Pixel Scroll 8/2/20 Lemonade Stand On Zanzibar

(1) READY FOR MY CLOSE-UP. On the last day of CoNZealand, Jenny Hammond posted to Discord a verse about attending the first virtual Worldcon.

Five days of insanity
Oh the humanity
I click on a room
It refuses to Zoom
I say words of depravity!

(2) CONZEALAND MEMBERSHIP STAT. Interesting revelation.

(3) INSIDE THE HUGO CEREMONY. Erin Underwood, who presented the Best Fan Writer Hugo, told Facebook readers some specifics about the lack of support she received, and offered these general comments —

A few more thoughts, the ConZealand Hugo Awards Ceremony production team owned the production of the event (edited to be clear). It was their show. What we saw was what they created. George owns his words and choices, but they own the decision of using those videos. They produced the show that we saw.

… It is hard to push back against an iconic guest and to provide critical guidance for improved performance, but that was their job. ConZealand owned that Hugo Ceremony from start to finish. As con runners and volunteers, it’s our job to make sure that our speakers and guests are well-prepared and know exactly what’s expected of them, and if they fail, we fail.

Nicholas Whyte, Deputy Hugo Administrator added this comment:

CoNZealand Hugo administrators were as much in the dark about what was going on as you were. Probably more so in that we had no input at all, whereas at least you recorded a video.

Edited to add: practically the first thing we did with finalists was to ask the correct pronunciation of their names.

(4) AVOID FRIENDLY FIRE. Michi Trota is concerned about collateral damage from the social media response to the troubled Hugo Awards ceremony.

(5) ASPIRATION PLUS PERSPIRATION. Cheryl Morgan analyzes some of the challenges of managing Worldcons in “Why Worldcons Go Wrong” and says in conclusion:

…There’s a tendency in certain quarters to sneer when people say that running Worldcon is hard, but it is, and unless you have actually done it you probably don’t understand just how hard it is. Which is not to say that people don’t make terrible mistakes, and should not be called to account for them. I can assure you that I have done that often enough in my time (ask people about TorCon 3 if you don’t believe me). However, I have always tried to do so in the hope that we can learn from our mistakes and make Worldcon better. I hope you can see from the above that fixing things, or creating an alternative, is not simply a matter of vowing to “do better”.

(6) CLOSED CAPSHUNNING. The AI still needs some work.

(7) CHANGE THE CHANNEL. Heroes & Icons tickles your memory about these “15 Forgotten Science-Fiction TV Shows Of The 1980s”.

The Eighties were a golden era for science-fiction. Cineplexes were chockablock with blockbusters like The Empire Strikes BackBack to the FutureAliens and The Terminator. On the small screen, you could get your space fix with Star Trek: The Next Generation. Sitcoms had aliens and androids as their stars in ALF and Small Wonder. Even the cars could talk on Knight Rider.

Of course, not everything was a hit. For every smash, there were scores of knock-offs. Every network attempted to launch its own time travel adventure, it seems. While these shows rarely made it to a second season, they remain cult favorites of those who watched them. They might have thrived today, in our geek culture of a thousand options…

13. THE POWERS OF MATTHEW STAR (1982–83)

Peter Barton starred alongside Lou Gossett, Jr., in this 1982 superhero series. Production began in 1981, though was put on hold after Barton fell onto a pyrotechnics flare, suffering severe third degree burns. Production was shut down, as the actor healed for several months in a hospital. Barton had edged Tom Cruise for the lead role, an alien prince hiding out in high school on earth. Star Trek fans take note: Leonard Nimoy directed an episode, and Walter Koenig wrote one.

(8) YOUR NAME HERE. The New York Times’ John Schwartz has been “Tuckerized” – in fact, he even uses that word in his article “Boldly Writing What I Hadn’t Written Before: Science Fiction”.

I’m a character!

I mean, in a novel. OK, a minor character, more like a cameo, but still — my name is the first that you see in the first chapter of “The Relentless Moon,” the new novel in Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Lady Astronaut” science fiction series. The novels are set in an alternate timeline that has the world, after a devastating meteorite strike and the resulting runaway global warming, greatly accelerating its space program to get humans off the doomed planet.

HALFWAY TO MARS
John Schwartz, Special to the National Times
KANSAS CITY, March 28, 1963 — If all goes as it should — and in space, that is no sure thing — then sometime today, thirteen brave voyagers will cross a Rubicon that no man ever has: the halfway point between our home planet and Mars.

Ms. Kowal, who has won Hugo and Nebula awards and who is president of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, makes her novels something of a group project by relying on the expertise of others for thorny passages: She gets help with orbital mechanics and spacecraft piloting, for example, from actual astronauts. She puts the names of real people into her work, including astronauts.

But she tucks in other names, as well….

(9) DON COMES UP LIKE THUNDER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Last night I heard a 2019 podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Don Hahn.  Hahn began his career at Disney in the mid-1970s, back when an animator who asked to “see a scene” could have an intern go to the storage area where the original cels were stored.  Hahn’s been associated with Disney ever since, surviving the first attempt to revive the animation decision in the early 1980s and the second one when Disney shifted to musicals with The Little Mermaid.  He was the producer of the first versions of Beauty and The Beast and The Lion King, and tells many stories about the era, including how The Lion King was nearly scored by ABBA. He’s also proud of spotting talent early, including seeing the potential in composer Hans Zimmer and director Tim Burton, and says Burton became a success because of “an incredible work ethic.”

Hahn also writes books, including books about animation and an edited version of Walt Disney’s memos about animators.  He paints and published a collection of his art called Hahn Solo.

Hahn also directs documentaries about Disney.  His most recent one is Howard, about Howard Ashman, who revived the American musical with his lyrics for The Little Mermaid  and Beauty and The Beast  but whose career was tragically cut short after he died of AIDS in the early 1990s. Howard is dropping on Disney+ on August 7, 

Hahn was going to come to a movie convention Maltin held last year, and promised he would sign a book any way a customer wanted “as long as it was legal according to the laws of the state of California.”

Hahn’s website is donhahn.com.

(10) IN (LONDON) TIMES TO COME. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Behind a paywall at The (London) Times: “Why the future looks bright for science fiction” by Bryan Appleyard.

John Clute, the co-editor of the six million-word Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, is pleading with me.

“Please don’t use it, it is deeply vulgar and very stupid. It’s really kind of reprehensible . . . I shouldn’t have mentioned it at all, and I didn’t.” But, John, it’s out there, it’s in your book. I really have no choice.

The term he loathes is “cli-fi”. It means climate-change fiction — stories about the world after a climate catastrophe, stories that used to be called science fiction. The purpose cli-fi serves is not noble, it is pure snobbery. It is, as the entry says, a way of “distancing from the perceived downmarket nature or Pulp roots of Genre SF”. “Speculative fiction” is another class-ridden term used by authors who don’t like to be seen slumming it. Even “sci-fi” is not welcome — in TV listings and the like it describes superhero nonsense.

Yet calling it SF will not, for many readers, drag it out of the lower ranks of the literary league table. Jessica Harrison, the editor of the new SF series from Penguin Modern Classics, admits that for her the term at first evoked book or magazine covers with “half-naked girls and purple planets”. Neither is present on the austere white covers of her list…

… Now, and here comes the optimism, SF has gone global, with new waves of Asian and African writers. One Chinese author in particular has to be mentioned, Liu Cixin. I’ve just started reading his book The Three-Body Problem — it is different from anything else and beautifully written. It is also brave, in that it starts with a vivid description of the horrors of Mao’s Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s. Barack Obama loved the book, not least because it made his “day-to-day problems with Congress seem fairly petty”. That, of course, is exactly what SF should do.

SF will survive even as technological progress seems to race ahead of some of its wildest imaginings. It will survive because it is a way of seeing — not aliens, time warps, superluminal travels and so on, but ourselves. Dr Snaut nailed it in the greatest of all SF movies, Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972).

“We don’t want other worlds; we want a mirror. We seek contact and will never achieve it. We are in the foolish position of a man striving for a goal he fears and doesn’t want. Man needs man!”

(11) BRIMLEY OBIT. Actor Wilford Brimley, who appeared in Cocoon and its sequel, died August 1 at the age of 85. He was also in The Thing (1982), the Ewoks: Battle for Endor TV movie, Progeny, and in the genre-adjacent Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985) as the head of C.U.R.E.

(12) BELATED MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • In July 1997, Donnerjack was published by the Easton Press. This was the true first edition as the Avon Books hardcover edition wouldn’t be out for another month. Though it was started by Roger Zelazny, this novel was largely completed by Jane Lindskold. He completed a few hundred pages of the first draft and left detailed notes for its remainder. The outline Zelazny did was entitled ”Donnerjack, of Virtù: A Fable for the Machine Age“. It was to be the first novel in a trilogy but as Zelazny said in his Hugo Award winning “24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by by Hokusai“ novelette, “I know, too, that death is the only god who comes when you call.” (CE)

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 2, 1916 Elizabeth Russell. She’s best remembered as the Cat Woman (though the voice was dubbed by Simone Simon) in The Cat People. And she was Barbara Farren In The Curse of the Cat People — some of the same characters, not a sequel.  She was also Countess Lorenz in The Corpse Vanishes where her co-star was Bela Lugosi. Lastly she was Dean of Women Grace Gunnison in Weird Women which was sort of based off Fritz Leiber’s Conjure Wife. (Died 2002.) (CE)
  • Born August 2, 1920 Theodore Marcuse. He was Korob in “Catspaw”, a second-season Trek episode that aired just before Halloween aptly enough. He had appearances in The Twilight Zone (“The Trade-Ins” and “To Serve Man”), Time TunnelVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaWild, Wild West and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the episodes “The Re-collectors Affair”,  “The Minus-X Affair”,  and “The Pieces of Fate Affair”.  (Died 1967.) (CE)
  • Born August 2, 1942 – Isabel Allende, 78.  Adventures in and beside literature include ten novels for us, a score of shorter stories, translated into Dutch, French, German, Portuguese; many others (one of which, Chip Hitchcock, is Zorro).  Fan of Shakespeare.  Translator of romance novels into Spanish, fired for altering dialogue to show the heroines smarter, plots to show them more independent.  First woman to receive the Gabriela Mistral Order of Merit.  Harvard Litt.D. (Latin, Litterarum Doctor “doctor of letters”, in her case honoris causa “for the sake of the honor” i.e. honorary degree).  Memoir, The Sum of Our Days.  American Academy of Arts & Letters.  Chilean Literature Prize.  Gish Prize.  US Medal of Freedom.  [JH]
  • Born August 2, 1945 Joanna Cassidy, 75. She is known for being the replicant Zhora Salome in Blade Runner and Dolores in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, two of my favorite films. She also did really bad horror films that don’t bear thinking about. I mean really bad horror. (CE)
  • Born August 2, 1948 Robert Holdstock. Another one who died far too young. His Ryhope Wood series is simply amazing with Lavondyss being my favorite volume. And let’s not overlook his Merlin Codex series which is one of the more original takes on that character I’ve read. The Ragthorn, co-written with Garry Kilworth, is interesting as well. (Died 2009.) (CE)
  • Born August 2, 1949 Craig Shaw Gardner, 71. Comic fantasy author whose work is, depending on your viewpoint, very good or very bad. For me, he’s always great.  I adore his Ballad of Wuntvor sequence and highly recommend all three novels, A Difficulty with DwarvesAn Excess of Enchantments  and A Disagreement with Death. Likewise his pun-filled Arabian Nights sequence will either be to your liking or really not. I think it’s worth it just for Scheherazade’s Night Out. (CE)
  • Born August 2, 1949 – Joe Siclari, F.N., 71.  Collector, fanhistorian, active in cons and fanzines.  New Yorker and Floridian.  Chair of MagiCon the 50th Worldcon.  Co-founded SMOFcon (“Secret Master Of Fandom”, as Bruce Pelz said a joke-nonjoke-joke) and FanHistoriCon.  Published The Complete “Quandry” (being Lee Hoffman’s fanzine; note spelling), The Enchantment (Walt Willis), A Wealth of Fable (Harry Warner’s fanhistory of the 1950s); edited a photo-illustrated ed’n of All Our Yesterdays (HW fanhistory of the 1940s).  Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service award).  Chairman of FANAC (fanac has long been short for fan activity; in this case, the Florida Ass’n for Nucleation And Conventions) which sponsored MagiCon and now sponsors Fancyclopedia 3 and the FANAC Fan History Project.  Fan Guest of Honor at MiniCon 31 (with wife Edie Stern), DeepSouthCon 34, Loscon XXVI, Lunacon 51.  DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate (with Stern).  Big Heart (our highest service award; with Stern).  FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement Award) for Best Online Archive or Resource (i.e. the FANAC Fan History Pjt; with Stern).  Named Fan Guest of Honor (with Stern) for Chicon 8 the scheduled 80th Worldcon.  [JH]
  • Born August 2, 1952 – Hope Leibowitz, 68.  Only person to have attended every Ditto (fanziners’ con; named for a brand of copying machine).  Has lived in Toronto longer than New York (38 yrs, 30 yrs).  Contributor to FLAP (Fannish Little Amateur Press, an apa).  Sent a birthday card to Bob Madle (see here and here).  Likes the cover for Mike Resnick’s Paradise – but I forgot to ask if she meant this one (Whelan) or maybe this one (Gauckler).  [JH]
  • Born August 2, 1954 Ken MacLeod, 66. Sometimes I don’t realize until I do a Birthday note just how much I’ve read a certain author. And so it was of MacLeod. I’ve read the entire Fall Revolution series, not quite all of the Engines of Light Trilogy, all of The Fall Revolution, just the first two of the Corporation Wars and every one of his one-off novels save Descent. I should go find his Giant Lizards from Another Star collection as I’ve not read his short fiction. Damn it’s not available digitally! (CE)
  • Born August 2, 1973 – Prapda Yun, 47.  Writer, filmmaker, graphic designer.  S.E.A. Write Award for Probability (short stories); The Sad Part Was, mostly therefrom, seems the first translation of Thai fiction published in the UK.  PY himself has translated Lolita and PninA Clockwork OrangeR.U.R.  Songs and other music for Buahima and the Typhoon Band.  [JH]
  • Born August 2, 1976 – Emma Newman, 44.  Eleven novels, as many shorter stories (one for Wild Cards).  Collection, From Dark Places.  Audiobooks.  “How LARP [Live-Action Role Playing] Changed My Life” here.  Best-Fancast Hugo for Tea and Jeopardy (with husband Peter), see here.  [JH]
  • Born August 2, 1994 – Dawson Vosburg, 16.  Three novels. “I love my imagination.  It’s the one thing I’m thankful for every day.”  Here’s Chapter 2 of Incognito.  [JH]

(14) DAYS OF OUR LIVES. The sand ran out?

(15) WASCALLY FOREVER. John King Tarpinian has received his Bugs Bunny stamps.

(16) UNDER THE LID. Where does Alasdair Stuart find the time? Here’s what he covers this week in The Full Lid for 31st July 2020:  

This week in The Full Lid! With the movie riding high I dig into the second volume of the original Old Guard comic series. Force Multiplied changes the game for the immortals in some big ways and is both a good read and a great basis for the almost certain sequel. 

Elsewhere this issue I take a look at Fredrica and Stefon Bristol’s audacious and smart time travel movie See You Yesterday which is one of those films that will stay with you after viewing. Finally, I take a look at the first issue of Bleed Them Dry, a vampire/cyberpunk/murder mystery from Vault Comics and the team of Hiroshi Kuzumi, Elliot Rahal, Dike Ruan, Tim Daniel and Miquel Muerto. Our interstitials this week are remixes of classic Calvin and Hobbes strips by the Blindspotting team of Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs.

The Full Lid is weekly, free and published every Friday at 5 p.m. BST. You can find an archive and a subscription link at the top of this week’s issue.

(17) ROCKET SCIENCE. Here is how Siobhan Carroll would improve the Retro-Hugos:

 …my suggestions would be to focus on the award’s goal of introducing fans to lesser-known works and teaching us something about SF history. I’d suggest the following format changes:
1) make it a juried award, with the jury consisting of academics and critics who’ve done historical recovery work; 
2) reduce the slate from 12 or so awards to 1 or 2, which would allow for more fan engagement with the work(s) in question; 
3) make its guiding question not, ‘what works might have won in a given year’ but  ‘Which lesser-known SF works from the years of eligibility most speak to the genre and the SF community in 2022?’”

(18) READ FASTER. Review site BookNest.eu will turbocharge the growth of your Mt. TBR with their list of favorites from the 21st century:“Fantasy List: Top 100 Fantasy Books Of Our Century”.

We at BookNest.eu are incredibly excited to announce that we have reached the extraordinary milestone of TWO THOUSAND reviews! That’s an incredible number, considering all of the hours that go into crafting even a single review. We are proud of our reviewers, who have worked for years with passion and dedication to deliver our reviews to the fantasy community in the hopes of increasing awareness of authors and titles we are excited about.

In celebration of this occasion, our reviewers have compiled a list of our picks for the top one hundred fantasy novels that have been published this century. This list is, of course, subjective, so if your favourite book is missing, we apologize in advance. We have not read every book in the world, and the taste of our reviewers may not reflect your own.

(19) PRETTY COLORS. Goobergunch is definitely showing something here. Excuse me a minute while I go learn from the Wikipedia what it is….

(20) THEY MADE IT! “Splashdown! SpaceX And NASA Astronauts Make History”NPR has the story.

Two NASA astronauts are back on Earth after their space capsule splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.

The last time any NASA astronauts came home by splashing down was in 1975—and back then, they were in an Apollo space vehicle. This time, the astronauts were in a white, bell-shaped capsule owned by SpaceX.

The success of their test flight, to the International Space Station and back, is a milestone for SpaceX, the first private company to send people to the outpost.

The company has been taking cargo to and from the station for years. This flight with people on board was the final test for SpaceX’s crew system to be certified by NASA as ‘operational’ for future astronaut missions.

That means the U. S. once again has its own ability to put people in orbit and return them safely. Since retiring its space shuttles in 2011, NASA has had to buy seats for its astronauts on Russian spaceships.

NASA can now rely on an American space taxi that takes off from Florida, and it’s already assigning astronauts to future SpaceX missions–including Megan McArthur, who happens to be married to one of the just-returned astronauts, Bob Behnken.

The BBC also has a movie of the parachute deployment and descent (splashdown at 1:18) and one of the crew checking out of the ISS.

(21) SOCIALLY DISTANCED MAGIC. [Item by N.]

If you wanna watch, it’s live right now on Twitch.

(22) A HORSE, OF COURSE. Adam Thirwell says Bojack Horseman reminds him of everything from Don Quixote to Ibsen in “A Horse’s Remorse” at The New York Review of Books.

…I’m in no way an avid watcher of cartoons but, to risk a sense of disproportion, I began to feel something similar as the animated series BoJack Horseman unfolded on Netflix over six seasons and seventy-seven episodes, beginning in 2014 and ending early this year. “It’s not Ibsen,” went a repeated refrain in the show, which was funny not just because it was a form of immediate self-deprecation about the show itself—a cartoon comedy whose supporting cast includes a news anchor who’s an irascible blue whale and a film studio renamed Warbler Brothers—but also because this show was Ibsen in a way, just an opioid version: a wild investigation of self-deception and failure. Or rather, that’s what I concluded by the end. At first it was simply zany and delightful, this series about a talking horse who’s the washed-up star of a now-forgotten 1990s hit sitcom, Horsin’ Around, a saccharine confection about a horse who adopts three human orphans. But by the time it finished, it had become something much grander and more terrible. Exactly what, however, and exactly how, are conundrums that have preoccupied me….

[Thanks to John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, rcade, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Dann, N., Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

113 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/2/20 Lemonade Stand On Zanzibar

  1. (19) Beautiful work. BTW I noticed in the stats for Related work that the winner was the nominee that had the fewest nominating votes, which is remarkable.

  2. 13) I think Robert Holdstock is one of the fantasy writers who desperately need more recognition here. Patricia McKillip, R.A. MacAvoy, and Greer Gilman are also on my list.

  3. I hope someone will link to one of Wilford Brimley’s commercials for Quaker Oats so non-American fans can see what he was like as an old coot.

  4. 21) !!!
    I knew they were going to find some way to do a PPR because they managed a paper PPR for the Core Set, but I was not expecting paper drafting! (Hopefully they’ll do a behind-the-scenes video like they did for the last one because I really want to see how they made that work.)

  5. Rob Thornton notes that I think Robert Holdstock is one of the fantasy writers who desperately need more recognition here. Patricia McKillip, R.A. MacAvoy, and Greer Gilman are also on my list.

    Much of his work requires the reader to pay attention to what they’re reading as it’s deliberately complex language. The Ryhope Wood cycle Is pretty much a matter of trying to figure out what he meant by that bit of writing. Not light reading.

    And he never got a Hugo which surprises me. World Fantasy Awards and other Awards as well, yes, but no Hugos.

  6. (2) I’ll start out by saying that I didn’t have an attending membership to CoNZealand, only supporting, because I knew I couldn’t afford traveling to New Zealand.

    But even if I’d had an attending membership, I doubt seriously I would have logged into the Discord server. Why? Because I spend 40 to 45 hours a week sitting in front of my computer already in conference calls or emails, dealing with customers all over the world.

    I enjoy going to worldcons to talk to people, trying out interesting places to eat and enjoying the events.

    Sitting in front of a computer, typing words in a chat room, is just too much like work. That’s not my idea of a worldcon.

  7. (13) Dawson Vosburg seems very young for someone born in 1994! 🙂
    (8) I’ve also had the privilege of being Tuckerised – I’m in Jo Walton’s “Among Others” as the protagonists’ cousin who she sends a card to when starting his new job (the diary dates match the actual dates when I was starting my first job after uni).

  8. 13) Joanna Cassidy was also the title character in Code Name: Foxfire. It only lasted 8 episodes, but I wonder if it influenced Tarantino’s Fox Force Five. According to wikipedia, Cassidy was considered for the role of Wonder Woman before they decided on Lynda Carter. She had a couple episodes of Enterprise and was in The Tommyknockers miniseries and John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars.

    19) They remind me of Charles Minard’s graph of Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812. Or squids.

    “Of course it’s not real. You think I’d be scrolling here if I could afford a real pixel.”

  9. 8) I’ve been Tuckerised — I’m an ethnomusicologist in Yolen’s The One-Armed Queen. It was in exchange fir finding a book of fairy tales she wanted.

  10. 17) A juried award doesn’t fit well with the Hugo brand. Maybe they could be called the Retro-Sharks? But really, if one goes down that route, I think the best destination is a new set of anthologies.

    The Scroll Unvanquishable, Save by Pixels.

  11. (17) There are only a few eligible years left unawarded for the Retro Hugos and to make that kind of alteration would require a WSFS Constitution change, no mean feat at best. If a retrospective juried award is what’s desired, the path of least resistance is to create a new one.

  12. Rich Lynch says There are only a few eligible years left unawarded for the Retro Hugos and to make that kind of alteration would require a WSFS Constitution change, no mean feat at best. If a retrospective juried award is what’s desired, the path of least resistance is to create a new one.

    Are 1947 to 1950 the remaining eligible years?

  13. 2) I had an attending membership that I planned to sell … in March. Oops. I had determined I wasn’t going to NZ and just dawdled too long to sell so in my mind I wasn’t going anyway. I’m in a critical non-health related job, and getting any time off was impossible once hit, and after 10 hours a day working at a laptop I couldn’t bear any more sitting in front of a screen. But even more importantly, while I always attend as many panels at a con as I can, I really go for the personal contacts, seeing friends, wandering the dealer room, art show, and exhibits, the ceremonies especially masquerade, and the parties. So I had no energy to log into zoom panels. I appreciate what the con managed.

  14. 8) Never been Tuckerized myself, but several years back, I worked with a charming woman whose name tickled my fancy – “Serene Ambler”. I passed it to a friend who found it so amusing he wrote it into one of his novels.

    I’ll leave it to the Gentle Readers to figure out who and where.

  15. (2) Attendance/Participation

    Whatever the individual reasons were for not logging on to the Discord server (and people have mentioned some above), the system was set up with the assumption that a certain subset would choose to access the programming without a Discord account. So whether people simply didn’t like that particular interface, or that style of interaction, or planned to access the programming asynchronously and figured the Discord chat would be happening at times they weren’t online…given all that, 200 non-Discord attendees doesn’t sound unexpected.

    As for why people with attending memberships might not log on at all? Some subset will be people who bought a membership before quarantine but didn’t find a virtual con appealing. Some subset will be people who had bought a membership and then found their schedule didn’t allow time to participate. Some may not have had the hardware and connectivity necessary to participate. Some may have had last-minute hardware/internet/scheduling crises.

    But it’s also the case, that some subset of Attending Members will have found the complex, arcane, and glitchy log-on process too frustrating and gave up before achieving log-on. It’s hard to identify those unless they speak up, because from the member tech support side of the process it’s hard to tell the difference between “must have worked” and “gave up.”

  16. Heather Rose Jones: To all of that I will add one more idea. A few people probably bought attending memberships as a way to financially support the con — in years gone by I have seen fans talk about doing that when the Worldcon is outside N.Am. Doesn’t seem likely there would be a lot of those, however.

  17. Emily Nuts and Chocolate Jackhammers is the name of my next band.

    @John Lorentz,
    I don’t know if it would have changed your mind, but there were also audio-visual channels set-up in Discord: I hung out there (at virtual bar tables) for a bit & got to talk to & see about a dozen other attendees per time.

    There were also “parties” on Zoom with separate break-out rooms set up so you could “wander” in and out of rooms staying to listen in or chat, or otherwise moving on.

    The Discord channels were always available, while the Zoom room parties were only during designated party hours.

    None of the above replace in-person face-to-face con interactions, but they were a decent (though admittedly inferior) replacement.

  18. Discord strains my laptop to the max and the interface is annoying. As for video or zoom, I didn’t expect them to be any less resource heavy or was interested in figuring out yet another set up.

  19. 18/100 on that fantasy list, with 2 more on Mt. Tsundoku. A distressing number of them I’d never even heard of….

    I’ve been Tuckerized twice: once as a space prison (“Goldfarb’s Asteroid”) in the comic Legion of Super-Heroes, and once by Jo Walton as a butler in Ha’Penny and Half a Crown. I also have a namesake in Harry Turtledove’s Worldwar books, but that character wasn’t actually named for me — “David Goldfarb” is just a very easy and plausible name for a Polish Jew. I still got quite a kick out of it, though.

  20. 2) I spend two hours a week taking music lessons over Zoom, one of those hours from a teacher who’s using a crappy connection that spends a great deal of time not working; this leaves me with very little interest in more videoconferencing. I’ve also given up on Zoom filksings, both because of the above and because there are far too many participants – I don’t enjoy filks too large to function as bardic circles.

    Discord I am prejudiced against because of all the “hey guys I made a discord” noise I see in other fora.

    7) I watched three of those series (and I’m always glad when it turns out I’m not the only one who remembers Otherworld). I never even heard of four of them.

    8) I’ve never been Tuckerized either, but when I was an undergrad I somehow made it into the acknowledgments of a long-forgotten technical book.

    When the scrolling gets weird, the pixels turn pro.

  21. NickPheas: the Dublin close call portions were so much worse.

    NickPheas: Gah. Closed edit window. Close captions.

    I’m enjoying the Ironman of that autocorrect. 😉

  22. Andrew on August 2, 2020 at 5:58 pm said:

    I noticed in the stats for Related work that the winner was the nominee that had the fewest nominating votes, which is remarkable.

    Same for Best Editor, Short Form.

    And Graphic Story is particularly interesting, because the winner was the nominee with the fewest points in the last round, but not the nominee with the fewest nominations. Which means–I think–that it was sharing more ballots with other finalists, suggesting a more divided vote. Anyway, it’s certainly a curiosity.

  23. @David Goldfarb
    I’d expected ‘Goldfarb’s Asteroid’ to be part of renowned fans-turned-pros Tom n Mary Bierbaum’s run, but its actually Tom Peyer’s n Tom McCraw’s stint. (So many Toms writing LSH post Five Years Later.)
    [Edit-i dint realise the Bierbaum’s fandom origins until reading posts of their recollections on their blog last year]

  24. @Cat Eldridge And he never got a Hugo which surprises me.

    As a theory, I think he was publishing his best work at a time when fans were keen to distance themselves from genre fantasy? Though it’s probably enough that he was a difficult, patchy writer in a way that didn’t create mass fannish appeal.

    4) My personal view is that Worldcon fandom isn’t as important as people think and that a bit of time and hard work will fix what’s wrong… but I think any commitment to radical change requires a willingness to give up on what we have and build something new if necessary.

  25. 12) I enjoyed Donnerjack (although parts of it were a bit rough). However, I would have read more of a trilogy in its verse.

    8) I’ve been tuckerized into a couple of stories and a version of me appears in a Liz Williams novel.

  26. (2) I wonder if some of the people who bought attending memberships and didn’t sign in are in time zones that made live attendance difficult. They may intend to consume the recorded content over the next week.
    (17) I have always thought that the Retro Hugos should try to emulate the categories that would have existed at the time rather than using the current ones. For example, Best Magazine rather than Best Editor Short Form, only one Dramatic Presentation award, not divided between long and short forms. Though some modern categories that didn’t exist are appropriate, such as Related Work or Graphic Novel.

  27. 18) 25/100.

    Most of what I read from the list was really, really good and a couple of those books are absolutely overlooked gems.

    Regards,
    Dann
    To silence criticism is to silence freedom. – Sidney Hook

  28. I bought an attending membership long before Covid even though I had no expectation of being able to attend (I got into the habit a few years ago when my circumstances didn’t allow much travel and I figured buying a full membership was a way to support Worldcon). When Worldcon went virtual i hoped to participate but I got slammed at work with a series of lengthy videoconferences and just needed quiet time afterwards.

  29. 17) It’d be an interesting exercise, to be sure, but a juried award that’s only for a couple of categories and isn’t tied to a given year… is so different from the Hugos that it seems, well, inapt to call it one. (A completely different award – let’s hypothetically call it the Allison V. Stirling Award, shall we? – would actually be easier to organize, given that it wouldn’t need at least two years for the rules changes to go through WorldCon business meetings.)

    Have to admit, I’ve found some of the commentary on the Retro Hugos a bit bruising – I’m one of the people who latched on to Cora Buhlert’s Retros project; I did a fair amount of work delving into the past and reviewing stuff, and now I feel like I’ve been dabbling in unmentionable practices. It’s honestly not meant to be a reactionaries’ award – a big part of my motivation in doing the research was to turn up viable alternatives to the same old boring names that come up time and time again! (John W. Campbell has won Best Editor in every Retro ballot to date, and even his most dedicated admirers must surely wonder if that complete shut-out is actually justified. [Short answer: no, it isn’t.])

    If I have a practical suggestion to make…. I’d recommend that any WorldCon committee planning to do a Retro Hugo (it’s at the concom’s discretion, it’s not obligatory) should budget (time, effort, money) in advance for a proper Retro Hugo voters’ packet to go with it. The famous novels and short stories are still available, true, but with some of the lesser known works, we’re talking about material that might have been out of print for decades. And it would certainly be handy to have a genre historian on tap to write up, say, the Best Editor candidates and put them in some sort of context. Some volunteers this year did yeoman service in ferretting stuff out and making it available, and their efforts were much appreciated! – but we could always use more information; informed electorates make better choices.

  30. (2) I bought an attending membership to support the con, went through the schedule and picked out panels of interest, and did log briefly into Discord to look around. But because work now requires more video conferencing and online chatting, I try to avoid online time on the weekends, and I didn’t stir me out of my torpor even for CoNZealand. I figure that talks and panels will show up on YouTube or somewhere before too long, and I can catch up then.

    Unrelated: here’s the Austin Chronicle review of “Dead Dicks”, a dark SF-nal drama (content warning for suicide) that’s been released on streaming this week.

  31. @Steve Wright
    I talked to Siobhan Carroll on Twitter and she honestly wasn’t aware of the work several of us poured into the Retro Hugos.

    But some of the commentary along the lines of “Let the Retro Hugos die. It’s only a handful of reactionaries voting for those anyway” annoy me as well, especially since they often come from people who’ve done f*ck all to make the Retros better and who don’t even seem to know who won aside from Campbell and Lovecraft.

    Also, I think you mean Allison V. Harding, not Stirling. 🙂

  32. Lis Carey: Thank you. Non-Americans should know the way most of us knew Wilford Brimley was through all those oatmeal ads. (Although I saw THE CHINA SYNDROME earlier this year and he was a really good actor in the 1970s.)

    John Lorentz: You make a good point. Half the fun of a con is seeing your friends, eating snacks in the con suite, walking through the huckster room, etc. That really can’t be replaced by a “con suite” that consists of typing things n Discord. And those of us who make a living staring at a screen and typing don’t necessarily find a “con” that consists of staring at a screen and typing to be very much fun.

  33. (2) – even in-person Worldcons have no-shows from people with attending memberships, I’d be intersted in seeing how those numbers compare.

    (17) – Only 120 people nominated for the Retro Hugos, and only 520 voted. Despite efforts of Cora and crew, engagement is very low, and the benefit-to-cost ratio even lower. There are only a handful more years that could even hold Retro Hugos, and I think they should not. Assemble a panel of people instead, who could have the conversation that Siobhan Carroll suggests, and do an interesting exploration of the year in question. But let’s stop focusing so much attentiong, not to mention volunteer effort and time, on the past.

    And if people have opinions about the Retros and if they should or should not be held, start talking to the bids and seated Worldcons for those years now. They are the decision makers as to if they will be run. The next one is Chicago in 2022, and then after that 23-25 & 27. And then a couple in the 40s, but I can’t imagine anyone will care then.

  34. Steve Wright: Cora’s blast at some of the Retro Hugo winners (“I’m not thrilled about the Retro Hugos for Campbell, Cthulhu and Voice of the Imagi-Nation either”) in a blog post set me to thinking about the perfect storm that accounts for Best Fanzine being won by Voice of the Imagi-Nation, edited by Forrest J Ackerman and Myrtle R. Douglas. It was a real “I’ll show THEM” opportunity for those who still revere Forry in spite of everything, and those who recognized that Douglas, who went by the handle Morojo, is the same person who has gained posthumous fame for creating the first costume worn at a Worldcon (by Forry in 1939), and was the only woman nominated in that category.

  35. 18) 9/100. This list had none of the classic fantasy that I am familiar with. Closest it got was Joe Abercrombie and Brandon Sanderson. Sounds like I am out of date. But I think I let a lot of this list go because the novels looked like run-of-the-mill fantasy. Maybe I will take a look again and see if any of the list appeals.

  36. 18) oooo, I’m feeling so special! 37 for me, plus 5 dnfs.

    That list looks more to me like a “favorite grimdark” list than a “favorite general fantasy” list. Loooooots of grim in there, though it isn’t exclusively grim.

  37. 18) I don’t follow commercial fantasy, so most of the writers on this (somewhat premature) list are unfamiliar to me, but the iconography of the covers caught my eye: along with the expected swords (and other sharp/pointy objects), armor, horse warriors, and dragons, there seems to be a Thing for cloaks (with or without hoods) and big, blowing hair (which might be semiotically related to cloaks). Also, for some reason, birds.

    I’m reminded of the cover formula that Don Wollheim is said to have developed for the modern “gothic” romance paperback: night, with woman foregrounded (often running from) background of dark house with one window lit.

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