Draft Resolution About Worldcon Publications Policies

Worldcon 75’s recent clarification of its publications policy – and the reason one was needed – has prompted Jo Van Ekeren, Chris Barkley, Seth Breidbart, Greg Machlin, Farah Mendlesohn, Rick Moen, and Steven Silver to submit for consideration by this year’s Business Meeting a resolution that expresses what they feel are the best practices in making publications available in a digital age, and calls on Worldcon committees to communicate their policies well in advance.


Proposed Resolution of Continuing Effect

Short Title: Convention Publications to be Delivered to Members

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Business Meeting that…

  • Each Worldcon should deliver to all convention members the Progress Reports and the Souvenir Program Book in electronic format, either by mass delivery, or by individually-accessed downloads.
  • Each Worldcon should offer all Members the option to have delivered to them the Progress Reports in printed form.
  • Attending Members may choose to accept the Souvenir Program Book in printed form as provided at the convention, or to receive only the electronic format.
  • Each Worldcon should offer Supporting Members the option to have delivered to them the Souvenir Program Book in printed form.
  • The Worldcon may specify in advance a nominal fee to offset the printing and delivery costs for each of these publications for Supporting Members.
  • If a fee is to be charged for the printed version of either the Progress Reports and / or the Souvenir Program Books, this should be specified up front in the convention’s bid submission.
  • The option to sign up for the printed version of either or both publications should be included on the Site Selection ballots, and through the convention’s electronic Registration process.
  • Supporting Members who have not previously opted to select the print options may do so up to six weeks in advance of the Worldcon.
  • Attending Members who are unable to attend the convention will have their Souvenir Program Books delivered to them at no additional cost.
  • Printed Souvenir Program Books should be delivered to the members who opted for them within 3 months of the close of the convention.

Moved by: Jo Van Ekeren, Chris Barkley, Seth Breidbart, Greg Machlin, Farah Mendlesohn, Rick Moen, Steven Silver.

Commentary: The above is the revised version of my proposal for the WSFS Business Meeting for a Resolution of Continuing Effect regarding the distribution of Worldcon Progress Reports and Souvenir Program Books.

Resolutions are non-binding, but they are retained in a permanent document and provide advice to future Worldcons of the members’ preferences for how things should be handled.

http://www.wsfs.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/2016-Rulings-of-Continuing-Effect-for-2017.pdf

The intent of this resolution is not to hamstring Worldcon committees, or cause them financial hardship, or require unnecessary usage of natural resources for printing; but to ensure that the Worldcon membership has access to the convention publications in their preferred format.

I did specifically consider print-on-demand when writing this up, and do not believe that its verbiage excludes POD as an acceptable option for providing either the PRs or the Souvenir Book. If someone sees a way that it would exclude POD, please let me know.

I agree that in an ideal world, Supporting Members would continue to receive printed copies of the PRs and the Souvenir Program Book at no additional cost, because it *is* an accessibility consideration.

However, given the rising cost of printing and especially postage charges, I think it is not realistic to expect that practice to continue without raising the current ceiling on the Supporting Membership fee and allowing Worldcons to recoup those costs. Depending on a member’s geographical location and that of the convention, printing and postage charges for one Souvenir Book could well eat up the entire amount of the Supporting Membership fee (or even exceed it).

This resolution is intended to provide guidance to future Worldcons for ensuring that each of these two publications is available to all members in their choice of printed or digital format, and that the availability and arrangements for these are communicated up front to members during the bid process, as well as on the convention’s website and social media announcements.

Jo Van Ekeren


 

Worldcon 75 Draft Program Schedule Online

[Committee press release.] Worldcon 75 is pleased to release its preliminary schedule. The five-day event in Helsinki includes over 840 individual items and 800 hours of content.

Some programme items will be held outside of the convention center, at the Pasila Library and at a historic building, the Peace Station. These items and the Dealers Room will be open to the general public.

On the event’s opening day, Wednesday, 9 August, a press conference will take place at 10am in Messukeskus Room 209, attended by Guests of Honour and the event chairs. A media packet will also be released before the event.

In addition to panel discussions and readings, there will be an art exhibition, film festival, dances, musical events, games, crafts, and a Dealers’ Room. The childrens’ programme is presented in English, Finnish and Swedish. Often authors and editors launch books at Worldcons.

With members from over 55 countries, this will be a very international event. More than 5,000 members are expected to attend, although the number of participants may still rise, as memberships are still being sold. In addition to 1700 Finns, 1200 Americans and over 600 Britons are already planning to attend, among others.

For the first time, the reduced price for the event is valid until July 24th. Those who have not attended a Worldcon before can purchase a special “First Worldcon” membership which costs € 95 vs a normal adult membership price of € 195. There are also day tickets for sale.

Programme highlights include:

  • Guest of Honour Johanna Sinisalo will receive the Prometheus Award for her novel Core of the Sun, and participate in discussions about the Kalevala, Finnish science fiction, and the culture on board the passenger ferries sailing between Finland and Sweden.
  • Guest of Honour Nalo Hopkinson is involved in panel discussions about writing effective dialogue and science fiction in the Caribbean.
  • Our astronaut guest Kjell Lindgren will lecture on space medicine, the effects of space travel on the human body, and his experiences at the ISS.
  • Guest of Honour Walter Jon Williams will participate in debates on military sf by women authors and getting started on writing your first novel.
  • Science guest Ian Stewart will discuss what can be learnt from failed predictions in science fiction and lecture about how our brains interpret contradictory visual information.
  • Guest of Honour John-Henri Holmberg will participate in panels about sf classics for young readers, the history of Nordic science fiction, and the development of feminism in science fiction.
  • Artist Guest of Honour Claire Wendling will take part in panels about European comic strips and about famous cover art.
  • George RR Martin will have two autograph sessions, one on Thursday and one on Saturday, as well as participate in the Tea and Jeopardy podcast.
  • The Hugo Awards ceremony starts on Friday at 7:30pm
  • The Masquerade will be held on Saturday evening at 7:30pm

The many notable programme participants include Cixin Liu, Jo Walton, Charlie Stross, Karin Tidbeck, Jeff VanderMeer, Joe Haldeman, Elizabeth Hand, Robin Hobb, Mary Robinette Kowal, Aliette de Bodard, Hal Duncan, Ken Liu, Greer Gilman, Amal Al-Mohtar, Ellen Kushner, Geoffrey A. Landis, Robert Silverberg, Jonathan Strahan, Elizabeth Bear, Pat Cadigan, Gary K. Wolfe, Ann VanderMeer, Ellen Datlow, Ada Palmer, Charlie Jane Anders, Scott Edelman, Mur Lafferty, and Alasdair Stuart.

There is so much in the program that the participants will inevitably find that there are more interesting items than they have time to attend, unless they have a Time Turner or a TARDIS.

Programme head Marianna Leikomaa invites attendees to keep their eyes open and explore not only old favorites, but discover new things. “That way you can find a new favorite writer,” she hints.

The full programme can be accessed here. It is possible to search for themes, presenters, and individual items. A mobile version is also available in the Grenadine event guide app with the code WCON75.

Changes, additions, and cancellations may occur, and the electronic schedule will be updated.

Filers at Worldcon 75

By Hampus Eckerman: Less than one month to Worldcon 75. In a couple of days, Worldcon 75 is going to publish a restaurant guide to help those who want to plan a pub meet. The area around the convention center caters mostly to lunch restaurants that close around 19:00, so that guide will be very helpful.

I have tried to list all the major events during the days here and also the panels I have seen filers scheduled to participate in. (See below.) This, so it will be easier to detect possible times for meetups. I have left out filers that uses nicks here. Please, write in the comments if you want to be added. Also, comment if I have missed out on some panels with filers in them.

Based on the schedule below, my recommendation is:

Wednesday:

12:00 – 14:00 Filer Meetup in Convention Center

Thursday:

18:00 – 21:00 Pubmeet (adjustable)

Friday:

Pre-Hugo Meet? For those who want to go as a group or perhaps eat something together first. Or perhaps a after-Hugo Meet. For those who want to discuss the winners.

I do think Wednesday or Thursday are the only good days for pubmeets. Please write in comment if you think you will come, so I get an idea of how many people who might come if I should need to book tables. Of course, at MAC2 we were at least three times as many people as those I had booked for, but I think we will be a bit fewer here.

As mentioned in a previous filer post, I will have my own exhibit and will most likely spend some time around it if people wants to find me and say hello.


Wednesday:

  • 14-15 First Worldcon
  • 15-16 Opening Ceremonies
  • 16-17 Kevin Standlee: How to get the best out of Business Meeting
  • 17-18 Kevin Standlee: WSFS Mark Protection Committee Meeting

Thursday:

  • 10-11 Heather Rose Jones: A Stitch in Time: Historical Fantasy
  • 10-13 Business Meeting
  • 16-17 Lenore Jean Jones: How to Run Your First Convention?
  • 16-17 Greg Machlin: Science Fiction and Fantasy in musical theatre
  • 16-17 Paul Weimer: How to Start a Podcast
  • 17-18 Kevin Standlee: A World of Acclaim: Awards from Around the World

Friday:

  • 10-11 Greg Hullender: Artificial Intelligence in Real Life and SF
  • 10-13 Business Meeting
  • 13-14 Greg Hullender: Short Fiction
  • 13-14 Heather Rose Jones: Signing
  • 17-18 Kevin Standlee: How to Start a Worldcon Bid
  • 18-19: Kevin Standlee: Friends Don’t Let Friends Run Worldcons
  • 18-19:30 Cora Buhlert and Heather Rose Jones: Alien Language in Science Fiction
  • 19:30-22:30 Hugo Award

Saturday:

  • 10-14 Business Meeting
  • 14-15 Cora Buhlert: Digital Hugo – How Do We Adapt the Hugo Categories to an Increasingly Digital Reality?
  • 18-19:30 Greg Hullender and Cora Buhlert: The State of Machine Translation
  • 19:30-22:30 Masquerade

Sunday:

  • 10-15 Business Meeting
  • 15-16 Heather Rose Jones: History as World-building
  • 16-17 Greg Hullender: The Power of the Reviewer: Promoting and Hiding Diverse Voices

Worldcon 75 Explains Print Publications Policy

For many years Worldcon supporting members received pre-con publications and the Souvenir Book (in addition to other rights of membership), a tradition that has recently been eroded by the finances of overseas Worldcons and a growing acceptance or even preference for digital publications.

But while a Worldcon may choose any publications policy it wants, unless the policy is stated clearly and up front a departure from tradition is likely to be met with controversy, as is the case with Worldcon 75, which had not informed members of its plan to fulfill its Souvenir Book obligations with digital copies, or printed copies if the member paid an additional charge.

Jo Van Ekeren, who put together this year’s Hugo Voter Packet, recently wrote a long post about her efforts to surface the issue and get Worldcon 75 to make this information public, an interaction that led to her being removed from the committee.

I wrote back to the Worldcon 75 exec pointing out that, as they knew, in past Worldcons, the paid paper publications have always been the Progress Reports, and that Supporting Members got the Souvenir Book without having to pay an additional fee for it. I said that if they were going to make such a sweeping change as removing the Souvenir Book from the Supporting Membership perks and requiring those members to pay to receive it, that they needed to be very clear with members up front about this, and that they had not done so.

I sent an email to the committee asking what their policy was and today received this answer from Worldcon 75 Chair Jukka Halme.

It seems that we need to clarify our intentions with Printed Publications and their distribution.

We had stated from the beginning, that our paper publications were part of the membership only with additional payment of €10/$12. Otherwise, everything would be available electronically, to everyone who had given us a valid email address.

The Souvenir Book will be given to all Attending members in Helsinki, as well as it will be posted to all Attending members unable to be on site, and to all of those Supporting members who had paid for the Paper Publications. All other Supporting members would receive the electronic version of the said Souvenir Book.

I, as the Chair of the convention, feel that I need to apologise for the less than clear way we have made this announcement. It was never our intention of not being upfront about this matter, but we have clearly not been informative enough of this matter.

I have taken in the feedback we’ve received, and have made a decision that we should find a way for every Supporting member who wants a paper copy of the Souvenir Book to receive one. I cannot promise that this will be done for free, but for a nominal sum.

We will send this information to all our members both before and after Worldcon 75.

Supporting memberships originally were created as a way for non-attending fans to be affiliated with a Worldcon and make a small financial contribution to its budget. In 1946 fans paid $1. For the 1963 Worldcon, the arrangement was $2 to join the con (and receive publications including the Program Book, now called the Souvenir Book) and another dollar to attend (so in today’s terms, $2 supporting, $3 attending.)

Online distribution of Worldcon progress reports (in PDF and other formats) has lately become the default, with a charge added for receiving paper copies. (And because PRs are another tool for publicizing the convention, Worldcons have been making them freely available for download by nonmembers.)

Earlier this week the Dublin in 2019 Worldcon bid explained what its publications policy will be. As concerns the Souvenir Book, they plan to offer printed copies to all members, full and supporting as part of the membership.

Pixel Scroll 7/17/17 All Along The Scrolltower Pixels Kept The View

(1) BY PIXEL AND PAPER. The Dublin in 2019 Worldcon bid tells what its publications policy will be for PR’s and the Souvenir Book.

So what should we do about our progress reports?

I note that for some people this is an access issue, and therefore, we will be having hard copies available for anyone who selects them as an access issue. To be clear, Progress Reports are complimentary and we’d like to send them to anyone who needs them for an access issue. Just tick the box please.

We will be sending them out electronically of course if you allow us to.

I noted that some people still liked them, as a historical document or just because they enjoy reading hard copy, and that is very cool, and the Dublin 2019 team will be making sure that anyone who wants a hard copy progress report can get one. There will be a charge of €10 Ten Euro for this.

I hope all of you are OK with this decision and support us in it.

This does not affect our plans for our Souvenir book which we plan to offer in hard copy to all members, full and supporting, and which we are happy to mail to anyone who doesn’t pick it up at con.

(2) HELP PABLO GO THE DISTANCE. Leigh Ann Hildebrand has launched a Generosity.com appeal to send Pablo Vasquez to Helsinki for Worldcon 75. The goal is $1,100. Here’s the pitch:

Bringing NASFiC to San Juan, Puerto Rico was great thing — and one of the prime movers behind that successful bid and con has been Pablo Vazquez. I was really looking forward to congratulating Pablo at the con in Helsinki and to hearing all about that NASFiC.

And then Pablo told me he wouldn’t be joining fans in Helsinki this year.

Money’s tight for Pablo; he’s been prioritizing travel and preparations for this historic and awesome NASFiC. Now he finds himself short of funds for his last travel expenses. He’s got accommodations and a membership covered, but his fixed-cost airfare and incidental expenses are beyond his means this summer.

This is where my fellow fans come in. Help me get Pablo to Helsinki! Here’s what he needs:

$600 for the air fare (it’s a fixed cost, ’cause he knows a guy.)

$500 for food, travel incidentals, walkin’ around money and buying a round. That may seem like a lot, but food in Finland is not cheap, and there’s no con suite this year, so he can’t live on Doritos and free sodas. 🙂

(3) SFF FILM FESTIVAL. Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) in partnership with SIFF is now accepting entries for the 2018 Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival (SFFSFF).

The festival will accept animated or live-action submissions of original science fiction or fantasy stories (examples: futuristic stories, space adventure, technological speculation, social experiments, utopia and dystopia, sword and sorcery, folklore, urban fantasy, magic, and mythic adventure).

A nationally recognized panel of distinguished film, television, literature, and science fiction industry professionals, peers, and film critics will review qualifying submissions to determine the winners of the Grand Prize, Second Place, Third Place, and the Douglas Trumbull Award for Best Visual Effects. Festival films will also be eligible for the Audience Favorite award.

In order to qualify, submitted films must have been completed after December 31, 2012, and must not exceed 15 minutes. Films that exceed 15 minutes may still be considered for festival inclusion but will not be eligible for awards.

See the link for guidelines, deadlines and fees.

(5) WHAT ARE THEY WATCHING? Adam-Troy Castro sighed on Facebook:

Over the past few years I have encountered Harry Potter fans who were abusive bullies, Star Trek fans who were against diversity, and now Doctor Who fans who were close-minded and unkind.

It’s like none of them were paying any attention at all.

I am looking forward to the emergence of Batman fans who are in favor of crime.

Since the targets of Castro’s comment might miss the point, Matthew M. Foster restated the message more explicitly:

The second is that people don’t see theme. SF is about space ships and explosions. Fantasy is about swords. The actual thing trying to be conveyed is missed far more often than not. The light was brought to this in a “funny” way to our little lit community by Brad and the Pups a few years back when Star Trek was pointed out to be first and foremost, about adventure and action–about combat in space. From the same group, there was a great deal of discussion in which they confused the theme with something incidental to the story because the incidental thing was not part of their normal life. So, if a story happened to have someone gay in it, then the story must be about sexual preference. If the story had a Black lead, then the theme must be about race. These are people that are big fans of science fiction, and they couldn’t see the themes.

(6) MAD PENIUS CLUB. And right on time, here’s Dave Freer’s death-kiss for the Thirteenth Doctor.

The trouble with this is it’s a judgement call, and especially inside the various bubbles (New York Publishing, Hollywood, and in the UK the Beeb’s little Guardian-and-Birkenstock club) they’re often so distant and unconnected with audiences outside their bubble that they assume they think like them and will respond like them. Which is why they have flops like the Ghostbusters remake, because they assumed the audience for the movie was just dying for a feminist version, with lots of man-kicking. Dr Who is trying much the same thing with a female Doctor. It could work because that audience is already pretty much restricted to inside their bubble. Still, with a new writer, and female lead after 12 male ones… She’ll have to be a good actress, and he’ll have to be a better writer. I expect we’ll see a long sequence of designated victim minorities cast in the role in future, until the show dies. I doubt we’ll ever see another white hetero male, but maybe that’s just me being cynical.

(7) HEADWRITER CANON. Prospect’s James Cooray Smith declares: “Uncomfortable with a female Doctor Who? It’s time to admit your real motives”.

…Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s Executive Producer from 2010 to 2017, used to make a habit, when asked if there was ever going to be a female Doctor, of throwing the question back to the audience. He’d ask for a show of hands as to who did and didn’t like the idea. Even half a decade ago, those audiences would be roughly balanced into pros and antis—although, as he noted, the proportion of “likes” was exponentially increasing every time he passed the question back.

In the last few years, the idea has gone from almost universally disliked to “Why hasn’t this happened already?”

Laying the canonical foundations

Moffat has played no small part in that himself. The first lines of dialogue given to Matt Smith’s Doctor, the first lines of Moffat’s era, see the newly regenerated Doctor, who cannot see his own face, wondering if he’s now female. A year later in “The Doctor’s Wife,” produced by Moffat and written by Neil Gaiman, the Doctor comments of a dead Time Lord friend The Corsair, “He didn’t feel himself unless he had a tattoo. Or herself, a couple of times”.

Three years after that, Moffat cast Michelle Gomez as ‘Missy’, the Doctor’s oldest friend and arch enemy, a character previously only played by male actors and usually referred to as the Master. A year after that—just to make sure that no one regarded Missy as an exception that proves the rule—Moffat had Ken Bones’ recurring Time Lord character The General regenerate into T’Nia Miller, changing sex and ethnicity simultaneously. Other Time Lords in the series treated this as momentarily distracting but thoroughly routine.

It now seems daft to say that such groundwork needed to be done: after all, the character of the doctor is an alien who merely looks human. But the series itself had never hinted that the idea was possible before 2010. Now, any viewer who has seen an episode with Missy in knows the Doctor’s own people can, and do, change sex. No one can pretend the idea isn’t part of the series, no matter how much they may want to. Moffat’s careful layering over years shows up any objections to the series having a female lead for what they are.

(8) NEVERTHELESS. Alison Scott has a shirt she would love to sell you. I bought one for my daughter. (U.K. orders here; U.S. orders here.)

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 17, 1955 — Disneyland Park opened in Anaheim, California
  • July 17, 1967 — Contact with Surveyor 4 lost 2.5 minutes before Moon touchdown.
  • July 17, 1987 Robocop, released on this day
  • July 17, 1988 – Debut of the sci-fi telefilm Out of Time…starring Bill Maher…yes that Bill Maher.
  • July 17, 1992 — Honey, I Blew Up The Kid in theaters.

(10) COMIC SECTION. Andrew Porter noticed Zippy the Pinhead mentioned d Emshwiller.

(11) READING PLEASURE. Look for the SF pulps! Photos of old newsstands.

(12) ADAM WEST REMEMBERED. “Family Guy pays tribute to Adam West with nine-minute highlight reel” – from Entertainment Weekly.

As famous as he was for playing Batman — and he was very famous for that — Adam West was also known to another generation of fans for his wacky work on Family Guy. The late actor, who popped up and scored in more than 100 episodes as Mayor Adam West, left a colorful, indelible imprint on the animated Fox comedy — as well as on its producers and fans.

 

(13) WORLDCON PROGRAM. Worldcon 75 put its draft program schedule online today.

There are three ways to view the programme schedule DRAFT:

(14) HAUNTED HELSINKI. Adrienne Foster has arranged a “Ghost walking tour of Helsinki” for the convenience of Worldcon 75 members. It will be an English-speaking tour at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, 9 August 2017.

Once again, those interested in reserving a spot on the tour need to be a member of Meetup.com and join Bay Area Ghost Hunters. Joining is free on both counts, but the fee for the ghost walk is to cover the cost of the tour operator. Yes, it was deliberate putting the “prere…gistration” fee in U.S. dollars and the “at-the-door” cost in euros.

As the 75th World Science Fiction Convention (aka Worldcon 75) rolls around again, it gives me another opportunity to arrange a ghost walk of its host city, Helsinki. Yes, that’s in Finland. Ghost walks are one of my favorite things to do when I’m traveling and it’s always a lot more fun to do them with like-minded companions. To make it even more attractive to the many members who don’t speak Finnish, the tour operator has an English-speaking tour available.

Although this has been timed for the convenience of Worldcon 75 members, all BAGH members are welcome to participate. If anyone just happens to have coinciding travel plans to Helsinki, please join us.

In addition to ghost stories, guests on these tours learn a lot about the history of the locale, particularly some of its macabre past. It even starts at a hotel that is a converted prison.

(15) MINGLE LIKE TINGLE. Is this going to be an “I am Spartacus” kind of thing?

(16) AUREALIS AWARDS. The 2017 Aurealis Awards are now open for nominations. Eligible works must be created by an Australian citizen, or permanent resident, and published for the first time this year.

(17) VENUS AND MARS. David D. Levine’s second novel, Arabella and the Battle of Venus, sequel to the Andre Norton Award winning Arabella of Mars, comes out this week.

The thrilling adventures of Arabella Ashby continue in Arabella and the Battle of Venus, the second book in Hugo-winning author David D. Levine’s swashbuckling sci-fi, alternate history series!

Arabella’s wedding plans to marry Captain Singh of the Honorable Mars Trading Company are interrupted when her fiancé is captured by the French and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp on swampy Venus. Now, Arabella must find passage to an enemy-controlled planet in the middle of a war, bribe or fight her way past vicious guards, and rescue her Captain.

To do this she must enlist the help of the dashing privateer, Daniel Fox of the Touchstone and build her own clockwork navigational automaton in order to get to Venus before the dread French general, Joseph Fouché, the Executioner of Lyon.

Once on Venus, Arabella, Singh, and Fox soon discover that Napoleon has designed a secret weapon, one that could subjugate the entire solar system if they can’t discover a way to stop Fouché, and the entire French army, from completing their emperor’s mandate.

Levine will be doing a book tour:

He is currently drafting the final book in the trilogy, currently titled Arabella and the Winds of Phobos but may end up being called Arabella the Traitor of Mars.

(18) NEWCOMERS TO THE HEARTH. Fireside Fiction is undergoing a change of management, with Brian J. White stepping down. Pablo Defendini is taking over as publisher and Elsa Sjunneson-Henry as managing editor. Julia Rios and Mikki Kendall are also joining the team.

White is leaving to focus on his work as a journalist.

As many of you know, I work at a newspaper. And that work has been consuming more and more of my time lately, with both the volume and the importance of the news rising in a way we’ve never experienced in this country. And it comes alongside a level of furious, violent antipathy toward the press that is somehow both wildly shocking and banally predictable.

Fireside has been the labor of love of my life, and it kills me to step away. But I am a journalist, first and always, and I need to focus my energy on the work we are doing. A lot of people have made fun of the earnestness of the Washington Post’s Democracy Dies in Darkness slogan, but it is true, and I won’t let the light go out.

Mikki Kendall has been signed on as editor to lead the follow-up to last year’s #BlackSpecFic report, which White says will be out soon. [Hat tip to Earl Grey Loose-leaf Links #43.]

(19) THE COOLEST. Arthur C. Clarke would be proud, as the search for extra-terrestrial life turns to ice worlds.

Chris McKay has fallen out of love with Mars. The red, dusty, corroded world no longer holds the allure it once did.

“I was obsessed with life on Mars for many years,” confesses the Nasa planetary scientist, who has spent most of his career searching for signs of life on the red planet.

“It’s seduction at the highest level,” he says. “I’m abandoning my first love and going after this other one that’s shown me what I wanted to see.”

The new object of McKay’s affections is Enceladus, the ice-encrusted moon of Saturn. Investigated by the joint Nasa and European Space Agency (Esa) Cassini space probe, the moon is spewing out plumes of water from its south pole – most likely from a liquid ocean several kilometres beneath the surface. Cassini has found this water contains all the vital ingredients for life as we know it: carbon, nitrogen and a readily available source of energy in the form of hydrogen.

“I think this is it,” says McKay. “From an astrobiology point of view, this is the most interesting story.”

(20) SO BAD IT’S GOOD. Marshall Ryan Maresca extols the antique virtues of the 1980s movie: “ELECTRIC DREAMS: A Bad Movie I’ve Watched Many, Many, MANY Times”.

The Eighties got a lot of mileage out of the idea that computers were magic.  I mean, the fundamental principle of Weird Science is that Wyatt has, like, a 386 with a 14.4 modem and a scanner, which he can connect to the Pentagon and make a goddamn genie with it.  Most Hollywood movies today still let computers be magical, but not to the same degree.  And few movies go as full out crazy with the idea as Electric Dreams.

For those not in the know, Electric Dreams is a relatively small, simple movie, in which an architect named Miles (he might be an engineer—something to do with buildings) lives in the downstairs part of a duplex, below gorgeous cellist Virginia Madsen.  And he gets himself a computer so he can design an earthquake brick.  So far, all normal.

It turns into a love triangle with Wyatt and a sentient PC as rivals.

(21) THE LATTER DAY LAFFERTY. Adri’s Book Reviews praises “Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty”.

As in any good mystery, it soon becomes clear that there are shady things lurking in the past of each and every crew member, as well as the traditional untrustworthy AI. Six Wakes builds its narrative through an omniscient third person narrator which switches between character viewpoints, as well as flashbacks to the crews’ lives in the lead up to being selected for the ship. Each crew member knows the others have volunteered for the mission because they are convicted criminals who will be pardoned upon arrival, but they have been told their crimes must remain confidential. From the ship’s doctor who was one of the original people cloned when the technology began, to the AI tech who has been on the verge of a breakdown since waking, to the shady machinations of the captain and the security officer, Six Wakes uses a small cast to great effect, with the world of the clones coming across as claustrophobic and restrictive even in background chapters set on Earth, thanks to both the Codicls as well as the inequalities and power struggles that arise from a society of functionally immortal beings. Six Wakes’ characters aren’t likeable in a traditional sense but I found them generally sympathetic, and the backgrounds go a long way towards making that balance work.

(22) A BOY AND HIS HORSE. The British Museum blog asks “The Dothraki and the Scythians: a game of clones?”

The Dothraki in Game of Thrones are represented as feared and ferocious warriors. Jorah Mormont describes their culture as one that values power and follows strength above all, and there is no greater way to demonstrate power and strength according to the Dothraki than through war. Like their fictional counterparts, the Scythians were pretty terrifying in battle. The Greek historian Herodotus writes that Scythians drank the blood of the men they killed and kept their scalps as trophies and skulls as drinking cups. While we should probably take Herodotus with a pinch of salt, by all accounts they were pretty brutal! The Dothraki also like decapitating their defeated enemies – guards known as the jaqqa rhan, or mercy men, use heavy axes to do this.

The Scythians and the Dothraki fight on horseback and are excellent archers. They both use curved (or composite) bows to maximise the range and the damage of their arrows. As Jorah Mormont says of the Dothraki, ‘they are better riders than any knight, utterly fearless, and their bows outrange ours.’

(23) THE NEXT STAGE. The Verge has learned that “The Twilight Zone is being adapted into a stage play” in London.

The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling’s landmark sci-fi anthology series about technological paranoia, creeping dread in 1960s America, and monsters and weirdos of all sorts, will be adapted as a stage play, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed this morning.

The play will debut in a limited run at London’s Almeida Theatre this December, with a script from Anne Washburn. Washburn’s best-known play is her 2012 Off-Broadway work Mr. Burns, which is about a traveling theater troupe in post-apocalyptic America that performs episodes of The Simpsons from memory. The play will be directed by Olivier-winner Richard Jones, who is best known for the 1990 London run of Sondheim’s Into the Woods, as well as the short-lived 1997 Titanic musical on Broadway, and has also directed several operas and Shakespeare productions.

(24) LIADEN UPDATE. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s 81st joint project — Due Diligence (Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Book 24) – was released July 10. The pair was also recently profiled by Maine’s statewide newspaper the Portland Press Herald“Welcome to the universe of Maine writers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller”.

For Maine writers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, all it took to launch a brand-new universe was a single sentence.

The opening line for what would become “Agent of Change,” the inaugural volume of their Liaden Universe space opera series, was “The man who was not Terrence O’Grady had come quietly.”

It’s not quite “Call me Ishmael,” but something about typing those 10 words back in 1984 made Lee say to her husband, “I have a novel here.” And there was sufficient inspiration on the page for Miller to say, “I’m sorry, but I think you have a series.”

Both were right. Reached by phone at their Maine coon cat-friendly home in Winslow, surrounded by oil paintings, prints, book cover and other science fiction and fantasy artwork, Miller remembered, “We sat down that night and fleshed out the basic idea for the first seven books.” Four years later, in 1988, their collaborative debut was published in paperback by DelRey.

Since then, Lee, 64, and Miller, 66, have published 20 Liaden Universe novels and nearly five dozen related short stories. Baen Books published their latest hardcover novel, “The Gathering Edge,” in May.

.And they’ll be Guests of Honor at ConFluence from August 4-6.

(25) YOU WOULD BE RIGHT.

(26) PLASTIC IS NOT FANTASTIC. Jewish Business News has the story behind the commercial: “Mayim Bialik and Hodor From ‘Game of Thrones’ In New SodaStream’s Funny Viral Video”.

Following Jewish celebrity Scarlett Johansson’s campaign for the Israeli beverage company SodaStream, the Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik is the new face proudly representing the company new campaign in a Viral Video.

Features Mayim Bialik as an anthropologist, recalling her first encounter with the Homo-schlepien played by Kristian Nairn known as Hodor from “Game of Thrones.” The story reflects the devastating effect of single-use plastic bottles on Humanity. A habit that is hazardous to Earth and no longer exist in the future.

In this funny story, the Museum of UnNatural History features encounters between Mayim and the last tribe of plastic dependent species, the Homo-schlepien.

The shooting of the campaign was brought forward while Bialik had to rest her vocal chords for one month due to a medical advice. “This campaign has a powerful message and one that needed to be told before I went on vocal rest,” said Mayim Bialik.

 

[Thanks to JJ, Bill, Steve Miller, David Levine, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Hampus Eckerman’s Cabinets of Curiosities

Filer taking home collection to Worldcon 75

By Hampus Eckerman: It was a simple tweet from Worldcon 75. They were looking for exhibits or fan projects to display. And with no impulse control, I found that I had volunteered about 10 minutes later. And after much to and fro, I have gotten a little nerd space of my own. Two glass cabinets with strange curiosities and an attached wall space of around 3.5 x 2 meters (12 x 7 feet).

So what will I display? I’m not sure of what to name it. A Halloween collection is one name for it, but it is mostly a collection of weirdness, curiosities and strange things, bought in approximately 50 different countries. I have human brains from a Swedish effects studio, I have devil masks from Panama, skeleton figures from Mexico, a mummified opossum from Chicago, a mouse with a punk mohawk from Los Angeles, snakewine from North Korea and much more. I also have pictures from the 20 different countries I traveled to together with a plush Cthulhu, visiting things such as the penis festival of Kawasaki and the cockroach races of Brisbane.

And of course, I have Fred, the Skull-Faced Lynx.

What I will be able to bring will be decided by how much I can fit into a car together with three persons and their luggage. But I hope people will have some fun looking at and discussing all the weirdness I have collected over the years.

2017 Worldcon’s Fifth PR Available

Worldcon 75 has posted Progress Report 5 [PDFfile], the last one before the convention in August. The A4 version is the first to be posted.

Many items in the PR explain aspects of Finnish conrunning that may seem out of the ordinary, like their security arrangements, or provide information and advice about what to see in Helsinki, and how to navigate around town.

Clare Boothby’s clever article “Some Common Book-Related Problems” offers fans solutions for many different needs. Here’s one of the most newsworthy:

I have books in a language I can’t read!

We’re collecting books in all languages for Cittadini del Mondo (Citizens of the World), a small charity in Rome that provides refugees with shelter, medical care, legal assistance, language training, special aid for women and pregnant women, and help navigating the daunting paperwork process of applying for aid from government and international aid programs. They also run an Intercultural Library to help refugees feel connected, respected, and welcome. We’re seeking donations of books, especially in the languages they need most: Chinese, Arabic, Bengali, Urdu, Ethiopian, Hindi, and French, as well as Spanish, Korean, and other African, central Asian, Middle Eastern and eastern European languages. If you have books to donate (maybe you’re a writer and have copies of your work in translation?) then bring them to the donation box in the Fan Lounge.

Worldcon 75 Publishes Member List, Issues Clarification About Public vs. Private Names

Two days ago, Worldcon 75 announced that they had added a list of members to their website.

We’ve added a list of attending members to our website at http://www.worldcon.fi/ourmembers! Here you can find a list of attending members who have given permission to publish their names when they registered.

If you want to have your name added to or removed from the list, go to https://members.worldcon.fi and request a login link to edit your Public Name fields on your membership information.

This was shortly followed by confusion on Twitter:

In addition, some members reported that their name was publicly posted, despite having checked the “do not publish my name” box on the Site Selection form.

Worldcon 75 then responded:

The confusion apparently stems from the Public Name fill-in text fields in the online membership purchase form and the “Edit Personal Information” section on the Worldcon 75.

Some people believed that “Public First Name” and “Public Last Name” were intended to hold the member’s Badge Name, a provision which has been common on registration forms for past Worldcons and many other fan cons, and filled those fields in accordingly.

That is not the case. In fact, according to Worldcon 75, these fields are intended to be filled in only if the member wishes to have their name included on the public member list on Worldcon 75’s website and in the convention Programme Book.

The list on the website at http://www.worldcon.fi/ourmembers appears to be automated, and additions, changes, and deletions made by members to those Public Name fields should be reflected on the list after a short delay.

No provision has been made for members to provide a Badge Name for the convention.

Worldcon 75 members can request a new e-mail with their personalized link by going to http://members.worldcon.fi and entering the e-mail address used on their Worldcon 75 registration.

One Week Left To Vote On Hugos

The 2017 Hugo voting period ends a week from today, July 15 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

Worldcon 75 members got an email from Hugo Administrator Nicholas Whyte today telling them that time is of the essence, and urging them to avoid a last-minute rush to the polls:

Remember that your online ballots may be updated at any time. We encourage our members not to wait until the last minute to file their Hugo ballots. The servers could become overloaded and cause difficulty getting all your rankings saved before the ballot deadline closes.

Whyte also announced a correction to the John W. Campbell Ballot – one that does not change any of the finalists:

When the final ballot for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer was first announced, Sarah Gailey was incorrectly listed as being in her first year of eligibility. In fact she is in her second year of eligibility.

New writers have a two-year window of eligibility for the award, so this is actually Gailey’s last year for consideration.