Pixel Scroll 9/10/16 Scroll Long And Pixel

(1) NEW ZEPPELINS FOR OLD. After striking a gusher of controversy with its initial program plans, World Fantasy Con made a large number of changes. Jason Sanford reviewed the new offerings in “World Fantasy tries again with programming”, then concluded:

I wish WFC had started totally from scratch with this year’s program, which they obviously didn’t do. But overall these changes are positive. It appears some of these changes were taken from Guerilla WFC, which put forward a truly innovative WFC program, which is a good sign. I’m also sure Ellen Datlow had a positive effect on the changes, as did everyone in the genre who justifiably ripped apart the previous program.

Update: The new program is now on the official WFC 2016 website. Go there to see the schedule.

(2) THEN, THE BOOK. I have spent many hours poring over Rob Hansen’s British fanhistory in zine and website versions, whether researching a blog post, or simply for the pleasure of learning the stories out of early fandom. Now that material has been polished further and given book publication by Dave Langford’s Ansible Editions. You’ll find a lot of information about the project here.then-cover

THEN was published in September 2016 with a list price of $22.50 (trade paperback) or $36.50 (hardback, discounted by 10% until November 2016). There is also an ebook edition.

Rob Hansen is acknowledged in Brian Aldiss’s autobiography The Twinkling of an Eye as “the historian of fanzines”. Then is Rob’s ground-breaking history of British science fiction fandom from its first stirrings in the early 1930s to 1980 and a little beyond. Originally published in four fanzine-format volumes from 1988 to 1993, this first book edition of Then is now greatly revised, corrected and expanded by more than 20% to give a massive trade paperback – and a simultaneously published hardback – running to 454 pages and nearly 228,000 words. Besides the results of much new research, Then includes over 300 photos of contemporary fans of all eras, dozens of scans of representative fanzine covers selected from each decade, detailed source notes and a full index (not to mention a separate photo index).

This first book edition of Then also has an appreciative introduction by Peter Weston, who writes: “without Rob we would know almost nothing about British fanhistory, whereas thanks to him we know just about everything … It’s a truly amazing thing, and something of a minor miracle that it ever came to be written.” It’s an epic piece of work. What’s more, it’s alive in the current conversation, and consulted by people who care about fanhistory.

(3) WHEN THE SHOW WENT ON. Ars Technica tells “How an over-ambitious Star Trek convention became ‘The Con of Wrath’”.

In 1982, nearly the entire TOS cast gathered for a disastrous four-hour variety show….

Rose also recalled that Koenig essentially acted as the show’s de facto director, given that no one else could seem to be bothered to do it. “None of us had a script, any idea what we were doing for the most part, but we knew that Walter had written some kind of play,” he said. “It was literally that Friday night, Walter comes over to me and he says ‘you’re the main guy, here’s what we’re going to be doing.’ He wrote it out what we’re going to do, cue this cue that. I had no warning whatsoever.”

Koenig ended up simply writing out the lighting and sound cues on a piece of paper and handing it to Rose. “‘We need a house announcer,’ and he writes out on paper and handed it to me!” Rose recalled….

“The amazing thing is that none of the actors walked, they did the entire weekend as it was planned,” Nemecek told us. To this day, he continues to view the whole thing as a modern marvel. After all, he believes that if such a fiasco unfolded today, it would reverberate across the Internet and likely damage the careers of everyone involved. “It really is the most glorious failure. All the actors, the fans, the dealers, and the organizers did something to make this happen.”


(4) WORLDCON 76. After San Jose won the rights to host the 2018 Worldcon, they issued Progress Report Zero. In case you haven’t already seen it, you can download it here.

Is San Jose really going with Worldcon 76 as its name? That’s what’s on the PR and its website. I’d be concerned that’s it’s too easily confused with Worldcon 75, the name used by Helsinki.

San Jose also announced Guests of Honor Spider Robinson, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and Pierre and Sandy Pettinger, and two Ghosts of Honor, Edgar Pangborn and Bob Wilkins.

(5) ONE VIEWER’S RECAP OF RECENT HISTORY. Nathaniel Givens overviews “Science Fiction Awards in an Age of Dragons” at The Loose Cannon.

…one of the problems with this many categories is that there’s no feasible way anyone could read all the nominated works and make an informed vote in every category. This has profound implications.

Traditionally, Worldcon attendees receive electronic copies of the nominated works and have a couple of months to read through them before voting closes. There’s a lot of material (5 novels, 5 novellas, 5 novelettes, and 5 short stories just from the core literary categories), but it’s not an unmanageable amount. It should be fairly routine, then, for a Hugo voter to end up reading works they haven’t read before and maybe even voting for one of those works. In short, the Hugos are designed as deliberative process in which a small cadre of dedicated fans try to come to a consensus about which works deserve recognition. At its worst, this means that the group is susceptible to being hijacked and/or manipulated by cliques and fads (political or otherwise). At its best, it means that we’re talking about a process that at least makes a meaningful attempt to transcend momentary popularity.

The Dragon Awards make no such pretense. There will never be packets of all the novels.15 Even if there were, there wouldn’t be time for people to wade through dozens of novels before voting. Deliberation and consensus are off the table.

(5) TRANSOM TO REOPEN. Strange Horizons has added a new fiction editor and will be re-opening fiction submissions.

We are therefore delighted to announce that Vajra Chandrasekera is joining us as a Fiction Editor, working with Lila Garrott, Catherine Krahe, and An Owomoyela.

If you’ve been reading Strange Horizons recently, there’s a good chance that you recognise Vajra’s name and if you do, I suspect you’re as excited as I am about him joining the magazine’s staff. As a book club participant, occasional reviewer and regular columnist, he has contributed some of the most insightful critical thinking we’ve had the pleasure of publishing in the last year. And as an author—with July’s “Sweet Marrow”, and this week’s “Applied Cenotaphics in the Long, Long Longitudes”—he’s contributed two wonderfully elegant and thought-provoking stories. Put another way, by far the biggest downside of him joining the magazine is that we won’t be publishing very much by him for the foreseeable future!

In organisational terms, this should mean that we will be able to re-open to fiction submissions in the near-ish future—although authors, we’ll still need you to bear with us for a few more weeks.

(6) A VERSE OUT OF TIME. Tom Becker shared this masterpiece in a comment.

This is just to say
I have taken
the time machine
I wanted to eat the plums
that were in the icebox
But I didn’t want you to find out

I took them
back a few minutes
then there were
twice as many
That was fun
so I did it again
Forward and back
Four times as many
Eight times
Sixteen times

If you were wondering
why your time machine
is full of plums
that is why
Please have some
for breakfast
I ate as many as I could
You can put the pits
in the pizza boxes

You should know
I saw a shoggoth
Perhaps it was attracted
by the time machine
If so please forgive me
The elder gods
so strange
and so cold

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, John King Tarpinian and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes  to File 770 contributing editor of the day snowcrash.]

167 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/10/16 Scroll Long And Pixel

  1. The sacrificial fourth ::ticky::?

    ETA: Fifth! And thanks to Dawn Incognito for the assist!


    Given the way the Dragon Awards were organised, it was always going to be an award mostly about popularity, and also susceptible to freeping. (Short reading window, encouragement to mobilise fans, open email voting)

  2. 4) Worldcon 76 is what they said in the bid acceptance presentation. I seem to remember they indicated a dislike for the regional names like MidAmeriCon, and wanted Worldcons to have consistent branding.


    There is some good analysis in that post — but there is also a serious bit of retconning of what was actually said and done by Puppies.

  4. Kip W: San Jose Worldcon should be edgy and just go by their initials. It has a nice ring…

    You win teh intrawebs for today.

  5. @Snodberry Fields: Unfortunately (for me) I had to back out of tentative plans to attend this year’s Worldcon so I don’t have any personal evidence RE what was said at the con. However, there’s been a noticeable and possibly growing body of opinion that having a different name for each year’s Worldcon is a negative in the sense that it makes it hard for people not already in the know to “get” that it’s an ongoing series.

    It is possible that the San Juan NASFiC has similar feelings RE the NASFiC since they’ve chosen NorthAmeriCon ’17 as their monicker.

  6. (1) Should have taken more from Guerrilla WFC — like the mentions of works written this century/decade, and the “Hit the Road, Howard” panel. Still, it is a big, big improvement.

    (4) Not keen on the number either. Too confusing. They ought to at least use “ConJose” (which was the bid name) as a secondary name. I haven’t heard any reason behind the change. But I like @Kip W’s idea.

    (5a) There’s a LOT of Puppy-friendly rhetoric there (including a dig at the dreaded Scalzi), and a LOT of ignorance/omission of what the Sads actually said/did, but at least he recognizes that the Dragon Awards this year had no credibility whatsoever with the “all the emails you can send”. Something the Pups haven’t. And he did make the point that we already have Goodreads Awards for popularity, even if you don’t get a pretty chunk of glass.

    (6) I just want to compliment this again. Brilliant.

  7. @Nathaniel Givens Having finely divided novel categories lets different types of books all shine at once. It isn’t necessary for everyone to read and vote in every category. People can just vote in the genres they like, and leave the rest to other people.

  8. I was pleased to see that Radiomen, by Eleanor Lerman, won the John W. Campbell Award. It was one of the novels I submitted as a Hugo nominee, but it wasn’t published by a mainstream SF publisher and I kind of wondered if anyone else had noticed it. (The rest of my nominees were obscure too – Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits, The Awesome, The Beautiful Bureaucrat, and Less than Hero.)

  9. I just saw Takei’s segment on Colbert from Thursday. It’s short, but he’s charming as always. Probably up on the CBS website.

    Still, another showing of how bad Paramount did with the PR — a guy who was in it since the beginning only gets 3 minutes as the last guest on the late night show? That’s the best they could do? Plus I suspect it only happened b/c Colbert’s a life-long geek who really likes Trek.

  10. (5) “traditionally Worldcon attendees receive electronic copies of the nominated work”

    Uh… This total newb wonders where that came from. That looks like puppy level wrong to me.

  11. kathodus: Uh… This total newb wonders where that came from. That looks like puppy level wrong to me.

    Well, I guess it’s pretty much correct — if you consider something which goes back to 2008 as “traditional”.

  12. Been indulging in some baking this afternoon and would like to hand out Delicious Buns of Success to Tom Becker and Kip W. And Delicious Buns of Cameraderie to the rest of the crew of course, for fine commitment to scrolling and number of fives. Alas, there is no reliable delivery service from here! I’ll have to eat them myself.
    Forgive me,

    If SJWcon happens in 2018, maybe we could have some kind of concurrent international retreat in Zagreb or Zhengzhou or Zanzibar City for those oppressed by the initials?

    (Edited because my first suggestion made absolutely no sense)

  13. Re: Takei only getting three minutes on Colbert. That’s not that far off from par for the course. The show’s an hour long…with at least 18 minutes of commercials (prime time’s at that; late night might even squeeze in another minute or three). Usually he has a pre-theme song bit, a post theme-song bit, and a middle of the show bit. By the time you get to chopping up the remaining time among three guests, there’s not all that much left. From my point of view, that’s a weakness of his show in that I think he’s a better longer form interviewer, and once you sub out the requisite current project plug for most of his guests, he barely has time for anything past “Hi X, it’s been a while, when did we last see each other?”.

    Re: Dragon Awards lack of credibility with the “one email address, one vote, one thousand email addresses, one thousand votes” policy. I got into a debate with someone in a Facebook comment thread where he claimed the vote handling had been contracted out to an external outfit that specialized in such, and of course they’d be able to prevent any sort of vote pattern like that. Puplike, he’s repeatedly refused to say who said outfit was or where to find its name when I said I’d read the publicly available material and seen no mention of it, or how much was paid said outfit with respect to possible different levels of fraud protection pricing (i.e. did the Dragons get “we don’t need no certification” level of poll implementation or did they shell out for presumably extra cost major fraud projection implementation?). Also said something about my not trusting the as yet unnamed to my knowledge administrators when I scoffed at not having nomination/voting numbers released until October, since they must have had the numbers in order to put things on the ballot/award the things. I gave up arguing as a waste of my time.

  14. JJ said:

    if you consider something which goes back to 2008 as “traditional”.

    The saying goes that if one Worldcon does something, it’s a tradition; if the next Worldcon does it too, it’s a hallowed tradition.

  15. Yeah, I can see why Worldcon 75 went with that name, but I don’t get why you’d go with 76. Now, I could kinda see a Worldcon based in Philadelphia going with 76 “The Spirit of 76!” and that kind of branding would distinguish it from Helsinki.

  16. John A Arkansawyer on September 11, 2016 at 5:05 am said:
    Every now and then, a story hits my sweet spot so perfect and hard that I can’t even be jealous of the author,

    Every now and then, a story hits my sweet spot, knocks me down, takes my lunch money and shoves me in my locker. Then, years later I snare it in an elaberate revenge plot to make it lose everything that…

    Wait what were we talking about?

    Right, fiction. Fiction is good and just ignore the sounds form the basement. That’s just the pizza boxes settling, no one’s buried under there.

  17. Tom Galloway: Also said something about my not trusting the as yet unnamed to my knowledge administrators when I scoffed at not having nomination/voting numbers released until October, since they must have had the numbers in order to put things on the ballot/award the things.

    The members of the Awards committee not being named, and the numbers not being released for 6-8 weeks — as if there is somehow some more “tallying” which needs to be done before they can be released — is all quite bizarre. I think that they’re in the process of trying to do some major damage control.

    But looking at a few of the books which took home trophies, I’d say it’s far too late to do damage control. Next year they’ll be playing catch-up in terms of trying to get some part back of the huge amount of credibility that they’ve lost this year.

  18. I like the idea of just calling it SJW, since it undermines the other use of the acronym. If we call attendees SJWs, we can then ask the hilarious question “How many puppies will pay to be SJWs?”

  19. Just finished Ninefox Gambit. It’s on my Hugo longlist. Anyone know anything about a timetable for the sequel? (There MUST be a sequel. PLEASE tell me there’s a sequel…)

    I was unfamiliar with his work. I see he has a collection out called Conservation of Shadows. Acquired. About to dive into.

  20. Infinite Pixels in Infinite Scrolls?
    To Boldly Scroll Where No One Has Scrolled Before?
    For the Scrolls are Hollow and I Have Touched the Pixels?
    For the Pixels are Hollow and I Have Touched the Scroll?
    I can’t decide….

  21. Thanks for providing the link to @5. That was an interesting analysis.

    And for the 770s – why get so upset about the Dragon Awards? If somebody comes up with better crowd sourced awards why are you so upset? Hugos are anything but crowd sourced with a tiny voting base and a $40-50 voting fee.

    The Dragons have the potential to very helpful for those who think crowd sourced choices are useful purchase information. The Dragon areas where I’m most familiar (game categories, Military SF, Alt-History) had excellent nominees. I’d played, read, or read detailed game reviews of all of the nominees. These were excellent choices.

  22. The Pixel Glory
    The Pixel Maneuver
    Amok Pixel
    The Doomsday Pixel
    The Pixel Syndrome
    Is There in Pixel No Scrolling?

  23. Airboy: We’re not upset, we’re disappointed. The Dragons had the potential to be a good crowd-sourced award, as you say, but they chose to be Awardy McAwardsface. A trivially freepable award is not a good crowd-sourced award.

    Now, if they’d actually bothered to promote it (or even mention it!) it to the Dragoncon membership, and tied votes to memberships or found some other way to ensure that it was “one person one vote”, rather than “one person and a hundred email addresses a hundred votes”, then yes, it could have been an excellent crowd-sourced award. Alas, in spite of the undeniably pretty trophies, it’s (so far) mostly not.

    And Hugos don’t have a “voting fee”. Hugos are the award given by the members of a particular convention. Membership in the convention costs money, but the Hugos aren’t the reason most people are paying that money. Most people are paying that money as a membership fee to belong to the World Science Fiction Society, and to support the convention.

    I paid no voting fee to nominate or vote for the Hugos this year. Nominating and voting for the Hugos came free with my convention membership, along with the right to go to panels and take a Diet Coke from the consuite. Or are you going to now claim that I paid a “Diet Coke Fee”?

  24. I have no inside line on why San Jose decided to go with the generic “Worldcon 76” but my unconsidered reaction is to like the idea of “supporting consistent branding”. Not that I’m not also fond of the long fannish tradition of coming up with clever convention-name puns. But used the simple Worldcon name feels good, too.

    (The initialism is, of course, frosting on the cake.)

  25. @airboy

    I’m not sure anyone is upset. People have criticised their organisation on quite a few grounds, and been fairly scathing about how many of the results were obviously driven by voters who followed VDs lead, but I don’t think anyone here was sufficiently invested in the results to be upset.

    Incidentally, do you believe the Dragons had a larger number of voters than the Hugos this year? Some people here have made some estimates, so if we ever get stats it’ll be interesting to see. Certainly the Dragons ought to be able to beat the Hugo voter numbers in the future.

  26. …when I scoffed at not having nomination/voting numbers released until October…

    This is the second time I’ve seen this, and am trying to figure out the source – I know Kate Paulk claimed this, but I think that was because there was some confusion over the line “*Check back in October for information about voting for the Dragon Awards in 2017“. Was there ever any announcement made that this would also include nomination/voting data for 2016 being released as well?

  27. The Pixeldise Scrolldom.

    Actually watched that ep a few days ago after watching an MST3k wherein they at one point riffed “I AM KIROK!”

    Hmm, speaking of which, Joel and the bots also did a wonderful, if misquoting, version of the Elias Sandoval episode… This Scroll of Pixeldise?

    “Ha ha ha. I’m not going back Jim!”

  28. Then, The Book sounds like a delight.

    Is There In Pixel No Scroll?
    The Doomscroll Pixel

    “Repent, Pixels”, Said The Box-Tick Man

  29. @snowcrash

    Nope, I think it’s become an instant urban myth. I did see someone claiming an admin had told them so in email, but I take that with a huge grain of salt because, as you say, it’s never actually been stated directly anywhere by anyone in any official capacity.

  30. @airboy:

    I’m not upset by the Dragon Awards, but I find the conflation of the attendance numbers of DragonCon with the “crowd” that is supposedly sourcing the awards pretty laughable. Based on the info I’ve read, the lack of general communication, and the absence of nominating/voting stats, it read a lot more as the “give Larry and his buddies an award” award.

    I also hold little to no truck with an award that is so obviously a “vote for your fave” instead of an evaluative award. There was far too small a window between announcement of the nominees and the end of voting, and far too many nominees.

    But then I didn’t even vote in the File770 brackets unless I’d read both (sometimes all three) choices. I’m funny that way.

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