(1) DAMES AND KNIGHTS. The Queen’s birthday honours list is out. The Guardian has the highlights likely to be of interest to Filers (although it does not cite any of the recipients’ genre credits).
The Queen’s birthday honours list, in which actor Emma Thompson was made a dame,…
Thompson, who is one of Britain’s best loved actors, has been made a dame, adding to a long list of awards including Oscars, Baftas, Golden Globes and Emmys.
…The damehood awarded to the classicist Mary Beard is likely to prove more popular. The Cambridge professor, author and TV presenter described it as a “smashing honour” and attributed it to growing interest in her field of work.
“I feel especially pleased that someone working on the ancient classical world gets honoured in this way,” she said. “I’d like to treat it as a bit of a tribute to the Greeks and Romans themselves, as well as to all my wonderful academic colleagues who also do so much for the study of antiquity.”
The author Kazuo Ishiguro, whose works include The Remains of the Day, the film adaptation of which starred Thompson, is knighted for his services to literature. He said he was “deeply touched to receive this honour from the nation that welcomed me as a small foreign boy”.
(2) EPISODE HATE. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert concocted a hilarious “’Stars Wars’ Trailer To Piss Off Hateful Fanboys.” Starts around 2:20 of this video.
There’s a special new ‘Star Wars’ movie for all the angry fans whose racist, misogyny led ‘Last Jedi’ actress Kelly Marie Tran to leave Instagram.
(3) DRAGON CON TURNOVER. Early this month bloggers Francis Turner and Jon Del Arroz celebrated a Dragon Con staff firing, however, those searching for an objective explanation of what transpired had nowhere to turn until this week when Richard “Fife” Blaylock published two resignation statements on his blog, one by former Dragon Con Fantasy Literature Track director Charlotte Moore, and his own.
Moore committed what she terms “an error in judgment” in telling a ConCarolinas supporter and regular Dragon Con panelist his support of that convention made him “less welcome” by the Fantasy Literature Track. Dragon Con leadership considered that beyond her authority and a misrepresentation of the convention’s commitment to political neutrality. Almost concurrently, Moore tweeted in support of a friend she saw being harassed in social media. Dragon Con leadership ultimately told Moore the appearance of the con’s neutrality was more important than these acts of conscience, and she was fired.
Moore initially put a farewell post on the Fantasy Literature at Dragon Con Facebook page, which was taken down by Facebook. It has been reposted to Blaylock’s blog. Here is an excerpt:
Hi, everyone. It’s Charlotte.
Effective immediately, I am no longer the Fantasy Literature Fan Track Director.
I apologize for the cryptic nature of what follows. I will, at my discretion and on a person-by-person basis, give details in private, or when plied by sufficient quantities of alcohol.
I would like to thank Rachel Reeves and David Gordon for working with me to find an equitable resolution to some longstanding and, ultimately, insurmountable differences between my priorities and the convention’s.
I deeply regret that, in an effort to defend this community I love so much, I have, in moments of anger, occasionally overstepped my bounds, resorting to tactics that were unbecoming of me. My behavior has not consistently reflected the convention’s values—nor, in my better moments, mine.
While I do not regret, for one second, standing up to any person who, through their stories, statements, or behavior, threatens this community—or who, out of self-preservation, chooses not to see injustice and abuse—there are ways I might have done so without grabbing for low-hanging fruit.
Dragon Con strives to be apolitical. Perhaps that’s admirable (and perhaps it isn’t? I truly don’t know), but it strikes me that the most bombastic champions of this position are the ones most incensed by social justice, a phrase they sneer as a term of derision and ridicule.
I believe that Dragon Con’s heart is in the right place. I really do. They made it clear to me that they have no compunction with the fundamental nature of my values; that they welcome strong opinions among their track directors; and that they share a desire to create a diverse and safe environment.
They want everyone to have a seat at the table. Unfortunately, they also want everyone to have a seat at the table. And a table that seats abusers beside their abused is not, in fact, a table for all: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
So. The convention and I are at an impasse. And perhaps it is best if Dragon Con finds a less vociferous replacement for me, though I regret that this must happen so close to this year’s event….
—Charlotte, who will miss you all very much.
Richard Blaylock, likewise, has quit the convention as he explains in “My Resignation from Dragon Con” (full statement at the link.)
The below is my resignation as Director’s Second of Fantasy Literature at Dragon Con, as I sent it in. For some quick context:
- The prior director had acted out of line and was due some form of censure, along the lines of public apology and a warning to chill.
- Instead of a transparent process, she was fired without being allowed to defend herself, and before she was even informed that she was being fired, they were soliciting potential new directors.
- The “greater crime” for which she was fired was that she was vocally expressing that she would not provide a platform for bigotry and hate in her programming.
So, without further adieu, and with the intent to allow this to be shared easily across social media platforms (I’d already shared it on Facebook), my letter of resignation to Dragon Con:
To: Director, Fantasy Literature
CC: Sr. Director, Fan Track Operations; Dragon Con Board of Directors
Thank you for the opportunity to stay on as Director’s Second for Fantasy Literature. After a long time mulling it over, I regret to inform you that I cannot, in good conscience, continue on in this position.
While I do not agree with all of Prior Director Charlotte Moore’s means and methods, and I do feel she stepped out of line in her interaction with [guest name redacted] in specific, I cannot countenance the actions that have been taken—actions taken both by means of punishing her and of the convention making a political statement in her firing and its choice for her replacement.
I can appreciate that the convention doesn’t want to become accused of being a political entity for both legal and social reasons. But there is a false equivalency and a tone deafness in the convention claiming that bigotry and harassment is “just politics.” It is the paradox of tolerance that those who try to uphold absolute tolerance invite the absolutely intolerant. A political difference is how to provide health care, entitlements, and the size and role of government. It is not debating the fundamental humanness of those who are not white, heteronormative men.
A “Safe Space” is also a paradox. It is a place where those accepting of differences, willing to admit that all people have a fundamental equality, are welcome. It is not, in truth, “safe” for everyone, because it should be absolutely unwelcoming of bigots. By their fundamental nature, bigots make others unsafe. Fantasy Literature has, in the five years I’ve worked for it, always been a Safe Space, and I thought this was not just because of the actions of the director and her volunteers, but because senior convention leadership saw the value in this as well.
However, in its actions, Dragon Con has made the declaration that hate and bigotry are acceptable behaviors, and that the deluge of snide micro-aggressions that people of color, the differently-abled, women, and the LGBT community will suffer is an acceptable price for convention leadership to pay so they don’t have an angry, vocal, and harassing minority emailing them…..
Dragon Con prides itself on “running like a business.” I am sure that the mentality is you don’t care that a few offended attendees won’t come because of this decision; the numbers are still going up overall. On the whole, the masses don’t care.
But the thing is, the masses don’t care. Dragon Con could do the right thing, take a stand against bigotry and refuse to give it a platform, and you will only lose a minor handful of other bigots.
The masses don’t care. So it becomes such a puzzlement when the only action taken is to turn a blind eye and allow the tyranny of one minority over another so you don’t have to make a decision.
I have made my decision. I hope that you and others will come to see that it was correct one day.
Richard “Fife” Blaylock
Formerly Director’s Second, Fantasy Literature, Dragon Con
(4) ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL. Galactic Journey imported Cora Buhlert to 1963 where she discusses “[June 8, 1963] The Future in a Divided Land (An Overview of Science Fiction in East and West Germany) Part 1”.
…I am fortunate enough to live in West Germany and therefore the main focus of this article will be on West German science fiction. However, I will also take a look at what is going on in East Germany.
In the US and UK, science fiction is very much a magazine genre, even if paperback novels are playing an increasingly bigger role. In West Germany, there are a couple of science fiction publishers, such as the Balowa and Pfriem, which specialise in hardcovers aimed at the library market, as well as the paperback science fiction lines of Heyne, Fischer and Goldmann. The three paperback publishers focus mainly on translations, whereas the library publishers offer a mix of translations and works by German authors. Though Goldmann has recently started publishing some German language authors such as the promising new Austrian voice Herbert W. Franke in its science fiction paperback line.
However, the main medium for science fiction and indeed any kind of genre fiction in West Germany is still the so-called “Heftroman:” digest-sized 64-page fiction magazines that are sold at newsstands, gas stations, grocery stories and wherever magazines are sold. Whereas American and British science fiction magazines usually include several stories as well as articles, letter pages, etc…, a “Heftroman” contains only a single novel, technically a novella. “Heftromane” are the direct descendants of the American dime novel and the British penny dreadful – indeed, they are also referred to as “Groschenroman”, which is a literal translation of “dime novel”….
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY
- June 9, 1790 — The first copyright for a book was given to The Philadelphia Spelling Book by John Barry.
- June 9, 1934 — Donald Duck made his debut in the cartoon “The Wise Little Hen”.
- June 9, 1978 — The Cat From Outer Space premiered theatrically
- June 9, 1989 — Star Trek V: The Final Frontier debuted on this day
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
- Born June 9, 1930 – Lin Carter
- Born June 9, 1943 – Joe Haldeman
- Born June 9, 1963 – David Koepp
(7) HUGO BALLOT PREVIEW. Nicholas Whyte groks “The 2018 Hugo finalists for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form”. At the top of his ballot —
1) Doctor Who: “Twice Upon a Time”
The Moffat era had its low points, but the return of the First Doctor for the Twelfth Doctor’s final story was not one of them. I actually thought that the 2018 season was Capaldi’s best in general, and would have rated a couple of the other episodes higher than this; but this one deserves its place on the ballot and gets my vote. Bonus points for having scenes set in Belgium.
(8) PIXAR PIONEER GOING. Yahoo! Entertainment says “Lasseter, Pixar co-founder, to step down at end of year”.
John Lasseter, the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and the Walt Disney Co.’s animation chief, will step down at the end of the year after acknowledging “missteps” in his behavior with staff members.
Disney announced Friday that Lasseter — one of the most illustrious and powerful figures in animation — will stay on through the end of 2018 as a consultant. After that he will depart Disney permanently.
Lasseter in November took what he called a six-month “sabbatical.” He apologized “to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug” or any other gesture that made them feel “disrespected or uncomfortable.” At the time, Lasseter signaled that he hoped to then return to Disney. Many in Hollywood were skeptical that was possible.
“The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career and personal priorities,” Lasseter said in a statement. “While I remain dedicated to the art of animation and inspired by the creative talent at Pixar and Disney, I have decided the end of this year is the right time to begin focusing on new creative challenges.”
(9) JUNOT DIAZ. Boston Review’s decision to keep Junot Diaz as an editor has driven three other editors to quit reports the Boston Globe — “Boston Review editors resigning in protest of decision to retain Junot Diaz”.
The decision by Boston Review to retain Junot Diaz as an editor despite recent sexual misconduct allegations isn’t sitting well with some members of the magazine’s staff.
Three poetry editors have announced they plan to resign effective July 1 because they disagree with the decision of Boston Review editor in chief Deborah Chasman to keep Diaz on as fiction editor, a position he’s held since 2003.
In a statement posted on the magazine’s website this week, Chasman and executive editor Joshua Cohen said they had done a “careful review of the public complaints” about Diaz, as well as their own inquiry, and determined that “the objectionable conduct described in the public reports does not have the kind of severity that animated the #MeToo movement.”
That prompted Boston Review poetry editors Timothy Donnelly, BK Fisher, and Stefania Heim to respond with a statement of their own.
“What most distresses us are the [Boston Review statement’s] apparent arbitration of what constitutes inclusion in the #MeToo movement and its lack of attentiveness to power dynamics in a star-driven media and publishing landscape,” the three editors wrote. “Though we raised these reservations to the executive editors and asked them repeatedly to rethink their position, they went forward as planned.”
The decision-makers explained why they did not remove Dias in “A Letter from Deborah Chasman and Joshua Cohen” at Boston Review.
Junot Díaz has been Boston Review’s fiction editor since 2003. Like many others, we were deeply moved by Junot’s recent essay in the New Yorker describing his experience as a child victim of rape, and also struck by his acknowledgment in that essay that he had hurt people with his “lies and choices.” Also, like many others, we have been disturbed by recent reports from women who have come forward to describe the ways they were hurt by him. We have read their reports carefully, taken their complaints seriously, and thought hard about how we should respond.
On the basis of what we have learned, we have decided to continue our editorial relationship with Junot. We want to give a few words of explanation.
First, during his 15-year tenure as fiction editor, we have never received any complaints about Junot’s conduct, either from our staff or from writers.
If we were only an employer, that might be the end of the discussion. But issues of gender and race are at the heart of our mission. Because of Junot’s important public role, we cannot narrowly confine our attention to his role as our fiction editor.
Second, then, we do not think that any of the individual actions that have been reported are of the kind that requires us to end the editorial relationship. To be clear: we do not condone the objectionable behavior that they describe. Instead, we asked ourselves whether the conduct they report is of a kind that—given his role and our mission—requires us to end the editorial relationship. We do not think so. The objectionable conduct described in the public reports does not have the kind of severity that animated the #MeToo movement.
Third, we considered whether, as some have suggested, the complaints point to a larger pattern of abusing power—the kind of star power that has attached to Junot as a successful writer, editor, and public intellectual. On the basis of a careful review of the public complaints, we think not. The events they characterize—including several episodes of aggressiveness in public discussion—are dispersed over a long stretch of time, and do not, as we see it, show the characteristics, repetition, and severity required to establish such a pattern….
(10) THE WHO FAMILY. Don’t ask whether Doctor Who is the Doctor’s Daughter’s father or mother now. This isn’t that kind of project. Syfy Wire reports Doctor Who’s “daughter” is back In Universe, this time in a series of audio adventures: “The Doctor’s Daughter finally returns this week but it could have been much sooner”.
It’s been a decade, but the Doctor’s daughter is finally back for a series of new Big Finish audio adventures out this week. However, if it had been up to Georgia Tennant, her Doctor Who character would have returned to the Whoniverse much sooner.
Thing is… she was never asked back.
“I’ve always been aware of what Doctor Who brings to it, and what you then carry on throughout your life,” explained the actress (who happens to be the daughter of Fifth Doctor Peter Davison and the wife of Tenth Doctor David Tennant) to Radio Times. “But because it was just one episode I thought ‘Oh…that’ll just come and go.’ But it hasn’t, and everyone’s so lovely. Everyone’s wanted me to do this, and at conventions everyone’s been like ‘Why don’t you come back and do something?’ And you know, obviously they never asked me on the TV show…”
(11) PREGAME RITUAL. HBO needs to find a way to keep the cash register ringing: “Game of Thrones: HBO orders spinoff prequel pilot”.
Game of Thrones could be getting a prequel series, HBO has announced, one of five potential spin-offs from the series.
Book author George RR Martin has created the new series alongside British screenwriter Jane Goldman.
HBO has ordered a pilot episode for the show, set thousands of years before the battles over the Iron Throne.
Executives say any spin-off will not be broadcast until after Game of Thrones’ final season in 2019.
If picked up, the prequel will chronicle “the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour”, HBO said in a statement.
“From the horrifying secrets of Westeros’ history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East, to the Starks of legend… it’s not the story we think we know.”
(12) LIGHTLY FROSTED. David Pogue, in the Yahoo Entertainment story “How technology brings Broadway’s ‘Frozen’ musical to life”, looks at how the current theatrical adaptation of Frozen is a very high-tech production.
In “Frozen,” technology is behind most of it. Almost none of the effects in the Broadway show would have been technologically possible five years ago.
“I mean, scenery remains scenery, but the video and the lighting equipment is changing so fast. Even by the time we take the show to London, the video technology we use here will almost be obsolete. It moves that rapidly.”
According to stage manager Lisa Dawn Cave, that technology includes an enormous video screen that forms the back wall of the stage. “Our video wall weighs about 8,600 pounds and contains more than 7 million individual LEDs,” she says.
It’s complemented by 19 projectors — six over the stage, and 13 on the ceiling of the theater, on the balcony railing, and on the box seats. “They’re laser projectors — not lasers in the sense like you see laser beams in movies,” says show electrician Asher Robinson, “but they have a laser phosphor source, which means that we’re not changing the lamps in them, and they’re not making a lot of heat.”
(13) PLANTING SEASON. Elon Musk—in the guise of SpaceX—wants a major upgrade to Kennedy Space Center and has provided NASA with a plan laying out their vision. That plan includes a 133,000 sq.ft. hangar to process used SpaceX boosters and a 32,000 sq.ft., 300 ft. tall control tower with a retro-futuristic ovoid top. “NASA Publishes SpaceX Maps and Renderings from Its Proposed “Rocket Garden” – Inverse has the story. Quoting the article:
The Kennedy Space Center might be getting a major upgrade and expansion soon if Elon Musk gets his way. NASA published a plan submitted by SpaceXthat dramatically reimagines the company’s presence at KSC in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The plans include everything from a control tower that resembles a flying saucer to a “rocket garden,” showcasing futuristic designs that will expand the space company’s footprint and potential influence within the US agency.
NASA published a draft environmental review for the proposed SpaceX Operations Area, as first reported by Florida Today on Friday. According to the document, SpaceX is seeking permission to build on a 67-acre patch of land about one mile north of KSC’s visitor center complex.
…The proposal justifies the expansion by arguing that the KSC’s current offerings won’t support the 54 launches that SpaceX plans of Falcon 9 or the 10 annual launches planned for Falcon Heavy. By obtaining the space and the green light to build, the proposal says, SpaceX will have the facilities it needs to build, repair, and launch more rockets each year.
SpaceX plans to reach 30 orbital launches in 2018, which is already a record number of missions for the United States. Considering the grandiose proportions presented in the current proposal, it’s clear that the company intends to reach even further with orbital launches in 2019.
[Thanks to Todd, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rick Moen.]