Pixel Scroll 5/14/18 They Took Some Pixels, And Plenty Of Scrolls, Wrapped Up In A Five Pound Note

(1) SUDDENLY THERE CAME A TAPPING. Seattle Times headline: “Ripples in space-time or 3-pound bird? Ravens at Hanford foul test of Einstein’s theory”. Ravens are interfering with measurements at LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) which helped find the first confirmed gravitational waves.

For the LIGO observatory on Washington’s Hanford site, noise is a real buzz killer.

Any earthly sound — a truck rumbling past, the humming of a refrigerator in a nearby building, or the distant flutter of a plane’s propellers — can drown out the faint whispers from the cosmos that the Nobel Prize-winning project was designed to detect.

So when strange blips in the data started cropping up on summer afternoons, researchers were anxious to find the source and eliminate it.

“Any other noise makes it harder to hear the thing you’re listening for,” said University of Oregon physicist Robert Schofield, whose job is to ferret out racket from the environment and reduce its impact on some of the most sensitive instruments ever built.

…The glitches at Hanford corresponded to sounds recorded by a microphone installed by Schofield and his colleagues as part of their endless quest to detect and stamp out noise.

…It didn’t take long for Schofield to identify the prime suspect once he listened to the recordings. “It sounded like pecks to me,” he said. “I immediately thought it must be ravens.”

(2) DOCTOR NEW. What she told Radio Times: “Jodie Whittaker on filming Doctor Who: ‘I smile every single morning going to work’”.

“It’s like nothing I’ve ever done before, it’s absolutely incredible,” she said. “I must smile every single morning knowing I’m going to work to do it, I’m very lucky – it’s brilliant.”

We’re still in the dark as to what form the new series will take following Chris Chibnall taking over from Steven Moffat as showrunner, but the star assures us that it’s likely to be even bigger and bolder than what has come before it. Whittaker and Walsh will also be joined by new stars Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill. The ten-episode series is expected to air this autumn on the BBC.

“It feels incredibly epic,” Whittaker said. “The ambition is wonderful, and something we’re fighting every day to have the energy to back it up with.”

(3) FUTURE IS ON THE WAY. Alex Shvartsman will launch a new sf magazine tomorrow: “Announcing Future Science Fiction Digest”. It will be free to read online.

This bit of news has been six months in the making, but I can finally announce that I will be editing a science fiction magazine, to be published in collaboration by UFO Publishing and the Future Affairs Administration. The magazine will focus on various science fiction sub-genres (hard SF, space opera, cli-fi) but will not include fantasy or horror. There will be a strong focus on international fiction. I’ll be looking to fill about half of each issue with translations and stories written by authors from non-anglophone countries.

Although the magazine will feature original (to anglophone readers, anyway) fiction, I’ve put together a sample “issue zero,” to be released in time for the Nebulas and the Asia Pacific SF Con organized by the FAA. This issue features all-reprint stories with different takes/visions of the future, which also happen to be representative of the sort of material I hope to acquire and publish in the future.

The magazine’s website goes live Tuesday, May 15 at www.future-sf.com.

(4) MEET HENRY LIEN. Juliette Wade hosted a video hangout with Henry Lien about his new fantasy novel: “Henry Lien and Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword. You can read a summary on her blog, and/or watch the conversation on YouTube. (I was excited to hear more about his writing, having already become a fan through his composition “Radio SFWA.”)

…Henry explained that he loves rules. School is an environment girdled all around with rules to keep people from misbehaving, so it’s a setting he loves to work in. Students at the wu liu school are not allowed to do any moves outside of class, or they will forfeit their next examination. This is a key element of the plot of Peasprout Chen.

In particular, he says he wanted a fantasy world with no magic. George R. R. Martin consulted with him on aspects of it. Everything is grounded in real world experience, including the constant threat of injury that has grave consequences for the students. Even a bad wrist can knock you out. Henry himself got injured at one point during his training because he had become frustrated when another student did a kick the first time. Henry tried the same jump and tore his hamstring; he said it looked like someone had cut him.

Danger creates good stories. Ambition is a characteristic required by the sport.

Henry quoted a line from Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell: “Don’t talk to me about magic. It’s like everything else: full of setbacks and disappointments.” If this is the way your work seems, then whenever you achieve something, it feels like a huge accomplishment! Peasprout Chen’s life is full of cultural landmines and danger, but when she does something cool, we cheer….

(5) BEYOND BECHDEL. IndieWire covered this story in December: “Lena Waithe, Kimberly Peirce, and More Women Introduce 12 New Bechdel Tests to Measure Gender Imbalance”.

FiveThirtyEight recently asked 12 women to come up with new gender imbalance tests, including actress and Emmy-winning writer Lena Waithe, filmmaker Kimberly Peirce, cinematographer Jen White, and actress Naomi Ko. The new tests demand more gender equality from film and television, both in front the camera and behind the scenes.

In order to pass the Waithe Test, for instance, a movie or show must feature a black woman who’s in a position of power and is in a healthy relationship with her partner. Only five of the top 50 films of 2016 pass the Waithe Test: “Bad Moms,” “Central Intelligence,” “Hidden Figures,” “Boo! A Madea Halloween,” and “Independence Day: Resurgence.”

Here’s more direct from FiveThirtyEight: “The Next Bechdel Test” – “We pitted 50 movies against 12 new ways of measuring Hollywood’s gender imbalance.”

Another example: The Feldman Test

Rachel Feldman: director; former chair of the Directors Guild of America’s Women’s Steering Committee

A movie passes with a score of five or higher:

  • 2 points for a female writer or director
  • 1 point for a female composer or director of photography
  • 1 point for three female producers or three female department heads
  • 1 point for a crew that’s 50 percent women
  • 2 points if there’s a female protagonist who determines story outcomes
  • 2 points if no female characters were victimized, stereotyped or sexualized
  • And 1 point if a sex scene shows foreplay before consummation, or if the female characters initiate or reciprocate sexual advances

(6) NICHELLE NICHOLS. A TMZ story about Nichelle Nichols reports “Judge Grants Conservatorship After Dementia Claims”

‘Star Trek’ actress Nichelle Nichols will have a new team handling her financial affairs in response to her son’s claims she’s battling dementia … TMZ has learned.

According to court docs, an L.A. County judge signed off on Kyle Johnson’s request to have 4 fiduciaries be his mom’s conservators until mid-August, when there will be a court hearing. The hope is Nichelle will be able to attend that hearing.

As we first reported … Kyle says his mother, who famously played Lt. Uhura, suffers from severe short-term memory loss, and needs court-ordered protection to block people from taking advantage of her.

In the docs, obtained by TMZ, the judge said Nichelle consents to the appointment of her conservators. The judge also noted Nichelle is currently out of state.

(7) KIDDER OBIT. CNN reports “Margot Kidder, ‘Superman’ actress, dead at 69”:

Kidder starred opposite Christopher Reeve’s Clark Kent and his alter ego Superman in the original [1978] film as well as the three sequels: “Superman II” in 1980, “Superman III” in 1983 and “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” in 1987.

She also starred in “The Amityville Horror” in 1979 and worked steadily in television and on stage.

After three marriages and thousands of dollars in medical bills, Kidder found herself homeless in 1996 as she struggled with bipolar disorder.

Her story grabbed the hearts of fans and Hollywood with many reaching out to help Kidder, who eventually got back on her feet and went on to become a mental health advocate.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY MOGULS

  • Born May 14, 1944 – George Lucas
  • Born May 14, 1951 – Robert Zemeckis

(9) REMEDIAL CLASSWORK. Alexandra Erin is refreshing the recollection of some Twitter users who proved unfamiliar with the Sad Puppies events as they really occurred in this timeline. Jump on the thread here:

(10) SPACE SPRITZ. Analysts are catching up with the data collected by space probe Galileo: “Icy Moon Of Jupiter Spews Water Plumes Into Space”.

Scientists have new evidence that there are plumes of water erupting from the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa — plumes that could, maybe, possibly contain signs of life.

The evidence comes from data collected by the now-defunct Galileo spacecraft. Although the data has been available since it was collected in 1997, it’s only now that an analysis confirms the existence of water plumes.

For more than two decades, scientists have been convinced Europa has a liquid water ocean sloshing around beneath its icy outer crust. In the past six years, two teams of researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope reported the possible existence of plumes. But as powerful as Hubble is, seeing something as small as a plume on a moon more than 380-million miles away is difficult.

(11) DROP BY ANYTIME. NPR has the story: “Tardis Optional: Time Travelers Invited To Stephen Hawking Service” — repeat of an old Hawking test/gag?

Stephen Hawking’s ashes will be interred at Westminster Abbey this June. He’ll take his place among giants — between Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. Applications to attend a Service of Thanksgiving are open to the public, and anyone — including people born in 2038, can apply. A thousand spaces are available.

…The time warp in the memorial service application was first spotted by London blogger IanVisits. He writes on his blog that Hawking had once thrown a party for time travelers, sending out invitations after the fete, to see if anyone would show up. Spoiler: no one did, yet.

CATCHING UP WITH SOME EXCELLENT BLACK PANTHER THEMED LINKS COURTESY OF ROBIN A. REID:

(12) AWESOME TECHNOLOGY. In May 2016, Popular Science did an “Entertainment” feature on the technology of Black Panther. Xavier Harding interviewed artist Brian Stelfreeze in “‘Black Panther’ Has The Coolest Tech In The Marvel Universe”.

Popular Science: There’s a lot of great tech in the world of Wakanda. Where does your inspiration for it come from?

Brian Stelfreeze: I think when you’re being creative, you still attach it to reality somehow. I grew up in a small town in coastal South Carolina. Where I’m from, the people are known as Gullah people. They’re some of the first freed slaves that lived on their own, without being attached to the rest of the U.S.

They kind of developed their own culture, so they do things a little bit different. Growing up in that area and going to the rest of the world, I noticed things were just slightly different. Seeing my first pile driver in real life I thought, “Oh, that’s like what my uncle built out of tree stumps to dig wells.” So I thought, “what if that happened over thousands of years? How could technology evolve?”

Popular Science: So how does that compare to T’Challa and the people of Wakanda?

Brian Stelfreeze: I think of Wakandan technology as organic technology. Most of their tech mimics nature because it comes from nature. Wakanda was a tremendously warring nation, with a very feudal time early on. But after a while proper borders were established, which ushered in a time of peace. Peace time shifted concerns from war to agriculture, from agriculture to early days of knife and spear-building to developing exotic materials. Rather than coming from industry, Wakandan tech came from agricultural needs—using organic tech to build machines.

But a lot of this stuff is in the background. Like the flying vehicles you see in Wakanda designed like a flying animal. And even when readers may not directly see it, I want them to feel it.

(13) SIX GOOD REASONS Cherokee Washington explains “Why The Black Panther is So Important To The Black Community”  for Odyssey in June 2016.

In 2002, Marvel studios graced the world with the first superhero blockbuster film; “Spiderman.” Following suit with “Spiderman 2,” “Spiderman 3,” and two spin-offs of the series, Marvel went on to create one of the largest Hollywood franchises in the world, telling the stories of a hand full of the comic book company’s most popular heroes. Today, amongst the many Iron Man and Avenger films, one hero in particular has recently been added to the mix; the Black Panther. It may not sound that exciting or important to the general public, but the introduction of the Black Panther is a momentous event for the Black (and comic-lover) community. Not only is he a bad ass superhero, but he’s one of 10 or so major Marvel characters who identifies as Black, something that would’ve been unheard of back in the day. Making his first appearance in the 52nd issue of the Fantastic Four comic books, Black Panther has shifted back and forth in the limelight, falling behind other heroes such as Captain America and the X-Men. Fortunately, Marvel has decided to push Black Panther more into the centerfold with the rest of his comrades by giving him a cameo in the newest “Avengers: Civil War” film and announcing the “Black Panther” film’s release in 2018. With that said, I thought it appropriate to list a few reasons as to why the Black Panther character is so important not only to me, but to my community. He’s a symbol of more than justice; he’s a symbol of pride, hope, and so much more. Here it goes…

(14) BREAKDOWN! You’ve seen the trailers, but have you seen the trailer breakdown by Jacob Hall: “Black Panther Trailer Breakdown: Welcome to Wakanda”. Posted in June 2017 on Slashfilm.

The Black Panther trailer feels like a breath of fresh air in an environment crowded with superhero movies – no comic book adaptation has ever looked like this. Heck, no movie has ever looked like this. Even with a few familiar Marvel Studios trappings on display, Ryan Coogler’s movie looks to blend superheroes and afrofuturism and all kinds of intrigue into something…well, new.

And if you’re new to this corner of the Marvel universe (or just want to take a closer look), we went through the trailer frame-by-frame for an extended breakdown. Join us, won’t you?

Frame by lovely frame!

And, if you want to look at the trailer again after the breakdown, here you go:

(15) CRYING EYES. Alan Jenkins gets geeky and weepy and happy about Wonder Woman and Black Panther in this piece published in Ebony in July 2017: “Black Panther, Wonder Woman and the Power of Representation”.

My theory is that audiences are being moved by the overwhelming power of symbolism.  We are not used to seeing people of color and women on the big screen who are powerful, triumphant, and heroes of their own story.  The most emotionally powerful moments in each film are those that use the power of symbols to break away from social stereotypes.

As in the Black Panther comic book, the film’s characters are everything that a century of cinematic Black and African characters have not been.  They are regal.  They are brilliant.  They are gorgeous.  They are the future as well as the past.

(16)  REVOLUTIONARY!  “Black Superheroes Matter: Why a ‘Black Panther’ Movie Is Revolutionary”, by Tre Johnson, in Rolling Stone, October 2017, puts the upcoming film in the historical context of American film and comics representations of heroes.

The novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks about “the danger of a single story” – about Africa, about black brilliance, our humanity and the black experience for too long. There would never be a time when this movie’s creation wouldn’t mean something to black people in particular, and the inevitable backlash that this movie will receive for its celebration, existence and confidence in blackness will be a reminder that there are no new conversations, merely new opportunities to remind us of who we collectively are. Yet that won’t matter because the people this movie will speak most deeply to – a rainbow-coalition cross-section of black comic book readers, African-American movie audiences, Boseman/ Jordan/ Bassett/ Nyong’o fans, black-culture connoisseurs and pop-culture nerds – will see something of themselves in this movie. They will also likely be both familiar and resistant to the disdain it will receive for merely existing. Like anything black in America, Black Panther will be politicized for being black, which is to say for being and for announcing itself as a having a right to be here and to be heard.

(17) AFROFUTURISM. Mic, a digital news media site, discussed the revolutionary Afrofuturistic elements of Black Panther in December 2017 in  “‘Black Panther’ isn’t just another Marvel movie–it’s a vision of a future led by blackness”.

Wakanda is more than just a fun spectacle; it represents something much more magnificent and powerful — a version of Africa unaffected by the external world, one that was allowed to pursue its own march toward spectacular progress.

When the most recent trailer for the movie was released in October, people weren’t just excited, they were jubilant. Now, it’s an event pretty much every time there’s a new Marvel movie but — no disrespect to Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, etc. — those blockbusters don’t normally have an entire culture of people impatiently awaiting their release. So what makes Black Panther especially noteworthy?

The secret sauce of Marvel’s Black Panther is Afrofuturism — an arts form that combines science fiction with black culture to create a future informed by blackness. On its face, Black Panther masquerades as Marvel’s latest superhero flick. Dig deeper and you’ll find the movie’s true identity: an Africa-set, Afrofuturist film — made for black people, by black people — powered by a Disney budget.

(18)  WRIGHT AND NYONG’O INTERVIEW. TeenVogue‘s Lynette Nylander interviewed Letitia Wright and Lupita Nyong’o on film diversity and superheroes in December 2017: “Letitia Wright and Lupita Nyong’o on “Black Panther” Film and Diversity in Hollywood”.

When he debuted in 1966 as the first black superhero in mainstream American comics, Black Panther broke boundaries. Naturally, next year’s silver-screen rendition of his story, featuring a nearly all-black cast, isn’t going to be just a box-office blockbuster — it’s going to be history in the making. The film is set in the fictional African country of Wakanda, where Black Panther (also known as T’Challa) serves as a leader at a time when the nation’s safety is under threat. And at the core of the story: Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and ingénue Letitia Wright as Nakia and Shuri, who play two of the strongest women in Wakanda. Their characters do away with the usual damsel-in-distress narrative associated with many classic superhero movies and create a new normal. Here, they discuss what making Black Panther meant to them and what the movie will hopefully mean for others.

(19) THE WOMEN OF WAKANDA. Cameron Glover looks at the women heroes in “Here’s What Black Panther Is Doing Differently For Its Female Heroes” posted in January 2018 at Refinery29.

The expansion of what a woman’s role in film looks like speaks directly to how the female action heroes of Black Panther are able to balance their fight scenes with embodying these expansive personal themes. Giving women, especially Black women, such public roles in the film not only speaks volumes to how women are regarded within Wakanda, but also shows the shifting attitudes of women’s roles in action films. The way that female action stars are celebrated and centered within the film is just another reason to snag a ticket to see Black Panther once it’s released next month.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Robin A. Reid, John King Tarpinian, Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Vicki Rosenzweig.]

Cats Sleep on SFF: The Cackle of Cthulhu

Mocha sleeping on Laura Resnick’s contributor copies of The Cackle of Cthulhu (ed. Alex Shvartsman).

Mocha is a foster cat, available for adoption from http://catadoptionteam.net/. She is currently considering applications from prospective servants who are suitably submissive to her will.


Photos of other felines resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com

Pixel Scroll 8/7 The Men Who Murdered Aristotle

The future is almost here, in today’s Scroll.

(1) SFWA will be selling fame at Sasquan.

(2) It’s not the accuracy that counts, it’s mainly Jim C. Hines having the idea to cast his thoughts in the form of 10 Hugo Predictions that’s genius.

  1. At least three puppy nominees won Hugo awards.

Congratulations to the winners, including those who were on the puppy slates. While most of the puppy nominees failed to take home a rocket, I imagine there will be at least three. I’m predicting one will go to my own editor, Sheila Gilbert, who’s made the ballot on her own in previous years, and is (in my biased opinion) utterly deserving of the award. I’m not as sure who the second will be, but I’m guessing Kary English in the short story category. One of the movies on the puppy ballots will also win. Finally, I think there’s a good shot of either Resnick or Brozek taking home a short-form editor Hugo.

  1. At least one category went to No Award.

No Award didn’t sweep the ballot like some people hoped/feared. It did take the Novella category, though. I think it will probably take Best Related Work as well.

(3) Jason Sanford seems to be expecting a much stronger showing by No Award than Hines, judging by this eulogy for the Puppies.

The problem for the puppies is they miscalculated about the outrage arising from their actions. As record numbers of people turned out to vote in the Hugos, the pups realized they’d overreached. It’s one thing to organize block voting on a preliminary ballot which few people actually take part in. But not being humiliated by a vote of “No Award” when thousands of people are taking part — that’s a much harder accomplishment.

(4) Alex Shvartsman tells how Unidentified Funny Objects got started on the SFWA Blog.

When I thought of the concept of a non-themed humor anthology, I was certain someone must have produced one before. But my research showed that no such thing existed. There were plenty of humor anthologies available: Chicks in Chainmail and Deals with the Devil to name a few, but those were all themed projects. No one seemed to be creating anthologies that would offer a wide variety of humorous voices and styles. It was the sort of book I would want to read, and I was confident many others would like it too. Thus, Unidentified Funny Objects and its parent micro-press, UFO Publishing, were born.

(5) Brad R. Torgersen has a horseshoe theory. No, I’m not cleaning up my language. His theory is completely horseshoe.

At one end of the horseshoe you have the “pulpy” stuff: visceral, action-packed, perhaps even hard-boiled? Emphasis on “doing” versus thinking.

At the other end you have the “literary” stuff: cerebral, theme-intensive, and sometimes abstract. Emphasis on “thinking” versus doing.

There are audiences waiting for you — the author — at both ends of the horseshoe. But there is nothing to say that you can’t combine both. Too much action and not enough contemplation, and your story becomes the tale of the idiot: full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Too much contemplation and not enough action, and your story becomes the prototypical MFA piece: your main character does very little, thinks about a great deal, and again your story signifies nothing.

In order to hit the “sweet spot” you need to aim for the zone at the top of the horseshoe.

(6) A lawyer defending his client in a lawsuit is demanding trial by combat:

Richard Luthmann, a Staten Island attorney, is demanding that one of the plaintiffs (or their “champion”) in the suit against him face him in a literal battle to the death unless the case is dismissed. He claims that the practice has not been outlawed in the U.S. or New York state and is suggesting it to point out the absurdity of the plaintiffs’ allegations.

He’s gotten the idea from Game of Thrones – although Mack Reynolds wrote a series of stories in the 1960s for Analog about a mercenary who participated in settling corporate disputes by combat.

Here’s the lawyer’s argument why trial by combat can be permitted:

A Staten Island lawyer with a penchant for bowties and closely-cut beards is apparently channeling his inner “Games of Thrones” by asking a judge to sanction a trial by combat to resolve a civil suit in which he’s accused of helping a client commit fraud.

“The allegations made by plaintiffs, aided and abetted by their counsel, border upon the criminal,” Richard A. Luthmann wrote in a brief recently filed in state Supreme Court, St. George. “As such, the undersigned (Luthmann) respectfully requests that the court permit the undersigned to dispatch plaintiffs and their counsel to the Divine Providence of the Maker for Him to exact His divine judgment once the undersigned has released the souls of the plaintiffs and their counsel from their corporeal bodies, personally and or by way of a champion.”

…Over the course of 10 pages, Luthmann discusses the history of trial by combat from Middle-Age England to the founding of the Thirteen Colonies. (Fun fact: One British bishop in 1276 paid a champion an annual retainer fee, with additional stipends and expenses for each fight. Luthmann doesn’t say how much.)

More to the point, an attempt to abolish the practice in the Thirteen Colonies was blocked by Parliament in 1774, nor was it subsequently banned by the Constitution in the United States or by the state of New York, Luthmann contends.

(7) This day in history, courtesy of Phil Nichols and the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies’ Facebook page.

Fifty-eight years ago today, Oliver Hardy died, bringing an end to the decades-long comedy partnership of Laurel and Hardy.

Ray Bradbury adored Laurel and Hardy. When he went to Ireland in the 1950s to write the screenplay for Moby Dick with John Huston, he discovered that they were making a personal appearance in Dublin, so he went to see them on stage.

Later, he wrote three short stories inspired by the duo. “The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair” is probably the best of these, and can be found in Ray’s book The Toynbee Convector. “Another Fine Mess” is in his book Quicker Than The Eye. “The Laurel and Hardy Alpha Centauri Farewell Tour” is in One More For The Road.

 

Laurel and Hardy

Laurel and Hardy

(8) Major League Baseball is getting more eyeballs on its website by speculating “What would the Marvel Cinematic University’s baseball time look like?”

Ant-Man would play shortstop.

Hear us out. With a slick glove and an army of ants ensuring that any grounder would hop into his grasp for an easy out, Ant-Man would also offer surprising pop for the position. Plus, he would enrage pitchers with his ability to get on base thanks to his Pym Particles allowing his strike zone to shrink 12.7x its normal size, rendering him impossible to strike out.

From Ant-Man to Iron Man, these are Earth’s Mightiest Ballplayers.

(9) The Book Wars’ “Top Ten Tuesday” recommendations amount to around 50 titles, lots of YA and fantasy – and also, the reason I’m mentioning the post, one lists includes The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community by Diana Pavlac Glyer.

(10) Mr. Sci FI, Marc Scott Zicree, visits the space shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center.

(11) It’s 2015, and Marty McFly’s hoverboard is here:

[Thanks to Morris Keesan, John King Tarpinian and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Richard Brandt .]

 

Unidentified Funny Objects Becomes SFWA’s First Anthology Qualifying Market

image descriptionSFWA has designated Unidentified Funny Objects, edited and published by Alex Shvartsman, as a Qualifying Professional Market, the first anthology series ever to appear on the list.

A SFWA Qualifying Professional Market has been determined by the SFWA Membership Committee to meet the SFWA bylaws and other membership criteria.

Unidentified Funny Objects is an annual anthology of humorous SF currently in its fourth year. Past contributors to the anthologies have included George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Esther Friesner.

Alex Shvartsman said, “I’m extraordinarily proud for the Unidentified Funny Objects series to join the ranks of the fine publishers and magazines on the qualifying market list. I view our admission both as a valuable service to those authors we’ve published who are in the early stages of their careers, as well as a personal milestone, akin to the moment I was able to join SFWA as a member myself.”

“I’m pleased to see SFWA starting to work out the nuts and bolts of how independently published authors qualify,” said SFWA President Cat Rambo. “As the publishing industry changes, SFWA needs to shift with it, recognizing the various paths to professional success and helping members with whichever they’ve chosen.”

The Demolished Puppy 4/27

Another nominee withdrew even as the Hugo ballot was going online, rousing an immediate swirl of comment by Marina J. Lostetter, Alex Shvartsman and Deirdre Saoirse Moen.

Before that news cycle opened there were already new posts from Larry Correia, John C. Wright, Liz Barr, Dave Freer, Sarah Hoyt, Sam Roberts, Lyda Morehouse, R. Scott Bakker, George R.R. Martin, Jason Sanford and many more. (Title credit goes to File 770’s consulting editor of the day Bruce Baugh.)

Edmund R. Schubert on AletheaKontis.com

“In Which Edmund Schubert Withdraws From the Hugos” – April 27

And let me be clear about this: While I strongly disagree with the way Sad Puppies went about it… when the Puppies say they feel shut out because of their politics, it’s hard for me to not empathize because I’ve seen IGMS’s authors chastised for selling their story to us, simply because of people’s perceptions about the publisher’s personal views. I’ve also seen people refuse to read any of the stories published in IGMS for the same reason.

With regard to that, I want to repeat something I’ve said previously: while Orson Scott Card and I disagree on several social and political subjects, we respect each other and don’t let it get in the way of IGMS’s true goal: supporting writers and artists of all backgrounds and preferences. The truth is that Card is neither devil nor saint; he’s just a man who wants to support writers and artists—and he doesn’t let anything stand in the way of that.

As editor of IGMS, I can, and have, and will continue to be—with the full support of publisher Orson Scott Card—open to publishing stories by and about gay authors and gay characters, stories by and about female authors and female characters, stories by authors and about characters of any and every racial, political, or religious affiliation—as long as I feel like those authors 1) have a story to tell, not a point to score, and 2) tell that story well. And you know what? Orson is happy to have me do so. Because the raison d’etre of IGMS is to support writers and artists. Period.

 

Edmund R. Schubert at Orson Scott Card Intergalactice Medicine Show

“Not A Hugo Sampler Issue – Letter From The Editor, 2015”

To Readers of Science Fiction and Fantasy Everywhere,

I suspect that most of you already know this, but for those few who may have stumbled upon this collection of short stories and novelettes by other paths, let me start off with a summation (along with the caveat that this will be highly simplistic for the sake of brevity): in early 2015 a campaign was launched by a group of science fiction and fantasy fans who felt their views and tastes were being marginalized. They wanted to force the rest of fandom to recognize them, and their plan for doing so was to put a slate of nominees they considered worthy-but-overlooked on the final ballot for the prestigious Hugo Award. Their actions were successful in the extreme, and the reaction by much of fandom was equally extreme. Things got ugly. Quickly. Very. (Editor’s tip #463: Forcing people to see your point of view is rarely successful . . .)

I was one of the people nominated for a Hugo Award during in this campaign, although I didn’t know anything about it until after it had already happened. And while I feel these fans had certain valid concerns, hijacking the Hugo Awards wasn’t the right way to go about making them. I therefore withdrew my name from consideration.

 

Marina J. Lostetter on A Little Lost

“The #HugoAwards are Supposed to be Fun, Damn It!” – April 27

I was ready to never say anything about the Hugos here.  But I love IGMS and the specific story of mine Edmund requested, and am greatly saddened by what has happened around the Hugos this year.  I think it’s important to note how this year’s slates have fostered nothing but ill feelings, and that many fine authors, editors, and venues are caught in the middle: either because they’ve become a “ping-pong ball” as Edmund describes below, or because they were bumped from the list due to questionable bloc voting.

 

Alex Shvartsman on Alex Schvartsman’s Speculative Fiction

“Edmund Schubert Withdraws From The Hugo Award Consideration” – April 27

I, for one, am sad about Edmund’s decision. He was on my nominating ballot (and I had no association nor even knowledge of what was on the Puppy slates). I know of at least several other fans who nominated him as well. I hope to see him back on a future ballot sooner, rather than later.

 

Deirdre Saoirse Moen on Sounds Like Weird

“Editor Edmund R. Schubert Withdraws From the Hugo Awards” – April 27

I think it’s important to note these things:

  • It’s likely Edmund knew about the slates prior to nominations closing.
  • Edmund accepted the nomination (people are given the ability to decline prior to the official nominee list being posted).
  • Edmund likely knew others withdrew after acceptance. Edmund chose not to at that point.
  • Edmund likely knew the ballot had been locked after two people were declared ineligible and two withdrew.
  • Like Black Gate, Edmund’s withdrawal took place after all these events.

While that allows for some sympathy/empathy, it’s not as large as someone declining the nomination in the first place or, as Dave Creek did, asking off the slate prior to nominations closing.

 

Liz Barr on No Award

“Liz reads the 2015 Hugo-nominated short stories  – April 27

I thought that Project: Read As Much As Possible And Vote By Merit would be easier if I didn’t sit around waiting for the voter pack.  Accordingly, I’ve reserved a bunch of the nominated novels at my elibrary of preference.  As for short stories, all but one are available online, and I’ve started reading and organising my preferences.

 

Larry Correia on Monster Hunter Nation

“Updates for the Week” – April 27

Sad Puppies Round Up

Same old, same old. Bunch of new anti-Puppies articles and blogs this week. I could either A. Write books and be paid large sums of money. or B. Repeat myself over and over to every dipshit on Twitter… Hmmm… Tough one.

From what I’ve seen the people who disagree with us now mostly fall into a couple of camps. 1. People repeating the already discredited anti-diversity slate narrative and other lies. BORING.  2. People who agree the Hugos were screwed up, but who didn’t see any political bias. Insular, cliquish, wannabe-literati, yes, but not political. Great. You guys run with that. 3. People who benefit from the status quo dismissing a bunch of fans because of guilt by association. Weak.

 

John C. Wright

“And now the French” – April 27

The overseas bloggers are getting into the act:

https://francoisvanhille.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/cultures-de-limaginaire-litterature-puppygate-la-polemique-dechire-ecrivains-et-fans-de-science-fiction-aux-etats-unis/

And, no, no one contacted me to discover what the other side of the story was, or even whether there was one.

 

Dave Freer on Mad Genius Club

“To Destroy/survive SaurVox/ Voxdemort/ the Evil Genius in his Volcano Lair” – April 27

So: here you go. To defeat Vox Day… you need to become him – or at least a rival in power able to do so. Which means you need to understand that power, what attracts followers to him, and how instead to attract them to yourselves. To survive him, you at least need to understand him and those who oppose you.

Of course the problem with becoming that possible rival, that Saruman or Galadriel, is that firstly he is bright, secondly he seems to understand you. Thirdly, he is a long term planner and strategist, he writes well and is able to appeal to a large audience. He plans but seems able to flex from those plans. Of course he is obsessive and has ideas that don’t run in concordance with the ones you profess to follow. But those last features, which are all you ever focus on, are not conflict relevant, really. GRRM had a try at the wise councilor/Saruman bit, but he was not a great success. Scalzi… I wasn’t sure if he was trying Wormtongue to Larry, but as a Saruman he came over as petty and not too bright with his little twitter giggles of girlish schadenfreude glee at last year’s Hugos, just to name one of his outbursts… Anyway, let’s face it, he’s not your long-term thinker, otherwise he would have avoided attacking Baen last year. He’s a schemer and good at spin and vastly over-blowing his importance, but really, as a leader to mass a dark horde of men and Southern Orcs under, well, they’ll ruin his lawn. As for David Gerrold – I’m not sure if the purple dress is a Galadriel thing, really. (I think that’s supposed to offend us. Talk about really, really not understanding the people he hates. We don’t care, David. You could get the janitor to be the Hugo MC, in a burka, and we still wouldn’t care.) I’d avoid purple.  In a purple dress people could end up thinking he was doing Barney imitations, not Galadriel. I like to try and understand my opponents and get a handle on their motives. I must admit I was puzzled by his rage and sheer throw-the-toys-of-the-cot petulance about all this, let alone the fact that he was bringing the unfortunate Con and its volunteers into disrepute by openly attacking and villifying some of the nominees and thus trying to affect the Hugo outcome.  Most of us had nothing against (or for) the fellow. And an MC… he’s just there to hand out the prizes. It’s not about him.  All he had to do was smile and wave, no-one expects the MC to much more, and certainly they must keep a distance and appearance of lofty decorum from the actual process. Then, while packing wallaby mince I had a Eureka moment. Fortunately, I was better dressed than Archimedes for this process, so I merely ran through the house dripping bits of raw meat (isn’t that better?) and yelling ‘eureka’ at the cats. It’s true, at times they do. Anyway, I decided that this was a little inverse gay wedding cake and the Christian baker. It’s a ritual he values and considers important into which the particularly chosen of his sect were initiated with great pomp and celebration, being defiled by vile unbelievers – and he was going to have to conduct the ceremony.  Well now. I wonder what advice he would have given that baker?

 

Sarah A. Hoyt on According To Hoyt

“Requires Abasement” – April 26

This has been happening all month, for those keeping score at home.  The indoctrinated drones of the establishment have been spinning by here in high dudgeon and sure they have a killing argument and telling us both that we want “pulpy stuff like Heinlein” and that Heinlein was often “preachy.  And messagy.”

 

Sam Roberts on Reaxxion

“Are Social Justice Warriors Trying To Rig The Hugo Awards?” – April 27

While there have been allegations of authors buying voting rights for their friends and family in the past, Kowal appears to be the first person to do so openly. While not strictly forbidden by the WorldCon rules, as Tor editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden (probably the foremost opponent of the Puppies) has said, “As anyone over the age of ten knows, it’s generally possible to do things that are dubious, or scummy, or even downright evil, without violating any laws or rules.” While he was speaking against the Puppies at the time, his comment certainly seems applicable here.

As I write this, Kowal has raised enough money via anonymous donations, many of which she says come from authors who are running against the Puppies’ slate themselves (and thus stand to gain if the Puppies are defeated), to purchase one hundred votes. While this may seem a small amount, last year’s Hugos only saw around 3000 votes cast total. If the race is close this year, these one hundred (3.3% of the total) could easily sway the voting.

 

Badtux on Badtux the Snarky Penguin

“My thoughts on the #SadPuppies” – April 26

So it appears the “Sad Puppies” may win the battle, and lose the war. It may be that science fiction only has one prestige award in the future — the Nebula Award. SFWA membership requirements make it impossible for the “Sad Puppies” or anybody else to rig Nebula awards. In the end, what makes libraries (who account for most publisher profits) buy Hugo Award winners is the notion that winning a Hugo Award means it’s popular and high quality. Once it’s demonstrated that winning a Hugo Award means only that the publisher spent more money to rig the election this year than other publishers did, the Hugo becomes meaningless to libraries — and to anybody else, for that matter.

 

 

R. Scott Bakker on Three Pound Brain

“Hugos Weaving” – April 27

Let’s suppose, just for instance, that so-called literary works no longer reach dissenting audiences, and so only serve to reinforce the values of readers…

That precious few of us are being challenged anymore—at least not by writing.

The communicative habitat of the human being is changing more radically than at any time in history, period. The old modes of literary dissemination are dead or dying, and with them all the simplistic assumptions of our literary past. If writing that matters is writing that challenges, the writing that matters most has to be writing that avoids the ‘preference funnel,’ writing that falls into the hands of those who can be outraged. The only writing that matters, in other words, is writing that manages to span significant ingroup boundaries.

If this is the case, then Beale has merely shown us that science fiction and fantasy actually matter, that as a writer, your voice can still reach people who can (and likely will) be offended… as well as swayed, unsettled, or any of the things Humanities clowns claim writing should do.

Think about it. Why bother writing stories with progressive values for progressives only, that is, unless moral entertainment is largely what you’re interested in? You gotta admit, this is pretty much the sum of what passes for ‘literary’ nowadays.

Everyone’s crooked is someone else’s straight—that’s the dilemma. Since all moral interpretations are fundamentally underdetermined, there is no rational or evidential means to compel moral consensus. Pretty much anything can be argued when it comes to questions or value. There will always be Beales and Sriduangkaews, individuals adept at rationalizing our bigotries—always. And guess what? the internet has made them as accessible as fucking Wal-Mart. This is what makes engaging them so important. Of course Beale needs to be exposed—but not for the benefit of people who already despise his values. Such ‘exposure’ amounts to nothing more than clapping one another on the back. He needs to be exposed in the eyes of his own constituents, actual or potential. The fact that the paths leading to bigotry run downhill makes the project of building stairs all the more crucial.

‘Legitimacy,’ Sandifer says. Legitimacy for whom? For the likeminded—who else? But that, my well-educated friend, is the sound-proofed legitimacy of the Booker, or the National Book Awards—which is to say, the legitimacy of the irrelevant, the socially inert. The last thing this accelerating world needs is more ingroup ejaculate. The fact that Beale managed to pull this little coup is proof positive that science fiction and fantasy matter, that we dwell in a rare corner of culture where the battle of ideas is for… fucking… real.

And you feel ashamed.

 

Lyda Morehouse on A Day in the Life of an Idiot

“Hugo on the Brain and the Nature of Fandom”  – April 27

Look, we’re all divas. Correia is just saying out loud what lot of us feel: boo hoo, it’s NOT all about me! (Pro tip: most of us don’t say it out loud, because we realize how whiny and self-centered it makes us look.)

BUT… yes, okay? I actually sympathize a little with this. To say there aren’t cool kid cliques is disingenuous too. There just are.

Also, this feeling of being shut out of WorldCON culture something that has happened to people on the left, too. Not that long ago (but apparently outside of the collective memory), there was a huge controversy around the London WorldCON about a cliquish inner circle of white guys (and GRRM is even pictured!)

Here’s the thing I want to say about this: con culture is a thing. It’s a thing everyone needs to learn how to negotiate.

I’ve even talked about this idea before on this blog because I came across someone on Twitter complaining about feeling left out/unwelcomed at a con. The thing I said to that person (who was decidedly on the left), is that we’re all responsible for our own con experience. It’s not the con’s job to make you feel welcome. You have to learn the culture of cons and figure out how to fit in. Some conventions even have panels on the opening days ABOUT how to make inroads and make friends and be involved in a way that will let you leave the con feeling like you were part of it in a positive way.

 

Marion on Deeds & Words

“The Hugos, 2015, Chapter Two: The Slate Mailer Saga” – April 27

For many fans in the US, $40 is an expenditure that requires some thought. Spending $40 out of the household budget just to have a say about Best Book of the Year may be frivolous. It may reduce funds available for sports, a field trip or some other enrichment for your children. It’s not a slam-dunk.

And for many other fans, still in the US, it is out of reach. It isn’t a question of diverting the monthly Family Movie Day budget for one month. It is not even a discussion. Many of these people read, review and write SF; they blog, and some of them teach at the college level. They are shut out of the “democratic” Hugo selection process by economics.

Now let’s consider fans in Indonesia, Namibia, Lithuania. Can most of them afford $40 US?

If everyone who wanted to vote had voted, the Rabid Puppy slate might not have found such traction, even if they had a  newly-recruited voting bloc. If the cost of a supporting membership were $6, I wonder what would have happened. Just generally, beyond this year and next,I wonder what would happen. Would we start seeing SF best-sellers from Kenya and Estonia on the short list? Would we start getting more works in translation? In other words, would more nominators and voters introduce us to more good books (which, after all, is ultimately the purpose)?

 

Jason Sanford

“Are the Puppies all bark and no bite?” – April 27

If this is a correct analysis, it suggests there’s a massive group of people interested in the SF/F genre and the Hugos who didn’t know about the Puppy campaigns beforehand.

I also find the traffic comparison between Nielsenhayden.com and Voxday.blogspot.com rather interesting. Over the last month both sites featured multiple posts with prominent links to my essays, yet one of them clearly sent more traffic my way. While people can draw their own conclusions from this, it makes me wonder if the reach of the Rabid Puppies ringleader has been overstated by everyone in the genre.

Yes, VD has a passionate group of followers who helped the Rabid Puppy slate become the true winners of this Hugo mess. But perhaps the actual number of his followers is rather small, at least when compared to other groups within the SF/F genre.

That doesn’t mean he and his followers can’t continue to game the Hugos — the award’s nomination process, as recent events have proved, are very easily dominated by small, organized voting blocks.

But if my take on these numbers is correct, then it appears the Puppies are mostly all bark and no bite.

 

George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog

“Puppy Whines” – April 27

It all boggles the mind. And of course it leads to surreal arguments that ‘their side’ is justified in calling our side “Social Justice Whores” and the like because our side has called their side “Wrongfans” and “Haters” — when, of course, we haven’t. You are calling YOURSELVES that… with sarcasm, sure, but still, you are the guys coining all these new and exciting insults, for both my side and your own.

Let me ask, once again, for civility. When the argument is about political issues, I will call your side “conservatives” and “right wingers,” and I’d ask you to call us “liberals” or “progressives” or even “left wingers,” not SJ-Whatevers. When we are focused more on worldcon or the Hugos, I will continue to call you “Sad Puppies,” and I will take care to differentiate you from the Rabid Puppies… except in cases where you’re acting in alliance and agree, where I will just say “Puppies.” And you can call my side “fandom” or “worldcon fandom” or “trufans.” The two sides use “fan” to mean very different things, as I have pointed out repeatedly, which causes some of the confusion. Here’s a new thought: if you insist on calling yourselves “fans,” then call us “fen,” the ancient, hoary, fannish plural of fan. Fans and fen, there we go, two terms for two sides, no insults. Is that so bloody hard?

 

Joe Sherry on Adventures in Reading

“Thoughts on the Hugo Awrds: Part Four” – April 27

What I’d like to play with is Flint’s suggestions for “Complete Multi-Volume Novels” and “Series”.  What I see Flint saying is that the skill required to write a complete series and stick the landing is different enough from writing an ongoing series that they shouldn’t be compared in the same way (Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy compared to Jim Butcher’s ongoing Dresden Files).  I don’t completely agree.

That’s not completely true. I agree with what Flint is saying about the skill and technique, I disagree with how he is viewing the categories. I would divide the categories like this:

Novel

Ongoing Series

Completed Series

So Joe, you ask, what the heck are these categories and how are they different than what Eric Flint suggested?  Great question, I reply, let me tell you!

Novel: This category only slightly changes from how it works today. It is for a single volume work of no less than 40,000 words. The change is that I would strike section 3.2.6 from the WSFS Constitution “a work appearing in a number of parts shall be eligible for the year of the final part”. 2013’s publication of A Memory of Light is how The Wheel of Time was nominated at the 2014 Hugos for Best Novel.  I’d strike this.  Novel is for a single volume, period.  That’s it. A Memory of Light is eligible for Novel, The Wheel of Time is not.

Ongoing Series: This is where I start to mess with Flint’s suggestion.  Ongoing Series is for ANY series that has not yet been completed. To be eligible for Ongoing Series, a series must have at least two volumes published. However, it does not matter for the terms of this category if the author is planning to write a trilogy with a definite ending (Mistborn) or is writing a potentially open ended series (Dresden Files, Discworld). To be further eligible for a nomination, a new volume must be published during the eligibility year.  Love A Song of Ice and Fire but George Martin hasn’t published The Winds of Winter yet?  The series is not eligible for Ongoing Series at the 2016 Hugos unless he gets that book out during calendar year 2015.

Further, because we need to close one potential loophole here, an Ongoing Series is eligible for nomination ONCE.  What I intend this to mean is that if Mr. Martin publishes The Winds of Winter in 2015, it is eligible for Ongoing Series.  If A Song of Ice and Fire makes the final ballot for Ongoing Series, it is no longer eligible to be nominated in a subsequent year. However, if A Song of Ice and Fire fails to make the final ballot, it will still be eligible for Ongoing Series provided a new volume is published.  A series is considering “Ongoing” until the author or the publisher states that a volume is the “final” or “concluding” volume in that series.

Completed Series: A series is eligible as Completed Series when the announced final volume in the series is published.  A series will not both be eligible for Ongoing and Completed Series in the same year.  Publication of A Memory of Light rendered The Wheel of Time ineligible for Ongoing Series, but eligible for Completed Series.  Something like The Dresden Files would not be eligible for completed series until Jim Butcher announces “this is the final Harry Dresden novel”.  If Butcher published a Harry Dresden novel but then two years later said, “oh year, Skin Game was really the last book in the series, sorry guys” The Dresden Files will not be eligible for Completed Series because the series is only eligible in the year the final volume is published.  I don’t see this as too big of an issue because most writers want folks to know that they are delivering the promised conclusion to a series.

 

Declan Finn on A Pius Man

“Sad Puppies Bite Back” – April 27

Anyway, back in January, I tripped over a funny piece by Vox Day — presumably before Vox declared “Burn this bitch down!” about the Hugos — which basically boiled down to “The monthly staff meeting of the Evil League of Evil” (in the Lair of the Puppies).

For some reason, ever since I did heard about the death threats on the Puppies, and I wondered when Larry Correia or Brad would be SWATted, all I could think of was, well, what would happen?

…But just imagine….

Sarah Hoyt, Evil Yet Beautiful Space Princess

[SWAT leader at the door of the secret base hidden in hollowed out volcano] Battering ram in 5, 4, 3, 2 — HIT IT!

[Battering ram takes door.  SWAT rushes in. Sarah Hoyt, Evil Yet Beautiful Space Princess, is in the living room, playing with unidentifiable — yet obviously sinister — Weapons From Outer Space, using her Schwartz ring.  In the background, innocent and cringing minions are flogged with electric whips, and sent screaming to the Agony Vat ]

[SH looks up] HOW DARE YOU ENTER MY DOMAIN!!!!

[SWAT leader] Put down the ring!

[SH turns into CGI Imposing Figure]  Do you know who you are messing with?  NOT A DARK LORD BUT A QUEEN! NOT DARK BY BEAUTIFUL AND TERRIBLE AS THE MORN! TREACHEROUS AS THE SEAS! STRONGER THAN THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE EARTH! ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR!

[SWAT all stops, open-mouthed.  They huddle. After a minute, they turn back to her] Love you and despair. Okay. We’re cool with that. You have a deal.

[SH pouts, turns off CGI effects]  Oh, darn! I didn’t even get to use “She Who Must Be Obeyed.” I love that line.  Sigh. Okay.  Hon!  We have more minions! Put them with the others, please!

[Mr. Hoyt, Evil Yet Handsome Space Prince] Yes dear.  Okay guys, come with me. We’ll train you in the use of the laser guns and get you fit for Stormtrooper armor.