Pixel Scroll 12/12 Do Androids Look Up When They’re Dreaming Of Electronic Sheep?

Live, from way later than the bleeping middle of Saturday night!

(1) VOTER DECEPTION? People are gathering signatures for a San Diego ballot initiative that allegedly will help keep Comic-Con in town, but the organizers of Comic-Con told Deadline.com they have nothing to do with it and it won’t affect whatever they may decide.

Will Comic-Con stay in San Diego? No word yet, but there’s a lot of confusion among fans on what’s going on with the organization’s desire to expand their annual convention in San Diego. Comic-Con International made the unusual move today of putting out a statement regarding a ballot initiative that was drawn up by a group called Citizens Plan for San Diego that seems to be at odds with their own desires for a contiguous expansion along the waterfront. Signatures are being gathered for a ballot initiative to keep Comic-Con in San Diego albeit a different spot, and those collecting signatures are actually advertising the initiative with signs stating “Keep Comic-Con in San Diego….

“There is a lot of confusion about this matter so we felt it necessary to put out a statement to let people know that we are not a party to this, have not read the initiatives and it will have no bearing on our decision of whether we stay in San Diego,” Comic-Con spokesperson David Glanzer told Deadline. He said they have been getting a lot of calls about this and just wanted to set the record straight.

(2) THERE ARE NO BAD PRINCESSES. Check out the photos of what Hampus Eckerman likes to call Disney’s newest Princess at boingboing.

Sophie’s parents tapped their friend, Megan, to turn a Chewbacca doll into a Princess Chewbacca birthday cake, using the “Barbie cake” method, and making Sophie’s third birthday just the bestest.

(3) BYERS SURGERY. SF Site News reports Chunga co-editor Randy Byers is back home after brain surgery.

Fan Randy Byers is recovering at home after undergoing brain surgery to remove a tumor. Byers will receive further diagnosis of his tumors and whether or not additional treatment will be needed, in about a week.

(4) Today In History

  • December 12, 1941 — On this day in 1941 The Wolf Man is unleashed in theaters. Did you know: the “wolf” that Larry Talbot fights with was Lon Chaney Jr.’s own German Shepherd.

wolfman w dog

(5) KRAMPUS. Now just hours away is a local stage performance of a Krampus-themed play.

He’s certainly not jolly, and you sure as hell had better not call him “Nick.” The St. Nicholas you’ll meet tonight is the genuine old-world artifact – the stern judge who oversaw a creaky old style of child-rearing the Germans call “gingerbread and whip.”

Of course Nicholas himself didn’t dirty his hands with whips. For that he had the Krampus. Today, every self-respecting hipster loves Krampus. But while your friends rhapsodize about the ersatz bubblegum Krampus of American comic books, TV, and monster fandom, tonight you’ll get a glimpse of the old devil in his original form – the Krampus of the ancient alpine “Nikolausspiel” or NICHOLAS PLAY, a folk theater production somewhat resembling England’s old Christmas mummers’ plays.



(6) SAFETY LAST. Great video — Samurai Smartphone Parade.

99% of people think using a smartphone while walking is dangerous.

73% of people have used a smartphone while walking.


(7) THE HUGO URGE. George R.R. Martin makes two recommendations for the Best Related Work Hugo in a new post at Not A Blog.

THE WHEEL OF TIME COMPANION was a mammoth concordance of facts about the universe and characters of the late Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series, edited and assembled by Harriet McDougal, Alan Romanczuk, and Maria Simons. It’s a labor of love, and everything one could possibly want to know about Jordan’s universe is in there.


Felicia Day’s delightful look at her life, YOU’RE NEVER WEIRD ON THE INTERNET (Almost).

(8) VERHOEVEN’S STINKER. Jason Fuesting, in “Starship Troopers: Book vs. Movie” for Mad Genius Club, takes a movie we both dislike and, by applying his powers of persuasion, still finds grounds for disagreement.

Ultimately, Verhoeven takes a message needed badly by so many today, with their safe spaces and trigger warnings, and turns it into the film equivalent of those same children’s tantrums, a film so poorly written that only Mystery Science Theater 3000 could find use for it.  A better director would have used Joe Haldeman’s “Forever War,” an excellent book in its own right.  Haldeman makes all the points this film bobbled in “Forever War,” but using it would have meant going without all the Nazi imagery that Verhoeven is evidently fond of and not butchering an outstanding work in the process.  Verhoeven’s film is surely satire, but I do not think he realizes the joke is on his side.

(9) MST3K CAMEOS. There will be a bushel of celebrity cameos on the revived MST3K.

MST3K creator Joel Hodgson announces a celebrity-packed cameo list that includes Seinfeld, Hamill, Harris, Jack Black, Bill Hader and Joel McHale for the new series.

Fans also found out this week from Hodgson that the new MST3K writing team will include not only the cast, but also guest writers such as “Community” creator Dan Harmon and his “Rick & Morty” co-creator Justin Roiland. Others will include “The Muppet Show” writer Nell Scovell, “Ready Player One” author Ernie Cline, “The Name of the Wind” author Pat Rothfuss, musical comedy duo Paul and Storm, “Simpsons” writer Dana Gould, “The Book of Mormon” songwriter Robert Lopez and director of the next “Lego Movie” Rob Schrab.

(10) RETHINKING SUSAN PEVENSIE. E. Jade Lomax of Hark, the empty highways calling has written a set of thoughtful, heart-tugging parallax views about what happened after Narnia’s Susan returned to England.


…I want to read about Susan finishing out boarding school as a grown queen reigning from a teenaged girl’s body. School bullies and peer pressure from children and teachers who treat you like you’re less than sentient wouldn’t have the same impact. C’mon, Susan of the Horn, Susan who bested the DLF at archery, and rode a lion, and won wars, sitting in a school uniform with her eyebrows rising higher and higher as some old goon at the front of the room slams his fist on the lectern.

Susan living through WW2, huddling with her siblings, a young adult (again), a fighting queen and champion marksman kept from the action, until she finally storms out against screaming parents’ wishes and volunteers as a nurse on the front. She keeps a knife or two hidden under her clothes because when it comes down to it, they called her Gentle, but sometimes loving means fighting for what you care for.

She’ll apply to a women’s college on the East Coast, because she fell in love with America when her parents took her there before the war. She goes in majoring in Literature (her ability to decipher High Diction in historical texts is uncanny), but checks out every book she can on history, philosophy, political science. She sneaks into the boys’ school across town and borrows their books too. She was once responsible for a kingdom, roads and taxes and widows and crops and war. She grew from child to woman with that mantle of duty wrapped around her shoulders. Now, tossed here on this mundane land, forever forbidden from her true kingdom, Susan finds that she can give up Narnia but she cannot give up that responsibility. She looks around and thinks I could do this better….


Can we talk about Susan Pevensie for a moment?

Let’s talk about how, when the war ends, when the Pevensie children go back to London, Susan sees a young woman standing at the train platform, weeping, waving.

First, Susan thinks civilian; and second, she thinks not much older than me.

Third, Susan thinks Mother.

They surge off the train, into their parents’ arms, laughing, embracing. Around them, the train platform is full of reunions (in her life, trains will give so much to Susan, and take so much away).

(11) NPR RECOMMENDS. NPR staff and critics have listed 260 books they loved this year – click here to see the ones in the science fiction and fantasy category.

(12) TOUGHER MEGABUCKS.  Scott Mendelson at Forbes tells why he thinks “For ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ Breaking The Opening Weekend Record Just Got Less Likely”.

But if The Force Awakens breaks the opening weekend record next weekend, it, like The Phantom Menace, will have to do it in a lot fewer theaters than expected. Walt Disney reported yesterday (according to the always trustworthy BoxOffice.com and Box Office Mojo) that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be opening next week on around 3,900 screens in America.

That’s only the 11th biggest theater count in 2015 and nowhere close to the biggest theater count of all time. The biggest theatrical release in 2015 was the 4,301 screen release for Minions ($115 million debut weekend). The widest release of all time was for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse which debuted on July 4th weekend of 2010 in 4,468 theaters. There have been 62 releases debuting in more than 4,000 theaters. If you presume that the figure is closer to 3,900 versus 3,999 theaters next week, that puts the Walt Disney release at merely one of the 100 biggest releases ever, about on par with Spectre and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Point being, Star Wars: The Force Awakens isn’t going to have anywhere closer to the widest theatrical release of all time.

(13) ‘TISN’T THE SEASON. A friend of mine *coff* *coff* wanted me to ask John Scalzi a favor, but after reading “On the Asking of Special Holiday Favors From Me” I’m going to tell my friend *coff* *coff* this is a bad time…

Folks: This week I’ve gotten no less than five requests from fans (or family/friends of fans) asking if I could do some particular special thing or another that would mean a lot to the fan for the holidays. Since there are several of these this week, and these sorts of requests are something I’ve had to juggle before, especially during the holidays, I’m posting this as a general note so people know it’s not personal. And that note is:

I really can’t….

[Thanks to Janice Gelb, John King Tarpinian, Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, Hampus Eckerman, and Brian Z. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 11/19 The Endochronic Pixils of Resublimated Scrollotimoline

(1) Randall Munroe has a piece on The New Yorker blog called “The Space Doctor’s Big Idea”.  He’s explaining Einstein and relativity, but doing it with his cartoons and quirky humor.

The first idea is called the special idea, because it covers only a few special parts of space and time. The other one—the big idea—covers all the stuff that is left out by the special idea. The big idea is a lot harder to understand than the special one. People who are good at numbers can use the special idea to answer questions pretty easily, but you have to know a lot about numbers to do anything with the big idea. To understand the big idea—the hard one—it helps to understand the special idea first.

(2) Steven Barnes’ new book Star Wars Saved My Life: Be the Hero in the Adventure of Your Own Lifetime has been released. Amazon Prime members can borrow it free, all others pay cash!

SW Saved My Life COMP

It’s finally here! The book I’ve been hinting about for months, STAR WARS SAVED MY LIFE is the first self-help book ever written for science fiction fans, the LIFEWRITING system applied to healing finances, career, health, and the wounded heart. A pure work of love, available FREE to anyone with an Amazon Prime membership, it is my way of saying “thank you” to all of you who helped me find my way, gave me friendship, support, and love.

(3) Downthe tubes.net reports that Star Trek comic strips published in various UK comics and annuals back in the 1970s (and never in the US) will be republished in a collection next year.

In all, the British Star Trek ran for 257 weekly magazines spanning five years and 37 storylines and in addition to its weekly appearances, more original material drawn by Ron Turner, Jack Sutter, Jim Baikie and John Canning appeared in the 1969 Joe 90 Top Secret annual, the Valiant 1972 Summer Special, the 1971-1973 TV21 hardcover annuals and the 1978-1979 TV Comic annuals.

An original Frank Bellamy Star Trek strip also appeared in the June 27, 1970 issue of Radio Times to promote the show’s return to BBC1.

These strips have never been published in the United States and were not written with strict adherence to Star Trek‘s core concepts. The U.S.S. Enterprise frequently traveled outside our galaxy, and the crew committed many violations of the never-mentioned Prime Directive along the way. Spock shouted most of his lines and often urged Kirk (or “Kurt,” as his name was misspelled in early issues) to shoot first and ask questions later.

(4) Nancy Hightower’s picks for the “Best science fiction and fantasy books of 2015” at the Washington Post include one that hasn’t been heavily discussed here.


By Carola Dibbell (Two Dollar Radio)

This fascinating first novel details the emotional journey of Inez Fardo, a 19-year-old who has survived terrible trauma and yet still manages to find life sometimes wondrous. In a time when most of the population has been wiped out by a series of superviruses, she makes a meager living cleaning up contaminated sites. But when it’s discovered that she is resistant to the viruses that continue to threaten the world, an amateur scientist and his team offer to harvest her DNA to make healthy babies for others. Inez goes along with the plan, but soon a series of events forces her to raise the one child produced by the experiment. What follows is a heart-piercing tale of love, desire and acceptance as Inez tries to give her daughter a different life from the one she’s experienced.

(5) Larry Correia turns off the game long enough to offer “Fallout 4, Initial Thoughts”.

The atmosphere is great. Unlike many post apocalyptic things, Fallout doesn’t take itself too seriously. So everything has that retro cool, 50s but blown up vibe.

It gets really buggy at times, but better than the last one. This engine is dated, and it shows. Sometimes you kill stuff and it flies up into the air and spins around for a while. Other times a body will get stuck in the wall and vibrate forever. I’ve had a few crashes, freezes, and once I had to unplug and replug in the Xbox to get it to launch. But still better than the last one, and less buggy than Skyrim.

I had to turn on subtitles, because the music has a tendency to get annoyingly loud when people are trying to tell you important things. Then I learned that the subtitles only show up about half the time. So I turned the music way down and the voice volume way up, and even then I miss lots of things my companions are telling me. Damn it, Piper. Speak up. My character has been in like 400 gun fights without hearing protection, so maybe this is just added realism.

(6) John DeNardo has a fun discussion of “Why I Love Retro Science Fiction” at Kirkus Reviews.

Simply put, retro-futurism is what people of the past thought their future might look like. It’s our great-grandparents’ depiction of today. Or, the future that could-have-been.

Retro futures can be observed in many mediums: books, television, film, even sculpture. When you see an “old school” ray gun, you’re looking at a retro future. When you see the people wearing shiny white uniforms on Moonbase Alpha in Space: 1999, that’s the show’s creators’ view of how people in their future might dress. When you see Captain Kirk pull out his cellphone—er, personal communicator—you’re seeing someone from the past predict what cool gadgets the future might bring.

(7) Jason Sanford calls for writers to “Stop Duotrope’s attempt to own authors’ personal submission data”. The service authors use to track submissions and research markets is now trying to restrict users’ rights to their data.

According to Duotrope’s terms of service, “Any data downloaded from this website, including but not limited to submission histories, is strictly for personal use and may not be shared with any third parties or used for commercial purposes.”

What does this mean? It means that if you upload your submission information to Duotrope, you no longer have the right to use your own data as you see fit. You can’t use the data to write an article about submissions for a magazine or upload your data to another online submission system such as the site run by Writer’s Market. Basically, once you use Duotrope you can’t leave and take your data elsewhere.

Duotrope also attempts to make a blatant copyright grab, with their terms stating “The website and its database are also protected as a collective work or compilation under U.S. copyright and other laws and treaties. All individual articles, pages and other elements making up the website are also copyrighted works. Use of any of these original works without written permission of Duotrope LLC is expressly forbidden.”

Duotrope is skating on thin ice here because you can’t copyright data. But combine this copyright statement with their terms of use for the data and Duotrope is essentially saying they own any submission data uploaded to their system by authors.

(8) Annie Bellet asks people not to nominate her for awards in 2016.

I don’t wish to have my work considered for awards this year. I’d like to just have 2016 to get stuff done, worry about my readers and my career, and (hopefully!) not be involved in any award business. I’m not attending Worldcon 2016 either (I’ll be there for 2017 though, yay excuse to go to Finland!).

So please… if you read and enjoyed something of mine that was published this year (and there were a few things I think are some of my best work),  thank you. But don’t vote for my stories.   I’ve got cool work coming out next year, and maybe by 2017 I’ll have healed the stress of this last award season, but for now… please, I want a year of not having to even worry about it, slim as my chances might be.

(9) Fantasy Literature has launched its “Second annual Speculative Fiction Haiku Contest”. Leave your entries in the comments. Can you improve on this entry from last year? I knew you could…

a meddlesome god
sows nightmares in childhood dreams
meesa jar jar binks

(10) Sarah Avery writes the kind of immersive conreport I like. Now at Black Gate — “World Fantasy 2015: It’s the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead of Convention Reports”.

Lots of interesting stuff about trying to line up an agent is woven around accounts of WFC’s panels and conversations in the bar. I’m picking this passage for the excerpt, because Avery was actually on one of Mari Ness’ panels that made news here:

After reminding myself a couple of times that panels were not, overall, my mission, I prepared for the one panel I was on.

That panel turned out to be newsworthy not for its content, but because of accessibility issues. Author Mari Ness, who uses a wheelchair, was unable to get onto the stage because there was no ramp. This issue has been covered elsewhere, with all its ramifications for policy, conrunning logistics, and ethics. All I can add to the accessibility discussion is that the other panelists (David Hartwell, Darrell Schweitzer, Stephen R. Donaldson) and I were nearly as uncomfortable with the situation as Ness was. The hotel staff said they’d have to take the stage entirely apart to put their ramp on it, and we were late already, so Ness decided to do the fastest thing. She positioned her wheelchair close enough that we could pass her a microphone. Donaldson was an excellent moderator, and Hartwell and Schweitzer (who on occasion have been known to hold forth) kept themselves uncharacteristically concise to make space in the discussion for Mari. The physical space might not have been inclusive, but we were all determined that the discussion would be.

As it turned out, Mari was the only one whose remarks drew spontaneous applause. We were talking about the ancient epics, contemporary fantasy epics, and what kinds of lineages do or don’t connect them. What, Donaldson asked, were our personal favorites among the modern epics? And though the rest of us got more and more obscure with our picks, Mari’s was Star Wars. And that felt more personally foundational than any other epic we’d discussed.

(11) And as often as I’ve been invoking her name lately, I should also publicize Sarah Avery’s Kickstarter appeal to fund publication of her fantasy novel The Imlen Bastard, which has raised $6,695 to date, achieving its initial $4,500 goal, then a stretch goal that will pay for the audiobook, and finally aspires to raise $9,600 which will allow Avery to commission more Kate Baylay art.

(12) Movie footage was shot at the first Worldcon. We may see it someday, if it hasn’t been tossed, and if anyone can ever find it. Doug Ellis has been searching for years, as he explains in “The Elusive Film Footage of the Very First Worldcon” at Black Gate.

I have a carbon copy of a letter dated August 16, 1939 that Darrow wrote to his friend, Walt Dennis, concerning the first Worldcon. In part, it reads as follows.

The following day was the big day of the convention. [NOTE – DARROW IS REFERRING TO SUNDAY, JULY 2, 1939, THE FIRST DAY OF THE CON.] Otto [BINDER] picked up Bill, Jack [JACK WILLIAMSON], Ed Hamilton and myself and we took a bus to the convention hall. Bill and I had had no breakfast and it was almost noon, so we deserted the gang long enuf to invade an Automat. Arriving back at the hall we found a mob gathered at the door. Somebody shoved an autograph book in my face. [PERHAPS THIS IS WHAT’S CAPTURED IN THIS PHOTO] They way they worked this was to ask every stranger they saw for their autograph and then look to see who they got. I took several snaps (enclosed) and Bill took snaps and movies. There seemed to be a lot of excitement when Forrest J. Ackerman and I met for the first time. Bill took movies of the handshake. Forrie was quite a surprise to me. Tall, handsome and quiet. A very pleasant fellow. He was dressed in an outfit out of Wells’ pic Things to Come.

(13) Gregory N. Hullender has posted Rocket Stack Rank’s evaluation of “Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft”, and adds this incentive to click the link – “The fact that I not only worked at Microsoft for a long time but actually worked on some of these technologies might make this a bit more interesting.”

(14) Yes, I can imagine.

(15) This just in from 2009! “Moon landing tapes got erased, NASA admits”. We now join our conspiracy theories already in progress.

The original recordings of the first humans landing on the moon 40 years ago were erased and re-used, but newly restored copies of the original broadcast look even better, NASA officials said on Thursday.

NASA released the first glimpses of a complete digital make-over of the original landing footage that clarifies the blurry and grainy images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the surface of the moon.

The full set of recordings, being cleaned up by Burbank, California-based Lowry Digital, will be released in September. The preview is available at www.nasa.gov.

NASA admitted in 2006 that no one could find the original video recordings of the July 20, 1969, landing.

Since then, Richard Nafzger, an engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, who oversaw television processing at the ground-tracking sites during the Apollo 11 mission, has been looking for them.

The good news is he found where they went. The bad news is they were part of a batch of 200,000 tapes that were degaussed — magnetically erased — and re-used to save money.

(16) Jeremiah Moss at Vanishing New York asks friends to help Jerry Ohlinger

A couple of years ago, I visited Jerry Ohlinger’s amazing movie material store in the Garment District. In business since 1976, it was the last store in New York City dedicated to movie photos.

Struggling with the rent, Jerry closed his shop and moved most of his “one million and one hundred thousand” photos to a warehouse in New Jersey as he downsized to a much smaller shop on West 30th, with limited hours.

Now Jerry needs help. The items in the warehouse need to be moved again, and there’s no money to do it. Visit <https://www.gofundme.com/996j7zvc> and consider giving him a hand.

Jeremiah wrote about the old store for The New Yorker a few years ago in “The Last Picture Shop”.

Jerry Ohlinger’s Movie Material Store has been in business since 1978. It started on West Third Street, moved to West Fourteenth, and eventually ended up on West Thirty-fifth, in the Garment District. With the Internet stealing customers, business isn’t what it used to be, and the nine-thousand-dollar-a-month rent is more than movie photos can pay. Jerry will be closing his shop and selling just online in the next three to six months.

This is unfortunate, because a computer screen will never provide the physical, sensory experience you get when you step into Ohlinger’s. An obsessively organized clutter of movie posters and postcards, stacks of DVDs, and boxes full of eight-by-seventeen poster reproductions, the small front of the store is walled by towering shelves packed with shopworn three-ring binders, all strapped with duct tape and hand-labelled in Magic Marker with the names of the movie stars contained within. The space smells of Jerry’s cigar and the musty vanilla aroma of old paper slowly decaying.

“We’ve got about two hundred and fifty thousand to three hundred thousand photos in all these books,” Jerry says, waving his gummy, unlit cigar in the air.

(17) NPR is impressed —  “Amazon’s ‘High Castle’ Offers A Chilling Alternate History Of Nazi Triumph”.

Many of the goose-bump-inducing moments in this new drama are visual and are startling. Picture this: In Times Square, a giant neon swastika emblazons a building. Or an American flag with the familiar colors — but instead of stars and stripes, there’s a swastika where the stars used to be. Even the map of the former United States of America is disturbing to witness — much more so than those wind-up maps of opposing territories opening each episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones.

The alternate-history American map in The Man in the High Castle is made even more jarring, and creepy, by the sound, and the song, that accompanies it in the opening of each episode. It’s the sound of a film projector whirring into action — underscoring the importance of those illicit films — followed by the old familiar song “Edelweiss” being sung in a much more haunting performance than you’re used to from The Sound of Music.

(18) Rachel Swirsky collected writing advice from novelists about how to start your second book – quotes from Steven Gould, N. K. Jemisin, Ken Liu, and Helene Wecker.

Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni:

First, celebrate. Turning in your novel is a huge hairy deal. Go out for a fancy dinner with a significant other or something. Give yourself permission to relax for a few days. You’ve probably been holed up for a while, so go talk to some humans. Send a few emails to friends, accept an invitation to coffee. Go for a walk outside.

Ok, now back to work. It’s a good idea to focus on marketing during the pre-pub months, and to that end you’ll want to prep a master Q&A about the book. My publisher sent me one with about a dozen questions (“How did the idea come to you?” “Who were your favorite characters to write?” “Describe your research process,” etc). It took forever to fill out, but it meant I didn’t have to think on the fly during interviews or readings. If your publisher doesn’t do it for you, make one yourself, with what you’d guess are the most likely questions that a reader or interviewer would ask. It might feel tedious, but you won’t regret it.

(19) Songwriter P. F. Sloan died November 13 at the age of 70. Though best known for his hit “Eve of Destruction”, Sloan also wrote the theme song for Secret Agent Man, which became a hit for Johnny Rivers. The Wikipedia entry for “Secret Agent Man” sets the song in context of genre history:

The lyric “They’ve given you a number and taken away your name” referred to the numerical code names given to secret agents, as in “007” for James Bond, although it also acts as the setup to the “continuation” of Danger Man, the cult classic The Prisoner.”

(20) Wonder if the rest of the book lives up to this line?

 [Thanks to Janice Gelb, Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Mark-kitteh, Tasha Turner, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Enriching Your Puppy Vocabulary 8/26

(1) Rachel Keslensky has contributed a comic called The Saddest Puppy to Scenes From A Multiverse.

(2) Eric Flint – “Do We Really Have To Keep Feeding Stupid And His Cousin Ignoramus?”

So. Let me establish some Basic Facts:

Fact One. There is no grandiose, over-arching SJW conspiracy to deny right-thinking conservative authors their just due when it comes to awards. It does not exist. It has never existed. It is nothing but the fevered dreams which afflict some puppies in their sleep.

It is preposterous—there is no other word for it—to claim that there is some sort of systematic bias against conservatives in F&SF in the same year (2015) that the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America bestowed the title of Grand Master on Larry Niven and the liberal literary magazine the New Yorker ran a very laudatory article on the author Gene Wolfe.

Fact Two. There is no reflexive reactionary movement to drag F&SF kicking and screaming back into the Dark Ages when all protagonists had to be white and male (and preferably either engineers or military chaps). The very same people who piss and moan about diversity-for-the-sake-of-it litter their own novels with exactly the same kind of diversity they deplore when their opponents do it.

Yeah, I know they’ll deny it. “The story always comes first!” But the fact is that there is no compelling plot function to Ringo’s inclusion of the gay couple in Under a Graveyard Sky. So why did he put them in the novel? The answer is that, like any good writer—and whatever my (many) political disagreements with John, he’s a damn good writer—he tries to embed his stories into the world he created for them. The world of Black Tide Rising is the modern world, and his novels reflect that—as they should.

And I defy anyone with a single honest bone in their body—just one; even a pinkie bone—to read his depiction of that gay couple and tell the world afterward that he’s a homophobe. Which is not to say, mind you, that John and I would agree on any number of issues that come up around the question of LGBT rights. But that’s a separate matter.

There are real disagreements and divisions lying at the heart of the Recent Unpleasantness. But I wish to hell people would dump the stupid stereotypes so we could get on with a serious discussion and debate.

Fact Three. Yes, there is a problem with the Hugo awards, but that problem can be depicted in purely objective terms without requiring anyone to impute any malign motives to anyone else. In a nutshell, the awards have been slowly drifting away from the opinions and tastes of the mass audience, to the point where there is today almost a complete separation between the two. This stands in sharp contrast to the situation several decades ago, when the two overlapped to a great extent. For any number of reasons, this poses problems for the awards themselves. The Hugos are becoming increasingly self-referential, by which I mean they affect and influence no one except the people who participate directly in the process.

That said, however, as I spent a lot of time in my first essay analyzing—see “Some comments on the Hugos and other SF awards”—the causes of the problem are complex and mostly objective in nature. There is no easy fix to the problem. There is certainly no quick fix. Most of all, there is no one to blame—and trying to find culprits and thwart the rascals does nothing except make the problem worse.

(3) More backstory on the Lamplighter/Nielsen Hayden encounter.

(4) John ONeill in a comment to Jeffro Johnson on Black Gate

> Please tell me more about this cost to peoples’ careers and reputations.

> I can see in the context that you think it should be glaringly obvious, but it isn’t clear to me.


There are multiple aspects to it, obviously, but let me dwell on those that seemed instantly obvious back in April.

First, don’t piss off your audience. As I’ve said many times, the Hugo electorate don’t like to be dictated to. Their response to the Puppy ballot was entirely predictable — they were going to (fairly or unfairly) reject the whole thing out of hand. It didn’t take any great insight to see that, even back in April.

When it happened to us, the temptation was strong to accept the nomination anyway, and then spend the next four months lobbying for a fair shake. But that’s a fool’s game, because almost no one is paying attention… and anyway, most voters made up their mind the instant they heard about the slate. There was just no way we were going to be able to reach the bulk of voters.

Accepting the nomination, and becoming part of the Puppy slate, meant we were going to get spanked, and hard. The Hugo electorate was pissed off, and there was nothing we could say to them that would mitigate that.

Now, plenty of Puppies tried — and tried hard — to make their case in the intervening four months. I paid attention, and I thought several did a great job. So much so that, just as I said in my Sunday article, I began to doubt my initial prediction, and believed that a compelling majority of Hugo voters would give the Puppies a fair shake, and vote on the merits.

Nope. In the end, nothing we nominees said made any difference. The Hugo electorate spanked the Puppies, and hard, for the crime of being a slate, and threatening the integrity of the awards.

So, now that it’s over, how has being a losing Puppy nominee damaged reputations and careers?

The answer is twofold. One, you’re a loser. You lost out to “No Award.” That’s only happened 10 times in Hugo history… and half of them were on Sunday.

Second, rightly or wrongly, the nominees are branded as Puppies, and right now that’s a losing brand. It may not be a losing brand forever, but from the looks of the Hugo voting, it sure ain’t a brand that the majority of Hugo voters look kindly on.

There are things the nominees can do, of course — continue to produce good work. continue to network, and continue to make their case.

But I think the evidence of the past four months is pretty compelling: no one is listening. You were part of a slate that was loudly and very successfully repudiated by fandom, and that’s all they need to know to form a negative opinion.

(5) Vox Day on Vox Popoli

[Warning about insults of GRRM in post title and content]

It’s amusing how the SJWs in science fiction are claiming five awardless categories as a win while simultaneously trying to figure out how to prevent it from happening again next year. And, Martin demonstrates the truth of the observation SJWs Always Lie, as he tells a whopper about Toni Weisskopf when he claims she would “almost certainly have been nominated anyway, even if there had been no slates”. The fact is Toni Weisskopf never even came CLOSE to being nominated prior to Sad Puppies 1. In 2012, she finished in 14th place. In 2011, 10th. In 2010, 11th. She wasn’t even trending in the right direction! Without the Puppies, she would never, ever, have received a nomination and the data shows that the 2015 Long Form nominees would have been virtually identical to the pre-Puppy years, including the aforementioned Liz Gorinsky, Beth Meacham, to say nothing of the Torlock who lobbied for the creation the award so he and his fellow Tor editors could finally win something, Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

(6) Tasha Robinson on NPR – “How The Sad Puppies Won – By Losing”

As The Guardian put it in a triumphant post-awards headline, “Diversity wins as the Sad Puppies lose at the Hugo awards.”

Unfortunately, that isn’t true. The Puppy bloc — estimated as about 19 percent of the overall voters, according to a Chaos Horizon vote analysis — didn’t win any Hugos. But it did win the day. The group successfully prevented a wide variety of other content from making it to the finalist list. Sites like io9 have examined the initial Hugo nominees voting and assembled an alternate ballot, showing the top vote recipients, which would have been finalists in a Puppy-free year. They include strong Short Story candidates like Ursula Vernon’s “Jackalope Wives” and Amal El-Mohtar’s “The Truth About Owls.” A year where No Award beat out eligible, worthy material is hard to count as a victory.

And the Puppies didn’t just dominate the finalist slate, they dominated the conversation for the entire convention. They forced everyone at WorldCon to acknowledge them and their agenda, and to take sides in the conflict or work around them. They turned the 2015 Hugos into an openly cynical referendum not about which works were best, but about whose politics and tactics were best. Any vote-based system can be seen as a popularity contest and a tactical war, but the Puppies made this year’s Hugos about those things and nothing else.

They got their noses rapped at the awards ceremony. But losing an awards statue isn’t the same as losing the conversation.And they did so in the most openly derisive manner possible. Puppy defenders have often made the offensive, judgmental and depressingly self-absorbed argument that voters couldn’t possibly actually like works by or about women, trans people, gay people, writers of color and so forth. Clearly, the argument claims, people could only vote for those works out of a misguided social-justice agenda. Until this year, the best argument that Hugo voters really were voting for their favorite works (and not to push an agenda) was the range of material nominated on the first ballot, reflecting the variety of tastes that creates such a wide and scattered speculative-fiction field.

Now that voters have seen that following their hearts will just get their candidates shut out of consideration, they’re more likely to want to build slates and promote agendas, to prevent another ballot filled with finalists they can’t stomach. Over the weekend, WorldCon organizers approved a series of changes to the Hugo nominee rules to help prevent bloc domination of the ballot. But those changes won’t go into effect until 2017, assuming they’re ratified at the 2016 WorldCon.

Still, the Puppies lost in some ways, beyond the straight question of who got the awards. Their tactics rallied voters who haven’t paid attention to the process in years, and guaranteed their interest and involvement in 2016 and for the immediate future. And by creating a straight-up duel between politically aligned poles, then losing it by a wide margin, they disproved their claims that they were the silent majority, the populists being unfairly ruled by a minority of elitists. They got their noses rapped at the awards ceremony. But losing an awards statue isn’t the same as losing the conversation. And the conversation certainly isn’t over. It — and the Puppies — are just getting started

(7) Abigail Nussbaum on Asking The Wrong Questions – “The 2015 Hugo Awards: Thoughts on the Results”

If the puppies had truly represented “real” fandom, then “real” fandom would have turned up to vote for the nominees they put on the ballot.  Instead, the people who voted were, overwhelmingly, thoroughly pissed off and eager to kick some puppy ass.  The Hugo is a popular vote award, and what that means is that while it can be manipulated, it can’t be stolen.  It belongs to whoever turns up to vote, and in 2015 the people who turned up to vote wanted nothing to do with the puppies’ politics and tactics.  Despite the puppies’ loudest claims to the contrary, 3,000 voters are not a cabal or a clique.  They are the fandom. I’d like to believe that there are enough people among the puppy voters who are capable of seeing this.  There’s been some debate today about what percentage of the Hugo voters actually represent puppies.  This analysis by Chaos Horizon suggests that there were 500 Rabid Puppy voters, and 500 Sad Puppy voters.  That’s a big enough number to suggest that we could be looking at a repeat of this dance next year–another puppy-dominated ballot, another fannish outrage, another puppy shutout at the voting phase.  But to my mind, the real question is: how many of those thousand voters are willing to do that?  How many of them would rather destroy the Hugo than see it go to someone they disapprove of?  How many of them are able to ignore the undeniable proof that they’ve maxed out their support within the community, and that there simply aren’t enough Gamergate trolls to make up the difference?

I’d like to believe that those people are not the majority.  That there are among puppy voters people who can grasp that if you want to win a Hugo, the simplest and easiest way to do it is to play by the same rules as everyone else: write and publicize good, worthwhile work, and do so with a genuine love for the award, not the contempt and resentfulness that characterized the puppies’ behavior this year.

The truth is–and this is something that we’ve all lost sight of this year–no matter how much the puppies like to pretend otherwise, the Hugo is not a progressive, literary, elitist award.  It’s a sentimental, middle-of-the-road, populist one.  I rarely like the shortlists it throws up, and am often frustrated by the excellent work that it ignores.  In fact, looking at this year’s would-have-been nominees, I see some work that I loved–Aliette de Bodard’s “The Breath of War,” Carmen Maria Machado in the Campbell Award category–but on the whole it feels like a very safe, unexciting ballot that I would probably have complained about quite a bit if it had actually come to pass.  And for all the crowing about this year’s winners being a victory for those who love the Hugos, some of them–particularly in the Best Novelette and Best Fan Writer categories–send as message that is, to my mind, far from progressive.  (Full disclosure: this year’s nominating breakdowns reveal that, if it hadn’t been for the puppies, I would have been nominated in the Best Fan Writer category.  I don’t think I would have won, and all things considered I’m glad that I was out of that mess this year, but it’s worth acknowledging.)  It’s not that I’ve never felt the desire to burn the whole edifice down, the way the puppies say they do.  The difference is that I never thought that exasperation could be used to justify actually doing it.

(8) Gregory G. Hullender offers his translation of a French news article about the Puppies on Greg’s Reflections: My Adventures Reading in a Foreign Language.

Part of the fun of reading a foreign language is getting a very different perspective on issues. As a science-fiction fan, I’ve been curious what the Europeans would make of this year’s “Sad Puppy” affair. Sure enough, I found an article about it in Le Monde, the French “newspaper of record.”

(9) Allan Davis on LewRockwell.com “We Had To Burn The Hugos To Save Them”

Over 1200 people voted for Toni Weisskopf.  750 more voted for Sheila Gilbert, and 200 for Anne Sowards, all in the Best Long Form Editor category.  Over two thousand people voted in good faith for the people that they thought deserved that award.  And 2500 members of the High Church of Science Fiction–the ruling faction that believes it gets to determine who is, and who is not, a “true fan” of the genre–declared that those two thousand opinions were not welcome and their votes do not count. The SJW ruling faction of science fiction fandom, who pride themselves on their diversity, tolerance, and inclusiveness, won this year’s battle against the Puppies using their preferred weapons of intolerance and exclusion.

(10) Sharrukin’s Palace

Seriously. What did they expect was going to happen?

I’m not going to pretend that everyone has been behaving well in opposing the Puppies. There’s no denying that two of the prominent Puppies are extremely toxic figures, but the worst thing I can say about most of them is that they’re rather clueless. Folks like Lou Antonelli, Larry Correia, Sarah Hoyt, and Brad Torgersen are due some pretty strong criticism for their actions, but they don’t deserve some of the outright slander that they’ve been getting.

That having been said, did any of these folks really think that a community in which they’ve spent months or years violating long-established social norms, and loudly insulting pretty much everyone, was going to react with praise, respect, and silver rockets?

(11) embrodski on Death Is Bad “Puppies – All Bark, No Bite”

The fact remains that the puppy supporters were excited to vote a slate so they could hijack the Hugos for their self-aggrandizement. And as I predicted in “Why Vandals?” none of them bothered to show up for the actual party. If the party was left just to them, they’d have a nearly empty convention hall and no one to run it. They do not care about the con, or the people who attend it. They didn’t attend the business meeting to try to make things better. They didn’t put forward any bids to host the 2018 WorldCon. That they didn’t try to further mar the convention by ruining things in person isn’t a mark of civility, it’s simply the modus operandi for internet cowards.

It really dawned on me just how worthless the Puppies are when I went to the business meeting, and during the watching of the fan-recognition part of the award ceremony. These are people, later on in their years, who have been SF/F fans for significantly longer than I’ve even been alive. They’ve spent *decades* of work putting together these conventions. They are dedicated, and in love. They aren’t the authors, they don’t get the accolades themselves. They’re just passionate about SF. I really came to realize how much WorldCon is by and for the fans. I was very disappointed that more puppies didn’t come to the con in person. I was very disappointed that ALL the puppies didn’t come to the con in person! They would have seen that joy and passion for themselves. Maybe that is part of the reason why the puppy supporters who did come didn’t boo or shout or try to disrupt anything. They saw the love and the passion for themselves, and couldn’t bring themselves to be assholes any more. The ones who stayed home, safe behind their keyboards – they are the ones who will continue to be dicks. Because they were cowards, and wouldn’t come to see what they were vandalizing in person. Assholery feeds on cowardice, which leads to further assholery, in a neat little circle. It’s fitting.

(12) Aaron Pound on Dreaming of Other Worlds – “Biased Opinion: 2015 Hugo Awards Post-Mortem”

In the Long Form Editor category, Beale instructed his minions to vote for Toni Weisskopf first, and placed himself further down his instructional list. Despite this, 166 voters placed Beale first on their ballots, putting him ahead of Jim Minz, who only got 58 first place nods.

(13) Howard Tayler on Schlock Mercenary – “Sasquan Report”

My heart goes out to those who did not win awards this year, especially those whose work missed being on the ballot because of the hijacked slate. Their work will stand independently of this, however, and needs neither my pity nor the validation of the short-list. As a former Hugo loser, I know that it stings, but I also know that you’ve got to keep making stuff regardless of what happens with awards. I kept making Schlock Mercenary for five years after it started not winning Hugo awards. It still hasn’t won, and I’m still making it today.

Just as awards shouldn’t validate your decision to create art, they shouldn’t have any bearing on how you feel about the art you consume. Reading in particular is a deeply personal, intimate act. An award on a book is like a sticker on a banana: it might help you pick the banana, but if you eat the sticker you’re doing it wrong.

(14) Jennifer Brozek – “About the Hugo Awards in Interview Form”

Q: Now that the Hugos are over, how do you feel?

A: I feel fine.

Q: Really?

A: Yes, really. Yes, of course I’m sad I didn’t win—it was a beautiful award and I worked really hard. I wanted to win, but as I said on twitter, I’m happy people voted the way they felt they needed to. There are other nominations and other Hugos. All voices need to be heard. I don’t want to dwell on anything else. It’s done for me.

Q: What about the numbers?

A: The numbers came out exactly as I thought they would. Without “No Award,” Mike Resnick would’ve won.

Q: What about the nomination numbers, discounting the slates?

A: I saw that I probably would’ve been 6th or 7th nomination place in Best Editor, Short Form. Respectable. More importantly, I saw that CHICKS DIG GAMING got 92 nomination votes in the Best Related Work category—second only to Jo Walton’s WHAT MAKES THIS BOOK SO GREAT. Which meant, incidentally, I lost a second time on Hugo night. I lost an Alfie to Jo. Still, that means I probably would’ve been nominated for a Hugo whether there was a slate or not. So, I’m feeling pretty good about things.

(15) David Gerrold on Facebook

First, the offer to buy him [Lou Antonelli] a beer was made before he wrote his letter to the Spokane police chief. After he wrote that letter, that promise was not one I wanted to keep at Worldcon.

Second, my exact words were: “Lou, I might have forgiven you. That doesn’t mean I want to talk to you.” I am quite certain about what I said. I have forgiven him. I just didn’t know then and don’t know now what I want to say to him.

Which is why I said what I said — not to be rude, but to avoid a situation for which I was unprepared, a situation where I might say something inappropriate, something that might exacerbate an already unfortunate situation.

I did recognize that Lou’s intentions were peaceful, but that moment was neither the time nor the place. There were too many people watching both of us, many of them still upset or concerned. There were too many possibilities for Russian telephone.

It is possible that at some time in the future, Lou and I will be able to sit down and talk together, but it cannot happen while so many people are still feeling raw.

I do ask that everyone drop the subject. I do not want Lou to be the target of anyone’s internet jihad. He made a mistake. He apologized. I accepted his apology. I just didn’t want to get into that situation then. I do not want to rehash it endlessly.

(16) Arthur Chu on Salon – “The scifi fans are alright: I saw the future at the Hugo Awards – and it will never belong to the tox right-wing trolls”

My experience talking about social issues in geeky fandom online is one of constant attacks and sniping and arguing and “controversy”. If you clicked on the #HugoAwards hashtag Saturday night you could see a steady stream of 4chan-style obscenities, slurs and assorted nastiness from people not present.

But in person? To paraphrase the great Bill Hicks, I saw a lot of division among convention attendees about the Sad Puppies “movement”; people who viewed the movement with frustrated rage and people who viewed the movement with bemused pity.

There were, to be sure, plenty of personal beefs and political differences. I met many people I’d argued with online about various topics. Plenty of people had negative things to say about the response to the Sad Puppies, saying that other people had been too harsh or too hostile or too unhelpful in tone.

But defending the Puppies’ actions? Not a single person I met took that stance. The “controversy” didn’t exist outside the Internet. Everyone across the spectrum was united by sheer astonishment at how assholish the move to game the nominations was.

[Thanks to Andrew Trembley, John King Tarpinian and Greg Hullender for some of these links.]

Gaiman’s New “Trigger Warning”

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman gave an interview to NPR about his new short story collection Trigger Warning.

Given a choice of excerpts to quote in this post, I naturally chose this one —

On the story ‘The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury’

I wanted to write a story for Ray Bradbury for his 90th birthday. And I started just thinking, what if I had forgotten Ray? What if I could sort of remember his stories but I’d forgotten him, I couldn’t remember his name? What if forgetting his name meant more than that? The act of forgetting him meant that perhaps he was becoming forgotten by the world. That all led me into to the idea of just writing a monologue, essentially, by a man who forgot Ray Bradbury and was just desperately trying to remember him.

The interviewer also tries to pin down Gaiman about writing a sequel to his popular 2001 book American Gods. He dances, but in the end he says he will.

NPR Covers Lovecraft Award Controversy

National Public Radio’s All Things Considered broadcast a segment titled “Horror of Horrors: Is H. P. Lovecraft’s Legacy Tainted?” on October 4, prompted by Laura Miller’s article for Salon.com about the controversy surrounding the World Fantasy Award.

NPR noted the physical award is a bust of H.P. Lovecraft and, echoing Miller, explained:

Lovecraft, famous for his horror writing, was also known for his highly racist opinions, and this has created some controversy regarding the award that bears his likeness.

The NPR story affirms that the Lovecraft-shaped awards will be presented again at this year’s World Fantasy Con – they “were ordered back in March, as normal” — reported as if it trumped any other possibility.

However, the story also states:

But the WFA board of directors said they will have discussions about the situation at a series of meetings at this year’s World Fantasy Convention, where the awards are presented.

How did NPR decide this is a story it should cover? A search of the NPR site shows four previous mentions of the World Fantasy Award (the earliest occasion being 2008), all in connection with a story about an author. This may be the first time NPR has deemed the award itself to be newsworthy, leading me to conclude that NPR’s editors are not above a little kerfuffle hunting to hype the ratings.

Gaiman Interview on NPR

NPR posted excerpts from an on-air interview with Neil Gaiman in “Gaiman’s New ‘Ocean’ Is No Kiddie Pool”, plus a link to the full podcast.

Having just finished a deadline assignment yesterday, I was especially sympathetic to Gaiman’s comment about journalism. As he told NPR’s Scott Simon:

“I was never a very good journalist, but I loved being a journalist, and I loved it because it taught me two really, really important things about writing. It taught me compression: If I was interviewing somebody, and I talked to them, and I’d wind up with 3,000 words, 4,000 words, and I’d need to get that down, I learned how to compress what they’d said while still keeping speech patterns, which became incredibly important later when I was writing comics. And even more important than that, I learned about deadlines.

“I do remember once, getting a phone call one evening from an editor, saying, ‘Your book review, it’s due in tomorrow.’ And I said, ‘No no no no no, it’s due in on Tuesday.’ And they said, ‘Yes, today is Monday.’ And I hadn’t written it, and I looked around the room and I couldn’t see the book. And I said, ‘What happens if I don’t get it in?’ And they said, ‘Well, then we’d have a blank page, and we’d have to run a little photograph of you, with your address and your telephone number that anybody could call up if they wanted to find out what that book was like.’ And that concentrated the mind wonderfully.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Chicon 7 Still Going On?

Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin appeared on Peter Sagal’s NPR game show Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me today.

We’ve invited Martin to take a quiz called Game of Trombones. Three questions about things that rhyme with thrones.

The show is produced in Chicago, where not long ago Sagal was helping Mo Ryan interview Martin at a Chicon 7 program item. Did I go home too early? Maybe the convention hasn’t ended! (Dave McCarty’s nightmare…)

Chicon 7 Loses Sagal

Chicon 7’s Special Guest Peter Sagal has withdrawn from his Worldcon appearance due to conflicting professional commitments.

Peter Sagal is the host of National Public Radio’s weekly news quiz “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me.”

Sagal will be filming a documentary overseas while Chicon 7 takes place. He apologized, saying “I’m heartbroken I won’t be able to attend my first Worldcon since 1980. As it happens, I’ll be in Reykjavik, or some other place less interesting than Chicago. I wish everybody all the best.”

The full press release follows the jump.

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Peter Sagal Added as Chicon 7 Special Guest

Peter Sagal, the host of National Public Radio’s irreverent weekly news quiz “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me”, will be a Special Guest at Chicon 7.
Sagal has

Sagal made his debut on “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me” as a panelist in 1998 before becoming host of the show, which is broadcast from Chicago.

He has often identified himself on the radio as a science fiction fan. He attended Noreascon 3 (1989) and met his literary heroes, including Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl.

His other Chicagocentric credentials include recording the narration for a self-guided walking tour of the city’s famous Field Museum of Natural History (which my sister-in-law used to call “the stuffed animal museum.”)

The full press release follows the jump.

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Gaiman on “Wait, Wait” TV Special

Neil Gaiman will be a guest on the television debut of Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!. Its “2011 Year in Review” special airs December 23 at 8 p.m. on BBC America.  

Show mainstays, host Peter Sagal, official judge and scorekeeper Carl Kasell, and frequent panelists Paula Poundstone and Alonzo Bodden all join the fun, says The Hollywood Reporter.

NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! reaches 3.2 million listeners weekly, who will get to hear “2011 Year in Review” on NPR stations December 24 and 25.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]