Pixel Scroll 7/9/19 With Mullets Towards None

(1) THOUGHTS ON A PROPOSED HUGO CATEGORY. Neil Clarke explains why he opposes “Hugo Proposal for Best Translated Novel”

…The biggest problem I have with this proposal is the message it sends not only to domestic readers, but foreign authors, editors, and publishers: translated works are not as good as ours, so we’re making a special category for you so you can get awards too. I don’t believe that’s the intention of those who drafted this proposal. I think they approached it with the best of intentions, but simply got it wrong. For years now, I have been making the case that we should be treating translated and international works as equals: stories worthy of standing alongside those we have routinely seen published. This proposal sends the opposite message, and on those grounds intend to vote no.

Translated works are capable of winning the Hugo without any special treatment. As they point out in their own commentary, three translated works have won since 2015, despite the relatively low number of translations published among a wide sea of domestic releases….

(2) ‘TOPIARY. Juliette Wade’s Dive Into Worldbuilding encounters winner of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and Nebula nominee “Sam J. Miller and Blackfish City”. Read the synopsis at the link, and/or watch the video:

…There are some utopian elements in the story as well as dystopian ones. A lot of energy problems can be solved. The city uses methane generators to produce light. They also don’t need militarized police. Sam remarked how any place can have both utopian and dystopian elements depending on who you are. To the people who live in the Capital, the Hunger Games world is a utopia.

I asked if this book was strictly speaking science fiction or whether it had fantastical elements. He explained that it is a science fiction story, but that he uses nanites to do things that might seem magical. The nanites allow some humans to bond with animals. That bond could seem fantastical but it has technological underpinnings.

There are people called orcamancers. Sam explained that the origins of the orcamancers are  with illegal pharmaceutical testing that happened in the period between the present and the time period of the novel. Rival drugs were tested on people at different times. This accidentally led to a form of bonding with animals that Sam compared to the daemons in The Golden Compass. He explained that cultural practices regulate why you would bond with particular animals….

(3) CICERO – NOT ILLINOIS. Ada Palmer dives into “Stoicism’s Appeal to the Rich and Powerful” at Ex Urbe

I was recently interviewed for a piece in the Times on why the philosophy of stoicism has become very popular in the Silicon Valley tech crowd. Only a sliver of my thoughts made it into the article, but the question from Nellie Bowles was very stimulating so I wanted to share more of my thoughts.

To begin with, like any ancient philosophy, stoicism has a physics and metaphysics–how it thinks the universe works–and separately an ethics–how it advises one to live, and judge good and bad action. The ethics is based on the physics and metaphysics, but can be divorced from it, and the ethics has long been far more popular than the metaphysics.  This is a big part of why stoic texts surviving from antiquity focus on the ethics; people transcribing manuscripts cared more about these than about the others.  And this is why thinkers from Cicero to Petrarch to today have celebrated stoicism’s moral and ethical advice while following utterly different cosmologies and metaphysicses.  (For serious engagement with stoic ontology & metaphysics you want Spinoza.)  The current fad for stoicism, like all past fads for stoicism (except Spinoza) focuses on the ethics.

(4) DRAGON TRAINER NOW LAUREATE. “How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell named new children’s laureate”The Guardian has the story.

Cressida Cowell has become the new UK Children’s Laureate.

The author of How To Train Your Dragon, and the Wizards of Once will take over from previous laureate, Lauren Childs..

She said: “Books and reading are magic, and this magic must be available to absolutely everyone. I’m honoured to be chosen to be the eleventh Waterstones Children’s Laureate. I will be a laureate who fights for books and children’s interests with passion, conviction and action. Practical magic, empathy and creative intelligence, is the plan.”

Cressida has also revealed a ‘giant to-do list’ to help make sure that books and reading are available to everyone. It says that every child has the right to:

  1. Read for the joy of it.
  2. Access NEW books in schools, libraries and bookshops.
  3. Have advice from a trained librarian or bookseller.
  4. Own their OWN book.
  5. See themselves reflected in a book.
  6. Be read aloud to.
  7. Have some choice in what they read.
  8. Be creative for at least 15 minutes a week.
  9. See an author event at least ONCE.
  10. Have a planet to read on.

(5) GEEKY GETAWAYS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] For your vacationing pleasure, SYFY Wire has lists and descriptions of 10 hotels “Geek Road Trip: 10 nerdy hotels that’ll turn vacation into a fandom pilgrimage” and 6 Airbnbs “Geek Road Trip: 6 extra-nerdy Airbnb to book for your next vacation” with fan welcoming accommodations. The latter include a Harry Potter themed apartment in Atlanta GA, an ’80s throwback gaming room in Lisbon, Portugal (& other themed rooms in the same building), a Marvel-ous studio apartment in Manila Philippines, a Star Wars suite in Melbourne Australia, a riverside Hobbit hole in Orondo, WA and Pixar paradise (with differently-themed rooms) in Anaheim CA.

(6) NAMELESS DREAD. The series doesn’t have a title yet, but it does have characters: “George RR Martin Says ‘Game of Thrones’ Prequel Includes the Starks, Direwolves and White Walkers”.

HBO’s untitled Naomi Watts-led “Game of Thrones” prequel pilot may not have Targaryens and dragons — but it does have Starks, direwolves and, of course, White Walkers.

“The Starks will definitely be there,” George R.R. Martin, co-creator and executive producer on the project alongside showrunner Jane Goldman, told Entertainment Weekly in an interview published Tuesday.

“Obviously the White Walkers are here — or as they’re called in my books, The Others — and that will be an aspect of it,” the “A Song of Ice and Fire” author said, adding: “There are things like direwolves and mammoths.”

The appearance of the Starks, descendants of the First Men, shouldn’t be a shock to fans who remember the prequel — which is reportedly currently filming in North Ireland — takes place roughly 5,000 years before the events of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

(7) THE REEL DEAL. Yahoo! Finance expects big bucks to change hands: “‘Lost’ tapes of first moonwalk to be sold; former NASA intern may make millions”.

A former intern at NASA may become a millionaire when he sells three metal reels that contain original videotape recordings of man’s first steps on the moon.  

The videotapes will be offered in a live auction on July 20th at Sotheby’s New York, but interested parties are able to place bids now at Sothebys.com. The sale coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. The price could reach $2 million.

According to the auction site, Gary George was awarded a cooperative work internship at the NASA Johnson Space Center in June 1973. Three years later, he bought more than 1,100 reels at a government surplus auction for $218, Reuters reported.

(8) GAIMAN’S STUDY. Variety’s photo essay takes you “Inside Neil Gaiman’s Rural Writing Retreat”. (Hey, we have the same interior decorator!)

Although Gaiman has won multiple Hugo Awards, he only keeps one in his office; the others are in his house in Wisconsin. The one he earned in 2016 for “The Sandman: Overture” receives extra special placement not only because of his long history with the franchise (“It had a ‘you can go home again’ quality to it,” he says) but also because “there is something magical in knowing I was awarded it for a graphic novel. I remember I was there, not too long ago, fighting for whether comics could get awards and things like that. But people loved it; it got its audience; it got awards; people cared.”

(9) NATIVE TONGUE TRILOGY EVENT. On Thursday, July 18, there will be a panel discussion on feminist sci-fi with Rebecca Romney, Jennifer Marie Brissett, Bethany C. Morrow, and moderated by Eliza Cushman Rose focusing on “The Legacy of Suzette Haden Elgin’s Native Tongue Trilogy”. This event is hosted by The Feminist Press and will be held at Books are Magic, 225 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 9, 1911 Mervyn Peake. Ok I’ll admit I’ve not read the Gormenghast novels, nor have I seen the various video adaptations. Please tell me what I’ve been missing. (Died 1968.)
  • Born July 9, 1944 Glen Cook, 75. With the exception of the new novel which I need to read, I’ve read his entire excellent Black Company series. I’ve also his far lighter Garrett P.I. Which unfortunately he’s abandoned. And I should read the Instrumentalities of the Night as I’ve heard good things about it.
  • Born July 9, 1945 Dean Koontz, 74. The genres of of mystery. horror, fantasy and science fiction are all home to him. Author of over a hundred novels, his first novel was SF — it being Star Quest (not in print) published as an Ace Double with Doom of the Green Planet by Emil Petaja. ISFDB claims over half of his output is genre, I’d say that a low estimate. 
  • Born July 9, 1954 Ellen Klages, 65. Her novelette “Basement Magic” won a Nebula Award for Best Novelette. I strongly recommend Portable Childhoods, a collection of her short fiction, which published by Tachyon Publications, my boutique favorite publisher of fantasy. Passing Strange, her 1940 set San Francisco novel is really great.
  • Born July 9, 1970 Ekaterina Sedia, 49. Her Heart of Iron novel is simply awesome. I’d also recommend The Secret History of Moscow as well. It’s worth noting that both iBooks and Kindle list several collections by her, Willful Impropriety: 13 Tales of Society, Scandal, and Romance and Wilful Impropriety that ISFDB doesn’t list. I’m off to buy them now. 
  • Born July 9, 1978 Linda Park, 41. Best known for her portrayal of communications officer character Hoshi Sato on the Enterprise. Her first genre role was Hannah in Jurassic Park III, she was Renee Hansen in Spectres which Marina Sirtis is also in. She was in some called Star Trek: Captain Pike three years back as Captain Grace Shintal. 

(11) DISTURBING TREND? Yesterday, “Jar Jar Binks spent the day trending on Twitter, baffling Star Wars fans” says SYFY Wire.

Earlier this morning, Jar Jar Binks was inexplicably one of the trending topics on Twitter. No one seemed to understand why, although there have been some theories. The Tampa Bay Times looked into the matter, which traced it back to a meme that predicts your Star Wars fate. While the image had been making the rounds online, it was shared by Mark Hamill earlier this morning, giving it some serious traction. 

(12) VINTAGE 2018 FINNCON. Karl-Johan Norén’s report on his 2018 Nordic Fan Fund trip to Finncon 2018 is up on eFanzines in both epub (preferred) and PDF formats.

…Meanwhile, Hulda and Therese participated in the Klingon language workshop, where they learnt some helpful Klingon phrases and Hulda impressed by showing a basic knowledge of the IPA symbols. Later on, when Hulda accidentally tickled Therese, Therese gave off a very Klingon-like sound, leading Hulda to ask if Klingons are ticklish. That gave rise to a very spirited discussion, including if Klingons would admit that they could possibly be ticklish, and if empirical research was advised…

(13) BUSTED. The Daily Beast reports on Streamliner Lines’ inaugural run through western Nevada: “Redditors Say This Is a Nazi Bus. The Owner Says It’s a Misunderstanding.”

It bans “social justice warriors” and drives across Nevada with a logo that looks suspiciously like a Nazi flag. It’s Reno’s new bus line and the owner says the racist reputation is all just a misunderstanding.

On Friday, Streamliner Lines launched its maiden bus run from Reno to Las Vegas. Streamliner president John Wang told The Daily Beast it ran a little behind schedule (traffic), and sold few tickets (the Nazi reputation). Still, the trip was the first victory for Streamliner, which previously failed inspection on its only bus and has spent the past month embroiled in spats with Redditors over the company’s logo and its ban on some left-wing passengers.

(14) BLADE RUNNER. Titan Comics advertises Blade Runner 2019 as “the first comic to tell new stories set in the Blade Runner universe!”

(15) KORNBLUTH TRIBUTE. Andrew Porter passed along a scanned clipping of Cyril Kornbluth’s obituary in a 1958 New York Times.

(16) UMM, YUM? Gastro Obscura calls her ‘Annabel Lecter’ because “These Made-to-Order Cakes Look Like Beautiful Nightmares”.

English pastry chef Annabel de Vetten crafts what may be the world’s most fantastically morbid confections. Her Birmingham studio and cooking space, the Conjurer’s Kitchen, is filled with feasts of macabre eye candy rendered with ghoulish precision.

Here is a plate heaped with thumb-sized maggots and grubs. There a bloodied human heart lies in a pool of green, molar-strewn slime. A stainless-steel coroner’s table hosts the disemboweled upper-torso of a corpse. It’s flanked by a four-foot statue of a saint, his face melting away to bone. On the counter, the neck of a deer’s partially fleshless head sinks its roots into a bisected flowerpot; a sapling bursts from its skull like a unicorn horn.

(17) THE ART OF FILLING OUT THE HUGO BALLOT. Steve J. Wright moves on to review “Hugo Category: Best Art Book”.

…Taking a look at this year’s offerings – well, the Hugo voters’ packet contains partial content (the images, really) from three of the six, and the full text and images from a fourth, which last was something I really didn’t expect.  I bought one of the remaining two myself… but the last one, Julie Dillon’s Daydreamer’s Journey, is a self-published job funded by a Kickstarter project and put together using indie tools, and the ultimate result was, I figured I could just about afford the book, but then I looked at the cost of overseas shipping, and my wallet instinctively snapped shut.  Pity, really.  Julie Dillon is a familiar name from recent Pro Artist final lists, and a book of her artwork (with accompanying descriptions of her creative process for each piece) would be a very nice thing to have.  The Kickstarter makes it look very enticing indeed….

(18) THEY CAME FROM SPACE. NPR finds that “Moon Rocks Still Awe, And Scientists Hope To Get Their Hands On More”

Darby Dyar says that as a kid, whenever Apollo astronauts returned from the moon, she and her classmates would get ushered into the school library to watch it on TV.

She remembers seeing the space capsules bobbing in the ocean as the astronauts emerged. “They climbed out and then they very carefully took the lunar samples and put them in the little rubber boat,” Dyar says, recalling that the storage box looked like an ice chest.

Nearly a half-ton of moon rocks were collected by the six Apollo missions to the lunar surface. And as the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 first landing mission approaches, NASA has decided to open up a still-sealed, never-studied moon rock sample that has been carefully saved for decades, waiting for technology to advance.

(19) I PRAY FOR ONE FIRST LANDING. Even if it’s not one of Glyer’s Chinese ‘bots I’m sure you’ll cheer when “AI pilot ‘sees’ runway and lands automatically”.

An automatic pilot has landed a plane using image-recognition artificial intelligence to locate the runway.

At large airports, systems on the ground beam up the position of the runway to guide automatic systems.

But in late May a new AI tool landed a small plane carrying passengers, by “sight” alone at Austria’s Diamond Aircraft airfield.

One expert said it could potentially improve flight safety.

The new system, developed by researchers at the technical universities of Braunschweig and Munich, processes visual data of the runway and then adjusts the plane’s flight controls, without human assistance.

Because it can detect both infrared light as well as the normal visible spectrum, it can handle weather conditions such as fog that might make it difficult for the human pilot to make out the landing strip.

Another advantage of the technology is it does not rely on the radio signals provided by the existing Instrument Landing System (ILS). Smaller airports often cannot justify the cost of this equipment and it can suffer from interference.

(20) LE GUIN ON PBS.  THIRTEEN’s American Masters presents the U.S. broadcast premiere of the “Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin” documentary on August 2.

Produced with Le Guin’s participation over the course of a decade, American Masters – Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin tells the intimate coming-of-age story of the Portland, Oregon, housewife and mother of three who forever transformed American literature by bringing science fiction into the literary mainstream. Through her influential work, Le Guin opened doors for generations of younger writers like Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon and David Mitchell — all of whom appear in the film — to explore fantastic elements in their writing.

The film explores the personal and professional life of the notoriously private author through revealing conversations with Le Guin as well as her family, friends and the generations of renowned writers she influenced. Visually rich, Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin illustrates the dramatic real-world settings that shaped Le Guin’s invented places using lush original animations over her own readings of her work to provide a firsthand experience of her fantastic worlds.

(21) TOUGH TIME AT NASFiC. Artist Newton Ewell had a terrible experience at SpikeCon and wrote about it on Facebook. Friends of his told me he’s okay with sharing it on File 770. (I’m adding this at the last minute, in preference to waiting for tomorrow’s Scroll.)

Have you ever been invited to a convention, only to be treated like you don’t belong there? I have.

Thursday was really hard on me. I felt very unwelcome at Spikecon, and have realized that driving an hour one-way, being shoved off into an unlit corner and having to confront people who hate me just really isn’t my thing.

Frankly, I’m afraid to come back to the convention. Libertarian Loudmouth Guy came by the table yesterday evening to drone on at me like a broken record about the same crap (his skewed politics) as usual. Being buttonholed by wackos who see my skin color and use it as a pretext to spew hateful talk at me does not make a good convention experience. Racist DrawGirl’s grudge against me was on full display. I’m not there to compete with anyone, nor am I there to be hated on by weirdos with strange fetishy grudges. Right-Wing Space Guy still can’t grasp that I don’t want to talk to him either, because of the Trump fanaticism displayed toward me.

I have friends there, but I was isolated from them, making the whole experience into an ordeal for me. I wanted to bring my large pieces, but something said, “don’t”. I’m glad I listened to that inner voice, because if I’d brought them, they’d have been ruined by the rain. I was supposed to have an electrical outlet for my drawing light, but all the outlets were taken up by the USS Dildo-prise people.

I don’t have money to afford driving back out there, let alone commuting back-and-forth, food etc. Being placed into a hostile working environment is too much pain for too little reward.

I realized that being presented with a symbol of racial oppression and corporate greed (a plastic golden spike) really hurt. All I feel from that is the pain and death dealt out to the people who worked so hard to join the two railroads, and it makes me sad. I’m hurt that my art is on all the con badges, but once I get there I’m made into a problem, a bothersome individual who’s not worth having the space I contracted for….

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

74 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/9/19 With Mullets Towards None

  1. Re: (1), I mean I definitely get where Clarke is coming from – it reminds me of the Oscars’ “Best Foreign Film” category seeming to serve as a way for possible Best Film nominees to get a consolation award instead of the consideration they so deserve. And we already have now secondary awards on the Hugo Ballot that do this – for example, the Lodestar Award may not technically be a Hugo, but essentially does the same thing to YA as a Best Translated Novel as suggesting those works are only worthy of an alternate award and not the main one. Indeed, over the first two year’s of that award’s existence, two of my nominees for Best Novel have only managed Lodestar nominees (In Other Lands in 2018, Tess of the Road in 2019).

    On the other hand, having the extra award allows for books that might otherwise struggle to gain attention to get extra such attention, and the extra recognition could help promote more of these works being translated and pushed more prominently. Yes a few translated works have won the mainline Hugo Awards, but how many have slipped through the cracks without promotion? Hell, The Three Body Problem may not have won – and likely wouldn’t – without the Puppy debacle.

    Could see this going either way here.

  2. (10) I loved “Titus Groan” and “Gormenghast” – weird and wonderful.

    (15) Nice to see an SF author get a respectful obituary in the NYT (in the 1950s). I recall from Asimov’s autobiography that Cyril’s death inspired Asimov to write a story about a man reading his own obituary (using time travel).

  3. (21) TOUGH TIME AT NASFiC.

    They… they stuck one of their Guest Artists in a dim corner of the Dealer’s Room and didn’t even give him an electrical outlet? They did this to the person who they had invited as an honored guest, who had provided them with the free art for their badges?

    Their “Guest Liaison” couldn’t be bothered to come and find him and give him a warm welcome and make sure that he was well taken care of? AND got snotty on the phone with his partner?

    I’m just… horrified that he was treated this way. I’m so, so sorry. And there’s really nothing which can be done which will ever make up for him having such a horrible experience, no apology which can ever make this right. 🙁

  4. #21) If only someone had warned them that making the convention themed around the transcontinental railroad, built on the blood and bones of exploited and murdered immigrants and the very physical manifestation of the inherently white supremacist concept of Manifest Destiny, might alienate a significant number of their potential guests and attendees, using almost literally those exact words, the very day the convention theme was announced.

    If only! If only someone had been smart (and tall and handsome) enough to do that! On the record! On literally that first day!

  5. #21, cont) Also it may be worth pointing out, contextually, that Newton isn’t white and most of the guest slate, and the convention demographic at large, was extremely white . Even if you want to give management the benefit of the doubt vis-a-vis being racist (which, considering the fact that they ignored the handsome (and strong and kind (and single, ladies)) stranger’s warning about their white supremacist theme, I do not), it’s terrible, terrible optics to shove your PoC Guest Artist into a forgotten corner and let him fend for himself, and to allow him to be driven off by racist jackholes.

  6. 21) Poor guy. 🙁 I looked at SpikeCon and tried to understand it. Four cons run by the same people at one place with different GoH:s? I note that Ewell is one of the only two guests not having a link in Fancyclooedia which feels like another slight.

    As a general thing when organizing events, I think it is a smart thing to just have a friendly person walking around and asking how people are doing and if they need help with something. Just having a person that listens and is interested in your welfare helps a lot. Even more if they actually can help. Oh, and do take notes on what to do and follow up. To easy to forget when something else comes up.

    Having hostile people coming to you at a place where you expect the opposite treatment can destroy any experience. For me, it makes me judge everything around me in a harsher light. With my mood destroyed, I’m not as inclined to ignore or miss small things. I do think someone should contact him and have a long talk about his experience. And not do it from a defensive position and not just to give a formal answer in a formal way. If a statement is made, please be sure to contact him before to talk it through.

    And hell. A Con is a place to be friendly towards each other. For feeling companionship in what you have in common. Not to rehash your largest differences.

  7. (16) I couldn’t actually eat one of those cakes. How could you ruin such a work of art by cutting into it with a knife? I would have to buy one and stick it on the shelf (at least until it melted, or the ants found it).

  8. Mike VanHelder, thank you for again mentioning the symbolism of the spike (just as Ewell did). It is easy for me as a foreigner to miss the cultural significance of some symbols.

  9. Hampus Eckerman: I note that Ewell is one of the only two guests not having a link in Fancyclooedia which feels like another slight.

    Hampus, the red “links” on that page are pages which don’t exist. The con chair doesn’t even have their own page… which is probably a blessing for them, at this point.

  10. Giving a Transcontinental Railroad spike to someone that isn’t white is like giving an Oliver Cromwell medal as a gift to an Irish Catholic, to put it in across-the-pond terms. It’s not really the kind of thing you do to an honored guest.

  11. 21) Oof, poor dude. Hostile booth barnacles are bad enough when you’ve got a full support staff with you. And placement sounds awful, I’ve been shoved in corners as an afterthought at cons once or twice, and it’s generally a really bad omen of things to come.

  12. Bonnie McDaniel:

    “I couldn’t actually eat one of those cakes. How could you ruin such a work of art by cutting into it with a knife?”

    I have a friend that makes cakes like that, she’s been on competitions on TV with them. The two times we ordered cakes from her, we had the top ornaments lifted off before eating. Because as you said, we really couldn’t stand ruining them.

  13. Apropos of nothing to do with today’s particular scroll: I have finally read The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells, which is to say, the first of the Raksura novels, and purely on this community’s recommendation. Immediately upon reading the last page I checked out the ebook of The Serpent Sea from my library.

    I’m blaming y’all for my lack of productivity today, is what I’m saying.

  14. The racism Chinese railroad workers were subjected to did not prevent contemporary Chinese and Chinese-Americans from celebrating the Chinese contribution to the engineering feat represented by the driving of the Golden Spike.

    China’s ambassador to the United States said this in May: Video Message by Ambassador Cui Tiankai at the Golden Spike Sesquicentennial Ceremony and Festival:

    It’s a great honor for me to address this distinguished audience. First of all, please allow me to extend my warmest congratulations on the Golden Spike 150 Festival.
    Over 150 years ago, thousands of Chinese workers overcame incredible difficulties and endured inconceivable sacrifices to make an indelible contribution to the Transcontinental Railroad. This is a project of wonder of the world that linked America together from sea to shining sea and laid the foundation for the American economic boom.
    This is also a telling example of how the Chinese and American people can come together to get things done, and make the impossible possible. This is particularly true today. A strong bond between China and the US can deliver real benefits to our two countries and to the world community.

    One of China’s English language news sites also noted in its article Spotlight: U.S. commemorates Chinese workers’ contribution to first transcontinental railroad:

    Addressing the ceremony, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said the transcontinental railroad was a tremendous feat of engineering, innovation and manpower that was key to the economic development of the United States.
    “Today, we pay special tribute to the diverse workforce – especially 12,000 or more Chinese laborers – that built this seminal infrastructure project that transformed America,” she said.
    “As the first U.S. Secretary of Transportation of Chinese ancestry, I have the unique and moving opportunity to fully acknowledge and recognize the contributions and sacrifices of these laborers during the construction of transcontinental railroad,” Chao said.

    Google shows quite a number of individuals doing things that balance both facts, here’s just one example — Golden Spike 150: Honoring the forgotten Chinese workers lost in history

    Ninety percent of Central Pacific laborers were Chinese, yet very little records were kept about who they were or what their stories were. Anywhere from 12,000 to more than 20,000 Chinese workers remain nameless to this day. They are forgotten in time.
    Lin wanted to honor those workers, so he turned to what he knows best: art. His work to honor those men helped lead him to contribute to Utah’s massive Golden Spike 150 anniversary celebration and his paintings of the places the line went through offer a unique perspective also lost over time.

    And news reports indicate the anniversary was structured inclusively — Thousands gather to reclaim Chinese railroad workers’ place in history:

    Friday’s anniversary ceremony strove for inclusiveness, billed by organizers as an effort to tell the “whole story” of the railroad that transformed America and those who made that happen.
    “This anniversary is also important because we’re finally giving those who did the bulk of the heavy labor their proper recognition,” Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert told the audience.
    The event recognized, among others, the Chinese and the Irish — the two main immigrant groups who constructed the line. Both faced prejudice and discrimination during the railroad’s construction and after its completion.
    It also featured a Native American prayer and blessing. Native Americans and their way of life suffered as tracks cut through their traditional hunting ground, contributing to the loss of the bison they depended on.

    The fact that people from these racial and ethnic backgrounds wanted to be included in the Golden Spike anniversary, while fully aware of the downside of that history, has informed my own response — which wasn’t to pillory the name Spikecon.

  15. The key point there, Mike, is that these events and celebrations were primarily by Chinese, for Chinese, trying to reclaim something from a historical atrocity. SpikeCon was emphatically not that, and in fact convention management actively resisted the opportunity to make it even a little bit that.

    If, for example, the concom had strong Chinese-American representation, if they had brought in a Chinese-American GoH that speaks about social justice issues, if they had a programming track addressing the fact that the bones of my ancestors were ground into gold for the Carnegies and Rockefellers and Goulds of this world, if they donated proceeds from the dealer’s room to a Native American land-use and water rights charity, then sure, maybe. But building the transcontinental railroad into the symbology of an SF convention without doing the work necessary to contextualize what that means, then giving out plastic railroad spikes as gifts to their PoC guests, then trying to say it was to celebrate anything about me, is just pissing on my leg and telling me that it’s raining.

  16. With respect, Mike, and I do really respect the work that you do… what you’re saying is an awful lot like “well, black people are allowed to use the N-word in their music, so how come I can’t yell it at someone in the middle of Cracker Barrel”?

    I’ll allow that the situation might be a bit more nuanced than that — but honestly, not a whole lot more.

  17. (15) I really wasn’t aware of the magnitude of the loss of Kornbluth until I got my copy of Ballantine’s 1977 Best of, featuring volume and story introductions by Pohl. But I did read one of his great short stories much earlier: “Gomez” (included in the Boucher-edited two-volume Treasury of 1959, best known through its SF Book Club edition).

  18. 10) Way back when I first read Peake’s Gormenghast, it totally sucked me into its strange world. Finishing the book was like waking up from a vivid dream. But, in all fairness, getting into it at first was like climbing a steep hill. The world of Gormenghast had enough familiar elements to feel mimetic, but off-balance and abnormal enough that it was simultaneously vertiginous. (If Dickens had been an opium addict and written down his dreams, he might have produced something like Gormenghast.) It took some mental adjustment, and some persistence, to get to that point where I was totally absorbed into the experience.

  19. @Mike VanHelder: While I appreciate what you are trying to do (and understand the reference, the transposition works really well), it’s really only something that I expects rings true for Irish and (hopefully) British, the rest of “us overseas” probably have completely different references for equally appalling behaviour.

  20. 1) This is one of those I am very much in two minds about. I mean, I grew up reading translated SF (I didn’t start reading originally-English SF in English until I was, what, 14? 15?, somewhen about that age), so I totally agree that translated SF is a good thing, that should be awarded, somehow.

    But, I wonder, what’s the intended body of works here? I can totally see (and am totally approving of) a Hugo for “works translated to a language that isn’t English”, but we already have a Hugo for “works translated to English”, and people are nominating translated works for it.

    Which, for someone who totally thought the Lodestone was a good and necessary thing may sound a bit “eat cake and save cake”, but I think there’s a sufficient difference between the “markets” of adult fantastika[*] and YA fantasika that separate awards are worth the hassle of extra awards. And I don’t think there’s enough of a difference between the markets for “translated to English” and “English original” to require a separate award.

    I do think there’s enough difference between “fantastika in English” and (the myriad) “fantasika not in English” that there’s probably space for multiple awards in the latter category, maybe organised by larger language families (I’d have to bow to someone with more linguistics than I have to figure out what suitable broad language groupings would be).

    [*] By “fantastika” I mean “SF, in all its forms”, “Fantasy, in all its forms” and (probably) “horror”.

  21. (3) I have seen some of this enthusiasm for stoicism among the techbros in their admiration of Jordan Peterson’s paddling in the kids pool of philosophy.

    (4) I admire Laureate Cowell’s view that everyone has a right to a planet to read books on, but in the absence of FTL, I think we will have to settle for a rock or moon each. Dibs on Sycorax.

    (11) I am secretly in love with Jabba the Hutt.

  22. @Bonnie McDaniel: Thoughts of preserving cakes always make me think of Miss Havisham from Great Expectations.

    @21: I’m at a loss for words.

  23. 3) Stoicism shows up a lot of places because it works, if you can practice it. It’s good self-help and bad social philosophy. All things in moderation, right?

  24. Rob Thornton on July 9, 2019 at 6:37 pm said:

    11) Kissed by the Emperor?!?!

    I was also kissed by the Emperor! Man, who knew he had a thing for guys named Rob?

  25. re: (1), I Can’t connect to Clarke’s essay for some reason, but based on the excerpt here, perhaps there should be a category for best translation or best translator. Translated novels would still compete in the best novel category, but the new category would recognize the unique skills of the translator rather than the quality of the novel per se. I suppose the difficulty would be that unless one can read both the translation and the original, one can’t judge the accuracy of the translation. On the other hand, a monolingual English reader can still assess whether the translation works as literature in English

    FWIW, my all-time favorite novel is a translation from Swedish to English. I am unable to read it in the original language, but the translator clearly worked some magic.

  26. 21) Let’s just say there was a lot more going on than people realize–at least one staff person who tried to advocate for diversity was fired from Spikecon. Don’t have her permission to go further, but she did speak out on Facebook. As a panelist, I’ve worked with this person in Programming and…yeah. They mucked it up big time, and need to be called out on it. She’s an excellent programming manager.

  27. I admit to being flabbergasted that the idea of the transcontinental railroad has aroused such passionate intensity. I would have thought that time has, you know, healed this particular wound. Of course, as has been pointed out, some people are still steamed about Cromwell, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised.

    Also, kissed by -the Emperor-?!? Gah, I did not need that image with the morning coffee.

  28. Miles Carter: I admit to being flabbergasted that the idea of the transcontinental railroad has aroused such passionate intensity. I would have thought that time has, you know, healed this particular wound.

    Sure, in the same way that time has healed the wound of slavery in the U.S.

    It’s easy to heal when your great-great grandparents weren’t the ones who were wounded, when the people of your ethnic heritage weren’t the ones systematically used and persecuted.

    I’m not responsible for the things my ancestors did, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a conscience, recognize that huge wrongs were done, and try not to keep rubbing salt in old wounds.

    A lot of people noticed and spoke up a year ago when the Westercon 72 con chair pulled out a big bag of salt and announced the intention of smearing it around. Those people were ignored.

    And a lot of other people noticed that apparently a good saltfest was okay, and decided it gave them license to engage in their own bad behavior at the con.

    Conventions set the tone with their words and actions from the get-go. It became obvious a year ago that this con was a train wreck coming in slow motion. I was sad and angry, but not the least bit surprised, to hear about it finally happening this weekend.

    I really hope that Columbus’ concom is paying attention. Because from what I can see, next year’s NASFiC is shaping up to be a repeat of this one, which is why I’ve decided not to go, despite having previously been making plans to do so.

  29. I spoke to SpikeCon immediately on getting home from Worldcon76, and was brushed off with “we have some POC GOH!” and a claim that they simply could had no more space for adding anyone else or substituting (I’ve been deeply involved in the community around WisCon, and I know what I was suggesting and what impact it has) … but I was welcome to offer suggestions to programming. (They may have also presented a “if you’re not working on this to fix it, why are you bringing this up to us” sort of thing, or so it came across to me, whether they intended that or not.)

    Thus warned off, and appalled by the lack of Asian American and social justice context to their con theme, I opted not to attend, but to take them as a con with a warning flag. I have already said elsewhere that I’m appalled that they not only lived down to my low expectations but blew right through them.

    Presenting the evidence of sourcelander (non-Diaspora) Chinese framing of this history, or recent immigrant framing, vs the ones that might have come from those of us who know more detail about this. (https://www.ksl.com/article/46547537/golden-spike-150-honoring-the-forgotten-chinese-workers-lost-in-history) I note that while I am not descended from any Japanese workers on this railroad, the history of this and the treatment of workers was part of my childhood lore, just as Black children hear Black history growing up.

    The Spike could have been transformed into a symbol of reconciliation and education at this event. I can see why Newton Ewell felt it was insult to injury after everything he was subjected to.

  30. (8) Anyone else notice that it looks like Gaiman has one of those old, clunky tappita-tappita keyboards that I remember from my childhood in front of his laptop? I’m sure it’s actually new/high end/has a nice feel (Gaiman’s pretty gadget-friendly and obviously he needs a keyboard that he can tap on for hours and not strain his hands).

    (21) Ugh, I’m sorry for Newton. I hope that SpikeCon takes the concerns of him and others seriously, and change up some stuff.

  31. When I first heard the name “Spikecon” I thought, “What?”!

    And then, “Oh, the Trnascontinental Railroad completion! Could be a fun theme!”

    And then, “Oh, shit. They’re going for straight up celebration, actively refusing to address or even acknowledge any of the complexities and problems. Maybe it’s good I can’t travel to cons anymore.”

    And at the con itself, their Artist, who worked with them and donated artwork, was treated disrespectfully and unkindly, and not like the other Guests.

    No, celebrations organized by or actively inclusive of Chinese-Americans are not the same thing, and do not excuse what Spikecon did.

  32. 20) If they’re broadcasting the Ursula Le Guin documentary before Worldcon, I HOPE, HOPE, HOPE that means it can be shown AT Worldcon.

  33. Mike VanHelder: With respect, Mike, and I do really respect the work that you do… what you’re saying is an awful lot like “well, black people are allowed to use the N-word in their music, so how come I can’t yell it at someone in the middle of Cracker Barrel”?

    No, it’s really nothing like that at all. You sound drunk with satisfaction at finding people to lecture about racism. I don’t like the way it’s spilled over on me.

  34. Mike Glyer, I see why you’re characterizing Mike VanHelder’s framing as “drunk with satisfaction” but…for my part I’m dismayed that you seem to be taking side of “nothing wrong with the name or the exclusion of Chinese/Asian American voices and NBPOC voices in the framing of this name and convention theme”.

    It’s true that in the face of concentration camps on the border, most Asian American activists were not focusing attention on the 150th of the transcontinental railroad. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t problematic, and I see Mike VH’s framing as being far closer to the actual impact than I think you’re acknowledging.

    I am very much assuming there is ZERO malice in your current understanding of the transcontinental railroad celebration, but…yeah. The erasure of Asian American history is a longrunning concern of mine, especially as it contributes to continuing oppression for POC by supporting white supremacist narratives. It’s the Official Version that we’re all given. The truth though…it matters how that story is told. I hope that learning more changes your viewpoint on this. I understand the impulse to align your own current understanding with sympathy toward SpikeCon’s concom, but…they were told multiple times early on that there was a problem. This idea that they couldn’t have known isn’t a neutral stand to take.

    I’m not sure there is an honorable neutral position on this. The closest I can come to is, “this was a thing that any ‘ordinary’ set of racially privileged Americans could have done, because of the pervasive level of resistance to meaningful justice for POC rather than the appearance of enough effort.”

  35. @KTO
    I read a couple of stories about the descendants of Chinese railroad laborers being involved in the anniversary celebration: they have an association, and are proud of what their ancestors did.
    But what Spikecon appears to have done is both poor planning and poor behavior; they owe Newell a lot more than a pro-forma apology. It’s going to reflect on them going forward.

  36. @KTO, hi! I had much the same feeling about Spikecon, and I am not surprised by how it turned out. I am sad about it, because the chair is a disabled woman and I would have hoped that intersectionality would be natural to her. But as we have recently been discussing elsewhere, it frequently doesn’t happen that way.

  37. KTO: The Spike could have been transformed into a symbol of reconciliation and education at this event. I can see why Newton Ewell felt it was insult to injury after everything he was subjected to.

    It’s sort of a paradox — if they were willing to invest that much programming capital in reconciliation and education, then they probably would have decided that Spikecon was an ill-considered name to begin with. (They had the president of the Chinese Railroad Workers’ Descendants Association in to give a talk, I haven’t heard of more than that.)

    When trying to decide what my responsibilities are, I’m not really in a position to discount sourcelander, descendant, or the experience of those who grew up hearing the history of discrimination. When I see many affected people simultaneously show consciousness of the history, and decide to celebrate the anniversary of the technical achievement, I give that weight.

    And I’m not going to pretend like throwing up my hands and saying “it’s not me!” was an option. I had tools at my disposal. I could choose not to use the name “Spikecon” and only refer to it as NASFiC or Westercon. I could assemble roundups of criticism about the name to focus awareness on the issue. And I did research social media when the issue came to my attention — finding all of the discussion happening on one or two FB threads, very little on Twitter — I was forced to conclude it wasn’t a broad-based complaint, the way the mistreatment of Newton Ewell is.

  38. KTO: I understand the impulse to align your own current understanding with sympathy toward SpikeCon’s concom, but…they were told multiple times early on that there was a problem. This idea that they couldn’t have known isn’t a neutral stand to take.

    Maybe my previous answer (we crossed in the mail, so to speak) addresses some of your concerns, respectfully, I hope, even if we don’t match.

    I do have to agree I had an impulse to sympathize with the concom — I think the nuances of your comment indicate something more, but the reason was that a good friend of mine helped advise their bid. My feelings about the whole thing became more fraught a few months ago when I found out he gave a lecture at a Utah convention in February about the history of sff fandom which amounted to a Sad Puppies apologetic. (A Mad Genius Club columnist wrote a post about it.) Sort of pulled the rug out from under me.

  39. (4) sounds fine to me.
    (9) wish I could be there!
    (20) not showing where I live, but I am determined to see it. I finally caught up with the Mr Rogers documentary on an airplane, so I will persist.
    (21) not a very honorable way to treat a guest …

  40. @Lenore:

    Unfortunately, intersectionality doesn’t seem to come naturally to most people. I think that’s partly because everyone is starting from their own viewpoint and experiences. Plus, there’s a lot of pressure to not think or talk about most of these issues, so a disabled white woman might literally not think about “this railroad was built by people” long enough to wonder about who those people were, or how the railroad owners treated them. (Yes, “white” there is an assumption, based on what you did say about her.)

    And of course, it’s not as simple as seeing/saying “intersectionality is a real thing.” That probably helps people to not dismiss certain voices, but (for example) recognizing that classism exists, and listening when someone points it out, doesn’t mean that I will notice it in a book, or article, or conversation, or ask relevant questions on my own.

    I’m using class as an example because it’s (a) an issue I am aware of in a general way, but (b) not something that has affected me much directly, and (c) therefore something I am more likely to get wrong.

  41. Mike: ” (They had the president of the Chinese Railroad Workers’ Descendants Association in to give a talk, I haven’t heard of more than that.)”

    That was arranged by the Program person they fired for trying to diversify their program. I don’t think they get brownie points for that.

  42. ULTRAGOTHA: I thought it helpful to set the needle on the gauge at 1 rather than 0. (Why I think that is a whole long history going back to my years at work, which I would be happy to relate, except it’s probably too early for everyone’s nap.) The con committee could have pushed that number higher — unless there’s something more I didn’t recognize on the schedule as such, it’s fair to wonder if they just wanted to avoid the criticism of having done nothing.

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