A Kerfuffle in Transylvania

Phil Foglio blogged how unhappy he is about the lack of communication from Tor concerning the future of the Girl Genius books.

Tor published a hardcover omnibus edition of Girl Genius collecting Phil and Kaja Foglio’s first three books in one volume. Afterwards the Foglios asked when the paperback would come out, and about doing a follow-up collection of the next several books in the series. They say a year went by with no response from their (unnamed) editor at Tor.  Even the Foglios’ agent couldn’t get an answer.

Phil ran into another Tor senior editor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, at the 2013 Worldcon and enlisted his help, but by autumn became impatient for action and frustrated that Nielsen Hayden also wasn’t answering e-mails. So in the January 29 post Phil not only teed off on Nielsen Hayden but asked everyone on the internet to join in voicing their disapproval on Patrick’s Facebook page. (Curiously, to him alone, still no mention of the editor actually working on Girl Genius.)

Today Patrick explained his side of things on Making Light, including the caveats he’d given Phil about his schedule.

What happened next? Well, despite what I said to Phil about not being in a position to help him until late November, September wasn’t even over before I began getting emails from Phil’s agent demanding that I deal with this and/or instruct Phil’s editor to deal with this—emails in which it was clear that, in Phil’s agent’s eyes, I was now Part Of Phil’s Problem At Tor.

And Patrick emphasized that the people at Tor who are the source of Phil’s complaint don’t report to him. Senior editors report to the publisher; Tor doesn’t have an editor-in-chief; Patrick is not the other editor’s boss. It does Phil no practical good to bury him in complaints.

Bottom line: As far as I can see, Phil’s problems with Tor are being dealt with now. Sending me dozens of angry emails isn’t going to get them dealt with any faster or better. If you want to send me email telling me I’m a craphead for not having answered Phil Foglio’s emails from late November to mid-January, okay, guilty as charged. But I’m not the guy on a golden throne proposing and disposing the actions of all the other senior editors at Tor.

The thing that struck me is how many writers I’ve heard agonize about how slowly the publishing process works – with every publisher. It takes forever to get a decision about a submission. When a book is accepted, it takes another year or three to grind through the editorial process and reach market. Writers fear that infinite patience is likely to be rewarded with maximum delay, but are also wary about doing much elbow-jogging and ending even worse off. Since Phil’s post goes well beyond elbow-jogging – a body slam is more like it, and on the wrong party — I wonder if Girl Genius still has a future at Tor or will the publisher cut the Foglios loose as Phil more or less seems to hope at this point:

I mention that we’ve been selling graphic novels fairly well for quite awhile, and that we’d cheerfully give them pointers. However, if they just can’t wrap their heads around it, which seems obvious since after three years they have yet to sell through the initial print run (We’d have done it in 16 months- and that’s with no advertising, which is a fair comparison, as they did no advertising either), then we’ll just sing a chorus of “So Long, It’s Been Good To Know You”, and then we’ll publish them ourselves, because if there’s one thing we know how to do, it’s publish and sell Girl Genius graphic novels.

Brother from Another Planet

Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden are interviewed in the May issue of Locus. Amidst the congratulations at their blog Making Light, as Bill Higgins kindly points out, Patrick has added a link to this meditation, ultimately concerning a fanzine, by Brother Guy Consolmagno — “A letter to me at age 20″.

(Anticipatory endnote — MITSFS = MIT’s science fiction club.)

Monahan: Olympus 2012 Eastercon Report

By Jacq Monahan – TAFF Delegate 2012: From April 6-9, Olympus 2012 attendees convened at the Radisson Edwardian Heathrow for the 63rd Annual Eastercon (National British Science Fiction Convention). The venue lived up to its labyrinthine reputation by confusing everyone who checked in after they’d received their key card. I myself thought that I’d been given a gag room number that didn’t really exist. Then again, I’m a Yank, and that’s both a noun AND a verb.

All of the action (panels, bar, Art Room, Ops, Gopher Hole) happened on the third and fourth floors, accessible by marble staircases, elevators, and accident. It seems that one could find their way around by not looking for anything in particular and simply stumbling across the place they were looking for.

The four Guests of Honor (George R.R. Martin, Cory Doctorow, Paul Cornell, and Tricia Sullivan) were introduced at an Opening Ceremony where they shared the stage with Eastercon organizers and two Fan Guests of Honor (Margaret Austin and Martin Easterbrook).

Membership got attendees a badge with the descriptive name of their choice. Somehow I got the moniker TAFF Jacq, perhaps to differentiate me with fellow con-men FLAP and CAR. Other creative badges held names like Crazy Dave, Lost Car Park, and THE Anders.

A heavy bag accompanied the lanyard, and it contained two large paperback books, an Olympus mug and pen, programme books (two) and various flyers touting future conventions and publications. Locals were thrilled. Travelers wondered how they would stuff the extra 10 lbs. into already crammed suitcases for the return flight.

An entire third floor wall was dedicated to various other-con information. Most of the third floor, however, was taken up with the popular bar area, a place I christened Wasted Space. The name suited the activity that went on there – pints poured, shaved, and consumed at 4 pounds each – but the name was also quite literal. Most of the square footage was consumed by a large pond full of ceramic animals and fish, good for no other purpose than to gaze upon while being forced into closer proximity than one would like with fellow con-panions.

False indoor bridges gave the inebriated an extra sense of danger in maneuvering their way around the crowded-though-spacious, area.

The Dealers’ Room was full of books, jewelry, Beeblebears (at 29 pounds each, all 20 of them sold out) weapons, dragons, and even more books.

The Art Room featured a Fiji Mermaid, paranoid signs forbidding photographs, requisite female-only nudity in more than one painting, and fantasy sculptures left uncaptured for this report because of paranoid signs forbidding photographs.

The Green Room was where you’d go before your assigned panel to order a drink. The Gopher Hole was where you’d go if you suddenly lost your mind and was looking for frenzied organizational tasks to complete.  Lost was a place you found yourself several times during the first two days and it was always in a different location each time.

Ops was where you’d find people who eyed you warily as you entered. Were you heaving yet another complaint their way? Urgent problem? Logistical nightmare? These were the people with the Big Printout, who could unravel any mystery. One could virtually wither under their laser-like gaze and their heard-it-all-before pronouncements.

Panels – there were scores of them, covering fantasy, television, film, REAL science, GOH interviews and readings, a fan programme, and one constructed just for kids.

Of course the hotel’s largest meeting room, the Commonwealth, was reserved for the well-attended Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the George R.R. Martin and Cory Doctorow interviews and readings, and the notorious, traditional spoof that is Ian Sorenson’s play.

This year’s offering was Oliver, with a Twist, and starred Ian himself (in a dress) along with Yvonne Rowse, Julia Daly and Doug Spencer. There were parts for the TAFF and GUFF delegates, too, although it was rumored that Charles Dickens himself lobbied to have his name taken off the credits. Those brave enough to attend got enough laughs and groans to approximate a drunken revel, and soothe entire affair was deemed a rousing success by all.

GRRM, as he’s known, dominated the con with his reading of an excerpt from his unfinished The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in his popular Ice and Fire series, telling the crowd that it all came to him “in a vision.”

Canadian Cory Doctorow was interviewed by his longtime publisher Patrick Nielsen Hayden (TAFF ’85) and opined on world affairs and the stoicism of Brits. Seems sometimes even the urbane Doctorow likes a good rant – he just wishes he’d get a little sympathy from his English counterparts.

Panel names ranged from the whimsical (Imaginary Gripe Session) to the uber-serious, real science-oriented (MER Rover Mission to Mars, Geo-engineering to Save the Planet, The Science of Rocket Science).

Gender Parity was a hot topic. Were females being equally, even adequately represented on panels? For example, Sex and Fantasy on TV featured five male panelists and only one female to fend off comments like, “I’ll never object to nude women on television” and “why do they have to show male full frontal?” These last two utterances were made by men. Surprise!

A Fan Programme introduced Fan Fund delegates to interested attendees and also offered an auction and Tombola Table for eager chance takers who seemed to toss their pound coins into the till for a chance to win the set of Dr. Who figures – 11 in all.

A Kids’ Programme featured Balloon Modeling, a Beads and Origami Workshop, How to Knit a Dalek, Parts 1 and 2, a Beeblebears’ Picnic, and Clay Creature Composition, in addition to an Easter Egg Hunt.

Panels on Film and TV were augmented by an eclectic group with titles like Training Horses for Film Work, Tips for Playing Scrabble, Podcast Workshop, and Sufficiently Advanced Magic.

A movie room screened Minority Report, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, Galaxy Quest, and assorted shorts (not the wearable kind, mind you).

There was a Disco, a Masquerade (the Wirrm from a Dr. Who episode won the Award), a Red Planet LARP, hours of Filking, and even dance lessons for the incredibly brave or alcohol-fueled.

BSFA Awards were announced (Chris Priest controversy aside) and Hugo Nominations netted congratulations for attendees Claire Brialey, Mark Plummer, and James Bacon.

The con sold out before it opened – a rare occurrence – with nearly 1,400 souls meandering about the confusing corridors of the Radisson at any given moment. You could say that the experience added to the exploratory and discovery experience of the event if you were so inclined.

You could say that Eastercon Olympus 2012 was a smashing success and you’d be correct, if only you could find the right hallway to take you to tell someone about it.

Tracking Withdrawals from the 2012 Hugos

A number of past and present Hugo winners, out of a gracious desire to share the wealth, have already announced they will not accept an award nomination in 2012 for a specific category.

Inevitably, these kinds of announcements get distorted in the retelling. Or somebody will post what they wish the person had said, not what they really said. I’ve already seen this happening though Renovation was just last month!

That’s why I thought it would be helpful to run down the correct information about four prior nominees whose real or rumored withdrawals from the 2012 Hugos have made news. Here is their verified status:

Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius (2012 withdrawal)
Best Professional Editor, Long Form: David Hartwell (permanent withdrawal from this category only)
Best Semiprozine: Clarkesworld (2012 withdrawal)

Also, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who withdrew from the Best Professional Editor, Long Form category in 2011, says he has yet to make up his mind about 2012 — therefore he has not withdrawn as of this writing.

Girl Genius: Phil Foglio must wonder how he could have made it any more clear, with a public announcement at the 2011 Hugo ceremonies, followed by online comic explaining that the decision to bow out affects next year alone.

David G. Hartwell: The popular editor wants everyone to understand he has pulled out of only one category:

I want this to be very clear. I withdrew from one category only, Best Editor Long Form, permanently. I would very much like to be nominated again in Best Editor Short Form, and for NYRSF (or any other category). But I felt after all these years, and finally three wins in four years, that I should withdraw permanently from Best Editor Long Form, as long as it remains a category. And I am pleased to see the way the category has opened up to younger talent.

Neil Clarke, Clarkesworld Magazine: The outspoken champion of the semiprozine category, whose zine won the Hugo in 2010 and 2011, said he wants to see new titles on the ballot:  

Yes, Clarkesworld is withdrawing itself from consideration in 2012. The category has suffered from a history of serial nominees and winners and after two consecutive wins, I felt this was the right thing to do. In stepping down, I hope to encourage people to put their support behind one of the many semiprozines that have never been nominated. There are a lot of worthy candidates. The ballot has been reflecting more of that recently and it’s a trend I’d like to see continue.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden: Patrick withdrew from the Best Professional Editor, Long Form category in 2011 but there’s a reason he has yet to make a decision about 2012:

My only real public statement on the matter was while actually accepting the 2010 Hugo on stage in Melbourne — I said, roughly, that since my colleague David Hartwell and I had now split the four-so-far “Editor Long Form” awards between us, I was going to withdraw from the category in 2011 in order to make sure some other editors got their long-overdue recognition. I meant to write a post on Making Light repeating this, but I never got around to it.

I didn’t commit to withdrawing from the category beyond 2011, and to be honest I haven’t actually made up my mind what I’m going to do next year. I do have one remaining major-SF-award ambition, which is to win a Hugo or something equally whooshy when Teresa is actually in the room. I’ve won a World Fantasy Award and two Hugos, all of them at overseas conventions that Teresa didn’t attend. 

Not that I’m presuming I would automatically make the ballot in future years. As I pointed out to my assistant Liz Gorinsky at the post-Hugos party in Reno, she got the second largest number of nominations, trailing only Lou Anders who actually won. Liz got significantly more nominations than either David or me, and over twice as many as any of the other five runners-up. “That’s crazy,” Liz said. “Hey, numbers don’t lie,” I said. “That’s crazy. That’s crazy. That’s crazy,” was all she would say.

(It is actually a matter of non-trivial pride to me that in 2010, Liz and I were both on the ballot — the first time an editor and his-or-her assistant have been shortlisted for the same Hugo award. In 2010, Liz was also the youngest-ever finalist in any of the editor categories, a record previously set by 31-year-old Jim Baen in 1975.)

[Thanks to Neil Clarke, David G. Hartwell, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, for their comments. ]

SFContario Comes to Toronto in 2010

SFContario will gather sf fans in downtown Toronto over the November 19-21 weekend in 2010 for a “big tent” type of convention offering guests of honor Michael Swanwick, author of Bones of the Earth and winner of five Hugo awards; Karen Linsley, writer and performer of the Mars Society anthem “Pioneers of Mars”; Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden; and Geri Sullivan.

The full press release follows the jump.

[Thanks to Murray Moore for the story.]

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“30” Is Not the End of This Story

While rereading DNQ #16 I came across the announcement of Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s marriage on March 23, 1979. Being a whiz at basic arithmetic, I promptly realized they recently celebrated their 30th anniversary. Needless to say, they marked the date. Congratulations! And the same to those other March 1979 newlyweds, Bruce Gillespie and Elaine Cochrane. Many more joyous years to you all.

Tor.com Hacked

Patrick Nielsen Hayden announced to Tor.com readers that the site was hacked, a post defaced with a threatening message, and a few other alterations made. Everything is now restored.

The break-in was most likely accomplished by means of a vulnerability in Joomla, our content-management system, which was first discussed in public on Tuesday and patched on the same day; in other words, the intruder took advantage of a very brief window of opportunity.

Boy, do I sympathize. One of the most frustrating things about blogging is this kind of attack. I haven’t fallen prey to a hacker, but the relentless spam is bad enough. Every day I delete dozens of bogus comments full of malicious links, a very boring “one-person-shooter” game. Waging technological war against a robot army is not the science fictional experience I want from this blog.

More E-Books on the Way from Tor

Something else learned from Tor.com and Patrick Nielsen Hayden:

Tor parent company Macmillan is actively converting all titles to which we have digital rights. It really is just a matter of time before the majority of our library is available in e-book form…. There are issues of workflow and rights, just as there are everywhere else. I think you’ll see lots more e-books in lots more formats in the next few months.

[Via Publisher’s Lunch and Andrew Porter]

Tor.com: New Online Community

The opportunity to read a lot of interesting posts by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Beth Meacham, Irene Gallo, Alison Scott, Bruce Baugh, Jim Henley, John Scalzi, Jo Walton and others is reason enough to visit Tor.com’s newly-launched community site, but another of the band of contributors, Consulting Editor Moshe Feder, also wants everyone to know there’s a load of freebies at the site: 

To celebrate the launch of the new Tor.com website (a participatory community website as opposed to our corporate face at Tor-Forge.com), we are offering a whole bunch of our books for free download in your choice of PDF, HTML, or MobiPocket formats. I’m proud to say that the very first book on the list is one of my own acquisitions, Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson.

Moshe adds this caution: Note that these are download links. If you try to visit them, you’ll see gobbledegook. Instead, right-click on them to “download linked file.”

The links and other details appear behind the cut.

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