Experimental YA Hugo Urged

Chris Barkley has started a Facebook discussion page for the Young Adult Book Hugo Award Proposal where he calls on fans to contact Loncon 3, the 2014 Worldcon, and ask the committee to exercise its right under the WSFS rules to create a one-time Best YA Book Hugo Award.

Barkley’s appeal reads —

Please tell the Loncon Three Committee how is vitally important that the viability of this category should be tested (as the Graphic Story and Podcast Hugo awards were before their inceptions as regular categories) and that authors, editors and that publishers of young adult fantasy and science fiction should be recognized and honored on an annual basis by one the premiere awards in genre literature.

He also reminds readers that the 2013 Worldcon Business Meeting appointed a YA Hugo study committee with Dave McCarty as Chair scheduled to make recommendations at Loncon 3.

Chicon 7: Opening Ceremonies

Chicon 7’s Opening Ceremonies on Thursday afternoon began with a four-piece guitar band silhouetted against a lavender-lit backdrop. Then bright spots illuminated the stage, set with a desk and black sofas in talk-show format. The band cranked up and its leader belted out a raucous Chicon lyric. At the end John Scalzi emerged from the wings to play our genial host, the drum machine player matching his triumphant jabs with what Scalzi called “punchy sounds.”

Scalzi preened over his stylish new jacket — “Paul Ryan casual” he said, then promised that would be his last political joke, and it was. He tied his monologue together with references to his being a Worldcon newbie, his first having been in 2003, which worked surprisingly well when you consider he’s in his second term as SFWA president and often writes online as a kind of voice of elder wisdom.

Erle Korshak was the first to be interviewed once Scalzi moved behind the desk. Korshak co-chaired the original Chicon in 1940 and he paid tribute to its other leaders, his co-chair Mark Reinsberg and the treasurer Wilson Tucker. Asked how many people came to that con Korshak said 129, and Scalzi gestured to the front of the Grand Ballroom, “About the first two rows here.” Yes, we’ve grown.

Mike Resnick, author GoH, followed Korshak. He squinted up at the lights and told about his time on that stage in 1991 presiding over the masquerade, unable to read his notes or see directions through the glare. The stage manager was reduced to giving him signals by rubbing his leg. Scalzi reached over and stroked Mike’s leg in a dramatic interpretation which, if captured on video, will doubtless be up for a Hugo next year. The pair also plugged Resnick’s story collection Win Some, Lose Some, released by the fannish ISFiC Press for sale at the con.

Rowena Morrill’s sister, Kathy, aquainted us with the artist GoH, who was missing the con to recover from health problems. She delved into family memories about Rowena as the creative instigator of family plays, and shared that her sister actually was preparing to be a classical pianist before she took an art class and discovered something that fired her interests even more.

Artist Agent GoH Jane Frank told how she and her husband carried out the vision of creating a Victoran room in their modern house and filled it with specially commissioned art showing their favorite elements from the stories of H. Rider Haggard.

Scalzi introduced Fan GoH Peggy Rae Pavlat with copious praise for her work coordinating the two most recent Nebula Weekends. She closed with the story of how her father, Jack McKnight, made the first Hugo Awards on a machine at home after a whole series of other plans came to nought, missing most of the 1953 Worldcon to do so, and ever after referring to them as “those goddamned Hugo Awards.”

Former NASA flight controller Sy Liebergot, a special guest, was introduced as the man who didn’t go to the Moon but made sure others did. He rhetorically answered one interview prompt, “How did we do it? We had a bunch of smart guys who could think straight. We don’t have that now.” There was applause, though Scalzi’s expression matched the sourness of the remark.

Hugo base designer Deb Kosiba instituted what I hope will be the new tradition, unveiling the base on the first day rather than waiting until the Hugo reception. She described her effort as drawing upon the local traditions of architects Louis Sullivan and Mies van der Rohe, and artist Pablo Picasso.

Chicon 7 chair Dave McCarty bantered with Scalzi, bringing the ceremonies to a close. He praised his leadership team, the Flying Monkees, and the 500 people on staff. And he reminded us that astronaut Story Musgrave, another GoH, would be with us on Saturday and Sunday.

Scalzi had a great handle on the event. That comes as no surprise but it particularly interested me to see him gage his approach to get the best from each person, in contrast to many actual TV hosts who force guests to play off them. He joked at the beginning about a part being “all about me” in the spirit of such host, then, in fact turned in a deft and inclusive performance.

Chicon 7 Overflows Its Hotel

Running a Worldcon means managing tradeoffs and, honestly, every chair hopes to face the “problem” of filling the main hotel room block and needing to dispatch people to an overflow hotel.

That’s what Chicon 7 chairman Dave McCarty started doing today:

We are delighted to have filled our room block at the Hyatt Regency. We have taken almost 2000 rooms in total, reflecting the popularity and anticipation for the Worldcon returning to Chicago. We are equally delighted to have the Sheraton Chicago joining us as our second hotel partner, ensuring that all members can stay within a few minutes of the convention site.

From a public relations standpoint he’s also fortunate that the Hyatt sold out gradually enough that fans could be given plenty of warning, in contrast to last year when Renovation’s main hotel sold out the first day.

The full press release follows the jump.

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James Bacon: C2E2 Outreach Ready

Outreach at C2E2

By James Bacon: With support from Baen, Tor, Penguin as well as fans from as far afield as Arizona, California and Boston, the Science Fiction Outreach Project had a massive boost from Midwest fans and now has over 5,700 books to give away!

Financial support has been amazing from within fandom and so we are all set up here at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2), for a busy weekend.

Helen Montgomery and Terrence Miltner led the charge with Sondra, Leane, Dave, Geri and myself helping and we even had time to check out the show (and I held a real Captain America shield.)

All books have a bookmark, listing websites of all the amazing supporters and we are hoping for a busy weekend.

Smofcon Ripples

Smofcon 27 was held in Austin over the weekend and produced plenty of interesting news.

This year’s Worldcon, Anticipation, distributed checks for pass-along surplus funds, $17,000 each to Aussiecon 4 and Renovation, and is holding another $17,000 for the winning 2012 bid. 

There presently is only one 2012 Worldcon bid, for Chicago. During Smofcon the bid committee revealed it has chosen Dave McCarty to chair the Worldcon if they win. He is beginning to set up the committee structure.

Bidders for future Smofcons made presentations. The two bids for Smofcon 2011 are Maui (James Daugherty and Bobbi Armbruster) and Amsterdam (Vince Docherty, presented by Steve Cooper).  There also is a bid to hold Smofcon in Pennsylvania in 2012, either in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia (Laurie Mann and Joni Dashoff).

Chicago in 2012
Hits the Campaign Trail

The Chicago in 2012 Worldcon bid was officially launched at Denvention 3. The bid’s leadership includes Dave McCarty (Chairman), Helen Montgomery (Secretary), and Tom Veal (Treasurer).

Those who believe nothing exists until it hits the internet can also consider the official launch to have happened this weekend. There’s now a well-designed bid website, a Chicago in 2012 LiveJournal community, and a Facebook page.

The website indicates there eventually will be available for download copies of the souvenir pulp magazines the bid is creating and giving to $20 presupporting members. Fred Pohl wrote the story for the premiere issue.

Jet Beetle

Ron Patrick's jet-powered Beetle

Ron Patrick’s jet-powered VW Beetle is street legal. Well, the cops haven’t found a California law they can charge him under, anyway.

He has a website explaining all about the design, with intriguing comments like: “The heat blanket keeps the plastic bumper from melting when the jet is operating.” Uh, yeah, that would be important now that you mention it.

And his motorcycle? It’s powered by two jet engines.

There is a Darwin Award story about somebody killing himself while driving a jet-powered rig like his, but someone ruined my fun by pointing out Snopes’ report that it’s 100% baloney.

[Via Dave McCarty and Rick Moen]

Ron Patrick's Scooter