Pixel Scroll 3/1/17 Old Man Pixel, He Just Keeps Scrollin’ Along

(1) HELSINKI NEWS. Worldcon 75 is holding an Academic Poster competition and would very much like participation from as many university students and researchers as possible.

We are hosting a science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) poster competition for undergraduate students, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers. The competition is also open to posters that explore the connections between STEMM subjects and SF/fantasy/horror. There will be a €100 prize for the poster that best communicates research to the general public.

Presenters will be able to share their research with an audience that is very interested in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine, but where many audience members will not have been formally educated in STEMM subjects. In addition, presenters will be invited to give five minute mini-talks on Saturday 12th August 2017 explaining their research. Taken together, the posters and mini-talks represent an exciting opportunity for the presenters to practice research communication, and for audience to learn about cutting-edge research.

If you are interested in displaying a poster then fill in our web form below or follow this direct link to the form.

The deadline for applications is 1st May 2017 and we will inform you of our decision by mid-June.

(2) DREAM FULFILLED. Phil Kaveny, who I know from the Mythopoeic Society, announced the script for his play “The Munitions Factory” is available from Amazon Kindle.  He calls it “My project of a lifetime.”

The Munitions Factory is a play about love, money, revolution, and the military industrial complex. Set in Imperial Germany in 1917 during the worst winter in German history, The Munitions Factory is really about our world in the 21st century. It is a hard driving play that will jar you out of your complacency, and it is also a compelling love story about characters who walk the razor’s edge between desperate love and repulsion that is common in wartime.

(3) DOWN TO THE WIRE. In comments Jonathan Edelstein pointed out that “a team headed by the heroic Jake Kerr is putting together a 2017 Campbell-eligible anthology.”

The submission form is here for any Campbell-eligible authors (first pro publication in 2015 or 2016) who want to submit a sample of last year’s work.

(4) ODDS FAVOR THE HOUSE. The Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance opened voting today for the CLFA Book of the Year Awards.

CLFA an online group of readers, authors and other creative individuals who want to see more freedom-friendly storytelling in the marketplace. We provide our members with networking opportunities as well as a safe, friendly and open environment for both political and creative discussions. We are currently at over 1300 members strong, with new participants joining us on a daily basis….

CLFA Book of the Year Awards, now in their third year, seek to recognize the best in freedom-friendly fiction. To qualify for entry in the CLFA 2017 Book of the Year contest, the work has to be over 50k words and first published in any form in 2016. Our members voted to arrive at the Top 10 list, which is now open to the public for the final vote.

Voting is open until midnight on March 31, 2017. Winners to be announced in April 2017. Voting happens here.

The finalists are:

  • Iron Chamber of Memory by John C. Wright
  • Discovery by Karina Fabian
  • Set to Kill by Declan Finn
  • By the Hands of Men, Book Three: The Wrath of a Righteous Man by Roy M. Griffis
  • Murphy’s Law of Vampires by Declan Finn
  • Chasing Freedom by Marina Fontaine
  • Domino by Kia Heavey
  • Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by John Ringo
  • Souldancer by Brian Niemeier
  • Brings the Lightning by Peter Grant

At the moment Peter Grant’s novel from Castalia House is leaving the field behind. He’s got 50 votes to 25 votes for John C. Wright’s novel (also from Castalia House). Last year’s Dragon Award-winning Souldancer by Brian Niemeier has one vote so far.

(5) INJUSTICE. Australia writer Tom Taylor, of Injustice Gods Among Us and Injustice 2 comics, told his Facebook readers he won’t be at Emerald City Comic Con this week and or other U.S. events.

Sadly, I won’t be attending Emerald City Comicon in Seattle this week.

I have also turned down all other US signing and convention invitations so far this year.

I know I’m far from the only person concerned about traveling to the States at this time, but I wanted to explain my decision.

I want to start by saying this decision was incredibly difficult. I was really looking forward to this trip. I have traveled to the US regularly since 2009. This year, I have four different books with three different publishers, and a TV series to promote. Beyond this, I have fans and colleagues I was looking forward to meeting. I also have many good friends in the States, and I was looking forward to catching up with all of them. Truth be told, I’m missing them.

But America, through no fault of most of its citizens, doesn’t feel like a safe or welcoming travel destination at this moment.

There have been reports of interrogation, phone data downloads, requests for social media accounts, returns and five-year travel bans and everyone from children to the elderly being detained. All of this has many people I’ve spoken to reconsidering or cancelling their US travel plans.

I’ve had friends and people I work with suggest I leave my phone at home, or delete my twitter account for a month before I come.

I refuse those terms.

My twitter account isn’t complimentary towards the current administration, but it’s far from inflammatory and shouldn’t need to be scrutinized to gain entry to a country where free-speech is so highly valued.

Traveling fifteen hours on a plane is bad enough. Travelling towards uncertainty, half-worried about being caught in limbo by overzealous border security, with my wife and children wondering why I haven’t called, is nightmare fuel…..

(Via Comicsbeat.)

(6) PENRIC SEQUEL. Lois McMaster Bujold’s latest novella Mira’s Last Dance (Penric & Desdemona Book 4) is out.

(7) VOTE FOR PAUL WEIMER. Ten days ‘til Down Under Fan Fund voting closes. The deadline is midnight, March 10 (PST). Our Paul Weimer is the only candidate for the trip to the Australian National Convention, but the contribution of $5 or more accompanying your vote will help keep the fund going during and after Paul’s trip. Click here to get started.

CANDIDATE PLATFORM

Paul Weimer

I’m a podcaster for the Skiffy and Fanty podcast, the SFF audio podcast, a noted SF/F book reviewer and a regular panelist at local cons. I am also an amateur photographer. I have only been to one international con, the Worldcon in London in 2014, and would love to broaden my international fandom connections. If I have the honor of being selected, I aim to build the links I already have with Australian fandom (in things like being a prior participant in The Australian SF Snapshot) into face to face interviews, meetings, and more with fans and genre folk at Continuum and elsewhere in Australia. Have camera and recorder and ready to travel!

Nominators: North America: Mike Glyer, Arref Mak, and Jen Zink. Australasia: Gillian Polack and Alexandra Pierce.

(8) GLOWING REVIEWS. Jason continues to burn the midnight oil and has melted down another month of online science fiction and fantasy offerings into a shiny list of favorite stories in “Summation of Online Fiction: February 2017” at Featured Futures.

Thirteen February pro-rate webzines (the same as last month’s list except that a new bimonthly issue of Compelling replaced the defunct Fantastic) produced forty-three stories of 196,912 words. I most appreciated six (amounting to 14% of the whole)…

(9) SMALL WORLD, BIG NEWS. ChiZine Publications has cut an illustrated book deal with George A. Romero, creator of The Night of the Living Dead. They have acquired The Little World of Humongo Bongo, an illustrated book, originally published in French.

The Little World of Humongo Bongo is the tale of fire-breathing giant Humongo Bongo, who lives on the tiny planet of Tongo. Gentle and curious, his world is thrown upside down when he encounters a race of tiny people named the Minus, who initially worship him as a God but then turn on him when they succumb to fear, greed and the lust for power….

The Little World of Humongo Bongo will be published in Fall/Winter 2017, in association with Dave Alexander’s Untold Horror, a multi-media brand dedicated to exploring the greatest horror stories never told.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 1, 1692 — The Salem Witch Trials began in Massachusetts with the conviction of West Indian slave, Tituba, for witchcraft.

(11) CALLING ALL SMOFS. Kevin Standlee shared the news that as of yesterday there was still no bid for the 2019 Westercon, to be selected this July in Tempe.

Any site in Western North America (or Hawaii) is eligible. (Nobody filed by the end of December 2016, so the exclusion zone is suspended.) The filing deadline for the ballot is April 15, 2017. If no bid files by then, site selection won’t have any bids on the ballot, and I probably will have to ask Tempe for a larger room and longer time slot for the Westercon Business Meeting.

So here’s your chance to host a Westercon!

The bidding requirements are in the Westercon Bylaws, Article 3. The bylaws are on the Westercon web site at http://www.westercon.org/organization/business/

It’s approximately the same as Worldcon, with minor differences. The outline is the same: file bidding papers, and if the voters at the administering Westercon select you, you get the bid. If nobody wins, the Business Meeting decides.

(12) SLCC UPDATE. Here’s Bryan Brandenburg of the Salt Lake Comic Con appearing before the Utah Legislature (to the right of the flag). In his address, Bryan emphasized that their intent is to fill the void and not replace the other commercial events.

(13) ROBOMALLCOP. Francis Hamit is sufficiently impressed with the company that he bought some stock. “I thought this might be of interest. Securitas is the largest provider of contract human security officers in the world. Knightscope is a new company with a unique robotic system that does not replace human officers but does greatly extend their range.” And they have some good news.

Knightscope, developer of advanced physical security technologies focused on significantly enhancing US security operations, and Securitas AB (SECU-B.ST), the world’s second largest private security company, announced today that the parties are extending their channel partner agreement through February 2020. The agreement gives Securitas Security Services USA, Inc., a subsidiary of Securitas, rights to offer Knightscope’s technologies to its significant existing customer base, while Knightscope continues to develop new technologies and provide operational support.

Hamit adds:

Any resemblance to the Daleks is strictly coincidental. I am sure.

(14) UNDERSTANDING FUTURISM. New from McFarland, Science Fiction and Futurism: Their Terms and Ideas by Ace G. Pilkington.

Science and science fiction have become inseparable—with common stories, interconnected thought experiments, and shared language. This reference book lays out that relationship and its all-but-magical terms and ideas. Those who think seriously about the future are changing the world, reshaping how we speak and how we think.

This book fully covers the terms that collected, clarified and crystallized the futurists’ ideas, sometimes showing them off, sometimes slowing them down, and sometimes propelling them to fame and making them the common currency of our culture.

The many entries in this encyclopedic work offer a guided tour of the vast territories occupied by science fiction and futurism.

Beware, it will help multiply the number of books on your TBR pile. In his Foreword, David Brin says, “Provocative and enticing? Filled with ‘huh!’ moments and leads to great stories? That describes this volume.”

(15) RING THAT BELLE. John Ostrander talks about The Other in “The Face in the Mirror” at ComicMix.

The most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly featured an article about and interview with Emma Watson, playing Belle in the upcoming live-action Disney version of Beauty and the Beast. She may be best known for playing Hermione in the Harry Potter films. In addition to being very talented, Ms. Watson is also very smart and very articulate. As the article notes, she has also been a leader in feminist causes.

In the article, she’s asked why it is hard for some male fans to enjoy a female hero. (Witness the fanboy furor at the all-female remake of Ghostbusters and the female leads in the last two Star Wars films.) She replied: “It’s something they [some male fans] are not used to and they don’t like that. I think if you’ve been used to watching characters that look like, sound like, think like you and then you see someone [unexpected] up on the screen, you go ‘Well, that’s a girl; she doesn’t look like me. I want it to look like me so that I can project myself onto the character.’. . .for some reason there’s some kind of barrier there where [men] are like: ‘I don’t want to relate to a girl.’”

That sounds right to me. We’ve seen that attitude prevalent not only in movie fans but comic fans as well. There’s a wish fulfillment, a fantasy fulfillment, in comics and comics-related TV and movies, in fantasy as well and we want to be able to easily project ourselves into that. For some male fans, a woman doesn’t cut it. The bias also can extend to seeing someone of a different race as the hero. I think it’s certainly true about sexual identity as well. To appeal to a certain demographic, the hero, the lead, cannot be female, or black, or gay. And heaven forbid they should be all three; tiny minds might explode….

Are you Arab? Do you wear a turban? Are you black? Are you gay? Are you female? Then you are not like me, you are “Other.” And that is inherently dangerous. We cannot be equal. It comes down to “zero-sum thinking” which says that there is only so many rights, so much love, so much power to be had. If I have more of any of these than you, I must lose some for you to gain.

Some of the people feel they don’t have much. I remember a line from Giradoux’s one-act play The Apollo of Bellac: “I need so much and I have so little and I must protect myself.” Sharing is not gaining; sharing is losing what little you may have.

Except it’s not. If for you to keep your power intact, you must deny someone else the power to which they have a right, it’s not really your power. It’s theirs and it’s been stolen.

Pop culture has its part to play. Putting women, blacks, gays, Latinos, and others in the central role helps normalize the notion of equality. Mary Tyler Moore did it; Bill Cosby (gawd help me) did it, Rogue One does it. However, pop culture can – and has – also re-enforced negative stereotypes. So – how do we engage it for more positive results?

Denny O’Neil, many years ago, when he was editing a special project I was working on told me, “You can say anything you want but first you have to tell a story.” That’s your ticket in. “Tell me a story” appeals to the very roots of who we are as human beings. It’s how we explain and codify our world. If you want to open a closed mind, go through the heart. Don’t lecture; engage. Show, don’t tell. Showing women, blacks, LGBTQ, Latinos, Asians, and so on as heroes, as something positive, normalizes the notion. If I can be made to identify with them then The Other is no longer strange; they are me and, thus, not other.

(16) BRADBURY ASSOCIATIONAL ITEM. I’d tell you to start shaking the change out of your piggy bank except that will only work if you filled it with gold sovereigns. Still available on eBay, Ray Bradbury-owned oil painting by Raymond Bayless. Price: $15,000.

Ray Bradbury personally owned Raymond Bayless painting, titled, “War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells”. Art depicts the famous naval battle from the story between a martian “Tripod” weapon and English ironclad, the HMS Thunder Child. Cityscape along the horizon is on fire, and the ship also goes up in flames with a cloud of black smoke, the martian chemical weapon, rising from it. Painting features a color palette of predominantly light blues and greys, accented in orange, black and white. Signed, “Raymond Bayless 91,” at lower left. A sticker on verso is also signed by the artist. Oil on Masonite painting is framed to an overall size of 18.75″ x 24.75″. Near fine. With a COA from the Bradbury Estate.

[Thanks to David Doering, Cat Eldridge, Francis Hamit, JJ, Jonathan Edelstein, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John From GR.]

Pixel Scroll 7/8/16 Scrolled Pixels Are All Alike; Every Unscrolled Pixel Is Unscrolled In Its Own Way

(1) BRIANNA WU’S BOSTON GLOBE OP-ED. “We can all do something to stop this cycle of violence”.

It feels obscene to stare at these videos of black Americans being killed by police. It feels obscene to ignore them. It’s also vital to honor the police who were gunned down in Dallas, and yet I worry that retaliation will cost even more black lives. I feel overwhelmed by conflicting emotions — a sense of powerlessness and an urge to somehow stop this wave of violence.

But the stakes are too high to indulge in white guilt. This isn’t about our feelings, it’s about our responsibility. As noted feminist Ijeoma Oulo said, white people have to act today, and we have to act tomorrow. We have to act like our lives depend on it, because black lives actually do.

Given the carnage in Dallas, it’s important to note that the vast majority of police are willing to give their lives to protect the communities they serve. Rather than disparage law enforcement as a profession, our anger should be levied at the political systems that continually erase the wrongdoing of the small minority of police who dishonor their badge. Police operate in the framework we the citizens have built. They act in our name, according to the laws we ask them to enforce.

(2) COMMENT ON DALLAS. If not for the title, “4GW in Dallas”, would you have guessed the author of this analysis is Vox Day?

As of November, 1024 people were killed by police in 2015, 204 of them unarmed. For all that the police almost uniformly claimed to have been fearing for their lives, only 34 police were shot and killed during the same period. The public may be collectively stupid, but they’re not incapable of recognizing that statistical imbalance or that the police are trained to lie, obfuscate, and pretend that they are in danger when they are not.

Unless and until the police give up their military-style affectations, “us vs them” mentality, and most of all, their legal unaccountability, they’re going to find themselves fighting a war against the American people. And it is a war they simply cannot win.

What happened in Dallas may be shocking, but it isn’t even remotely surprising. Many people have seen it coming; what will likely prove the most surprising aspect of this incident is how many people will remain utterly unsympathetic to the Dallas police and their bereaved families. The police may consider themselves above the law, but they are not beyond the reach of an increasingly outraged public.

(3) I’M SORRY, I’LL READ THAT AGAIN. However, the post evidently didn’t set well with a lot of his followers, so Vox wrote a follow-up characterizing his position as merely a prediction fulfilled.

In the aftermath of the Dallas police shooting, it is understandable that many Americans are shocked, scared, and upset. The post-Civil Rights Act America has not turned out to be the society they thought it was, indeed, it is becoming increasingly obvious that those terrible racist Southern segregationists were correct all along. Targeted assassinations of authority figures are not a sign of a stable, well-ordered society.

But I have neither patience nor sympathy for those who have been emailing, commenting, and Tweeting to say that they are shocked by my comments with regards to Dallas and the overly militarized US police. I have said nothing I have not said many times before. My position has not changed one iota on the subject for over a decade. I have repeatedly predicted such events would take place, nor am I alone in that, as William S. Lind repeatedly warned about it as a consequence of 4GW coming to America in his book of collected columns, On War.

(4) THE SULU REVEAL. Adam-Troy Castro makes a case for “Why George Takei, Of All People, Is Now Wrong about Hikaru Sulu”.

George is absolutely right to have his preferences, ironic as they are. And I absolutely understand why he takes it so seriously. For an actor to do his job well, the role must hijack some of his gray matter, becoming a virtual person inside the real one; a person who may be evicted when the role goes away and another one must be prepared for. Part of George Takei has been Hikaru Sulu for decades; it is likely impossible, and to a large degree undesirable, for the scrutable helmsman he imagined to be evicted, in any real way, now. This is why he famously took a genuine, personal pride in the revelations over the years that Sulu’s first name (never mentioned on the original series) was officially Hikaru, or that he had advanced in his career to become Captain in the Excelsior, or that he had a daughter who also joined Starfleet. This is why Jimmy Doohan felt violated when the screenplay of a late STAR TREK film required Scotty to do a slapstick head-bonk in the corridor. The actors know the difference between reality and fantasy, but characters that near and dear to their hearts blur that line mightily, and this is for the most part a good thing.

However, he’s wrong on this, and this is why….

(5) CANON VOLLEYED AND THUNDERED. Peter David affirms the idea of making Sulu gay, while offering a lighthearted explanation why that fits the canon.

Some fans are crying foul, including George himself, declaring that it flies in the face of Trek continuity. Well, as the guy who wrote “Demora” in which Sulu is most definitely not gay, I’m here to say:

The fans are wrong. Even, with all respect, George is wrong.

In 79 episodes and all the movies, there is simply nothing to establish that Sulu is hetero. Yes, he has a daughter. Neil Patrick Harris has kids, too, so so much for that argument. He only displayed hetero leanings in exactly one episode: “Mirror Mirror” in which he is coming on to Uhura. But that wasn’t our Sulu. That was the Sulu of the mirror universe, and if the mirror Sulu is aggressively straight, then I suppose it makes sense that our Sulu would be gay, right? He’s the opposite, after all.

(6) A FORCE FOR GOOD? Peter Grant argues against “Publishing’s scary self-delusion” at Mad Genius Club.

I wasn’t surprised (but I was disappointed) to read this statement from Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle:

“Publishing is undeniably a force for good. But working in an industry that is inherently a service to society, we risk subscribing to the notion that this is enough. It’s not. We ought to do more—and we can—by taking advantage of our capacity as Penguin Random House to drive positive social, environmental, and cultural change, locally and globally.”

The statement was accompanied by a video message to PRH employees.

The scary thing is, Mr. Dohle undoubtedly believes his statement – yet, equally undoubtedly, it’s catastrophically wrong…..

There’s also the question of why PRH (and, by extension, other publishers) should do more.  Surely their emphasis, their focus, should be on increasing their profitability, and thereby the returns to their shareholders and investors?  The latter could then use some or all of the profits on their investments to support causes, activities and individuals  with whom they agree or are in sympathy.  For a corporation to play fast and loose with its owners’ money, in order to undertake or promote activities that have little or nothing to do with its core commercial activities, is, to put it mildly, disingenuous…..

(7) THE MAP OF LOST DISNEY ATTRACTIONS. Yahoo! Movies has a gallery of “22 Lost Disney Rides, From the Maelstrom to Mission To Mars”.

When the new Disney World attraction Frozen Ever After opened at Epcot Center recently in Orlando, eager families waited in line for up to five hours for their turn to see Anna and Elsa in the animatronic flesh. But sprinkled in amongst the jubilant throngs were some unhappy faces mourning the loss of the ride that the Frozen gang replaced: the Maelstrom, a log flume that had entertained visitors since 1988. It’s a reminder that almost every time a new ride debuts at the Happiest Place on Earth, another one twinkles out of existence. From Phantom Boats and Flying Saucers to a World of Motion and an ExtraTERRORestrial Encounter, we’ve assembled this gallery of some rides that are no longer in operation at Disney World and/or Disneyland in Anaheim.

(8) PORTRAIT COMPETITION. Nick Stathopolous points out that critic Christopher Allan of The Australian predictably hated his entry in the annual Archibald Prize competition. (Can’t figure out why Nick’s link from FB to The Australian works, and the direct link hits a paywall, so I’ll link to him.) Nick has been a finalist several times, and anyway has a thick hide.

At least the massively oversized heads remain, like last year, in retreat. There are a few horrors, such as massive works by Abdul Abdullah, Nick Stathopoulos and Kirsty Neilson, which also reveal the nexus between size and the other bane of the Archibald, the reliance on photography. Stathopoulos’s work is suffocating in its obsessive rendering of the inert photographic image, and Neilson in her portrait of actor Garry McDonald has painstakingly rendered each hair in her sitter’s beard while failing to deal adequately with the far more important eyes.

(9) MY GOSH SUKOSHI. Another conrunner-for-profit has bit the dust, reports Nerd & Tie.

Sukoshi Con’s “Louisville Anime Weekend” was originally scheduled for July 29th-31st at the Ramada Plaza Louisville Hotel and Conference Center in Louisville, KY. With less than a month to go before the convention though, on Tuesday Sukoshi Con deleted their Facebook pages, pulled down their websites, and announced via Twitter that the event (and all future Sukoshi Con events) were cancelled.

https://twitter.com/sukoshicon/status/750419804234756096

It’s been a strange year and a half for James Carroll’s Sukoshi Con. Some of you may remember the weird saga of their Anime Southwest convention (in Denver oddly enough), where the con had to relocate hotels, multiple guests cancelled, and drama abounded — but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the last year and a half, the organization has cancelled four of their eleven planned events — including last years Louisville Anime Weekend.

We’ve heard rumblings of financial issues within the convention, though they have yet to be confirmed. It’s safe to say though that none of Sukoshi Con’s events are likely to come back.

(10) TWO HERMIONES. Emma Watson posted photos of her with Noma Dumezweni on Facebook of the two Hermiones meeting at a preview of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stageplay.

Yesterday I went to see the Cursed Child. I came in with no idea what to expect and it was AMAZING. Some things about the play were, I think, possibly even more beautiful than the films. Having seen it I felt more connected to Hermione and the stories than I have since Deathly Hallows came out, which was such a gift. Meeting Noma and seeing her on stage was like meeting my older self and have her tell me everything was going to be alright, which as you can imagine was immensely comforting (and emotional)! The cast and crew welcomed me like I was family and Noma was everything I could ever hope she would be. She’s wonderful. The music is beautiful

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 8, 1947 – The first press reports were released on what has become known as the  Roswell UFO incident.

The sequence of events was triggered by the crash of a Project Mogul balloon near Roswell. On July 8, 1947, the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) public information officer Walter Haut, issued a press release stating that personnel from the field’s 509th Operations Group had recovered a “flying disc”, which had crashed on a ranch near Roswell.

The military decided to conceal the true purpose of the crashed device – nuclear test monitoring – and instead inform the public that the crash was of a weather balloon.

(12) STUNT DOUBLE BUILDINGS. “Ivan Reitman Looks Back at the Original Ghostbusters ‘ L.A. Locations”in LA Weekly.

There’s no doubt that the attitude of the original Ghostbusters is inherently New York (though you could certainly imagine the scenario at Tavern on the Green playing out that way at certain Los Angeles restaurants). The truth, however, is that only about 35 minutes of what appears on screen in Ghostbusters was filmed in Manhattan. The remaining 1 hour and 10 minutes of screen time of the beloved movie that asked “Who Ya Gonna Call?” was shot on a Burbank studio lot and at practical downtown L.A. locales, including one of the most famous movie locations of all time: the Ghostbusters firehouse.

Now, before you start thinking, Wait a minute, I’ve visited that firehouse in New York. Yes, you may have stood outside Hook & Ladder 8, that mecca of movie locations on N. Moore Street in Lower Manhattan. The interior of the Ghostbusters firehouse, however, is old Fire Station No. 23, a decommissioned firehouse located at 225 E. Fifth St. in downtown Los Angeles.

(13) THE FUNNIES. The Wizard hits the celebrity autograph line at Wizardcon in yesterday’s Wizard of Id comic strip.

And today, the Wizard got taken in the dealer’s room.

(14) NONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER. Critic Jon Jon Johnson’s review implies a play aimed at the general public mentioned the Puppies. “The Greatest Science Fiction Show (No One’s Ever Seen)” was produced for the 2016 Capitol Fringe.

The Greatest Science Fiction Show (No One’s Ever Seen) provides no shortage of giggles, paired with some heartwarming moments. Part love letter to a old-school science fiction, part middle finger to the Sad Puppies of the Hugo awards, and part affection for geek culture, Grain of Sand’s show serves as a pleasant Fringe offering to delight fans of the genre and fans of the theatre.

(15) VANDYKE REPLIES. Peter J. Enyeart ranks the Hugo-nominated novelettes on the Stormsewer LiveJournal. Number Five wrote back.

  1. “What Price Humanity” by David VanDyke Space pilots fighting a war against invading aliens wake up in a strange simulation. Well, these military SF stories start to blur together after a while, don’t they? This was very Ender’s Gamey, with stylistic hallmarks reminiscent of Brad Torgersen (I’m thinking specifically of “The Exchange Officers,” which has a female character named “Chesty;” this one has a black character named “Token” (just because it was funny in South Park doesn’t mean it will work for you, bud)). It does have a bit of twist- a twist that you can see coming an astronomical unit away. And having an infodumpy prologue to a story this length is just narrative sloth. Boo.

David VanDyke, author of “What Price Humanity,” responded in a comment.

Kudos for you noticing “Token,” which is meant as a piece of deliberately painful, somewhat underhanded satire. My son-in-law of African ancestry, who flies fighters for the U.S. military, was given that nickname in training, as the only person of color in his class.

It’s both an indication of how far our society has come (the class members were well aware of the irony and were supportive, in the usual needling manner of combat operators) and an indictment of how far we have to go (if we could find 992 Tuskeegee Airmen, why can’t we recruit more minorities into the elite strata of today’s military?).

Placing such a subtle and unexplained item in a shorter story has its risks, particularly if a reader is predisposed to believe ill of an author, especially one that happens to have been published through Castalia House, but I try to start from a position of faith in the intelligence, imagination and good will of the reader, and hope for the best.

(16) COMPUTER-ASSISTED COMICS. M. D. Jackson’s wonderful series on comic book publishing technology continues at Amazing Stories — “Why Was Early Comic Book Art so Crude? Part 5: The Digital Revolution”.

Apple’s Macintosh was immediately adopted by graphic artists. With such programs as MacPaint and MacDraw, computer assisted art and design was born. The next year saw the introduction of the very first major comic book to be produced on a computer.

First Comic’s Shatter was created by writer Peter B. Gillis and artist Mike Saenz. Shatter was the story of a cop named Sadr al-Din Morales. The storyline of the comic was much in-line with works like Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner and Gibson’s Neuromancer. Threads of the story, such as distrust of corporations, the Film Noir feel of the project, and especially the artwork, would place it firmly in the genre of ‘cyberpunk.’

More importantly, the comic title, however much of a gimmick it may have started out as, showed that the potential for computer assisted comic book art was real. Using MacPaint and a mouse (this was before the invention of the tablet and stylus interface) artist Mike Saenz created each image as well as the lettering. The resulting pages were printed on a dot-matrix printer and then colored in a traditional way, but only because at the time the Macintosh was strictly a black and white machine.

(17) THE ARABELLA TRAILER. David D. Levine’s new novel, unveiled in a one-minute video.

Since Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, he proved that space travel was both possible and profitable. Now, one century later, a plantation in a flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby, a young woman who is perfectly content growing up in the untamed frontier. But days spent working on complex automata with her father or stalking her brother Michael with her Martian nanny is not the proper behavior of an English lady. That is something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England. However, when events transpire that threaten her home on Mars, Arabella decides that sometimes doing the right thing is far more important than behaving as expected. She disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of the Diana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company, where she meets a mysterious captain who is intrigued by her knack with clockwork creations. Now Arabella just has to weather the naval war currently raging between Britain and France, learn how to sail, and deal with a mutinous crew…if she hopes to save her family remaining on Mars. Arabella of Mars, the debut novel by Hugo-winning author David D. Levine offers adventure, romance, political intrigue, and Napoleon in space!

 

[Thanks to Steven H Silver, Michael J. Walsh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stoic Cynic.]

Pixel Scroll 6/10/16 Sevenfives

(1) TURING POPCORN TEST. “Movie written by algorithm turns out to be hilarious and intense” promises Ars Technica, where it’s free to view.

Knowing that an AI wrote Sunspring makes the movie more fun to watch, especially once you know how the cast and crew put it together. Director Oscar Sharp made the movie for Sci-Fi London, an annual film festival that includes the 48-Hour Film Challenge, where contestants are given a set of prompts (mostly props and lines) that have to appear in a movie they make over the next two days. Sharp’s longtime collaborator, Ross Goodwin, is an AI researcher at New York University, and he supplied the movie’s AI writer, initially called Jetson. As the cast gathered around a tiny printer, Benjamin spat out the screenplay, complete with almost impossible stage directions like “He is standing in the stars and sitting on the floor.” Then Sharp randomly assigned roles to the actors in the room. “As soon as we had a read-through, everyone around the table was laughing their heads off with delight,” Sharp told Ars. The actors interpreted the lines as they read, adding tone and body language, and the results are what you see in the movie. Somehow, a slightly garbled series of sentences became a tale of romance and murder, set in a dark future world. It even has its own musical interlude (performed by Andrew and Tiger), with a pop song Benjamin composed after learning from a corpus of 30,000 other pop songs.

After viewing, Pat Cadigan begged to differ, “Actually, it was neither hilarious nor intense. It was incoherent. And non-intense.”

(2) BAREFOOT CONTESTED. Aaron Pound reported “obnoxious and surly” behavior by hotel security at Balticon 50 including the now-famous “Shoe Cop” who was “enforcing their previously unannounced policy that shoes had to be worn at all times.”

Longtime fan Hobbit, whose preference is to go barefoot, was particularly upset.

I and a traveling companion were some of the first casualties … we only made through less than a day there before simply bailing out. While the barefoot issue was only about a third of what pushed me over my limit by the time we put it all in the rearview, I complained bitterly to Marriott’s customer-care department [as Renaissance is one of their brands] about the way we were treated.

Hobbit has posted the complaint letter and corporate replies.

I would like to lodge a formal complaint against your property at Renaissance HarborPlace, in Baltimore.  I was there for an event scheduled through this past Memorial Day weekend, May 26 – 30 2016, to help with its technical setup and operations.  The event was a science fiction convention named Balticon, in fact its fiftieth year in existence, put on by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS). This was its first year at this particular hotel property, and may well be the last.

Within mere minutes of arriving to unload gear and begin building our technical infrastructure, I and several of my colleagues were harassed by the hotel security staff for not wearing shoes. Some number of my crew generally work without shoes for an extensive set of positive reasons, including but not limited to increased agility, comfort, *safety*, and situational awareness.  While perhaps a bit unusual in the relevant activities, it is our personal right and freedom to enjoy and presents no unacceptable risk or concern to either ourselves or the venues we occupy.  The many health *benefits* of going barefoot are also well known.  We accept full responsibility for our own care and safety, and at that level it is not up to any other entity to dictate to us about it either way.

The harassment continued and escalated through that evening, even after our staff offered a temporary compromise by confining our activities to our assigned function space and slipping on shoes to go elsewhere on the property. The only shoes I had with me were effectively light-duty slippers which would cause me to be significantly *less* surefooted and safe while working, and thus were not a viable option.  This was also true of our other staff, who only had open-toe sandals and other seasonally-appropriate footgear on hand.  Ultimately I was unable to continue working the convention setup, and wound up simply leaving the entire event prematurely because it seemed like the only reasonable option left open to me….

Hobbit also has barefoot advocacy information online.

In early 2016 I began to correspond with some of the other online barefoot advocates in my area, and participate in various group activities like hikes and dinner gatherings.  I viewed this as further support in my own journey, particularly with helping bring awareness and reason to typically stodgy organizations that harbored some unreasoned sixties-holdover fear and loathing for bare feet.  In keeping with my own personal tradition of advising any number of companies on best customer-facing practices in the online world, it seemed a short step to use those same techniques and reach out to them to discuss customer and client policy decisions about footwear in an escalated fashion.

While my past efforts to inform have met with an entire spectrum of successes and failures, I’ve chosen this point in time to start bringing it to the web and chronicle some of the major interactions

(3) UNDER CONSTRUCTION. The Digital Antiquarian begins an opus about “god-game” development with “SimCity Part 1: Wil Wright’s City in a Box”.

This description subtly reveals something about the eventual SimCity that is too often misunderstood. The model of urban planning that underpins Wright’s simulation is grossly simplified and, often, grossly biased to match its author’s own preexisting political views. SimCity is far more defensible as an abstract exploration of system dynamics than as a concrete contribution to urban planning. All this talk about “stocks” and “flows” illustrates where Wright’s passion truly lay. In other words, for him the what that was being simulated was less interesting than the way it was being simulated. Wright:

I think the primary goal of this [SimCity] is to show people how intertwined such things can get. I’m not so concerned with predicting the future accurately as I am with showing which things have influence over which other things, sort of a chaos introduction, where the system is so complex that it can get very hard to predict the future ramifications of a decision or policy.

When SimCity was finally released, the public, including plenty of professionals in the field of urban planning who really should have known better, credited Wright’s experiment with an authority it most definitely didn’t earn. I’ll return to this point in my next article, in the course of which we’ll try to figure out what so many thought they were seeing in Wright’s simplistic take on urban planning.

After working on the idea for about six months, Wright brought a very primitive SimCity to Brøderbund, who were intrigued enough to sign him to a contract. But over the next year or so of work a disturbing trend manifested. Each time Wright would bring the latest version to Brøderbund, they’d nod approvingly as he showed all the latest features, only to ask, gently but persistently, a question Wright learned to loathe: when would he be making an actual game out of the simulation? You know, something with a winning state, perhaps with a computer opponent to play against?

(4) SEASONING. Life eventually taught Alma Alexander what her younger self had needed to know about “Madness and the Age of Innocence” (at Book View Café.)

Back when I was nineteen years old and steeped up to my innocent ingenue ears in the Matter of Britain, I dreamed up a story – technically a novel, I guess, seeing as it was over 40,000 words, but not much over. It was a solid chunk of writing, though, pretty much written over a year or so when I was about 18, and it told the story of Queen Guenevere….

Andre Brink, South Africa’s pre-eminent novelist, started his report thusly:

“This is an impressive piece of writing, especially if it is taken into account that it was written by a 19-year-old. I have no doubt that this young woman will be a major writer one day.”

But…

You heard the but coming, didn’t you?…

He went on to say that the story was too tame, especially given the subject matter of lust and adultery and multi-layered betrayals. There was plenty of drama, he said, but there was none of… oh, let me quote him again… “…it lacks what Kazantzakis calls ‘madness’.”

Today, I know of this madness. I understand it from within. I take no issue with his comments, not from this side of the bridge of time, because he was probably right – my story was one of innocence rather than guilt and machinations, my Queen was a child caught up in an adult world, much as I was at the time. But when he wrote this report, I had yet to read Kazantzakis. I had heard of Zorba the Greek, but I had not read the book, nor seen the movie at that time.

(5) DEPRESSION ART. MD Jackson reminds you of everything you’ve forgotten (or never knew) to answer the loaded question: “Why was Early Comic Book Art so Crude? (Part 1)”, at Amazing Stories.

A friend of mine recently asked why it is that the artwork in comic books has gone from being so crude and rudimentary in the beginning to being so much more photo-realistic today. Well, I thought that was a good question, so I am setting out to answer it. And although the question seems simple, the answer is not, and it will take more than one post to fully cover.

Were the early comic book artists untalented hacks? Or did the early limitations of printing technology hamper their creative expression? The answer, in my view, boils down to: a bit of both.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 10, 1692 — Bridget Bishop was the first person to be hanged at the Salem Witch trials.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • June 10, 1922 — Judy Garland

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born June 10, 1928 Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak

(9) DINO DUDES. Den of Geek has “Jurassic Park 4: new concept art from lost film”.

Artist Carlos Huante recently shared concept art from a much earlier take on Jurassic Park 4…

If you Frankensteinized the DNA of the Hulk, Wolfman and a velociraptor in a petri dish, you’d get Raptorman. He was due to appear in a Jurassic Park film, but ltimately it wasn’t meant to be.

Raptorman was part of a screenplay envisions by John Sayles and William Monahan when they were penning an earlier take on Jurassic Park 4, featuring genetically enhanced soldier-o-saurus reptiles created by a corporation to be mercenaries that are supposed to wrangle the rogue dinos trampling North America.

(10) DELANY. From Shelf Awareness: Image of the Day: NYS Writers Hall of Fame.

NYS Hall of fame COMP

Samuel R. Delany, Roz Chast and Roger Angell

For the seventh year, the Empire State Center for the Book inducted a group of diverse writers into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame. Honorees Samuel R. Delany, Roz Chast and Roger Angell (pictured, l.-r.) attended the June 7 event at New York City’s 3 West Club, where Maya Angelou, Jean Craighead George, Grace Paley and Don Marquis were recognized posthumously. Stephen Sondheim was not able to attend due to illness. In his acceptance remarks, science fiction writer Delany told of his fondness of fellow inductee Don Marquis’s famed characters Archy and Mehitabel.

(11) INDIEGOGO. Scholar Kenneth James wants to raise $60,000 of support for his work on “Autumnal City: The Journals of Samuel R. Delany”.

Currently I am compiling and editing Delany’s personal journals.  The journals will be published by Wesleyan University Press in what is projected to be a series of at least five volumes, with each volume covering approximately one decade’s worth of material.  I have recently completed the first volume, In Search of Silence; this volume is now in the final stages of production at Wesleyan and is slated to appear at the end of this year. It covers the period from Delany’s teenage years in the late 1950s to the end of the 1960s, during which time Delany established himself as a major figure in what came to be called New Wave science fiction.  The second volume, Autumnal City, will present Delany’s journals from the 1970s, during which time he wrote the bulk of what many consider the pivotal work of his career, Dhalgren (1975), as well as Trouble on Triton (1976), the first volume of the Nevèrÿon tetralogy (Tales of Nevèrÿon [1979]), and many works of criticism.

In this campaign I am seeking funding to produce the second volume.  If I secure this funding, the project – which involves researching, compiling, transcribing, editing, and annotating the text – will take two years to complete.  The total amount I am seeking, for two years of full-time work on the project, is $60,000.

There has been $1,355 pledged to date, and the appeal has 2 months to run.

(12) JOURNAL EYEWITNESS. Matthew Cheney enthsiastically endorses the project.

I’m just back from spending a few days at the Delany archive at Boston University, and I’ve looked through a few of the 1970s journals. They’re truly thrilling for anybody interested not only in Delany the writer, but in the writing and thinking process in general. They’re especially interesting for those of us who think that after 1969, Delany’s work only got more brilliant. They are working journals, not really diaries as we generally think of them, and they clarify a lot of questions of when particular things were written, and why, and how. That makes them, if nothing else, of immense scholarly value. But they’ve also got material in them that just flat-out makes for good reading.

(13) ENVIRONMENTAL MESSAGE SF. “Sharman Apt Russell Guest Post–‘BFF: Science Fiction and the Environmental Movement’” at Locus Online.

In 1864, a hundred years after the start of the Industrial Revolution, the American scholar George Perkins Marsh wrote about the impact of a society rapidly cutting down its forests, destroying its topsoil, and polluting its water. Marsh thundered, “The ravages committed by man subvert the relations and destroy the balance which nature has established, and she avenges herself upon the intruder by letting loose her destructive energies.” He predicted an impoverished Earth with “shattered surface,” “climatic excesses,” and the extinction of many species, perhaps even our own.

In his own way, Marsh was an early science fiction writer.

(14) DO YOU WANT TO GET PAID? Peter Grant’s Mad Genius Club post “Writing your passion…or not?”  makes an argument for avoiding saturated markets. The commenters overall favored passion-directed writing.

In the same way, I see authors trying to ‘break in’ to the market in a particular genre and getting discouraged.  That may be because it’s a crowded genre (e.g. romance and/or erotica) where there are already lots of books and authors and it’s hard to get noticed;  or it’s a field where there are relatively few readers in relation to the overall book market (e.g. those interested in the domestic life of the Polynesian parrot!);  or it’s a moribund genre which hasn’t attracted interest or support from either publishers or big-name authors for some time (e.g. Westerns).  To authors facing such challenges, my advice is:  Why not try to write in a genre where you will be noticed, and where you can offer a quality product that will attract reader interest?  You may not be passionate about that genre, but is that any reason not to try your hand at it?

(15) OLDERS Q&A. “Malka Older and Daniel José Older Discuss Infomocracy, Cyberpunk, and the Future!” — Leah Schnelbach covered the event for Tor.com.

There was already a nice crowd gathered for the concatenation of Olders at Greenlight Bookstore, and by the time the reading began, the seats were full, and many people already had copies of Malka Older’s debut novel, Infomocracy. The novel takes us into the near-future, twenty years after Information, a powerful search engine monopoly, guided the world in a shift from a fractious collection of nation-states to global micro-democracy. Now the world is entering another election year, and idealists, policy wonks, spies, and rabble-rousers are all struggling to see which democracies will come out on top.

Older read, and then her brother, Bone Street Rumba series author Daniel José Older, joined her in front of the crowd for a lively interview and Q&A. You can read the highlights from their conversation below!

(16) SILENT MOVIE. Here’s a video documenting what Mystery and Imagination Bookshop looked like on June 9, 2016.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 5/23/16 Ralph 124C41Pixel

(1) EMMA WATSON IS BELLE. The new Beauty and the Beast teaser trailer conveys the faintest hint of the movie’s remarkable cast.

Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a live-action re-telling of the studio’s animated classic which refashions the classic characters from the tale as old as time for a contemporary audience, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs.

“Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince within.

The film stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Oscar® winner Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s eccentric, but lovable father; Josh Gad as Lefou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Golden Globe® nominee Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, the candelabra; Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, the feather duster; six-time Tony Award® winner Audra McDonald as Madame Garderobe, the wardrobe; Oscar nominee Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and two-time Academy Award® winner Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.

 

(2) POUNDED IN THE POUND. “Chuck Tingle” has registered therabidpuppies domain and put up a website.

Hello my name is CHUCK TINGLE (worlds greatest author).

sometimes devilmen are so busy planning scoundrel attacks they forget to REGISTER important website names. this is a SOFT WAY of the antibuckaroo agenda but is also good because it makes it easy for BUDS WHO KNOW LOVE IS REAL to prove love (all). please understand this is website to take DARK MAGIC and replace with REAL LOVE for all who kiss the sky.  here are some links that make bad dogs blue very upset (as angry NORMAL men)

(3) FUTURE OF TREK FAN FILMS STILL CLOUDY. ScienceFiction.com feels that despite J.J. Abrams’ announcement that the Axanar lawsuit is “going away” it may not be that simple – and it may not clear the way for other fan films.

For CBS and Paramount, the issue seems to be far from over.  Per reports from Tommy Kraft, creator of the ‘Star Trek: Horizon’ fan film, made on the project’s Facebook page, CBS has contacted him within the last 30 days with a cease and desist on a sequel project that he was preparing to launch.

Kraft’s statement on the Star Trek: Horizon FB page begins:

Yesterday it was announced by JJ Abrams and Justin Lin that the lawsuit over the Axanar project would be “going away.” I’ve had many people ask if Federation Rising, the sequel to Horizon, will now happen. As some of you may know, we had plans to launch a Kickstarter for Federation Rising on April 23rd, but just days after announcing our plans, CBS informed us that we could not continue. After fact-checking the phone number and email address, I can confirm that it was absolutely CBS I spoke to.

Repeated attempts to communicate with CBS via phone and email since that incident have gone unanswered. As of this time, we’ve received no indication that we would be allowed to legally continue our plans to create Federation Rising and the poor reception to our original science fiction space film, Project Discovery, has indicated a decline in interest for crowdfunded films. This whole experience has left me disenchanted with the Star Trek fan film genre and uninterested in moving forward on Federation Rising even if we were told it would now be okay. So the question is: why?

Quite frankly, I’ve been quiet on this for some time but feel the need to speak out. The Axanar case caused a rift in the community and has led to many folks feeling wary of new projects. With the announcement that the lawsuit was going to “go away”, I became quite frustrated, much moreso than when CBS told me I could not move forward with Federation Rising. The reason is two-fold: Axanar should not get off so easy and it has come to my attention that CBS/Paramount had plans to drop the lawsuit for sometime but still told me not to continue with my sequel due to the legal troubles with Axanar.

Kraft seems far more angry at Axanar’s Alec Peters than CBS, for his post continues with a detailed history of Kraft’s involvement with the earlier Axanar movie in which Peters is heavily criticized.

(4) SWIRSKY CONFOUNDS BULLIES. You can too. “Guest Post by Rachel Swirsky: Confounding Bullies by Raising Money for LGBTQ HealthCare” on Ann Leckie’s blog.

Since I’m here on Ann’s blog, I’ll point out that if we reach our $600 stretch goal, she and I, along with writers John Chu, Adam-Troy Castro, Ken Liu, Juliette Wade, and Alyssa Wong, will write a story together about dinosaurs. I really want this to happen, so I hope we reach the goal. We’ve got about a week left to go!

(The $600 goal was met today. Check the following link to learn what the $700 stretch goal is….)

If you want the whole story behind the fundraiser, you can read it here– https://www.patreon.com/posts/posteriors-for-5477113. But here’s what I have to say today:

There’s advice I’ve heard all my life. You’ve probably heard it, too.

In elementary school, it was “ignore the bullies.” It never seemed to work…..

Bullies can hurt people. That’s what “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” is about, and perhaps why it makes bullies howl. But you know what else it’s done? It’s inspired hundreds of people to come to me and tell me about their experiences being bullied as kids or being hated as adults, being pummeled or harassed, and how they’ve moved past it. How “Dinosaur” has been cathartic for them, has helped them realize they aren’t alone.

Bullies aren’t the only ones who can travel in groups. We have our bonding and our strength. And at its best, it can be fun, and silly. It can destroy hatred with humor and positive energy. It can emphasize kindness and compassion. I believe in the power of humor, and I believe in the power of people clasping hands to help other people.

Don’t get me wrong. Humor won’t stop the bullies either. We’re always going to have to spend our time walking carefully around some amount of crap on the carpet. But humor reveals that the emperor is not only naked, but not even an emperor—as often as not, he’s some poor, pathetic exiled criminal, dreaming of ruling the world with an army of poltergeists and toddlers.

(5) SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WRITING CLASSES. Cat Rambo is creating “New Plunkett Scholarships for my online classes”.

Going forward, each class has one slot that is the Plunkett slot, which is reserved for someone who couldn’t otherwise pay for the class. To apply for a Plunkett, mail me at catrambo AT gmail.com with the subject line Plunkett Application (class name/date). In the email, provide a brief statement regarding you want to take the class. Plunkett eligibility is self-determined and covers the cost of the class in full; it is based on whether or not you can afford to take the class otherwise. If you can’t but feel it would be helpful to you, I encourage you to apply. The name of the recipient remains private. I particularly welcome QUILTBAG and PoC participants. The Plunkett scholarships are named for Edward Plunkett, who wrote as Lord Dunsany.

Why am I calling them the Plunkett scholarships? Because it amuses me, and because that’s the name I gave the little press I’m using to self-publish some story collections. There’s some interesting class-based tensions coiled inside the Plunkett/Dunsany name and I figured that made it a good name for a scholarship whose criteria are economic.

Why am I doing it? Recently Keffy R.M. Kehrli paid for one of my classes for a student and it got me to thinking about it. F&SF has a rich tradition of paying it forward, and while I’m trying to do some of that with the SFWA Presidency, this is another way to help ensure a rich range of new voices in the field. I want these folks around to write wonderful fiction for me to read. So yep, this is a purely selfish move on my part.

(6) CATCH. There seems to be an extra page in Joe Hill’s encyclopedic knowledge of cinema.

(7) DESERT ISLAND BOOK. The question of the day from Baen.

(8) ALTERNATIVE HISTORY. Editor Glenn Hauman has launched an Indiegogo appeal to fund the Altered States of the Union anthology filled with stories that ask questions like these —

What if

  • New Amsterdam was merged into New Jersey instead of becoming New York?
  • Freed slaves were given the state of Mississippi after the Civil War?
  • Aaron Burr succeeded in invading Mexico?
  • Joseph Smith and his religious followers settled in Jackson County, Missouri?

The authors who will supply the answers are Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald, Brendan DuBois, Malon Edwards, G.D. Falksen, Michael Jan Friedman, David Gerrold, Alisa Kwitney, Gordon Linzner, Sarah McGill, Mackenzie Reide, Ian Randal Strock, and Ramón Terrell.

The goal is $5,000

(9) TWO MISTAKES. Steve Davidson takes on Jim Henley and George R.R. Martin in “Hugo Gloom & Doom” at Amazing Stories.

The second mistake is in thinking that the Hugo Awards are a thing that is defined by its individual parts – the voting methodology, the ceremony, the lists, the shape of the award itself.

The Hugo Awards are a concept.  A self-referential celebration of Fannishness.  Changing how, or when, the awards are determined doesn’t negatively effect its character, so long as well-meaning Fans continue to participate in good faith – and despite the actions of those who have negative intentions.  The Hugo Awards are a belief in the rightness and goodness of Fanishness;  if, at the end of time, there are only two Fans left in the universe and they decide to host a Worldcon and vote for Hugo Awards, it will still be Worldcon, the awards will still reflect the traditions and history of Fandom and they will still retain their Fannish character.  (And it doesn’t take two Fans.  It only takes ONE fan to make something Fannish.)

Right now, well-meaning Fans, for whom there is no question of the character of the awards, are exhibiting true Fannishness by voluntarily working on methods designed to address the issues that have arisen over the past couple of years.  They do this out of love for the awards and, by extension, love for Fandom.  NOTHING can change or diminish that.  As long as that love remains, the Hugo Awards will retain their character.

You’ll need to read the post to find out what the first mistake is….

(10) SAY IT AIN’T SO. Can it be that some movie superheroes don’t look exactly as they do in comic books? Where is my forehead cloth?

The outfit featured in Deadpool set the new standard, and both Black Panther and Spider-Man’s costumes in Captain America: Civil War look fantastic. But for every comic-accurate costume, there are plenty more page-to-screen adaptations that are just…wrong.

 

(11) FINDING LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE. Frontiers of Science and Science Fiction plans a live online panel May 27.

How will we discover life in the universe? What are the cosmos’ biggest unknowns? How do scientific discoveries inspire and transform the stories we tell? Join sci-fi authors Larry Niven, Kim Stanley Robinson, Connie Willis, Allen Steele, Charlie Stross, Joe Haldeman and Harry Turtledove and a panel of the scientists and engineers of the Hubble and Webb space telescopes as they explore the places where their worlds collide.

Get insight into the scientific and creative processes as they discuss topics ranging from why we can’t seem to find evidence of intelligent aliens to the ways that science happens in real life.

The panel will be livestreamed May 27 at 11:15 a.m. ET on Frontiers of Science and Science Fiction (YouTube), and archived for viewing later on the HubbleSite YouTube channel.

(12) YAY PLUTO. Continuing insights from flyby data: “Scientists make huge discoveries on Pluto”.

It’s been nearly a year since New Horizons blasted past Pluto and sent back incredible images and groundbreaking data, but because of its incredible distance from the Earth, data is still coming in at a trickle, and it’s leading to new discoveries about the planet on a regular basis.

For example, a new study published earlier this month in the Journal of Geophysical Research — Space Physics found that Pluto behaves less like a comet and more like a planet in the way it interacts with solar wind — a big deal considering the fact that just a few years ago Pluto was demoted from its former status as the ninth planet in our solar system.

(13) CLARKE CENTER. The La Jolla Light has a recap of the first lecture in the Clarke Center’s “Science Fiction Meets Architecture” series, which featured Kim Stanley Robinson and Usman Haque — “Sci-fi meets architecture in the Clarke Center. What would it be like to live in 2080 London?”

Robinson warned those gathered that sea levels are rising even faster than scientists thought they would. “This is one of the greatest problems that humanity faces,” he said, noting America might end up with some of its major cities — like New York and Miami — halfway under water, becoming a “Super Venice, Italy.”

Robinson explained that the problem stems from melting ice in western Antarctica and Greenland, an unstoppable process once it gets going.

He is also worried that the ice from eastern Antarctica will also begin to melt to compound the problem.

Robinson mentioned one possible solution; building 60 huge pumping stations that would pump the melting ice water back up onto the Antarctic bedrock for refreezing.

His presentation was followed by a “Telesmatic” lecture slideshow by architect Haque that came over the Internet from London in real time. Haque is a founding partner of Umbrellium and Thingful, and has won awards from the Design Museum UK, World Technology, Japan Arts Festival, and Asia Digital Art Association.

Haque prefaced his talk with the statement, “I tend to work in the here and now. I don’t usually speculate about many years into the future,” and went on to clarify that he doesn’t consider his work to be “speculative,” which typically produces ironic, tongue-in-cheek designs. He calls his type of futuristic architecture “participatory design,” because “it has no final images or outcomes, but rather designs a system that enables others to produce outcomes.”

(14) SOMEWHERE OVER. This installment of What If by xkcd starts with a Star Wars-related question — “Tatooine Rainbow”.

Since rainbows are caused by the refraction of the sunlight by tiny droplets of rainwater, what would rainbow look like on Earth if we had two suns like Tatooine?

(15) SADDLE UP. Fast work by Camestros Felapton. Mere minutes after Castalia House announced its new Peter Grant western novel, Camestros was pitching a parody cover to Timothy the Talking Cat.

[Camestros] Look what I made you! [Timothy] Not interested.

[Camestros] But it is the new old-genre. The happening place for aspiring alt-right cat-based publishers.

[Timothy] It’s just not my thing….

[Camestros] Vox is doing one. See https://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2016/05/brings-lightning-by-peter-grant.html The Boycott-Tor-Books guy is writing it. Manly men with guns!  Manly American men with guns!

[Timothy] (sigh) What’s that thing on the cover.

[Camestros] A walrus – you LIKE walruses. They’ve got whiskers.

(16) PETER GRANT. On the other hand, Peter Grant is delighted with Vox Day as his editor: “Why did I publish through Castalia House?” at Bayou Renaissance Man.

Lightning_480 COMP

Vox was my editor in getting the book ready for publication.  He stated up front that he wanted to ‘make a good book better’, not try to remake it in his image, or make it into something it wasn’t.  I found him a very effective editor indeed.  He went through my manuscript and made many proposed changes, averaging two or three per page, but did so on the basis that these were his suggestions rather than his demands.  I was free to accept or reject each of his proposed changes.  In about two-thirds of cases, I went along with his proposals.  They did, indeed, make the book better.  In the remaining third of cases, I went with what I’d originally written, or re-wrote a few lines, because I felt it fitted in better with my vision for the book and what I hope will be the series into which it will grow.  Vox accepted that with aplomb.  The man’s a gentleman.

There will doubtless be those who’ll be disappointed that I’ve chosen to publish with a man, and a publishing house, that they regard with the same revulsion as the Devil regards holy water.  To them I can only say, go read what my friend Larry Correia had to say about Vox last year.  I endorse his sentiments.  I don’t share all – or possibly even most – of Vox’s opinions, but then he’s never asked me to share or support them in any way, shape or form.  He’s merely tried to be the best editor he can be, and help me be the best writer I can be.  I’ll be damned if I condemn him because of past history or exchanges to which I wasn’t a party, and in which I had no involvement at allNot my circus, not my monkeys.  I certainly won’t demand that he embrace political correctness.  As you’ve probably noted from my blog header, that’s not exactly a position I embrace myself!

(17) MORE BOOM, MORE DOOM. Here’s the Independence Day: Resurgence official International Extended Trailer #1.

(18) RETRO RACHEL. Here’s Rachel Bloom at the 2011 Worldcon singing “Season’s of Love” …in Klingon!

Rachel Bloom’s performance at Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention. She was at the convention because her song “F*** Me Ray Bradbury” was nominated for a Hugo award.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Will R., Vox Day, and Tracy Vogel for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 10/28 Trolling Down the Moon

(1) The Galactic Journey blog is written as the day-to-day experiences of an sf fan living 55 years ago. Last week The Traveler covered the final Nixon-Kennedy debate and the first episode of The Twilight Zone’s second season.

Today’s post is inspired by a Mack Reynolds story in the “current” November 1960 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Really well done.

Science fiction is not prediction.  It is extrapolation.  No one can see the future, but a gifted writer can show you, dramatically, what will happen “if this goes on.”

It’s no surprise that science fiction writing has enjoyed a boom since 1950.  Never has our world been on the brink of so many exciting and dangerous potentialities.  On the positive side: space travel, automation by computers and robots, atomic energy.  On the negative side: pollution, global warming, and atomic annihilation….

On the other side of the coin, we have Mack Reynolds’ Russkies Go Home!, which appeared in this month’s (November 1960) Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Mr. Reynolds reportedly just returned from a trip behind the Iron Curtain, which explains the multitude of Russia-related stories he’s recently turned out.  Clearly, the trip impressed the writer, as the stories all posit a Soviet Union that fulfills Senator Kennedy’s nightmare prophecies by surpassing the United States in prosperity by 1970.

(2) StoryBundle’s 2015 NaNoWriMo Writing Tools Bundle includes Book View Café’s own Brewing Fine Fiction anthology, and two additional guides by BVC members: Writing Horses by Judith Tarr and Writing Fight Scenes by Marie Brennan.

  • The 2015 NaNoWriMo Writing Tools Bundle contains 13 new books on all aspects of writing, from craft, to productivity, to business, to career advice, to specific areas of expertise, designed for novices or experts alike.
  • A second-tier bonus: If you beat the total of $25, you can get 25 total books, all put together by curator and bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson.
  • When you purchase a bundle you can choose to donate to NaNoWriMo itself.

(3) ‘Tis the season. “Witch wins protective order against warlock in Salem court”.

A judge granted a protective order against a warlock on Wednesday, spelling relief for the Salem witch who accused him of harassment.

The two squared off in court before a Salem District Court judge, who granted the protective order to witch priestess Lori Sforza. She had accused self-proclaimed warlock Christian Day of harassing her over the phone and on social media over the past three years.

(4) Sarah A. Hoyt’s “Swallowing A Fly — #2 How to plot” is useful for NaNoWriMo or any of the other 11 months.

To not lose the plot, I invite you to contemplate the little old lady who swallowed a fly.

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly, she swallowed a bird to catch the spider, she swallowed a cat to catch the bird etc.  Note that starting with the original problem (It might help to know that in regency slang at least to swallow a spider was to go deep into debt you can’t escape) she swallows each animal to catch the last — i.e. to try to solve her problem.  And each time her problem gets worse.

Your character, in the same way, starting with a problem on which they act in what has to be a somewhat rational manner (unless it’s one of my refinishing mysteries) and where the result backfires horribly, must engage in attempting ever bigger solutions (to bigger problems) and having them blow up even bigger.

(5) Allen Steele has a comeback for Nancy Fulda’s “What To Expect When You Start An Internet Kerfuffle” at the SFWA Blog.

There is a solution to all this: don’t blog.

Really, you don’t need to do so, regardless of the current conventional wisdom that says a writer must relentlessly promote himself on the web. Quite a few well-established writers don’t, and their literary careers are just fine, thank you. If you visit the bookstore, you won’t find THE COLLECTED BLOGS OF MARK TWAIN or DUNE BLOGGER by Frank Herbert or ASIMOV BLOGS AGAIN, and there may be a reason for this.

And if getting yourself in trouble for your internet posts isn’t reason enough, then consider this: over the years, I’ve noticed that — with very few exceptions — an author’s literary output decreases in inverse proportion with the amount of time and energy he or she spends on the Internet. And no one is going to pay you for what you post on your blog or even care a month or so later…unless it’s something that may adversely effect your literary career.

The Internet is not your friend. So don’t blog.

(6) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born October 28, 1951 – Joe R. Lansdale, 10-time Bram Stoker Award winner.

(7) Motherboard airs its outrage that “Someone in Alabama sold a priceless lunar rover for scrap metal”.

During the Apollo missions, NASA only made a handful of lunar rovers. Three of them are still sitting on the surface of the moon. One of them is at the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. And another was recently smashed into bits in an Alabama junkyard.

According to documents acquired by Motherboard as part of a Freedom of Information Act request, a priceless lunar rover prototype designed for the Apollo missions was sold to a junkyard in Alabama for scrap metal sometime last year. Specific names and details are redacted in the documents, which include internal emails and reports by NASA’s Office of the Inspector General, the agency responsible for investigating and recovering lost and stolen NASA property.

(8) “He had a right to shoot at this drone, and I’m gonna dismiss this charge”, a made-up quote, headlines Eugene Volokh’s latest installment of “The Volokh Conspiracy” for the Washington Post. Kentucky jurisprudence is notorious inside the Beltway, therefore it’s surprising Volokh reaches the end of his column without having made much legal headway against the fellow who shot down a drone flying through his property.

(9) Via Bayou Renaissance Man, another article on model masculinity —

According to Country Life magazine in the UK, a gentleman’s traits include such gems as:

  • Is aware that facial hair is temporary, but a tattoo is permanent
  • Possesses at least one well-made dark suit, one tweed suit and a dinner jacket
  • Avoids lilac socks and polishes his shoes
  • Breaks a relationship face to face
  • Arrives at a meeting five minutes before the agreed time
  • Knows the difference between Glenfiddich and Glenda Jackson
  • Would never own a Chihuahua
  • Can tie his own bow tie
  • Demonstrates that making love is neither a race nor a competition

(10) James H. Burns found a YouTube video of film footage from the costume contest at Phil Seuling’s 1973 Comic Convention, at the Commodore Hotel, in New York. He identified many science fiction friends in the proceedings.

There are just audience shots for the first two minutes, and then footage of the costumed revelers gathered together. That’s the legendary Joan Winston in the midriff baring dress and the star-spangled cape–Joan was the CBS and ABC executive key to helping run the early STAR TREK conventions, who later became an author (and an agent), and also helped contribute to MANY science fiction events. Thomas Anderson, chairman of a Lunacon or two, and a World Fantasy Convention (and another original Trek Con veteran),appears with his girlfriend (were they married yet?) Dana L. Friese (soon to have more fame in fandom as Dana L.F. Anderson) as Elric.  Costume con favorite Angelique Trouvere (aka “Destiny”) is there as Vampirella (with Heidi Saha as the young Vampi).  Long time film actor, and science fiction fan, Teel James Glenn is there as Flash Gordon (and is that Cortland Hull as Ming?) Soon-to-be-veteran comics pro Jack Harris is Two-Face, Patrick Daniel O’Neill hams it up as Captain Marvel Jr…. (Amazngly, Dave Burd,  future cast member the cult TV comedy program THE UNCLE FLOYD SHOW, is also in attendance, as THE T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS’ Dynamo.) The sound kicks in at about 4:05, and then suddenly one is back in July, 1973!  I find this particularly amazing, because I would become friends with many of these folks, just two-and-a-half years later!  (Heck, I’d be helping to run the programming at some of these comic cons, just a little while after that!)  Although I couldn’t spot any familiar faces in the audience, some among the File 770 faithful might be able to recognize someone–and it’s still a great record of just what a comic con crowd often looked like, even during the next d=few seasons.  (The Andersons, and Joanie, perform a skit, at around 10:10.)  It would be interesting who else can identified here, among the costumed cohorts!

 

(11) I’ve heard of The 39 Steps, but this is the first time I have heard of The 75 Steps, although I’ve seen The Exorcist.

For Andrew Huff, lover of horror films, the 75 steps in Washington, D.C., where Father Karras plummets to his death in “The Exorcist” are his Lincoln Memorial. “I go to the steps all the time,” he said, “and when visitors come to Washington, I always take them there.”

All that was missing was a special tourist designation. And on Friday, largely through Mr. Huff’s efforts, that oversight will be rectified. The eerie stairway will be commemorated with an official city plaque — even signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser — declaring them “The Exorcist Steps.”

I wonder where you go in that neighborhood for a nice bowl of pea soup.

(12) Ray Bradbury manuscripts going under the hammer! And some nice artwork. You have until tomorrow to bid on these items in the latest Nate D. Sanders auction.

Bradbury lot COMP

Ray Bradbury Original Typed Manuscripts For “The Women” And “The Shape Of Things” – Also With Letter Signed By Bradbury From 1964

Ray Bradbury typed letter signed, plus two original typed manuscripts, given by Bradbury to Fracisco Porrua, who edited Bradbury’s works for the Spanish language population. Accompanying the typed manuscripts for ”The Women” and ”The Shape of Things”, Bradbury writes to Porrua on 3 March 1964 on his personal stationery: ”…I have no secretary, which means that hundreds of letters which come in during each month must be funneled through my own inadequate hands and sometimes I fall far behind with my correspondence. Forgive me. To help you in your search for stories for R IS FOR ROCKET, I enclose the following science-fantasy stories and weird-fantasy stories…” Bradbury goes on to list 10 stories, including ”The Women” and ”The Shape of Things” and then continues, ”…I believe these stories would give you much to juggle with in reshaping your various titles in the various books…” Bradbury continues, regarding the introduction for ”R Is for Rocket” and writes, ”…I am happy to hear you will soon be making an offer on MACHINERIES OF JOY and THE ANTHEM SPRINTERS…[signed] Ray Bradbury”. Both manuscripts are typed on thin tracing paper which was placed behind regular sheets of paper. ”The Women” is 16 pages and ”The Shape of Things” is 26 pages. Manuscripts and letter measure 8.5” x 11”. Lot is in very good condition.

Minimum Bid: $1,000.

Pooh COMP

Ink and Watercolor Drawing by E.H. Shepard of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet

Beautifully rendered watercolor and ink drawing of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet by E.H. Shepard, the illustrator chosen by A.A. Milne to bring his literary characters to life. Here, Shepard draws Pooh and Piglet upon a letter to his agent, allowing the characters to express his feelings of gratitude and joy. In the autograph letter signed, dated 29 February 1932, Shepard thanks his agent for a letter, writing that he has ”done splendidly” and that ”this view is shared by others”. To emphasize his feelings, Shepard draws Winnie-the-Pooh reaching up and Piglet excitedly jumping at his side. Shepard must have been very pleased with his agent, as he very seldom drew his most famous characters; this drawing, done early in the illustrator’s career and just a few years after the Pooh series, is a rare exception. Single page is written from Long Meadow, Guildford. Light uniform toning and mounted to card. Overall in very good to near fine condition. With provenance from Sotheby’s.

Minimum Bid: $50,000

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, David Doering, James H. Burns, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Hitch in Sasquan Nominating Data Turnover

Plans to make transcribed data from the 2015 Hugo nominating ballots available upon request have been put on hold.

E Pluribus Hugo advocates, who want to use the data to demonstrate the EPH vote tallying method is effective at coping with slates, got the Sasquan business meeting to pass a non-binding resolution (item B.2.3) asking for the release of anonymized raw nominating data from the 2015 Hugo Awards.

When the resolution passed, Sasquan Vice-Chair Glenn Glazer announced Sasquan would comply with the request. The intent was to provide equal access to the data, and those interested in receiving a copy were invited to e-mail the committee.

However, Glazer confirms he recently e-mailed the following update to a person who requested the data, as reported by Vox Day:

Back at Sasquan, the BM passed a non-binding resolution to request that Sasquan provide anonymized nomination data from the 2015 Hugo Awards.  I stood before the BM and said, as its official representative, that we would comply with such requests.  However, new information has come in which has caused us to reverse that decision.  Specifically, upon review, the administration team believes it may not be possible to anonymize the nominating data sufficiently to allow for a public release.  We are investigating alternatives.

Thank you for your patience in this matter.  While we truly wish to comply with the resolution and fundamentally believe in transparent processes, we must hold the privacy of our members paramount and I hope that you understand this set of priorities.

Best, Glenn Glazer

Vice-Chair, Business and Finance

Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention

And Hugo Administrator John Lorentz added information in this follow-up e-mail:

What wasn’t included in Glenn’s statement is that this year’s Hugo system administrators are working with a committee composed of proponents of EPH, so that proposal can be tested without any privacy violations that might occur by releasing the data with no controls.

As Hugo administrators, we have always assure members that their votes are private and secret, and we don’t want to do something that might change that. That is our primary responsibility.

John Lorentz

Sasquan Hugo Administrator

On September 1, in an exchange between several commenters, Lorentz remarked the difficulties of anonymizing voter data, here at File 770:

[Commenter] “With the Hugo data, the only identifying info is the membership number. Remove that, and the ballot has been anonymized.”

[Brian C] No, it’s not nearly that simple.

You also need to eliminate any nominations that are unique to one or a handful of people, as otherwise those nominations could be used to identify people. But then those ballots aren’t actually representative for the purpose of testing the algorithm. So you need to actually replace those with other nominations, that happen not to perturb the algorithm in any way.

[John Lorentz]And that is the problem that our Hugo system admin folks have been running into. When one of them generated a draft of anonymized nominating data, it didn’t take the other very long to determine who some of the voters were, simply from the voting patterns.

Vox Day terms the latest development a “scandal.” Peter Grant was equally prompt to accuse Sasquan of having something to hide in “What, precisely, is going on with the Hugo Awards data?”

Folks, back in the 1980’s I was a Systems Engineer at IBM.  I’ve had well over a decade in the commercial information technology and computer systems business, in positions ranging from Operator to Project Manager, from Programmer to End-User Computing Analyst to a directorship in a small IT company.  Speaking from that background, let me assure you:  I can ‘anonymize’ almost any data set in a couple of hours, no matter how complicated it may be.  To allege that ‘it may not be possible to anonymize the nominating data sufficiently to allow for a public release’ is complete and utter BULL.  Period.  End of story.

However, one of Grant’s commenters pointed out: “Anonymizing data is harder than you think, if your goal is to actually make it truly anonymous. See what happened when AOL tried to anonymize search results, or when Netflix tried to anonymize movie recommendations.” And he cited a 2009 ArsTechnica article, adding “and metadata analysis hasn’t exactly gotten worse since then.”

The article says —

Examples of the anonymization failures aren’t hard to find.

When AOL researchers released a massive dataset of search queries, they first “anonymized” the data by scrubbing user IDs and IP addresses. When Netflix made a huge database of movie recommendations available for study, it spent time doing the same thing. Despite scrubbing the obviously identifiable information from the data, computer scientists were able to identify individual users in both datasets. (The Netflix team then moved on to Twitter users.)…

The Netflix case illustrates another principle, which is that the data itself might seem anonymous, but when paired with other existing data, reidentification becomes possible. A pair of computer scientists famously proved this point by combing movie recommendations found on the Internet Movie Database with the Netflix data, and they learned that people could quite easily be picked from the Netflix data.

EPH backers want to use the data to demonstrate their voting system. In comparison, a commenter at Vox Popoli said he wants to analyze the data to learn —

  1. How many slates there were in competition
  2. How good party discipline was for the various slates
  3. How many voted mixed slates of sad/rabid, TOR/SJW, etc.
  4. How the 4/6 and EPH proposals would have affected the outcome of the competing slates

Update 09/08/2015: Corrected the attribution of Brian C’s comment.

Pixel Scroll 7/26 – The Answer, My Friend, is Scrollin’ in the Wind

Rants, disenchants, and Peter Grant, in today’s Scroll.

(1) “The Taffeta Darling,” a guest brought in by the Dallas Gaming Expo to help direct games, says the whole thing was run so badly she quit and wrote “Where’s The Ball Pit? Or Why I Left Dallas Gaming Expo”.

This weekend is the Dallas Gaming Expo, a video gaming convention that had hired me to be their voice of the convention and help them run their gaming tournaments. For the first time ever as a guest, I left what would have been a paid convention gig due to disgust, disbelief and a good conscious [sic].

The Dallas Gaming Expo turned out to be a classic example of a promoter looking to make loads of money off of the gaming community without really knowing what the should be done. This expo was presented with huge expectations with loads of guests, arcade gaming, skeeball, video game tournaments and more! Unfortunately what attendees got Friday night was a ball room full of chairs, 4 wobbly projection screens and about 6-7 TVs with consoles. As a guest of the event I smiled, and hoped for the best and said I was having fun, well because that’s what ya do.  I also wanted to see this event succeed. I thought maybe more would be coming and hopefully it will be better in the morning. I stayed through the night and ran the Super Smash Bros tournament along with guest Natalie Green, which honestly was a lot of fun for me to watch and engage in. On the flip side the tournament itself had quite a few snags including casual rules for tournament play, broken controllers, lagging screenplay, no official forms, and the reliance on a group of volunteers that tried it’s best to make things work.

After bailing on DGE, she went across town to Quakecon, another gaming event in Dallas this weekend.

A dissastified customer has even started a Change.org petition to ban the Dallas Gaming Expo from happening again (though only 29 signers as of this writing).

(2) I know in the world of sf&f there’s a tremendous competition to be the field’s biggest narcissist, but honestly, is anybody more stuck on himself than Michael Moorcock? The headline of his latest interview — “Michael Moorcock: ‘I think Tolkien was a crypto-fascist”.

“I think he’s a crypto-fascist,” says Moorcock, laughing. “In Tolkien, everyone’s in their place and happy to be there. We go there and back, to where we started. There’s no escape, nothing will ever change and nobody will ever break out of this well-­ordered world.” How does he feel about the triumph of Tolkienism and, subsequently, the political sword-and-sorcery epic Game of Thrones, in making fantasy arguably bigger than it has ever been?

“To me, it’s simple,” he says. “Fantasy became as bland as everything else in entertainment. To be a bestseller, you’ve got to rub the corners off. The more you can predict the emotional arc of a book, the more successful it will become.

Nothing ever changes in Middle-Earth? Evil is defeated, the spirits on the paths of the dead are redeemed, all the elves leave, the Shire is trashed…. Never mind. I’ve read bales of Moorcock’s Eternal Champion novels. Entertaining, but he didn’t beat Tolkien at his own game.

(3) A radio dramatization of Iain M. Banks’ novella “The State of the Art” (45 minutes) is available free on the BBC for another three weeks.

The Culture ship Arbitrary arrives on Earth in 1977 and finds a planet obsessed with alien concepts like ‘property’ and ‘money’ and on the edge of self-destruction. When Agent Dervley Linter, decides to go native can Diziet Sma change his mind?

From Wikipedia:

The novella chronicles a Culture mission to Earth in the late 1970s, and also serves as a prequel of sorts to Use of Weapons by featuring one of that novel’s characters, Diziet Sma. Here, Sma argues for contact with Earth, to try to fix the mess the human species has made of it; another Culture citizen, Linter, goes native, choosing to renounce his Culture body enhancements so as to be more like the locals; and Li, who is a Star Trek fan, argues that the whole “incontestably neurotic and clinically insane species” should be eradicated with a micro black hole. The ship Arbitrary has ideas, and a sense of humour, of its own.

“Also while I’d been away, the ship had sent a request on a postcard to the BBC’s World Service, asking for ‘Mr David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” for the good ship Arbitrary and all who sail in her.’ (This from a machine that could have swamped Earth’s entire electro-magnetic spectrum with whatever the hell it wanted from somewhere beyond Betelgeuse.) It didn’t get the request played. The ship thought this was hilarious.”

(4) After a 17-year hiatus, W. Paul Ganley’s Weirdbook Magazine is coming back. A Stephen Fabian cover will be on the back and this artwork by Dusan Kostic will be on the front —

Weirdbook 31

(5) Futurefen is a new WordPress site hoping to serve as a news and conrunning resource for kids programming.

I started this site because of frustration with getting timely and accurate info about kid programming from SFF conventions. I wanted to start a larger dialogue about how conventions can better serve ALL members of our community, and provide a centralized resource for information for fans with kids. For many of us, quality kid programs are a necessity to attend a convention. For us as a community, we need to foster and include and welcome kids to our gatherings because kids are our future. They’re the future fans, the future scientists, future writers and artists and inventors, future interesting people. Many of them are those things RIGHT NOW, and they have a lot of good they bring along with the energy they take.

I don’t really know if/how this site is going to work, but here we go. Let’s make a difference. 🙂

(6) Peter Grant scoffs at Jason Sanford’s announcement that the Tor Boycott has failed. Grant encourages supporters to ”Stay the course”.

I repeat what I’ve said before:  the Tor boycott is a long-term effort.  I know for certain, based on solid feedback from literally hundreds of individuals, that it’s already biting.  It was an eye-opener at LibertyCon last month to have so many people come up to me, thank me for taking a stand, and confirm that they were part of the boycott.  I’m certain that in 2015 alone, the boycott will have a six-figure effect on Tor’s turnover – not much for a multi-million-dollar-turnover publisher, but that’s just the start.  As those involved in the boycott continue it and spread the word, the impact will grow.  I fully expect it to reach a cumulative total of seven figures over time.  Again, that may not seem like a lot to scoffers and naysayers;  but I think in today’s publishing market, where margins are already razor-thin, such a loss of turnover may have an impact out of all proportion to its dollar value.  Vox Day, who’s also called for a boycott of Tor, has more ‘inside information’ than I do, and he’s also confident that the campaign is having an impact.

Thank you to all of you who’ve taken a stand on principle and stood up for what is morally and ethically right.  That has a value all its own, in a world that doesn’t attach much value to either morals or ethics.  Stay the course.  This will go on for years, and I think it will bear both short- and long-term fruit.  (As I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, there’s already convincing evidence of that.)

(7) Whereas all George R.R. Martin is saying is give peace a chance when you meet in person at Sasquan.

From talking and emailing with various friends and colleagues, however, I know that some of them will NOT be going to Spokane, mainly because the Hugo Wars have left a bad taste in their mouths. Others will attend, but not without trepidation. They wonder how much of the acrimony of Puppygate will spill over into the con itself… to the panels, the parties, the hallways. Will this worldcon be a celebration or a battleground? A family reunion or a family feud?

I wish I could answer that question, but no one really knows. I’m hoping for “celebration” and “family reunion,” and I think that’s the best bet… but we won’t know till the fat lady sings and the dead dogs howl.

And he has some gentle words for people he feels have been caught in the middle.

I don’t know Kary English. (It is possible I have met her or been in the same room with her at some previous con, but if so I don’t remember. I meet a lot of people). Until Puppygate and her double nomination, I had never read any of her work. But I agree with much of what she had to say in those posts, and I applaud her for saying it, knowing (as surely she must have) that by breaking ranks with “her side,” aka the Puppies, she would face the wroth of some of those who had previously championed her. I know that there are some on “my side” who have slammed English despite these posts, insisting that she spoke up too late in the game, that she was trying “to have it both ways.” No, sorry, that’s idiocy. Like Kloos and Bellet and Schubert before her, she’s opting out of the kennel and the slates. I will not fault her for not doing so sooner. This thing has been hard for all concerned, and these choices are painful… especially for a young writer who has just received his or her first Hugo nomination.

If there is any hope for reconciliation post-Puppygate, it lies with voices of moderation and forgiveness on both sides, not with the extremists and the haters. It lies with Marko Kloos and Annie Bellet and Edmund Schubert. I hope they are all at worldcon. I would like to meet them, buy them a drink, shake their hands, and argue about books with them.

[Thanks for these links goes out to JJ and John King Tarpinian. Title credit to Brian Z.]

Is The Tor Boycott Working?

Jason Sanford says “Pups all bark, no bite as Tor boycott fails” —

My proof? Turns out the boycott has had no noticeable impact on the sales of Tor’s books, as determined by a sampling of Tor sales reported through Nielsen BookScan, a publishing industry sales-tracking system.

Grant first called for the Tor boycott on June 19, followed almost immediately by others affiliated with the Pup campaigns. To see if the boycott was effective, I examined BookScan numbers for a selection of Tor titles by different authors.

Sanford has published a colorful graph based on data sets about the sales of 10 well-known Tor books between May 24 and July 5 and draws the conclusion —

As you can see, there’s no significant drop in sales due to the boycott. Yes, some titles saw a slight drop but this was offset by other titles increasing their sales or titles keeping relatively steady sales. In all, the sales of these Tor titles demonstrated similar patterns to what they sold prior to the boycott starting….

Proof is looking at the actual sales numbers for Tor books. And the numbers I’ve examined show the boycott is failing miserably.

Guess the puppy boycott is truly all bark and no bite.

Earlier, as Sanford notes with a link, boycott leader Peter Grant claimed “The clearest possible proof that the Tor boycott is working . . .”

. . . is that out of nowhere, no less a personage than George R. R. Martin, author of the best-selling fantasy series since sliced bread (since spun off into the TV series ‘Game Of Thrones‘), has denounced the boycott and publicly begged his readers to buy Tor books.  He’s done so while being less than fully forthcoming about the reason for the boycott, those behind it, and the faux apology offered by the prime offender…..

EDITED TO ADD:  I note that Mr. Martin has mentioned Tor and/or the boycott in no less than three separate posts on his LiveJournal today.  To misquote Shakespeare, “Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much.”  As I said above, if you think he’s doing this entirely of his own volition, there’s that bridge I mentioned . . .

And when Vox Day inspected Sanford’s numbers he happily drew the opposite conclusion:

 

 

 

That’s not crazy, because Sanford’s sample actually lends itself to the opposite interpretation from the one he argues.

When I aggregated the sales for these 10 books from the week of June 21, the latest unaffected by the boycott (announced on June 19), and the sales from the week of July 5 (the latest reported by Sanford), that gave me 1,740 vs. 1,667 books. Therefore, the July 5 sales of these 10 books were 95.8% of what they were before immediately before the boycott.

This is, of course, an utterly arbitrary comparison and really proves nothing because book sales don’t happen in ratable numbers (unless you’re Brandon Sanderson, apparently). No one can legitimately claim to read in the tea leaves of these small fluctuations the success or failure of the boycott. More time and fuller data is needed for that.

With Six You Get Sleigh Dogs 7/2

aka My Enemy, My Alpo

Today’s roundup ropes and brands Peter Grant, Mike Glyer, Anonymous, John Seavey, Adam-Troy Castro, Lou Antonelli, Shaun Duke, Sarah A. Hoyt, Duncan Mitchel, John C. Wright, Larry Correia, Gef Fox, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, and Brian Niemeier. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day James H. Burns and Kyra.)

Comments on Bayou Renaissance Man post “The State of the Tor Boycott (And SJW’s)” – July 2

Peter Grant

I’d say it’s certain that we’re on track to cost Tor a six-figure sum this year, and probably that will continue for the foreseeable future.

Mike Glyer

Could you share the calculation behind this estimate?

Anonymous

If he’s talking gross sales and not net, the calculation is simple: X people not buying Y books for an average price of Z.

Lets say that, the boycotters normally buy…. 10 Tor books each, 3 HC, 7 PB (or ebook equivalents). That’s about what, $130 in gross sales by Amazon prices? 800 people boycotting * 130 =104,000.

John Seavey

Well, first off, you’d need to cut those prices by 30% or more, because Tor sells the books wholesale to retailers who mark it up to SRP. Retailers would be taking that hit, but it’s spread among all retailers.

But more importantly, where is Peter getting a figure of 800 boycotters who spent $130 per year on Tor books pre-boycott? The number of people willing to send an email, thr absolute minumum in time and effort, topped out at 765. And many of those admitted they didn’t like or buy Tor books. I’d say you can half that number, probably even quarter it. Then take another 30% off for the wholesale discount. So it’s probably hitting Tor to the tune of $20,000 a year.

Peter Grant

@John Seavey: Those figures are not mine, but another commenters. My figures, based on actual e-mails and many conversations, plus discussions with others involved, are considerably higher in terms of the number of individuals involved. The amount they used to spend on Tor books ranges from $10-$20 per year all the way to a couple of hundred dollars.

Multiply your guesstimate of $20K by at least seven, and you’ll get close to what I consider to be the current impact of the boycott. The word is still being spread by supporters, and more people are joining it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the financial impact rather higher by the end of the year. Time will tell.

 

Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook – June 25

Rabid-puppy moment of the day: John C. Wright, who is now advising readers that he really doesn’t want anybody to boycott Tor because it would hurt him, wants “Mr. {Moshe} Feder, Miss Gallo, and Mr Nielsen Hayden to get back to the their job of editing books, and cease moonlighting as…” {among other things} “Christ-hating crusaders for Sodom.”

To be sure, he represents this as something he would say if he wasn’t keeping firm control of himself in order to avoid escalation, something he (heh heh heh) Isn’t *quite* saying, at least not at this point, but something he would say if he were to offer an opinion, so please don’t misrepresent him as actually saying it.

But he does make it clear that he would say this, quite happily, in a parallel world not very far removed from this one.

No, he’s not saying any of that, not really, but you, his alleged followers, can say whatever you want, nudge nudge, wink wink.

Putting this in perspective, John C. Wright is trying to stave off a boycott of the publisher who pays him, because of a creative director there who dared to suggest that some of his movement are neo-Nazis, and he’s doing this by applying the adjective “Christ-Hating” in part to an editor named Moshe who wears a yarmulke. He’s doing this while closely allied with a small press writer/editor who thinks we might all want to thank a racially-motivated spree killer someday.

“I’m not a Nazi, but damn the Jews, and mass murder is fine with my buddy here.” ….

 

Lou Antonelli on This Way to Texas

“Spell my name right” – July 2

Since I am a fellow traveler, not a ring leader of the Sad Puppies, I’ve never felt the same emotional investment as other people. I do know that I have a temper that can be set off by punching the wrong button, and I’ve always tried to control that. Some bystanders to the ongoing controversy have noticed that, too.

When I was growing up I was called Pollyanna by my mother because I refused to punch out people who disagreed with me. My father considered any discussion that ended short of gun play as cordial. It was an atypical childhood.

In a discussion yesterday on a web site about my blog post yesterday, one person said:

“I find Antonelli a bit more reasonable than the rest of the puppies. He has stated that the slate was a big mistake, has said that he doesn’t like the use of the word SJW and has said that it shouldn’t be a SP4 next year.

“I think he’s one that it is actually possible to have a discussion with and not just getting talking points back. Main problem is that he seems to have the temper of an irritated grizzly that missed his morning trout.”

In light that I am Italian, have diabetes and the body build of a bear, this is the most insightful thing anyone has ever said about me. Got me down, cold.

P.S. I still think any incarnation of Sad Puppies next year is a bad idea, and I will certainly not participate in any manner.

 

Shaun Duke on World in a Satin Bag

“On Unofficial Blacklists: Why I Keep a Mental List of Authors I Won’t Read” – July 1

To be clear, I don’t stick someone on my DNR list for having different political views than myself.  I DNR authors because of how they express those views.  There are a lot of authors who don’t share my worldview.  Most of those authors aren’t on my DNR list because they have never given me a good reason to put them there.  We disagree.  That’s it.  Big woop.  They’re not actively trying to have my mother’s rights stripped away, nor are they arguing that women should be assaulted for their own good or defending acid attacks or claiming that people of color are half-savages.  We just disagree with me (or other people) about things.  If we ever discuss those differences, it’s most often a discussion.  No rants and figurative rock throwing.

Sarah A. Hoyt on According To Hoyt

“Why Are You So Angry?” – July 2

….Last time I rose above peeved was reading Irene Gallo’s comments, and fortunately being on this side of the keyboard, I couldn’t reach through the monitor. When hands started shaking on keyboard, I went upstairs and perpetrated violence on waxed floors, which more or less fixed it. Or at least got rid of the strength to do anything.

But I think the trolls who as “Why are you so angry?” though it’s mostly an invalidating technique are also aware that we have reason to be angry. H*ll, they’d be angry if they were us, right?

And so… and so, I’ll give the reasons we have to be angry.

  • Anyone who goes against the Marxist line and points out that they’re lying gets persecuted and there are attempts to destroy them, ranging from professional to real destruction. Peter Grant and I should be grateful all they did was tar us with racist, sexist, homophobic and neo-nazi, particularly when those accusations are risible to anyone not deep in koolaid guzzling territory.

 

Duncan Mitchel on This Is So Gay

“An Area Which We Call The Comfort Zone” – June 22

Bradford concludes by asking the reader, “Are you up to this challenge?”  I wonder who she imagines her reader to be.  A straight white cis male could reasonably respond that he reads primarily work by straight white cis males in order to avoid writing that he actively hates, or that offends him so much that he rage-quits reading it.  (Something like this is the expressed motive of the Sad Puppies / Rabid Puppies who enraged a lot of science-fiction fandom by stacking the Hugo Awards ballots with work that didn’t offend their sensibilities or politics.)  The challenge she offers her readers is not the challenge — which is not the right word — she offered herself, and I’m not sure she realizes that.  My problem with Bradford’s piece is not that she focuses on race, gender, and sexuality illegitimately, as some of her white male critics accused her of doing, but that she’s not clear in her own mind about what she’s doing, or what it means.  To non-straight-cis-white-male readers, increasing the number of non-straight-cis-white-male writers they read means something quite different than the same program will mean to straight white cis male readers.  I must say, I was taken aback by her claim that she began reading only “stories by a certain type of author.”  It seems to me that she chose to read stories by several different types of authors, unless she read only stories by queer transgender women of color, and it doesn’t appear that she did….

Paradoxically, narrowing her focus in one respect broadened it another: by deciding to read more work by women, by people of color, by non-heterosexuals, and so on allowed Bradford to encounter writing and perspectives she might otherwise have missed.  There is too much to read out there, and no matter what we choose to read, there is vastly more that we can’t.  But even straight white cisgendered men aren’t all alike, and there’s as much range among their work, as much to learn and discover in it, as there is among queer trans women of color.  And if Bradford hasn’t discovered plenty of offensive, infuriating content in the work of non-white etc. writers, maybe she hasn’t been paying enough attention…..

 

John C. Wright

“Larry Correia and his Twit Service!” – July 3

The world reeled in flabberghastizement to read this generous announcement from the International Lord of Good Sense, Larry Correia:

So the author of 50 Shades of Grey did a Twitter Q&A, and in a series of events that came as a shock to exactly nobody on the internet except for the author and her publicist, trolls showed up to mock the hell out of her. The author was unprepared and it was a public relations disaster.

Meanwhile, I am an author who loves to fight with morons on Twitter.

That is why I am excited to offer an exciting new free lance service to publicists. The next time you want to do a Q&A wi…th your author on Twitter, simply retain my services and give me temporary access to your author’s Twitter account. The author can answer all the legitimate fan questions, and I’ll respond to the trolls as if I’m the author. Trust me. Fans love it when an author takes on a whole internet and wins.

For a low fee of $1 per character I will handle all of those pesky idiots for you. Is your author too kind to tell them to shut their stupid hipster faces? I’m not! Order now, and I will throw in the F word absolutely free! That’s right, every time I use the F word in a tweet it costs you nothing. This means huge savings for you.

But wait, there’s more! Retain my services now, and I’ll give you half price on special terms like Douchebag, Goony Beard Man, Rainbow Haired She Twink, Assclown, and more!

For more information and a collection of my greatest hits, contact my spokesmanatee, Wendell, at CorreiaTech headquarters, Yard Moose Mountain, Utah.

 

Brian Niemeier on Superversive SF

“Transhuman and Subhuman Part XII: The Big Three of Science Fiction” – July 2

The twelfth essay in Transhuman and Subhuman by John C. Wright corrects the popular misconception that the third member of the Big Three Campbellian authors, alongside Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, wasn’t Arthur C. Clarke or Ray Bradbury, but A.E. van Vogt…..

Hard science fiction, says Wright, “consists of two elements…first, a social or philosophical commentary about man’s place in the universe…second, a fascination with the nuts and bolts of legitimate speculation into the near future of technical advance…” Campbell was the first to popularize stories combining both elements.

Describing the definitive mood and spirit of Campbellian tales is difficult these days, Wright contends, because they were “an extension of the scientific optimism and classical liberalism of the time.” A further characteristic of Campbell’s stories was “…a touching childlike faith in Theory, and, for conservatives (in the brilliant words of William Briggs) ‘Love of Theory is the Root of All Evil.’”

 

Gef Fox on Wag The Fox

“Chasing Tale [July 2, 2015]: Hugo, I’ll Stay”  – July 2

I received my Hugo Voter Packet last week, and with it were the majority of nominated works which I must now attempt to read before the end of July so that I can place an informed vote on which books are most deserving in my view of receiving awards. After reading a half dozen or so thus far, it is … a mixed bag. So … yeah. I’m not reading a bad book cover to cover. No way. So, depending upon how many of these erroneously nominated works fail to hook me, it may not be such a slog to read through the entire packet after all.

 

Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag on Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog

“Hugo Reading – Novelette” – July 2

  • “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium”, Gray Rinehart (Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, 05-2014) I quite liked this one. It felt like it needed one or two more go-rounds with an editor to finish polishing it, but it had good ideas, a functional and nasty threat and a character I liked as the lead. It was a good length for what it was trying to do. There were some questions and plot holes, but the set-up was good enough I didn’t really worry about them until thinking about the tale in reflection. In short, a solid story. I’m not sure it’s Hugo worthy, but it was good.
  • “Championship B’tok”, Edward M. Lerner (Analog, 09-2014) This story made me very upset. Not because it wasn’t good, but because it was moderately ok and interesting… and then it just ended. No conclusions, no solutions, no answers. It just ended. I don’t know, but I kind of expected the novelettes to be self-contained, or at least be the end of a chapter and not stop before any resolution. I wouldn’t call this the best story even before the abrupt ending, but with that ending? No. Just no.
  • “The Day the World Turned Upside Down”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Lia Belt translator (Lightspeed, 04-2014) A charming little story with a little bit of whimsy along with some very odd science. It’s also a romance story gone bad. It’s an ok story, but I’m not sure it really deserves the Hugo.
  • “The Journeyman: In the Stone House”, Michael F. Flynn (Analog, 06-2014) I tried to read this. I started it three times but just couldn’t get into it. The language turned me off, I guess. I just couldn’t do it. I’m seeing people referring to this as “bouncing off” a work. I suppose that’s descriptive enough. This work was not for me and will not be on my ballot.
  • “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”, Rajnar Vajra (Analog, 07/08-2014) This one came oh so close. It’s almost there. It was a good tale, written with a lot of sarcastic wit. It was the wit that amused me the most, but it almost went over the top multiple times (which I guess would mean for some folks it did go over the top). It almost nailed the landing, but the impact wasn’t nearly as great as I expected. I’m not sure where it stumbled, but it missed something in there that made it not quite as good as it ought to have been. Hugo worthy? No, not really.

 

https://twitter.com/OddlyDinosaur/status/616601730466324480

The Muttrix 7/1

aka Mongrel in a Mange Land

Today’s roundup includes Abigail Nussbaum, Vox Day, David Dubrow, Peter Grant, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Doctor Science, Jennifer Brozek, Noah Ward, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, Aaron Pound and cryptic others. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Will Reichard and Kyra.)

Abigail Nussbaum on Asking The Wrong Questions

“The 2015 Hugo Awards: One Month Out” – July 1

It should be clear that I don’t for a moment believe in the Puppies’ indignation–this was clearly an attempt to hurt Tor, a company they identify with the left wing despite the fact that it publishes people like Orson Scott Card and John C. Wright (in the end, this will all turn out to be about Vox Day’s hard-on for Scalzi, as so much of this clusterfuck probably is).  But this does not, in any way, excuse Tor’s actions.  For Doherty to buy the Puppy party line–which has been thoroughly debunked so many times–indicates either that the publisher of a major genre imprint is unaware of the year’s biggest news event within the genre, or that he’s a political fellow traveler.  And the fact that Tor, which was so quick to respond to the outrage of a single bigot, has said nothing in response to the outrage of a huge swathe of fandom including many of their own authors (not even to the extent of closing the comments on Doherty’s letter, which quickly became a toxic swamp of vileness and bigotry), speaks volumes about their priorities and how they see their audience.

To be honest, this experience has left me more disgusted and enraged than even the original Puppy ballots.  I expect vile behavior from vile people.  I do not expect it from one of the genre’s biggest publishers.  The fact that my opinion–and the opinion of so many other fans and readers–clearly does not matter as much to Tor as the opinion of Vox Day is not something that I feel inclined to forget or gloss over, and it has been dispiriting to see so many otherwise sensible people rally to Tor’s defense, for example in response to Day’s proposed boycott.  I’m not saying that I want to boycott Tor myself, but I don’t feel that they should be rewarded either.  If Doherty’s behavior teaches us anything, it’s that Tor is, first and foremost, a business, and businesses only respond to one thing.  Treating them like family–as too much of fandom has been doing–is a mistake, because they will take advantage of your loyalty and then stab you in the back, as we’ve just seen.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“The hysteria crescendos” – July 1

Why are they still babbling incoherently about us while simultaneously insisting on our totally irrelevant wrongness?

I don’t know. Perhaps they fear that the record influx of Supporting Members are not all reliable SJWs and Truefen flooding in to defend the Hugo Awards by voting to not give out any awards. Perhaps they notice that my site traffic has continue to rise, and that support for both Sad and Rabid Puppies continues to grow as more sane people observe the behavior of the SJWs and realize we were not exaggerating. Perhaps it is simply a reflection of the wider cultural war that has heated up of late. Perhaps it is a reflection of the economic instability that now haunts even those who don’t pay much attention to the economy. Perhaps it is because we use their tactics against them more effectively than they do.

But whatever the reason, it is clear that they are afraid of me, of you, and of the growing number of people who realize that they are incoherent lunatics who possess an insane and immoral vision for society. Let them hurl spurious labels and tell ridiculous lies. It’s what they do. We are immune to all their pointing and shrieking and posturing and preening attempts to DISQUALIFY.

 

David Dubrow

“Hugos, Puppies, and Politics” – July 1

Let’s Set the Table

There is not one element of modern life that has not been politicized in some way or other.  Politics have infected everything from education to science to the environment to professional sports to individual entertainment choices.  That’s inarguable.  Who’s responsible for it can be debated elsewhere, but I defy you to find me one human endeavor that hasn’t been touched by politics.

What the American Left has done is deny that their politics are politics at all; that is, they’ve attempted to normalize their point of view as a non-political viewpoint.  Leftism is, therefore, the natural state of things.  This explains why so many Leftists self-identify as independents, moderates or even apolitical despite espousing left-wing ideas, supporting left-wing causes, and voting for left-wing political candidates.  They’re not being political, they’re just doing the right thing.  Leftists have redefined politics as what other people do, not them.

This, of course, excludes those individuals and organizations that specifically identify as progressive, liberal, or left-wing.

The American Right, vastly outnumbered in the entertainment, education, and journalistic industries, tends to conceal itself among the general public a little more than Leftists.  Outside of political environments, conservatives aren’t as explicit about their beliefs, in part because the right-wing point of view hasn’t been as successfully normalized in popular culture.  Right-wingers aren’t cool.  They’re sticks-in-the-mud who resist change, especially social change.   Who wants to be known as a fuddy-duddy?  A conservative might identify himself as an independent, but he’ll rarely call himself a moderate.  He is sensitive to the politicization of modern culture because he resists social change.   He has his political viewpoints and feels about them as strongly as the Leftist, but outside of places where conservatives gather, he tends to keep his cards closer to the vest.

Until now….

By elevating these surface aspects of diversity, the Hugos have been politicized to deliberately exclude authors based on their skin color, gender, and political viewpoint.  White men need not apply, especially conservative white men.  Or conservatives of any color and gender.  Scalzi and his allies have altered the Hugo Awards to focus on message fiction written by people who fit their definition of diversity, not quality science fiction.  As Leftists, they don’t (or can’t) acknowledge that they’re politicizing the Hugos; to them, they’re simply doing what’s right and good and proper (and keeping the riff-raff out).

What’s amazing is that merely pointing out that the Hugos have been politicized leaves one open to attacks of politicization, as though the accusation is enough to condemn the accuser rather than the accused.  So if I point out that Book A was nominated for a Hugo because it espouses a particular viewpoint, not because it’s a good story, I’m the one politicizing the process.  Combine this with how progressives cannot or will not acknowledge that their point of view is political, and you have a very comprehensive, if utterly transparent defense: it’s the Puppies’ fault that the Hugos are a political football because they accused the Leftists of politicizing the Hugos, which is impossible because Leftists don’t practice politics.  Also known as, “I know you are, but what am I?”  Hence, the Puppies’ efforts to nominate stories based on their criteria are, de facto, illegitimate.  It’s perfectly fine to nominate only Leftist message fiction written by Leftists, but it’s gaming the system to nominate science fiction stories written by conservatives.

It may be that you like message fiction and think that science fiction needs a broader diversity of authors to maintain the genre’s relevance in the 21st century.  In which case it’s only natural that you would decry the Puppies’ efforts.  Just know that you’re also engaging in politics.  You’ve decided to redefine the Hugo Awards to celebrate a political viewpoint rather than promote quality fiction.

 

Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man

“The state of the Tor boycott (and SJW’s)” – July 1

The SJW’s also appear to be trying to conflate the Tor boycott with the Hugo Awards controversy.  Please recall that I didn’t call for a boycott of Tor because of anything to do with the Hugo Awards.  I did so because of the lies and unconscionable actions of a number of senior Tor staff.  It looks to me as if the loony left is grasping at straws here.  Vox Day, who as organizer of the Rabid Puppies is the SJW’s favorite demon, has done a great job cataloging their manic efforts to further polarize and inflame the situation.  I know that some people regard him as all sorts of nasty things because of various incidents in the past, but I don’t know anything about those.  I’ve only had dealings with him since this situation blew up.  In that context, I have nothing but praise for his openness, honesty and willingness to co-operate.

 

L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

“Readers, Conventions and Sad/Rabid Puppies” – June 30

…. The problem in both politics and the current Sad/Rabid Puppies kerfuffle is that each side’s assumptions behind the words differ. Conservatives view “liberty” and “justice” in terms of property, while liberals focus on human rights. I’d like to think that moderates realize that both property and human rights are essential to a functioning society.

Likewise in the F&SF kerfuffle, it seems to me that the Sad/Rabid Puppies tend to focus more extensively, at times almost exclusively, on the importance of action, storyline, and individual worth and action, while the more “liberal” side insists that the context of the society/world in which storylines exist should play a far greater role, and that no functional future society should be racially/culturally unidimensional. The Sad/Rabid Puppies appear to believe that the other side wants to continue using the Hugo awards to reward works and individuals that further their goals, while the “liberal” side believes that the Sad/Rabid Puppies want to wrench the awards back to representing the male, patriarchal U.S. culture of the 1950s. That’s an oversimplification, since each group has individuals who don’t fit those definitions, but I think it captures the gist of the conflict.

The sad problem is that the unspoken simplistic assumptions on each side ignore their commonalities, and the fact that, for F&SF to continue as a vital form, elements of both sides need to be represented and that neither should “dominate” the awards. Of course, since the politicians and all too many voters haven’t been able to comprehend this concept, why should mere readers and authors?

 

MInTheGap

“Should Christians Engage in the Culture War?” – July 1

Gird Up for the Battle

This group of individuals have decided that they will go down fighting.  It seemed to begin in a movement now called GamerGate.  A journalist was found to have insider ties with the gaming industry that was biasing her reporting.  The flare-up occurred where game designers started to stand up for the rights to make the games they wanted to make, which is only a problem to those that expect that games should meet some arbitrary societal norms—whether it’s the number of females, what clothing they wear, how the racial balance is, and other social issues.

The battle opened up another front on the side of Science Fiction in a clash over the Hugos and the banning of a lifetime member of the Science Fiction Writers of America over a tweet on the SFWAAuthors twitter account promoting a blog post which some took offense to.  This lead to higher participation in the Hugo Awards presented by the SFWA, in which those that had previously not been allowed to participate managed to dominate the categories.

While this is not Christian in nature (some Christians are participating, but the movement in and of itself is not Christian), these people believe that it’s best to fight back against the social justice tyranny they see being forced upon them.

 

Doctor Science on Obsidian Wings

“Dear Transformative Works Fandom: Please think about voting for the Hugo Awards” – July 1

…I’m particularly encouraging my friends in transformative works and Tumblr fandom to consider voting because you-all are younger than the average Hugo voter (Worldcon members tend to be aging baby boomers, like me), which is good for the future of the award and the fandom, and because many of you have a lot of insights and opinions about visual and audio media: comics, fancasts, TV shows, art….

Should you go to Worldcon?

Last year’s Worldcon was in London, the one before that was in San Antonio, Texas, next year’s is in Kansas City. Because Worldcon moves around, because it’s put together by volunteers, and because it has few or no actors attending, it never gets terribly large compared to Dragoncon, much less ComicCon. Currently, Sasquan has about 4000 attending members and 5000 supporting members, from five continents … plus one in Earth orbit.

Compared to other cons you might have attended, Worldcon runs light on high-gloss movie, TV, and game presentations, but heavy on cosplay and music. Cosplay isn’t just in the halls, there’s also the Masquerade, a judged costume and stage show that always includes some staggeringly beautiful and complex presentations — last year’s Best in Show Winner, “Aratalindale”, for instance, depicted the Valar from Tolkien’s Simarillion. Worldcon music includes performances, filking, and many types of dancing. There’s an Art show and Artist’s Alley, of course. Alas, the deadline for the Writer’s Workshop has passed, but there are lots of other opportunities to talk about writing and fanworks.

I’ll make another post about this year’s Hugo nominees, some historical background, and some possible guidelines about what to look for, but I want to keep it separate from this one. Reblog, tell your friends, think about getting more of us into the structures of SFF fandom. I believe we’re the future of the future, and I encourage you to take up that shiny shiny mantle.

 

Jennifer Brozek

“Travel and Awards” – June 30

I ended with LepreCon in Phoenix, AZ. Yes, it was hot. Really hot. Like 110+ degrees hot. However, it was a great convention. Highly recommended. Small, enthusiastic, and great guests of honor.

In particular, I was pleased to meet Dayton Ward, whom I know from IAMTW, and David Gerrold (most famous for “Trouble with Tribbles.”), who soothed all my fears about the Sasquan Hugo Awards ceremony. After talking with him about my concerns (David is the host), I feel like I can relax and just enjoy the ride. That’s a huge deal for me.

 

Noah Ward

“Who Decides The Best SF/F Novels?” – July 1

A recent Sad Puppies related discussion lead to the topic of how well the Goodreads Choice Awards match up with the Hugo nominations. Thus I decided to actually find out, and therefore compiled a list of the works that had appeared on both awards….

Hence the results produced by the last four years of Goodreads Choice Awards imply that the Hugo awards might not the best indication for what the fans consider as the best Fantasy or Science Fiction. Which in turn would suggest that the ‘Puppy narrative’ would posses a kernel of truth when it comes to Hugos being out of touch with the fans of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Yet another kernel to be placed into the sack.

Nevertheless, I cannot say that the Puppies have had a noticeable effect on the actual nomination results themselves. Just like the three years prior; the Hugo ballot is still filled by the same number of appearances from the Goodreads list, and we have that one highly ranked work while the rest come from somewhere nearer to the bottom end of the list….

Goodreads (2013) & Hugo (2014):

  • – A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time) (2nd in Fantasy)
  • – Ancillary Justice (20th in Science Fiction) (Won Hugo)

Goodreads had 119,222 votes cast in Fantasy, 108,739 votes cast in Paranormal Fantasy, and 75,642 votes cast in Science Fiction.

Goodreads (2014) & Hugo (2015):

2/5 of Hugo nominees were found on Goodreads.

  • – Skin Game (3rd in Fantasy)
  • – The Goblin Emperor (16th in Fantasy)
  • – Ancillary Sword (12th in Science fiction)
  • – Lines of Departure (20th in Science Fiction) (Withdrawn)

Goodreads had 233,644 votes cast in Fantasy, and 146,367 votes cast in Science Fiction.

4/5 of Hugo nominees were found on Goodreads.

[Survey also covers four earlier periods.]

 

Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag on Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog

“Hugo Reading – Novella” – July 1

[Comments on all five nominees.]

I only was able to complete one of the stories in this category from start to finish, the rest just don’t deserve to be on the ballot at all. I guess I’ll give “Flow” a ranking, probably below “No Award”, and leave the rest off. It’s sad, though. There must be some better works out there, but having three pieces by the same writer in one category? That’s just pathetic. Perhaps that’s what they mean by “sad” puppies?

Seriously, though, I really want to hear from the people who nominated these works. I want to hear why they thought these stories deserved the Hugo. I want to know what it is about these particular works that makes them literally the BEST things they read in 2014. I need to know what criteria those readers were using to pick these works, because for most of them I cannot fathom what would possess anyone who actually read the stories to say, “Yes, this is the best of the year.” And I particularly cannot believe all three of those Wright stories were seriously considered that good by anyone, much less by enough people to get them nominated.

 

Aaron Pound on Dreaming About Other Worlds

“Review – Analog Science Fiction and Fact: Vol. CXXXIV, No. 11 (November 2014) by Trevor Quachri (editor)” – June 30

Following in a pattern established by Analog over the last few years, Flow by Arlan Andrews, Sr. is another story fragment masquerading as a novella. Unlike many of the other stories chopped up into shorter lengths as a result of this odd editorial practice, Flow doesn’t feel like the filler in between other, more interesting parts of the story. Instead, Flow feels like filler between other filler.

 

Roger BW’s Blog

“Hugo 2015: Graphic Story” – June 30

[Reviews all five nominees.]

Well, none of these makes me want to dash out and read the next chapter. Maybe I shouldn’t vote in this category at all: these comics are evidently not aimed at me. If I do, it’ll be purely by my enjoyment, in which case Sex Criminals comes top, Saga bottom, and the other two in between, Rat Queens probably above Ms. Marvel. I really have no feel for what’s “Hugo-deserving quality” here.