(1) DRAGON AWARDS FINALISTS NOTIFIED. This year the Dragon Awards administrators are asking for acceptances. Finalist K.C. Seville confirmed on Facebook, “They’re still notifying and letting people accept or decline.” Last year they started out refusing to let authors withdraw, then reversed that policy.
Finalists are not being asked to hold back the news until the release of the final ballot. Here are links to some of the announcements:
(2) KOWAL’S W76 PROGRAM UPDATE. Mary Robinette Kowal shared news about progress and the process in her “Worldcon 2018 Programming Update”.
With the challenges surrounding WorldCon 2018’s programming, I offered to bring in a small team to help reimagine the schedule. That team was chosen to address a range of identities, marginalizations, and key stakeholders. Together, we’ve spent the past 48 hours diving into this huge, complicated beast.
One note we would like to add here is that there was an enormous amount of good work done by the existing programming team. We are not diminishing or dismissing the errors that were made or the harm that was caused and we are focused on building a stronger program that addresses those concerns.
We have evaluated the existing programming into three categories: Keep, Repair, Replace.
- Keep is self-explanatory. We like them. Good job!
- Repair – The core idea was good, but the panel description, staffing, or title needed attention. Most of our effort was here.
- Replace – These are getting swapped out for another panel for a variety of reasons.
We have finished Repairing and Replacing.
Our next task is to contact the finalists and Guests of Honor to offer them first dibs on panels. We recognize that, while efforts were made by the committee to reach out to the finalists, communication was a major issue. We are working within the time constraints to make this as seamless a process as possible while ensuring we don’t accidentally miss anyone who should be included.
Team members who have chosen to be public are: John Picacio, Sarah Gailey, Jason Stevan Hill, Nibedita Sen, Alexandra Rowland, Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, Merc Rustad, Stacey Berg, Julia Rios, Ace Ratcliff, Derek Künsken, Jennifer Mace, Nilah Magruder, Alyshondra Meacham, K Tempest Bradford, Steven H Silver.
Kowal’s post emphasizes –
At 2:45 Central today, I have emailed the finalists. We’ve received a number of bouncebacks. We are working on getting in touch with these individuals but given the extreme time pressure we are operating under, we ask you to please get in touch with us. If you are part of a group nomination and think that one of your co-nominees may not have received this e-mail, please feel free to forward it to that nominee and let us know the nominee’s name and e-mail if you can.
If you are a finalist and did not receive an email with the subject line “[WorldCon76] Hugo finalist programming query”, please contact me: email@example.com.
(3) RETURNED FROM THE FRONT. Rosemary Kirstein makes observations about the panelist purge at Readercon, and compares that controversy to the latest one about Worldcon 76 programming in “Two kerfuffles for the price of one”.
Well, the kerfuffle surrounding Readercon’s disinvitation sweep (AKA “geezer purge”) — as, um, interesting as it was — has now paled in comparison to the new kerfuffle surrounding WorldCon’s programming.
The interesting thing about them is that they seem to be flip-sides of the same general issue:
The geezer purge, while claiming to be about making room for more diversity, had the effect of targeting a specific group (elders), and thus apparently actively discriminating — going against Readercon’s explicit, written policy of inclusion.
While the Worldcon newbie snub favored the established writers over unknowns even when those new writers are among this year’s Hugo finalists. Yeah, that’s just nuts. They are Hugo finalists! People will want to see them, don’t ya think? And how exactly do you think people become established writers?
One seemed to say: You’re old, get out of the way! The other seemed to say: Never heard of you, don’t waste our time.
Well. Mistakes were made, as the saying goes.
(4) ACTION, REACTION, OVERREACTION. David Gerrold analyzes reactions to Worldcon 76 program and life problems in general:
…Examples: The conventions in the sixties had numerous panels about “the new wave.” In the seventies, there were numerous panels about “women in science fiction.” In the 90s, cons had panels about LGBT+ characters in SF. More recently, conventions have felt it necessary to have panels on diversity. These panels were usually well-intentioned efforts to expand the awareness of the audience that SF could do more than just nuts-and-bolts engineering — that the technology of consciousness is a science as well.
So where I sit — right now at my desk, staring into a giant glowing lightbulb with text on it — it seems to me that a) a well-intentioned convention committee will make a sincere effort to address the needs of as many attendees as possible, and b) kerfuffles are inevitable, because that’s what human beings (especially fans) are good at.
Because, bottom-line, we go to the con to have fun. If we want to be self-righteous, angry, and bitter, we stay home and fume about fannish injustices, real and imagined.
Now … before I sign off, let me repeat the disclaimer I began with. None of the above (with the exception of Milo Yiannopoulos and the Rabid Puppies) is meant to demean, diminish, or discredit any individual or group in the science fiction community. I believe that the issues raised about this year’s con-programming are legitimate and worthwhile. And the con-committee is making a sincere effort to address those issues.
I also believe that some people might have overreacted. Don’t take that personally. I think that almost every Worldcon squabble is tainted by overreaction. (Especially those I was personally involved in.) People make mistakes. Never ascribe to malice what can just as easily be explained by stupidity or ignorance.
Perhaps this is a fatal flaw in my character, but I like to believe that serious issues can be resolved without a firestorm of outrage — and in fact, it’s my experience that firestorms of outrage tend to get in the way of resolution, sometimes delaying all possibility of resolution until all the emotional fires have been exhausted. Rationality dies in fire, it’s found only in the ashes…..
(5) WHAT SHOULD WE TALK ABOUT? Hey, here’s four hours worth of programming ideas in this tweet alone –
(6) UDOFF OBIT. It may have been his idea that resulted in the Adam West Batman series says The Hollywood Reporter: “Yale Udoff, ‘Bad Timing’ Screenwriter and ‘Batman’ TV Booster, Dies at 83”.
Udoff began his career at ABC in New York working with producers/executives Douglas Cramer, Edgar Scherick and Roone Arledge, and he is credited by some for coming up with the idea to transform the Batman comic books into a TV series in the 1960s.
“Udoff came in and said we ought to do Batman,” Scherick told author Bob Garcia in the 2016 book Batman: A Celebration of the Classic TV Series. “We threw him out of the office, but he persisted and we decided to look into it.”
Udoff wrote up a formal proposal for Scherick, who then took it to higher-ups at the network. “Suddenly, all these executives were flying back to New York from L.A. reading Batman comic books hidden in their Fortune magazines so that they could get an idea of what was happening,” Udoff says in the book. “Eventually it got on the air.”
Udoff also co-wrote the 1991 feature Eve of Destruction, a sci-fi thriller starring Gregory Hines, and penned episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (in 1967) and Tales From the Crypt (in 1992) and a 1974 ABC movie of the week, Hitchhike!, starring Cloris Leachman.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
- Born July 27 – Jonathan Rhys Meyers, 41. Dracula in the 2013 – 2014 Dracula series, other genre roles includes being in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the Gormenghast series and Killer Tongue, a film with poodles transformed into drag queens.
- Born July 27 – Seamus Dever, 42. A role in the DC’s forthcoming Titans series as the Demon Trigon, father of Raven. Also roles in such genre shows as Ghost Whisperer, Legion, Threshold and Charmed.
- Born July 27 – Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, 48. Jaime Lannister in Game Of Thrones and Game of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms; as the lead in the short lived New Amsterdam series which is not based on the series by the same name by Elizabeth Bear; also genre roles in the Oblivion and My Name Is Modesty: A Modesty Blaise Adventure films.
- Born July 27 – Bryan Fuller, 49. Let’s see…There’s credits as either Executive Producer, Producer or Writer for Voyager and DS9, American Gods, Mockingbird Lane, the last being a reboot of The Munsters, Pushing Daisies, a Carrie reboot, Heroes and Dead Like Me. And adaptor of a quirky Mike Mignola graphic novel entitled The Amazing Screw-On Head.
- July 27 – Cliff Curtis, 50. Avatar film franchise now numbered at six at least, plus the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys series, Mysterious Island series that was very loosely based on the Jules Verne work, 10,000 BC, The Last Airbender and the Fear the Walking Dead series.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Always funny in a quiet way, this time Tom Gauld nails the future commute.
(9) MARTHA WELLS INTERVIEW. Amazing Stories scored an “Interview with Martha Wells, author of The Murderbot Diaries”. conducted by Veronica Scott.
Veronica for Amazing Stories: What were your major influences when writing the series?
Martha: Even though most of my work up to this point has been fantasy, I’ve always really loved reading SF too, particularly far-future space opera. One recent influence was Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice trilogy, which I think has been a big influence on stories and books about AI in the last few years.
Another influence was the SF I read while I was growing up in the 70s and 80s. Like Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover and Don’t Bite the Sun, and John Varley’s early stories. Also, though their books didn’t usually deal with AI or robots, the SF of Phyllis Gotlieb, like A Judgement of Dragons, about far future aliens coping with human technology, and F.M. Busby’s SF series with Zelde M’tanna and Rissa Kerguelen, which are about a massive rebellion against an oppressive corporate-controlled oligarchy that has taken over Earth and its colony planets and enslaved most of the population.
I’d also read/seen a lot of stories with AI who want to become human, like Data in ‘Star Trek: Next Generation’. I wanted to write about an AI that wasn’t interested in becoming human at all, and who wasn’t particularly interested in revenge against humans, either. An AI that just wanted to be left alone.
(10) HUGO AWARD BOOK CLUB. According to Olav Rokne, “After a fair amount of debate and argument, it seems Edmonton’s Hugo Award Book Club came to an impasse about which book they preferred for the Hugo this year. As a result, they’ve published two competing blog posts, one arguing that New York 2140 deserves to win, the other in favour of The Stone Sky.”
The Stone Sky is presented as “the most artful” of the shortlisted works: “The Stone Sky is the most artful book, and that’s why it deserves to win”
… the most ambitious of this year’s Hugo shortlisted novels, succeeds admirably. As such, it is the work that deserves to be recognized with the award….
While New York 2140 is argued as the most relevant book to today: “New York 2140 is the book that people need to read, and that is why it deserves to win”.
… not only the most worthy work on this year’s Hugo shortlist, but possibly the most important novel published last year: It forces us to ponder questions that humanity will have to — and is starting to — grapple with…
Says Rokne, “It might be noted that these are not entirely contradictory opinions …”
(11) WHO’S IN EPISODE IX? It’s official: “Star Wars: Episode IX Cast Announced”. Also, J.J. Abrams will direct, and John Williams will score.
Star Wars: Episode IX will begin filming at London’s Pinewood Studios on August 1, 2018….
Returning cast members include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd. Joining the cast of Episode IX are Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, and Keri Russell, who will be joined by veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian.
The role of Leia Organa will once again be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” says Abrams. “Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast, or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie, we have found a way to honor Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”
(12) THIEVES LIKE THEM. Gobsmacked or outraged, YOU decide!
(13) TEEN TITANS REVIEW. NPR’s Glen Weldon on “‘Teen Titans GO! To The Movies’: Joke! Gag! DC Films Aren’t Just For Mopes Anymore!”
Call it the Anti-Snyder Cut.
Let’s be clear: One silly animated film aimed squarely at kids won’t be enough to admit light and joy into the dour, dolorous and dun-colored DC Cinematic Universe.
(We’re not supposed to call it that anymore, by the way. The company announced last weekend at San Diego Comic-Con that we are to refer to it exclusively as [checks notes] the “Worlds of DC.”)
(You know: Like it’s a theme park.)
(Where it always rains.)
(And if you want to ride the rides, one or both of your parents must be named Martha, and they must be at least this dead.)
The animated film in question, Teen Titans GO! To The Movies, is, well … worlds apart from the bleak portentousness of Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad and Justice League. It’s smaller in scope and brighter in tone. Also, it’s simply a feature-length version of a popular Cartoon Network series, albeit one boasting a bigger line-item for name voice-talent.
(14) CRUISE MISSION. NPR’s Chris Klimek says: “Spectacular Real-World Stunts Make Mission: Impossible – Fallout A Blast”.
In the opening moments of the 2.5-hour Mission: Impossible — Fallout, producer/stuntman/star Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt shares a tender moment with Julia Meade-Hunt (Michelle Monaghan), the woman for whom he tried to retire from the impossible mission business 12 years and three movies ago, and who’s rated only a silent cameo since. Our Man Hunt’s reverie is swiftly ended with the arrival of yet another soon-to-self-destruct assignment. This one comes in a hollowed-out book concealing an antique reel-to-reel tape recorder.
With those two elements, the the most enrapturing plainclothes action flick since the previous Mission: Impossible three years ago is calling its shot. They promise that Fallout shall 1) attend to the continuity of the six-film series in a way its predecessors seldom have, and 2) honor the longstanding Mission tradition of achieving its stunts and giving us our kicks the hard way. The analog way. The more dangerous and exponentially more exciting way.
(15) A DIFFERENT BREED OF KILLER SHARK. The BBC discovered “Sean Connery co-wrote a Bond film that was never made”.
James Bond has done some memorable things in his time, from dodging laser blasts on a space station to driving an invisible car across a glacier. One thing he hasn’t done, however, is deactivate a robot shark which is carrying an atom bomb through a Manhattan sewer. But he very nearly did. In 1976, a Bond screenplay revolved around a shoal of remote-controlled, nuclear-weaponised robo-sharks. Its title was Warhead. And one of its three screenwriters was none other than the original big-screen 007, Sean Connery.
(16) EARL GREY’S BICENTENNIAL MOMENT. James Artimus Owen admits everything about how he got his friends to believe they were drinking 200-year-old tea out of Boston harbor.
A confession: once while in Boston, I convinced some friends that SO MUCH tea had been dumped into the harbor during the infamous Tea Party that in certain places, at certain times of the year, you could scoop up water in a cup and it would taste like tea….
(17) POOH. Ads and featurettes from Disney promoting Christopher Robin.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Eric Franklin, Lise Andreasen, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]