Pixel Scroll 4/2/19 Get Me Pixels! Pixels Of Scroller-Man!

(1) HUGO FOR A WAR YEAR. Cora Buhlert provides a very fine walkthrough of today’s Retro nominees in “Some Thoughts on the Hugo Award Finalists, Part I: The 1944 Retro Hugo Awards”.

The most remarkable thing about the 1944 Retro Hugos is that there is no Heinlein. Not a single Heinlein story was nominated for the Retro Hugos this year, not because fandom has suddenly lost its taste for Heinlein, but because Heinlein was too busy in 1943 testing military equipment at the Navy Yard* to write science fiction. Also notable by his absence (except for one fairly obscure story) is Isaac Asimov, who was also too busy testing military equipment at the Navy Yard to write, though unlike Heinlein, Asimov didn’t have a choice, because he was at danger of being drafted and expected (not without justification) that he’d be killed if he were ever taken prisoner, as Alex Nevala-Lee describes in his (excellent) chronicle of the Golden Age and what followed Astounding.

World War II also took other Golden Age stalwarts such as Lester Del Rey (also busily doing something at the Navy Yard) and L. Ron Hubbard (busily shooting at phantom subs off the Mexican coast) out of the game, leaving the field open for other voices and the 1944 Retro Hugo finalists certainly reflect that. This is a good thing, because it means that writers who are not normally recognised by the Retro Hugo Awards (though some of them have been recognised by the regular Hugos) finally get their dues.

(2) CURRENT EVENTS. Then Buhlert follows with extensive analysis of the 2019 Hugo ballot — “Some Thoughts on the Hugo Award Finalists, Part II: The 2019 Hugo Awards”. These include comments and concerns about the Best Series category. (How’s it working for you?)

Best Series

This is the third year of the Best Series category and personally, I’m getting really frustrated with it, even though I initially supported the idea. But the way I viewed the Best Series Hugo (and the way it was originally sold) was as a way to award the sort of extremely popular SFF series that are beloved by fans and regularly hit bestseller lists, but whose individual volumes are almost never recognised by the Hugos, because the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts (see Wheel of Time, which was obviously misclassified in Best Novel, but would have been a natural for this category). When the category was announced, I assumed we’d see finalists like the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (which might have been nominated, except that the series hasn’t had a new book in years, because Jim Butcher is apparently ill), the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews (which actually ended in 2018 and really would have deserved a nod), the Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs, the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, the Honor Harrington series by David Weber (not to my taste, but obviously beloved by many), etc… But that’s not what we’re seeing in this category. Instead, we’re getting the same finalists we’re seeing elsewhere on the ballot. Perhaps the Hugo electorate aren’t really series readers to the degree initially assumed. Or maybe they just have a really weird taste in series.

(3) CLARIFYING TWEET. Archive of Our Own is up for the Best Related Work Hugo. The facility of the site, not the individual works of fanfic. Did someone need that explained, or were they only amusing themselves? Just in case, someone explained it:

(4) MARK YOUR CALENDAR. The dates for the next two LA Vintage Paperback Shows have been set — March 8, 2020 and March 28, 2021.

(5) STRONG WILL. Red Wombat needs to get something done before heading to China:

(6) HEINLEIN BOOK PUBDATE PUSHED BACK. The publisher of the recently recovered Robert A. Heinlein novel titled Six-Six-Six has put out a newsletter with more information about the project:

Work on the new Heinlein work continues, but we are experiencing some production delays and so may have to postpone the release from November, to Spring of 2020…. 

Some questions on the new Heinlein answered:

1. Is Spider Robinson completing an unfinished work by Heinlein? NO. Neither Spider Robinson, nor anyone else has been tasked with completing the book. The book is complete. It did survive in fragments, but the fragments contain the complete book. It is being edited (as is every published book) to eliminate errors, inconsistencies, etc. But the work is 100% Heinlein.

2. Is this the rumored alternate text to The Number of the Beast? Yes. This is the alternate text that Heinlein wrote. There are many reasons that have been suggested as to why this was never published, including certain copyright issues that may have existed at that time (the book uses the characters created by other authors, and the book acts as a homage to a couple of authors Heinlein admired).

3. Is the unpublished version similar to the published version? No, though it largely shares the first one-third of the book, it then becomes a completely different book in every way. In the published version the villains are largely forgotten as the novel evolves into something else completely. The unpublished version is much more of a traditional Heinlein book, with a much more traditional storyline and ending.

4. What is the release date? We are trying to publish it by November, but it appears we may have to delay it till Spring 2020 due to a number of reasons

(7) MCINTYRE TRIBUTE. SFWA grieves for one of sff’s finest people — “In Memoriam – Vonda N. McIntyre”.

SFWA President Cat Rambo noted, “Vonda was one of our best and brightest, and she had three times the heart of most of the people I know. I’m so glad she managed to finish the book she was working on, but her loss hits so many of us who loved her and her words with a hardness that is tough to bear. Be kind to each other today in her honor; I can’t think of any way that would be better to celebrate the goodness and grandeur that she was.”

(8) ON THE FRONT. Joachim Boaz posted an array of McIntyre’s book covers at Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations: “Updates: Vonda N. McIntyre (August 28, 1948 – April 1, 2019)”.

(9) LEARNING TERRIBLE SECRETS. Kat Hooper reviews Aliette de Bodard at Fantasy Literature: In the Vanisher’s Palace: A fascinating world”.

The best part of In the Vanisher’s Palace is de Bodard’s fascinating world. I want to know more about the Vanishers and how they destroyed Yên’s society. I’d gladly read other stories set in this world. I also loved the “non Euclidean” and “escherscape” palace which at first makes Yên nauseated.

(10) IN COUNTRY. Elitist Book Review’s Vanessa got a kick out of No Country for Old Gnomes by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne.

If you read KILL THE FARM BOY, then NO COUNTRY FOR OLD GNOMES is the same in tone, silliness, puns, wordplay, and corny jokes. Except this time we don’t see much of Gustave, Grinda the Sand Witch, Fia, and the others; no, this is about the gnomes Offi and Kirsi and their new friends whose quest to stop the halflings turns into a journey fraught with danger.

(11) THE FUTURE OF INFIDELITY. Abigail Nussbaum’s first Strange Horizons review of the year discusses Theory of Bastards by Audrey Schulman”.

Theory of Bastards is set in the near future, and Schulman does an impressive job (especially for a newcomer to the genre) of constructing a plausible and thought-out portrait of life in the coming decades. She casually drops into the narrative such ideas as a future type of internet in which computer-generated avatars present the news, or a combination implant and gene therapy that turns the deaf bonobo keeper’s mouth into another ear, able to perceive vibrations and translate them into sound. But for the most part, the picture she paints is not encouraging.

(12) HAUNTED PAST. Leslie S. Klinger and Lisa Morton trace “The Birth of the Modern Ghost Story” at CrimeReads.

In December of 1847, John D. Fox moved his family to a house in Hydesville, New York. Although the house had an odd reputation (the previous tenant had vacated because of mysterious sounds), it wasn’t until March of the following year that the family’s troubles began. Before long, daughters Kate and Margaret claimed to be communicating with the spirit of a peddler who had been murdered in the house. The communications took the form of rapping noises in answer to questions asked aloud.

The Fox sisters (along with a third sister, Leah, who acted as their manager) soon parlayed their rapping skills into celebrity. The young ladies held public séances, underwent “tests,” and inspired copycat mediums around the world. By the time the Foxes were debunked, they’d helped to inspire a new religion, Spiritualism, which was popular in both America and Great Britain, that held as its central tenet that the spirits of the dead continued to exist on another plane and could be contacted by human mediums. The Spiritualist movement had no less a figure as its international spokesperson than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose wife Jean was also a medium.

It’s no coincidence that the ghost story experienced a rebirth of popularity at about the same time….

(13) REMAINS OF JANRAE FRANK. The Worcester (MA) Telegraph includes Andrew Porter’s photo of the late author in its coverage: “Daughter claims ashes of mother thought buried in pauper’s grave”.

Janice Frank’s body was often a burden to her, and she likely would be unfazed by the fact that her cremated remains have been lying, unclaimed, in a funeral parlor since her untimely death in 2014 at 59.

But the news that she was there stunned her daughter, Sovay Fox, and her daughter’s partner, Hallie Hauer, who both thought she’d been given a pauper’s burial and had given up on ever having possession of her ashes.

Ms. Frank, born in 1954, contracted polio from the vaccine that was designed to prevent it. She was 8 years old, and the disease left her with a deformed leg. She walked her whole life with a cane.

A journalist and author, she told other writers that the best of their craft would come from tapping into their own pain, and it seemed she had a bottomless well of suffering from which she often wrote.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 2, 1914 Alec Guinness. Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars trilogy. (What? There were more movies after them? No!)  That’s it for filmed genre roles but theatre is another matter altogether. He played Osric first in Hamlet in the early Thirties in what was then the New Theatre, Old Thorney in The Witch of Edmonton at The Old Vic and the title role of Macbeth of course at Sheffield. (Died 2000.)
  • Born April 2, 1933 Murray Tinkelman. Illustrator of genre covers during the Seventies. Glyer has a most excellent look at him here in his obituary posting. I’m very fond of his cool, diffuse style of illustration that made it seem as if the subject of the cover was just coming into focus as you looked at them. (Died 2016.)
  • Born April 2, 1939 Elliot K. Shorter. Fan, bookseller, and Locus co-editor once upon a time. He was attending conventions by the early Sixties and was a major figure in Sixties and Seventies fandom, and involved in a number of APAs. And as Glyer notes, he spread his larger than life enthusiasm wide as he ‘belonged to the Tolkien Society of America, Hyborean Legion, the City College of New York SF Club, ESFA, Lunarians, Fanoclasts and NESFA.’ He was involved in the Worldcon bid and helped run Suncon, the 1977 Worldcon which came out of the bid. All of this is particularly remarkable as he was one of the very few African-Americans in Sixties fandom. (Died 2013.)
  • Born April 2, 1975 Adam Rodriguez, 44. His first genre role is on All Souls, the haunted hospital drama, as Patrick Fortado. He’s also in season three of Roswell as Jesse Esteban Ramirez. 
  • Born April 2, 1978 Scott Lynch, 41. Author of Gentleman Bastard series of novels which is to my utter surprise now at seven with the forthcoming one. I know I read The Lies of Locke Lamora  but who here has read the entire series to date?  And I see he was writing Queen of the Iron Sands, an online serial novel for awhile. May I note he’s married to Elizabeth Bear, one of my favorite authors? 

(15) STAND BY FOR SADDLE SORES. Who needs to work, anyway? The Wrap gets fans excited to hear that “AMC to Host 59-Hour, 22-Film Marvel Movie Marathon Ahead of ‘Avengers: Endgame’”. So excited they crashed the site trying to get tickets.

Are you devoted enough to watching “Avengers: Endgame” that you’re willing to sacrifice two-and-a-half days of your life hyping up for it?

AMC is hosting yet another Marvel movie marathon leading up to “Endgame,” a 22-film marathon saga that covers every MCU dating back to 2008’s “Iron Man” and concludes with “Endgame.” And just … why? Does anyone honestly need this?

Those who do brave the experience will get special marathon collectibles, content, concession offers and will get to see “Avengers: Endgame” at 5 p.m. local time on April 26, one hour earlier than regular public show times.

(16) CLASSIC ILLUSTRATIONS. The Society of Illustrators in New York hosts its “Masters of the Fantastic” exhibit through June 8. Includes work by many artists including Winsor McCay, Kinuko Y. Craft, Leo and Diane Dillon, Vincent Di  Fate, Ed Emshwiller, Hannes Bok, Virgil Finlay, and Frank Frazetta.

The art of the fantastic gives vision to our dreaded nightmares and our most fervent hopes. Stories of fantasy and science fiction have risen from the quaint traditions of the tribal storyteller through children’s fables and pulp magazines to dominate today’s cultural mainstream. Through their use on the covers of bestselling books, to their appearance in blockbuster movies, TV shows and videogames, illustrative images play a central role in the appeal and popular acceptance of the fantastic narrative and the Society of Illustrators is pleased to celebrate this rite of passage with an exhibition of more than 100 examples of the genre’s finest artistic works. MASTERS OF THE FANTASIC encompasses a full range of otherworldly images—from dragons, specters and demons, to the far reaches of deep space—in the form of paintings, drawings and sculpture, highlighting the works of the artistic innovators who have given shape and substance to the world’s most imaginative kinds of storytelling.

(17) TO THE MOON. In the March 29 Financial Times, Jan Dalley reviews a virtual reality voyage to the moon by performance artist Laurie Anderson collaborating with Taiwanese artist Hsin-Chien Huang, in an installation currently at Art Basel Hong Kong.

The hateful headset is instantly forgotten as, with gut-lurching suddenness, the ‘floor’ shatters beneath you and you are cast off, a weightless space traveller in the wonder of the galaxy.  And quickly dumped on the surface of the moon, quaking (in my case), to face and explore a series of visions and adventures:  ghost dinosaurs composed of mathematical symbols splinter into nothing as you navigate yourself toward them (one is replaced by a phantom Cadillac); a glittering diamond-shaped mountain sucks you on high among its giant peaks, perilously close; a plethora of swirling, hideous space junk crashes into your visor before you realise you have grown an immensely long pair of arms with which, presumably, to fend off the aggressions of this man-made trash, while behind looms the immense, terrifyingly beautiful sight of Earthrise.  A fathomlessly deep stone rose (remember Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince?), still and lovely, is vast enough to be slowly circled by its own eerie moons.  Later you lose your body completely; suddenly you’re on a donkey ride; an entire galaxy explodes into a vast cosmic firework display.

(18) TWO HEADS ARE BETTER. Bill Nye and Bob Picardo talk all about how advocating for space really works in the February edition of The Planetary Post.

(19) WHAT A JOB. NPR investigates new frontiers in homeowners insurance: “Step 1: Build A House. Step 2: Set It On Fire”.

An hour south of Charlotte, N.C., two forks in the road beyond suburbia, a freshly constructed house sits in a wind tunnel waiting to be set on fire.

To the left of the house is a brick wall with a hole in the middle, made by a 2-by-4 propelled at 70 miles per hour.

In front of the house is a metal staircase five stories tall. At the top are the hail guns.

More than 100 fans begin to turn, slowly at first and then faster. The ember generators flicker on. The fire is about to begin.

The past two years have been particularly costly for insurance companies that are on the hook for billions of dollars in damage done by hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other disasters. As these disasters become more frequent and expensive, in part because of climate change, insurers are investing more in this research facility that studies how to protect homes and businesses from destructive wind, water and embers.

The facility in rural South Carolina is run by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, a nonprofit research organization funded by U.S. insurance companies….

(20) HOW TO FAIL PHYSICS. “NASA: India’s satellite destruction could endanger ISS”. Chip Hitchcock’s summary: “The perfectly safe test wasn’t. Follow-on to links you didn’t use last week; now there’s hard evidence — but somebody should have figured that a blowup in LEO would send debris up, not just down and sideways.”

Nasa has called India’s destruction of a satellite a “terrible thing” that could threaten the International Space Station (ISS).

The space agency’s chief, Jim Bridenstine, said that the risk of debris colliding with the ISS had risen by 44% over 10 days due to the test.

However he said: “The international space station is still safe. If we need to manoeuvre it we will.”

India is the fourth country to have carried out such a test.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the test – Mission Shakti – with great fanfare on 27 March, saying it had established India as a “space power”.

In an address to employees, Mr Bridenstine sharply criticised the testing of such anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons.

He said that Nasa had identified 400 pieces of orbital debris and was tracking 60 pieces larger than 10cm in diameter. Twenty-four of those pieces pose a potential risk to the ISS, he said.

…Delhi has insisted it carried out the test in low-earth orbit, at an altitude of 300km (186 miles), to not leave space debris that could collide with the ISS or satellites.

(21) HEAVE AWAY, MR. RICO. As the world of robotics continues to evolve, we’ll soon be seeing more “physically augmented” employees in the workplace: “Exoskeleton Prototypes Sent to U.S. Navy, Special Command”

Sarcos Robotics is responsible for some incredible technology. Last July, we introduced you to the company’s Guardian S, the 4-foot-long inspection robot that uses magnetic tracks to inch along everything from metal walls to oil pipelines.

The Salt Lake City-based company is also responsible for the Guardian GT robot, which allows an operator to remotely control two massive robotic arms on a tracked (or wheeled) robot to perform dangerous inspection and maintenance tasks in the nuclear, oil and gas, and construction industries.

The company also designed a powerful robotic exoskeleton, the Guardian XO, a smooth, battery-powered exoskeleton initially designed to give industrial workers the ability to repeatedly lift 200 pounds without any physical exertion.

As we’ve seen continued industry buy-in, as well as ongoing innovation, Sarcos has started to land some big contracts that could increase the amount of physically augmented workers in the workforce.

In early March, Sarcos partnered with the U.S. Navy to evaluate how workers at naval shipyards could benefit from exoskeletons. Through the deal, shipyard workers could one day use the XO to work with heavy payloads and use power tools. The deal also calls for the Guardian S to potentially inspect confined spaces — for example, in submarines as they are modernized or retired.

(22) WASTE NOT. “NASA Announces Winners of Recycling in Space Challenge”.

Figuring out how to repurpose food packaging, plastic, paper, fabric and other types of waste without gravity to work with is difficult. That’s why NASA, in partnership with NineSigma, created the Recycling in Space Challenge.

The purpose of the challenge is to engage the public to develop methods of processing and feeding trash into a high-temperature reactor. This will help NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems and space technology programs develop trash-to-gas technology that can recycle waste into useful gases.

The NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) crowdsourcing challenge received submissions from participants around the world. A panel of judges evaluated the solutions and selected one first place and two second place winners.

The award recipients are:

·        Aurelian Zapciu, Romania – $10,000 for first place, Waste Pre-Processing Unit

·        Derek McFall, United States – $2,500 for second place, Microgravity Waste Management System

·        Ayman Ragab Ahmed Hamdallah, Egypt – $2,500 for second place, Trash-Gun (T-Gun)

The three winners brought a variety of approaches to the table for the challenge. Zapciu’s submission proposed incorporating space savings features and cam actuated ejectors to move trash through the system, before bringing it to another mechanism to complete the feed into the reactor. McFall’s submission indicated it would use a hopper for solid waste and managed air streams for liquids and gaseous waste. Hamdallah proposed using air jets to compress the trash and cycle it through the system instead of gravity.

 (23) ZOMBIE ALL-STARS. The Dead Don’t Die promises —

— the greatest zombie cast ever disassembled starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Rosie Perez, Iggy Pop, Sara Driver, RZA, Selena Gomez, Carol Kane, Austin Butler, Luka Sabbat and Tom Waits. Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. In Theaters June 14th.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]

113 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/2/19 Get Me Pixels! Pixels Of Scroller-Man!

  1. @Andrew —

    The rule says that the award is for a work appearing for the first time in the relevant year.

    Aha. This would seem to make AO3 ineligible, would it not?

  2. Mike Glyer on April 2, 2019 at 9:41 pm said:

    If all the contributors to File 770 think they deserve credit for its record in the Hugos — they’re right!

    So could you break off a tail fin and mail it to me?

  3. Darren Garrison on April 3, 2019 at 11:40 am said:

    My comment, elseweb, was that everyone who posts to AO3 – and it’s not just for writers – gets a photo of a rocket.
    (I’ve read novels and shorter works posted there. Some are very very good. But because they’re based on copyrighted material (characters), they can’t be published any other way.)

  4. @OGH:

    The impetus to get new categories on the ballot (as the nonfiction/related once was) is usually that the backers aspire to give Hugos to particular people.

    As part of the committee that put up the first version of the award that became Best Related Work, I think I can fairly claim that there was no interest in awarding somebody in particular. I know of one claimed example I’m told supports your thesis: 1966’s “Best All-Time Series” has been described (e.g., in Asimov’s autobiography) as an attempt to sneak a Hugo to Tolkien. can you instance others? The closest I know of is the inverted example of Semi-Prozine (ska the let’s-not-give-Locus-another-fanzine-award category), but I haven’t been strongly connected to Hugo politics.

  5. Andrew:

    I recall other cases where it was hard to compare entries (and I’m agreeing that this makes life hard for the voters) – back in 2001 Bob Eggleton’s art book Greetings from Earth: The Art of Bob Eggleton competed against works of criticism, a concordance and a writer’s how-to book.

    Yes, and that was problematic. When very disparate things are found sharing a category, that’s often a reason for creating a new category, as this years Worldcon committee is doing with Best Art Book. Though comparing pictures and words still seems to me easier than comparing either with the very idea of an archive.

    Rob Thornton:

    Here’s a riff on your idea: maybe the Hugos could have Best Non-Fiction Book and Best Related Work for sites, et ceteras, and other digital works?

    I don’t think that draws the lines in the right place. Things that consist of words, and involve history, biography, criticism. commentary on events etc., seem to me to go together whether they are printed or digital; Things, like archives and initiatives, seem to go somewhere else.

    Diversity is good. But should we try to squeeze all the diversity into one category, leaving less room for the things it was created for?

  6. Chip Hitchcock: I yield to your recollection of the creation of the Best Nonfiction Book category. Do you recall if its first run was as a special (experimental) Hugo category?Because the 1980 business meeting minutes include a motion to make it permanent, but since the award was presented in 1980 that must have been facilitated somehow.

    Upon further research, it turns out that what I had in mind was NOLAcon’s experimental Best Other Forms category of 1988, which seems to have been created for the benefit of Watchmen enthusiasts. (It was deemed to be unfair to it and the competition to try and fit it in a wordcount fiction category, but it was obviously ineligible for Best Nonfiction Book.)

  7. Contrarius:

    This would seem to make AO3 ineligible, would it not?

    Actually, not straightforwardly: I was oversimplifying. It allows things to qualify in virtue of significant changes. My point was that it has to be something describable as a work (as opposed to work in the sense of labour), and as something which appears, and it’s not obvious that AO3 qua resource satisfies that; but it’s not obvious that it doesn’t either. And if it does, ‘first time this year’ doesn’t rule it out all by itself.

  8. I appreciate Cora’s perspective. I chalk it up to habits and lack of diversity.

    It seems that Hugo nominees tend to stay with familiar titles and/or authors. That habit is one reason why I didn’t bother reading Monstress #3 last year; the odds of it be shortlisted this year were good. ISTM that past nominations make it easier for subsequent entries. And I’m looking forward to reading Monstress! And Paper Girls! ….but not Saga, ironically enough.

    Back to the series category, it seems like readers are just translating their novel reading over to the series category even if there isn’t some sort of longer story arc. Because it is easy and stays within established reading habits.

    With respect to diversity, I’m not talking about dongles, ports, or paint jobs. MilSF, Grimdark, horror, and self-published authors appear to be under-represented. At least there are a couple of new entries in the fancasting category.

    Maybe a wider net wouldn’t be a bad thing?

    Regards,
    Dann
    TANSTAAFL/TINSTAAFL/TNSTAAFL – Truth no matter how you slice it.

  9. Regarding series: I predicted something like this would happen, and I can’t say I’m disappointed by it. There was an actual reason why the ‘ninety-first episode of the adventures of…’ kind of book never did well in the Hugos, and that reason could not be overcome by changing the rules. Once a series has been going for a while, it is not accessible to new readers; you need to be familiar with previous books to either know or care about what is going on. The audience for the latest work is the existing fans of the series. Given that the Hugos are set up to reward broad appeal, such books are not going to to well in them. If we have to read the whole series to understand what is happening, we won’t be able to do that, whether we are voting in Best Novel or Best Series.

    The kind of series that do well in the Hugos are either relatively short ones with a clear arc, or loosely constructed ones of the ‘same universe’ kind. And these seem to be be doing well in Best Series as well. After a couple of years when some of the most popular infinitely long series did get shortlisted, we are now settling down to more manageable series, which will make the category easier to deal with. Only two of this year’s finalists, McGuire and Stross, are the ‘adventures of’ kind; the rest either have a definite arc (Lee, Older) or are loosely constructed (Chambers, de Bodard).

    You may ask ‘if these are the sort of thing that gets nominated in Best Novel anyway, why have a separate award?’. Well, it’s a pertinent question. But I think there’s still room for a distinct award for series, which can reward either things where the story takes up more than one volume, or things which are interesting for the world rather than the story. I think Lee and Chambers are actually more suited to this category than to Best Novel – Lee because the book doesn’t stand alone, Chambers because it is the world which is interesting.

    (It’s not impossible, mind you, that Best Novel and Best Series will keep going to the same works, and in that case retiring the award might make sense.)

  10. Interesting comment by Andrew M on Best Series. He mentions Stross’s Laundry Files as a series of the “adventures of” type. I think the description is a little off, if I’m interpreting it correctly, as recent novels in the series have had different protagonists/narrators and a narrative arc that seems to be approaching a climax.

  11. Further to StephenfromOttawa’s point, Stross has said:

    (1) The next Laundry novel (Lost Boys) “isn’t about the Laundry at all: it’s a side-quest set in London under the reign of the New Management”.

    (2) “The Laundry Files (as in, the series arc about Bob and colleagues) has to come to an end soon—probably in 2 more books” but he would like to continue writing non-arc material in the universe. (Comment 129.)

  12. Dann665 on April 3, 2019 at 1:18 pm said:
    Back to the series category, it seems like readers are just translating their novel reading over to the series category even if there isn’t some sort of longer story arc. Because it is easy and stays within established reading habits.

    I’d argue that multi-volume works (Series) should largely be omitted from the Best Novel category. It’s why I’ve never put one of Stross’ Laundry Files books on my nomination ballot for novel, even though I love those books. The qualities that make a good series are different than the qualities that (IMHO) make a worthy Best Novel contender.

    Over time, I kind of hope that more people will use the separate categories to recognize different kinds of works. Sequels in the series category, standalone novels in the best novel category.

  13. Techgrrl1972: @JJ – I get that a lot of these people have had precious little joy in their lives, and that AO3 getting nominated is really affirming for them.
    Judgemental much? That’s a pretty condescending take on folks who are enjoying their fandom by creating new content.

    I was merely echoing what Nate Harada said:
    Nate Harada: I will absofuckinglutely not tell anyone not to derive joy and laughter from this, no matter how many panties it wads up, especially given the amount of fandom purity policing bullshit supporters of Ao3 have had to put up with over the last few years. You have absolutely no idea how happy this is making people or how much that happiness has been needed.

    Was Nate Harada also being condescending?

     
    Techgrrl1972: how dare you sneer at people being creative and sharing their love of their fandoms!

    Where did I do that? My posts have in fact been supportive of AO3 and of the ability it provides for fanfic writers to do exactly that. I had actually messaged the person who posted the tweet thread in item (3) asking them if I could either use the content of their tweet thread to make a separate post on File 770 or if they’d be interested in writing that post themselves — because I would really like to see Hugo voters give AO3 the consideration it deserves. (I haven’t heard back from them yet.)

    I don’t know how many people here remember how hard the old guard in fandom worked — for years — to keep fanblogs and fan bloggers out of the Hugo Fanzine and Fan Writer categories. As late as 2013, one of them proposed to the Business meeting eliminating the Fan categories, because they realized that they weren’t going to be able to keep web-based works out of those categories and would prefer just to nuke the categories rather than have Hugo Fan Awards go to people whose work they didn’t like.

    The report from the Hugo Category Committee last year made it clear that some of the old guard are still trying to keep web-based artists out of the Fan Artist category (in addition to trying to keep them out of the Pro Artist category). That one hasn’t been resolved — yet.

    And there are still a lot of people angry about the fact that there will be two crappy works of porn on the Hugo records forever as being Hugo Finalists, because of Puppy sabotage.

    There are Hugo voters who will vote AO3 under No Award, no matter what. But I also think that there are a lot of Hugo voters who are not fanfic writers but who, like me, can be persuaded to understand the importance of AO3’s role in supporting fans and fandom. And I think that hundreds of people crowing about their fanfic — described in their own words as crappy, porn, yaoi, and numerous other things — being a Hugo Finalist is a lot less likely to persuade those voters that AO3 deserves its place on the ballot, than the reasoned discussion such as that provided by the tweet thread Mike quoted in the scroll.

  14. @JJ
    People being happy that AO3 is nominated isn’t at all the same as them having “had precious little joy in their lives”. They enjoy writing fan fic – or doing art – or they wouldn’t be doing it in the first place. (All of the comments I’ve seen elseweb are from people who feel that they’re being recognized by the nomination.)

  15. P J Evans: People being happy that AO3 is nominated isn’t at all the same as them having “had precious little joy in their lives”.

    Noted. My comment was colored by so many of the tweets I’ve read by people talking about how this nomination is the one bit of light they’ve had in a long time (or ever). I understand that the way I worded it implies judgment about an entire group of people, and I apologize for that.

    I’m happy for the AO3 contributors to have their joy — as well they should. I’d just really rather that the way some of them are celebrating did not make non-fanfic Hugo voters think of AO3’s nomination as a joke.

  16. @JJ

    That’s a bit like saying Filers’ expressions of relief at the first year of Puppy-free ballot was a sign that we have precious little joy in our lives.

    Nate Harada was referring to the antis movement which specifically has it in for the Ao3, and their extensive harassment of people who run and support the archive over the last couple of years. Nate was not, in any way shape or form, referring to the whole lives of the fen who love the Ao3.

    I’m sympathetic to your frustration that the tag was flooded by excited transformative works fans and I realise that must have made it difficult to find other tweets, but that doesn’t justify saying something like that.

  17. Re: AO3:

    “You have absolutely no idea how happy this is making people.”

    There are people who were happy to see Black Genesis on the ballot in 1987. The happiness of a subset of fandom should not preclude a reasonable discussion of the merits of any given nomination.

    My comment isn’t to suggest that AO3 doesn’t deserve consideration (IMHO, it does, primarily for the user tools it provides), but rather to note that making the fanfic community happy isn’t going to be a motivator for me when discussing it.

  18. Meredith: I’m sympathetic to your frustration that the tag was flooded by excited transformative works fans and I realise that must have made it difficult to find other tweets, but that doesn’t justify saying something like that.

    My frustration about the Hugo twitter tag is extremely minor compared to my frustration about the fact that I think a lot of non-fanfic Hugo voters are going to regard AO3’s nomination as a joke and No Award it. 😐

  19. @JJ

    That doesn’t justify saying that, either.

    Also, I think you may be over-estimating the number of voters who make their decisions based on the first 24 hours of tweets after the announcement.

  20. Meredith, I’ve already apologized. If you feel that my apology was insufficient, please let me know what you would consider sufficient.

  21. @JJ

    Honestly, I thought saying it “implied” judgement was under-selling what you said, which made me feel like you didn’t quite understand/acknowledge why people were angry. If that was unintentional, I’ll leave it at that.

    Meanwhile, I’m just hoping I didn’t close any of the tabs I had open from the last round of anti nonsense, because there were some great descriptions of what the archive is and what it does and what it means that would be pretty useful, and I’d rather not scroll back through several months of Seanan McGuire’s tumblr (she’s a comprehensive reblogger) to find them again. I’m a bit afraid to check.

  22. 14) as far as I know the forthcoming Scott Lynch novel will be the fourth Gentleman Bastards book, not sure where seven came from.

  23. Kate Nepve say correctly as far as I know the forthcoming Scott Lynch novel will be the fourth Gentleman Bastards book, not sure where seven came from.

    Should have said that there will apparently be seven in total.

    Now reading: Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man on the Marvel Unlimited app

  24. @P. J. Evans:

    A lot of what’s at AO3 couldn’t be published commercially for copyright reasons, but it seems worth noting that some of it could, because the characters are out of copyright (like Sherlock Holmes) or were never protected by copyright in the first place–there are thousands of things tagged with “SHAKESPEARE, William.” Plus odd corners like the “Anthropomorfic” tag, with characters including libraries, varieties of cheese, and the Linux operating system.

    If those last couldn’t be published commercially, it’s not for copyright reasons, but for lack of a market–nobody owns a copyright on the character “book weight” or “Tyrannosaurus Rex.”

    (This doesn’t affect the main point, but felt like it’s worth mentioning, if only from the viewpoint of “the universe is stranger than you imagined.” )

  25. in re: AO3 —

    The more I think about this, the more I’m entertaining the possibility of putting AO3 below “No Award” myself.

    I’ve already said that I love the site, and I’ve already said that I recognize its importance not only in terms of community, but also in terms of nurturing new writers.

    I would be happy to see it win some sort of Hugo. Maybe a special one-time award, I dunno.

    But I just can’t convince myself that it fits in this category as the category is defined.

    I will keep cogitating!

  26. As a general comment on “fan fiction”, I’d say that the Blues Hobbits (yes, it’s a cross LOTR/Blues Brothers fic, don’t harsh my mellow) and the Laundry Files fic definitely fall within failry narrow definitions of “fan fiction”.

    But, more to the point, I’d also definitely place the Trigger Snowflake stories squarely in the broader spectrum of “fan fiction” (in a similar fashion to how The Tale of Westala and Villtin fits within the larger tent of fan fiction).

  27. On AO3

    Has anyone actually said what it has done specifically this year that makes it a good nomination? I don’t want to No Award it – but unless I think it fits in as a work valid for 2018 then I will.

    Just because it is a useful and necessary platform for fanfic is not sufficient for me to vote for it. It has to meet the criteria for the award. On AO3 itself there was this quote “AO3’s continual evolution makes it eligible for this annual award”. I am not sure that is true. Section 3.3.6 of the WSFS constitutions says “appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year or which has been substantially modified during the previous calendar year”. So what was the substantial modification last year?

  28. @Contrarius, Andrew M., [on edit: also @andyl] (re. AO3’s eligibility or lack thereof):

    The relevant text from the WSFS constitution reads:

    …appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year or which has been substantially modified during the previous calendar year…

    I believe the argument which has been made (I want to say I saw this argument on Ladybusiness?) is that the changes over the last year are enough to satisfy these criteria.

    The major change which I have noticed in my use of the site in that time is the addition of “excludes” search options – where previously it was easy to search for all Harry Potter/Severus Snape fics, it was difficult to search for all fics which were not tagged Harry Potter/Severus Snape. I believe finer-grained control over fic length in searches also dates from 2018 – you used to be able to search for fics “over 10K words”, “over 25K words”, etc.; now it is possible to search for “between 5K and 10K words” and “less than 25K words” too.

  29. @Joe

    Thanks. As a software developer who has written many web apps I wouldn’t consider those changes as significant enough. I would say both of those would count as minor features in my day to day work. Enough minor features could amalgamate into something significant (as far as a Hugo is concerned) but if it is just those two – then no.

  30. I would argue that in its first time on the ballot, AO3 is the equivalent of Liz Bourke’s compilation of their book reviews from Tor.com, or Jo Walton’s compilation of her Hugo Analyses for the years 1953-2000 from Tor.com, or John Scalzi’s compilation of 10 years of blog posts from Whatever. I think that it’s eligible for the sum total of the platform that’s been created and built up since its inception.

    I would also argue that it would not become re-eligible in any future years until its interface has massively changed — which will probably be never.

  31. @andyl

    I think that depends a lot on your perspective as to what is a minor or major change. The AO3 codebase is ten years old and incredibly messy, mostly because of the way it evolved. The work involved in getting it to a place where implementing those features was even possible was significant. And this isn’t anyone’s main job – most of the work is done by volunteers.

    For users, those new search features are HUGE. The ability to exclude certain tags was probably one of the most requested features AO3 had and users had been sharing tricks and hacks for years just to partially implement them. It’s improved the user experience to a massive degree, far more than many people would expect from ‘minor’ features.

    Search is one of the core features of AO3. It’s what makes exploring the content possible and most users rely on it heavily every time they visit the archive.

    So where you see minor changes, I see a bit of a revolution on the usability and functionality of AO3 involving significant backend work, and that makes it eligible (to me) this year.

  32. @andyl: From a user perspective, as @Selenay says, these are massively important changes, whether or not they were technically difficult to implement. Because nothing like AO3 has ever been nominated before, AFAIK there’s no precedent as to how much work has to go into a “significant change”.

    It seems to me though that a change which is significant to the user experience ought to count. If, for instance, AO3 implemented a frequently requested feature which uncontroversially did require significant coding effort, presumably we would consider that eligible the year the change went live rather than the year the code was written, even if the code was available on AO3’s github. Therefore, I would argue, a change which is significant to the UX ought also be eligible even if it’s not very difficult to implement. (And I suspect that even in SF fandom, the majority of fans are not especially well qualified to judge the quality of AO3’s new code!)

    On the other hand, I am not intimately familiar with the history of AO3’s development, so it’s difficult for me to definitively list all of the major changes that AO3 made in 2018. I hope that when the Voter’s Pack comes out, OTW/AO3 will include some information on what they consider the most important developments last year which makes the archive eligible. If they aren’t convincing, I suspect that you won’t be the only one who will put the archive low on the ballot because you aren’t convinced they meet the significant changes test for eligibility.

    (On the gripping hand, though I know the Hugo admins have had their decisions on eligibility questioned before, they did ultimately decide that AO3 should be considered eligible. They are presumably aware that AO3 was not founded or first made available in 2018 – it was one vote from being nominated as a Related Work last year! – so they must have considered that there was at least a plausible argument that there have been sufficiently significant changes.)

    Of course it’s up to the voters to decide whether they agree with that decision. If enough fen who aren’t involved in the transformative works side of fandom don’t think that AO3 should have been considered eligible, I suspect it won’t win anyway – I suspect that TW fandom does not have a sufficient presence at WorldCon to overrule the rest of fandom. (Though that is just speculation: I guess we’ll see in August!)

  33. Well, I came late to this party!

    14: @Cat I had intended to comment on this yesterday but got distracted by publisher things and am only making it back today.

    I would like to thank Cat for including Elliot Shorter on the list this episode.
    Elliot was one of my fannish heroes, who helped me make it through my management of the Suncon Hugo Awards Banquet with some perfectly timed words; not only perfectly timed, but the exact right words for the moment.

    We spent nearly two years working together on Suncon and many hours at conventions up and down the east coast thereafter. He was a “fan’s fan”, a gentleman, a gentle man, a scholar and a major influence on me and my fannish career. And he is still greatly missed.

  34. 3: Giving credit to the content at AO3 is like saying that the individual words that make up a novel “won the Hugo”. We all know it’s the collective that won. Like, if the Borg won a Hugo for, say, Best Aliens (new category in the post first contact era), each individual unit of the Borg would not get a rocket and would be programmed to say something like “We won a Hugo”, not “I won a Hugo”.

    Whereas if Jean Luke Picard/Locutus had been nominated in the same category and won, he WOULD be entitled to state “I won a Hugo”.

  35. AO3 isn’t a corner of the internet that I’ve ever had anything to do with, but clearly it’s a place that is very important to some people and with that in mind I don’t see anything wrong with it being nominated or its users celebrating that.
    I’d suggest a simple test – is nominating it more or less frivolous than nominating “Chuck Tingle trolling the puppies”

  36. @Olav Rokne

    I generally agree with what you are saying. I’m a bit skeptical that voters will ever differentiate the two categories in a meaningful way.

    It might be interesting to have a novel category and a series category and rules that prevent comingling of the two. At this point, I don’t see many people that are interested in providing a structural differentiation between them.

    Here in the year 8880, we have the problem fully resolved. But current anti-paradox laws prevent me from sharing the solution.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Basic Programmers Never Die! They just GOSUB w/o RETURN.

  37. well, if one thing is clear regarding the Hugo category debates, it’s that a new category for Best FAN Related Works is now called for….

  38. Giving credit to the content at AO3 is like saying that the individual words that make up a novel “won the Hugo”.

    “The” should be very happy with all the awards it’s won, but it’s surprisingly bitter about missing out on the Scott Moncrieff Prize for the translation of Georges Perec’s A Void.

    (Posted from 1464, where ‘ye’ is getting all the plaudits instead.)

  39. I think that a Best Fan Related Work category would end up being the same few things all of the time: AO3, eFanzines.com, Fancyclopedia.org, FANAC.org, etc, because Fanzine and Fancast cover so much that very little would be left to spill over into a Fan Related Work category. I’m waiting for this year’s nomination statistics to be released before deciding whether I think an Art Book category is actually viable.

    And I’d like to let the Hugo Category Committee finish its work on resolving some of the problems with the existing categories before we start asking for yet more categories.

  40. @Steve Davidson:

    I can’t see “Best Fan Related Work” being a reasonable category while the Hugos have awards for best fanzine and fancast (as well as fan writer and fan artist), because there aren’t enough things that would reasonably fit into “fan related work” and not one of the existing categories.

    I agree with the broad guideline that a somewhat subjective award category* only makes sense if there are, consistently, several good works (or people) in that category. Where “good” means things that a Hugo nominator would reasonably list as “this is good enough to deserve an award” rather than just “I can only think of three things in this category, one of the three must be the best, so I’ll list them.”

    Not every admirable, and possibly difficult, thing in fandom and sf/fantasy fits into a Hugo category–there’s no award for “best convention” (or “best con chair”), for example.

    *”Somewhat subjective” because if, say, a 10K race has age groups, and only one woman over 70 completes the race, they’ll list her as first place for that group.

  41. You know what? Let’s be joyful alongside everyone associated with AO3. I was joyful when File 770 was nominated and I’ve got a heck of a lot less invested here that many in the Transformative Works community have in AO3.

    No, everyone involved doesn’t get 1/2,000,000 of a Hugo nomination, any more than I had a fraction of Mike’s nominations.

    But that reaction is joyful! Let there be Joy! It’s a community that gets a lot of disrespect and the Organization of Transformative Works and Archive of Our Own has done titanic work in not only bringing respect to that community but ALSO creating a space that nurtures a pool of damned good SF/F/H writers.

    AO3 is a vital part of Fandom and the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror community. They did stellar work last year and we should not disrespect them, their work, and the space that they’ve provided for this community, by voting them below no award. They don’t deserve that from us.

  42. @Ultragotha —

    AO3 is a vital part of Fandom and the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror community. They did stellar work last year and we should not disrespect them, their work, and the space that they’ve provided for this community, by voting them below no award. They don’t deserve that from us.

    But is it actually disrespectful of AO3 if we respect the category definitions?

    To present a more extreme example — would I be disrespecting The Black Panther movie if I refused to vote for it in the Novel category?

    Keep in mind that I haven’t made up my mind on the issue of voting for AO3 at all. I’m cogitating.

  43. If AO3 deserves recognition for contributing to fandom, might it not have been possible to award it a special one-off award, rather than putting it up for Related Work?

    It seems likely that this would have been far less controversial.

  44. Mark: I’d suggest a simple test – is nominating it more or less frivolous than nominating “Chuck Tingle trolling the puppies”

    Or Chris Garcia’s Hugo acceptance meltdown as Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form.

  45. @OGH: my strong recollection is that in 1980 the category was the ballot’s the-committee-gets-one-experiment slot. I don’t remember whether it was completely original to MCFI or whether there was outside urging (e.g., that we had enough spoons to try something people had been SMOFing about for a while); the 1980 minutes say the motion-to-make-permanent was first brought up that year (interestingly, by two people who weren’t MCFI members), so it was still technically experimental at Denvention II. And now that you mention it, I vaguely remember hearing something about Watchmen being a NOLAcon pet — I wasn’t paying a lot of attention that year because there were assorted reasons not to attend.

  46. Olav Rokne: If AO3 deserves recognition for contributing to fandom, might it not have been possible to award it a special one-off award, rather than putting it up for Related Work? It seems likely that this would have been far less controversial.

    Sure it was possible. Dublin 2019 has the ability to present a Worldcon Special Committee Award, as does every Worldcon.

    But the Hugo Adminstrator chose to let AO3 remain on the ballot. I have some insight into how Nicholas Whyte thinks. He would have put a great deal of thought into its potential eligibility and discussed it with other knowledgeable Hugo SMOFs. He undoubtedly had very good reasons for feeling that it is eligible in this category — and based on the detailed Nomination writeup he published after the ceremony in 2017, I suspect we will get some explanation of his reasoning this year, too.

  47. I would prefer not to compare AO3’s nomination to that of Garcia, or Gollum, or Tingle. A lot of people were very unhappy about those being Hugo finalists, including me (with the exception of Tingle, who I felt really had been an amazing Fan Writer that year).

    The Garcia and Gollum nominations, in my opinion, were jokes — not in the pleasant and amusing definition of joke, but in the “this devalues the Hugo Awards” definition of joke.

    When people started promoting AO3 for nomination a couple of years ago, I was not at all pleased. But since that time, after reading several different peoples’ rationales and doing a great deal of thinking about it, I’ve come around to believing that it should be eligible as an entity, just as the collections of blog posts by Ursula K. LeGuin, and Jo Walton, and Liz Bourke, and John Scalzi are eligible, just as the website which is a compilation of the various posts and videos which comprise the MexicanX Initiative website is eligible.

    After someone linked here to Murderbot fanfiction on AO3 a while back, I clicked over there and read a dozen or so Murderbot fics. The site is a marvel of simplicity and functionality, with a low-load design which reduces lag on handheld devices to almost nothing (some time ago, I read a piece about the massive amount of work Google put into making their main page almost loadless and instantaneous — it’s quite interesting, and not as easy to do as one might think). Despite hosting half a million fics, the metadata system made it easy for me to find only Murderbot fics, bypass the ones with heavily erotic content, and leave “kudos” (thumbs-up) for the ones I enjoyed without having to register or sign in.

    I don’t think that the AO3 nomination is a joke in any sense of the word, and I would prefer that people not compare its nomination to joke nominations like Gollum and Garcia.

  48. ‘Tingle trolling the Puppies’ was not in fact shortlisted; Tingle himself was shortlisted as Fan Writer, which seems eminently fair to me.

    As for the Garcia thing, that was an accident. He would not have reached the shortlist if a couple of episodes of Game of Thrones had not been taken off, owing to the series being nominated in Long Form.

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