Pixel Scroll 12/22 I Saw Mommy Reading Pixel Scroll

(1) IN SFWA TIMES TO COME. Cat Rambo in “What I’m Hoping For SFWA in 2016” tells about the organization’s accomplishments and shortfalls in 2015, and what the future holds. Here’s an excerpt from each category —

SFWA’s 2015 Accomplishments

We hammered out membership criteria that didn’t just include writers publishing independently or with small presses but made us the first organization to consider crowdfunded projects as a publication path. That’s led to an influx of new members and fresh energy that’s been delightful to be part of….

Some Bad Stuff

The lack of a plan behind the 50th Anniversary Anthology finally sank that project when our CFO and I realized that the books would have to sell for 84.50 each in order to break even….

What I’m Looking Forward to in 2016

M.C.A. Hogarth has been a terrific Vice President, proactive and self-guided. One of her projects is a guidebook for SFWA members that explains everything: how to join the discussion forums, how to nominate for the Nebulas, how to participate in the Featured Book Program on the website, who to mail with directory issues, etc. That will appear in 2016 and I think it will be a bit of a revelation to us all….

Rambo ends with Henry Lien’s anthem “Radio SFWA,” which I must say I am a huge fan of, whatever it may do for anybody else…. (The lyrics appear when you click “show more” at the song’s YouTube page.)

(2) RULES ARE MEANT TO BE BROKEN. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens lands unprecedented award nomination” reports Polygon.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has already shattered plenty of box office records, but the movie has also made history by reportedly earning an unprecedented nomination from the Broadcast Critics Association.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Association made the historic move to include the film as the eleventh contender for their Best Film award. The nomination list had come out eight days before The Force Awakens was released, effectively shutting the film out entirely. Usually, films must be submitted during a specific voting period and those that don’t meet the deadline aren’t considered at all.

(3) GOOD FOR A QUOTE. Academic Henry Jenkins, who appeared as a witness in The People Vs. George Lucas, explains “What We Talk About When We Talk about Star Wars” at Confessions of an Aca-Fan.

This blog post might be subtitled “The Pretentious Ass Strikes Back.” Here’s a story we tell in my family.

In 1977, Cynthia Ann Benson, an undergraduate at Georgia State University, has signed up for a class on film theory and criticism, with some nervousness about whether it will take the pleasure out of going to the movies. On the first day of class, the instructor — Jack Creech — is late, and a group of students are gathered outside the classroom. This guy — you know the one — another undergraduate student  is standing around making assertions about gender, race, and technology in the recently released Star Wars movie to anyone who will listen and to many who would probably rather not be listening. She goes off after class and writes a letter to her best friend describing “this pretentious ass pontificating about the social significance of Star Wars” as summing up everything that made her fearful of cinema studies.  It took me several years to overcome that unfortunate first impression and get her to go out on a date with me. We’ve now been married for almost 35 years.

So, it was some ironic glee that I accepted the invitation of the media relations folks at USC to be put on a list of experts who could talk to the media about Star Wars. I found myself doing some dozen or more interviews with reporters all over the world in the week leading up to the release of A Force Awakens, filling them in about the impact which the Star Wars franchise has had over the past few decades.

(4) HE’LL BE HERE ALL WEEK FOLKS. James H. Burns sent an email to ask: “Hey, Mike, do you know why I’ll be wearing a deerstalker cap on the 25th?”

The answer: “Because I’ll be Holmes, for Christmas.”

(5) I’M MELTING…MELTING….

(6) HIGH CASTLE TO CONTINUE. Amazon’s The Man In The High Castle has displaced Titus Welliver-starrer Bosch as its most-watched original according to The Hollywood Reporter.  The show’s pilot also has been streamed more times than any other pilot in Amazon history. The company announced a few days ago it has renewed the show for a second season.

(7) DID YOU PAY ATTENTION? Pit your wits against “Orbit’s Ultimate 2015 Science Fiction and Fantasy Quiz” at Playbuzz. Multiple choice questions, for example:

Fans visited the Discworld for the last time this year, with Terry Pratchett’s final book, The Shepherd’s Crown, released in August. If you were to visit Ankh Morpork, how would you recognise the city’s crest? It contains…

JJ says, “In my opinion, it’s way too heavy on media (Film, TV, comics) and Game of Thrones, but I’m sure a lot of Filers will do well on it.”

(8) BIG NAME ZOMBIE WRITERS. Jonathan Maberry and George Romero are joining forces to edit Rise of the Living Dead, an anthology of all-original stories set in the 48 hours surrounding Romero’s landmark film.

Rise of the Living Dead will be published by Griffin, and will include stories by Brad Thor, Brian Keene, Chuck Wendig, David Wellington, George Romero, Isaac Marion, Jay Bonansinga, Joe Lansdale, Joe McKinney, John Russo, Jonathan Maberry, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Mike Carey, Mira Grant (pen name of Seanan McGuire), Neal Shusterman & Brandon Shusterman, and Sandra Brown & Ryan Brown.

(9) LEWIS PART THREE. Matthew David Surridge unveiled “Wandering the Worlds of C.S. Lewis, Part III: Dymer” at Black Gate.

In 1922 C.S. Lewis recorded in his diary that he had “started a poem on ‘Dymer’ in rhyme royal.” His phrasing’s interesting: a work “on” Dymer, as though it were a well-known subject. “Dymer” was already a familiar story to him. He’d written it out in prose in 1917, one of his first mature prose works to use modern diction and avoid the archaisms of William Morris’ novels. Late in 1918 he wrote in a letter that he’d just completed a “short narrative, which is a verse version of our old friend Dymer, greatly reduced and altered to my new ideas. The main idea is that of development by self-destruction, both of individuals and species.” Nothing of this version seems to have survived in the 1922 poem, which was finished in 1925 and published in 1926 to mixed reviews.

(10) HERE COMES SANTA CLAUS. After viewing “Boston Dynamics’ Robo-Dogs Pulling a Sleigh is a Terrifying Glimpse of Christmas Future”, Will R. asked, “Do electric puppies dream of…wait…where was I?”

I love the possibility of a Christmas battle royal between the Robo-Dogs and the regiment of parading Krampuses – it would be the real life equivalent of that Doctor Who episode where the Daleks fought the Cybermen….

(11) PARTYARCHS. Because the MidAmeriCon II Exhibits team will be helping people throw parties in the Worldcon’s event space, rather than have them in hotel rooms, they are inviting people to an advance discussion —

Hi all you party throwers!

At MidAmeriCon II, we are going to have a different party setup and we have some questions to ask of you and answers to share with you.

Please subscribe to our party-discussion mailing list by sending an email to party-discuss-join@midamericon2.org with the subject line of SUBSCRIBE.

Even if you aren’t going to throw a party, we are interested in your insight and advice.

(12) BOND ON ICE. James H. Burns calls”Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?” from the sixth James Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, “Perhaps the most unusual song in a James Bond film.” Nina Van Pallandt is the singer.

The song played behind this action scene:

(13) RECOMMENDATION SITE. Ken Marable’s 2016 Hugo Recommendation Season is working its way through every category week at a time. It just wrapped up the Best Fanzine recommendations.

Previously covered – Best Semiprozine, Best Fan Writer, Best Professional Artist, and Best Editor (Short Form). See the schedule at the site for when others will be covered.

(14) BOIL’EM, BAKE ‘EM, STICK ‘EM IN A STEW. Peru’s Centro Internacional de la Papa will learn how to grow “Potatoes on Mars”.

A team of world-class scientists will grow potatoes under Martian conditions in a bid to save millions of lives.

The experiment, led by the International Potato Center (CIP) and NASA, is a major step towards building a controlled dome on Mars capable of farming the invaluable crop in order to demonstrate that potatoes can be grown in the most inhospitable environments.

The goal is to raise awareness of the incredible resilience of potatoes, and fund further research and farming in devastated areas across the globe where malnutrition and poverty are rife and climbing….

By using soils almost identical to those found on Mars, sourced from the Pampas de La Joya Desert in Peru, the teams will replicate Martian atmospheric conditions in a laboratory and grow potatoes. The increased levels of carbon dioxide will benefit the crop, whose yield is two to four times that of a regular grain crop under normal Earth conditions. The Martian atmosphere is near 95 per cent carbon dioxide.

(15) FISHER. “Han Jimbo” (James H. Burns) says this interview with Carrie Fisher from earlier in the month is just delightful.

(16) CINEMATIC COAL LUMP. ‘Tis the season to remember what is generally regarded among the worst movies ever made.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians can be viewed free online. (As if you would pay to see it!)

(17) WAY OF THE HOBBIT. Ebook Friendly draws our attention to the “Following the Hobbit trail (infographic)”.

Quirk Books, an independent book publisher based in Philadelphia, has released a fantastic infographic that will let you study the timeline of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

The visual was prepared for Quirk Books by Michael Rogalski.

Following-the-Hobbit-trail-infographic

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Will R., James H. Burns, John King Tarpinian, JJ, and Gregory N. Hullender for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]

Pixel Scroll 10/21 One Ink Cartel

(1) The Onion reports a major addition to the movie ratings scheme.

WASHINGTON—In an effort to provide moviegoers with the information they need to determine which films are appropriate for them to see, the Motion Picture Association of America announced Tuesday the addition of a new rating to alert audiences of movies that are not based on existing works.

According to MPAA officials, the new “O,” or “Original,” designation will inform viewers that a particular film contains characters with whom they are unfamiliar, previously unseen settings, and novel plots. The rating will also reportedly serve as a warning of the potentially disorienting effects associated with having to remember characters’ names for as many as two hours and the discomfort that can occur when one is forced to keep track of narrative arcs for an entire film.

The MPAA’s new O rating will appear on all movies containing explicitly original, unadapted, and unfamiliar material.

(2) In a day devoted to Back To The Future nostalgia, Bill Higgins would like to remind everyone that Ronald Reagan “smuggled a quote from the film into an important speech to Congress.” C-SPAN has the clip, from Reagan’s 1986 State of the Union address.

Reagan also liked the movie’s joke about him being president – according to the Wikipedia he ordered the projectionist of the theater to stop the reel, roll it back, and run it again.

(3) Here’s a link to BBC video of the Back To The Future day unveiling for a Belfast university’s electric-powered DeLorean project.

(4) And in (wind) breaking news — “Michael J. Fox arrested for insider sports betting”

Fox aroused suspicion after achieving a statistically-impossible, perfect record on the site under the username NoChicken.

Authorities found an unusually worn copy of a sports almanac which was just recently printed and which has markings cataloging winning bets Fox has placed since the late 80’s.

(5) Today’s Birthday Girls:

  • Born October 21, 1929 — Ursula K. Le Guin celebrates her 86th birthday today.
  • Born October 21, 1956 – Carrie Fisher, famous for portraying Princess Leia onscreen, and author of the bestselling novel Postcards from the Edge.

(6) New York Mets fan James H. Burns is flying high. He has some tales you’ve never heard before in “The Curious Case of Daniel Murphy” on the local CBS/New York website.

(7) Steven H Silver, on the other hand, is suffering and reminds people about his 2008 article for Challenger, ”I Call It Loyalty, Others Call It Futility”.

Several years ago, I spent two summers working at Wrigley Field. When most people say something like this, it means that they sold beer or peanuts during the games (which is what my brother-in-law did). I did something different.

On Sundays during the season, when the Cubs are playing on the road, Wrigley Field is open for tours for a minimal charitable donation (at the time $10, which goes to Cubs Care Charities). I spent two summers giving tours of the ballpark. The tours included the standard places open to the public, like the concourse under the stands, the stands, and the bleachers, but also non-public areas like the press box, the visitor and home team locker rooms, and the security office. Two of my more interesting memories were getting to watch a Cubs game on television from within the confines of the visitor’s locker room and escorting a woman out to the warning track in center field so she could scatter her husband’s ashes.

The tours, of course, included information and trivia about the Cubs’ history and the stadium’s history. The tour guides were pretty good on the whole and worked to debunk legends and stories about the field while presenting information in an interesting and memorable manner.

(8) Ken Marable says the 2016 Hugo recommendation seasons begins November 2 – at least on his blog, which is coincidentally named 2016 Hugo Recommendation Season: The Non-Slate: Just Fans Talking About What They Love. For the first week he’ll focus on the Best Semiprozine category.

(9) The Wall Street Journal’s “Dan Rather, Still Wrong After All These Years” opines —

The movie ‘Truth’ is as bogus as the original attempt to smear George W. Bush’s wartime service.

Seeing that brought to mind my article about Gary Farber in File 770 #144 [PDF file] where I mentioned Farber’s then-recent participation in outing that fraud:

Within hours of “60 Minutes” purported exposé of memos by George W. Bush’s old Air National Guard commander, people were blogging away with accusations that the documents were forged because the text could not have been produced on typewriter likely to have been in use at a Texas military office in 1971, if indeed it could have been produced by anything besides Microsoft Word. Gary’s analysis showed no one knows better than a fanzine fan about the capabilities of 1970s-era business typewriters.

Another paragraph in my article praised Gary for a quality still missing from most political discourse today:

Amygdala shows how disagreement can be handled without loathing, and that evidence is more important than orthodoxy, two notions practically extinguished from the rest of the Internet in 2004. I’ve always been more conservative than a lot of fannish friends and favorite sf writers, finding the contrast informative and fascinating. Yet in 2004, I had to drop off two fannish e-mail lists to escape the constant spew of venomous political nonsense, and tell two individuals to quit sending me their mass-copied clippings. So not sharing too many of Gary’s political views, one of the pleasures I find in reading Amygdala is how his provocative viewpoints are expressed in a way that values the reader’s humanity regardless of agreement.

(10) Bob Milne reviews Larry Correias’s new Son of the Black Sword at Speculative Herald.

Larry Correia is an author best known for his guns-and-monsters, no-holds barred, testosterone-soaked urban fantasy sagas, Monster Hunter International and the Grimnoir Chronicles. For those who were curious as to how he’d make the transition from guns to swords, Son of the Black Sword is pretty much everything you’d expect, with his macho sense of almost superhuman bravado slipping well into a pulpy heroic fantasy world.

(11) What a wonderful alternate universe it could be…

(12) Mayim Biyalik on “My Sort-Of Acting Method”.

I’m not a real actor. Well, actually, I guess that’s not fair – what I mean is I’m not a trained actor. Many actors you love and see on TV and in movies studied acting for real. Like, some of them even have degrees in acting and stuff. I call those people “real actors.”

I have never studied acting in a class or in school or in college. I don’t know Stanislavsky from Uta Hagen or method acting from acting that isn’t method. It’s all Greek to me. But I do have a method of my own, from my almost 30 years being employed as an actor, and trained actors I know tell me my ‘method’ actually is a sort of method. So there you have it.

The scene I had with Jim Parsons in this past week’s episode of “The Big Bang Theory” (Season 9, Episode 5, “The Perspiration Implementation”) was a very emotional one. I cried the first time we rehearsed it and each time we showed it to our writers and producers. (Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen it.)

(13) “You too can learn to farm on Mars” promises the article.

“Congratulations! You are leaving Earth forever,” the case study begins. “You are selected to be part of a mining colony of 100 people located on the planet Mars. Before you head to Mars, however, you need to figure out how to feed yourself and your colleagues once you are there.”

The task is similar to that of Watney, who has to grow food in an artificial habitat after he is separated from his mission crew in a Martian windstorm. “Mars will come to fear my botany powers,” he boasts.

“Farming In Space? Developing a Sustainable Food Supply on Mars” can be found here. Teaching notes and the answer key are password protected and require a paid subscription to access.

(14) NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars photographed Earth on January 31 using the left-eye camera on its science mast. See a video of Curiosity’s Earth-from-Mars images here.

(15) Makes yourself clean and shiny before lining up to see the new Star Wars movie with the help of these Darth Vader and R2-D2 showerheads.

star-wars-showerhead-darth-vader-r2-d2-gif-1 COMP

What are the major differences between the Vader and R2 model? Aside from the price, the lowest setting on the Darth Vader showerhead makes water run from the mask’s eye sockets, allowing you to bathe in Sith Lord remorse. This model also provides a handle, leaving less of your bathing up to the Force.

Darth Vader has a handle, but I don’t know that I would want to aim Darth’s tears at any vulnerable body parts….

(16) Last night Camestros Felapton staked out his spot in comments with this video is about fours waking.

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, Bill Higgins, Will R., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

Pixel Scroll 9/2 Split-Level Headcheese

(1) Pat Cadigan is still making cancer her bitch.

I didn’t plan to travel as much as I did this year, it just happened that way. And I’m not done yet. I have at least one trip, possibly two left before I put the suitcase away till next year.

It’s been very good for me, physically as well as mentally. In May, I visited Copenhagen for the first time. In June, I took a road-trip from Virginia to a college reunion in Massachusetts. In July, I spent most of a week at a festival in Spain. And in mid-August, I went to Spokane, WA for Sasquan, the world sf convention. The difference in my physical condition now compared to the same time last year is virtually miraculous. I could walk reasonable distances without collapsing. On Saturday night, I went to the Hugo Losers Party––the one given by original co-founder George RR Martin––and didn’t go to bed till four a.m. Then I was up at 9-ish to meet a friend for breakfast.

Last year at this time, I was pretty feeble. This year, I’m hopping around like an ingenue. I appear to be well, so much so that you’d never guess I had terminal cancer. A lot of people didn’t know––they thought I was in remission. It was no fun to correct them. I hated making them feel bad. Seriously; I remember what it was like to be in their shoes. I have a lot more experience being them than being terminal.

I’ve been saying that more often in the last few weeks: terminal cancer; I’m terminal; treatment is palliative. There’s about a year and four months left of my oncologist’s original two-year estimate. Where did the time go?

(2) Little White Lies “Video Artifacts No. 4 – Andrew Ainsworth”

You may not know the name, but Andrew Ainsworth is the creator of one of the most iconic images of the 20th century – the original Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet. Working out of his shop situated on the quaint, leafy Twickenham Green, Ainsworth began his career in the ’70s as a prop maker for films and has since become one of the leading exponents of products made via plastic moulding techniques.

 

(3) Here’s a headline I missed: James Potter — Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley’s son — started Hogwarts on September 1.

(4) Tremendous examples of trompe l’oeil posted by George R.R. Martin – all the work of John Pugh, “master of the art style called ‘narrative illusionism.’”

(5) Summer’s almost over, which means it’s time for Doctor Who fans to start counting down until “The Doctor and River Song Reunite For A Spectacular Christmas”

Alex Kingston returns to Cardiff to reclaim her role as Professor River Song for the highly anticipated 2015 Doctor Who Christmas special, part of BBC One’s essential seasonal viewing.

It’s Christmas Day in the future and the TARDIS is parked on a snowy village street, covered in icicles, awaiting its next adventure. Time traveller River Song meets her husband’s new incarnation, in the form of Peter Capaldi, for the first time this Christmas.

Day one of filming the eleventh Doctor Who Christmas special starts this week and is written by Lead Writer and Executive Producer, Steven Moffat, produced by Nikki Wilson and directed by Douglas Mackinnon (Doctor Who, Sherlock).

River Song made her first Doctor Who appearance in 2008 in ‘Silence in the Library’ and ‘Forest of the Dead’ and has appeared in 15 episodes to date.

Award winning Alex Kingston comments on her reappearance, “To be honest, I did not know whether River would ever return to the show, but here she is, back with the Doctor for the Christmas special. Steven Moffat is on glittering form, giving us an episode filled with humour and surprise guest castings. I met Peter for the first time at Monday’s read through, we had a laugh, and I am now excited and ready to start filming with him and the Doctor Who team. Christmas in September? Why not!”

Steven Moffat, Lead Writer and Executive Producer, adds, “Another Christmas, another special for Doctor Who – and what could be more special than the return of Alex Kingston as Professor River Song? The last time the Doctor saw her she was a ghost. The first time he met her, she died. So how can he be seeing her again? As ever, with the most complicated relationship in the universe, it’s a matter of time…”

(6) Ken Marable drops his name in the hat as another fan who would like to host the go-to Hugo recommendation site. Details are at 2016 Hugo Recommendation Season.

I am trying to encourage the community to take part in a “Hugo Recommendation Season” from November to February. Basically to both create as much conversation as possible about the works themselves, and to give each category its fair spotlight, I’m hoping to have a Focus Week on each category. During each week, fans would post their recommendations (on their blogs, Facebook, whatever) saying what works they love, and most importantly, why. (There are a lot of recommendation *lists*, I want more – I want to know *why* it is recommended.)

….I am hoping to get as many fans as possible to participate including Sad Puppies, non-Puppies, new members, and long-time fans like you. In fact, my ideal would be to have some of the old guard introduce each category, possibly explaining why it came into existence, things to consider, etc. (e.g. suggestions on how fans can look for a Best Editor; just what is and why do we have a semiprozine; venerable past winners; surprising past winners, etc.). Sure it’s all a Google search away, but it would be nice to have a single, short reference to accompany the recommendations. However, I would be pleased if fans just participated in each Focus Week and talked about works and people they think are award worthy in each category.

(7) David Gerrold has something going too – see Facebook

Here’s a secret cabal for the rest of us. THE SECRET CABAL OF FANNISH FANS [SCOFF]. Anyone can join. Anyone can recommend. There are no slates, just people sharing the books they enjoyed.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/407010419502085/

(8) Edouard Briere Allard has posted “A Critical Review of Laura J. Mixon’s Essay”, which is as voluminous and heavily annotated as the work it attacks:

This is only my interpretation, but Mixon appears saddened that BS was not kicked out of SFF and that BS has instead decided to become a better person and keep writing in SFF (although to be clear, BS had already made that decision in 2013, possibly even some time in 2012). Mixon later tells us: “trust can’t precede the cessation of abuse. Forgiveness can’t come at the expense of basic fairness. Reconciliation can’t precede regret.” This idea that the WoC in front of her might not be guilty of all the crimes she is accused of is impossible for Mixon to believe; just as impossible as believing that she, herself, might be guilty of comparable crimes. This, I think, explains her desire to pursue the matter until she gets her way. It’s a very American way of seeing things.

In the same follow-up post, Mixon says:

Dividing people into camps, branding those who disagree with us (or whose religious beliefs (or lack thereof), skin color, gender, sexual orientation, etc. offend us in some way, for that matter) as The Enemy—as irredeemably evil—and appointing ourselves and our friends as the sole arbiters of Truth, is a destructive practice. No matter who does it. That was why I wrote my report.

Here, if nowhere else, this single paragraph illustrates perfectly why I loathed Mixon’s essay, and her apparent inability to empathise with others and to evaluate her own actions. Mixon, in an essay that begins with decrying the difficulty of getting rid of the “evil” that is BS, says: “branding those who disagree with us […] as The Enemy—as irredeemably evil—and appointing ourselves and our friends as the sole arbiters of Truth, is a destructive practice”. This branding, you’ll recall, the only branding RH as ever done that could conceivably fit into what Mixon is saying here, is calling things or people misogynist, racist, homophobic or colonialist. While there is always ample room to discuss strategy and tactics in the fight against misogyny, racism, homophobia or colonialism, I disagree with Mixon’s sweeping condemnation, and I find her framing deeply hypocritical.

(9) Brandon Kempner on Chaos Horizon – “2015 Hugo Analysis: Category Participation”

[Post includes an assortment of graphs covering several years of history in every category.]

Now 2015: that line is totally inconsistent with the previous 4 years. Previously ignored categories like Editor grabbed an increase of 30 points—there’s your visual representation of how the Puppy kerfuffle drove votes. Thousands of voters voted in categories they would have previously ignored. I imagine this increase is due to both sides of the controversy, as various voters are tying to make their point. Still, 80% participation in a category like Editor, Short or Long Form is highly unusual for the Hugos. Even the Best Novel had a staggering 95% participation rate, up from a prior 4 year average of 87.4%.

 

(10) Harry Connolly, taking off from a recent Eric Flint post, speculates that Hugo voters and readers have these differences — in “oh god am i really going to write about the hugos again”

But here’s my suggestion, tentatively offered: what if the Hugo voters/nominators aren’t the one’s who’ve changed these last few decades? I mean, sure, some folks age out, new folks come in, so they aren’t the same individuals. But what if they’re the same sort of novelty-seeking reader, preferring clever, flattering books to pretty much everything else?

Because that would mean that the bulk of the readership now are the sorts of readers who don’t care about fandom or voting for Awards. Who have maybe sampled a few award-winners and found them not to their taste. They’re the people who came into the genre through Sword of Shannara, because it was the first fantasy to hit the NYTimes list, through STAR WARS and dozens of other action/adventure-with-ray-guns movies that sold millions of tickets, through D&D novels like Dragonlance, or through shoot-em-up video games.

Maybe the award hasn’t changed very much, but the readership now suddenly includes huge masses of people who are looking for Hollywood-style entertainment, with exaggerated movie characterization and a huge third act full of Big Confrontation.

(11) Robert B. Marks in Escapist Magazine – “The Night Science Fiction’s Biggest Awards Burned”

When you take a step back, it’s easy to see the Sad Puppies as the only sympathetic clique of the lot. They bought their memberships and voted for the stories they thought were worthy of recognition, as was their right as members – they’re also the only group who didn’t advocate a response of “if we can’t have it, nobody can!” Of everybody involved in the voting, the Sad Puppies did nothing wrong. In fact, they may be the only clique in this mess who actually honoured the fan-driven spirit of the Hugo Awards. It speaks volumes that when George R.R. Martin asked if he could nominate authors for consideration in next year’s Sad Puppies effort, the answer came back as an unconditional “yes.”

(12) Charles E. Gannon on Whatever in a comment on “Wrapping Up 2015: A Hugo Awards Open Thread”

This is a proven recipe for quickening passionate partisans into aggressive zealots. When advocates forsake their initial behavioral limits, they have started down a path in which their ends have begun to justify means they would not have countenanced earlier. And so they are on their way to becoming radicalized extremists.

We are familiar enough with the early warning signs of this dynamic at work, and which, cast in the taxonomies of our genre, equate to:

increasing numbers of SF & F readers becoming infected with the same virus of polarization now endemic in so many other parts of our culturescape;

name-calling, mockery, and personal invective that becomes so ubiquitous that it no longer stands out as arresting or unusual;

increasingly strident and absolutist rhetoric, often accompanied by a reflex to screen for “correct think vs. wrong think” semantics.

I don’t propose to have any sweeping answer for how to reverse this trend. (That would make me yet another strident advocate, wouldn’t it?). Rather, I perceive the answer to be ultimately personal: a conscience-informed attempt to balance what one intended to convey with how it was received. In short, to temper oneself without muzzling oneself.

My own answer is to keep talking amiably with people from all over the spectrum, regardless of however different (or not) our opinions may be. Consequently, lots of the folks I’ve spoken with over the last six months will not find the content of this post surprising and have expressed sympathy for larger or smaller parts of it. The list includes people such as Larry Correia, David Gerrold, Brad Torgerson, John Scalzi, Rachel Swirsky, and Eric Flint, just to name a few. And if anything strikes me as even more prevalent than the differences of opinion and perception among the dozens of people with whom I’ve chatted, it is the degree to which the “sides” do not understand each other. Which, given America’s contemporary culturescape, is not really surprising.

(14) Solarbird on crime and the foreces of evil – ”on the business meeting, part 2: e pluribus hugo”

E Pluribus Hugo doesn’t know about intentional slates. It doesn’t need to be told, “this is a slate.” Nobody has to make that call, because it doesn’t matter. It’s kind of like a normalisation function applied to nominations. There are no arguments over whether a pattern or voting is intentional or a plot or intent or political – a lot of identical ballots will be normalised to a first-order approximation of their actual popular support, regardless.

That’s why it’s so elegant, and that’s why it’s so genius. It doesn’t lock anybody out; it just stops campaigns from locking everyone else out, dramatically reducing their value vs. their labour and monetary cost, and eliminating the incentive for opposition parties.

For me, that is fair. For me, that is enough.

I hope that, for the honest flank of the Sad Puppies, it will also be enough. One self-identified Sad came up and voiced active support for E Pluribus Hugo during the business meeting. Those who actually believe in the mythical SJW VOTER CABAL – which was emphatically demonstrated not to exist by the events of this year, but stick with me – will know that E Pluribus Hugo would normalise this supposed SJW CABAL slate just as effectively.

Is it sad that we’ve reached a point where this sort of engineering is necessary? Eh, maybe. Probably, even. But it has driven fandom to create what even some opponents at the business meeting called a more perfect nominating system.

Yes, it’s tedious as all hell to do by hand, but it can be done. Yes, it’s more complicated – but not much. It’s only a little different than what we do for final voting and for site selection already.

(15) Allum Bokhari on Breitbart – “The online culture wars have moved out of comments sections and into Amazon’s Kindle Store”.

Online progressives were not so supportive. Alexandra Erin, a sci-fi writer who described Day’s book as “rehashing old slights”, wrote a short parody of the book for Kindle. Entitled “John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author And I Myself Am Quite Popular: How SJWs Always Lie About Our Comparative Popularity Levels,” the book makes fun of Day’s alleged fixation with the progressive sci-fi author John Scalzi.

Scalzi himself appeared to be delighted with the parody,  saying he “loved it already.” He used the book in a fundraising drive for a charity promoting diversity at sci-fi conventions, promising to release an audio recording of him reading the book if $2,500 was raised within three days. The target was successfully met, and Scalzi subsequently uploaded an audio recording.

Supporters of Vox Day responded by releasing their own parody book, entitled “John Scalzi Is A Rapist: Why SJWs Always Lie In Bed Waiting For His Gentle Touch; A Pretty, Pretty Girl Dreams of Her Beloved One While Pondering Gender Identity, Social Justice, and Body Dysmorphia.”

The counter-parody was removed by Amazon today following complaints from Scalzi. Prior to its removal, it was the top seller in the “parodies” section of the Kindle store, two places ahead of Erin’s book. Kindle top 100 rankings are calculated on an hourly basis, and surges in popularity for titles usually reflect a short, rapid increase in the number of purchases….

Both parody authors saw genuine returns for their products. The parody books were both under 30 pages long, and are unlikely to have taken much time to write. The fact that they became part of a buying war by two factions in the culture wars shows how animosity can be harnessed for profit.

(16) John Scalzi weighed in throughout the day.

(17) Ken White on Popehat “Satire vs. Potentially Defamatory Factual Statements: An Illustration”

So. If someone wrote an article saying “Ken White’s legal analysis should be disregarded because dresses up in a rubber suit on the weekend and hunts ponies with a handmade crossbow,” and says it on their trash-talking blog, to an audience that knows them and knows about my blogging here, it’s almost certainly parody, because the relevant audiences would be familiar with our in-joke about responding to spam emails with rants about ponies and would therefore not take it seriously.

The Facts Here

Here the factors point very strongly to the book being treated as parody, and protected by the First Amendment, rather than as a defamatory statement of fact. With all respect to Scalzi, his question is wrong: you can’t analyze the book title in isolation. You have to look at it in the context of the whole. In that context, the intended audience (both fans of Beale and fans of Scalzi) would recognize it as a reference to Beale’s tiresome meme. Plus, the Amazon description explicitly labels it as “a blazingly inventive parody,” and the descriptive text is mostly nonsensical and evocative of ridicule of “SJW” concerns, and references some of the topics that anger Beale’s coterie in connection with Scalzi like the Hugo Awards.

I think this one is protected parody, and I don’t think it’s a very close call.

(18) Vox Day on Vox Popoli – “Why Johnny can’t sue”

I suppose that leaves lobbying Amazon to ban books that make fun of John Scalzi, which I tend to doubt will be a successful strategy. UPDATE: Amazon just pulled down John Scalzi Is A Rapist: Why SJWs Always Lie In Bed Waiting For His Gentle Touch; A Pretty, Pretty Girl Dreams of Her Beloved One While Pondering Gender Identity, Social Justice, and Body Dysmorphia 

Fascinating, in light of how Is George Bush a War Criminal and Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Paula Deen is a Big Fat Idiot are still available for sale there. I wonder who will be the next target of these dread parodists?

(19) Brad R. Torgersen – “Tyranny of the Safe”

We must not allow ourselves to become a Tyranny of the Safe. You can have intellectual latitude, or you can have intellectual comfort. But you cannot have both. Larry Niven was 110% correct: there are minds which think as well as yours, just differently. Silence the other minds, and you will ultimately find you have silenced yourself. Because any rules you install today, are guaranteed to be abused by your opponents tomorrow. The mob you join in — to metaphorically encircle and burn the homes of the “wrong” people — will encircle and burn your home eventually. Commanded reverence — for an institution, an idea, or a demographic — begets simmering contempt. And the harder you push and punish, the more you use threats and pressure, the more obvious it is that your concepts cannot endure objective criticism.

(20) John C. Wright – “Dantooine is Too Remote”

Look — I hate to get emotional. It is bad for my Vulcan digestion. But the Hugos used to mean something, and now they don’t. A little bit of light and glory have departed the world.

Those who snuffed that light, hating a brightness they could not ignite themselves, must pay.

(21) David Wintheiser on Contrarian Bias “My Only Hugo Disappointment”

But the big problem with [Guardians of the Galaxy]as Hugo-winner came when I discovered what movie got left off the Hugo nominations list because of the three films from the Puppy slate that got on it: Big Hero 6.

The entire plot of Big Hero 6 revolves around the question of who decides how to make the best use of technology, and for what ends. The ‘superpowers’ exhibited in the film all make use of science presented in the film, and while not all the science is strictly ‘real-world’, it still follows the rules set up in the film itself — for example, the limitations of Hiro Hamada’s big invention become a significant plot point in the defeat of the true ‘villain’ of the piece. And, of course, it was a really good story, well-told. Had Big Hero 6 been in the nominations list, I’d have voted for it myself, and felt it was the most deserving potential winner, but because a bunch of butt-hurt white dudes felt like flooding the Hugo nominations market with their own wishlist, the movie I thought would have been the most deserving 2015 Hugo winner didn’t even get nominated.

That, to me, was the biggest and really only disappointment I had from taking part in the 2015 Hugo Award voting. It may well be something I decide to do more regularly in the future, if only to continue to represent a ‘new mainstream’ in SF where diversity in stories and subjects is celebrated, not lamented.

(22) A Stitch in Time – “The World is not Black and White: Hugo-related ramblings”

So. Knowing what I knew about the author’s campaign against the Hugo, and the Puppies slate, and the things said against him, or implied against him, or actually, mostly, the things he wrote that everyone from the Other Side (TM) thinks about him though they’re not actually true… I was really pleasantly surprised. (Now that I’m writing this, I think that I read most of the accusations allegedly done against Correia in his own writing, where he stated them and then vehemently said that he, of course, was none of that. In a way and tone that very much made me think that there was probably a bit of truth to them.)

I did enjoy the books, but knowing about all the personal and sorta-political background story, it felt a little weird to do so, as the Puppy Thing really irked me. I cannot completely part the writing from the author. That may be a good thing for a person: I’ve supported artists because I like the person for their personal qualities or their way of seeing and approaching life, though do not much care for their actual art, for example. But of course it can also mean that I won’t support someone because of their political or general stance on things, and, more importantly, because of the actions they take in this field.

Without the Hugo Kerfuffle, I would choose the Grimnoir books as an Xmas or birthday present for some friends of mine who I’m sure would enjoy them. But… the world is not black and white, and I will not buy these books on their own, because of the Hugo Kerfuffle and the actions the author has taken.

(23) L. E. Modesitt, Jr. – “The Hugos, or ‘You Just Don’t Understand’”

We have two groups with very different perspectives on what constitutes excellence. Each believes the other is wrong, misguided, or the like. Those on each side can argue quite logically their viewpoint. The problem is that, all too often, people with fixed mindsets believe absolutely and firmly that their understanding of a situation is the only way it can be accurately perceived. It has nothing to do with whether one is liberal or conservative, or any other social outlook. It has to do with a certain firmness of thought, described as “principled” by each of themselves, while describing their opponents as misguided or unprincipled.

In the case of the Hugos, as I see it, and I’ve certainly been criticized for the way I see it, there is some truth in both the cases of the “sad puppies” and the “new traditionalists.” [I have to say that I don’t see much truth or objectivity in the points of the “rabid puppies,” but perhaps my mindset just doesn’t accept what seems to be hateful provocation or use of hate to self-publicize.] And, as I’ve said before, not only do I think the field is big enough for both viewpoints, but the sales of a range of authors prove that rather demonstrably.

Yet each side is contending that the other did something hateful and discriminatory, largely because one side refused to abide by unspoken rules that they believed minimized their concerns. In the end, the other aspect of groups that this conflict illustrates, again, is why unspoken rules tend to be superseded by written procedures in larger groups.

[Thanks to Will R., Vox Day, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these links. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cubist .]