(1) James H. Burns recalls the effects of 9/11 on Broadway in “Delphinus, in the Northern Sky” (posted in 2012).
It’s eleven years later, and we’re still here. Still able to perform, or write, or otherwise create, or, also wonderful, to be able to embrace those passions.
I was just thinking of the guts it took for the actors who resumed their places on the stage so soon after that day in September.
Remember the courage it took, for some of us, just to walk down the street. And these folks were resuming one of the toughest challenges, in the arts.
(2) Melbourne has a website that maps every one of its city trees. Citizens can report a particular tree’s condition and get the city to attend to it. The website has a button “Email this tree,” short for “Email the city about this tree.”
Except, as fans will do, many take the label literally, and email the tree about life, the universe, and everything.
As part of the Urban Forest Strategy — implemented to combat the steady decline of trees following a 13 year drought — the city assigned all of the Melbourne’s 77000 trees individual emails.
The idea was residents could use these emails to report trees that had been vandalised or were in a severe state of decline.
Only, people decided to make another use for the email and began writing love letters to their favourite trees….
Weeping Myrtle, Tree ID 1494392
Hello Weeping Myrtle,
I’m sitting inside near you and I noticed on the urban tree map you don’t have many friends nearby. I think that’s sad so I want you to know I’m thinking of you.
I also want to thank you for providing oxygen for us to breath in the hustle and bustle of the city.
Variegated Elm, Tree ID 1033102
Dear Elm, I was delighted to find you alive and flourishing, because a lot of your family used to live in the UK, but they all caught a terrible infection and died.
Do be very careful, and if you notice any unfamiliar insects e-mail an arboriculturist at once.
I miss your characteristic silhouettes and beautifully shaped branches — used to be one of the glories of the English landscape — more than I can say.
Melbourne must be a beautiful city.
Sincere good wishes
The Urban Forest Strategy will see 3000 new trees planted in Melbourne each year and since its implementation in 2012, 12000 new trees have been added to the city’s urban landscape.
(3) Step inside Crew Dragon, SpaceX’s next-generation spacecraft designed to carry humans to the International Space Station and other destinations.
(4) Major league baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates welcomed back devoted Batman fan A.J. Burnett by sending up the Bat-Signal.
(5) Need a little adventure in your life? Tor.com is seeking an in-house publicity coordinator.
This person will work with publicity and editorial departments and contacts throughout all of genre publishing, developing plans for comprehensive book coverage on Tor.com and assisting with publisher and author outreach. They will also be responsible for encouraging and moderating conversation between readers on the site and on social media.
This is a full-time position working in our New York office. Ideally, we are looking for a candidate with at least 2 years of publishing experience, who is outgoing, extremely organized, and detail-oriented. Applicants should be both highly enthusiastic and knowledgeable about science fiction and fantasy across a range of media….
(6) Did I forget to mention – issue 24 of Hugo-winning fanzine Journey Planet, the Richard III theme issue, is available online. This issue contains a series of articles by Steven H Silver, Joan Szechtman, Chuck Serface, K.A. Laity, Ruth Pe Palileo and Pixie P.as welll as pieces by editors James Bacon and Chris Garcia. The cover, some interior and technical art work was provided by Autun Purser, a full-time deep sea ecologist, who has created a series of travel posters, advertising travel to destinations from unusual fiction – the “Fantastic Travel Destinations.”
(7) Kevin Standlee shares several examples that show why Hugo Administrators aren’t activists.
- 1989 and A Brief History of Time (Scroll down and click “further detail” for a bit more information.) In 1989, Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time had sufficient nominations to make the final ballot. The Administrator ruled it ineligible, as the definition of Best Non-Fiction Book (the title of the category now known as Best Related Work) at that time said that the book had to be about “science fiction, fantasy, or fandom,” and thus the Administrator ruled that science books weren’t eligible. This decision was controversial. There were attempted changes to the WSFS Constitution that year that were eventually rejected, IMO mainly because nobody could agree on a consistent proposal. It took several years of argument, but eventually the 1996 WSFS Business Meeting passed (and the 1997 meeting ratified) the change of the category from “Best Non-Fiction Book” to “Best Related Book,” thus:
Any work whose subject is related to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom, appearing for the first time in book form during the previous calendar year, and which is either non-fiction or, if fictional, is noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text.
Note that ABHOT would have been eligible under this wording.
(8) Naturellement !
For the record, I've always pronounced "Voldemort" correctly.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) September 11, 2015
(9) These Black Mouse Printing Titanium Steel His and Hers Band Couple Rings are cute as the dickens and go for only $59.
(10) Cat Valente in a comment on Jay Maynard’s award proposal at Black Gate
…Because it’s simply not right to say a good story has no message. Story and message are not separable, hostile camps demanding loyalty only to one or the other. A good story has themes. A good story is about something. A good story is not only about things that happen one after the other, but about why they happen, and how, and to whom, and how all those things interconnect. And all that can happen WITH ray guns and explosions and buxom princesses. It happens literally all the time. One does not kick the other out of bed for eating crackers.
The author always, ALWAYS, communicates their own culture and experience through their fiction. There is no writing without that cultural electricity animating it. It’s not good or bad. It just is. We cannot help it, we are human. To say that Ancillary Justice is message fiction and undeserving but Time Enough for Love is not is to say that some of those communicated experiences are good and should be promulgated and some are worthless and should be cast aside. And I don’t think there’s anything in the world that should be cast aside and never written about.
However, no one, not even the terrible, no good, very bad SJWs, has ever said that the best stories are ones where the “message” overrides the good story. Everyone wants a good story. Everyone wants to sink into a novel and get totally wrapped up in the tale. There is no need to split into camps on this topic because there is literally no argument. Everyone wants the same thing.
The difference lies in the fact that for some people, a story that communicates an experience that they are unfamiliar with, whether a gendered one, or racial, or sexual, or even literary, jars them out of the story and makes it harder to get wrapped up in it. I can even use my powers of empathy to understand that, because it jars me out of a story when I come across a message about how shitty and/or unnecessary women are, because I am a woman and I like to not feel like I am shitty and unnecessary. But unfortunately, for some people, me just writing a story that draws on my life experience IS political, because my experience isn’t theirs, and the central presence of women in a story is, for them, a political act….
(11) Ruth A. Johnston, author of Re-Modeling the Mind: Personality in Balance, was interviewed by L. Jagi Lamplighter at Superversive SF about her interpretation of the Hugo kerfuffle. It’s part of a series – later installments will apply her theory to characters in John C. Wright’s Night Land stories, and “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love” as well as the larger Hugo/culture war picture.
Part One: What Forces Drive the SciFi Culture Wars?
Q: In the Afterword to your new book, you suggest that ideas about personality might help us understand “culture wars” by showing how the sides just see the world differently. What do you mean by “personality-based worldviews”?
A: The thesis of Re-Modeling the Mind is that our brains can’t process all of the information that comes at us constantly, so each brain organizes itself around more limited options, depending on the neural strengths it already has. When we talk about “personality” we mean these limitations and abilities, which are usually clearly visible when we watch each other. We know ourselves this way, too. We know there are things we simply can’t take in, or if we can take in the facts, we can’t manage them to make decisions. There are things we pay close attention to, and other things we just can’t be bothered with. Personality is this very real neural patterning that filters the world so that it’s manageable.
But this means that our personalities also limit and even blind us to things other people can perceive and manage. We’re all in the same physical world, in the sense that we agree on where the objects are, so that we can avoid running into them. But at a more complex level, we really don’t all live in the same world. Our personalities can have such root-level different views of the world that we can barely have conversations. This is what I’d call a personality-based worldview.
I’m not a science-fiction reader, and I’d never heard of the Hugos until this year. But watching the ferocity of the battles made me feel convinced that at least some of this culture war is provoked by a clash of personality-based worldviews. In other words, probably the leaders and many supporters of each faction share some personality traits so that they all “live” in a similar world. In each faction’s “world,” its values are not only sensible but the only possible ones. Or if not the only possible ones, the only morally right or safe ones. This is why it’s so hard to have a conversation. It’s self-evident to each faction that its values are right, and the arguments offered by the other faction hold no water in their worldview. A lot of people on both sides feel that if So and So wins a prize, moral right or wrong will be rewarded.
(12) David Gerrold on Facebook is working out his own communication theory to explain “the recent squabble in SF fandom.”
…We now live in a world of self-organizing subcultures. Some of them are positive — organizing around the desire to address various challenges. Some of the clusters are negative, organizing around cult-like behaviors. Some are in the business of disseminating valuable information — some are in the business of misinformation and propaganda.
There’s a psychological phenomenon about new media — we give it gravitas. The first decade of any medium is the decade of education and assimilation. ie. We have to learn how to filter the information, we have to learn how to recognize that it is not an access to truth, merely one more way to be massaged. Example: The 1938 Orson Wells “War of the World” broadcast and panic. That happened while radio was still in its infancy for most listeners.
The internet is experiencing a prolonged childhood — most of us are still somewhere on the learning curve. We still trust too much of what we’re seeing on our computer screens, because we haven’t learned how to distrust it yet.
That’s the context in which we’re all operating. We’re being assaulted by an avalanche of data — we have to figure out how to mine it for actual information.
We have built the kind of technology that gives every person on the planet access to vast libraries of information and the ability to communicate with people all over the globe. But even if we’ve built a global village, we haven’t yet learned how to live in it. We’ve brought our prejudices and our beliefs and our parochial world-views.
Here, on this continent, we’ve built a cultural monomyth that carries within it the seeds of our own destruction — the mythic hero. We believe in John Wayne, the strong man who comes to rescue us. It’s a variation on the Christ myth. Or Superman. Or Batman. We’re incapable of being responsible, we need a daddy figure to sort things out for us. (The savage deconstruction of this monomyth is a movie called “High Noon.” It’s worth a look.)
Belief in superheros is an adolescent fantasy — it’s a way of abnegating personal responsibility. Whatever is wrong with the world, the Justice League, the Avengers, SHIELD will fix it.
The counterpoint is that whatever is wrong with the world — it’s not us. It’s THRUSH or SPECTRE or HYDRA or some other unnamed conspiracy. It’s always a conspiracy. …
(13) Steve Davidson has an advanced scouting report on next year’s Retro Hugos, which will be voted by members of MidAmeriCon II for eligible work from 1940.
But when it comes to the editor’s categories, we’re going to be restricted to one, that for Short Form.
Of course Campbell is the natural choice here, but take a minute to consider everyone who is eligible:
Mary Gnaedinger – Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Fantastic Novels (reprints)
Raymond A. Palmer – Amazing Stories, Amazing Stories Quarterly (reprint), Fantastic Adventures
Mort Weisinger – Captain Future, Startling Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories
Frederik Pohl – Astonishing, Super Science Stories
F. Orlin Tremaine – Comet
Charles D. Hornig – Future Fiction, Science Fiction, Science Fiction Quarterly
Martin Goodman – Marvel Tales/Marvel Stories
Malcolm Reiss -Planet Stories
John W. Campbell Jr. – Astounding Science Fiction, Unknown
Farnsworth Wright – Weird Tales
None of the other editors had anything approaching the budget that Campbell had, yet Pohl, Hornig and Weisinger managed to put together some very fine issues from time to time (often relying on friends for copy at cut-rates), while Malcolm Reiss practically gave birth to the sword and planet sub-genre (not to mention introducing us all to Leigh Brackett!) with Planet Stories and several of the other magazines had a material impact on the field – if only by keeping certain authors and artists barely fed.
[Thanks to Mark (wait, not that one, the other one), L. Jagi Lamplighter, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian. Title credit to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]