The official Hugo Awards site has posted photos of the display Hugo that was shown at Opening Ceremonies. The base design is by Sara Felix and Vincent Villafranca. What a beauty!
The winners of the 1943 Retrospective Hugo Awards were announced on Thursday, August 16 at Worldcon 76.
Best Fan Writer
Forrest J Ackerman
Le Zombie, edited by Arthur Wilson “Bob” Tucker
Best Professional Artist
Best Editor – Short Form
John W. Campbell
Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form
Bambi, written by Perce Pearce, Larry Morey, et al., directed by David D. Hand et al. (Walt Disney Productions)
Best Short Story
“The Twonky,” by Lewis Padgett (C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner) (Astounding Science-Fiction, September 1942)
“Foundation,” by Isaac Asimov (Astounding Science-Fiction, May 1942)
“Waldo,” by Anson MacDonald (Robert A. Heinlein) (Astounding Science-Fiction, August 1942)
Beyond This Horizon, by Anson MacDonald (Robert A. Heinlein) (Astounding Science-Fiction, April & May 1942)
The administrators report 703 valid ballots (688 electronic and 15 paper) were received and counted from convention members.
The Hugo Awards, presented first in 1953 and annually since 1955, are science fiction’s most prestigious award, and one of the World Science Fiction Convention’s unique and distinguished institutions.
Since 1993, Worldcon committees have had the option of awarding Retrospective Hugo Awards for past Worldcon years prior to 1953 where they had not been presented 25, 50, or 100 years prior to the contemporary convention, with the exception of the hiatus during World War II when no Worldcon was convened. A recent change in this policy has now allowed for Retro Hugos to be awarded for the years 1942-1945.
(1) BOURDAIN IN NARNIA. The New Yorker Recommends’ Helen Rosner links to “‘No Reservations: Narnia,’ a Triumph of Anthony Bourdain Fan Fiction”.
Of all the billions of pages that make up the Internet, one of my very favorites contains “No Reservations: Narnia,” a work of fan fiction, from 2010, by Edonohana, a pseudonym of the young-adult and fantasy author Rachel Manija Brown. The story is exactly what it sounds like: a pastiche of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” and C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. Channelling the casual charisma of Bourdain’s first-person writing, Brown finds him visiting the stick-wattled burrow of sentient moles, where he dines on pavender (a saltwater fish of Lewis’s invention) and is drunk under the table by a talking mouse. He slurps down eel stew and contemplates the void with mud-dwelling depressives. Later, he bails on an appointment at Cair Paravel, the royal seat of Narnia, to bloody his teeth at a secretive werewolf feast.
“No Reservations: Narnia” (2010) begins —
I’m crammed into a burrow so small that my knees are up around my ears and the boom mike keeps slamming into my head, inhaling the potent scent of toffee-apple brandy and trying to drink a talking mouse under the table. But is it really the boom mike that’s making my head pound? I know for sure that my camera man doesn’t usually have two heads. I have to face facts. The mouse is winning.
Yesterday, I thought I knew what to expect from Narnia: good solid English cooking spiced up with the odd unusual ingredient, and good solid English people spiced up with the odd faun. And centaur. And talking animal. I’d longed to visit Narnia when I was a kid, but every time the notoriously capricious entry requirements, such as the bizarre and arbitrary lifetime limit on visits, relaxed the slightest bit, it would get invaded, get conquered, get re-conquered by the original rulers, or get hit by some natural disaster….
Cat Eldridge sent the links with a note: “Weirdly enough Rachel Manija Brown was once a reviewer for Green Man Review.”
(2) TUNE IN THE HUGOS. Kevin Standlee outlined the “2018 Hugo Ceremony Coverage Plans” on the award’s official website.
The 2018 Hugo Awards Ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, August 19, 2018 at 8:00 PM North American Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7) in the McEnery Convention Center Grand Ballroom in San Jose, California. The ceremony is open to all attending members of Worldcon 76, with additional seating available in “Callahan’s Place” in the convention center Exhibit Hall.
The Hugo Awards web site will once again offer text-based coverage of the Hugo Awards ceremony via CoverItLive, suitable for people with bandwidth restrictions. For those with the bandwidth for it, Worldcon 76 San Jose plans to offer live video streaming of the Hugo Awards ceremony. Details of the live-streaming coverage will be available at the 2018 Worldcon web site.
The Hugo Awards web site coverage team of Kevin Standlee, Susan de Guardiola, and Cheryl Morgan plan to be “on the air” approximately fifteen minutes before the ceremony. You can sign up at the CoverItLive event site for an e-mail notification before the event starts. Remember that the CoverItLive text coverage is text-only, and is likely to not be in synch with the video streaming. Also, the CoverItLive team here at TheHugoAwards.org is not responsible for the video streaming coverage and cannot answer any questions about it.
(3) VISA PROBLEMS. Another example of security screening that interferes with cultural exchanges. The Guardian reports some authors are having exceptional difficulty getting visas to attend a book festival in Scotland: “Home Office refuses visas for authors invited to Edinburgh book festival”.
According to Barley, the dozen authors were asked to provide three years’ worth of bank statements to demonstrate financial independence, despite being paid to participate in the Edinburgh book festival, and having publishers and the festival guaranteeing to cover their costs while in the UK. Barley said any deposits that could not be easily explained were used as grounds to deny the authors’ visas; one had to reapply three times due to her bank statements.
“It is Kafkaesque. One was told he had too much money and it looked suspicious for a short trip. Another was told she didn’t have enough, so she transferred £500 into the account – and then was told that £500 looked suspicious. It shouldn’t be the case that thousands of pounds should be spent to fulfil a legitimate visa request. I believe this is happening to many arts organisations around the country, and we need to find a way around it.”
Barley called the situation humiliating, adding: “One author had to give his birth certificate, marriage certificate, his daughter’s birth certificate and then go for biometric testing. He wanted to back out at that point because he couldn’t bear it, but we asked him to continue. Our relationship with authors is being damaged because the system is completely unfit for purpose. They’ve jumped through hoops – to have their applications refused.”
The Scottish first minister called on the government to fix the problem: “Authors’ visa struggles undermine book festival, says Sturgeon”
Nicola Sturgeon has accused the UK government of undermining the Edinburgh international book festival by failing to resolve authors’ difficulties in obtaining visas.
The festival’s director, Nick Barley, has said some of the invited writers have been “humiliated” by the process they had to endure to get into the UK.
Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, who will take part in the event, tweeted on Thursday that the difficulties were “not acceptable” and the government “needs to get it sorted”.
Barley said about a dozen people had gone through an extremely difficult process to obtain a visa this year and several applications remained outstanding. The festival starts on Saturday and will feature appearances by 900 authors and illustrators from 55 countries.
Festival organisers provide assistance with visa applications and they have reported an increase in refusals over the past few years. Barley said one author had to supply his birth certificate, marriage certificate and his daughter’s birth certificate and go for biometric testing in order to get his visa.
He said the UK’s reputation as a global arts venue could be seriously hindered if problems in obtaining visas worsened after Brexit.
(4) DISCRIMINATION. David Farland (pseudonym of Dave Wolverton, currently the Coordinating Judge, Editor and First Reader for the Writers of the Future Contest), blogged about his view of “Discrimination in the Writing World”.
A few days ago, I saw a Facebook post from a woman who complained that she didn’t want to see panels by “boring, old, white, cisgender men” at the upcoming World Science Fiction Convention. Now, I’ve always fought against discrimination based on age, race, sexual orientation, and gender, so I was kind of surprised that this person managed to offend me at every single level. I can’t help it if I was born sixty years ago, male, white, and cisgender.
There is a concerted effort by some special interest groups to push certain agendas. More than twenty years ago, just before the Nebula awards, I remember hearing a woman talking to others, pointing out that if they all voted for a certain story by a woman, then she’d certainly win. Apparently the ethics of judging stories based upon the gender of the author eluded her, but it worked. The story written by the woman won.
With the Hugos, white men in particular are not even getting on the ballots, much less winning.
The question is, if you’re a writer, what do you do? What if you write a book, and you don’t fit in the neat little category that publishers want?
For example, what if you’re male and you want to write a romance novel? What are your chances of getting published? How well will you be welcomed into the writing community? Isn’t a good story a good story no matter who wrote it?
Apparently not. I had a friend recently who created a bundle of romance novels and put them up for sale. She had ten novels, nine by women and one by a man, and it sold terribly. Why? Because the nine female romance writers refused to even tell their fans about the bundle because there was a male author in the bundle. So instead of selling tens of thousands of bundles, as she expected, she sold only a few hundred.
Of course, discrimination is pretty well institutionalized in the publishing industry. By saying that it is institutionalized, what I mean is that in certain genres, your chances of getting published are based upon your gender.
(5) NICHOLS HAS DEMENTIA. Hope Schreiber, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story “Nichelle Nichols, actress who portrayed the iconic Lieutenant Uhura in ‘Star Trek,’ diagnosed with dementia”, cites a TMZ report that Nichols is under the care of a conservator.
TMZ says that Dr. Meena Makhijani, a specialist in osteopathic medicine, has been treating Nichols for the last two to three years. According to Makhijani, the disease has progressed. Nichols has significant impairment of her short-term memory and “moderate impairment of understanding abstract concepts, sense of time, place, and immediate recall,” according to TMZ.
However, the actress’s long-term memory does not seem to be affected at this time, nor are her body orientation, concentration, verbal communication, comprehension, recognition of familiar people, or ability to plan and to reason logically.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
- Born August 11 – Ian McDiarmid, 74. Star Wars film franchise including an uncredited appearance in The Empire Strikes Back, other genre appearances in Dragonslayer, The Awakening (a mummies horror film with Charlton Heston), The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles series and reprising his SW role in the animated Star Wars Rebels series.
- Born August 11 – Brian Azzarello, 56. Comic book writer. First known crime series 100 Bullets, published by Vertigo. Writer of DC’s relaunched Wonder Woman series several years back. One of the writers in the Before Watchmen limited series. Co-writer with Frank Miller of the sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
- Born August 11 – Viola Davis, 53. Amanda ‘The Wall’ Waller in the first Suicide Squad film; also appeared in The Andromeda Strain, Threshold and Century City series, and the Solaris film.
- Born August 11 – Jim Lee, 44. Korean American comic-book artist, writer, editor, and publisher. Co-founder of Images Comics, now senior management at DC though he started at Marvel. Known for work on Uncanny X-Men, Punisher, Batman, Superman and WildC.A.T.s.
- Born August 11 – Will Friedle, 44. Largely known as w actor with extensive genre work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the Future, Peter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go!, and Thundercats! to name but a few of his roles.
- Born August 11 – Chris Hemsworth, 35. Thor in the MCU film franchise, George Kirk in the current Trek film franchise, and King Arthur in the Guinevere Jones series; also roles in Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, Snow White and the Huntsman and its sequel The Huntsman: Winter’s War,
(7) COMICS SECTION.
- Another meeting of The Book Club at Rhymes With Orange.
(8) SAWYER’S SCHEDULE. Robert J. Sawyer clarified on Facebook his plans for Worldcon 76 in San Jose next week:
I’ll be there. However, many months ago I made a decision not to apply to be on programming. I don’t have a new book this year, and I figured there are lots of younger/newer/diverse writers who could use the panel slots I would have taken up.
This was meant to be a quiet, private choice, but since then, there’s been a big blowup about this year’s Worldcon programming (see http://file770.com/worldcon-76-program-troubles/), with people withdrawing from the program or complaining about not being put on it in the first place. My situation is neither of those (and the Worldcon programming has been redone to most people’s satisfaction now).
However, I will be making two public and one private appearances at the Worldcon, for those who want to see me or get books signed:
* On Friday, August 17, at noon, in room 210E at the Convention Center, I will be attending the unveiling of the new batch of Walter Day’s Science Fiction Historical Trading Cards, introducing the new authors being added to the set (I’m already on a card, as you can see); Walter Day will be giving away some of these collectible cards (including my own) to those who attend.
* Also on Friday, August 17, at 4:00 p.m., in the Dealers’ Room in the Convention Center, I will be autographing at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) table.
* And on Saturday, August 18, at 2:00 p.m., I’ll be hosting a meet-and-greet for my Patreon patrons; you can become a patron here, and get other cool perks, too: https://www.patreon.com/robertjsawyer
(9) AUSTRALIAN FANZINE ARCHIVE. Kim Huett reports, “The National Library of Australia not only has a significant fanzine collection, some of the librarians take an active interest in the fanzines in their care. Take for example this recent post which talks from an outsiders perspective about all sorts of Australian fanzines, some of which are actually about science fiction: “Fanzines For fans, by Fans”.
Fans of the TV shows, Star Trek and Doctor Who, have perhaps the best known examples of fandom in the mainstream but this isn’t where fanzines start. The fanzine Futurian observer was talking about a well-established Australian science fiction fan community back in 1940.
In a year in which the inescapable realities of war were everywhere, this little publication denounced ‘the threatening ban on magazines’, reported on Government ‘restrictions on pulp imports’ and referenced meetings in which quizzes and scientific discussions were star attractions.
One of the first lines in Issue #1 is a dire warning that Australian fans needed to be more engaged. In contrast, issue #35 talks about a parody newsletter from a convention that never happened and the author ‘hibernating’ from the ‘Sydney scene’ to avoid the ‘fighting, scratching and squabbling’.
You can read digitised copies of Futurian observer here.
Fanzines are a fascinating insight into the volatility of fan communities and how they operated at the time of publication.
(10) DOCTOR STRANGEMIND. Huett also sent a link to his own site with this introduction: “Anybody who is a fan of David Langford’s ‘As Others See Us’ segment in Ansible is going to really enjoy the latest installment of Doctor Strangemind. Have you ever wondered what the official Soviet line was in regards to science fiction? Well now you can read ‘The World Of Nightmare Fantasies’ and wonder no more: ’To Pervert & Stultify’. Really, I spoil you people,”
…I’ve reproduced the entire condensed version of The World Of Nightmare Fantasies here so you might enjoy the authors attempt to crush various butterflies of fiction with their rhetorical sledgehammer….
…The American Raymond F. Jones, experienced writer of “scientific” fantasies, attempts to lift the curtain of the future for the reader. He uses all his flaming imagination in describing a machine which analyses the inclinations , talents, character and other potentialities of a new-born infant. If it finds the child normal, it returns it to the arms of the waiting mother. If it finds a future “superman,” the mother will never see him again; he will be sent to a world “parallel” to ours where he will be raised without the help of parents. But woe to the baby the machine finds defective – it will be immediately destroyed. According to the “scientific” forecast of author Jones, a network of such machines will cover the world of the future.
This tale, monstrous in its openly fascistic tendency, appears in the American magazine Astounding, under the optimistic title of Renaissance. Jones’ fascist revelations are not an isolated instance in American science fiction literature. There are numerous such examples under the brightly colourful covers which enterprising publishers throw on the market in millions of copies. From their pages glares a fearful world, apparently conceived in the sick mind of an insane, a world of nightmare fantasies. Miasma, mental decay, fear of to-day and horror of the future: all these innumerable ills of capitalism are clearly reflected.
(11) WOTF. Past winner J.W. Alden says in his experience the Writers of the Future Contest was a tool of the Church of Scientology, no matter the public relations effort to portray them as separate: “Going Clearwater: The Illusory ‘Firewall’ of the Writers of the Future Contest”.
In 2016, I won Writers of the Future. At the time, I counted it as one of my proudest moments. A story I’d written, The Sun Falls Apart, took first place in a contest judged by some of the biggest names in the genre. I’m still proud of that part. Unfortunately, that sense of accomplishment was undermined by a negative experience which forced me to confront the actual nature of the contest: Writers of the Future is a Church of Scientology endeavor. I now believe its primary purpose is not to help emerging writers, but to further the aims of the church, primarily by promoting the name of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. I make no judgments on any individual’s religious beliefs, but since I won the contest, I have come to believe it exploits writers in pursuit of this goal….
The Firewall, many claim, exists to prevent the contest from becoming a platform for the church and to ensure there’s no proselytizing of winners–though one of the first things you learn when you go asking about the Firewall, is that it seems to mean different things to different people. It’s the Firewall that keeps the contest’s panel of judges onboard. The judges of this contest include big names in the genre–names like Brandon Sanderson, Orson Scott Card, Robert J. Sawyer, Larry Niven, and many more. Hence, it’s the Firewall that ultimately lends the contest legitimacy. In my opinion, the Firewall does not exist. Or at the very least, it doesn’t exist for everyone.
It didn’t exist for me.
After winning the contest he was asked to come to Clearwater, Florida and do a signing. Clearwater is home to the church’s Flag Service Organization.
And so, I’m not that surprised one afternoon when I receive a text message from Kate*, one of the employees of Author Services Inc., the (Church of Scientology-owned) organization that runs the contest. They ask if I’d be willing to take part in an event they describe as a “massive Barnes & Noble book signing” in Clearwater, FL in a few days. The last minute nature of this invitation seems odd, but not out of step with the general disorganization that winners grow used to when dealing with ASI. At first, I turn down this request. At the time, I live in the West Palm Beach area, and I’m not willing to drive across the state on such short notice. They respond by offering to fly me out and put me up in a hotel. At that point, I say, “Sure. Why not?” I mean, it’s just Barnes & Noble, right? Book signings are fun.
However, Alden says this is what really happened:
…After that, it’s finally time for the book signing . . . which is not taking place at a Barnes & Noble. It turns out the “Barnes & Noble signing event” is actually taking place here at the Fort Harrison Hotel, during a Scientology ceremony called “Flag Graduation.” Scientologists who underwent training at the Flag Building are having some kind of graduation ceremony. Part of the ceremonies will involve announcing my presence, then directing the congregation to my signing table for an autograph. After the day I’ve had, I am not shocked by this revelation. My belief in the Firewall has long since abandoned me. I am not happy about the bait and switch. But I’m not surprised, either.
I’m led into a huge conference room with a stage and hundreds of chairs. By the time we get there, it’s already packed full of Scientologists finding their seats. Tori leads me straight to the front row. At this point, I become genuinely worried about the possible public repercussions of this little trip. Just like in L.A., there are photographers and videographers everywhere. The thought of photos and video of me at an actual Church of Scientology event floating around somewhere is (at the time) concerning. What happens next tempers this concern somewhat, if only because it grants me the conviction that this is not the first Scientology event I’ve been photographed at. Before their graduation ceremony, they play a video of the Writers of the Future gala. A Church of Scientology official talks it up beforehand, citing it as part of L. Ron Hubbard’s legacy, with the underlying message that it’s one of the many Good Things the CoS is doing in the world. In other words, Writers of the Future (and not just the name–the video of the gala, the anthology, the words and likenesses of the winners) is used as internal propaganda at an official Church of Scientology event. That’s certainly how I interpreted it, anyway….
I first started telling the story above in private circles within the SFF writing community. Over the past two years, I’ve told it to fellow WotF winners, to friends at conventions, and in private online discussion groups. Most recently, I posted about it on Codex after Nick Mamatas and Keffy R.M. Kehrli spurred the aforementioned conversation on social media about the questionable aspects of the contest back in April. I also posted a couple of twitter threads around that time, in which I voiced frustrations about the contest and rage-faced over the revelation that unattributed quotations from Dianetics were included in Writers of the Future workshop materials. Since the tweetstorm, I’ve also been in discussion with former winners and even a few contest judges who reached out to me about it.
Since all of that started happening, I’ve also had run-ins with supporters of the contest who have accused me (and others) of trying to destroy it. Let me make one thing clear: I’m not trying to destroy Writers of the Future. For one, I don’t believe that is within my (or anyone’s) power, so even if that were my goal, I wouldn’t waste the effort. My goal is merely to inform emerging writers about the troublesome aspects of this contest, because I don’t think they’re talked about enough. That includes relating my own experience that bizarre weekend in Clearwater. If anyone sees that as an effort to delegitimize or destroy the contest, all I can say is this: if spreading the truth about something delegitimizes it, was it really legitimate in the first place? …
(12) MAIN AND OTHER STREAMS. Penguin Random House would be happy to sell you these “21 Books You’ve Been Meaning To Read”, a list with a surprising amount of sff. Not this first title, though. This one has been picked for its clever misspelling —
A legendary masterpiece, this book is synonymous with difficult reading, so why not challenge yourshelf.
(13) WRECK-IT RALPH RETURNS. Ralph Breaks the Internet – sneak peek.The movie comes to theaters November 21.
“Ralph Breaks the Internet” leaves Litwak’s video arcade behind, venturing into the uncharted, expansive and thrilling world of the internet—which may or may not survive Ralph’s wrecking. Video game bad guy Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and fellow misfit Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) must risk it all by traveling to the world wide web in search of a replacement part to save Vanellope’s video game, Sugar Rush. In way over their heads, Ralph and Vanellope rely on the citizens of the internet—the Netizens—to help navigate their way, including Yesss (voice of Taraji P. Henson), who is the head algorithm and the heart and soul of the trend-making site “BuzzzTube,” and Shank (voice of Gal Gadot), a tough-as-nails driver from a gritty online auto-racing game called Slaughter Race.
[Thanks to John Hertz, Jumana Aumir, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) WHAT DO WHILE THE POWER IS OUT. Ursula Vernon’s ideas make scents.
So the package from the lovely people at @bpal arrived and I have a selection of medieval religious scents to sniff! They are very kind.
— The Wombat Resists (@UrsulaV) August 9, 2018
Hmm, “Veritas” definitely smells a bit like clean paladin. Add a little leather and metal and I’d let him check me for heretical leanings.
— The Wombat Resists (@UrsulaV) August 9, 2018
“The Devil” smells like used bookstore. These are very classical scents, so a fair number of people probably wandered around smelling like used books BEFORE THERE WERE USED BOOKS.
— The Wombat Resists (@UrsulaV) August 9, 2018
Pretty sure that paladins of the Dreaming God smell like “Cathedral.” At least until they go get sweaty and put on chainmail.
…I’ll be in my bunk.
— The Wombat Resists (@UrsulaV) August 9, 2018
(2) I PRAY FOR ONE LAST LANDING. Adweek covers a company’s creative message about sustainability: “An Astronaut Returns Home in This Gorgeous Film From Impossible Foods”.
“There’s life,” he begins, traversing the varied terrain, from bustling thoroughfares to nearly silent, sun-soaked forest glades, in full spacesuit. “Everything is here. The colors. The beauty. The motion. It looks like a living, breathing organism. It’s so beautiful here.”
That planet, of course, is Earth, and the film launches this week to coincide with the release of Impossible Foods’ first sustainability report. In that study, the creator of the plant-based Impossible Burger discusses its goal of eliminating the need for animals as a food source by 2035. Doing so will help cut greenhouse gas emissions while conserving natural resources.
(3) SOCIAL GRACES. Here’s a helpful reminder.
Important Working Lunch instructional slide RE introducing yourself pic.twitter.com/b36mKleVnv
— ally mclean (@allymcleangames) August 9, 2018
(4) NO BOX FITS THIS GRAPHIC NOVEL. NPR’s Etelka Lehoczky says “Spooky And Off-Kilter, ‘Come Again’ Shows Nate Powell’s Virtuosity”.
Earnest yet unpredictable, Nate Powell’s graphic novel Come Again is a perfect example of what’s possible when a creator roams outside of set conventions. Come Again fits no particular genre, though much of its style and tone resemble the slow-building, true-to-life narratives of Craig Thompson, Lucy Knisley and Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. But a touch of the mystical keeps this book off-kilter, raising the stakes on a story that might otherwise have seemed thin.
(5) 2017 #BLACKSPECFIC REPORT. Fireside Magazine has published its third annual report about the underrepresentation of black writers in sff magazines. There’s a Twitter thread that starts here. And a narrative version here — “The 2017 #BlackSpecFic Report”. The data is available in a spreadsheet here.
In 2017, the magazines in this dataset are, as with 2016’s report, professional-rate magazines (as defined by the SFWA) that have been in existence for at least two years and are currently open to submissions. They published 1,112 stories by 816 unique writers, 38 of whom are Black and who wrote 48 of the stories. The unique Black author ratio is 4.7%, and the story ratio is 4.3%. Compared with 2015 data, Black representation in this aspect of the field has essentially doubled.
… When we began this initiative, many worried that the majority of the few stories published would be by Black authors with household names; that still is not the case.
They are, however, generally published in the same set of magazines.
… Most of the magazines portrayed in this image doubled, tripled, or quadrupled their Black representation from 2015-6 to 2017. When combined with 2 magazines that already performed relatively well in publishing stories by Black authors, but that hadn’t improved significantly — namely, Lightspeed and Nightmare — the magazines in this image published about one fourth of all stories in this dataset. Yet, they published close to 90% of this year’s stories by Black authors. In other words, as with 2016, one quarter of the field is publishing the vast majority of its Black work. Field-wide submission rates can’t explain that.
Furthermore, while these magazines’ representation varies individually, when taken as a combined unit, their Black representation approximates U.S. population distribution at 13%. Five of them published Black authors at rates approximating or exceeding it.
(6) SCOOP NEWS. BBC says the world’s largest ice cream parlor is officially Parque Coppelia, but Cubans call it la catedral de helado: “Cuba’s communist ice cream cathedral”.
We’re at Parque Coppelia, the world’s largest ice cream parlour and an iconic institution in Cuba. Taking up an entire block diagonally opposite the Hotel Habana Libre in the once-tony Vedado district, this state-run ‘people’s park’ offers a for-pennies indulgence for the masses and serves an average of 30,000 customers a day – and up to 600 at any one time.
When Havana sizzles, the entire city seems to descend seeking relief. The helado – served with taciturn efficiency by waitresses in 1950s plaid miniskirts – wins no awards. But no other experience speaks so sweetly to Cuba’s revolutionary idealism.
(7) CITY SECURITY. From the Black Hat cyber security conference, “Warning over ‘panic’ hacks on cities”. Chip Hitchcock observes, “Katherine MacLean’s ‘Missing Man’ spoke of ‘city chess,’ in which senior maintenance workers put up plausible point failures that usually ruin the city very quickly — and she was just talking about breakage, not about deliberate attacks.”
Security flaws have been found in major city infrastructure such as flood defences, radiation detection and traffic monitoring systems.
A team of researchers found 17 vulnerabilities, eight of which it described as “critical”.
The researchers warned of so-called “panic attacks”, where an attacker could manipulate emergency systems to create chaos in communities.
The specific flaws uncovered by the team have been patched.
“If someone, supervillain or not, were to abuse vulnerabilities like the ones we documented in smart city systems, the effects could range from inconvenient to catastrophic,” wrote Daniel Crowley, from IBM’s cyber research division, X-Force Red.
“While no evidence exists that such attacks have taken place, we have found vulnerable systems in major cities in the US, Europe and elsewhere.”
The team plans to explain the vulnerabilities at Black Hat – a cyber-security conference – on Thursday.
(8) 1994 HUGO CEREMONY VIDEO. Thanks to Kevin Standlee for the head’s up:
The 1994 Hugo Awards video is online, thanks to us finding a videotape of it among the files here in Fernley, Lisa digitizing it, and Linda Ross-Mansfield on behalf of the parent of ConAdian giving permission to publish it. The quality isn’t great, but that’s in the original on our tape.
(9) BAEN FANTASY ADVENTURE AWARD. In addition to the grand prize winner reported here, “Dragon’s Heart” by David VonAllmen, Baen today issued a press release naming the runners-up:
- Second Place: “Deny the World with a Thought” by Benjamin Scott Farthing
- Third Place: “The Lady of Pain” by Steve DuBois.
The press release says the winners were selected by Baen editorial staff.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
- August 9, 1930 — Betty Boop premiered in the animated film Dizzy Dishes.
- August 9, 2004 — Donald Duck received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
- Born August 9 — Sam Elliot, 74. Genre roles include The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot, the Land of the Giants series, the 1999 Hulk film, Ghost Rider, The Golden Compass and The Good Dinosaur animated series.
- Born August 9 — Melanie Griffith, 61. Hebron roles in Cherry 2000, Alfred Hitchcock Presents series, voice work in the second Stuart Little animated film do likewise in the Back to the Jurassic film.
- Born August 9 — Gillian Anderson, 50. The X-Files of course, roles also in the Harsh Realm, Hannibal and American Gods series. Voice work in a number of animated series including Reboot as a character as a Data Nully.
- Born August 9 — Thomas Lennon, 48. Appeared in Transformers: Age Of Extinction, but more commonly a voice actor with some of his credits being for Justice League Action (most excellent series), one of the computers in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy film, The Dark Knight Rises, Archer, Rocky and Bullwinkle and Legend of the Three Caballeros.
- Born August 9 — Rhona Mitra, 42. First genre role was in a sf update of Beowulf, later roles include Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, SGU Stargate Universe, The Gates, an urban fantasy set in a gated community where no one is human, The Last Ship post-apocalypse series and The Strain, a Guillermo del Toro vampire series.
(12) SLIGHT UPDATE. While his comments on what happened with Worldcon programming are apt, John Scalzi may not be reading the same sites I do. Thread starts here —
1. Hey, on the subject of Worldcon, I can't help notice that many of the people who went out of their way to tsk-tsk when it was having some programming issues have been silent now that those programming issues have been resolved and mostly everyone's happy.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) August 8, 2018
Though I feel he’s overly optimistic about the silence of people hoping the Worldcon will eat itself alive — I could list three bloggers who are still writing about that.
(13) PICK THE ROCKET FROM THEIR POCKET. Here’s Russian retaliation for sanctions could include: “Russia targets the U.S. space program after latest round of ‘draconian’ sanctions” – Vice News has the story.
…On Wednesday the White House announced it would be imposing fresh sanctions on Moscow over its role in the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the U.K. earlier this year.
The latest round of sanctions, due to take effect on August 22, will impose broad restrictions on technology exports to Russia, with further sanctions set to hit Russian airlines and banks. The latest round of sanctions could block hundreds of millions of dollars in exports.
The Kremlin has strenuously denied any involvement in the incident, and on Thursday morning Russian lawmakers fumed over the latest U.S. announcement, calling it “draconian” and “absurd.”
One high-ranking Russian lawmaker then suggested hitting back at the U.S. where it hurts.
Sergey Ryabukhin, a senior Russian senator who is chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee for International Affairs, said Moscow could restrict exports of RD-180 rocket engines to the U.S.
RD-180 engines power the Atlas V rocket, which is used for military satellite launches, interplanetary missions and cargo runs to the International Space Station. The Atlas V has completed more than 75 launches with no major failures to date, and is key to the U.S. space program.
This isn’t the first time RD-180s have been caught in the middle of strained U.S.-Russian relations. Back in 2014, U.S. lawmakers opted to exempt the rocket engine from a ban on Russian military technology due to it importance to the U.S. space program.
(14) GUESS AGAIN. Popular Mechanics shares the revelation: “Weird Prehistoric Plant Turns Out To Be Weird Prehistoric Animal”.
Algae? Fungi? Some other type of plant? The Ediacaran organisms, ancient life forms that were common on in the Earth’s oceans half a billion years ago, have puzzled scientists for decades. Now two paleontologists feel confident that the ancient species were something completely different: animals that were unlike any seen on Earth today.
Scientists have discovered nearly 200 different types of Ediacarans within ancient rocks around the globe since the first discovery in the 1940s. It’s easy to identify an Ediacaran through their unique bodies, which are branched fronds taking the shape of fractals. Looking like long tubes that could grow up to six feet, Ediacaran fronds also had sub-fronds which replicated these patterns.
It’s easy to mistake an Ediacaran for a plant. But Jennifer Hoyal Cuthill at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, along with Jian Han at Northwest University in Xi’an, China, has found evidence that says otherwise. They came to their conclusion through studying Stromatoveris psygmoglena, a marine species first discovered in 2006 that dates back to around 30 million years after Ediacarans supposedly died out.
(15) THE BATTLE FOR THE UR-QUAN HIERARCHY. Olav Rokne of Edmonton’s Hugo Award Book Club wanted to be sure I didn’t miss this gaming litigation story:
“Cult classic video game Star Control 2, beloved for its science fiction storylines and diverse cast of alien characters, is the subject of a bitter legal feud over who has the rights to release an official sequel. Original Star Control creators Paul Reich and Fred Ford maintain that their author contract’s rights-reversion clause was triggered more than a decade ago, while games company Stardock claim they bought the rights during Atari’s bankruptcy sale.
“It’s a feud that blazes more hotly than a Thraddash Torch, but is harder to understand than Orz dialogue. Thankfully, copyright lawyer Leonard French has created two excellent YouTube videos to explain it to the layperson.”
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Kevin Standlee, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]
The final Hugo Awards Study Committee Report is now online at the Worldcon 76 WSFS Business Meeting page along with the draft agenda for this year’s Business Meeting.
Committee chair Vincent Docherty says:
The committee got going much later than planned (entirely due to my own lack of time due to other commitments) but once we got started there was very energetic participation by the 20+ committee members. The report summarises the discussion and makes a number of recommendations, including four specific proposals which are on this year’s Business Meeting agenda (three updates to categories and continuation of the committee), as well as a number of topics for further discussion next year, assuming the committee is continued.
The committee welcomes feedback from interested fans. We’re aware of some online reaction to the specific proposals already, which might result in adjustments to the proposals when we get to the Business Meeting.
My thanks to the committee members for their work this year.
Direct link to the report: “2018 Report of the Hugo Awards Study Committee”
An excerpt from the overview of their recommendations —
…Understanding that the overall operation of the categories works well, the Committee found several places for improvement:
The Committee found that the present definitions in the Fan Artist/Professional Artist category were potentially problematic. The Fan Artist category was initially designed in 1967, seeking to honor those offering their artistic talents to the broader community of fandom for little or no compensation. Such contributions were often in the form of illustrations for fanzines and convention programs. In the last fifty years, however, the form that fandom has taken has changed, and the result is that the definition of Fan Artist was found to be outdated. This was given an extensive examination. The Committee also acknowledges that some further examination of the other fan/professional categories may be in order, and has proposed to carry forward at least one further change in this area.
The Committee found the term “Graphic Story” problematic. Just as “comic book” has come to be taken as including work not literally comic, “graphic story” has come to be taken as excluding work appearing in comic books or comic strips. The Committee proposes re-titling to “Best Graphic Story or Comic.”
The Committee feels that altering “Best Fancast” into a “Best Podcast” category and removing the restriction on eligible productions receiving money is desirable. Many podcasts generate income from either limited advertisements, tip jars, or other small streams of income. While these are often not sufficient to support someone making a living, the income can still be substantial. As also discussed in the context of the Fan/Professional Artist categories, the use of fixed income thresholds was also found to be problematic.
In addition to the Artist categories, the Committee gave some consideration to cases of category overlap and/or gaps in categories in general, and would propose to continue examining this both in the context of current and proposed awards. This arose, in particular, in discussions surrounding the future of Best Novel and the proposed Best Translated category.
The Committee also briefly considered several other questions, including how well the Hugo Awards have handled the digital/print divide and differences between how terms are used in an “industry” context in non-industry discourse (e.g. by Worldcon attendees/WSFS members who are giving the awards) and in the Hugo Award definitions themselves. Consideration of various such questions fed into the discussions on specific proposals.
The second question, ‘How well do the categories honor what we wish to honor?’, generated more questions for examination. Given the interaction of this question and the question of how many Hugo Awards should be awarded, most of these questions have been recommended for passage forward for further consideration in the next year. In particular:
A Best Translated category was proposed relatively late in the Committee’s deliberations. As a result, the Committee did not have the time to study this potential award in sufficient depth alongside the rest of its workload, and there were multiple ideas as to what form this category should take (e.g. whether it should be limited to novels, cover all written works) and, if recommended, whether the award in question should be a Hugo or a non-Hugo award given by Worldcons. In particular, the Committee proposes to examine whether such an award is presently feasible.
A potential reorganization of the Best Dramatic Presentation categories was considered, and has been proposed to be passed forward should the committee be continued. Multiple alternatives, including a possible addition of one (or more) categories and redefining the Long/Short division into a TV/Movie division, would be given consideration if the committee is reauthorized.
A readjustment of the Best Semiprozine and Best Editor categories has been proposed and will be considered if the Committee is reauthorized. In particular, the Committee feels that the nature of the internet may have reduced the advantage that professional magazines have over non-professional productions, and that allowing professional publications to compete in a “Best Magazine” category would allow them to once again be honored. The Committee also noted various complications with the Best Editor categories; several proposals, including a possible realignment into “Best Anthology” and “Best Imprint,” will be evaluated if we are authorized to do so….
The report advances three proposed changes, and recommends further study of four more:
Part II: Specific Proposals
(1) Proposed continuation of the Hugo Study Committee
(2) Proposed Changes to the Fancast Hugo Category (with slight changes to the Semiprozine and Fanzine categories to maintain consistency)
(3) Proposed Changes to the Professional Artist and Fan Artist Hugo Categories
(4) Proposed Changes to the Best Graphic Story Hugo Category
(5) Proposal Recommended for Further Study: Addition of a Best Translated Work Hugo Category
(6) Proposal Recommended for Further Study: Replacement of Semiprozine and Best Editor Hugo Categories with Professional Magazine, Anthology/Collection, and Publisher/Imprint
(7) Proposal Recommended for Further Study: Potential Alterations to Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo Categories
(8) Proposal Recommended for Further Study: Best Art Book and Alterations to Best Related Work
(9) Proposal Not Recommended for Further Consideration: Best Novel Split
[Thanks to Vincent Docherty for the story.]
By Alasdair Stuart: Hello, I’m Alasdair Stuart and I own Escape Artists. We’ve been active for 14 years, we produce 4 weekly podcasts, have an archive of over 2,000 episodes covering science fiction, fantasy, horror and YA and we don’t charge for a single one of them.
I love my job. And this year, it involves being a part of Hugo history. Escape Pod is our science fiction show and it’s a Best Semiprozine finalist this year. That’s amazing. What’s more amazing is that it’s the first ever audio-first magazine to reach that level. For years, the category was dominated by print magazines. Then it was opened up to digital possibilities and the digital magazines spent a few years making their way into the running. Now you can draw a line with two distinct points on it showing the massive progress not just the field, but the awareness of it outside the legacy print magazines, has made. Print. Print and digital. Now, print, digital and audio in a glorious melange. The entire field this year is amazing and in no small part due to the massive variety in style, format, tone and approach between the finalists. Variety really is the spice of life for this industry and an award like this and remember, whoever controls the spice, controls the universe.
That’s why I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved in 2017, and also where it’s got us.
Take a look at the Escape Pod Hugo Voter Packet. Five episodes, a cross-section of 2017 that covers every editor, every host, reprints and originals as well as an entry from our yearly Artemis Rising project. There’s a sample of every major voice on the show there and it was consciously designed to be that way. We didn’t want to bury voters under hundreds of pages of material so, instead, went for some of our finest hours. Or, more commonly, our finest 35 minutes at a time. We work hard to ensure our stories fit inside a commute so you’ve always got something good to listen to.
Those stories were picked by our heroic slushers, polished and finalized by Norm Sherman (Now doing great work over at the revitalized Drabblecast), S.B. Divya and Mur Lafferty along with Benjamin C. Kinney. Then narrators and hosts, including Mur, Divya, Tina Connolly and myself were assigned, audio producers like Adam Pracht worked their magic and the episode was ready to go.
It takes a village to make a podcast. And that village works 52 weeks of the year to make sure it gets done. And I’ve never been prouder of the people I work with than I am right now. Especially as our fantasy show PodCastle just became the first podcast to be shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award and PseudoPod, our horror show, is a finalist in the BFS’ inaugural Best Audio award.
So if you’re a listener, thank you. If you’re a new listener, welcome aboard. We hope you enjoy the shows and where they’re going. Because after this year, we certainly do.
(1) BRONYCON TO END. Next year’s BronyCon is the last, it was announced at this weekend’s event in Baltimore.
BronyCon is the world’s largest family-friendly convention for and by fans of the animated TV series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
For 7 amazing years, this fandom has come together to help us host an amazing event. Next year will be our last BronyCon. Join us for a 4-day party, August 1-4, 2019 in Baltimore! Visit https://t.co/k6aY1p950o
— BronyCon (@BronyCon) July 29, 2018
Thanks again to all 5465 amazing fans who attended our event this year! We hope you enjoyed the weekend and will return again next year!
— BronyCon (@BronyCon) July 29, 2018
(2) HELP HUGO AND CAMPBELL FINALISTS ATTEND WORLDCON. Mary Robinette Kowal is running a GoFundMe appeal to help get more award finalists to Worldcon 76.
Kowal says, “We’ve managed to get six finalists to the Hugos who otherwise would not have been able to attend.”
At this writing, “Worldcon Finalist Assistance” has raised $2,335 of its $10,000 goal.
Earlier this year we raised money to bring one of our Campbell Nominees to the Hugos and were met with astounding support! Now, we want to offer that same opportunity to the other WorldCon Awards Finalists so that they can participate in the celebration of their work.
Much like the previous fundraiser, we want to raise money for:
- Plane tickets
- Hotel stays
- WorldCon memberships
- Per diem
- Ceremony attire rental
- Other potential costs, based on individual needs
Thankfully, we have a strong community that is dedicated to celebrating authors, their work, and these awards. We want to hear from the folks we’re voting for, and they should be able to attend their own party!
What happens if we raise more?
That money will go towards an ongoing fund dedicated to defraying the costs for future WorldCon Finalists.
(3) RINGBEARERS. David Doering is ecstatic, because of the LTUE connection:
BIG, BIG News here for Utah–INCREDIBLE NEWS in fact! Our own LTUE alumnus JD Payne and his writing cohort Patrick McKay will pen Amazon’s new The Lord of the Rings series. WOW! Those who met him last year know he’s one of the most approachable people and an inspired writer.
As Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke previously has suggested, creating the big-scope fantasy drama will involve a writers room. Payne and McKay were selected from a shortlist of scribes considered for the job, most of them from features, in the talent search, overseen by Amazon’s head of genre Sharon Tal Yguado.
Payne and McKay are rising feature writers who recently worked on Star Trek 4 for producer J.J. Abrams. I hear Abrams was one of a number of high-profile filmmakers and producers who recommended the duo for the LOTR job.
With the search for lead writers completed, the development of the series is moving to the next stage with the set up of . writers room to collaborate on Payne and McKay’s vision. It is unclear yet — but possible — that any of the other writers who made it to the short list for the gig would be invited and that the project would bring in a showrunner.
(4) STEP RIGHT UP. Nicholas Whyte has “Two small Hugo reforms looking for co-sponsors”. Full text at the link.
A couple of minor amendments to the rules that I’d like to put to this year’s WSFS business meeting, but I need at least one co-sponsor. I won’t be there myself, but I think that these are technical and uncontroversial, and encode existing best practice in order to remove ambiguity. Please let me know, in comments here or by other channels, if you are a Worldcon 76 member willing to add your name to the list of sponsors. The deadline is 2 August.
(5) TOY STORY LAND. In the Washington Post, Steve Hendrix visits Toy Story Land at Disney World, which opened in late June, where Baby Boomer favorites (Etch-a-Sketch, Yahtzee, Barrel of Monkeys) illustrate the rides and you can get snacks in a food station shaped as “Andy’s lunchbox propped open by Andy’s Thermos.” — “Larger-than-life charm at Walt Disney World’s Toy Story Land”.
You only have to go a few steps into Toy Story Land to sense that big thinkers have made huge efforts to make you feel small. The pieces used to assemble this toy-dimensional universe are agreeably supersize, from the Tinker Toy fences the size of satellite dishes and water mains to the life-size (because they’re alive) green army men marching to and fro in this 11-acre Pixarian play yard.
Specifically, it’s a backyard. In Walt Disney World’s newest major addition, which opened in late June at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park in the Florida resort, the Imagineers are trying to place you between the very blades (in this case, soaring shoots of bamboo) of a grassy lot filled with the daily detritus of a child at play.
(6) ABU DHABI DOO! John King Tarpinian says he wants to visit Bedrock — LAist reports “Warner Bros. Just Opened A Billion-Dollar Theme Park! And It’s Air-Conditioned! (But It’s In Abu Dhabi)”.
…It’s part of the United Arab Emirates’ efforts to become a world tourist destination. Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island (yaaaaas!) already features Ferrari World, which includes the world’s fastest rollercoaster, and Waterworld. (No, not that Waterworld.) You also have Dubai as a major travel center, with other local parks including Legoland, IMG Worlds of Adventure, and Motiongate.
Excited yet? Look, you can book a flight here! We’ve seen prices as low as $800 round-trip (though it’ll be around $2,500 if you want to leave, like, NOW).
You enter the park through Warner Bros. Plaza, which features old-school Hollywood style in an art deco setting. Like Disney’s Main Street U.S.A., it’s the portal to the rest of what this park offers. Then you can venture into the bright superhero world of Superman’s Metropolis or the darker realm of Batman’s Gotham City, as well as checking out the other cartoon-themed realms.
(7) PRESIDENTIAL MOMENT. Horror Writers Association President Lisa Morton is interviewed by The Witch Haunt.
WH: So many wonderful accomplishments so far! What other career would you have if not writing/publishing?
I actually have another career that I love: I’m a bookseller. I work for a used and rare bookstore, where I get to catalogue some truly magnificent rarities.
WH: How awesome that you get to go through daily life surrounded by stories. Which of your written works are you most proud of?
I think my novel Malediction, which was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award (but lost to Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep).
WH: Malediction, about curses, psychic powers, ghosts and such sounds like my perfect cup of horror. If you could have coffee with any horror author, gone or alive, who would it be?
He’s not primarily a horror author, but I have to say Philip K. Dick.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
- Born July 29, 1958 — The U.S. Congress passes legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
On this day in 1958, President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act creating NASA. The #NASA60th anniversary of our first day and birthday is October 1. See how we were signed into existence, bringing about decades of achievements: https://t.co/f7oKkcJRkN #OTD pic.twitter.com/jAWVA6S685
— NASA (@NASA) July 29, 2018
- July 29, 2002 — M. Night Shyamalan premieres SIGNS
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Over the Hedge asks if robots laugh. It’s complicated.
(10) RIVER’S END. Paul Weimer at Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview [book]: The Black God’s Drums by P Djelli Clark”.
The real richness of the novella is it is delight in invention, with an eye for creating a world that is rich for the potential for story and adventure. From the palpable existence of very active orishas, to an alternate history with a Confederacy, Haiti as a Caribbean power, and, naturally, airships, the world that Clark has created is a fascinating one that we only get a small short-novella taste of, but I want to read more of. The vision of New Orleans as a freeport where the Union, the Confederacy, Haiti and other powers all meet and trade, complete with extensive airship facilities is a compelling and fascinating one. There are hints that the world beyond what we see is similarly not the one we know, either, but really, Clark could tell many stories just in the North America and Caribbean around New Orleans. There is just simply a lot of canvas here for the author to unleash her protagonist and other characters upon.
(11) MIXED BAG. Adri Joy finds good and bad in this Fforde outing: Microreview [Book]: Early Riser by Jasper Fforde at Nerds of a Feather.
…while Early Riser is another magnificent entry in Fforde’s bibliography, it didn’t wow me to the same extent as The Eyre Affair or Shades of Grey did; I’m quite happy that it’s intended to be a standalone, and don’t feel a great need to explore any more of this particular world beyond what this volume offers. Everything just feels more constrained than Fforde’s other work, and while part of this is just the claustrophobic hibernal setting, I suspect it’s also just built on a smaller scale. The weird details and tangents are just interesting enough to carry the story they are in, without leaving much additional food for thought. It’s highly obnoxious to judge a work based on the timelines of the author’s unfinished series, but I suspect for a lot of long-time fans, Early Riser might be a mixed experience: great fun, a promising sign of more to come, and yet not quite what we were waiting for. That said, being a standalone at least means it doesn’t end with more tension, wrapping up Charlie’s story and its world-changing implications in a swift but ultimately satisfying conclusion.
(12) WHEN BEST MEANS BEST. Joe Sherry is on his way to a flying finish – “Reading the Hugos: Series” at Nerds of a Feather.
It’s time for another installment of Reading the Hugos and it’s time to either go big or go home. Since I’m already sitting at home while I write this, I think I’m going to go big and cover the abundance of excellence up for Best Series.
There is so much goodness here that it isn’t even fair.
Best Series last year was a trial run, a special one time category (pending the ratification at the WSFS business meeting at last year’s Worldcon) – which makes this the first full year of the category. I’m probably the only person who is going to think of things like this.
If last year was a proof of concept and this year represents the very high bar we should expect from the Best Series quality, we’re looking at one of the strongest categories on the ballot year after year. The series I ranked lowest on my ballot is exceptional. The only challenge here is that there is a lot of reading to do to at least get a brief overview of each series, let alone do a deep dive.
(13) SIODMAK’S BRAIN. Eric Leif Davin’s interview with Curt Siodmak, a chapter in his book Pioneers of Wonder (1999) has been posted at SF Magazines: “From Print to the Screen: A Conversation with Curt Siodmak by Eric Leif Davin”.
Upon graduation from the University of Zurich, Curt joined his brother in Berlin. There, the vagaries of the financial situation made it impossible to pursue his engineering career. Instead, he drifted into his brother’s film circle and wrote scripts for several of Robert’s films. Both brothers fled the Nazis in the early thirties and eventually ended up in Hollywood. Curt was quickly given a job writing a sarong picture for Dorothy Lamour and a succession of such assignments followed for the next two decades. A number of his assignments for Universal Pictures— The Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Son of Dracula, and others—have since become horror classics. This, as he makes clear in the following conversation, was entirely accidental. He had no particular affection for or interest in either horror or science fiction—indeed, he never read the stuff. It was merely a job….
I see. Did you always think science fiction was gibberish?
Of course, it was always gibberish. You know, the human mind is so limited. We write about societies on other worlds, and they resemble us so much. You look at the paintings of Brueghel or Bosch10 and all those demons look like men with two eyes and two arms—hard to think of a new shape. The same with societies. You go into outer space and you find fascism or communism or the Roman Empire or feudal Europe. We don’t have much in our brains.
I wrote a few books about space, Skyport and City in the Sky.11 A friend took me to visit engineers at Lockheed because he thought talking with them would help give me ideas. They got their ideas from reading my books!
For instance, instead of launching rockets from the ground to reach orbit, why not have a huge elevator into space, miles high? Launch things from the top and they save so much on fuel!
Didn’t Arthur C. Clarke already write about that in The Fountains of Paradise?12
Who? I don’t know. I never read that.
(14) DRAGONS. Coming to the Worldcon 76 art show.
— MonsterhedZ (@MonsterhedZ) July 29, 2018
— MonsterhedZ (@MonsterhedZ) July 29, 2018
(15) FAMILY OKAYS CARRIE FISHER APPEARANCE. Members of Carrie Fisher’s family are expressing support for her appearance in the next main-line Star Wars movie (SYFY Wire: ”Carrie Fisher’s brother, Todd, couldn’t be happier for Leia’s return in Star Wars: Episode IX”). It had already been reported that Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, approved the plan to recycle unused footage shot for Episode VII in Episode IX. Now Fisher’s brother, Todd Fisher, has given has given his blessing, also.
“I couldn’t be more personally thrilled and happy that our Carrie will reprise her role as Princess Leia in the new and final Star Wars Episode IX, using previously unreleased footage of her shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” he said. “As we, her family, as well as her extended family of fans around the world so believe, Carrie’s Princess Leia is forever entrenched in the franchise and her indelible presence is fundamental to the film. J.J. Abrams understood Carrie’s iconic role, and he has masterfully re-crafted this final entry to include this unused and very last footage of Carrie ever taken, without resorting to CGI or animatronics. Our family and her fans will look forward with great anticipation for this one! Her force will forever be with us!”
(16) AN ORVILLE TO LOOK FORWARD TO. Two Star Trek: TNG stars will unite on an episode of The Orville, albeit with only one of them in front of the camera (ComicBook.com: “‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ Alum Marina Sirtis to Guest Star in ‘The Orville’ Season 2“).
It was previously announced that Jonathan Frakes, who played Commander William Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation and directed several episodes of Star Trek television and two movies, will direct an episode of The Orville Season Two. It seems Frakes is bringing his Imzadi with him, as Marina Sirtis, who played Counselor Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation, recently shared a photo of herself with Frakes and [Seth] MacFarlane asking, “Where am I?”
Frakes seemingly confirmed that Sirtis is on The Orville set in the photo by responding to the tweet, saying “Cat’s out of the bag now…”
Trek Movie has since also confirmed that Sirtis will guest star in an episode of The Orville
Where am I? ? pic.twitter.com/G2rMFos02h
— Marina Sirtis (@Marina_Sirtis) July 26, 2018
(17) FALL TV SCHEDULES. Did you know you can find these on the Wikipedia? Grids for the larger networks in each country, except for PBS in the USA.
(18) PLAGUE PRACTICE. The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security created a simulation of a “moderately contagious and moderately lethal” emergent virus that could decimate the world population—in the literal sense of killing 10% of humans (Business Insider: “Pandemic virus simulation from Johns Hopkins shows our vulnerability”). The “Clade X” simulation concerned a bioengineered virus, but a novel emergent natural virus could have the same effect. The fictional situation is described as killing 150 million in 20 months of simulated time, expected to rise to 900 million eventually if no vaccine could be created. At that 20-month mark of simulated time, researches paused for a real-time day:
On May 15th, when the “Clade X” simulation was played out real-time, the people acting out the scenario were the sorts of individuals who’d be responding to this situation in real life. The players included former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Indiana Representative Susan Brooks (R), former CDC Director Julie Gerberding, and others with extensive experience….
“I think we learned that even very knowledgeable, experienced, devoted senior public officials who have lived through many crises still have trouble dealing with something like this,” Dr. Eric Toner, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health Security and the designer of the Clade X simulation, told Business Insider. “And it’s not because they are not good or smart or dedicated, it’s because we don’t have the systems we need to enable the kind of response we’d want to see.”
(19) HEAVENLY ABODES. Business Insider has posted some 1970’s vintage NASA concept drawings for three variants of space habitats, designed to hold between 10,000 and 1,000,000 people each (“NASA once envisioned life after Earth in these fantastical floating cities”). They credit NASA Ames Research Center for the photos, making them public domain and fair game if you want an aspirational image for your computer or smart phone wallpaper. The ships range from a simple toroid to a massive cylinder.
In the 1970s, physicists from Princeton University, the NASA Ames Research Center, and Stanford University created fantastical illustrations of massive orbiting cities for life after Earth. The scientists imagined a worse-case scenario in which our planet would be destroyed, and humankind would move to space.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, David Doering, Carl Slaughter, Nicholas Whyte, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day vondimpleheimer.]
(1) HUGO VOTING CLOSES JULY 31. Worldcon 76 sent members a reminder earlier in the week:
Voting for both will end on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 at 11:59 PM PDT. Online voting forms and Voter Packet downloads for both sets of awards are located on the Worldcon 76 website. The 2018 ballot can be found at https://www.worldcon76.org/hugo/vote.php and the 1943 ballot can be found at https://www.worldcon76.org/hugo/retro_vote.php.
(2) SHAKEN, NOT BEAMED UP. This is not my father’s Popular Mechanics, full of fannish esoterica like “Ten Forward Vodka Is What Riker Puts in His Martini”.
The next time you want to grab a vesper martini with a Vulcan or pour yourself a holodeck Harvey Wallbanger, reach for a bottle of Ten Forward. That’s right: There is now an officially licensed Star Trek: The Next Generation vodka made by Silver Screen Bottling Company and named for Guinan’s bar on the USS Enterprise-D.
The best thing about this novelty booze is clearly the bottle. Its type and graphics are an homage to the LCARS computer system seen on all the terminals and pads used throughout the show.
(3) AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH. BBC does a word study: “Tsundoku: The art of buying books and never reading them”.
Do you have a habit of picking up books that you never quite get around to reading?
If this sounds like you, you might be unwittingly engaging in tsundoku – a Japanese term used to describe a person who owns a lot of unread literature….
The word “doku” can be used as a verb to mean “reading”. According to Prof Gerstle, the “tsun” in “tsundoku” originates in “tsumu” – a word meaning “to pile up”.
So when put together, “tsundoku” has the meaning of buying reading material and piling it up.
“The phrase ‘tsundoku sensei’ appears in text from 1879 according to the writer Mori Senzo,” Prof Gerstle explained. “Which is likely to be satirical, about a teacher who has lots of books but doesn’t read them.”
While this might sound like tsundoku is being used as an insult, Prof Gerstle said the word does not carry any stigma in Japan.
(4) AMAZON’S AMBITIOUS GENRE TV PLANS. SYFY Wire has published a story (“Star Trek 4 Writers to Helm Lord of the Rings TV Series and More from Amazon Studios”) with a variety of news from Amazon about upcoming genre shows. The headline news is that “writers JD Payne and Patrick McKay [who wrote the upcoming 4th Star Trek movie] will oversee the Lord of the Rings TV series” which is expected to air no sooner than 2020. The series will be set in a time prior to the events of the LorR books (and movies) but little other details has been annoiunced by the studio. Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke has said “It’s a vast world and so many ways to go with that property. We brought in so many people with abundant enthusiasm for the property. They will move us into the the next stage as they build out this world.”
The SYFY Wire story also brings news of other genre series from Amazon:
- “THEM: Covenant[…] is: ‘Set in 1953, Alfred and Lucky Emory decide to move their family from North Carolina to an all-white Los Angeles neighborhood. The family’s home on a tree lined, seemingly idyllic street becomes ground zero where malevolent forces both real and supernatural threaten to taunt, ravage and destroy them.’”
- Half-hour comedy Upload“will revolve around the ability of humans to upload themselves to a selected afterlife” and is said to be “a sci-fi romcom [that] will star Robbie Amell [and] Andy Allo.”
- Cryptically, “Avengers: Infinity Wardirectors Joe and Anthony Russo are developing ‘a radical global storytelling disruption’ that will be ‘a large-scope, multi-layered international event series’ [and an] ‘origin mothership series will function as a fire-starter to ignite the creation of multiple original local language and local production series. All of the local series are meant to enhance the entire entertainment experience and will be available for the viewer to deep dive into an imagined layered world.’”
(Can anyone parse that last one and tell me what that last sentence really means?)
(5) THIRTY YEARS OF THE SIMPSONS?! Mike Riess, veteran of The Simpsons, has written a book about the series: Springfield Confidential.
Four-time Emmy winner Mike Reiss—who has worked on The Simpsons continuously since episode one in 1989—shares stories, scandals, and gossip about working with America’s most iconic cartoon family ever. Reiss explains how the episodes are created, and provides an inside look at the show’s writers, animators, actors and celebrity guests. He answers a range of questions from Simpsons fans and die-hards, and reminisces about the making of perennially favorite episodes.
In his freewheeling, irreverent comic style, Reiss reflects on his lifetime inside The Simpsons—a personal highlights reel of his achievements, observations, and favorite stories. Springfield Confidential exposes why Matt Groening decided to make all of the characters yellow; dishes on what it’s like to be crammed in a room full of funny writers sixty hours a week; and tells what Reiss learned after traveling to seventy-one countries where The Simpsons is watched (ironic note: there’s no electricity in many of these places); and even reveals where Springfield is located! He features unique interviews with Judd Apatow, who also provided the foreword, and Conan O’Brien, as well as with Simpsons legends Al Jean, Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta, and more…
(6) REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY. Adweek points out a reference-filled video: “Buckle Up. This Short Film From a Financial Tech Startup Is Part Black Mirror, Part ‘They Live’”.
Bank ads love to talk about your dreams. A bucolic retirement, an Ivy League education for your kids, that five-bedroom home with the “Sold” sign in the yard.
But a new long-form ad—or branded short film, more accurately—from Canadian financial tech startup Koho positions banks not as the enablers of your best life but rather as harvesters of dreams, brutally siphoning customers of both their money and their aspirations.
It’s not a pretty picture.
Dystopian, bleak and visceral, “Dream Thieves” accomplishes exactly what Koho set out to do with its first major marketing push. Led by Jason Chaney, Koho’s chief creative officer, the video was directed by French music video visionary Fleur Fortuné and produced by acclaimed Canadian agency Cossette, where Chaney previously served as chief strategist.
Sci-fi aficionados will notice no small number of references, some subtle and others overt, to previous movies, shows and even ads. While the overall tone may remind modern TV viewers of the Netflix anthology Black Mirror, Chaney says his team has counted roughly 30 references in “Dream Thieves,” including callbacks to A Clockwork Orange, Poltergeist and Apple’s iconic ad “1984.”
(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
When you complain about slow internet service, remember this:
The first transcontinental phone call was held between the device’s inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, and his former assistant Thomas Watson in 1915. Bell called from Dey Street in New York City to Grant Avenue in San Francisco. It took five telephone operators 23 minutes to manually connect the call. (Source: Wikipedia)
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
- July 28, 1956 – The Cyclops had its theatrical release
- July 28, 1995 — Waterworld premiered
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
- Born July 28 – Georgia Engel, 70. First genre appearance on the first Fantasy Island series followed by lots voice work in such productions as The Special Magic of Herself the Elf, Dr. Doolittle 2, and the Hercules series.
- Born July 28 – Lori Loughlin, 54. First genre work was in The Tom Swift and Linda Craig Mystery Hour series, also the Amityville 3-D film, the animated Justice League Unlimited series, likewise the animated Casper: A Spirited Beginning film.
- Born July 28 – Elizabeth Berkley, 46. Yes she’s done some genre work including The Twilight Zone, Perversions of Science which appears to be akin to the Tales from The Crypt series, the animated Armitage III: Polymatrix series, and the Threshold series which pops up regularly in these birthday notes.
- Born July 28 – Tom Pelphrey, 36. Regular role in the Iron Fist series and not much else for genre work other than appearing in Ghost Whisperer.
- Born July 28 – Dustin Milligan, 33. Regular role in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency series; other genre roles were on Andromeda (which I’ve not seen — worth seeing?), in the Final Destination 3 film, The Dead Zone, Supernatural, and a bit of probably horrible horror called Demonic.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Sheldon, by comics artist Dave Kellett, pays homage to one of sff’s founders. Who wouldn’t want to attend Franken-Con??
(11) RELOADED. Lou Antonelli’s Hugo nominee “Replacement Pins” have arrived. Photo at the post.
(12) A THOUSAND TIMES, NEIGH. The Verge shows why “The future of search-and-rescue robots might be centaur, not human”. The embedded video has the bot doing what looks for all the world like a tai chi routine for the first several seconds of the ~3 min video.
Centauro is the latest experiment by scientists to find the most adaptable and useful body-shape for robots designed to help in disasters. Usually, these machines are built like humans, with two arms and two legs, but researchers are increasingly finding that hybrid designs offer more flexibility. With its four wheeled legs, Centauro is more stable than a humanoid bot, but still retains the two forward-facing arms needed for manipulating objects like tools and doors. (Or, as in the video below, karate-chopping some plywood for fun.)
(13) WHEN THE SEA IS BOILING HOT. NPR explains how “Hot Weather Spells Trouble For Nuclear Power Plants”.
Air temperatures have stubbornly lingered above 90 degrees in many parts of Sweden, Finland and Germany, and water temperatures are abnormally high — 75 degrees or higher in the usually temperate Baltic Sea.
That’s bad news for nuclear power plants, which rely on seawater to cool reactors.
Finland’s Loviisa power plant, located about 65 miles outside Helsinki, first slightly reduced its output on Wednesday. “The situation does not endanger people, [the] environment or the power plant,” its operator, the energy company Fortum, wrote in a statement.
The seawater has not cooled since then, and the plant continued to reduce its output on both Thursday and Friday, confirmed the plant’s chief of operations, Timo Eurasto. “The weather forecast [means] it can continue at least a week. But hopefully not that long,” he said.
(14) NO SINGULAR SENSATION. Forbes says the public needs to catch up, that model is decades out of date: “There Was No Big Bang Singularity”.
…There is a theorem, famous among cosmologists, showing that an inflationary state is past-timelike-incomplete. What this means, explicitly, is that if you have any particles that exist in an inflating Universe, they will eventually meet if you extrapolate back in time. This doesn’t, however, mean that there must have been a singularity, but rather that inflation doesn’t describe everything that occurred in the history of the Universe, like its birth. We also know, for example, that inflation cannot arise from a singular state, because an inflating region must always begin from a finite size.
Every time you see a diagram, an article, or a story talking about the “big bang singularity” or any sort of big bang/singularity existing before inflation, know that you’re dealing with an outdated method of thinking. The idea of a Big Bang singularity went out the window as soon as we realized we had a different state — that of cosmic inflation — preceding and setting up the early, hot-and-dense state of the Big Bang. There may have been a singularity at the very beginning of space and time, with inflation arising after that, but there’s no guarantee. In science, there are the things we can test, measure, predict, and confirm or refute, like an inflationary state giving rise to a hot Big Bang. Everything else? It’s nothing more than speculation.
(15) BITE ME. Here’s some more bad science you’ll be less surprised to hear about. The Washington Post’s Emily Yahr notes that Discovery broadcast Megalodon: Fact vs. Fiction last night, even though there is no evidence that hungry prehistoric sharks are in the ocean: “A fake Shark Week documentary about megalodons caused controversy. Why is Discovery bringing it up again?”
At the beginning of this special, a narrator explains the dust-up. Unflattering headlines from news articles at the time (“Discovery kicks off Shark Week with dishonest documentary”) and angry tweets fly across the screen. The special keeps a tongue-in-cheek tone; at one point, shark conservationist Julie Andersen acknowledges the scenes of Shark Alley, a real-life area off the South African coast, was pretty accurate in the fake film.
“But let me repeat myself: There are no megalodons!” she adds.
“We get it, smarty-pants. No megalodons roam the modern seas,” the voice-over narrator shoots back. “But when they did, the oceans were like a Darwinian Thunderdome, survived only by the fittest and biggest.”
(16) HOLD FAST. Beth Elderkin at Gizmodo’s io9 takes a look at Star Wars weapons and the characters who love them (“A Shockingly In-Depth Examination of How Star Wars Characters Hold Their Weapons”). Though, one might quibble about just how shockingly in-depth it is. Blasters, light sabers, stunners, and even capes are considered. Poses and grips are dissected. As the author puts it, “We’re here to not only explore but celebrate the art of looking cool while holding a toy gun or fluorescent lightbulb on a stick.”
(17) BY GEORGE! Item 5 in yesterday’s Scroll set Camestros Felapton’s muse to weavnig a copacetic comma filk:
[With apologies to Culture Club]
Words running altogether every day
To make sense they need something in their way
I’m a sign without conviction
I’m a tiny mark that doesn’t know
How to work as punctuation
I come and go and come and go
Comma comma comma comma comma chameleon
I come and go and come and go
Usage would be easy if you used me when you pause
Or to break a clause, to break a clause
An em-dash is not my rival
I’m a punctual revival
It is not a matter of survival
Style guides are not my bible
Comma comma comma comma comma chameleon
I pause and go and pause and go
Commas would be easy if you used them sparingly
Or not at all or not at all
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, A.G. Carpenter, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Dann, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]
Worldcon 76 has released the 1943 Retrospective Hugo Awards Voter Packet, a collection of finalists for the 1943 Retro-Hugo Awards created to assist Worldcon members in making informed decisions when voting on this year’s Hugo Awards.
All the files are PDFs, and many are simply PDF documents containing links to the works either at the Internet Archive, Fanac.org or eFanzines.com.
As the committee explains:
Not all works shortlisted for the 1943 Retrospective Hugo Awards appear in the Retro-Hugo Voter Packet due to challenges with obtaining rights to distribute them.
Members of Worldcon 76 can access the 1943 Retro-Hugo Award Voter packet and vote on the 1943 Hugo Awards using the PINs emailed them by the committee.
Six nominees, none in packet
Six nominees, four in packet
- “Hell is Forever” by Alfred Bester [link to the Internet Archive]
- “Nerves” by Lester del Rey [PDF]
- “The Compleat Werewolf” by Anthony Boucher [PDF]
- “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag” by Robert A. Heinlein [link to the Internet Archive]
Six nominees, one in packet
- “The Star Mouse” by Fredric Brown [PDF]
Six nominees, three in packet
- “Etaoin Shrdlu” by Fredric Brown [PDF]
- “Proof” by Hal Clement [PDF]
- “The Sunken Land” by Fritz Leiber [link to the Internet Archive]
Dramatic Presentation – Short Form
Six nominees, none in packet
Editor – Short Form
Six nominees, none in packet
Six nominees, none in packet
All nominees in packet
- Art Widner [links to 13 items at Fanac.org]
- Arthur Wilson “Bob” Tucker [links to 20 items at Fanac.org]
- Donald A Wollheim [links to 5 items at Fanac.org]
- Forrest J Ackerman [links to 19 items at Fanac.org]
- Harry Warner, Jr. [links to 17 items at Fanac.org]
- Jack Speer [links to 16 items at Fanac.org]
All nominees in packet
- Futurian War Digest [links to 9 issues at eFanzines]
- Inspiration [link to 1 issue at Fanac.org]
- Le Zombie [links to 4 issues at Fanac.org]
- Spaceways [links to 6 issues at Fanac.org]
- The Phantagraph [link to cover of 1 issue at Fanac.org]
- Voice of the Imagination [links to 7 issues at Fanac.org]
[Thanks to Joe H. and Kevin Standlee for the story.]
Why I am Advocating for a Best Translated Novel Category
By Chris M. Barkley:
Author’s Note: Like Jo Van Ekeren, I am a member of a Hugo Awards Study Committee, which was formed last year at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, Finland. The views expressed in this editorial are solely mine and may not reflect the views and interests of anyone else serving on the Study Committee or anyone connected with any Worldcon, past or present.
My first encounter with the Hugo Awards began back in high school in the early 1970’s when I stumbled upon a copy of The Hugo Awards Volumes One and Two, edited by Isaac Asimov. Up until I cracked open this particular anthology, I had only been a casual reader of fantasy and science fiction. Reading it plunged me into a literary whirlpool that I have reveled in and loved ever since.
When I started thinking about proposing changes to the Hugo Award categories in 1998, I had no idea how to proceed. I had attended fifteen Worldcons but I had attended only a single Business Meeting, and that was only because I was passing where it was being held one afternoon and a friend grabbed me and asked me to vote on something of vital importance. I went in, raised my hand when asked and did so and went on my merry way without knowing what I had just supported.
At Chicon 2000, I became a regular attendee and over the years learned how to cajole, advocate, persuade and validate my points of view. I did learn quickly to develop some thick skin as my early efforts were mercilessly stonewalled and ridiculed on a regular basis.
Through the tireless efforts of myself and other dedicated fans, we made significant changes to the Hugo Award categories and all of them were for the better, in my opinion.
But, as time has gone by it has become evident to some (including myself) that we should take a serious look at all of the categories to see if ambiguities could be removed from the language in the WSFS Constitution, redefining, improving, eliminating or suggesting new categories altogether. The Helsinki Business Meeting commissioned such a Study Group last summer and I happily volunteered.
At the moment, the group is gearing up to reach a consensus to issue a report in time for Worldcon 76 in San Jose.
On June 9, I presented the idea of a Best Translated Novel to the group. I did so because I believe that it is time the World Science Fiction Convention become a truly global award of cultural distinction.
Of course, the group on the whole had its concerns about establishing a new category. On the whole, I would say that we are not in favor of turning the Hugo awards into the Grammys with a nearly endless parade of sub-categories and narrowly defined special interest awards.
Well, imagine my surprise when I opened the June 14 edition of the Pixel Scroll and saw tweets from Rachel S. Cordasco and Claire Rousseau espousing the very same idea! Needless to say, I was very excited to see this and contacted them to enthusiastically pledge my support.
But there is a problem; as Ms. Van Ekeren rightly pointed out, even though we are less than two months way from Worldcon, the time frame for discussing it in advance and scheduling it for a formal debate at the Business Meeting is less than desirable at this point. We are, in essence, the gatekeepers of the Hugo Awards. And while I relish this vital role, I have often been frustrated by the somewhat glacial pace of the process and the sometimes overwhelming sense of caution the members of the Business Meeting immerse themselves in.
Be that as it may, I am quite confident and certain that this proposal will be assigned to a study group, will be roundly debated in the coming year and an amendment will be presented at the Business Meeting in Dublin.
The very first World Fiction Convention in 1939 was held in New York City and it has been documented that the original intention was to have the convention named as homage to the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows. And as time has passed, and innovations and technology have made our community more global, it just makes good sense to extend the good will and honor of being nominated for or winning a Hugo Award to the rest of the world. Because we, as a community, must show that the Worldcon isn’t just a traveling genre party for English speakers, but the whole, wide world. As an analogy I offer the example of the Academy Awards; a Best Translated Novel is just like offering the equivalent of the Best Foreign Film category.
For decades, the Hugo Award was mainly dominated by writers from the United Kingdom and North America. And while we called ourselves members of the World Science Fiction Society, the first convention wasn’t held outside North America until 1957 (London, UK) or in Europe until 1970 (Heidelberg, West Germany). Even then, English-speaking writers have prevailed. That is, until recently.
My inspiration for supporting the Best Translated Novel was inspired by the recent Hugo wins by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Cixin Liu and Hao Jingfang. This shows that the inherent bias against writers from other countries and cultures is slowly melting away. And while no translated novels or short fiction is on the final ballot this year, I am reasonably sure more nominations from writers of different countries and cultures will be forthcoming.
In the meantime, I am writing this column to directly address some of the issues Ms. Van Ekeren pointed out in her editorial.
First, the intent of the proposed amendment is to honor translated novels seeing their first publication in English. In the WSFS Constitution, the definition of a novel (as of this writing) is: ”A science fiction or fantasy story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more. ” This would or should exclude works of non-fiction, manga or anything else that would not fit into what we traditionally know as the novel category. I take it for granted that some sort of provision will be written to prevent a nominee in the Translated category from also being considered in the Best Novel category.
If and when the definition of the novel category is changed, the wording of the Translated Novel category will be adjusted to suit the Constitution. The one thing that I would insist on inserting into the proposal is that translators of the work being honored also receive a Hugo for their efforts.
As to whether or not adding this new category will “dilute” the prestige of the Best Novel Award or make it a second class or lesser award, I completely reject that sort of reasoning. I have held many of them in my hands on many occasions during my four decades in fandom. Ask any of the recipients in any category whether or not they feel that their Hugo is any less special than anyone else’s. And the answer would probably be a unanimous NO. They are grateful and happy to have their work honored by knowledgeable fans.
One of the main objections seems to be finding eligible works to be nominated. This in turn brings us back to Dr. Cordasco, who has a Ph.D in literary studies, is a huge fan of translated fantasy and sf. She has been running a website completely devoted to tracking translated works for several years. (Speculative Fiction in Translation)
She has also meticulously compiled a list of works (431 as of this writing) published in English: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1RyMOXmi1Zd4yvuTVHQcw5gka8YLZ1In42GJn6Rhh12E/edit#gid=0
Here is a list of translated novels published just in the past two years:
2018 ( Published or scheduled so far)
- Anna by Niccolò Ammaniti, translated by Jonathan Hunt (Italian)
- The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum, translated by Ira Moskowitz (Hebrew)
- The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan, translated by Will Vanderhyden (Spanish)
- Elven Winter by Bernhard Hennen, translated by Edwin Miles (German)
- Alphaland by Cristina Jurado, translated by James Womack (Spanish)
- Oneiron by Laura Lindstedt, translated by Owen Witesman (Finnish)
- Ball Lighting by Cixin Lui, translated by Jowl Martinsen (Chinese)
- Faces From the Past by Rodolfo & Felicidad Martinez, translated by Rodolfo Martinez (Spanish)
- Nekomonogatari White by Nisioisin, translated by Ko Ransom (Japanese)
- Apple and Knife by Intan Paramaditha, translated by Stephen J. Epstein (Indonesian)
- Frankenstein in Baghdad by Achmed Saadawi, translated by Jonathan Wright (Arabic)
- Collected Stories by Bruno Schulz, translated by Madeline G. Levine (Polish)
- Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Vol 6: Flight by Yoshiki Tanaka, translated by Tyran Grillo (Japanese)
- Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Vol 7: Tempest by Yoshiki Tanaka, translated by Daniel Huddleston (Japanese)
- The Emissary by Yoko Tawada, translated by Margaret Mitsutani (Japanese)
- Sisyphean by Dempow Torishima, translated by Daniel Huddleston (Japanese)
- Science: Hopes and Fears by Juza Unno, translated by J. D. Wisgo (Japanese)
- Eighteen O’Clock Music Bath by Juza Unno, translated by J. D. Wisgo (Japanese)
- The Invisible Valley by Su Wei, translated by Austin Woerner (Chinese)
- A Hero Born (The Condor Heroes, Book 1) by Jin Yong, translated by Anna Holmwood
- I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist, translated by Marlaine Delargey (Swedish)
- The Sacred Era by Yoshio Aramaki, translated by Baryon Tensor Posadas (Japanese)
- SRDN: From Bronze and Darkness by Andrea Atzori, translated by Nigel Ross (Italian)
- The Dying Game by Asa Avdic, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles (Swedish)
- On the Trail of the Grail by Svetislav Basara, translated by Randall A. Major (Serbian)
- Heavens on Earth by Carmen Boullosa, translated by Shelby Vincent (Spanish)
- Bodies of Summer by Martin Felipe Castagnet, translated by Frances Riddle (Spanish)
- Our Dead World by Liliana Colanzi, translated by Jessica Sequeira (Spanish)
- The Twenty Days of Turin by Giorgio De Maria, translated by Ramon Glazov (Italian)
- Hadriana in All My Dreams by Rene Depestre, translated by Kaiama L. Glover (French, by way of Haiti)
- The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden (Spanish)
The Invented Part by Rodrigo Fresan, translated by Will Vanderhyden (Spanish)
- Orbital Cloud by Taiyo Fujii translated by Timothy Silver (Japanese)
- Spells by Michel de Ghelderode, translated by George MacLennon (French, by way of Belgium)
- Me by Hoshino Tomoyuki, translated by Charles De Wolf (Japanese)
- You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann, translated by Ross Benjamin (German)
- Listening for Jupiter by Pierre-Luc Landry, translated by Arielle Aronson & Madeleine Stratford (French, by way of Canada)
- Kzradock the Onion Man by Louis Levy, translated by W. C. Bamberger (Danish)
- Blumenberg by Sibylle Lewitscharoff, translated by Wieland Hoban (German)
- Only She Sees by Manel Loureiro, translated by Andres Alfaro (Spanish)
- The Irish Sea by Carlos Maleno, translated by Eric Kurtzke (Spanish)
- Fever by Deon Meyer, translated by K. L. Seegers (Afrikaans)
- The Mountains of Parnassus by Czeslaw Milosz, translated by Stanley Bill (Danish)
- The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan, translated by Yuri Machkasov (Russian, by way of Armenia)
- Malacqua by Nicola Pugliese, translated by Shaun Whiteside (Italian)
- Locus Solus by Raymond Roussel, translated by Rupert Copeland Cunningham (French)
- 2084 by Boualem Sansal, translated by Alison Anderson (French, by way of Algeria)
- Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski, translated by David French (Polish)
- Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell (Spanish, by way of Argentina)
- The King in the Golden Mask by Marcel Schwob, translated by Kit Schluter (French)
- Hexagrammaton by Hanuš Seiner, translated by Julie Novakova (Czech)
- The Book of the Dead by Orikuchi Shinobu, translated by Jeffrey Angles (Japanese)
- Familiar Things by Hwang Sok-yong, translated by Sora Kim-Russell (Korean)
- Monday Starts on Saturday by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky, translated by Andrew Bromfield (Russian)
- Moon Scars by Ángel Luis Sucasas, translated by James Womack (Spanish)
- S(Es) by Koji Suzuki, translated by Greg Gencarello (Japanese)
- Archeon by Alessandro Tagliapietra, translated by Patricia Keiller (Italian)
- Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Vol 4: Stratagem by Yoshiki Tanaka, translated by Tyran Grillo
- Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Vol 5: Mobilization by Yoshiki Tanaka, translated by Tyran Grillo
- Amatka by Karin Tidbeck, translated by Karin Tidbeck (Swedish)
- Bullseye! by Yasutaka Tsutsui, translated by Andrew Driver (Japanese)
- Radiant Terminus by Antoine Volodine, translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman (French)
- Frontier by Can Xue, translated by Karen Gernant (Chinese)
If you thoroughly peruse the Google doc, you will see that several dozen translated novels have been published in the past decade or so.
Are these works “Hugo worthy”? That determination should be made by the readers and fans, not a committee. I also submit that the point is moot since none of the works above will be nominated since there is no category, so to speak. But the fact that they have been translated and published in such great numbers seems to indicate, at least by the publishers, that there is a market out there for translated novels.
And yes, this would mean that fans who are interested in voting in this category would have to be devoted enough to buy and read more books. And frankly, I there isn’t much of a downside to that.
So, what I am asking is the members of the Study Committee and the World Science Fiction Society Business Meeting is to take yet another leap of faith with me.
In doing so, I point back to my advocacy of splitting the Best Dramatic Presentation and Editing categories, the establishment of the Best Graphic Story and my co-sponsorship of the Best Fancast categories. I helped work for their passage because I had a gut feeling they would work. And each of them has not only become popular among fans who vote on the awards, they have also drawn in new fans who had never heard of the Hugo Awards or the World Science Fiction Convention before.
After all the travails, waiting, frustration, arguing and controversy, what, you might ask, are you getting out of this? Although I achieved a certain low level of infamy over the years, I have never sought to be in a spotlight or capitalize on my advocacy.
This week, I celebrated my forty-second year in fandom. On June 25, 1976, I showed up at a convention which happened to be located just a few miles from where I lived (Midwestcon 27), bought a five dollar membership and changed my life forever.
What I have attempted to do over the past eighteen years is try to pay back all of the friendships and wonderful experiences by helping to ensure the legacy of the Hugo Awards and the works they honor and to make sure they endure far beyond after I take my leave from fandom and life. Each year, I admit feeling a bit of pride as the winners in the categories I helped shepherd into existence receive their just due.
And for me, that is more than enough.