Pixel Scroll 7/21/18 Number Five: Where Am I? Other Number Five: In The File.

(1) THE MAN WHO LOST THE MOON. Where do you hide something this big? “Giant moon artwork goes missing in post on way to Austria”.

A giant replica of the moon which is displayed all over the world has gone missing in the post.

The 7m (23ft) orb, covered in detailed imagery of the lunar surface, has been created by Bristol-based Luke Jerram and was en route to a festival in Austria.

Mr Jerram said the disappearance of the structure, titled Museum of the Moon, was “really annoying and upsetting.”

Courier firm TNT said it was looking into the issue.

Mr Jerram said the artwork has been booked for a series of public events across Europe over the summer.

 

(2) FUTURICON. Rijeka, Croatia is going to host Eurocon 2020, which will be called Futuricon. Their bid was accepted this week at Eurocon in Amiens. Their site has been home to Rikon for almost two decades.

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Rijeka
October 2-4, 2020

Rijeka, the coastal city in Croatia in which the annual convention Rikon has already been held nineteen times, has won the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture 2020. As part of the ECoC nomination, the SF society 3. zmaj, is announcing Futuricon, our bid for Eurocon 2020, for which we will combine the most important things the city of Rijeka has to offer – centuries of culture, diversity and tolerance, and a fresh glimpse into a positive future created by the people who live and breathe culture. With the support of the City and University of Rijeka, as well as other Croatian SF societies, we are confident that we can create a unique European experience for everyone.

(3) ALWAYS IN STYLE. Debra Doyle, novelist and editor, makes a statement “With Regard to the Recent Email to Nominees for the Hugo Awards”.

Science Fiction’s Hugos would not be what they are without accompanying periodic outbursts of controversy. This year’s topic is the email sent out to nominees for the award, “encouraging” them to dress professionally for the awards ceremony. The backlash from the sf/fantasy community was, shall we say, vociferous and overwhelmingly negative.†

As well it should be. To quote my elder daughter, on an occasion some time ago when I was fretting about the advisability of going out in public with my hair pulled back using a kid’s Snoopy-the-Flying-Ace hair tie:

“Don’t worry, Mamma. You’re a science fiction writer. You can wear anything.”

(4) THE MORE THINGS STAY THE SAME. You may not have thought the question of what Worldcons want people to wear to events was a new controversy. But would you have expected E.E. “Doc” Smith to be the person complaining about it? In 1962? Here’s a letter the author of the Lensman Series wrote to Chicon III chair Earl Kemp before the con.

(5) ONE BIG CHECK. That’s what you’ll be writing if you want any of his stuff — “One giant sale: Neil Armstrong’s collection goes to auction”. ABC News has the story.

Admirers of Neil Armstrong and space exploration have a chance to own artifacts and mementos that belonged to the modest man who became a global hero by becoming the first human to walk on the moon.

The personal collection of Armstrong, who died in his native Ohio in 2012, will be offered for sale in a series of auctions handled by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, beginning Nov. 1-2 and continuing in May and November 2019.
The collection includes a variety of artifacts from Armstrong’s 1969 lunar landing and private mementos that include pieces of a wing and propeller from the 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer that the astronaut took with him to the moon.

The article names several other flown artifacts that will be in the auctions.

(6) ACCLAIMED SHORT FANTASY. Rocket Stack Rank lists 46 outstanding stories of high fantasy from 2016-2017 that were either finalists for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction (see Q&A). That’s 46 out of 166 high fantasy stories from those two years, and out of 470 outstanding SF/F stories from 2016 and 2017.

For our purposes, we define “high fantasy” as a fantasy story that takes place in a secondary world. That is, something like Lord of the Rings, where Middle Earth is clearly not in the past or future of our world.

(7) ADDRESSEE UNKNOWN. There was just one problem with choosing John Crowley as the winner: “Maine Literary Award withdrawn because of ineligibility; new winner named”….

The winner of a 2018 Maine Literary Award was found ineligible because he is not a resident of Maine, and the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, which gives the awards annually, has named a new winner of its speculative fiction prize.

The award, which had gone to Massachusetts resident John Crowley for his book “Ka,” since has been given to Unity College writing instructor Paul Guernsey, who had come in second place for his book “American Ghost.”

“Ka” was nominated by the editorial director of Saga Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, whose marketing manager told the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance that Crowley owned a home in Maine and lived here part time. Crowley, who was born in Maine, was named the winner of the award in a June ceremony.

According Joshua Bodwell, executive director of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, Crowley notified the group that he did not live in Maine. While the award can go to seasonal or part-time residents, it is open only to people who live in Maine. Crowley reached out to say that he was unaware that his publisher had nominated him or that his publisher and his editor had said he met the eligibility requirements.

(8) STOPPING FOR ICE. Galactic Journey’s Ashley R. Pollard tells about the latest trend in fiction 55 years ago: “[July 21, 1963] Ice Cold Spies”.

I marvel at how quickly SF concepts have gone mainstream. With so many SF ideas transitioning into mainstream fiction, one of the current trends I see is the fascination with the Cold War and spies. Who as I’ve alluded to earlier, are it seems to be found everywhere.

The result is the creation of a new genre that blend SF with contemporary thriller to create what is being called a “techno-thriller.” A techno-thriller will use many of the ideas that were once purely science fictional, but set them within a conventional world that’s recognizable as our own.

A new novel by Allister MacLean called Ice Station Zebra has caught the public’s imagination. Whether this is as a result of all the stories of spies in the news I don’t know. MacLean is well known as a writer of action-adventure stories, but this new novel sees him move into a new genre.

Maclean is not the first author to do so. Fellow Scottish writer Ian Stuart wrote a similar techno-thriller, which came out last year called, The Satan Bug….

(9) A PAIR TO DRAW TO. SYFY Wire’s SDCC story “Guillermo del Toro confirmed to guest on The Simpsons in season 30” that confirms the celeb writer/producer/director Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water, The Hobbit trilogy, the Hellboy movies and games, and many more) will guest star on The Simpsons this coming season. He joins Gal Gadot (the Wonder Woman movies and others in the DC Cinematic Universe) in the “confirmed” column. There was apparently no indication the two would be on the same episode. The season’s first episode of their 30th season will will air September 30.

(10) FRONT ROW TO A SHARKNADO. Syfy Wire reports from SDCC: “Sharknado will return next year… with a live stage show!” Mike Kennedy says, “The article title pretty much says it all. I expect next we’ll have <engage echo effect> Sharks [arks… arks… arks] On [on… on… on] Ice [ice… ice… ice] !!!! <disengage echo effect>.”

You can’t keep a good Sharknado down. On Friday, at San Diego Comic-Con, the cast and crew held a panel on The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time. Yes, as you might imagine, this is the sixth and final in the Sharknado film franchise. But Sharknado will live on…

… with a live stage show.

Indeed, there is going to be a live stage version of Sharknado. No details were offered at the panel, other than it is expected to premiere at a resort/casino in 2019, and will be a sensory overload, if you will. An official announcement is expected later this year.

(11) HELL WARMED OVER. You may recall that Lucifer, canceled by Fox at the end of this past season, was picked up by Netflix for a 10-episode 4th season. At SDCC, star Tom Ellis dropped a few hints about what might be coming up after the major season 3 cliffhanger. SYFY Wire wraps up stories from other sources in “Lucifer’s Tom Ellis Teases Season 4 on Netflix”.

“We get straight back into it,” Ellis told TV Line of the start of Season 4, and teases that Lucifer was unaware that he had the devil face on at the time, so Chloe’s likely shock will come as a surprise. The pair are “apparently” still working together, but Ellis added that “The weird thing this year about coming to Comic-Con is that I can’t talk about the show and what’s going to happen so much, because I don’t know.” The scripts haven’t been written yet, and production begins August 13. Netflix has yet to announce a premiere date….

And he’s in no hurry to have Lucifer and Chloe embrace a romantic relationship. “I think it’s the heartbeat of the show, Chloe and Lucifer’s relationship,” he told [Entertainment Weekly]. “It wouldn’t be very wise to get these two characters together now… When you get the characters together, ultimately that’s kind of resolution. And you don’t want resolution till the very, very end.” But if/when that finally happens, “I am all for it.”

There were hints that Ellis could drop trou on Netflix, something that would have been Right Out on Fox.

(12) SHAZAM! Let’s catch up on our comic history before watching the trailer:  “DC’s ‘Shazam!’ Makes a ‘Big’ First Impression in Comic-Con Trailer”.

And for those of you asking, yes, he really is the first hero called Captain Marvel, debuting 20 years before Marvel Comics existed as a brand. Fawcett Comics was sued by DC in the early 1950s over claims that “Captain Marvel” ripped off “Superman,” and went temporarily out of business after it agreed never to publish the character’s comics again. However, in 1972 DC licensed “Captain Marvel” from Fawcett and brought the character into the DC universe.

But during the intervening decades, Marvel realized the trademark on the name “Captain Marvel” had lapsed, and introduced its own character of the same name. Which is why, to avoid legal problems, DC called its re-launched comic book “Shazam” and eventually changed the character’s name outright.

 

(13) SDCC TRAILERS. Here are several more trailers that got released this weekend.

(14) GRAND BOOK THEFT. These weren’t books he checked out. Now he may be checking into the pokey: “Men accused of stealing $8M in rare books, items from Pittsburgh library”.

Two men are facing charges of stealing or damaging more than $8 million in rare books and materials from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh over more than two decades.

Investigators on Friday charged Greg Priore and John Schulman with the crimes, alleging the two men worked together to remove the items from the Oliver Room.

According to the criminal complaint, Priore worked as the manager and sole archivist of the library’s Oliver Room, which houses rare books and items, for 25 years before being fired in June 2017. Schulman is the co-owner of Caliban Book Shop in Oakland, which specializes in rare books.

The Oliver Room closed more than a year ago once authorities discovered the thefts.

Priore first contacted Schulman about the scheme in the late 1990s, according to the criminal complaint. Priore allegedly told police he made between $500 and $3,000 for items he stole and gave to Schulman to sell.

(15) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Lou Antonelli, who was slated onto the Hugo ballot in 2015, mourns his “Lost Rockets” [Internet Archive link].

…I decided I’d start wearing my pins this year, and I took them with me when I went to SoonerCon in Oklahoma City June 22. After I checked in and got my badge, I took them out and I was going to stick them on.

I took the first one out, and as I tried to stick it on, I fumbled it. I never saw it land. It disappeared. I never saw it again. I put the second one back in its bag. The next day, I realized I’d lost it also.

After I told this story to one colleague at Libertycon, he said, “Well, you can always ask WorldCon for a replacement.”

I laughed. “You’ve got to be kidding! They didn’t want us to have them in the first place! Do you think they would ever give me a replacement!”

(16) JANELLE MONAÉ. Rolling Stone lets you “Watch Janelle Monae Perform ‘Americans,’ Talk Science Fiction on ‘Colbert’”. Video at the link.

Twice during Monáe’s Late Show appearance, the singer danced atop Colbert’s desk: Once to close out the interview portion – where she and the host talked about first meeting at Barack Obama’s 55th birthday party at the White House – and again to kickstart “Americans.”

During the 10-minute interview, Colbert and Monae also discussed their shared love of science fiction, which heavily influenced the singer’s new LP Dirty Computer.

“I loved being able to see these different worlds that were different from mine, that allowed me to kind of escape from where I was,” Monáe said of the genre. “It just stayed with me. I started to write science fiction as a teenager… It stayed with me throughout my work.”

(17) ONCE MORE WITH FEELING. I ran this link yesterday before seeing Mike Kennedy’s take, which I think Filers will enjoy seeing just the same.

[Item by Mike Kennedy.] Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. — George Santayana

In 2016. the British Antarctic Survey asked the public to pick the name for their new survey vessel. They picked Boaty McBoatface. Well, the BAS was not particularly happy with that, and named the craft the RRS Sir David Attenborough, though they did relent and name an autonomous underwater vehicle Boaty McBoatface (the lead vehicle of its class).

Jump to the present.

The European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency are asking the public for help naming an upcoming Mars rover to be launched in 2020 (and land in 2021).

You get three guesses what the public wants so far (and the first two don’t count). Yep, Time Magazine notes that Rovy McRoverface is already trending on Twitter. Gizmodo throws in Marsy McMarsface and Spacey McSpaceface as their suggestions.

But apparently ESA and UKSA did learn at least a little from the Boaty McBoatface incident, since they say that they’ll be using a panel that they appoint to make the final choice. Or, at least they do if you dig deep enough into their 5-page PDF of Terms and Conditions. With no mention of this on the page where you make your recommendation, it would be easy enough for someone to misunderstand and think this was a straightforward popular vote.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Fired on Mars” on Vimeo, Nick and Nate ask, “What happens if you’re a corporate drone who gets fired–except your bosses are on earth and you’re on Mars?”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, JJ, Eric Wong, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

206 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/21/18 Number Five: Where Am I? Other Number Five: In The File.

  1. @rcade:

    There’s nothing in the WSFS Constitution that decrees all votes must be accepted from “natural persons.”

    Wrong. While JJ’s cite of the natural-persons clause might be considered merely inferential, section 3 (Hugos), subsection 7 (nominations), subsubsection 1 explicitly says

    The Worldcon Committee shall conduct a poll to select the finalists for the Award voting. Each member of the administering Worldcon or the immediately preceding Worldcon as of the end of the previous calendar year shall be allowed to make up to five (5) equally weighted nominations in every category.

    .

    And later:

    Some members can accept a shit ballot for two years containing Theodore Beale’s vanity press shlock and Moira Greyland’s hate speech against gays, but they can’t accept a Hugo administrator throwing out 100-200 votes because they took over the entire ballot through a sleazy tactic we completely reject?

    You seem not to understand that part of the Puppy poo was the claim that the awards were in fact rigged by an inner cabal. You ask that they be rigged by an inner cabal; some of us prefer letting the voting public as a whole dump on the Puppy cheating rather than taking a step that would leave permanent questions about the Hugos.

    And still later:

    We also trust Hugo administrators to be fair in moving a work from one category to another and fair in interpreting what a voter has nominated when they specify it in an unusual way.

    The first of those is numerically verifiable and requires minimal judgment; the second is an attempt to make sure every nomination is in fact counted, not an attempt to s**tcan a batch of nominations. Do you not see the difference?

    And still still later:

    You do [have to live near the Worldcon site] when you haven’t been able to drag yourself onto a plane since Bill Clinton was president.

    Bull. Over 90% (and often much more) of the work of most areas happens before the convention. I would have hated not to be there to see my site planning instantiated in Spokane — but the little I did on-site could have been picked up by other people. Being in charge of some areas requires presence — but even those have a lot of assistance positions that don’t (and have been since at least 1992 (since we’re talking Clinton era), when I coordinated exhibits from all over the world into the Orlando convention center.)

  2. You seem not to understand that part of the Puppy poo was the claim that the awards were in fact rigged by an inner cabal.

    I understand that.

    I also understand that the people who claimed the Hugos were a rigged cabal in 2015 still believe it today. Nothing we did over two years of public deliberation and discussion changed their minds. Instead, they believe every rule change we made was more evidence of rigging. Even the 2015 Hugo administrator is now calling our rule changes a “political” move to keep out undesirables.

    So acting carefully and publicly earned us nothing from the people who thought we were a cabal.

    Over 90% (and often much more) of the work of most areas happens before the convention.

    Provide some examples of how I could help Worldcon from afar and I’ll be happy to consider them.

  3. Chip Hitchcock: What was your opinion in 2015 — did the Hugo rules need to be changed, or not, in response to the slating?

  4. Each member of the administering Worldcon or the immediately preceding Worldcon as of the end of the previous calendar year shall be allowed to make up to five (5) equally weighted nominations in every category.

    Leaving aside the current discussion, does this part make sense any more? Our nominations are no longer equally weighted (because of EPH) and we don’t get to make five nominations in categories (because of 4/6).

  5. @rcade, I will not be attending Worldcon 76 for financial reasons, but I offered to help remotely with Registration, and am doing so in a mild way. (I’d help more if the administrative package were usable on mobile platforms, where I spend most of my time.)

    Admittedly it is easier to start by volunteering on-site, but if you volunteer for conventions near you, that will get you started.

  6. Oneiros:

    You checked in, got your badge, then went back to your rental car to put on your rocket pins. Righto. Forgive me for thinking your story doesn’t entirely hang together here.

    I know you’ve backed up on this after hearing further details, but I still thought it was a handy opening to note that there have been even more unlikely ways of losing things. One of my earrings is lost somewhere behind the basement weeping tile (The corrugated plastic barrier, not the pipe itself) when I took it off in the main floor living room and had it in my hand to carry *up*stairs to the second floor bedroom. I have never been able to remember why I went downstairs in the first place.

    And I think this is more interesting by far than anything Antonelli has had to say since he thanked John Lorentz, and certainly more interesting than having to rehash the entirety of EPH and why it exists. Suffice to say, it’s a tool that works against a technique, not a political party. It’s pure math and the formula is available for all to see.

  7. Rcade: Did you really just argue in earnest that, since the people who claim the Hugos are rigged still believe the Hugos are rigged, we should actually allow the admin the power to rig the Hugos?

    This wasn’t about persuading “them” that “we” didn’t rig. It was about preventing *anyone*, “them” or “us” or some other group, from rigging the Hugos. Your solution is the literal opposite of that.

  8. Did you really just argue in earnest that, since the people who claim the Hugos are rigged still believe the Hugos are rigged, we should actually allow the admin the power to rig the Hugos?

    I do not thing it is “rigging” to throw out votes from brazen public attempts at cheating, like bloc voting or buying votes. Obviously.

  9. Chip just said the accusation was part of what they flung. Not the same thing.

    You don’t try to convince Alex Jones that Pizzagate is a lie just because it’s part of the poo *he* flings. But you DO everything in your power to make sure that *other* people who have every reason to care can clearly see you’re not running any kind of a ring out of a pizza parlour. You don’t say “Well, now he’s made the accusation and still believes it, we might as well start running drugs through here. It’s *obviously* not the same thing as child prostitution.”

    (ETA: This is a response to a reply I no longer see as well as one I do. I hope that means a minor edit and it will reappear, otherwise I will seem to be making an analogy from a very odd angle.)

  10. But you DO everything in your power to make sure that *other* people who have every reason to care can clearly see you’re not running any kind of a ring out of a pizza parlour.

    Rational people who care about facts never thought the pizza parlor was running a child sex trafficking ring.

    Rational people who care about facts never thought the Hugos were rigged.

    I don’t think we needed to take any action to convince people who were acting in bad faith that our awards have been run fairly.

    Every year we trust the Hugo administrator to be fair in a dozen different ways. I think we should add a thirteenth.

    (ETA: This is a response to a reply I no longer see as well as one I do. I hope that means a minor edit and it will reappear, otherwise I will seem to be making an analogy from a very odd angle.)

    Sorry. The reply I gave up on and deleted quoted “This wasn’t about persuading ‘them’ that ‘we’ didn’t rig” and had my response, “Chip said that it was.”

  11. @rcade Rational people who care about facts never thought the Hugos were rigged.

    But if you give Hugo admins the power to subjectively throw out some ballots, then it is a cast-iron certainty that a situation will come up where some “rational people who care about facts” will think the Hugos are rigged.

    As far as trusting the Admins, doesn’t the current kerfuffle on the Program show that the people who are running Worldcon can screw things up? Why wouldn’t giving Admins discretion with respect to the ballots also open up a failure mode (one that will have greater negative consequences, both foreseeable and unintended than anything the Puppies did)?

  12. What happened when the Scientologists tried to game the award? I was under the impression some ballots were discarded – was this fought as hard at the time?

  13. I filled out the Worldcon 76 volunteer form. If anyone affiliated with the current con is reading this and you need help before the event in any capacity, I can be contacted at @rcade on Twitter.

  14. As one of the people who spoke about “gaming” the Hugos years before it actually happened (both on Live Journal and on my defunct blog, as well as probably here):

    first – I have a knack for rules “gaming”, learned in multiple harsh environments – table top gaming, paintball competition, corporate america – and I raise these issues where I think appropriate in order to bring them to other’s attention so that fixes can be made – not to expose them for abuse by others.

    second – I’m enough of a rules maven to know that “there’s always something else in there” that I’m overlooking but that some other “cheating SOB” won’t miss and that individual may not feel the same moral obligation to bring it up publicly that I do.

    For that latter reason (there will ALWAYS be people who want to “win” no matter what price they may pay as history has amply proven that “winners” almost always receive benefit and almost always get to say “losers always whine”), I think it imperative that there be a “game the Hugos” group whose job it is to try and find the loopholes and assumptions about voting and bring these potential vulnerabilities to WSFS attention and work towards closing those holes before someone takes advantage of them.

    Because these days, we are living in a world where it is a pretty foregone conclusion that no matter how crazy, expensive, morally corrupt, ethically challenged a strategy may be, there IS someone out there willing to go there if they stand a chance of being able to proclaim themselves a “weiner”.

  15. @Steve Davidson I think it imperative that there be a “game the Hugos” group whose job it is to try and find the loopholes and assumptions about voting and bring these potential vulnerabilities to WSFS attention and work towards closing those holes before someone takes advantage of them.
    To an extent, a lot of this was done at an informal level here when the nomination/voting modifications were discussed in depth prior to them being submitted to the business meetings.
    For example, I think there was some agreement that while it would be much more difficult to push a whole slate of nominees, it would still be easy (maybe even easier? I forget) to get a single nominee on the ballot by a concerted group.
    And I think that the general response of the same community that developed and pushed EPH and 4/6 was an expectation that while a small group may be able to get a single inappropriate nominee on the ballot, the membership as a whole would do the right thing in voting, and the eventual winner would reflect what the WSFS membership wanted. There seemed to be an attitude of “let’s wait and see what actually happens before we change rules more.”

  16. @Bill: Not only that, but there was a feeling that a special interest group of sufficient size *should* be able to get one item on the ballot (per category), but they shouldn’t be able to get more on than, roughly, their proportion of the nominating population.

  17. rcade on July 23, 2018 at 7:48 pm said:

    There’s nothing in the WSFS Constitution that decrees all votes must be accepted from “natural persons.”

    As JJ pointed out, yes there is. I was there when it was adopted as part of the Constitution. It’s part of the workflow of Hugo Administration and Site Selection. (Non-natural persons can vote in Site Selection, but must vote for No Preference, and the Site Selection Administrator has to watch for this.)

    In case anyone thinks I’m making things up, “natural person” is a term of law. Corporations and associations are types of “non-natural persons,” like the supporting membership that NESFA purchases. Also, memberships held in the name of stuffed animals (like my wife’s companion and co-Westercon 72 Guest of Honor, Kuma Bear) are non-natural persons, and indeed the “natural persons” language was first inserted into the Constitution after someone wanted to vote the membership they’d purchased for their stuffed companion as a vote with preference. Furthermore, “Guest of” memberships don’t count as natural persons until they are transferred to an indivdiual human being. None of this should be news to anyone who pays attention to how WSFS elections are run, and nobody should ever be appointed to administer the Hugo Awards or Site Selection if they aren’t one of those people. You’re expected to have some knowledge of how the system works before you’re trusted to run it.

    rcade on July 23, 2018 at 8:08 pm said:

    If we had been asked to vote, I think a majority of the Hugo members who nominated in 2015 would have supported a decision that threw out the votes of the cheaters.

    Write a definition of “Cheater” that doesn’t allow Administrators to arbitrarily discard the votes of any person they personally dislike or whose choices they dislike.

    If you’re talking about the group generically labeled as “Puppies,” I contend that they did not cheat. (Behaving unethically isn’t the same thing as cheating.) They all purchased memberships. They all voted their own memberships. If you say, “Because they voted the way [different slate-mongers] told them how to vote!” then are you going to also discard anyone who nominated anything on the NESFA Recommended Reading List or the BASFA Hugo Award Recommendations list, or for that matter on any of probably a hundred different web sites’ lists of “here’s what I like and think you should nominate”?

    If you say, “But someone paid them to vote!” (alleged, not proven, and I doubt it because grifters don’t give away money: they collect it from other people), then I would say, “Okay, I bought my wife’s Worldcon membership with a check drawn on an account in my name. Should she not be allowed to vote? My wife bought a membership for a friend of ours as a gift. Should he not be allowed to vote? A charitable drive collected money to pay for memberships for Latinx and LGBTQ people to get memberships they couldn’t have otherwise afforded. Should they not be allowed to vote?

    Under the current wording of the Constitution, I believe a Hugo administrator has no prohibition from throwing out nominations that they determined to be cheating.

    That says that you think that Administrators can throw out any vote they want, for any reason whatsoever, and they don’t even have to say that they did so. Good grief, I hope nobody ever lets you within 100 kilometers of running an election of any sort, since you seem to think that the purpose of an election is to return the result that the Administrator wanted.

    How about we change all the rules to “Rcade gets to decide all Hugo Awards FOREVER!” That’s just as arbitrary and just as fair as what you’ve been proposing.

    rcade on July 23, 2018 at 8:47 pm said:

    What is implied or not implied by the Hugo rules is a matter of judgment a Hugo administrator and current Worldcon committee can decide.

    I was one of this year’s Hugo Award Administration subcommittee. By your apparent “anything not explicitly prohibited is allowed” interpretation of the Hugo Awards rules, I could have thrown out your ballot because I didn’t like it. Is that the way you want things run?

    Camestros Felapton on July 23, 2018 at 8:49 pm said:

    They can’t accept (and I think admins don’t want) the kind of sweeping power that they would need to make the judgement to throw at a whole bunch of ballots and I can understand why. It’s not just whether the power might be abused but people feeling under suspicion that they abused their power.

    Exactly! I would never want that kind of authority! If the Hugo Administration Subcommittee had this sort of blanket authority to arbitrarily discard any ballot for any reason, nobody could ever trust the results ever again. Remember, the “puppies” were already claiming that the game was rigged and unfair and the people running things were just making up the results. The very fact that their votes were counted shows that it was being run fairly. And it was also fair for the rest of the members to rise up and say, “No, not these.”

    rcade on July 23, 2018 at 8:55 pm said:

    I think we already place a lot of trust in the Hugo administrator, so why not trust them to fairly decide what is cheating in the rare years where it occurs?

    Because the other things you list are significantly less impactful than being able to arbitrarily discard any ballot for any reason whatsoever. And note that even those small amounts of leeway we give Administrators, such as moving things between categories, have been loudly criticized at times, which has made Administrators very reluctant to use even the authority they already have been explicitly given.

    rcade on July 23, 2018 at 9:17 pm said:

    Even when I contacted them directly about the ineligibility of a work and I thought the decision they made was wrong. I am comfortable with their use of their authority.

    You’re quite the Authoritarian, aren’t you? Why bother having elections at all, then?

    And decisions regarding works’ eligibility are much different than decisions regarding the eligiblity of members who have met the requirements of the WSFS Constitution to have their votes counted.

    rcade on July 23, 2018 at 9:22 pm said:

    You should join those of us who want the administrator to protect the Hugos from future attempts to cheat.

    Then write a rule that explcitily declares exactly what right the Administrator has to arbitrarily discard any ballot they want for any reason whatsoever. See how far it gets.

    rcade on July 24, 2018 at 5:12 am said:

    At this point the best way to guard against future abuse without requiring action from administrators is to pass Kevin Standlee’s three-stage voting proposal (3SV). It failed last year in a first vote.

    Had I not been presiding over the 2015 WSFS Business meeting (which was certainly the best place for me given that Bruce Pelz is no longer with us), I would have introduced 3SV then, and I personally think it would have passed. It was easier to understand than EPH, and it put the results in the hands of the membership. I still think it’s a better solution than relying on magic math formulas, but the membership has decided to put their faith in the lattter, not the former, so I’m not planning on reintroducing it.

    Note that 3SV, which allowed the members to decide what they considered bad nominations, is significantly different than putting that authority in the hands of an individual or small committee. If we want the Hugo Awards to be juried, then we should say so directly, not by a back door.

    rcade on July 24, 2018 at 9:13 am said:

    Our nominations are no longer equally weighted (because of EPH) and we don’t get to make five nominations in categories (because of 4/6).

    The interpretation has been that “equally weighted” means that you can’t nominate the same thing twice, and that the EPH weighting algorithm equally treats all nominations as they move through the algorithm. (That is, it re-weights them all by the same algorithm.) Besides, when interpreting the constitution, if there is a conflict, you generally take the newer material over the older and then go back and clean it up later.

    What actually passed was “5/6” — five nominations, six finalists. Haven’t you filled out a Hugo nominating ballot in the past two years?

    jayn on July 24, 2018 at 11:05 am said:

    What happened when the Scientologists tried to game the award? I was under the impression some ballots were discarded – was this fought as hard at the time?

    No ballots were discarded. The work that was perceived to have been “gamed” onto the ballot finished below No Award.

  18. @jayn-From Wikipedia:
    Hugo Award

    In 1983, members of the Church of Scientology were encouraged by people such as Charles Platt to nominate as a bloc Battlefield Earth, written by the organization’s founder L. Ron Hubbard, for the Best Novel award; it did not make the final ballot.[34] Another campaign followed in 1987 to nominate Hubbard’s Black Genesis; it made the final ballot but finished behind “no award”.[35] 1989 saw a work—The Guardsman by Todd Hamilton and P. J. Beese—withdrawn by its authors from the final ballot after a fan bought numerous memberships under false names, all sent in on the same day, in order to get the work onto the ballot.[36]

    Attempts to game one or two items onto the Hugo ballot vs. 2015’s successful hijacking of nearly the entire ballot. So while the reaction was very negative, it, like the scale of the efforts, just wasn’t the same.

    And these event are remembered even in 7741!

  19. Kevin Standlee: If you’re talking about the group generically labeled as “Puppies,” I contend that they did not cheat. (Behaving unethically isn’t the same thing as cheating.)

    The definition of “cheat” is:
    act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage

    The Puppies didn’t break the rules. But they definitely did cheat.

    Other than that, I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said. And while 3SV might have had enough support to pass in 2015, I don’t think it would pass if proposed next month, after people have seen the effectiveness of EPH as demonstrated last year (both in preventing a sweep of the ballot by slaters, and in discouraging people from spending the money to engage in slating).

  20. That says that you think that Administrators can throw out any vote they want, for any reason whatsoever, and they don’t even have to say that they did so.

    I never said Hugo administrators who threw out votes for cheating didn’t have to explain their decision.

    How about we change all the rules to “Rcade gets to decide all Hugo Awards FOREVER!” That’s just as arbitrary and just as fair as what you’ve been proposing.

    How about you discuss my actual position instead of resorting to histrionics?

    Write a definition of “Cheater” that doesn’t allow Administrators to arbitrarily discard the votes of any person they personally dislike or whose choices they dislike.

    Bloc vote nominations are mathematically distinct from nominations made by individuals making their own choices. The cryptographer and election systems wonk Bruce Schneier explained one potential algorithmic solution in 2015: “Imagine that each full ballot is an eigenvector in ‘book space.’ By taking at all of the vectors together, it becomes a straightforward clustering problem to determine what the blocs are.”

    But if that’s too much math, the Hugo administrator could have formulated a rule of thumb and used it to make an announcement like this: “This year’s nomination ballots included 213 that nominated the same four or five works in 12 or more categories, following a slate released publicly by one publisher. This bloc voting would result in 90% of that slate making the final ballot even though those 213 members represent only 11% of the total number who participated.

    “We believe the tactic of bloc voting violates the spirit of the Hugo Awards, which has always been members making their own nominations as individuals. For this reason, the Worldcon committee is holding a vote to let members decide whether to throw out those 213 ballots and recalculate the finalists before the ballot is announced.”

  21. Well, if nothing else, “we have detected a bloc and will allow the voting membership to decide whether to toss out those votes” is considerably more transparent than the “this looks like a bloc, so I’m chucking those votes and do not need to tell anybody” idea.

    A nightmare to administer, but more transparent.

  22. rcade on July 24, 2018 at 3:45 pm said:

    I never said Hugo administrators who threw out votes for cheating didn’t have to explain their decision.

    There’s no rule requiring them to do so. By your “anything not prohibited is allowed” interpretation, they don’t have to explain anything they do. You want them to decide who wins, without worrying about those pesky voters.

    What makes you think that the Admins will always eliminate only the ballots you personally dislike? You’ve already said that they’ve made a decision on something that you dislike, so what guarantee do you have that they won’t start eliminating anyone’s ballot on arbitrary grounds?

    I’ve been a Hugo Award Administrator four times, and I would never trust myself with that sort of authority. Better to redo the entire awards with an Award Jury that looks at the nominations and then decides on its own (not necessarily using the count of nominations) to create a short list of finalists. It wouldn’t be the same as what we have now, but it would be far more honest than what you propose, which really would undermine any confidence there is in the voters’ voices being heard.

  23. You’re quite the Authoritarian, aren’t you? Why bother having elections at all, then?

    I reported evidence that a work was ineligible. The Hugo administrator disagreed with me. I accepted his authority to make that decision. How is that possibly something you could be upset about?

  24. We have had the discussion before. Nothing new has happened since then. If membership couldn’t accept 3SV, then there’s no chance in hell they would accept the administrators just throwing away votes.

    There’s no reason to discuss this more unless something new happens, because no changes will be made until then. It is just going Brian Z one time too many.

  25. By your “anything not prohibited is allowed” interpretation, they don’t have to explain anything they do. What makes you think that the Admins will always eliminate only the ballots you personally dislike?

    I think Hugo administrators have been a fair-minded group of people who are protective of the reputations of the awards and Worldcon. Scenarios where they would throw out nominations for indefensible reasons are not plausible to me. I regard that as far less likely than a future attack on the Hugos by agenda-driven or self-serving cranks.

    Obviously we as a membership have scared administrators from doing anything controversial to protect the voting process. But that can change.

  26. @Lenore Jones / jonesnori

    @Bill: Not only that, but there was a feeling that a special interest group of sufficient size *should* be able to get one item on the ballot (per category), but they shouldn’t be able to get more on than, roughly, their proportion of the nominating population

    The main problem there is testing of EPH against actual slate year data showed EPH still gave 60 to 80% of the nominations to the slate. It was not proportionate to the nominator population. To be clear: EPH is better than no EPH but I fear more faith is being placed in the algorithm than is warranted. There was a lot of discussion of those test results in old threads and what I read as a general sense of shock when they were revealed

  27. Y’know, if I were blue-skying a way to improve the Hugos, I’d introduce a third voting stage… to narrow the initial longlist before collecting the five finalists. I think that this would not only give the voting membership a chance to not vote on slated works, but seeing a longlist could bring a wider variety of works to the attention of a bigger audience and/or remind people of works they’d forgotten about the first time around. Basically, a culling/focusing stage between the initial list and the finals.

    Of course, since I’m not in charge of anything like that, it’s only empty talk. 😉

  28. @Rev. Bob–But didn’t we debate that during the EPH changes?

    The only objection I see to it, really, is how long it would take, and the burden on people who wanted to “do it right.” That’s an awful lot of stuff to make some sort of judgment on before even getting to the finalists.

  29. LisCarey: Rev. Bob is indeed talking about 3SV, which was offered and rejected.

  30. @Rev Bob,

    We also had that discussion again when 3SV was proposed last year.

    I was concerned to see that when the EPH algorithm was tested on slate data, it was less effective than hoped. For that reason, I supported EPH+ and 3SV.

    But nothing happens in a vacuum. The combination of EPH having some effect, combined with the judicious use of “No Award” by the Hugo votership discouraging continued slating, was effective enough that the Business Meeting declined to pass 3SV (which would have required the Hugo votership to put in more effort than currently).

    I can see why; I mean look at how much effort you have to expend now if you want to vote in “Best Series”. And some people wish to add even more Hugo categories? Comes a time when it gets too burdensome. As long as we want to keep the Hugo Awards one that is voted on by the whole WSFS*, I expect there is a limit to how many categories the awards can have.

    *I want to retain that as a defining characteristic, the alternatives e.g. a juried award would not be Hugo to me.

  31. @Glyer:

    Chip Hitchcock: What was your opinion in 2015 — did the Hugo rules need to be changed, or not, in response to the slating?

    Not sure what the point of this question is, but I’ll treat it as honest; my opinion was that it would be good to do something, but that some of the solutions (e.g., explicitly legalizing what rcade proposes) were worse than the problem. I watched some of the development of EPH, and concluded that enough critical hands were working it over that it would be worth trying. I don’t recall 3SV coming up — and while Kevin may be right that it would have passed in 2015, I don’t know that it would have passed the required second time given the analyses of how much work and lag it would add to the process.

    @rcade:

    Obviously we as a membership have scared administrators from doing anything controversial to protect the voting process.

    Wrong again. Concoms have been very careful to choose people who understand what an administrator is.

    and wrt your response to my suggestion:
    * I’m unimpressed by your volunteering to W76; at 23 months on and less than one from the opening, most remote work would be a demonstration of the mythical man-month. Offer to Dublin, or New Zealand (assumption) or W79; there is an unbelievable amount of work to be done in advance, even before obvious events like the nomination ballots going out.
    * every single area requires planning — starting with digging up information, because by the time a Worldcon comes back to a site a lot of the vendors will have moved on, so the list of firms the treasurer wrote checks to is not very useful. I did layout planning for four Worldcons, working almost entirely by email; some of the site visits helped (but with virtual tours I’m not sure that’s still necessary) and at least one didn’t. (A shoebox is a shoebox no matter how big.) And that’s the most site-bound advance work that can be done outside of major-event planning(*); in other areas, there are exhibits to dig up and coordinate (aka cat-herding), decorators to find and supplies to order from them, panels to come up with and populate, electric carts to dig up, hospitality to plan, publications to edit/produce/ship — the list goes on forever.
    (*) (which has gotten more and more specialized — I wouldn’t touch it these days because theater has moved so far since I was producer/director/TD/… for a variety of shows)

  32. Chip Hitchcock: Not sure what the point of this question is, but I’ll treat it as honest; my opinion was that it would be good to do something,

    Thank you. I wanted to be able to rule out a concern I had in my own mind, which I’m not going to elaborate, and now I can.

  33. @Lenora:

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I recall the 3SV proposal’s middle phase being proposed to operate on a “semifinals” list, the top few items on the longlist, with the emphasis being on giving voters a look at the presumptive finalists with a chance to veto any that shouldn’t be there.

    What I had in mind was a much wider list – basically, “here’s what’s been nominated, pick your favorites,” maybe culled to anything that beat a relatively low bar (like, 10 nominations or more – NOT “the longlist”). I kinda figured that seeing that list might get people to see what singletons didn’t make it, remind them of things they’d forgotten were eligible, and result in a stronger convergence.

    Here again, I’m not saying that this should get written up as a proposal. I just wonder how well the approach would work, particularly in the more obscure categories that tend to suffer from scattershot nominating.

  34. Rev. Bob: I recall the 3SV proposal’s middle phase being proposed to operate on a “semifinals” list, the top few items on the longlist, with the emphasis being on giving voters a look at the presumptive finalists with a chance to veto any that shouldn’t be there.

    No, 3SV was for a Top-15 longlist in each category.

  35. @JJ:

    I do not see the distinction between my “top few items” recollection and your “Top-15 longlist” citation, except that you gave a number where I did not.

  36. Rev. Bob: I do not see the distinction between my “top few items” recollection and your “Top-15 longlist” citation, except that you gave a number where I did not.

    I don’t consider 15 “a few”. And I don’t think more than 15 or 20 is a viable proposition.

    With the exception of the Novel category, past 15 entries you are going to get a very long tail of entries with only a couple nominations. I would love to see a Top 50 novels released after the ceremony; for the rest it wouldn’t be helpful (remember that we had to rescind the 5% rule because the Short Story and Novelette categories didn’t always have a full ballot under that rule).

    I don’t favor implementing 3SV, anyway. It provides the opportunity for a work which has a lot of fans and a lot of haters to get voted off the island, which I don’t think is a good thing — it could be used against my favorite work just as easily as it could be applied to a Puppy work.

  37. JJ, not really, because it required a super-majority of the nomination pool to vote anything off. It would have tightened timelines somewhat, and added more complexity to the process, but I don’t think that particular fear was realistic.

  38. @JJ:

    Then it’s a good thing that I’m not advocating 3SV, isn’t it?

    3SV has a fixed-length longlist and a veto phase. My notion – an idea, not a proposal – was to minimally cull the preliminary lists (“chop off the long tail,” you might say) and have people nominate from those as a middle phase.

    Yes, there are a couple of similarities. Both ideas have three phases and use a subset of the original nomination pool for the middle phase. That’s all.

  39. @Hampus:

    That’s much closer, yes. DN still performs some ranking that I’m not, but otherwise it’s close enough that if I were proposing some sort of change, I wouldn’t quibble overmuch about the difference. (My gut instinct is that chopping the tail would/should result in a set of semifinalists larger than fifteen works, quite possibly much larger, and I consider that a good thing.)

  40. I’m unimpressed by your volunteering to W76; at 23 months on and less than one from the opening, most remote work would be a demonstration of the mythical man-month.

    I made the offer in case they are looking for last-minute help in any areas, given how much effort they now are devoting to the redo in programming. I am going to apply for future Worldcons as well.

    Are the tasks you described things a first-time volunteer would be asked to do? One of the things that kept me from volunteering over the years, for anything other than web publishing and computer programming, is not knowing whether I’d be useful. I’ve never offered to help on publications despite being a former journalist because I figured Worldcon would not lack writers.

    Since you called for remote volunteers, it would be helpful to know in what jobs they are most likely to be needed for Dublin and beyond.

  41. My notion – an idea, not a proposal – was to minimally cull the preliminary lists (“chop off the long tail,” you might say) and have people nominate from those as a middle phase.

    Would culling be necessary? If we had a stage halfway through the nominating period where the top 20 in each category were announced, without vote totals or ranking, voters could decide whether to change their long tail nomination to one of those.

    This also would be a detriment to public cheaters. If Hugo voters saw that a white nationalist’s slate was getting works in the top 20, many would have another reason to shift away from a long tail pick and help keep junk off the ballot.

  42. The new Worldcon 76 progress report lists areas where they currently need help:

    Areas where we would love to have more volunteers include:

    • ushers for major events
    • stage crew
    • Con Suite, Staff Lounge, Green Room, Receptions
    • Registration staff
    • Press Office
    • line management
    • move-in/move-out (MIMO)
    • Operations Office
    • Newsletter staff
    • Ombudsman
    • Info Desk
    • Sign Shop
    • Site Selection

  43. Rev. Bob: Yes, definitely different in a key way…. and yet I think it results in the same issues that came up with 3SV, plus one more: If this is a case of re-nominating after seeing the pool, and not of actively saying “This work does not belong, it looks like someone gamed it on”, how does this remove obvious cheaters, since the same cheaters will vote them in again? I hope I’m just not understanding your proposal.

  44. The idea is that when the votes of others aren’t split on an infinite number of items, the effect of slaters won’t be as large.

  45. @rcade:

    There are lots of writers at Worldcon, yes. But con publications don’t involve a lot of fiction writing. The daily newsletter needs people to do reporting/writing (that one really is an at-con job) and the program book and progress reports have to be edited, laid out, and proofread.

    Your comment here with the list of what San Jose still needs suggests you are now aware of this; I’m answering mostly in case someone else is thinking “but I just write manuals/technical reports/articles about the local government, and Worldcon has a bunch of Real Writers who people have heard of.”

  46. It’s also true that many of the writers are too busy with writer business to volunteer, though there are certainly exceptions.

  47. @rcade: “Would culling be necessary? If we had a stage halfway through the nominating period where the top 20 in each category were announced, without vote totals or ranking, voters could decide whether to change their long tail nomination to one of those.”

    I don’t know why people keep attaching a “top 15” or “top 20” or “top any other number” factor to my idea, or why they regard it as a proposal at all, let alone one that would replace any other component of the existing system. All of those are untrue.

    The culling I describe would be instead of, not in addition to, any sort of “pick the top X” to be listed in the new middle phase. If a work beats the long-tail cutoff, whether that’s by one vote or one thousand votes, whether it’s in fifth place or five-hundredth place, it doesn’t get culled.

    Is that clear enough for everybody, or will I have to keep repeating that point?

    The purpose of the long-tail cull would be to clear out the “I voted for this story I self-published that nobody else has even heard of, because I’m great and I want a rocket” brush. It regards the initial nomination phase as a “let’s throw everything against the wall and see what sticks” stage; this is what got enough support to stick, so it’s the pool for the real-deal nomination phase.

    @Lenora: “yet I think it results in the same issues that came up with 3SV, plus one more: If this is a case of re-nominating after seeing the pool, and not of actively saying “This work does not belong, it looks like someone gamed it on”, how does this remove obvious cheaters, since the same cheaters will vote them in again? I hope I’m just not understanding your proposal.”

    Again, not a proposal. Call it an idea, or a thought experiment, or whatever else you like, but “proposal” implies that I’m putting this forth in hopes that it will attract support and someone will want to bring it up at the Business Meeting. Not the case.

    As to how it would prevent slates… I never claimed it would. 3SV was proposed as an alternative to EPH, a different way to achieve the anti-slate goal. That’s not what this is about at all. This is about addressing the problem that there’s a massive body of work out there, far too much for any one person to reasonably evaluate over the course of a year, by using the first round of nominations as kind of a crowdsourced effort to Find The Good Stuff. The chaff gets culled from that list, and then everybody nominates their favorites from that “very longlist” (VLL).

    I trust EPH to adequately handle slate tactics that make it past that stage.

    @Hampus: “The idea is that when the votes of others aren’t split on an infinite number of items, the effect of slaters won’t be as large.”

    As I-gor once said, “on the nosey!” By seeing that my favorite of favorites got culled, I get the chance to change that nomination. Maybe there’s something else on the VLL that I really liked, but slipped my mind until I saw the title again. Maybe I can see that two or three entries represent the same item, and I can drop the admins a heads-up so they can be combined. All kinds of possibilities!

    This isn’t an idea for making slates fail. It’s an idea for making good-faith nominations better.

    And it’s still not a proposal.

  48. Rev. Bob

    And it’s still not a proposal

    Poor choice of word on my part. I know it’s you speculating not you setting up an item for the business meeting. Mea Culpa.

    In any case thank you and Hampus both for clarifying.

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