Pixel Scroll 8/27/20 Don’t Pixel Me, ’Cause I’m Scrolled To The Edge, I’m Trying Not To Get Outraged

(1) PAPERS PLEASE? Here in the future, an unpredictable surge in demand for books on paper has run afoul of a world-threatening pandemic: “Printer Jam: Serious Supply Issues Disrupt the Book Industry’s Fall Season” reports the New York Times.

This spring, when the pandemic forced bookstores across the country to close and authors to cancel their tours, many editors and publishers made a gamble. They postponed the publication of dozens of titles, betting that things would be back to normal by the fall.

Now, with September approaching, things are far from normal. Books that were bumped from spring and early summer are landing all at once, colliding with long-planned fall releases and making this one of the most crowded fall publishing seasons ever. And now publishers are confronting a new hurdle: how to print all those books.

The two largest printing companies in the United States, Quad and LSC Communications, have been under intense financial strain, a situation that has grown worse during the pandemic. LSC declared bankruptcy in April, and the company’s sales fell nearly 40 percent in the fiscal quarter that ended June 30, a drop that the company attributed partly to the closure of retailers during the pandemic and the steep fall of educational book sales. In September, LSC’s assets will be put up for auction. Quad’s printing business is also up for sale; this spring, the company had to temporarily shut down its printers at three plants due to the pandemic.

At the same time, there has been a surprising spike in sales for print books, a development that would normally be cause for celebration, but is now forcing publishers to scramble to meet surging demand. Unit sales of print books are up more than 5 percent over last year, and sales have accelerated over the summer. From early June to mid-August, print sales were up more than 12 percent over the previous 10 weeks, according to NPD BookScan. The surge has been driven by several new blockbuster titles, including books by Suzanne Collins, Stephenie Meyer, John Bolton and Mary Trump. Publishers have also seen an unexpected demand for older titles, particularly books about race and racism, children’s educational workbooks and fiction.

“The infinite printer capacity hasn’t been there for a while, now enter Covid and a huge surge in demand, and you have an even more complex situation,” said Sue Malone-Barber, senior vice president and director of Publishing Operations for Penguin Random House, which is delaying titles at several of its imprints as a result of the crunch.

(2) DIAL M. A trailer dropped for Come Play, a horror movie about creatures that live inside a cellphone.

Newcomer Azhy Robertson stars as Oliver, a lonely young boy who feels different from everyone else. Desperate for a friend, he seeks solace and refuge in his ever-present cell phone and tablet. When a mysterious creature uses Oliver’s devices against him to break into our world, Oliver’s parents (Gillian Jacobs and John Gallagher Jr.) must fight to save their son from the monster beyond the screen. The film is produced by The Picture Company for Amblin Partners.

(3) HUGO RULES PROPOSAL. Jay Blanc tweeted a link to their first draft of a proposed amendment to the WSFS Constitution that would provide a standing Advisory Committee for the Hugo Awards. See the text at Google Docs. Blanc’s commentary justifies the need for a new committee:

Commentary:

The intent of this amendment is to correct a point of failure in the current way the Hugo Awards are administered, a flawed institutional memory and a lack of any consistent infrastructure.

The innate problems of “reinventing the wheel” when it comes to infrastructure became obvious when the 2020 Hugo Awards online-ballot process failed to be ready for use for the ballot deadline. When it did become ready to use, after the ballot deadline was pushed back, it was discovered that it did not correctly register votes for some users. 

There had been a pre-existing online ballot system, used by Helsinki and Dublin, this system was robust and had an open development process. However it is unclear why this system was not used, or if it was why it was heavily modified and those modifications kept private and unreviewed. This is a clear failure of infrastructure that can be fixed by having standing advice on applying online balloting systems.

Further, there appears to have been some issue with confusion over information provided to Hugo Award finalists, and a lack of clear communication lines and recording of any complaints raised.

While the unique localised structure of the Worldcon is overall beneficial, these problems can only be addressed by having some form of standing committee. This amendment does not mandate this committee as replacement for the Worldcon Committee’s handling of the Hugo Awards, but does establish a weight of advice and infrastructure. I would expect Worldcon Committees to opt-in to accepting this advice and infrastructure, rather than continue to reinvent the wheel. But this amendment leaves it open to any individual Worldcon to choose to go it’s own way in the administration of the Hugo Awards if it decides that is correct….

(4) OPTIONS. “‘No aspect of writing makes you rich’ – why do authors get a pittance for film rights?” The Guardian tries to answer the question.

…Stephen King requests only a token amount from anyone optioning one of his novels; the “option” reserves a book for a limited time, usually a year, with the big bucks coming if and when that option is exercised. “I want a dollar,” King said in 2016, “and I want approvals over the screenwriter, the director and the principal cast.” That’s a snip until you realise that the back end is where he makes his real movie money: he got an eight-figure cheque from the recent adaptation of It.

More common are those tales of writers whose work takes an interminable time to reach the screen – Caren Lissner, for instance, whose book Carrie Pilby was optioned on several occasions between publication in 2003 and the film’s production in 2016 – or those that never get greenlit at all.

How realistic is it for writers to get rich from selling adaptation rights? “It’s just not,” says Joanna Nadin, whose YA novel Joe All Alone was adapted into a Bafta-winning 2018 television series. “It’s unrealistic to think any aspect of writing can make you rich.” Nadin confesses that she gets dollar signs in her eyes when she learns that a book of hers has been optioned. “For about 10 minutes, I revamp my Oscar acceptance speech, choose my mansion and dine out on imaginary caviar. Then I try not to think about it, knowing that, if anything happens, it won’t be for many years.”

(5) SCRIBE OF MARADAINE. The Austin Chronicle’s Wayne Alan Brennervisits “The Many Worlds of Author Marshall Ryan Maresca”.

Marshall Ryan Maresca’s debut novel, The Thorn of Dentonhill, came out from DAW Books in February of 2015. Five years later – now, in 2020, smack in the midst of a global pandemic – Maresca is publishing four different series of novels with DAW, each series already three books in, each one set in his originally devised city of Maradaine. And there are many more books on the way.

Even those of us who write almost creatively, day-in, day-out, to meet the relentless deadlines of journalism are like, “Maresca, how the hell? How do you write so much so quickly? And how do you sell novel after novel after novel when other writers we know can’t even seem to land a publisher?”

…”When I started this particular project,” says Maresca over a cup of java and safely distanced at a picnic table outside Thunderbird Coffee on Manor, “I’d already had the world stuff built out, but it wasn’t quite working for me. I thought that, since I’d done all the world-building, I needed to show all of it to the reader at once. Which was a terrible idea, and it didn’t work. But when I was working on that book – which is now sitting in a drawer and will never see the light of day – I had this sort of wild idea, that drew in part from inspiration from comic books.”

Note: Maresca’s favorites among comics are West Coast Avengers, Chris Claremont’s classic run of X-Men, and Mark Gruenwald’s many-charactered D.P.7 – all adding, he tells us, to the authorial influence of such unillustrated story cycles as Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s Green Sky trilogy and David Eddings’ Belgariad. But, the wild idea?

“I thought, instead of trying to show everything,” says Maresca, “why don’t I just show one city, different aspects of that? And from there, I could tell different kinds of stories and have them be somewhat interconnected. And so, somewhere in my file cabinets, there’s a handwritten piece of paper, where I’ve written four story tracks: one vigilante-by-night, one old-time warrior, one two-brothers-heists, one two-cops-solve-murders. And that was the origin of everything. And so I slowly built up my outlines of what all these were – and part of that also came from just the way the publishing industry is. I wrote Thorn of Dentonhill first, and then, while I was shopping for agents, I was also like, well, I should just keep writing. But it’d be silly to write a book two of this series without knowing if I sold book one. So I wrote a different book one – the first book of a different series. And then, as I was looking for someone to buy Thorn, I got that second book one done. And I was like, okay, now that I have an agent interested, I’m gonna write another book one. So that, by the time my agent Mike Kabongo was shopping things around, and the editor at DAW was interested, I had the first book of each of the four series already done.”

 (6) ILLUSTRATING KINDRED. Artist James E. Ransome is interviewed by Aaron Robertson for LitHub in “An Illustrator Brings Realism into Octavia Butler’s Speculative Fiction”.

The Folio Society recently published a special edition of Octavia Butler’s 1979 novel Kindred, a time-travel narrative set between modern-day Los Angeles and a pre-Civil War US. I interviewed the book’s illustrator, James E. Ransome, about what it took to depict scenes of slavery, Ransome’s artistic influences, his dream projects, and more….

AR: Had you read the Damian Duffy/John Jennings graphic novel of Kindred before working on this?

JR: I hadn’t read it beforehand, but I came across it at a bookfair in the middle of working on this project. I was impressed. It was good to see a graphic novel with an illustration for every scene, and as a creator I enjoyed getting another take on the material.

AR: How did you decide which scenes to showcase?

JR: The Folio Society’s art director, Sheri Gee and I discussed it in a series of conversations. We were looking for dramatic scenes that would be interesting to capture. Things that were more dynamic than, say, two people sitting at a table talking. The very beginning scene, with the boy drowning, was a natural choice. Butler’s chapter titles—“The River,” “The Fire,” etc.—were also helpful leads.

(7) RUH-ROH. Scooby-Doo’s co-creator and former children’s TV mogul Joe Ruby passed away August 26. The Hollywood Reporter has the story: “Joe Ruby, Co-Creator of Scooby-Doo, Dies at 87”.

Ruby met Ken Spears when both were sound editors and then staff writers at the cartoon powerhouse Hanna-Barbera, and they created the supernatural kids show Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, which centered around a talking Great Dane and bowed on CBS in September 1969. All but four of the first 25 episodes were written and story-edited by them.

In the early 1970s, then-CBS president of children’s programming Fred Silverman hired Ruby and Spears to supervise the network’s Saturday morning cartoon lineup, and they followed the executive to ABC for similar duties in 1975. (Scooby-Doo joined that network’s lineup as well.)

Two years later, ABC set up Ruby-Spears Productions as a subsidiary of Filmways, and the company launched Saturday morning animated series around such characters as Fangface, Plastic Man, Mister T and Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Ruby-Spears was acquired by Hanna-Barbera parent Taft Entertainment in 1981.

…In the 1980s, legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby was hired by Ruby to bring his vision to Ruby-Spears Productions. As a result, the Ruby family owns the rights to hundreds of original Kirby-designed characters and more than two dozen projects developed by Ruby. The intellectual property rights to those characters, artwork and projects are now being offered for sale.

(8) BOOK ANNIVERSARY.

  • In August sixteen years ago, Catherynne M. Valente published her first novel, The Labyrinth. Described by the publisher as “a journey through a conscious maze without center, borders, or escape–a dark pilgrim’s progress through a landscape of vicious Angels, plague houses, crocodile-prophets, tragic chess-sets, and and the mind of an unraveling woman”, it was published by Prime Books with an introductory essay by Jeff VanderMeer. It is not currently in-print. (CE)

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 27, 1922 – Frank Kelly Freas.  Three hundred covers, over a thousand interiors (I think; I lost count twice) for us; five hundred saints for the Franciscan Order; MAD magazine 1957-1964 with Alfred E. Neuman front, advertising-parody back covers; airplanes while serving in the U.S. Air Force; Skylab; comics; gaming.  Interviewed in GalileoInterzone, LighthouseLocus, PerigeeSF ReviewShadowsSolarisThrust.  Eleven Hugos; three Chesleys (with wife Laura).  LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) Forry Award (service to SF); Skylark; Inkpot; Phoenix; Frank Paul Award.  Writers & Illustrators of the Future Lifetime Achievement Award.  Fellow, Int’l Ass’n Astronomical Artists.  SF Hall of Fame.  Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 10, 14, 26; Boskone 10, Lunacon 34, Balticon 31, Loscon 27; Chicon IV (40th Wordcon), Torcon 3 (61st Worldcon; could not attend).  Eight artbooks e.g. A Separate StarAs He Sees It.  This famous image was adopted by the Judith Merril Collection in Toronto.  This famous image was adapted by the band Queen for its album News of the World.  Here is John Cross in Slan. (Died 2005) [JH]
  • Born August 27, 1929 Ira Levin. Author of Rosemary’s BabyThe Stepford Wives and The Boys from Brazil. All of which became films with The Stepford Wives being made twice as well as having three of the television sequels. I’ve seen the first Stepford Wives film but not the latter version. Rosemary’s Baby would also be made into a two-part, four hour miniseries. (Died 2007.) (CE) 
  • Born August 27, 1942 – Robert Lichtman, 78.  Leading fanwriter, faneditor.  Fourteen FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) awards, as a correspondent and for his fanzine Trap Door.  TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate.  Secretary-Treasurer of FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Ass’n, our oldest and highest-regarded apa, founded 1937) since 1986.  Edited Ah! Sweet Laney! (F.T. Laney collection; named for FTL’s I’m-leaving-goodbye zine Ah! Sweet Idiocy!), Some of the Best from “Quandry” (Lee Hoffman collection; her zine Quandry so spelled), Fanorama (Walt Willis collection; his columns in Nebula); co-edited last issue of Terry Carr’s fanzine Innuendo.  Fan Guest of Honor, Westercon 55.  [JH]
  • Born August 27, 1945 Edward Bryant. His only novel was Phoenix Without Ashes which was co-authored with Harlan Ellison and was an adaptation of Ellison’s pilot script for The Starlost. The only short stories of his that I’m familiar with are the ones in the Wild Cards anthologies. Phoenix Without Ashes and all of his short stories are available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 2017.) (CE)
  • Born August 27, 1947 Barbara Bach, Lady Starkey, 73. She’s best known for her role as the Bond girl Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me.  (A Roger Moore Bond, not one of my favored Bonds.) One of her other genre appearances is in Caveman which her husband Ringo Starr is also in. It’s where they first hooked up. (CE) 
  • Born August 27, 1952 – Darrell Schweitzer, 68.  Three novels; two hundred fifty shorter stories, as many poems; anthologist, bookseller, correspondent, editor, essayist, historian, interviewer, reviewer.  “Books” in Aboriginal, “The Vivisector” in SF Review, “Words & Pictures” (motion-picture reviews) in Thrust and Quantum.  Editor, Weird Tales 1987-2007 (sometimes with J. Betancourt 1963-  , G. Scithers 1929-2010).  If sandwich man were still a current expression one could pun that DS often serves dark and horror on wry.  A few essay titles: “Naked Realism versus the Magical Bunny Rabbit”, “Prithee, Sirrah, What Dostou Mean by Archaic Style in Fantasy?”, “Halfway Between Lucian of Samosata and Larry Niven”.  Two Best Short Fiction of DS volumes expected this year.  [JH]
  • Born August 27, 1955 – Steve Crisp, 65.  Two hundred twenty-five covers, a dozen interiors, for us; illustration, photography, outside our field.  Here is Best Fantasy Stories from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Here is The Worlds of Frank Herbert.  Here is a Fahrenheit 451.  Here is a Neuromancer.  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born August 27, 1957 Richard Kadrey, 63. I’m admittedly way behind on the Sandman Slim series having only read the first five books. I also enjoyed Metrophage: A Romance of the Future and The Everything Box. I’ve got The Grand Dark on my interested in listening to list. (CE)
  • Born August 27, 1962 Dean Devlin, 58. His first produced screenplay was Universal Soldier. He was a writer/producer working on Emmerich’s Moon 44. Together they co-wrote and produced Stargate, the first movie to have a website.The team then produced Independence Day, the rather awful Godzilla rebootand Independence Day: Resurgence which so far I’ve avoided seeing. They’re also credited for creating The Visitor series which lasted just thirteen episodes, and The Triangle, a miniseries which I’ll bet you guess the premise of. (CE) 
  • Born August 27, 1965 – Kevin Standlee, 55.  Long active in San Francisco Bay Area fandom. Fan Guest of Honor at Baycon 1993, Marcon 43, CascadiaCon (8th NASFiC; North America SF Con, since 1975 held when Worldcon is overseas), Westercon 72 (with wife Lisa Hayes and her bear Kuma); co-chaired ConJosé (60th Worldcon; with T. Whitmore); chair of Westercon 74 (scheduled for 2022).  Has chaired World SF Society’s Hugo Awards Marketing Committee, Mark Protection Committee; has chaired Worldcon and other con Business Meetings, no small task, notably and heroically at Westercon 64, when no bid for Westercon 66 got enough votes and site selection fell to the Bus Mtg in a contentious 3-hr session.  Patient explainer of parliamentary procedure.  [JH]
  • Born August 27, 1970 – Ann Aguirre, 50.  Forty novels, a dozen shorter stories, some under other names, some with co-authors.  Honor Bound (with R. Caine) a Hal Clement Notable Young Adult Book for 2020.  Withdrew Like Never and Always from RITA Award consideration.  “Can you tell us a two-sentence horror story?”  “It’s just like the flu.  Don’t worry about taking precautions.”  [JH]
  • Born August 27, 1978 Suranne Jones, 42. Not a long genre performance history but she shows up on the Doctor Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures as Mona Lisa in “Mona Lisa”. Yes, that Mona Lisa. More importantly, she’s in “The Doctor’s Wife”, an Eleventh Doctor story as written by Neil Gaiman. She’s Idris, a woman hosting the Matrix of the TARDIS. She’s Eve Caleighs in The Secret of Crickley Hall series, an adaption of the James Herbert novel. (CE) 

(10) YOU ARE DEEP SIX. Camestros Felapton takes notes while “Timothy and I Watch Patriotic Submarines”.

  • Camestros: There is literally nothing I want to watch here…
    • Timothy: We could…
  • Camestros: No, no, we are not watching Cats again. Look, maybe it’s time to go outside?
    • Timothy: No way! It’s a hellscape out there! A seething dystopian nightmare! Woke mobs are cancelling cats for not wearing masks! It’s EU commissioners herding us inside our borders and stealing our holiday homes in the South of France and forcing us to use metric! It’s Attack on Titan but with giant buck naked Boris Johnsons eating people! There are SCOTTISH people about!

(11) PRESELLING LOVECRAFT COUNTRY. Variety delves into “How HBO’s ‘Lovecraft Country’ Marketing Campaign Spotlighted the Blerd Community”.

…In late July and early August before the series aired, the network sent out stylized packages made up of “Lovecraft Country”-inspired items from Black-owned businesses, brands and creatives. The gift bag included a backpack from Life on Autopilot, sunglasses from Bôhten Eyewear, a “Sundon” candle by Bright Black, a Grubhub gift card for recipients to order from Black-owned restaurant; as well as the novels “Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi, “The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates and “Lovecraft Country” by Matt Ruff (provided by Amalgram Comics & Coffeehouse).

For Gagne and her team, the creation of the kit was also about saluting “Lovecraft Country’s” creator Misha Green and the Black heroes of her story, so the package also included direct nods to the show with a “South Side Futuristic Science Fiction Club” sweatshirt from BLK MKT Vintage and a notebook which serves as a “field guide” to understanding the cultural context behind all of the items in the bag, as well as information on the businesses themselves.

With “influencer kits” and their focus on Black-owned businesses, Gagne says, “given everything that’s going on, I think that that’s something that people really embrace and honor and really want to support in a big way.”…

(12) READING TIMES. Amal El-Mohtar’s Otherworldly column for the New York Times deals with “Power and Passage: New Science Fiction and Fantasy”.

The discourse about reading fiction during the pandemic has followed two broad tracks: There are those who take comfort in the activity, and those who have found reading impossibly difficult. I belong to the latter camp, but I’m all the more excited to share the following books, which, while very different in genre and mode, shook me out of listless distraction with their originality.

DANCE ON SATURDAY (Small Beer Press, 318 pp., paper, $17) is Elwin Cotman’s third collection of short fiction. We tend to call fiction “short” when it’s not a novel, but the six stories in “Dance on Saturday” are long, deep and rich, each so thoroughly engrossing and distinctive in its style that I had to take long breaks between them…

Also praised:

THE SPACE BETWEEN WORLDS (Del Rey, 327 pp., $28) is Micaiah Johnson’s debut, but that word is utterly insufficient for the blazing, relentless power of this book, suggesting ballroom manners where it should conjure comet tails…

(13) THE HYDROGEN BOOM. “New Video Shows Largest Hydrogen Bomb Ever Exploded”  reports the New York Times.

Hydrogen bombs — the world’s deadliest weapons — have no theoretical size limit. The more fuel, the bigger the explosion. When the United States in 1952 detonated the world’s first, its destructive force was 700 times as great as that of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

And in the darkest days of the Cold War, the Soviets and the Americans didn’t only compete to build the most weapons. They each sought at times to build the biggest bomb of all.

“There was a megatonnage race — who was going to have a bigger bomb,” said Robert S. Norris, a historian of the atomic age. “And the Soviets won.”

Last week, the Russian nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, released a 30-minute, formerly secret documentary video about the world’s largest hydrogen bomb detonation. The explosive force of the device — nicknamed Tsar Bomba, or the Tsar’s bomb, and set off on Oct. 30, 1961 — was 50 megatons, or the equivalent of 50 million tons of conventional explosive. That made it 3,333 times as destructive as the weapon used on Hiroshima, Japan, and also far more powerful than the 15 megaton weapon set off by the United States in 1954 in its largest hydrogen bomb blast…

(14) THE EYES HAVE IT. Cora Buhlert shows off her handiwork.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Check out Klaatu on top of the Capital Records building (along with some other famous guy named Ringo)… From 1974.

[Thanks to David Doering, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title cedit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Best Series Hugo:
Eligible Series from 2020

SJW Credential Reading SFF Book (c) Can Stock Photo / vitalytitov

By JJ: To assist Hugo nominators, listed below are the series believed to be eligible as of this writing for the 2021 Best Series Hugo next year *†.

Each series name is followed by the main author name(s) and the 2020-published work(s).

Feel free to add missing series and the name of the 2020-eligible work in the comments, and I will get them included in the main post.

I just ask that suggesters (1) first do a Find on author surname on this page, to check whether the series is already on the list, and (2) then make an effort to verify that a series does indeed have 3 volumes, that it has a 2020-published work, and that it has likely met the 240,000 word threshold. Self-published works may or may not be added to the list at my discretion.

Note that previous Hugo Administrators ruled that nominations for a series and one of its subseries will not be combined. Therefore, when nominating a subseries work, think carefully under which series name it should be nominated. If the subseries does not yet meet the 3-volume, 240,000 word count threshold, then the main series name should be nominated. If the subseries does meet that threshold, then the subseries name should probably be nominated. This will ensure that another subseries in the same universe, or the main series itself, would still be eligible next year if this subseries is a finalist this year.

* ineligible series are preceded by an asterisk

Read more…

Sheree Renée Thomas and Malka Older to Host 2021 Hugo Awards at DisCon III

Authors Sheree Renée Thomas and Malka Older will host the 2021 Hugo Awards Ceremony the DisCon III committee announced today.

“In June, we made a statement speaking to our commitment to increased inclusivity, listening to marginalized communities, and looking towards the future of Worldcon,” said Colette H. Fozard and Bill Lawhorn, co-chairs of DisCon III. “Now that DisCon III is the seated Worldcon, we are delighted to announce two amazing individuals like Sheree and Malka bringing their spirit and energy to such a prestigious ceremony as the Hugo Awards.”

Sheree Renée Thomas is an award-winning short fiction writer, poet, and editor with fellowships and residencies from the Millay Colony of Arts, Bread Loaf Environmental, VCCA, Cave Canem Foundation, and Smith College. She is the author of Nine Bar Blues: Stories from an Ancient Future (Third Man Books, May 26, 2020), her first fiction collection, and two multigenre/hybrid collections, Sleeping Under the Tree of Life (Aqueduct Press), longlisted for the 2016 Otherwise Award and honored with a Publishers Weekly Starred Review and Shotgun Lullabies (Aqueduct). Her widely anthologized works and essays have appeared in places such as the New York Times and The Big Book of Modern Fantasy. She edited the World Fantasy Award- winning speculative fiction volumes, Dark Matter, that first introduced W.E.B. Du Bois’s work as science fiction and was the first black author to be honored with the World Fantasy Award since its inception in 1975. She serves as the Associate Editor of Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora (Illinois State University, Normal).  

Malka Older is a writer, aid worker, and sociologist. Her science-fiction political thriller Infomocracy was named one of the best books of 2016 by Kirkus, Book Riot, and the Washington Post. Infomocracy was also shortlisted for the 2019 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award. With the sequels Null States (2017) and State Tectonics (2018), she completed the Centenal Cycle trilogy, a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Series in 2018. She is also the creator of the serial Ninth Step Station, currently running on Serial Box, and her short story collection …And Other Disasters was published in November 2019. Named Senior Fellow for Technology and Risk at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs for 2015, she has more than a decade of field experience in humanitarian aid and development.

“As we move forward,” Fozard and Lawhorn concluded, “we will continue to listen to the Worldcon community’s needs and concerns. We also acknowledge broad, general statements can ring hollow. With CoNZealand now over, we are focusing our efforts on specific, concrete plans and initiatives for making our Worldcon inclusive and diverse.”

DisCon III is the third World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) held in Washington DC, USA. Previous DC-based Worldcons were DisCon I in 1963 and DisCon II in 1974. DisCon III will be held at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park and Omni Shoreham from August 25-29, 2021.

DisCon III is sponsored by the Baltimore-Washington Area Worldcon Association, Inc. (BWAWA, Inc.), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Maryland. For more information on DisCon III, Worldcon, and how to become a member of the 79th Worldcon, visit http://www.discon3.org.

[Based on a press release.]

2020 Hugo Awards

2020 Hugo Design by John Flower

CoNZealand presented the 2020 Hugo Awards in an online ceremony today.

Full voting statistics are here.

Deputy Hugo Administrator Nicholas Whyte’s analysis is here.

2020 Hugo Awards

Best Novel

  • A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (Tor; Tor UK)

Best Novella

  • This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (Saga Press; Jo Fletcher Books)

Best Novelette

  • Emergency Skin by N.K. Jemisin ( Forward Collection (Amazon))

Best Short Story

  • “As the Last I May Know”,by S.L. Huang (Tor.com, 23 October 2019)

Best Series

  • The Expanse by James S. A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

Best Related Work

  • “2019 John W. Campbell Award Acceptance Speech”, by Jeannette Ng

Best Graphic Story or Comic

  • LaGuardia, written by Nnedi Okorafor, art by Tana Ford, colours by James Devlin (Berger Books; Dark Horse)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Good Omens, written by Neil Gaiman, directed by Douglas Mackinnon (Amazon Studios/BBC Studios/Narrativia/The Blank Corporation)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • The Good Place: “The Answer”, written by Daniel Schofield, directed by Valeria Migliassi Collins (Fremulon/3 Arts Entertainment/Universal Television)

Best Editor, Short Form

  • Ellen Datlow

Best Editor, Long Form

  • Navah Wolfe

Best Professional Artist

  • John Picacio

Best Semiprozine

  • Uncanny Magazine, editors-in-chief Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, nonfiction/managing editor Michi Trota, managing editor Chimedum Ohaegbu, podcast producers Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky

Best Fanzine

  • The Book Smugglers, editors Ana Grilo and Thea James

Best Fancast

  • Our Opinions Are Correct, presented by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders

Best Fan Writer

  • Bogi Takács

Best Fan Artist

  • Elise Matthesen

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book (not a Hugo)

  • Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer (Tor Teen)

Astounding Award for Best New Writer, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo)

  • R.F. Kuang (2nd year of eligibility)

Photos of the winners follow the jump.

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CoNZealand Hugo Bases Revealed

James Brown’s design for the 1945 Retro Hugo base, and John Flower’s design for the 2020 Hugo Award base were shown to the public for the first time during CoNZealand’s virtual Opening Ceremonies on July 28.

Retro Hugos

James Brown described for the audience the thinking behind his design.

Now in keeping with the theme of exploration, my design is based on the prow of a waka, or traditional canoe of the M?ori people, the amazingly skilled navigators and explorers who were the first to discover and settle Aotearoa New Zealand. The motifs on the side are inspired by whakairo, the traditional M?ori art of wood carving. In the spirit of the Retro Hugos, I think it’s ideal that the award itself can give a sense of being an artifact from the year that it honours. Design-wise, the mid-1940s were a really interesting time in between the sleek modernism of art deco and the futurism of the 1950s. A lot of creative use was being made of new polymers and plastics. So I chose to cast the base in a polyurethane resin with a marbled effect, reminiscent of art deco bakelite radios, and I’ve given the lettering an imitation mother of pearl effect with an iridescent, translucent resin. The design of the lettering was inspired by the typography of golden age sci-fi magazine covers.

This was an immensely fun project for me to work on. I got to use all sorts of techniques which were new to me, like computer aided design and 3D printing, and my background as a sculptor is in the miniature war-gaming industry so this is by far the largest thing I’ve ever sculpted and cast. It’s been quite a long project, quite a long process, especially with the unexpected demands of the COVID-19 lockdown, but fortunately my wife has been very understanding and hasn’t minded me turning our relatively small apartment into my workshop.

2020 Hugos

John Flower, from Palmerston North, New Zealand, says he created a base out of black glass, with a bunch of gold hands designed onto it:

They were used by early explorers, the M?ori who came to New Zealand, to navigate through the Pacific. The idea is that, depending on how many fingers you hold up, you can measure the angle between a set of stars and the horizon, and work out where you are. For example, if you have the Southern Cross—which is made up of four stars—you can measure the distance between the top star and the bottom star, and if you rotate your hand like that so it’s, say, three fingers distance down to the horizon, then you know that you have due South when you’re in the Southern Hemisphere.

So each of these gold hands is a different number of degrees, and the constellations within there are known in New Zealand as Matariki. In other places they’re known as the Pleiades, or Subaru in Japan. They’re a group of stars that show up in New Zealand somewhere between May and June. In New Zealand, they’re recognised as the beginning of the New Year. We did all the design work using open source software, like Blender and Inkscape, which are free to use. So here we have a sheet of P?ua. P?ua is a mollusc found off the shores of New Zealand. They’ve taken the shell of it and flattened it out. We have used a laser to cut a spiral design in it. The spiral design combines the Milky Way with the pattern of endemic ferns of New Zealand. So we’ve cut it out from here, and if we move the sheet we can see what we’ve created. So that’s cut out from the middle, and the idea is that on top of this P?ua we will seat a timber design on top like so, and the rocket will go in the middle like that.

Just A Few More Hours, That’s All The Time We’ve Got

That’s a lyric from “I’m Getting Married in the Morning,” and the fate of your 2020 Hugo vote will be equally permanent at 11:59 p.m. Pacific tonight (in New Zealand, 6:59 p.m on July 23.) The CoNZealand committee notified members:


This is it, we’re down to the wire now. You have less than 24 hours left to vote for the 2020 Hugo Awards, the 2020 Lodestar and Astounding Awards, and the 1945 Retrospective Hugo Awards!

CoNZealand members can access their ballots by visiting https://members.conzealand.nz/, logging in, and clicking on “My Memberships”. Instructions for voting are included with the ballots.

Hugo voting closes on Wednesday, 22 July 2020 at 23:59 PDT (UTC-7)/Thursday, 23 July 2020 at 18:59 NZST (UTC+12). But don’t wait until the very last minute – if something goes wrong, it will be harder for us to help you, and we want to count every single vote!

Troubleshooting tips for common login problems:

  • If you do not receive the login link, check your spam folder (and, if on Gmail, your promotions folder). Or search for “CoNZealand Login Link.”
  • If you have an sbcglobal.net email address you most likely will not receive a login link. Contact hugohelp@conzealand.nz for assistance.
  • If the signature line does not accept your name after you type it, just copy and paste exactly what is in bold in the instructions. Most likely there is an extraneous space or other strange but hidden character issue. If that doesn’t work, contact hugohelp@conzealand.nz for assistance.

Reminder – We have discovered a bug in the Hugo voting interface that means a very small number of votes may not have been recorded. This mostly seems to happen when using the Safari browser on a Mac, but we have a couple of reports from other browser/device combinations.

If you received an email confirmation after voting, your votes have been entered into the system and you should not be concerned.

If you did NOT receive the email confirmation, please log back into the system and confirm that your votes have been recorded. If they have not, please try again using a different browser/device combination, preferably Chrome, as we have not had any reported problems from Chrome users.

Alternatively you can email your votes by downloading the editable PDF ballot, filling it in, and emailing it to hugo-ballot@conzealand.nz. Please note that a typed name is acceptable for the signature line – you do NOT need to print, sign and scan your ballot.

If you have any questions or difficulty accessing your online ballot, please contact hugohelp@conzealand.nz for assistance.

Double Check your Hugo Ballot!

Tammy Coxen, CoNZealand Hugo Adminstrator, reports a problem with online voting — and if you did not receive an email confirmation after voting you may be affected. Coxen explains:

We have discovered a bug in the Hugo voting interface that means a very few votes may not have been recorded. This mostly seems to happen when using the Safari browser on a Mac, but we have a couple of reports from other browser/device combinations.

    • If you received an email confirmation after voting, your votes have been entered into the system and you should not be concerned.
    • If you did NOT receive the email confirmation, please log back into the system and confirm that your votes have been recorded. If they have not, please try again using a different browser/device combination, preferably Chrome, as we have not had any reported problems from Chrome users. If you continue to have problems or need further assistance, please contact hugohelp@conzealand.nz 

You may also vote by downloading the fillable PDF ballot, filling it in, and emailing it to hugo-ballot@conzealand.nz. Please note that a typed name is acceptable for the signature line – you do NOT need to print, sign and scan your ballot.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

CoNZealand Opens
Online Hugo Voting

The 2020 Worldcon, CoNZealand, today opened online voting for the Hugo Awards, the Lodestar and Astounding Awards, and the 1945 Retrospective Hugo Awards.

Due to the delay the committee has extended the voting deadline to Wednesday, 22 July 2020 at 23:59 Pacific (Thursday, 23 July 2020 at 18:59 New Zealand Time).

CoNZealand members can access their ballots by visiting https://members.conzealand.nz/, logging in, and clicking on “My Memberships.” Instructions for voting are included with the ballots.

[Thanks to Goobergunch and James Davis Nicoll for the story.]

CoNZealand Issues Statement About Delayed Online Hugo Voting

CoNZealand has announced that online voting for the Hugos will open by July 8, and they are extending the voting deadline to July 22:


We are very sorry for the delay in opening online Hugo Voting. We are working as fast as we can to make that available, and anticipate it being open no later than Wednesday, 8 July, hopefully before. Due to the delay we are extending the voting deadline to Wednesday, 22 July 2020 at 23:59 PDT (UTC-7)/Thursday, 23 July 2020 at 18:59 NZST (UTC+12).

In the meantime, a fillable and printable PDF of the paper ballot is available so that you can keep track of your rankings and can enter them online as soon as the online voting option becomes available. You may also vote by mail. The US postal address for mailing ballots is listed on the ballot, and the deadline change also applies to the printed ballot. Due to the global postal slowdown, we will also be accepting ballots by email to hugo-ballot@conzealand.nz. In either case, ballots must be RECEIVED by 22 July 2020 at 23:59 PDT (UTC-7)/23 July 2020 at 18:59 NZST (UTC+12) to be counted. But at this point we strongly encourage people to wait for the online voting system to open rather than send a paper or email ballot.


[Thanks to Avilyn and Tammy Coxen for the story.]