Pixel Scroll 4/11/21 On The Scroll I’d Rather Be In Philadelphia

(1) JOCO VIRTUAL CRUISE IN PROGRESS. [Item by Todd Mason.] The Jonathan Coulton Cruise, an annual “fringe”/”geek” cultural floating convention, is this year providing a free online version of the (essentially) convention… “JoCo Virtual Cruise 2021”. It started April 10 and runs through April 14.

A worldwide pandemic may have prevented the physical sailing of JoCo Cruise 2021 from happening, but the spirit of JoCo Cruise SHALL NOT BE DENIED OR CONTAINED. As such, we at The Home Office have uploaded our collective consciousness to the cloud, and JoCo Cruise is going to ride the ones and zeros as JoCo Virtual Cruise 2021.

Concerts, panels, gaming, Shadow Cruise (attendee-run) events, dance parties, a Fancy Pants Parade—all the things you love about JoCo Cruise, packed together and streamed over the Netterwebs for your socially-distanced convenience!

(2) HOOFING THROUGH HISTORY. Jason W. Ellis has posted “Notes on A Science Fiction Walking Tour in New York City”.

Looking ahead to the New York City of Print NEH Summer Institute, I wanted to collect some notes and resources together for Science-Fiction-focused locations around the city, including the original Manhattan-based offices for the magazines Amazing Stories and Astounding Science-Fiction, and home and business locations in Brooklyn of importance to the SF writer Isaac Asimov….

(3) HATE CRIMES IN CAMBRIDGE. [Item by rcade.] The SFF writer/editor Cecilia Tan tweeted Saturday evening that she had just witnessed an assault outside a Cambridge, Massachusetts, bookstore. Thread starts here.

I’m in line to enter the bookstore and there is an Asian American couple in front of me. A white guy in tights wearing a mask goes to walk between us and he just outright punches the Asian guy in the ribs as he goes by!

The Asian guy grabbed his arm and yelled what the hell is wrong with you? The white guy pulled away yelling “what the hell you think is wrong with me?” And then walked away quickly before I could get my phone out to take a photo.

The incident occurred outside Porter Square Books. Tan said the store has security cameras it will be checking for potential footage to provide police.

Tan was walking home from the bookstore when she encountered another hate crime in Porter Square. The Judy Jetson hair salon had a boarded-up window with the words, “You can break our window but you can’t break our Pride.”

The salon’s Instagram feed revealed Friday that someone threw a brick through a window displaying a Pride flag. The salon stated, “Our support for the LGBTQ community will never be silenced.”

(4) HELPING VARLEY. A new post at John Varley’s blog, “Recovering”, announces a GoFundMe to sustain him after his quadruple bypass:

… When I had the heart attack and quadruple by-pass surgery, Spider [Robinson] came to the rescue again. He asked his good friend, Steph Herman, to co-ordinate a fundraising project to help cover costs of rehab, rent and bills which were barely being covered by social security and diminishing royalties.

The “Help John Varley survive his Quadruple Bypass” appeal has raised $27,020 of its $30,000 goal in the first week. When the fund hit the $25K mark Varley and his partner Lee Emmett wrote:

…If he had raised a tenth that much I would still have been stunned. There have been some donations from old friends (and thank you all for that; you know who you are), but the bulk has come from people I don’t know, have never met, and probably will never meet. (Though I would love to.)

To think that my stories have moved so many people … well, it literally chokes me up. After all, I’m just a guy sitting here in the dark, trying to think up stuff that might amuse people … and perhaps a little more if I’m lucky and it all comes together. Being a writer of short stories and novels is a lonely profession. There are no story conferences, no meetings in the writers’ room to hash out the details. There’s just me and this damn blank screen.

Over the years I have had a certain amount of “fan” mail, and it has all been greatly appreciated. But nothing like this. In the end, all I can say is thank you…. 

(5) DIGNITY, ALWAYS DIGNITY. In his autobiography In Joy Still Felt, Isaac Asimov discussed Discon I (1963). He explained that at the last-minute chair George Scithers asked him to replace Theodore Sturgeon as master of ceremonies at the Hugo Awards, also at the last minute.  Asimov explains that he really wanted a Hugo and thought being MC meant he wouldn’t get one.

Finally, there was only one Hugo left to be awarded, and it was labeled ‘Dramatic Award.’  I didn’t think anyone would be interested in that because it would be go to some movie or TV show with no one involved who was personally known to anybody, so I let the audience wait while I launched into a short speech of not-so-mock annoyance.

‘You know why I’ve never had a Hugo?’ I said, waving my fist in the air.  ‘It’s because I’m Jewish, that’s why.  It’s because of anti-Semitic prejudice in high places,  It’s because you’re all a bunch of Nazis.’  Naturally, this got a big laugh, and I opened the envelope and found that the ‘Dramatic Award’ typed on it had been put there as a blind.

The final Hugo, of course was for me.  I started reading, ‘For putting the science in science fiction, Is—‘ and stopped cold.

There wasn’t any question I was surprised.  The day never existed when I could fake that look of stunned astonishment on my face,  The audience roared; it roared for ten minutes.  When everyone died down and I caught my breath, George handed me my Hugo and I said, ‘You’ve ruined my shtick, damn it.’  (I tried to feign indignation, but I was smiling all over.  I was delighted.)

Apparently Ted Sturgeon had been chosen master of ceremonies because they wanted to give me a Hugo, and apparently he had been kept away by family difficulties.

I said, ‘Then why did you ask me to be master of ceremonies, George?  There were plenty of other choices.’

‘Oh well,’ said George, ‘we thought it would be funnier that way, but I have to admit no one ever dreamed you would lead up to it so beautifully.’

I said, ‘Don’t you think it would look peculiar to have me give a Hugo to myself?’

‘Sure,’ said George, ‘but the committee decided you were the only writer in science fiction who could give himself a Hugo without being embarrassed,’

“Wiseguy,’ I said–but he was probably right.

(6) MASLOW’S FOUNDATION. Horror Writers Association members have been passing around the link to “Maslow’s pyramid of code review” (2015) since it was tweeted by Space & Time’s Leonard Speiser. Originally aimed at writers of computer code, Angela Yuriko Smith’s reinterpretation for fiction authors is here: “Maslow’s Pyramid Of Code—Writer Mod”.

…The layers are correct, secure, readable, elegant with the pinnacle of accomplishment as altruist. I have printed this pyramid and have pinned it to my wall so I can evaluate my own manuscripts with it. It’s beautiful, simple and it makes sense. You can see Dein’s original post referring to Maslow’s Pyramid of code here. Here’s my modified version for writers and poets:

Any piece of writing should be:

  1. Correct: does the written work do what it’s supposed to? Has it been edited and formatted? Have the redundancies been weeded out? Is it as correct as possible? Have run on sentences and passive voice been eradicated?
  2. Secure: does the written work have vulnerabilities? Is it stored in the cloud, or backed up on your computer? Do you need a hard copy? Do you save on an external drive?
  3. Readable: is the written work easy to read and comprehend? Are there plot holes and lapses in logic? Does the dialogue feel natural? Is the world believable? Can the reader follow along and understand what you wish to communicate?
  4. Elegant: does the written work leverage well-known patterns? Does it make use of balanced syntax? Is there texture, rhythm and a variety of adjectives? Does the piece flow, bringing the reader along for the ride or must they struggle to stay afloat in the text? Is there a compelling start and satisfying end?
  5. Altruist: does the written work leave the humanities better than what they were? Does it inspire other writers to improve their work as well? Is it cleaning up unneeded bias, improving diversity, introducing better writing through worn out trope refactoring? Does it have a purpose beyond ego, whether this is to teach, enlighten or entertain?

(7) SLF NEEDS JURORS. The Speculative Literature Foundation is calling for volunteer jurors to help read applications for the Older Writers Grant.

Ideally, we’re looking for people who are well read in speculative fiction, but we’d also like a mix of readers, writers, librarians, teachers, editors, etc. who are capable of judging literary quality in a work.

Please include the grant you wish to be a juror for and a paragraph about what your qualifying background is to serve as a juror: for example, your interest in / connection to the field. (i.e., “I’m an ardent reader!” or “I’ve been writing SF/F for seven years…”). Please feel free to ask any questions you may have as well.

Finally, we’re offering a tiny honorarium of $25 — it’s not much, but enough to buy a nice dinner as a reward for your labors!

If interested, please send a brief note to L.D. Lewis (lekesha@speculativeliterature.org) with the subject line: JUROR.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • April 11, 1986 –On this day in 1986, The Toxic Avenger was released nationally two years after it premiered in New York City. It directed by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman (who is credited here as Samuel Weil) as written by Kaufman and Joe Ritter. It was the first installment of The Toxic Avenger franchise which would encompass three more films, a Marvel Comics series and a short lived children’s animated series. Mitch Kessler was the Toxic Avenger with his voice  provided by Kenneth Kessler. Critics at the time ranged in their opinions from disgusted to delighted with the mainstream ones decidedly not liking it; it currently holds an excellent approval rating of sixty three percent  among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. Kaufman and Herz are currently attached to a reboot with Peter Dinklage in the lead role.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 11, 1883 – Camille Marbo.  Won the Prix Femina, later served on its jury, then its president.  Commander of the Legion of Honor.  Medal of French Gratitude for war work. With her husband mathematician Émile Borel, founded La revue du mois (“Review of the month”), scientific & literary.  Friend of Marie Curie.  Three times president of the Société des gens de lettres.  Of her forty books, novels, monographs, memoirs, I know of only one translated into English, The Man Who Survived; it is ours and a masterwork.  (Died 1969) [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1892 – William Timlin.  The Ship That Sailed to Mars (hello, David Levine) really does have to be enough for us, because WT never finished The Building of a Fairy City.  Luckily The Ship is superb.  You can get it on paper if you look hard – even the 1977 Easton Press ed’n is plenty rare – but quick and cheap for Kindle in English, Spanish, Japanese.  The Wayback Machine’s has a hint of WT’s calligraphy.  Here is the ship’s arrival.  Here is the finished palace of the princess.  Here is another moment.  This is from The Building.  (Died 1943) [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1920Peter O’Donnell. Best remembered as the creator of Modesty Blaise of whom EoSF says her “agility and supple strength are sufficiently exceptional for her to be understood as a Superhero.” O’Donnell also wrote the screenplay of The Vengeance of She based on H. Rider Haggard’s Ayesha: The Return of She novel. (Died 2010.) (CE) 
  • Born April 11, 1941 – Gene Szafran.  Fourscore covers.  Here is Double Star.  Here is Down in the Black Gang.  Here is To Ride Pegasus.  Here is Bridge of Ashes.  Here is Beyond the Beyond.  (Died 2011) [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1949 Melanie Tem. She was the wife of genre author Steve Rasnic Tem. A prolific writer of both novels and short stories, she considered herself a dark fantasy writer, not a horror writer. Bryant, King and Simmonds all praised her writing. If I had to make recommends, I’d say start with Blood MoonWitch-Light (co-written with Nancy Holder) and Daughters done with her husband. ”The Man on the Ceiling” won her a World Fantasy Award.  She died of cancer which recurred after she’d been in remission. (Died 2015.) (CE) 
  • Born April 11, 1953Byron Preiss. Writer, editor and publisher. He founded and served as president of Byron Preiss Visual Publications, and later of ibooks Inc. If I remember correctly, ibooks was the last publisher for Zelazny for most of his books. Any idea what happened to those rights after ibooks went into receivership?  The only book I can find him writing is the children’s novel Dragonworld which is co-authored with Michael Reaves who was involved in including Gargoyles and Batman: The Animated Series. (Died 2005.) (CE) 
  • Born April 11, 1951 – James Patrick Kelly, age 70.  Five novels, a hundred shorter stories, a dozen poems.  Two Hugos, one Nebula.  “On the Net” in Asimov’s, and for twenty years a story there every June.  Interviewed in ClarkesworldLightspeedStrange Horizons.  His Website says “I’ve left some things for you here.  Take whatever you want.  Remember me.”  [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1955Julie Czerneda, 66. She won the Prix Aurora Award for her Company of Others novel. She also received one for Short Form in English for her “Left Foot on A Blind Man” Story, both early in her career.  She has a long running series, The Clan Chronicles which is as sprawling as anything Martin conceived. (CE) 
  • Born April 11, 1957 – Marina Fitch, age 64.  Three novels (alas, Let Us Prey is lost in the German Laßt uns jagen), a dozen shorter stories.  Loves rubber-stamp art, bicycling, Celtic harp & harmonica duets with her husband.  [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1963Greg Keyes, 58. Best known for The Age of Unreason tetralogy, a steampunk and magical affair featuring Benjamin Franklin and Isaac Newton. He also wrote The Psi Corps Trilogy and has done a lot of other media tie-in fiction including Pacific RimStar WarsPlanet of The ApesIndependence Day and Pacific Rim. His Age of Unreason series (Newton’s CannonA Calculus of AngelsEmpire of Unreason and The Shadows of God) was nominated for a Sidewise Award.  (CE) 
  • Born April 11, 1973 – Jon Evans, age 48. Two novels for us (Arthur Ellis Award, Foreword Book of the Year), four others; travel to a hundred countries; software engineering.  Writes for The Times of IndiaThe Globe and Mail, The WalrusTechCrunch.  Founding director of the GitHub Archive Program.  [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1974Tricia Helfer, 47. She is best known for playing the Cylon model Number Six the rebooted Battlestar Galactica series and voicing Sarah Kerrigan in StarCraft II gaming franchise. She played Charlotte Richards aka the Goddess of All Creation on Lucifer. She also voiced Boodikka in Green Lantern: First Flight, and had one-offs in SupernaturalWarehouse 13, the unsold 17th Precinct pilot, a recurring voice role in The Spectacular Spider-ManChuckHuman TargetTron: UprisingThe Librarians and apparently played Dracula once in Van Helsing. (CE) 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Get Fuzzy plays with movie titles in what Daniel Dern assures is “fan-type-humor.” It would certainly fit in here.
  • “Off the Mark” shows what the term “superspreader” brings to the Mark Parisi’s mind.

(11) ALL ABOARD. Now that there will be an in-person Worldcon this year, there will be a Traincon from Chicago to the Worldcon and back announced “Conductor” Bill Thomasson. A Traincon 6 Facebook group is hosting discussions and providing an alternative source of updates.

DisCon III will take place in Washington, DC, from Wednesday, December 15, through Sunday, December 19. This news is very recent and I won’t be looking at the details of Traincon organization until after Amtrak resumes regular service next month, but I wanted to give you a heads up. My tentative plan, if the timing works, is to maximize the rail experience by taking the Cardinal in one direction and the Capitol Limited in the other. I am also contemplating the possibility of giving us a full free day in DC to check out all the wonderful tourist attractions in that city (or to assist the con with load-in/load-out if that is your thing). I would be interested in hearing whether you would prefer that free day before or after the con.

As usual, the group ticket discount will depend on how many people sign up, but I don’t yet know the details of how Amtrak will be handling group reservations in 2021. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to a really great trip and to a great Worldcon. Hope to see
you there!

(12) SHE BITES. BoingBoing has scoured the internet for these examples of “The Profound Eldritch Horror Of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’”.

There are apparently a bunch of different, totally unconnected people who have made their own Lovecraftian versions of “Jolene.” 

(13) SERCON. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Time to say something about Perry Middlemiss’ zine The Alien Review which showed up on eFanzines last week. It’s a new zine edited by Perry Middlemiss that…wait for it…DISCUSSES AND REVIEWS SCIENCE FICTION. Is that legal?

The first issue has reviews (Piranesi, The Ministry For The Future, a batch of 2020 novellas, and sff award winners from 2019) along with other pieces, including a reprint of a Leigh Edmonds article from 1971.

(14) DOGWHISTLE. Dammit, these books won’t slate themselves. Three-time Dragon Award finalist Declan Finn tries to fire up his colleagues in “Enter: the Dragons”.

Last year for the Dragon awards, many people in my circles hated the finalists.

And trust me, I mean it when I say that they hated the finalists. There was one caveat to that, but that’s all I recall.

My response was simple

“DUH! Why do you think I try to have this discussion EVERY MONTH FOR HALF THE YEAR? YOU THINK I LIKE THIS? IF I WANTED IT FOR MYSELF, I’D ONLY TALK ABOUT MYSELF.” [Insert sound of hair pulling and rage]

Ahem.

(15) YOU SPIN ME ROUND. Smithsonian says get your Ingenuity merch now! Mars Ingenuity Collection.

Celebrate the Ingenuity helicopter making history as the first powered flight on another planet — Mars!

(16) KEEPING AN EYE ON THINGS.  In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport notes how companies such as SpaceX and OneWeb are flooding space with satellites “no bigger than a shoe box” and how these small satellites are improving communications and aiding the reporting on climate change. “Satellites becoming smaller, less expensive in revolution of space business”.

The avalanche was a stunning disaster, 247 million cubic feet of glacial ice and snow hurtling down the Tibetan mountain range at 185 mph. Nine people and scores of animals were killed in an event that startled scientists around the world.

As they researched why the avalanche occurred with such force, a team of researchers studying climate change pored over images taken in the days and weeks before and saw ominous cracks had begun to form in the ice and snow. Then, scanning photos of a nearby glacier, they noticed similar crevasses forming, touching off a scramble to warn local authorities that it was also about to come crashing down.The images of the glaciers in 2016 came from a constellation of satellites no bigger than a shoe box, in orbit 280 miles up. Operated by San Francisco-based company Planet, the satellites, called Doves, weigh just over 10 pounds each and fly in “flocks” that today include 175 satellites. If one fails, the company replaces it, and as better batteries, solar arrays and cameras become available, the company updates its satellites the way Apple unveils a new iPhone….

(17) YOU ARE VERY QUALIFIED. Mind Matters introduces another DUST short in “Sci-fi Saturday: When “The Workplace” Is Anything But”.

This sci-fi short will appeal to many who have had a job at the corner of Rat and Race and sense that’s a blessing compared to the alternative. It starts with a woman reassuring herself, “I AM the boss,” and cuts to her interviewing a job candidate who seems off-putting at first but appears qualified — and then things get weird.

Don’t miss the scene where the new employee is shown around the office as if he had spent all his life in the wilderness and had never been in a conventional 21st century office before. And then the awful truth begins to dawn…

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Star Trek Spinoff” on Saturday Night Live explains what happens when cadets from “small, exclusive Starfleet Academy” show up on the bridge during a crisis.

[Thanks to rcade, John King Tarpinian, Todd Mason, Daniel Dern, Rob Thornton, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day rcade.]

Pixel Scroll 7/24/20 Khrushchev’s Due At Tralfamadore. File 770, Where Are You?

(1) COMIC-CON STREAM IS LEGAL, GETS BLOCKED ANYWAY. “Cartoon Network and Star Trek Panels at San Diego Comic-Con Were Blocked by Youtube’s ContentID” – which reminded The Digital Reader of what happened to the Hugo Awards livestream in 2012.

Alas, no one was paying attention to Youtube’s ContentID copyright bot yesterday until after it shut down a couple officially sponsored livestreams from San Diego Comic-con. The first to get the boot was a Star Trek panel, and then a couple hours later Cartoon Network’s panel was also cut off.

Here’s why this is newsworthy: Both of these panels were blocked by Youtube the networks were streaming content that belonged to the networks.

Ars Technica reported “CBS’ overzealous copyright bots hit Star Trek virtual Comic-Con panel”

ViacomCBS kicked things off today with an hour-long panel showing off its slew of current and upcoming Star Trek projects: DiscoveryPicardLower Decks, and Strange New Worlds.

The panel included the cast and producers of Discovery doing a read-through of the first act of the season 2 finale, “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2.” The “enhanced” read-through included sound effects, effects shots, and storyboard images meant to bolster the actors as they delivered lines from their living rooms and home offices.

Even if the presentation didn’t look like a real episode of Discovery to the home viewer, it apparently sounded close enough: after the Star Trek Universe virtual panel began viewers began to lose access to the stream. In place of the video, YouTube displayed a content ID warning reading: “Video unavailable: This video contains content from CBS CID, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”

After being blacked out for about 20 minutes, the panel was restored, and the recording of the virtual panel has no gaps in playback.

The Digital Reader reminded everyone: 

This is not the first time that livestreams have been blocked when they were legally using content; I am reminded of the  Worldcon awards dinner livestream that was shut down because someone played a Doctor Who clip. The video had been provided by the BBC (the show had won an award that year) but apparently no one told Ustream’s bot.

(2) TIME IS DRAGON ALONG. The Dragon Award nominations closed July 17, so what better day for their site to make its first post in over a year? Er, wait, it’s July 24! Makes a good reason to call it “A Blast from the Past (Winners) – Part 1”:

…Now in its sixth year, the Dragon Con hosted Dragon Awards has proven to be the defining “must” list for the greatest in genre novels, media, comics, and games. While the world is locked inside, members and fans have turned to past award winners to build their reading lists.

We reached out to eight winners and asked them to talk about their award-winning novels, their other works, the Dragon Awards ceremony, and what they have coming up that they would like to share….

This is your chance say as much as you want right now to tell all the fans what they should know about you as a person and author, your work, and your career.

…Harry Turtledove: It’s all L. Sprague de Camp’s fault. I found his Lest Darkness Fall in a secondhand bookstore when I was about 15, and started trying to find out how much he was making up (very little) and how much was real (most). And so, after flunking out of Caltech the end of my freshman year (calculus was much tougher than I was), I wound up studying Byzantine history at UCLA. I got my PhD in 1977. If I hadn’t found that book then, I wouldn’t have written most of what I’ve written. I would have written something–I already had the bug–but it wouldn’t be alternate history. I wouldn’t be married to my wife; I met her when I was teaching at UCLA while my professor had a guest appointment in Greece. I wouldn’t have the kids and grandkids I have. I wouldn’t be living where I’m living. Other than that, it didn’t change my life a bit. Imagining me without reading Lest Darkness Fall is alternate history on the micro-historical level.

(3) FAN RESOURCES. Congratulations to Fanac.org for reaching new milestones in preserving fanhistory.

FANAC by the Numbers. Numbers can be misleading, but they do give us some idea of the progress we are making in documenting our fan history. As of today, we have 11,526 fanzine issues consisting of more than 179,423 pages. This is up from the 10,000 fanzine issues and 150,000 pages reported in our April update. Our YouTube channel is now at 621 subscribers, and 90,356 views, up from last time’s 500 and 75,000. Fancyclopedia 3 has exceeded 32,000 items.

(4) TIED UP AT THE DOCK. Next year’s JoCo Cruise, technically a Jonathan Coulton fan cruise but really a week-long ocean cruise of all sorts of nerdery, science fiction fandom, and boardgaming, has been postponed a year to March 5-12, 2022. John Scalzi, a regular participant, also wrote a post about the announcement.

(5) COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT SUIT UPDATE. Publishers Weekly reports on the defendants’ appeal in the media: “Internet Archive to Publishers: Drop ‘Needless’ Copyright Lawsuit and Work with Us”

During a 30-minute Zoom press conference on July 22, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle urged the four major publishers suing over the organization’s book scanning efforts to consider settling the dispute in the boardroom rather than the courtroom.

“Librarians, publishers, authors, all of us should be working together during this pandemic to help teachers, parents, and especially students,” Kahle implored. “I call on the executives of Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House to come together with us to help solve the challenging problems of access to knowledge during this pandemic, and to please drop this needless lawsuit.”

Kahle’s remarks came as part of a panel, which featured a range of speakers explaining and defending the practice of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), the legal theory under which the Internet Archive has scanned and is making available for borrowing a library of some 1.4 million mostly 20th century books….

But the practice of CDL has long rankled author and publisher groups—and those tensions came to a head in late March when the IA unilaterally announced its now closed National Emergency Library initiative, which temporarily removed access restrictions for its scans of books, making the books available for multiple users to borrow during the Covid-19 outbreak. On June 1, Hachette, HarperCollins, John Wiley & Sons, and Penguin Random House filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In a press release announcing the suit, executives at the Association of American Publishers said the Internet Archive’s scanning program was not a public service, but an attempt “to bludgeon the legal framework that governs copyright investments and transactions in the modern world,” and compared it to the “largest known book pirate sites in the world.”..

(6) GEEK PARTNERSHIP SOCIETY FUNDRAISER. At least four Minneapolis-St. Paul conventions call the Geek Partnership Society’s office space home, and a host of other groups use it, too (listed below). The facility may not be able to afford to stay open, and after three weeks the GPS GoFundMe has raised only $13,010 of its $40,000 goal.

Geek Partnership Society may not be able to honor the terms of its lease and could face permanent closure if funds cannot be raised by end of July, 2020.

Please act now to support our facility, our community programs, and the resources we strive to provide to all geeks in the Twin Cities. 

So, what happened?

-Clubs and individuals canceled their rentals  of GPS’s venue spaces as people complied with sheltering orders and tried to maintain social distance.

-GPS Charity Auction events that we rely on for income were canceled as local conventions were canceled or postponed.

-Some of our large annual contributors are also having financial difficulties. because their conventions were postponed/cancelled for 2020. 

What needs to happen now?

We need your help to keep GPS running through the end of the year. This will provide the time needed to plan a more flexible revenue model going into 2021. Our goal is to raise $40,000.

The GPS blog has more information: “GoFundme Launched – Save Your Geek Partnership Society”.

Here are some groups and programs who rely on GPS’ support.

  • Crafty Geek / Make It Sew
  • Creative Night, the Group!
  • Echo Base Lightsaber Building Club
  • Geek Physique
  • Geeks Read Book Club
  • GPS Photography Club
  • GPS Movie Appreciation Posse
  • Tsuinshi Anime Club
  • United Geeks of Gaming
  • Annual Volunteer Appreciation Party (community wide)
  • Geek presence at Art-A-Whirl
  • Holiday Emporium
  • Scavenger Hunt

(7) THE REDISCOVERED COUNTRY. 1000 Women in Horror author says book could have been ten times longer”: Entertainment Weekly interviews author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas. 

The history of the horror genre is routinely told via the careers of male directors such as James Whale, Alfred Hitchcock, George Romero, John Carpenter, and Wes Craven. Author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas‘ just-published book 1000 Women in Horror: 1895-2018, takes a very different approach, showcasing the contributions of women directors and actors as well as those who have toiled, often unsung, in other capacities. “When we think of women in horror, we default to Janet Leigh or Texas Chain Saw Massacre, those really iconic images from horror films,” says Heller-Nicholas, who has previously written books on Dario Argento’s Suspiria and Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45.  “We think of terror as being embodied through women’s bodies — screaming and running. I really wanted to explode that a little bit and say the person at the editing deck might be a woman, the person in the director’s chair might be a woman, the cinematographer might be a woman. If we move outside of the ‘single male genius’ who else is working on this stuff? And it turns out there’s actually some pretty amazing people, and some of them are women. There’s a lot more going on that women embody in horror than screaming. Not that there’s anything wrong with screaming. It’s hard work!”

Heller-Nicholas was inspired to have 1895 be the chronological starting point for her collection of mini-biographies after seeing a film from that year titled The Execution of Mary Stuart. “It’s a very very early example of special effects,” says the writer. “It’s Mary going up to the guillotine and having her head chopped off and her head being picked up, that’s the end of the film. I was first drawn to this because Mary is played by ‘Mrs Robert Thomas.’ I was fascinated by ‘Mrs Robert Thomas.’ Seemingly it’s a woman, but she’s defined through her relationship to a man. But I did some digging around and apparently it was actually played by a man. There was something about it, a little it of playfulness and the idea that gender and identity is slippery even in 1895.”

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 24, 1952 Blackhawk: Fearless Champion of Freedom serial premiered. This was a fifteen-chapter black-and-white movie serial from Columbia Pictures, based on the Blackhawk comic book, first published by Quality Comics, but later owned by DC Comics. The latter company would re-use the name in several versions of the group. It was directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet (as Spencer Bennet) Fred F. Sears and produced by Sam Katzman. It was written by George H. Plympton, Royal K. Cole and Sherman L. Lowe. It starred Kirk Alyn, Carol Forman and John Crawford. Despite being very well received, the Blackhawk serial was the last film serial shown on air flights. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 24, 1802 – Alexandre Dumas.  Published work amounts to over 100,000 pages, translated into a hundred languages, inspiring two hundred motion pictures.  Born on Haiti (as it now is); father, a general and the son of a marquis; grandmother, a black slave; Dumas, the name he used, was hers.  His Nutcracker, a version of Hoffmann’s, is the basis of Tchaikovsky’s.  The Wolf-Leader, an early werewolf novel; The Marriages of Father Olifus, just (2017) re-translated as The Man Who Married a MermaidThe Count of Monte Cristo, a root of The Stars My Destination.  (Died 1870) [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1878 – Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron Dunsany.  Chess and pistol-shooting champion of Ireland.  Fifty Tales of Pegana with its own history, geography, gods.  Ten dozen unlikely tales told by Joseph Jorkins to anyone buying him a whiskey at their club.  Clute and Langford say D’s prose has muscular delicacy.  In Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise Blaine and D’Invilliers recite D’s poetry.  Translated into Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish.  (Died 1957) [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1895 Robert Graves. Poet, mythologist, historical novelist, critic. Author of, among other works, The White Goddess (a very strange book which Yolen quotes from in The Wild Hunt), two volumes called The Greek MythsSeven Days in New Crete which Pringle has on his Best Hundred Fantasy Novels list, and more short fiction than really bears thinking about. (Died 1985.) (CE)
  • Born July 24, 1916 – John D. MacDonald.  While the score of books (I warned you about these puns) featuring salvage consultant Travis McGee and his friend Meyer are favorites of many, JDM is here for three SF novels, five dozen shorter stories, he wrote until the end.  Wine of the Dreamers has been translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish; its title if not already meaning something else might name fan activity or SF – or if not unfair to nondrinkers.  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1936 Phyllis Douglas. She also appeared in two episodes of the Trek series in “The Galileo Seven” and “The Way to Eden”  and in a two-parter of  Batman (“The Joker’s Last Laugh“ and “The Joker’s Epitaph”) where she was Josie. She was in an uncredited role in Atlantis: The Lost Continent, and her very first role was at age two in Gone with The Wind. (Died 2010.) (CE)
  • Born July 24, 1936 Mark Goddard, 84. Major Don West, the adversary of Dr. Zachary Smith, on Lost in Space. Other genre appearances were scant. He played an unnamed Detective in the early Eighties Strange Invaders and he showed up on an episode of The Next Step Beyond which investigated supposed hauntings as Larry Hollis in “Sins of Omission”. Oh, and he was an unnamed General in the Lost in Space film. (CE)
  • Born July 24, 1945 – Gordon Eklund, 75.  Some are fans, some are pros, some are both; GE won a Nebula co-authoring with Greg Benford, another: they have written two novels (including If the Stars Are Gods, expanded from the novelette), half a dozen shorter stories, together.  Three decades after Stars GE won a FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Award as Best Fanwriter.  Twenty novels, six dozen shorter stories, translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Serbian, including two early Star Trek novels, of which one has a Dyson sphere.  Recent collection, Stalking the Sun.  [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1946 – Tom Barber, 74.  Three dozen covers for books and magazines, a dozen interiors.  Here is the May 79 Galileo.  Here is The Men in the Jungle (in German as The Brotherhood of Pain).  Here is the Mar 76 Amazinghere is the Mar 19; the magazine itself is well-named.  [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1950 – Bob Fowke, 70.  Two dozen covers, a dozen interiors.  Here is The Golden Apples of the Sun.  Here is Connoisseur’s SF.  Here is King Creature, Come.  Here is La flamme des cités perdues; not all who wander are lost, but here is The Lost Star.  [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1951 Lynda Carter, 69. Wonder Woman of course. But also Principal Powers, the headmistress of a school for superheroes in Sky High; Colonel Jessica Weaver in the vampire film Slayer; Moira Sullivan, Chloe Sullivan’s Kryptonite-empowered mother in the “Prodigy” episode of Smallville; and President Olivia Marsdin In Supergirl. (CE)
  • Born July 24, 1959 – Zdrvaka Evtimova, 61.  Author and translator.  Nine short stories for us in or translated into English, much more outside our field.  Besides Bulgaria and Anglophonia, published in France, Germany, Iran, Japan, Poland, Russia, Spain, Vietnam – two dozen countries.  Six Bulgarian awards.  Member of the Bulgarian Writers’ Union and the UK Writers’ League.  See her here (Contemporary Bulgarian Writers; in English, with a photo, book covers and excerpts, links to online stories in English).  [JH]
  • Born July 24, 1964 Colleen Doran, 56. Comics artist and writer. She’s done includes Warren Ellis’ Orbiter graphic novel, Wonder WomanLegion of SuperheroesTeen Titans, “Troll Bridge”:by Neil Gaiman and her space opera series, A Distant Soil. She also did portions of The Sandman, in the “Dream Country” and “A Game of You”. She’s tuckerized Into Sandman as the character Thessaly is based on Doran. (CE)
  • Born July 24, 1981 Summer Glau, 39.  An impressive run in genre roles as she was River Tam in the Firefly series and of course the Serenity film, followed by these performances: Tess Doerner in The 4400, as Cameron in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Bennett Halverson in Dollhouse (is this worth seeing seeing?), Skylar Adams in Alphas and lastly Isabel Rochev who is The Ravager in Arrow. (CE)

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side shows that somebody needs a manual for first contact. (Fist contact?)
  • And ever is heard a discouraging word — Dilbert shows it’s tough to be a beginning writer.

(11) PILING ON. James Davis Nicoll finds “Five More Massive Works of SFF to Add to Your Must-Read Pile”.

Are we having fun with the lockdown yet? Some of you may live, like me, in a region where our pal COVID-19 seems to be under control—or you may be trapped in some dire realm where it is not. Yet, for even those of us who are momentarily spared, respite may prove temporary—it’s always best to stay safe and plan for the possibility of continued isolation. That suggests that it would be prudent to add to your personal Mount Tsundoku, preferably with tomes weighty enough to keep one occupied through weeks of isolation and tedium.  Omnibuses could be the very thing!  Below are five examples…

(12) READ SANDERSON CHAPTERS. As they’ve done with previous books in the Stormlight Archive, Tor.com will be releasing one chapter from Brandon Sanderson’s upcoming novel Rhythm of War each week from now through its release in November. “Read Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson: Prologue and Chapter One”.

(13) REAL PERSEVERANCE. In The Guardian, Alison Flood interviews Brandon Sanderson, who discusses the long struggle he had to become a successful fantasy novelist. “Brandon Sanderson: ‘After a dozen rejected novels, you think maybe this isn’t for you'”.

Watching the numbers tick up on Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter is a remarkable way to pass the time. The fantasy author initially set out to raise $250,000 (£198,500) to release a 10th anniversary, leather-bound edition of his doorstopper novel, The Way of Kings. In less than 10 minutes, it became the most-funded publishing project of all time when it topped $1m. With 15 days still to go, he’s raised more than $5.6m. All this for a book that was just one of 13 Sanderson wrote before he’d even landed a publishing deal.

Most writers have novels that never see the light of day. But 13? That’s serious dedication. The books were written over a decade while Sanderson was working as a night clerk at a hotel – a job chosen specifically because as long as he stayed awake, his bosses didn’t mind if he wrote between midnight and 5am. But publishers kept telling him that his epic fantasies were too long, that he should try being darker or “more like George RR Martin” (it was the late 90s, and A Song of Ice and Fire was topping bestseller charts). His attempts to write grittier books were terrible, he says, so he became “kind of depressed”….

(14) PRESSED OWN AND OVERFLOWING. Alasdair Stuart’s The Full Lid 24th July 2020opens with a tour of duty with Matt Wallace’s Savage Legion. TheSin Du Jour author has turned in his first epic fantasy novel and it’s fiercely intelligent, uniquely perceptive and exactly what the genre needs.

After that, I take a look at the March trilogy of graphic novels. Covering the life of Rep. John Lewis, they’re engrossing, pragmatic, inspiring and horrific. They’re also by some distance some of the best graphic storytelling I’ve ever read.

Our interstitials this week feature the men of The Witcher doing things. Well, attempting things. Well, in the case of baking, being present while it notionally occurs…

This week’s playout is a unique and wonderful version of The Cure’s The Lovecats by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Enjoy! I did.

The Full Lid is published every Friday at 5pm BST. It’s free, and you can find both sign up links and an archive of the last six months at the link above.

(15) KING REVIEWS BEUKES. [Item by Rob Thornton] In the upcoming issue of the New York Times Book Review, Stephen King has great things to say about Lauren Beukes’ post-apocalyptic novel “Afterland,” which is described by King as “science fiction” at one point and a “neo-noir” at another. Everybody gets into the naming game: “Stephen King on Lauren Beukes’s ‘Splendid’ New Thriller”.

…The flap copy on my advance edition declares that “Afterland” is a “high-concept feminist thriller that Lauren Beukes fans have been waiting for.” It is a thriller, I grant you that, and feminist in the sense that most of the men have been erased by a flu virus that develops into prostate cancer, but Beukes is too wise and story-oriented to wham away at ideas that have been thoroughly explored, sometimes at tedious length, on cable news and social media. She lets her tale do the talking, and the results are quite splendid.

This is your basic neo-noir, coast-to-coast chase novel, and Beukes, who is from South Africa, sees America with the fresh eyes of an outsider. …

(16) UNHAPPY HOLIDAYS. “Blocked Busters: Disney Pushes 17 Movie Release Dates” – NPR assesses the damage.

When Warner Brothers pulled Christopher Nolan’s $200-million thriller, Tenet, from its release schedule earlier this week, industry analysts expected a domino effect, and Disney announced this afternoon that the first 17 dominos have fallen.

The Mouse House’s live-action remake of Mulan, the last big-budget Hollywood blockbuster scheduled for August, is now “unset,” on the company’s release schedule.

And the studio has pushed back or cancelled the release of another 16 Disney and Fox films, in a ripple-effect that will affect movie releases for years.

One Searchlight film, The Personal History of David Copperfield, is still scheduled for summer, though pushed back two weeks to August 28. But such other Fox films as Kenneth Branagh’s Agatha Christie remake Death on the Nile, and the supernatural thriller film The Empty Man have been delayed to later in the fall, while Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, which was to have opened in October, has been postponed indefinitely.

Other films, including Ridley Scott’s historical thriller The Last Duel, and the supernatural horror film Antlers have been moved to 2021.

And in perhaps the most telling shift, three Star Wars pictures and four Avatar sequels, originally scheduled to alternate as Christmas releases starting next year, have all been moved back a full year, meaning the pandemic will affect film releases through Christmas of 2028.

(17) GOOSEBUMPS. Not the series, the Harvard study: “Getting to the bottom of goosebumps”

Harvard scientists find that the same cell types that cause goosebumps are responsible for controlling hair growth

If you’ve ever wondered why we get goosebumps, you’re in good company — so did Charles Darwin, who mused about them in his writings on evolution. Goosebumps might protect animals with thick fur from the cold, but we humans don’t seem to benefit from the reaction much — so why has it been preserved during evolution all this time?

In a new study, Harvard University scientists have discovered the reason: the cell types that cause goosebumps are also important for regulating the stem cells that regenerate the hair follicle and hair. Underneath the skin, the muscle that contracts to create goosebumps is necessary to bridge the sympathetic nerve’s connection to hair follicle stem cells. The sympathetic nerve reacts to cold by contracting the muscle and causing goosebumps in the short term, and by driving hair follicle stem cell activation and new hair growth over the long term.

Published in the journal Cell, these findings in mice give researchers a better understanding of how different cell types interact to link stem cell activity with changes in the outside environment.

(18) FIAT LUX. CNN delivers “11 billion years of history in one map: Astrophysicists reveal largest 3D model of the universe ever created”.

A global consortium of astrophysicists have created the world’s largest three-dimensional map of the universe, a project 20 years in the making that researchers say helps better explain the history of the cosmos.

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), a project involving hundreds of scientists at dozens of institutions worldwide, collected decades of data and mapped the universe with telescopes. With these measurements, spanning more than 2 million galaxies and quasars formed over 11 billion years, scientists can now better understand how the universe developed.

“We know both the ancient history of the Universe and its recent expansion history fairly well, but there’s a troublesome gap in the middle 11 billion years,” cosmologist Kyle Dawson of the University of Utah, who led the team that announced the SDSS findings on Sunday.

“For five years, we have worked to fill in that gap, and we are using that information to provide some of the most substantial advances in cosmology in the last decade,” Dawson said in a statement.

[Thanks to Nina Shepardson, Errolwi, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Josh Hesse, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Cally Soukup, James Davis Nicoll, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Coronavirus Threat Causes
Some Conventions to Cancel or Reschedule

Book fairs and sff conventions, like all public events, were already making decisions whether to proceed in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, but today’s World Health Organization announcement will step up the level of concern even higher. From the New York Times: “W.H.O. Declares Pandemic as Number of Infected Countries Grows”.

…“Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, chief of the W.H.O., said at a news conference in Geneva.

“We cannot say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough,” he added. “All countries can still change the course of this pandemic.”

But now there is evidence on six continents of sustained transmission of the virus, which has infected more than 120,000 people and killed more than 4,300, and by most scientific measures the spread qualifies as a pandemic. The designation itself is largely symbolic, but public health officials know that the public will hear in the word elements of danger and risk.

PopCult HQ has been tracking 8 conventions worldwide that are planned for next weekend and as of yesterday, only two have been called off.

Seattle’s large Emerald City Comic Con, which was planned for March 12-15, announced on March 9 that it has been postponed until Summer 2020 (the date to be named later.)

Each year the Emerald City Comic Con team works their hardest to do right by the thousands of fans that come together in Seattle. We want to create a space for you to gather, be yourselves and make memories with those who matter to you most. We have been closely monitoring the situation around the COVID-19 virus in Seattle, and, after many hours of conversation internally and consultation with local government officials and the tourism bureau, we have decided to move next week’s Emerald City Comic Con to Summer 2020 with date and detail announcement forthcoming. We did everything that we could to run the event as planned, but ultimately, we are following the guidance of the local public health officials indicating that conventions should now be postponed.

The Manga Comic Con in Leipzig, Germany is part of the Leipzig Book Fair, which also will not take place. Public health policies contributed heavily to the decision:

…The Leipzig Public Health Office decided to follow the directive of the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Economics, which states that the traceability of contact persons at major events must be guaranteed. The directive explicitly stipulated that every participant in the fair must provide written proof that he or she is not from any of the identified risk locations and has not had contact with people from such locations. Considering the approximately 2,500 exhibitors and 280,000 expected visitors, this was not a reasonable task. The health of our exhibitors, visitors, guests, partners and employees is our top priority. The City of Leipzig and Leipziger Messe have therefore decided to cancel the event entirely.

However, next weekend’s conventions in Canada, Ireland, and several U.S. cities east of the Mississippi are going forward.

On the other hand, the Burning Cat gaming con slated for May in Portland, OR has already canceled.

Not on PopCult HQ’s list, Consonance 2020, the Bay Area filk convention slated for March 20-22, has been cancelled. Chair Lynn Gold made the announcement today.   

And Perth, Australia’s Swancon 2020, calendared for April 25-27, has been called off. The convenors told Facebook followers, “This Really is The Darkest Timeline”:

In light of information from the Department of Health, the Western Australian Department of Health, and the advice of medical professionals in our community such as Dr Karen McKenna, the Convention Committee, Convention Steering Committee and WASFF Board have voted to cancel Swancon 2020.

Early projections indicate that the height of the pandemic is likely to be late April to early May, and as such we would be irresponsible to hold a large public gathering, regardless of the amount of hand sanitizer and tissues we provided.

The governor of Washington state today set a policy banning large gatherings in three counties which could impact Norwescon“Inslee orders halt on large gatherings in Seattle region, asks schools to prepare for closure, to slow coronavirus spread”

Flanked by the leaders of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett, and of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, Inslee said he was ordering the cancellation of large church services, sporting events, concerts, festivals and conventions.

“Today I am ordering, pursuant to my emergency powers, that certain events in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties with more than 250 people are prohibited by order of the governor,” Inslee said, at a King County government building in downtown Seattle. The three counties are “experiencing significant community transmission, significant outbreaks and they are large population centers.”

The order is in effect through the end of March, Inslee said, but it is “highly likely” it will be extended beyond that time.

Norwescon is scheduled for April 9-12. The convention committee has posted this response:

The Executive team is aware of the March 11 announcement by WA Gov. Inslee regarding COVID-19 containment plans. We are in active discussion within the Executive team and with the hotel to determine our best options. We will provide updates as soon as possible, but do need some time to coordinate. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we do our best to adjust to a quickly moving situation.

BALANCING ACT. Where public health officials have not yet instituted any restrictions, few events can unilaterally cancel without jeopardizing their future.

The International Association For The Fantastic In The Arts, in “COVID-19, Cancellations, and Credits/Refunds”, said their economic survival would be in doubt if they cancelled the event, therefore ICFA 41 will still take place March 18-21 in Florida.

The conference will meet. We have to meet certain guaranteed minimums for room occupancy, food and beverage expenditures, etc., specified in our contract with the hotel, or pay out of pocket. It is not an exaggeration to say that cancellation would jeopardize the very existence of the IAFA.

All conrunners have a recent example in Arisia of what happens when penalty clauses kick in because an event has been cancelled for reasons outside the provisions of their facilities contracts.

In that vein, after conferring with their hotel the chairs of UK’s Eastercon, Concentric 2020, planned for April 10-13, put out this statement on March 8:  

The Eastercon committee met with the Hilton on Friday and discussed with them the concerns of the Eastercon membership. We asked about their policies on refunds for the event and any rooms booked with the potential issues from Covid-19. The Hilton have confirmed to the committee that, as the government’s stance at this point is business as usual, they will not be offering any additional or exceptional circumstances towards bookings that have already been made.

We have discussed if there would be any possibility of a change in their stance on this matter. We have been advised that the only time at which there would be a change would be if running the convention would be either impossible or illegal due to requirements put in place either from the Government or from an authorised public body such as Public Health England or the World Health Organisation….

Pittsburgh’s furry fandom Anthrocon (July 2-5) has also been consulting with and monitoring information from public health agencies, and in a March 9 statement said they plan to go on with the con:

At this time, there is no intention of canceling or delaying the Anthrocon 2020 convention. None of the agencies listed above has advised either course of action. We continue to monitor the situation daily, however, and should circumstances warrant either a cancellation or rescheduling, we will issue that announcement without delay on our web site and through all of our social media outlets. Please be patient. None of us can predict the course that this epidemic will take, and to what extent – or even if – it will be a concern in July. Our only choice is to rely on the advice of the medical professionals who are best situated to offer such advice.

At this time, no U.S. medical agency is advising travelers to cancel plans to travel to Western Pennsylvania, whereas of this date no cases of COVID-19 have been reported.

Today, the SFWA Board of Directors today said the Nebula Conference (May 28-31) is going forward, because of the penalties that would result from cancellation: “A Message from SFWA Regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19)”.

…At the moment, SFWA is planning to hold the conference with adjustments to reduce the risks of spreading the virus. The SFWA Board and the Nebula Conference events team are talking about this evolving situation daily including the possibility that things may shift enough that we need to cancel the in-person event. We will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments.

The Nebulas are 80 days away and every day brings us a better understanding of what’s happening with COVID-19.

Our challenge is that the hotel will not allow us to cancel the event without paying penalties unless it is “illegal or impossible” to host it. Similarly, they will not offer us any refunds. This limits our choices. With that said, the board’s priority in decision-making still remains with the health and safety of our attendees and by extension their families.

The chairs of CoNZealand, the 2020 Worldcon, Norman Cates and Kelly Buehler made this public statement on March 6:

Although New Zealand has not been affected by Covid-19 to the extent of the rest of the world, our government and the NZ Ministry of Health have extensive civil defence plans. We are monitoring the situation and will be prepared for what the future brings.

As usual, we strongly advise all members purchase their own comprehensive travel insurance for any foreign travel, including cancellation insurance. If you have already purchased insurance for your journey to New Zealand, we recommend that you check the full terms with your insurance provider.

We are in touch with the Ministry of Health as well as with our venue planning managers. We want everyone to have a safe and healthy convention, and we will be following best practices.

CRUISE SHIPS. While the Canadian government’s coronavirus disease guidance warns citizens to avoid all cruise ship travel, and the United States’ Center for Disease Control recommends cruise ship travel be deferred, N.K. Jemisin, Rebecca Roanhorse, Patrick Rothfuss, John Scalzi, and Martha Wells are among the many pop culture guests currently aboard the 2020 JoCo Cruise, which ends March 13.

READINGS: The Fantastic Fiction at KGB readings series today canceled its March event with guests Daniel Braum & Robert Levy, promising instead, “both authors will be reading their work over an online livestream at the same scheduled date and time (March 18th, 7pm). Details on that livestream will be forthcoming.”

BOOK FAIRS. Outside of fandom, a series of publishing industry events have shuttered or rescheduled due to the withdrawal of participating book companies and sponsors.

The National Book Critics Circle in New York has canceled both its finalists reading on Wednesday, March 11, and its awards ceremony on Thursday, March 12. The Tucson (AZ) Festival of Books, which was planned for March 14-15, has canceled. 

The Los Angeles Times has postponed its Festival of Books and Food Bowl events, “in light of public health concerns related to the coronavirus and out of an abundance of caution.” “Los Angeles Times postpones Festival of Books and Food Bowl due to coronavirus concerns “

The 25th Festival of Books, originally scheduled for April, will now take place the weekend of Oct. 3-4 on the USC campus. The 4th Food Bowl, previously set for May, will also be moved to the fall, with dates to be announced later.

While the Book Prizes awards ceremony will not be held this year, honorees and winners will still be acknowledged via an announcement to be released on April 17.

With Italy already a center of the outbreak, publishers are shying away from the Bologna Book Fair:

Penguin Random House has become the second of the Big Five U.S. publishers to announce it would not attend this year’s rescheduled Bologna Children’s Book Fair, scheduled for May 4–7,

Shelf Awareness has a growing list of book fairs and bookstore events that have been called off, or adjusted their plans: “COVID-19 Update: More Cancellations & Postponements”.

SHOW UP BUT KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. Events that are proceeding have instituted whatever safety measures they think are appropriate.


UPDATE: Ace Comic Con Northeast (March 20-22), which had publicized their decision to go on, has now cancelled. Note that the following segment was written before the announcement.


Despite fannish complaints, ACE Comic Con Northeast is running March 20-22 in Boston, and chirpily told the Boston Globe: “ACE Comic Con is still on. Just don’t touch the Chrises (Hemsworth or Evans).”

…Ace Comic Con, which is hosting a Northeast fan event from March 20-22 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, will go on as planned, despite coronavirus concerns, according to organizers. That said, there are some new rules regarding social distancing, posted on ACE’s Facebook page:

“During Photo Ops & Autographs – Handshakes, hugs, requests to hold props during Photo Ops, and physical contact will not be permitted. No gifts, letters, or cards will be accepted by celebrity guests so we ask that you do not bring in those items.

…Of course, some have fans have posted complaints on Facebook. They bought special autograph packages expecting to get hugs and handshakes from stars.

“I am coming from FL and I wanted a hug from both Chris’. Now I’m gonna stand side by side with them? How is that fair? … I honestly don’t want to come anymore,” one Facebook user said.

FALLOUT. The economic consequences from not holding events will ripple far beyond the hotels and committees. For example, the SXSW cancellation has caused major layoffs:

On March 6, SXSW canceled its 2020 festival due to concerns surrounding the recent coronavirus outbreak. It marked the first cancellation in the annual Austin event’s 34-year history. Now, SXSW’s parent company SXSW LLC has laid off roughly a third of its 175 year-round employees, according to a new report by local paper the Austin American-Statesman,

DECISION TIME. To hold the con or not?

Nerd & Tie’s Trae Dorn agrees that “Every Convention Staff Needs to Have the COVID-19 Conversation”.

…The fact is we are dealing with a disease where it’s possible that some infected people can be contagious while appearing healthy for weeks. Transmission happens when people are in close proximity, and since this is a new form of the disease, odds are if you’re exposed you’re going to get it. And you can talk about how mortality rates as a percentage are only slightly higher than the flu, a lot of people don’t get the flu. There are plenty of people who walk our convention halls who have a good chance of dying if they get infected.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan of having none of my convention’s attendees die.

So yeah, it’s time to talk. How drastic your conversation is depends on how bad things are where you are physically along with who might come to your event. If you’re an event like SXSW where people come from all over the world… consider not holding your event immediately. Postpone it if you can, but no event is worth people’s lives. If you’re a regional event, you need to look at the landscape. If you’re in a city or area with an active outbreak, do not hold your event, I beg of you.

And Chuck Wendig has written several virus-related blog posts in the past 10 days, beginning with “Running A Con, Conference Or Festival In The Age Of A Burgeoning Pandemic!” These are things that convention guests will have on their minds:

e) Recognize that we’re probably anxious about this. Many of us will go to our events via two or more airports, likely international ones. We will then be at your event with hundreds to thousands of people. If we’re writers, we’re gonna be theoretically up close and personal with folks, signing their books, some want photos — and trust me, writers are already a pretty anxious lot. Our brains are carousels of crawling ants. We’re already imagining worse case scenarios. (Seriously, have you read Wanderers?) You talking to us about that before we have to talk to you about it would be very nice.

f) Recognize too we don’t want to get stuck anywhere. We have families! Pets! Extreme introversion! Note that some people who have traveled overseas have found themselves in exactly this scenario. Best case scenario, it’s a travel delay. Worst case, it’s full restriction or quarantine. Who knows how the fuck this current administration will bungle this up — they might not do anything, or they might clamp down hard when it’s not needed. Either way? We don’t wanna find out. So, what happens if it does? Are you gonna cover our hotels if we’re guests? One night? Ten? Certainly your responsibility ends somewhere, but I’d sure like you to be thinking about that.

Right now, all the choices are hard.