Actor Michael Parks (1940-2017)

By Steve Green: Michael Parks (1940-2017): American actor, died May 10, aged 77. Genre roles included The Bible: In the Beginning… (1963, as Adam), The Savage Bees (1976), Night Cries (1978), Fantasy Island (one episode, 1979), War of the Worlds (one episode, 1989), Nightmare Beach (1989), Twin Peaks (five episodes, 1990-91), SeaQuest 2032 (one episode, 1993), Sorceress (1995), From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter (1999, in a different role), Planet Terror (2007), We Are What We Are (2013). He was to have appeared in The Summoning, currently in early pre-production.

Richard Hatch (1945-2017)

By Steve Green: Richard Hatch: actor, died February 7, aged 71. Genre appearances include The Sixth Sense (one episode, 1972), Prisoners of the Lost Universe (1983), InAlienable (2008), Season of Darkness (2012), and its higher-budget remake Asylum of Darkness (2017).

Most famous for playing Captain Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica (1978-9), which he campaigned to bring back (writing and directing a 1999 short, Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming, and co-writing several novels set in that universe with Brad Linaweaver); his contribution was rewarded with a recurring role in the show’s reboot (2005-9, 22 episodes).

Fritz Weaver (1926-2016)

Fritz Weaver in an episode of The Twilight Zone

Fritz Weaver in an episode of The Twilight Zone

By Steve Green: Fritz Weaver (1926-2016): American actor, died 26 November, aged 90. Genre appearances include The Twilight Zone (“Third from the Sun”, 1960; “The Obsolete Man”, 1961; “The Star”, 1985), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (“The Vulcan Affair”, 1964), The Invaders (“The Captive”, 1967), Night Gallery (“A Question of Fear”, 1971), Demon Seed (1977), Wonder Woman (“The Return of Wonder Woman”, 1977), The Martian Chronicles (“The Settlers”, 1980), Jaws of Satan (1981), Creepshow (1982), Tales from the Darkside (“Inside the Closet”, 1984; “Comet Watch”, 1986), Friday the 13th: The Series (“The Prophecies, parts 1 & 2”, 1989), Monsters (“Jar”, 1989), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (“Tribunal”, 1994), The X-Files (“Tunguska” and “Terma”, both 1996), The Cobbler (2014).

Ghostwords TV Launches

Steve Green 2016-01-05 screen test COMPChrissie Harper and Steve Green have released the first episode of Ghostwords TV, a fortnightly vidcast devoted to horror, dark fantasy, science fiction, comics and telefantasy.

The opening installment offers a lengthy chat with author Ramsey Campbell, including a discussion of the recent controversy over the World Fantasy Award and reminiscences of the late David Hartwell.

Other topics covered are the TV series Ash vs Evil Dead, the latest releases from comics legend Steve Ditko, personnel changes at Doctor Who, Graham Humphreys’ new artbook (including a discount offer for UK viewers) and a tribute to David Bowie.

The show is available via Rose of Eibon’s YouTube channel (where you can subscribe to all their vidcasts).

Ghostwords logo 720p_screen COMP

Shoreline of Infinity Launches

Shoreline-Issue-1-Cover-400x618
Shoreline of Infinity, a new Scottish science fiction magazine, went on sale July 2.

Charles Stross is interviewed in the first issue – a crucial endorsement from Edinburgh’s best known sf author. The magazine’s deep Scots roots are also displayed in a reprint of “Space” by John Buchan (known for The Thirty-Nine Steps). There are also many new stories, of course, and Steve Green’s column “Border Crossings.”

Editor Noel Chidwick explains what kind of stories they hope to publish:

We want stories that explore that uncertain future. We want to play around with the big ideas and the little ones. We want writers to tell us stories to inspire us, give us hope, provide some laughs. Or to scare the stuffing out of us. We want good stories: we want to be entertained, here on the Shoreline. We want to read how people cope in our exotic new world, we want to be in their minds, in their bodies, in their souls.

As we sit around the fire of driftwood, sparks floating to mingle with the stars in the sky, we can share these tales, and remember one of the greatest gifts we have as human beings is our infinitely expandable imagination and sense of wonder.

If you want to join us as we look across the expanse of Infinity, please dip your hand into your virtual pocket and subscribe. If you have the skills to put your sense of wonder into words, nip over to the Submission pages and send us your best piece.

[Thanks to Mike O’Donnell for the story.]

The Left Paw of Darkness 5/16

aka An alternate dimension based on String Theory.

Vox Day, Lela E. Buis, Bob Nelson, Jack Hastings, Floris M. Kleijne, Martin Wisse, John Scalzi, Brian Niemeier, Steve Green, Bruce Arthurs, Ampersand, Immanuel Taal, Lis Carey, Larry Correia, Spacefaring Kitten, Elisa Bergslien, Brandon Kempner and Pip R. Lagenta and Pab Sungenis. (Title credit belongs to File 770’s contributing editors of the day Laura Resnick and John King Tarpinian.)

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“#GamerGate has more fun” – May 16

#GamerGate has got to be the first consumer revolt that managed to bring together unequivocally evangelical Christians, unabashed porn stars, and undeniably fabulous homosexuals. Among many, many others. How evil are the SJWs, how universally loathsome is their ideology, that it can inspire such diverse tribes to unite against them? We need a word to describe anti-SJWism. Then again, I suppose we’ve already got one. And that word would be “freedom”.

 

Lela E. Buis

“Establishing a brand with controversy” – May 16

Before this month, how many people had heard of Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day)? Come on, let’s have a show of hands. Nobody? Same here. I had never heard of the man. Somehow his accomplishments had escaped my notice. However, he is on the national radar now, as he has managed to subvert the Hugo Awards. Not only has he received two nominations for his own work, but his publishing house has won nine nominations. He accomplished this through a political and financial campaign that took advantage of how the awards are run.

 

Bob Nelson

“Hugos, Sad Puppies and The Game of Thrones” – May 16

The Baen Books website includes a forum called Baen’s Bar. I was banned for not agreeing with Mr Ringo’s vision of the universe. That really pissed me off, because I had in fact bought several of his early books, before he went completely wingnut… In fact, I bought books by just about every one of Baen’s considerable stable. Eric Flint is still a favorite of mine.

Which brings us to Sad Puppies… this time for real.

A couple years ago, a Baen writer named Larry Correia, on the belief that the Hugo Awards had been kidnapped by radical left-wingers whom he calls “Social Justice Warriors”, decided to recruit enough John Ringo True Believers to effectively take control of the Hugo Award ballot process. This year, his successor at the head of the Sad Puppies movement, Brad Torgerson, was brilliantly successful. The Ringo Faithful successfully packed the nominating process, ensuring their victory in the final voting. Baen authors won everything.

I am a Vietnam vet. That war was epitomized by a young lieutenant’s phrase, “We had to destroy the village to save it.” The Sad Puppies had to destroy the Hugo to save it. It is not clear whether the Hugo Awards will ever carry the kind of aura that they had before the Sad Puppy coup d’état.

 

Jack Hastings on Half-Forgotten

“The Great Hugo Kerfuffle of 2015” – May 16

Disclaimer

Let it be said at the outset that I am an armchair socialist who very much dislikes Tea Party apparatchiks, Fox News demagogues, religious zealots, Rush Limberger and the Sad and Rabid Puppies who have mounted a campaign to hijack Science Fiction Fandom’s Hugo Awards. Furthermore, I am not going to provide links to any of Correia’s, Torgersen’s or Beale’s (the Sad and Rabid Puppies, see below) web posts because I don’t have to and that’s what Google is for anyway. You’ll just have to trust me that the quotes provided are accurate and not taken too far out of context. You can do that, can’t ya?

 

Floris M. Kleijne on Barno’s Stables

“The Modified No Award Proposal: SPUNARPU” – May 15

To put it bluntly: I accept Brad Torgersen’s Sad Puppies, and I reject their Rabid cousins. And to put my money where my mouth is, I’m proposing the SPUNARPU voting approach: Sad PUppies, No Award, Rabid PUppies.

What does that mean in practice? I will read/watch/listen to all nominated works and artists that were either on the Sad Puppies slate (regardless of their presence on the Rabid slate), or on neither slate. I will neither peruse nor vote for works and artists that were only on the Rabid Puppies slate.

Therefore, my amended SPUNARPU approach to this year’s Hugo vote is thus:

  1. Slush-peruse (read, watch, listen until I’ve had enough) all nominated works and artists except the ones slated by Vox Day and his Rabid Puppies.
  2. Vote for the works and artists I believe are Hugo-worthy in order of how much I think of them.
  3. If voting slots remains, put No Award
  4. If voting slots still remain, vote for the works and artists I believe are not Hugo-worthy below No Award, in order of how little I think of them.
  5. If voting slots remain even after this exercise, put the Rabid Puppies nominees in there.

This approach minimizes the chance of works and artists slated by Vox Day and not by Brad Torgersen winning a Hugo

 

Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

”Puppy-Proofing the Hugos” – May 16

LonCon3 had over 10,000 members: get all those to nominate and slate buying becomes slightly more expensive. But how do you get them to vote? Once LonCon3 was over, it was up to Sasquan to rally voters, but that only started in January, or four months later, far too late for those not into core Worldcon fandom to remember to nominate. What’s needed therefore is for the nomination process to open earlier, something which the WSFS rules don’t say anything about, so which can be done without needing that lengthy rule changing process. And while it is easier for a Worldcon to only start considering nominations in January, I think this is important enough to justify that added difficulty.

What I would like to see is having electronic nomination ballots open as soon as possible, either in January of the eligible year (e.g. January 2015 for 2016 nominations) or, if that’s too confusing, too much of a hassle, perhaps after the previous Worldcon has finished (September 1 for the most part). That way it also becomes easier for those already involved to keep a running tally for the year. It would also need not just opening the nominations, but promoting the nomination process as well. Get the members of the previous Worldcon involved, get them enthusiastic about nominating. It’s something next year’s Worldcon, MidAmeriConII, could start up already.

 

John Scalzi on Whatever

“Reader Request Week 2015 #10: Short Bits” – May 16

Noblehunter: “What are your thoughts on bad actors in anarchic/unorganized social movements? From looters hi-jacking civil rights protests to gamergate (some people seem to actually believe it’s about ethics in video game journalism) and Puppies (likewise), the stated goals of the group are undermined or by those calling themselves members of the group while acting in counter-productive ways. Can these groups police themselves despite a lack of central authority? Do you have any suggestions for people who are genuinely concerned about ethics in videogame journalism or other populist causes?”

Well, I’d first note that in the cases of Gamergate and the Puppies, the “stated goals” of the group were tacked on as afterthoughts/justifications for the precipitating action (harassment of women — and of a specific woman — in the case of Gamergate, personal desire for a bauble in the case of the Puppies). That’s not an insignificant thing, and it’s not something the fig leaf of a “stated goal” is going to cover up. This is a different situation, obviously, than looters attaching themselves to a protest movement already underway.

If I were truly interested in ethics in video game journalism — which is a laudable goal — or in seeing more representation of the sort of SF/F subgenres I liked in awards — less concretely laudable, but sure, why not — or whatever, I would probably start fresh, far away from those already tainted movements.

 

Brian Niemeier on Superversive SF

“Transhuman and Subhuman Part IV – Science Fiction: What Is It Good For?” – May 16

According to Wright, the end of science fiction and fantasy’s exile was decreed by the advent of a single film: George Lucas’ cultural juggernaut Star Wars. “When…the President of the United States can make casual references to Jedi mind-powers or the One Ring from Mordor, then space opera and fantasy epic have sunk into the marrow bones of the popular imagination.”

Having examined how genre fiction’s banishment came about, and how it ended, Wright turns to the questions of where sci-fi is going, and what it’s for.

 

Steve Green

My latest mug/t-shirt/poster/tattoo design. As a republican, I’d rather not have included the crown, but it’d look odd otherwise.

THIS SPACE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK
ED COX DOODLE HERE
 

Bruce Arthurs on Undulant Fever

“Mad Libs: Sad Puppies Edition” – May 16

The Wall Street Journal published a recent story about the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies gaming a vulnerability in the Hugo Awards nomination procedure to almost completely dominate the 2015 ballot with their own, ah, particular point of view. I was reading the comments (yes, I should know better than to read comments on posts about this subject by now; doing so mostly just raises my blood pressure)….

 

Ampersand on Alas

“In Which Amp Realizes That Two Arguments That Frustrate Me Are Actually The Same” – May 16

As regular readers know (and by “know,” I mean, “are probably sick of hearing”), I’m against it when folks organize to economically punish others for their political views.

Very frequently, when I write or talk about this, I’ll run into some fellow lefty1 who doesn’t see any substantive difference between an organized boycott or blacklist against (say) hiring Orson Scott Card, and an individual reader choosing not to buy Card’s books.

Then I realized that one of the Sad Puppy/Rabid Puppy arguments about the Hugo awards that I find most frustrating, is really the exact same argument. One side is saying that collective organization – be it an anti-OSC petition or slate voting – is substantively different than individuals making individual decisions. The other side is denying that there’s any meaningful difference.

 

Immanuel Taal on Medium

“An Ode To Flatland” – May 16

Good Science Fiction answers a “what if” question with the guiding hand of its author. A good social message that grows naturally out of this story can help make the setting that much more rich, the characters that much more realistic, and the themes that much more intriguing. But a good social message imposed on a story contrived to push the author’s social views is bad Science Fiction. It comes down to the “science” part of Science Fiction. Good science starts with evidence and reaches conclusions. Good Science Fiction starts with imaginary evidence and reaches imaginary conclusions. Bad science and bad Science Fiction alike start with the conclusion and try to support it with flimsy (and often imaginary) evidence. The author has complete control over their created world and the social message, if any, they wish to convey. If that world doesn’t naturally grow to show the message it’s probably a boring world and a weak social message.

 

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“The Journeyman: In the Stone House, by Michael F. Flynn” – May 16

Structurally, this isn’t a bad story. The plot is a little thin, with much of the little that happens relying on events in the prior story.

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“’The Journeyman: In the Stone House’ by Michael F. Flynn” – May 16

The main character is an adventurer who has been adventuring in some earlier Analog story as well. He isn’t terribly interesting in any way, and nothing of interest happens in the story, so I was left wondering what was the point, really. There’s some military training, sword-fighting and snappy dialogue that is meant to be smart-ass (I guess).

I didn’t enjoy it at all and have trouble seeing why it’s on the ballot.

 

Elisa Bergslien on Leopards and Dragons

“A peak into The Goblin Emperor” – May 15

The one ‘fun’ thing I have managed to do in the past few weeks is to start reading works nominated for a Hugo award. All of the short works I have read so far have ranged from meh down to yuck!  Thankfully the novel category has some lovely rays of light.  I have been reading The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison and greatly enjoying it.

 

Brandon Kempner on Chaos Horizon

‘Hugo Award Nomination Ranges, 2006-2015, Part 5” – May 16

Let’s wrap this up by looking at the rest of the data concerning the Short Fiction categories of Novella, Novelette, and Short Story. Remember, these stories receive far fewer votes than the Best Novel category, and they are also less centralized, i.e. the votes are spread out over a broader range of texts. Let’s start by looking at some of those diffusion numbers:

 

Pip R. Lagenta on Facebook – May 16

First Sad

My Hugo burns at both ends.
It will not last the night.
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—…
Those Puppies are a blight

 

Pab Sungenis on The New Adventures of Queen Victoria – May 16

queen victoria naqv150516

Nova Award Retired. Mostly.

The Nova Awards, given at Novacon in the UK since 1973 for work in British and Irish fanzines, have been suspended except for the occasional “Special Nova” to honor individuals of merit.

Steve Green confirmed to readers of his LiveJournal that the report in yesterday’s edition of Ansible, coincidentally published on April 1, was not an April Fool’s joke.

Green retired as awards administrator when he passed the Novacon chair to Tony Berry last year. The new committee discontinued the Novas.

Diminished voter support drove the decision, Green explained:

When the entirety of UK and Irish fandom has the opportunity to vote, virtually all of the candidates are available to read online and ballots can be cast electronically, but fewer than two dozen people can be arsed to take part, it’s impossible to see how the Novas could be justified.

2014 Nova Awards

The 2014 Nova Awards for excellence in British and Irish fanzines were announced at Novacon 44 on Sunday, November 16.

Best Fanzine
Vibrator, ed. Graham Charnock

Runners-up:
2nd Head!, ed. Doug Bell & Christina Lake
3rd Banana Wings, ed. Claire Brialey & Mark Plummer

Best Fan Writer
Christina Lake

Runners-up:
2nd Mark Plummer
3rd Roy Kettle

Best Fan Artist
D West

Runners-up:
2nd Harry Bell
3rd Sue Mason

The awards were presented by Novacon 44 guest of honour Kari Sperring. Afterwards, Nova administrator Steve Green announced he was stepping down after more than a decade in the role.

[Thanks to Steve Green for the story.]

Indiegogo for Rose of Eibon Publishing Startup

dispossessed-dummy3 COMPRSteve Green recently joined the editorial team at the independent UK imprint Rose of Eibon. Initially, he’ll be involved with its new paperback magazine Dark Matters.

Rose of Eibon is in the final hours of an Indiegogo appeal for funds to get the business off the ground.

“Plenty of great offers for early adopters,” writes Steve, “starting at a basic donation of UK£5.”

To begin with, we have our anthology The Dispossessed and Other Weird Tales. Given his pivotal role in the genesis of this new venture, it’s fitting that Rose of Eibon’s first major release should be an anthology co-created by and dedicated to the memory of award-winning British writer Joel Lane.

The Dispossessed and Other Weird Tales has already attracted an impressive line-up of writers and artists. They include Thomas Ligotti, Adam Nevill, Chris Amies, Conrad Williams, Gary McMahon, Jasper Bark, Joe Pulver, John McCrea, Mark Owen, Mat Joiner, Mike Chinn, Nicholas Royle, Nina Allan, Peter Crowther, Ramsey Campbell, Rosanne Rabinowitz, Simon Avery, Simon Bestwick, Stephen Jones, WH Pugmire, Dave Sutton. Joel himself will be represented twice, including the story which gave this book its title (unseen in the UK or USA since its magazine appearance in 1989).

Profits from the sale of The Dispossessed and Other Weird Tales will be donated to the Terence Higgins Trust, a charity close to Lane’s heart.

He’s Baaack!

Steve Green writes: “Still 48 hours away from Thanksgiving, but the turkey’s arrived: Fortnightly Fix # 24.” [PDF]

Following Steve’s account of Novacon in this issue is another genius suggestion for celebrating the month:

My latest idea: NaNoWino. We all commit to drinking at least one bottle of wine every day next November, then see if we can still write afterwards.

I like that plan much better.