Pixel Scroll 8/22/19 Release The Dungeons And The Dragons

(1) YOUNG PEOPLE READ AGAIN. James Davis Nicoll introduces the next phase of the program: “Young People Read Old Science Fiction: Rediscovery!”

The next phase of Young People Read Old Science Fiction focuses on a single reference text, Journey Press’s Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1958 – 1963). To quote from Journey Press’ site:

“The Silver Age of Science Fiction saw a wealth of compelling speculative tales — and women authors wrote some of the best of the best. Yet the stories of this era, especially those by women, have been largely unreprinted, unrepresented, and unremembered.

“Until now.

“Volume one of REDISCOVERY represents a historic first: fourteen selections of the best science fiction of the Silver Age, written by the unsung women authors of yesteryear and introduced by today’s rising stars. Join us and rediscover these lost treasures…. “

James is also recruiting participants:

I am looking for reviewers born after about 1980. The deadline for application is September 1, with a target date for the inaugural Young People Read Old Science Fiction: Rediscovery! post of October 1. If you are interested, please contact me at jdnicoll at panix dot com.

Where previous phases have involved each contributor working on their own, this chapter will feature a round table approach. Each contributor will be provided by me with a copy of the ebook.

(2) IN CONS TO COME. Cheryl Morgan assesses the competition to host a future Worldcon in “The Race for 2023”.

… Prior to Dublin the extant bids for 2023 were Nice (France), Chengdu (China) and New Orleans (USA). The New Orleans bid has, I understand it, collapsed. However, some US fans were busily organising a bid for another city. Apparently they viewed this as essential to prevent yet another non-US Worldcon. I think they have settled on Memphis but it was a bit confused.

The Chengdu bid is controversial for two reasons, one of which is that it is very hard to get into China. Elizabeth Bear told me that she has been denied a visa because she is a writer. That could happen to a lot of us. My own view is that a Chinese Worldcon won’t happen without government approval, and if that approval exists then it should be possible to set up a system whereby visa applications can be expedited. This is China, after all

(3) FINAL FANZINE SOLUTION. Cheryl Morgan also reacts to Nicholas Whyte’s statistics showing that the Best Fanzine Hugo category is skating on the edge of the abyss in “Whither Fanzine?”?

…On Twitter Aidan Moher has been calling for more appreciation for video fanzines. (Booktube appears to be the name for such things.) People making them certainly deserve recognition, but they belong in the Fancast category which is for:

Any generally available non-professional audio or video periodical devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects

Aidan also suggests collapsing Fanzine and Fancast to create a single category of fan-created works. Much as I would like to see fewer Hugo categories, I can’t see that happening. Neither the podcast people nor fanzine fandom would be happy….

(4) N3F SHORT STORY CONTEST. The National Fantasy Fan Federation’s annual short story contest is accepting entries through December 31, 2019. There are no entrance fees, but there are cash prizes. First prize is $50, second $30, and third $20. Read about it here: “2019 N3F Amateur Short Story Contest”. The judge is SF author Jefferson Swycaffer. Results will be announced by March 2020.

1. This contest is open to all amateur writers in the field, regardless of whether they’re members of the National Fantasy Fan Federation. For the purposes of this contest, we define an amateur as someone who has sold no more than two (2) stories to professional science fiction or fantasy publications or publishing houses.

2. Stories entered in the contest must be original, unpublished, not longer than 8,500 words in length—and must be related to the science fiction, fantasy, or similar genres in the opinion of the judge.

(5) AFRICAN FUTURES. “These Nigerian Teens Are Making Sci-Fi Shorts with Slick Visual Effects”Kottke.org has the story. Photos of the steps in one of their productions can be seen at the post.

For the past year, a group of teens in Nigeria called the Critics Company have been uploading short sci-fi films to their YouTube channel. Using a smartphone with a busted screen, makeshift equipment, open source 3D tools like Blender, and green sheets hung on walls, the self-taught group has produced some professional-grade special effects. Check out this 10-minute short they uploaded in January, Z: The Beginning.

(6) MORE ON CAMPBELL. Comments by David Bowles, including some quotes from Campbell. Thread starts here.

(7) NO BILLIONS AND BILLIONS? The Hollywood Reporter drills into the “‘Spider-Man’ Standoff: Why Sony Thinks It Doesn’t Need “Kevin’s Playbook” Anymore”.

…Rothman will need to deliver Marvel-less fare that lives up to hype of the Spider-Man character’s MCU appearances. “If the two sides don’t come to a compromise, it’s a lose-lose for everybody,” argues Shawn Robbins, chief analyst for industry website Boxoffice. “Marvel won’t be able to resolve the cliffhanger in future movies, which is saying something when it’s their most popular hero. And for Sony, who has had success, Far From Home doesn’t get to a billion dollars without Feige and Marvel’s involvement.”

Adds Robbins, “The other big question is, ‘How are fans are going to react to a Tom Holland Spider-Man movie that is not set in the MCU?’ That is a roll of the dice that no studio should take.”

(8) I THOUGHT BUGS HATE RAID(S). Cnet reports “Spider-Man fans want to ‘storm’ Sony and ‘bring our boy home’ to the MCU”.

First the internet wanted to raid Area 51, now Sony is the target, with over 5,500 Spider-Man fans planning to storm its California offices and bring Spider-Man back to Marvel.

A Facebook event, hosted by three fans, was set up on Tuesday. The event, according to its description, involves dressing up in Spider-Man costumes and bringing “our boy home!” (to the Marvel Cinematic Universe).

The raid is planned for Oct. 31, aka Halloween. The perfect guise.

This fan rage spawned from a report Deadline published Tuesday of a high-level dispute between Sony and Marvel. That dispute means Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige won’t produce any more Spider-Man films and Marvel will no longer be involved in the Spider-Man movie universe.

(9) CRYSTAL CLEARING. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance premieres August 30 on Netflix.

As power-hungry overlords drain life from the planet Thra, a group of brave Gelfling unite on a quest to save their world and fight off the darkness.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 22, 1907 Oliver McGowan. He played The Caretaker in the “Shore Leave” episode of the original Trek. It must be decades since I’ve seen that episode but I still remember liking it a lot silly though it be. It’s kind of the ancestor to the holodeck, isn’t it? McGowan has one-offs on One Step Beyond, Wild Wild West, I Dream of Jeannie, The Twilight Zone and Bewitched. (Died 1971.)
  • Born August 22, 1909 Paul W. Fairman. His story “No Teeth for the Tiger” was published in the February 1950 issue of Amazing Stories. Two years later, he was the founding editor of If, but he edited only four issues. In 1955, he became the editor of Amazing Stories and Fantastic which he would hold for three years. There are several films, Target Earth and Invasion of the Saucer Men, based on his stories, plus some TV episodes as well. (Died 1977.)
  • Born August 22, 1920 Ray Bradbury. So what’s your favorite book by him? I have three. Something Wicked This Way Comes is the one I reread quite a bit with The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles being my other go to regularly works by him. (Died 2012.)
  • Born August 22, 1925 Honor Blackman, 94. Best known for the roles of Cathy Gale in The Avengers, Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger and Hera in Jason and the Argonauts. She was also Professor Lasky in “Terror of the Vervoids” in the Sixth Doctor’s “The Trial of a Time Lord”.
  • Born August 22, 1948 Susan Wood. Of extremely fragile health, she received three Hugo Awards for Best Fan Writer in 1974, 1977, and 1981, and a Best Fanzine Hugo as coeditor of Energumen in 1973In 1976 she was instrumental in organizing the very first feminist panel at a con, at MidAmericon. The reaction to this helped lead to the founding of A Women’s APA and of WisCon. While teaching courses in SF at UBC, one of her students was William Gibson.  “Fragments of a Hologram Rose” which is his first published story was written as an assignment in her SF class. (Died 1980.)
  • Born August 22, 1955 Will Shetterly, 64. Of his novels, I recommend his two Borderland novels, Elsewhere and Nevernever, and Dogland. Married to Emma Bull, they did a trailer for her War for The Oaks novel which is worth seeing.
  • Born August 22, 1959 Mark Williams, 60. He was Arthur Weasley in seven of the Potter films. He also played Brian Williams in the BBC series Doctor Who, appearing with the Eleventh Doctor in “The Power of Three” and “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. He was also Olaf Petersen on Red Dwarf. His first genre role was as Fearnot’s Brother in the “Fearnot” episode of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. 
  • Born August 22, 1963 Tori Amos, 56. One of Gaiman’s favorite musicians, so it’s appropriate that she penned two essays, the afterword to “Death” in Sandman: Book of Dreams) and the Introduction to “Death” in The High Cost of Living. Although created before they ever met, Delirium from The Sandman is based on her.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Speedbump has a very funny variation on an old theme, with a little environmental message.
  • In Pearls Before Swine we meet a frog who’s a different kind of prince.
  • Grimmy serves up a very cheap pun!

(12) BRADBURY REDISCOVERIES. The B&N Sci-FI & Fantasy Blog calls readers’ attention to “8 Lesser-Known Works by Ray Bradbury” on his birthday.

The Green Towns
Green Town is to Bradbury what Derry and Castle Rock are to Stephen King: an invented town that brings to life the community of the author’s childhood dreams, shot through with an undercurrent of the supernatural. The town is based on Waukegan, Illinois, where Bradury spent his boyhood years, and his fond memories and great love for the place shine throughout the Green Town series’ four novels, the most widely read of which is Something Wicked This Way Comes.

(13) BLOW OUT YOUR CANDLE. LitHub declares “Ray Bradbury still deserves birthday sex, even after all these years.”

…I bet you didn’t know that Crazy Ex Girlfriend creator and star Rachel Bloom is quite possibly his biggest fan. In 2010, she went public with her adoration and shared “F*ck Me, Ray Bradbury” with the world. (In 2011, the video was even nominated for a Hugo Award!)

So, celebrate Ray Bradbury today with lyrics like: “Since I was 12, I’ve been your number one fan / Kiss me, you illustrated man. / I’ll feed you grapes and dandelion wine / And we’ll read a little Fahrenheit 69.” You’re welcome.

(14) ON THE AIR. “Fast radio bursts” feature in today’s Nature. Their origin has been a mystery and some have (seriously) proposed ET intelligence origin (like pulsars were but you know how that turned out).  There are also repeaters… “Haul of mysterious cosmic bursts excites astronomers”.

Discovery of more ‘repeater’ fast radio bursts should help to reveal signals’ origins…

Astronomers are edging closer to finding out what causes brief, powerful flashes in the sky known as fast radio bursts (FRBs), after a Canadian telescope discovered eight more of the most intriguing type of these blasts — those that repeat their signals. FRBs are intensely energetic events that flare for just milliseconds, seemingly all over the sky and from outside the Galaxy. But their cause has remained a mystery since the first FRB was identified in 2007. Astronomers hope that studying bursts that repeat their flashes, rather than flare just once, can help to elucidate the origins of FRBs. That’s because it’s easier for high-resolution telescopes to make followup observations of ‘repeaters’ and trace their origins compared with one-off blasts.

(15) BOT AND DELIVERED. My cousin Russia Mike, as I like to call him, is on his way to the ISS: “Russia launches life-sized robot into space”. (With photos.)

Russia has launched a rocket carrying a life-sized robot to the International Space Station (ISS).

It was launched from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday and is set to arrive at the station on Saturday.

The robot, named Fedor (Experimental Demonstration Object Research), is the first ever sent into space by Russia.

In order to test a new emergency rescue system, the robot was the Soyuz rocket’s only passenger.

Fedor stands some one metre and 80 centimetres tall (5ft 11 inches) and weighs 160 kilograms.

During its 10 days at the ISS, Fedor will learn new skills such as “connecting and disconnecting electric cables, using standard items from a screwdriver and a spanner to a fire extinguisher,” said Alexander Bloshenko, the Russian space agency’s director for prospective programmes and science.

It is hoped that Fedor will eventually carry out more dangerous tasks such as spacewalks.

(16) A CITY SAID TO THE UNIVERSE. They hope there isn’t any there there: “City of Bielefeld offers €1m for proof it doesn’t exist” – BBC has the story.

It’s a German city dating back to the 9th Century, with 340,000 residents, a university, a medieval fort… but does it really exist?

Bielefeld is now offering a €1m (£914,000) prize to anyone in Germany who can prove the city’s non-existence.

The city marketing group running the competition wants to disprove a 25-year-old conspiracy theory.

Back in 1994 a student light-heartedly posted the message “Bielefeld? There’s no such thing” on the Usenet system.

Achim Held’s message became a long-running joke in Germany, once it spread virally with the subsequent internet boom

(17) WE KNOW HE IS A WIZ OF A WIZ. Matthem Dessen imparts “A Brief History of Peeing in Video Games” at Slate.

Gamescom 2019 kicked off in Cologne, Germany on Monday night, and as usual, the annual trade fair has been full to bursting with announcements, trailers, and exciting new details about upcoming games. But one development is making a bigger splash than the rest: Visionary video game auteur Hideo Kojima’s next game, Death Stranding, will feature the kind of hyper-realistic urination gameplay action that gamers crave. Drench your eyeballs in this leaked footage from Gamescom’s opening night stream to see Death Stranding star Norman Reedus take the most lavishly digitized piss in video game history…

…Mystery House (On-Line Systems, 1980)

Roberta and Ken Williams are rightfully hailed as two of the most influential game designers in history, but their first attempt to break gaming’s pee barrier was an abject failure. Mystery House, the very first graphical adventure game, was also the very first graphical adventure game to feature a drawing of a toilet….

[Thanks to Rich Horton, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John A Arkansawyer, Mike Kennedy, Dawn Sabados, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Alan Baumler, George Phillies, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

64 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/22/19 Release The Dungeons And The Dragons

  1. 10) The Shetterly book was Nevernever (not Neverwhere) and was, I’d agree, very good.

    I’m trying to remember — it’s been a very, very long time since I read them — did Emma Bull’s Finder take place between the two Shetterly books?

    I also liked Dogland, although its sequel (Gospel of the Knife) was … weird. And possibly the first time I’d ever seen second-person POV at novel length.

  2. Born August 22, 1920 — Ray Bradbury. So what’s your favorite book by him?

    I’m afraid I’m totally boring on this — The Martian Chronicles, no question. Also the short stories “The Fog Horn” and “Fever Dream”, which haunted me for decades before I ever reread them.

  3. @7: one of the links below that story has a rather different slant, “How ‘Spider-Man’ Divorce Shows Ugly Side of Fandom”, arguing that Disney was being horribly greedy over a product that Sony had made a success — but Sony is getting the blame for the breach.

    @9: oh Ghu, a whole season’s worth of we-know-it-will-all-fail built off that weak script?

    @10: I suppose Something Wicked — but I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Bradbury’s work ever since picking up The Martian Chronicles when I was probably too young to appreciate what’s admirable about his pastoralism without tripping over his fear of the future. I’ve always been a fan of cities and tech, and his nostalgia for small-town summers (which for many people were much more miserable than he recalls) sometimes grates.

    @17: I wonder who thought there was a desperate need (or any need at all) for this?

    A link combining two fannish interests (food and puns): what’s not to like about Do Your Wurst. Food Pun Haters, The Yolk’s On You — a live contest vaguely like Punday at Callahan’s. I was amused by “Why did the Pale Ale feel out of place in the winter? It wasn’t the right saison.”

  4. Hugo-related question:

    Last year, JJ made a comment on her yearly Novellapalooza blog to the effect that the Hugo novella category had a 20% leeway on its vella category.

    I don’t see anything about leeways on the Hugo site, aside from a vague description of a very small leeway on the FAQ page: “Furthermore, the Hugo Administrators have a small amount of leeway to move works between categories. For example, a work that is 39,900 words long but is marketed as a book rather than in a magazine might be more suited to the novel category than novella. Equally a movie that is 88 minutes long but comes from a major studio and is widely shown in cinemas might be better suited to the long form dramatic presentation category.”

    This is relevant because I’m trying to maintain the Hugo-related Listopia lists at Goodreads this year.

    So — anybody know of official Hugo pronouncements about leeways on the category lengths? If they exist, do they exist for all the categories?

    Thanks in advance for any info!

  5. (10) If I recall correctly Paul Fairman ghostwrote a novel or two for Del Rey (based on Del Rey outlines) including The Runaway Robot, which was one I really liked as a kid

  6. Contrarius, I’m on a ghastly cellphone right now and can’t get a link for you, but there’s a +/-20% factor in the WSFS Constitution which gives the Hugo admin the ability to relocate fiction works, so Short Story = 7,500 words +/- 1500 words (I.e. up to 9,000 words), Novelette = 7,500 to 17,500 (6,000 to 21,000 words), Novella = 17,500 to 40,000 words (14,000 to 48,000 words).

    Until last year there was an “or 5,000 words, whichever is lesser” clause making the limit on Novella 45,000 words, but that was removed.

  7. To give JJ an assist…

    3.2.8:The Worldcon Committee may relocate a story into a more appropriate category if it feels that it is necessary, provided that the
    length of the story is within twenty percent (20%) of the new category limits.

  8. 2) I’m not sure I understand the need for a US bid in 2023 given the two previous years are Baltimore and Chicago. Are they basically bidding for NASFIC?
    I would like an excuse to travel to China which is the main remaining item on my travel wish list. But I agree that some kind of government preapproval would be needed for a successful event.

    Bradbury – I believe Fahrenheit 451 is the only thing of his I’ve read. I got to about page 20 of the Martian Chronicles before giving it up.

  9. “…the kind of hyper-realistic urination gameplay action that gamers crave…” is a phrase I would have liked to never read for my entire life.

  10. 17) A boring list, not least because it leaves off Robert Yang’s “The Tearoom” – the only game that does anything interesting with the topic(*).

    I’d argue for peeing in video games as a territorial thing – marking games as a masculine space – but Yang sees it from a design perspective:

    The bathroom’s ultimate function in a video game [is] to signal expense and production value… the player can turn on showers and flush toilets, and each fixture sports a complex effects setup with swirling particles and refracting water shaders. This “wasteful” use of draw calls and texture memory helps assure you of the game’s high budget and huge production team.

    (*) With an honourable mention for Increpare’s “Slave of God”, now I think of it.

  11. 1) The funny think is I would almost qualify for that. If there wasn’t the word after before 1980.

  12. @StefanB, well, James said “after about 1980.” So, assuming you were born in 1980, there may be sufficient wiggleroom for you. You could write him a note and ask, should you be interested.

  13. Ray Bradbury. So what’s your favorite book by him?

    The Martian Chronicles was one of the first couple of SF books I read, period. Hard for me to move off of that.

  14. I wouldn’t say FAVORITE necessarily (that’d be Illustrated Man or Martian Chronicles) but one Bradbury that has always stuck with me was actually Pillar of Fire and Other Plays (which, as per the title, contains stage play adaptations of Pillar of Fire, Kaleidoscope, and The Fog Horn), and which was probably my first (if not only) encounter with at least one or two of those stories.

  15. OGH quoted sect 3.2.8 of the WSFS Constitution. 3.2.10 is also relevant (for completeness sake):

    3.2.10: The Worldcon Committee may relocate a dramatic
    presentation work into a more appropriate category if it feels that it is necessary, provided that the length of the work is within twenty percent (20%) of the new category boundary.

  16. 17) This reminds me of my time at LucasArts. I was seconded there for a few months in 2007-2008 to help on an Indiana Jones game that sadly never saw the light of day. I’d just move to San Francisco from the UK and had implemented some fairly innovative real-time fluid simulation technology. I had a system whereby a seamless stream of particles could be emitted from a point in space. Once they hit the ground, or the water surface, they would splash and add volume to the surface. In addition, objects moving through the water would cause waves, etc. So, I had to find somewhere to put this emitter. A gameplay programmer helped me attach the particle emitter to the Indy characters midriff. So now I had a demo where Indy was running around this gladiator-pit-like enclosed space, spraying a stream of water and making waves.

    The tech caused quite a stir, and I was called upon to give a demo to the president and other luminaries. I was kind of nervous, but showed the demo in some fancy meeting room, and the president and others were duly impressed. And right at the end he said something about Indy’s pee-pee gun. I learned later that’s US slang. Being new to the States, I had no idea what he was talking about, but was suitably embarrassed by the guffaws in the room :).

  17. I’d have to say Something Wicked This Way Comes, but The Golden Apples of the Sun is not far behind; that book was my introduction to Bradbury, and it stuck.

  18. @rcade – Nice! And glad you enjoyed the story! The game was contemporaneous with The Crystal Skull, but had a different setting and plot. Sadly, it was canned before it went into full production.

  19. (2) I can’t see a WorldCon in China happening. As opinionated a bunch as SF writers and fans are, with a large percentage of those opinions archived in readily accessible form for the authorities to peruse, it would seem to me that many would face a considerable risk, not only of not getting in, but of having difficulties getting out unharmed. And this would not even have to involve official repression — the Hong Kong protests have shown that much of the thuggishness can be outsourced to pseudo-volunteers or even true ones.
    And it would seem to me that the increasing number of ethnically Chinese writers would be particularly at risk.
    (17) The Duke Nukem series was always known for their piss breaks. As a critic once said: “Realism is when characters occasionally take a leak. Naturalism is when characters constantly take a leak.”

  20. Serious gaps in my Bradbury reading—never read The Martian Chronicles or Something Wicked. I second the mention of The Golden Apples of the Sun as a fine anthology.

    My favorite story of his? The Foghorn.

    ETA: Also enjoyed S is for Space when I was in the golden age.

  21. @K. M. Alexander: back when ATMs were just starting to be interoperable, the New York Cash Exchange consortium was encouraging all its members to put “We’re NYCE!” on all their ads. I don’t know whether one response — “We’re not NYCE. We don’t have to be. We’re Citibank.” led to a … discussion … with the ad agency.

    bookworm1398: geographic rotation among North American bids ended a while ago; maybe we’re getting past the stage of any non-NA bid winning unless it’s bidding massively badly or against another non-NA bid, and getting to choosing bids on qualifications. From what was said in the previous thread, Nice’s qualifications* — especially the concom’s experience — are uncertain, and Chengdu has huge negatives; with plenty of experience available for Glasgow in 2024, it’s unclear that picking a weak non-NA bid is better overall than picking a NA bid that can draw on a huge pool of skills.

    I’ve looked at their convention-center website, but gave up after trying to read tables-of-rooms that some idiot had turned sideways rather than setting up to scroll horizontally if someone really needs to know all the different seating capacities. (For fannish purposes, area is enough to estimate; one square meter is one seat.) But after Dublin what I’d really want to see is large maps showing how much space they have in the hallways; I’ve been in several North American conventions centers, and IIRC none of them would have had the queuing problems reported from Dublin because they all had roomy corridors/atria.
    I also question wonder about Dublin’s and Nice’s planning; the preferred way to avoid most queues is to have a space big enough that people can depend on getting seats at most items. Nice’s questionnaire said their rooms have ~3800 seats; how many did Dublin have, and how does that compare with previous Worldcons? Since guessing program attendance is still a black art (at best), having more seating space than expected bodies — plus having additional rooms for offices (and quiet spaces!) seems necessary, to allow for items being unexpectedly popular.

  22. @John M. Cowan: While I’d rank R is for Rocket and S is for Space a little below Golden Apples of the Sun, they still had a huge impact on me (read all three at around the same age).

  23. My first encounter with Bradbury was not one of his books, that would come late in the guise of Something Wicked This Way Comes, but rather in the form of The Illustrated Man film which I would’ve seen in the late Seventies in Seattle. It did make me seek out his books.

  24. (10) My favorite Bradbury book would have to be The October Country. It has so many great stories: “Skeleton” (one of the creepiest horror stories I’ve ever read), “The Emissary”, “The Veldt”, “The Small Assassin”, “The Crowd”, “Homecoming”, “The Man Upstairs”…

  25. My favorite Bradbury pieces are some of the adaptations that EC Comics did in the 1950s. Take a look at, for example,

    “The Flying Machine”, about which Bradbury wrote, ”’The Flying Machine’ is the single finest piece of art-drawing I’ve seen in years. Beautiful work; I was so touched and pleased.”

    “Dwellers in Science”/“The Long Years” (click the art to advance to the next page)

    “A Sound of Thunder” (click the art to advance to the next page)

    “Mars is Heaven”

  26. Chip Hitchcock: Nice’s questionnaire said their rooms have ~3800 seats; how many did Dublin have, and how does that compare with previous Worldcons?

    I think that CoNZealand and other future Worldcons need to be taking a close look at this. MAC II had some space issues (chiefly, from what I saw, due to having a lot of one-size-fits-all rooms where some items jammed the rooms with more than 200 people, and others had less than 25 attendees), and Worldcon 76 had space issues which may have been exacerbated by the late program changes to already-fixed room sizes. Dublin 2019 had serious overcrowding problems, and Worldcon 75 was a disaster. That’s at least 4 years now where capacity planning was either not done or not done very well; something needs to change, and change markedly.

    I recently saw an upcoming Program division head bragging about how Worldcon prides itself on not having lines and not turning people away from program items and I just laughed grimly and thought, with that clueless attitude, that Worldcon is going to be having space problems, too.

  27. Chip Hitchcock: how many did Dublin have

    Generally I think Dublin did better on the queuing front than Helsinki. Fewer and shorter queues. But it was still too much. One of the problems was the sizing of rooms. Many panel items were just too well attended for the size of room. Only a couple of panels I went to had spare seats and those were on the final day of the con. The con bar at Dublin was a good space which could have benefitted from a few more seats – but casual seating is always a bugbear of mine.

    Loncon was better than both Helsinki and Dublin but there were still queues and overcrowding issues for some panels.

    All the most recent European held worldcons have been quite a chunk bigger (in attendance) than recent US held ones. So maybe the planning is based on average numbers which are too low for Europe. It is something I hope Glasgow keep in mind as their previous cons were approx 4100 people on site. If they get 5500+ people we will probably see some of the same issues if not adequatedly prepared for.

  28. Tori Amos also appears as a tree in Gaiman’s Stardust, which he wrote (IIRC) while staying at her place in upstate NY while she was on tour. Surely that, if nothing else, makes her at least genre-adjacent! 🙂 Somewhere around here I have a booklet from one of her tours which has a short piece by Neil in it.

  29. Paul Weimer on August 23, 2019 at 6:10 am said:

    Ray Bradbury. So what’s your favorite book by him?

    Death is a Lonely Business – not sf as such but weird and spooky and full of Bradburian melancholy

  30. Regarding Worldcon queuing: Dublin was my first Worldcon, so I don’t have a comparison, but I find it quite sad to read complaints about the lines and overcrowding at European Worldcons, or even statements that Helsinki was a disaster. I would argue that long lines for many panels also mean that the program was very interesting, but somehow people don’t seem to comment on that (or I don’t find the comments?). For me it’s clear that the Worldcon was a success, I went to many exciting panel discussions that gave me food for thought, attended concerts (the Finnish choir was amazing) and readings, bought a piece of art and books of course, learned about the careers of female astronauts and astrophysicists, and witnessed a Hugo ceremony. It was awesome! And all of this took place 10 minutes on foot away from the lively and beautiful city center of Dublin. The lines were an inconvenience that paled in comparison to all the positive aspects. People could sit on the floor, those with access issues had chairs reserved for them – really I felt most sorry for the CCD staff who practically spent every day managing crowds, having to repeat themselves over and over again.
    And Helsinki cannot have been a disaster when so many Finnish fans attended Dublin. It seemed to me rather that the Finnish Worldcon must have had a very positive effect on SFF fandom there.
    If European Worldcons really tend to draw more people than the North American ones, it’s not quite fair to judge them harshly for crowding issues. Also, if European fans are to be included in a meaningful way, it would be nice if Americans gave European bids the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming the worst and starting a counter-bid just to have a US bid.
    And finally, I much prefer to have a convention in a cool building close to a vibrant city center rather than in a huge facility where no-one has to queue, but where you also never get to see downtown, or where downtown isn’t worth seeing.

  31. Soon Lee on August 24, 2019 at 5:18 pm said:

    It’s awfully dusty in here, all of a sudden.

  32. @Klio: many of the people here have been to dozens of Worldcons, and have expectations based on what those Worldcons have shown to be doable. I haven’t been going much recently, but I don’t remember queues for normal program items (i.e., not a GRRM signing or a major audience event, or registration) at conventions in any part of the world, and certainly nothing like the chaos reported at Helsinki and Dublin. (I’ve been to 3 Canadian, 5 European, 2 Australian, and 18 US.) wrt going easy on oversized European conventions, Dublin was more like a North American Worldcon in size and still had serious problems — and they cut off registration, which IIRC no previous convention has done. wrt “benefit of a doubt”: Nice has 2 years to convince people that it will be a good enough convention-plus-tourism event to balance a US bid of which we now know very little — but there’s no reason they should get a free pass, as non-NorthAmerican conventions used to. wrt not getting to see downtown: most North American Worldcons have been in downtowns (or attractive uptowns, like DC in 2021); offhand, Orlando (1992) was the last site I recall as off on its lonesome, and The Hague (1990) and both Scottish Worldcons were significantly removed from city centers. (I missed London; it was well away from what I’d call downtown London, but I don’t know how isolated it was.)

  33. Klio: Regarding Worldcon queuing: Dublin was my first Worldcon, so I don’t have a comparison, but I find it quite sad to read complaints about the lines and overcrowding at European Worldcons, or even statements that Helsinki was a disaster. I would argue that long lines for many panels also mean that the program was very interesting, but somehow people don’t seem to comment on that

    This is probably because the panels are always interesting at Worldcon, and people have normally been able to get into the panels they want, and without standing in long lines.

    It may be that you are used to going to gate shows where long lines are a normal part of the event, and you accept that as “normal”, but long lines and inability to get into panels is not normal for Worldcon, and it’s something that’s only been a consistent problem in the last few years.

    In the past, Worldcons have been quite diligent about doing capacity planning to ensure that people didn’t have to wait in long lines and could go to the panels they wished to attend. It doesn’t matter how many people attend, a Worldcon is responsible for ensuring that there is adequate space for the people who buy memberships. This may mean obtaining additional con space and / or cutting off membership sales early. I give Dublin credit for doing both of these things, but it wasn’t enough to solve the problem. Helsinki refused to do capacity planning, according to one of the program track chairs who resigned because of it, and they sold far more memberships than the space they had reserved.

    No one is denying that there were many wonderful things about the Dublin and Helsinki Worldcons. The queues and the inability to see panels, though, are a huge problem for a Worldcon — they are a serious failure of capacity planning. Worldcon members are used to getting better than that, and they expect, and deserve better than that.

  34. Klio:

    As a whole, Worldcon in Helsinki was a tremendous success. But. They had made very bad estimates on how many people would fit into rooms. Missing a panel here and there is one thing. But when you can’t get in to the opening ceremonies? Or when the queue is more than one hour long? Sitting on the floor or standing by the sides were not allowed because of fire regulations.

    W75 did partly solve this problem for the last days, but they had been warned from the start and could have done more earlier. That is what we are discussing. How can we be more prepared from the start. Instead of again being taken by surprise, having chaos 1-2 days and struggling to adjust.

  35. If Dublin had been as organized the first day with same number of instructions, signs and line markers, as it was two days after, i doubt that there would have been that much complaints.

    I think that and lacking somewhere quiet to sit was the two main weaknesses and they could have been solved (as one indeed was).

  36. (14) That story from Nature, dated 22 August, includes this passage: “In the past few weeks, another telescope, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, also found a repeater, bringing the total so far to 11 — although researchers are yet to publish this result.”

    That last part isn’t true; the Australian find was published by Bannister et al. in the 9 August issue of Science (https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6453/565).

    Nature (published by the international conglomerate Springer) and Science (part of AAAS, a DC nonprofit) are, of course, competitors.

    (I’m a longtime Science employee and edited the Bannister paper myself.)

  37. To start out with, I had a wonderful time at Worldcon and was very happy with how Dublin handled the logistics with flexibility and organization.

    I have some speculations on why we’ve seen some cultural disruptions around space-planning in non-US Worldcons recently. These are only speculations to be kicked around, not with any claim of established truth.

    My perception is that the average Worldcon attendee’s focus on attending panels and bit-tent events is inversely proportional to the number of Worldcons (and perhaps conventions in general) that they’ve attended. I know that for me personally, when I was a brand new convention attender, I was very focused on going to panel discussions, partly because the information was all new to me, and partly because I hadn’t developed social networks that offered non-formal programming activities to engage in. Or, more simply, for relative newcomers to the convention scene, it’s more about the programming, for relative old timers, it’s more about the people.

    This would mean that, when estimating the space requirements for programming, it may be important to know not only how many bodies are going to be present, but where those bodies are planing to place themselves. Of course, it isn’t practical to try to survey people individually (or–heaven help us–pre-sign up for things), but if we could manage some demographic studies to correlate “average time in convention fandom” against “demand for seating space in programming” we might have a better sense of how to plan.

    If none of this makes sense, it’s because I’m recovering from a cold, no doubt picked up on my travels home, and I should go back to sleep for another 24 hours.

  38. Correction: Bannister et al. (“A single fast radio burst localized to a massive galaxy at cosmological distance”) was first published back on 27 June 2019 as an online-only “First Release” paper, so that is really its publication date; the 9 August date refers to the print issue.

  39. Heather Rose Jones: My perception is that the average Worldcon attendee’s focus on attending panels and bit-tent events is inversely proportional to the number of Worldcons (and perhaps conventions in general) that they’ve attended.

    Some time past, maybe in The Mad Three Party, someone did room counts at a con (or perhaps more than one) and concluded that typically about 15% of the attendees were in programming.

    I found that number served for conventions I’ve programmed. However, my impression, reading about so many filled program rooms at European Worldcons, is that the ratio must be higher, unless 15% is actually enough to fill the available rooms.

  40. Thanks for your responses!

    Andy Leighton on August 24, 2019 at 1:04 am said:
    All the most recent European held worldcons have been quite a chunk bigger (in attendance) than recent US held ones. So maybe the planning is based on average numbers which are too low for Europe.

    Chip Hitchcock on August 24, 2019 at 6:33 pm said:
    wrt going easy on oversized European conventions, Dublin was more like a North American Worldcon in size and still had serious problems

    I don’t know who is right now – is this information out somewhere?

    Chip Hitchcock on August 24, 2019 at 6:33 pm said:
    @Klio: many of the people here have been to dozens of Worldcons, and have expectations based on what those Worldcons have shown to be doable. I haven’t been going much recently, but I don’t remember queues for normal program items (i.e., not a GRRM signing or a major audience event, or registration) at conventions in any part of the world, and certainly nothing like the chaos reported at Helsinki and Dublin.

    I assumed lines were normal at such a huge event because it was my first Worldcon, but also because Youtube videos and probably the Dublin website itself warned about registration taking some time (it was actually much faster than anticipated), and because I honestly cannot imagine how to do it without lines. There were only 10 minutes between consecutive events, and often several rooms off one corridor, so in order to allow people to leave and comply with safety regulations, people couldn’t enter those corridors. Even in the Odeon movie halls where there were many free seats for all events that I know of, people had to wait downstairs because the space directly outside the movie halls didn’t allow for hundreds of people waiting for the doors to open. The staff were even worried about overcrowding on the escalators. And as for autograph lines, maybe my imagination is failing me, but I can’t see GRRM signing as fast as people showing up for autographs so that no line would form. I only went to the signing by Sana Takeda and she even took the time to draw a little cartoon.

    As for a free pass, I wouldn’t want European bids to get a free pass, that would probably be inviting disaster. But perhaps pointing out problems with capacity planning or some advice from experienced con organizers would be helpful and constructive. Hopefully future bid chairs are more open to capacity planning etc than the Helsinki team.

    JJ on August 24, 2019 at 6:48 pm said:
    It may be that you are used to going to gate shows where long lines are a normal part of the event, and you accept that as “normal”, but long lines and inability to get into panels is not normal for Worldcon, and it’s something that’s only been a consistent problem in the last few years.

    I’m not used to any such big events but like I said I can’t imagine it working without lines from a logistic point of view. Not being able to attend a panel because the room is full is a different problem and I agree that it sucks to be turned away. After the first day, I reworked my schedule and didn’t even try to attend consecutive panels with 10 min in between, so I managed to get into all of them. But that also meant giving up on Kaffeeklatsches (separate lines), so yes, that wasn’t optimal.

    Heather Rose Jones on August 25, 2019 at 8:45 am said:
    My perception is that the average Worldcon attendee’s focus on attending panels and bit-tent events is inversely proportional to the number of Worldcons (and perhaps conventions in general) that they’ve attended. I know that for me personally, when I was a brand new convention attender, I was very focused on going to panel discussions, partly because the information was all new to me, and partly because I hadn’t developed social networks that offered non-formal programming activities to engage in.

    That’s definitely true for me, and I actually have to credit queuing with giving me an opportunity to talk to people, because I was almost constantly busy attending events.

    Mike Glyer on August 25, 2019 at 9:05 am said:
    However, my impression, reading about so many filled program rooms at European Worldcons, is that the ratio must be higher, unless 15% is actually enough to fill the available rooms.

    I quickly summarized the capacities of all the rooms for seated programming in Dublin (except the auditorium, the room for the Business Meeting and the warehouse for concerts), and it’s 3125 seats. Of course not all the rooms were occupied at all times, and I’m pretty sure the larger movie halls were never full. If I only count the rooms in the CCD that were almost always in use and mostly filled to capacity (capacity 50-250 each), the sum is 1460 seats, so still well above 15%. And these numbers completely leave out people at autograph sessions, Kaffeeklatsches, the art show, game hall, dealers’ room…

  41. @Klio–Registration is the one area where one would expect lines. In a well-run Worldcon, though, the lines may be long, but they should move.

    There should not be long lines and over-capacity crowds trying to get into most panels, though. That is generally poor planning. And yes, ten minutes between the end of one panel and the start of the next is normal.

    Many of the active commenters here have attended several Worldcons, and some have attended many. The comments aren’t coming from expectations for “large events”; they’re coming from experience with Worldcons, specifically. And, generally speaking, people don’t want the experience of attending a Worldcon to degrade into the gateshow experience of standing in long lines for program items you might never get into.

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