Pixel Scroll 7/31/17 I’ll Get You, My Pixel, And Your Little Scroll, Too

(1) FANDOM FEST AFTER ACTION REPORT. Randall and Anne Golden decided they’d go to Louisville’s Fandom Fest despite “Weird Al” Yankovic’s cancelling his appearance. They lowered their expectations and lived to tell the tale in a two-part conreport.

We finished our FandomFest experience and were out the door by 12:30. For the math-curious that’s four hours of two-way driving, one hour spent on the line to get in, forty minutes on ticket exchanges, and 110 minutes on actual conventioning. We’ve done worse for less.

By the end of the day at least a couple hundred more fans had packed into the Macy’s and begun turning into a bona fide crowd. Anne noted that today’s attendance was probably more people than the actual Macy’s had entertained in years. But it was never anywhere near 1700. For a show that once welcomed a five-digit annual attendance, that’s an alarming deceleration.

For a show in its twelfth year, with so many years of experience and resources (you’d think, anyway), that’s a drastic sign either of incompetence, evil, or intentional downsizing. We can’t speak for the innumerable fans still upset with their FandomFest fleecing and still crying out for retribution, but I wish more could be done for them.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on Saturday my wife Anne and I attended FandomFest in Louisville, KY, the twelfth iteration of this entertainment/”comic” convention that’s quite low on comics, heavy on controversy, improper in its online customer service, saddled with a years-old negative image not really helped by the depressing role call of thirty-one canceled guests, and graded a solid F by the Better Business Bureau. But beyond the mountains of baggage, their volunteers were pretty friendly to us in person despite their upper management, and the fifteen actors in the house seemed like decent folks.

Publisher Tony Acree of Hydra Publications talked about the (literal) silver lining he found in the clouds surrounding the con — “Fandom Fest 2017 Day 1 Recap”. (Lots of cosplay photos in his Day 2 and Day 3 recaps.)

What hasn’t changed, is the number of high quality vendors who have been to Fandom year after year. Hydra Publications lucky to be in “Author Corner” along with Stephen Zimmer and Holly Phillippe of Seventh Star Press, the wonderful ladies of Per Bastet, along with Lydia Sherrer, Lacy Marie and my fellow Hydra authors, Arlan Andrew Sr., Dave Creek, Lynn Tincher and Stuart Thaman. Oh. And super editor Josiah Davis.

Despite all the negative news, we sold more books this year on Friday, than we did last year. To you, the fans, we say thank you.


Arlan Andrews Sr. and Dave Creek at the Hydra table

Jeff raises an interesting question – when quoted by the press, the co-organizer of Fandom Fest went by the name Myra Daniels.

Noah Bisson posted a video of his walkthrough of the con. Crowding was definitely not an issue.

(2) NO SHOW. Steve Davidson, in “What’s Happening with the TV Show?”, explains why you shouldn’t be looking for an Amazing Stories revival on NBC. For one thing, the check wasn’t in the mail.

I waited for a period of time to determine if I would receive something.  After months of waiting and still receiving nothing, a notice of Termination/Breach of Contract was sent to NBC legal, seeing as how pretty much everybody we had previously been working with was no longer with NBC.  It sure looked to us like Amazing Stories The TV Show had become an orphan:  no showrunner, prior contacts no longer with the company, no word, no checks.

The notice was properly delivered to NBC in May of this year.  Despite the fact that the orginal contract would have expired in August of this year, I had completely lost confidence in two things:  NBC’s ability to treat me properly AND NBC’s ability to deliver a show.

(3) HE SECONDS. Robert J. Sawyer has added himself to the list of people sponsoring the “Separate Fantasy and Science Fiction Hugo Best-Novel Awards Amendment” submitted by Chris Barkley and Vincent Docherty and discussed here last week.

(4) MOVING DAY FINALLY HERE FOR MACMILLAN.  After years of rumors, Macmillan Publishers is really going to bid farewell to the iconic Flatiron Building.

Macmillan Publishers is officially leaving the Flatiron Building, having signed up for 261,000 square feet at Silverstein Properties’ 120 Broadway.

The space will span five full floors, the New York Post reported. In April, sources told The Real Deal the publisher was weighing a move to the Lower Manhattan building, but the size of the space was not clear.

Asking rents at 120 Broadway are in the mid-$50s per square foot, according to the newspaper.

Macmillan is the Flatiron Building’s sole tenant. The property has not been totally empty since it was built more than a century ago. Sorgente Group of America, which owns a majority stake, may rent it out to new tenants or potentially go through with a plan to turn it into a hotel.

(5) SHAKEN UP. A Marvel Comics editor posted a selfie of herself and some coworkers enjoying milkshakes. For this innocuous act, she has been harassed on Twitter: “Female Marvel Comics editor harassed online for milkshake selfie”. (Warning: the harassment is extensively quoted in the article.)

Antos condemned the abuse the following day, writing that “the internet is an awful, horrible, and disgusting place.” She added, “Woke up today to a slew of more garbage tweets and DMs. For being a woman. In comics. Who posted a selfie of her friends getting milkshakes.”


  • July 31, 1971 — Astronauts David Scott and James Irwin became the first people to drive a vehicle on the Moon.
  • July 31, 1976 — NASA released the famous “Face on Mars” photo, taken by Viking 1.
  • July 31, 1999 — The ashes of astro-geologist Eugene Shoemaker were deposited on the Moon.


  • July 31, 1965 – J.K. Rowling


  • Born July 31, 1980 – Harry Potter


  • Born July 31, 1966 – Dean Cain

(10) COMIC SECTION. Chip Hitchcock recommends today’s Rhymes With Orange.

(11) FILER ALERT. Greg Machlin extends an invite to all Filers in Helsinki for his very first Worldcon panel as a panelist —

Science Fiction & Fantasy in Musical Theatre

Thursday 16:00 – 17:00, 103 (Messukeskus)

Wicked, Into the Woods, Rocky Horror, Little Shop of Horrors – fantasy and science fiction have long been represented in the musical theatre. The panelists discuss their favorites and also perhaps some not-so successful SF musicals.

Emily January, Sari Polvinen (M), Ada Palmer, Greg Machlin, Sami Mustala howeird

Also on the panel: Ada Palmer (Too Like The Lightning).

Machlin adds: As someone who’s written and had produced a fair amount of sci-fi/fantasy theatre (Keith Haring: Pieces of a Life in L.A. in 2014; the one-act “Sushi” all over the place), this is my jam. I may, if the other panelists are patient, present a song from an actual sci-fi musical I wrote the book and lyrics for, The Great Swiss Cheese Conspiracy Theory.

(12) MARLOWE MAKES FINALS. Congratulations to Francis Hamit who is a finalist in the London 2017, New Renaissance Screenwriting Competition. The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony, on August 20.

Christopher Marlowe

Feature Screenplay • Drama, Thriller, War, History, Biography

Francis Hamit 


The poet, playwright and spy lives in two worlds at a time when politics was religion and vice-versa. He is a brilliant playwright and an effective spy but his intemperate ways and desire for power as well as fame combined with a free thinking pose of atheism eventually lead to his death at the hands of his fellow agents at the order of Queen Elizabeth herself. Timeline is from 1585-1593 and includes real events such as the Babington Plot, The execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the sailing of the Spanish Armada. Characters based upon real personalities of the time, and extensive research.

(13) LET DARKNESS FALL. The Planetary Post, hosted by Robert Picardo, is devoted to the Total Solar Eclipse coming on August 21.

In this month’s episode, we explore all things eclipse, including a special visit to NASA JPL to see a spacecraft that can create artificial eclipses!

…The Total Solar Eclipse on August 21st is coming up! We’re getting ready with the U.S. National Parks Service and a new Junior Ranger Eclipse Explorer activity book. Also, Starshade is new technology being studied by a team at JPL/NASA and Picardo has the inside scoop.


(14) ON BOARD. The Borg site is impressed with this tie-in edition of the classic game: “Monopoly–Planet of the Apes means a tie-in madhouse for Hasbro”.

For its next franchise tie-in, Hasbro has partnered with 20th Century Fox Consumer Products to release this summer’s strangest mash-up game: Monopoly: Planet of the Apes Retro Art EditionIt’s not just your typical Monopoly tie-in with a popular franchise.

For Monopoly: Planet of the Apes Retro Art Edition, Hasbro tapped artist Dan Perillo to give the game a design it might have had, had it been released when the movie premiered in 1968.  Perillo is known for his retro style.  One of his works was featured in last year’s Star Trek: 50 Years/50 Artists project (reviewed here at borg.com), and he’s produced some stunning work for Mondo.  Perillo’s work for the new Monopoly game should appeal to Planet of the Apes fans, but it’s also a dose of silly fun that will appeal to fans of all things retro.

The standard game is altered–slightly.  Instead of paying an Income Tax, in the new edition you get strung up on a spit by your hands and feet and led off.  Instead of the joy of landing on Boardwalk you get to discover the ruins of the Statue of Liberty.  And that’s Taylor’s marooned space capsule instead of the valuable Short Line railroad.  Perillo created six character tokens to choose from: Taylor, Cornelius, Zira, Dr. Zaius, Nova, or a gorilla general (it looks like you could play the gorilla as either General Ursus from Beneath of the Planet of the Apes, Chief of Security Urko from the TV series, or General Aldo from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes).  As with all Monopoly editions, the four corners of the gameboard never change.

(15) NEVERTHELESS, HBO PERSISTED. The Wrap, in “HBO Responds to #NoConfederate: Slavery Drama Will Be Handled ‘With Care and Sensitivity’”, says that the hashtag #NoConfederate was the #1 hashtag last weekend. Despite the protests HBO replied they are going to develop this series.

A campaign protesting the planned HBO series “Confederate” flooded social media Sunday night, with viewers tweeting #NoConfederate in massive numbers during “Game of Thrones,” propelling the hashtag to Twitter’s No. 1 trending spot in the U.S. and No. 2 worldwide.

“We have great respect for the dialogue and concern being expressed around ‘Confederate,’” HBO responded in a statement. “We have faith that [writers] Nichelle, Dan, David and Malcolm will approach the subject with care and sensitivity. The project is currently in its infancy so we hope that people will reserve judgment until there is something to see.”

“Confederate” tells an alternate version of history in where the South has seceded from the Union… and slavery has remained legal and continued into the modern era.

(16) WHITE HOUSE BEAT. Camestros Felapton has a scoop: “Breaking news: Talking cat named Whitehouse Communications Director”.

Followed by another scoop: “Breakin News: Timothy the Talking Cat Fired as Whitehouse Communications Director”.

Both stories are dated August 1. How is anybody supposed to compete with someone who gets tomorrow’s cat news today?

(17) THRONE QUESTIONS. Did Camestros and Melisandre graduate from the same J-school? …Vulture has burning questions after “The Queen’s Justice,” the latest episode of “Game of Thrones”:

  • Did Varys get a tan on Dragonstone?
  • Does Melisandre know how Varys will die?
  • Will it all come down to two women battling for the Iron Throne?
  • Will Theon ever redeem himself?
  • What fate awaits Yara?
  • Which city is a worse place to live: Gotham or King’s Landing?
  • Will Cersei really marry Euron? And is Euron actually the best thing to ever happen to Jaime?
  • How has Cersei not yet grown out that pixie cut?
  • Why is Littlefinger quoting True Detective to Sansa?
  • We know, Baelish, time is a flat circle. #hbocrossover
  • When will Jon find out about his parentage?
  • Will Jorah and Sam forge the alliance between Jon and Dany?
  • Was that seriously all we get to see of Casterly Rock?

(18) CULTURE WARRIORS. At Nerdist, “Darth Vader and Captain Picard Face Off for a Sci-Fi Debate”. Click through to see the debate between two toys.

When you have toys, all things are possible, including a dream crossover between Star Wars and Star Trek: The Next Generation! In the new episode of Toy Shelf, we finally get to see what happens when Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation starship Enterprise encounters the Dark Lord of the Sith: Darth Vader!

Keep in mind that these are toys that know they are toys. And Vader catches Picard as he goes for more of a cowboy diplomacy by swinging a lightsaber around. It’s pretty much the laser sword of Picard’s dreams, and if Vader was looking to tempt the Captain to the Dark Side of the Force, then he would have a pretty good head start.

(19) RARITY. Ashley Hoffman of TIME, in “A Super Rare Copy of Super Mario Bros. Just Sold for $30,000 on eBay”, says that a copy of “Super Mario Bros. that has been sealed since its release in 1985 and never opened just sold for $30,100 on eBay

To outsiders, that may seem like a high cost to become the proud owner of a game, but they might not appreciate the most exciting feature, which distinguishes this Nintendo Entertainment System game from all those unwrapped $10 versions: a hangtag on the back that indicates the copy originates from back when video games hung on pegs in stores.

“They said the reason that game went for so much was because Mario was always sold in the system,” CEO Drew Steimel told Mashable quoting the experts of Reddit. “You bought it with the system, it came in the box. This particular copy was from before that happened, before Nintendo decided to bundle them. They only did it for a short time.”

You read that right. No box for this game, hence its final price.

(20) BOTTLED LIGHTNING. I would have answered yes if the question had been, “Should I use this to launch a torpedo?”

(21) HARD SCIENCE FICTION. The 1910 Thomas Edison production A Trip To Mars begins with “The Discovery of Reverse Gravity.”

[Thanks to rcade, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Greg Machlin, Francis Hamit, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #10

By Chris M. Barkley and Vince Docherty

Some VERY Modest Proposals for The Hugo Awards

“Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.” — Sydney J. Harris

Chris Barkley: Change is hard. It’s hard for those who perceive it as a threat to a well-established order of normalcy and for those who seek to improve on an existing situation.

Two years ago, Vincent Docherty, a former Hugo Awards administrator and a former Worldcon Chair, approached me with a new proposal, which was then followed by several more ideas, that I found that I agreed would strengthen the Hugo Awards for the foreseeable future.

I know that by presenting these ideas, I know I will be involving myself with a very tough and potentially divisive argument with the more conservative elements of the literary branch of sf fandom. While I am delighted to be asked by my co-author, Vincent Docherty, to undertake this endeavor, I also recognize that these proposed changes will be viewed with unadulterated glee by some and absolute revulsion by others. And the prevalence of multiple outlets of social media will have its advocates and detractors at war with each other within hours of the publication of this article.

Some will say that I am doing this just to be a disruptor and a gadfly. I can only say that everything that I have done regarding the Hugo Awards I have done to ensure that they remain fair, equitable, engaging, exciting and most importantly, relevant.

The changes the Hugo Award categories have undergone since 2003 have led to higher numbers of fans participating in the voting process and an ever-growing acceptance and recognition from the public at large. But, as well off as the Hugo awards are now, there’s always room for improvement. Which brings us to our proposals.

Vincent Docherty: The Hugo Awards have grown considerably in visibility and in participation over the last decade. In my view that’s been mostly positive, although there have been big bumps in the road.

We have tried to adapt the Hugo categories and rules to the changes occurring to the genre, particularly the shift to online works and participation.”

However, a number of issues have arisen, in my view:

Where the categories don’t fully reflect the breadth of work begin done, either because there is so much more work (eg. fiction, very short BDP), or changes have occurred such that categories become confused (arc-story, rather than episodic television series).

And where the category definitions are no longer fit-for-purpose, or are difficult for nominators and administrators to use, is resulting in works appearing on the ballot in categories which cause significant disagreement (eg. Related Work and the Fan and Semi-Pro categories).”

Given the number of changes to the rules currently being enacted and the general resistance to adding new categories, I expect that these proposals will need time to be considered and worked.

However, we believe the time is right to raise them now. I think there is both sufficient need and specific enough possible solutions to propose changes to the Novel, Related Work and BDP categories.

Proposal One: A Reorganization of the Best Novel Category

The Current Amendment

3.3.1: Best Novel. A science fiction or fantasy story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more

Replace with:

3.3.1: Best Science Fiction Novel. A science fiction story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more.


3.3.2: Best Fantasy Novel. A fantasy story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more.

VINCE DOCHERTY: The Best Novel is by far the category with the highest participation by nominators and voters every year, at a time of great strength in genre publishing. By splitting the category in a simple way, the Worldcon community can recognise more works.

The most useful comparison of what we are trying to accomplish is the Locus Awards, which divide the Novel nominees into the following categories:

  • Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
  • Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel
  • Locus Award for Best Horror Novel
  • Locus Award for Best First Novel
  • Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book


  • Under the current WSFS rules, the John W. Campbell Award For Best New Writer is probably sufficient to cover first time writers, and/or risks duplicating works.
  • There is also an emerging YA award, which could potentially become a Hugo category in the future. (Or not, depending on what happens at the Helsinki Business Meeting.)
  • The nominators and voters of the Hugo Awards have predominantly nominated sf and fantasy works rather than horror. (We therefore offer the conjecture that if nominators want to nominate a work of horror, it can be done as a work of  fantasy.)
  • Definition of the boundaries between fantastic genres are notoriously difficult, nevertheless, almost all genre novels are published with a clear category (perhaps not surprising as the genres are largely publishing-derived).

Rule 3.2.6 refers to the fiction categories by name and will need minor adjustment.

(Suggestion: Borrow simplifying text from 3.2.5 ‘story categories’.)

Rule 3.2.8 relating to fiction category boundaries remains unchanged.

Chris Barkley: Both Vince and I believe this move is probably long past overdue. Other awards, most notably the Locus, Sunburst (since 2008), Seiun and the newly-formed Dragon Awards have no problem at all with nominating or administering multiple novel award categories.

We also feel that on the whole, Hugo Award nominators have proven to be very adaptable to adjusting to new categories and rule changes over the past decade to produce (Rabid and Sad Puppy interferences aside) some very strong ballot nominees.

Here are some examples of how this category change might look like by using the existing long lists of nominees from 2010 through 2016 (with the deliberate redaction of the recent nominees advocated by the Sad/Rabid Puppy movement).



  • The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi
  • The City & The City, by China Mieville
  • WWW: Wake, by Robert J. Sawyer
  • Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest
  • Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America, by Robert Charles Wilson


  • Palimpsest, by Catherynne M. Valente
  • Unseen Academicals, by Terry Pratchett
  • Finch, by Jeff VanderMeer
  • Lifelode, by Jo Walton
  • The Price of Spring, by Daniel Abraham



  • Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis
  • The Dervish House by Ian McDonald
  • Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks
  • Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi


  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
  • Feed by Mira Grant
  • Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Kraken by China Mieville
  • Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal



  • Embassytown by China Mieville
  • Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
  • The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
  • Rule 34 by Charles Stross
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge


  • Among Others by Jo Walton
  • A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
  • Deadline by Mira Grant
  • The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemison
  • Mechanique by Genevieve Valentine



  • Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi
  • 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey
  • Existence by David Brin


  • Blackout by Mira Grant
  • Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
  • Monster Hunter Legion by Larry Correia
  • The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
  • Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal



  • Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
  • Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross
  • The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
  • London Falling by Paul Cornell
  • Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey


  • The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
  • Parasite by Mira Grant
  • A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar
  • The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker
  • The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch



  • Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  • The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin
  • Lock In by John Scalzi
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • My Real Children by Jo Walton


  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  • City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley
  • Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone (speculative choice to replace Skin Game by Jim Butcher)



  • Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
  • Aurora Kim by Stanley Robinson
  • Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
  • The Just City by Jo Walton
  • The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi


  • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
  • The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
  • Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Proposal Two: A Reorganization of the Best Related Category

The Current Amendment

3.3.5: Best Related Work. Any work related to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom, appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year or which has been substantially modified during the previous calendar year, and which is either non-fiction or, if fictional, is noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text, and which is not eligible in any other category.

Replace with

3.3.5: Best Non-Fiction Book. Any book or work related to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom, appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year or which has been substantially modified during the previous calendar year, and which is clearly non-fiction or has a basis in fact with the intent to be educational and/or informational in nature and which is not eligible in any other category.


3.3.6: Best Art Book. Any art book or related volumes of works in the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom, appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year or which has been substantially modified during the previous calendar year.

VINCE DOCHERTY: This category has changed significantly over the years.  Created in 1980 as ‘Best Non-Fiction Book’ it was changed to ‘Best Related Book’ in 1999 and became the current ‘Best Related Work’ in 2010.

A review of the finalists in the category up to 2010 shows that almost all of them were either non-fiction books (including biographical and academic books) or art books of various types.

The well-intended change in 2011 from Book to Work (which I supported!) was a response to the rapid rise of e-books, web-sites and blogs, alongside test categories such as best website.

However this change, changes to other categories and clarifications to the rules to make clear that it is the content, not the container that is important in an e-world, caused uncertainty for nominators, and the complex eligibility interactions for administrators resulted in works such as podcasts, music recordings and blogs appearing on the ballot, alongside a much reduced number of non-fiction work and almost no art-related works. In many cases these new types of work could have been placed in a different category such as BDP or Fancast or Fan writer, and in several cases in fact they appeared in both.

Data supporting a new approach:

  • A review of the top 15 works nominated each year shows that significant numbers of non-fiction and art books are still being judged Hugo-worthy by many nominators.
  • Looking again at the Locus Award, (and the Locus annual recommendations list), one can see two strong and stable categories; Best Non-fiction Book and Best Art Book.
  • The definition of content in the Hugo rules now explicitly makes clear that electronic forms of text are equivalent to print. The word ‘book’ can therefore be used to describe a unit of published work in either electronic or printed form.

We also believe there is a need to better promote art in the Hugo Awards, reflecting the significance art has to the genre.

Chris Barkley: Speaking personally, I think it would be nice to see more artistic works being honored with Hugo Awards.

Proposal Three; A Reorganization of the Best Dramatic Presentation Category

The Current Amendments

:3.3.7: Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. Any theatrical feature or other production, with a complete running time of more than 90 minutes, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year.


3.3.8: Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. Any television program or other production, with a complete running time of 90 minutes or less, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year.

We suggest the creation of four BDP categories:

3.3.7: Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

Any theatrical feature or other production, with a complete running time of more than 90 minutes, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year. (Intent: Mainly for theatrical films, theater presentations and audio books, etc.)

3.3.8: Best Dramatic Presentation, Episodic Form.

Any television program or other production, with a complete running time of between 30 and 90 minutes, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year. No more than two episodes of any one series may be finalists in this category. (Intent: Stand alone television episodes or other media.)

3.3.9: Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

Any production, with a complete running time of less than 30 minutes, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year. No more than two episodes of any one show may be finalists in this category. (Intent: Mainly current internet/youtube type works, or cartoon/serials, typically less than 30 minutes.)

3.3.10: Best Dramatic Presentation, Series.

Any episodic series or other dramatic production, with more than four episodes of sixty minutes or more, or a running time of 240 minutes or more in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year.

(Intent: Streaming series, mini-series or episodic television shows are eligible, the key point being that the intent of the amendment is to honor programs comprising a single story-arc presented over a number of episodes, rather than separate episodes in an anthology series, which would be eligible in BDP-Episodic.)

Current Rule 3.2.10 relating to BDP category boundaries remains unchanged. Also, Current Rule 3.2.9: No work shall appear in more than one category on the final Award ballot.

VINCE DOCHERTY: After fifteen years, we both thought that is was time to overhaul and reorganize the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo category.

The basic principles the Hugos use for works are measurability (word count, minutes) and discrete units of content, rather than the container. In practice the story-arc has been used as the main determinant of ‘discrete/single work’ by both voters and administrators, with length then used to determine which category to use. Hence story-arc based (mini)series and pairs/trios of episodes have appeared on the ballot in both short and long form. Stand-alone episodes and movies have always been treated as single works, and the case where movies are part of a series seems not to be an issue, in a similar way to novels in a series – they generally are separated by years and are marketed as discrete works.

We have seen a huge increase in the number of genre series in recent years especially with services such as Hulu, Netflix and HBO. A quick analysis gives a count of 80 such series in English in the last year or so (see below). This presents us with an opportunity to honor a series through the nomination process.

Here is a long list of recent and/or current television and streaming (mini-)series:

  1. 11.22.63
  2. 12 Monkeys
  3. 3%
  4. A Series of Unfortunate Events
  5. American Horror Story
  6. Ascension
  7. Black Mirror
  8. Black Sails
  9. Class
  10. Colony
  11. Containment
  12. Continuum
  13. Crazyhead
  14. Dark Matter
  15. DC: Arrow
  16. DC: Gotham
  17. DC: Legends of Tomorrow
  18. DC: Supergirl
  19. DC: The Flash
  20. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
  21. Doctor Who
  22. Emerald City
  23. Frequency
  24. From Dusk Till Dawn
  25. Game of Thrones
  26. Glitch
  27. Grimm
  28. Helix
  29. Heroes Reborn
  30. Hunters
  31. Humans
  32. iBoy
  33. iZombie
  34. Killjoys
  35. Limitless
  36. Lucifer
  37. Marvel: Agent Carter
  38. Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  39. Marvel: Jessica Jones
  40. Marvel: Legion
  41. Marvel: Luke Cage
  42. Marvel: Daredevil
  43. Mr. Robot
  44. Once Upon a Time
  45. Orphan Black
  46. Outcast
  47. Outlander
  48. Penny Dreadful
  49. Powers
  50. Preacher
  51. Second Chance
  52. Sense8
  53. Shadowhunters
  54. Sleepy Hollow
  55. SS-GB
  56. Star Wars Rebels
  57. Stranger Things
  58. Supernatural
  59. Teen Wolf
  60. The 100
  61. The Aliens
  62. The Expanse
  63. The Leftovers
  64. The Magicians
  65. The Man in the High Castle
  66. The OA
  67. The Returned
  68. The Shannara Chronicles
  69. The Strain
  70. The Vampire Diaries
  71. The Walking Dead
  72. The X-Files
  73. Thunderbirds Are Go
  74. Travelers
  75. Twin Peaks
  76. Under the Dome
  77. Van Helsing
  78. Westworld
  79. Z Nation
  80. Taboo

VINCE DOCHERTY: The logic of series here is possibly different from yours, in that I distinguish a series which is a single story arc from one that is essentially a collection or anthology of separate episodes.

Chris Barkley: Indeed it does; as an American, I am more used to thinking that a nominee in this category should not be just a single story arc within a series, but to judge and nominate the series episodes as a whole entity. In fact, the BDP Hugo were awarded to an entire seasons of The Twilight Zone on three occasions in the early 1960’s.

VINCE DOCHERTY: It seems to me that this is the key request being asked by lots of voters – how to be able to nominate a single episode which is clearly outstanding, from a series which overall is outstanding but where it’s hard to single-out one episode.

Chris Barkley: Which I totally agree with. But, inversely, we don’t want Hugo voters using the BDP Series to nominate entire seasons of shows like Black Mirror, which is an anthology series of unconnected, one-off episodes.

VINCE DOCHERTY: There are problems with any categorization of course. The choice of lengths, which is already an issue (unless we choose to soften them to a guideline) remains. Also where a series comprises a series of arcs – Doctor Who, for instance, has had cases of pair/trios of episodes nominated as single works. I imagine that could be dealt with by categorizing them as longer single works, but not the whole. Another possible issue is dealing with nominations of episodes from a series which is also nominated as a whole (this occurs now as well).

Chris Barkley:  I imagine that Rule 3.2.9. might be applied by the Hugo Administrators or that the works may be removed or disqualified altogether, solely at their discretion as per the WSFS Constitution, if several arcs from the same show were nominated. But who knows? A better solution may come through the debate process and further arbitration of the amendments.

Both Vince and I thank you for your time and attention.

London Bids for 2014 Worldcon

A bid to bring the 2014 Worldcon to London was officially announced on April 2 at the British Eastercon by spokesman Chris Priest.

The committee proposes to hold the con August 14-18, 2014 in the new International Convention Centre, part of the ExCeL exhibition centre complex in London’s Docklands. 

Leading the bid are co-chairs Steve Cooper and Mike Scott. Steve headed the Publications division for the 2005 Glasgow Worldcon, and is the deputy Facilities division head for 2011 Worldcon in Reno. Mike has extensive Worldcon experience, and co-edits the Hugo award-winning fanzine Plokta.

There are two Deputy Chairs. James Bacon, a former TAFF winner, also co-chaired the 2009 Eastercon. Alice Lawson was the Member Services division head at Interaction and chaired the 2001 Eastercon.

Other members are Claire Brialey, Secretary, co-editor of Banana Wings; John Dowd, Treasurer; Rita Medany, Membership, who is chairing the 2010 Eastercon; and two Advisers, past Worldcon chairs Vince Docherty and Colin Harris.

The bid, and the convention itself, will be non-profit-making organisations run entirely by unpaid volunteers. The bid will be primarily financed by the sale of “pre-supporting” and “friend” memberships, costing £12 and £60 respectively and giving discounts on membership of the convention itself. See the bid website for more details.

The full press release follows the jump.

[Thanks to Mike Scott for the story.]

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All Over But the Shouting

Kevin Standlee of the FOLLE committee points out in a comment that the Ackerman and Ley Hugos were reclassified as Special Awards five years ago, the change first appearing in the Noreascon 4 Souvenir Book. Questions about Ackerman’s estate only surfaced the issue for debate. But Rich Lynch, a fellow member of the FOLLE committee, feared there was decisive resistance to making the correction – which triggered his protest to a fannish listserv.

I really dislike making Kevin the lightning rod for this deal simply because he’s willing to discuss it in public. He’s already corrected the official Hugo Awards site. It’s not even clear he had a hand in the decision: “Honestly, I don’t know who the specific person was who changed it, but the change had stuck and was in the FOLLE records.” Nor do the FOLLE committee reports attached to the minutes of 2004 Worldcon Business Meeting give any details about why changes were made to the Hugos, only those made to Worldcon history are explained.

So I will confine myself to a couple of basic questions. Kevin, you were on the FOLLE committee at the time, didn’t all members know about the changes – how was that work done? Also, it would not have taken five years for this question to come up if FOLLE annotated its work on the Hugo list the way it does the Long List of Worldcons — what would it take to have that done, something which will add transparency and credibility to the work?

The FOLLE committee was created in 2003 at the TorCon 3 business meeting, and its original members (in office when the changes were made) were Mark Olson (Chair), Kevin Standlee, George Flynn, Joe Siclari, Vince Docherty, Rich Lynch and Craig Miller. The committee’s organizers told the TorCon 3 Business Meeting:

[Our] policy is to have the Long List include the version which in our judgment best reflects the facts as understood by the people involved, and to document whatever variations or details we have discovered in the notes. We will respect historical judgments as long as they are not clearly in error, and we will attempt to objectively verify any corrections or notes we add.

I have always admired that vision statement, and the latest revelation concerns me because the result isn’t consistent with the goal.

It’s easy to make an educated guess whose database is perpetuating the change. The FOLLE report in the 2004 WSFS Business Meeting minutes mentions:

We have made huge progress in developing a Long List of Hugos using data supplied by Dave Grubbs and the ISFDB and are now (slowly) working to perfect the entries. (N4 has somewhat diverted the chairman’s attention, but we’ll get back to work…)

The Internet Science Fiction Database still characterizes the Ackerman and Ley Hugos as “Special Awards.” That designation was given to all committee awards on the list published in Noreascon 4’s Souvenir Book (2004), making clear there was a reclassification involved, not just a layout decision.

Can it be that the Long List of Hugo Awards was more accurate before people set out to perfect it?

Before leaving the subject I want to field a couple of questions that hit my e-mail today.

Q: Should I include Slater on the Hugo winners?
I think not. Ackerman was voted the Hugo by the participating membership. Ackerman’s gallant gesture ought not to be confused with an actual legal right to overrule the voters’ choice.

Q: Was Ackerman’s Hugo identical to, say, Alfred Bester’s Hugo?
I can’t say from personal experience. I would expect Ackerman’s Hugo to be identical to the others (or as close as Jack McKnight could produce them) since they made a point of giving his first. But even if it is identical, that wouldn’t by itself decide the conceptual argument of how Ackerman’s award should be classified. For example, Chesley Bonestell’s special committee award was a Hugo rocket — and that’s why the rules were subsequently changed to forbid giving Hugos rockets as committee awards. At the time of the first Hugos there would have been no bar to doing so.

I’ll end by repeating that the most helpful piece of evidence in this debate has been 1953 Worldcon committee member Bob Madle’s confirmation that all the categories were voted on. So there’s no justification for reclassifying Ackerman or Ley.