We now return you to those thrilling days of yesterscroll.
(1) Some anniversaries.
|August 29, 1997 Cyberdyne’s “Skynet“ intelligence system becomes self-aware.||September 1, 1922 Yvonne De Carlo (Lily Munster) is born in Canada.||September 3, 1969 The Valley of Gwangi opens in New York City.|
(2) The “17 places you won’t see on the official UCLA campus tour” include —
On the second floor of Boelter Hall, home of the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, there’s a seemingly random arrangement of dark and light gray floor tiles outside room 2714. The tiles actually spell out “Lo and behold” in binary code. The hidden message was secretly added to a renovation project in 2011 as a clever (and subtle) way to honor Internet pioneer and professor Leonard Kleinrock.
Clayburn La Force, who received his master’s and Ph.D. degrees from UCLA, was the Anderson dean who spearheaded the construction of the school’s contemporary building complex. To honor him, one of the exterior red brick pillars in the Anderson courtyard carries the inscription, “May La Force Be With You.”
Among the campus’ little-known treasures is the largest collection of meteorites in California (and fifth-largest in the nation.) Assembled for years by cosmochemist John Wasson, researcher Alan Rubin and their colleagues, more than 1,500 space rocks rest in the UCLA Geology Building. About 100 of them are on display at the UCLA Meteorite Gallery,
If you can find room 60 in the section of the basement of Powell Library Building housing the Office of Instructional Development, you’ll see a sign that commemorates the room where “Fahrenheit 451” took shape. In 1950 and 1953, author Ray Bradbury came supplied with a bag of dimes for the rental typewriters. He clacked out “The Fireman” in nine days (total cost $9.80) and returned to rework his story into “Fahrenheit 451.” You can still find a copy of his original work in UCLA Library Special Collections, which houses a rich treasure trove of Bradburyana.
Here’s the truth. Of the twenty-two authors today whom the mass audience regularly encounters whenever they walk into a bookstore looking for fantasy and science fiction, because they are the ones whose sales enable them to maintain at least a full shelf of book space, only one of them—Neil Gaiman—also has an active reputation with the (very small) groups of people who vote for major awards.
And they are very small groups. Not more than a few hundred people in the case of the Hugos and Nebulas, and a small panel of judges in the case of the WFC.
With them, Neil Gaiman’s popularity hasn’t—yet, at least—eroded his welcome. He’s gotten five nominations and two wins for the Hugo; three nominations and two wins for the Nebula; eight nominations and one win for the WFC—and almost all of them came in this century.
But he’s the only one, out of twenty-two. In percentage terms, 4.5% of the total. (Or 4.8%, if we subtract Tolkien.)
There’s no way now to reconstruct exactly what the situation was forty years ago. But I know perfectly well—so does anyone my age (I’m sixty-one) with any familiarity with our genre—that if you’d checked bookstores in the 1960s and 1970s to see how shelf space correlated with awards, you’d have come up with radically different results. Instead of an overlap of less than five percent, you’d have found an overlap of at least sixty or seventy percent….
And that was the Original Sin, as it were, of the Sad Puppies. (The Rabid Puppies are a different phenomenon altogether.) As it happens, I agree with the sense the Sad Puppies have that the Hugo and other F&SF awards are skewed against purely story-telling skills.
They are. I’m sorry if some people don’t like to hear that, but there’s no other way you can explain the fact that—as of 2007; I’ll deal with today’s reality in a moment—only one (Neil Gaiman) of the thirty authors who dominated the shelf space in bookstores all over North America regularly got nominated for awards since the turn of the century. The problem came with what the Sad Puppies did next. First, they insisted that Someone Must Be To Blame—when the phenomenon mostly involves objective factors. Secondly, being themselves mostly right wing in their political views, they jumped to the conclusion—based on the flimsiest evidence; mostly that some people had been nasty to Larry Correia on some panels at the Reno Worldcon—that the bias against their fiction in the awards was due to political persecution. Neither proposition can stand up to scrutiny, as I have now demonstrated repeatedly in the course of these essays….
One more thing needs to be said. The biggest problem in all of this is that way, way too many people—authors and awards-bestowers alike—have a view of this issue which… ah…
I’m trying to figure out a polite way of saying they have their heads up their asses…
Okay, I’ll say it this way. The problem is that way too many people approach this issue subjectively and emotionally rather than using their brains. With some authors, regardless of what they say in public, there’s a nasty little imp somewhere deep in the inner recesses of their scribbler’s soul that chitters at them that if they’re not winning awards there’s either something wrong with them or they’re being robbed by miscreants. Or, if they don’t sell particularly well but do get recognition when it comes to awards, there’s a peevish little gremlin whining that they’re not selling well either because somebody—publisher, agent, editor, whoever except it’s not them—is not doing their job or it’s because the reading public are a pack of morons.
Everybody needs to take a deep breath and relax. There are many factors that affect any author’s career and shape how well they sell and how often they get nominated for awards. Some of these factors are under an author’s control, but a lot of them aren’t. And, finally, there’s an inescapable element of chance involved in all of this.
The only intelligent thing for an author to do is, first, not take anything that happens (for good or ill) personally; secondly, try to build your career based on your strengths rather than fretting over your weaknesses.
(4) Craig Engler – “Dear Sad Puppies, I’d like to share some thoughts with you (Part 1)”
However, it’s possible to overdo it. The FAQ on the Hugo Awards site even has something to say about self promotional efforts: “Be careful. Excessively campaigning for a Hugo Award can be frowned upon by regular Hugo voters and has been known to backfire.” The words are italicized for emphasis not by me but by the person who wrote the FAQ. Note that the FAQ is addressed to the entire world, not to a specific group within fandom. In other words, anyone anywhere who excessively campaigns may face a backlash. It’s actually happened before….
That stance against campaigning has nothing to do with the personal beliefs or the politics of the campaigner, but rather their actions, i.e. campaigning to an excessive extent. And yes there was a lot more going on with Sad Puppies besides just campaigning, but even if that’s all that had ever happened, it was extremely doubtful voters would have responded favorably to Larry [Correia]’s campaign to get himself a Hugo….
I’ve been a Hugo voter off and on since 1988 when I attended my first Worldcon, and it’s always been widely known that voters react badly to campaigning. So had anyone done what Larry (and later on other Sad Puppies did), voters would have responded the same way. In fact, Larry isn’t even the first to try campaigning and have it not work. (Thus the reason it’s in a FAQ to begin with.)
So my thought to you is, while there was more going on around the vote than just Larry’s excessive campaigning (again, I’ll talk about that stuff in Part 2), we really never had to get past the campaigning issue to know that Larry’s tactics were simply not going to work. Not because of his politics, not because of his story telling ability, but because of his actions.
(5) What do we call this — a matho?
(6) The Carl Brandon Society has issued a “Non-profit Status Update”.
Due to a misunderstanding between board members in the wake of a personnel transition, we did not ensure that our tax returns were filed properly for 2012 – 2014. (It is worth noting that tax returns for organizations as small as the Carl Brandon Society are done via a form called the e-postcard, which requires only basic information, and does not require any degree of complex accounting).
We discovered the oversight when the IRS administratively revoked our non-profit status and provided instructions to us on how to be reinstated. We have spent the time since then working toward reinstatement and taking steps to assure that this does not happen again. These steps include, but are not limited to: (1) doing a complete examination of our fiscal practices and financial controls, (2) getting a new treasurer with significant non-profit experience, as well as a legal background and experience tracking and analyzing financial records, and (3) doing a complete review of our bookkeeping and financial records for all the affected years. We are about to file detailed tax returns for the years in question along with an application for reinstatement as a non profit charitable organization. We expect to be reinstated without difficulty as soon as our paperwork is reviewed by the IRS. Charitable donations made during this time will be covered by that application.
The Carl Brandon Society Steering Committee apologizes to everyone concerned for not resolving this issue in a more timely manner. Though the revocation happened in 2013, it was retroactive to the date covered by the missed filing. The reinstatement, likewise, will be retroactive to the same date.
The public became aware that the Society had lost its 501(c)(3) status after donations were solicited in connection with John Scalzi’s offer to voice an audiobook — “Charity Drive for Con or Bust: An Audio Version of ‘John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author And I Myself Am Quite Popular’ Read by Me”
"The Hugo Awards are just a clique giving awards to their friends! Give awards to *my* friends instead! That will show 'em!" – Puppies
— Meg Hixon (@MegDaLibrarian) August 31, 2015
(8) Those E.T. the Extra Terrestrial Atari cartridges dug up in Alamogordo netted over $108,000 in an auction last year, Rolling Stone recalls:
Nearly 900 copies of the infamously terrible video game were sold on eBay after an April 2014 excavation in Alamogordo, New Mexico confirmed the urban legend that thousands of the cartridges were buried following the game’s critical and commercial failure…. The most an E.T. cartridge sold for at auction was $1,535.
“There’s 297 we’re still holding in an archive that we’ll sell at a later date when we decide what to do with them,” Lewandowski said. “I might sell those if a second movie comes out but for now we’re just holding them. The film company got 100 games, 23 went to museums and we had 881 that we actually sold.”
The city of Alamogordo will receive $65,000 from the sale, while the Tularosa Basin Historical Society gets over $16,000. The remainder of the money went towards shipping fees as buyers in 45 states and 14 countries scooped up copies of E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.
(9) Coincidentally, the E.T. movie will be back in theaters for one day this October.
In conjunction with the Blu-ray release on October 9th and the film’s 30th anniversary, Fathom Events has announced that E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial will return to the big screen for one night only on October 3 at 7:00 p.m. local time with special matinee screenings in select theaters at 2:00 p.m. local time.
(10) Eric R. Sterner in “The Martian Message” says he thinks movies do nothing to encourage space exploration.
Surely, several interests want to capitalize on the melding of film and speculative reality. Damon recently visited the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he talked about his role, and NASA’s website proudly uses the opportunity to explain the real NASA-developed technologies portrayed in the movie. It can only do a space advocate’s heart good when Hollywood seems to discover the same sense of excitement in space that we see and experience every day.
Sadly, if the space community seeks to turn The Martian into a commercial for sending people to Mars, we will fail miserably. The 2000 movie Castaway was nominated for multiple awards, including an Academy Award for Tom Hanks. It did not increase public support for sending people to deserted islands. Neither will The Martian bring them closer to Mars.
(11) Nerd Approved shows how you can get Serenity on your GPS.
You are seeing the Serenity instead of a car on this Garmin GPS image tweeted by Nathan Fillion. The picture was sent to him by Browncoat Greg H. and you can have it, too. All you need to do is download the image and then add it to your Garmin’s vehicles folder and you’ll be driving through the ‘verse. As far as finding a way to avoid the Reavers and outsmart the Alliance, you’re on your own.
(12) NPR interviewed Ursula K. Le Guin who has a new book coming out — Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story.
On the importance of “crowding” and “leaping”
Crowding is what Keats said when he said, “Load every rift with ore.” In other words, pack in all the richness you can. All great books are incredibly rich; each sentence can sort of be unpacked. But then also in telling a story, you’ve got to leap, you’ve got to leave out so much. And you’ve got to know which crag to leap to.
(12) Marc Scott Zicree posted a Special Space Command Update on his birthday, which included showing the birthday present he was given by John King Tarpinian (at :27).
(13) George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog — “Next Year’s Hugos”
Let’s make it about the work. Let’s argue about the BOOKS. And yes, of course, it will be an argument. I may not like the stories you like. You may not like the stories I like. We can all live with that, I think. I survived the Old Wave/ New Wave debate. Hell, I enjoyed parts of it… because it was about literature, about prose style, characterization, storytelling. Some of the stuff that Jo Walton explores in her Alfie-winning Best Related Work, WHAT MAKES THIS BOOK SO GREAT? That’s the sort of debate we should be having.
The elimination of slates will be a huge step toward the end of hostilities.
But there’s a second step that’s also necessary. One I have touched on many times before. We have to put an end to the name-calling. To the stupid epithets.
I have seen some hopeful signs on that front in some of the Hugo round-ups I’ve read. Puppies and Puppy sympathizers using terms like Fan (with a capital), or trufan, or anti-Puppy, all of which I am fine with. I am not fine with CHORF, ASP, Puppy-kicker, Morlock, SJW, Social Justice Bully, and some of the other stupid, offensive labels that some Pups (please note, I said SOME) have repeatedly used for describe their opponents since this whole thing began. I am REALLY not fine with the loonies on the Puppy side who find even those insults too mild, and prefer to call us Marxists, Maoists, feminazis, Nazis, Christ-hating Sodomites, and the like. There have been some truly insane analogies coming from the kennels too — comparisons to World War II, to the Nazi death camps, to ethnic cleansing. Guy, come on, cool down. WE ARE ARGUING ABOUT A LITERARY AWARD THAT BEGAN AS AN OLDSMOBILE HOOD ORNAMENT. Even getting voted below No Award is NOT the same as being put on a train to Auschwitz, and when you type shit like that, well…
The Pups have often complained that they don’t get no respect… which has never actually been true, as the pre-Puppy awards nominations of Correia and Torgersen have proved… but never mind, the point here is that to get respect, you need to give respect.
[Thanks to Craig Engler, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these links. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cubist.]