Pixel Scroll 5/24/18 Filenheit 770

(1) LEAVE OF ABSENCE FOR FANX’S BRANDENBURG. Salt Lake City’s Fox13 news has been told “FanX co-founder Bryan Brandenburg stepping aside amid criticism of handling of harassment complaint”.

Salt Lake City FanX co-founder Bryan Brandenburg is stepping aside in response to criticism of his handling of a report of harassment.

Brandenburg told Fox 13 News Thursday he is taking an “immediate and indefinite” leave of absence.

He said he wants his decision to step down from the convention to show the women who have complained that he has heard their complaints. He said it was a hard decision to leave the company he founded with Dan Farr in 2013, but he would rather step aside so that the fan base can thrive.

Brandenburg told a Good4Utah reporter (ABC-TV):

“If it takes me walking away, to see something survive, it’s my baby. And I would rather see it thrive than to have it go through the trauma that it’s going through now,” said Brandenburg.

Brandenburg said he was saddened by all of the divisiveness this caused within his organization.

He said he didn’t want to distract from FanX which is why he’s taking that extended leave of absence.

Today’s TV interviews indicate a definite break, in contrast to superficial changes shared by con organizers in yesterday’s Salt Lake Tribune story “After sexual-harassment controversy, FanX says its founders are stepping back and it will donate to Time’s Up” which had only said Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg were stepping back from social media. (Indeed, Brandenburg’s Facebook page is now offline.) The Tribune  reported further defections among FanX guests and vendors:

With authors, celebrities and a major publishing house saying they will pull out of FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention over its insensitive response to sexual-harassment accusations, organizers say they will donate an unspecified amount to the Time’s Up campaign and reduce the public role of co-founders Bryan Brandenburg and Dan Farr.

Brandenburg set off a firestorm on social media this week by posting about best-selling Utah author Shannon Hale, who was questioning FanX’s handling of a sexual-harassment accusation against Utah author Richard Paul Evans.

Without contacting Hale, FanX social media manager Manda Bull posted Tuesday that the convention was inviting her to join a new committee to improve its recently revised anti-harassment policy. The author said Wednesday she’s not interested.

…Since Monday’s dust-up, two celebrities booked for FanX — Lindsay Jones and Arryn Zech, voice actors on the popular anime-style web series “RWBY” — have canceled their appearances. Several authors, showing solidarity with Hale, also have said they will skip the convention.

On Tuesday, one of Utah’s biggest publishing houses — Shadow Mountain Publishing, an imprint run by LDS Church-owned Deseret Book — ended its association with FanX.

…It was the Shadow Mountain booth where, according to a complaint filed with event organizers, Evans harassed a woman at last September’s convention. The woman told FanX in a written account that Evans “touched me several times and went so far as to kiss my cheek. I had never met him before … but he made me very uncomfortable and even said, ‘You’re so pretty’ after he touched me, as though he couldn’t help himself.”

In an interview that aired Tuesday on KUTV-Channel 2, Evans told reporter Chris Jones that “there is a war on men, and that men — white men in particular — are under attack, oppressed by a changing culture, victims of an extremist feminist agenda.” Evans compared the plight of white men in America to “Jews in Nazi Germany.”

(2) EYE PROBLEM. Larry Niven will miss Balticon 52, where he was scheduled to be Author Special Guest. The convention announced the news on its website

Larry Niven will be unable to attend Balticon this year:

We are sorry to report that at the last minute Larry Niven developed a problem that will prevent him from traveling to Baltimore and attending Balticon 52. He suffered a minor complication from a recent eye procedure and lthough is readily reparable it needs to be fixed soon and will require a week or so of bed rest. Riding in a pressurized aircraft is not a good plan at the moment as it could cause his retinas to go all retrograde. He sends his regrets, and we send our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

(3) PACKET IS COMING. Worldcon 76 knows you’re waiting: “Hugo Voter Packet News”.

The Worldcon 76 Hugo Team are working on testing the Hugo Voter Packet and expect to have it online shortly, within the next few days.

The Hugo Voter Packet is a collection of finalist works for the 2018 Hugo Awards and 1943 Retrospective Hugo Awards, made available to members of Worldcon 76 to better allow voters to make their decisions when voting on the Hugo Awards. Finalists’ works that appear in the Hugo Award Packet appear through the courtesy of the finalists, publishers, and rights-holders. Not all finalists will be in the Packet.

(4) COPYEDITOR’S CORNER. Is it just me? I find the wording of this headline troubling. It probably wasn’t written by the author of the article itself who knows how to make her points.

For decades, the field of fantasy books was dominated by white men penning tales about dwarfs, elves, and other Norse-based mythology. Today, that’s changing as diverse writers are bringing fresh voices to the field, incorporating the myths and legends of cultures around the world. “People have been trying to do this for decades,” says author Tomi Adeyemi. “It’s just that enough people have broken down the doors over the decades that we’re where we are now.” Certainly, speculative fiction writers since at least Octavia Butler, the first science fiction writer to win a MacArthur Grant, have looked beyond Europe for inspiration. But no longer can they be dismissed as niche. From the $1 billion-plus box-office take of “Black Panther,” directed by Ryan Coogler, to the success of Ms. Adeyemi’s breakout debut, “Children of Blood and Bone,” audiences and readers are flocking to well-drawn worlds inspired by African and Asian countries. As one science fiction professor says, “We are not the field that thinks that what white men say is the only way to say things.”

(5) SALVAGE. When Luke Skywalker destroyed the Death Star, did you think the whole thing vanished into its component atoms? Not so! Cnet brings word: “Chunk of original Star Wars Death Star goes for sale on eBay”

…Get started on your very own Death Star by picking up a prop piece of the original ship from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope on eBay.

…Most of the pieces ended up in a landfill, but an anonymous former ILM employee grabbed this particular panel and kept it safe for decades.

… The panel measures nearly 24 inches (61 centimeters) long and “every inch of the piece has complex modeling used to create the raised elevations and valleys of the Death Star.”

The eBay auction from Hollywood Memorabilia on Thursday, timed to coincide with the weekend release of the Han Solo origin movie Solo: A Star Wars Story. The Death Star chunk is expected to bring six figures in US dollars.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 24, 2008 — The sci-fi musical Christmas On Mars premiered.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian discovered evolution in action at Non Sequitur.

(8) CONVENTION TOOL. A feature at this year’s Confab —

(9) DOWN TO THE WIRE. One of Minnesota’s best-known conventions announced they are being squeezed in hotel negotiations and haven’t secured the DoubleTree Hotel for this July’s con, although they hope to. Lawyers are at work: “CONvergence 2018 Timing Update—Please Bear With Us”.

Dear CONvergence Members,

We wanted to make you aware of some ongoing negotiations regarding this year’s convention. Over the past year, the Board has been in conversation with the DoubleTree Hotel regarding the arrangements and logistics for CONvergence 2018. The hotel has put forth several demands regarding the practices and procedures of the convention. The Board has been negotiating with the DoubleTree regarding which demands we feel are reasonable and which are not. The Board’s main objective is to preserve and provide the best experience for our members.

Unfortunately, these negotiations have gone on longer than we had hoped and have not yet reached resolution. We do currently anticipate being able to hold this year’s convention on time, but must resolve these outstanding issues first. Because of these negotiations, we’ve had to delay some of our normal processes, including room reservations. We are working hard to bring everything to resolution as soon as possible and will keep you updated as quickly as we can, but due to the nature of the negotiations and on advice of counsel we can’t discuss in full detail. We appreciate your understanding.

For now, let’s continue to build those costumes, launch those campaigns, and get ready for the 20th year of CONvergence!

(10) GRRM MOVIE PROJECT ANNOUNCED. “George R.R. Martin’s ‘The Ice Dragon’ to Get the Animated Movie Treatment”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Martin’s children’s fantasy novel, The Ice Dragon, has been picked up by Warner Animation Group to be adapted for the big screen, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

The writer will be actively involved with the project, acting as a producer. There is even a possibility he will take a crack at penning the script, although that is still to be determined (and will undoubtedly scare GoT fans who are awaiting him to finish the latest, long-in-the-works and who knows when it will come out novel).

(11) THE EXISTENCE OF YOUR BANE. Gizmodo’s take on this invention begins: “Hello, You’ve Reached Gotham’s Reckoning. How May I Direct Your Call?”

How many times has this happened to you? You’re trying to organize the destruction of a major metropolitan area and the overthrow of a system you view as irredeemably corrupt, but you keep having to step out of the office to take a call. That problem is no more thanks to Bloxvox, the voice muffling muzzle that lets you plot to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny from the comfort of your desk.

The actual item is a “voice privacy tool” that’s supposed to let you make private phone calls in public place.

A new Kickstarter seeks money to develop Bloxvox — a Bane-like mask that’s supposed to let you make private phone calls in public places (think open-plan offices, airports, etc.). At this writing, the Kickstarter is approaching $2000 out of a $25,000 goal; that amount raised from a mere 15 backers. The device allows you to insert the microphone part of your earbuds into the mask, providing some level of voice muffling for your office mates (or the other people in the coffee shop or what have you) but none for the microphone. A head strap holds the mask in place while a hole in the front “allows you to breathe, while letting minimal sound escape.” A soft seal around your mouth is said to “[create] a comfortable fit and voice-blocking seal against your face.”

(12) WATCHMEN CASTING. Here are the players – but who they’re going to play is still a secret: “‘Watchmen’: Regina King, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson to Star in Damon Lindelof’s HBO Pilot”.

Watchmen, Damon Lindelof and HBO have announced the star-studded cast of the drama pilot take on Alan Moore’s beloved comic series.

The Leftovers grad Regina King will reunite with Lindelof on the HBO pilot and lead a cast that includes Don Johnson (Miami Vice), Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?), Louis Gossett Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman), Adelaide Clemens (Rectify) and Andrew Howard (Hatfields & McCoys).

Details about their respective characters are being kept under wraps.

(13) HE’S WHO? You can watch Dr. Michael Keaton’s complete Kent State University commencement address, or skip ahead to the genre-related peroration at about the 18:00 mark.

(14) NOT JUST HANGING AROUND. A teenager dressed as Spider-man, dropped out of a window upside down, and asked his girlfriend out to the prom. Insider says “It’s the most extra thing we’ve seen today”.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, JJ, Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew, David Doering, Chip Hitchcock, David Doering, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

72 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/24/18 Filenheit 770

  1. Camestros Felapton on May 25, 2018 at 2:06 pm said:

    People waiting on the packet? Don’t forget JJ’s link roundup for finalists http://file770.com/?p=41534
    All the short stories can be accessed online and all the novelettes. One of the novellas can be read online as well.

    Yup, I’ve had enough time to exhaust that (excellent) resource and then some.

  2. At Baycon with restaurant closed for refurbishment and spotty wifi! Heather and I were just foraging for nuts, berries and cold brew coffee.

  3. Cassie B: As far as I can tell, the hotel staff loves Convergence. The hotel staff will specifically request to work that weekend. (Often a holiday!) The hotel management, however, has been new managers, Every. Single. Year.
    I’ve heard hearsay that this has happened at other Doubletrees too.

    David W: Convergence has been at the 6000-level for many years now. My personal opinion of what I have heard of the new demands is they are the result of paranoia. There just aren’t enough police in Bloomington for that.

  4. Lurkertype: “And even the worst predator isn’t likely to go groping people in front of the staff.”

    Except that Evans did harass and touch a woman author in front of staff and con attendees. And Evans admits that he did so, but discounts it as unimportant. More to the point, several people have already explained that taking action against Evans due to the complaint(s) would not endanger the con to defamation charges. They are a little sensitive because of their court case over their name, but the stuff they’ve said to justify not taking action is legally bunk and actually opens them up to serious legal liability, as so many people have tried to explain to so many convention organizers.

    (I don’t get why the people who run cons want to wait to have women be attacked and raped at their cons — which has happened — and have the legal liability for them knowingly not having dealt with the harasser and endangering the victims, thus tanking their con’s reputation forever, instead of having a consistent policy that deals with harassers and protects the convention. But apparently they do.)

    But Hale and others who were trying to deal with them privately never asked for Evans to be banned in the first place. What they were trying to do was deal with the con organizers’ remarks in a newspaper interview about the incident of the complaint being made, as well as others coming forth with more history of Evans behavior. The concern wasn’t just Evans specifically but the con organizers’ responses to harassment, that the con organizers seem to be downplaying the harassment and showing that they would take the side of the harassers if they were famous and influential and denigrate and ignore the accuser victims. This also involved the con releasing the report on the incident and the woman’s complaint publicly in ways that left her vulnerable to doxing and further harassment. So Hale and the others wanted the con to show that it was going to take harassment seriously, no matter who the accused was, that they were going to have a workable, consistent harassment policy that protected the ones making complaints and didn’t undermine them in favor of protecting harassers. And that they didn’t deem non-consensual touching such as men hugging, kissing, stroking women as acceptable (since the con organizers were conflating that with consensual touching done by featured guests in photo ops.)

    Essentially, they were trying to bring the con into the modern age, which would also help the con against legal difficulties, not hurt them. And they were trying to do it privately, but when Hale got the incredibly sexist response to her email, she put up one paragraph of it, without saying who it was from. Whereupon the con organizer promptly doxed her email address and lied about what she had said to him.

    So Evans is a serial harasser and a hypocrite and there have been plenty of witnesses to it apparently. But the actual controversy was over the CONVENTION’s behavior concerning sexual harassment, about them having policies in place that do not attack victims and protect harassers, and that are consistently applied.

    And the charming part? After they doxed and attacked Hale, they had the nerve to ask her and others who had complained to serve on a panel to make better harassment policy for them. She tried to help them, they endangered her, trashed her online, made it impossible for her to come to a convention she’s been going to for years — and they are still trashing her more privately — and they want her to fix it for them. It’s all part of the philosophy that women are property to be exploited and abused without complaint. Which a lot of con runners still seem to adopt.

  5. @Josh: Ouch, change in management can ruin a good, solid, stable situation; this isn’t the first I’ve heard of something like that. ;-(

  6. @KatG

    Another thing that killed me in this story was Evans’ assistant (a woman) said the things in the report weren’t worth complaining about and Evans was far too busy to have done them anyway. Ugh, ugh, ugh!

  7. I have a question for people more familiar with the historic contents of the Hugo packet. What of New York 2140 or The Way of Kings is likely to be included do you think ? Short excerpt? Long excerpt ? Whole thing? I and my damaged thumbs are looking at the size of these things and whimpering. I am really hoping to avoid reading physical copies of these booms becuase they will difficult for me to hold but I don’t want to invest in digital copies unless I really have to. And before you bring it up the local library system does loan digital books but I have never gotten their system to work well for me and they take the books back on the due dates which are gonna be way too short for me if they even have them which they might not.

    Hum. I am cheap, cranky and worried that it is all the longest stuff that I don’t have access too. Sigh. Sorry.

    Edited to add that the start of 2140 is reminding me wayyyy too much of drunken late night ‘philosophical’ conversations at college.

  8. Based on Orbit’s history I doubt much of New York 2140 except a sample chapter or two will be included in the packet. That you’ll probably have to buy if you want it digitally.

    On the other hand, I’ll be quite surprised if the packet doesn’t contain the entirety of The Way of Kings, seeing as how Tor has been historically generous with the packet and they’ve given TWoK ebooks away for free a couple of times before. (I wouldn’t be shocked if we got the full series, honestly.)

  9. New York 2140 from Orbit will probably be an excerpt. Not sure how long — but I think they’ve been fairly substantial. I found it to be a bit of a slog…so an excerpt might not be such a bad thing for this one.

    The Way of Kings is from Tor. I imagine we will get all three of the Stormlight Archive books. They gave us all 13? 14? giant books of The Wheel of Time.

  10. The hotel management, however, has been new managers, Every. Single. Year.
    I’ve heard hearsay that this has happened at other Doubletrees too.

    A friend of mine in the business has told me in the past that it’s not uncommon.
    All too often, the hotel isn’t run by the actual owners but by a management company. And if they or the owners have unrealistic expectations, then out with the old team and try someone new.
    He was in sales and I don’t know how many times I was on the phone commiserating because suddenly the manager, assistant manager, catering manager, food and beverage manager, events manager AND sales manager would be gone and they had to bring a new team up to speed on just what was happening in the next year or so and whether or not the contracts they’d passed up to management were even going to be signed or have to be re-negotiated. And that certainly was not a call he wanted to make to clients. Some of whom he’d been working with for years.
    Then there’s the change in management styles–one time he went from a manager that only cared about results and not how he spent his time to one that micro-managed everything down to requiring daily activity logs. And since all their time was spent documenting their time, sales dropped.
    Poorly run management companies are vampires.

  11. “I’ve heard hearsay that this has happened at other Doubletrees too.”

    I heard stories like that about Baycon when it was at a Doubletree.

  12. Thank you! That helps a great deal to know.
    I am hanging out back in the novellas now and feeling slightly less frantic about some of the door stoppers.

  13. @Elisa: I expect extended samples (not 1-2 chapters like @Goobergunch says, though I forget how long their extended samples were in the past) for Orbit novels like New York: 2140. I’m pretty sure their past samples were more than 1-2 chapters, since they actually called them extended samples and 1-2 chapters is the sort of thing you can get from ebook retailers.

  14. To be honest, I never bothered reading the samples so I just assumed they were annoyingly short. Happy to be wrong about that.

    Part One of New York 2140 runs eight chapters and 62 pages in my hardcover edition. If they extend to Part Two, that’s an additional 73 pages and eight chapters; Part Three would add 74 pages and nine chapters. If Orbit provides a whole number of parts, that’s a good chunk of book.

  15. @Josh etc.: Ben Yalow used to not-exactly-joke about having failed to send in the do-not-send card to the Hotel Manager of the Month club (which says something about how old the problem is). OTOH, I remembered one liaison (sales?) who, after being transferred about a thousand miles away, called to ask us if there were any SF groups in her new location that wanted to put on a convention.

  16. 1) Evans compared the plight of white men in America to “Jews in Nazi Germany.”

    Because losing some little bit of your traditional special privileges is exactly like being rounded up and herded into gas chambers. Yeah, right. This guy is an author? Remind me not to buy anything by him. CWAA.

    14) Awwwww.

    @ Josh: In support of your hypothesis, I offer my former local con, ApolloCon. We’d had a very good relationship with a Doubletree for several years, but then they had a change of management and started piling on onerous demands in the contract, eventually driving the con out and (as a result of where we ended up instead) killing it.

    @ Dennis: I normally use “extrovert” myself unless I’m discussing or referring to the MBTI, which uses “extravert”. I don’t have a problem with the academic and popular usages of the term having variant spellings.

    @ ULTRAGOTHA, Rev. Bob: Niven is also an excellent Regency dancer! One of my cherished memories from the 1986 Worldcon is getting to dance Childgrove (which is one of my favorite dances) with him.

    @ Cassy: Several Texas cons have also moved to Westins.

    @ Lis: You’ve reminded me of something that happened when I was living in Nashville. There was a guy in Clarksville who ran (and still runs, I think) a teeny little relaxacon called OutsideCon, held in a state park group camp. And one year, he got a membership registration from Larry Niven! Apparently Niven had some business in Tennessee and had looked around to see if there was a con he could attend in that time period, and OutsideCon was what he found. He hung around with us, and played Nearly Naked Twister, and generally appeared to be having a wonderful time. I don’t think the conchair ever cashed his check. 🙂

  17. When I was a teenager volunteering for Chicon IV in the greenroom (because it was the only way I could afford to attend a Worldcon), Larry Niven graciously offered to help me carry the several-dozen donuts when I made a donut run. (He ended up walking with me to open doors for me, if memory serves. Carrying the donuts wasn’t hard, but it WAS awkward.) He acted like Just Another Happy Fan; I was bashful around the Big Name Author and he was making jokes to set me at ease….

    Compare and contrast to Jerry Pournelle, who literally backed me into a corner later, at that same convention, in that same Green Room. and yelled at me for what was probably ten minutes but was subjectively ten hours about how badly he was being treated; they actually made him CHECK HIS BAG before he walked into the Art Show; didn’t they know who he was????? And he made not-so-veiled references to carrying a gun; I no longer recall if he actually indicated that he had one on him, or that he had one he could wear and nobody would know it, but eighteen-year-old me was intimidated as hell. I found out later he had hearing loss so some of the yelling might have been accidental… but the privilege was real. And the incident made me resolve to never, ever buy any of his books again. Which is a resolution I held to; sometimes I’d buy them used, but I never bought a new book with his name on it again. (Please note: there was no hint that his behavior would have been any different had I been male; this is not a MeToo incident. Just a boorish one.)

    In contrast, I never bought a USED Niven book again; I made sure that I was giving him royalties with every purchase.

  18. @Lee:

    I’ve got friends who attend OutsideCon, and I’ve crossed paths with its organizer (OutsideBob, not to be confused with YT) several times at Chattanooga-area conventions. Never attended it, though – I have this nasty allergy to sunlight, y’see. (I once spent all of three hours driving to Atlanta and arrived with a noticeable sunburn on my left elbow.)

  19. Yes, Baycon spent many years at the same hotel (originally a Red Lion, later bought by Doubletree), and the staff generally loved us, but the management was subject to frequent change (under both names), and it was always a crapshoot how they would react each year. Fortunately, having the staff on our side meant that we would get advance warning if management was making disapproving sounds, and things which might have upset a new management often never came to their attention…

    As for Niven, I’m glad others share my opinion that he’s generally a real sweetie. (Not something you can necessarily count on when you’re white and male.) The stuff he writes can sometimes rub me the wrong way, but the man himself has always been a pleasure to be around.

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