Pixel Scroll 1/29/16 Purple Pixel Eater

(1) IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK. CBC reports a Twitter uproar ensued after a Marvel exec made a big contribution during the broadcast of a Trump charity event.

‘Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced at a fundraiser Thursday night that Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter would donate $1 million US to his charitable foundation, and comic book fans took to Twitter in reaction.’

Taral, who knows how fans think, says, “I can imagine a lot of Marvel readers and viewers being horrified and contemplating a boycott for almost 3/10s of a second before lining up to see Antman for the fourth time.”

(2) A DIFFERENT GIVING OPPORTUNITY. George Takei is the draw in a new Omaze donation drive — “Charity Share: Inspire Change Broadway”

Oh myyy! Social media aficionado and former helmsman of the Starship Enterprise, George Takei is offering one lucky Omaze winner the opportunity to “Takei over NYC” with him. Just $10 gets you the chance to have a private dinner with George, sit VIP at his Broadway musical Allegiance, and go inside the stage door to meet the cast! And it all supports Inspire Change Broadway.

Launched in 2009, Inspire Change Broadway provides communities across the tri-state area with subsidized tickets and round-trip transportation to Broadway productions….

…Thanks to donors from around the world and Inspire Change Broadway, 10,000 students who may have been unable to afford tickets got to experience the Tony Award-winning musical Memphis.

Now the foundation hopes to do the same for Allegiance, which is set during the period of Japanese-American internment in World War II and inspired by events from George Takei’s own childhood experience. Learn more here! 

(3) ANIMATED JUSTICE LEAGUE. DC’s Justice League will return to the Cartoon Network in 2017, with fan favorites providing some of the voices.

Well, DC’s top superteam is returning to TV in the upcoming Justice League Action. The new series will star DC’s classic triad of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman along with rotating guest stars and its episodes will be 11 minutes long, similar to Teen Titans GO! Speaking of which, Justice League Action will be executive produced by Sam Register, who also producers Teen Titans GO!

…it’s set to feature the return of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. Conroy and Hamill put their indelible stamps on Batman and The Joker in the original Batman: The Animated Series, but they’ve been phased out in recent years…. Both of them returning is a real treat for longtime fans of Warner Bros. Animation’s superhero cartoons. The show will also feature James Woods as Lex Luthor.

(4) THIS JOB AIN’T THAT EFFIN’ EASY! Fansided’s Leah Tedesco, who writes for Doctor Who Watch, tells what it’s like to face the forbidding temporal desert of a show’s hiatus in “Doctor Who: On Writing for a Fan Site”.

When you write for a fan site of a television program, the off season can be a particularly tricky period. Oh, there is a trickle of news, but the big stories are few and far between. Until Doctor Who returns with the 2016 Christmas special, we at Doctor Who Watch have been tasked with the challenging endeavor of continuing to generate at least the minimum number of articles each month for almost an entire new-episodeless year. I imagine that madness will soon ensue… well, more madness than is already involved.

(5) CAREER COUNSELING. At Black Gate, Violette Malan’s “You May Be A Writer” begins with a humorous hook —

Do you enjoy planning? When you want to give a party, do you start making lists? Thinking about the menu? Who to invite? When there’s a trip coming up, are there lists? Are you usually the first one packed? Or have you at least given considerable thought to your packing?

Is organizing an event almost more fun than the event itself? Then you may be a writer.

Do you think planning’s for squares? Do you decide at 6:00 pm to have a party and let people know via Twitter? Are you rushing through the airport at the last minute with your passport in one hand and a pair of (mismatched) socks in the other?

Are you all about the spontaneity? Seizing the moment? Then you may be a writer.

Of course, what I’m talking about here is process: every writer has one, and it’s likely to be different from yours, or mine.

(6) EXPANSEAPALOOZA. “’The Expanse’ Authors Talk Space Epic Size and Crazy Sci-Fi Tech” at Space.com.

Space.com: What’s the coolest technology you have developed for the series?

Franck: In the book series, when we were coming up with the visuals for the ships and stuff, I was talking to a guy I know who works out of Los Alamos Labs. I was talking to him about the fact that the primary weapon on our ships is railguns — those big, electromagnetically fired weapons. And he said you can extend the length of a railgun barrel [by blowing] this plasma out, and you run electricity through the plasma.

“Turning a Sci-Fi Series into a TV Epic: Q&A with ‘The Expanse’ Authors”, from Space.com.

Space.com: I’ve read that the initial concept for the books was actually a video game. Is that right?

Ty Franck: The fleshed-out version of the idea started out as that. I’d had the idea before that, but when a friend of mine asked me to help her come up with a pitch for a video game is when I really sat down and put more flesh on the bones of this idea that I had. It existed before that, but it was sort of nebulous. The video game thing is what really kind of solidified it.

But as soon as they realized how expensive making an MMO [massively multiplayer online game] was, they sort of backed away quietly.

Space.com: What happened to the story next?

Franck: It went from a video game to a pen-and-paper RPG [role-playing game] setting because I wanted to keep playing around with it. And then Daniel did the rest.

Daniel Abraham: I was in Ty’s tabletop game, and I saw the amount of work that he’d done with the background and world building. And I’d written probably six or seven novels at that point, so my pitch was, “Look, you’ve already done all the hard work; let’s just write it down, and it’ll be a book.”

(7) RAFTERY OBIT. SF Site News reports British filker Joe Raftery died January 29.

Raftery debuted his first filk song at the 1979 Worldcon in Brighton before gafiating until 2000, when he attended FilkContinental. Following his reintroduction to fandom, Raftery became a regular at filk meet ups and was nominated for the Pegasus Award in 2007 for his role in the n’Early Music Consort.

Farah Mendelsohn credited his behind the scenes design work on Loncon3’s Exhibit Hall with enhancing accessibility:

If our accessibility was so good, it’s because Joe designed the corridors, the seating areas, the shapes of booths and the spaces between boards. We couldn’t have managed the intricacies of the exhibits without him.

He is survived by his wife Gwen Knighton Rafter and his children Anna Raftery and Emily January.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 29, 1845 — Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven was published.

(9) SPEAKER TO GENIUSES. Today Mad Genius Club featured “Hugo History – A Guest Post by Ben Yalow”. It’s fascinating to watch an accomplished fanpolitician at work, but — Why is Yalow working the Mad Genius Club? And he makes an interesting choice to discuss Hugo history as something “we” did — will MGC regulars feel included or excluded? Consider the way Yalow phrased the rules changes that produced the semiprozine category.

When it became clear that, during the late 70s, we had three fanzines whose circulation was many thousands, while most fanzines were having circulations in the low hundreds (when you’re printing and mailing physical fanzines, and generally they were available for free, there were real limits on circulation, depending on people’s budgets), we split out semiprozines, just to get them out of the fanzine category. And we tweaked the rules somewhat, so that there were more contenders than just the three that we moved out of fanzine; if it were only that, then semiprozine wouldn’t be a viable category. We were starting to see the beginnings of small run fiction magazines, and serious academic small circulation magazines, and the semiprozine rules put those into the new category, so it was a category offering reasonable choices.

(10) HAD ME GOING. It turns out Sigrid Ellis’ “Best Brussel Sprouts” post is a recipe, not an idea for a new Hugo category.

Okay, these are not the BEST Brussel sprouts. I am pretty sure the BEST ones are cooked with bacon. But these are pretty good.

(11) MORE RECOMMENDATIONS. Nerds of a Feather continues its recommendations in “2016 Hugo Longlist, Part 4: Nonfiction and Institutional Categories”.

This time we are looking at what are, for lack of a better term, the “nonfiction and institutional categories”: Best Related Work, Best Semiprozine, Best Fanzine and Best Fancast. Now, those who follow this blog know how cranky I can get on the subject of certain categories and their bizarre eligibility guidelines–and we’ve got two of them today (Best Semiprozine and Best Fancast). Nevertheless, I will do my best to stay calm and stick to the rules, frustrating as they can be. I reserve the right, will, however, get a little snarky and passive-aggressive in the process.

(12) ANOTHER ELIGIBILITY POST ADVOCATE. Abigail Nussbaum has a few thoughts about the opening of the 2016 Hugo nominations.

The announcement that Hugo nominations are open (as well as the nominating periods for several other awards, such as the BSFA and the Nebula) is usually accompanied by authors putting up “award eligibility posts,” followed by a discussion of whether this is a good thing or whether it makes the entire process into a PR effort.  I’ve already said my piece on this subject, so at the present I’ll just repeat what feels to me like the most important point from that essay, which is that my problem with award eligibility posts is less that they’re crass and commercialized, and more that for their stated purpose, they are utterly useless.  I don’t want to trawl through an author’s blog history to find the list of works they published last year.  What I want is a bibliography–easily found, up-to-date, and ideally sorted by publication date and containing links to works that are available online or for purchase as ebooks.  If you haven’t got one of those on your website, I have to question how seriously you want my vote.

(13) THAT MAKES EVERYTHING OKAY. Antonelli reminds himself (and the internet) that John Clute said nice things about his writing.

After spending most of 2015 – the period from April 4 until August 22 – being told I was an worthless hack writer and overall loser by the s-f literary establishment because I was a Sad Puppy nominee for the Hugo awards, I sometimes go and read my entry in the Science Fiction Encyclopedia by John Clute to remind myself I sometimes rise to the level of occasional competency:…

(14) MASSIVE MULTI-LAWYER ROLEPLAYING. Motherboard explains how “Sony’s Greedy Attempt to Trademark ‘Let’s Play’ Was Shot Down”.

Gaming is a hugely popular category for video content on the internet. It’s why Amazon acquired the video game streaming platform Twitch for $1 billion, and why the most famous creator of “Let’s Play” videos Pewdiepie has the most popular channel on YouTube with 41 million subscribers. Basically, if Sony managed to register this “Let’s Play” trademark, the company would be in a good position to sue any YouTuber or Twitch streamer who used the term to promote their videos, even though the term has been commonly used in the gaming community for roughly a decade.

The USPTO said it would likely reject Sony’s application in its initial form, but gave Sony six months to address its concerns, namely that Sony’s application is too similar to an existing trademark called “LP Let’z Play.”

(15) SAVORY TWEETS. The connoisseurs at Fantasy Faction bring you “The Top 15 Tweets & Top 7 Blog Posts of Robert Jackson Bennett”.

The Twitter-feed of Robert Jackson Bennett is a wondrous, but dangerous place to spend time. If you follow Robert in addition to another 1000 or so people, the normality and reason of the masses will likely dilute the strangeness and zaniness of Robert’s feed to the extent there will be no lasting damage or changes in personality from what you consume. If you spend time looking through Robert’s Tweets on a Tweet-by-Tweet basis though, as I was asked to do by Jo Fletcher Books for this feature, there may be some lasting damage…

Here is their comment about Bennett’s 2009 blog post “Finished.”

Link: http://robertjacksonbennett.com/blog/finished

I love this blog post because, as someone who writes, it is a reminder that not everything you write is publishable or even good; in fact, ‘80% of your output will be unacceptable shit, even if you polish it.’ I’ve spoken before about my thoughts that too many novelists of 2016 are too quick to use Amazon direct publishing as an alternative to admitting their work isn’t ready to be published and that they need more practice. Robert’s ability to take the good and learn from it combined with a willingness to ‘toss the rest and start all over again’ is undoubtedly the reason his books have gotten better and better.

It’s interesting to note the book The Long Wake of which Robert says ‘I like it. I really like it a lot.’ has not been published yet (i.e. it became another, unexpected, learning experience). You can read about that here and here.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Andrew Porter and Steven H Silver for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Loncon 3’s Hugo MC Withdraws

I live in the Pacific time zone so I slept through most of his reign, but British TV celebrity Jonathan Ross was Loncon 3’s Hugo Awards Master of Ceremonies for about 7 hours today.

He’s not anymore.

After he was publicly announced one of Loncon 3’s division heads resigned, the internet caught on fire, and Ross abruptly withdrew as host.

Just another day in the Hugo/smof/gender/SFWA continuum.

One of the UK’s biggest names, Ross has 3.6 million Twitter followers and until 2010 was the highest paid television personality in Britain, raking in £6 million per year.

He also has a long record of controversy for his on-air shots at women, including Heather Mills and Gwyneth Paltrow. His phone prank on actor Andrew Sachs, featuring tasteless comments about Sachs’ grand-daughter, led to a 12-week suspension by the BBC.

Ross’ connection to the sf genre? He’s been a comics writer and video game developer. Loncon 3’s press release called him “a champion of science fiction and fantasy in all its forms throughout his career, and is one of the genre’s most vocal enthusiasts.” Ross is married to Hugo winner Jane Goldman, co-author of the screenplay for 2008 Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) award recipient Stardust.

How Loncon 3 co-chairs Steve Cooper and Alice Lawson linked up with Ross wasn’t explained in the press release. Nearly all past Worldcon toastmasters and Hugo MCs have been drawn from the ranks of pro writers with a history of attending Worldcons. On the other hand, Seth MacFarlane and David Letterman have never offered to MC an American Worldcon — fans on this side of the Atlantic might prove just as susceptible to shiny things.

Loncon 3 Exhibits Division head Farah Mendlesohn wrote on her LiveJournal  (in a post since taken private) that she spent all week arguing with co-chairs Steven Cooper and Alice Lawson against Ross’ selection because of his “public abuse of women.” The chairs made it clear this was not something for the committee to decide. Therefore on February 28 she resigned as division head so she could continue to criticize the decision. (For complex reasons she still intends to work as Project Manager for the Exhibit Hall.)

In her resignation, Mendlesohn pointed to Loncon 3’s own anti-harassment policy, saying “It is my firm belief that a person who has publicly harassed, humiliated and expressed prejudice to a wide range of groups in public and live media spaces, including award shows, is not a fit person to take the role of host of the Hugo Awards.”

I’m disappointed that the chairs apparently tried to marginalize instead of acting on Mendlesohn’s criticism. I happen to agree with her. Even a Worldcon chair hypnotized by the idea of putting a shiny international celebrity onstage to host the Hugo ceremony ought to have enough of a survival instinct to understand that when anyone as respected as Mendlesohn says you’re about to step on a landmine – that the division in the sf community will cost a lot more than whatever benefit there is in the celebrity MC.

Seanan McGuire responded to Ross’ selection by loosing a volley of enraged tweets (promptly Storified by that master of disaster, Jim C. Hines) — disbelieving her offer to MC had been turned down in favor of an outsider with his history, and riding an emotional roller-coaster because she could easily visualize Ross cracking fat jokes if she went up to accept another Hugo.

Unlike McGuire I’m at no risk of winning in 2014, but I’d be sensitive to that idea myself.

Charles Stross’ less personalized reason for rejecting Jonathan Ross was that – however he acquired it — Ross has a lot of baggage and would attract the wrong kind of coverage to the Worldcon.

The problem I see is that while fandom is in the process of cleaning house, inviting him — or anyone with a controversial media profile — to be Hugo toastmaster is like rolling out a welcome mat at the Worldcon front door that says “muck-rakers welcome”. There’s a lot of muck to be raked, even before we get into Daily Mail photographers stalking cosplayers: just look at the recent SFWA fracas (plural), the Jim Frenkel/harassment scandal at Tor, and so on.

Worldcon should be safe space for fans, and inviting a high profile media personality who has been targeted by the tabloids is going to cause collateral damage, even if nothing happens, simply by making many fans feel less safe.

So the position of 2014 Hugo Ceremony MC is vacant for the time being. Before Ross withdrew I considered there to be one silver lining in his selection – it meant I wouldn’t have to watch Paul Cornell again. Now that Loncon 3 needs a replacement we may be in for another round of Russian Roulette where he’s concerned.

[Loncon 3’s original press release follows the jump.]

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Mendlesohn Previews Her Heinlein Book

Farah Mendlesohn has posted the Foreword to her book about Robert A. Heinlein, part of the Illinois University Press’ “Modern Masters of Science Fiction” series. It’s scheduled for publication in 2016.

Over a period of twenty years, Heinlein’s attitudes had shifted noticeably. Were one to include the previous twenty years, the word would be dramatically. This was not always (from my feminist point of view) a good shift, but it was there, and I was fascinated. Here was a person sometimes ahead of his time, sometimes crosswise, and towards the end frankly in retrenchment. As a historian how could I not be entranced?

[Via Michael J. Walsh who knows all, sees all and, fortunately for news editors, tells all.]

Ken MacLeod’s New Gig

Ken MacLeod

Ken McLeod has been appointed Writer in Residence at Edinburgh Napier University.

A three-time winner of the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus Award, the British sf writer has thirteen published novels that range from hard sf space operas like The Star Fraction (1995) to his dystopian novel, Intrusion (2012).

MacLeod’s work also has attracted scholarly attention in works like The Science Fiction Foundation’s The True Knowledge Of Ken MacLeod, edited by Andrew M. Butler and Farah Mendlesohn.

Former literary agent Sam Kelly – who runs the MA course alongside acclaimed screenwriter and author David Bishop – said MacLeod’s appointment was a “perfect fit.”

The course embraces genre writing, especially science fiction, fantasy, horror and crime writing – and was the first in Britain to offer a specialist module in writing for graphic fiction.

“Ken has tackled many of the biggest ethical and political dilemmas of our age, through artistically ambitious speculative fiction,” she said. “His work closely reflects our commitment to intellectual radicalism and genre writing. The role of the writer-in-residence is to challenge and inspire the teachers as well as the students and it’s a great privilege to be able to house our chosen influences on campus.”

Edinburgh Napier created the year-long writer in residence role in 2010. MacLeod will spend an average of two days a week at the university mentoring students.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Something Else to Vote For

NPR has winnowed thousands of suggestions for the best SF and fantasy ever written and posted a list of finalists for everyone to vote on. Participants get to vote for their top 10 favorites.

The balance of old classics and popular recent works is appropriate to one of these summertime radio countdowns, the kind where The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” ends up losing to the Number One Hit of three weeks ago. Will N. K. Jemison’s Inheritance Trilogy similarly run ahead of The Lensman Series and The Martian Chronicles?

There are lots of entries by other women, too — Lois McMaster Bujold, Ellen Kushner, Ursula K. LeGuin, Joanna Russ, Sheri S. Tepper, and Connie Willis to begin with. Margaret Atwood has books on the list because it’s the readers, not the writers, getting the final say about what is genre fiction. Surprisingly, J.K. Rowling is not a finalist — if that is explained someplace, I didn’t see it, although in the comments several people said the reason is that all YA books were excluded. 

As for me, I’ll be happily clicking on Simak’s Way Station, Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, The Vorkosigan Saga, Doomsday Book and other favorites from a lifetime reading sf.

NPR had help from an expert panel of John Clute, Farah Mendelsohn and Gary K. Wolfe. Going by the not-exactly-infallible litmus test of whether everything I want to vote for is on the list I’d say they did a fine job.

[Thanks to Michael Walsh for the link.]