Pixel Scroll 1/25/16 The Depixellated Man

(1) X-OUT THE X-MEN FAN VIDEO PROJECT. Joel Furtado, an animator from Vancouver, Canada has cancelled his fan film X-men: Danger Room Protocols due to legal issues with Marvel, which prevented the first video in the series from being hosted on YouTube or Vimeo.

Now, there’s word of another fan production falling to legal issues: Joel Furtado’s X-Men: Danger Room Protocols.

Furtado has been working on the web series for a long while now, with eighteen episodes planned to showcase different pairs of 1990s-era X-Men characters in animated adventures against iconic villains in a Danger Room scenario. Furtado told io9 via email: “I’ve always loved X-men since I was a little kid. It was something I gravitated to, reading the comics at that time even before the animated series,” adding, “When Fox’s cartoon came out that was it, I was hooked. I’ve done a few personal projects over the years, but nothing of this scale or scope. I decided I wanted to take a year off and do this thing for myself, as well as the fans. I knew there were X-men fans out there, wanting more than what the official powers that be were giving them.”

The first episode featured Jean Grey and Wolverine against the Sentinels, but was quickly pulled from YouTube. Furtado released it on Vimeo, but the video was pulled from there as well.

Furtado gave a valedictory talk to his supporters in a new video.

(2) USING YOUR POWER. Kameron Hurley was at Confusion over the weekend, and was inspired to write a wisdom-filled post, “On Kindness and Conventions”.

I have argued with authors for years about the power imbalance between authors and fans. By the very fact that you’re an author, that you’ve had worked published, it puts you in a position of perceived power, even if you don’t feel powerful. And what you do with that power is important. But first you need to realize, and accept, that you have it and people have given it to you….

Most importantly, though, when I was out at parties, or in the bar, I opened up the conversation circle to people. This is probably the most important thing you can do at either of these events. There is nothing worse than hanging on outside the circle hoping to try and get someone to invite you in. Here are these people who’ve known each other for years, and you’ve been told to socialize at the bar because it’s so great to network! and all you’re doing is standing outside these circles of people with a drink, feeling stupid….

I have talked a lot of talk over the last decade. It’s my turn to pay it forward, and to help build the community I’d like to see, instead of just complaining about how shitty things are elsewhere.

Because there is no greater joy than seeing the reactions of people who’ve had their first amazing convention, and who tear up all the way home because in a single weekend they’ve found their people, they feel included, they felt like part of something bigger than themselves.

Be the change you want to see, right? I need to act like the author I always wished I would have encountered when I was twenty-one years old at my first convention. Every time I talk to some new person, especially those at their first convention, I imagine that I’m talking to somebody who is going to come up fighting through here just like me. I’m holding out the hand I didn’t get that first time. I’m opening up the circle.

(3) FANFIC. Mindy Klasky’s “F is for Fanfiction” at Book View Café is an overview of the topic for professional writers that raises good questions writers should consider about setting boundaries on the use of their work, however, it was this paragraph that generated all the comments – most disagreeing that one must outgrow fanfic.

Fan fiction might be a great way for an author to exercise writing skills, learning to recreate an established author’s tone and/or using known characters expected to act in specific ways. But if you intend to publish your work, you’ll need to move beyond fanfic. That “moving beyond” should include at least “filing off the serial numbers”, erasing the specific references to character names, locations, and other details.  Thus, Bella Swan from Twilight became Anastasia Steele, and Edward Cullen became Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey. The special world of sparkling vampires became the elite life of a billionaire.

(4) KING CONTEST SHORTLIST. The finalists have been announced in a short story competition to celebrate the publication of Stephen King’s collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. There were more than 800 entries.

A team of dedicated readers carefully selected stories worthy of putting forward to the long list.  20 stories were in serious contention and after due deliberation judges Claire Armitstead (Books Editor at the Guardian), Philippa Pride (Stephen King’s British editor) and Kate Lyall-Grant (our independent judge and Publisher at Severn House Publishers) unanimously chose six stand-out stories for the shortlist.

The judges were extremely impressed by the quality of the six stories which are now on their way to Stephen King.  The winner will be announced on or after 30 January. Watch this space…

Please join us in congratulating the talented authors on the shortlist:

‘The Spots’ by Paul Bassett Davies; ‘The Unpicking’ by Michael Button; ‘Wild Swimming’ by Elodie Harper;  ‘The Bear Trap’  by Neil Hudson; ‘La Mort De L’Amant’ by Stuart Johnstone; ‘Eau de Eric’ by Manuela Saragosa.

(5) THORNTON OBIT. SF Site News reports Kathy Thornton (1957-2016) died on January 16. She was one of the founding members of Con-Troll in Houston and worked on Texas NASFiCs and Worldcons. In 2005, she was the fan Guest of Honor at Apollocon.

Kathy Thornton and Derly Ramirez

(6) CAST IN THE HAT. As Nicole Hill warns, “We Sort the Cast of The Force Awakens into Their Hogwarts Houses” at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog is MOSTLY SPOILERS. So no excerpt here. Fun article, though.

(7) LOVECRAFT. Submissions are being taken for the Dunhams Destroys Lovecraft anthology through February 6. What do they mean by the title?

Destroy it all.
Burn the tropes.
Smash the traditions.
The statues.
The awards.
The apologetics.
The so-called gatekeepers of Weird Fiction.
Mock the big fish in the small pond of Lovecraftian fiction.
Nothing is safe.
Parody as a means to topple to regime.
Spoof the blowhards.
Take anything Lovecraftian and mock the hell out of it.

Payment is $25 and a contributor’s copy for 5-10K word stories. And they repeat, “We do NOT want traditional Lovecraftian fiction.”


  • Born January 25, 1920 – Jerry Maren, leader of The Lollipop Guild – last of the Munchkins.
Jerry Maren

Jerry Maren

(9) BROKEN NEWS. People asked Jim C. Hines what he thought about his name being mentioned in a Breitbart story based on a comment here. He told them in “Fact-Checking for Dummies. And Breitbart.”

This is what rates an article on Breitbart. “Hey, a commenter on the internet said that some unnamed person is talking to a couple of Toronto bookstores and showing them what some of the Sad/Rabid Puppies have said and asking them not to stock said puppies. Oh, and yeah, there’s no actual evidence of it having any effect.”

(10) SOMETHING IN COMMON. George R.R. Martin’s tribute to David Hartwell touched John C. Wright. He sent this note to Martin.

It grieves me that you and I should be at odds over unimportant political matters when science fiction as a genre, and the people in our lives, and much else besides are things we both have in common and outweigh any differences.

The shadow of our mutual loss of a friend sharply reminds me of what is important in life, and mutual ire is not one of those things.

You wrote not long ago of a desire for peace in the science fiction community; I second that sentiment and voice it also. Let there be peace between us.

(11) ELIGIBILITY POSTS. Cat Rambo favors Hugo eligibility posts.

I blogged about it as a result of Twitter conversation with Daniel Older and Shveta Ta; he’s posted his own and I urged people to post links to theirs in my post. Any help spreading the word is appreciated; too many people let themselves get silenced by fear of internet kerfuffles. I’m hoping that puppies feel free to post on there as well; too many people forget that as SFWA President I’m representing a range of writers, not a single crowd.

Rambo introduces the post on her personal blog with these sentiments:

Let us begin by acknowledging that this is a rancorous period, full of clashing agendas, bewildered onlookers, and all too many innocents caught in the crossfire (although it is not the first time we’ve seen these storms, nor will it be the last.). And that right now making an eligibility post particularly mentioning Hugo Award categories like Related Work is something that some of us are circling and wondering about.

And my answer is yes. Yes, you should. Why?

Check the post for her three arguments.

(12) RSR CAMPBELL LIST. Rocket Stack Rank has made a list of new writers whose stories were reviewed on their site who should be eligible for the 2016 John W. Campbell Award.

Here are 62 writers who are eligible for the 2016 Campbell Award. They were selected from the 565 stories reviewed by Rocket Stack Rank and eight other prolific reviewers in 2015. There are many more new writers out there, but their stories weren’t read by Rocket Stack Rank so they’re not included here.

(13) A LONGLIST OF HUGO RECOMMENDATIONS. Nerds of a Feather will be posting lists of recommendations drawn from its contributors. First up is the Hugo Award Longlist for fiction.

For the past couple years I’ve posted a draft Hugo ballot (2014, 2015). Last year’s slate voting controversy, however, made me rethink that practice. True, this blog has limited influence within fandom, and we’ve never tried to mobilize voters to further a cause or agenda either. But it still feels strange to call out slate-based voting campaigns while publishing something that looks, superficially at least, like a slate of our own. So instead of giving you my personal ballot, I asked the the thirteen nerds of a feather to contribute to a longlist of potential Hugo nominees.

The rules for inclusion were simple–just: (a) meet the eligibility criteria; and (b) be “award worthy” (i.e. good). Given the subjectivity of the latter, it should come as no surprise that the selections on our longlist reflect the spectrum of tastes, tendencies and predilections found among our group of writers. You’ll find selections ranging from the obscure and literary to the unabashedly popular and commercial, and from all corners and subdivisions of the genresphere

(14) UFO FILES. The Express has a photo-illustrated article, “Some of ‘world’s best ever UFO pictures’ go online with CIA former top secret files”.

The US intelligence agency, often accused by UFO conspiracy theorists of being involved in a major cover up to hide evidence of alien life from the public, has for some reason chosen to upload some of its formerly classified UFO case files to its website.

(15) RETROFUTURISM. Joshua Rothman comments on “The Nostalgic Science Fiction of ‘The X-Files’” in The New Yorker.

Scholars have a term for our fascination with the science fiction of the past: they call it “retrofuturism.” In the “Oxford Handbook of Science Fiction,” Elizabeth Guffey and Kate Lemay offer an elegant definition of the term: “Where futurism is sometimes called a ‘science’ bent on anticipating what will come,” they write, “retrofuturism is the remembering of that anticipation.” Retrofuturism tends to be both celebratory and regretful. On the one hand, the retrofuturist sensibility is drawn to old visions of the future because today’s have lost their appeal; on the other, it recognizes that those old visions had their downsides. Steampunk, for example, is attractive precisely because it rejects the disembodied corporatism of the digital world; still, the vision of the future in the film “Snowpiercer” is both refreshingly analogue and brutally Dickensian. (That’s not to say that retrofuturism is always ambivalent: “Star Wars” is, among other things, an upbeat retrofuturist response to the drug-addled sci-fi of the sixties and seventies.) “The X-Files” was a retrofuturist show. It celebrated the wide-eyed sense, prevalent in the forties, fifties, and sixties, that science was about to change everything. It also recalled the darkness of the Cold War, when individuals felt powerless against vast geopolitical forces, and science brought us to the edge of thermonuclear doom.

Because we live in a moment of reboots, remakes, and revivals, we seem to be surrounded by retrofuturism. Superhero movies, with their emphasis on mad-science mutation, have a retrofuturist appeal. So do the rebooted “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” and “Mad Max.” Even “Interstellar,” in many ways a forward-looking film, also looked back to the sci-fi of the past. If you’re of a theoretical cast of mind, you might wonder what it means to be nostalgic for a retrofuturist show like “The X-Files.” Is it possible, “Inception”-style, to square retrofuturism? Can you look back ambivalently at the way people used to look back ambivalently at a vision of the future?

(16) TV SUCCESS WOULD X-OUT THIRD X-FILES MOVIE. A third X-Files movie has been scripted by Chris Carter – but if the ratings are good for the TV series, he’d prefer to focus on that.

“I actually wrote a third movie, just because I was interested in the idea of where that might go,” Carter told the audience. When Fox approached him about bringing The X-Files back to television, Carter considered repurposing the script for the series. “I let my wife read the third movie,” he shared, “and she said ‘I think not for television.'”

Any chance of a third X-Files film will depend on how strong (or poor) the ratings for the upcoming mini-series are. If the ratings are good, Carter seems more interested it sticking to TV. “I’m waiting for Fox to come back and ask for more,” said Carter. “Then we’ll talk about it.”

And early reports are that ratings for the new show were good.

The preview of the mini-series premiered on Sunday night following the NFC Championship game between the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers and received strong ratings.

Monday’s debut on the mini-series’ normal night will be the true test, along with the subsequently five episodes. Should that run be as strong as many suspect that it will be, a third film might yet by in the cards

(17) SATIRE NOSTALGIA. The WSJ’s Speakeasy blog remembers “When Mulder and Scully Went to Springfield: An Oral History of the ‘Simpsons’ – ‘X-Files’ Crossover”.

Mike Reiss: We had the most illegal shot in TV history. [The episode has] a line-up of aliens where Homer is supposed to pick out which alien is his. We had Alf, Marvin the Martian, Chewbacca — they were all copyrighted. In one five-second shot, we violated five people’s copyrights. But the only comment we ever got was, we had Alf in there. Alf said “Yo!” and I got a call from the real Alf, who said, “Next time you do me, let me do it.”

(18) REV. BOB CROWNED. Our own Rev. Bob was king for about as long as it takes to boil an egg at the Whoisthekingrightnow site. He’s still searchable as Robert in the Hall of Kings, where his three decrees have been immortalized.

King Bob the Horizontal.

  • The denizens of Sensible Castle do not judge. Unless you’re a jerk.
  • Get thee down. Be thou funky.
  • In case of emergency, the masks that drop from the ceiling will make everyone’s final moments MOST interesting. You’re welcome.

[Thanks to Brian Z., John King Tarpinian, Gregory N. Hullender, and Nick Mamatas for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]

Update 01/26/2016: Corrected Rev. Bob’s royal name to the right royal name, with the right decrees.

168 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/25/16 The Depixellated Man

  1. I’m fond of my “You’ve read my T-shirt. That’s enough social interaction for one day” shirt. Comes in handy sometimes.

  2. As a follow-up to my comments on “How I Survive Cons” I’d like to note that Sasquan was an unmitigated delight for me. In large part, that was possible because I’d deployed my survival skills in advance. I’d drawn up a list of “people I’ve never met in person before but know online well enough to introduce myself to”. An actual physical list, lest my brain go blank. I set up a couple of specific “let’s meet at this time and place” with people on that list. (This isn’t to say that I was ignoring people I already knew in person, but I always feel like I’m being a tag-along if I only rely on existing connections.) And I’d sketched out social plans for all dinners.

    ConnieJo, if you decide to give it another shot, groups like this blog are a useful place to ask about meet-ups at particular conventions. Not necessarily “is there going to be a File 770 meet-up” but “I’m going to be at such-and-such a con and would like to make arrangements to meet up with other people.” I find it helps to make specific concrete plans so that specific people are expecting me and I don’t feel like I’m butting in.

    I don’t mean any of this to imply that the responsibility for feeling included is entirely on the person who feels left out. But the reality is that we can only focus on the parts that we can control.

  3. I wonder what George Lucas would say about Rothman’s ~explanation of Star Wars….

  4. Admittedly (man, that was harder to spell than it should’ve been…but I digress), I’ve only been to one Worldcon (Sasquan) and a handful of Dragon*Cons (but that was in high school, 10+ yrs ago), but I find the whole “breaking into the circle” business really difficult. Not only at cons, but in general. At work and with friends, it is so easy to be sociable/funny/insert-other-verbs-here, but when you’re around strangers, even those who share the same interest, I don’t get how you “break-in”, aside from talking to the person sitting next to you at a panel.

    I have so many interesting things to say, listen to me! Actually, I don’t want to be “that guy” so I’ll just sit quietly over here.

  5. ConnieJo

    I hope you have a wonderful time at Conclave.

    I generally make it to about three cons a year (OVFF, GaFilk and FilkOntario) and would be more than happy to introduce you around if we overlap.

    I know when I am at a con I am 1) around people many of whom I have known for more than a decade 2) who I often haven’t seen for six months to a year, which is a combination that makes me (and perhaps other fans) easily distracted from welcoming new people as I ought. That is something that I and I think other fans need to work on more.

    I am not a fan that other fans will listen to in a lot of fandom, but as far as filk goes I think I can open a circle, as Hampus puts it, and I will try to do better.

    And access for everyone and not just the able bodied is also something that convention organizers are only starting to work on, but it is important and will probably only become more so.

    I hope that you will find future conventions more welcoming and easier to navigate.

    And putting on my turnsignal now as I change lanes…
    @Heather Rose Jones,

    I need to wait until my computer is done backing up before I can download your story and transfer it to my Kindle but I look forward to reading it!

    Also @k_choll, Heather, if we’re ever at a con together I would love to meet you in person also!

  6. @Dex

    Yeah, the disconnect on fanfiction is largely due to the perception a lot of authors have that anyone writing fanfic wants to be a professional writer. In my experience, the reality is very different.

    Yep. I think the crucial fact is that pro authorship and fan-fiction writing are two distinct creative activities, closely related in the sense that they involve similar mechanics and skills, but otherwise not overlapping very much. Whether you want to spend your time pursuing one rather than the other, or some combination of the two, depends entirely on your personal objectives. Pro authors who are disdainful of fan-fiction often seem not to get this.

    I spent a few hours on the fringe of a Star Trek con decades ago, but Kansas City will be my first actual convention. I’m privileged in that I am reasonably comfortable in crowds, have no accessibility concerns, like talking to strangers and don’t have to husband my social capital in order to function well. I would still appreciate it if opening the circle was a thing more people did.

    @Heather Rose Jones – It’s a fluffy historical novelette entitled “The Mazarinette and the Musketeer” — a swashbuckling romp chock-full of bisexual women who are actual historic figures.

    Who doesn’t love a swashbuckling romp? I will certainly make time for it. I am currently reading The Mystic Marriage. It’s broken the hold Ancillary Mercy had on my imagination, which is a relief, because I was a little concerned there for awhile. For days, everything I read felt flat and unexciting.

  8. NickPheas, I would totally wear that hat.

    (Also, I would squee all over our Crimson Marsupial to the extent that they might need to find a mop and bucket to remove the excess squee. RedWombat, if you’re ever at Windycon and need someone to go to dinner with, I’m your fangirl…)

  9. On (1): I’ve been gradually growing less and less sympathetic to people who expect the owners of intellectual property to turn a blind eye to blatant copyright violations “because this one is really cool!”, and I think this weekend was the breaking point. (I occasionally write relaxation scripts, and I found out that a German website has been recording them and passing them off as original for three years now. When I told the owner to take them down, guess what I got? “Oh, this is a sign of my admiration for your work! Can’t you just be glad that you’re making so many people happy?” I explained to him that no, oddly enough being accused of plagiarizing my own writing does not generally thrill me. He took it down.)

    (6) One of these cons, I’m going to do a whole panel that’s nothing but sorting random SFF characters into their Hogwarts houses. It’s the most fun parlor game ever for geeks. 🙂

    And (10): It is great that JCW wants peace. Hopefully he understands that peace will involve not continuing to do the same things that pissed everyone off the first several times. 🙂

  10. @Connie Jo @6:24 am

    Hi, nice to meet you! I was standing not far from you at the Confusion panel on awards.

    The thing about fandom is, a lot of us are painfully shy. Heather Rose Jones and Red Wombat wrote about this pretty well. I can report feeling similarly at conventions, many times — oh, nobody here wants to talk to me, everyone is off at the hidden place having a good time — and this was 10+ years into being a slightly-well-known fanzine fan & apa writer. If we weren’t so painfully shy, there’s a good chance we wouldn’t be in fandom.

    For me, the key thing was to get to know people through fanzines and apas — now it would be online activity — before seeing them at conventions. You (Connie Jo) have already made a start by commenting here. Now I can wave and say “Hi, Connie Jo,” next time I see you.

    (I don’t know how one crosses the name barrier. In the fanzine days, most everyone used their real name. For understandable reasons, most online activity takes place with handles. The only Filer I recognized & greeted at Confusion was real-name-wielder Laura Resnick, at the autograph session. For File 770, perhaps there should be badge ribbons.)

    The other Michigan convention to consider is Penguicon, which is a hybrid tech/sf convention. I’ve never been, despite the best efforts of Unix devotees to twist my arm, but I expect I’ll go this year for another chance to listen to Ann Leckie, the guest of honor.

  11. Having mobility problems, I’ve rented scooters for the last ten years. In Orlando, so I could enjoy Disney. NOT from Disney — there are more than one outfits that will rent you a scooter, drop it off at your Disney hotel, or other hotel, and pick it up when you leave. Disney does accessibility right, all their buses do scooters well.

    It would seem to me that a concom could scope out businesses that rent scooters and set up a deal for conference attendees. I realize that would imply that the attendee would probably have to stay at the con hotel, as most city transportation systems are still woefully ill-equipped to deal with mobility scooters. OTOH, curb cutouts and the battery life on the rental scooters mean that zipping around a few blocks is doable.

    Last year I bought a scooter that disassembles into 5 pieces, and fits in the trunk of my car. The heaviest piece weighs 35 pounds, which I can just manage. So now I can shop and go to ball games and other things I couldn’t do before.

    AGAIN, I realize I have the resources ($$$) to do this, but it’s a suggestion for those who have the resources and maybe for friends/family who were wondering what they could do for a friend who has these problems.

  12. There was someone doing the Tele presence robot thing at Loncon.

    Didn’t strike me as capturing all the fun.

  13. nickpheas on January 26, 2016 at 10:39 am said:

    There was someone doing the Tele presence robot thing at Loncon.

    Didn’t strike me as capturing all the fun.

    I guess so 😐

  14. I’m thinking like this. I’ve spent a lot of time here the last almost-a-year or so and so have a lot of others. Some of us might never have met, but we still have enough common references, language, internal humor to now have to sit and stare at each other in silence.

    So if we now are a lot of people going to MidAmericonII and feeling nervous, the obvious thing is to have a small meet-and-greet for filers before the con. The evening before or in the morning. And for those who came a bit later perhaps one later on (or smaller ones).

    Heck, I guess we might even have a vile and wretched room party if we wanted. Just print the best filking from the comment here and stick to the walls to give something to talk about.

    Gaaah, I’m too used to organizing stuff, it is hard to quit. But still, I think we could manage to do something to make it a bit more fun for all filers anyhow. We are coming as part of a community now, regardless if we have met AFK.

  15. The intricacies of opening the circle! I figured this out several years back (that it’s a good thing to do when you’re in the in-group), but I do often end up then outside the circle, sometimes pointed at the person I was attempting to include, sometimes replaced by said person. In the first case, I hope someone else will turn around and the circle can bud off into a new circle. In the second case I go find another drink (drinks are almost a requirement for me to be able to attend pretty much any social gathering), then find another group to try to join.

    I just had a thought, unrelated to the pixels of this scroll… is it possible there’s a connection between the Room 770 party this ‘zine is named after and the flying party in Adams’ Hitchhiker series?

  16. @ Camestros Thank you for posting that robot link. Just thinking about it at a con improved my day at least twofold!

  17. I dropped by the comments on that RSR article and mentioned two new writers that didn’t appear on their list (Jo Zebedee and Pamala Brondos, both apparently eligible from 2015)…. It’s a funny old beast, really, the Campbell Award, isn’t it? Ideally, it should go to someone who’s going to be famous and respected in ten or twenty years time, but if (like me) you’re not psychic*, it’s a bit hard to say who that might be.

    As far as fanfic goes, I do it to keep my hand in… and, paradoxically, I find that sticking to the implicit constraints (you have your setting ready-made, and you’re not allowed to stretch it too far or break it) is a useful exercise in itself. Like writing in sonnet form, or without using the letter “e”, or something. It goes without saying, though, that fanfic is not something I’m hawking around literary agents.

    *I was actually tested, once, by someone at the University of Edinburgh’s Parapsychology Unit. I am officially not psychic.

  18. @Steve Wright

    Yes, the Campbells are a bit of a gamble and… wait, the University of Edinburgh’s what unit? This was seriously a thing?

  19. Not Scroll related, but I’ve finished proofreading the short stories from 1940 and each story is now in at least one category in the thematic table of contents. I just uploaded version 1.3 and the original links still work.

    I’ll get to work proofreading the novelettes, but won’t upload a new version until I have at least 20 novelettes in the thematic table of contents. If you have any ideas about which novelettes belong in which categories, just say so. If enough of you speak up, I can have a crowd sourced thematic table of contents out tomorrow.

    I tried to keep the categories broad enough to accommodate more than one story. So the hypothetical category “John H. Smith Is Abducted by Aliens, Goes to Space Harvard, Has a Rough Semester When His Space Girlfriend Runs off with the Space Circus and His Space Roommate Continually Harasses Him by Sending His Books One Week into the Future, but Gets Back on Track to Graduate Space Summa Cum Laude and Becomes a Space Accountant for Space Pirates Who Refuse to Keep a Proper Inventory,” would eventually be subsumed by “Space Accountants, Space Actuaries, and Space Insurance Adjusters (Non-Satellite Based),” even if the later doesn’t truly capture the exciting, volatile essence of Space Accountancy and the derring-do of the men and women who practice it. But a one story category is better than no category, so suggest away.

    Same goes for novellas, though since there are only 12, I’ll wait til all 12 have been categorized.

  20. Hampus–a File 770 meetup sounds like a great idea–and pre-convention would be very nice for those who can come early.

    Heather–you are right, a squeegee would be perfect. Aarg.

    The first con I attended I got dragged to by friends from college who were already involved. It was the perfect way for a shy person to go to a con–I already had a group to belong to. Looking back on it I wonder if they also wanted people to go with and a group to belong to.

  21. Heather Rose Jones on January 26, 2016 at 10:33 am said:
    @ Cassy B

    might need to find a mop and bucket to remove the excess squee

    I believe the appropriate tool you need for that is a squee-gee.

    Maybe we could prevail upon Cally to lay in a stock of them.

  22. @TheYoungPretender: yes, it seriously was – as far as I know, still is. In 1985, in fact, the University of Edinburgh acquired the Koestler Chair of Parapsychology, courtesy of a bequest from Arthur of that ilk.

    (Personally, I’m inclined to be a little bit open-minded on the subject… it can’t hurt, surely, to have the odd researcher picking around the fringes of things, just on the off chance that Everything We Think We Know Is Wrong. As far as I know, though, the unit’s serious work consists largely of statistical meta-analyses of anomalous data… the sort of thing most people just write off as experimental error. Of course, my information could be way out of date, and by now they might have built their own Cerebro underneath George Square. Who knows?)

  23. @Steve Wright

    Fascinating. Learn something new everyday. But one assumes the referendum results would have been less of a surprise if they had…

    Nice to have someone crunching the data set though – one never know what one will find.

  24. There’ve been cons where I was happy to chat away with people I didn’t know, and there’ve been cons where I walked all the hell around the place and ended up in my room. It’s hard to discern a pattern, or predict which it will be.
    Last Boskone I went to, I saw my friend Paul talking to a guy, and ended up joining in and having a terrific talk (long form) about the roadside furniture up and down the I-25 (or the 287, depending on how long ago) corridor between Texas and Wyoming. I eventually discerned that I was talking to Howard Waldrop, and I’d be delighted to do it again. How I miss the old corridor. Anyway, Mr. Waldrop had a nice way of making me feel welcome, and it was some of the best con chat I’ve had in donkey’s years.

  25. the roadside furniture up and down the I-25 (or the 287, depending on how long ago) corridor

    US 287, surely. (I-25 goes through New Mexico.)

  26. University of Edinburgh’s Parapsychology Unit

    Great, now I’ve got the image of the spun out start up from the University of Glasgow’s equivalent. “Hey, youse ghostie! Can yer mother sew? Get her to stitch this. [Whomp]”

  27. Re: Fanfic – Possibly a point of contention might be different interpretations of the latter clause in “if you intend to publish your work, you’ll need to move beyond fanfic.”

    On the one hand, you can take it as “you’ll need to write something other than fanfic, because fanfic isn’t going to get published unless you’re a really good filer-off of serial numbers,” and it’s uncontroversial.

    On the other hand, “You’ll need to outgrow fanfic, because grown-up authors don’t do that sort of silly stuff” is how some people seem to have taken it. And that’s not entirely unreasonable; when you’ve had a bazillion people already tell you point blank that your hobby is immature kid stuff and when are you going to outgrow it already, it’s very easy to see the phrase “move beyond fanfic” as one more damn iteration of the same damn thing.

    Re: Cons – I intend to go to World Con this year, and while I’ve never been very comfortable going up to people and starting conversations, I’ve gotten a lot better about “faking it” over the years. These days no one believes me when I admit to being terribly shy and introverted and easily embarrassed. It’s true, though. I am. But I’ve painstakingly crafted a brilliant and convincing disguise.

    (And I can echo that it really does help to be able-bodied and healthy. That’s an undeserved head-start in the races. I wish so many cons weren’t still failing, in large ways and small, those fans who aren’t able to walk miles in a day and run up and down stairs without a thought.)

    It’s not “easy,” but it’s gotten easier. Even so, I have my less than happy moments.

    At a recent World Con, I tagged along with some friends to the filk circle on Day 1. I had a lovely time, enough so that I went back with my friends every evening. It was fine up until the last day, and even then it was fine until my friends had left and so had the other people I’d met and gotten friendly with. But OK, we all love to sing, right? We’re one big happy singing family of geeks and nerds and fans, so even if I don’t know anyone here, I’m among family, right?

    And then this one man offered his rendition of “The Two Magicians” to the circle, accompanying himself on hand-drum. I was not at the time familiar with the song, but I could see where it was going within a few verses. Basically, the man propositions the woman, the woman says no (because she’s “too proud,” naturally), the man says “Oh yes you will,” and they spend the next handful of verses in a shapeshifting chase sequence. In the last verse he turns into a bed, she lies down in it, and “the lusty magician became her love, despite all her vaunted pride.”

    I guess you could sort of kind of squint and interpret the last verse as “he finally succeeded in turning her no into a yes” with a topping of “you know she totally wanted it all along” which… isn’t exactly extricating it from rape culture, you know?

    Anyway, I kept waiting for some kind of fannish subversion of the inevitable ending, because I’ve been with this group all weekend and gotten a strong and, I thought, justified impression of them as being woman-friendly, gay-friendly, trans-friendly, safe people who’d have no tolerance for the trappings of rape culture here. At the very least, this was a filk circle; I was waiting for the actual filk. But the subversion never came. He sang the folk song through in its folk tradition, no fannish lyric twists that I could see. And when he finished, there was unrestrained applause and at least one male voice quite near to me saying “Yes!” in a triumphant sort of fist-bumpy way. Yes! That lusty magician sure showed that stuck-up b!tch what was coming to her, didn’t he? Right on!

    I stood up, shaking, and said, basically, “WTF that was a song celebrating a corrective rape, why is this OK?” and it was like I was totally invisible and inaudible. And I was alone in a room full of strangers who had unanimously cheered, it seemed to me, not just for the singer, but for the singer’s choice of song, and for the ending of the story the song told.

    (An online acquaintance told me, “Well, that’s the culture of filk circles. It takes a lot of courage to get up and sing. You don’t criticize choice of songs.” And I thought, really? As long as it’s set to rhyme and music, anything goes? No matter how rapey, bigoted, bullying, gay-bashing, racist, misogynist–anything at all? And I also thought, That circle wasn’t thinking, “Oh, dear, that was problematic, but he was brave for getting up to sing, so, good job, I guess.” That circle gave him *wild* applause and at least one triumphant male fist-punch-the-sky “Yes!” from two seats over.)

    So I fled back to my room, trembling like a sick animal, and burrowed under the covers, and decided that I was never going to come out. Going among other human beings had just been a bad idea from the start and I should have known better. And I continued to think such like thoughts until my roommate came in and was very kind and comforting to me when I told her what had happened.

    (“Oh, yeah, that song,” said my online acquaintance. “I was there. Yeah, that made me feel uncomfortable, too, but I didn’t say anything. Too bad.” And I thought, You were one of the people in that room who saw me stand up and protest–which takes, I think, even more courage than it does to sing, since singing is expected and protest is not. And you said nothing. You could have said something, but you didn’t. You were one of the people in that room who found it expedient to pretend I didn’t exist. Why the hell am I following you on twitter, remind me?)

    So… that sucked.

    One of the many problems with the “one big family” rhetoric is it can sound like “we’re all one big welcoming family, so if you’re not feeling welcome, that’s on you, what’s wrong with you?” Which is definitely the vibe I got when I walked out of that filk circle. Everyone was having fun, so what was *my* problem, right?

    Usually I manage to have a much better time at cons. As I had at that con, actually–that was the only sour note, really! But since it was my last con-programming group-interaction for that weekend it sort of set the tone for remembering the whole con.

    Anyway, like I said, I’m going to try to be at MidAmeriCon II. I have high hopes for a minimum of sucky moments! (Also, I hope hotel rooms haven’t yet run out.) I’m no sort of big name, and I have no particular circle-opening powers above those granted to humans in general, but I like to think I’m friendly. I’d be grateful for the company of people I already know. I’d totally be up for hanging out. [Edit, after reading the posts that came in while I was writing this: And I love Hampus’s idea of a pre-con File 770 meet-up! I might be driving in, so I would be able to adjust my schedule easily to attend.]

    [I was just going make this one quick post before getting to the day’s writing. That was my plan. And now it is an hour later. Dangit, Niki, no File770 before writing, you know that!]

  28. @PJ Evans:
    We’d start the trip on I-25, and at some point we’d go off and take other roads. Yeah, 87 or 287 most of the way, then. We did go over Raton Pass one time. One frozen time, since the trip was almost always taken for the Christmas holidays. I’m not sure we ever repeated that particular leg. We’d pretty much always go through the Oklahoma panhandle and Amarillo, and end up in the Bandera-Kerrville area, depending on just what point in history it was. Grand-Dad’s ranch was near Tarpley, then he moved to one between Bandera and Medina, and he spent his last years in Kerrville.

  29. @Steve Wright

    by now they might have built their own Cerebro underneath George Square. Who knows?)

    If they did it is probably suffering hydrocephalus today given how wet it’s been. That might explain our power going out though.

  30. @Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Well, that’s rude. I’m very sorry to hear that happened, that you had to see it, and that a lot of people who probably should have known better didn’t say a word. And I’m glad you shared why people didn’t say anything, because I think there is an issue with that “one big family” rhetoric tamping down on criticism of just how uncomfortable, how triggering, some behavior, “jokes” or cosplay can be.

  31. Linda Nagata’s The Red: The Trials has just gone on my personal nominations list. It’s best described as Person Of Interest but with bigger guns, and a feral AI that’s meddling. The point where the folk who worship the AI turn out to be worse than the people who nuked data centers to kill the AI in book 1 is really well done.

  32. @Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Ugh. That sounds like a genuinely terrible experience. You should be very proud of yourself for speaking up–going against group consensus in any context is always very difficult (there’s a study with lines of different lengths, and…um, you can look it up later), and it’s not surprising at all that you had a stress reaction when nobody was willing to stand with you. It took a lot of courage to do what you did, and you were absolutely right to do it–I’ve never heard that song, but it sounds _terrible_.

  33. nickpheas on January 26, 2016 at 10:39 am said:

    There was someone doing the Tele presence robot thing at Loncon.

    Didn’t strike me as capturing all the fun.

    Mike reported on it at the time.

  34. @Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    it’s very easy to see the phrase “move beyond fanfic” as one more damn iteration of the same damn thing.

    Agreed. I understand the meaning behind it, that creative writing needs critical skills in establishing worlds and characters that don’t have an automatic background built right in for the reader. But I think that many pro-writers have an invisible wall in their heads when it comes down to the difference between the concept of fanfiction writing and the nature of fanfic. Because fanfic is a purely amateur realm, I think some look at the writing of it as an uninformed process at best and cultural theft at worst. Meanwhile, they find no creative parallel when a friend is hired to write an official Star Wars novel or a run on Superman.

    For example, I remember GRRM coming down hard on fanfic a week after he’d written a short story about the Dog fighting Rand Al’Thor. Or getting torched by Warren Ellis when his career had been launched writing about Doctor Doom and Excalibur. Anyone working with an established property isn’t approaching it any differently than a writer approaching fanfiction from a creative perspective, in my opinion. To try and moralize it as some kind of slight means that the bar they are ethically setting is constantly being broken by themselves and others.

  35. @Heather Rose Jones, I really appreciated your comments. I’ve only attended a con twice, and I felt the “someone else’s party/family” thing pretty acutely, even though I didn’t feel like anyone was actually trying to exclude me in any way; really, as far as I could tell, everyone was behaving pretty much the same way I would behave if I were at an event where I had a fair number of friends. In fact I did have some good friends there, but I realized a bit late that since they were all volunteering at the con, of course they were going to be very busy most of the time and I hadn’t planned for what to do when they weren’t around.

    The only time I’ve really felt a bit resentful about people not making more of an effort to be welcoming was at a non-SF event where, at the time and place that had been officially designated as a “mixer”, the first arrivals formed up in an actual circle around a line of bar tables which, due to the layout of the place, created a solid barrier of backs with no way for a new arrival to say hi except by literally climbing over people. I had to laugh – it was hard to imagine any way to make something more blatantly not a mixer.

  36. I am pretty darn cool (and modest!) I have been doing cons for over a decade, and if I look around between panels and don’t know anyone? I go hide in a corner or go to my room. I do not have the…thing…that allows me to go up and talk to strangers unless I have a really good excuse. (What would I say? “Hi, I’m cool! Please talk to me?”)

    I have the great good fortune that I’ve made enough of a name that people who do have this thing come up and talk to ME. Thank god. And I usually have my spouse or a friend so I am not sad and alone at dinner every night. But there were a lot of cons of what-the-hell-am-I-doing before I got even that far…

    I’ve been doing cons for, um, 32 years as a pro, maybe 40 as a fan, and I can concur. I’m not all that outgoing around people I don’t know, so when I was at Sasquan and didn’t have anything to do, I’d generally just sit somewhere and read or relax and watch people go by — I didn’t go back to my room because yeesh, what a hike.

    I did say hi to Mike Glyer, when I recognized him from his avatar here, but when it’s people I “know” online, it’s different.

    There were also people I just plain know from regular life there, like George R.R. Martin and Joshua Bilmes, and it was nice to talk to them. And then there were people who recognized me and struck up a conversation, and I had a great time talking with them, including Ken Burnside, the Castalia House author and Puppy Hugo nominee I had a delightful breakfast with. And I made some new friends. But the few people I’d never met but went and introduced myself to had places to be (which is to be expected at a busy con), so I gave that up early on.

    And I had most meals alone, but I don’t mind that much. Nothing like whiling away a decent meal with a good beer and a good book.

    So it goes. There are some cons crammed with friends and I wind up scheduled to the ears and exhausted, and there are cons where I know many fewer people and they’re all somewhere else…

  37. Thank you very much Nicole for standing up. And thus encouraged I’m going to talk about a story that was enthusiastically recommended by a couple of people yesterday, “A Dry Quiet War”, and say that I really really didn’t like how it used the rape of the main character’s girlfriend to motivate him. Bad guys come to town and do all sorts of bad stuff and he won’t fight them because it would have cosmic consequences, and then they rape his girlfriend and that causes him to fly off the handle, kill them gruesomely, and then run off to war again, leaving his girlfriend (and erasing her from the timeline if I remember correctly) It’s been 6 months since I read the story but I seem to recall there was a whole heap of problematic stuff in it.

  38. @John Seavey

    I’ve never heard that song, but it sounds _terrible_.

    It’s a classic folk song. I find it hard to comprehend that someone would do a straight version of it, without changing the lyrics, particularly in the situation described. Current 93 did a version of it called “Oh Coal Black Smith” and it ends… well, depending on how you look at it, less or more dark, but I’d say definitely better, in that it acknowledges what’s going on:

    Then she became a fly
    A fly all in the air
    And he became a spider
    And fetched her to his lair
    And she became a corpse,
    A corpse all in the ground
    And he became the cold grey clay
    And smothered her all around

    ETA: I’m actually assuming Oh Coal Black Smith is a variation on The Two Wizards. Just realized that.

  39. I have been to a handful of conventions (mostly worldcons). I don’t know what this obsession is about “hanging with the cool kids.”

    If you want to connect and engage, rather than the bar, I’ve had more luck at consuites. You sit at an occupied table and say “Hi, my name is X, what’s yours?” And then you ask inane ice-breaking questions: Where are you from? Have you been to worldcons before? What’s the best panel you’ve attended so far? Who’s your favorite author?

    If that’s too far outside of your comfort zone, you need to realize that other people have your exact same problem: SHYNESS!

    Another good place to meet/engage with folks is author signing lines, especially the loooong ones.

    And last, but not least, you can volunteer! I haven’t yet, but I have friends who have and it’s widened their circle immensely.

  40. @TYP: “I think there is an issue with that “one big family” rhetoric tamping down on criticism of just how uncomfortable, how triggering, some behavior, “jokes” or cosplay can be.”

    I can’t help wondering if that’s one of the factors that’s led the SF culture war – by which I mean not just the Puppies, but Racefail and the SFWA Bulletin flap and the other similar recent fights – to become as big and loud as it is. No betrayal hurts quite so much as that which comes from your own family.

  41. And I rattled off all that about Sasquan and didn’t mention the File 770 dinner, which was also great…

  42. News:

    Frances Hardinge, whose Cuckoo Song was getting plenty of love here recently, has won the Costa Book of the Year award for her novel The Lie Tree. Apparently only the second children’s book to win overall (the other was Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass).

  43. I think I might bring a sign where it says “Talk to me – win a kinderegg”. I can’t think of anyone who would refuse the chance to win a kinderegg.

  44. Meanwhile, they find no creative parallel when a friend is hired to write an official Star Wars novel or a run on Superman.

    There are certainly parallels, but there are differences as well, notably that the writer hired to do official work isn’t doing whatever they want, but is doing something approved and edited by the copyright holder or their representative.

    Anyone working with an established property isn’t approaching it any differently than a writer approaching fanfiction from a creative perspective, in my opinion.

    As someone who’s done both (not much fan fiction, but some) and even one project where there was official premature but we were left utterly to ourselves, it’s definitely different in my opinion.

    Not in the sense of moral superiority, but in practicality, sure.

    It annoys me when I see someone try to define “fanfic” as “any time you write characters you don’t own,” as if someone writing DRAGNET teleplays was doing it for love of the characters (or, closer to home, that I must have written THE ADVENTURES OF JELL-O MAN AND WOBBLY because I was such a big fan of two characters who hadn’t so much as appeared yet and were inane when they did).

    On the flip side of that, though, I think Superman should have gone into the public domain years ago, so that people could write Superman fiction and do whatever they want and use it to comment on whatever they want as surely as they can with Dracula the Artful Dodger, and not have it relegated to the legal strictures of fanfic. At some point, this stuff is supposed to become the property of the public, not eternally under the control of an owner.

  45. We could also set up standard meeting places. If you are bored or with nothing to do, go to place X and see if there are any wretched filers around to talk with.

    Maybe not interesting for veterans, but nice for us newbies.

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