Pixel Scroll 8/10/20
Ancillary Mustache

(1) ADDING A HUGO CATEGORY. Speculative Fiction in Translation’s Rachel Cordasco renews her appeal that “major Anglophone SFF awards should include a separate translation category” in “SFT And The Awards”.

…Really, all of this comes down to a naming problem. If the Hugos are going to be a “World Award,” logically they should include works from around the world, in any language. Since that doesn’t seem likely any time soon, and Anglophone readers generally don’t learn multiple languages unless they have to, then the award should (again, logically) stop calling itself a “World Award” and start acknowledging that, from the very beginning, it has been and still is an award given to English-language SFF by English-language readers.

….And then there’s the whole set of general arguments opposing, or at least not immediately embracing, a separate translation category. I’ve listed a few below:

  • We already have too many award categories.
  • Not enough Anglophone readers read SFT so how could they vote on it?
  • Creating a separate translation category will send the message that SFT is inferior to Anglophone speculative fiction.
  • SFT can win and has won awards without any “help.”
  • But how can we determine if the translation is any good?
  • Changing award rules is too difficult.

I’m going to address each of these points separately, making sure that I reiterate that I am not involved in any of these awards at the executive level, though I did participate in the most recent Locus Awards voting and was able to bring my knowledge of current SFT to the discussion, which I truly appreciated.

You may also know that I started a “Favorite SFT” poll in 2018, which is open to anyone who would like to vote (once!). This approach has its flaws but it’s the best I can do with the resources I have. Just the fact that the poll exists makes me think that more people are becoming aware that SFT does exist.

To the first point that “we already have too many award categories”: so what? And also, is a translated category somehow less important than the “Young Adult” or “First Novel” category? And to the subpoint that some translated work might win in two categories, can’t that happen with other categories? And aren’t there ways to get around that? I freely admit that I’m not cut out for business meetings and deciding rules about rules- which is one of the reasons why I’m not on these committees. This is just me on a website putting forth my opinions, against which everyone is free to argue. (Just be respectful when you rip me to shreds, ok?)….

(2) DAY AFTER DAY. SYFY Wire explores “The Unending Appeal Of Time Loops”. But only once.

…But outside of a stay-at-home crisis, time loops have gained traction in their appeal due to the same themes that made Groundhog Day so popular to begin with. Like the drunken locals that Phil Conners laments to in Punxsutawney, or the fellow wedding guest in the Palm Springs hotel pool talking to Samberg’s Nyles, those existing outside the loop can relate on a visceral level to the experience of feeling like today is the same as yesterday and tomorrow. For Bill Murray, the appeal of Groundhog Day as a script was its representation of people’s fear of change, and how we choose to repeat our daily lives to avoid it. These themes echoed in Russian Doll, which as a bingeable streaming series really allowed audiences to inhabit the repetitive nature of the loops, ironically utilizing the same technologies that have sped our lives up and caused them to feel even more cyclical.

(3) FIYAHCON. I signed up for FIYAHCON (October 17-18) news in time to receive its August Update naming three more guests:

FIYAHCON tweeted additional information: Rebecca Roanhorse: “We suspect you know @RoanhorseBex from all of that constant award-winning she does as a Black + Indigenous writer of many brilliant things.”; Cassie Hart: “is a Maori writer who’s been working intensely behind the scenes to shine a light on SFF from Aotearoa while grinding out an impressive number of works herself.”; Yasser Bahjatt: “chaired the Worldcon bid for Saudi Arabia. And while that didn’t land, we are thrilled to hear more from him about Arabian SFF and other ways we can uplift and celebrate the spec community there.”

The three newcomers join FIYAHCON’s previously announced guests:

There’s also an educational FIYAH Definition T-Shirt that’s new.

(4) THE NEXT MARTIAN. io9 points to today’s trailer drop: “Hilary Swank Is on a Mission to Mars in the Emotional First Trailer for Netflix’s Away.

She’s boldly going where no one has gone before, but doing so means leaving the people she loves the most. We’ve got the first trailer for Netflix’s Away, a new series that sees Hilary Swank joining the first manned mission to Mars—a three-year journey that will test the limits of its crew, as well as the patience of those who were left behind….

(5) JUST SAYIN’. Jay Blanc tweeted his ideas for improving Hugo administration. Thread starts here. Whether or not he has the solution (and CoNZealand Deputy Hugo Administrator Nicholas Whyte responded skeptically in the thread), I had to agree with Blanc’s last tweet about what one of the problems is.

He’s not alone in marveling at how many times in the past decade the Hugos have been hamstrung because someone was writing code from scratch. That doesn’t always happen for the same reason. We didn’t always need or want, in the past, a system that integrates all aspects of a member’s digital interaction with the convention. That’s what they’re moving toward, therefore it would make sense for that software to be created and stabilized. Funding it, having the work done and vetted, and working out licensing to the committees (which are entities of their own) would all be part of the mission.

(6) THE EYES HAVE IT. “Looking Forward on Looking Backwards” at The Hugo Book Club Blog.

… Because they are voted on primarily by people who were born decades after the original publication dates, the Retro Hugos are less likely to recognize work that has not been reprinted. This means that the average Retro Hugo voter inevitably experiences the works they’re voting on through a filter created by the intervening generations. Other than Erle KorshakCora Buhlert, and Gideon Marcus, we’d be hard-pressed to name a Hugo voter who is likely to have read a 1945-era pulp magazine cover-to-cover and experienced the works in something like their original context….

No need to be so “hard-pressed.” You have not because you ask not.

…For the Retro Hugos to be relevant and worthwhile awards, we as members of the World Science Fiction Society need to wrestle with why the awards need to exist. Is their intent to reproduce the racist tastes of the past or can they help focus a critical lens on the history of the genre and help us discover works that might have been overlooked?

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • August 10, 1951 Tales Of Tomorrow first broadcast the “Blunder” in which a scientist is warned his experiment with nuclear fission could destroy the earth. Written by Philip Wylie who wrote the screenplay for When Worlds Collide.  The primary cast is Robert Allen and Ann Loring. It was directed by Leonard Valenta who otherwise did soap,operas. The original commercials are here as well.  You can watch it here.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 10, 1902 Curt Siodmak. He is known for his work in the horror and sf films for The Wolf Man and Donovan’s Brain, the latter  from his own novel. ISFDB notes the latter was part of his Dr. Patrick Cory series, and he wrote quite a few other genre novels as well. Donovan’s Brain and just a few other works are available in digital form. (Died 2000.) (CE)
  • Born August 10, 1903 Ward Moore. Author of Bring the Jubilee which everyone knows about as it’s often added to that mythical genre canon and several more that I’m fairly sure almost no one knows of. More interestingly to me was that he was a keen writer of recipes of which ISFDB documents that four of his appeared in Anne McCaffrey’s Cooking Out of This World: “Kidneys — Like Father Used to Make” and “Pea Soup — Potage Ste. Germaine“ being two of them. (Died 1978.) (CE)
  • Born August 10, 1913 Noah Beery Jr. Genre-wise, he’s best remembered as Maj. William Corrigan on the Fifties classic SF film Rocketship X-M, but he showed up in other genre undertakings as well such as 7 Faces of Dr. LaoThe Six Million Dollar ManFantasy IslandBeyond Witch MountainThe Ghost of Cypress Swamp and The Cat Creeps. I think he appeared in one of the earliest Zorro films made where he’s credited just as a boy, he’d be seven then, The Mark of Zorro which had Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and his father, Noah Beery Sr. (Died 1994.) (CE)
  • Born August 10, 1931 – Alexis Gilliland, 89.  Seven novels, six shorter stories and a Feghoot; Campbell (as it then was) for Best New Writer.  Chaired six Disclaves.  WSFA (Washington, D.C., SF Ass’n) met at his house for decades.  One of our finest fanartists.  Four Hugos, three FAAn (FAn Activity Achievement) Awards, Rotsler.  Letters, perhaps three hundred cartoons in AlexiadAlgolAmazingAnalogAsimov’sChungaFantasy ReviewFlagJanusLocusMimosaPulphouseSF EyeSF CommentarySF ReviewSFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) BulletinStar*Line, Worldcon Souvenir Books.  Here is a cover for SF Review.  See hereherehere.  Makes good deviled eggs.  [JH]
  • Born August 10, 1944 Barbara Erskine, 76. I’m including her because I’ve got a bit of a mystery. ISFDB lists her as writing over a dozen genre novels and her wiki page says she has a fascination with the supernatural but neither indicates what manner of genre fiction she wrote. I’m guessing romance or gothic tinged with the supernatural based on the covers but that’s just a guess. What do y’all know about her? (CE)
  • Born August 10, 1955 Eddie Campbell, 65. Best-known as the illustrator and publisher of From Hell (written by Alan Moore), and Bacchus, a most excellent series about the few Greek gods who have made to the present day. Though not genre in the slightest way, I highly recommend The Black Diamond Detective Agency which he did. It’s an adaptation of an as-yet unmade screenplay by C. Gaby Mitchell. (CE)
  • Born August 10, 1955 – Tom Kidd, 65.  Eight Chesleys.  Artbooks KiddographyOtherWorldsHow to Draw & Paint Dragons.  Three hundred eighty covers, a hundred forty interiors.  Here is Not This August.  Here is the Oct 83 Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Here is Songs of the Dying Earth.  Here is Overruled.  [JH]
  • Born August 10, 1962 – Horia Gâbea, Sc.D., 58.  Romanian playwright, poet, essayist, novelist, engineer, popularizer of contract bridge.  University of Bilbao prize for poetry.  The Serpent performed by the British Royal Court Theatre.  Translator of Chekhov, Corneille, John D. MacDonald, Machiavelli.  Accused of being “gratuitously bookish…. a pun more important than a murder…. thin and edgy like a razor…. forgives no one no thing.” Worlds and Beings anthology in English.  [JH]
  • Born August 10, 1965 Claudia Christian, 55. Best-known role is Commander Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5, but she has done other genre roles such as being Brenda Lee Van Buren in The Hidden, Katherine Shelley in Lancelot: Guardian of Time, Quinn in Arena, Lucy in The Haunting of Hell House and Kate Dematti in Meteor Apocalypse. She’s had one-offs on Space RangersHighlanderQuantum LeapRelic Hunter and Grimm. She’s Captain Belinda Blowhard on Starhyke, a six-episode series shot in ‘05 you can on Amazon Prime.  (CE)
  • Born August 10, 1971 – Lara Morgan, 49.  Six novels for us.  “Her mission is to rid the world of tea, one cup at a time.  This is going quite well.”  She liked All Our Yesterdays, alas for me not Harry Warner’s but Cristin Terrill’s; ranked Ender’s Game about the same as Lilith’s Brood.  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born August 10, 1985 – Andrew Drilon, 35.  A dozen short stories; Philippine Speculative Fiction 9 with Charles Tan; four covers, three dozen interiors; comics.  Here is Heroes, Villains, and Other Women.  Here is WonderLust.  Here is a sequence from his own Whapak! [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) DOUBLE-OH BRACKETS. Morgan Jeffery, in “Sean Connery named the best James Bond as thousands of 007 fans vote in our poll” in Radio Times, says that 14,000 James Bond fans voted to see who the best Bond of all time was, with Sir Sean Connery first, Timothy Dalton second, and Pierce Brosnan third.  Sam Heughan from Outlander was named the #1 choice to be the new Bond in the survey,

…Round 1 saw Connery knock out current 007 actor Daniel Craig, coming out on top with 56 per cent of the vote compared to Craig’s 43 per cent, while Pierce Brosnan winning Round 2 with 76 per cent against his opponent George Lazenby’s 24 per cent.

Round 3 saw perhaps the most surprising result yet, as Roger Moore was knocked out of the competition – with 41 per cent of the vote, he lost out to his immediate successor Timothy Dalton, who scored 49 per cent of the vote.

(11) TOP TEN. ScreenRant lists “Star Trek: The 10 Weirdest Official Merch You Can Buy”. After all, nobody wants to buy just plain old Trek merchandise. And one item meets a need of Filers who never have enough of these —

4. Next Generation Spoons

At some point, someone decided that Star Trek fans were fanatical about cutlery and all things fine dining, hence the creations of a series of elegant Next Generation spoons.

The high-quality spoons feature the faces of fan-favorite characters such as Captain Picard and Data on the handle of each implement. While nice its almost impossible to imagine anyone actually using these spoons to eat with and the illogical decisions that led to their creation would no doubt befuddle Spock.

(12) APOLLO 1 INVESTIGATION. Dwayne Day continues his exploration of space history with new details about the Apollo 1 fire of 1967 in The Space Review: “After the fire: a long-lost transcript from the Apollo 1 fire investigation”.

As long as there has been spaceflight, there have been conspiracy theories. There were conspiracy theories about Sputnik in the late 1950s (“their Germans are better than our Germans”) and dead cosmonauts in the early 1960s. Even before some people claimed—on the very day that it happened—that the Moon landing was faked, Apollo had its own conspiracy theories. In those days it was difficult for them to propagate and reach a wide audience, unlike today, when they can spread around the world at the speed of light. One of those Apollo conspiracy theories was about a whistleblower named Thomas Baron, who later died under mysterious circumstances.

Baron worked on the Apollo program in Florida for one of the key contractors. After the Apollo 1 fire in early 1967, Baron testified before a congressional fact-finding delegation that went to Florida. He later died under what some people considered to be mysterious circumstances, fueling speculation that he was killed to shut him up. The transcript of his testimony also could not be found by later researchers, which fueled the speculation that somebody was covering up damaging information.

In 1999, in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, radio station WAMU in Washington, DC, aired a program about the role of Washington politics in the lunar landing. “Washington Goes to the Moon” was written and produced by Richard Paul and featured interviews with a number of key figures in the story. Paul had decided that the Apollo 1 fire and the subsequent investigations into its cause would be a key focus of the program. In the course of researching the fire, he stumbled upon a document that many believed was long-lost: a transcript of an interview with Thomas Baron, who alleged that there were numerous improper actions taken by his employer, North American Aviation, which was building the spacecraft.

(13) THAT WAS A CLOSE ONE. “The nuclear mistakes that nearly caused World War Three” – BBC kept count.

From invading animals to a faulty computer chip worth less than a dollar, the alarmingly long list of close calls shows just how easily nuclear war could happen by mistake.

…All told, there have been at least 22 alarmingly narrow misses since nuclear weapons were discovered. So far, we’ve been pushed to the brink of nuclear war by such innocuous events as a group of flying swans, the Moon, minor computer problems and unusual space weather. In 1958, a plane accidentally dropped a nuclear bomb in a family’s back garden; miraculously, no one was killed, though their free-range chickens were vaporised. Mishaps have occurred as recently as 2010, when the United States Air Force temporarily lost the ability to communicate with 50 nuclear missiles, meaning there would have been no way to detect and stop an automatic launch.

(14) BLOCKHOUSE FOR BLOCKHEADS? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Schultz, in “For Sale: A Cold War Bunker and Missile Silo in North Dakota” on Atlas Obscura, says that tomorrow auctioneers will sell a 50-acre site in North Dakota that housed a missile base loaded with Sprint missiles that were supposed to be the last line of defense against Soviet ICBM’s.  The missiles are gone but the buildings are still there, and it’s perfect for a slan shack or future Worldcon bid, or would be an ideal place to conduct fan feuds.  What better place to launch verbal missiles than a place that housed real missiles? Plus all the former missile silos are guaranteed to be socially distant from each other!

HALF AN HOUR SOUTH OF the Canadian border, in Fairdale, North Dakota, a hulking concrete structure rises up from the flat fields that surround it. The beige buildings are so prominent on an otherwise pastoral landscape that they could be mistaken for a 20th-century Stonehenge.

It’s a Cold War missile site, and it’s for sale.

(15) I WALK TO THE TREES. In “The Lord of The Rings:  The Two Towers Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George promises a film with “a whole lot of walking.  Even the trees walk.”

[Thanks to John Hertz, Lise Andreasen, N., Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michal Toman, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

63 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/10/20
Ancillary Mustache

  1. @8 (Moore): “Lot” has been reprinted many times (per ISFDB); I suspect a lot of people have read it, but not much other of his short fiction.

    @10: I’m not surprised Moore was knocked out; he was just pretty. (A review I printed when editing Twilight Zine cited his “great smirk”.) Dalton was too pretty for the original character (which had massively mutated), but he was also sharp — or at least looked like he had enough thoughts in his head to knock two together. This assertion is based on an inadequate sample; there’s only so much Bond I was willing to watch.

  2. No need to be so “hard-pressed.” You have not because you ask not.

    OK, but those who have actually read a pre-1980 (let alone pre-1950) pulp magazine make up a vanishingly small percentage of Hugo voters.

    And if we’re talking about differences between contemporaneous Hugos and Retro Hugos … if Dentention (the 1959 Worldcon) hadn’t presented Hugos, and they’d had to do Retros at Anticipation in 2009, would anyone have thought to nominate Anton Lee Baker? How about J. F. Bone? The shortlist would have looked completely different.

  3. (8) The summary of the Wiki page for Erskine says her thing was “time slip”. Which does seem to be genre on our side of the line.

    I read a romance novel yesterday where one of the major characters is a humanoid AI and the other is an “enhanced” human; there’s also a cat that’s an AI. And lots of other SF-ish stuff.

  4. OlavRokne: OK, but those who have actually read a pre-1980 (let alone pre-1950) pulp magazine make up a vanishingly small percentage of Hugo voters.

    This goalpost-shifting reply is all the more unacceptable since the authors of the essay position themselves as having superior subject matter knowledge to the rest of the peasants who voted for the Retro-Hugos.

    The “have you read the original pulp” test is also just as misguided about the knowledge a Retro-Hugo voter ought to have as the notion that the only people who ought to have submitted nominations for the 2020 Hugos are those who read every single story published in 2019. Nobody thinks that’s a requirement, either.

  5. PJ Evans says I read a romance novel yesterday where one of the major characters is a humanoid AI and the other is an “enhanced” human; there’s also a cat that’s an AI. And lots of other SF-ish stuff.

    So who’s the author and what’s the title? Sounds fascinating. So how was it?

  6. Mike Glyer says The “have you read the original pulp” test is also just as misguided about the knowledge a Retro-Hugo voter ought to have as the notion that the only people who ought to have submitted nominations for the 2020 Hugos are those who read every single story published in 2019. Nobody thinks that’s a requirement, either.

    Nearly three quarters of the shorter workers in the Hugo packet this year were new to me. I read, or at least skimmed, every entry before voting. (Being in-hospital with lots of time definitely helped.) I’m planning on voting again next year the same way.

  7. the authors of the essay position themselves as having superior subject matter knowledge to the rest of the peasants who voted for the Retro-Hugos.

    Uh. That really wasn’t our intention. What we meant to imply is that nobody has an equivalent set of knowledge to that of Hugo voters 75 years ago. We certainly don’t.

    It’s not just about the original pulp magazines — nobody in the present can read those stories without the benefit of hindsight. Nobody in the present knows what it’s like to be reading these stories while World War 2 is contemporaneous.

    The argument isn’t that anyone has special knowledge; the argument is that the Retro Hugos are significantly different from the contemporaneous ones.

    So … my friends and I meant no offence. What you’re suggesting isn’t even an interpretation that we’d considered.

  8. 3) So has someone sent GRRM one of those shirts in every color? Product description:

    Have you or has someone you love lost their pronunciation guide? We’ve made you a t-shirt to help, because you never know when you’ll have to say “FIYAH” out loud.

    11) I remember little souvenir spoons like that were a thing. My mom had a few from places we traveled and a wall display rack for them. No Star Trek ones though.

  9. @Caat
    “The A.I. Who Loved Me”, by Alyssa Cole. Part rom-com, part thriller, set sometime in the future. It’s pretty good – enough that I wanted to know what happens after the end.
    I also have read Kit Rocha’s “Deal with the Devil”, book one of “Mercenary Librarians”, a post-apocalyptic story.

  10. @ Laura
    My grandmother had spoons in a rack in her dining room. Some I’m sure were gifts, because I don’t think she visited some of the places, but they were mostly pretty, and the handle ends were small enough to be usable – if you were wiling to risk the etching on the bowls!

  11. OlavRokne: …It’s not just about the original pulp magazines — nobody in the present can read those stories without the benefit of hindsight. Nobody in the present knows what it’s like to be reading these stories while World War 2 is contemporaneous….

    The essay starts with a long passage about Bruce Pelz’s efforts to have the Retro-Hugos created, so you should be almost as aware as I am (I chaired the first Worldcon where they were given) that there was never any intent or expectation that the voters would try to simulate what fans of the Forties might have picked.

  12. The essay starts with a long passage about Bruce Pelz’s efforts to have the Retro-Hugos created, so you should be almost as aware as I am (I chaired the first Worldcon where they were given) that there was never any intent or expectation that the voters would try to simulate what fans of the Forties might have picked.

    While working on this piece, I read the tribute to Pelz that you posted in 2012.

    And what you’re saying is kind of exactly one of the points we were trying to make — there shouldn’t be an intent to simulate what fans of the Forties might have picked. In some circles that I see on Twitter, there’s a belief that the Retros should do that. And it’s not possible, nor reasonable to have that expectation.

  13. 5) On the one hand, it’s been interesting trying out different systems to see what works best. In the other hand, what’s the point if the best stuff never shows up again?
    Definitely in favor of a system for setting up permanent software

  14. P J Evans says “The A.I. Who Loved Me”, by Alyssa Cole. Part rom-com, part thriller, set sometime in the future. It’s pretty good – enough that I wanted to know what happens after the end. I also have read Kit Rocha’s “Deal with the Devil”, book one of “Mercenary Librarians”, a post-apocalyptic story.

    Thanks, I purchased a copy off iBooks. Deal with the Devil looks good popcorn readings as well.

  15. (10) DOUBLE-OH BRACKETS.

    Any poll that doesn’t place Daniel Craig second is bogus. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

    Sam Heghan

    Sam HeUghan.

    I’ve only watched a coupla episodes of Outlander, but I gotta say this guy has charisma and sex appeal out the wazoo. It would be interesting to see him take on Bond, but OTOH I’m still partial to Idris Elba.

  16. bookworm1398: Definitely in favor of a system for setting up permanent software

    I don’t disagree with him that it would be ideal to have persistent Hugo nominating and voting software. This year’s fiasco was just inexcusable, given that there are past working systems which could have been used. If the system wasn’t working by 15 May, they should have been hiring a professional programmer to get it done.

    What’s bizarre about this guy’s tweet is that:
    1) he thinks that people would actually be able to “replace the Hugo Awards”
    2) he thinks that the Hugo Awards needs him to protect the Awards from those people. 🙄

  17. @JJ
    Maybe he should find a concom that needs another member on it Hugo admin committee. Then he can find out what it’s really like. (A lot of work.)

    Personally, I’m in favor of good working software being passed to the next convention, and have been for decades.

  18. 10) I think Dalton could have made a fine Bond, but he had one movie that was pretty good and one that was just godawful.

  19. 6) Well, I’m flattered, but it’s also a lot easier to read a whole issue of a vintage SFF pulp these days than it used to be, because fasciimile editions are available and a lot of pulp magazines scans are available online at the Internet Archive (in spite of their other sins, they are doing a good thing here). And yes, seeing these stories in their original context does feel different than reading a reprint in an anthology.

    The issue of weak early stories by future stars getting nominated for and winning Retro Hugos is one of the reasons I started the spreadsheet and Retro Reviews. Besides, I also enjoy reading vintage SFF and digging up the occasional forgotten gem. I fully understand that this isn’t for everybody.

    But even if you read a lot of stories from the year in question, including obscure ones, it’s still not possible (nor should we) to nominate and vote like fans back in 1945 would have voted, simply because the genre and tastes have evolved a lot in the meantime. And indeed, part of the problem is that the anthologists of times past determine which stories are reprinted and remembered and which are forgotten. The Asimov/Greenberg “Great Science Fiction Stories” anthologies strongly influence what will be found on the Retro Hugo ballot, even though Asimov and Greenberg of course had their own biases.

    The editor category at the Retro Hugos is actually easier to judge than Best Editor Long Form at the contemporary Hugos, because all finalists are magazine editors and so the magazines reflect their editorial choices. The problem here is that very few people look at the original magazines and instead default to name recognition and the received wisdom that John W. Campbell was the best editor of the 1940s.

    The problem with Best Series is one that Steve J. Wright and I have discussed before, namely that SFF publishing was so different in the 1940s that very few series are able to hit the 240000 word requirement. Foundation would only make it with the 1980s expansions. Fafhrd and Gray Mouser would only have ade it if you count the entire series, the bulk of which appeared after 1943. City, Venus Equilateral and John Thunstone, all of whom would otherwise have been eligible for 1945, never have reach the required word count. So you’re stuck with longrunning series like Doc Savage, Captain Future, The Shadow, Pellucidar and Jules de Grandin and – well – Cthulhu (and G-8 and His Battle Aces, which would absolutely have been eligible, but which no one except me nominated).

    11) I’m surprised that they consider a Star Trek Barbie a weird piece of merchandise, because it sees absolutely logical to me. In fact, I suspect that a lot of customisers made their own Star Trek Barbies. That said, I’m disappointed that there is no Christie as Uhura, especially since the original 1968 Christie looks a lot like Nichelle Nichols. In fact, should I ever come across a vintage Christie in need of clothes, I’d make her a Star Trek uniform.

  20. (1) I agree that we already have too many Hugo categories. I suggest turning it into an Award Pool. X number of Awards (which is smaller than max number of Awards) are given per con. Con decides at winning the bid which Award categories it wants to present from the pool. All unpresented categories can be picked over by later cons for the Retro Hugos.

    (3) That name always reminds me of that failed Fyre Con festival thing

  21. Cora Buhlert: it’s also a lot easier to read a whole issue of a vintage SFF pulp these days than it used to be, because fasciimile editions are available and a lot of pulp magazines scans are available online at the Internet Archive (in spite of their other sins, they are doing a good thing here).

    I took advantage of that to dig out Bob Madle’s column in a 1953 prozine where he mentioned wanting to name them the “Hugo Awards.” It was great to be able to repeat the research early fanhistorians were able to do who owned all these magazines in their own collections.

  22. (8) Claudia Christian also performed the generic voice for the Norn female character in the GuildWars II fantasy MMORPG. I find it amusing when I hear one of the pronoucements (Norn characters are stylistically stereotypical Viking, so bombastic is a decent description) and picture Commander Ivanova.

  23. Y’know, the casting pool for James Bond gets a lot larger if you just assume he’s a Time Lord who regenerates every few movies.

    Which lets me put forward a name I haven’t seen elsewhere. In the Netflix movie Extraction, the second lead actor (after Chris Hemsworth) is Indian actor Randeep Hooda. I watched him be, by turns, smart, smooth, and a major ass-kicker in action scenes (some extraordinary “long-shot” action scenes in the film, by the way) and thought, “Hey, this guy could play a James Bond with an India background.”

  24. 6)

    “…we as members of the World Science Fiction Society need to wrestle with why the awards need to exist. Is their intent to reproduce the racist tastes of the past or can they help focus a critical lens on the history of the genre and help us discover works that might have been overlooked?”

    None of the above. It is to have a bit of fun while reading older stuff and chatting with others about the experience. And pick stuff that aren’t too shabby and that people have enjoyed.

    Everyone’s always so serious about everything.

  25. 5) it’s not strictly in the Hugo department, but how about a standing IT arrangement mature enough to let me vote in site selection without having to choose between snail mail or emailing a PDF?

    10) count me as another vote for Idris Elba.

  26. @1, (5), 6: I believe that it is also incorrect to assume that every Hugo-voting fan of the 40s had access to all of those pulps as well; There are numerous accounts of fans seeing a magazine but not being able to acquire it until years later, of fans in small towns that only carried one or two (or none) titles in the local drug store; of fans who were not allowed to read “that Buck Rogers stuff”; of having to wait until the local magazine shop offered back issues for cheap, or a new-found fannish friend lent them (and they spent hours under the blankets playing catch up.
    Not to mention that the ability to obtain back issues from the publisher was often nearly impossible and once an issue was removed from the stands, like the soon to come television shows, once they “aired”, they were gone.

    Oh, and for the record, I too have read multiple pulp magazine issues cover to cover.

    More on SFT: no, a work can only appear in one category of any given Hugo Award year; the “young adult” and “first novel” categories are “Not-a-Hugo”s and, if there had been an SFT award a few years ago, Three Body Problem would have (likely) been in that category, not the Best Novel category and, while it is wild speculation at this point, I do not think that it would have generated so much interest and enthusiasm (not to mention the follow-ons) as the winner of a “minor” Hugo/not-a-hugo.

    Not referencing an SFT award category specifically, but: one reason why the Hugos are a prestige award is because of their “exclusivity” and limited availability. No one is clamoring to add categories to “Steve’s Annual Best of Science Fiction Awards” (hmmmmm….). They are either suggesting new categories for the Hugos or creating new awards (inspired by or in response to the Hugos) and at some point a dilution effect will creep in, turning them and the other awards into “Participation Trophies”.

  27. I have to say that I thought I was of “Ancillary” themed jokes but yet, today’s Pixel Scroll forced me to snort wine out of my nose. Well played Daniel, well played.

  28. (5) Agree entirely regarding Hugo software. At this stage wanting something other than the standard model should be regarded as pure vanity and slapped down.

    (Reg desk worker speaking) you might also make the same case for the membership databases and badge printing systems. The guys running everything at Dublin were all American, and I guess had brought over their software and printers and everything. Wasn’t the same software as at Helsinki, and Gods help us at London all 8,000 badges were preprinted and more or less alphabetically sorted. But is there a system that’s always used or do we have two or three squabbling?

    And while we’re at it, a standardised harassment code rather than every con realising that they do in fact need a code of conduct, and jolly well should have a sub-committee to write one.

  29. Another problem for an SFT Hugo would be the number of works. Locus reported in March that only 50 books (novels, collections, and anthologies) and 80 short (standalone) works of SFT made their way to Anglophone readers.

    That certainly doesn’t sound like enough work at novel length. I think the only new novel I read in translation last year was Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan.

  30. Patrick Morris Miller on August 11, 2020 at 12:27 am said:

    5) it’s not strictly in the Hugo department, but how about a standing IT arrangement mature enough to let me vote in site selection without having to choose between snail mail or emailing a PDF?

    Sheesh, is that still the model? The only time I’ve bothered to vote (indeed the only time there’s been a real need to vote) was to bring the con to Helsinki in 2015, and I’d assumed things had staggered into the early twenty first century by now.

  31. Nickpheas: I’d assumed things had staggered into the early twenty first century by now.

    Being able to submit a PDF this year was a first. In the past, it’s always been hardcopy.

    It’s not because of a deficiency of technology; it’s because all bids being voted upon have to agree in order for electronic voting to be permissible. And given that bidcoms spend thousands of dollars of their own money and hundreds of hours of their own time on a bid, and the fact that there have been Site Selections in the past which have been quite close, bidcoms want to have paper copies in hand that can be recounted. (Site Selection counting is done with representatives for each bid present and getting to do their own count, to ensure that there’s no Funny Business.)

    For example, the bid with the most 1st-place votes of the three bids in 2013 did not win, once the votes for the 3rd-place bid were redistributed. And in 2006, there were three competing bids, and the final difference between the top two bids was 12 votes (672 to 660). So to some extent, I can understand why bidcoms want tangible ballots that can be recounted — several times, if necessary.

  32. There definitely was a vote by email option in 2015, because I did.

    Though this is another of those things that should be owned by the WSFS not defined each year by a different concom. You want to host a woldcon, this is the process for getting the job.

  33. Another problem for an SFT Hugo would be the number of works. Locus reported in March that only 50 books (novels, collections, and anthologies) and 80 short (standalone) works of SFT made their way to Anglophone readers. — Andy Leighton

    The proponents of a Translated Work Hugo want it to be established to promote wider readership of translated works. But that’s putting the cart before the horse. I (and a lot of other people) contend that there needs to be a lot of nominations for something in order to justify it getting its own category — otherwise, you just get a really lackluster participation in the longlist, as happened last year with Best Art Book.

    I’m still waiting for someone to pick up the groundwork I laid for making a valid case for the creation of a Translated Work category, more than 2 years ago, and develop it into a convincing case for the category. But no one has done anything, apart from a dropdown list survey which fed people a pre-picked list of works — rather than requiring people to supply the names of translated works they had read — and allowed any number of nominations by a single person (à la the Dragon Awards).

    It’s very easy to make impassioned speeches. Actually doing the work is hard, and no one seems to be willing to do it.

  34. @Camestros

    I have to say that I thought I was of “Ancillary” themed jokes but yet, today’s Pixel Scroll forced me to snort wine out of my nose. Well played Daniel, well played.

    Hopefully not into your mustache (assuming your got one). Or onto Timothy’s whiskers.

  35. @Olav Rokne

    And what you’re saying is kind of exactly one of the points we were trying to make — there shouldn’t be an intent to simulate what fans of the Forties might have picked. In some circles that I see on Twitter, there’s a belief that the Retros should do that. And it’s not possible, nor reasonable to have that expectation.

    ISTM that Twitter is the modern version of the monkeys-and-Shakespeare theory; you’ll see anything can if you look for it long enough. Not that the position you cite is necessarily honest; how many supporters sound like they just want us to ignore current opinions of HPL (forgetting that he was considered over-the-line racist by his contemporaries)? Arguing against that is a Sisyphean task, but if it floats your boat…

    @P J Evans (and @JJ, and anyone else who’s still working in the field):

    Personally, I’m in favor of good working software being passed to the next convention, and have been for decades.

    How plausible is this in current tech? Is implementation (e.g., of web pages) sufficiently uniform that a package could be just dropped in (or maybe linked to and run ~independently) rather than pounded into place with a maul? I spent threads of my last 18 years dealing with getting programs to work with each other; it would have been less difficult if the underlying software had been better, but probably not easy. Hugo voting should be easier — even easier than using an e-commerce package, which I still see difficulties over locally — but I don’t assume it’s trivial.

    @Hampus Eckerman: being serious about something that doesn’t really matter is how a lot of people have fun.

    @Patrick Morris Miller (adding to @JJ’s notes about how critical the process is): the problem with IT’ing site selection is that it has to blend with live voting (vs the Hugos being voted all in advance); IME, most voting happens on-site in non-disaster years. In theory you could technicalize the on-site voting as well; having seen how long it took to get ~computerized Registration (which has less riding on it and doesn’t require each person to interact with the computer) working at all (and note @NickPheas’s observation that it’s still not standardized), I’m not holding my breath.

    @NickPheas: there’s been a paper vote-by-mail option for site selection for as long as I can remember. (I won’t swear it was in place in 1978, when I first worked on a bid, but I wouldn’t swear it wasn’t.) The issue is whether there should be something non-physical for those who can’t attend. (1979 would have been happy to have such an option — a heated West Zone race contributed to there being almost 2000 supporting members — but the tech certainly wasn’t up then.)

    @Acoustic Rob: works for me now — maybe their site glitched?

  36. Morning! Still!

    And I continue to work my way through the process of joining the 21st century, cutting the cord, and watching what I want via streaming, rather than a subset of what I want via overpriced cable or satellite.

  37. Sheesh, is that still the model? The only time I’ve bothered to vote (indeed the only time there’s been a real need to vote) was to bring the con to Helsinki in 2015, and I’d assumed things had staggered into the early twenty first century by now.

    I don’t think it was cumbersome to download the form-enabled PDF, fill it out and email it back to register my site selection vote. But it definitely would be better to do that entirely online, particularly if I had to use my phone instead of my desktop computer.

    I don’t disagree with him that it would be ideal to have persistent Hugo nominating and voting software. This year’s fiasco was just inexcusable, given that there are past working systems which could have been used. If the system wasn’t working by 15 May, they should have been hiring a professional programmer to get it done.

    Helsinki had really nice software for the convention and Hugo Awards that it made open source. I was surprised it didn’t get used in subsequent Worldcons.

    Does anyone know who the go-to person (or people) are for the software used to run the con? It would be nice to see it stay the same each year and benefit from the reliability and reuse.

    As a web application developer in my day job and a newly applied Discon volunteer, I’d be happy to help out with software as needed.

  38. Helsinki had really nice software for the convention and Hugo Awards that it made open source. I was surprised it didn’t get used in subsequent Worldcons.

    Actually it was used again by Dublin.

  39. Actually it was used again by Dublin.

    Ah! I bet I realized that at the time I was using it because it was so nicely done. Thanks for correcting me.

  40. Acoustic Rob: The link in (13) is giving me a 404 error.

    I gave it a try just now and it worked for me.

  41. 1) I don’t see a SFF in translation working for the Hugos at this time for all the reasons it was argued against when proposed at Dublin’s Business Meeting. But it might be something the Locus Awards could do if they could put together a long enough list of possibilities on the recommended reading list.

    5) Not sure what is being proposed or what it’s meant to solve other than the comment about Hugo nominating and voting code. Would love to see Helsinki or Dublin’s (they seemed like they were the same from a user’s prospective) be permanently used. Although I did like that CoNZealand’s used a new link each time.

    6) Even though I haven’t participated in the Retro Hugo process, I’d still like to see them continue. (I often start off the nomination and voting periods thinking, “This will be the year I read all the things!” Then reality sets in and I have to start prioritizing what I can even get to for the current Hugos.)

  42. Nickpheas on August 11, 2020 at 3:06 am said:
    There definitely was a vote by email option in 2015, because I did.

    Don’t remember specifically for 2015, but one of the reasons I hadn’t voted on site selection until this year was because I didn’t want to deal with snail mail or having someone else hand deliver. (Also because living in Michigan makes Chicago the most likely location for me to actually attend.) Never knew about any other option.

  43. The Retro Hugos would seem to have two possible functions: to imaginatively (re)construct what the Worldcon members of 19xx might have chosen; or to look back, as 21st-century Worldcon members, at the work of 19xx and vote for our favorites. Both approaches impose on the past, directly or indirectly, contemporary values, sensibilities, and understandings–necessarily subjective matters (absent some kind of quantitative/qualitative evaluation scheme involving sales figures, fanzine reviews, prozine LOCs, and perhaps reputation tracking via anthologies, histories, homages, and other backward-looking instruments).

    Or, as Hampus has suggested, we can see it as a parlor game, the kind of thing that used to show up on con panels as a playful exercise with nothing more at stake than showing off one’s argumentative ingenuity and knowledge of the Late Devouring Period.

    And always remember: the Hugos are chosen by a small subset of SF/F readership, what used to be a minority of a minority in the popular fiction world and that even today does not track reliably with what the larger popular-culture audience thinks of as sci-fi.

    We might want to untwist our knickers.

  44. Maybe I haven’t been paying close enough attention, but when did we add a “Best First Novel” category to the Hugoes? Or is that meant to refer to the “Astounding (not a Hugo) Award for Best New Writer”? (Which is not limited to novel writers.)

  45. 5) I have found the serial unique online voting systems to be an odd choice. Thinking of the larger picture, there are a number of software packages that are probably of use to successive WorldCon organizations. (Adobe PDF, an Office suite of some flavor/flavour, etc.)

    Having an IT suite maintained by the WSFS would seem like an easy win/win/win proposal.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Freedom works…each and every time it is tried.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.