Pixel Scroll 3/29/21 Listen, Billy Pixel’s Come Unscrolled In File

(1) WOOKIEEPEDIA CONTROVERSY RESOLVED. The Wookieepedia editors’ vote on an “Amendment to naming policy for real-world transgender individuals” discussed in yesterday’s Scroll (Item #2) has been rendered moot by management’s decision that the status quo – using deadnames from production credits – violates the company’s Terms of Use:

…With the creation of our Community Safety team, we have an opportunity to lead on an evolving topic in society at large. That’s why we’ve been actively monitoring this conversation over the last week, including working with members of Wookieepedia’s administration knowing that there are a lot of opinions involved here.

Having reviewed the situation, and in keeping with the evolving understanding of these issues, Fandom has determined that, while it may not have been the intention, knowingly using a deadname in an article title is a violation of our Terms of Use. This is a global determination, meaning it applies to all wikis—including Wookieepedia. Since this supersedes local policies, this vote should be closed and policies should be updated to reflect the Terms of Use. The policy proposal here fits with our Terms of Use. Returning to the previous status quo (deferring to credits despite someone stating what their chosen name is) does not….

This is a final decision and Fandom staff will not be participating in a debate here or elsewhere right now. We will be discussing the topic of content related to the transgender community in greater detail with the Fandom community at large in the near future. We are committed to working with our community, internal teams, and outside experts to build a comprehensive framework to help guide our communities on how to properly create content relating to both fictional characters and real-life individuals who do not fit into outmoded definitions of identity and gender. Our goal is to provide an educational and growth framework for those who do not have real-life experience in these topics but want to learn more about creating inclusive content.

Our communities often spend much time debating the nuance of canon or the particulars of a given content policy, but we must also be willing to engage in challenging conversations about the nuance of external factors surrounding these topics. To that end, when wiki content is talking about real human beings with real needs, they must be respected.

(2) PLUMBING THE DEPTHS. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune calls on a scientist to answer “Which superhero should we call if the Suez Canal gets plugged again?”

…Our first thought was this is obviously a job for Superman, or someone nearly as strong like Thor, Wonder Woman or even the Incredible Hulk.

“Global supply chain blockage make Hulk mad! Hulk smash!” is how we imagine that would play out.

Not so fast, says our friendly neighborhood physics professor.

In addition to being an expert in stuff like amorphous semiconductors, University of Minnesota professor James Kakalios has pondered the physical properties of the superpowerful in his book, “The Physics of Superheroes.”

Kakalios explained that a 1,300-foot-long ship is designed to have its weight supported by water under the length of its hull. So a brute force effort by a single superhero could be counterproductive.

“Tanker ships are not meant to be picked up,” Kakalios said. “Even if supported under its center of mass, there would be enormous twisting forces, called torques, that would snap the vessel in half.”

Kakalios suggested that a better superhero for the job would be DC Comics’ Aquaman or Marvel Comics’ Namor the Sub-Mariner….

(3) FUTURE TENSE. Released this week, the latest in the monthly series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives: “The Trolley Solution” by Shiv Ramdas, about a college professor pitted against a machine. This is the third and final entry in their recent series about the future of learning.

From the moment the text message arrived with an aggressive ping, Ahmed knew something was amiss. Oh, it read innocuously enough, just the one line from Niyati asking if they could have a chat, but he knew better. It was still two weeks before his meeting with the tenure committee, which made it unexpected. Plus, it was Those Words. Whenever someone said that they wanted to have a chat, what they actually meant was that they had something to say to you that they knew you wouldn’t like one bit…. 

It was published along with a response essay by Katina Michael, a scholar of technology, policy, and society: “’The Trolley Solution’: How much of higher ed can be automated?”

Imagine a university without any teachers, just peer learners, open-access resources, and an office space full of high-speed internet-enabled computers, accessible to anyone between 18–30 years of age, regardless of any prior learning. That university is called 42. It does not have any academic instructors; the teachers are the self-starting students who have their eyes set on a job in Big Tech. Aided only by a problem-based learning curriculum, students gain a certificate of completion about three to five years after starting out. They are guaranteed internships in some of the world’s most prestigious firms and have set their sights on launching their careers as coders. 42’s philosophy is steeped in peer-to-peer learning, where human learners themselves spearhead the learning process….

(4) RELEASING A BOOK DURING THE PANDEMIC. Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore presents S.B. Divya, C.L. Clark, Arkady Martine, and Premee Mohamed in conversation on Friday, April 9, 2021 – 2:00 p.m. (Pacific). Register here.

S.B. Divya is a lover of science, math, fiction, and the Oxford comma. She enjoys subverting expectations and breaking stereotypes whenever she can. Divya is the Hugo and Nebula–nominated author of Runtime and co-editor of Escape Pod, with Mur Lafferty. Machinehood is her debut novel from Saga Press.

C.L. Clark graduated from Indiana University’s creative writing MFA. She’s been a personal trainer, an English teacher, and an editor, and is some combination thereof as she travels the world. Her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, FIYAH, PodCastle and Uncanny. 

Arkady Martine is a speculative fiction writer and, as Dr. AnnaLinden Weller, a historian of the Byzantine Empire and a city planner. Under both names, she writes about border politics, rhetoric, propaganda, and the edges of the world.

Premee Mohamed is a scientist and writer with degrees in molecular genetics and environmental science, but hopes that readers of her fiction will not hold that against her. Her short speculative fiction has been published in a variety of venues.

(5) SPY QUEEN. Francis Hamit is on the third segment of today’s Matthews and Friends podcast talking about his alternative history spy novel, The Queen of Washington. Hamit says, “I go into how I do research, so that may interest some people.” Here is the link: “Matthews and Friends” (3-29-21).

(6) @EATONVERSE IS BACK. Andrew Lippert announced that the official twitter of the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy at UC Riverside is returning to active status. “It will primarily be used to share items and documents from the collections that spark interest or are discovered while processing and working with the collections.” Here’s one of their latest tweets:

(7) STARTING THE NEXT CENTURY. Bradbury 101, produced by Phil Nichols, is a sequel to last year’s audio podcast series, Bradbury 100, which celebrated the centenary year of Bradbury. Here’s what Episode 04 is about —

THE ILLUSTRATED MAN is Ray Bradbury’s 1951 short story collection. As a follow-up to the previous year’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, it secured Bradbury’s reputation as a science fiction writer of quality – and at the same time saddled him with the label “science fiction writer” even though most of his fiction after this point was NOT science fiction.

(8) CRACKED FACTS. Item #2 in Cracked’s “13 Scintillating Now-You-Know Facts About Movies, Science, And More” from March 28 remarkably gets some things wrong that were not wrong in the cited source article from Racked (“Meet the Woman Who Invented Cosplay”). Like, Forrest J Ackerman (the unnamed guy) and Morojo (her fan name) were never married.

(9) SHATNER’S 90TH BIRTHDAY WISDOM. “William Shatner Explains Star Trek’s Continued Popularity: ‘We’re on the Verge of Extinction’”. Don’t you know we’re on the eve of destruction? Shat does.

For more than 50 years, even though eras when the franchise was in a lull, Star Trek fandom has been vibrant and strong. Upon his 90th birthday, and turning himself into artificial intelligence, original Star Trek series star William Shatner reflected on why Gene Roddenberry’s vision has so firmly stood the test of time and why it seems to resonate even more strongly today. Shatner was blunt with the situation we find ourselves in during an appearance on PeopleTV‘s Couch Surfing, stating that “We’re on the verge of extinction. We are poisoning ourselves out of life, and the Earth will survive and this little cancer, mankind, that’s growing all around her will die off the way a body gets a temperature and kills the germs off. Mother Earth will get rid of us because we’re a pestilence. But we don’t have to be. And we can join with the rest of life that makes it here on Earth with equanimity.”

(10) NIMOY MONUMENT PLANNED. “Nimoy Family and Boston’s Museum of Science Announce Vulcan Salute Monument” reports StarTrek.com. The project was announced on Nimoy’s birthday, March 26.

The Museum of Science, Boston, one of the world’s largest science centers and one of Boston’s most popular attractions, in collaboration with the family of Leonard Nimoy, legendary actor of the historic television series, Star Trek, today, announced the development of a monument honoring the Boston native to be located at the Museum of Science.

The 20-foot, illuminated, stainless steel monument, designed by artist David Phillps, will be shaped in the famous “Live Long and Prosper” hand gesture that the actor’s character Mister Spock was known for. It will be located in front of the Museum, at Science Park, welcoming visitors and Star Trek fans from around the world.

The Museum wants to raise a million dollars for the Leonard Nimoy Memorial.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • March 29, 1968 –On this date in 1968, Star Trek’s “Assignment: Earth” first aired as part of the second season. Guest starring Robert Lansing as Gary Seven and Terri Garr as Roberta Lincoln, our crew which has time-travelled to 1968 Earth for historical research encounters an interstellar agent and Isis, his cat, who are planning to intervene in Earth history. It was intended as a pilot for an Assignment: Earth series that Gene Roddenberry planned but that never happened.

Interesting note: The uncredited human form of Isis was portrayed by actress, dancer, and contortionist April Tatro, not Victoria Verti, actress (in Rosemary’s Baby under the name of Angela Dorian) and Playboy Playmate of the previous year, as would become part of Trek lore.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 29, 1914 – Roy Hunt.  Program Book for Denvention I the 3rd Worldcon.  Here is his cover.  Here is the Pacificon I Combozine (4th Worldcon).  Here is a cover for The Gorgon, used on five issues 1947-1948.  Here is an illustration for “The Ghost” (Van Vogt, 1948).  Here is vol. 1 no. 2 of Fantasy Book.  Here is the LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) coat of arms, which he designed.  Here is the Dec 59 New Frontiers.  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born March 29, 1926 – Tom Adams.  Two short stories, eight covers, five interiors for us; much else, poetry prints, light shows e.g The Jimi Hendrix Experience, covers for Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie; a copy of AC’s Death in the Clouds with TA’s cover appears in the Dr. Who episode “The Unicorn and the Wasp” (10th Doctor).  Here is Needle in a Timestack.  Here is Patron of the Arts.  (Died 2019) [JH]
  • Born March 29, 1930 John Astin, 91. He is best known for playing as Gomez Addams in Addams Family, reprising it on the Halloween with the New Addams Family film and the Addams Family animated series. A memorable later role would be as Professor Wickwire in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., and I’d like to single out his delightfully weird appearance on The Wild Wild West as Count Nikolai Sazanov in “The Night of the Tartar” episode. (CE) 
  • Born March 29, 1943 Eric Idle, 78. Monty Python is genre, isn’t it? If not, I know that The Adventures of Baron MunchausenYellowbeardMonty Python and the Holy GrailQuest for CamelotShrek the Third and Nearly Departed, an updated version of Topper, which he all had a hand in certainly are. And it turns out he’s written a witty SF novel, The Road to Mars: A Post-Modern Novel, which involves an Android, comedy and interplanetary travel. (CE)
  • Born March 29, 1944 – Linn Prentis.  Began working as an agent for Virginia Kidd, then her own agency with offices in Washington State and New York.  Among her clients, Kage Baker, Patricia Briggs, Rick Bowes, A.M. Dellamonica, James Morrow.  Prentis Literary continues.  (Died 2016 – on December 24th, alas) [JH]
  • Born March 29, 1947 Patricia Anthony. Flanders is one damn scary novel. A ghost story set in WW I it spooked me for nights after I read it and I don’t spook easily. Highly recommended.  James Cameron purchased the movie rights to  her Brother Termite novel and John Sayles wrote a script, but the movie has not been produced. (Died 2013.) (CE) 
  • Born March 29, 1956 Mary Gentle, 65. Her trilogy of Rats and GargoylesThe Architecture of Desire and Left to His Own Devices is a stunning work of alternate history with magic replacing science. I also highly recommend her Grunts! novel. Gamers particularly will love it. She has a cyberpunk novel, Left To His Own Devices, but I’ve not read it. Who here has read it? I’m surprised that she hasn’t been nominated for any Hugo Awards according to ISFDB database. (CE) 
  • Born March 29, 1957 Elizabeth Hand, 64. Not even going to attempt to summarize her brilliant career. I will say that my fav works by her are Wylding HallIllyria and Mortal Love. We did do an entire edition at Green Man on her and I need to update it to the present site. It’s got a neat conversation with her on what her favorite foods are. (CE) 
  • Born March 29, 1963 – Michelle Mitchell-Foust, Ph.D., age 58.  Two poetry books; two anthologies (with Tony Barnstone), Poems Dead and Undead and Poems Human and Inhuman (also called Monster Verse).  Elixir Press Poetry Prize, Columbia University Poetry Prize, Missouri Arts Council Biennial Award.  [JH]
  • Born March 29, 1968 Lucy Lawless, 53. Xena in Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Cylon model Number Three D’Anna Biers on that Battlestar Galactica series. She also played Countess Palatine Ingrid von Marburg, the last of a line of Germanic witches on the Salem series. Her most recent genre role as Ruby Knowby, one of the Dark Ones, on the Ash vs Evil Dead series. Though not genre, she was Lucretia in  Spartacus: Blood and Sand, its prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena and its sequel Spartacus: Vengeance. (CE) 
  • Born March 29, 1978 –  Nerine Dorman, age 43.  Four novels for us, a score of shorter stories; half a dozen anthologies.  Won a Nommo and a Sanlam Gold.  Has read The Count of Monte CristoThe Master and MargaritaThe Big TimeThe Stars My DestinationDouble StarWho?  [JH]
  • Born March 29, 1990 – Kiran Millwood Hargrave, age 31.  Poet, playwright, novelist.  Three novels for us.  Waterstone Children’s Book Prize, British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year, Blackwell Children’s Book of the Year.  First novel for adults opened at No. 1 on The Times (i.e. of London) Bestseller Chart.  “Our parents took us everywhere – Jordan, India, China….  India is particularly special to me as my mum is from there.”  From The Girl of Ink & Stars: ‘A myth is something that happened so long ago that people like to pretend it’s not real, even when it is.’  [JH]

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest discover robots with ethical problems – according to their designers.

(14) WISHBONER. Some show-biz pros are asking what turkey thought up this idea: “Comic-Con Criticized for In-Person Thanksgiving Weekend Event” in The Hollywood Reporter.

San Diego Comic-Con will return this year with an in-person convention during Thanksgiving weekend.

The pop culture event will host a “Comic-Con Special Edition” at the San Diego Convention Center from November 26-28. The announcement comes less than a month after Comic-Con International announced a virtual event would be held this summer due to uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic and the risk of large-scale gatherings. The three-day Comic-Con@Home virtual event is set for July 23-25.

“It is our hope that by Fall conditions will permit larger public gatherings,” an announcement for the event said. “Comic-Con Special Edition will be the first in-person convention produced by the organization since Comic-Con 2019, and the first since the onset of the global pandemic COVID-19. The Fall event will allow the organization to highlight all the great elements that make Comic-Con such a popular event each year, as well as generate much needed revenue not only for the organization but also for local businesses and the community.”

…The announcement for an in-person Thanksgiving weekend event received immediate criticism across social media, with many noting the pandemic impacted the ability for many to be with their families during the holidays last year.

“So they scheduled #SDCC on the same weekend as the first chance most families will (hopefully) be fully able to celebrate Thanksgiving in two years. See you in 2022!” Charles Soule, writer and author for Daredevil and She-Hulk, shared on Twitter.

“Sure. Make it during the one non-denominational fall holiday weekend in U.S., w/ always peak airfare prices. And I’m sure A-list celebs will LOVE doing this. Black Friday, indeed,” author Tara Bennett wrote.

Linda Ge, who writes for CW’s new series Kung Fu, also tweeted “Does Comic-Con realize that most people didn’t get to spend last Thanksgiving with their families because of the pandemic? #SDCC”

(15) C3PO, R2D2, AND BBQ€590. This summer you could be “grilling from another galaxy” with the Star Wars-inspired Galaxy Grill for a mere 590 Euros.

Amaze your friends with a real space vehicle – they will definitely join the dark side with you.

(16) TECH SKEPTIC. In the Washington Post, Dalvin Brown says the likelihood you will have a robot with legs helping you in your home is very small, because robots are expensive, heavy (what happens if a robot falls on you?) and robots with humanlike hands are really expensive.  “Robots don’t know much about the world they’re operating in, so a robot needs a great deal of education to learn where things are in your house.” “For all the hype, robots are limited in what they can do in your home”.

… But how likely is it that you’ll ever be able to own a true robotic butler?

Robots are indeed getting more complex. As AI continues to advance, it allows machines to figure out more complex problems and reliably chat with humans. Still, robotics and AI firms say you’ll have to wait quite some time before you’re able to own anything remotely similar to Rosey the Robot from “The Jetsons.”

In fact, companies are having a hard time commercializing anything more complex than a Roomba — which has been vacuuming houses for 20 years.

… Right now, robots are doing well in factories where there’s plenty of space, no small kids around and employees wearing protective gear. They’re really good at completing a single repetitive task, like screwing on a wheel.

But imagine introducing machinery with legs and lifting capabilities into your home where things can and do go wrong. What if it falls on someone, or a software update causes it to go haywire? It’s funny on “The Jetsons,” but it wouldn’t be so comical if your grandmother were on the receiving end….

(17) RYAN GEORGE. In “Godzilla Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says the producer is happy that the son of Bryan Cranston’s character is named Ford because “selling your son’s name as advertising space is tight!”  (The producer’s three sons are Ben, Jerry, and Outback Steakhouse.)

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Filers will remember when OwlKitty entered the Lord of The Rings.  But in “Godzilla v. Cat (OwlKitty Parody)” on YouTube, OwlKitty takes on Godzilla!

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Chris R., JJ, Cat Eldridge, David K. M. Klaus, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, David Doering, Andrew Porter, Joey Eschrich, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

50 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/29/21 Listen, Billy Pixel’s Come Unscrolled In File

  1. (11) I would have enjoyed a Gary Seven series (I should read the tie-in novels that substitute for that missing series sometime).

    (12) John Astin was a recurring character on “Eerie Indiana” in the 1990s, playing Radford, the weird owner of the local superstore “The World of Stuff” (amusingly, the previous actor playing Radford was revealed to be a “fake Radford” who had the real one (Astin) locked in the basement for a while). And of course Astin was the other actor playing The Riddler in Batman 1966.

  2. Andrew (not Werdna) says I would have enjoyed a Gary Seven series (I should read the tie-in novels that substitute for that missing series sometime).

    Tie-in novels? Oh do tell! I never knew such things existed.

  3. Eric Idle’s book, The Road to Mars, was surprisingly good for an SF novel by a non-SFish person. I mean, it’ll probably never appear on any list of the greatest SF of all time, but it was interesting, engaging, and thought-provoking, and definitely original. Also, while it definitely had humorous elements, it wasn’t the sort of slapstick you might have expected from a Python. The protagonists were comedians, but I’m not sure I’d call the book itself a comedy. Though it was certainly about humor. All in all, I found it a pleasant surprise.

  4. …And if I’d remembered to tick the box, I wouldn’t have had to post again so quickly…

    I know, it’s only pixel scroll, but I like it!

  5. 2) Just send in Matter Eater Lad and let the shipping company, Lloyd’s, and the idiot who pranged the boat fight it out among themselves.

    12) Life of Brian has a fcnpr onggyr. You don’t get more genre than that.

  6. 12) Let’s not forget John Astin’s 1972 tv-movie EVIL ROY SLADE, which should probably be considered at least genre-associated. “Meanest man in the West” Slade was orphaned as an infant and ended up raised by vultures.

    (Similar to 1940’s comic superhero Black Condor, who, orphaned as an infant, was raised by condors. Not only raised by condors, but even learned to fly on his own, apparently by studying really really hard. Evil Roy Slade, on the other hand, made his area of expertise robbing banks and trains; but it just came naturally for Slade, it seems.)

  7. rob_matic linked:
    https://newlinesmag.com/argument/arab-life-on-mars/
    “Arab Life on Mars: What the arrival of the UAE’s Hope probe to the Red Planet means for the region’s youth.”

    … and this is why Worldcon should go to Jeddah S.A.. If you don’t understand why, read it again.
    “That’s all science fiction was ever about. Hating the way things are, wanting to make things different.” – Ray Bradbury
    TL,DR: it’s about the Future. Not ours, Theirs.

  8. JeffWarner: and this is why Worldcon should go to Jeddah S.A.. If you don’t understand why, read it again.

    Let me guess. You’re straight, male, over 50, and have never received a rape or death threat as a result of something you posted online. You’ve never been threatened with physical violence for being gay or “too feminine”. You’ve never been groped or sexually assaulted by someone who thinks they have the right to your body, or who thinks that you should be punished for having the audacity to exist or the temerity to voice your opinion.

    This is why you don’t understand why Worldcon should not be held in Saudi Arabia – not until things there change dramatically from the way they are right now.

    You need to sit down and take a good hard look at yourself and the massive amount of privilege that you take for granted – privilege that the majority of the rest of us do not enjoy. 😐

  9. @ JeffWarner

    You have obviously forgotten what happened to Adnan Khashoggi. Go look it up before you reply.

  10. 14) I used to regularly go to a Thanksgiving weekend convention. Things didn’t usually get going until Friday evening, so it didn’t conflict much. Driving home afterwards was a mess, though.

  11. Astin also twinkled as Judge Harold T Stone’s father on Night Court. But he’s feeling much better now.

  12. 2) I joked on twitter during the ship being stuck that Aquaman is laughing that people mock him, now.

    But then given the recent DC movie, probably Mera would be a better choice.

  13. @Cat:

    Ok, so the answer is that they never actually did flesh out the series itself as both of the novels that got done styled within the Trek verse itself. Pity that.

    Sorry about that – didn’t mean to suggest that someone had created a “Assignment: Earth” line of books (though that would have been cool).

  14. I admit that I love all of the fussing about San Diego Comic-con moving to Thanksgiving weekend, as if the thought of family obligations will scuttle the convention. The Dallas Fantasy Fair, the original home for the Harvey Awards, ran every Thanksgiving weekend from 1979 to 1995 (the convention imploded in 1996), and the main draw for local and international attendees was “something to do that weekend that didn’t involve family obligations.” (For us locals, almost all of those obligations involved being in a mall or watching football that weekend, so having plans for a three-day convention were a blessed respite from either inadvertent “Dawn of the Dead” cosplay or having to hold an opinion on the Dallas Cowboys.)

  15. Andrew (not Werdna) says Sorry about that – didn’t mean to suggest that someone had created a “Assignment: Earth” line of books (though that would have been cool).

    Yeah it would’ve been very cool. And I’m surprised someone didn’t run with the premise as it’s a natural fit for a series. I’ve certainly seen a lot thinner premises developed into series.

  16. JJ: I’m a straight white male over 50 and I don’t think the Worldcon shouldn’t be in Saudi Arabia. But my reasons are different than yours,

  17. @Paul Riddell: Yes, some people either don’t have, or don’t want, that sort of family socializing Thanksgiving weekend. I have no idea what fraction of ComicCon attendees that is, and the organizers may not either, because why would they?

    Travel will be more expensive and/or stressful over Thanksgiving than on most weekends–the airline doesn’t care that you’re going to a convention rather than to see relatives. Under these weird circumstances [gestures vaguely], I suspect the organizers might be fine with one year of mostly local attendance, and losing guests to those family obligations. But “this is a reasonable tradeoff” doesn’t mean “there is no conflict.”

  18. The Dallas Fantasy Fair, the original home for the Harvey Awards, ran every Thanksgiving weekend from 1979 to 1995 (the convention imploded in 1996), and the main draw for local and international attendees was “something to do that weekend that didn’t involve family obligations.”

    I loved that con and remember seeing you there a few times. The Harvey Awards brought legendary pros to Dallas. I was sitting in the convention hotel lobby one time and Jack Kirby and Harvey Kurtzman sat across from me. They talked shop for an hour.

  19. Meredith moment: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers is currently $1.99 where ebooks are sold.

  20. I personally wouldn’t travel to Saudi Arabia for Worldcon or probably any other reason, but I still have an interest in what fans and creators in the Arab world have to say. As alluded to in the article I linked to, fans and creators have to deal with censorship and various forms of repression and intolerance in most Arab countries and I respect those struggles.

    I have some awareness of Arabic cinema and literature, but I’ve added a few books from that article to my wishlist because I haven’t even seen much discussion of Arabic SF.

  21. For anyone interested in Arabic SF in English translation, the Iraqi writer Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad (2013, translated 2018) is surreal, cruel, funny, disturbing, and brilliant.

  22. @Rob That’s Jamal Khashoggi, his cousin, you’re thinking of. Adnan is still alive.

    While UAE and Saudi Arabia are two different countries, they share the same misogyny and homophobia that Saudi Arabia has demonstrated so publicly.

  23. Regarding “Assignment: Earth,” Roddenberry himself could be said to have tried to make it into a series by way of the ~1973 pilot/TV movie The Questor Tapes, starring a character (played by Robert Foxworth) who in retrospect is half Gary Seven, half Data. Also starring Mike Farrell, but I haven’t seen it in decades and remember nothing more. (Farrell did not play Isis, however.)

  24. Ginger says While UAE and Saudi Arabia are two different countries, they share the same misogyny and homophobia that Saudi Arabia has demonstrated so publicly.

    Yeah I’ve been through the UAE. Let’s just say that it’s not on my list of countries ever to revisit.

  25. @Jeff Warner
    Arab fans and pros like the team behind the Jeddah Worldcon bid are part of our community and we should welcome and support them.

    However, when choosing a location for a Worldcon, we must take the safety and well-being of everybody in our community into account. And the sad truth is that there are countries with an active SFF fandom like Saudi Arabia but also China, which currently – at least IMO – are not a good place to hold a Worldcon due to the politics of their governments. This is not the fault of the fans in those countries, anymore than US-fans are to be blamed for Donald Trump or British fans for Brexit. But right now, a Worldcon in Saudi Arabia means that female and LGBTQ fans as well as Israeli fans will not be able to attend or at least attend safely.

    I can imagine a Worldcon in the Muslim world held in a country that’s more liberal than Saudi Arabia (the UAE would be a better choice, though far from perfect). And Saudi Arabia may eventually become more liberal as well. But right now it is simply not a good location for many members of our community. Which doesn’t mean that Arab fans and pros are not welcome in our community.

  26. JJ: You have no idea what’s been done to me. Some of your assumptions are correct. Some of your assumptions are wildly wrong. Please don’t make this about me, that’s missing the point.

    Ginger, Cora, Jake, and others: Yes, S.A. and the UAE are bad places for Western Fans to go (Jordan might be marginally better). Yes, it’s probably no safer for Women, and/or LGBTQ from Arabic countries either. Yes, the governments of the countries we’re talking about are guilty of horrific Human Rights violations. Yes, the cultures of the region are rigidly White, Male, and Patriarchal.

    So, how do we encourage change?

    Remember the Arab Spring? When the ideas of Freedom, Democracy and Respect of Human Rights spread like wildfire across the Arab World? Those ideas were spread by people, between people, through writings and speeches and sermons. Communication was the key, until shut down by governments who feared the contents of those communications.

    (Rob_matic is so close to getting to my point.)

    The point is that (yes – the white, male, patriarchal) people Who Want Change be allowed to get together in some sort of, oh how would we describe it – a grand meeting of like-minded individuals who think of the Future.

    Would i go to a Saudi Arabia Worldcon? Hell no. But they should have one.

  27. JeffWarner: Would i go to a Saudi Arabia Worldcon? Hell no. But they should have one.

    No, they shouldn’t.

    The problem is that voting to give Saudi Arabia a Worldcon doesn’t encourage that country’s government to change. It gives a stamp of approval to the government that exists.

    What might encourage the Saudi government to consider changing is for Worldcon members to tell them, “Get your shit sorted out, and then we’ll vote to have a Worldcon in your country.” (I doubt it, Worldcon isn’t that powerful, either prestige-wise or economic-wise, but at least it would be something.)

    As Cora says, Saudi authors and fans are a valued and important part of the SFF community.

    But no, right now the last thing Worldcon members should be doing is voting to hold a Worldcon in a country where the majority of Worldcon members would not only not have full human rights, many of them would be in danger of arrest, imprisonment, and/or assault.

  28. PhilRM on March 30, 2021 at 1:01 pm said:
    For anyone interested in Arabic SF in English translation, the Iraqi writer Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad (2013, translated 2018) is surreal, cruel, funny, disturbing, and brilliant.

    Thanks for the recommendation.

  29. @JeffWarner, The point is that (yes – the white, male, patriarchal) people Who Want Change be allowed to get together in some sort of, oh how would we describe it – a grand meeting of like-minded individuals who think of the Future.

    What you’re describing is a regional SF convention, I think. You don’t need a Worldcon to have a regional SF convention where the local fans (yes, probably primarily male, because of the extreme logistical difficulties that female fans would have in attending safely) can get together and celebrate change. And, maybe, start becoming the change they want to be.

    None of that takes a Worldcon. I heartily approve of Saudis (and Chinese, and others in restrictive societies and cultures) getting together and holding SF conventions, and I hope that one day the rest of the world will be comfortable enough to come join them and celebrate SF with them…. but that day, I think, is not yet here. In the meantime, I do hope as many of them as can safely do so manage to come to regional conventions and Worldcons where-ever they are held.

    I don’t blame fans for their governments, unless they personally voted that government in. But I can’t ignore their governments, either.

  30. Should Saudi Arabia and the UAE have Natcons? Absolutely, that’s a great way for them to build and grow and inculcate their science fiction communities.

    They might even in time work with Fan Funds and get one going to start to connect to other communities and individuals.

    But have them host a Worldcon? Hell, no.

  31. @rob_matic: I was a little surprised it wasn’t mentioned in the link you posted. There are a couple of novels from that piece I will definitely be adding to my TBR pile.

  32. Not to mention the fact that running regional conventions would mean that those countries would have more experienced conrunners if things did somehow change in the future in a way that would make those countries more welcoming to the full range of fans.

    As it is, I’m always a little dubious when some new, interesting location puts up a bid and can’t brag about the experience of the people behind the bid, no matter how cool it would be to have a con at that location! (The flip side, of course, is that I think Worldcon should go to brand new places when it can–but I still want to know that the concom is ready to cope!)

  33. Xtifr: As it is, I’m always a little dubious when some new, interesting location puts up a bid and can’t brag about the experience of the people behind the bid

    I also think people with professional organizing experience don’t always understand how very different Worldcon is. Some of the people on the Jeddah bid listed experience at organizing and running professional conferences. And I saw a Worldcon member ask them: “How will you keep people motivated and performing, when they’re not being paid for it, and their professional career and reputation are not dependent on how they perform as convention personnel?”

  34. Yes, S.A. and the UAE are bad places for Western Fans to go (Jordan might be marginally better). Yes, it’s probably no safer for Women, and/or LGBTQ from Arabic countries either. Yes, the governments of the countries we’re talking about are guilty of horrific Human Rights violations. Yes, the cultures of the region are rigidly White, Male, and Patriarchal. …

    Would i go to a Saudi Arabia Worldcon? Hell no.

    That’s quite the bid endorsement.

  35. The “Sense of the Filers” seems to be promoting WorldCon as a reward for reaching certain socio-political goals. My position is for WorldCon to be a Communication and Networking opportunity for the forward thinkers in the Middle East to achieve those goals sooner.
    Of course MBS will claim undeserved vindication/validation. Meanwhile all the futurist thinkers throughout the region will be thinking of the cultural shifts to propose/promote after him.
    (Merely expressing that idea, of a future beyond MBS, would get me a Jamal Khashoggi greeting in S.A., which is why i would never go. But this is not about me or us, it’s about them. Please read Rob_matic’s linked article.)

    OGH: Thank you for letting me debate an unpopular idea.

  36. JeffWarner: The “Sense of the Filers” seems to be promoting WorldCon as a reward for reaching certain socio-political goals.

    That’s a really strange interpretation. My take on it is that Worldcon should be in a location that’s reasonably accessible, welcoming, and safe for the vast majority of Worldcon members. While there is certainly a continuum of those factors, with various potential host countries along it, Saudi Arabia is at the far end where it is neither accessible, welcoming, nor safe for the vast majority of Worldcon members. What would be the point in having a Worldcon where almost no one but Saudi Arabians could go?

    As Cassy has pointed out, it’s not necessary for Saudi Arabian fans to host a Worldcon for them to have Communication and Networking opportunity for the forward thinkers. They would be able to start running their own natcon as practice for hosting a Worldcon (as of right now, they don’t seem to have fan-volunteer-run SF conventions). They are able to attend Worldcons in other countries to work on Worldcons and network with other conrunners.

  37. @Jeff Warner–

    The “Sense of the Filers” seems to be promoting WorldCon as a reward for reaching certain socio-political goals. My position is for WorldCon to be a Communication and Networking opportunity for the forward thinkers in the Middle East to achieve those goals sooner.

    No, it’s about WorldCon being safe, rather than unsafe, for most of the WorldCon membership to attend.

    Of course MBS will claim undeserved vindication/validation. Meanwhile all the futurist thinkers throughout the region will be thinking of the cultural shifts to propose/promote after him.

    No, the futurist thinkers of the region can do that, and gain essential skills and experience in organizing and running a fan-run convention, without which they would make an utter hash of organizing and running a fan-run convention as large and complex as WorldCon.

    Seriously. Insufficiently experienced WorldCon committees have sometimes had WorldCons with significant problems, but they got the essentials done, and anyway they were in attractive vacation spots (a big contributor to why they won, peoplewantedto go there anyway), so people could enjoy their trips. The Jeddah committee never seemed to understand even why their proposed dates were a problem for one of those essentials, the Hugos, never mind the difference between professional conference experience and a fan-run con, where you have to motivate all those people to work that hard for that long for fun.

    Does any country in the Midde East, other than Israel, have fan-run conventions to gain experience from?

    And do you anticipate any Arab country being able to draw on that nearest pool of experience, Israeli fans? The idea is rather grimly funny, Israeli fans being top of the list for WorldCon members who couldn’t attend a WorldCon in Saudi Arabia or the UAE.

    (Merely expressing that idea, of a future beyond MBS, would get me a Jamal Khashoggi greeting in S.A., which is why i would never go. But this is not about me or us, it’s about them. Please read Rob_matic’s linked article.)

    And thus you make the major point against your position. Even someone who isn’t a member of a category likely to be automatically unsafe there, before even opening their mouth, would really not feel safe attending such a WorldCon. So you’re arguing for a WorldCon with almost no WorldCon regular members, participants, or staff, and you think this is going to fly (as a thing WorldCon members should vote for) or succeed in operation (if it somehow did win the site location vote), how exactly? And why?

    No. They can start gaining the conrunning experience, and having that regional exchange of ideas, with fan-run local and regional experience now, and be in a far better position to mount a credible bid in the future, when political conditions have changed enough to make the idea not completely ridiculous.

  38. I would argue (tho not strenuously) that it is the responsibility of local fans to evaluate the suitability of their country for hosting an international event and deciding whether or not to float a bid based on whether or not it would be appropriate to host a Worldcon there, taking into consideration all of the factors, which include human rights issues.
    If such an evaluation had been done for both the former SA bit and the current China bid, we would not be in a position where we have to make statements like “the fans are not the country, but given the circumstances, it’s inappropriate to host a Worldcon there and, by default, give tacit approval to things we don’t approve of.”
    Fans desiring a Worldcon experience can and have joined committees in countries that don’t have such issues (or at least issues that rise to the level of concern that those to countries engender).
    I hate like hell having to agitate against the China Worldcon, but on the balance scales, Human Rights abuses, local discrimination, and on-going genocide far outweigh any benefits a Worldcon hosted there would provide for that fan community.

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