Pixel Scroll 2/24/20 You Make Me Vote Like A Natural Person…

(1) WORLDCON AMBITIONS. Tammy Coxen wants to remedy the problem of groups bidding for Worldcons without having any knowledge of the norms and customs of the convention they want to run. With input from many others, she has created an introduction — “So You Want to Bid for a Worldcon”.

Have you ever thought about running a Worldcon? Because Worldcon has been going on for so long (over 80 years!) there are a lot of expectations, traditions, norms and customes about how to do that, and if you don’t know about them, it’s really hard to win your bid! We haven’t necessarily done a great job of communicating that to people, so (with a lot of help from friends) I put together this intro guide. This is not a how-to document with details – this is more big picture. I think it’s useful to all bidders, but it should be especially useful to people who are new(er) to Worldcons. Please feel free to share.

(2) AURORA AWARDS NEWS. The Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association reminded people today that the Aurora Awards Eligibility lists close February 29, 2020. And the announcement comes with a warning —

This means that if there are any works you wish to nominate for an award which are not found on the public eligibility lists you will need to submit them before 11:59PM EST February 29, 2020.

Nominations will open March 1, 2020.  

Unlike in previous years, works that are not on the Eligibility lists prior to the opening of Nominations will NOT be able to be added.  

(3) BENFORD Q&A. At Buzzy Mag, Jean Marie Ward conducts the “Gregory Benford Interview – The future is all we have left”.

Jean: We’re so glad to have you. Your most recent published books are both alternate history. “The Berlin Project” looks at the world that might have been if the U.S. had the A bomb before D-day. “Rewrite” offers a sequel to your classic timescape with a Groundhog Day twist. What occasioned this desire to remake recent history?

Gregory: Because it’s so tempting. There are so many pivot points, particularly in World War II and I as a physicist was very close to the issue of, how do you get the Uranium-235 to make bombs? You have to separate it out from the heavier 238 isotope. And the decision of how to do that, I had two choices and General Groves was forced to make the choice because the scientists were divided and he chose the wrong one and it cost us a year in the Second World War. It’s generally agreed by historians that had we suggested or made happen centrifically a separation, spinning cylinders, we would have chopped a year off the gaseous diffusion that Oak Ridge used and spent $1 billion doing. So, how would that change the war? You would have the bomb at D-day, well, how would you use it? And I use this title, “The Berlin Project” because that’s what the scientists in the project called it the first few years because the target was Berlin. Groves said that was too obvious.

So he called it the Manhattan Project and opened an office in Manhattan to give the excuse of, well, of course it was near Columbia University where all his work was done, but still they were always focused on Berlin. So, that was just too tempting because I was a postdoc for Edward Teller at Livermore for two years and then a staff member. He offered me a staff position which I took before I went to UC Irvine. And Teller told me all these delicious stories about the Manhattan Project. And I knew so many of them. The woman who helped me to do physics at UC San Diego, Maria Kepert Mayor, when I was working on problems with her and did a bunch of nuclear physics, again for my thesis, she won the Nobel Prize. And she told me all kinds of delicious stories about the Manhattan Project….

(4) GIBSON BAFFLED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Behind a paywall in the February 15 Financial Times, John Thornhill interviews William Gibson.

Gibson knew the late (John Perry) Barlow well, but he says he is ‘absolutely baffled by the naive utopianism of the early Internet pioneers, who enthused about disruption.  Barlow professed to love Neuromancer — according to Gibson — but appeared to have missed the central idea that cyberspace also had its downsides.  Even today Gibson says he is puzzled by older readers who approach him at book signings to thank him for inspiring them to pursue a career in tech.

“They’d read a book in which there didn’t appear to be any middle class left and in which no characters had employment.  They were all criminal freelancers of one sort or another. So, it was always quite mysterious to me.”

(5) BRINGING DIVERSITY TO SPACE. “Black in Space: Breaking the Color Barrier” is airing this week on the Smithsonian Channel. It also can be viewed on YouTube.

America’s experiences during the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race are well documented. However, few know about the moment these two worlds collided, when the White House and NASA scrambled to put the first black astronaut into orbit. This is the untold story of the decades-long battle between the U.S. and the Soviet Union to be the first superpower to bring diversity to the skies, told by the black astronauts and their families, who were part of this little known chapter of the Cold War.

…On Aug. 30, 1983, the astronaut Guion Bluford embarked as a crew member of the Space Shuttle Challenger, making him the first African-American in space. This documentary features him alongside Edward Dwight, an Air Force pilot edged out of a position with NASA, and Frederick Gregory, the first African-American to command a NASA mission, to examine the complications of sending a black man into space during the Cold War. 

Also included are Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez, the first Cuban astronaut sent into space by the Soviet Union, and Ronald McNair, an African-American pilot who died in the Challenger disaster in 1986.

(6) JOHNSON OBIT. Fame came late in Katherine Johnson’s life for her contributions to the early space program. “Smithsonian Curators Remember Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician Highlighted in ‘Hidden Figures,’ Who Died at 101”.

…Striking out during “a time when computers wore skirts,” she once said, Johnson quickly proved her incomparable worth. So trusted were her calculations that astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, considered them an integral part of his preflight checklist—even after the equations had been transferred over to modern electronic machines. “When he got ready to go,” Johnson said of Glenn, “he said, ‘Call her. And if she says the computer is right, I’ll take it.”

Her work fueled innumerable feats of aeronautics, several of which were outlined in the 26 research papers Johnson published over her decades-long career. The earliest of these publications made Johnson one of the first women at NASA to become a named author or co-author on an agency report, according to Margalit Fox at the New York Times.

…Though Johnson’s landmark contributions went mostly unheralded by mainstream media throughout her tenure at Langley, the 2010s finally brought her name into the public eye. In 2015, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama, who described Johnson as “a pioneer who broke the barriers of race and gender, showing generations of young people that everyone can excel in math and science, and reach for the stars,” reports Russell Lewis for NPR. The next year, Margot Lee Shetterly’s book Hidden Figures, as well as a movie adaptation by the same name, highlighted the accomplishments of Johnson and her colleagues.

The film was nominated for three Oscars. When Johnson took the stage at the 2017 Academy Awards ceremony, the mathematician—then 98 years old and the only one of the movie’s central characters still alive at the time of its release—received a thunderous standing ovation. That fall, NASA dedicated a new Langley building in her honor, the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility….

The Washington Post obituary also includes many details of her personal life and early career at NACA and its successor, NASA.

…Mrs. Johnson had a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and spent her early career studying data from plane crashes, helping devise air safety standards at a time when the agency’s central concern was aviation….

Chris Garcia wrote her bio when the Bay Area’s Computer History Museum made her a Fellow last year:

… NACA was renamed National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) in 1958, and Johnson became an aerospace technologist within NASA’s Spacecraft Controls branch. In 1960 she coauthored Determination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite Over a Selected Earth Position, an important report that laid out the equations for determining landing position for orbital spaceflight. In 1961 she calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 Earth orbital mission….

(7) MORE ABOUT BARBARA REMINGTON, In “Blast from ye past”, DB follows this intro with some intriguing comments and insights about the late artist:

Barbara Remington has died, at 90. Really old-time Tolkienists will remember her name as that of the artist who created the covers for the first issue of the Ballantine paperbacks of The Lord of the Rings, which may be seen pictured in her obituary here. (Note they’re all actually one painting split into three parts, which was also issued as a single poster without overprinting.)

Ballantine’s goal was to get the books in the shops quickly, to compete with the unauthorized Ace paperbacks, so they gave Remington very little time to work….


  • February 24, 1952Aladdin And His Lamp premiered. It was directed by Lew Landers, and starred Johnny Sands and Patricia Medina. Filming was finished in less than a week. It was originally produced for a television audience, then Allied Artists picked up the film and added additional footage for a theatrical release. You can see this short film here.
  • February 24, 1960 The Amazing Transparent Man premiered. It was directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, and starred Marguerite Chapman and Douglas Kennedy. It and Beyond the Time Barrier were film in Dallas in two weeks. Critics in general liked it, but the audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes is a lousy 16%. You can see the film here.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 24, 1909 August Derleth. He’s best known as the first book publisher of H. P. Lovecraft, and for his own fictional contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos (a term that S. T. Joshi does not like). Let not to overlook him being the founder of Arkham House which alas is now defunct. I’m rather fond of his detective fiction with Solar Pons of Praed Street being a rather inspired riff off the Great Detective. (Died 1971.)
  • Born February 24, 1933 Verlyn Flieger, 87. Well-known Tolkien specialist. Her best-known books are Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s WorldA Question of Time: J. R. R. Tolkien’s Road to Faerie, which won a Mythopoeic Award, Tolkien’s Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth (her second Mythopoeic Award) and Green Suns and Faërie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien (her third Mythopoeic Award). She has written a YA fantasy, Pig Tale, and some short stories.
  • Born February 24, 1945 Barry Bostwick, 75. Best remembered for being Brad Majors in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. His first genre undertaking was the English language narration of Fantastic Planet. He voices the Mayor in The Incredibles 2
  • Born February 24, 1947 Edward James Olmos, 73. Reasonably sure the first thing I saw him in was as Detective Gaff in Blade Runner, but I see he was Eddie Holt in Wolfen a year earlier which was his genre debut. Though I didn’t realize it as I skipped watching the entire film, he was in The Green Hornet as Michael Axford. (I did try watching it, I gave up after maybe fifteen minutes. Shudder.) He has a cameo as Gaff in the new Blade Runner film. And he’s William Adama on the rebooted  Battlestar Galactica. He made appearances on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Eureka
  • Born February 24, 1951 Helen Shaver, 69. Her SFF debut was as Betsy Duncan in Starship Invasions aka Project Genocide in the U.K. though you’ve likely not heard of her there, you might have seen her as Carolyn in The Amityville Horror.  She’s Littlefoot’s mother in The Land Before Time, and Kate ‘White’ Reilly in the second Tremors film. She’s got one-offs in The Outer Limits, Amazing Stories, Ray Bradbury Theater and Outer Limits to name but a few. And she was Dr. Rachel Corrigan in Poltergeist: The Legacy, a super series indeed.
  • Born February 24, 1966 Billy Zane, 54. His genre roles include Match in Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part II, Hughie Warriner in Dead Calm, John Justice Wheeler in Twin Peaks, The Collector in Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight and the title role in The Phantom.
  • Born February 24, 1966 Ben Miller, 54. He first shows up in our corner of things on The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones in the “Daredevils of the Desert” episode as an unnamed French Officer. His main genre role was on Primeval, a series I highly recommend as a lot of fun, as James Lester.  He later shows up as the Sheriff of Nottingham in a Twelfth Doctor episode entitled “Robot of Sherwood”. 
  • Born February 24, 1968 Martin Day, 52. I don’t usually deal with writers of licensed works but he’s a good reminder that shows such as Doctor Who spawn vast secondary fiction universes. He’s been writing such novels first for Virgin Books and now for BBC Books for over twenty years. The Hollow Men, a Seven Doctor novel he co-wrote wrote with Keith Topping, is quite excellent. In addition, he’s doing Doctor Who audiobooks for Big Finish Productions and other companies as well. He’s also written several unofficial books to television series such as the X Files, the Next Generation and the Avengers


  • Today’s Bizarro is a look-twice.
  • The Argyle Sweater has a silly twist on a common parents-with-a-teenager line.
  • And the brilliant Tom Gauld again –

(11) MARTIAN HOPS. “Hunting for ‘marsquakes,’ NASA lander finds a surprisingly active red planet” reports the LA Times.

…The lander, which touched down on the red planet 15 months ago, has detected plenty of seismic activity, an unexpectedly strong local magnetic field and around 10,000 whirlwinds passing over the Martian surface.

The findings, published Monday in a suite of six papers in the journals Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications, will help scientists unlock the secrets of Mars’ interior and understand why it looks so different from Earth.

“What these results really are showing us is that Mars is an active planet today,” said Bruce Banerdt, the mission’s principal investigator, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada-Flintridge, and a co-author of the new studies.

InSight is situated in a roughly 27-yard-wide impact crater in western Elysium Planitia, a volcanic plain whose surface material ranges in age from 3.7 billion to just 2.5 million years old. About 1,000 miles away lies Cerberus Fossae, a volcanic region full of faults, evidence of old lava flows and signs that liquid water once ran on the surface.

(12) HITCH YOUR WAGON TO A STAR. In the Washington Post, Homer Hickam argues that it’s time for a “moon rush” and “once electricians, plumbers, miners, and construction workers start going to the moon, and the middle class starts using products made with materials from Luna, the United States will turn into a true spacefaring nation.” “Let the moon rush begin”.

As these efforts get going, however, it’s important to avoid the thinking of a half-century ago and look at the moon in a different way. This is, after all, not your grandfather’s moon. After the Apollo moon-landing program of the 1960s and ’70s, a series of robotic missions discovered that Luna was a lot more interesting than many had previously thought. It has abundant water and oxygen, as well as helium, platinum, thorium, rare earth metals and other minerals that may well be worth digging up and transporting back for use in thousands of products. Last year, a gigantic blob of metal, as yet unidentified but significantly larger than the Big Island of Hawaii, was discovered beneath the lunar south pole. Whatever it is, it has value. The quiet far side of the moon could also provide a location for interstellar observatories, and tourists who would pay a lot to have a lunar vacation are inevitable. In other words, a real business case can be made for the moon, a case that could not only put dollars back into the pockets of taxpayers but also open up jobs for skilled workers on the lunar surface.

(13) FEEL THE HEAT. Own the “Darth Vader Helmet BBQ Grill” for a mere $724.97! Yahoo! Lifestyle adds:

In addition to the Darth Vader version, Burned by Design LTD makes a R2D2 fire pit, a Storm Trooper fire pit, a Death Star fire pit, and a Boba Fett fire pit. So find your favorite character and enjoy one of those long, outdoor summer nights.

(14) FEEL THE BEAT. “Earth Harp: The man behind the unique instruments ‘epic’ sound” – BBC video.

William Close is the inventor behind the Earth Harp – the world’s longest string instrument which uses architecture and landscapes to create a unique sound.

Mr Close, who has performed the giant harp all over the world, says the audiences are often left feeling like they are “inside the instrument” during his performances.

(15) SET AN EXAMPLE. “Marvel’s Black Panther film costumes to star in new Ipswich exhibition”.

Costumes from Marvel’s Black Panther film will feature in an exhibition designed to help “young black people shape their sense of identity”.

Three costumes from the big-screen hit will be on show at Unmasked: The Power of Stories in Ipswich.

Organisers were inspired by the film’s message about the capacity of storytelling to unite or divide people.

Contributor Phanuel Mutumburi said the exhibition would provide opportunities for people to join in.

Ipswich’s communities were “at the heart” of the exhibition, which would highlight important issues for different communities within the Suffolk town, said organisers.

(16) MAKING DEW. BBC traces “The ethereal art of fog-catching”.

In chronically dry regions around the world, communities are finding ways to live from the water suspended in the air – creating valuable drinking water from mist.

When Abel Cruz was just a boy, near the Peruvian region of Cusco, he had to walk for more than an hour every day to collect water from the nearest source and take it back home. Then he realised that, during the rainy season, drops accumulated in the banana leaves.

“When we saw that, my father and I built natural canals with the leaves to collect the water,” he says. “The first drops were a bit dirty and dusty, yet it was useful to wash dishes.”

The leaves, however, only lasted for around two weeks. “So we cut bamboo in half and we replaced the canal pipes with them, which lasted a lot longer,” explains Cruz. “That is how I got involved with collecting water.”

Today Cruz is collecting water in a very different way – he catches fog.

With large sheets of mesh strung up on hillsides, it is possible to harvest the thick mists that drift across the arid Peruvian landscape. Tiny droplets condense on the netting and dribble down into pipes that carry the water into containers where it can be used to irrigate crops or even as drinking water.

Each net can capture between 200-400 litres of fresh water every day, providing a new source of water for communities that have had no easy access to regular supplies. Cruz has helped to install more than 2,000 of these fog catching nets in eight rural communities across Peru as well as in Bolivia, Colombia and Mexico. The impact has been dramatic.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mitigation of Shock from Superflux on Vimeo is about an installation by Superflux displaying the gloomy world of 2050 after climate change and economic collapse.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Tammy Coxen, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

55 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/24/20 You Make Me Vote Like A Natural Person…

  1. (4) Alan Alda said that he met fans of MASH who were inspired to join the army by the program, which likewise puzzled him.

  2. 9) A while back I read the entire Solar Pons series, and I was struck by how condescending and snotty Pons is to Dr. Lyndon Parker, Derleth’s Dr. Watson stand-in. Sherlock Holmes tends to be three steps ahead of Watson, but there is always a bond and respect there for Watson. By the time I finished the Pons series, I was waiting for Parker to frag Pons while they were out on a case.

  3. @Iphinome: I had exactly the same reaction.

    (9): Dead Calm is a pretty decent thriller (it gets a bit over-the-top towards the finish) but to the best of my recollection it has no genre elements.

  4. (1) Shall we assume China has abandoned its Worldcon ambitions, at least for the interim?

    (9) @PhilRM: Absolutely no genre elements, but a decent thriller which incidentally brought Nicole Kidman to Tom Cruise’s attention for Days of Thunder.

  5. @1: I was wondering who one person was to think they could generate useful advice, but this all looked reasonable and useful — right up to the “But I Want to Start a Worldcon Bid Right Now, and I Don’t Have Time for Any of That”, to which the answer should have been “Don’t bid, unless you like being laughed at.” And the following claim that the Worldcon could be held in June is … debatable.

    @10 (Bizarro): the artist knows his stuff — the 3 of clubs is their signature card.

    @12: as an economist, he’s a tolerable engineer.

    @Steve Green: of course not; they can’t admit they’re not sure about whipping Covid-19, and today’s statistics suggest they’re at least starting to get the outbreak under control (per a radio story, which was short enough that I couldn’t be certain they hadn’t changed the statistics’ bases again). And I suspect that if this is still a problem in 2.5 years the rest of the world will also be in trouble.

  6. Chip Hitchcock: they can’t admit they’re not sure about whipping Covid-19, and today’s statistics suggest they’re at least starting to get the outbreak under control (per a radio story, which was short enough that I couldn’t be certain they hadn’t changed the statistics’ bases again). And I suspect that if this is still a problem in 2.5 years the rest of the world will also be in trouble.

    They’ve identified a Chinese woman who infected 5 family members without ever experiencing symptoms. So we’re going to have some Typhoid Marys and Typhoid Mikes walking around, and I’m inclined to think that we’re looking at a possible pandemic.

  7. @Chip Hitchcock – well of course the answer is “don’t do that” – but if someone can read through this entire document and a section title that whiny and still come to the conclusion that they’re going to launch a bid right now, then at least they’ll know enough not to embarrass themselves.

    I’m the Hugo Admin for CoNZealand and ran WSFS division for MAC II, so I have some experience in the matter (as do other folks who contributed to the doc). I would never recommend anyone should try to do the Hugos in June, but it is technically feasible.

  8. 9) There is an excellent Lebanese restaurant just off Praed St, past 161 and take a turn south.

  9. Arkham House is still in existence, although they’re stuck because of the death of April Derleth. So maybe they’re sleeping… at the bottom of an ocean. In Wisconsin. You can still order some reprints from their catalog. (Debt and estate law can be scarier than Cthulhu.)

  10. 12) While he is right about development and settlement being an accelerator for space colonization, I think the first hurdle is food. Any sizeable settlement will need a ready supply of food…and farmers. But given the radiation exposure of outer space, what solutions are available?

    There was an article a few decades back about a skyscraper in Japan that used solar collectors (large lenses) and fiber optics to deliver sunlight to interior spaces. The use of that system was reported to filter out radiation.

    I wonder if something similar might work in outer space. Perhaps building farms below the lunar surface and using solar collectors and fiber optics to get the needed sunlight to the plants while shielding them from harmful radiation. Given that solar power is greater on the moon than on the surface of the earth, a single collector could service many fields. Two fields could alternate “day” and “night”. The 14-day long lunar “night” is going to be an issue.

    Or maybe cylindrical orbital stations using centripetal force to simulate gravity and solar collectors/fiber optics to route the sun’s energy. A heavy enough outer shell would be a decent shield. Put the axis of rotation parallel/tangent to the earth’s surface and use a secondary satellite with a giant mirror(s) to reflect the sunlight to the orbital station.

    The bottom line is that boosting food into orbit from the earth is an expensive proposition that will limit human expansion to the stars. I think that there will inevitably be an extraterrestrial economy that will interact with the Terran economy but will not be wholly dependent on it.

    Yes, I’ve spent way too much time thinking about this. The orbital manufacturies are stunning….in my mind.

    Farmers in the sky lead the way!

    Coolidge is dead – “How could they tell? – Dorothy Parker

  11. I have seen Worldcon bids by experienced committees but with no local fan support such as the time someone bid for a place in Mexico. Those I call carpet bagger bids. Others have been supported only by their local government, Croatia was one. The freakin place was at war at the time. The Chinese bid is supported by the government as I have not seen any opportunity to presupport them. The Saudi bid seems to be based on a pun as the town sounds like Jedi. I avoid those bids. The last Orlando bid which involved a Disney property and was being sold as that turned me off also. Presently, everyone seems sincere. I don’t know how much fan support the Nice bid has but since all of us have read good French SF, we know there is a basis for it at least culturally. I avoid carpetbagger bids and weird government bids and bids for countries that are offensive to me as a Daughter of the Enlightenment. (China and Saudi Arabia)

  12. (3) “Maria Kepert Mayor” in the interview transcript is actually Maria Goeppert Mayer. Until now I thought she was merely a character in Benford’s Timescape and not a real-life 1963 Nobel Prize in Physics winner.

  13. @1: The BBC has some more detail, including how a planet with no tectonic plates can have earthquakes. (Also interesting if the LATimes site firewalls, which it didn’t for me.)

    @Tammy Coxen: that depends on your definition of “technically feasible”; if you mean simply moving all the dates back enough that nominating and final ballots can be counted and trophies ordered you’re correct, but (as discussed here when Jeddicon was first announced) that would seriously shortchange the voters’ time for judgment. There are at least two past Hugo administrators who check in here; they may disagree, but I suspect your experience for CoNZealand will be easier due to a smaller voter base.

    And bidders may have read enough — but that doesn’t mean they will actually be able not to embarrass themselves given the short time they’ll have to pull things together (assuming they’ve actually absorbed what they read). I’m sure someone here has better data, but the shortest successful bid I know of was Noreascon Four, which debuted at the 2000 Arisia (so it had ~19.5 months) — and we’d just spent over 6 years (ending ~17 months before) bidding for other years, so we were a known quantity. (IIRC, Helsinki jumped in late for 2015, seeing what they thought was weak competition, and finished last — although they at least forced a runoff count, which hadn’t happened in some time.) Since we’re no longer working with zones, bids can happen for any place at any time — which means that a more plausible answer would say that and suggest they examine why a short bid is necessary.

  14. @Chip Hitchcock – I agree with you that it’s a horrible idea, and that no one SHOULD run a Worldcon in June. But I believe it’s possible, from the Hugo schedule at least. And having worked high level positions (including Division Head) at a bunch of Worldcons now and chaired a NASFiC that had 10 months from (contested) election to opening day of the con, I don’t think it’s impossible from a conrunning perspective either. Every Worldcon needs 6 more months of planning time, but they need it during the last 6 weeks before the convention. Remember when we thought 3 year lead time would solve all of our problems?

    I think anyone who actually proceeds with launching a bid without having done any of the stuff I write about before the final section is not serious about winning, or if they are, is not going to win anyway. Maybe they are launching a bid to get government funding or permission to travel. Maybe they want to impress their Grandma. There’s a reason that there is almost zero how-to specifics on running a bid in here – because you learn those things by becoming part of the community, getting involved, and asking questions. And the point of the document is to get people to do that, not to give them a how-to manual.

  15. Weeeeeeellll,
    you know you make me wanna vote!
    Fill up my ballot &vote

    Read all the novels & vote
    Read the reviews &vote
    come on now, ()

    don’t forget to say you will
    don’t forget to say yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
    (say you will)
    say it right now, baby (say you will)
    come on, come on (say you will)
    say it, oh-eeeee (say you will)
    come on now (say)
    say that you vote with me (say)
    say that you gonna Vote

    Inspired by scroll title. And recent non-genre events in Germany

  16. Chip Hitchcock on February 24, 2020 at 8:57 pm said:

    And the following claim that the Worldcon could be held in June is … debatable.

    I think that given the Hugo Awards schedule, the earliest practical date would be the first weekend of July, which is usually the US Independence Day weekend although not always depending on the day of the week on which July 4 falls. Early Worldcons were held on that weekend, but the Hugo Awards had not been instituted yet.

    Linda Robinett on February 25, 2020 at 6:39 am said:

    I avoid carpetbagger bids….

    But I thought you were at Renovation (2011, Reno, Nevada), weren’t you? It was effectively a “carpetbagger” bid by your definition, being run out of Portland, Oregon. (It was fortunate for me that Worldcon was there, as the day after the convention, while Lisa was packing out hotel room in the Atlantis, I was at a title company down the road from the Reno-Sparks Convention Center picking up the keys to our new home in Fernley, roughly 40 miles east of there. Also, I was not involved in the management of the convention.)

    I’ll admit too that Westercon 74 is a “carpetbagger” convention. Nobody on the organizing committee lives in or near Tonopah, unless you consider 200 miles away to be “nearby.”

  17. (9) Also Abe Vigoda’s birthday. I hadn’t realized he had been on Dark Shadows before he was cast as Tessio in The Godfather. The usual appearances on Fantasy Island, The Bionic Woman, Tales from the Darkside, and most importantly….Supertrain.

    Also John Vernon who was the voice of Tony Stark and Namor in the 1966 Marvel cartoons long before he became Dean Wormer in Animal House. (He’d eventually do the voices of Rupert Thorne in Batman: The Animated Series and General Ross in The Incredible Hulk in the 90s.) His first IMDB listing is for the uncredited role as Big Brother in the 1956 version of 1984.

    “Fifth, drunk, and stupid is no way to scroll through life, pixel.”

  18. Does anyone have a good index of old-school conventions?

    Like the type of conventions that are still fan-run. The type of conventions that are not media-centred conventions, or comic book conventions? The ones that are non-profit, and positive, and fannish?

  19. @Olav Rokne, I don’t have an index, but I can tell you that both Windycon (November) and Capricon (February) in the Chicago area are old-fashioned non-profit fan-run conventions. There used to be a third, DucKon, but it folded a few years back.

  20. @JJ

    They’ve identified a Chinese woman who infected 5 family members without ever experiencing symptoms. So we’re going to have some Typhoid Marys and Typhoid Mikes walking around, and I’m inclined to think that we’re looking at a possible pandemic.

    The outbreak in Northern Italy that has half of Europe in panic seems to have been caused by such a Typhoid Mary/Mike. Ditto for the outbreak in Iraq.

  21. 9) I should note that I only read the Basil Copper version of Solar Pons. I don’t know if the Derleth version of Pons is any more respectful of his sidekick.

  22. @Cassy B – yeah, the dates are shit, but the list of conventions is solid. And I ran programming for that Capricon, and will be for the next one as well, so I’m very aware of its existence.

  23. I just compiled a list of “finalists announced, voting closed” stretching back to 2015 (all I could really find time for, right now) in a comment on the JeddiCon post, the earliest close-of-voting was July 15th, and the latest finalist announcement was April 26th.

  24. Those dates are all based on allowing as much time for each process (nominating and voting) as possible while reserving enough time for administrative duties to finish in time for the convention dates.

    All the time we allow for nominating and voting is not required for the awards to happen….it’s just to allow the most time in the (faith based) hope that giving voters more time to discuss/research improves their input.

    Practically speaking, we average getting most of the nominations and votes in the last week of each process. Online participation has worked to reduce that, but the big rush is still at the end because the deadlines get people to finish their selections.

    Running on a shorter timeline is possible without harming the Hugos, it is just really inadvisable for a lot of practical reasons.

  25. @Tammy Coxen: the Wikipedia list breaks its own definitions; a partial skim finds Type entries of (a) Transformers, (b) Star Wars, (c) Stargate et al, (d) comics. And given that the list includes Dragoncon, I would not call the list “solid” wrt Olav’s request for “old school” cons. (Those are just what I can see trivially; OTOH, I did update the Readercon entry (over 3 years out of date).

    @Dave McCarty: Running on a shorter timeline is possible without harming the Hugos. ISTM that’s debatable, given both your observation of (unnamed) practical considerations and the long-established practice; I wouldn’t assume that cutting nomination time would be fair to anything brought out late in the year.

    @JJ (looping back): yes, I’ve seen the various reports — including the fact that keeping people from one of the richest parts of Italy in place is going to be a lot harder than clamping down on residents of the PRC. My answer was to the original question; whatever we end up with seems unlikely to be made worse by travel to the PRC 2.5 years from now. Chengdu has a number of huge factual strikes against it; I’d rather not see them called out on highly debatable grounds, especially given the signs I’ve seen of anti-Chinese hysteria (e.g., Boston-area restaurants’ business down 30-80% per today’s paper).

    On a cheerier note, my thanks to the various people (Bonnie first, IIRC) who sussed out (in a previous Scroll) what asterisks do; it made the above a lot easier to type vs the HTML-by-hand I was doing.

  26. @ Dave McCarthy: When it comes to timing of various Hugo bits, I am more than willing to trust your words. I will now start speculating….

    I suspect it would be possible to squeeze the timelines to as early as “final vote ends late June”, without much damage to the overall process.

    I don’t think there’s enough leeway to squeeze it to “awards ceremony is on May 8th” (which by my rough and ready back-of-envelope puts end-of-voting somewhere around April 24th, at the latest), which in turn would put “finalists announced early March” and

  27. @Chip Hitchcock: No matter when we put the deadline, there is a built in advantage to things published earlier in the year. This issue isn’t new, it exists in every contest. There would still be months (plural) to find/read things on December 31 for convention dates in June and at least 6 weeks for convention dates in early May.

    Yes, it’s not enough time, but there is never enough time to read all the stuff that comes out now. That ship sailed more than 3 decades ago.

    @Ingvar: Nominations close mid-ish Feb. Ballot announcement early March. Voting closes mid April. More than a month of availability for Nominating and voting. Running the tallies, generating the reports, producing the plates for the trophies…all those items can be done in 2 weeks if you’re prepared.

    There are practical reasons that this is a bad plan, but it is achievable.

  28. Dave McCarty: All the time we allow for nominating and voting is not required for the awards to happen….it’s just to allow the most time in the (faith based) hope that giving voters more time to discuss/research improves their input. Practically speaking, we average getting most of the nominations and votes in the last week of each process. Online participation has worked to reduce that, but the big rush is still at the end because the deadlines get people to finish their selections.

    There’s a huge flaw with this reasoning: it assumes that most people are faffing around from January 1 until the nomination deadline.

    The reality is that a lot of people are still reading as many works from the year before as they can, in order to make better-informed nominations. 80% of the novels and novellas I read (150-200 total a year, of which ~100 or more are from the last 12 months) come from my city’s library. I’m usually #1 or 2 on the waitlist, but the library often doesn’t actually get newly-released books in until weeks or months after they’re released.

    People wait until the last minute to make their Hugo nominations because they are still reading eligible works right up to the deadline.

    Dave McCarty: Running on a shorter timeline is possible without harming the Hugos.

    I contend that lessening the number of works nominators are able to read before the deadline does indeed lessen the value of the Hugo Awards. The more widely-read the nominators are, the better the longlist and shortlist are going to be.

  29. @JJ: There is more SF published each year than a reader can read in 5 or 10 years.

    Yes, less time means that each nominator will read a smaller fraction of that whole than they would have otherwise, however the difference in those fractions is not an amount that changes the value of the result. The difference is vanishingly small.

    Every nominator every year no matter what will not have enough time to read everything they might have nominated if they’d had enough chance.

    This issue is not materially changed by shortening the deadline.

    The protection that the Hugos have on the “not enough time to read everything” is that the nominator pool now is several times bigger than it was back when there was enough time to read everything, and in aggregate across the ~2,000-ish nominators, there’s enough time to find things.

  30. @Dave McCarty: They aren’t proposing a new award with different deadlines. They’re proposing to give everyone a couple of months’ less time than usual to read before nominating, and before voting, for an already-existing award. That might also leave everyone a little more time for the following year’s Hugos, if they shifted their attention to books published in that calendar year sooner than they otherwise would.

    I suspect this would give a greater-than-usual advantage to well-known authors, and maybe for books in series (assuming they have an advantage to start with). That doesn’t mean it’s inherently unfair to anyone specifically or as a group, but “this change is fair” doesn’t mean “this change is a good idea.”

  31. @Dave —

    No matter when we put the deadline, there is a built in advantage to things published earlier in the year.

    I agree with you in theory — but this makes me curious: has anyone ever actually looked at the Hugo nominees and winners (or Nebula) to see whether this has proven true for our awards in particular?

  32. @Dave McCarty: This issue is not materially changed by shortening the deadline. Nonsense; the longer deadline provides a chance to look at whatever comments there are and choose what to read (to consider for nomination) from the end of the previous year. ISTM that your argument amounts to “It can’t be perfect, so making it worse is OK”, which is an … interesting … variant on letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. It leads me to wonder why you’re pushing this idea so hard.

  33. @Andrew —

    @Contrarius: The Asimov’s Reader Poll finalists http://file770.com/2020-asimovs-readers-awards-finalists/ include stories from the whole year – including one from the last 2019 issue and several from the 2nd to last 2019 issue, which suggests that at least that award isn’t overly biased to early-in-the-year works.

    If I get really, REALLY bored some day, I may go through the nominees’ lists for the Hugos and/or Nebulas just to see if: 1. the nominees skewed towards the early months of the previous year; and 2. the winners tended to be published earlier than the non-winning nominees.

  34. Andrew: The Asimov’s Reader Poll finalists include stories from the whole year – including one from the last 2019 issue and several from the 2nd to last 2019 issue, which suggests that at least that award isn’t overly biased to early-in-the-year works.

    Andrew, the Asimov’s and Analog Readers’ Awards are not remotely comparable to the Hugo Awards.
    1. Voters are, for the most, subscribers to the magazine, and many of them will have read all or most of the stories.
    2. Those awards provide voters with drop-down lists of all possible nominees, so they can just select one in each category.
    3. Last year, Asimov’s published 13 novellas, 22 novelettes, and 36 short stories. That’s it. That’s all voters had to read and choose from. Analog’s numbers would have been similar.

    These awards are very different animals from the Hugo Awards, and no meaningful comparisons can be made regarding timing.

  35. @Vicki Rosenzweig: ““this change is fair” doesn’t mean “this change is a good idea.”” I think if you review all the things I have said here on this topic, you will find I am in violent agreement with that statement.

    @Chip Hitchcock: “More time” is not the same as “enough time”. There is not enough time in any Hugo nomination process in the past 30 years for the nominators to do such consideration for everything that is published that they might nominate. The percentage of things they can’t possibly get to is much larger than the percentage of things they do. I don’t disagree that more time is better, merely with the idea that the difference between having time to look at 20 vs 24 of the 1000+ items that got published in December makes a material impact to the quality of a nominator’s input.

    I am not arguing this is a good idea, only that the notion that this reduction harms the awards is overblown.

  36. You’re still blowing smoke; the question is being able to consider not all of the published work, but only the fraction of it that gets more fresh tomatoes than rotten — and that’s especially relevant (considered over all readers, not just one magazine’s voters on that magazine) for material at the end of the year, since interest/approval takes time to percolate through the net.

  37. 1) “Oh, and speaking of names, only the W in Worldcon is capitalized. Not the C.”

    Thank you for adding that, Tammy Coxon and fellow smofs.

  38. @Dave McCarty

    No matter when we put the deadline, there is a built in advantage to things published earlier in the year. This issue isn’t new, it exists in every contest.

    Not every contest — I think it is widely accepted that movies that come out in December have an advantage over movies that come out in January in the Oscars. Word-of-mouth is fresher, etc. (and why wouldn’t this apply to Hugos?)

    @Chip Hitchcock

    the longer deadline provides a chance to look at whatever comments there are and choose what to read

    the question is being able to consider not all of the published work, but only the fraction of it that gets more fresh tomatoes than rotten

    If you are going to let others do your pre-filtering for you (and I don’t think you are alone in this), then the main weakness of the Hugos with respect to how many potential entries there are is not whether you get to read 24 vs 20 of them.

  39. @Chip Hitchcock: Sorry….no matter what special tinfoil you want me to put on my head, I am not buying it. At the end of the day, no matter what method you think you want to use or how many pre-screenings you want to go with, none of that has enough time to get everything that you might consider worthy in front of you and you to read it before even the longest Hugo nomination deadline.

    The point is the same no matter what way you wish to look at it. You leave potential winners off of your nomination ballot every year because you didn’t have enough time to get to it, not just from works in December. There are definitely works from January that you’d consider worthy that you didn’t have time to get to and you had 11 extra months there.

  40. @JJ: I take you point. At best, the Asimov’s poll gives a weak lower-bound on the “calendar effect” (if the effect showed up there, it would be almost certain to be a much bigger effect on the Hugos, but if the effect is absent in the Asimov’s poll, that says nothing about the Hugos (for the reasons you list).

    As for me, I’m way behind on my reading – last week I found a paper copy of “A Model Dog” that I’d printed out in January 2019, and never gotten around to reading before.

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