Pixel Scroll 2/27/16 Hivers Against Humanity

(1) DRAGON HATCHERY. Naomi Novik is interviewed on NPR, “A Writer-Engineer’s Historical Fiction Hack: Add Dragons”.

Almost a decade after she first went online, she says she was working as a programmer for a computer game “and something about that whole process of building the structure of that game turned into a real kind of light-bulb moment for me as a writer.” At the time, her fan fiction at was inspired by swashbuckling adventure novels set in the Napoleonic era. But something started happening to her stories — they were getting longer and more complex.

“Then all of a sudden I sort of started to feel that I was constrained by the characters, as opposed to enjoying them,” she says. “And that remains for me to this day the line … where it’s like: OK, you’re not writing fan fiction anymore.”

She also had an idea she wanted to run with: “What could make the Napoleonic wars more exciting? Dragons!” And one dragon in particular: Temeraire. He’s central in her 9-book “Temeraire” series, which opens with the dragon becoming the responsibility of Will Laurence, a naval captain fighting for the British against Napoleon. Laurence is chivalrous with a keen sense of duty, but he embraces the 19th-century conventions that Novik paints in faithful detail — even some that are distasteful to 21st-century readers, like class hierarchies and the roles of women. Temeraire, on the other hand, is newly hatched; he provides a more critical, modern voice.

(2) SUIT & NERD & TIE. AnimeCon.org CEO Ryan Kopf sued Nerd & Tie blogger Trae Dorn in December, claiming Dorn had defamed him. Now Dorn has amended his suit to include Dorn’s podcast co-host Pher Sturz.

So many of you already know that in December AnimeCon.org CEO Ryan Kopf filed a lawsuit in the state of Iowa against me for articles I published here on Nerd & Tie about his organization. After I was served, I quickly went public — starting a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for my legal defense (because, y’know, lawyers are expensive).

Pher Sturz, who co-hosts the podcast with me (and came up with the name for it — which is where the name of this site comes from), was very vocal in his public support for me. Pher did this because he’s a good friend, and wasn’t really any more inflammatory (and in most cases significantly less so) than most other people sharing the link.

….To make this worse, Pher, frankly, doesn’t make a lot of money. And I know he won’t point this out himself, but he has a young daughter as well. Lawyers are really, really expensive and he needs to hire one fast. His original attempt to secure aid fell through, so now we’re reaching out to you — the Nerd & Tie readers.

Pher has launched a GoFundMe campaign (Titled ‘The Ryan Kopf is Suing Me Too! Fund‘) to try and get money together to hire someone, and I hope you’ll consider contributing. He’s asking for $3000 right now because (after fees) that’s effectively what he’ll need to get started.

(3) BITES THE DUST. SF Site News reports “Samhain Publishing Closing”.

Samhain Publishing has announced that they will be closing. According to Samhain, the main cause of their decision is changes with their terms with Amazon. They are planning a controlled shut down and will continue to pay royalties to their authors and will be returning rights on a schedule.

More here.

(4) OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE. Deborah J. Ross knows about “Rejection, Discouragement, and How a Few Loyal Readers Can Save an Author”.

Being discouraged is part and parcel of a working writer’s life. Negative reviews, ditto. Some of us are naturally more thick-skinned about them than others, and most of us develop coping strategies over the years. This is where networking with other writers can be very helpful.

…. Reviews, ah reviews, and in this category I include feedback from critique groups and beta readers. So much has already been said about the power of a caustic review or harsh feedback of a work in progress that I won’t belabor the point here. Suffice it to say that the natural human desire for praise (for our creative “children”) leaves us vulnerable to interpreting criticism of the work with condemnation of ourselves. Or, having torn off our emotional armor to write from the heart, we’ve also ripped off any defenses against sarcasm, etc. I’m among those who, having received scathing feedback, went home, and cried. I never considered giving up (although on more than one occasion, I contemplated getting even and thankfully resisted the temptation). But some writers have.

Negative feedback, if consistent and prolonged, can have a devastating effect on a writer’s self-confidence and ability to work. Support and encouragement from our fellow writers can be our greatest asset in setting aside the nasty things people have written about our stories. A hiatus from reading reviews is highly recommended.

(5) THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES. Since Steve Davidson found a stash of mimeographed File 770’s on a freebie table at Boskone he’s been thinking how Ye Olden Times in fandom compare with Today. Steve distills those thoughts in “Ode to File 770 (and a note on our changing culture)”:

File 770 what kind of people cover wade gilbreath CROP

I then met Mike in person for the first (and last) time at Iguanacon in 1978.  Where I had the disappointing task of having to inform him that the only part of Contact:SF (which by then had gone semi-pro) that I could show him was a tear sheet of the cover.  (American Airlines lost every single copy I was shipping to the con, which ended up financially killing it.)  Mike had offered to spread the news within the pages of his own (eventual Hugo Award winning) zine (after having a look of course) and I had been looking forward to a rapid climb within the world of fanzine fandom.  A Hugo award was not that far away in my mind at the time.  (Still isn’t, but I’ve got a warped sense of time.)

(6) MAGAZINE KICKSTARTER. Three days left in Richard Thomas’ Kickstarter appeal to fund “Gamut Magazine: Neo-noir, speculative, literary fiction”. It’s raised $45,764 of its $52,000 goal to date.

Gamut will be a website (and eBook) with a wide range of voices—genre-bending stories utilizing the best of genre and literary fiction….

So I’m open to:

  • Fantasy
  • Science fiction
  • Horror
  • Neo-noir, crime, mystery, thrillers
  • Magical realism
  • Transgressive
  • Southern gothic
  • Literary fiction
  • Weird / bizarro
  • Poetry

Anything done with innovation, heart and emotion—that’s what I want. Everything I enjoy reading and writing typically leans toward the dark side, but I have been known to embrace lighter work, and humor, now and then.

(7) GOING VIRAL. Ernest Hogan’s High Aztech sounds intriguing. It’s available on Amazon.

AZTECH

High Aztech takes place in 21st century Mexico, Tenochtitlán, the metropolis formerly known as Mexico City, is the most exciting place on Earth. Stainless steel pyramids pierce the smoggy sky. Human sacrifice is coming back into fashion, especially on the new Aztechan TV channels, and everyone wants an artificial heart. Xolotl Zapata, celebrated poet, skeptic and journalist, starts receiving death threats from a cult he’s lampooned in a comic book. But soon he will have much worse problems and be running for his life. The government, the Mafia, street gangs, cults, terrorists, even garbage collectors will be after him. Why? He has been infected with a technological development that will changing human life as we know it Zapata is carrying a virus that can download religious beliefs into the human brain – a highly contagious virus that is converting everyone he meets, and everyone they meet, to the Aztec religion. This is Witnessing with a PUNCH! Since he’s a virulent carrier he infects a large part of the city all by himself, and the masses, filled with visions and portents, await the End of the World.

Decide how it sounds to you – Hogan’s reading of the first chapter can be heard on this video:

(8) HOMELESS GNOMES. NPR reports “Popular Gnomes Seek New Home”

Officials at Little Buffalo State Park in Pennsylvania decided that dozens of tiny gnome homes tucked in trees around the park were a nuisance. The gnome homes were too popular, so they were evicted.

….Steve Hoke, with permission from the park, crafted teeny-weeny doors on hollow logs and built pint-size cottages on mossy tree stumps to the delight of children in the area, not to mention the families who drove hours to see them. The idea was to get kids out of the house, away from the electronics and go for a walk, Mr. Hoke told the media. But with so many visitors, state officials declared the itsy-bitsy abodes a nuisance and ordered them banished. So earlier this week, Steve Hoke carted off his Lilliputian village in his garden wagon. The evictions have angered many, hundreds have signed petitions to bring back the magic, and it appears there has been a reprieve for the homeless elves. Two neighboring towns have offered to take in the gnomes and their homes.

Full story in the New York Times

gnomes3-blog427

Little Buffalo told Mr. Hoke he had until Monday to clear out the gnome houses. Four days ago, he went to the park with a wagon and collected the dwellings scattered along about two and a half miles of trails.

“It was very emotional,” he said.

As he was leaving, he encountered a man and his daughter. They told him the girl had just finished her final round of chemotherapy and that her father had asked her what she wanted to do.

She said she wanted to go see the gnome houses.

“If I wasn’t so cold and wet, I probably would have stood there and wept,” Mr. Hoke said.

“That’s the part that the people who made this decision don’t get to see,” he added. “It was a mystery for the kids. It was magical.”

(9) THE CUSTOMERS MUST BE CRAZY. Gods Of Egypt received the not-especially-coveted “I’ve seen worse” rating from this reviewer at Birth. Movies. Death.

The most surprising thing about Gods Of Egypt was that I didn’t outright hate it. I have already seen worse movies this year, and I may yet see something even more abominable in the near future. The conceptual insanity of the movie could be the one selling point to it all, but the truth is unless you haven’t played a modern action-adventure game in the past ten years or so, this overbearing maelstrom of CGI bombast is rote and played out. I felt neither disdain nor schadenfreude during it, only boredom and a slight headache afterwards. I can’t even recommend “hate watching” this or checking it out for the morbid curiosity, since instead of being mesmerized by cinematic atrocity, you’ll be constantly reminded of fonder experiences you’ve had with other games and movies.

(10) SOME SATURN AWARDS COVERAGE. Blastr had this comment

As usual, the Saturns are so expansive and inclusive that we have to wonder at some of the nominees — like financial drama 99 Homes

India media reacts: “Baahubali to compete with Hollywood biggies” at Wishesh.

It is really a proud moment for the Indian movie audience, to know that even Baahubali was part of the nominations of these awards, that too in five categories – Best Fantasy Film, Best Supporting Actress (Tamannaah), Best Music (Keeravani), Best Production Design (Sabu Cyril) and Best Costume Design (Rama Rajamouli and Prashanthi Tipirineni).

India’s proudest epic and blockbuster, Baahubali-The beginning will compete with the popular Hollywood big films like Jurrasic World, Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Hateful Eight and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

On the other side, Baahubali – The conclusion, is currently in the shooting stage and aiming the next Sankranthi release. After that, the makers are even planning for Baahubali 3, which does not include Prabhas, Satya Raj and most of the key cast of Baahubali 1 and 2 parts, as declared earlier.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., Brian Z., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

131 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/27/16 Hivers Against Humanity

  1. Given that the same book can legitimately be published by different houses, I can’t see that the Publisher info is a help at all.

  2. Kendall: I took a look at that Kickstarter and backed it as well. The concept is fascinating; I want to see what they’ve done with it.

    I’ve been following a crowdfunded shared-universe series about an alternate Earth in which superpowers are fairly common: Polychrome Heroics. It started out with just one major character, but due to interest and prompt requests, it has now expanded into a collection of related stories, spin-offs, and interlocking storylines as complex as anything in Marvel or DC. The author is currently in the process of reorganizing the story links on the site into sub-threads following each major character in turn.

  3. Publisher is probably most useful for works that are obscure. Or at least less well known.

  4. Cassy B. on February 28, 2016 at 6:33 am said:

    Hugo question: How important is it to fill out “publisher”?

    Failing to do so won’t disqualify your nomination, if that’s what you mean. It’s there to help the Administrator try to find the work you are nominating.

    Doctor Science on February 28, 2016 at 6:40 am said:

    I can’t find any date info on Teresa Mather’s work, so I have no idea what counts as 2015 from her.

    You could try asking her through her LiveJournal or through her web site.

  5. Year of creation seems about as relevant to artwork as it does to writing [1]: what the Hugos are looking at is the year that the work became available to the public. If a book was written in 1994 and revised in 2006, and sold in 2015 to a publisher who brings it out next week, it would count as a 2016 book for Hugo purposes.

    I assume that if the cover illustration was originally painted in 2009 for another book, but not used, and the art hasn’t been displayed in the interim, it also counts for 2016 eligibility. Being sure of that “if” may be difficult, and if I could offer an example I was surer of on the nominating ballot I would. However, I wouldn’t assume the work wasn’t eligible, if I was trying to decide who to nominate for best artist.

    [1] Relevant for Hugo purposes. A literary critic or biographer looking at influences would notice that a book that was finished in 2006 is unlikely to be commenting on the Obama presidency or the recent detection of gravitational waves.

  6. Thanks, Kevin, I’ll do that.

    While you’re here — has there ever been a proposal to keep the “Pro Artist” and “Fan Artist” categories, but change their definitions to apply to the artists pro/am status?

    That is, to make “Pro Artist” anyone whose primary job is being an artist, while “fan artist” is anyone who has another primary job, including students?

  7. @Doctor Science
    Pro/Am for artists sounds even worse than the problematic editor classes for requiring insider knowledge not readily apparent nor relevant to the works themselves.

    And what happens if an artist temporarily loses their day job? Two years ago you made a decent wage at a day job and counted as an amateur. Last year you were laid off (or sick) and selling some pieces let you contribute to the household budget but wasn’t nearly enough to live on in itself: congratulations you were a pro last year. This year you have a day job again and can pay down credit cards and eat actual food instead of ramen and tuna: you are now an amateur again even though you are selling a lot more art than you did last year.

  8. (9)

    The great Charlie Jane Anders has a review of Gods of Egypt that is a real treat. I have enough of a knowledge of the Egypt of the Pharaohs though, that I won’t be hate watching the movie. It will have a special place of hatred next to the Ancient Aliens guy and Erick Von Danken.

  9. emgrasso:

    Good points! I was going to suggest going by the artist’s self-descriptions in social media sites, frankly: anyone whose description says “Jane Doe is an artist” counts as pro.

    How would *you* divide up the field, then? Digital-only versus also-non-digital, corresponding these days to “fan” vs “pro”, but sending zine artists into the cold? And what about cafepress/Society 6?

  10. @emgrasso

    Pro/Am for artists sounds even worse than the problematic editor classes for requiring insider knowledge not readily apparent nor relevant to the works themselves.

    To determine elgibility of Pro/Fan Artists, Look at the WSFS Constitution, sections 3.3.11 and 3.3.16. It’s all about where the work was published, not whether the artist was paid.

    Rocket Stack Rank has a good collection of works for 2016 Professional Artists and for 2016 Fan Artists which have already been checked out. They also contain links to the artists’ home pages. I actually used the RSR links for the Hugo-nomination field where they asked for evidence that the artist was eligible. There’s a link at the top of the lightbox for each artist. E.g. http://www.rocketstackrank.com/2016/01/2015-fan-artists.html#ChristopherBalaskas

  11. @Doctor Science: Eek! Having to research what someone does for a living sounds like a horrible way to handle any category. And how to define “primary job” versus . . . not?

    As far as self-describing, many people who only do fan work say “I am an artist” – and they are. So this makes them a pro? Not IMHO.

    The pro/amateur definition for the works – which is what matters (one can be a pro and a fan, as with writing – these aren’t mutually exclusive concepts, like an on/off switch) – seems simple enough to me. This appeared on a book cover/in a pro magazine/etc. – pro! This was on their site/showed at a con/in a fanzine/in a semiprozine – amateur. You can have both types of work. I realize it sounds a bit complicated when I spell it out 😉 but surely less so than figuring out how much of someone’s job is being paid to produce art, or just letting people pick their categories.

    Also I really don’t like this “you must be a pro or a fan” way you seem to want to redefine things. It reminds me of people who think someone who writes novels can’t possibly be a fan as well and be eligible for Fan Writer. Ugh.

    All that said, however, the definitions probably should be refined a bit, but I’m at a loss as to how to handle things like someone who sells thousand dollar artwork at cons (which seems kinda pro-ish) but doesn’t actually have anything in magazines/books/etc. Am I missing something, or is this a hole?* But I can stick anything up on Cafe Press; that doesn’t make me a pro, so it seems way too easy to call random fan artists who just throw fan art up on the equivalent of Amazon self-publishing, as pro artists, though they make make pennies and the work may never be actually purchases by a professional venue to grace their publications.

    Sorry to ramble/rant! But again, it’s currently (and IMHO correctly) about the work, not a special status for the artist that puts them into one category OR (and only OR) the other.

    * ETA: What I mean is, while it’s covered in the rules (it is fan work if it’s just shown at cons), conceptually some of these would be called professional by people outside fandom, even though fandom – or at least, the Hugo rules – would call it fan work.

  12. @Lee: Thanks for the “Polychrome Heroics” link. It looks like a lot of it’s poetry, which really isn’t my thing. ;-( I like superhero stuff in general, and the character who split into 6 personliaties sounds interesting, though.

  13. I’d prefer art categories focused on works rather than artist. I like how the Kitschies have an award for ‘Best Cover Art’. I think something like that would be easier for people to both nominate for and vote on. A distinction could then be made between professional publications (i.e. the publication not the artist – although the artist will probably be professional) and non-professional (again that would weight naturally to non-professionals but not exclusively and would include many people who make *some* money from their art).

  14. As for the idea that someone must be at most one of a pro or a fan, look up when Fred Pohl got his first professional SF job, and when he won the Hugo for best fan writer.

    (OK, I shouldn’t ask you to do my research: he was working as an editor before World War II, and best fan writer in the 21st century.)

  15. Doctor Science on February 28, 2016 at 9:38 am said:

    While you’re here — has there ever been a proposal to keep the “Pro Artist” and “Fan Artist” categories, but change their definitions to apply to the artists pro/am status?

    No. How could you define or enforce it?

    The closest thing we had was the “Gaughan Amendment,” after Jack Gaughan won both the Best Fan Artist and Best Pro Artist awards in the same year, for work professionally published and for work in fanzines for free, respectively. But that rule was eventually rescinded, on the grounds that this implicit assumption that one was a pro or a fan, and neither the twain shall meet, didn’t apply to anyone except artists, and was thus unfair.

    A real challenge for many people is the assumption that one is either a Professional or one is a Fan. It’s “radio button” in that it’s completely impossible to be both simultaneously. This is to me very much untrue. The two are “check boxes” — you can be one, both, or neither. I thus saw no problem with known professional authors being nominated for and winning fan writing awards for their non-paid work that I consider fan writing. Fred Pohl’s work on his web site writing about fan/pro history struck me as the sort of thing that was very much fan writing, for instance.

    I came into SF fandom when it was still taken for granted that the “pros” were mostly “fans” who were getting paid for their work. We seem to be slowly drifting into a different body of assumptions, where people (both fans and pros alike) think that there is and should be a large barrier between the two mutually exclusive groups. Thank goodness for authors like GRRM, who came from that older tradition and continue to consider themselves both fans and pros.

    Camestros Felapton on February 28, 2016 at 10:52 am said:

    I’d prefer art categories focused on works rather than artist.

    WSFS tried that in the 1990s. It was a failure and was repealed after four years. (I also think it’s something of the genesis of the political* requirement that all new categories come with “sunset” clauses.) With Best Original Artwork, came pretty close at least once to having a “permanent” category dropped for lack of interest at the discretion of the Administrator, I think. At least with the Hugo Award electorate, this is one of those ideas that sounds like a good idea, but fails when you put it into practice.

    -=-=-=-=-

    *That is, failing to include such a clause is likely to result in it failing to pass, as distinct from a technical requirement that any such proposal must include it.

  16. @JJ:

    Doris V. Sutherland: I honestly do not see how someone who helped to get Wisdom From My Internet on the ballot is in a position to sneer at the likes of “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”.

    Whoa. You just linked to a site run by someone I have met in real life and respect for entirely personal reasons. Mind. Blown.

    (Now to read the remaining 2014 vs. 2015 posts. Thanks for the link!)

  17. @Peace is My Middle Name:

    A BBC story from last year, “‘Fairy control’ to halt tiny doors in Somerset Woods”:

    Well, that explains why Hoggle was spraying for fairies at the beginning of Labyrinth. Leave ’em alone long enough, and you get a labyrinth infested with cute little doors.

  18. @Kevin Standlee

    I think the biggest flaw in the current rules for pro/fan artist is that art in semi-prozines counts as fan art. Those artists do get paid, and they definitely produce professional-caliber work. I don’t see how the genuine fan artists can compete with them.

  19. I’d like to point out that something failed 20 years ago doesn’t mean it might not work now. This is one of the things that bothers me the most within Fandom:

    We did it 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago & it didn’t so it won’t work now

    As if the world stood still. Social media didn’t happen. More women, LGBTI, POC, the disabled, etc. haven’t gotten involved. Supporting memberships and online voting haven’t happened. None of these changes could possibly mean something tried before might work now. Nope.

    There might be good reasons trying it again wouldn’t work. I have no idea what they are as I’ve not given this much thought beyond determining eligibility is really hard so far.

    Sorry for ranting at you @Kevin Standlee. I know your just providing facts and commentary as you see it.

  20. @Greg Hullender

    There are plenty of professional quality fan artists! Just, they don’t tend to get noticed by Hugo voters I guess? I’m not really well-versed on the rules, but if making, well, fanart counts, just have a glance around the most popular works on deviantart, you’ll find artists churning out beautiful stuff for fandoms like Marvel, Supernatural, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and a multitude of anime and video games. I’ll give some examples of my favorite artists when I’m on my computer for once instead of mobile, but right now I’m about to go see Deadpool. 😀

  21. Regarding Pro/Fan artist: When the rules for these things were set up, the distinction between Pro and non-Pro publications was defined in terms of circulation, not of payment, semiprozines were put on the non-Pro side, and work in semiprozines was ruled to qualify for Fan Writer and Fan Artist. This seems to me to be too systematic to be just a series of slips; I take it to mean that the distinction of pro and fan was quite deliberately being drawn in terms of milieu, not of payment, so that an fan artist is one who produces art in a fannish context.

    The internet has made the distinction of milieu hard to maintain, and the way the Pro/non-Pro distinction is now defined in terms of ‘provides more than a quarter of anyone’s income’ is weird (and produces the same problems as the idea of distinguishing pro and fan artists by profession). So it’s not surprising we’re looking for new ways of dividing the field up. But I’m not convinced that there is a good reason for having an award specifically for unpaid artists. I still think a division between illustration and other forms of art – which more or less captures what the current divide amounts to in practice – makes more sense. (By the way, ‘fan artists’ in what is the most common sense in the wider world – transformative artists – can sell their work, unlike transformative writers.)

    I’m also worried that the current definitions leave some artists not strictly eligible for awards at all. The Pro Artist award is for illustrators, but the definition of Fan Artist now includes ‘public, non-professional display’ – which means that an artist who professionally produces works for public display is not eligible.

  22. @Greg Hullender: It gets back to the venue, though, not the artist; and semiprozines (a concept I hate) are by definition not* professional.

    * Not fully? 😉 I really hate “semipro” anything. Such a weird concept. IMHO the time for this way of looking at things (to prevent Locus dominating the fanzine category) is long past. Never mind that Locus is very obviously a professional publication…sigh. But I ramble.

    As far as seeing how fan artists can compete with pro artists – although we’re sliding into pro/fan for the artist, when it’s actually about where the work appears – have you seen some of the “fan” artists? 😉 (Rhetorical question.) They can compete fine. The problem is more one of exposure – too many fan artists and not enough exposure for each individual. (If that’s what you meant, sorry, that wasn’t clear; it sounded like you were talking about how good the artist was???)

  23. Re. the title of this scroll. At first, I thought “Hiver” was a reference to the creature that Tiffany Aching fought in A Hat Full of Sky. Took me a while to recognize the more-likely “wretched hive” connection. In any case, it’s left me with an urge for some SF-related disturbing/offensive mad-libs!

    One of my favorite things to do with my clone is _______.

  24. Tasha Turner:

    I agree that ‘It didn’t work in the past, so it won’t work now’ is not a conclusive argument; but while all sorts things have certainly changed, one would have to find some reason why the changes between then and now would make a difference to the thing at issue. With games, it seems to me likely that the change in demographics over the last ten years has made a significant difference – the fact that people keep trying to nominate games in other categories, where they don’t fit very well, is evidence of this. But I’m finding it hard to see how changes over the last twenty years would make a difference to the difficulty of finding individual award-worthy artworks. Indeed, if anything, greater diversity in fandom might make it harder to find anything which stands out and can command wide agreement.

  25. @Andrew M: I believe you’re wrong here:

    I’m also worried that the current definitions leave some artists not strictly eligible for awards at all. The Pro Artist award is for illustrators, but the definition of Fan Artist now includes ‘public, non-professional display’ – which means that an artist who professionally produces works for public display is not eligible.

    Okay it says:

    3.3.16: Best Fan Artist. An artist or cartoonist whose work has appeared through publication in semiprozines or fanzines or through other public, nonprofessional display (including at a convention or conventions), during the previous calendar year.

    But, aside from you phrasing things differently (“professionally produces” – not sure what that means) . . . what is a “professional display” (to drop the “non” from the actual WSFS wording)? I can’t think of anything that wouldn’t qualify under pro or fan artist definitions, since “professional display” is not defined; the only thing defined is “professional publication.” The current definition is poorly worded, but really, most artists post art to their site, which surely counts as “nonprofessional display.”

    So I don’t feel like any artists are truly left out in the cold; are there a lot of artists who only do “professional displays” (whatever they are) that are not also displaying their artwork online or elsewhere? (Again, not sure what a “professional display” would be, anyway.)

    I hasten to add: I’m a firm believer that not everyone and everything needs to have its own Hugo category, so honestly, I’m playing devil’s advocate a little. I wouldn’t be troubled if there are a few artists out there who fall between the cracks, with apologies to those artists, if they really exist.

  26. Kendall:

    Never mind that Locus is very obviously a professional publication…sigh

    Well, Locus is classed as a professional publication now.

    What keeps Semiprozine going – well, apart from the fact that semiprozine editors vote for it – is, I think, that on the current rules the publications in question would not qualify for anything else; there is no award for Pro magazines; there is one for professional editors, but not all editors of semiprozines are professionals. (Though I think some are.)

    If Kevin’s proposed reforms to editors were adopted, there would be an award for Best Magazine, and that would remove the need for Semiprozine. (But that would force us to rethink the meaning of ‘fan’.)

  27. Good points from @Tasha Turner and @Andrew M, but I lean more in Andrew’s direction on this one.

    BTW the Chesleys and the Spectrum annuals do great jobs recognizing individual works. 🙂 They’re more of an “Oscar” to the Hugo “People’s Choice,” of course.

  28. @Andrew M: Is it? I thought Locus was still a semiprozine? If that’s changed…yay. Of course, the flip side of this problem is that redefining awards to try to shift or exclude one publication is a bit weird, like gerrymandering or something. I understand why these things happen, but it gets under my skin.

    I would rather see Best Magazine than Best Semiprozine, and have it cover non-fanzines across the board. I feel like the old “big three” readership is down enough and there’s a wide and varied enough field, that Best Magazine would work now. I’m not sure I’m on board with all of @Kevin Standlee’s ideas on restructuring the three awards (semiprozine, long form editor, short form editor), but I like some of his ideas here.

  29. Kendall again:

    Well, ‘nonprofessional display’ was certainly intended to exclude something – probably Randall Munroe. If it excludes nothing then indeed there isn’t a problem, but in that case the amendment has failed of its purpose.

    But if someone commissions a work of art, which I then put on a website – apparently a thing that regularly happens – saying ‘well, the display wasn’t professional’ seems a bit weaselish to me; I’m making money from the art, and may even be making a living from it. (It’s generally agreed, I think, that writing – e.g. at Tor.com – doesn’t become non-professional just because the reader doesn’t pay.)

  30. @Andrew M: Fair point, it must mean something, but I have no idea what the framers intentions were. This is what I hate about some amendments; they put too much into commentary or in-person discussion, instead of making the language clear. No undefined terms like “unprofessional display” should be in the constitution. (Where’s my Standlee signal, heh.)

    As to the rest, that doesn’t bother me since the delineation in the constitution is about professional venues, not payment. It seems unfair; on the other paw, I rarely know unless the artists says, whether something was done for a personal commission. This could get headachy for nominators if we went that route. But, fair point regarding your Tor.com example. (head explodes) I will go lie down now.

  31. Unrealted to art – an ebook sale. And @Miranda – looks like a fantasy-mystery. 😉

    2014 urban fantasy novel Hot Lead, Cold Iron (Mick Oberon #1) by Ari Marmell is on sale for $1.99 (Titan Books = DRM). Marmell’s done a variety of fantasy – urban, regular, tie-in/RPG-based. It’s a “fantasy detective series that will appeal to fans of Rivers of London and The Dresden Files” (set in 1932; is this pulp-ish/noir-ish?).

    IIRC, I’ve heard good things about it, so it’s been on my list to consider. Anyone love/hate/meh* it? The third comes out later this year (time for the calculus of “is it too far along to consider jumping in?”).

    * The verb “to meh”: coming soon to a dictionary near you. 😉

  32. JJ: I too was “meh” over “Folding Bejing”. The Chinese stuff we’re getting in translation reminds me of Western stories from 30 years ago or so (conceptually) and it all seems over-written, with “and so what” endings. MEGO a lot reading it. It’s not a bad story, but not Hugo-worthy here in 2016.

    Have read “Letters to Tiptree” and am replacing one of my “eh, maybe” entries with that. The letters between Tip/Alice and LeGuin and Russ are the best part. Some of the modern ones are just… oh dear… “me, me, me” and nowt about Tiptree.

    @Doctor Science: I’d think publication date for art, just as the short written works count cover date of the magazine.

    I’m also fine with the pro/fan split the way it is. Feelthy Pros were just fans who’d made good. It wasn’t a bright line. I have a paper zine containing a Star Wars fanfic (a good one) by Diane Duane written years after she’d sold work and been a Campbell nominee. Naomi Novik writes more fanfic than novels nowadays. Fred Pohl deserved that Fan Writer Hugo because he wrote things about fannish history, even though he’d been a pro and an editor for decades.

    But the podcast categories are a mess — let’s let pros and fans both compete. In different categories if you must quibble over the filthy lucre.

    The Doris Sutherland essays have been a model of clear thinking, calm rationality, and just a touch of the delightfully understated British snark.

  33. I’ll point out I was talking about the kind of argument and wasn’t weighing in on whether we should change the category under discussion.

    Eligibility turns out to be hard in every single Hugo category. It’s harder in some than others. But we’ve had a number of discussions on file770:

    1. Is book eligible (eArc vs printing date, published outside US 1st, etc)

    2. Which category does a short fit into as a number of magazines, anthologies, individual short publications don’t include word count

    3. Would something be appropriate as fan or best related

    4. Campbell

    5. Where to put a music album – Doubleclicks

    6. Editors – whose eligible, how to figure it out – I’ve written to several as has GRRM – I assume others have done the same

    The list goes on. Nominating for the Hugos is not simple. I’m hoping over time it gets easier but I understand why the same people show up year after year on the ballots. Figuring eligibility for people I’m following is much easier than finding new people and determining if they are eligible. This year a number of people set up resources to help. If they keep them up adding new people it will be a great help. They need people passing information along. It takes a community.

  34. The problem with the Art formal definitions and helpful examples right now is that they say *nothing* about art on the internet –which is where most of the SFF art is, these days.

    Does a Kickstarter count as professional display, or not? If it *is* professional, what year does it count for — the year the work was first displayed, or the year the final project (book, movie, cards, etc) comes to fruition?

    Greg Hullender:

    Thank you very much for the RocketStackRank links! But I notice, e.g., that they have Euclase on their “Pro” list on the strength of a single “Lightspeed” cover, though she’s best known for her “Fan” work (and that’s how I’ve covered her). Conversely, they’ve put Tran Nguyen on “Fan Artist” due to a cover for “Uncanny”, but she’s in my queue for “Pro” because of e.g. multiple images in “Spectrum 22”.

    The awards are supposed to be for “body of work”, so I put the artist in the category where they did a preponderance of their work. Only a few are double-entered.

  35. For $1.99 on AMZ, B&N, and Google, “The Best of Kim Stanley Robinson” ebook today. Short stories and novelettes from 80’s-early 90’s. Marked down from $13.99(!!) so snap this up today if you’re in the US. Don’t know about foreign parts or other vendors, but you could check. 400 pages of KSR, 1/2 cent per page!

    @Kendall: the verb “to meh” has been in my vocabulary for years. Even before it was a thing on the internet, my friend had a cat who literally said “meh” about things that were neither good nor bad. “Meh.” or “Meh!” depending on how kitty felt about the amount of mediocrity.

  36. @Doctor Science

    Thank you very much for the RocketStackRank links! But I notice, e.g., that they have Euclase on their “Pro” list on the strength of a single “Lightspeed” cover, though she’s best known for her “Fan” work (and that’s how I’ve covered her). Conversely, they’ve put Tran Nguyen on “Fan Artist” due to a cover for “Uncanny”, but she’s in my queue for “Pro” because of e.g. multiple images in “Spectrum 22”.

    Some artists are in both lists. All the listings do is show you that the person is eligible for one or the other award. As Kevin said earlier, it’s possible for the same artist to win in both categories in the same year.

  37. The fan Hugo categories are driven by people’s desire to vote them to somebody the know or feel they know (based on a blog or Youtube connection). And yet there need to be defined categories unless everybody is willing to admit something, like Related Works, or Fan Writer, is functionally a best fill-in-the-blank category. That’s the paradox.

  38. @Mike Glyer

    The fan Hugo categories are driven by people’s desire to vote them to somebody the know or feel they know (based on a blog or Youtube connection). And yet there need to be defined categories unless everybody is willing to admit something, like Related Works, or Fan Writer, is functionally a best fill-in-the-blank category. That’s the paradox.

    Maybe the right solution is to limit the fan awards to things that appear in fanzines. Trying to award art that appeared online (and nowhere else) is just too hard to do. It’s not possible to survey everyone’s blog.

    Of course that assumes we can find a definition of fanzine that’s not equivalent to “someone’s blog.” 🙂

  39. Lurkertype:

    I think Fan Artist raises rather different issues from Fan Writer. Fan Writer is for a different kind of writing than anything which qualifies for a pro award; clearly one can be a pro and do that as well. Whereas with the art awards, art is art, and the question which may be hard to decide is whether the work is professional, not just whether the person is. The person may be both, but one still needs a decision on which the work is.

    Doctor Science:

    ‘Nonprofessional’ is quite new. Without it, life would be so much simpler; anything on the internet is public display. I think it arose from a sense that ‘fan’ ought to mean ‘unpaid’. But one could argue that any SF-inspired art, other than illustrations in a professional work, should count as fannish even if the person does make money from it. (But then what about illustrations in a self-published work? Aargh.)

  40. I read Hot Lead, Cold Iron because fae PI! in 1930’s Chicago! sounded so good that I wanted to try despite not liking Marmell’s first Widdershins book. To me, the hardbitten 30’s voice and slang were overdone, and I didn’t care much about Mick one way or the other. I think the author is just not for me.

  41. @Greg Hullender Trying to award art that appeared online (and nowhere else) is just too hard to do. It’s not possible to survey everyone’s blog.

    By that criteria we should stop awarding Hugos in any category. No one can read all the books published in a single year. Nevermind all the short fiction. Watch all the movies or TV. No one can do a complete survey for any category.

    So I’m saying no to your proposed idea as it would be against the spirit of the Hugos per my understanding. Fans awarding works/people they believe are the best of the previous year.

  42. Does The Luminarium count as a fanzine? They publish collections called “Exhibits” several times a year — such as Organics, from November 2015 — which “feel” to me like zines, only online, y’know.

    Greg:

    Maybe the right solution is to limit the fan awards to things that appear in fanzines. Trying to award art that appeared online (and nowhere else) is just too hard to do.

    You have *got* to be kidding.

  43. > “IIRC, I’ve heard good things about [Hot Lead, Cold Iron], so it’s been on my list to consider. Anyone love/hate/meh* it?”

    I was unimpressed. Marmell has written some books that I like (“The Conqueror’s Shadow” is a good ‘un, and I also liked its sequel “The Warlord’s Legacy”, for example), but “Hot Lead, Cold Iron” just didn’t do anything for me. The world, hero, and story just didn’t do anything I thought was particularly interesting.

    (In terms of other fantasy noir, to put it in context, I quite like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, stopped read Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London books after the first because I didn’t like the narrative voice, and stopped reading Seanan McGuire’s October Daye books after the first for a similar lack of interest but quite like her Indexing books.)

  44. Today’s read. The Oracle’s Queen, by Lynn Flewelling.

    This is apparently my week to finish up some trilogies (Flora’s Fury is next on the list). The Oracle’s Queen moves in a different direction from the second book, as the second moved in a different direction from the first. The same concepts exist in all three, but they have different points of emphasis. This one concentrates on the horrors of civil war and the evil that perhaps must be done to achieve good in an unjust world. It’s a good book and a solid end to the series, but I do think this is a case where the first book of the three was the best one; it’s a great book followed by two very good ones. The unrelenting creepiness of the first takes it to a level that the other two don’t quite match. Still, impressed by the series as a whole and very glad I read it.

  45. lurkertype: Have read “Letters to Tiptree” and am replacing one of my “eh, maybe” entries with that. The letters between Tip/Alice and LeGuin and Russ are the best part. Some of the modern ones are just… oh dear… “me, me, me” and nowt about Tiptree.

    It’s my understanding that the point of the letters is not to be “about Tiptree”, but to be “about how Tiptree influenced me”.

    I’ve got the e-book but haven’t gotten to it yet, so I can’t say right now how well any of the letters do or don’t do that.

  46. Iain Coleman: These days it’s so we can give two artists Hugos. That’s about it. 😉

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