Smofcon 37, the convention for conrunners, taking place December
6-8 in Albuquerque, NM, asked Worldcon, and Smofcon bidders, and seated
Worldcon and Westercon committees to answer a questionnaire. The responses have
been posted at Smofcon’s website under Fannish Inquisition.
will also be a Q&A
the con on December 7 – publishing these questionnaires in advance helps keep
that time from being taken up with basic information. If you want to submit a
question, see the information at the end of this post.
following FAQs have been received from Bids and seated conventions:
Seven Worldcon committees and bidders (all except Nice in 2023) cosigned a statement (which many inserted at the beginning of their questionnaires) criticizing the Smofcon 37 committee for the short response deadline, the dramatic increase in number of questions asked from last year’s form, and use of Google Docs to communicate, which cannot be accessed in China. Smofcon 37’s chair Ron Oakes responded with a lengthy justification of what happened, while the FAQ coordinator apologized.
Submitting Questions to the Fannish
Inquisition: Here are the
This event is our traditional time for bids for future SMOFCon, Worldcons and NASFiCs. Our usual highlight event, and will mostly be run as it has been in the recent past with written questions through our able moderators. Those wishing to submit questions in advance may do so by sending email to email@example.com, up to 6:30pm MST December 7, 2019 to ensure that we receive it prior to the convention.
[Update 12/07/2019: After this post was drafted last night, several more questionnaires were added to the website. The new links have been added here.]
…The guests are from 14 countries and regions, and over 40 events will be organized during the three-day conference.
…Chengdu, the capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan province which is best known as the home of pandas, is the cradle of “Science Fiction World,” China’s most popular sci-fi periodical.
Founded 40 years ago, the magazine has cultivated a large number of well-known sci-fi figures including Han Song, Wang Jinkang and Hugo Award-winner Liu Cixin.
Chengdu has made great efforts in recent years to develop the sci-fi culture industry and build itself into China’s science fiction town. It has put in a formal bid to host the 81st World Science Fiction Convention in 2023.
A partial list of the international writers and conrunners who are
in Chengdu includes CoNZealand (2020) co-chairs Kelly
Buehler and Norman Cates, DisCon III (2021) co-chairs Colette Fozard and
William Lawhorn, Chicago in 2022 bid co-chairs Dave McCarty, Helen
Montgomery, plus Crystal Huff, Pablo
M.A Vazquez, Ben Yalow, Derek
Künsken, Mimi Mondal, Robert J. Sawyer, and Francesco Verso.
Some of the guests and visitors were also part of the group photo below taken at the China Science Fiction Conference two weeks ago (November 2-3) in Beijing, China. SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal is at center, with Vazquez on the left, and Vincent Docherty (co-chair 1995 and 2005 Worldcons) to the right.
… Kennedy adds an interesting little tidbit about the material used to create the screen:
“But I’m going to add one other thing that I didn’t know anything about this and it’s an interesting little tidbit. You have to grow the crystals for these screens. Who knew? You have to wait five years for the crystals to grow. And the crystals means a limited number of screens. Not only do you have to grow them but if you have volume, it’s important that you have the same bunch of LCD screens so that all the crystals are growing together. And then, how they refract the light, then they go into a whole pass on the ground crystals to then curate which ones are refracting the light in the same way so Its quite a process.”
So now the soundstage, a performance capture volume like the one James Cameron used on the Avatar films, is wrapped with these very high-resolution LED screens that present footage either shot on location or “in combination with CG environments.” Brennan explains further:
“And we’re able to have the perspective with cameras, but that means that you can change from Iceland to the desert in one [minute] from setup to setup so it really changes the flow of production. I think it also helps because actors are not in a sea of green. They’re actually seeing the environments that they’re in. And you add to that, after the puppetry and they’ve got characters to perform against in the environments that they are in and I think it does change.”
Silvia: I like mosaic novels so it’s no wonder I thought “Automatic Eve” by Rokuro Inui was cool, but it also had a Phillip K. Dick meets steampunk Japan vibe that is hard to miss. The other science fiction novel I recommend is Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s “We Cast a Shadow,” in which a black lawyer wants his son to undergo an expensive procedure that will render him white. It’s a near-future, socially charged and pretty impressive debut.
The first book in N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy introduces a stunning world in the midst of an apocalyptic event. To avoid major spoilers, let’s just say that The Fifth Season is brimming with gloriously intense family drama and includes one of the most phenomenal magic systems ever created. It also boasts a complex protagonist who is a mother, gifting us with one of the most formidable and fascinating characters of the 21st century. Jemisin made history by winning the Hugo Award for Best Novel three years in the row for this trilogy, cementing her status as an essential voice in fantasy literature. But critical success aside, simply diving into her luminous prose will be enough for you to discern why she’s such a brilliant, must-read author. —Frannie Jackson
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY.
November 21, 1942 — “Tweety Bird” debuted.
November 21, 1969 — First ARPANET link put into service.
ARPANET was an early computer network developed by J.C.R. Licklider, Robert Taylor, and other researchers for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It connected a computer at UCLA with a computer at the Stanford Research Institute, Menlo Park, CA. In 1973, the government commissioned Vinton Cerf and Robert E. Kahn to create a national computer network for military, governmental, and institutional use. The network used packet-switching, flow-control, and fault-tolerance techniques developed by ARPANET. Historians consider this worldwide network to be the origin of the Internet.
November 21, 1973 — The Michael Crichton scripted Westworld premiered. Starring Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin, critics gave it mixed reviews but it has an 86% rating among watchers at Rotten Tomatoes.
November 21, 2012 — The animated Rise Of The Guardians enjoyed its premiere. The feature starred the talents of Hugh Jackman, Jude Law and Isla Fisher. Based on William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood series, it really bombed. However the audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes is very healthy 80%.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 21, 1924 — Christopher Tolkien, 95. He drew the original maps for the LoTR. He provided much of the feedback on both the Hobbit and LoTR and his father invited him to join the Inklings when he was just twenty-one years old, making him the youngest member of that group. Suffice it to say that the list is long of his father’s unfinished works that he has edited and brought to published form. I’ll leave to this group to discuss their merit as I’ve got mixed feelings on them.
Born November 21, 1937 — Ingrid Pitt. Actor from Poland who emigrated to the UK who is best known as Hammer Films’ most sexy female vampire of the early Seventies. Would I kid you? Her first genre roles were in the Spanish movie Sound of Horror and the science-fictional The Omegans, followed by the Hammer productions The Vampire Lovers, Countess Dracula, and The House That Dripped Blood. She appeared in the true version of The Wicker Man and had parts in Octopussy, Clive Barker’s Underworld, Dominator, and Minotaur. She had two different roles in Doctor Who – somewhat of a rarity – as Dr. Solow in the “Warriors of the Deep” episode and as Galleia in “The Time Monster” episode. (Died 2010.)
Born November 21, 1941 — Ellen Asher, 78. Editor who introduced many fans to their favorites, as editor-in-chief of the Science Fiction Book Club (SFBC) for thirty-four years, from 1973 to 2007 (exceeding John W. Campbell’s record as the person with the longest tenure in the same science fiction job). She was personally responsible for selecting the monthly offerings to subscribers, and oversaw the selection of individual works for their special anthologies and omnibuses. She has been honored with a World Fantasy Special Award and an Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction. In 2009, she was given a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and she was Editor Guest of Honor at Worldcon in 2011.
Born November 21, 1942 — Jane Frank, 77. Art collector along with her husband quite beyond belief. Really. Together they put compiled a legendary collection of genre artwork, The Frank Collection, that has won awards. She is the author of numerous articles on illustration art, artists and collecting, and the book The Art of Richard Powers which was nominated for a Hugo, The Art of John Berkey, and The Frank Collection.
Born November 21, 1944 — Harold Ramis. Actor, Writer, and Producer, best-known to genre fans for his role as Egon Spengler in the Saturn-winning, Oscar- and Hugo-nominated Ghostbusters and its lesser sibling Ghostbusters II (the scripts for both of which he co-wrote with Dan Aykroyd). He had voice roles in Heavy Metal and Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, and a cameo in Groundhog Day, for which he received Saturn nominations for writing and directing. He was also director and producer of Multiplicity. (Died 2014.)
Born November 21, 1945 — Vincent Di Fate, 74. Artist and Illustrator who has done many SFF book covers and interior illustrations since his work first appeared in the pages of Analog in 1965. He was one of the founders of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA), and is a past president. In addition to his Chesley Award trophy and 7 nominations, he has been a finalist for the Professional Artist Hugo 11 times, winning once; two collections of his artwork, Infinite Worlds: The Fantastic Visions of Science Fiction Art and Di Fate’s Catalog of Science Fiction Hardware, have been Hugo finalists as well. He was Artist Guest of Honor at the 1992 Worldcon, for which he organized their Art Retrospective exhibit. He was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2011. You can see galleries of his works at his website.
Born November 21, 1946 — Tom Veal, 73. He’s a con-running fan who chaired Chicon 2000. He was a member of the Seattle in 1981 Worldcon bid committee. He chaired Windycon X. In 2016 he married fellow fan Becky Thomson. And he wrote the “1995 Moskva 1995: Igor’s Campaign“ which was published in Alternate Worldcons and Again, Alternate Worldcons as edited by Mike Resnick.
Born November 21, 1950 — Evelyn C. Leeper, 69. Writer, Editor, Critic, and Fan, who is especially known for her decades of detailed convention reports and travelogues. A voracious reader, she has also posted many book reviews. She and her husband Mark founded the Mt. Holz Science Fiction Club at Bell Labs in New Jersey (Mt = abbreviation for the labs’ Middletown facility), and have produced their weekly fanzine, the MT VOID (“empty void”), since 1978; it is currently at Issue #2,041. She was a judge for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History for 20 years. She has been a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twelve times, and Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a Windycon.
Born November 21, 1953 — Lisa Goldstein, 66. Writer, Fan, and Filer whose debut novel, The Red Magician, was so strong that she was a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer two years in a row. Her short fiction has garnered an array of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominations, as well as a Sidewise Award. The short story “Cassandra’s Photographs” was a Hugo and Nebula finalist and “Alfred” was a World Fantasy and Nebula finalist; both can be found in her collection Travellers in Magic. Her novel The Uncertain Places won a Mythopoeic Award. You can read about her work in progress, her reviews of others’ stories, and other thoughts at her blog.
Born November 21, 1965 — Björk, 54. Who bears the lovely full name of Björk Guðmundsdóttir. I like Icelandic. And I’ve got boots of her band somewhere here I think. She’s here for The Juniper Tree which is a 1990 Icelandic film directed and written by Nietzchka Keene which is based on “The Juniper Tree” tale that was collected by the Brothers Grimm. She’s one of five performers in it. Oh, and because her last album Utopia explored that concept even using cryptocurrency as part of the purchase process.
Coca-Cola Amatil, which produces the beverage, said the ad was a light-hearted parody of “zom-com” or “zomedy” movies such as Shaun of the Dead and Warm Bodies.
…The Advertising Standards Authority dismissed the complaints, saying that while the ad may be distasteful to some viewers, it did not reach the threshold to be considered likely to cause harm or serious offence.
It noted that since receiving the complaints, the advertiser had decided to reschedule the ad to be screened after 7pm.
We still don’t know what the titular hero of The Mandalorian is going to do with the little “asset” that he found in the first live-action Star Wars series, but it is more than clear that the real world wants a piece of it. Everyone wants merchandise for the “Yoda Baby,” and there’s good news on the horizon.
Disney and Lucasfilm purposely held back this bit of salesmanship to avoid spoilers, but that starship has flown. CNBC reports that all kinds of toys and apparel based on the character will be out in time for the holidays.
(9) IN WIRED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The December WIRED
has three articles on Star Wars that I thought were interesting. These
Angela Watercutter interviews cosplayers who enjoy cosplaying Rey because her costume is relatively simple and because she is the first female character in Star Wars to wield a lightsaber: “Everybody Loves Rey, a Star Wars Story”.
Annamarie McIntosh is coming undone. People in comic-book tees are rushing past her, lit up by too-bright fluorescents. She’s surrounded by massive signs with corporate logos, from Nintendo to DC Comics. The cavernous hall is 460,000 square feet, and McIntosh is taking up about three of them, trying to cinch the beige bandages wrapped around her arms. “We’re having issues here,” she says, with an exasperated giggle. “It’s been falling down all day.” With an assist by her mom, the 17-year-old finally twists and tucks her costume into place. All things considered, the fix is easy. It’s 2019’s Comic-Con International, and compared to the wizards and warlocks and Wonder Women crowding the floor, the outfit of the Jedi Rey is plain, simple. Sensible.
Adam Rogers undertakes “A Journey to Galaxy’s Edge, the Nerdiet Place on Earth” — and discusses how the park is a form of storytelling. He says that cosplaying in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is banned, although “I saw a few women cosplaying on the down low, hair done weird, rocking galactically appropriate boots.” This graf of Rogers is news to me:
Eventually, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will open. That’s a two-day stay adjacent to the Orlando park in a hotel designed to look like a Star Wars spaceship, a luxury liner called the Halcyon. The windows will somehow look out onto space; families will get tours of the bridge, and ‘port day’ will connect to Galaxy’s Edge. Apparently even the hotel building ill be bermed off from arriving guests–all they’ll see is the ‘terminal’ where they board a shuttle to the Halcyon in orbit above.
Genevieve Valentine fills in the backstory of Padme Amidala from the story in Revenge of the Sith and other clues from various other Star Wars stories: “Padmé Amidala, Queen of Empty Space”.
The biggest battle in Star Wars is between its mythic arcs—the heroes’ journeys—and its political stories. Padmé fell on the political side so squarely that the prequel trilogy expended significant visual and narrative energy trying to drag her toward the mythic, where Anakin Skywalker was waiting.
She never got there. Her realm was that of the negotiation and the vote, and nothing was able to bring her into line with the adventure and the myth.
(10) KIWI IN TRAINING. Stephen Colbert has spent the week
masquerading as The Newest Zealander. I
don’t think any WorldCon venues are in shot, but parts are right next to Museum
Prominent New Zealand celebrities Lucy Lawless (“Xena: Warrior Princess”) and Bret McKenzie (“Flight of the Conchords”) show Stephen around the town of Wellington and offer him tips on how to blend in as a local.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, N., Martin Morse
Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Errolwi, Tom
Boswell-Healey, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes
to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]
The next phase of Young People Read Old Science Fiction focuses on a single reference text, Journey Press’s Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1958 – 1963). To quote from Journey Press’ site:
“The Silver Age of Science Fiction saw a wealth of compelling speculative tales — and women authors wrote some of the best of the best. Yet the stories of this era, especially those by women, have been largely unreprinted, unrepresented, and unremembered.
“Volume one of REDISCOVERY represents a historic first: fourteen selections of the best science fiction of the Silver Age, written by the unsung women authors of yesteryear and introduced by today’s rising stars. Join us and rediscover these lost treasures…. “
James is also recruiting participants:
I am looking for reviewers born after about 1980. The deadline for application is September 1, with a target date for the inaugural Young People Read Old Science Fiction: Rediscovery! post of October 1. If you are interested, please contact me at jdnicoll at panix dot com.
Where previous phases have involved each contributor working on their own, this chapter will feature a round table approach. Each contributor will be provided by me with a copy of the ebook.
(2) IN CONS TO COME. Cheryl Morgan assesses the competition
to host a future Worldcon in “The
Race for 2023”.
… Prior to Dublin the extant bids for 2023 were Nice (France), Chengdu (China) and New Orleans (USA). The New Orleans bid has, I understand it, collapsed. However, some US fans were busily organising a bid for another city. Apparently they viewed this as essential to prevent yet another non-US Worldcon. I think they have settled on Memphis but it was a bit confused.
The Chengdu bid is controversial for two reasons, one of which is that it is very hard to get into China. Elizabeth Bear told me that she has been denied a visa because she is a writer. That could happen to a lot of us. My own view is that a Chinese Worldcon won’t happen without government approval, and if that approval exists then it should be possible to set up a system whereby visa applications can be expedited. This is China, after all
(3) FINAL FANZINE SOLUTION. Cheryl Morgan also reacts to
Nicholas Whyte’s statistics showing that the Best Fanzine Hugo category is
skating on the edge of the abyss in “Whither Fanzine?”?
…On Twitter Aidan Moher has been calling for more appreciation for video fanzines. (Booktube appears to be the name for such things.) People making them certainly deserve recognition, but they belong in the Fancast category which is for:
Any generally available non-professional audio or video periodical devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects
Aidan also suggests collapsing Fanzine and Fancast to create a single category of fan-created works. Much as I would like to see fewer Hugo categories, I can’t see that happening. Neither the podcast people nor fanzine fandom would be happy….
(4) N3F SHORT STORY CONTEST. The
National Fantasy Fan Federation’s annual short story contest is accepting
entries through December 31, 2019. There are no entrance fees, but there are
cash prizes. First prize is $50, second $30, and third $20. Read about it here:
“2019 N3F Amateur Short Story Contest”.
The judge is SF author Jefferson Swycaffer. Results will be announced by March
1. This contest is open to all amateur writers in the field, regardless of whether they’re members of the National Fantasy Fan Federation. For the purposes of this contest, we define an amateur as someone who has sold no more than two (2) stories to professional science fiction or fantasy publications or publishing houses.
2. Stories entered in the contest must be original, unpublished, not longer than 8,500 words in length—and must be related to the science fiction, fantasy, or similar genres in the opinion of the judge.
For the past year, a group of teens in Nigeria called the Critics Company have been uploading short sci-fi films to their YouTube channel. Using a smartphone with a busted screen, makeshift equipment, open source 3D tools like Blender, and green sheets hung on walls, the self-taught group has produced some professional-grade special effects. Check out this 10-minute short they uploaded in January, Z: The Beginning.
(6) MORE ON CAMPBELL. Comments by David Bowles, including
some quotes from Campbell. Thread starts here.
…Rothman will need to deliver Marvel-less fare that lives up to hype of the Spider-Man character’s MCU appearances. “If the two sides don’t come to a compromise, it’s a lose-lose for everybody,” argues Shawn Robbins, chief analyst for industry website Boxoffice. “Marvel won’t be able to resolve the cliffhanger in future movies, which is saying something when it’s their most popular hero. And for Sony, who has had success, Far From Home doesn’t get to a billion dollars without Feige and Marvel’s involvement.”
Adds Robbins, “The other big question is, ‘How are fans are going to react to a Tom Holland Spider-Man movie that is not set in the MCU?’ That is a roll of the dice that no studio should take.”
A Facebook event, hosted by three fans, was set up on Tuesday. The event, according to its description, involves dressing up in Spider-Man costumes and bringing “our boy home!” (to the Marvel Cinematic Universe).
The raid is planned for Oct. 31, aka Halloween. The perfect guise.
This fan rage spawned from a report Deadline published Tuesday of a high-level dispute between Sony and Marvel. That dispute means Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige won’t produce any more Spider-Man films and Marvel will no longer be involved in the Spider-Man movie universe.
(9) CRYSTAL CLEARING. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance premieres August 30 on Netflix.
As power-hungry overlords drain life from the planet Thra, a group of brave Gelfling unite on a quest to save their world and fight off the darkness.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 22, 1907 — Oliver McGowan. He played The Caretaker in the “Shore Leave” episode of the original Trek. It must be decades since I’ve seen that episode but I still remember liking it a lot silly though it be. It’s kind of the ancestor to the holodeck, isn’t it? McGowan has one-offs on One Step Beyond, Wild Wild West, I Dream of Jeannie, The Twilight Zone and Bewitched. (Died 1971.)
Born August 22, 1909 — Paul W. Fairman. His story “No Teeth for the Tiger” was published in the February 1950 issue of Amazing Stories. Two years later, he was the founding editor of If, but he edited only four issues. In 1955, he became the editor of Amazing Stories and Fantastic which he would hold for three years. There are several films, Target Earth and Invasion of the Saucer Men, based on his stories, plus some TV episodes as well. (Died 1977.)
Born August 22, 1920 — Ray Bradbury. So what’s your favorite book by him? I have three. Something Wicked This Way Comes is the one I reread quite a bit with The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles being my other go to regularly works by him. (Died 2012.)
Born August 22, 1925 — Honor Blackman, 94. Best known for the roles of Cathy Gale in The Avengers, Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger and Hera in Jason and the Argonauts. She was also Professor Lasky in “Terror of the Vervoids” in the Sixth Doctor’s “The Trial of a Time Lord”.
Born August 22, 1948 — Susan Wood. Of extremely fragile health, she received three Hugo Awards for Best Fan Writer in 1974, 1977, and 1981, and a Best Fanzine Hugo as coeditor of Energumen in 1973. In 1976 she was instrumental in organizing the very first feminist panel at a con, at MidAmericon. The reaction to this helped lead to the founding of A Women’s APA and of WisCon. While teaching courses in SF at UBC, one of her students was William Gibson. “Fragments of a Hologram Rose” which is his first published story was written as an assignment in her SF class. (Died 1980.)
Born August 22, 1955 — Will Shetterly, 64. Of his novels, I recommend his two Borderland novels, Elsewhere and Nevernever, and Dogland. Married to Emma Bull, they did a trailer for her War for The Oaks novel which is worth seeing.
Born August 22, 1959 — Mark Williams, 60. He was Arthur Weasley in seven of the Potter films. He also played Brian Williams in the BBC series Doctor Who, appearing with the Eleventh Doctor in “The Power of Three” and “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. He was also Olaf Petersen on Red Dwarf. His first genre role was as Fearnot’s Brother in the “Fearnot” episode of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller.
Born August 22, 1963 — Tori Amos, 56. One of Gaiman’s favorite musicians, so it’s appropriate that she penned two essays, the afterword to “Death” in Sandman: Book of Dreams) and the Introduction to “Death” in The High Cost of Living. Although created before they ever met, Delirium from The Sandman is based on her.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Speedbump has a very funny variation on an old theme, with a little environmental message.
The Green Towns Green Town is to Bradbury what Derry and Castle Rock are to Stephen King: an invented town that brings to life the community of the author’s childhood dreams, shot through with an undercurrent of the supernatural. The town is based on Waukegan, Illinois, where Bradury spent his boyhood years, and his fond memories and great love for the place shine throughout the Green Town series’ four novels, the most widely read of which is Something Wicked This Way Comes.
…I bet you didn’t know that Crazy Ex Girlfriend creator and star Rachel Bloom is quite possibly his biggest fan. In 2010, she went public with her adoration and shared “F*ck Me, Ray Bradbury” with the world. (In 2011, the video was even nominated for a Hugo Award!)
So, celebrate Ray Bradbury today with lyrics like: “Since I was 12, I’ve been your number one fan / Kiss me, you illustrated man. / I’ll feed you grapes and dandelion wine / And we’ll read a little Fahrenheit 69.” You’re welcome.
(14) ON THE AIR. “Fast radio
bursts” feature in today’s Nature. Their origin has been a mystery
and some have (seriously) proposed ET intelligence origin (like pulsars were
but you know how that turned out). There are also repeaters… “Haul of mysterious cosmic bursts excites astronomers”.
Discovery of more ‘repeater’ fast radio bursts should help to reveal signals’ origins…
Astronomers are edging closer to finding out what causes brief, powerful flashes in the sky known as fast radio bursts (FRBs), after a Canadian telescope discovered eight more of the most intriguing type of these blasts — those that repeat their signals. FRBs are intensely energetic events that flare for just milliseconds, seemingly all over the sky and from outside the Galaxy. But their cause has remained a mystery since the first FRB was identified in 2007. Astronomers hope that studying bursts that repeat their flashes, rather than flare just once, can help to elucidate the origins of FRBs. That’s because it’s easier for high-resolution telescopes to make followup observations of ‘repeaters’ and trace their origins compared with one-off blasts.
Russia has launched a rocket carrying a life-sized robot to the International Space Station (ISS).
It was launched from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday and is set to arrive at the station on Saturday.
The robot, named Fedor (Experimental Demonstration Object Research), is the first ever sent into space by Russia.
In order to test a new emergency rescue system, the robot was the Soyuz rocket’s only passenger.
Fedor stands some one metre and 80 centimetres tall (5ft 11 inches) and weighs 160 kilograms.
During its 10 days at the ISS, Fedor will learn new skills such as “connecting and disconnecting electric cables, using standard items from a screwdriver and a spanner to a fire extinguisher,” said Alexander Bloshenko, the Russian space agency’s director for prospective programmes and science.
It is hoped that Fedor will eventually carry out more dangerous tasks such as spacewalks.
Gamescom 2019 kicked off in Cologne, Germany on Monday night, and as usual, the annual trade fair has been full to bursting with announcements, trailers, and exciting new details about upcoming games. But one development is making a bigger splash than the rest: Visionary video game auteur Hideo Kojima’s next game, Death Stranding, will feature the kind of hyper-realistic urination gameplay action that gamers crave. Drench your eyeballs in this leaked footage from Gamescom’s opening night stream to see Death Stranding star Norman Reedus take the most lavishly digitized piss in video game history…
…Mystery House (On-Line Systems, 1980)
Roberta and Ken Williams are rightfully hailed as two of the most influential game designers in history, but their first attempt to break gaming’s pee barrier was an abject failure. Mystery House, the very first graphical adventure game, was also the very first graphical adventure game to feature a drawing of a toilet….
[Thanks to Rich Horton, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John A
Arkansawyer, Mike Kennedy, Dawn Sabados, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin
Morse Wooster, Alan Baumler, George Phillies, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor
of the day Daniel Dern.]
Next year fans will choose the site
of the 2022 Worldcon for which Chicago is currently running unopposed. Beyond that?
Dublin 2019’s Fannish Inquisition session witnessed a changing of the guard. A Memphis in 2023 bid was revealed, and the Chengdu in 2023 bid declared it was official. The New Orleans bid for 2023 fell off the radar. Spokane in 2023 and Perth in 2025 took themselves out of the running, the latter temporarily — there’s more about them at the end of the post.
Proposed Site: Chengdu, China
Proposed Dates: In August
We are a non-profit organization called Galaxy Science Fiction Alliance, which mainly consists of Sichuan Science Fiction Association and Chinese Sci-fi fans. Sichuan Science Fiction Association focuses on academic researches on Science fiction and fantasy literature,films, computer games and so on
SPOKANE IN 2023 – CLOSED. A bid for Spokane was prepared to step into the gap left by the moribund New Orleans bid to assure there would be a North American option, but it has vacated the field in favor of Memphis.
Mike Willmoth shares the story:
I started the Spokane in 2023 Bid pre-Worldcon since it appeared that New Orleans in 2023 had fizzled. Although I was New Orleans’ Facilities Liaison once they announced, I had to resign this January after taking over the Facilities DIvision for Westercon-NASFiC in Layton, UT, after the original facilities team resigned. I had heard nothing from New Orleans and no one else seemed to as well. I had had several conversations with fans concerned about their absence and the apparent weak positions of both Chengdu and Nice. So Spokane was an Emergency Holographic North American Bid.
After reaching out to Visit Spokane (their CVB) they confirmed that their convention center was wide open for all of August. I resolved one outstanding issue from Sasquan with the Davenport chain (non-standard attrition clause which is now standardized on Marriott’s corporate one). I then reached out to past Sasquan DHs/DDHs/AHs for support for a bid team. I then notified Colette Fozard who was coordinating Dublin’s bid questionnaires. She sent me one to complete. I did so after arriving in Dublin, but learned that she had received one from Memphis which I was unaware of.
During the Dublin Business Meetings I had several chats with the Memphis Bid Co-Chairs and it was apparent to me that they were farther along than we were, had a slightly larger team already, etc. I notified our bid team and the consensus was that we should punt since we were only there because no other NA bid was visible. I made the final decision to pull the Spokane bid on Day 5 of Dublin, notifying Memphis and others as well as Visit Spokane. We may do another one in the future, but for now we are on hiatus. I would have been the official bid chair if elected by the team, but we never got that far. I was just the instigator.
So officially the Spokane in 2023 Worldcon Bid is closed because Memphis stepped up to the plate and appears to have their excretions coagulated 🙂
PERTH IN 2025 – ON HIATUS. PRK confirms, “Yes, at the Fannish Inquisition I announced that the Perth bid was going on hiatus, and no longer bidding for 2025. We may return in the early 20s and announce for a new year.” [Twitter: Perth in 2025]
Proposed Site: Nice, in the south of France
Proposed Dates: August 2-6, 2023
Bid Leadership: (From a Smofcon questionnaire)
At the moment, our team is led by a group of seven individuals who have been active in the French fandom for several decades. Some are editors, writers, translators, many with past or current experience running local conventions and festivals. These seven persons are: Alex S. Garcia, Alain Jardy, Sybille Marchetto, Arnaud Koëbel, Albert Aribaud, Thomas Menanteau and Patrick Moreau.
DISCUSSION POINTS. There is a drumbeat of opinion in favor of denying the U.S. all future Worldcons, energized by each new instance of an sff fan or writer being put through the wringer by TSA, or denied entry upon arrival in US due to visa rules enforcement. Here are several examples of what has appeared in social media. Apart from Adam Roberts, the rest live in the U.S.
And I would urge all U.S.-based SFF writers to strongly support Worldcon bids outside the U.S. Community solidarity with all our international colleagues who deserve to participate without risking their safety. https://t.co/0dPBH0XFNN
Agree wholeheartedly. I will not support future US based Worldcon bids unless this ends. If I had known during the 2016 site selection what kind of cesspit we were going to fall into, I would not have supported the San Jose bid, and this is my home.
There are currently no bids outside the US for WorldCon in 2021 or 2022. I desperately hope that changes. Nothing personally against the American bids, but I cannot in good conscience support having the convention in the US when our shitty government is treating people like this. https://t.co/Fk7HWlMF7h
A bid to host the 2023 Worldcon in Chendgu, China was announced at today’s Fannish Inquisition session at Worldcon 76. Chengdu joins a field which already includes bids for Nice, France, and New Orleans, LA.
A new chengduworldcon account is sharing information on Twitter:
I was originally invited by the heads of the China World Science Fiction society, Renwei Dong, Haijun Yao, and Wu Yan, to attend the Chinese Nebula Awards ceremony in Beijing, through the kind offices of Ruhan Zhao. Later the invitation was extended by the company Xinhuanet for Wayne and I to then spend a week in Chengdu.
For the first time ever, I was invited to a literary conference to be an Author Guest of Honor. It was the 4th International Science Fiction Conference in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. It was sponsored by SFWorld, a Chinese magazine and book publisher, with media and tech giant Tencent as one of the sponsors. I was one of about a dozen foreign authors and editors in attendance….
Among the international guests were authors Michael Swanwick and Ted Komsatska from the USA, Taiyo Fujii from Japan, Robert J Sawyer and I from Canada, and editors Neil Clarke from the USA, Francesco Verso from Italy, con organizer Crystal Huff from the USA, and a few others.
Huff is a former Worldcon 75 co-chair. Japanese sf writer Taiyo Fuji has been chair of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Japan since 2015.
Historically, the trajectory of Chinese SF was heavily influenced by top-down political forces at times. Recently it begins to receive continuous and influential support from the governments at all levels. On the one hand, following the tradition of focusing on ‘science’ in science fiction, the government re-emphasizes SF as a useful instrument for popularizing science and improving citizen’s scientific literacy. On the other hand, due to the high popularity and penetration rate of SF media, it is conceivable that the so-called ‘SF industry’ is often adopted in governmental agenda for creative and cultural industry development.
In a central government’s paper regarding promoting citizens’ science literacy issued by State Council in February 2016, it is explicitly stipulated that the government shall support science fiction writing as part of popular science writing. More details were revealed in a later talk given by Han Qide, president of China Association for Science and Technology (CAST), announcing that CAST will set up a national award for SF and host international SF festivals. The story reached the climax when Vice Chairman Li Yuanchao attended 2016 National SF Convention held in September 2016 and gave a speech at the opening ceremony warmly encouraging SF writing.
In the 1980s, science fiction once again fell foul of the ruling party, as a new “Anti-Spiritual Pollution Campaign” emerged as a backlash to Deng Xiaoping’s modernisation and liberalisation policies. Deng’s opponents in the party railed against Western “bourgeois imports” of all kinds, and with sci-fi seeming to fall firmly in that category, it was all but wiped out for a time.
The genre’s recovery was partly led by the emergence of Science Fiction World magazine in Chengdu, and its energetic editor, Yang Xiao, herself the daughter of a prominent party member. Having such influential backing allowed Science Fiction World to bring together many young writers for an “appropriate” reason.
By the end of the century, Chinese sci-fi entered its own golden age. Although the authorities still raised the issue of literary “appropriateness”, the old restrictions had gone. One prominent contemporary sci-fi author is Han Song, a journalist at the state news agency Xinhua. Many of his works are only published outside the mainland due to their political themes, but Han is still widely recognised at home. His fiction can be dark and melancholy, envisioning, for instance, a spacefarer building tombstones to fellow astronauts, or the Beijing subway system being turned into a graveyard in which future explorers, arriving back on Earth, find themselves trapped on a fast-moving train. Along with Liu Cixin and Wang Jinkang, he is considered one of the “Three Generals” of Chinese sci-fi.
Chengdu also figured in the creation of the new Asia Science Fiction Association, which held its first meeting on July 17, and announced a plan to hold its first Asiacon there in 2019. ASFA’s president is Liu Cixin, whose Three-Body Problem (translated by Ken Liu) won the Best Novel Hugo in 2015.