When we started SF Signal in 2003, it was because we loved speculative fiction. Having a blog allowed us to share that love with other fans. We never dreamed it would have grown like it has. In these past 12 years and 10 months, we’ve shared our love of genre, we’ve provided a forum for other fans to come on board as contributors to also share their genre love, we gave authors a place to tell us about the exciting new worlds they’re creating, and I like to think we’ve made a ton of new friends. We even picked up a few Hugo Awards along the way. It’s been quite a ride.
But all good things come to an end.
It was a very hard decision to make, but we have decided to close down SF Signal. The reason is boringly simple: time. As the blog has grown, so has its demands for our attention. That is time we would rather spend with our families. We considered scaling back posts, but it felt like SF Signal would only be a shadow of its former self. So yes, it feels sudden, but a “cold turkey” exit seems like the right thing to do.
(2) GAMES OF FAME. Six classic games are being inducted into video game hall of fame – CBS News has the story.
A video game that had players zapping space aliens with lasers and another that put them in covered wagons in 1848 have been inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame, along with four other games recognized for their influence on gaming and pop culture.
“Space Invaders” and “The Oregon Trail,” along with “Grand Theft Auto III,” ”Sonic the Hedgehog,” ”The Legend of Zelda” and “The Sims,” make up the class of 2016 honored Thursday at the hall inside The Strong museum in Rochester.
The winners were chosen from among 15 finalists culled from thousands of nominations from around the world. Contenders that missed the final cut were: “John Madden Football,” ”Elite,” ”Final Fantasy,” ”Minecraft,” ”Nurburgring,” ”Pokemon Red and Green,” ”Sid Meier’s Civilization,” ”Street Fighter II” and “Tomb Raider.”
(3) IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. Abigail Nussbaum, in Captain America: Civil War, launches her review with this lede:
It’s a bit of a strange thing to say, but I might have liked Captain America: Civil War better if it were a less good movie. When films like The Dark Knight Rises or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice deliver rancid political messages wrapped in equally rancid plots and characterization, the reviewer’s job is made easier. We can point to how a failure to recognize the actual complexity of a situation, or to imbue characters with full humanity, both informs and reflects the simplistic, quasi-fascist message of the movie. Civil War is a trickier customer. It tries–and on some level, manages–to be more intelligent and more thoughtful than something like Batman v Superman. Its characters take the film’s central conflict seriously, discussing it rationally and trying to find a way to resolve it without descending into fisticuffs. But even as they do so, they reveal the inherent impossibility of their project, the way the core assumptions of this entire genre combine to form a black hole that it can never escape. I’ve said it before, but the minute you start taking superheroes seriously, and debating the rights and wrongs of them, only one conclusion is possible: that superheroes are a really bad idea, and that any fictional world that houses more than a handful of them will inevitably devolve into a horrifying dystopia in which the rule of law and the authority of democratic government are meaningless.
(4) SINGING IN THE SHOWER. Space.com told readers “Meteor Shower Spawned by Halley’s Comet Peaks This Week”.
Dusty debris that Halley’s Comet has shed on its 75-year-long laps around the sun slams into Earth’s atmosphere during the first week of May every year, creating an annual meteor shower known as the Eta Aquarids. (Another Halley-spawned shower, the Orionids, occurs every October.)
(5) SWIRSKY INTERVIEWS KOWAL. At Rachel Swirsky’s blog: “Silly Interview with Mary Robinette Kowal, intermittently teal storyteller”.
RS: A lot of novelists let short stories lapse when they embark on their novelling careers. You keep publishing strong short fiction, like last year’s “Midnight Hour” in Uncanny Magazine. How do you make time for short stories, and what do you get from them that you don’t get from longer fiction?
MRK: Honestly, these days I start a lot of the short stories while I’m teaching my Short Story Intensive. Part of the process is that I write along with the students in order to demonstrate how to start from a story seed and then develop it into a story. I often have a market in mind when I’m doing these, so the demonstration does double duty. The thing that I love about short fiction as a writer is that I get to experiment with a lot of different styles and ideas without the huge time investment of a novel. Plus, as a reader, I find that a short story can often deliver more of a sucker punch to the emotions and I kinda like that.
(6) SMACK ATTACK. J. R. R. Tolkien is pitted against George R. R. Martin in the latest installment of Epic Rap Battles of History. Tolkien’s shots include: ”You’re a pirate, you even stole my RR!”
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- May 5, 1961 — Astronaut Alan Shepard became the United States’ first man in space in a brief sub-orbital flight from Cape Canaveral.
- May 5, 2002 – Spider-Man is the first movie to top $100 million on opening weekend. (Remember when $100 million was a lot of money?)
(8) RARE ENDORSEMENT. John Picacio gave a strong boost to nominee Larry Elmore in an April 27 post “The 2016 Best Professional Artist Hugo Award”.
Larry Elmore is a legendary and deeply influential fantasy illustration icon, who has had a huge impact on generations of Dungeons & Dragons fans — game players, writers, artists, editors, publishers, designers, filmmakers, convention organizers — and beyond. More to the point, he has a major body of published eligible work in 2015 and that work doesn’t take extensive sleuthing to discern whether it’s eligible. His book The Complete Elmore Volume II contains over 700 drawings from a career dating back to 1981, and was produced and first published in the fall of 2015.
Was Larry Elmore amongst my nomination selections? No. He wasn’t.
Do I believe that ‘No Award’ is an option this year? It’s the Hugos. It’s always an option.
No disrespect to the other finalists, but Larry Elmore winning a Hugo would not be a lifetime achievement award but it would recognize a lifetime of professional art achievement by someone who is legitimately eligible this year.
The history of that winners list would be shinier with his name on it.
Larry Elmore responded in the comments –
thank you for all your nice words, I am honored to be nominated. I never, in my wildest dreams, ever thought of being nominated. I came from the gaming industry (my first big breaks) and it seems like that type of art has been ignored for many years, but I agree that game art has had a large influence on a couple of generations…and still does. Because I take the award seriously, I feel more than honored to be nominated. I have had a career that has spanned over 40 years, I have loved it. I am 67 and I paint or draw every day…I am obsessed I guess…..but I love it, I keep trying to get one good painting!!!!
(9) DIVE! DIVE! If you’re having this problem, Fred Kiesche offers a technological solution.
Complaining that File 770 posts your tweets? Dude…stop tweeting… pic.twitter.com/cGwGph5YUT
— Fred Kiesche (@FredKiesche) May 5, 2016
(10) DAMAGED. Kukuruyo, the artist behind Hugo nominee #GamerGater Life, is under attack. Like some of last year’s slated nominees he’s unwillingly become a ball in the game —
Since i publicy became a gamergate supporter, the ammount of reports i’ve gotten on art sites have increased, many times in very underserved cases (i got a drawing pulled because the characters had sweat. Yes, sweat…) as well as the amount of people lying about me on blogs and such. And i don’t mean making critiques of me, i mean outright lies (one guy even wrote about how i voted for some candidate in the past US elections, which is interesting considering i’m a spaniard living in Spain). Not only that, but my website began to have attemps to break in. At some point i was receiving more than 50 attempts to break in each day, until i upgraded my security.
But this broke into a new level when i was announced as a finalist for best Fan artist at the Hugo awards. Then people in the social justice circles discovered that i support gamergate, and since then, interesting things have been happening one after the other (aside from the wave of verbal attacks, of course).
First one of my gamergate related works got reported and banned from deviantart. Then someone picked a cheap fanart that i was commissioned to do, about a half nude Ms.marvel, and tried to frame me as a pedophile, because aparently the character has 16 in the original canon (something i even didn’t know), ignoring the fact that the character body was adult. This story was writen about in (as far as i know) a blog and then in a comic news article, expanding the idea that i’m a pedophile for an anime style fanart thats no different than the millions upon millions of anime character fanarts out there, and that i was somehow a terrible threat for teenagers out there who have their heroes destroyed by evil me. I was reported in devianart for “pedophilia” and the drawing was taken down. I got reported on twitter. The attemps to break into my website have come arround again. Then they contacted my advertising affiliates, telling them i was hosting child pornography, so they would cease to advertise with me. They acepted a middle ground solution at first, but then they changed their policies, and now i can no longer receive their service. Yes, and advertising website changed their policies just because of me… and just yesteday some guys where trying to get MARVEL to SUE ME because of a fanart!
But hey, i’m sure all of this is just a coincidence! this has nothing to do with the Hugo awards or gamergate. I’m sure it’s just that a whole lot of people randomly decided the same week to try to fuck me up in every way they could, right? this can’t possibly be related with people from a particular ideology, pissed off because someone with the wrong opinions got a Hugo nomination.
(11) TINGLE IS HARD TO TROLL. The Daily Dot compiled the nominee’s tweets to show how “Chuck Tingle counter-trolls the Gamergaters who nominated his erotica for a Hugo Award”.
As hilarious and thorough as these VOXMAN owns are, mere Twitter owns aren’t enough to defeat a campaign whose main goal seems to be attention for Day. He’s expressed, in so many words, that hate can only make him stronger.
That’s where the third prong of Tingle’s trolling makes a difference. As the Daily Dot’s April Siese discussed in her recent profile of Tingle, the hard and sexy author’s true identity remains a mystery. He cannot very well reveal himself by showing up to an award ceremony. So, in his place, he has invited perhaps the one person internet alt-rightists and Gamergate-adjacent agitators hate most.
IMPORTANT: cant go to hugos award so to thwart devil plans, true buckaroo ZOE QUINN (name of @unburtwitch) has agreed to accept award for me
— Chuck Tingle (@ChuckTingle) May 5, 2016
Zoe Quinn, game developer and anti-harassment activist, was the original target of Gamergate after an ex-boyfriend revealed alleged details of her sex life online. She’s the boogeyman (boogeywoman?) Gamergate frothingly rose up to “defeat,” their imaginary platonic ideal of a “Social Justice Warrior.”
(12) WHAT YOU KNOW V. WHAT YOU CAN PROVE. Andrew Liptak finds a great deal of hearsay to repeat in “Gaming the System: The 1987 Hugo Awards” at Kirkus Reviews. On the other hand, it’s hearsay that a lot of people haven’t read before.
During the lead-up to this convention, Hubbard’s interests seemed to have helped beyond mere sponsorship of convention booklets and workshops. Fans have alleged that Hubbard’s followers worked as a block and voted in such numbers that Black Genesis, the second of the Mission Earth series, found itself a Hugo finalist for Best Novel. Ian Watson, writing in Conspiracy Theories, noted that the presence of the book as a finalist, was suspect.
“Did all those who nominated [Black Genesis] in the first place merely have supporting memberships — suggesting that the only reason for buying the membership was to nominate BG? Furthermore, how many of the people who nominated BG only nominated BG and nothing else? If we could discover this information from Paul Kincaid [Award Administrator] then we might have an indicator of whether BG was in fact “bought” on to the ballot.”
(13) CURING AWARD FATIGUE. Joe Sherry at Nerds of a Feather, in “Other Genre Awards: Or, So You’re Tired of the Hugo Awards”, suggests awards alternatives to revitalize your jaded taste buds.
So, you’re tired of reading about the Hugo Awards, are you? All the fighting and arguing and gnashing of teeth got you down? Do you still like Awards and the recognition of good things? We have some awards for you! If you’re newer to this whole genre awards scene, the first place I would recommend you start (besides this article) is the Science Fiction Awards Database. There’s quite a bit to peruse and a full directory of all the genre awards.While it is certainly possible that they are missing something, it does seem pretty darn exhaustive. Since there are a horde of genre awards out there, the real question, then, is “What are you looking for from a literary award?”
(14) RULES IDEA. Kevin Standlee’s next proposal – “Plus 2”.
Here’s yet another proposal to try and counteract bad actors (I call them “Griefers”) trying to disrupt the Hugo Awards by deliberately nominating works that they expect will be disliked by the majority of the membership as a whole, taking advantage of the “first-five-past-the-post” nature of the nominating round. The other proposals I’ve written up depend on the entire membership participating in a second round of voting, either with 3-Stage Voting (members vote down potential finalists) or Double Nominations (members select finalists from a list of top 15 semi-finalists).
This proposal invokes the subjective judgment call of the Worldcon Committee (in practice, of the Hugo Awards Administration Subcommittee), hereafter just “the Committee” or “the Administrators,” to add works to the final ballot. This proposal would authorize the Committee to add up to two additional works to the final ballot. The Committee’s selection would be limited to adding not more than two works from among those works that were among the top 15 nominees or that appeared on at least 5% of the nominating ballots cast in that category.
(15) THE VIEW FROM SP4. Kate Paulk catches up on her Hugo commentary in “Not An Action Report”.
Let’s just say I do not have much patience or goodwill for those who seem to think that I wasn’t sincere in congratulating the Hugo finalists last week. Sweetheart, just because you can’t lie straight in bed doesn’t mean that other people aren’t capable of honesty.
As for the charming specimen who wants to chase up the ballots of all puppy-aligned voters and throw them out (presumably without refunding memberships – even though every one of those ballots was cast by someone who paid for the privilege, no mention of this little issue was made that I saw (although I freely admit that I could have missed it even if it was in huge flashing neon letters)), mine bears very little resemblance to anyone’s lists, including the Sad Puppies 4 list.
Why? Because SP4 collated a whole lot of people’s preferences. My preferences don’t look like anyone else’s. There might be some overlap here and there, but I’m weird even by geek standards.
The second paragraph doubtless is a response to ideas discussed in Facebook’s Journeymen of Fandom group thread, as quoted by Vox Day this week.
(16) DESIGNATED DRIVER. How did this sober advice get on the internet?
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) May 5, 2016
(17) INSEUSSANCE. RedWombat made a metrical prediction in a comment.
“Pooh-pooh to the fans!” he was grinchily humming.
“They’re finding out now that No Award is coming!
They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!
Their blogs will be blogged and their cries will be cried
My Xanatos Gambit will not be denied!
That’s a noise,” grinned the Grinch, “that I simply must hear!”
He paused, and the Grinch put a hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising out of a tweet
It started in sour but then it went sweet!
And this tweet wasn’t sad!
Why this tweet sounded glad!
Every fan down in Fanville, (well, not quite all)
(Getting fans to agree is an order quite tall)
Was laughing at Tingle’s great big brass…fortitude.
He hadn’t stopped fans from enjoying the Hugo, just the same!
He tried to stop fandom, but fandom still came!
(Though not quite like in books with Chuck Tingle’s name.)
And what happened next? Well, on Twitter they say
The Grinch’s gall bladder grew three sizes that day.
And so the Grinch stands, while elk snivel and whine
Claiming “Don’t you all get it?! Victory’s mine!
Stop thinking it’s funny! Stop having fun!
Why won’t you acknowledge that I’ve really won?!”
But in Fanville it’s Christmas, and fans know it is true–
That this time the Grinch lost to…Literally Who.
[Thanks to Doctor Science, JJ, Mark-kitteh, Hampus Eckerman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]