Learning From Fireside Fiction’s #BlackSpecFic Reports

SFWA President Cat Rambo, in “Talking About Fireside Fiction’s #BlackSpecFic Reports, Part 1 of 2”, is joined by Steven Barnes, Maurice Broaddus, Tananarive Due, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Tonya Liburd, and Nisi Shawl for a roundtable discussion of Fireside Fiction’s reports on blacks in speculative fiction and what the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America might take away from it as action items. Listen to the recording at Soundcloud.

The reports driving their discussion are Antiblack Racism in Speculative Fiction: #BlackSpecFic: A Fireside Fiction Company special report (2015), the follow-up 2016 #BlackSpecFic Report, and the accompanying essays by black writers.

Cat Rambo notes in her introduction:

Here is the central fact they present. Black writers are underrepresented in fantasy and science fiction short fiction magazines. The 2015 figures: 2039 stories in 63 magazines, of which 38 stories were by black authors, in 2015….

For the sake of very broad comparison, American demographics as of July 2016 (according to Wikipedia) were 13.3% African American, 17.8% Latino/Hispanic, and 61.3% white. Like the magazines when it comes to publishing black writers, SFWA’s population skews much whiter than figures might lead one to assume.

Rambo plans to follow the up the two-part discussion with a post about her own takeaway, and how SFWA can respond.

This was a terrific conversation. I was scribbling notes down throughout most of it. In a day or two I’ll post those notes and action items, along with an account of what’s happened so far, but today the focus should be that discussion.

Pixel Scroll 3/15/16 At The Age of 37, She Realized She’d Never Scroll Through Paris With The Warm Pixels In Her Hair

(1) THE MAN WHO WOULD BE WHO. An actor who’s already accumulated a lot of experience traveling in time one day in front of the next has his eye on the prize. Metro News says “Brian Blessed wants to be the next Doctor Who after Peter Capaldi”

The actor, who is fast approaching the ripe old age of 80, has been speaking to Calibre magazine about his desire to be the next Time Lord after Peter Capaldi; he said:

‘I would love to play the Doctor, absolutely!’

Doctor Who fans may remember Blessed as King Ycarnos in 1986’s The Trial Of A Time Lord, where his character went on to marry the Sixth Doctor’s companion, Peri.

If Blessed were to become the next Doctor, he would be the oldest actor to do so, with some twenty years on current TARDIS pilot Capaldi.

(2) BEANS IN SPACE. Whereas the poster for the Australian competition referenced Mad Max: Fury Road, the “2016 Hungarian Aeropress Championship” post goes with a Star Wars icon.

Hungarian aeropress championship COMP

Fast circulating rumours, perhaps with the assistance of a HyperDrive, are suggesting the coffee has been sourced by coffee’s home planet of Alderaan. Unfortunately these rumours have been denied by Ewoks on the forrest moon of Endor who have hand-picked all the rainforest alliance coffee. The variety of the coffee is mostly heirloom, sometimes also know as Degu(bah) and is famous for having very high midi-chorian levels, but low caffeine.  The coffee was fermented and de-pulped in the now re-purposed garbage disposal units on the detention level of the Death Star. That’s enough lame Star Wars references for now i think…

(3) HPL ON THE AUCTION BLOCK. FineBooks & Collections reports “Found: Lovecraft-Houdini Manuscript”.

Whispered about by hopeful collectors and scholars for decades, the manuscript of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Cancer of Superstition, commisssioned and co-written by magician Harry Houdini, has finally come to light. It was rather incredibly “discovered by a private collector among the records of a now-defunct magic shop,” according to Chicago’s Potter & Potter Auctions, which will auction the 31-page typewritten story on April 9.

A brief description of the manuscript is provided in the Potter & Potter auction catalog available for download here [PDF file]. The bidding will open at lucky $13,000….

(4) OCTAVIA BUTLER. From Southern California Public Radio, “The life and legacy of Octavia Butler – and 5 stories you should read”.

It’s been a decade since science fiction writer Octavia Butler passed away.

The California native fell in love with storytelling as a kid at the Pasadena Library, and later grew up to be the only sci-fi writer to receive a MacArthur Genius Fellowship. She was also the first African American woman in the genre to achieve international fame.

According to her friend and fellow writer Steven Barnes, Butler anticipated the challenges of presenting black characters in her stories.

“In her early novels, they would put green people or aliens on the covers of her books,” Barnes said.

“Or blond, white women,” added Tananarive Due, also a friend of Butler’s.

As a teacher and another African American female author, Due knows firsthand how influential Butler’s work is.

“I wish I had discovered Octavia’s work when I was a learning writer,” Due said. “When I wrote my first novel, I had no idea whether or not there would be an audience for speculative fiction — speculative fiction being science fiction, fantasy or horror novel — with black characters, you know, not necessarily intended for black readers.”

(5) JONESING. Everyone who’s still alive in 2019 can see if the iconic star of the Indiana Jones movies can claim the same. The Walt Disney Company announces, “Spielberg and Ford Reunite as Indiana Jones Returns to Theaters July 19, 2019”.

Indiana Jones will return to the big screen on July 19, 2019, for a fifth epic adventure in the blockbuster series. Steven Spielberg, who directed all four previous films, will helm the as-yet-untitled project with star Harrison Ford reprising his iconic role. Franchise veterans Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will produce.

“Indiana Jones is one of the greatest heroes in cinematic history, and we can’t wait to bring him back to the screen in 2019,” said Alan Horn, Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios. “It’s rare to have such a perfect combination of director, producers, actor and role, and we couldn’t be more excited to embark on this adventure with Harrison and Steven.”

(6) GAVEL RAPPER. Kevin Standlee says a Business Meeting chair has “No Magic Bullets”. Nor any other kind, to be sure.

A couple of days ago, I got into a conversation on billroper‘s LJ about the “Heckler’s Veto” and that led to me thinking about something that had worried me about running the WSFS Business Meeting. After all, the entire meeting process, and parliamentary procedure itself, assumes that the people gathering actually are willing to play by the rules. If a significant number of the people showing up won’t play by the rules, the meeting will dissolve. It would be like a bunch of football players deciding during a match that they don’t like the rule book and that they can ignore the officials and do anything they want. There’s not a lot the officials can do in that case, other than leave.

I did give a lot of thought to this approaching the 2015 WSFS Business Meeting, what with doomsday scenarios of thousands of people overrunning the meeting and refusing to obey any rules and shouting down anything they didn’t like and generally causing chaos. I concluded that a meeting whose members refuse to follow their own rules is not a meeting, but a mob, and I’m not chairing a mob. Had such a thing happened, I would have ordered the meeting adjourned “at the call of the chair” and turned to the convention for help. The convention would then in turn have had to ask the convention security to clear the area, and potentially even call the police if non-members (including any people who had their memberships revoked) refused to leave on their own accord.

(7) TO HAL WITH IT. 2001 A Space Odyssey: A Look Behind the Future is a 1960s promotional film. The 10-minute color documentary includes production of props, revolving spaceship set, etc.

(8) CURRENT EVENTS. A much more recent sf film will also be the subject of a documentary: Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey.  It will be a bonus on the movie’s Blu-Ray disc, to be released April 5.

(9) GROWING UP AI. At The Way Finder, Hugh C. Howey says he has observed “The Birth of Artificial Intelligence”.

…This was not the week, however, that AI was born. This was the week that I realized that AI was born quite some time ago…..

It’s in the early years of human development where I think we can see the current state of AI being somewhere post-birth and yet pre-awareness. But the development of strong AI will have incredible advantages over the human acquisition of general intelligence. This arise from the modular nature of intelligence.

Our brains are not one big thinking engine; they are collections of hundreds of individual engines, each of which develop at different rates. What’s amazing about AI is that the learning does not need to be done twice for every module. When we build a chess-playing module, and a Go-playing module, and a Jeopardy-playing module, all of these can be “plugged in” to our general AI. Our baby girl is growing every day, and thousands of people are pouring billions of dollars of research into her education. We, the general public, are contributing with petabytes of data. It is already happening, and we won’t even recognize when our first daughter graduates into strong AI. Every day will be — as parents know — one small miracle added to the last, a succession of amazing little first steps that result in them going off to college and being their own person.

Each headline you read is us — as collective parents — gasping to our spouse at what our baby girl just did for the first time.

Google has already taught our daughter to drive a car. Amazon is doing amazing things with their Alexa device, creating the beginnings of the virtual assistant seen in Her. IBM is building the best medical mind the field has ever known. In the last five years, AI has taken strides that even the optimistic find startling. The next five years will see similar advances. And this progress will only accelerate, because we’re operating in the realm of Moore’s Law. We are building the tools that help us build faster tools, which help us build faster tools.

(10) IRENE LARSEN OBIT. Magic Castle co-founder Irene Larsen died February 25 reports Variety.

Irene Larsen, co-founder of the Academy of Magical Arts and the private clubhouse the Magic Castle, died unexpectedly on Thursday morning at her Los Angeles home. She was 79.

After she assisted her late husband William “Bill” Larsen Jr. in his various magic acts for years, the two launched the Magic Castle together in 1963. Larsen’s dedication to the role of ambassador of magic helped elevate the AMA to an internationally renowned and respected organization within the art’s community.

(11) WRITING WHILE WAITING FOR THE EMERGENCY. Amanda S. Green’s “Putting things into perspective” at Mad Genius Club demonstrates how a professional writer honors her real-life priorities — a friend’s health and her writing commitments .

…One of my oldest and dearest friends is facing a challenge the vast majority of us will only ever read about. She is going to need me with her as she faces this challenge. Even if she hadn’t asked, I would be there for her. Why? Because she has always been there for me and mine.

That’s what friends and family do. You rally around those you care about.

But, when you do, work is impacted.

I know that the next few weeks and months will see us waiting for the shoe to drop. In some ways, it will be like those last weeks of pregnancy. A bag will be packed, the gas tank filled and we will all be waiting for the phone to ring to tell us it is time to leave. No, not a bug-out, at least not in a Ringo-esque sort of way. This is the call to get to the hospital within a certain amount of time. The clock is ticking and it is very loud….

It has also meant changing what I have with me at any time. I’ve always had my phone and a small notepad squirreled away in my purse in case I needed to make a note about something. Smart phones are great for being able to use for dictation and look up things, etc. Now, however, the small purse — my preference — has been traded for a larger one. The smartphone and pad have been joined by my Surface Pro 3, stylus and charger. Why? Because the SP3 gives me everything my laptop does but at a fraction of the weight. The screen, while small, is still larger than my Android tablet and the keyboard is much better than the virtual keyboard on the Android. Add in the thumb drive with all my working files and I have my office on the go….

The result has been that I can and have been getting the job done despite the worry that is constantly there right now. I am working hard to not only meet the schedule I set for myself at the beginning of the year but to get ahead. I want that cushion for the day when we get the call telling us it is time to meet my friends at the hospital. I want to be able to be there for them and not worry about falling behind on “work”. I need to know that I am keeping with my schedule so the money can and will keep coming in. I need to know that, no matter what the time of day or day of the week, I am able to continue working without worry about where I happen to be….

(12) COMIC-CON HQ TO LAUNCH. San Diego’s Comic-Con International will brand a video-on-demand service.

The Hollywood Reporter: “Lionsgate, Comic-Con Set Launch Date for Streaming Service”

Lionsgate and Comic-Con International will launch Comic-Con HQ, their newly-named fanboy streamer, on May 7, ahead of an official launch in June. The subscription video-on-demand service will have a soft launch in May, with an official bow to follow in June in the lead up to Comic-Con International: San Diego in July.

Deadline: “Lionsgate & Comic-Con’s SVOD Channel Comic-Con HQ Sets Launch Date”

The ad-free streaming service will feature “an evolving slate of programming including original scripted and unscripted series, recurring daily and weekly entertainment commentary, plus unique access to a growing library of live and archival programming from their world-class events, a highly-curated selection of film and TV genre titles, and behind-the-scenes access and bonus features from genre titles that defy and define pop culture,” per the announcement.

Variety: “Lionsgate to Launch Comic-Con Channel in May”

Monday’s announcement disclosed that gaming personality Adam Sessler, former host of G4’s X-Play, will executive produce programs on comics, science and gaming, along with hosting his own interview series. Other formats being developed include a general pop culture news show, a late-night talk show, a weekly movie talk in partnership with Complex’s Collider and an all-female panel on pop culture from women’s perspectives.

(13) ONCE AROUND THE BLOCK. Mr. Sci-Fi has something to say about the Paramount/CBS suit against the maker of Axanar.

Sci-Fi Writer-Producer Marc Zicree discusses Paramount’s lawsuit against Star Trek Axanar and puts it in context with the long history of science fiction fan fiction and fan films — and suggests several possible win-win strategies for a successful outcome.

 

[Thanks to Will R., Steven Johnson, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

2015 Hugo Award Winners

Sasquan announced the Hugo Award winners on August 22 at a ceremony hosted by Tananarive Due and David Gerrold.

Best Novel
The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Tor Books)

Best Novella
No Award

Best Novelette
“The Day the World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Lia Belt translator (Lightspeed, 04-2014)

Best Short Story
No Award

Best Related Work
No Award

Best Graphic Story
Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt, (Marvel Comics)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
Guardians of the Galaxy, written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, directed by James Gunn (Marvel Studios, Moving Picture Company)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried”, written by Graham Manson, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions, Space/BBC America)

Best Editor, Short Form
No Award

Best Editor, Long Form
No Award

Best Professional Artist
Julie Dillon

Best Semiprozine
Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams, Stefan Rudnicki, Rich Horton, Wendy N. Wagner, and Christie Yant

Best Fanzine
Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, Colin Harris, Alissa McKersie, and Helen J. Montgomery

Best Fancast
Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)

Best Fan Writer
Laura J. Mixon

Best Fan Artist
Elizabeth Leggett

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Wesley Chu

A complete breakdown of the voting information may be found here.

 

Memories of Tonight’s Hugo Ceremony

While I was in an elevator leaving the Hugo ceremonies, Frank somebody looked me in the eye and said “How’d you like that. That’s what you wanted, wasn’t it,” in a surly voice. Since he was being rude I told him to get off my case.

But let me answer Frank’s question now. The whole situation is a tragedy. It would have been a worse tragedy if any of these slate nominees had been rewarded with a Hugo. For that reason, yes, the outcome was what I voted for.

That should not detract from the accomplishment of Hugo ceremony hosts David Gerrold and Tananarive Due in pulling off a ceremony that was often funny, rich in creativity, and somber when appropriate (Gerrold was reduced to tears by seeing Nimoy on the in memoriam list).

Things began with a giant grim reaper figure lumbering onstage accompanied by an evil assistant. Three Star Trek redshirts, led by Due, battled with them and the lone survivor, Due, cleared the stage so that a reluctant David Gerrold could follow her out.

Some other highlights were Robert Silverberg’s “blessing of the Hugos” — a reminiscence of the “tension, apprehension and dissension” that plagued the 1968 Worldcon, including intermittent clouds of tear gas drifting up from downtown Berkeley, and to dispel similar tensions in 2015 he ended by taking out a tambourine and performing the Hare Krishna chant sung by street-roaming initiates back then.

Later, Connie Willis took a turn on stage, talking about her experience being bitten by a bat, and a mild concern about possible vampirism. Then she reassured Gerrold and Due about the challenges of emceeing the Hugos, remembering half a dozen things that have actually gone wrong at Worldcons, and suggesting a couple more that haven’t gone wrong yet but could, all of which despite being comedy seemed to leave Gerrold and Due a little more shaky than before she started.

During the introduction, Linda Deneroff of Sasquan’s WSFS Division laid the foundation for Hugo voters exercising the no award option. And it came up several times in the pro categories, as you know, though at the beginning there was a whole string of fan categories which had winners and the night seemed darned near normal for a little while.

TAFF delegate Nina Horvath was the presenter of all the fan categories. Gerrold personally handled most of the categories where there was no winner (though not ONLY those categories, so it wasn’t entirely a tell.) And for the dramatic categories he was assisted by a lifesize Dalek, which provided considerable amusement.

The acceptances were fun, best of which was Pat Cadigan reading Thomas Heuvelt’s speech from a tablet, with her characteristic asides and humorous timing. Campbell winner Wesley Chu obviously enjoyed himself, spontaneously falling to his knees before the bearer of the Campbell tiara so it could be placed on his brow.

Although I had a press seat in the balcony, the house lights were so low I couldn’t see a screen or write a note. Thus the File 770 Hugo coverage was provided by commenters watching the livestream — you all did a hell of a job, and extra credit for finding links to the voting stats and other commentary!

Definitely buying a tablet or something before I tackle another Worldcon though. This hotel computer is so limited — can’t edit or post photos, can’t copy between windows, etc. etc. But I will recharge my Kindle and be back at work in the morning.

Sasquan Names Hugo Awards MCs

Sasquan has announced that the MCs for the 2015 Hugo Awards Ceremony will be David Gerrold and Tananarive Due.

David Gerrold is one of Sasquan’s Guests of Honor. Tananarive Due is the Cosby Chair in the Humanities at Spelman College, where she teaches screenwriting and journalism. Her novella “Ghost Summer” received the 2008 Kindred Award from the Carl Brandon Society, and her short fiction has appeared in best-of-the-year anthologies of science fiction and fantasy.

Those who follow Sasquan’s Hugo ceremony online will be able to experience the inaugural awards pre-show and post-show on UStream. These new bookend programs, called The Road to the Hugos, will feature a comprehensive look at all the awards and nominees, interviews with nominees and winners, and special segments documenting the history of the Hugo Awards.

The Road to the Hugos will be hosted by Warren Frey, Steven Schapansky, and Chris Burgess of Radio Free Skaro, the official podcast of Gallifrey One, the world’s largest and longest-running Doctor Who fan convention.

John Hertz: Loscon XXXVI Report
November 27-29, 2009

By John Hertz, from Vanamonde 863-865: About 1,100 attended Loscon XXXVI, our local convention, currently at the L.A. Int’l Airport Marriott Hotel; Author Guests of Honor Steven Barnes & Tananarive Due, Artist GoH Tim Rickard, Fan GoH Christian McGuire; Art Show sales $6,800 by 47 artists.

In the Art Show, building the Rotsler Award exhibit of the 2009 winner Dan Steffan, I had the help of Jan Bender & Gary Echternacht, Robert Jansen, and Wolfcat. I found Rickard finishing his exhibit and brought him over. Drawing Brewster Rockit since 2004 he knew not our community. “That’s professional,” he said; “you mean this guy is an amateur?” Chris Garcia’s Fanzine Lounge was full of fanzines, fanart displays, and fanziners; España Sheriff and Leigh Ann Hildebrand hosted the Fanzine Lounge by Night on the party floor. I finally brought something Hildebrand would drink.

On Friday afternoon I moderated “Women in S-F,” D.M. Atkins, Due, Shauna Roberts, Sharan Volin. Roberts said publishers think boys won’t read about girls but girls will read about boys. Atkins said her 13-year-old son was very particular. Due said she had a 17-year-old protagonist who was indecisive, like other 17-year-olds. Volin said some games let one pick a female or a male character. A woman in the audience said she missed femmes fatales. Then a book talk on The Man in the High Castle. Bruce Briant in the audience said “Where’s the science?”; in ch. 7 Betty & Paul Kasoura take up that very point. We noted the wealth of falsities: even Mr. Tagomi has an empty briefcase.

After Regency Dancing, I took Sheriff who was off duty awhile to the party Paul Turner threw in memory of Bill Rotsler, though we missed Jerry Pournelle and Tim Powers. Then Keith Kato’s chili. Then the Seattle for Westercon LXV bid party. Two a.m. in Operations, Chinese-style Mah Jongg going strong. Someone said “I’m sorry I didn’t say goodbye to you, I was talking to the police.”

Saturday morning at 10, to moderate “Blurring the Lines,” Atkins, Laura Frankos, Val Ontell. Atkins said different genres have different expectations. I noted how Frankos’ husband de-Anglicized his name to Turteltaub for a different book. Computers, she said, look at an author’s name, and order according to how many the last book over that name sold. Ontell noted how the 2001 book Seabiscuit drew interest outside the horse genre.

Toni Weisskopf took my tour of the Art Show. I was glad to see a set of woodwork spaceships by Johnna Klukas. One, dark as the void, gleamed with stars. Guessing right I used my magic tour-leader power to open the ships: they were boxes. “For the rest of you,” I said, “try this only at home.” Then a talk on From the Earth to the Moon. We liked the pace and wit. It detailed conceiving the project, building, and firing, then ended. I loved Michel Ardan’s superb four words “I won’t come back.”

At 2:30 to moderate “There’s a Bimbo on the Cover of My Book,” Laura Brodian, Amy Casil. Brodian, widow of Kelly Freas, said he read all he illustrated, often several times; yet authors might not grasp illustration, and he used to crack “I prefer my authors dead.” Casil with a lapsize computer showed 200 color images of book and magazine covers suitable to the topic. Then Lisa & Harold Harrigan’s 32nd-anniversary party, where pleasant signs explained 32 = 24 + 42 and 11 + 22 + 33. Then España Sheriff’s Art Show tour. Then shopping with co-hosts Becky Thomson and Tom Veal for the Prime Time Party at which, every Loscon from 1 a.m. Sunday till dawn, we try for good food, drink, talk.

Ten a.m. Sunday, to moderate “World Domination,” Brad Lyau, V.J. Waks, she saying everyone had an internal ape that made us dominate, he full of overseas experiences which, like Lao Tzu, said maybe not. Then a talk on Brain Wave. We praised its poetry, in both the small sense of its choice of words, and the large sense of its choice of incident. We discussed whether its vignettes, which carried breadth, left loose ends. This was a book of pain and hope. Then cleaning, the Dead Dog party and another in the Fanzine Lounge by Night, and eventually home.

Octavia Butler Symposium

“The Work and Life of Octavia Butler” will be the theme of The National Black Writers Conference Bi-Annual Symposium presented by The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York on March 28. Participants will include L.A. Banks, Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due, and Nnedi Okorafor. There is a call for papers online.

The complete press release appears after the jump.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Continue reading