Pixel Scroll 7/25/20 There’s A Troublesome Gap In The Middle 11 Billion Years

(1) BRADBURY CENTENARY PODCAST. Phil Nichols’ BRADBURY 100 podcast starts today! His guest on episode 1 is author Steven Paul Leiva.

I first met Steve at Ray Bradbury’s 90th birthday party in 2010, which was held in Glendale’s Mystery & Imagination Bookshop. For many years Ray would gather friends and fans here for book signings and talks. Up the stairs of the bookshop was a wall signed by various authors and celebrities who had visited. Steve and I searched for his previous signing, and we also found the spot where Ray Bradbury had signed several years earlier.

(2) LEGACY FULFILLED. World Fantasy Con co-chair Ginny Smith shares “How Salt Lake City Won the Honor of Hosting WFC 2020 – and How We Lost It”.

… The board room doors opened. Mike Willmoth, our board mentor, walked into the hallway, stuck out his hand to me and said, “Congratulations.” Tears sprang to my eyes. And they were not tears of joy! We’d done it. And now, we had to do it!…

(3) ZOMBIE SOCIAL DISTANCING. “Zombies and Coronavirus:  Planning For The Next Big Outbreak” on YouTube is a panel from Comic-Con featuring Max Brooks, who says Americans born after World War II “don’t have the muscle memory and gut fear of germs” which left them ill-prepared for the pandemic.

(4) PURITY OF ESSENCE. Charles Stross is not prepared to trust Worldcon site selection voters, you see. They might do anything. Like vote for another Worldcon in the U.S.

(5) WORKING. ScreenRant has collected a list of “Star Trek: All Roles (& Voiceovers) Played By Majel Barrett”.

… From TOS onward, Barrett became a vital part of Star Trek, lending her voice to Star Trek: The Animated Series, appearing in the original Star Trek movies, and guest-starring in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Majel Barrett is a true example of Star Trek royalty, and the following is every live-action role she played in the franchise, as well as how ubiquitous her voice has been to nearly every incarnation of Star Trek.

(6) NIPPON INTO SPACE. The Diamond Bay Radio podcast has a new interview on the history of Japanese Rocketry and space programs with Subo Wijeyeratne (PhD in History of Science, Harvard): “Japanese Rocketry”.

They also discuss Subo’s science fiction anthology, Tales from the the Stone Lotus, and his unpublished novel, Triangulum.

(7) CLEIN OBIT. Hollywood publicist Harry Clein died June 18 at the age of 82The Hollywood Reporter has an extended profile.  

Clein … consulted for Pixar and Steve Jobs on Toy Story (1995); for Tim Burton on Edward Scissorhands (1990), Batman Returns (1992) and Ed Wood (1994); and for other filmmakers including … Wes Craven. He also… wrote the press notes for Star Wars (1977)….

(8) GRAHAM OBIT. “Ronald L. Graham, Who Unlocked the Magic of Numbers, Dies at 84” reports the New York Times.

Ronald L. Graham, who gained renown with wide-ranging theorems in a field known as discrete mathematics that have found uses in diverse areas, ranging from making telephone and computer networks more efficient to explaining the dynamics of juggling, died on July 6 at his home in the La Jolla section of San Diego. He was 84.

The cause was bronchiectasis, a chronic lung condition, according to a statement from the University of California, San Diego, where Dr. Graham was an emeritus professor.

“He created a lot of mathematics and some really pretty cool stuff,” said Peter Winkler, a mathematician at Dartmouth College. “This occurred over many years, and so it’s only now that we get to sort of look back and see all the stuff that he did.”

One thing he did was develop methods for worst-case analysis in scheduling theory — that is, whether the order in which actions are scheduled wastes time. On another front, with his wife and frequent collaborator, Fan Chung, an emeritus mathematician at the University of California, San Diego, he developed the idea of quasi-random graphs, which applied numerical preciseness in describing the random-like structure of networks.

Dr. Graham’s research was detailed in about 400 papers, but he never fit the stereotype of a nerdy mathematician. Soft-spoken but garrulous, he leavened his talks on high-level equations with silly jokes and sight gags. He was also an expert trampoline gymnast and juggler, a side pursuit — he was elected president of the International Jugglers’ Association in 1972 — that in his hands also lent itself to mathematical analysis. At one point Dr. Graham and three other juggling mathematicians proved an equation for the number of possible ball-juggling patterns before a pattern repeats.

(9) ROËVES OBIT. Actor Maurice Roëves, who appeared in two iconic genre TV series (details below) has died aged 83 reports The Guardian.

…Handsome, with piercing eyes and a granite jawline, he played tough guys, steely villains or stalwart military figures with directness, authenticity and spiky energy.

He also had the rare distinction of appearing in both Doctor Who and the Star Trek franchise: in the former he brought genuine grit to his turn as a murderous gun runner in The Caves of Androzani (1984), frequently voted the best story in the show’s long history. His alien Romulan in Star Trek: The Next Generation was one of his many forays into American television, which also included a stint on the soap Days of Our Lives (1985-86) and parts in Baywatch (1992), Cheers (1993) and Murder, She Wrote (1994).

(10) BOOK ANNIVERSARY.

  • July 25, 2009 — Robert Holdstock’s Avilion would be published. Set in his Ryhope Wood series, it was nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. It would be the final work from this author as he died in-hospital at the age of sixty-one  from an E. coli infection on November 29, 2009. He would be honored with The Karl Edward Wagner Award from the British Fantasy Society the following year.  And they would rename their British Fantasy Award for best novel in his honor the next year. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 25, 1870 – Maxfield Parrish.  Two dozen covers for us, as many interiors if you count uses after he died; far more beyond, maybe higher numbers if we reach: I’m willing to leave out Ecstasy (see here); the medium matters for The Lantern Bearers (see here) – you don’t get the fantastic effect without glazing, on canvas it’s just globes – yes, I know it was done for Collier’s; but what about The Pied Piper (see here)? or Humpty Dumpty (see here)? and he illustrated The Arabian Nights (see here).  He was a master of make-believe.  He weighed whimsy; he was not ridden by, but rode, reality.  (Died 1966) [JH]
  • Born July 25, 1907 —  Cyril Luckham. He played the White Guardian first in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Ribos Opperation”, part one and then twice more in the two-part Fifth Doctor story, “Enlightment”.  He was also Dr. Moe in the Fifties pulp film Stranger from Venus, and also showed up in The Omega FactorA Midsummer Night’s DreamRandall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and Tales of The Unexpected. (Died 1989.) (CE) 
  • Born July 25, 1910 Kendell Foster Crossen. He was the creator and writer of the Green Lama stories about a Buddhist crime fighter  whose powers were activated upon the recitation of the Tibetan chant om mani padme hum. He also wrote Manning Draco series, an intergalactic insurance investigator, four of which are can be found in Once Upon a Star: A Novel of the Future. Kindle has a really deep catalog of his genre work. (Died 1981.) (CE)
  • Born July 25, 1922 Evelyn E. Smith. She has the delightful bio being of a writer of sf and mysteries, as well as a compiler of crossword puzzles. During the 1950s, she published both short stories and novelettes in Galaxy Science FictionFantastic Universe and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her SF novels include The Perfect Planet and The Copy Shop. A look at iBooks and Kindle shows a twelve story Wildside Press collection but none of her novels. (Died 2000.) (CE)
  • Born July 25, 1932 – Paul Weitz.  Naval aviator, 7,700 hrs flying time, five Air Medals.  Piloted the first crewed Skylab.  Commanded the maiden voyage of Space Shuttle Challenger; its primary payload was the first Tracking & Data Relay Satellite, revolutionizing low-Earth-orbit communications.  NASA Distinguished Service Medal.  Fellow, Amer. Astronautical Society.  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born July 25, 1948 Brian Stableford, 72. I am reasonably sure that I read and enjoyed all of the Hooded Swan series a long time ago which I see has been since been collected as Swan Songs: The Complete Hooded Swan Collection. And I’ve certainly read a fair amount of his short fiction down the years. (CE)
  • Born July 25, 1971 Chloë Annett, 49. She played Holly Turner in the Crime Traveller series and Kristine Kochanski in the Red Dwarf series. She was in the “Klingons vs. Vulcans” episode of the Space Cadets sort of game show. (CE)
  • Born July 25, 1973 Mur Lafferty, 47. Podcaster and writer. Co-editor of the Escape Pod podcast with Divya Breed, her second time around. She is also the host and creator of the podcast I Should Be Writing which won a Parsec Award for Best Writing Podcast. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Escape Artists short fiction magazine Mothership Zeta. And then there’s the Ditch Diggers podcast she started with Matt Wallace which is supposed to show the brutal, honest side of writing. For that, It won the Hugo Award for Best Fancast in 2018, having been a finalist the year before.  Fiction wise, I loved both The Shambling Guide to New York City and A Ghost Train to New Orleans with I think the second being a better novel. (CE)
  • Born July 25, 1950 – Cortney Skinner, 70.  A score of covers (some with Tom Kidd) for us, seven dozen interiors; more for others.  Here is the Jul 79 Galileo.  Here is the Mar-Apr 91 Aboriginal.  Here is The Hogben Chronicles.  Here is a bookworm (sculpture, from his Website).  Here, a cover for a Sherlock Holmes book.  [JH]
  • Born July 25 – Dick Smith.  DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate (with wife Leah Zeldes Smith).  Active in various apas (amateur press associations) including our first and greatest, FAPA (Fantasy Am. Pr. Ass’n); earned the Vorzimer Award in The Cult.  Fanzine, STET.  Collects copying devices, e.g. letterpresses, hectographs.  To balance this he is a computer consultant; Fred Pohl dedicated All the Lives He Led to him.  [JH]
  • Born July 25, 1967 – Ann Totusek, 53.  Chaired Minicon 51-52, Duckon, DemiCon.  Served on the Super-Con-Duck-Tivity Board, i.e. giving the Golden Duck awards.  Chief of Hospitality and of Volunteers at Demicons.  Chief of Hospitality at Minicon’s Golden Anniversary; at Chicon 7 (70th Worldcon), and thus of the after-Hugos reception at Renovation (71st).  Worked in Operations, one of our most thankless and demanding tasks, at Interaction (63rd Worldcon), Anticipation (67th), Loncon 3 (72nd), some Eastercons (U.K. nat’l convention).  Has been Minn-Stf (from Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction) president.  Taught making sugar-cube castles at Minicon 55.  When I asked her “What else should I tell them?” she said “Tell them Ann says Wear a mask.”  She should; she’s an R.N.  Stood for TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) this year, platform “Vote for Mike [“Orange Mike” Lowrey, the other candidate],” which we did.  [JH]
  • Born July 25, 1977 – Shana Muldoon Zappa, 43.  Actress, designer; married Frank Zappa’s son Ahmet; they in the family tradition named their daughter Halo Violetta Zappa, their son Arrow d’Oro Leon Zappa.  SMZ and AZ invented Star Darlings (Disney); 14 novels about them so far, four on the Scholastic 100.  [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) SDCC AT HOME. Comic-Con@Home 2020’s item with the cast of The New Mutants can be viewed on YouTube and comes recommended by John King Tarpinian.

Writer/Director Josh Boone and the cast of Twentieth Century Studios and Marvel Entertainment’s The New Mutants, including Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, and Henry Zaga discuss the upcoming original horror-thriller moderated by Ira Madison III.

(14) RADIOACTIVE BIOPIC. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.] NPR says “Like Her ‘Radioactive’ Elements, Marie Curie Didn’t ‘Behave’ As Expected”. I saw this on a sneak preview courtesy of membership in the local science museum. It’s not perfect but is IMO worth seeing.

Like the elements that she discovered — polonium and radium — Marie Curie was “unruly,” says actor Rosamund Pike. Pike plays the famous scientist in the new biopic Radioactive.

The film, streaming on Amazon Prime, is about the power of science and how it can be harnessed in both positive and destructive ways. Curie’s discoveries led to medical breakthroughs, but they were also weaponized — into bombs and poison.

“[Director] Marjane Satrapi and I both had a vision of her as quite an ‘unruly element’ that does not behave as it should …” Pike explains. She and her fellow filmmakers were “interested in really pushing how challenging we could make her, how much we could make her not conform to traditional standards of femininity.”

Interview Highlights


On starring in a movie about science in the midst of a global pandemic


I’m very excited because I think there’s been a huge rise in people’s interest in science. And I think people are suddenly very, very curious as to who scientists really are. Who are these people who suddenly hold life in their hands?

On what she learned about Marie Curie preparing for the film


She was really little more than a name that I recognized, if I’m perfectly honest. … I started having chemistry lessons … which was exciting as a female in film. Historically, a lot of my preparation has been involved, getting myself physically fit. And it was a really refreshing change to be having to get myself mentally fit.

(15) MASK YOUR PUMPKIN. FastCompany is watching as “COVID-19 claims another victim: Halloween”.

Universal Orlando announced on Friday that it’s canceling its annual Halloween Horror Nights due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Horror Nights 30 was supposed to take place from September 10 through November 1. Large gatherings aren’t a good idea at this time, and Halloween enthusiasts are bummed. There was a time—back in the spring—when people imagined that we could be emerging from this nightmare by now. Many people had hope, back then, that popular Halloween gatherings were going to unfold this year as they have in the past, but with people wearing masks for the most ironic but necessary reason ever.

However, it’s time to give in to the notion that Halloween (along with probably all large gatherings for the rest of the year) is canceled….

[Thanks to John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Mlex, and Andrew Porter for these my joints. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

66 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/25/20 There’s A Troublesome Gap In The Middle 11 Billion Years

  1. (4) I haven’t voted for Site Selection yet – I think there’s still time.

  2. 15) And we’re back to this “Halloween is cancelled” nonsense. Y’all. The parties are cancelled. That is NOT THE SAME THING has Halloween being cancelled. Decorate your houses, wear masks, buy a ton of candy, have a scary movie marathon, carve pumpkins, someone come up with a virtual haunted house, drink socially-distanced pumpkin spice lattes. Halloween is a state of mind.

  3. @4: one more person who doesn’t understand how ranked-choice works….

    @11: I think Skinner was also responsible for the painting of an alien attack on a Boston-area library, showing the fans who commissioned it (one of whom worked there) in the vanguard of the fleeing patrons.

  4. The fact that site selection is ranked-choice/instant-runoff voting is in the ballot instructions on the first page of the ballot, but we know about people reading the instructions. And I know from having been in the counting room many times that lots of people only know how to put an X by one choice, as it’s the only kind of election they understand.

  5. (4) PURITY OF ESSENCE.

    I am so over the armchair quarterbacking on Twitter by people who have no idea how Site Selection works and think that enabling someone to arbitrarily refuse bids is JUST THE BEST IDEA EVER which could never possibly be used to enforce personal preferences and prejudices.

    I’m also just rolling my eyes at the performative outrage of several people who were yelling a year ago about what a poor option Washington DC was, and are now yelling again about this year’s options instead of getting off their asses during the past 12 months and organizing a Worldcon bid in a location which they feel is more suitable.

  6. Math error in the birthday section:

    Born July 25, 1973 — Mur Lafferty, 57

    That would be 47

  7. 4) The real divide for who may go to a Worldcon will always be class, i.e who can afford to. By not having US Worldcons, you would decide that a lot of people who don’t earn enough aren’t worthy.

  8. John Hertz responds by carrier pigeon:

    14 Marie Curie…. Who are these people who suddenly hold life in their hands?

    This is the pun of the day; maybe more.

    Think of Marie Curie, her hands, what she held in them, why, and what happened.

    She was a hero.

    Filkers know (for “filk”, see http://fancyclopedia.org/Filk, or here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filk_music with a photo of Patrick Nielsen Hayden & Emma Bull) the very moving song by Duane Elms, “Madame Curie’s Hands” (1987; won a Pegasus Award http://www.ovff.org/pegasus/about.html, 1992).

    “If you would wish to know the cost the search for truth demands,
    You only have to take a look at Madame Curie’s hands.”

    “often with raw and inflamed hands because they were continually handling highly radioactive material”

    https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/who/our-history/marie-curie-the-scientist

  9. Subo Wijeyeratne

    For years my favorite name in the entirety of sff has been Somtow Sucharitkul. But I gotta say, Subo Wijeyeratne ranks right up there.

    Notice how both of them have a lovely melodic flow to them? They belong in poetry, in song lyrics, something like that.

    🙂

  10. JJ: There was an Australian fan who, during the Vietnam War, not only wouldn’t go to a con in the US, but wouldn’t send his fanzine to an American. He was consistent.

    These writers and YouTubers who are deciding that U.S. fans should pay the price for their purity need to step up their own sacrifice. How about stopping selling books to U.S. publishers, and participating in social media platforms owned by U.S. corporations?

    Charles Stross famously announced he wasn’t flying to America for the duration of the Trump administration — here — oh, except for coming over for the 2017 Boskone and to see his agent in New York.

  11. Robert Holdstock’s death was a sad loss. I wish I knew where the story started with Avilion would have gone.

    Brian Stableford deserves to be better known. He has a huge output in terms of novels and short fiction and translations, but his star has faded since publication of The Empire of Fear. Young Blood is a personal favourite but there’s a lot I have never even seen.

  12. JJ on July 25, 2020 at 9:03 pm said:
    (4) PURITY OF ESSENCE.

    I am so over the armchair quarterbacking on Twitter by people who have no idea how Site Selection works and think that enabling someone to arbitrarily refuse bids is JUST THE BEST IDEA EVER which could never possibly be used to enforce personal preferences and prejudices.

    I’m also just rolling my eyes at the performative outrage of several people who were yelling a year ago about what a poor option Washington DC was, and are now yelling again about this year’s options instead of getting off their asses during the past 12 months and organizing a Worldcon bid in a location which they feel is more suitable.

    Oh wow, I just checked out the Twitter outrage. Apparently it’s some sort of deliberate ploy by the Worldcon Politburo?

    There is also a lot of absurd hyperbole about the US.

    Regarding the Jeddah bid, it’s fairly obvious that it won’t win, thankfully. Even if I could afford to go to Worldcon, I would never go to Saudi Arabia because of the whole sharia law thing and my marriage probably being illegal.

    Putting forward an acceptable Worldcon bid seems difficult though. There’s a strong desire to have it outside of the US, but European cities are old with small hotels. Chengdu is up next I guess, which is exciting if we try not to think about their government genociding the Uighurs.

  13. Medical update. The antibiotics aren’t working at all on the staph infection so they’re going to draw fluid off the knee this week and culture to see what strain of staphylococcus I’ve got.

    Surgeon wants to avoid a third surgery but that may well be Impossible because of the infection eating away at the hardware implanted by him.

    This all means that my thirty seven days here is likely to be extended by least another thirty days. Than the Mother that I’ve a private room!

  14. Medical update. The antibiotics aren’t working at all on the staph infection so they’re going to draw fluid off the knee this week and culture to see what strain of staphylococcus I’ve got.

    Surgeon wants to avoid a third surgery but that may well be Impossible because of the infection eating away at the hardware implanted by him.

    This all means that my thirty seven days here is likely to be extended by least another thirty days. Thank the Mother that I’ve a private room!

  15. 4) In principle, some kind of fixed rule about human rights in the host country would remove the problem of subjective judgements… but in practice, the question of lip service vs enforcement is a real one. I wouldn’t go to Hungary (or, probably, Poland) right now and they’re both signatories of the ECHR.

    There’s a strong parallel here with convention codes of conduct – grumbling and objections included – except of course that organisers don’t have much influence over their country’s behaviour.

    11) I enjoyed Stableford’s Hooded Swan series – and the Daedalus series, which has a different premise but similar philosophical puzzles – and I see I still have them on my shelves. I should give them another try. I think The Empire of Fear is probably his most successful book, though, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a place to start.

  16. rob_matic: Oh wow, I just checked out the Twitter outrage. Apparently it’s some sort of deliberate ploy by the Worldcon Politburo?

    Yes, the Jeddah bid was created by the Worldcon Politburo to give members the perception that Chicago would be a great place in comparison to Saudi Arabia, so that they would vote complacently for Chicago without recognizing that there are currently human rights concerns with the USA. 🙄

     
    Sophie Jane: In principle, some kind of fixed rule about human rights in the host country would remove the problem of subjective judgements… but in practice, the question of lip service vs enforcement is a real one.

    Yes, and that’s the frustrating bit. People keep insisting that there must be some way to disqualify bids which are eminently outrageous — but after reading a couple of hundred comments on Twitter, I have yet to see even one person propose a workable solution.

    They all want Worldcon to disqualify bids based on “… because I say it’s a bad location.” And if you implement that, then you get Someone In Charge disqualifying a bid because they don’t like French people, or an Irish person pissed them off, or the country’s population is non-white, or they dislike the Chairperson, or, or, or… while coming up with what is ostensibly a defensible public reason for the disqualification. That way lies madness.

  17. Halloween is a state of mind.

    And ‘monsters seen at a distance’ is a perfectly respectable horror theme, too.

  18. Voting for Worldcon sites is not that different from voting for President (or your local equivalent): you rarely get the option you really, really want, so you vote for the Least Bad Option. And if you’re THAT fed up with the choices you’re given, you become politically action and run yourself or at least run your own candidate.

    But the false equivalency of Jeddah’s human rights to Chicago’s human rights frankly boggles this Chicagoan. In Chicago, we don’t have religious police harassing and terrorizing 50% of the population if they fail to meet a rigid dress code or talk with an unrelated man or have the effrontery to drive a car. Women have legal rights.

    Don’t come to the USA because of the plague? Absolutely; I completely understand. Probably wise, until/unless there’s a vaccine. Don’t come to the USA because of Trump? It’s a principled stand, and I can respect that, but that means that there’s an awful lot of countries in the world that you’ll never visit. But comparing Chicago to an authoritarian quasi-theocracy seems… a bit much.

    For the record, Chicago hates Trump. It’s a very blue city in a very blue state. And I profoundly hope that Trump won’t be an issue in 2022…. (I also profoundly hope that COVID-19 won’t be an issue in 2022, for that matter.)

  19. Re 4) (especially since I’ve been in several of these twitter discussions now, with Charlie, Kevin and others)

    From what I have seen and experienced, the WSFS and the Hugo AWards (and subsequently and pertinently Site Selection) are an accumulation of traditions and practices rather than a codification from on high. I’d say that prior to the Puppies, the vulnerability to griefing and the world political scene meant that it worked without issue or problem.No one was really exploiting the system and so it worked.
    (parallels to the Roman Republic and US Politics go here)

    The Puppies were a stress test that the Hugos came through, but not without changing some rules, and the year of No Award.

    The recent acceleration of authoritarian trends in the world has made where Worldcons to be held to now come under greater scrutiny than before. I personally its very worthwhile for people like Charlie and others to ask questions about the process and to think aloud about how, if at all, the process might be improved.

    We can and we are doing better–the recent flush of worldcons being held in places other than the US and UK is a Good Thing, but it IS hard to sustain because of how much money and effort and spoons it takes to run a Worldcon. Worldcon in its form can’t do the Dragoncon or Comiccon thing–it would burn out volunteers in an area and collapse. I used the metaphor of a “royal court” for Worldcon–it HAS to move around, as currently constructed.

    The Black Hole in the solar system, though, is the Pandemic. How Worldcons, how cons of anything other than small size are going to be able to go forward is going to be ultimately more impactful, I think. Will Discon III be able to be held as an ordinary Worldcon? Are fans going to demand more and more of the virtual experience (which is going through a ***kton of growing pains for ConZealand)?

    Change is in the wind and externalities may change the future of Worldcon more than anything Worldcon attendees and supporters actively do. But preparing to turn the “supertanker” of Worldcon are definitely questions to be thinking about, especially this fall with ConZealand in the window.

  20. @ Paul King and Andrew:

    Agree with both you about Brian Stableford. The two Emortality books I read were really good in a “hard SF takes on sociological exposition” style.

  21. Meredith Moment: Martha Wells All Systems Red is on sale for $1.99. And Rogue Protocol for $2.99

  22. @Sophie Jane

    4) In principle, some kind of fixed rule about human rights in the host country would remove the problem of subjective judgements

    Every judgement made by Worldcon is a subjective one. That’s how it works . . .

  23. Medical update. The antibiotics aren’t working at all on the staph infection so they’re going to draw fluid off the knee this week and culture to see what strain of staphylococcus I’ve got.

    Cat, is this a knee replacement? Bone infections are a common hazard. My cousin got one some years after the surgery) and they had to remove the implant and put in a ceramic implant impregnated with antibiotics to get rid of it. Just to let you know that’s available. Thinking of you.

  24. John Saxon died yesterday. He was in Planet Earth, Six Million Dollar Man, Bionic Woman, Enter the Dragon, Nightmare on Elm Street, and tons of other movies and TV shows.

  25. JJ: I agree with you. If you don’t like American bids, then non-American bidders should organize credible bids.

    I consider the Chinese Worldcon bid to be a quasi-governmental bid and voting to support it is a vote to support Chinese repression of the Uighurs, Tibetans, and Hong Kong, not to mention “social credit” and religious persecution.

  26. @Sophie Jane: *In principle, some kind of fixed rule about human rights in the host country would remove the problem of subjective judgements…” Poland and Hungary aren’t the only problems; the problem is that all laws, pacts, etc. are subject to interpretation (cf the discussion — without even cites to specific laws — of e-book use (in the previous Scroll)). False charges of crimes not covered by human-rights pacts are difficult to contest.

    @JJ (re lazy screamers not forming bids): it would be interesting (possibly in the clinical sense) to see what kind of Worldcon such people would come up with; bidding is not easy, but bidding and winning for a novel location is a lot easier than actually running a Worldcon. I would love to know whether the Nice bid considered Cannes (per discussion when the convention-center-teardown story broke that Cannes has taken most of the business) and found it impossible; I’d also like to know why there hasn’t been a bid from Germany in half a century. (I get the impression the German idea of a convention is rather different, but can’t substantiate that.)
    re the belief that the Jeddah bid was created by the Worldcon Politburo: The net-verse is full of people assuming that things happen because they are manipulated; as a long-time militant agnostic I think of this as a religious fallacy, but I suspect it’s linked to something more basic in human brains’ tendency to find patterns. For an amusing mundane example, see the comments on an “unsolved” airplane crash.

    wrt too many Worldcons in succession in the eastern US: I wonder what it would take for SCIFI to step up? The longest interval between LA Worldcons had been 14 years, but now it will be at least 17. (I don’t know about their situation, but I’d be surprised to hear that Anaheim was economically out-of-reach as Boston ~was). One of the issues complainers may not realize is that there’s a whole lot of nothing-much between the Mississippi and the western Rockies (and what cities there are tend to skew conservative); it’s not like the European mainland (which has hosted at most 3 Worldcons), where there are Worldcon-size cities all over the map.

    @Cat Eldridge: ugh. Cheers for a private room, at least.

  27. Lela E Buis asks Cat, is this a knee replacement? Bone infections are a common hazard. My cousin got one some years after the surgery) and they had to remove the implant and put in a ceramic implant impregnated with antibiotics to get rid of it. Just to let you know that’s available. Thinking of you.

    More of a rebuild than a replacement — at least so far. I broke off much of my patella when I blacked out and fell back in May, plus damaged some tendons as well. The surgeon is trying to get the knee to grow back together so I’ve got temporary implants to keep it together as the bone knits.

    That was the plan but that’s not happening due to the severe staphylococcus infection which is eating away at the bone. So I’m wearing an immobiliser all the time and the surgeon is hoping a third surgery isn’t needed but concedes it probably will be. I’m getting an IV twice a day of vancomycin plus an oral antibiotic as well. So far they’ve had little effect.

  28. The absolute worst human rights abuse is waging war. If we went only on human rights abuses, that would mean no Worldcon in any country that was part of waging wars. That would not leave us with many options at all. Absolutely not in my country.

    So if we want a “purity test”, human rights abuses wouldn’t be a workable way. More logical then to go with how we would expect staff and visitors to be treated. And I honestly think that voters in site selection will try to avoid having Worldcon members being abused. At least for now.

  29. The obvious conclusion is that, faced with a dwindling supply of safe host countries, the best long-term strategy would be for Worldcon fans to use their considerable experience in anarchist organising for activism, and work to create a world where borders, nations, and money would no longer be barriers to attendance…

  30. Chip Hitchcock: @OGH: IIRC, Stross considered his Boskone visit a prior obligation.

    No, he said he was going to Boskone because “I unwisely booked non-refundable flights and hotel nights before the election”. He publicly declared he wasn’t going to come to the US during the Trump administration — except his lofty principles didn’t apply to situations where it would cost him any money — his nonrefundable tickets.

  31. (4) The troubling thing I’m seeing, and am currently arguing against on Twitter, is this idea that somehow it’s a good idea to bake xenophobia into the rule for who can submit a bid. That’s got to be the worst “we have to do something, this is something, we’ll do this!” I’ve seen in ages.

    The less worse idea was tying it to some sort of international rights organization, until you realize how prone to vetos those are.

  32. 4) Well, I am NOT happy with three US Worldcons in a row, because with Nice out, Memphis will probably win 2023 by default, cause I can’t see enough people voting for Chengdu.

    However, unlike some people I don’t believe that there should be no US Worldcons at all, because American fans deserve to attend a Worldcon in their own country as much as everybody else, especially since there are Americans who cannot travel abroad either for various reasons.

    That said, the US is a problematic destination for many people. It’s not even the host cities, which I’m sure are all lovely places full of lovely people. But if you travel to the US from abroad, you have to go through US immigration, which is infamously awful and seems to assume that everybody is either an illegal immigrant or a potential terrorist. I guess Americans really have no idea how awful their immigration officers are. And US visa and border control regulations have only gotten worse first since Seotember 11, 2001, did not get better under Obama, because he had other problems to deal with, and got worse again under Trump. Will things improve, once Trump is out of office? Maybe, but I’m not holding my breath.

    I’m also not travelling to the US at the moment, which means that I very likely won’t be able to attend the 2021 – 2023 Worldcons. I’m self-employed, single and childless, i.e. considered risky as a potential illegal immigrant. And because I make some taxable income from writing SFF, Worldcon is at least partly a business trip for me, so I’ll probably need a business visa. And if that gets refused, I’m in the same situation as Cheryl Morgan, so no thank you. And I’m a white woman from a visa waiver country. Someone from Africa or the Middle East or Asia would fare much worse.

    As for why there are not more German and European bids, German fandom is balkanised which all groups having their own cons. And while we have plenty of suitable facilities (even Oldenburg could potentially host a Worldcon, but don’t worry, we’re not foisting that on you), only a handful of cities also have an airport with overseas connections and one of those has a racism/Neo-Nazi problem, which we wouldn’t inflict on international fans either. And while there is talk about a potential German Worldcon bid among younger fans, the German SMOFs don’t want to do it. Furthermore, no one knows anybody involved with the Heidelberg bid and how that ever came to pass.

    Also, a lot of potential European bidders are also put off by the reactions mainly from US fans (some of whom weren’t even there) to recent European Worldcons, e.g. complaints that convention centres are at the edge of town, that apparently it’s a terrible burden to have to use public transport (for free), that it’s an even more terrible burden that there is only one hotel next to the convention centre rather than five, that a convention centre built by a Pritzker Prize winning architect was not good enough for some people due to some architectural peculiarities. The impression we get over here very much is, “It’s perfectly okay to host a Worldcon in places like Spokane or Kansas City, which overseas visitors cannot even get to without serious problems, but our capital cities with great public transport and brand new convention centres are not good enough for American fans.” So groups who might possibly bid just don’t want to bother with the hassle. That’s what a German SMOF actually told me, “We might bid for a Eurocon someday, but we’re not bidding for a Worldcon, because we don’t need the hassle.”

    That said, those complaints about the Jeddah bid (most of whom came from Americans and Canadians, though Stross is Scottish, of course) are ridiculous, because a) it’s been known for several months now that Jeddah was bidding, b) it doesn’t have a chance anyway and c) WSFS cannot reject a bid out of hand, they trust the fans to do that. And yes, there is an element of xenophobia in the opposition to the Jeddah bid, because while Jeddah is absolutely unsuitable, I don’t think we can blame the Saudi fans for living in a country with a bad human rights record anymore than we can blame US fans for Trump or UK fans for Brexit.

    My favourite, by the way, was the person who wanted to introduce all sorts of rules about banning all-white panels, etc… and would like to be Worldcon more like Nine Worlds. I had to bite my tongue not to point out that Nine Worlds failed.

  33. @Mike: I didn’t read Charlie’s statement as one of principle – he just considered the US to have become significantly less safe for him to go to, and so while he was willing to roll the dice on a trip he’d already booked, he wasn’t going to plan on any subsequent trips (I see this as different than a (hypothetical) statement that he was mad at the US because of its behavior and was therefore boycotting the States).

  34. In general, I think it’s kinda bullshit to blame fans in a country for the politics of the nation. It’s especially bullshit to tell them they shouldn’t bid to host a convention just because of it. If you don’t want the con to go there, vote in site selection. If you don’t like the options, start your own bid. If it’s seated somewhere you don’t like or (more importantly) don’t feel safe, and you don’t want to go there yourself… don’t become a member.

    It’s not complicated.

  35. @bill: John Saxon died yesterday.
    Sorry to hear that. Saxon starred in two memorable Outer Limits episodes, “Second Chance” and “The Invisibles”. The latter is a masterpiece of paranoia and SF/horror.

  36. Cora pretty much nailed it.
    Let me just add that the pandemic is far from over and who knows who if anyone can travel to the US -or anywhere- in the future

    (For me it would be convinient if World Con could just be done in my living room. Would require some changes to the programm though)

  37. Brian Stableford deserves to be better known. He has a huge output in terms of novels and short fiction and translations, but his star has faded since publication of The Empire of Fear.

    It was my impression that it was the Emortality series specifically that tanked his career as a midlist author.

  38. Mike: “There was an Australian fan who, during the Vietnam War, not only wouldn’t go to a con in the US, but wouldn’t send his fanzine to an American. He was consistent.”

    Since Australia had a significant involvement in the Vietnam War, did he also refuse to provide his fanzine to himself?

  39. @ James Davis Nicholl

    It was my impression that it was the Emortality series specifically that tanked his career as a midlist author.

    That’s a real shame. It feels a little weird, being a fan of a book that damages an author’s career. At Balticon, I gave GRRM a copy of Armageddon Rag to sign without any idea that the book dealt a blow to his career. The reaction was not favorable.

  40. @Rob: I think Armageddon Rag was the first GRRM novel I read (I’d read his short works in Asimov’s before that) – and I loved it, so I’m also sad that it had a bad effect on his career.

  41. Chris Rose: In general, I think it’s kinda bullshit to blame fans in a country for the politics of the nation….

    While I think it’s an exhibition of privileged arrogance to pretend that the fate of the Worldcon could be the means of punishing the US for electing an atrocious and dangerous President, it’s not bullshit for people to be outraged over attempts to host the Worldcon anyplace that the fans actually attending it could wind up in jail for expressing political ideas we are free to utter in our home countries or participating in romantic relationships that violate enforced local laws in the proposed host countries.

  42. @James Davis Nicoll

    I know that the emortality series didn’t get a UK publication (from having to buy US imports). The preceding Genesys series doesn’t seem to have done that well over here, which may be the reason.

  43. it’s not bullshit for people to be outraged over attempts to host the Worldcon anyplace that the fans actually attending it could wind up in jail for expressing political ideas we are free to utter in our home countries

    Mike, I respectfully disagree with this. I don’t feel I should be able to say anything I want anywhere I want just because I can say it at home. I feel that part of traveling around the world to different countries is learning about different cultures, norms and having those experiences. I was shushed in a pub by other fans in Belfast at Titancon last year for making a sci-fi joke that was close to a very challenging local saying. They explained why and I was like WHOOPS and appreciated the heads up.

    On the second half of your statement: I watched the 2022 Bids Question Time session, and my understanding from what Jeddicon was saying is that the public decency laws discourage nearly every form of public display of affection. How I’ve described it to people since is that I could be walking down a street in Jeddah with my husband on one side and a female friend on the other, and if I turned to kiss one of them, it wouldn’t really matter which one, the kiss itself would not be appreciated. I may be incorrect in that interpretation, but certainly Jeddicon was able to be reached for any questions people may have had after that session.

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