Pixel Scroll 8/27/20 Don’t Pixel Me, ’Cause I’m Scrolled To The Edge, I’m Trying Not To Get Outraged

(1) PAPERS PLEASE? Here in the future, an unpredictable surge in demand for books on paper has run afoul of a world-threatening pandemic: “Printer Jam: Serious Supply Issues Disrupt the Book Industry’s Fall Season” reports the New York Times.

This spring, when the pandemic forced bookstores across the country to close and authors to cancel their tours, many editors and publishers made a gamble. They postponed the publication of dozens of titles, betting that things would be back to normal by the fall.

Now, with September approaching, things are far from normal. Books that were bumped from spring and early summer are landing all at once, colliding with long-planned fall releases and making this one of the most crowded fall publishing seasons ever. And now publishers are confronting a new hurdle: how to print all those books.

The two largest printing companies in the United States, Quad and LSC Communications, have been under intense financial strain, a situation that has grown worse during the pandemic. LSC declared bankruptcy in April, and the company’s sales fell nearly 40 percent in the fiscal quarter that ended June 30, a drop that the company attributed partly to the closure of retailers during the pandemic and the steep fall of educational book sales. In September, LSC’s assets will be put up for auction. Quad’s printing business is also up for sale; this spring, the company had to temporarily shut down its printers at three plants due to the pandemic.

At the same time, there has been a surprising spike in sales for print books, a development that would normally be cause for celebration, but is now forcing publishers to scramble to meet surging demand. Unit sales of print books are up more than 5 percent over last year, and sales have accelerated over the summer. From early June to mid-August, print sales were up more than 12 percent over the previous 10 weeks, according to NPD BookScan. The surge has been driven by several new blockbuster titles, including books by Suzanne Collins, Stephenie Meyer, John Bolton and Mary Trump. Publishers have also seen an unexpected demand for older titles, particularly books about race and racism, children’s educational workbooks and fiction.

“The infinite printer capacity hasn’t been there for a while, now enter Covid and a huge surge in demand, and you have an even more complex situation,” said Sue Malone-Barber, senior vice president and director of Publishing Operations for Penguin Random House, which is delaying titles at several of its imprints as a result of the crunch.

(2) DIAL M. A trailer dropped for Come Play, a horror movie about creatures that live inside a cellphone.

Newcomer Azhy Robertson stars as Oliver, a lonely young boy who feels different from everyone else. Desperate for a friend, he seeks solace and refuge in his ever-present cell phone and tablet. When a mysterious creature uses Oliver’s devices against him to break into our world, Oliver’s parents (Gillian Jacobs and John Gallagher Jr.) must fight to save their son from the monster beyond the screen. The film is produced by The Picture Company for Amblin Partners.

(3) HUGO RULES PROPOSAL. Jay Blanc tweeted a link to their first draft of a proposed amendment to the WSFS Constitution that would provide a standing Advisory Committee for the Hugo Awards. See the text at Google Docs. Blanc’s commentary justifies the need for a new committee:

Commentary:

The intent of this amendment is to correct a point of failure in the current way the Hugo Awards are administered, a flawed institutional memory and a lack of any consistent infrastructure.

The innate problems of “reinventing the wheel” when it comes to infrastructure became obvious when the 2020 Hugo Awards online-ballot process failed to be ready for use for the ballot deadline. When it did become ready to use, after the ballot deadline was pushed back, it was discovered that it did not correctly register votes for some users. 

There had been a pre-existing online ballot system, used by Helsinki and Dublin, this system was robust and had an open development process. However it is unclear why this system was not used, or if it was why it was heavily modified and those modifications kept private and unreviewed. This is a clear failure of infrastructure that can be fixed by having standing advice on applying online balloting systems.

Further, there appears to have been some issue with confusion over information provided to Hugo Award finalists, and a lack of clear communication lines and recording of any complaints raised.

While the unique localised structure of the Worldcon is overall beneficial, these problems can only be addressed by having some form of standing committee. This amendment does not mandate this committee as replacement for the Worldcon Committee’s handling of the Hugo Awards, but does establish a weight of advice and infrastructure. I would expect Worldcon Committees to opt-in to accepting this advice and infrastructure, rather than continue to reinvent the wheel. But this amendment leaves it open to any individual Worldcon to choose to go it’s own way in the administration of the Hugo Awards if it decides that is correct….

(4) OPTIONS. “‘No aspect of writing makes you rich’ – why do authors get a pittance for film rights?” The Guardian tries to answer the question.

…Stephen King requests only a token amount from anyone optioning one of his novels; the “option” reserves a book for a limited time, usually a year, with the big bucks coming if and when that option is exercised. “I want a dollar,” King said in 2016, “and I want approvals over the screenwriter, the director and the principal cast.” That’s a snip until you realise that the back end is where he makes his real movie money: he got an eight-figure cheque from the recent adaptation of It.

More common are those tales of writers whose work takes an interminable time to reach the screen – Caren Lissner, for instance, whose book Carrie Pilby was optioned on several occasions between publication in 2003 and the film’s production in 2016 – or those that never get greenlit at all.

How realistic is it for writers to get rich from selling adaptation rights? “It’s just not,” says Joanna Nadin, whose YA novel Joe All Alone was adapted into a Bafta-winning 2018 television series. “It’s unrealistic to think any aspect of writing can make you rich.” Nadin confesses that she gets dollar signs in her eyes when she learns that a book of hers has been optioned. “For about 10 minutes, I revamp my Oscar acceptance speech, choose my mansion and dine out on imaginary caviar. Then I try not to think about it, knowing that, if anything happens, it won’t be for many years.”

(5) SCRIBE OF MARADAINE. The Austin Chronicle’s Wayne Alan Brennervisits “The Many Worlds of Author Marshall Ryan Maresca”.

Marshall Ryan Maresca’s debut novel, The Thorn of Dentonhill, came out from DAW Books in February of 2015. Five years later – now, in 2020, smack in the midst of a global pandemic – Maresca is publishing four different series of novels with DAW, each series already three books in, each one set in his originally devised city of Maradaine. And there are many more books on the way.

Even those of us who write almost creatively, day-in, day-out, to meet the relentless deadlines of journalism are like, “Maresca, how the hell? How do you write so much so quickly? And how do you sell novel after novel after novel when other writers we know can’t even seem to land a publisher?”

…”When I started this particular project,” says Maresca over a cup of java and safely distanced at a picnic table outside Thunderbird Coffee on Manor, “I’d already had the world stuff built out, but it wasn’t quite working for me. I thought that, since I’d done all the world-building, I needed to show all of it to the reader at once. Which was a terrible idea, and it didn’t work. But when I was working on that book – which is now sitting in a drawer and will never see the light of day – I had this sort of wild idea, that drew in part from inspiration from comic books.”

Note: Maresca’s favorites among comics are West Coast Avengers, Chris Claremont’s classic run of X-Men, and Mark Gruenwald’s many-charactered D.P.7 – all adding, he tells us, to the authorial influence of such unillustrated story cycles as Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s Green Sky trilogy and David Eddings’ Belgariad. But, the wild idea?

“I thought, instead of trying to show everything,” says Maresca, “why don’t I just show one city, different aspects of that? And from there, I could tell different kinds of stories and have them be somewhat interconnected. And so, somewhere in my file cabinets, there’s a handwritten piece of paper, where I’ve written four story tracks: one vigilante-by-night, one old-time warrior, one two-brothers-heists, one two-cops-solve-murders. And that was the origin of everything. And so I slowly built up my outlines of what all these were – and part of that also came from just the way the publishing industry is. I wrote Thorn of Dentonhill first, and then, while I was shopping for agents, I was also like, well, I should just keep writing. But it’d be silly to write a book two of this series without knowing if I sold book one. So I wrote a different book one – the first book of a different series. And then, as I was looking for someone to buy Thorn, I got that second book one done. And I was like, okay, now that I have an agent interested, I’m gonna write another book one. So that, by the time my agent Mike Kabongo was shopping things around, and the editor at DAW was interested, I had the first book of each of the four series already done.”

 (6) ILLUSTRATING KINDRED. Artist James E. Ransome is interviewed by Aaron Robertson for LitHub in “An Illustrator Brings Realism into Octavia Butler’s Speculative Fiction”.

The Folio Society recently published a special edition of Octavia Butler’s 1979 novel Kindred, a time-travel narrative set between modern-day Los Angeles and a pre-Civil War US. I interviewed the book’s illustrator, James E. Ransome, about what it took to depict scenes of slavery, Ransome’s artistic influences, his dream projects, and more….

AR: Had you read the Damian Duffy/John Jennings graphic novel of Kindred before working on this?

JR: I hadn’t read it beforehand, but I came across it at a bookfair in the middle of working on this project. I was impressed. It was good to see a graphic novel with an illustration for every scene, and as a creator I enjoyed getting another take on the material.

AR: How did you decide which scenes to showcase?

JR: The Folio Society’s art director, Sheri Gee and I discussed it in a series of conversations. We were looking for dramatic scenes that would be interesting to capture. Things that were more dynamic than, say, two people sitting at a table talking. The very beginning scene, with the boy drowning, was a natural choice. Butler’s chapter titles—“The River,” “The Fire,” etc.—were also helpful leads.

(7) RUH-ROH. Scooby-Doo’s co-creator and former children’s TV mogul Joe Ruby passed away August 26. The Hollywood Reporter has the story: “Joe Ruby, Co-Creator of Scooby-Doo, Dies at 87”.

Ruby met Ken Spears when both were sound editors and then staff writers at the cartoon powerhouse Hanna-Barbera, and they created the supernatural kids show Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, which centered around a talking Great Dane and bowed on CBS in September 1969. All but four of the first 25 episodes were written and story-edited by them.

In the early 1970s, then-CBS president of children’s programming Fred Silverman hired Ruby and Spears to supervise the network’s Saturday morning cartoon lineup, and they followed the executive to ABC for similar duties in 1975. (Scooby-Doo joined that network’s lineup as well.)

Two years later, ABC set up Ruby-Spears Productions as a subsidiary of Filmways, and the company launched Saturday morning animated series around such characters as Fangface, Plastic Man, Mister T and Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Ruby-Spears was acquired by Hanna-Barbera parent Taft Entertainment in 1981.

…In the 1980s, legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby was hired by Ruby to bring his vision to Ruby-Spears Productions. As a result, the Ruby family owns the rights to hundreds of original Kirby-designed characters and more than two dozen projects developed by Ruby. The intellectual property rights to those characters, artwork and projects are now being offered for sale.

(8) BOOK ANNIVERSARY.

  • In August sixteen years ago, Catherynne M. Valente published her first novel, The Labyrinth. Described by the publisher as “a journey through a conscious maze without center, borders, or escape–a dark pilgrim’s progress through a landscape of vicious Angels, plague houses, crocodile-prophets, tragic chess-sets, and and the mind of an unraveling woman”, it was published by Prime Books with an introductory essay by Jeff VanderMeer. It is not currently in-print. (CE)

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 27, 1922 – Frank Kelly Freas.  Three hundred covers, over a thousand interiors (I think; I lost count twice) for us; five hundred saints for the Franciscan Order; MAD magazine 1957-1964 with Alfred E. Neuman front, advertising-parody back covers; airplanes while serving in the U.S. Air Force; Skylab; comics; gaming.  Interviewed in GalileoInterzone, LighthouseLocus, PerigeeSF ReviewShadowsSolarisThrust.  Eleven Hugos; three Chesleys (with wife Laura).  LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) Forry Award (service to SF); Skylark; Inkpot; Phoenix; Frank Paul Award.  Writers & Illustrators of the Future Lifetime Achievement Award.  Fellow, Int’l Ass’n Astronomical Artists.  SF Hall of Fame.  Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 10, 14, 26; Boskone 10, Lunacon 34, Balticon 31, Loscon 27; Chicon IV (40th Wordcon), Torcon 3 (61st Worldcon; could not attend).  Eight artbooks e.g. A Separate StarAs He Sees It.  This famous image was adopted by the Judith Merril Collection in Toronto.  This famous image was adapted by the band Queen for its album News of the World.  Here is John Cross in Slan. (Died 2005) [JH]
  • Born August 27, 1929 Ira Levin. Author of Rosemary’s BabyThe Stepford Wives and The Boys from Brazil. All of which became films with The Stepford Wives being made twice as well as having three of the television sequels. I’ve seen the first Stepford Wives film but not the latter version. Rosemary’s Baby would also be made into a two-part, four hour miniseries. (Died 2007.) (CE) 
  • Born August 27, 1942 – Robert Lichtman, 78.  Leading fanwriter, faneditor.  Fourteen FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) awards, as a correspondent and for his fanzine Trap Door.  TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate.  Secretary-Treasurer of FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Ass’n, our oldest and highest-regarded apa, founded 1937) since 1986.  Edited Ah! Sweet Laney! (F.T. Laney collection; named for FTL’s I’m-leaving-goodbye zine Ah! Sweet Idiocy!), Some of the Best from “Quandry” (Lee Hoffman collection; her zine Quandry so spelled), Fanorama (Walt Willis collection; his columns in Nebula); co-edited last issue of Terry Carr’s fanzine Innuendo.  Fan Guest of Honor, Westercon 55.  [JH]
  • Born August 27, 1945 Edward Bryant. His only novel was Phoenix Without Ashes which was co-authored with Harlan Ellison and was an adaptation of Ellison’s pilot script for The Starlost. The only short stories of his that I’m familiar with are the ones in the Wild Cards anthologies. Phoenix Without Ashes and all of his short stories are available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 2017.) (CE)
  • Born August 27, 1947 Barbara Bach, Lady Starkey, 73. She’s best known for her role as the Bond girl Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me.  (A Roger Moore Bond, not one of my favored Bonds.) One of her other genre appearances is in Caveman which her husband Ringo Starr is also in. It’s where they first hooked up. (CE) 
  • Born August 27, 1952 – Darrell Schweitzer, 68.  Three novels; two hundred fifty shorter stories, as many poems; anthologist, bookseller, correspondent, editor, essayist, historian, interviewer, reviewer.  “Books” in Aboriginal, “The Vivisector” in SF Review, “Words & Pictures” (motion-picture reviews) in Thrust and Quantum.  Editor, Weird Tales 1987-2007 (sometimes with J. Betancourt 1963-  , G. Scithers 1929-2010).  If sandwich man were still a current expression one could pun that DS often serves dark and horror on wry.  A few essay titles: “Naked Realism versus the Magical Bunny Rabbit”, “Prithee, Sirrah, What Dostou Mean by Archaic Style in Fantasy?”, “Halfway Between Lucian of Samosata and Larry Niven”.  Two Best Short Fiction of DS volumes expected this year.  [JH]
  • Born August 27, 1955 – Steve Crisp, 65.  Two hundred twenty-five covers, a dozen interiors, for us; illustration, photography, outside our field.  Here is Best Fantasy Stories from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Here is The Worlds of Frank Herbert.  Here is a Fahrenheit 451.  Here is a Neuromancer.  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born August 27, 1957 Richard Kadrey, 63. I’m admittedly way behind on the Sandman Slim series having only read the first five books. I also enjoyed Metrophage: A Romance of the Future and The Everything Box. I’ve got The Grand Dark on my interested in listening to list. (CE)
  • Born August 27, 1962 Dean Devlin, 58. His first produced screenplay was Universal Soldier. He was a writer/producer working on Emmerich’s Moon 44. Together they co-wrote and produced Stargate, the first movie to have a website.The team then produced Independence Day, the rather awful Godzilla rebootand Independence Day: Resurgence which so far I’ve avoided seeing. They’re also credited for creating The Visitor series which lasted just thirteen episodes, and The Triangle, a miniseries which I’ll bet you guess the premise of. (CE) 
  • Born August 27, 1965 – Kevin Standlee, 55.  Long active in San Francisco Bay Area fandom. Fan Guest of Honor at Baycon 1993, Marcon 43, CascadiaCon (8th NASFiC; North America SF Con, since 1975 held when Worldcon is overseas), Westercon 72 (with wife Lisa Hayes and her bear Kuma); co-chaired ConJosé (60th Worldcon; with T. Whitmore); chair of Westercon 74 (scheduled for 2022).  Has chaired World SF Society’s Hugo Awards Marketing Committee, Mark Protection Committee; has chaired Worldcon and other con Business Meetings, no small task, notably and heroically at Westercon 64, when no bid for Westercon 66 got enough votes and site selection fell to the Bus Mtg in a contentious 3-hr session.  Patient explainer of parliamentary procedure.  [JH]
  • Born August 27, 1970 – Ann Aguirre, 50.  Forty novels, a dozen shorter stories, some under other names, some with co-authors.  Honor Bound (with R. Caine) a Hal Clement Notable Young Adult Book for 2020.  Withdrew Like Never and Always from RITA Award consideration.  “Can you tell us a two-sentence horror story?”  “It’s just like the flu.  Don’t worry about taking precautions.”  [JH]
  • Born August 27, 1978 Suranne Jones, 42. Not a long genre performance history but she shows up on the Doctor Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures as Mona Lisa in “Mona Lisa”. Yes, that Mona Lisa. More importantly, she’s in “The Doctor’s Wife”, an Eleventh Doctor story as written by Neil Gaiman. She’s Idris, a woman hosting the Matrix of the TARDIS. She’s Eve Caleighs in The Secret of Crickley Hall series, an adaption of the James Herbert novel. (CE) 

(10) YOU ARE DEEP SIX. Camestros Felapton takes notes while “Timothy and I Watch Patriotic Submarines”.

  • Camestros: There is literally nothing I want to watch here…
    • Timothy: We could…
  • Camestros: No, no, we are not watching Cats again. Look, maybe it’s time to go outside?
    • Timothy: No way! It’s a hellscape out there! A seething dystopian nightmare! Woke mobs are cancelling cats for not wearing masks! It’s EU commissioners herding us inside our borders and stealing our holiday homes in the South of France and forcing us to use metric! It’s Attack on Titan but with giant buck naked Boris Johnsons eating people! There are SCOTTISH people about!

(11) PRESELLING LOVECRAFT COUNTRY. Variety delves into “How HBO’s ‘Lovecraft Country’ Marketing Campaign Spotlighted the Blerd Community”.

…In late July and early August before the series aired, the network sent out stylized packages made up of “Lovecraft Country”-inspired items from Black-owned businesses, brands and creatives. The gift bag included a backpack from Life on Autopilot, sunglasses from Bôhten Eyewear, a “Sundon” candle by Bright Black, a Grubhub gift card for recipients to order from Black-owned restaurant; as well as the novels “Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi, “The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates and “Lovecraft Country” by Matt Ruff (provided by Amalgram Comics & Coffeehouse).

For Gagne and her team, the creation of the kit was also about saluting “Lovecraft Country’s” creator Misha Green and the Black heroes of her story, so the package also included direct nods to the show with a “South Side Futuristic Science Fiction Club” sweatshirt from BLK MKT Vintage and a notebook which serves as a “field guide” to understanding the cultural context behind all of the items in the bag, as well as information on the businesses themselves.

With “influencer kits” and their focus on Black-owned businesses, Gagne says, “given everything that’s going on, I think that that’s something that people really embrace and honor and really want to support in a big way.”…

(12) READING TIMES. Amal El-Mohtar’s Otherworldly column for the New York Times deals with “Power and Passage: New Science Fiction and Fantasy”.

The discourse about reading fiction during the pandemic has followed two broad tracks: There are those who take comfort in the activity, and those who have found reading impossibly difficult. I belong to the latter camp, but I’m all the more excited to share the following books, which, while very different in genre and mode, shook me out of listless distraction with their originality.

DANCE ON SATURDAY (Small Beer Press, 318 pp., paper, $17) is Elwin Cotman’s third collection of short fiction. We tend to call fiction “short” when it’s not a novel, but the six stories in “Dance on Saturday” are long, deep and rich, each so thoroughly engrossing and distinctive in its style that I had to take long breaks between them…

Also praised:

THE SPACE BETWEEN WORLDS (Del Rey, 327 pp., $28) is Micaiah Johnson’s debut, but that word is utterly insufficient for the blazing, relentless power of this book, suggesting ballroom manners where it should conjure comet tails…

(13) THE HYDROGEN BOOM. “New Video Shows Largest Hydrogen Bomb Ever Exploded”  reports the New York Times.

Hydrogen bombs — the world’s deadliest weapons — have no theoretical size limit. The more fuel, the bigger the explosion. When the United States in 1952 detonated the world’s first, its destructive force was 700 times as great as that of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

And in the darkest days of the Cold War, the Soviets and the Americans didn’t only compete to build the most weapons. They each sought at times to build the biggest bomb of all.

“There was a megatonnage race — who was going to have a bigger bomb,” said Robert S. Norris, a historian of the atomic age. “And the Soviets won.”

Last week, the Russian nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, released a 30-minute, formerly secret documentary video about the world’s largest hydrogen bomb detonation. The explosive force of the device — nicknamed Tsar Bomba, or the Tsar’s bomb, and set off on Oct. 30, 1961 — was 50 megatons, or the equivalent of 50 million tons of conventional explosive. That made it 3,333 times as destructive as the weapon used on Hiroshima, Japan, and also far more powerful than the 15 megaton weapon set off by the United States in 1954 in its largest hydrogen bomb blast…

(14) THE EYES HAVE IT. Cora Buhlert shows off her handiwork.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Check out Klaatu on top of the Capital Records building (along with some other famous guy named Ringo)… From 1974.

[Thanks to David Doering, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title cedit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

122 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/27/20 Don’t Pixel Me, ’Cause I’m Scrolled To The Edge, I’m Trying Not To Get Outraged

  1. @Jay Blanc
    You’d be surprised how many people here have actually been involved with Worldcons as everything from gopher to chair. When OGH or Keven Standlee says you’re doing it Rong, it’s because you are.

  2. Jay Blanc on August 31, 2020 at 7:00 pm said:

    “There shall be a Mark Protection Committee of WSFS, which shall be responsible for registration and protection of the marks used by or under the authority of WSFS.” This does not speak of marketing, websites et al… All of this has been delegated to the MPC without there ever being an amendment to the WSFS constitution actually granting the MPC the power to do so.

    True, but that doesn’t mean that it has not been done without WSFS oversight. The subcommittee currently known as the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee (originally named the “Higher And Stronger Hugo committee” aka HASH) was established in 2006 by a resolution passed by the WSFS Business Meeting (see the 2006 WSFS Business Meeting minutes, item 4.1.4) instructing the Mark Protection Committee to establish such a committee. The MPC has done so every year since then and has included its reports in its report to WSFS. It later also assigned the responsibility of managing the other three WSFS web sites to HAMC.

    It wasn’t a constitutional amendment, but it was never suggested that it needed to be, and the resolution instructing the MPC to create HASH (now HAMC) passed unanimously and has been continued ever since. The MPC’s authority is not quite as narrow as you seem to think it is. Remember that the MPC is actually the residual committee of the body that was proposed as the Board of Directors of an incorporated World Science Fiction Society, and while some of the more open-ended phrases that used to apply to what was originally called The Standing Committee of WSFS have been removed, the MPC exercises the “ownership” of WSFS’s intellectual property on behalf of the entire membership of WSFS.

    (Incidentally, this includes serving as the Board of Directors of Worldcon Intellectual Property, the non-profit corporation set up to hold title to the WSFS service marks in those places that do not recognize unincorporated associations, such as the European Union. The MPC meeting held after the WSFS Business Meeting at each Worldcon is also the Annual General Meeting of Worldcon Intellectual Property, Inc., a California non-profit public benefit corporation recognized as a 501c3 tax-exempt organization.)

    What happens when some future Worldcon decides that Marketing their Hugo Awards is something they want control over. The WSFS constitution as it stands doesn’t actually stop them, because the MPC’s explicit powers are restricted to Marks Protection, not Marketing or anything else.

    Worldcon committees already have control over marketing of their Hugo Awards. It would be a really stupid Worldcon committee that didn’t market the Hugo Awards held at their convention. The existence of HAMC isn’t exclusive. It is more of a “central advisory committee” (funny about that) that provides certain resources to Worldcon committees if they want to use those resources, but Worldcons don’t have to take their advice. Frankly, some Worldcon committees have declined to even provide HAMC with the list of finalists or winners, leaving the committee to scramble to get the information online after those are announced. Worldcons do not have to cooperate with HAMC, although I’m grateful that most recent ones have decided that it is in their best interest to do so.

    You seem to think that the existence of a committee to assist Worldcons means that Worldcons aren’t allowed to do anything without that committee’s permission. Why is that?

    As far as why the MPC does this: part of the protection of WSFS’s service marks includes appropriate promotion of those service marks. The MPC has decided, via HAMC, that this includes the four WSFS web sites and certain social media, including the @TheHugoAwards Twitter account and a Hugo Awards Facebook page. Marketing of individual Worldcons and NASFiCs is, of course, the remit of those individual convention committees, and this also includes promotion of the Hugo Award.

    If you strongly feel that the MPC should have formal control over certain aspects of the Hugo Awards, I suggest you propose an amendment making that their clear remit.

    HAMC is under the control of the MPC. The MPC is in turn under the control of members of WSFS both elected by the WSFS Business Meeting and appointed by individual WSFS convention committees. And by the way, they have from time to time exercised that authority to instruct HAMC about things it may or may not do. That’s how governance works.

  3. Thank you for your concession that the individual WSFS convention committees actually could direct the MPC in it’s marketing methods. Now, can you explain to me how this long winded argument had any bearing at all on deciding if I should have made a proposal on how things should be done with regards to Hugo Infrastructure?

    You phrased this all as a reason to dismiss me out of hand, by claiming I was wrong about which sub-committee owned the website so I must not know what I’m talking about.

    And why exactly are you okay with treating anyone who’s a member of the WSFS like they’re an outsider? It shouldn’t even matter that I have put in the time at multiple Worldcons, on Reg Desk shifts, Gopher shifts, Crowd Control, Ops… You shouldn’t talk down the way you have to any member.

    This is why Worldcon and the Hugo Awards are getting a bad rep.

  4. Jay, you’re getting talked down to because you don’t know as much as you want us to think. Remember, there are people here who have done those things and DON’T consider themselves to be experts on everything involved with Worldcon and the Hugos. (Some of us have been there and done that, too. I remember when OGH got his first two, and I wasn’t even in the hall – I was busy putting together slides and stuffing clay into bases so they were properly balanced.)

  5. I never claimed to be an expert. I was making a proposal, and inviting comments.

    Some people decided that alone meant I deserve to be taken down a peg or two, with wise cracks about what a silly outsider I am before I even made any replies, gatekeeper questioning on the minutiae of sub-commitees, being blamed for not having read every meeting resolution of the last decade…

    Don’t you get how that’s a toxic environment?

  6. Jay Blanc on August 31, 2020 at 7:32 pm said:

    A student of history might inform you of why the US is not still governed under the Articles of Confederation.

    Yes, of course. But the members of WSFS don’t trust central government very much. And, as you may have noticed, a whole lot of Americans don’t trust central government very much even under the Second American Republic.

    Non-American Worldcon members might want to ask exactly why the WSFS is based around an American centric libertarian political theory.

    That’s an easy one: because the current system makes it harder for any one local group to run things. A non-US Worldcon committee doesn’t have to answer to an American Board of Directors. (Well, unless they did something really stupid that endangered the WSFS service marks, but I don’t recall that ever happening. Having Worldcon appointees on the MPC is a form of two-way communication, in case that’s not obvious to you.) I’ve been a corporate director on three US Worldcons (1993, 2002, 2018), one in the UK (2005), and one in Canada (2009). Every one of them ran independently of each other, because that’s the way the members of WSFS want it done.

    I also suggest that if you’re setting the bar of involvement in the process at “You must have an in-depth understanding of all the un-codified norms and how every sub-committee functions”, you have actually created quite a monolith.

    JJ answered this pretty well. You want to make major changes to how Worldcon works, you had darn well better understand how they actually work now and why they work that way. Just coming in and saying, “Hey, I have a bunch of ideas, and you all should stop doing anything you’ve ever done before and do things my way because I say so” isn’t a winning strategy. I tried it myself thirty years ago and it didn’t work. Instead, I started volunteering to work on committees, learning how things worked, and proposing incremental changes. Sometimes people agreed with me; often they did not. And I must be doing some things right, or I wouldn’t keep getting asked back.

    Thank you for your concession that the individual WSFS convention committees actually could direct the MPC in it’s marketing methods.

    That is not what I said. The MPC does not answer to Worldcon committees in that way. If you think that’s the case, you really don’t get it.

    Now, can you explain to me how this long winded argument….

    It’s long-winded because you declared a bunch of things to be facts that aren’t true. When you make that many mistakes, it takes a whole lot of footnotes to explain to you where you keep going off the rails, where the actual system is documented, and why we’re not just making this up off the top of our heads. If I hadn’t included all of those footnotes, would you not have dismissed everything I said as “that’s just your say so; I know how things work.”?

    And why exactly are you okay with treating anyone who’s a member of the WSFS like they’re an outsider?

    Every member of Worldcon is a member of WSFS. Some members, however, seem to enjoy being considered as “outsiders.”

    Let’s try this another way: when you insist that you Know Everything (and then demonstrate that you very definitely do not know some relatively simple and well-documented and published facts about Worldcon/WSFS/The Hugo Awards), you wreck your own credibility. You seem to have some potentially good ideas, but charging in and demanding that we should tear down everything and replace it with something you designed yourself that is a Brand New Idea That Nobody Has Ever Considered Before doesn’t help your case.

    Are there any things that you’re an expert in? Have you ever had some enthusiastic new person come in, dismiss all of your knowledge and expertise, and insist that everything should be done their way? And have you ever tried to tell them that you’ve tried a bunch of their things and they haven’t worked, and here’s why they haven’t worked?

    You want to make change? Get involved with Worldcon bids and seated Worldcon committees. Prove your competence by working. Earn trust. Then start changing things slowly. I didn’t start as a Worldcon Chair! I started out as a gopher and kept working and proving that people could trust me. And I made mistakes (1993 WSFS Division head and scheduling the Business Meetings to start at Noon, for example), but I learned from them.

    P J Evans on August 31, 2020 at 7:43 pm said:

    You’d be surprised how many people here have actually been involved with Worldcons as everything from gopher to chair.

    Sometimes even at the same convention. (In 2002, I was co-Chair and I also served a shift as an “elevator party host.” I think I may have even turned in a volunteer time sheet for that time as an EPH for my own amusement. I was also WSFS division manager, an area head (WSFS Business Meeting Chair) part of the Hugo Administration Subcommittee. That wasn’t really all that smart, to be honest.)

  7. You’re not the Supreme Court, you’re a volunteer run science fiction convention society. If someone wants to talk about changing things and making a proposal to do so… LET THEM DO IT. Don’t sit around finding petty reasons to talk them down and scare them off, or demanding they pay their dues in volunteer work, or dismissing them for not knowing the SMOF codes… JUST LET THEM MAKE THE PROPOSAL.

  8. Kevin Standlee: Sometimes even at the same convention. (In 2002, I was co-Chair and I also served a shift as an “elevator party host.”

    Always remember what General Hancock said at the Battle of Gettysburg: “There are times when a corps commander’s life does not count.”

    I spent the first morning of the Worldcon I chaired (1996) chauffeuring and finding lodgings for two Russian fans who had requested us to send them invitations so they could get exit visas to come to the con (we did this for about three dozen people from different East European countries). They were supposed to arrange their own place to stay — but decided to skip that part. It needed doing, and I could do it, and there was nowhere else I had to be just then….

  9. Jay Blanc: Some people decided that alone meant I deserve to be taken down a peg or two, with wise cracks about what a silly outsider I am before I even made any replies, gatekeeper questioning on the minutiae of sub-commitees, being blamed for not having read every meeting resolution of the last decade…

    Except that’s not what actually happened.

    No one called you “silly”. No one decided you “deserve to be taken down a peg or two”.

    Why would anyone be obligated to hold off commenting here “before [you] even made any replies”, since no one had any idea whether you would be posting replies here, or whether you were even aware that your proposal had been included in a Scroll?

    There’s been no “gatekeeper questioning on the minutiae of sub-commitees, being blamed for not having read every meeting resolution of the last decade”.

    What has actually happened is that numerous people have pointed out that it’s clear from your proposals that you have very little understanding of how things currently work with WSFS, the Hugos, and Worldcon, that the proposal is a non-starter, and that if you want to make major changes, then an in-depth understanding of how things currently work — which you clearly don’t have — is necessary.

    No one is gatekeeping. No one has said that you shouldn’t become involved, come to the business meetings, or ask questions. What they have said is that, in order for your major change proposal to be taken seriously, you need to do those things first so that when you do subsequently write up a proposal, it will actually make sense and be something that can be implemented.

    Sure, you can try to portray yourself as a persecuted martyr, but everyone can read all of the comments on this thread and see that’s not what actually happened.

  10. Jay Blanc on August 31, 2020 at 8:45 pm said:

    You’re not the Supreme Court, you’re a volunteer run science fiction convention society. If someone wants to talk about changing things and making a proposal to do so… LET THEM DO IT.

    Nobody has told you that you can’t talk about changing things and making proposals to do so. What I and the others have been trying to tell you is that if you go charging in with so many fundamental misunderstandings of how the organization runs, you’ll look foolish and none of your proposals will be taken seriously. Is that what you want?

    Don’t sit around finding petty reasons to talk them down and scare them off, or demanding they pay their dues in volunteer work, or dismissing them for not knowing the SMOF codes… JUST LET THEM MAKE THE PROPOSAL.

    Nobody has told you that you can’t make your proposal. You could also introduce a proposal that requires that all future Hugo Award trophies be painted in zebra stripes and come with a $10,000 prize to be funded by the WSFS Board of Directors. Nobody is stopping you from making proposals. Many people are trying to warn you why your proposals aren’t likely to be taken all that seriously, or that some of the things you’re suggesting have been tried in different ways and don’t work in practice.

    If you want to ignore all of the advice from anyone with any experience or knowledge of how WSFS actually works (as opposed to the way you seem to think it works), nobody is going to stop you. But don’t be surprised when nobody takes you seriously, either. It doesn’t mean that you’re being persecuted; it means that you’re not paying attention to any of the warning signs.

    Mike Glyer on August 31, 2020 at 8:57 pm said:

    I spent the first morning of the Worldcon I chaired (1996) chauffeuring and finding lodgings for two Russian fans…

    Funny, I did something similar in 1993, although it was for Ukrainian fans, and I was taking them by taxi to a hotel where they could stay during the con. Turned out that the cabbie was Ukrainian and waived the fare after a spirited talk with the fans I was helping in their own language.

  11. @Jay Blanc:

    WSFS and the Worldcon aren’t actually run by an American political theory, libertarian or otherwise–it’s an analogy that clearly didn’t work as it was intended.

    Not everything needs the same level of centralization or standardization: the town of Belmont parks department doesn’t need to report to, or hear from, the federal government. Influential people in the 1780s concluded that the Articles of Confederation weren’t working and created a stronger and more centralized government. The relevant question here, if we want to pursue this analogy, is “working for what?” The Worldcon doesn’t need a foreign policy (because what would “foreign” mean here?) or to sort out a trade deal with Great Britain (and a good thing too).

    The closest analogy I can think of to how WSFS is governed is the old-fashioned town meeting (not the “elected town meeting” that some Massachusetts towns use, and which I don’t really understand). You can’t run a city of 100,000, let alone 8 million, that way–that doesn’t mean a village of a few thousand people needs a mayor, a city council, and umpteen civil service departments.

    WSFS is small-c conservative, as regards its internal workings and rules. I doubt you’ll be able to get a rule change passed without a stronger reason than “what if a Worldcon tried to do this thing, which has never happened before and there’s no apparent reason they’d want to?”

    There might be things WSFS could use but doesn’t have, or vice versa. Analogy time again: a town of 35,000 doesn’t need to run its own electric utility when none of the nearby cities and towns do, but it also doesn’t need not to, so I write checks to “Belmont City Light” instead of to Eversource or National Grid or Con Edison.

  12. Once again, I’m going to note that actual problems occurred, and I am getting a little grumpy that people sidelined that to talk about a comment I made about the website that has nothing to do with the original, now withdrawn proposal.

    If you are unwilling to look into the problems that were caused for the 2020 Hugos by re-inventing the wheel, and not listening to prior complaints, why are you lecturing me on failing to understand Worldcons?

  13. Jay Blanc: If you are unwilling to look into the problems that were caused for the 2020 Hugos by re-inventing the wheel, and not listening to prior complaints

    You’re the one demanding change, and insisting that people haven’t been listening to prior complaints.

    If you haven’t been paying attention to the discussions which have been going on for the past 5+ years, and refuse to learn about them, why would you expect people to take your complaints seriously?

  14. @JJ

    Apparently, this needs to be said again. I am no longer discussing this with you, and Mike asked us not to keep arguing at each other.

  15. @Jay Blanc–

    If you are unwilling to look into the problems that were caused for the 2020 Hugos by re-inventing the wheel, and not listening to prior complaints, why are you lecturing me on failing to understand Worldcons?

    You have in fact suggested Awful Things That Might Happen, such as a Worldcon committee taking over TheHugoAwards website for its own purposes, which not only haven’t happened, but can’t happen under the current structure, and want to be taken seriously when you suggest major changes.

    And you have made it clear that you consider every comment not supportive of your specific proposal as obstructionist, not an attempt to explain why your proposal as currently constituted isn’t workable yet and needs improvement.

    If you want to make useful changes, you have to start from where Worldcon really is, not where you imagine it to be, and not be dismissive and condescending to people who have been active in Worldcon for years, and have practical knowledge you need.

  16. If you have any constructive comments to address the actual REAL problems that the Hugo Awards have experienced, please offer them.

    If you want to just continue telling me that I don’t really understand how Worldcons really work, I will no longer be replying to you.

  17. Jay Blanc: If you have any constructive comments to address the actual REAL problems that the Hugo Awards have experienced, please offer them.
    If you want to just continue telling me that I don’t really understand how Worldcons really work, I will no longer be replying to you.

    In other words, you want people to provide solutions for you, but you’re not willing to learn the things which would help you develop possible solutions.

    Do you understand why you might be perceived as someone who’s expecting other people to deliver custom-made solutions to you, rather than as someone who’s wanting to learn enough to develop a possible solution themselves?

  18. Jay Blanc: Mike, could you please consider closing comments on Pixel Scroll 8/27/20, it has long since been unproductive discussion.

    The sheer entitlement of this request is just staggering.

  19. Jay:

    You sound very much like you’re demanding “Shut down everything and Follow My Orders, because I personally know everything better than anyone else in the entire world, and if you don’t Follow My Orders, you’re Oppressing Me!”

    There are mechanisms for changing things, and guess what: charging in and demanding Instant Change Immediately isn’t one of them. Changing Worldcon is like turning a supertanker.

  20. @Jay Blanc, why don’t we start over.

    Can you enumerate exactly what specific problems you see with the administration of the Hugo awards? I’m seeing a lot of handwaving that “we all know what the problems are”… but what I consider a problem and what you consider a problem are not necessarily the same thing.

    I want to know what YOU consider the problems to be. It’s important to define a problem before one suggests solutions to fix it, after all..

  21. We’ll have to start over on another occasion. As I’ve said before, when people are attacked on a personal level in comments here, no one goes away saying “How rude so-and-so was”, the talk is “What a toxic blog File 770 is” — reducing my own work, and interest in listening to other ideas, to no value whatever.

Comments are closed.