Pixel Scroll 11/29/16 In A Scroll On The Web There Lived A Pixel

(1) FURTHER DISCOVERIES. Two more Star Trek: Discovery cast members have been announced reports Variety.

Doug Jones and Anthony Rapp have joined Michelle Yeoh as the first official cast members of “Star Trek: Discovery.”

Jones will play Lt. Saru, a Starfleet science officer and a member of an alien species new to the “Star Trek” universe. Anthony Rapp will play Lt. Stamets, an astromycologist, fungus expert, and Starfleet science officer aboard the starship Discovery. Yeoh, whose addition to the cast was reported last week by Variety, will play Captain Georgiou, the Starfleet captain aboard the starship Shenzhou.

(2) IT IS WHAT IT AINT. Mike Resnick, in “What Science Fiction Isn’t”, says the history of science fiction is littered with discarded definitions of the genre. The creator of the field, Gernsback, SFWA founder Damon Knight, critic James Blish, all were sure somebody else was doing it wrong.

And what’s driving the purists crazy these days? Just look around you.

Connie Willis can win a Hugo with a story about a girl of the future who wants to have a menstrual period when women no longer have them.

David Gerrold can win a Hugo with a story about an adopted child who claims to be a Martian, and the story never tells you if he is or not.

I can win Hugos with stories about books remembered from childhood, about Africans who wish to go back to the Good Old Days, about an alien tour guide in a thinly-disguised Egypt.

The narrow-minded purists to the contrary, there is nothing the field of science fiction can’t accommodate, no subject – even the crucifixion, as Mike Moorcock’s Nebula winner, “Behold the Man”, proves – that can’t be science-fictionalized with taste, skill and quality.

I expect movie fans, making lists of their favorite science fiction films, to omit Dr. Strangelove and Charly, because they’ve been conditioned by Roddenbury and Lucas to look for the Roddenbury/Lucas tropes of movie science fiction – spaceships, zap guns, cute robots, light sabres, and so on.

But written science fiction has never allowed itself to be limited by any straitjacket. Which is probably what I love most about it….

(3) A PRETTY, PREDICTABLE MOVIE. Abigail Nussbaum’s ”(Not So) Recent Movie Roundup Number 22” includes her final verdict on Doctor Strange.

Marvel’s latest standalone movie has a great opening scene, and a final battle that toys with some really interesting ideas, finally upending a lot of the conventions of this increasingly formulaic filmic universe.  In between these two bookends, however, there’s an origin story so tediously familiar, so derivative and by-the-numbers, that by the time I got to Doctor Strange‘s relatively out-there conclusion, all I wanted was for the thing to end.  As noted by all of its reviewers, the film is very pretty, positing a society of sorcerers who fight by shaping the very fabric of reality, causing geography and gravity to bend in on themselves in inventive, trippy ways.  The film’s opening scene, in which bad guy Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and Dumbledore-figure The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) stage such a battle in the streets of London, turning buildings and roads into a kaleidoscope image, is genuinely exciting.  For a brief time, you think that Marvel might actually be trying something new. Then the story proper starts, and a familiar ennui sets in….

(4) THE CASH REGISTER IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD, Fanartists have been doing this all along – so Mr Men thought to himself, “I should get paid!” — “Mr Men to release a series of Doctor Who themed books”.

dr-twelfth

In a fun new partnership, BBC Worldwide and Mr Men publishers Sanrio Global have got together to create a series of Mr Men books based on each of the 12 Doctors….

The books be published by Penguin Random House and will combine “the iconic storytelling of Doctor Who” with the Mr Men’s “whimsical humour and design”.

And, of course, there will also be a series of related merchandise released to coincide with the first four books’ release in spring 2017.

They will follow stories based on the First, Fourth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors, played by William Hartnell (1963-1966), Tom Baker (1974-1981), Matt Smith (2010-2013) and Peter Capaldi (2013-present). The remaining Doctors’ stories will follow on an as-yet unconfirmed date.

(5) NORTHERN FLIGHTS. Talking Points Memo says the Internet is fleeing to Canada. Well, okay, I exaggerated….

The Internet Archive, a digital library non-profit group that stores online copies of webpages, e-books, political advertisements and other media for public record, is fundraising to store a copy of all of its contents in Canada after Donald Trump’s election to the presidency.

Five hundred years from now will somebody be writing “How the Canadians Saved Civilization” like that book about the Irish?

(6) STOP IT OR YOU’LL GO BLIND. Gizmodo found out “Why Spaceflight Ruins Your Eyesight”

Astronauts who return to Earth after long-duration space missions suffer from untreatable nearsightedness. Scientists have now isolated the cause, but finding a solution to the problem will prove easier said than done.

The problem, say researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has to do with volume changes in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) found around the brain and spinal cord. Prolonged exposure to microgravity triggers a build-up of this fluid, causing the astronauts’ eyeballs to flatten, which can lead to myopia. A build-up of CSF also causes astronauts’ optic nerves to stick out, which is also not good, as the optic nerve sends signals to the brain from the retina. This is causing nearsightedness among long-duration astronauts, and it’s problem with no clear solution in sight (so to speak).

(7) APPLAUSE. Congratulations to JJ – her post about Walter Jon Williams’ Praxis series got a shout-out in Tor.com’s newsletter —

Your Praxis Primer Impersonations is the latest book in Nebula Award winning author Walter Jon Williams’ Praxis series, a standalone story that fits into the bigger arc of Williams’ ongoing space opera adventure. For a helpful rundown on the series, check out this guide to the Praxis universe, with links to excerpts for each installment! If you enjoy fast-paced, fun military science fiction like David Weber’s Honor Harrington books, pick up Impersonations, or start with The Praxis: Dread Empire’s Fall, the first book in the series.

(8) CARTER OBIT. Author Paul Carter has died at the age of 90 reports Gregory Benford. “I wrote a novella with him about Pluto and had many fine discussions at the Eaton and other conferences. A fine man, historian, fan.”

David Weber in his introduction to The Year’s Best Military SF & Space Opera (2015) credited C. L. Moore & Henry Kuttner’s “Clash by Night” (Astounding, March 1943) and Paul Carter’s “The Last Objective” (Astounding, August 1946) as two of the earliest examples of military science fiction (by which he means something a bit more cerebral than all the space opera that preceded them):

The Last Objective by Paul Carter appeared in 1946, but Carter wrote the story while he was still in the Navy; his commanding officer had to approve it before it could be sent to Astounding. It’s just as good as [Moore & Kuttner’s] Rocketeers, but it’s different in every other fashion.

Carter describes wholly militarized societies and a war which won’t end until every human being is dead. Rather than viewing this world clinically from the outside, Carter focuses on  a single ship and the varied personalities who make up its crew. (The vessel is tunnelling through the continental plate rather than floating on the sea, but in story terms that’s a distinction without a difference.)

Carter is pretty sure that his CO didn’t actually read the story before approving it. My experience with military officers leads me to believe that he’s right, though it’s also possible that his CO simply didn’t understand the story’s horrific implications.

Carter also wrote a book about sf history. The Science Fiction Encyclopedia says his The Creation of Tomorrow: Fifty Years of Magazine Science Fiction (anth 1977) “demonstrated an intimate and sophisticated knowledge of the field.”

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • November 29, 1948 — Kukla, Fran and Ollie debuted on television. (And a couple of years later, my father worked as a cameraman on the show)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born November 29, 1898 – C. S. Lewis

(11) HINES AUCTIONS KRITZER CRITIQUE. In the fourth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions, the item up for bid is a story critique from award-winning author Naomi Kritzer.

Attention writers: Today’s auction is for a critique of a short story, up to 7500 words, by Hugo award-winning author Naomi Kritzer.

Kritzer has been writing and selling her short fiction since before the turn of the century, and she’ll use that experience and expertise to help you improve your own story.

Disclaimer: Winning this auction does not guarantee you’ll win a Hugo award — but you never know, right?

(12) WE INTERRUPT THIS NOVEL. George R.R. Martin will attend a book fair in Mexico. Then he’s going to finish Winds.

My first real visit to Mexico starts tomorrow, when I jet down to Guadalajara for the Guadalajara International Book Fair: https://www.fil.com.mx/ingles/i_info/i_info_fil.asp I’m one of the guests at the conference. I’ll be doing interviews, a press conference, a live streaming event, and a signing. I expect I will be doing some tequila tasting as well. I am informed that Guadalajara is the tequila capital of Mexico. I am looking forward to meeting my Mexican publishers, editors, and fans. This is my last scheduled event for 2016. My appearance schedule for 2017 is very limited, and will remain so until WINDS is completed. So if you want to meet me or get a book signed, this will be the last chance for a good few months…

(13) THEIR TRASH IS HIS TREASURE. Artist Dave Pollot’s business is improving old, clichéd, mundane art prints and selling them to fans through his Etsy store:

holy-seagulls-batman

This is a print of repurposed thrift store art that I’ve painted parodies of Batman and Robin into….

The Process: This is a print of one of my repurposed paintings. I find discarded prints and paintings (ones you may have inherited from great grandma and brought to your local donation bin), and make additions. Sometimes I paint monsters, other times zombies, and most times some pop culture reference- Star Wars, Futurama, Ghostbusters, Mario Brothers…the list goes on. I use oil paints and do my best to match the style of the original artist. My hope is to take these out of the trash can and into a good home; full-circle- from a print that proudly hung on your Grandma’s wall, to a print that proudly hangs on yours.

(14) BANZAI LAWYERS. SciFiStorm reduces the bad news to basics: “MGM sues Buckaroo Banzai creators over rights; Kevin Smith exits project”.

Let me see if I can sum this up, as it seems a lot has happened very rapidly…MGM and Amazon struck a deal to develop a series based on the 1984 film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, and signed on Kevin Smith, the creator of Clerks and all the other Jay and Silent Bob movies and the guy I’d most like to just hang out and have a beer with, as the showrunner. But original writer Earl Mac Rauch and director Walter D. Richter claim they have the rights to a TV series. So MGM preemptively filed a lawsuit to have a court to seek declaration of the rights.

Telling fans in a Facebook video…that the lawsuit was “news to me,” Smith announced that he has dropped out of the project.

(15) PLAQUE. Gregory Benford sent along a photo of the plaque he received as a Forry Award winner last weekend at Loscon.

forry-award-min

(16) TREE FULL OF TENTACLES.  Archie McPhee is working desperately hard to sell you this seasonal abomination:

While her Cthulhumas Wreath Creature guards the entrance to the house, this year there’s a bright red Cthulhumas tree watching everyone and everything and it never, ever sleeps.

‘Twas a week before Cthulhumas, when all through the house every creature was trembling, in fact so was the house. Not one stocking had been hung by the chimney this year, for fear that Dread Cthulhu was already near.

The cats were nestled all snug in their beds, completely indifferent to our cosmic dread. And mamma in her robes and I in my mask, had just steadied our minds for our infernal task, when from deep in the basement there arose such a din, at last we knew the ritual was soon to begin.

Down to the cellar I flew like a flash, lit all the candles and sprinkled the ash. Light on the altar came from no obvious point, it soon became clear time was all out of joint.

When what to my cursed bleeding eyes did appear, but a fathomless void, then I felt only fear. With a wriggle of tentacles and shiver of dread, I knew in a moment I was out of my head.

Then a nightmarish god, with his eight mewling young, burst forth from the dark and shrieked, “Our reign has begun!“

christas-cthulhu

(17) SPEED TYPIST. Just the other day File 770 lined to a clip from Chris Hardwick’s Almost Midnight all about Chuck Tingle.

Looks like it took no time at all for Tingle to write a book commemorating the occasion: Hard For Hardwick: Pounded In The Butt By The Physical Manifestation Of My own Handsome Late Night Comedy Show.

tingle-hard-for-hardwick

(18) ONE STAR REVIEWS. One-star reviews were a weapon used by some in last year’s literary fracas, though never with any sense of humor. But a Chicago Cubs blogger just put out a book about their World Series season — and it is getting the funniest bunch of one-star reviews I’ve ever read. Read this sample and it will be easy to guess why the author received such a hostile reception….

I know this author from the Internet. He runs a website and routinely posts opinions and people comment on those opinions.

Ín real life he routinely bans commenters on his website that disagree with him. This leads to one of the bad features of this book. If you think a bad thought about the book, it shuts close and you are unable to read it until you contact the author by email and apologize. This is an annoying feature.

Also in real life when one of the author’s website opinion posts are disliked by the majority of readers he deletes the post and comments like it never happened. This book has a similar feature in that the words disappear from the pages over time and eventually you are left with 200+ blank pages that really aren’t good for anything but the bottom of a bird cage. This decreases the value of the book and does not make it suitable for archiving.

Overall, I can’t recommend.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Andrew Porter, and Harold Osler for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

115 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/29/16 In A Scroll On The Web There Lived A Pixel

  1. Mike, I agree China fundamentally lost due to lack of engagement and the lack of a relationship between traditional Worldcon fandom and the Chinese bid. However that said I overheard (at LonCon) quite a few people saying that they would never vote for China for reasons that boiled down to it is too foreign.

  2. ULTRAGOTHA: You’ve made clear in the past that there are things you don’t want to host and I support your decisions in those matters.

    I appreciate that but I am going to leave it up. When I saw her tweets I knew I needed to speak out, and answering in a comment here is the best medium for doing so.

  3. This scroll would be great if it weren’t for all the pixels.

    @Andrew M:

    I have seen SFF people claiming that Flowers for Algernon is not SF, apparently on the grounds of ‘we were made to read in in high school, and everyone knows that what one is made to read in high school is horrible litfic’.

    1) I didn’t read Flowers for Algernon in high school so it’s allowed to be SF for me I guess? I think the novella is near-perfect, and when I attempted to read the novel many years ago it offended my sensibilities and I re-read the novella instead.

    2) I did read The Chrysalids in high school and have never seen anyone claim that John Wyndham is litfic. Maybe I haven’t been looking in the right places 😉

  4. Thanks, Mike! I hear what you’re saying. I also think a discussion on more WorldCons in more countries, and overcoming barriers and what can be done to encourage bids, is useful. I just don’t want to put it here if you don’t want to host it.

    Andyl – I’m kind of hoping that Chinese wins in the Hugos will help make China a more familiar venue to vote for if/when Chinese fandom runs another bid. If they’re reaching out to people like Crystal Huff and Cat Rambo that tells me they may be trying to become more familiar with WorldCon Fandom and how it all works.

  5. @JJ: Thanks for the Morris link; the Ballantine goes to a blog that also lacks visible contact info. I don’t do social media, having had to go cold turkey on some of the oldest forms 3 decades ago.

    @ULTRAGOTHA: It would be even better if we could come up with a method of bidding for WorldCon that doesn’t involve people staking tens of thousands of their own money, though. From your mouth to…. I was told by one of the poohbahs of a recent failed bid that it had spent over $50,000. I didn’t notice them being particularly lavish outside of the Worldcon where their bid was voted on, but I don’t think this person would lie on a checkable fact — but I’m still appalled given my recollection of what the last Boston bid cost, not that long ago (let alone the ~$3K that Boston in 1980 spent — even allowing for inflation and for more voters to reach , current numbers seem extreme). (@Tom Becker: I’ve never seen anything significant in a kitty compared to what I can ballpark was spent on a party. Presupports \might/ reduce that $50K to $25K (but there’s still a lot of money to put up), or that might have been net of presupports; memory is uncertain.)
    However, I think Crystal has hold of the wrong end of the stick. Sticking to facts (ignoring her use of the questionable “kyriarchy”), I note that there have been only 3 other European mainland bids besides the 3 winners; 1 of those was a bunch of misbehaving drunks, and 1 was widely believed to be an excuse for the chair to travel on the government dime. (This belief was helped by the slippage in the year bid for). (There’s now a (tentative?) 4th bid.) How many countries have con-running fandoms rather than professional exhibitions? Where have their bids been? Note that until recently a non-NA bid that had its shit even vaguely together had a huge advantage over NA bids (Crystal is a bit young to realize this); there just haven’t been that many non-NA bids. The question about English may seem onerous, but it’s reasonable considering how little Finland is known in the US and the fact that there are typically far more North American fans at a non-NA Worldcon than non-NA fans at an NA Worldcon. (The last time I looked this was true even when corrected for the larger fraction of Worldcons in NA — although that fraction has gone down and the uncorrected balance was ~stable.) And given current Chinese government behavior, I see good reason to distrust a bid from that country. (Yes, most bids have little or no involvement with government; the PRC government apparently believes it should meddle in everything. Yes, that’s a simplification — but IMObs not unreasonable.)
    @andyl: too foreign, or too controlled?

    @Sunhawk: it’s not clear whether Crystal meant entrance or exit visa (I assume she didn’t really mean Visa). How hard is it to get permission to leave China? (Croatia is another matter — but I wonder how accurately she’s reporting.)

    @Peer Sylvester: ooh, that’s good. And I was just looking up another famous math (Koenigsberg) this morning….

  6. Chip Hitchcock: the Ballantine goes to a blog that also lacks visible contact info.

    The Ballantine link goes to a blog post that has contact information in it.

  7. While there may be an element of racism or nationalism among some people’s unfavorable attitude towards non-NA Worldcons, I think there are two much more important factors:

    1) Convenience & expense. It’s been more than thirty years since I attended a Worldcon, and I think more than twenty since going to a major (1000-plus) con, but time investment and expense was always a factor in which convention bids I supported. While a foreign bid might be attractive, in reality any bid outside North America would be one I wouldn’t be able to attend. So domestic bids were much more likely to get my support.

    2) Experience. Foreign bids generally seem to be from relatively new and less experienced committees. “Less experienced” tends to translate into problematic and trouble-prone. (Examples include the 1988 NOLAcon, and of course the literally nightmarish Worldcon That Must Not Be Named.)(Chorus: “Shut up, Bruce!“) So old-timers tend to take that into account.

  8. Re the story about the girl who wanted to menstruate: she’ll get over that real quick, after a few rounds of flooding at the worst possible time.

    If you think that story is zany, give this one a look.

  9. “Too many pixels, Herr Glyer.”

    Having been to China a couple of times, I have to say, it is indeed foreign, but not in a scary or unwelcoming way. When we were in a minor, out-of-the-way city (or perhaps a town by their standards), it was never far to someone who spoke English, particularly the merchants. When we were in a crowded restaurant looking confused, people leaving a table motioned to us to take their seat.

    Also, when they saw someone who looked American (or maybe European), there was a tendency for someone somewhere to say “Hello!”, but I never saw who it was. I guess it’s what you say when you see one of us.

    We walked around on our own any number of times, in Beijing, and Hefei, and Shanghai, and other places, and ate at exotic places like “McDonald’s” and “KFC,” as well as regular sit-down restaurants. The service at McDonald’s there was better than here. The Happy Meal toys were good, though for all I know they might have been the same as what was on offer back in the USA at the time.

    When we were in a big hotel, it was like a closed ecosystem. There were several restaurants to choose from, as well as outlet stores, at the China Hotel in Guangzhou. The waitresses at the sushi place there took turns holding Sarah (then an infant) and seeing if she wanted anything to eat.

    Once you’re over there, the prices are great on most things. Of course, the expense is in getting there.

    The air’s not too great. There’s a bit of a brown cloud. We bought a souvenir book of Hefei pictures, and one cityscape looked odd until I realized they’d photoshopped in a clear blue sky. You could still see the real sky by the edges of buildings.

    They still love fireworks, after all these centuries. We saw a display from our window, and never could figure out a reason for it, except maybe that it was Thursday. They also love neon signs, and really take them to a delirious extreme. Lots of cool architecture, too—like they let students design buildings downtown. Swell museums. There were playgrounds for adults: outdoor exercise equipment in bright colors, at which older men and women could be seen slowly working out.

    It was a hoot. I’d go back again. Going with a tour group makes for a certain convenience, and takes care of transportation. I would not drive there. The only place I’ve seen scarier traffic is YouTube. I never saw an accident, though, or a fender bender. In Guangzhou, I never heard a horn honk. It’s illegal there.

  10. Spotted via Black Gate, Jonathan Strahan posts his imaginary ToC of Best Short Novels 2016

    The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (Tor)
    The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (Tor)
    Every Heart A Doorway, Seanan McGuire (Tor)
    This Census-taker, China Mieville (Del Rey)
    The Charge and the Storm, An Owomoyela (Asimov’s)
    The Devil You Know, K.J. Parker (Tor)
    The Iron Tactician, Alastair Reynolds (Newcon)
    The Best Story I Can Manage, Robert Shearman (Five Storeys High)
    The Vanishing Kind, Lavie Tidhar (F&SF)
    A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor)

    Some interesting stuff on that list. The Reynolds and Shearman don’t seem to be out yet (I guess Strahan has the advantage of Arcs) and there’s a couple I haven’t got to yet (the Mieville is still rather pricey atm). The only one I really raise an eyebrow at is The Charge and The Storm, which I thought was an interesting setting with a flawed story in it. I haven’t tried The Devil You Know – any opinions?

    In terms of omissions, I’d point to the Penric novellas and the Lost Child of Lychford, although as sequels I can see why you wouldn’t put them into a (fantasy) collection.

  11. Mark-kitteh: I haven’t tried The Devil You Know – any opinions?

    I really enjoyed that — not quite as good as The Last Witness, I thought, but still really good. It’s an interesting take on the Faust legend. It’s on my Novella longlist.

     
    I realized, when attempting to determine people eligible for the two Best Editor Hugo categories this year, that standalone Novellas do not qualify an Editor for either category. For example, both Lee Harris and Carl Engle-Laird have edited a number of the Novellas put out this year, but as far as I can tell, neither of them are eligible for a Best Editor Hugo.

    Given the explosive growth in this form of publication in the last year or so, I think that’s something we’re going to want to address in WSFS.

  12. JJ: I realized, when attempting to determine people eligible for the two Best Editor Hugo categories this year, that standalone Novellas do not qualify an Editor for either category.

    I was wondering how you came to that conclusion. So I went and looked at the rules for the two categories. To qualify in Long Form a person has to have edited the requisite number of novels, so you’d be right that novellas would not be a qualification there.

    Then there’s Short Form:

    3.3.9: Best Editor Short Form. The editor of at least four (4) anthologies, collections or magazine issues (or their equivalent in other media) primarily devoted to science fiction and / or fantasy, at least one of which was published in the previous calendar year.

    The thrust of the category is to reward people who edit issues or collections.

    If someone edits four novellas that are distributed through, for example, Tor.com, I think everyone would gloss over the question of how these were “issues.”

    But you may be talking about, hypothetically, an editor who worked on something like Lois McMaster Bujold’s self-published novellas that are not brought to market via a brand name short fiction publisher. And there somebody might cavil over the collection/issue part of the category definition.

    And I agree, that editor might not be eligible. Makes for a good discussion.

  13. @JJ/Mike

    I think that if you squint sideways at the wording then you could make a case for novellas being in there as being in the class of things being listed, but I agree it’s ambiguous and could do with an explicit mention.
    Carrying on Mike’s thought about issues, where does the editor of Gigantosaurus stand? Each single story is an “issue” so I can’t see anyone arguing with their eligibility. A single novella is usually longer than a Gigantosaurus piece so to deny a novella eligibility on the grounds that it doesn’t say “issue” on it wouldn’t be equitable. Of course, equity doesn’t necessarily trump the written rules…

  14. Mike Glyer: But you may be talking about, hypothetically, an editor who worked on something like Lois McMaster Bujold’s self-published novellas that are not brought to market via a brand name short fiction publisher. And there somebody might cavil over the collection/issue part of the category definition.

    Exactly. There’s the two Penric novellas released this year, Aliya Whiteley’s The Arrival of Missives published by Unsung Stories, Stephen Baxter’s Project Clio from PS Publishing, Wesley Chu’s The Days of Tao from Subterranean Press, China Miéville’s This Census-Taker and The Last Days of New Paris from Del Rey/Pan Macmillan, and Peter F. Hamilton’s A Window Into Time from Del Rey.

    None of these would meet eligibility criteria for their editors.

  15. For those people who think Worldcon doesn’t travel to enough new countries, I would point out that, assuming the two unopposed bids remain unopposed and don’t “pull a Portland” (Westercon reference to a bid politically immolating itself and losing an unopposed bid), each of the next four Worldcons will be in a different country. This is the first time it will have ever happened, there never having been more than three-in-three before. Three of the four Worldcons will be the first time that country has hosted the convention.

    (There was a 5-countries-in-6-years sequence in 2005-2010: UK, USA, Japan, USA, Canada, Australia.)

    Given the results of the Presidential election in the USA, I reckon that there are a whole lot of non-US fans who are relieved at this expected sequence of conventions over the next four years.

  16. Re the title, this scroll was – of course – not a nasty, dirty, wet scroll, filled with sodden paper and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy scroll with nothing in it to sit down on or to read: it was a pixel-scroll, and that means books.

  17. @Shao Ping: While the “Mr. Messy” review is indeed superb, I also quite liked “Mr. Small” presaging Thatcherism (And someone in the comments even mentioned the social model of disability).

    @Sunhawk: That’s what my Canadian friends have told me, too. Although my friend who lives/works near Parliament usually goes to Montreal during the walrus run; between the general mess of all those pinnipeds, plus the tourists, it’s such a hassle. And she prefers Quebec maple syrup for her igloo anyway.

    @M.C. Simon: I… was not aware that anyone thought “Repo Man” was anything other than SF, and New Wave in both the SF and musical senses. Whoever s/he is, and however many shiny rockets they have, they are an idjit.

    @Cora: If it’s not Nutty Nuggets and not right-wing, it’s Tor. Everything is Tor. Tor uber alles. Bow down before our Nielsen-Hayden overlords.

    @Mark-kitteh: That novella list is okay, though I’ve got to find out the length of everything in “The Starlit Wood”, because a LOT of my nominations will be from that anthology. And one of the Penrics.

    Random Hugo category ideas: remove “Best Editor Long Form” or allow Novella and indie editors to qualify. Add “Best Anthology”, which would overlap with Editor Short Form but not exactly; you could win that with just one, and no previous work.

    As far as “out of print” works by Olde Masters, I’m confused too. If you’re only counting dead-tree by Big 5 and small press, I guess. But most of the books I read now exist as electrons, and between things like Project Gutenberg, and Open Road’s reprints of older stuff, SO MUCH is available to read for a few clicks and often for free. Just look at all the stuff eligible for Retro-Hugos this year that Dr. von S found and collated for us, at the low low price of zero. People often format the public domain stuff and put it up on Amazon, and many of those can be printed as POD books.

    People hating foreign Worldcons is just stupid. Look at the stats Kevin Standlee provided. It’ll be years before I can go to Worldcon after San Jose. Different hemispheres and everything! Places it hasn’t been before! Lots of North Americans have worked very hard to encourage those.

    In a gentlemen’s agreement, North Americans refrain from bidding in a year when a foreign bid declares. I’d say it’s impossible for an unopposed Worldcon bid to lose — but then I was at that meeting Kevin ran after the unopposed Portland Westercon lost through arrogance and incompetence.

    China didn’t know the Worldcon system, so they didn’t know how to win. Maybe the recent attention to Chinese SF in the Western world will get them plugged in. You have to attend, and throw parties, and talk to people (Although I kind of despaired in that interview with the lady who wrote “Folding Beijing”, when she said people in China didn’t consider it SF. An entire megalopolis that folds itself into different cities every day is most certainly SF! Or at least SFF). What do their regional/national cons look like? Do they have amateur cons like we do? Do their con chairs have experience with running the things, lest we get NOLA 88, only in Chinese?

    And unless you’re from a very few restricted countries, or have personally come to the interest of the US government in a bad way, tourist visas are trivial. I live near San Francisco, and huge groups of non-English speaking folk are there all the time, following chirpy tour guides. There are plenty of foreign students, too.

    I don’t know why Crystal Huff has suddenly gone counter-factual and incredibly insulting; that’s between her and her counselor and deity if any.

  18. Lurkertype: I’ve got to find out the length of everything in “The Starlit Wood”, because a LOT of my nominations will be from that anthology. And one of the Penrics.

    I just picked that up from the library yesterday. It’s a gorgeous faux-old-leather volume, innit?

    ISFDB doesn’t give story lengths, but Worlds Without End does.

  19. lurkertype: Random Hugo category ideas: remove “Best Editor Long Form” or allow Novella and indie editors to qualify.

    Indie editors can already qualify for Best Editor Long Form. Their problem is getting name recognition.

  20. I’ve been to China quite a few times. (I was in Hong Kong yesterday, in fact.) To enter the mainland, you do have to have a visa, and although it’s automatic, it’s annoying because you have to mail them your passport. It also costs about $250 (but it’s good for ten years).

    http://www.visaexpress.net/china/chinatouristvisa.htm

    I really like Shanghai, but Beijing is okay (vastly improved over just ten years ago). However, you still have to drink bottled water or boil your water before you drink it. That includes the water you use when you brush your teeth. (I was surprised that our hotel in Hong Kong warned us to do this too, but Hong Kong gets most of its water from the mainland now.) It also means you need to remember not to drink anything that has ice in it.

    I’m sure China will eventually offer automatic visas (as Japan and Thailand and even Hong Kong) do today, and I’m sure they’ll eventually solve their water problem. But it may be expecting a lot for fans to approve a convention there before that happens.

  21. Found elsewhere are the results from the Booknest award for Fantasy. The thing that obviously caught my eye was the winner. But the collection of grimdark fiction in the finalist list looks great!

    Linkerage

    Regards
    Dann

  22. …but then I was at that meeting Kevin ran after the unopposed Portland Westercon lost through arrogance and incompetence.

    Before the Portland-bashing gets out of hand, I would like to point out that, although the proposed site was in Portland, the people in charge of the bid (and putting on the memorable performance at that business meeting) were from the Puget Sound region in Washington.

    OSFCI (Oregon Science Fiction Conventions, Inc.–the non-profit behind OryCon, GameStorm and the most recent Westercon) did agree to be the entity behind the bid–and, boy, did the OSFCI Board regret that decision!

  23. The whole “They just want US visa” explanation makes no sense for Croatia anyway, since Croatia has been an EU member state since 2013 and should therefore be a visa waiver country. Or if not, Croatian citizens at least shouldn’t have problems getting tourist visa.

    Anyway, I have no idea how much veracity there is to Crystal Huff’s claims, but US fandom can be very American-centric.

  24. Cora: The whole “They just want US visa” explanation makes no sense for Croatia anyway, since Croatia has been an EU member state since 2013 and should therefore be a visa waiver country. Or if not, Croatian citizens at least shouldn’t have problems getting tourist visa.

    World Travel Guide
    Visas are not required by nationals referred to in the chart above for stays of up to 90 days, except Nationals of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania, who do require a visa as they are not included in the Visa Waiver Program.

    Given that visa applicants must do an in-person interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy (in this case, in Zagreb), it’s hard to say how difficult it would be to get a visa.

  25. @ Lurkertype: There’s a good chance that my partner and I will never do another Worldcon as dealers. Between the overseas cons and the fact that California has some major issues for out-of-state dealers, the next one we might be looking at is 2021. And we’re not getting any younger, and running a dealer booth at any con is a lot of hard work, and more so at one the size of a Worldcon… well, we’ll see what happens. And while I would love to go to Helsinki, and Dublin, and New Zealand just as a fan, there’s no way I could ever afford it. We’re not among the well-heeled Worldcon regulars; that’s one of the reasons we are dealers.

  26. @JJ

    Given that visa applicants must do an in-person interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy (in this case, in Zagreb), it’s hard to say how difficult it would be to get a visa.

    Ah, so various East European countries are excluded from the visa waiver program. And coincidentally it’s the many of the same countries that are always accused of flooding other EU countries with their citizens, even if those citizens are working and usually in jobs no one else wants to do. Xenophobia against East Europeans is a thing and not just limited to Western Europe either.

    Anyway, having to go to the US embassy in the capital of the country in question is a major hassle and not just in Croatia either. Here in Germany, the US closed most of its consulates in the 1980s and 1990s. The one in Bremen, which was established in the 18th century and had its original charter signed by George Washington itself, still exists, though the visa services are routed through the embassy in Berlin now, making locals applying for student or business visa not happy.

  27. JJ: Interesting research about visas.

    I know that in 1996 I was asked to write letters inviting around two dozen fans, mostly Romanians, to participate in LAcon 3, having been told that would help them get visas. And I did.

  28. @ Greg Hullander
    “Hong Kong gets most of its water from the mainland now.”

    Hong Kong (where I lived for two years in the 1960s) always got most of its water from the mainland. The lion’s share of the reservoirs (obscure local reference there) then and now were in the mainland region known as “the New Territories”. While Hong Kong (aka “Victoria”) Island and Kowloon (on the immediate mainland shore) were permanently ceded by treaty to the UK, the New Territories were only leased for 99 years from 1898, and the PRC made it quite clear in the 1980s that they wouldn’t extend the lease (and wouldn’t continue the water supply once it expired).

    Without the reservoirs (and other infrastructure) in the New Territories, Hong Kong & Kowloon would be unviable – when we first arrived and lived in Kowloon for some weeks, the mains water supply was only turned on for 4 hours every 4th day due to an ongoing drought – so despite the legal claim to permanent possession, the UK was forced to agree to hand them back come 1997.

  29. @Mark (Kitteh): I echo @JJ’s words – I enjoyed “The Devil You Know” a lot, and I’m considering it for the Hugos, but IMHO “The Last Witness” was better.

    @JJ: I’m in favor of a slight expansion to the Long Form editor category, to include stand-alone novellas for qualification purposes. IMHO that’s the best fit – it feels like it’s basically the same concept, a stand-alone book edited (I presume) like a novel.

    @Mark (Kitteh) (again): I’m not very familiar with Giganotosaurus, but I think of it as a short fiction magazine, which makes me think “of course short form editor.”

    @Dann: Congrats to De Castell, though I’ve never heard of Booknest. And, heh, since I know you’re a big fan, congrats-by-proxy to you, too. 😉

  30. @lurkertype: In a gentlemen’s agreement, North Americans refrain from bidding in a year when a foreign bid declares. Non-NA cons seem to have an edge with voters, but foreign cons have had to take their chances if they don’t step up early. I’ll accept that the race for 2015 was an anomaly; AFAICT, Helsinki stepped in very late after concluding ~publically that there were two incompetent NA bidders. But they immediately announced for 2017, specifically avoiding taking on KC-in-2016; IIRC, DC stepped in later. (That looked like poor strategy given the above voter tendency, but I’ve never asked them what they were thinking.) NZ announced a very long time ago, so the lack of opposition is unsurprising; but Atlanta almost beat Glasgow for 1995 (IIRC the total vote in that race is still a record), Zagreb lost to San Francisco for 1993, LA lost to The Hague for 1990 (another tactical error — the soonest any modern Worldcon has returned to a city has been 9 years, but LA tried for 6 (for the second time!)), and Baltimore beat both the drunks I mentioned above (bidding Copenhagen) and a plausible Aussie bid (for a different city from all successful bids) for 1983. The mix of upcoming countries Kevin points to might not happen if Dublin hadn’t spoken up quickly, or even then if there were more NA groups bidding.

    @Bruce Arthurs: go on, tell us which Worldcon you’re not naming; I can think of several candidates that might fit.

    @JJ: that was rather more camouflaged than usual; thanks for repointing.

  31. To address the larger body of the discussion, I (as a Brit) would feel safer visiting China to attend a Worldcon than I would visiting the USA for any reason (which I never have and never expect to). This despite several decades of dedication to a heavily US mediated genre, genial social contacts with US Fen, and some years working at UK sites of US companies.

    I think many US citizens don’t grasp just how bad a press the USA gets in the rest of the World, including the Anglophone parts of it. This might be a function of high interest (for obvious reasons) combined with the sad fact that bad things make more compelling news than good ones, and perhaps even of deliberate media bias, but some of the cultural differences between the USA and the rest of the First World – even before this November’s surprising developments – probably look a lot more significant and frightening seen from outside than they do to those immersed in them.

  32. Whoops, I almost forgot:

    I read the excerpt for Falling Sky by Rajan Khanna a while back, bought it, and finally picked it up to read for real, last night. I’m only a little ways in (having re-read the excerpt part to get back into it), but it’s as good as I remember the excerpt being. I like the protagonist’s voice (aside from the present tense), he and the person I presume will be the other main character (Miranda) interest me, and the world and setup-so-far interest me.

    Just don’t ask me how this fits into my desire to read futuristic SF these days, which After Atlas fit to a “T”. Falling Sky is more like present-day or near-future post-apocalyptic – with airships – so far. 🙂 But whatevs, so far, so good!

  33. To address the larger body of the discussion, I (as a Brit) would feel safer visiting China to attend a Worldcon than I would visiting the USA for any reason (which I never have and never expect to). This despite several decades of dedication to a heavily US mediated genre, genial social contacts with US Fen, and some years working at UK sites of US companies.

    I think many US citizens don’t grasp just how bad a press the USA gets in the rest of the World, including the Anglophone parts of it. This might be a function of high interest (for obvious reasons) combined with the sad fact that bad things make more compelling news than good ones, and perhaps even of deliberate media bias, but some of the cultural differences between the USA and the rest of the First World – even before this November’s surprising developments – probably look a lot more significant and frightening seen from outside than they do to those immersed in them.

    Yes, this. The US looks like a scary place from the outside, a lot more scary than China, let alone Croatia, even if most of us know that the vast majority of Americans are perfectly lovely people. However, you also have a whole lot of shooting incidents that leave people dead, which tends to scare off tourists, especially those coming from countries where gun violence is extremely rare. Also, US border and passport control personnel is singularly unpleasant (on par with and occasionally worse than East German border guards pre 1990) and tends to treat every harmless tourist like a potential terrorist, which does not exactly encourage people to visit. I know a lot of people in Europe who refuse to travel to the US unless it’s an absolute emergency, because the experience is so unpleasant.

    And before any Americans complain that their county is viewed too negatively, the US state department is constantly warning US travellers of potential terrorist attacks in Europe, including at Christmas markets of all places, even though the biggest danger at most Christmas markets is getting drunk from too much mulled wine or eggnogg.

  34. Kendall: I’m in favor of a slight expansion to the Long Form editor category, to include stand-alone novellas for qualification purposes. IMHO that’s the best fit – it feels like it’s basically the same concept, a stand-alone book edited (I presume) like a novel.

    That’s pretty much my thinking at this point, too: 4 standalone original novels or novellas published in the eligibility year. The current Short Form criteria would have to be seriously re-written to encompass quantity X of standalone novellas, or X novellas + X anthologies, or X novellas + X magazine issues, or X novellas + X anthologies + X magazine issues, etc, etc…

  35. @JJ: bugger. That makes it harder, with almost everything a short story. I was hoping there were more novelettes in there! (Wouldn’t know about the cover; I borrowed an ebook, but even that looked pretty)

    I think Tor.com qualifies as some sort of magazine thingy, so the editors there ought to be okay for Short Form — which makes sense, since there’s usually one of their novellas up for awards. Or a minor rewrite to Long Form, as Kendall suggested, which would be a LOT easier math-wise. Possibly the Will Of The Voters could get them into either category.

    @John Lorentz: You are, of course, correct, which is why OSFSCI got the recent Westercon, since they were known not to be Those Assholes.

    @Chip: I think Zagreb lost to San Francisco since California wasn’t having a civil war at the time of the vote. But I don’t know what the heck DC was thinking either, and I’m betting that’s why they lost. Not Done, chaps. I didn’t ask them either, just thought “Okay, why?”

    @Foreigners: Just as you think Americans get the wrong idea about, say, Muslims running amok all over Europe, we think you’ve got the wrong idea about shootings. Neither problem is a fraction as bad as it seems. San Jose will be perfectly fine, and you’ll be missing a great con out of xenophobic fear and hysterical media reports. You guys forget how big the US is, and how diverse it is. Would I advise you go to Worldcon anywhere in the US? Maybe not. But Silicon Valley will still be okay by then. Brush up on your Spanish, though… and your Chinese, Vietnamese, and Hindi. The languages on the trolleys that run past the con site are English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. It’s down to 1/3 white folk.

    I wouldn’t want to go to China simply for the health reasons. Opaque air, undrinkable water, no food safety laws or much regulation at all, etc. I suspect their customs officials aren’t awesome, either. Japan is technically just as “foreign” to Americans as China, but I had confidence that there’d be hygiene, modern medicine, and all that. And Bejing just looks like a madhouse — I might be interested in Shanghai, if given assurances my digestive system would survive.

    My redhead American and Canadian friends with Irish names have NOTHING good to say about the customs officials at Heathrow, so slow your roll there, Brits. And I couldn’t get over how unbelievably white Britain outside of London was. It kind of freaked me out, and I’m exactly the color of my avatar here. But I’ve spent my whole life in The US Parts What Used To Be New Spain, so the rural Midwest freaks me out too.

  36. @Lurkertype And I couldn’t get over how unbelievably white Britain outside of London was.

    Well that depends where you went. More rural places are more white. But there are a few cities and towns which are more white than others of a similar size.

  37. Chip Hitchcock: “@Bruce Arthurs: go on, tell us which Worldcon you’re not naming; I can think of several candidates that might fit.”

    Well, that’s a terrifying thought. I wasn’t kidding about the “literally nightmarish” part. I had actual nightmares about it as long as five years afterwards.

    Some of the other old-timers here will recognize which Worldcon I’m referring to. But the last time I mentioned it by name, I ended up banned from a popular website, so I’ll pass.

    (For the record, I think that was a good call by that website’s host. It led to a lot of hard thinking, and a resolution of a long-standing personal issue. But the reasoning behind that resolution isn’t something I can discuss in public, or even privately, until several people have died.)

  38. @Lurkertype

    My redhead American and Canadian friends with Irish names have NOTHING good to say about the customs officials at Heathrow, so slow your roll there, Brits.

    I think you’re reacting to Cora there, who’s not a Brit

    And I couldn’t get over how unbelievably white Britain outside of London was

    As andyl notes, there’s a rural v urban element to that (or perhaps large urban v everywhere else). But, yes, that’s the demographics of the UK, it’s noticeably whiter than the US for historical reasons that I’m sure don’t need explaining.

  39. Lurkertype: There’s a ready supply of bottled water anywhere we went in China, including the Great Wall. It was free in our hotel rooms, and vendors sold it cheaply enough everywhere else. We were advised to chew one Pepto-Bismol tablet daily for the small amount of water we’d encounter in things like washed lettuce. The first time through, some of the places provided boiled water in jugs, but a decade later, it was all bottled.

    The food was fine. One of Sarah’s schoolmates was living in Beijing temporarily while we were there, and his mom took us to a restaurant for local specialties like pork belly and I forget what else. Sea cucumber? Jellyfish? It was mildly crunchy inside. The worst meal I had was at a hot pot place, where you cook your own. My idiot chef couldn’t get anything right.

  40. Shao Ping
    The problem was that we got minimal guidance (about thirty seconds at the start) and had to make it up for ourselves. It would have been better if the meat changed color when it was done.

    When we go to The Melting Pot, they tell us how long each sort of food takes to cook. They have a phone app that times shrimp, beef, chicken, or specific vegetables. With the experience we’ve racked up there, I’d probably do better next time through. There was a hot pot place in town a while back, but there’s no family consensus for giving it a try so far.

  41. 100% agree on the hot pots. There was an amazing all you can eat buffet hot pot near where I lived in Chiang Mai that cost (I think) ~100 baht (or around $3). There was also an expensive but very cool Japanese restaurant in one of the malls where you had to cook it yourself, but the actual meat and veg were brought by robots!

    My favourite thing about Korea was also the prevalence of cook-it-yourself bbq places – especially the bulgogi (beef) but ESPECIALLY the pork (and really honestly especially Korean style pork belly). Also chimaek. Literally chicken + maekju (beer) – you eat chicken and drink beer. Perfect! Anyway speaking of pork, my girlfriend took me to a “pig leg” place – and I thought, oh yeah, cool, I like Korean style pig leg, it’s always so tender and juicy. And then they brought it out. An actual, full pig leg. I was not expecting that, but by god it was amazing.

    What I’m trying to say is, I love the food in Asia whether it’s cooked for me or I have to cook it myself (or in some cases, like good sashimi, not cooked at all)

  42. @Lurkertype– I would not dream of suggesting that the same concerns Europeans have been expressing about the USA for decades might be more related to their own parochialism and xenophobia than to the recent political events that have alarmed Americans and our neighbors on this continent. That would be rude. 😉

    Note that I am not saying we don’t have our own xenophobia and parochialism. We do, and Trump is encouraging and empowering it.

    But, please, spare me. I remember the panic from European friends and colleagues when Florida had a string of highly publicized attacks on tourists about twenty years ago. The tourists in question were in marked rental cars and had generally just left someplace where they had shown money. Oh, and the marked rental cars were mostly Mercedes. From the point of view of your average street thug, who rents a Mercedes on vacation? Someone with more money than they need, that’s who! Rental agencies stopped marking their cars and the problem largely evaporated.

    Footnote: A few months later, I visited Germany, and discovered that, in Germany, Budget rents Mercedes as their standard rental option, a possibility that would not have occurred to people who think of Mercedes as a luxury brand.

    Whereas at least to the Germans, who were disproportionately represented among the targeted tourists, it would have been, “Oh, good, a familiar car to drive on unfamiliar roads!”

    Clashing assumptions. There was nothing to clue them in to the fact that to the criminal element in Florida, they’d hung out a neon sign saying RICH TOURISTS. Which mostly they weren’t; just ordinary families taking a big vacation.

    The thing is, I was able to explain this to most of the Germans I worked with. The Brits seemed to have a harder time grasping that these particular tourist robberies in Florida didn’t mean it was dangerous to walk down the street everywhere in the US in broad daylight.

    Now let me tell you about the time my dad was hit over the head with a pipe in Germany, robbed of everything he had on him, and nearly died. My first impression of Germany! Except my dad, a merchant marine navigator, explained that he was in the port area, and port areas everywhere in the world are dangerous. It wasn’t even the only time he was attacked. Just the worst time!

    Anyway, my point, to the extent that I had one, is that parochialism and xenophobia are found everywhere, a natural “feature” of our species, and one of the expressions of European parochialism and xenophobia is the belief that they aren’t guilty of it, that it’s an American thing.

  43. Heck, I’m Canadian, and travel to the U.S. semi-regularly on business, and even I don’t particularly like travelling to the U.S. unless I have to. From some immigration agents that seem to apply a ‘they’re coming to take our jobs!’ attitude to anybody travelling on business, to how many U.S. airports are still using those millimetre wave body scanners, to the times I tried to cross by Greyhound bus for a convention and ran into a serious attitude at the border that nobody innocent ever travelled by bus… (I don’t own a car. I don’t need to living in Toronto.)

    And I don’t get even half of what my boss gets. He’s originally from Iran.

  44. I live in a Syria-adjacent country so I’m pretty much assured of an interview at the US border. My wife’s always had that travelling to the US due to being a scary Muslim.

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