(1) RAMBO REPORT. “SFWA is Many Things, But Not a Gelatinous Cube” insists Cat Rambo, the organization’s President, in a 3,800 word update published halfway through her two-year term in office.
I was looking at Twitter the other day and reading through mentions of the Nebula Conference Weekend, including celebration of our new Grandmaster C.J. Cherryh, when I hit a tweet saying something along the lines of, “I hope SFWA doesn’t think this excuses the choice of picking (another author) in the past”. The way the sentence struck me got me thinking about the sort of perception that allows that particular construction.
No, SFWA, aka the organization known as The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America doesn’t think that. Because SFWA isn’t a person. It doesn’t think. Sometimes I like to imagine that SFWA. It lives in a basement somewhere and looks much like a pale green gelatinous cube, covered with lint and cat hair, and various unguessable things lurk in its murky depths, like discarded typewriter ribbons, empty Johnny Walker Black Label bottles, and that phone charging cable you lost a few weeks ago.
In actuality, SFWA — at least in the sense they’re thinking of — is an entity that changes from year to year, most notably through the leadership, but also through the overall composition of the 200+ volunteers and handful of staff that keep it running. The President makes a lot of choices for the organization; others are made for them. The President gets to pick the next Grandmaster, for example, although every living past President weighs in on the choice, as well as things like the Service to SFWA Award and the recipient of the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. ….
- I have worked to facilitate the amazing and hard work that CFO Bud Sparhawk and comptroller Oz Drummond have been doing behind the scenes wherever I can, but I cannot take credit for any of that. Nonetheless, SFWA is moving towards a scrupulously-maintained financial state that can go beyond just sustaining itself, but can allow it to grow at a slow but steady pace. When I came on board we were highly dependent on a revenue source that is rapidly diminishing; I’m pleased to say that we are recovering from that and will not be similarly dependent in the future. I hope to replenish what was taken from the reserves within the next few years….
- Via the efforts of volunteer wrangler Derek Künsken, volunteers are finding roles where they can use and expand existing skills, acquire new ones, and know that they are working to benefit SFWA. At the same time that we’re using more volunteers, we’re being much better about acknowledging their efforts. A few weekends ago I was at the volunteer breakfast at the Nebulas, passing out certificates of appreciation (created by Heather MacDougal) for the second year in a row, and we are making that event an integral part of our annual celebration from now on. When I came onboard, the volunteer situation was bad enough that we were losing members because of it — again, no malice, no intent to hurt people’s feelings or make them feel unvalued, only good desires and intentions that got overwhelmed due to a lack of communication and a team to back up the volunteer coordinator.
- The SFWA Bulletin, that notoriously troubled and erratic entity, is back on schedule and rapidly proving itself capable of representing SFWA’s mission to the world at large. Editor Neil Clarke has been working to create covers and content that reflect the professional nature of the organization and which are useful to working writers. Among other things, we’ve got writers guidelines up for both it and the SFWA blog, and some members have covered their fees via a couple of blog posts or a Bulletin article. Jaym Gates, John Klima, and Tansy Rayner Roberts did the initial work of digging what seemed like a mortally-wounded Bulletin out from under a pile of criticism and ill-feeling, and deserve much praise for performing that rescue. Both Bulletin and the Blog have writers guidelines available online for what I believe is the first time….
SFWA exists for professional F&SF writers. We can talk about the mission to inform, defend, advocate for and all of that, but it boils down to this: if you are a professional genre writer, you should be able to join the organization and know that you are getting your money’s worth. Recently while researching, I counted ten ways SFWA can help a member promote their work; half of those were created in the past two years. ….
(2) WARNING. Kameron Hurley didn’t set out to write this in an especially tearjerking style. Just get your tissues ready anyway: “Drake the Dog has Passed Away”
As two people with chronic problems, my spouse and I know that you can’t always save everyone. But after dealing with the things we have in our lives, we sure as hell were going to try. Drake put up an incredible effort, and we shuffled our entire lives around his care, but Drake could never catch a break. Not once. Like so many things in life, it was wickedly unfair and cruel in the way that only life can be. You always think hey, if we can just be great caregivers, and come up with the money for the drugs and surgeries, we can save him. But the infection was stronger than us, and stronger than Drake, and it makes me incredibly angry and sad to type that, because it’s an admission that the world is bigger and scarier than we are, and sometimes when the train is moving, you can’t stop it.
(3) FIRST FANDOM NEWS. Steve Francis and Keith W. Stokes will present the Hall of Fame and Moskowitz Awards on August 18th as part of the Retro Hugo Awards
(4) POKEMON GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. The Washington Post passes on a request: “Holocaust Museum to visitors: Please stop catching Pokemon here”.
The Museum itself, along with many other landmarks, is a “PokeStop” within the game — a place where players can get free in-game items. In fact, there are actually three different PokeStops associated with various parts of the museum.
“Playing the game is not appropriate in the museum, which is a memorial to the victims of Nazism,” Andrew Hollinger, the museum’s communications director, told The Post in an interview. “We are trying to find out if we can get the museum excluded from the game.”
The Holocaust Museum’s plight highlights how apps that layer a digital world on top of the real one, or so-called augmented reality games, can come with unforeseen consequences and raises questions about how much control the physical owner of a space can exert as those two worlds intersect.
(5) WILLIS DOES WALES. Connie Willis begins “Notes From Wales I: Buckland and Westmarch and Elves, Oh My!”
My family and I just got back from England, where we spent two weeks touring Cornwall and Wales. We saw Doc Martin’s village, Tintagel Castle, Dartmoor, Tintern Abbey, the shop of the Tailor of Gloucester, and lots of other fascinating things, which I hope to be writing posts about in coming weeks….
(6) BARROWMAN BRANCHING OUT. SciFiNow has big news for his fans: “John Barrowman Signs Multi-Show Deal at the CW”.
Malcolm Merlyn will pop up in all of The CW’s shows
It certainly seems as though The CW is doing its best to bring their various shows together. Now that Supergirlis officially part of the Network’s small-screen superhero universe, much of the buzz surrounding the upcoming new seasons has centred around crossovers – or the potential for them. To this end, the first seeds seem to have been sown, with John Barrowman (aka Malcolm Merlyn in Arrow) signing a multi-show deal at The CW.
Following in the footsteps of studio co-star Wentworth Miller (aka Leonard Snart/Captain Cold), the deal will in theory see him appear in CW stablemates The Flashand Legends Of Tomorrow, as well as new addition Supergirl. Quite how Barrowman will fit in remains to be seen, but we’re sure that whatever he has planned isn’t good. He has burned his bridges with pretty much every character he’s come across since debuting in Arrow’s first season, so it’ll be interesting to see how he bounces off his counterparts in other shows. We’re particularly intrigued to see an encounter with Supergirl‘s Maxwell Lord.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
- July 12, 1923 – James E. Gunn,
- July 12, 1912 — Joseph Mugnaini
(8) SCI-FI INK. Get yer Temporary Literary Tattoos. In the sf/f department they’ve got slogans from Peter S. Beagle, Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells and Franz Kafka.
(9) MONSTER HUNTER SEEKS COMPATIBLE DRAGON. Larry Correia is turning out the vote: “WRONGFANS UNITE! Only a week left to nominate for the Dragon Awards”. Remember, it’s not just Wrongfans who are allowed to vote – you can vote too!
This weekend I was at LibertyCon, and I ran into one of the organizers of the Dragon Awards. He said that he was kind of surprised that he hadn’t seen me talk about them online much. I told him that was because of Sad Puppies, I’m a controversial figure, there are just too many bitter harpies and poo flingers from fandom’s inbred pustulent under-choad who automatically flip out about anything I do, so I didn’t want to rock the boat for them.
But his response? Screw that. This award is for ALL FANS. And you have fans. So GO BUG THEM! We want so many people voting in this thing that no little clique or faction can sway it. The more fans involved, the better.
(10) IQ MARKET REPORT. Camestros Felapton was in another dogfight (well, Timothy wasn’t involved) with the Red Baron: “@voxday gets it wrong on IQ (again)”.
The other day Vox was disparaging about the value of scientific evidence. I’m not entirely sure if he is clear himself about what he means but when it comes to IQ he is happy to post anything that he feels supports his case.
This time, it is a pair of studies that point to a 4 point decline in IQ in France in a 9-10 year period. Vox quotes a second study that was an analysis of the first. This second study was an attempt to discern the cause of the decline by looking at the magnitude of the changes at a subtest level. This second paper concluded that the decline ‘likely has a primarily biological cause’. Vox declares it was due to immigration.
This is a very good example of studies that, while not necessarily wrong, aren’t really saying much at all. To see why you have to track back from Vox’s claim (immigrants somehow making whole countries less intelligent), to what the actual paper he quoted said, to the original paper that the second paper analysed and from there to what the actual original study was.
(11) BOKANOVSKY BLUES. Vox Day indignantly responded in “Wounded Gamma loses again”.
This behavior is so predictable that I not infrequently find myself able to correctly anticipate when a previously wounded Gamma is going to think he sees an opening and launch what I am coming to think of as a restorative rebuttal. However, I did not see this one coming; I did not think that Camestros Felapton was dumb enough to launch what is either his third or his fourth attempt to repair his delusion bubble since being so publicly humiliated about his lack of knowledge concerning rhetoric in Of Enthymemes and False Erudition. Apparently the sting of his repeated defeats at my hands has become more than he can bear, because he is really grasping at straws now.
Running out of brickbats to throw, Vox even resorted to sharing his score from an online vocabulary rating test.
Being a Phi (770) I couldn’t refuse the implicit challenge and rushed off to take the same quiz.
I got an identical score and wondered is that as high as it goes? I only had to guess once, so I either got a perfect score, or missed just one.
Vox Day shared notes. It seems we each missed one – the same one, in fact, both having got “avulse” wrong.
(12) MEANWHILE, BACK AT TIMOTHY THE TALKING CAT’S BLOG. Camestros followed up with “@voxday declares me beneath his consideration, again”.
“Considering that neither paper addresses the USA at all, it would be absolutely remarkable if either of them had.”
Sorry Vox but the first paper does discuss the USA – it is the second paper that doesn’t. Lynn & Dutton discuss the US saying “However, there remains the problem that phenotypic intelligence has continued to increase in recent years in the United States (Flynn, 2012, Table A11i, p.238), despite evidence for dysgenic fertility reviewed in Lynn (2011) and confirmed by Meisenberg (2014). This inconsistency remains one of a number of un- resolved problems.” and cite the gains in WISC-III and WISC-IV scores in table 1 (IQ gains in USA and Britain).
So, where the researchers find a decline it isn’t attributable to immigration because of the relatively small impact immigration could have and where immigration could have a larger impact the ‘declines’ are more ambiguous (or possibly rises).
Meanwhile, the brilliant counter-argument from Vox is him posting an estimate of his vocabulary size from a free internet quiz.
Heck yeah, who would fall for that?
(13) HORTON’S SHORT STORY RANKINGS. Rich Horton explains his ballot entries for the Hugo short story category – after pointing out only one of his real preferences made the final ballot.
So, only one story from this long list of stories I considered – less than I might have hoped. But easily explained – this is clearly the category Vox Day chose to make a mockery of. His nomination choices in the longer fiction categories (Novel, Novella, Novelette), were actually all readable stories, and some quite plausible Hugo nominees. That’s not at all the case in Short Story. And, indeed, the only good story on the list was only added after one of the original nominees withdrew.
(14) THE TRUTH WILL OUT. Adam Rakunas makes a big confession in “Writing Women Characters (Wait, Aren’t You A Dude?)” at SFFWorld.
Earlier this year at the Emerald City Comicon, I was on a panel with my fellow Angry Robot authors Peter Tieryas, Danielle Jensen, Patrick Tomlinson, and K.C. Alexander. As the panel wound down, K.C. turned to me and asked, “How do you write a realistic woman, being a male author?” I did the only sensible thing: I ducked under the table and curled up into a fetal ball.
Now, in my defense, it was the last panel of the last day of the con, and I’d been on my feet for most of that time. A question like this was one that required care and thoughtfulness, and I was in limited supply of both. If I gave any answer, I would not be doing K.C.’s question justice. Also: I am a gigantic wimp.
However, I’ve had a full night’s sleep and a bunch of tacos, so I feel comfortable and confident enough to say this: I fake it and hope I got it right.
It helps that I have a lot of kickass women in my life. I married a woman who grew up in four different countries, went overseas on her own to make her fortune, and now tells people who run companies how to act in a way that won’t make their shareholders panic (which, considering how fragile the economy is these days, is a really important job). Oh, and she also runs triathlons and skis black diamonds and scuba dives. I married an action hero, so it wasn’t too hard to write about one….
(15) EARTHSEA NEWS. From Suvudu, “Ursula K. Le Guin to Publish Two Story Collections and an Earthsea Omnibus with Simon & Schuster’s Saga Press”.
Saga Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, announced today that it will publish two story collections and a special illustrated edition of the Earthsea novels with exclusive new material by legendary science fiction and fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin.
Titles publishing in Fall 2016 include The Found and the Lost, a group of novellas collected for the first time; and The Unreal and the Real, a selection of short stories. A boxed set of both collections will also be available.
For the first time, the complete novels and short stories of Earthsea will be compiled in one volume titled The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition. Stories will include the new, never-before-published in print Earthsea story “The Daughter of Odren,” along with the novels A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu, Tales from Earthsea, and The Other Wind, in addition to the stories “The Word of Unbinding” and “The Rule of Names.” This omnibus will also include a new introduction by Le Guin as well as the essay “Earthsea Revisioned.” With color and black-and-white illustrations by award-winning illustrator Charles Vess, The Books of Earthsea will publish in Fall 2018 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of A Wizard of Earthsea.
Bartimaeus sent this news with a note, “I’d like to add that ‘The Daughter of Odren’ isn’t a new story – it was e-published in 2014. Also, I’m particularly happy that they’re including all the shorts – this is the first time all 8 Earthsea shorts will be collected in one volume.” The eight stories are: “The Rule of Names” (1964), “The Word of Unbinding” (1964), the 5 shorts in Tales from Earthsea (1998 – 2001) and “The Daughter of Odren” (2014).
(16) ARITHMANCY FROM WIRED. Also courtesy of Bartimaeus: “Here’s How Fast Harry Potter’s Treasure Trap Would Kill You”.
Each item makes four copies of itself (so one item is now five). Each of these new items then also replicates making four more items. You might think this would be an awesome way to get rich, but the amount of items increases rapidly. I assume the goal is for the explosion of treasure to kill any potential robbers by drowning and crushing them.
You probably know what is going to happen next. I’m going to try to model this treasure replication trap. Yes, that’s what I will do.
The link comes with Bartimaeus’ comment – “But they seem to have forgotten that the coins burn you on touch, so you’d actually die sooner.”
[Thanks to Bartimaeus, Janice Gelb, Martin Morse Wooster, Robert Whitaker Sirignano, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John King Tarpinian.]