their original encounter. Billy lives his life back to 2007 and calls Sally. They re-meet minutes later for Sally and 38 years later for Billy in his hospital room. An elderly Billy tells Sally Sparrow information that is relevant to the plot, BUT he also tells her that he married a woman coincidentally named Sally from the 70’s. He even shows a picture of his dearly beloved, Sally Shipton.

I know this is timey-wimey enough as is, but what if there is more? At this point of the episode I had to press pause because my mind was going through the time vortex. Hey, how cool would it be if Billy Shipton actually married Kathy Wainwright’s daughter? So, I couldn’t resist whipping out my handy dandy calculator and pretending like I don’t blow at math.

(4) RETROSPECTIVE. TCM Remembers 2015 honors actors, actresses and filmmakers who passed away this year, among them Leonard Nimoy, Christopher Lee, Rod Taylor and Wes Craven.

(5) BSFA AWARDS. Nominations are open for the British Science Fiction Association Awards through December 31.

Who can nominate?

You may nominate a work if YOU:

  • Are a member of the BSFA

AND

  • Send or give your nominations to the Awards Administrator to arrive by the 31st December of each year.

See here for further details.

(6) SEE ME. Now I’m surprised John Scalzi didn’t drop in this morning to support Buckaroo Banzai in Hampus’ next set of brackets.

But John, do you mean Perfect like Perfect Tommy, or like Roger Daltrey’s Tommy?

(7) ACKERMANSION II. There’s a petition at change.org calling on the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission to “Declare Forrest Ackerman’s house a historic monument!”  The Commission considered an application at its December 3 meeting – I don’t know what they decided.

Forrest Ackerman is considered “the father of science fiction.” He was a magazine editor, science fiction writer and literary agent who represented Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, J.P. Lovecraft and L. Ron Hubbard, among many others. His magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, was an inspiration to writers and filmmakers like Stephen Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Stephen King, J.J. Abrams and Guillermo del Toro. Ackerman housed his extensive collection of sci-fi memorabilia in a private museum at 4513 Russell Ave. in Los Angeles and this home was dubbed the “Acker-Mini-Mansion.” The Smithsonian described Ackerman’s home as “one of the 10 best private museums in the country” open to visitors every Saturday since 1951 until Ackerman’s death in 2008.  Please support designating Ackerman’s house a historic monument to prevent its demolition by developers who want to “put up a parking lot.”

I’m guessing “put up a parking lot” is a reference to Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” rather than an immediate plan for the property.

(8) THE VOICE. Last summer Natalie Luhrs raised $5,125 from folks who wanted her to livetweet her experience reading a Theodore Beale novel, and unlock another major incentive. And now that incentive has arrived — “Bad Life Decisions: Mary Robinette Kowal Reads Theodore Beale. Sexily” — at Pretty Terrible.

As promised at the conclusion of the fundraiser, here is Mary Robinette Kowal reading snippets from Theodore Beale’s Eternal Warriors™: War In Heaven in a very, very sexy voice.

(9) OKORAFOR. Nnedi Okorafor has been named the winner of Brittle Paper’s African Literary Person of the Year Award.

Brittle Paper is a blog written by Duke Ph.D. student Ainehi Edoro.

The 2015 African literary person of the year goes to Nnedi Okorafor for the many ways in which Africa inspires innovation in her approach to storytelling.

The way she writes about Africa is refreshingly different. Take for example her 2014 novel titled Lagoon. The novel follows the near-apocalyptic chaos that takes over Lagos when aliens land on its shores. In the novel, she pushes us to imagine a futuristic but recognizable Lagos swarming with aliens and creatures. The novel is a mashup of cultural iconographies that range from alien spaceships and viral youtube videos to Igbo ancestral masquerades and folkloric archetypes to Karl Marx and Danfo buses. She tells a story about Lagos by situating the city, its fears and anxieties, its history and its landscape within a global network of literary traditions and philosophical concerns. A novel such as Lagoon brings to the conclusion that African life is so complex, so rich that to adequately give an account of it we have to draw inspiration from everywhere—from Nollywood but also from Star Wars, from Esu but also from American rappers, from Pentecostal churches but also from underground LGBT communities.

(10) Today In History

Through physical experiments, Planck demonstrated that energy, in certain situations, can exhibit characteristics of physical matter. According to theories of classical physics, energy is solely a continuous wave-like phenomenon, independent of the characteristics of physical matter. Planck’s theory held that radiant energy is made up of particle-like components, known as “quantum.” The theory helped to resolve previously unexplained natural phenomena such as the behavior of heat in solids and the nature of light absorption on an atomic level. In 1918, Planck was rewarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his work on blackbody radiation.

(11) TOY AUCTION. An auction of over 600 Star Wars collectible toys on December 11 brought in more than $500,000.

The higher-end items in Nigo’s collection were either rare or still in the original packaging, making them desirable collectors’ items.

A rare Luke Skywalker figure — one of only 20 confirmed — was expected to sell for $12,000 to $18,000. It sold for $25,000.

The highest-selling lot, a seven-figure multi-pack sold exclusively in Canada in 1980, garnered $32,500 at the auction.

Among the items were two sets of “Star Wars” coins which were estimated to sell for between $25,000 and $35,000. They sold for $27,500.

(12) LITTLE TEENY EYES. Supervike is creating Monster Hunter International miniatures.

I paint and model little toy soldiers, and since there really aren’t any commercially available that represent the world of MHI, I’m trying to convert and paint existing miniatures to fit and represent the characters.

The scale of these miniatures is about 28mm.  That just means the ‘average’ man of 6ft tall or so, is represented as 28mm tall.  So, that’s a bit over an inch tall for us that never could figure out the metric system (thanks Jimmy Carter).

Some are fascinating, like the set in “It’s beginning to look a lot like Fishmen”.

Deep ones, those aquatic Lovecraftian fishmen, are only briefly mentioned in Monster Hunter International.  They serve as the badguys in a mission previously mentioned with a SEaL team and a cruise ship.

Turns out that the Deep Ones aren’t just interested in mindlessly attacking humans, they also prefer to lay their eggs inside a human host.  I’m assuming the outcome (other than the obvious madness) would be something like these guys.   These are Deep One Hybrids, the spawns of such an unholy union.

(13) PATENT FENDING. The Washington Post’s Larry Downs names “The 4 worst patents of 2015” after this introduction:

This was another depressing year for patent law, which long ago lost sight of its constitutional moorings as a balanced and limited source of incentives for innovators. Though Congress, the courts and the Patent and Trademark Office each tried in their own way to rein in a system widely-regarded as out of control, in the end nobody made much progress.

On just one day in November, for example, over 200 new patent lawsuits were filed, as plaintiffs rushed to beat a change in federal procedure that could require more specific claims. Most were from companies that buy up patents of dubious quality and use them to extract nuisance settlements from actual innovators….

To give just a sense of just how out of touch the law has become, I asked Daniel Nazer, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, to highlight the worst patents he’s come across this year. Nazer, who holds the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents (yes, really), had little trouble coming up with these four, culled from a monthly “Stupid Patent of the Month” post he writes for the EFF site.  (The complete list is available here.)  Each one highlights a different crisis in our badly-misaligned patent system…

(14) VASICEK. Joe Vasicek’s latest proposition is “Disagreement is not offensive”, at One Thousand And One Parsecs.

If you take offense whenever people disagree with you, chances are that you’ll never be able to cut it as a writer. In order to write well, you have to be able to see things from inside the heads of people who aren’t like you and probably don’t agree with you.

This is why I support Sad Puppies: because the SJW types in Science Fiction are usually the first to cry offense over anything that doesn’t fit into their narrow worldviews. This naturally makes them as vehemently opposed to intellectual diversity as they (falsely) claim that the Puppies are to racial, sexual, and cultural diversity. When you look at the books and stories that these people uphold as shining examples of the genre, their rigidly ideological worldview is as plain as the emperor’s new clothes.

Disagreement is not “offensive.” In fact, it’s a sign of respect. If your opponent thought that your opinion or argument wasn’t worth engaging with, then they simply would have ignored you. By saying “I don’t agree,” they are acknowledging your position in an intellectually honest way. When you willfully misrepresent your opponent’s views, or bully them into silence, it is a sign of disrespect that warrants taking offense. And who is most guilty of that? I’ll give you two chances, and the first one doesn’t count.

(15) THE MAX. Blunt is one way of describing Max Booth III’s “Sad Puppies and The Goosebumps Rap: The Best and Worst Things to Happen to Literature in 2015” at Lit Reactor.

Sad Puppies

The KKK Sad Puppies are a group of white supremacists science fiction writers set on fixing the Hugo Awards. They are very pathetic nerds who won’t be satisfied as long as people other than straight white males are represented in science fiction. Keep the genre pure, they say. Heil Hitler, they probably also say. Our penises are tiny and we need to make others feel miserable to satisfy ourselves, they almost definitely say. So, in 2015, they managed to get Puppy nominees in almost every category. Because of this clusterfuck, many categories were given “No Awards”.

World Fantasy Award

Hey, speaking of racists. This year also saw a very nice and welcome change: Lovecraft was removed as the model for the World Fantasy Award. Many non-terrible people celebrated this victory, and many other terrible people whined about it. Especially ST Joshi, whose recent blog posts are both hilarious and sad. It’s still unknown what will take Lovecraft’s place as the trophy model. I’ve already suggested myself, but have yet to hear back. I’ve also heard many people suggest a dragon, but dragons as we all know, are lame. Honestly, a giant dong might be the way to go.

(16) ONE STAR (WARS) RATING. Milo Yiannopolous argues ”Star Wars Is Garbage” at Breitbart.com.

With Star Wars, liberal Hollywood got it all wrong. They get everything wrong, of course, but this movie franchise really takes the biscuit. They turned the heroes into villains, and the villains into shining beacons of virtue. With a new film on the horizon, I feel duty-bound to warn you about the desperate shortcomings of this particular entertainment phenomenon.

If we’re honest with ourselves, the real wretched hive of scum and villainy is Skywalker Ranch, where George Lucas and his band of morally dissolute bastards created the Star Wars universe, a blight on western civilisation and culture.

This magisterial bit of trolling includes lines such as —

Jabba the Hutt was actually pretty progressive.

And –

Oh, and by the way, Darth Vader’s daughter was installed as the leader of the galaxy after he killed the rightful and democratically elected leader, Emperor Palpatine. I’m just saying.

(17) USE THE SOURCE. A “Google Chrome extension replaces all mentions of Donald Trump with Voldemort” reports the Telegraph. 

The Trump2Voldemort extension for the web browser replaces any text referring to the Republican candidate with ‘He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’ or ‘Tom Riddle’

The source is here:

(18) ULTIMATE TIME SAVER. Michael McNulty’s YouTube video plays Star Wars I-VI simultaneously in six side-by-side windows!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Jerry Pournelle, and Brian Z. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day James H. Burns.]

Pixel Scroll 11/3 Ten Things I Slate About You

(1) Disney has optioned the movie rights to Ursula Vernon’s childrens book Castle Hangnail for an adaptation to be produced by Ellen DeGeneres.

DeGeneres will produce with Jeff Kleeman, her partner at A Very Good Production banner.

The book tells of a 12-year old witch who shows up at a dark castle that needs a master or be decommissioned by the bureaucratic Board of Magic and its many minions, such as a hypochondriac fish and a letter ‘Q’ averse minotaur, dispersed into the world. She projects confidence as she tackles the series of tasks laid forth by the board but underneath lie several simmering secrets, including one of her being an imposter….

DeGeneres and Kleeman are busy in the television world but Hangnail is their second notable move on the movie side and keeps their feet firmly in the fantasy field. Earlier this year the duo set up Uprooted, the novel from Temeraire author Naomi Novik, for Warner Bros.

(2) A magisterial essay by Ursula K. Le Guin at Tin House, “’Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?’”.

American critics and academics have been trying for forty years to bury one of the great works of twentieth-century fiction, The Lord of the Rings. They ignore it, they condescend to it, they stand in large groups with their backs to it, because they’re afraid of it. They’re afraid of dragons. They know if they acknowledge Tolkien they’ll have to admit that fantasy can be literature, and that therefore they’ll have to redefine what literature is.

What American critics and teachers call “literature” is still almost wholly restricted to realism. All other forms of fiction—westerns, mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, romance, historical, regional, you name it—are dismissed as “genre.” Sent to the ghetto. That the ghetto is about twelve times larger than the city, and currently a great deal livelier, doesn’t bother those who live in ivory towers. Magic realism, though—that does bother them; they hear Gabriel García Márquez gnawing quietly at the foundations of the ivory tower, they hear all these crazy Indians dancing up in the attic, and they think maybe they should do something about it. Perhaps they should give that fellow who teaches the science fiction course tenure? Oh, surely not.

To say that realistic fiction is by definition superior to imaginative fiction is to imply that imitation is superior to invention. I have wondered if this unstated but widely accepted (and, incidentally, very puritanical) proposition is related to the recent popularity of the memoir and the personal essay. This has been a genuine popularity, not a matter of academic canonizing. People really do want to read memoir and personal essay, and writers want to write it. I’ve felt rather out of step. I like history and biography fine, but when family and personal memoir seems to be the most popular—the dominant narrative form—well, I have searched my soul for prejudice and found it. I prefer invention to imitation. I love novels. I love made-up stuff.

(3) “The Call of the Sad Whelkfins: The Continued Relevance of How To Suppress Women’s Writing“ by Annalee Flower Horne and Natalie Luhrs in Uncanny Magazine #7 uses Joanna Russ’ text to diagnose some critics’ responses to Ancillary Justice.

I snorted. For the past week, Natalie Luhrs and I had been discussing the book in the context of the ongoing fight for the soul of the science fiction community, most recently played out in the failed attempt to take over the Hugo Awards. In HTSWW, Russ uses an alien species called the whelk–finned Glotolog to illustrate the methods by which human cultures control women’s writing without direct censorship (4). These days, the tactics the so–called “sad puppies” use to paint themselves as the true heirs of science fiction, bravely holding the line against the invading masses, are the very same tactics Joanna Russ ascribed to the whelk–finned Glotolog in 1983…

False Categorizing of the Work She wrote it, but she isn’t really an artist, and it isn’t really art. (HTSWW)

False Categorization is, essentially, bad faith. It allows the critic to shift the focus to something else—usually something trivial in the larger context, so as to dismiss the whole. So once again, we’ll look at the pronouns in Ancillary Justice. By focusing on the pronouns, the sad whelkfins are able to dismiss the entire work as nothing more than a political screed against men, as turgid message fiction that doesn’t even tell a good story.

That’s a massive tell to anyone who has actually read the book—because while the pronouns do take some adjustment, they’re a small part of the novel’s world–building and not a major source of plot or conflict. They just are, the way there is air to breathe and skel to eat.

(4) “Updates on the Chinese Nebula Awards and the Coordinates Awards” at Amazing Stories has the full list of award winners (only two were reported here on the night of the ceremony). Since Steve Davidson is able to reproduce the titles in the original language, all the more reason to refer you there.

(5) Liu Cixin participated in “The Future of China through Chinese Science Fiction” at the University of Sydney on November 3.

(6) Crossed Genres Magazine will close after the December 2015 issue reports Locus Online.

Co-publisher Bart Lieb posted a statement:

Two primary factors led to this decision. First, one of Crossed Genres’ co-publishers, Kay Holt, has been dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for more than two years. It’s made it extremely difficult for her to help with the running of CG, leaving the lion’s share of responsibilities on the other co-publisher, Bart Leib, who’s also working a day job. Magazine co-editor Kelly Jennings, ebook coordinator Casey Seda, and our team of first readers have all been heroic in their volunteer efforts, but we’ve still been unable to keep from falling behind.

The second factor is simply that the magazine has run out of funds to continue. In April 2014 we ran a successful Kickstarter to keep CG Magazine going, but once another year had passed, roughly 90 percent of those who’d pledged to the Kickstarter chose not to renew their memberships….

(7) Today In History

  • November 3, 1956 — On this night in 1956, CBS presented the first broadcast of The Wizard of Oz.  It was a major event for which the network paid MGM a quarter of a million dollars for the rights (over $2,000,000 in today’s dollars.)
  • November 3, 1976 — Brian De Palma’s Carrie is seen for the very first time

(8) Today’s Birthday Monster

  • November 3, 1954 — Godzilla was released in Japanese theaters.

(9) Today’s Belated Birthday

  • Lovecraft’s 125th birthday (in August) was celebrated in many ways in Providence. A new plaque was installed near his birthplace at 454 Angell Street, designed, created, and installed by Gage Prentiss.

(10) Today’s Yodeling Marmot

(11) “Transparent Aluminum: IT’S REAL!” at Treehugger.

Remember Star Trek: The Voyage Home, where Scotty talks into a computer mouse and then instantly figures out keyboards and gives away the formula for transparent Aluminum? And remember Galaxy Quest, where Commander Taggart tells the Justin Long character about the ship: “IT’S REAL!”

Mash those two scenes together and you have Spinel, described by US Naval Research Laboratory scientist Dr. Jas Sanghera as “actually a mineral, it’s magnesium aluminate. The advantage is it’s so much tougher, stronger, harder than glass. It provides better protection in more hostile environments—so it can withstand sand and rain erosion.” He likes it for the same reason Scotty did, according to an NRL press release

(12) Arlan Andrews told Facebook friends that Ken Burnside has answered the Alfies.

The Wreck of the Hugo

So, today I received this 3D-printed crashed rocket ship, titled “The Wreck of the Hugo” as created by artist Charles Oines and commissioned by Ken Burnside. Others went to Kary English, Mike Resnick, and Toni Weisskopf. According to Ken Burnside, the official 2015 Hugo voting tallies showed each of us recipients as runners-up to the 2500-vote NO AWARD bloc that wrecked the Hugos this year in many categories. I gratefully accept the gifted award in the spirit in which it was given, and sincerely hope that no future Hugo nominees are ever again voted off the island in such a fashion.

(That last part resonates strangely, at least in my memory, because “I accept this award in the spirit in which it is given” was Norman Spinrad’s answer when handed the Brown Hole Award for Outstanding Professionalism in 1973. And he was right to be suspicious.)

(13) Meanwhile, the curator of the Alfies, George R.R. Martin, is already making recommendations for the Dramatic Presentation categories in “Hugo Thoughts”.

In the past, I have usually made my own Hugo recommendations only after nominations have opened. But in light of what happened last year, it seems useful to begin much sooner. To get talking about the things we like, the things we don’t like. This is especially useful in the case of the lesser known and obscure work. Drawing attention to such earlier in the process is the best way to get more fans looking at them… and unless you are aware of a work, you’re not likely to nominate it, are you? (Well, unless you’re voting a slate, and just ticking off boxes).

Let me start with the Dramatic Presentation category. Long form….

(14) Damien G. Walter does best when the target is as easy to hit as the broad side of a barn. “Gus. A Case Study In Sad Puppy Ignorance”.

Firstly, is Gus actually asking us to believe that Frankenstein : A Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the famed early feminist icon, daughter of philosopher and political activist Mary Wollstonecraft, wife of romantic poet and political radical Percy Byshe Shelley, close friend of paramilitary revolutionary Lord Byron, and author of  seven novels (many science fictional) and innumerable other stories, essays and letters, all of them revealing a life of deep engagement with political and social issues of gender, class, sexuality and more, that this same Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wrote Frankenstein : A Modern Prometheus (a subtitle explicitly invoking the mythical act of stealing fire from the gods as an opening rhetorical reference to the risks of scientific endeavour) as, and I quote, “the sole purpose of…macabre entertainment”? Because I would suggest, on the basis of all available evidence, including every single thing ever written about Frankenstein, that Gus is in a minority on this one. In fact, I will go so far as to say that he is utterly, absurdly and idiotically wrong.

(15) John Thiel’s responses to Steve Davidson’s queries about “trufandom” appear in “The Voices of Fandom” at Amazing Stories.

Steve’s introduction notes –

I posed a series of interview questions to members of the Fan History group on Facebook.  I thought it would be a good place to start because that group is made up entirely of Trufans.

Today, I present the first in a series of responses to those questions and I should point out that, in typical Fannish fashion, the answers are anything but monolithic.  Apparently Fans have as many different ideas about what it means to be a Fan as there are Fans, which just serves to point out how difficult it is to get a handle on this question.

(16) A video interview with Dame Diana Rigg.

Five decades since she first appeared as Emma Peel in The Avengers (1961-1969), fans of the show still approach Dame Diana Rigg to express their gratitude. Rigg joins BFI curator Dick Fiddy to reflect on the influence of Peel on real-life women and acting with Patrick Macnee and Ian Hendry.

(17) Jon Michaud reviews Michael Witwer’s Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons in The New Yorker and accuses the biographer of shielding Gygax rather than exploring more deeply the controversial topic of his religious views.

Dr. Thomas Radecki, a founding member of the National Coalition on TV Violence, said, “There is no doubt in my mind that the game Dungeons & Dragons is causing young men to kill themselves and others.” In her book “Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society,” Tipper Gore connected the game to satanism and the occult. All of this prompted a “60 Minutes” segment in which Gygax rejected these myriad accusations, calling them “nothing but a witch hunt.”

What was largely unknown or omitted from this brouhaha is that Gygax was an intermittently observant Jehovah’s Witness. This startling fact crops up about halfway through Witwer’s biography, when he notes that Gygax’s “controversial” game, along with his smoking and drinking, had led to a parting of the ways with the local congregation. Up until that point, the matter of Gygax’s faith had gone unmentioned in the biography, and it is barely discussed thereafter. (The book’s index does not have an entry for “Jehovah’s Witness” or “Gygax, Gary—religious beliefs.”) Given the furor that D. & D. caused, the absence of a deeper analysis of Gygax’s faith is a glaring omission. In a recent interview with Tobias Carroll, Witwer acknowledged that Gygax “was a practicing Jehovah’s Witness. He would go door-to-door and he would give out pamphlets. He was pretty outspoken about it, as a matter of fact.” The reason for almost completely excluding it from the biography, Witwer says, is that “I couldn’t find it [as] a huge driving force in his life.…I didn’t want to be too heavy-handed with that, because I’m not clear that, especially with his gaming work and even his home life, how big a factor that was on a day-to-day basis. But I do know he was practicing.”

(18) Galactic Journey visits the year 1960 where young Mike Glyer’s favorite TV series, Men Into Space, is still on the air, and there’s even a tie-in novel by Murray Leinster.

men into space cover COMP.jpg

“Men Into Space” consists of short stories following the career of Space Force officer Ed McCauley:

As a lieutenant, McCauley makes the first manned rocket flight.

As a captain, McCauley deals with an injured crewman while piloting the first space-plane.

As a major, McCauley deals with a potentially-fatal construction accident while in charge the building of the first space station.

As a colonel, McCauley deals with a murderous personnel problem while overseeing the establishment of a series of radio relays to the moon’s far side, then deals with a technical problem aboard a rocket to Venus, and another personnel problem on a Mars mission.

Lots of nuts and bolts details about ballistics, rocket fuels, radiation, the van Allen belts, and so forth.  And with each story, McCauley deals with progressively more complex human problems as he moves up in rank.

Although 7-year-old me would have loved the tie-in novel, 35 cents would have been a king’s ransom in my personal economy….

(19) Here’s a photo of the Cosmos Award presentation to Neil deGrasse Tyson at the Planetary Society 35th anniversary celebration on October 24.

Neil deGrasse Tyson (left) accepted The Planetary Society's Cosmos Award for Outstanding Public Presentation of Science. Bill Nye (middle) was on stage as Tyson accepted the award from Nichelle Nichols (right), who is best known for playing Lt. Uhura on "Star Trek" (the original series) and who is an advocate for real-world space exploration.

Neil deGrasse Tyson (left) accepted The Planetary Society’s Cosmos Award for Outstanding Public Presentation of Science. Bill Nye (middle) was on stage as Tyson accepted the award from Nichelle Nichols (right), who is best known for playing Lt. Uhura on “Star Trek” (the original series) and who is an advocate for real-world space exploration.

Before the award was given to Tyson, Nye reminisced about meeting Tyson through the organization. Nye then showed a photo of what Tyson looked like in 1980, when he was a wrestler (Tyson wrestled in high school and college), and Tyson joked that he kicked some serious butt.

Tyson had come prepared, and showed a photo of Nye in 1980, in a “Coneheads” costume, with a silver ring around his head.

(20) The Red Bull Music Academy website has published David Keenan’s “Reality Is For People Who Can’t Handle Science Fiction”, about the influence of SF on French progressive rock from 1969 through 1985.

In 2014 I interviewed Richard Pinhas of Heldon, still one of the central punk/prog mutants to come out of the French underground. I asked him about the influence of the visionary science fiction writer Philip K. Dick on his sound and on his worldview. “Philip K. Dick was a prophet to us,” Pinhas explained. “He saw the future.”

It makes sense that a musical and cultural moment that was obsessed with the sound of tomorrow would name a sci-fi writer as its central avatar. Indeed, while the Sex Pistols spat on the British vision of the future dream as a shopping scheme, the French underground projected it off the planet altogether.

When Pinhas formed Heldon in 1974 he named the group in tribute to sci-fi writer Norman Spinrad’s 1972 novel The Iron Dream, conflating his own vision of a mutant amalgam of Hendrix-inspired psychedelic rock and cyborg-styled electronics with Spinrad’s re-writing of history.

(21) At CNN, “Art transforms travel photos with paper cutouts”:

That’s what happened when Londoner Rich McCor began adorning pictures of British landmarks with whimsical paper cutouts and posting the results online.

Originally, the 28-year-old creative agency worker intended the photos for the amusement of himself and friends.

Then he got a lesson on the impact of “viral” when Britain’s “Daily Mail” publicized some of his photos.

 

arc-de-triomphe-paris-jpg-rich-mccor-exlarge-169

 [Thanks to Rob Thornton, Mark-kitteh, Will R., Michael J. Walsh, JJ, Janice Gelb, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Getting the Last Word First

When Uncanny Magazine #7 is released November 3 (tomorrow) among its contents will be Annalee Flower Horne and Natalie Luhrs’ article “The Call of the Sad Whelkfins: The Continued Relevance of How To Suppress Women’s Writing.

Tangent Online has counted coup on Uncanny Magazine by publishing Kate Paulk’s rebuttal to their essay, “Jousting With Straw Puppies”, before the target is available to the public.

Not that this required either magical powers or access to the TARDIS: Tangent Online received an advance review copy. (Uncanny Kickstarter supporters and issue contributors also got their copies ahead of time).

Paulk’s response begins with a familiar smorgasbord of post hoc reasoning and smarm:

Since the success of Sad Puppies 2 in bringing a handful of differently philosophical works onto the Hugo ballot, there has been a stream of articles, blog posts, tweets, and every possible other outlet imaginable decrying the evil of the Puppies and how the campaign is the reactionary work of a collection of redneck, white-supremacist, homophobic, Mormon men trying to keep everyone else out of the field.

Seriously? The last time I looked I don’t have the equipment for that, and I’m running Sad Puppies 4.

Of course, every time someone posts a lengthy critique of Sad Puppies, it usually comes with a lovingly constructed set of Straw Puppies who are then deconstructed and proven to be just as horrible as the author set them up to be.

So it is with the latest offering from a pair of self-described feminist geeks, Annalee Horne and Natalie Luhrs. Their article can be found in Uncanny Magazine issue 7 (http://uncannymagazine.com/), for those sufficiently masochistic to wish to wade through it, and makes extensive reference to How to Suppress Women’s Writing, by Joanna Russ.

They begin their construction of the Straw Puppies with the assertion that Sad Puppies 3 was an “attempt to take over the Hugo Awards” (which failed). To someone with little or no knowledge of Sad Puppies that bland assertion (unreferenced, of course) would probably go unchallenged. The truth is simpler: Sad Puppies 3 aimed to bring works to the Hugo ballots that would normally not be nominated. Nothing more, nothing less.

Why would many of those works not normally be nominated? Is it because, like Michael Z. Williamson’s Wisdom From My Internet, some aren’t very good?

But why go on. Paulk shows once again that letting Sad Puppies speak for themselves is all the answer anybody really needs.

Pixel Scroll 10/27 Return To Hedgehogwarts

(1) Bad science in sf I’m used to. On the other hand, this expose of Monty Python by medievalist Kathleen E. Kennedy is shocking! Her post for The Mary Sue, “Coconuts in Medieval England Weren’t as Rare as Monty Python and the Holy Grail Made You Think”, claims England was practically awash in coconuts – had he existed, King Arthur would have had no problem acquiring one.

(2) As a fan, when I see something like “15 Facts You Didn’t Know About the Original ‘Ghostbusters’”, I start jonesing to tell the headline writer that the original Ghost Busters was the working title of a Bowery Boys movie. But carry on….

Imagine Eddie Murphy and his fellow paranormal firefighters battling a motorcycle-riding skeleton and a giant lizard monster from their gas-station base in a futuristic New Jersey. Who you gonna call? Ghost Smashers!

By the time it became an instant classic upon its release in 1984, Ghostbusters had morphed through radically different iterations, featuring bonkers plot points and unrecognizable creatures. Those mind-blowing details are chronicled by Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History, author Daniel Wallace’s revelatory, self-explanatory new book due out this week, just in time for Halloween.

(3) I stopped to watch Ray Parker Jr.’s Ghostbusters music video while researching the previous item. That 1980s video did some nice things with neon lights. But it can’t hold a candle *coff* to the Halloween Light Show set to his vocals in this YouTube video — four singing pumpkin faces, tombstones, hand carved pumpkins, strobes, floods, two Matrix boards and thousands of lights.

(4) At this hour it may be hard to find anyone who hasn’t already read John Scalzi’s Whatever post titled “Here’s the Egregious, Mealy-Mouthed Clump of Bullshit That is the 2015 World Fantasy Convention Harassment Policy”.

I am not a lawyer, but I expect that ReedPOP, the company that runs [New York Comic Con] (among many other conventions around the US) has maybe a few lawyers on its staff. If NYCC is utterly and absolutely unafraid to promulgate a harassment policy even though there is a legal statute defining what harassment means in the state of New York, I expect it might have been possible for World Fantasy to have done likewise, if they chose to do so.

And I recommend reading Jesi Pershing’s comment on the post. (I’m unable to link to specific comments on Whatever, despite both it and File 770 running on WordPress….)

(5) Trae Dorn’s story at Nerd & Tie, “World Fantasy Convention writes the worst harasssment policy ever” doesn’t live up to the hyperbole of the headline, but it reflects the prevailing mood of the internet.

(6) Jim C. Hines weighed in with “Trying to Fix WFC’s Harassment Policy Problem”.

Can this actually be fixed?

Well, no. Not completely. You’ve pissed off a lot of people, and you’ve got nine days before the start of the convention. You can’t fix it. But you can work to make it better. Here are my suggestions, for what they’re worth.

A compelling observation was quoted from Natalie Luhrs’ post —

Keep in mind that, as Natalie Luhrs pointed out, “three of the last five World Fantasy Conventions had harassment incidents that were publicized: 20102011, and 2013.” This doesn’t include incidents that weren’t publicized.

However, it should be noted that other recent WFC’s have had genuine anti-harassment policies – the 2015 committee is an aberration in that respect.

(7) The headline for Arthur Chu’s post captures just what I think was really controlling SXSW’s decision to have these panels at all – “This Is Not a Game: How SXSW Turned GamerGate Abuse Into a Spectator Sport”. Chu also is very informative about the history about the anti-harassment panel proposal.

  1. Any “both sides” narrative is nonsense. Whatever harassment and abuse there was cannot have been at all symmetrical.

SXSW acknowledges this when they tell Randi Harper in an email they’ve “received numerous threats of violence regarding this panel (Level Up)” and a “civil and respectful environment seems unlikely.” You can see with your own eyes the degree of incivility and disrespect likely to occur at her panel by looking at the comment thread GamerGate left on PanelPicker. This started up in August and has only had time to fester since then.

By contrast, I don’t think anyone “anti-GamerGate” I’ve spoken to other than my fellow panelists was even aware a GamerGate panel was in the cards until it was announced last week. Feel free to search my own history on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc. to see if you can find any mention of it.

(8) Chris Kluwe went straight for the jugular.

What you did, what you’re doing, is providing the blueprint for harassers and hatemongers as to how they win. From this point forward, any fringe group of spiteful lunatics can point to this moment and say, “We will silence the voices of anyone we dislike at SXSW, any view we disagree with, because we know the mewling slugs in charge have not the backbone to stop us. All we need to do is confront them with our vileness, and they will fold.”

And the worst part?

YOU are solely the ones responsible for this.

YOU decided that it was appropriate to give a group of harassers a platform to continue their wretched campaign of ignorance. No one forced you to bypass the application process, to slide this selection of charlatans and liars along back alley channels into the conference. (And by the way, it is beyond ironic that a group ostensibly about ‘ethics in journalism’ required such an unethical route.)

YOU chose to ignore the warnings of the women targeted, to dismiss their voices as unworthy of respect or consideration, and then had the gall to act shocked that a ‘movement’ known for its corrosive toxicity slimed its oh-so-predictable foulness in your direction after you invited them in.

(9) Today In History:

October 27, 1938 – Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre of the Air broadcasts its adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Joe Bloch comments —

People have debated for decades just why the country was so willing to be fooled by the broadcast, and the question of whether or not Welles had an inkling of what would happen was never answered. It is certain that he denied it at a later Congressional hearing, but in subsequent interviews he answered the question rather coyly, implying that he might have known what could happen.

(10) Stop snickering about aliens, d’ye hear me? Astrophysics profession Adam Frank, co-founder of the 13.7 blog, says “Maybe It’s Time To Stop Snickering About Aliens”.

Boyajian and her co-authors considered a wide range of possibilities to explain the strange dips in the light coming from KIC 8462852. Nothing they dreamed up provided a really, really good explanation. And in the absence of that really, really good explanation, at least a few others have been thinking: “Aliens!” As Ross reports, Jason Wright of Penn State is already working on a paper suggesting we might be seeing a signature of extraterrestrial construction, a “swarm of mega-structures,” on a planetary system scale.

Now, at this point, I could start telling you about Dyson spheres and Kardashev Type II civilizations that engage in solar-system-spanning building projects (or even Vogon Constructor Fleets).

But I won’t.

That’s because the point today is not what KIC 8462852, in particular, might be telling us. The odds are high that a natural explanation will be found for the star’s flickering that has nothing to do with aliens.

Why take that stance? Well, aliens are always the last hypothesis you should consider. Occam’s razor tells scientists to always go for the simplest explanation for a new phenomenon. But even as we keep Mr. Occam’s razor in mind, there is something fundamentally new happening right now that all of us, including scientists, must begin considering.

Kepler and the many exoplanet-hunting missions coming next (JWST, PLATO, etc.) represent an entirely new way of watching the sky.

Telescope time has always been expensive — and there’s a lot of sky. In the past, astronomers didn’t have the technical capacity to continuously watch zillions of stars for long periods of time. The suns we astronomers did come back to again and again tended to be remarkable in one way or another (they flared or blew up periodically). But the exoplanet revolution means we’re developing capacities to stare deep into the light produced by hundreds of thousands of boring, ordinary stars. And these are exactly the kind of stars where life might form on orbiting planets.

(11) Tom Knighton says it’s only a “Supergirl Kinda-Review” but he covers a lot of ground as he fills in readers about last night’s series debut.

First, the casting was interesting, and I mean that in a good way.  Kara (aka Supergirl for those who don’t know) is, like her cousin, raised by human parents.  Her parents were played by…*drum roll please* Dean Caine of Lois and Clark and Helen Slater, the original live-action Supergirl.  Honestly, it make my inner geek giddy right there.

(12) All the other old-timers showed up in the latest Star Wars trailer. Where was Mark Hamill? The director has an answer — “J.J. Abrams addresses Luke’s absence from Star Wars trailers”

When asked what’s going with Luke’s lack of appearance in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailers, director J.J. Abrams stated it’s part of the plan.

“These are good questions to be asking. I can’t wait for you to find out the answer,” he said. The fact Luke is being kept away from the promotional materials is “no accident,” he continued.

It actually goes a bit deeper than that. There was a leaked image of Luke Skywalker wearing what seemed to be standard Jedi robes that made the rounds, but Disney went to work pulling as many copies of the image from the internet as possible, including Twitter embeds.

(13) Gail Z. Martin suggests “Five Reasons Why Authors Do Blog Tours (And Maybe You Should, Too)” at Magical Words.

What’s a blog tour and why should you consider doing one?

A blog tour provides the opportunity for an author to be featured in guest posts on a number of other blogs, thus gaining visibility to the readers on all those sites. Likewise, an author who has a blog can do a tour on his/her own site by featuring a number of other authors on the site in a given period of time.

Two crucial elements separate a ‘blog tour’ from merely being a guest for the day on someone else’s blog. First, a blog tour generally involves guesting on multiple blogs or hosting multiple guests on your blog. And secondly, the activity occurs within a pre-defined (and advance-promoted) time period—perhaps a week or a month. In fact, blog tours work best when the bloggers and the guests promote the upcoming post—much like when a celebrity promotes being interviewed on TV. The author gets visibility, and perhaps new readers. The blogger gets traffic and well as visibility—and perhaps some of those visitors will come back time and again.

(14) Harlan Ellison is among the contributors to Jewish Noir: Contemporary Tales of Crime and Other Dark Deeds, to be published November 1.

The stories explore such issues as the Holocaust and its long-term effects on subsequent generations, anti-Semitism in the mid- and late-20th-century United States, and the dark side of the Diaspora (e.g., the decline of revolutionary fervor, the passing of generations, the Golden Ghetto, etc.).

(15) And rather like Harlan Ellison, Wil Wheaton thinks the writer should get paid. His post “you can’t pay your rent with the ‘unique platform and reach our site provides’” tells why he told HuffPo to take a hike.

(16) Here’s somebody you don’t see at fan-run conventions every day… but he’ll be at Gallifrey One in 2016:

Sir John Hurt, who brought the ‘missing link’ in the Doctor’s past — the War Doctor, from the 50th anniversary special “The Day of the Doctor” — to life, will be headlining the 2016 Gallifrey One convention, in an appearance sponsored by Showmasters Events.

(17) Remember that how that old statue of Lenin in a Ukraine town was rededicated to Darth Vader the other day? Well, sounds like old Darth is up to no good – just check out this story: “Chewbacca Arrested During Ukraine Elections”

The Wookiee is handcuffed and detained after supporting Darth Vader’s bid to be elected as Mayor of Odessa.

Yes, my friends, there’s trouble in unpronounceable city!

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

When The Puppies Come Marching Home 8/28

(1) Steve Rzasa on Speculative Faith“Puppies v. Trufans: Civil War”

My short story Turncoat, set in the Quantum Mortis sci-fi universe and written with a very specific aim, was nominated this way: Last spring, Vox Day approached me about writing a short story for the Riding the Red Horse anthology. He saw it as a successor to Jerry Pournelle’s There Will be War. Since I had a genuinely good time writing the Quantum Mortis books, I agreed. Over the next few months, I brainstormed concepts, and wrote Turncoat in July.

Fast forward to December 2014 and Turncoat was released as part of Riding the Red Horse. The first I learned of the Rabid Puppies thing was when I saw Turncoat on Vox’s slate or list or helpful suggestions round-up — whatever you want to call it — in February. I thought that was nice to be considered for such an award, and vaguely read over what Rabid Puppies’ aim was. Frankly, I didn’t think they had a snowball’s chance. But then again, I knew next to nothing about the Hugos and absolutely zero about the previous Sad Puppies efforts.

Whatever the goals of both Puppy groups are/were, they were not, from my perspective, pursued with Christian views in mind. The campaigning on both sides was, in one word, brutal. Even supposing the Puppy groups were correct that they were persecuted and disregarded when it came to science fiction awards, the whole fracas is in direct violation of Paul’s admonitions in Romans 12: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them… Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

The Puppy vs. Trufan war was not conducted in this fashion. There were some on both sides who conducted themselves well, but name-calling and threats dominated. I’m sure a lot of people outside the debate now think there’s a ton of crazy people reading sci-fi and fantasy.

But don’t kid yourself: this showdown was not about faith. It was about message.

(2) Sarah A. Hoyt on According To Hoyt – “Fauxtrage”

Mary Three Names, whom I don’t mean to impugn, because it’s becoming clear to me that she has an impairment that prevents her from understanding written language but has nonetheless managed to win three Hugos, leapt to a conclusion probably caused by her impairment and decided “Chicom” was a racial insult.

Now, I understand some of the younger people and those who didn’t grow up in Europe during the cold war might NOT know that Chicom is a contraction of Chinese and Communist.  Not a racial slur under any way or form, but a way of specifying these were CHINESE communists, you know, not Russian Communists or Feminist Communists (you know, Mary, Femcoms, you might know some) or any other form of the repulsive ideology.

 

(3) True dat.

(4) Vox Day on Vox Popoli“Directly over the target”

And wait, there’s more! The SJWs are also engaged in a charity drive so that John Scalzi will read it for the audio version.

As you can see, this is a masterful rhetorical response that totally proves the falsity of the Second Law of SJW: SJWs Always Double Down. One of my friends sent me an email last night that I think aptly describes the situation. “WTF, are you PAYING these people or something?” And just to ice the crazy cake, we’ve now officially gone meta as there are now fake fake reviews being posted. And while I’m not surprised by the nature of the reaction of the science fiction SJWs to the book, I am amazed by the vehemence behind it. They are absolutely furious to see that a book unmasking them was not only published by me, but is riding the very wave of media attention that they themselves created to success. That’s the importance of the parody in their minds; if it can become even more popular than SJWs Always Lie, that will disqualify it and render it harmless, thereby relieving the stress they are presently feeling.

(5) Dave Langford in a comment on Whatever at 1:39 a.m.

$50. I’m too deaf for audiobooks but will imagine this one in my head. WITH SOUND EFFECTS.

You rock Dave!

(6) Walt Boyes on Facebook

[This is a long post, as is the Burnside post that follows. All the excepts can do is suggest why I found them of interest.]

I am neither a Puppy nor a Puppy Kicker. But as a working editor, I am appalled that an award in which nearly all the professional categories requires the services of an editor to be a successful work, something like 2400 votes were cast in opposition to ALL the editor nominees. There were several worthy nominees who were beaten by NO AWARD, in my opinion, unfairly. One comment I have seen repeated several times was that if they were worthy, they’d have won. Maybe they’ll get nominated again sometime. That’s bullshit. They WERE worthy, and they got shat upon. All you have to do is to notice that Toni Weisskopf got four times the number of votes that the winner has in the last five years to see that. Mike Resnick had the same experience in the Best Editor-Short Form category…..

Revenge attempts won’t work, and in the long run, counter-revenge attempts like the slate voting of NO AWARD (Yes, it was a slate, and there is proof that is widely available). In fact, nothing will work. The Hugos are legally owned by the WSFS Trust, and they don’t want the rest of us.

They. Don’t. Want. Us.

I don’t think the Hugos can be saved. At least, I don’t think that the puppies movement will change things. WSFS owns the Hugos. Legally, to change the Hugo system you have to change WSFS. I don’t see that happening.

At Kansas City, amendments to the WSFS constitution will be proposed (please don’t ask me how I know) that will make it even harder to inject an outside nominee into the Hugos than the amendments passed in Spokane do. The Spokane amendments will almost certainly be ratified in Kansas City, as WSFS works to make it harder to “steal” their awards. The amendments made in Kansas City will be ratified in Helsinki, at what will may possibly be a very small Worldcon. Note how few people attended the WSFS business meeting in Spokane. And only people who attend the business meeting have the right to vote on the constitution. No Award will always win in a contest of wills. It isn’t right, but it is the way the rules are rigged. Remember, WSFS _owns_ the Hugo Awards outright. It IS their football.

What is going to happen, basically, is the WSFS Hugo Committee will be given the power to reject any ballot for “wrong think” of any kind. If the puppies campaign in 2016 has legs, WSFS will react by making their control tighter. They will create a “nominating committee” which will prepare a slate (I know, Irony, thy name is WSFS) of nominees for the ballot, from a “suggestion list.”

The SMOFs, the Nielsen-Haydens, and the other PuppyKickers have the numbers and the staying power to do this. The puppies, I am afraid, do not. In order to change this, and keep it from happening, the puppies will have to deliver 300-500 committed puppy voters to Kansas City and Helsinki, in person. $50 supporting memberships won’t help here. You have to have an attending membership, and then you have to show up for the business meetings. There were on the order of 300 people attending the WSFS business meetings in Spokane at some point in the proceedings. This year, the outsiders couldn’t deliver enough votes to take the Hugos. They certainly aren’t going to be able to deliver actual butts in chairs at two successive Worldcons.

The other thing that happened this year, and will happen again, is that the PuppyKickers controlled the media. This is not because of some gigantic left wing media conspiracy. That’s bullshit. Something like six companies, all led by conservatives, and 277 conservative executives control nearly all of the media outlets in the United States. If you don’t think so, look at how comparatively right wing CNN and MSNBC have gotten in the past six months. It’s because of the fact that Nielsen-Hayden and friends knew how to issue a freakin’ press release, and did so regularly. You can see the evidence for this in the fact that all the articles online and in print kept using the same phrases and sentences over and over. That’s because they got press releases, and used them as source material. To my knowledge, the puppies didn’t issue any. They waited for the media to come to them, and by the time they did, what passed for objectivity was the Wired article last weekend….

After the money, it is all about the culture war. There are people who believe honestly and strongly that women, minorities, and sexual issues are not being addressed to their satisfaction in science fiction and fantasy. They believe that there is too much white colonialism in science fiction. Folks, the way to change people’s minds is to understand where they are, be sympathetic to their position, and slowly move them to where you want them to be. It is way too late to do that. There is a crop of writers, mostly women, some women of color, and quite a few men, both white and non-, who are committed to changing what they see as bias toward white only culture.

This is not necessarily wrongthink. Nor is it necessarily the gods’ own truth. Stop telling these young writers they are wrong, or dismissing them as some sort of weird Marxists. Some of them are amazingly gifted writers. The ones that are, write brilliant stories where their bias against white colonialism culture really doesn’t show—it is about the story, and their bias isn’t the plot, and it certainly doesn’t affect the action….

One of the puppy kickers has regularly said, “Go start your own awards.” Despite the snark and the down-nose-looking deprecation, it really is good advice.

I fully expect to be run out of here on a rail for what I’ve said.

It is hard to be neutral in this thing. My sympathies lie with both sides, but my efforts lie in getting good writing, regardless of politics, and writing well myself. I got the trebuchet from David Gerrold after the awards, because I mildly pointed out that I didn’t support, “applause is okay, booing is not.” And I mean mildly. And Gerrold and I go back a ways. I am sure there are more people on the other side (Mike Glyer for one) who think I am an unmitigated Puppy asshole. I am not, and never have been, a Puppy.

Just a note: Walt Boyes has never been mentioned in a post on File 770 before, and only in two comments, neither of which expressed any opinion about him at all.

(7) Ken Burnside – “How the Hugos Crashed, aka: ‘The Diary of a Self-Deploying Human Sandbag In The Culture War”

I went to the INB Theater, sat in the front row and waited.  The long discussion of the Official Hugo Asshole Disks led things off.  The Sasquan chair reminded people that “No Award” was an option.  David and Tananarive did a lovely job, and covered for a few gaffes from script pages not turning, and tried to keep it fun.  I’ve been a master of ceremonies; I’m not going to rag on them for it.

Best Related Works came up.  It went to No Award; I expected that.  I didn’t expect the loud and raucous cheering, which, frankly, pissed me off.

Then Best Short Story came up.  It also went to No Award.  The cheering was even louder.

Then Best Editor, Short Form went to No Award and the cheering was deafening. There were several people who said “Fuck this…that’s not right…” when that happened, down in the nominee area.  David heard it; he quickly looked over the orchestra pit to see what was going on.

Then Best Editor, Long Form went to No Award, and the cheering made the floor tremble. Several people (myself included) started booing.  David said “booing is not appropriate” and I came about a half-second away from standing up and jumping on the stage to grab the mic.  Bryan Thomas Schmidt DID get up and curse loudly.  Toni Weisskopf apparently never went to the ceremony at all; per Bryan the two of them commiserated for a few hours after the ceremony.

Best Novelette went to an actual winner, best Novella got No Awarded (but with less cheering), and Best Novel got a Hugo.  I made a point of personally congratulating all of the Hugo winners when I found them on Sunday.

Words cannot describe how furious I was at the outcome at the time.  I sat in the theater after the lights came up.  I had a brief conversation with political pundit (and fabricator of the Hugo Asshole Disks) Jim Wright.  He agreed with why I was angry: Cheering for No Award (and cheering loudly) was beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior.

For a ceremony that promised to be about inclusion and “we’re all fandom,” having the master of ceremonies feed off the cheering for No Award?  That’s very easy to take as hypocrisy of the first order.  I’ve also been told, multiple times that SF readers are NOT FANDOM…and that’s part of the problem. Seeing “No Award” blow out candidates who were clearly meritorious, like Mike Resnick and Toni Weisskopf?  With cheers that rattled the rafters and made the floor rumble?

I felt so very included in Fandom then.  Really.

(8) Meg Frank discusses why she resigned as a Sasqan committee member in response to the handling of the Antonelli letter to the Spokane cops and what he wrote about Carrie Cuinn.

It is common knowledge at this point that Lou Antonelli wrote a letter to the Spokane PD. It is also known that he went on Sarah Hoyt’s podcast and bragged about it. While many were rightly focused on David Gerrold’s reaction, the simple fact is that he wasn’t the only person harassed and intimidated, and he wasn’t the only one to report it. As the Co-Director of the Hugo Ceremony I reported my fear directly to my superiors. I did so several times – initially rather timidly because I didn’t want to make a fuss, but later rather firmly in a way that could not be misunderstood. One of the vice-chairs, Glenn Glazer, attempted to guilt me into not pursuing the complaint, and one of the Operations Division Heads, Robbie Bourget told me flat out that I hadn’t been harassed. When I pointed this out to them, I was told that I hadn’t ever made an official harassment complaint and lots of sarcasm that wasn’t in any way close to appropriate.

Senior members of the Sasquan committee responded to a member reporting harassment and asking for help with guilt trips, denial, victim blaming, sarcasm and dismissal.

In the interest of avoiding a he said/she said situation, I have PDFd all of the emails in this conversation and placed them in a Google Drive folder here:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B-XkKq2NGWUZV21ubUpYOVhtOHM

[Frank has since created an alternate address because people said they could see all the emails — https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-XkKq2NGWUZfkEzMlNwMGl3amVndzZ1MmxmakhHUHpEdzJRNG1BOVNRYlBJZEZsd1dPT00&usp=drive_web.]

After a fair bit of crying, some time spent on the phone with Jill, and lunch with a good friend, I decided to resign. I cannot ever in good conscience support a committee that treats its members this way. Any member, including committee members and staff, should feel able to report violations of the code of conduct and be taken seriously.

(9) Cat Valente sets the record straight in a comment on File 770:

I can knock this one down:

>I saw George R.R. Martin declare that all Puppies were Rabid at his party, and hoped that his alternate awards would’t be needed in the future, and more or less cheered for fandom holding off the barbarians. You know, people like me.

I was at the party, and as usual there is a tiny bit of truth in the wreckage of honesty on display.

George did indeed talk at length in the lead up to his announcing the Alfies. Most of it was on the history of the Hugo rocket as a hood ornament and the early days of the Hugo Losers Party that, you know, he invented. When it came time to say something about why he went and dug up old hood ornaments to make awards out of, he did say that he hoped the awards would be the first and last Alfies given out–because he hoped that next year would be a normal Hugos with a fair ballot. He absolutely did not say “all Puppies are Rabid” or anything of the kind. And he did not “more or less” praise fandom for holding off barbarians. You can tell by the “more or less” that this part is complete bullshit.

George Martin has advocated against No Award since day one of this mess. He was sad and hurt and astonished by the vitriol like we all have been, but he in no way presented the No Award result as a victory, (why would he, since he didn’t want No Award to take the night) nor the Alfies as the “real award” in any way. Rather, he emphasized that this was all his opinion and his party and his decision, his “grand and futile gesture.” His exact words were: “And yes, there are committee awards, but I am the committee.”

(10) This sounds terrifying.

(11) Gary K. Wolfe in the Chicago Tribune – “Hugo Awards: Rabid Puppies defeat reflects growing diversity in science fiction”

Following the official awards ceremony, Martin hosted a huge party in a landmark mansion, during which he presented his own “Alfie Awards,” named after science fiction writer Alfred Bester, to several candidates who, according to the final vote tallies, would have been on the Hugo ballot but were bumped by the Puppy slates. The Alfies, made from actual old automobile hood ornaments (which earlier Hugo trophies were said to resemble), also went to Puppy-slate authors who had withdrawn their own nominations, giving up a chance at a Hugo rather than being associated with the Puppies and with slate voting, and to Eric Flint, a novelist who — although he is popular among many Puppies — had posted insightful critical commentary on the controversy during the summer.

Martin clearly viewed the Hugo results as a dramatic victory for fandom and for the science fiction community at large, and made the point, shared by many in the aftermath of the awards ceremony, that in the end the controversy—inevitably dubbed “Puppygate” — represented not a divided science fiction community, but rather a surprisingly united one, and one which chooses to celebrate diversity rather than to view it as a conspiratorial threat. The Puppies themselves — some of whom have since claimed victory simply by forcing the “no awards” votes — may or may not return next year, when Worldcon is in Kansas City. But some estimates have them at no more than 10 percent to 20 percent of this year’s voting, and since the huge membership of the Spokane Worldcon — over 11,000, including non-attending members — provides an enormous base for next year’s nominations, it likely will be more of an uphill battle against a broader community that has already rejected them once and that will not as easily again be taken by surprise.

The final irony in all this is that the Hugo Awards, while more diverse and international in recent years, have never really disdained the kind of adventure fiction that the Puppies claim to champion. I met the winning novelist, Cixin Liu, when he was in Chicago earlier this year, and he made it clear that his idols are classic writers like Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. “The Three-Body Problem” itself concerns communications with an alien race, the Trisolarans, whose plan is to invade the Earth as a refuge for their own endangered civilization — surely one of the oldest plots in science fiction. John Scalzi, who became one of the chief targets of Puppy vituperation, is a white male who won the Hugo in 2013 for “Redshirts,” a space opera adventure with knowing references to “Star Trek.” Among the novellas bumped off the ballot this year by the Puppy slate was Nancy Kress’ “Yesterday’s Kin,” a well-written tale that begins with an alien spaceship parking itself over New York harbor.

The problem, I suspect, is that none of these works are only about revisiting these favored old tropes. Sometimes they satirize them (as with Scalzi). Sometimes they introduce political themes (as with Cixin Liu, whose novel opens with a harrowing account of China’s Cultural Revolution). Sometimes they focus on character and family relationships (as with Kress). What seems to threaten the Puppies is not that science fiction has forsaken its origins (which it clearly hasn’t), but that readers have come to expect more and to welcome different voices. The old-fashioned modes of space adventure and military science fiction still have substantial markets, but it’s probably true that such works show up less on Hugo or Nebula award ballots than their supporters would like.

(12) Olivia Geng on the Wall Street Journal – “Cixin Liu Becomes First Asian to Win Hugo Award for Science Fiction”

Chinese author Cixin Liu last weekend became the first Asian to win the Hugo Award for best science fiction or fantasy novel. Yet to hear the Shaanxi native tell it, making history pales in comparison to the importance of ensuring science fiction’s future in China.

“I don’t really have any special feeling about it,” Mr. Liu said by phone from his hometown in Yangquan, Shaanxi province, when asked about becoming the first Asian to win the prize in its 62-year history.

“The Hugo Awards are not well-known in China,” he added. “It still cannot change the recent receding popularity of science fiction in China. All I can do is try my best and write as many good sci-fi works as I can.”

(13) R. S. Benedict on Unicorn Booty – “Sorry, Sad Puppies: Science Fictuion Has Always Been Political”

If Mary Shelley was science fiction’s mother, its father was probably H. G. Wells. His many works have been imitated, copied and adapted over and over again. Were H. G. Wells alive today, the Sad Puppies would probably despise him. He was a socialist who believed in racial diversity — a very controversial view in the 19th century.

But, the Sad Puppies might argue, as long as he kept his politics out of his writing, it wouldn’t be a problem. The problem with sci-fi writers is that they insist in letting their politics shape their stories.

Bad news, guys: H. G. Wells’s works were all about politics.

The War of the Worlds was Wells’s reaction to Western imperialism. Unlike many of his countrymen, he believed that Great Britain did not have a God-given right to invade and conquer other nations in Africa and the Pacific. The War of the Worlds was his way of saying to England, “How would you like it if someone did that to you?” He explicitly spells out his point in the novel: ….

(14) Aya de Leon – “The Hugo Awards, Social Justice, and the Psychoanalytics of Genre”

In many ways, the Hugo battle has been inevitable. It’s been coming since the US ended the era of legal racial segregation and began to question strict gender roles. In the latter case, young women have historically been pressured to read materials that reinforced their domestic roles. They weren’t supposed to be concerned with what happened outside their door in this world, let alone be concerned about what was happening in other worlds. But in the 70s and 80s, women SFF writers have developed a strong body of work in the genre and beyond, exploring issues of gender and developing wide readership.

For people of color, prior to integration, SFF was for white people. However, in the 70s and 80s, an early vanguard of black SFF writers began to integrate the genre. During that time, a relatively small number of people of color would read SFF (sometimes—prior to the internet—they were completely unaware of the POC who were writing it). The readership was primarily those of us with white friends, at white schools, or in white communities. Not surprising that SFF themes of alienation or actual aliens spoke to many of us.

(15) jaythenerdkid on The Rainbow Hub – “The Hugo Awards Controversy and Sci-Fi’s Diversity Problem”

The Sad Puppy vision for the Hugo Awards is one where nominations are a meritocracy (where people who write innovatively about gender, sexuality, race and other social issues are considered without merit). The Sad Puppy method of achieving this vision involves harassing everyone who doesn’t agree with them, because their arguments can’t actually stand on merit. They’ve even run afoul of George R. R. Martin, who is about as establishment as it gets in contemporary fantasy (I mean, one of his heroines is a literal white saviour in a land full of brown savages, yikes!), which means they’re now very much persona non grata in the SF/F community, something they’ve decided is a badge of honour rather than a damning condemnation of their beliefs and tactics.

That’s all well and good, but the fact that the Puppies got as far as they did – completely rigging five categories so that the only nominees were of their choosing, and skewing several others so there were very few choices who weren’t theirs – says a lot about a community that’s always inhabited a curious place halfway between insular and inviting, inflexible and innovative. It’s strange to think that the Hugo Awards, which have honoured legends like Ursula K. LeGuin and Octavia Butler, were turned into a farcical man-child temper tantrum by a bunch of jilted former nominees who wanted to ruin everyone else’s fun. At the same time, it makes perfect sense coming from a community that can accept the War of the Roses with dragons, but not making a fictional god female. There’s always been this element in the fandom of people – mostly men, mostly cis, mostly straight, mostly white, mostly middle-class, mostly college-educated – who think escapism and adventure stop being fun once politics that don’t agree with their own are introduced. (They’re fine, of course, with the hard-right libertarian politics of works like Ender’s Game or the oeuvre of Terry Goodkind.) The internet has enabled these squeaky wheels, giving them wider platforms and the ability to organise their bullying and harassment.

(16) Joe Vasicek on One Thousand and One Parsecs – “The Decline and Fall of Fandom and the Hugo Awards”

Can the Hugo Awards be saved? I seriously doubt it. The “truefans” will jealously clutch it to their chests until they die, and with the graying of fandom, that will probably be accomplished fairly soon. But just as the Renaissance rose from the long-cold ashes of the Roman Empire, so too I hope that something good will eventually come out of all of this. Because really, there is a place in fandom (lower-case f) for everyone, and that has never changed.

(17) Creative Bloq – “Hugo Award-winning artist reveals her secrets to success”

Here, Elizabeth reveals her top tips for fantasy and sci-fi artists who want to get noticed…

01. Community

Search out art communities, locally and web-based.  We are a reasonably small set of artists in the grand scheme of things and it becomes really easy to see all of the connections and overlaps.

Personally, I highly recommend ArtOrder.  Jon Schindehette is a huge advocate for artists in general and ArtOrder is his baby.

02. Professionality

Be professional.  Always, always, always make deadline.  READ YOUR CONTRACTS.

03. Exceed Expectations

Strive to make your art director look awesome through giving them great work. One of the bits of advice I follow is do not create illustration you feel simply reflects your payment.

Always try to exceed their expectations.  It may only be a $100 contract, but your work should look like you were paid $500.  The internet is forever.  Your work is you.

(18) Natalie Luhrs on Pretty Terrible – “No More Memory Holes”

So remember how Sasquan decided that even though Lou Antonelli violated their Code of Conduct they weren’t going to enforce the Code of Conduct because David Gerrold didn’t want them to?  Turns out that Gerrold wasn’t the only one feeling harassed and intimidated–and he wasn’t the only one to report it.

Meg Frank, the Events Deputy Division Head also reported same against Lou Antonelli and was told by the head of operations, Robbie Bourget, that she had not been harassed and one of the vice-chairs, Glenn Glazer, attempted to guilt her into backing down.  Instead of backing down, Meg Frank resigned a week before the convention.  Frank has provided a PDF of emails to back up her assertions.

I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not.  Here are a some screencaps from the Journeymen of Fandom group on Facebook in which it is clear that Robbie Bourget sees the rehabilitation of offenders back into community as a higher priority than attendee safety….

(19) Juliette Wade on TalkToYoUniverse“My new SF/F Reading Journal for next year’s Hugos”

I have been inspired by this year’s Hugos.

It’s become clear to me, as perhaps it has to many others, that entrusting my opinions of the latest genre works to others to nominate for awards is not enough any more.

One might ask: why haven’t I done the active, thorough job I wanted on nominating? Easy: life. The biggest factor in my failure is my faulty, distracted, non-eidetic memory.

Therefore, I’m starting a reading journal.

Essentially, I am a very busy person (as many are), and I can’t always call to mind every story I’ve read in a year, even the good ones. From now on, every time I read a story in the field, or a brilliant article, etc. I’ll be writing down title, author, and publication

(20) Cat Rambo on The World Remains Mysterious – “My Report from Sasquan: Mostly Glorious and So Many Thank Yous”

Met up with Mike Resnick, who has appeared on the Hugo ballot a breathtaking 37 times, winning 5, after the panel. We ventured out into the hazy afternoon along the riverwalk to talk about some SFWA stuff and came out of that excited about some prospects. I’m a longtime fan of Mike’s, not just of his excellent work, but of the way he helps newer writers, consistently extending a hand by collaborating with or publishing them. As SFWA President, I’m trying to make sure that the org’s moving forward in a way that makes (almost) everyone happy, so I wanted to talk about how we could use some of SFWA’s new marketing resources to help with the committee that Mike has ably headed for so long, the Anthology Committee. I’m looking forward to working with him on the SFWA projects we discussed.

[Thanks to Mark Dennehy, Ann Somerville, and John King Tarpinian for some of these links.]

Pixel Scroll 8/11 Award not for whom the puppies troll

These are the times that try men’s Scrolls.

(1) Dilbert is still not at work on his sci-fi novel.

(2) Blogger and Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik is opening a new venue for her writing:

I am founding this space for all of us: It’s called GrokNation.

Do you know what it means to grok something? Grok is an old-school sci-fi term from the 1961 book “Stranger in a Strange Land.” It means to fully grasp something in the deepest way possible.

I want to be able to reach all kinds of people with my thinking and writing, and while I will still continue to write for Kveller about Jewish parenting, GrokNation will be the place where I share my thoughts about being an actress on “The Big Bang Theory,” being a scientist and a vegan mom, being an unusual woman because I am an actress and a scientist and a vegan mom, and everything in between. Eventually, I want GrokNation to become a place for voices other than mine, but we are just starting out so it may take some time!

(3) Rachel Bloom, known to fans for her Hugo-nominated music video “F*** Me, Ray Bradbury”, has been busy charming TV critics in advance of the October 12 premiere of her sitcom Crazy Ex Girlfriend.

When it organically was revealed that literally every single present “Crazy Ex” actor can professionally tap dance, Bloom’s co-star and four-time tap champ Donna Lynne Champlin challenged the journalists in attendance to ask all the other casts we come across this tour that same question, and see if any other show comes close….

Showrunner Aline Brosh McKenna and Bloom also masterfully handled — or at least deflected — sincere topics, such as the use of the potentially pejorative “Crazy” in the title, which could have been bait for a less comfortable group.

(4) In World War II, dozens of radio operators in Scituate, Rhode Island dialed into enemy conversations worldwide:

The Chopmist Hill listening post soon became the largest and most successful of a nationwide network of 13 similar installations. Its ability to eavesdrop on German radio transmissions in North Africa, for instance, was so precise that technicians could actually listen in on tank-to-tank communications within Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s infamous Afrika Korps.

The Germans’ battlefield strategy was then relayed to the British, who under Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery eventually defeated Rommel at El Alamein.

(5) With the Worldcon coming to town next week, the Spokane Spokesman-Review brings locals up to speed about the Sad Puppies:

It also arrives amid controversy.

Fans at Worldcon vote for the winners of the annual Hugo Awards. Regarded as some of the most prestigious honors in sci-fi and fantasy writing, the Hugos have been bestowed upon such names as Kurt Vonnegut and Portland novelist Ursula K. Le Guin. The Hugos have been awarded every year since 1955.

This year’s Hugos are mired in a present-day argument instead of a futuristic struggle.

A group of authors who call themselves the “Sad Puppies” is accused of strong-arming Hugo organizers to insert three authors on the shortlist of nominees. The group’s leaders contend the Hugos are too often awarded to what they call the “literati elite” and predisposed to affirmative action rather than less pretentious and more deserving writing.

Critics call the “Sad Puppies” a right-wing group supportive of the writings of white men and averse to the growing diversity of the genre. Martin has chimed in with a long series of blog posts, saying the controversy has “broken” the awards and “plunged all fandom into war.”

The controversy “has resulted in more people interested in Worldcon than would have been interested before,” said Tom Whitmore, a Seattle massage therapist and Worldcon volunteer who’s helping promote and organize the not-for-profit event. “We’ve followed our own rules, and we’re going ahead with our own rules, and that’s that.”

(6) Even those who have been following the Puppies from day one need a map. Aaron Pound, who Lou Antonelli tried to get fired from his job as a government attorney, summarizes all the Antonelli news from then til yesterday on Dreaming About Other Worlds.

Despite my tweeting on my personal twitter account, Antonelli took it upon himself to track down my work e-mail and phone number, first e-mailing a poorly thought out threat to come down to my workplace and do something or other, and then telephoning my office to confirm I was employed there.

(7) Natalie Luhrs’ chronicle of Antonelli’s offenses, “Pattern Matching: Lou Antonelli and the Sad Puppies”, characterizes them as she feels they deserve.

I think it bears emphasizing that by making a false report to police about David Gerrold, Lou Antonelli placed every single attending member of Worldcon in danger. This is reprehensible. The fact that David Gerrold forgave Antonelli for this is between the two of them; Gerrold does not get to accept Antonelli’s apology on behalf of the rest of the convention membership and to its staff and volunteers….

His modus operandi seems to be to incite an incident or seek one out, become abusive in some manner, and then only apologize if the target is high profile enough or if enough high profile people notice that he’s being abusive. His apology will contain a lot of language that deflects responsibility for his actions off him and onto other people or communities. Lather, rinse, repeat.  If he goes after you and you don’t make noise about it or if someone doesn’t make noise on your behalf, or if you’re not particularly high profile, you’re not going to get even an attempt at an apology….

(8) In a separate post, “Some Members are More Equal than Others”, Luhrs makes her case against Sasquan’s decision not to ban Antonelli from attending.

One of Gerrold’s quoted reasons is that Antonelli “deserves” to be able to attend the Hugo Awards because he’s a nominee.

The message I’m getting from Sasquan is that if you apologize enough, if you can convince the person you’ve harassed into accepting your apology, and if you’ve been nominated for an award, Codes of Conduct don’t apply to you. Especially if you’ve promised to be on your very best behavior and not do it again.

(9) But Antonelli has not been left to face the music completely alone. Amanda S. Green on According To Hoyt argues the way he’s being treated is out of proportion, and compares his critics to the storybook folk who claimed “The sky is falling!”

At least that is the way it might seem if you were paying much attention to those very vocal few who have made it their life’s mission to denigrate anyone who might even remotely be associated with Sad Puppies 3. Oh how they have rallied these last few days to not only vilify Lou Antonelli but, even in the face of the one man who could reasonably be seen as having an issue with him accepting his apology, they continue to attack and demonize him. This has resulted in at least one contract being cancelled for Mr. Antonelli and even that is not enough to satisfy those who have taken to social media to attack him.

And, like with so much of what the Anti-Puppy crowd has done these last few months, they have taken Antonelli’s actions and blown them out of proportion. Specifically, Antonelli sent a letter to the Spokane Police Department expressing concerns not so much about what David Gerrold might personally do but what some of those who follow him on social media might do. Was it a wise move on Antonelli’s part? No. But, to be honest, with some of the vitriol I have seen from both sides of the fence the last few months, I can understand why he might have felt concerned.

(10) There will be no comic relief at the end today! Because Stephen King knows how to take a horror and make it verse.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/25 – A Pixel in Time

Five stories, two videos and a tweet in today’s Scroll. Now with extra subtitle goodness.

(1) What’s that sound? Everybody look what’s goin’ down…. Aaron Reese writes audio history in “From vrrrramp to snikt: exploring sci-fi’s most iconic movie sound effects”.

This is also the decade of the Wilhelm Scream, which is perhaps the most ubiquitous sound effect on this list. Appearing in over 300 films, big blockbuster and indie alike, you’ve more than likely heard the Wilhelm Scream.

 

 

The Wilhelm Scream originated in a 1951 Warner Brothers western called The Distant Drums, recorded for a scene in the movie in which a character gets attacked by an alligator (the sample is aptly named “”man getting bit by an alligator, and he screamed”). The name, however, comes from the sound sample’s use in 1954 western The Charge at Feather River, when the character Private Wilhelm, well… screams after being shot by an arrow.

While studying film at USC, friends Ben Burtt, Richard Anderson, and Rick Mitchell noticed the pervasive stock sound in a number of favorite flicks, and would jokingly use it for school projects. A few years later, however, Burtt would take the joke to Hollywood when asked by George Lucas to direct sound for Star Wars: A New Hope, using the Wilhelm Scream when a stormtrooper is shot by Luke Skywalker and falls into oblivion in the Death Star. Anderson would follow suit, sneaking it into the truck chase scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

(2) After I ran a Star Wars themed parody of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly in yesterday’s Scroll, Michael J. Walsh suggested people might be interested in a Western-themed instrumental cover of the Game of Thrones theme music. “There’s the awesome ability of a guitar with no speakers to be playing so many instruments,” says Mike. “Anyway, the idea of a spaghetti Westeros is amusing.”

(3) Ray Blank – “one of several identities deployed by a confused cosmopolitan” – tells Superversive SF readers that the Hugos want to be free! Or at least a lot cheaper. And not run by the Worldcon. And have Korean and Indian films as nominees.

Worldcon members can vote for the Hugos online. But why should the “premier awards in the science fiction field” still be associated with a physical meet-up? That approach was optimal in the 1950’s, and for a long while after. It is no longer a good way to serve your goal, if the goal is to promote an art form, and to engage with the greatest number of fans. The internet has changed what is possible. The internet connects us to millions, when we used to be satisfied with reaching thousands.

It appears that Worldcon2015 will have more non-attending members than attending members. The disproportionate growth in Worldcon supporting memberships demonstrates an inconvenient truth. The awards could be managed separately from the event. There are only two reasons to connect the two: marketing, and a subsidy for the physical convention. By connecting the two, the legitimacy of the award is undermined. This is supposedly an award given by all fans, wherever they are. So why confuse a voting electorate with a membership system that prefers some fans to others?

Associating an internet-based vote with a convention inevitably skews the vote towards the population who live near to the convention’s location. If the organizers of a ‘world’ event really wanted to maximize the diversity of participation in SF, they would separate the convention from the award, and lower the cost of voting.

You may not have been aware of Superversive SF’s commitment to diversity, a word Blank uses 10 times in his post. But yes, they support it just as strongly as Michael Z. Williamson.

(4) George R.R. Martin opposes the “nuclear option,” nevertheless will be voting No Award in several Hugo categories.

I favor reading the work, and voting for the stories, books, and writers you feel are worthy of a Hugo. Those you do NOT feel are worthy of the Hugo can and should be ranked below No Award or left off your ballot entirely.

This does not mean I am entirely opposed to voting No Award in all cases. Far from it. Having now finished most (not quite all) of my Hugo reading, I can say that I will probably be voting No Award myself in… hmmm… at least three categories, maybe four, maybe even five. These are categories where in my judgement none of the nominated work is worthy of a rocket.

But in those categories where I do find one or more nominees to be of sufficient quality, I will be voting for him or her or them, regardless of whether or not they were on a slate. And yes, this is true even if only one nominee is worthy. To throw out that one worthy nominee because they “had no real competition” (as some have suggested) seems wrong-headed to me. If it is worthy of a Hugo, give it a Hugo, that’s what I say.

Let me be specific here. Short Form Editor, Long Form Editor are all slate, but there are nominees in both who deserve a Hugo, and I’ll be voting for them. The Puppies liked a lot (though not all) of the nominees in the two Dramatic Presentation categories as well… but you know, so did I, so I’ll be voting for those as well. Sorry, but IMNSHO, only an idiot would want to “no award” GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY or INTERSTELLAR because the Puppies slated them. I am not going to tell you which movie or TV show or editor or novel I am voting for. I’ve mentioned some that I liked in older blog posts. Your mileage may vary; read, watch, consider, vote.

(5) I felt like I hadn’t seen Natalie Luhr’s name for a long time so I looked her up – darned if people aren’t still paying her money to tweet her way through Vox Day’s book.

(6) Will Baird on The Dragon’s Tales linked to an abstract that may show the origins of agriculture can be traced back to the Pleistocene – “The Origin of Cultivation and Proto-Weeds, Long Before Neolithic”. Farming. Yes, people have been raising weed(s) for a long time.

Authors: Snir et al

Abstract: Weeds are currently present in a wide range of ecosystems worldwide. Although the beginning of their evolution is largely unknown, researchers assumed that they developed in tandem with cultivation since the appearance of agricultural habitats some 12,000 years ago. These rapidly-evolving plants invaded the human disturbed areas and thrived in the new habitat. Here we present unprecedented new findings of the presence of “proto-weeds” and small-scale trial cultivation in Ohalo II, a 23,000-year-old hunter-gatherers’ sedentary camp on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Israel. We examined the plant remains retrieved from the site (ca. 150,000 specimens), placing particular emphasis on the search for evidence of plant cultivation by Ohalo II people and the presence of weed species. The archaeobotanically-rich plant assemblage demonstrates extensive human gathering of over 140 plant species and food preparation by grinding wild wheat and barley. Among these, we identified 13 well-known current weeds mixed with numerous seeds of wild emmer, barley, and oat. This collection provides the earliest evidence of a human-disturbed environment—at least 11 millennia before the onset of agriculture—that provided the conditions for the development of “proto-weeds”, a prerequisite for weed evolution. Finally, we suggest that their presence indicates the earliest, small-scale attempt to cultivate wild cereals seen in the archaeological record.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, and Will Baird for these stories, or at least for leaving them in plain sight.]

50 Ways To Leave Your Rover 6/20

aka “I love the smell of puppy in the morning.”

In today’s roundup, Ed Fortune, David Gerrold, T.C. McCarthy, Daniel Haight, Natalie Luhrs, John C. Wright, Morgan Locke, Mick, Carl Henderson, Vox Day, Tom Knighton, Rolf Nelson, Kevin Standlee, Melina D, Lis Carey, Kurt Busiek, Fred Kiesche, Brad Johnson, and mysterious others. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day John King Tarpinian and Hampus Eckerman.)

Ed Fortune on Starburst

“Book Boycott Backfires” – June 20

An attempted boycott of publisher Tor Books by right-wing online activists has spectacularly backfired as booklovers across the world have responded by purchasing books from Tor to show their support. The activists in question are known as the Sad Puppies, or simply ‘The Puppies’. They recently gained notoriety by block voting in the recent Hugo Award nominations. The demands are in response to recent statements made by editors and authors who are associated with Tor in some way. Military sci-fi author Peter Grant issued a list of demands on behalf of The Puppies in a private letter that he then posted on his blog. The demands are:

Tor must publicly apologize for writings by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Moshe Feder, Irene Gallo, and John Scalzi that “demonize, denigrate, slander and lie about the ‘Puppies’ campaigns”

Tor must “publicly reprimand those individuals for stepping over the line”

Tor must “publicly indicate that it is putting in place policies to prevent any recurrence of such issues.” Despite original Sad Puppy campaigner Larry Correia stating on his blog “The Sad Puppies Campaign is NOT calling for any boycotts, the letter was later endorsed by prominent members of The Puppies, including Theodor Beale (aka Vox Day) and John C. Wright. The Puppies now seem mostly leaderless, operating in a way similar to other online activists such as Gamer Gate and Anonymous have done in the past.

The response from the greater community has mostly been mockery, and to do their best to support authors by purchasing books from Tor

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – June 20

With the various escalations over perceived hurts, it seems that this is no longer about the Hugos — it looks more like an attempt to ignite a full-scale culture war within the genre.

Certainly, there is a lot of polarization evident in the various blogs and comment threads. But while the online discussions seem to present a picture of equal sides, I think that’s an illusion. It may turn out that the larger body of fandom will not be stampeded by the few who have become addicted to outrage.

Some of the most offensive posts — some of which are being widely circulated — will only serve to further marginalize not only the authors of those posts, but also those who are seen as comrades.

 

 

Daniel Haight on Flotilla Online

“Too Soon? How Should Sci-Fi Authors Deal with Tragedy?” – June 20

I felt compelled to speak up when another author linked to the above post made by the sci-fi author Michael Z. Williamson.  I found that Mr. Williamson’s Facebook is public and I was able to confirm that he did say what he said and that it’s still visible (as of today, 6/20 @ 10:05PDT)

I immediately felt a number of conflicting emotions: shock and revulsion at the tactless joke that was made. Sadness that we have become so inured to senseless violence that people are rushing to be the first one to find a way to joke about it. Confusion at whether I had a right to say anything, knowing I’ve made a few dark jokes from time to time. Uncertainty about whether it was my business to speak up.

And yet … a joke like that … made the same day the Charleston shooting occurred.  I can’t keep my mouth shut about that.  Innocent people died.  Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters … hundreds of lives ripped apart by a senseless act of violence.  That’s not hyperbole, those people’s lives are inexorably altered and potentially ruined. You … you can joke about that?

I can’t.

 

Natalie Luhrs on Pretty Terrible

“Documenting a Wannabe Supervillain” – June 20

I don’t care if you think they’re jokes. And I know full well what kind of context they’re coming from, when your Twitter feed is full of you taunting people who are grieving and angry over an act of terrorism perpetrated against their community and you have pictures of yourself with guns and your Facebook profile pic is pro-waterboarding. I know exactly what kind of asshole you are and you can’t slither out of responsibility for your words because you think they’re jokes. You are a hateful, vile, and pathetic human being, Michael Z. Williamson.

And Williamson’s Hugo-nominated work, “Wisdom from My Internet” is execrable. It should never have made it to the ballot–and it wouldn’t have, if the Puppies hadn’t gamed the system with coordinated slates.

 

John C. Wright

“Moshe Feder Speaks for Himself” – June 20

He has decided publicly to rebuff those customers Mr Feder calls our customers unhappy with the recent unprofessional antics at Tor Books by the charming epithet “idiots”:

As you may have heard, certain scoundrels have declared a boycott of Tor, starting today, to protest the efforts of some Tor employees to defend the Hugo Awards from attack. In response, some of our friends have declared today “Buy A Tor Book Day.”

I wouldn’t have the temerity to ask you to buy a book just because some idiots have declared war on us. But if there _is_ a Tor Book you’ve been meaning to get anyway, buying it today would be a a gesture I’d appreciate.

[As always here on Facebook, I’m speaking for myself and not the company.]

Ah… Well, thank you for your help mollifying our customers, Mr Feder. I am sure that being told they are idiots will make them eager to spend their hard earned book-buying dollars the product you and I are working together to produce for them….

Since I have a conflict of interest, I must remain neutral. Loyalty to my publisher demands I not take sides. Loyalty to my beloved customers demands I not take sides.

Mr Feder has taken sides. Loyalty to his political correctness outweighs, for him, loyalty to publisher. And he just called you, my dear readers and customers, idiots and scoundrels.

This has nothing to do with the Sad Puppies. We are only here for the Hugo Awards.

This particular fight is between, on the one hand, those at Tor Books who think political correctness outweighs all professional and personal loyalties, all standards of decency, all need to be truthful, and who damn their own customers; and, on the other, those who are thankful to the customers and who think the purpose of a business is business.

One side consists of those calling for the resignations that any professional worthy of the name would long ago have proffered for the damage they have done to the company name and public goodwill.

The other side consists of people at Tor who regard Tor as an instrument of social engineering, an arm of the Democrat Party’s press department, or a weapon in the war for social justice.

Without expressing any personal opinion, I can say that there is an easy compromise which our free and robust capitalistic system allows: we can all wish the best to Miss Gallo and Mr Feder when they day comes when they decide to take their interests and obsessions elsewhere, and leave the company in the hands of those of us who merely want to write, publish, and read science fiction told from any and every point of view, political or otherwise, provided the story is well crafted.

 

 

Mick on Mick On Everything

“I Support The Tor Boycott” – June 20

There is plenty of evidence that they’ve been lying to you internally, if in fact they are telling you that those of use who’ve been e-mailing the company are bots as has been rumored.

There is plenty of evidence that they won’t stop, and even though they are now careful to state they don’t speak for Tor, without their positions they wouldn’t have nearly the platform or audience they do. These people are trading on the status the company gave them to trash the customer base, and the authors who actually produce the work.

The originator of the Sad Puppies movement, the International Lord of Hate Larry Correia, has come out and said he does not endorse the boycott. I reiterate – I do. Those of us on the Puppy side have taken enough abuse from the other side, and it’s time we hit them in the wallet.

If someone starts a fight and you don’t fight back, you lose. They started it years ago. Now is time to fight back.

 

Carl Henderson on Offend Everyone

“In Which I Speak of Sad Puppies.” – June 20

I’m a supporter of free speech—which ideally extends beyond the 1st Amendment protections against Government interference or suppression of speech. We as a society and individuals need to cultivate tolerance for opinions we disagree with.

Ms Gallo should not be fired. While her original Facebook remarks were mean-spirited and showed contempt for Tor readers and Tor authors, employers should not purge employees for having unpopular views. They may have a legal right to (depending on state laws and contracts), but they should not because: 1) the organization becomes captive to the loudest and most easily offended of their stakeholders, and 2) free speech is an objective good that writers and publishers should support, even when that speech is unpopular, or even considered hateful.

I think that calls for Tor to fire Gallo to be are wrong. Her remarks on Facebook were hateful and intolerant. But contributing to the culture of demanding punishment whenever anyone says anything offensive is counter to the Sad Puppy goal of more intellectual/political diversity in SF and Fantasy (as well the main goal supporting the primacy of good story over message). If you like a book/writer published by Tor, buy it. If you don’t, don’t buy it. In the long run, the free market will prevail and Tor (like any other company that doesn’t get the government to bail it out) will either change or die.

The justifications I hear from some people involved in Sad Puppies for supporting a Tor boycott or a campaign to have Gallo fired, generally run along these lines of “our opponents use these tactics, so we have to as well”. (I’m oversimplifying. Duh.)

But there’s an important point that those Puppies are missing. People like Gallo are good for your side. The louder and more extreme your opponents get, the better you look. And the better you look, the more support you gain.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Mr. Feder fans the flames” – June 20

It’s worth pointing out that we are not at war with Tor Books. We are merely asking Macmillan to save Tor Books from the observably self-destructive and unprofessional leadership of three of its senior employees, who have abused Tor’s authors and attacked Tor’s customers.

 

Tom Knighton

“Thoughts on the TOR boycott” – June 20

Tor, for some silly reason, is one of many traditional publishers that look at ebooks as a novelty and has them priced in a way to encourage you to buy the print book instead.  I hate that.  There are books I want to read, but I’m not spending more than $10 for a brand new ebook, and I expect that price to drop as time goes on.  Tor’s starting point, so to speak, is so much higher than I want to spend that I don’t really see me buying much of anything anyways.

Honestly, I can’t really boycott someone I don’t buy from in the first place.  I may have yet another reason to not buy Tor books, but it’s not like they’ll notice my lack of spending on their books.  Now, that’s not true for a lot of my Sad Puppy brethren, but it is for me.

Some are screaming that it’s not fair to try and “destroy” someone’s livelihood over comments they made a month earlier on their personal Facebook page.  I’ll buy that when the Left quits trying to destroy the livelihood of everyone who says something they disagree with.

I don’t want Irene Gallo fired necessarily.  I haven’t called for anyone from Tor to be fired.  The only person whose job I called for was the twit who wrote the Entertainment Weekly article, and that wasn’t because of her personal views, it was because she is an embarrassment to journalism.  It’s as simple as that.

That’s not to say that there aren’t a few people from Tor I’d love to see hunting for a job.  There are.  I hear those people get fired, and it’s party central at the Knighton household.  They’ve insulted me and my friends so many times that I really don’t care about how they’ll manage in today’s job market.

 

Wheels Within Wheels

“Boycott in progress” – June 20

I won’t be acquiring any more, though. Tor gives every impression of having a corporate culture that despises anyone who isn’t wholly on board with the left-wing causes of the day, and is more than willing to demonize them. As that applies to me, since they despise me, I’ll not force them to associate with me any longer.

 

Rolf Nelson

“Tor Boycott” – June 19

Gee, I can just feel the love from here. Details at Vox’s blog, Peter Grant’s place, Hoyt’s, and many other places in the SF/F blog-o-sphere. So, if you like SF, keep reading, but but use the library. If you think you just must buy your favorite Tor author, buy used and hit their tip-jar. Or, check out competing publishers like Baen or Castalia House, which don’t treat their authors and fan base like crap.

 

 

Kevin Standlee on Fandom Is My Way Of Life

“E Pluribus Hugo Submitted” – June 20

As presiding officer, I obviously won’t take a stance on the proposal; however, its very complexity requires me to be concerned about how to handle it technically at the Business Meeting. It will probably depend on how much more business gets submitted. It’s proposals like this that lead me to planning for WSFS to hold a Sunday (final day) business meeting for the first time since 1992.

 

 

Melina D on Subversive Reader

“Hugos 2015 Mini Review: The Lego Movie” – June 21

I was watching along enjoying it, but thinking that there wasn’t really anything deeper to the movie, and then it turns around and hits me in the feels.The ‘twist’ at the end was unexpected and definitely added another element to the movie, but it also raises some questions (for me anyway) about the purpose of adult collectors of toys. I come from a family of these (my grandparents actually ran a toy museum when I was a kid) so maybe I think about these things when others don’t, but should toys be played with or preserved?

 

Melina D on Subversive Reader

“Hugos 2015 Reading: Related Works” – June 20 So, the best of this category was better than I expected, but the worst was much worse than expected. I will use No Award in this category, because I don’t think any of the writing was polished or completely engaging enough to win an award as prestigious as the Hugo. However, I’ll list The Hot Equations next, as it was a mostly cohesive piece of writing which showed clear links to SF fiction.

This is where the slate is once again doing themselves a disservice, because it’s possible in another year The Hot Equations might have been in their amongst the top pieces. It’s the kind of thing I was expecting/hoping to find in the nominations – work on topics which aren’t usually my cup of tea (milSF and thermodynamics) which are good enough to engage me and make me think. But because there’s nothing to compare it with, I have to judge it on its own – create my own criteria – which leaves a possibility that I’m being harder on it than it deserves. And there’s such a lot of energy spent on promoting the really bad writing which could be spent on promoting and polishing and presenting more work like this.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Abyss & Apex: Hugo-Nominated Magazine of Speculative Fiction” – June 20

Abyss & Apex is a 2015 Hugo nominee for Best Semiprozine. It’s a web-based zine publishing a mix of poetry and fiction. I was very pleased to see that they have organized and accessible archives that made it easy to look at their issues from 2014. i.e., the relevant ones for this year’s Hugos. Overall, the quality looks high, and the presentation is good. My one objection is that the body text font doesn’t seem to be completely consistent across the site, and for me, that makes it a smidge less reasonable. In total, though, I’m favorably impressed.