Pixel Scroll 8/29/19 Come A Little Bit Closer, You’re My Kind of Pixel And The Scroll Title Is So Long

(1) FAREWELL. Martin Hoare’s funeral was held today. Pete Young shared a photo of the casket (posted here with permission.)

Yes, it was used for Martin. He was inside, then Martin + Tardis were cremated. I could not get any closer but I believe the Tardis was painted on it; I think it was Hazel Langford who told me it was Martin’s girlfriend’s idea. Needless to say the coffin was bigger on the inside…

(2) SURVIVABILITY OF SHORT SFF. Neil Clarke speaks again about the problems with the current economic model of short fiction in the sff field. Thread starts here.

(3) STRETCHING…THE IMAGINATION. The Irish Times’ Karlin Lillington kicks off a multi-installment report about Dublin 2019 in “Net Results: Sci-fi, spandex and the wonders of WorldCon”. Yes, there is a paragraph about Spandex, but there is much more…

…I hadn’t realised how apparently old-school I was until I discovered that one panel at WorldCon was entitled Continuing Relevance of older SF, which questioned whether 20th-century writing was still relevant in the 21st (answer: yes). Among the writers it listed as older and of a past era were Isaac Asimov, Octavia Butler and Margaret Atwood – yikes, really?

 The discussion was lively and intense and intelligent – and this was the real joy, for me, of this entire colossal event, alongside the surprising (and vast) range of the hundreds upon hundreds of sessions over five days.

My assumptions were immediately and happily demolished. I’d looked forward to learning about some new writers and had thought there might also be some intriguing overlap with technology. But the science element was just as high-profile as the fiction….

(4) LOTS MORE WORLDCON REPORTS.

(5) RESNICK. The GoFundMe to “Help Mike Resnick pay off a near-death experience” surpassed its $15,000 goal overnight — and a new goal of $30,000 has been set. Contribute at the link.

Mike and Carol Rensick are at a loss for words about how successful this GoFundMe campaign has become. (Which says a lot, since as a storyteller Mike is well known for his words.) They cannot thank everyone enough–there are not the words to say how much all of you have changed a very bad year for the better.

Many people have asked them why, with so many weeks in ICU and bills much surpassing any modest number, we had only set the fundraiser goal to $15;000. But in Mike’s mind, $100 is a lot to ask for, let alone $15,000. He had not realised how beloved in the field he is, and how much we all love the opportunity to “pay it back” for all he has given to the science fiction and fantasy community.

Mike is composing and thank you message as we speak–once he can pick up his jaw up from the ground and find the words–but in the meantime we have been encouraged to increase the GoFundMe goal, and so we have! We have doubled the number to $30,000.

(6) LIBRARIES AND DIGITAL BOOKS. Tom Mercer, Senior Vice President of cloudLibrary, has written an email about the many changes impacting libraries and their ability to offer high-quality digital lending services to library users. He discusses why these shifts are happening, how libraries can respond, and what bibliotheca is doing to support libraries — “bibliotheca leadership responds to publisher model changes”.

…Now, fast-forward to the digital library lending market today, where we’re seeing a shift from several of the major publishing companies. Blackstone Audio is embargoing audiobook titles for 90 days, Hachette has changed from perpetual access to two-year expirations (also implemented by Penguin Random House last October), and Macmillan will limit the quantity of frontlist titles effective November 1. It’s unlikely that all of these publishers would be changing their terms without external pressures. So, where is the pressure coming from? ?There is evidence to suggest that in recent years, authors and agents have come to feel that the library market is eroding their revenue. I think it’s telling that Macmillan CEO John Sargent addressed his letter about the library model change to “Macmillan Authors, Macmillan Illustrators and Agents.” 

This begs the next question: if authors and agents are voicing concerns about library lending, where are they getting their data from? I doubt it’s publishers, since a report on library lending is not part of an author’s royalty statement. There is only one company that has access to readers’ digital retail purchases as well as users’ digital library borrowing habits, and that is Amazon.

In 2009, Amazon created a publishing division, Amazon Publishing, which doesn’t sell any of its eBooks or audiobooks to libraries. They have teams of people talking with authors and agents trying to secure rights and make them as exclusive as possible to the Amazon ecosystem. It’s highly probable that they use the data provided by library users to argue that library lending is undercutting retail sales. This is a major concern that we need to understand and to face together as an industry.

(7) MARVEL 1000 ISSUE HAS AN ISSUE. “Marvel Revises Comic in Which Captain America Called U.S. ‘Deeply Flawed’” – the New York Times has the story.

…Captain America reflects on the symbolism of his costume in a newly published essay by Mark Waid, which was changed from an earlier version in which he called his country “deeply flawed.”Marvel Entertainment

Marvel Comics No. 1000, a special issue in honor of 80 years of storytelling, was supposed to be a cause for celebration. But revisions to one page of the comic, which came out Wednesday, are casting a pall over the festivities.

The page, written by Mark Waid and drawn by John Cassady, is narrated by Captain America. In earlier versions of the page that comic-book retailers received in July, the star-spangled hero opened with: “I’m asked how it is possible to love a country that’s deeply flawed. It’s hard sometimes. The system isn’t just. We’ve treated some of our own abominably.”

He went on to say that fixing America’s system is “hard and bloody work” but that it could be done when enough people take to the streets, call for revolution and say, “Injustice will not stand.”

Captain America concludes: “That’s what you can love about America.”

The version that arrived in stores and online, however, has new text, also written by Waid, in which Captain America ruminates on his own image, not the United States: “Captain America isn’t a man. It’s an idea. It’s a commitment to fight every day for justice, for acceptance and equality, for the rights of everyone in this nation.” The hero says that those qualities — “not hatred, not bigotry, not exclusion” — are the values of true patriotism.

Marvel and Waid declined to say why the page was changed. But in an email message, Waid expressed frustration at how his original text was being presented. “I’m disappointed that the cherry-picked quotes circulated by the media severely mischaracterize what was actually written,” he wrote. While the essay was critical, he added, “As written, Cap is supportive of America as a whole.”

(8) A WORD FROM OUR WILDLIFE. The Red Panda Fraction asks that I remind everyone there is only a little more than 24 hours remaining to vote in the Dragon Awards. Request a ballot at the link.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 29, 1854 Joseph Jacobs. Australian folklorist, translator, literary critic and historian who became a notable collector and publisher of English folklore. Many of our genre writers have use of his material. “Jack the Giant Killer” becomes Charles de Lint’s Jack Of Kinrowan series!  Jack the Giant Killer and Drink Down the Moon to give an example. (Lecture mode off.) Excellent books by the way. (Died 1916.)
  • Born August 29, 1904 Leslyn M. Heinlein. She was born Leslyn MacDonald. She was married to Robert A. Heinlein between 1932 and 1947. Her only genre writing on ISFDB is “Rocket’s Red Glare“ which was published in The Nonfiction of Robert Heinlein: Volume I.  There’s an interesting article on her and Heinlein here. (Died 1981.)
  • Born August 29, 1939 Joel Schumacher, 80. Director of The Lost Boys and Flatliners, not mention Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. Ok, so those might not be the highlights of his career… However his Blood Creek vampirefilm starring Michael Fassbender is said to be very good. Oh, and his The Incredible Shrinking Woman is a very funny riff the original The Incredible Shrinking Man
  • Born August 29, 1942 Dian Crayne. A member of LASFS, when she and Bruce Pelz divorced the party they threw inspired Larry Niven’s “What Can You Say about Chocolate-Covered Manhole Covers?” She published mystery novels under the name J.D. Crayne. A full rememberence post is here. (Died 2017.)
  • Born August 29, 1942 Gottfried John. He’s likely best known as General Arkady Orumov on GoldenEye but I actually best remember him as Colonel Erich Weiss on the short-lived Space Rangers. He was Josef Heim in the “The Hand of Saint Sebastian” episode of the Millennium series, and played König Gustav in the German version of Rumpelstilzchen as written as collected by the Brothers Grimm. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 29, 1945 Robert Weinberg. Author, editor, publisher, and collector of science fiction. At Chicon 7, he received a Special Committee Award for his service to science fiction, fantasy, and horror. During the Seventies, he was the genius behind Pulp which featured interviews with pulp writers such as Walter B. Gibson and Frederick C. Davis. (Died 2016.)
  • Born August 29, 1951 Janeen Webb, 68. Dreaming Down-Under which she co-edited with Jack Dann is an amazing anthology of Australian genre fiction, winner of a World Fantasy Award. If you’ve not read it, go do so. The Silken Road to Samarkand by her isa wonderful novel that I do also wholeheartedly recommend. Death at the Blue Elephant, the first collection of her short stories, is available at iBooks and Kindle. 
  • Born August 29, 1953 Nancy Holder,  66. She’s an impressive four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award. I’m not a horror fan so I can’t judge her horror novels for you, but I’ve read a number of her Buffyverse novels and I must say that she’s captured the feel of the series quite well. If you are to read but one, make it Halloween Rain

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Today’s pop culture figure, tomorrow’s museum exhibit — Bizarro.
  • Grimmy makes a monstrous theological pun.

(11) NG IN NYT. The New York Times found the name change newsworthy: “John W. Campbell Award Is Renamed After Winner Criticizes Him”.

…[Jeannette] Ng, who wrote the fantasy novel “Under the Pendulum Sun,” said in an interview on Wednesday that she was delighted by the decision. “It’s a good move away from honoring a completely obnoxious man who kept a lot of people out of the genre, who kept a lot of people from writing, who shaped the genre to his own image.” Thanks to the change, she added, “we’re now celebrating a little more neutrally a piece of history that’s not attached to his name.”

(12) ABOUT THOSE EDITORIALS. A tweet highlights one problematic view – the Wikipedia article covers this one and many more.

(13) FRESHER TOMATOES. Or is that a contradiction? “Rotten Tomatoes Adds 600 Critics After Initiative to Increase Inclusion”: Variety has the story.

A year after Rotten Tomatoes announced plans to boost diversity among its approved critics, the review aggregation site revealed it has added 600 new film commentators.

In an effort to increase representation and inclusion across the industry, the company also renewed $100,000 in grants for 2020 to assist critics from underrepresented groups to attend film festivals and industry events. In 2018 and 2019, Rotten Tomatoes has helped over 160 journalists attend film festivals by donating grant money to festivals like Toronto, Sundance and SXSW.

Last August, Rotten Tomatoes refurbished its criteria to look at an individual’s qualifications, rather than just their employer when it comes to verifying critics. The initiative also expanded its pool to newer media platforms like digital videos or podcasts. Of the new critics added this year, 55% are women, 60% are freelancers and 10% publish reviews on more modern platforms like YouTube.

(14) JEDI DRINK TRICK. TSA will treat this as a “no fly” souvenir: “Disney Coke Bottles From Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Banned by TSA”.

The containers look too much like hand grenades, it seems.

Visitors to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort will not be able to take one unique item sold in the land on an airplane.

It was recently discovered that the TSA told one fan that the “thermal detonator” Coke and Sprite bottles would not be allowed in any luggage.

(15) OH NOES! A File 770 field reporter has discovered White Pumpkin M&Ms are back!

(16) RIGHT TO ASSEMBLE. BBC is there when the “James Webb Space Telescope comes together”

The successor to the Hubble observatory has reached a key milestone in its construction.

All the elements that make up the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) have been brought together for the first time.

It sets the stage for some critical tests that will hopefully lead to a launch to orbit sometime in 2021.

JWST will use a colossal mirror and state-of-the-art instruments to try to see the glow from the very first stars to shine in the Universe.

It will also have the power to resolve the atmospheres of many of the new planets now being discovered beyond our Solar System, and to analyse their atmospheres for the potential for life.

(17) AIRBORNE ON MARS. CNN reports “NASA is sending a helicopter to Mars. It’ll be the first aircraft to fly on another planet”.

Before humans make it to Mars, NASA will send a helicopter to scope out the terrain.

Engineers attached a helicopter to the Mars 2020 rover ahead of its launch next summer. And if it flies successfully, it’ll be the first aircraft to fly on another planet, NASA said.

The solar-powered Mars Helicopter will be safely stowed underneath the rover until it lands at the Jezero Crater, where scientists believe water once flowed. The craft will detach from the rover and explore Mars from the air while the rover collects samples on the ground, NASA said.

If the helicopter flies, it can provide a unique vantage point for scientists to observe Mars.

If all goes well, the autonomous aircraft will snapshot aerial views of Martian cliffs, caves and craters that the land-bound rover can’t explore. And even if it doesn’t take flight, the rover can still gather important data from the surface.

(18) TECH SOLUTION. Viable strategy? BBC tells how it works: “Anti-groping stamp lets victims mark assailants”.

An anti-groping device aimed at tackling sexual harassment on public transport has been launched in Japan.

It allows victims to mark their assailants with an invisible ink stamp in the shape of a hand.

People can then use the device’s black light to identify those who have been marked.

The firm involved says it wants to help tackle the crime. But one sex abuse charity is concerned that the tech could place an added burden on victims.

Japanese firm Shachihata says it developed the stamp to help deter groping on trains in the country.

The company first announced it was developing the stamp in May after a video showing a pair of Japanese schoolgirls chasing down a suspected groper on a station platform went viral.

(19) A VISIT TO HMS TERROR. A short video on BBC about the ill-fated Franklin expedition (1845) to chart the NW Passage.  The ship, HMS Terror was found in Terror Bay, near King William Island. Video: “Franklin Expedition: New footage of wreck of HMS Terror”. (Wikipedia entry: HMS Terror (1813).)

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “I Wrote A Song Using Only Hate Comments” on YouTube, Madilyn Bailey provides a song where all the lyrics come from comments made by trolls.

[Thanks to Standback, John King Tarpinain, JJ, Lis Carey, James Bacon, mlex, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, StephenfromOttawa, Hampus Eckerman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Trey.]

55 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/29/19 Come A Little Bit Closer, You’re My Kind of Pixel And The Scroll Title Is So Long

  1. My first pixel scroll title 🙂 Maybe it’s bad form to comment on it but I’m just dipping my toe into “real” fandom after being simply a lone fan of SFF for years, so it feels good to participate!

  2. (19) The one place in the ship they couldn’t get the submersible into was the captain’s cabin. But they’re hoping to do that sometime in the future.

  3. We’re back online! A week ago my ISP sent me a message that they’d be doing maintenance tonight. Like an idiot, I didn’t think about mentioning it here til the site was down.

  4. 4) This part in Morgan’s report was interesting:

    “One of the big changes since I was last a Worldcon regular is the use of the Grenadine software to schedule programming. This isn’t just a cool tool. I understand that Programming was keeping tabs on sign-ups through Grenadine and using the data to move program items to appropriately-sized rooms each morning. “

  5. (3) Lillington:

    Among the writers it listed as older and of a past era were Isaac Asimov, Octavia Butler and Margaret Atwood – yikes, really?

    Handmaid’s Tale was 1985. Most of Asimov’s was in the ’50s!
    Butler is the most recent of the bunch.
    I should very much hope we’ve had more recent than that…

  6. @Standback:

    Yes, The Handmaid’s Tale is from the 1980s, but Atwood is still writing and publishing fiction. including SF: given that, it seems odd to group her with Asimov, who died in 1992.

    “Generations” are a fuzzy concept–in terms of fiction, do you group writers by birth (or death) dates, when they started publishing, when they were most influential or most popular…? None of those seems to me to put Asimov, Atwood, and Butler in the same category, though.

  7. Re: Asimov, Atwood, and Butler. Maybe they have chronological order confused with alphabetical order?

  8. (2) Of course, an author would have to sell 787,186 words annually at a middlin’ (7.44¢) SFWA rate to match the median US household income.

    Not that I have a solution, but short fiction seems to be a hobby for everyone involved.

  9. On other NASA news, along the lines of (16) and (17), they are running a contest for naming the rover for the Mars2020 mission. I’d submit “Blood” as a fine name for a rover, but the contest is only open to US K-12 students. They are also accepting volunteer judges.

  10. If anyone wants to dig into Schumacher’s background, right now he’s doing a ton of interviews across the internets. I read the New York magazine interview and it was actually quite interesting though only tangientally related to the Batman films.

  11. @3: very nice tone; a pity somebody confused the US with North America. (My tally: 10 prior European, 5 more outside NA — lining up with the writer’s declaring Dublin the 16th/11th — but 4 more in Canada, which was outside the US the last time I looked.)

    @6: Why am I not surprised that HSAR.com seems to be at the bottom of this mess?

  12. 2) The state of all short fiction is pretty bad, economically, and has been for as long as I’ve been paying attention to such matters–and that’s edging toward a half-century. Look at the membership qualifications for SFFWA membership: pro-level word-rate was $.03/word up to 2004 and is now at $.06. And 1965’s $.03 is 2019’s $.24. I have an unconfirmed recollection that in the late 1960s, Analog’s rate was $.06, and that later on Playboy and Omni paid much better.

    When I Googled around for more recent rates, I found that five years ago Asimov’s and Analog raised their rates from $.07-.09 to $.08-.10. (Compare: When I was still freelancing magazine non-fiction a decade ago, $1/word was a good rate–and still not enough to provide a living at realistic production levels.)

    A version of this discussion came up on John Scalzi’s site earlier this year, and I contributed what has become my standard response there:

    https://whatever.scalzi.com/2019/01/07/author-incomes-not-great-now-or-then/

    Look at the number of paying short fiction markets in and outside the genre. Look at the number of paying readers and of potential contributors. Look at the threshold of entry into the (relatively low overhead) on-line publishing space. Look at the economics of any artistic field.

  13. (16) for a second there, I read “Jack Webb Space Telescope”, and was picturing an Intergalactic Dragnet.

  14. microtherion: (16) for a second there, I read “Jack Webb Space Telescope”, and was picturing an Intergalactic Dragnet.

    This is the Galaxy. dum duh dum dum I carry a lens. dum duh dum dum dah …I was working the dog watch out of the sapiencide division, Captain Kinnison commanding, when….

  15. (6) Amazon is so useful that I would prefer to think they are not evil, but, alas, that’s an unsustainable belief.

    Mike, I have of course not actual evidence, but after the initial panic when I couldn’t reach File 770, I had dim, niggling memory that you’d mentioned something about upcoming maintenance and the site being down for a bit due to it, so, maybe you did? At least in passing?

  16. David SHallcross: for the Mars2020 mission. I’d submit “Blood” as a fine name for a rover,

    Superb idea. Especially for one going to a red planet.

  17. Lis Riba: PNH has some harsh words for Dublincon regarding accessibility (or the lack thereof):

    PNH sounds determined to do for James Bacon what Jeannette Ng did for Campbell. I don’t think that’s a proportionate response to what happened. However, it is PNH’s typical over-the-top response. Not long ago PNH was equally strongly advocating no more US Worldcons because of Trump etc. — and yet what is the first thing he does, talk about a European Worldcon like it was run by war criminals.

  18. The Elvish folk, they got a name, for mines, gold, and fire. The gold is Malt…the fire Nár …and they call the mine Moria!

  19. Lis Carey says Amazon is so useful that I would prefer to think they are not evil, but, alas, that’s an unsustainable belief.

    Amazon isn’t so much evil as greedy. And they still aren’t actually making any meaningful revenue. It’s anybody’s guess if Amazon will actually be in the book business long-term. Much of their potential future profit is decidedly elsewhere.

    That said, it is quite possible for a local independent bookstore to thrive in the age of Amazon. We’ve got three such bookshops within twenty minutes walking time of where I’m sitting typing these words. One sells strictly new books, two sell new and gently used stock as well. There’s also three stores that sell just sell used stock. There’s a Book-A-Milion fifteen minutes driving time away.

    So Amazon may be a factor but we have a rich local book selling ecology. And certainly local book buyers appreciate that.

  20. @Cat Eldridge–

    That said, it is quite possible for a local independent bookstore to thrive in the age of Amazon. We’ve got three such bookshops within twenty minutes walking time of where I’m sitting typing these words. One sells strictly new books, two sell new and gently used stock as well. There’s also three stores that sell just sell used stock. There’s a Book-A-Milion fifteen minutes driving time away.

    I agree; well-run independent bookstores can and do thrive. My personal favorite, and favorite example, is Gibson’s Books in Concord NH. In the late 1990s/early 2000s, I lived, for a couple of years, and worked, for five years, just a short distance from them. Tiny place when I first moved there. Small and pretty crappy sf section, but a nice bookstore overall, and a friendly staff. So I special-ordered the sf I wanted, and talked to the co-owner, talked sf and mysteries with him, found some really neat stuff in his used section. When he seemed receptive, I brought him the NESFA Recommended Reading Lists, and about three decades of Hugo Best Novel finalist lists. I don’t remember now if I also included the Nebulas, but I may have. The sf section grew and improved, until finally I was coming in and finding good books I didn’t know were out, or sometimes didn’t know they were coming out. One notable example was Better to Have Loved, the biography of Judith Merril written by her granddaughter Emily Pohl-Weary, based on Judith Merril’s notes, letters, essays, etc. I came in one day, and it was sitting on the shelf, face out, and I leaped on it.

    I subsequently learned that the other co-owner had said, “No, look what she buys! Look what she orders! If this is here, she’ll buy it.”

    And of course I did.

    When Barnes & Noble came to town, he persuaded the cafe next door to the bookstore to agree to knocking a door between the two shops, and having some agreed rules on the movement of books and food, so that they could both compete better for the young crowd that was going to B&N because it was a cheap date that didn’t need proof of drinking age. Yes, this worked for them. They kept growing, expanding, and other unexpected things happened. Chip Hitchcock probably remembers what happened when I wanted to do a NESFA Press collection of Stanley G. Weinbaum’s work, and wanted to find Hyperion, the publisher of the last more or less complete collection. This was not the Hyperion owned by Disney; this was, at the time I was looking, right about the time Disney decided it wanted the Hyperion name for its imprint.

    Having exhausted other resources, I went to Gibson’s, and asked the co-owner I was more friendly with if he knew how to find the older Hyperion that had published, among other niche things, some sf collections….

    After he picked his jaw up off the floor, he explained that that was his uncle, and his uncle had just signed the name over to Disney, and everything else over to him, and he would be receiving crates and crates and crates of books. It was the start of a few years of happy relationship between Gibson’s and NESFA, as we both made some profit on selling down precisely the part of that stock that he felt least equipped to sell effectively.

    But then I started working in Boston, and it just wasn’t practical to get to Gibson’s very often, and eventually I stopped. I checked on them periodically, though, and they were clearly doing well.

    Then along comes Librro.fm. And they say, “support your local bookstore,” and I say, initially, I have no local bookstore anymore; I don’t buy printed books anymore, and I don’t know the bookstores near Lowell…then I though, what about Gibson’s?

    Yes, Gibson’s is still there, and yes, is now selling audiobooks through Libro.

    I went for a visit. It’s occupying a good half or more of that block, now, and although I had heard that the cafe guys next door had bailed after a few years, not really thrilled with the lively young customers, Gibson’s has its own cafe now, as well as a much larger main bookstore, and a children’s section with its own entrance.

    It’s great. Every town needs its local equivalent, but you have to have the people to run them.

  21. “Not long ago PNH was equally strongly advocating no more US Worldcons because of Trump etc. — and yet what is the first thing he does, talk about a European Worldcon like it was run by war criminals.”

    I think people will have to choose. Do they want to be a Worldcon now or do they want to pause all such bids until they have managed to move enough American cities to Europe.

    And of course put an extra limit on how many first time members that are allowed to attend.

  22. Late Scroll today. A bit more to do, and right now I’m off to see my daughter in colorguard at her high school football game.

  23. @Lis Riba, Mike Glyer, Hampus Eckerman
    I have a lot of respect for PNH, but I was very irritated at those tweets.

    Now of course there were problems at Dublin. The CCD is a beautiful, though not particularly practical building, the queues were long and there was not enough room to sit down, especially since part of the seating was reserved for people with access needs in the queues, which made it difficult for other people who cannot stand for long periods to sit down. So yes, the building was not ideal, but that’s the building Dublin had. It’s not as if the city is going to build a new convention centre, just because someone wants to host a WorldCon.

    The Point location was actually pretty good, except for the fact that they stubbornly refused to switch on the air conditioning, and the panels held at the Odeon were often half empty. And considering that there were carpenters and electricians literally still installing things in the Warehouse art show space by 4 PM on the day before opening, it was remarkable how well everything worked out with the Point. And while Dublin was not able to persuade their public transport provider to give out free passes like Helsinki did, the LUAS tram was fairly frequent during the main con times and accessible – unlike some of Helsinki’s trams. Okay, so the LUAS stop was behind the CCD and there was no back exit/entrance, but again that was beyond the control of the Dublin team, because the city of Dublin is not going to lay new tram tracks.

    Plus, a lot of the issues with the queues were due to fire safety and crowd control laws, which seem to be stricter in the UK and Ireland than e.g. in Germany. However, the UK and Ireland have suffered several devastating fires and other disasters involving crowds and too small spaces, so I cannot fault them for being cautious.

    Also, the last three European WorldCons (London, Helsinki, Dublin) were some of the biggest ever attendance wise, bigger than most recent US WorldCons. And while I hear a lot of lamenting about the greying of fandom in the US, I saw a lot of younger fans in both Dublin and Helsinki. There were a lot of European fans in both Dublin and Helsinki and not just UK/Irish fans either. There were a lot of Finns in Dublin, Swedes, Polish fans, French folks, Germans, Dutchpeople, etc… There were also quite a few Middle Eastern folks, mostly Israelis, but also at least one person each from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Not to mention Asians, Australians, New Zealanders, etc… There would have been African members, if the Irish immigration authorities hadn’t messed up. For a lot of these folks, it was their first or second WorldCon. Most likely, you won’t see a lot of these fans at the upcoming US WorldCons.

    So yes, there were problems, but then in my admittedly limited experience, every WorldCon has its share of problems. But for some reason, the non-US WorldCons are attacked a lot more harshly both for actual problems (Dublin’s and Helsinki’s crowding and queueing problems) and things which are not not really problems (“OMG, we have to use public transport!”, “OMG, not every hotel is next to the convention centre and those that are are reserved for people with access needs.”), while e.g. Spokane, a smallish city without an international airport which likely did not have a huge convention centre either and which had an issue with massive wildfires during WorldCon (which was beyond the con’s control) and which did not send out even an electronic copy of the souvenir book to its many supporting members, something Helsinki was dinged for two years later, gets a free pass. But then Spokane is in the US.

    Add to that the last minute Memphis bid for 2023 and the message that many European and other non-US fans are getting is very clear: “We don’t want you. Your national capitals and biggest cities are not good enough for us, while we can offer up smallish provincial cities without decent airports and somehow still win bids. Yes, we want diversity and internationality, but only on our terms.”

    Maybe that’s not the message that’s intended, but that’s how it comes across. Mind you, the Memphis folks were lovely and there are issues with both the Chengdu and the Nice bid, but lots of non-US fans were not happy, especially since three US WorldCons in a row are a problem in the current political climate. And if New Zealand next year also gets criticised a lot (and I strongly suspect that they will), that message will be reinforced.

    So maybe US fans should decide whether they actually want a WorldCon or whether they just want to hold it in Chicago every year and be done with it.

  24. @Andrew: that’s effing brilliant! (And now I’m flashing on the Lerner&Loewe medley concert I did with the local Pops, where I looked over at a musician’s part and found that someone had penciled under the title “I Talk to the Trees”, “and how long have you had this problem?”)

    @Hampus Eckerman: moving US cities to Europe is not necessary. Moving US attitudes toward convening (e.g., “Everybody does it so we’re going to build a space with a lot of lodging nearby”) to Europe would certainly help Worldcon, but I don’t know whether it would be economically reasonable. (Spokane built meeting rooms and hotels first, for a World’s Fair, then added an exhibit hall when somebody pointed out that they were excluding themselves from a much wider market. I don’t know whether this would have won if Seattle had been less expensive.) Moving wider experience from everywhere would help; sometimes I think every Worldcon, no matter where it is, should be visited months in advance by a committee that has collectively been everywhere and seen everything, and is allowed to ask all sorts of hard questions. I think we’re past the days of “punch out the banquet manager!”, but the odds of a local concom having the imagination and experience to run a Worldcon well are small.

  25. Cora Buhlert: But for some reason, the non-US WorldCons are attacked a lot more harshly

    It may seem like that, but I don’t think it’s really the case. Spokane didn’t do a good job of communicating to attendees that tickets were required for the Hugo ceremonies until a couple of hours before the ceremony, and a lot of people didn’t end up getting in to the auditorium. That was a huge fuckup for which they (rightfully) took a lot of stick. And their consuite was really poorly-done. MidAmeriCon II screwed up by signing a standard hotel contract, instead of one which made provision for the evening parties, and ended up having to have the parties as non-alcohol events in divided areas on the main con floor in the evenings, which was really poor, and a lot of people just went barconning instead. San Jose totally screwed the pooch with their programming schedule.

    Every Worldcon has at least one major fuckup. That’s expected. The reason that Worldcon 75 gets so much crap is because they had several: the totally inadequate programming facilities due to failure to do capacity planning, their failure to cap membership and their promise to stop selling door tickets which they did not keep, their overall poor communication methods and disdain for any members who didn’t use Facebook or Twitter, their social media people seriously screwing up due to not having competence in public relations and not making timely announcements, and their choice to not provide Supporting Members with the Souvenir book.

    I think the biggest problem Dublin faced was that after the crowds at Loncon 3 and Worldcon 75, the facility they previously believed would be adequate was not going to be enough based on the membership numbers they were getting, and I give them big props for adding The Point and capping membership (albeit probably not early enough).

    From this point on, European and U.S. Worldcons are going to be expected to know from the start that capacity is going to be an issue, and to compensate in advance for it.

     
    Cora Buhlert: if New Zealand next year also gets criticised a lot

    I think that’s pretty much already a given. They made a choice to go with a city that did not have an all-in-one facility, which means that distance between panels, accessibility, and weather with their 3 venues are going to be a huge issue, and the facilities they do have are not going to be sufficient should they get more members than they have planned for. Hopefully, they are already looking closely at that.

  26. Clip Hitchcock:

    No, it is not feasible to suddenly demand that all European cities should build their convention spaces based on American sensibility, i.e start to demolish large part of their city centers to build new spaces instead of those that exist. We had riots last time politicians went on such a spree of destruction.

    What is needed is a change in American attitudes about how convention centers are built and placed in different parts of the world. To accept that this is how it is and if they want Conventions in Europe, they will have to accept the differences.

    Complaints on planning are okay, that is where the faults are. Those are complaints that actually can be handled. Be it not setting a member cap or not organizing queues. But requirements that Worldcon should build a new city or a new Convention center is just garbage.

  27. @Cat Eldridge – Either Nancy Holder was not born in 1953 or she’s not 61 years old. As OGH and I can both attest, someone born in 1953 is or soon will be 66.

  28. @Cora Buhlert: Spokane, a smallish city without an international airport which likely did not have a huge convention centre either ISTM that the lack of an international airport is not major; most flights today require a change, so people outside the US would fly to an entry airport and change there. (I had two changes each way — which meant I had time to enjoy good food at three airports.) And the space was entirely adequate — in fact, IMO it was one of the best sites ever (at least until the fires started): program items and exhibits fit in their spaces (including the art show with natural light), there was a lot of room to sit and schmooze, and going outside was easy/pleasant (and sometimes the best way to get between program and exhibits).
    and wrt OMG, we have to use public transport!: Spokane’s hotels were also somewhat spread out — but they ran a shuttle bus. The spreading of facilities is a perennial issue, since being able to go back to one’s room (to crash, or dump accumulated Stuff) is useful.

    @Hampus Eckerman: and yet, some European cities manage to create large conventions centers and connect them with the rest of the city; possibly European managers need more imagination?

  29. “@Hampus Eckerman: and yet, some European cities manage to create large conventions centers and connect them with the rest of the city; possibly European managers need more imagination?”

    If I understand you correctly, you are now arguing that Worldcons should build time machines, go back in time 100 years or so and argue with European city planners, saying they should have had more imagination because there will once be a very important SF-convention in the city? Or perhaps argue for a war that can bomb enough of the city centre away to make room?

    Good luck with that.

    European cities have either built small convention centres in the city centre, when an old building has been demolished, or they have built a larger one outside of it, because it was there you had space. There might be some cities where you got lucky to have enough space left in the centre or had to demolish large area enough, but that is extremely unusual.

    It is not about “imagination”, but about Europeans not being stupid enough to start on a path of wanton destruction of existing buildings just to satisfy non-europeans that will not have to pay for it.

  30. @Cora Buhlert Add to that the last minute Memphis bid for 2023 and the message that many European and other non-US fans are getting is very clear: “We don’t want you. Your national capitals and biggest cities are not good enough for us, while we can offer up smallish provincial cities without decent airports and somehow still win bids. Yes, we want diversity and internationality, but only on our terms.”

    Maybe that’s not the message that’s intended, but that’s how it comes across. Mind you, the Memphis folks were lovely and there are issues with both the Chengdu and the Nice bid, but lots of non-US fans were not happy, especially since three US WorldCons in a row are a problem in the current political climate. And if New Zealand next year also gets criticised a lot (and I strongly suspect that they will), that message will be reinforced.

    There are significant problems with the Chengdu and Nice bids, and I think the push for a third bid is less about not wanting a non-US location and more about wanting the Worldcon to actually be successful. As a conrunner, I have strong concerns about the Worldcon-running experience (or lack thereof) of the bidders in both locations, and think 2023 is too soon for them to acquire it. If they do massive external recruiting, then that might change my mind, but I haven’t seen evidence of that yet. And then as an individual, I have lots of issues with China and human rights and etc that mirror the concerns some people express about the United States.

  31. @Hampus Eckerman: I don’t know whether you’re just being obtuse or deliberately attacking proposals I haven’t made in the hope that nobody will notice your bait-and-switch. Specifically, I have never proposed that cities be cored to make space for convention centers; I pointed out that some European cities have managed to use the space they have, and suggested that other cities may need more imagination (i.e., in use of space). Going further, I note that Helsinki and Dublin both found what we as site-selection voters were told were spaces in areas with many immediate conveniences, in which to build convention centers; did they core themselves to do this, or find a time machine that they haven’t let the rest of us in on? Note particularly that cities are not static: often it is possible to find abandoned or disused space that can be rebuilt and connected by public transport to the rest of the city; London did this, Boston is doing it, and Glasgow has taken steps. (The connection between the SECC and downtown wasn’t great in 2005, but it was better than in 1995.) Additional points of imagination include making more room by building up (as in Montreal, or Boston to some extent) as well as sideways, and in so doing make a smaller footprint that leaves room for an adjacent hotel. This is not a matter of US sensibility vs. European, but of thinking through what this particular public building is for and how best to take advantage of the huge investment it represents.

  32. Clip Hitchcock:

    ” I don’t know whether you’re just being obtuse or deliberately attacking proposals I haven’t made in the hope that nobody will notice your bait-and-switch. “

    How interesting, you are describing exactly your own way of commenting, but for some reason you assign it to me.

    Dublin was absolutely a place with many conveniences. It was not far from the city centre, it had stores, restaurants and pubs close. Easy access to transportation. And because they built a convention centre in such a place, they had a lot less ground space available and had tried build upwards. If you want to build a new Convention centre in a central place, this is what happens

    Helsinki, like Stockholm, got its convention centre around 50 years ago. They are not going to build a smaller one in a more central location because a few americans that might visit every 20 years would have preferred it. They already have convention centres that work as their citizens and Europeans expect.

    This is, as you say, not really about Americans and Europeans. It is about a few people who will always complain when other cities aren’t built as they would have wanted them. And would want those cities to invest enormous sums on something that just isn’t needed for ordinary conventions.

    If you want to have Convetions outside US, accept that different countries have different setups for their convention centres. Or just say that you want to drastically limit what countries that you can accept a Worldcon in.

  33. As long as we’re criticizing Worldcons, one thing that bothers me is that the people with money to spare can get their memberships early at a discounted rate while those who are less well off financially and have to wait until they’ve saved enough pay the higher rate. Isn’t it time for Worldcon committees to stop subscribing to the poor-should-get-poorer ethic?

  34. Worldcons can make much better use of money received early than late, and much better use of attendance known early than late, so need to encourage people to register early. A financial incentive is the easiest way to do that.

    But most Worldcons now have installment plans that let you lock in a lower rate and pay it off over time, to address exactly the problem you raise. Also, programs like the Fantastic Dublin Fund that let people of limited means purchase memberships at a discount can help – I hope we see more conventions adopting the model.

  35. Discon3 doesn’t mention installment plans on their membership pages. I’ve emailed info.

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