Pixel Scroll 8/14/17 All These Scrolls Are Yours, Except Europa; Attempt No Pixelings There

(1) LITIGATING CLARKE’S LAW. N.K. Jemisin is interviewed by Joel Cunningham of the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog in “The Logistics of Throwing Mountains: N.K. Jemisin Discusses The Broken Earth Trilogy”.

The Broken Earth series seems to straddle a line between fantasy and hard science (e.g. the orogenes of the novels acquire their names from orogeny: a folding of the lithosphere that creates mountains, but functionally what they perform is magic). There’s a whole mess of science underpinning the magic. What kind of research did you undertake to make orogeny something done by orogenes. and not a flat, scientific term?

I did want to play around a bit with that corollary of Clarke’s law—the idea that any sufficiently systematized magic is indistinguishable from science. A few years back I wrote a blog post called “But but but—why does magic have to make sense?” in which I argued that the whole point of magic was to defy reasoning and repeatability and all the things that equal science.

But then I wanted to write a world that tries to make sense of it anyway, and partially succeeds. And we can see by the obelisks floating through the sky of the Stillness that at one point in the distant past, people did figure magic out to a much greater degree. At that point, is it still magic? Has it become science? That’s one of the concepts the series is chewing on.

Research-wise, I hung out in seismologist forums and follow a bunch of geologist accounts on Twitter, and read a lot of layperson-oriented articles. I also visit volcanoes whenever possible, because I’m fascinated by them. Awesome demonstrations of the Earth’s power and potential fury. On a research trip to Hawai’i a few years back, I visited four volcanoes in four days. That was fun.

(2)  CASTING NEWS. What a combination of actors and writers — “Michael Sheen, David Tennant to Star in Neil Gaiman’s ‘Good Omens’ at Amazon”.

Michael Sheen and David Tennant have been cast in the lead roles in the Amazon series adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s “Good Omens,” Variety has learned.

The show is set in 2018 on the brink of an apocalypse as humanity prepares for a final judgment. But Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a demon, aren’t enthusiastic about the end of the world, and can’t seem to find the Antichrist. Sheen will play the role of Aziraphale, while Tennant will play Crowley. It will consist of six one-hour episodes.

…. Gaiman adapted all six episodes of the series and will also serve as showrunner. Following its exclusive launch on Amazon Prime Video, the series will also be broadcast on BBC in the U.K.

(3) BRADBURY LECTURE. The 4th Annual Ray Bradbury Memorial Lecture “Escape Velocity: Ray Bradbury and the American Space Program” will be presented by Jonathan R. Eller, Chancellor’s Professor of English and Director, Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, IUPUI on August 23, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. in the Central Library Riley Room at 40 E. St. Clair Street.

One of the reasons that Ray Bradbury remains one of the best-known writers of our time is that his dreams of reaching the stars became our dreams, too. The stories that grew into The Martian Chronicles and filled the pages of The Illustrated Man paved the way for his half-century relationship with NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and all the missions that took humans to the moon and launched unmanned craft to all the planets of our solar system.

(4) RUGS FOR THUGS. The Drum interviewed an Ikea marketer about “How Ikea responded to the news HBO’s Game of Thrones uses its rugs as costumes”.

Responding to the news, Ikea decked out some of its staff in the rugs in a real-time marketing stunt, jumping upon the Game of Thrones bandwagon in an organic way.

The Drum: Was the marketing team aware that Ikea goods were being used to furnish the show?

AF: We weren’t aware that Ikea’s rugs had been used in the show until the PR team spotted it in the news on Monday morning. Together with our PR agency, Hope & Glory, we quickly developed an idea that provided our ‘twinkle in the eye’ take on the news, it was low cost and could be pulled together in a couple of hours. As any PR professional will know, timing is of the essence when a story breaks and we wanted to be able to respond as quickly as possible.

We connected with the Ikea Wembley store and the deputy store manager walked the shop-floor identifying co-workers that looked the part to re-create the Game of Thrones look. Within a couple of hours we were in the rugs department with the co-workers, trying on the different rugs and generally having a bit of a laugh.

(5) RECORD HOLDER. After he saw this photo John Hertz asked, “What does Brother Davidson say about the last line of that Guinness certificate?”

Hugo Award Record

Steve Davidson replied, “The government of the United States has, in their lack of infinite wisdom, chosen NOT to give me exclusive control and ownership of the word ‘AMAZING’, more’s the pity.”

(6) SCIENCE IMAGINED. Nancy Kress analyzes the cultural impact of “The Science of Science Fiction:  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”.

However, that the “science” the public learns from SF is debatable doesn’t strike me as the worst problem. That comes from another source: Writers and scriptwriters often make science itself the villain. A problem involving some scientific advance—cloning, nanotechnology, AI—is set up, and all the negative aspects of the tech are brought out, exaggerated, falsified, and blamed. I understand the impetus for this—I’m a writer, too!—which is to create the conflict necessary to drive any story. But the cumulative net effect is the impression that new science and its offspring, new tech, are invariably bad.

In the movie Ex Machina, robots turn murderous.

In countless SF stories, AI tries to take over and must be fought, shut down, destroyed.

Cloning produces not crops or food animals that can feed an ever-expanding population, but rather the oppressive (and ridiculous) one-world biological totalitarianism of Gattaca

(7) BOLOGNA OBIT. Actor Joe Bologna died August 13 at the age of 82. He was well-known for playing King Kaiser in My Favorite Year (1982). His genre work included The Big Bus (1976), and Transylvania 6-5000 (1985). He voiced characters in the animated Superman TV series (1997-1998), and Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006).

(8) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

When first introduced to Eastern bloc fans at an Eighties Worldcon, they called them “the black cookies.” They’re a fan favorite, but Yahoo! claims “You Will Never Look at Oreos the Same Way Again After Reading These Facts”.

To date, Oreo has over 42 million Facebooks followers. In comparison, The New York Times has 13 million.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 14, 1975 The Rocky Horror Picture Show premieres.

Let’s do the Time Warp again!

  • August 14, 2009 District 9 premiered on this day.

(10) COMIC SECTION.

(11) W75’S CANCELLED LARP. Jaakko Stenros and Markus Montola tell the LARP community’s side of the story in “How Worldcon Banned a Larp”.

On Friday the discussion on the topic continued in social media, where misunderstandings spread fast. For example, one tweeter wrote that the “scenario is ‘you are in an old folks home, have Alzheimer’s, and think you’re one of your RPG characters, hilarity ensues’.” Afterwards some were under the impression that “hilarity ensues” was a quote from the program description when in fact it was an interpretation of a tweeter.

However, now there were people also defending A Home for the Old on Facebook and Twitter and criticizing the actions of Worldcon. Many Nordic role-players found the statement’s tone condescending and rife with cultural imperialism — of Anglo-Americans trying to ‘civilize the natives’ by instilling their moral conventions on a subculture they clearly failed to understand.

No benefit of the doubt was given, and there was an aura of assuming that the Nordic creators had obviously not thought about the implications of their little games — simply because the usual phrases relating to identity politics were not foregrounded in the blurb. The idea that a creative work can just be cast aside, censored, with no debate, based on rather flimsy basis, was found appalling by many Nordic people deeply invested in the role-playing culture. A Home for the Old, and by extension the Nordic role-playing culture, was cast as not worthy of debate.

(Finland has the highest incidence of Alzheimer’s in the world.)

All of this is in stark contrast with the Nordic and Finnish cultural context, where larps, role-playing games, and games in general, are considered valuable works worthy of analysis, criticism, respect, and debate. Role-playing is a form of artistic expression that continues to gain momentum and respect.

(12) CRITIC. Frans Mäyrä, Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media, esp. Digital Culture and Game Studies in the University of Tampere, Finland, took offense at the decision: “LARP: Art not worthy?”

There will be no doubt multiple reactions coming in to this from experts of this field in the future. My short comment: this is an unfortunate case of censorship, based on cultural perception of play and games as inherently trivializing or “fun-based” form of low culture. It seems that for some people, there still are strict cultural hierarchies even within the popular culture, with games at the very bottom – and that handling something sensitive with the form of role-play, for example, can be an insult. Such position completely ignores the work that has been done for decades in Nordic LARP and in digital indie “art games” (and also within the academic traditions of game studies) to expand the range of games and play for cultural expression, and to remove expectation or stigma of automatic trivialism from the interactive forms of art and culture. The organisers have obviously been pressurised by some vocal individuals, but the outcome in this case was a failure to stand up, explain the value and potential of role-playing games, and Nordic LARP in particular to an international audience, and make a difference. A sad day.

(13) REMEMBER THAT MONEY YOU SAVED FOR A RAINY DAY? Here’s the outfit to spend it on – a bargain at only $20,000 — the “SPIDER~MAN 2 Original Movie Prop Signed by Stan Lee ~Trenchcoat Worn by Stan”. Rush right over to eBay!

This incredible SPIDER~MAN original movie prop features the trenchcoat that Stan Lee wore during the scene in which he saves a life. This is the ONLY time that Stan makes an appearance where he gets involved to save someone! Best of all it comes signed by Stan Lee. It comes with a COA from Sony/Columbia Pictures and Hollywood Vault who were the official auctioneer a few years ago

(14) HARDWARE FOR THE LONG HAUL. Marketplace explains why “NASA is testing supercomputers to send to Mars”.

Scientists in space have computers, but they don’t exactly look like the one you might be reading this on. Computers in space have highly specific functions. There is no consumer-grade Mac or PC up in space. A lot of that has the do with the fact that laptops in space degrade quickly out there.

But NASA wants to fix that problem by creating new supercomputers, developed in partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The technology is being tested on the International Space Station in hopes that the computer can withstand trips to Mars.

(15) YOUTUBE MUSICAL. Hamilton’s opening number — with the words changed to be about Game of Thrones.

(16) WEIRD AL. Last week’s crisis, this week’s filk: “Watch ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Beg North Korea Not To Nuke Us On Last Week Tonight”.

After highlighting the accordion skills of North Koreans earlier in the show, Oliver introduced Yankovic to play a whole new polka song about all the reasons that North Korea should not nuke us. Tom Hanks figured heavily. Sample lyric: “Please don’t nuke us, North Korea / Right now, we’re all a little tense / Believe me, we don’t hate you / In fact, we really don’t even think all that much about you, no offense.”

 

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

55 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/14/17 All These Scrolls Are Yours, Except Europa; Attempt No Pixelings There

  1. Number Seven: he actually only voiced one character in the Sumperman series that of at Dan Turpin, a Metropolis police officer killed by Darkseid. What is really interesting is that his burial including part of the Jewish Prayer for The Dead.

    Turpin was in twelve episodes all told and I don’t remember anything in them that explicitly said he was Jewish.

  2. @Cat Eldridge

    Dan Turpin’s design was based on Jack Kirby in the animated series so he was Jewish as well.

  3. Wow, how many years has Good Omens been languishing in Development Hell? I sincerely hope it happens this time (and Amazon or Netflix would probably be my first choice for someone who can be trusted to actually go through with it and do a halfway decent job), but I’m not holding my breath.

    Any more. 🙂

  4. (11) That’s a well-written summary. I’m a strong believer in the strength and power of well-designed roleplaying; Nordic LARPs have been doing amazing things, and this game sounds to me like one of them, if it’s any good.

    But I also appreciate the authors’ acknowledgment of a cultural gap and quick decisions being made under pressure. And teaser text for a game is so important; if you hit the wrong tone, you get players who signed up for a very different game than you’re running. Doesn’t end well.

    I hope we see more games and LARPs at Worldcons, ‘cus they’re something special.

  5. Hm, maybe I should translate the “tournament zero-set of rules” I tacked on to my Swedish translation(+) of the Nomic rules bak to English and see if there’s a will to have some Nomic played in Dublin (NOT in the Business Meeting, that is).

    (+) If you’ve seen Nomic rules in Swedish it is with a probability within epsilon of 1 that I did it. This is both gratifying and frightening, since it’s been almost 30 years for someone else to do one.

  6. As an afterthought, when I checked the list of LARPs at Worldcon, I would have thought that this one was the one people could find offensive because of the sensitive subject matter.

    Not that there was anything in that description either to suggest that the serious topic would be handled somehow frivolously or disrespectfully.

  7. I’ve been too busy running around at Worldcon to be sure to have read all the scrolls and files in the last week, but I don’t recall seeing mention of an item of potential fannish interest intersecting with real world politics. It seems that famed filker Leslie Fish’s longtime fondness for wingnut political positions and conspiracy theories has gone farther than many of the fans of her music are willing to keep silent for. To wit, she is maintaining that the Nazi violence in Charlottesville is actually some type of orchestrated false flag operation. In the context of this, it has also come out that she has been promoting Sandy Hook denialism, among other gun-promotion-related positions (for which people have given her a pass for decades). There is something of a who’s who of filking publicly abjuring her in various facebook accounts, such as Dave Weingart’s.

    If I sound a bit pointed here, it’s because I recognized this streak in her thirty years ago and have received a certain amount of personal flack for declining the Fish Koolaid.

  8. “To wit, she is maintaining that the Nazi violence in Charlottesville is actually some type of orchestrated false flag operation.”

    There are 60 persons that likes here comment! o.O

  9. (15) That is great and also I am now once again ear wormed by Hamilton. There go another two months of my life, right?

  10. If I sound a bit pointed here, it’s because I recognized this streak in her thirty years ago and have received a certain amount of personal flack for declining the Fish Koolaid.

    One of the fannish social fallacies, right? The friends of my friends can’t be fucking nazis.

  11. Heather Rose Jones on August 15, 2017 at 1:20 am said:

    To wit, she is maintaining that the Nazi violence in Charlottesville is actually some type of orchestrated false flag operation.

    That’s the current cycle of derp defense mode. It usually goes It’s Fake News (it’s a lie)-> Well what do we really know about it (confuse the issue) -> False Flag/Deep State (shift responsibility) -> Well, what about X? (deflect) / It’s not as bad as (minimize) -> Both Sides Are Bad (justification).

    The False Flag stuff only makes sense if you think that there’s an outside party trying to make nazis look bad instead of just looking bad because, well, nazis.

    It’s pretty disappointing to see how many are willing to minimize, shift blame for and justify the white supremacists at Charlottesville, much less the murder that happened. Even the low opinion I have of some pundits and various right wing folks for how they choose to express themselves I never considered they’d defend literal nazis.

  12. 12 (more serious): having something like this drop on a Worldcon Chair/staff during the convention, one already having to handle some major issues (lack of space), I’m not surprised that it wasn’t handled in the most optimal way. I can easily see this as “one more thing, one thing too many” and a desire to make the issue go away (rather than getting mired in it) as very understandable.
    I’ve never chaired a Worldcon, but I have worked as one of many unofficial asst chairs at a Worldcon fraught with issues, and I have worked security (which is now basically called “ops”) during the pre-modern era and there is often an impetuous to handle an issue as quickly as possible, to clear it, because one never knows what is going to happen next (and something ALWAYS happens next).

  13. 6) The “robots turn murderous” in Ex Machina example is not great, mostly because that movie wasn’t actually about AI/robots, that was just window-dressing; it was mostly an intense indictment of the way the tech industry often treats women (there was one powerful dude who saw young women literally as toys whose successes were things he gave to them as a demonstration of his power, and the other was a timid but smart “nice guy” who was sympathetic but only because he thought she might feel affection for him, and who was only really capable of seeing her as in need of saving–by him).

    Anxiety about science, its social impacts and the uses to which it can be put and especially about the ideological framework in which new technologies are developed, is healthy, imo, and I honestly think Hollywood very, very rarely gives a damn about “hardness” *except* as tone (i.e. just a way to set a mood, basically) and is much more interested in trying to make “universal” points (for whatever value of “universal” happens to appeal to the producers and director).

    It’s pretty disappointing to see how many are willing to minimize, shift blame for and justify the white supremacists at Charlottesville, much less the murder that happened. Even the low opinion I have of some pundits and various right wing folks for how they choose to express themselves I never considered they’d defend literal nazis.

    It is profoundly disappointing, yeah. I am happy (I guess?) to see that some of Canada’s far-right media dirtbags are unequivocally condemning the actions of the white supremacists in Charlottesville, though the fact that they sent reporters there in sympathy in the first place is making me give those condemnations serious side-eye. One major right wing journalist quit his job over the sympathetic coverage, and another (who is Jewish, so what the hell he thinks white supremacists and literal Nazis had to offer him in the first place is beyond me) has written a statement retracting his support for the so-called “Alt Right” movement and trying to distance himself from the term. Of course, you don’t have to quit jobs or write statements like that if you don’t get in bed with those assholes in the first place.

  14. (2) Not really thrilled with this casting, tbh. I fear they’re changing Azirophale’s characterization to NOT seem “gayer than a treeful of monkeys on nitrous oxide”, just because Michael Sheen is a friend of GNeil’s.

  15. re Fish: I’ve seen her various off-the-grid positions for some time, but not something so off-the-wall; is any of the decades-old foolishness online? I look at what she’s written and wonder how she could be so taken in — and then I realize trying to suss out the artist from the work is a bad idea.

    @steve davidson:

    I have worked security (which is now basically called “ops”) during the pre-modern era

    Operations and security used to be separate organizations; I don’t track this closely, but I don’t think the disappearance of a separate security department at some conventions means that Operations has lost its more important function (which could be summarized as lubrication). I’ve known from way back Ops people who seemed a little too aggressive in looking for “problems” to “solve”, but there were usually others who opposed this focus.

    @Doctor Science: where is that quote from? ISTM it was more first/ superficial reaction by other characters, rather than something supported by the narrators.

  16. Chip Hitchcock, I only know Chicago-area cons, but (I know) Windycon and (I think) Capricon still have separation between Ops and Security. The only con I go to which merges the two functions is very small (I’d estimate that the membership is under 300 people).

  17. Anna Feruglio Dal Dan — Glad I caught you here! You were the one who turned me on to Natasha Pulley — did you know she has another book out, The Bedlam Stacks? As with her last book, I’m not sure what to make of it. One thing I can say is that she’s awfully hard on her secondary characters.

  18. Thanks for running the clip by Weird Al Yankovic. Weird Al ALWAYS makes a day better!

  19. (14) Clearly no one at NASA fact checked the article.

    Article:
    “There is no consumer-grade Mac or PC up in space. A lot of that has the do with the fact that laptops in space degrade quickly out there.”

    Robert Frost, Instructor and Flight Controller at NASA (from https://www.quora.com/How-many-laptops-are-on-the-ISS):
    “There are, last time I checked, about 80 laptops deployed throughout the ISS. Most of them are Lenovo T61P laptops, [snip]”

  20. Was Crowley the name of the demon in “Good Omens,” the book? I ask because the television show “Supernatural” has had Crowley, a demon, as a character almost from the beginning. Good Omens, of course, would have been first.

  21. Re Leslie Fish: She’s been showing wingnut leanings since at least the 1990s, when it mostly expressed itself as anarcho-Libertarianism. That’s when I became disillusioned with her; since we didn’t move in the same filk circles, I haven’t been keeping really close track of her downward spiral — just every so often I’d hear something and think, “well, that’s a piece of nonsense”. I didn’t have to unfriend her on Facebook because I never had her on my friendslist in the first place.

    It’s deeply sad that someone who started out as a staunch unionist (IWW) and friend of the downtrodden has rocketed so far to the other side that she’s gone over the edge and into the abyss. And I feel very sorry for the people who idolized her for so many years and are now having to watch this travesty.

  22. (11) and (12) make it pretty clear that WorldCon management are (mostly) unfamiliar with Nordic LARP. There was a book about it a few years back that won the 2012 Diana Jones Award, which is the (gaming) award that I find the most meaningful.

    The book itself is very worth the read if you have even a little bit of interest in the topic – and it’s (legally) available for free here. (There’s an “In English” link at the top right of the page if that resolves to the Swedish version of the page)

    Worth mentioning: The author of the book is the author of the article linked in (11).

  23. I have access to “The Stone Sky” and yet it won’t download to the Kindle, AAGGHHHHH!!! I should have had it finished by now!

  24. re: Leslie Fish – I was introduced to her music in the 1990s, and after hearing her original songs I stuck with her Kipling and folk tunes. It was pretty clear her politics were fringe even then, and since I never met her or followed her career, I didn’t even realize she’d gone so far down the crazy path until another friend noted what she’s been saying recently on Facebook.

    It’s going to be hard to listen to any of her music now. They will probably stay off my playlist for some time to come.

  25. lurkertype on August 15, 2017 at 4:32 pm said
    It’s still not showing in my Kobo library, even though they claim it’s there and I’ve been charged for it. (Yes, they’ve been told.)

  26. (2) Very interested!

    (9) dances

    (10) Oh, Prickly City is more clever than I noticed on the first read. The Nib is good too.

    (11-12) And maybe the English-speaking world is a little offended at you considering *them* ignorant barbarians, when nobody ever bothered to explain? People were supposed to magically know how wonderful and superior Nordic LARP is? You don’t get to slam people for “failure to understand” when they’re given NO information to go on. Talk about cultural imperialism…

    This is YET ANOTHER failure of Helsinki to communicate clearly, which was endemic to the whole con (the bid parties, the Weingart harassing/firing/doxxing kerfuffle, not being open about the Program Book charges, this LARP).

    Had they bothered to put a few paragraphs of info in the program, rather than just assuming everyone from around the world would understand, they’d have been able to have the event. Instead, they made a tough executive decision, cancelled, and now have critics issuing snotty passive-aggressive statements afterwards about how stupid Anglo-Americans are and how wimpy the concom is. WC75 couldn’t win.

    I think the people criticizing Worldcon’s decision have probably never been in the position of being smack dab in the middle of a huge con, trying to keep everything running on schedule, trying to instantly acquire lots more programming space and then reshuffle the programs while making sure everyone knows where the panels have gone to now. They didn’t have TIME to negotiate about one of the hundreds of events scheduled. I don’t blame them for canceling. Any time and spoons given over to clarifying how it differed from other LARP would have been time taken away from finding rooms big enough for panels, running the Hugos, Masquerade, site selection, and general chaos that is any Worldcon, no matter how well organized.

    Should they have explained it better to start with? Yes.
    Should they get flack for the only do-able decision they could make in time? No.

    (16) Weird Al is always the best. I’ve never heard a bad word about him.

    @Heather: Yeah, Fish has been loony-tune libertarian for a while, starting or perhaps middling with her refusal to obey non-smoking laws, despite the fact that the cons would get in trouble and many people said it made them ill. Because HER freedom to burn toxic and carcinogenic substances overruled everyone else’s freedom to breathe easy and not incur a fine.

    Younger filkers barely know who she is, having grown up in the age of non-smoking hotels that she refuses to go to. Is she another case of “person feels they’re losing power, so goes RWNJ to hang onto it?”

    People generally get more like themselves as they age (I don’t know how to say it better, but everyone knows what I mean — is “distilled and concentrated” it?) so it’s not surprising that she’s gone completely over the cliff. You were just insightful and ahead of your time.

    (Someone should edit her Wikipedia entry; it still portrays her as a Wobbly type, no mention of going totally Alex Jones.)

    @Chip: I prefer my ops and my security separate too, but many cons are combining them now.

  27. @lurkertype

    And maybe the English-speaking world is a little offended at you considering *them* ignorant barbarians, when nobody ever bothered to explain? People were supposed to magically know how wonderful and superior Nordic LARP is? You don’t get to slam people for “failure to understand” when they’re given NO information to go on. Talk about cultural imperialism…

    I suspect a lot of people in the US underestimate how much annoyance there is about what is viewed as the US trying to impose its moral standards on the rest of the world. Viewed in this context, the cancellation of this LARP feels like another in a long list of examples of traditions, customs, media, etc… that were considered entirely unproblematic in their culture of origin, until an American got offended and raised a huge outcry.

    That said, I do find the description of this LARP problematic and it really could have been better worded. Merely including the term “tragicomic” or better yet, a short explanation that this is a Nordic style LARP which explores serious issues, would have helped. Or maybe simply make it a Swedish or Finnish language program item. I also understand that the con com decided to cancel the LARP, especially since they already had to deal with criticism regarding the crowded panels, etc…

  28. I’ve read that some of the puppies have come out as pro-Nazi or maybe pro-Confederacy. The source was vague.

  29. Lurkertype:

    “And maybe the English-speaking world is a little offended at you considering *them* ignorant barbarians, when nobody ever bothered to explain? People were supposed to magically know how wonderful and superior Nordic LARP is? You don’t get to slam people for “failure to understand” when they’re given NO information to go on.”

    Actually, you do. There are plenty of differences between US and nordic culture and when americans travel to another country, the sole responsibility of inform about differences can’t be placed on the locals. It is not they who have decided to visit a new country after all.

    This doesn’t mean that americans are ignorant barbarians. Only that asking before condemning is often a good idea when it comes to other cultures. And yes, the description was vague enough that questions were necessary.

    I can absolutely understand why the item was cancelled. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t troubling.

  30. @lurkertype:

    And maybe the English-speaking world is a little offended at you considering *them* ignorant barbarians, when nobody ever bothered to explain?

    Given that Worldcon specifically invited them, based on the game’s reputation, I think it makes sense that the gamerunner thought it had been explained.

    I’m also guessing that the person who made the call to cancel the game was not the person who invited them in the first place (obviously, because why would it be, and you wouldn’t respond to a crisis by going “quick, somebody check if the con invited them and who it was!”). And obviously, for the gamerunners that creates the sense that the con is disorganized and incoherent; con management tells them one thing and then another. Generally speaking, I have a lot of sympathy for convention flubs — they’re huge and chaotic and have a thousand moving pieces, and mistakes will happen; this is a case where it’s very very easy for me to assume good faith and best effort, identify what might be fixed next time, and move right along.

    (The piece by Stenros and Montola seems to be doing precisely that, and I really appreciate that.)

    As for cultural imperialism, this is another case of different people assuming a different default. To me, it’s very obvious that the game isn’t playing Alzheimer’s for laughs. The tone of the teaser (to me) a solemn one – talking about momentous moments in a characters’ life, and what having a beloved character might mean to somebody whose body and mind are deteriorating. The teaser doesn’t have a single joke in it — unless you consider the idea of roleplaying, or the idea of people with Alzheimer’s identifying with a character, inherently humorous. (I don’t think anybody did think that, but some people assumed that this was the intention.)

    @Cora,

    Merely including the term “tragicomic”

    Ok, but they did!

    or better yet, a short explanation that this is a Nordic style LARP which explores serious issues, would have helped.

    This is exactly the “default assumption” I’m talking about.

    This is a LARP, whose teaser is 100% about serious issues. So in my view, obviously it’s a LARP which explores serious issues. That’s what it says.

    Some people have a default assumption that LARPs aren’t about serious issues, so if they see a serious issue touched upon, they assume it’s by way of satire or ridicule. And I can understand that. If you tried to sell me on a game show about AIDS, I’d nope right out. But I don’t see anything in the text implying that the game would be frivolous, and I see quite a lot to the contrary.

  31. @lurkertype:

    I think the people criticizing Worldcon’s decision have probably never been in the position of being smack dab in the middle of a huge con, trying to keep everything running on schedule, trying to instantly acquire lots more programming space and then reshuffle the programs while making sure everyone knows where the panels have gone to now.

    Many of the critics were experienced conrunners, but different organizational cultures probably contributed to the way the situation was seen.

    The Worldcon organization seems to be more centralized and hierarchical than in most Finnish/Nordic cons. The decision to cancel the larp was made by the chairs without consulting the programme division. This is the exact opposite of the way the situation would have been handled in the cons I am familiar with.

    In the Finnish conrunning culture, you don’t escalate the issues to the top unless you have to. The chairs don’t have the time to deal with most issues, and they don’t understand the situation as well as the area heads, so they would usually make worse decisions. When you have a relatively minor issue like this, you contact the relevant area head or the person currently on duty in the relevant division. They will then contact other people and deal with the situation, because they are in the best position to make an informed decision. Most of the time, you only inform the chairs after the decision has been made.

  32. And maybe the English-speaking world is a little offended at you considering *them* ignorant barbarians, when nobody ever bothered to explain? People were supposed to magically know how wonderful and superior Nordic LARP is? You don’t get to slam people for “failure to understand” when they’re given NO information to go on. Talk about cultural imperialism…

    So instead they were supposed to… have a full and internalized understanding of American cultural attitudes about LARP and structure their promotional/informational materials around the needs of those cultural attitudes instead? Asking a cultural group to treat their cultural norms as “other” while they are in their own country is indeed cultural imperialism. It is incumbent on the locals to help visitors navigate everyday interactions and differences with a degree of understanding and bridge-building, but they are only responsible for building half of that bridge, and they are not responsible for hand-holding over every cultural difference. It is also incumbent upon the visitors to make an effort to understand and investigate those cultural differences that are beyond the everyday themselves, especially when going to a place specifically to experience cultural events.

    I wasn’t there, but based on the tenor of this discussion and others I’ve seen, and the materials I’ve been able to read from the con that have been posted, this seems *mostly* a case of the latter group making demands without first trying to build their half of that bridge.

  33. @Standback: thank you for providing the more-complete block of information. This looks like a screenshot (the “login to sync” note in the upper left); do you know whether all of this was also in the print-looking form that was originally pasted here (several threads back)?

  34. It doesn’t really matter, but a friend on Facebook (I can’t remember who now) said it was Brits complaining, not Americans.

  35. August: So instead they were supposed to… have a full and internalized understanding of American cultural attitudes about LARP and structure their promotional/informational materials around the needs of those cultural attitudes instead?

    It’s interesting to see people keep claiming that this was an American thing. Like Lenore Jones, I saw people on Facebook saying that the majority of the people who were upset about the program item description were Brits.

  36. The whole Nordic LARP issue strikes me as one of those rare times when both sides are essentially correct: nobody was planning on doing something disrespectful, and nobody wants disrespectful things done.
    Communication fail is all, no evil intent anywhere in sight.
    My own preference would have been for an immediate response with more information about the event and that LARPing tradition to have been the first step, but the mushrooming size of the convention explains much.

    But now that we have all learned about Nordic LARPing – and with gratitude for Helsinki folks for the exposure – can we get something positive out of it?
    Someone was saying they hoped to see similar programming for Dublin (yes, please).
    But even sooner, is there any chance of seeing the creators invited to set up something for San Jose next year?

  37. @Chip: No idea; I nabbed that screenshot directly from the article. The item’s been removed from the online program, and I don’t have a print one handy.

    @lauowolf: If you’re intrigued, it’s quite possible you can find a convenient Nordic LARP being run rather sooner than next August… 🙂

    (And heck yes, more LARPs and tabletop games at Worldcon! I’d actually love to hear how the ones that DID run went!)

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