Cornell Apologizes for Smof Routine

Paul Cornell, LoneStarCon 3’s Toastmaster, has posted an apology for his Hugo Awards routine about “Smofs” and “Smurfs”.

“Smurfs” I need hardly explain. “Smofs” is an acronym for “Secret Masters of Fandom” that was coined as a pejorative but in the 1970s evolved into a humorous self-reference freely used by many sf conrunners.

However, as we have been going through an especially unhappy season with lots of blogging about the evil, nasty conrunners, some of which has been reported here, there’s been a trend back toward the word having a pejorative meaning in some circles. Cornell took inspiration from that for a string of jokes during the Hugo Ceremonies.

My immediate reaction as I listened to him tell the jokes was thud-thud-thud. I didn’t think it was a gracious way to treat the people putting on LoneStarCon 3 whose hospitality Cornell symbolized as Toastmaster. Yet what I’ve been reading online is so much worse I just stuffed it — I sent a mild joke to CoverItLive saying the material suited the blue background we were seeing on the broadcast.

On the other hand, some fans were apoplectic. One told Cornell to his face what he thought. Others explained their reaction in e-mails.

And now Cornell has done something you never see happen in the blogosphere. He apologized. He said, in part —

I think I broke two rules which I hold other people to, and it’s taken me days of searching my conscience to realise that.

Firstly, I always say that when someone tells you they’re offended, they’re not lying. One has to deal with the offence one has caused as real, and not regard such complaints as ill-conceived or somehow ‘wrong’. Many ‘smofs’ have written to me in support, saying they felt gently teased, that it was all in good fun, but the ones for whom it felt like a personal insult don’t deserve to have their feelings ignored.  One reaction is as ‘true’ as the other.

Secondly, while I’m sure there are those among the ranks of ‘Smofs’ who deserve a little satire, I’m also sure there are those who absolutely do not.  My error was to tar them all with the same brush, to not be precise, but instead to hurt a range of people through the term they identify with.  ‘Things are complicated’ as our heroes said in Knight and Squire.  I don’t like it when other groups are made into folk devils, but there I was doing it.  It’s terrifyingly easy and tempting to follow the crowd and go for that sort of laugh.  It’s also a very bad thing to do.

I’ve only quoted a little to give you an indication of what he felt. It’s worth your time to go over and read it in full.

Hertz: Texas and the World

The lone star rises
A third time shining on us
As we reach for space.

By John Hertz: Around 4,300 attended LoneStarCon III (or “3” if you were writing this), the 71st World Science Fiction Convention, 29 Aug – 2 Sep 13, San Antonio, Texas. Art Show sales $46,000 by 90 artists. LoneStarCon II was there in 1997. So was I; I remembered the Alamo. LoneStarCon I was – but that’s another story.

lonestarconThe LSC3 newszine, of course La Estrella Solitaria (Spanish, “the solitary star”), kindly printed this contribution of mine. Sunday at 3:30 a.m. I heard Kathy Mar sing “Starship and Haiku”.

NASA kindly sent an exhibit, astronaut Cady Coleman, and engineer Heather Paul. Two suits from NASA stood next to the Heinlein Society. I said the title Have Space Suit, Will Travel didn’t really depend on knowing Have Gun (24 episodes by Gene Roddenberry). We celebrated the 50th anniversary of Glory Road.

Coleman on Hugo Night gave a Con Committee Award – not done every year – to Stan Schmidt. Paul Cornell gave him a Hugo. The Big Heart Award went to Tom Veal. Video wizard John Maizels made the most of Chris Garcia.

Down Under Fan Fund delegate Bill Wright from Australia was in fine form, also Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate Jim Mowatt from Britain, and my counterpart the North America TAFF Administrator Jacq Monahan. Japan confirmed its bid for 2017, with which Montréal will compete. Dublin announced for 2019.

Leah Zeldes & Dick Smith miraculously got to the TAFF/DUFF fundraising auction the copy of Pebble in the Sky autographed by Fred Pohl we almost managed last year. It may be unique.

Pebble was an SF Classic discussed at Chicon VII; it’s set in Chicago. I’d found a mildly rare paperback and thought to ask Pohl. He could inscribe “I did not write this book, but I brought it into existence. Frederik Pohl, accoucheur.” In fact he signed “the Godfather”. Then by no one’s fault it sat in Illinois. I still don’t know how it arrived.

The news of Pohl’s death came around Closing Ceremonies. It was indeed a closing. He began in the 1930s; he bought Larry Niven’s first story and hired Judy-Lynn del Rey; now he’s immanentized the Eschaton.

On Wednesday and Thursday volunteers helped me mount the Rotsler Award exhibit, which for some reason was in the Art Show. “I want you because you’re ignorant,” I said. “I know too much. You can pick out drawings you find visually appealing regardless of the back-stories and in-jokes.” People said the result was good.

The Art Show had a great Darrell Sweet display. One painting was the cover for my copy of Space Cadet. Another, used as the cover for the Program Book (“Souvenir Book” if you were writing this) was his “Isle of the Dead”, which my Art Show tour discussed. I was glad to see too his non-SF themes. Wire wonder woman Elizabeth Berrien won Best of Show.

A fine LSC3 idea was a First Worldcon ribbon. To wear it invited explanation. They ran out and had to be re-ordered.

My talk on The Glass Bead Game drew helpful participants. This masterpiece of Hesse’s is a hall of mirrors. Does anyone change? Maybe Father Jacobus. One fan said “Now I have to read it in German.” Two days later Terry Sisk Graybill saw to the heart of The Dying Earth: “at the last chapter you re-think the whole story.” She’d met Vance, who gave her a kazoo.

I ran into Yasser Bahjatt in the Dealers’ Room. He was wearing Sa‘udi Arabian dress. I said “I don’t wish to be disrespectful by giving you a hall-costume award” – I was Chief Hall-Costume Judge – so we talked about it and he took one. I had been a Workmanship Judge in the Masquerade. Janice Gelb fictitiously lost an eye in a disaster to well-omened redshirts.

After the tumult and shouting had died I found three visitors adrift in the Exhibit Hall. They’d just heard of the con and wondered if any was left. I scavenged some Program Books and Pocket Programs and answered questions. Jonathan Miles came by and helped. Did it matter that he and they were black? I don’t know, but good dealers are smart. I walked the three of them out to the river, went to Dead Dog parties, and went home.

Update 09/26/2015: In 2013, the Big heart Award was presented to Tom Veal by Dave Kyle and Sue Francis.

LSC3 Film Festival Awards

Nat Saenz has announced the LoneStarCon3 Film Festival Winners —

Best SF&F Short Film
Ray Bradbury’s Kaleidoscope – USA
Director:  Eric Tozzi

Best Horror Short Film
CARGOLS! (Snails) – Spain
Director:  Geoffrey Cowper

Best Animation Short Film
Oh Super – USA
Director:  Mike Roberts

Best Fan Film
Star Trek Continues; Pilot – Pilgrim of Eternity – USA
Director: Vic Mignogna

Best Feature Film
Chill – Horror – USA
Director:  Noelle Bye and Meredith Holland

Iconic Base

A close up of the 2013 Hugo Award base by artist Vincent Villafranca. Photo by Ed Dravecky.

A close up of the 2013 Hugo Award base by artist Vincent Villafranca. Photo by Ed Dravecky.

Ed Dravecky’s photo of the 2013 Hugo Award base in the LoneStarCon 3 Wikipedia article gives the best view of this finely detailed piece I’ve seen outside of the video broadcast during the Hugo ceremonies. (Is that online? I couldn’t locate it.)

LoneStarCon 3 Masquerade Winners

Jill Eastlake has issued a “corrected final winners list” from the LoneStarCon 3 Masquerade. She notes, “It’s amazing to me that although we tried really, really hard to get this right multiple times, we still blew it slightly. Please post this corrected list anywhere and everywhere.”

Master of Ceremonies: Paul Cornell. Masquerade Director: Jill Eastlake. Stage Manager: Kathy Thornton. Workmanship Judges: John Hertz, Michele Weinstein. Presentation Judges: John O’Halloran, Pierre Pettinger, Sandy Pettinger. 29 Entries: 5 Young Fan, 14 Novice, 6 Journeyman, 4 Master. (There were one Not-in-Competition and two scratches before the start of the show.)

Workmanship Awards

Young Fan Division

Best Leatherwork: “Lady Lattitude and Wingnut,” Steward Facile (their Dad)

Best Sewing and Applique: “Kirby Picachu,” Candace Pohler

Novice Division

Construction of Fur Suit Heads: “Project F-Zero-X,” Jay Brandt

Most Ingenious Use of Mundane Substance and Best Entry Made on Site: “AirProof,” Don Clary

Additions and Alterations: “Emmaleen and her Flying Machine,” Sharon Bass, Barb Galler-Smith

Best Use of Found Objects: “Her Majesty Jadis, Empress of Charm and Queen of Narnia,” S. Kay Nash

Journeyman Division

Arrangement of Transformation: “A Crack in Time and Space,” Sabine Furlong

Best Engineering: “Stinza Nickerson, Half-Horse,” Wendy Snyder

Best in Class, Journeyman Workmanship: “Beren and Luthien,” Lorretta Morgan

Master Division

Hand Painting: “Tardis in Vortex,” Steward Facile

Best in Class, Master Division: “Saucer Country,” Kevin Roche, Andrew Trembley, Julie Zetterberg, Greg Sardo, Jerry Majors Patterson, Ken Patterson, Chuck Serface, Nova Mellow as “Daisy”

Presentation Awards

Young Fan Division

Most Royal: “Medieval Princesses,” Emma Jackson, Hope Jackson

Best Story: “Ni No Kuni,” Niki Hyatt, Micah Joel Hyatt, Tori Hyatt, Malachi Hyatt

Best Recreation: “Kirby Picachu,” Candace Pohler

Most Beautiful: “Lady Lattitude.” Robyn Facile

Best in Class: “Wingnut,” Lillian Facile

Novice Division

Honorable Mention for Presentation: “Emmaleen and her Flying Machine,” Sharon Bass, Barb Galler-Smith

Honorable Mention for Chaos: “Randomly Generated Character,” Tamisan

Dr. Moreau Award: “Project F-Zero-X,” Jay Brandt, Victoria Brandt

Deep in the Heart of Texas & Great Balloons of Fire: “AirProof,” Don Clary, James Cossaboon

Best in Class: “Daenerys Targaryen,” Andrea Morrison

Journeyman Division

Best Transformation: “A Crack in Time and Space,” Sabine Furlong

Most Beautiful: “The Dragon Lady,” April Korbel

Best in Class, Journeyman Division: “Beren and Luthien,” Tim Morgan, Lorretta Morgan

Master Division

Most Humorous: “Public Service Announcement,” Rebecca Hewett, Kevin Hewett, Serge Mailloux, Janice Gelb

Close Encounters of the Texas Kind and Best in Class, Master Division: “Saucer Country,” Kevin Roche, Andrew Trembley, Julie Zetterberg, Greg Sardo, Jerry Majors Patterson, Ken Patterson, Chuck Serface, Nova Mellow as “Daisy”

Out of Class Awards

Judge’s Choice: “Stinza Nickerson, Half-Horse,” Wendy Snyder

Best of Show: “Otilia,” Aurora Celeste

Worldcon Videos Coming

You may get to see the Hugo Award broadcast after all — on disc.

DVDs of the LoneStarCon 3 Masquerade and Hugo Awards Ceremony will be available according to the daily newzine. Contact

It’s anticipated the discs will be ready in late October. If there is sufficient demand, there may be an HD video in Blu-ray, too.

Syd Weinstein’s DVD’s are produced with the authority of the convention and the cooperation of Techno-Fandom. Most discs are fulfilled by CreateSpace, an Amazon Company, and sold at breakeven prices.

2013 Rhysling Awards

The winners of the 2013 Rhysling Awards were announced by the Science Fiction Poetry Association at LoneStarCon 3.

Short Poem Category

First Place
“The Cat Star” by Terry Garey
Lady Poetesses from Hell, ed. Bag Person Press Collective (Bag Person Press)

Second Place
“Futurity’s Shoelaces” by Marge Simon
Balticon 2012 Program Book

Third Place
“Sister Philomela Heard the Voices of Angels” by Megan Arkenberg
Strange Horizons 8/7/12

Long Poem Category

First Place
“Into Flight” by Andrew Robert Sutton
Silver Blade 14

Second Place
“String Theory” by John Philip Johnson
Ad Astra 1

Third Place—Tie
“The Necromantic Wine” by Wade German
Avatars of Wizardry, ed. Charles Lovecraft (P’rea Press)

“The Time Traveler’s Weekend” by Adele Gardner
Liquid Imagination 15

[Based on a true story by SF Site News.]

LSC3 Apologizes for Hugo Broadcast

LoneStarCon 3 says its own upload stream caused the freezes and blackouts that marred last night’s broadcast of the Hugo Awards Ceremony. Ustream is not to blame.

LSC3 has posted this notice online —

LoneStarCon 3 apologizes for the interruptions to the live broadcast of the 2013 Hugo Awards Ceremony. These problems were caused by issues with the upload stream from the Convention to Ustream. LoneStarCon 3 wishes to make it clear that these technical difficulties were in no way due to Ustream, who have provided excellent support throughout this year’s event.

This is a sensitive subject because last year Ustream’s automated copyright violation monitors killed the broadcast midway through. Ustream did much to make amends to Chicon 7, and whitelisted LSC3’s event this year.

I kept one eye on the broadcast, which had over 700 viewers most of the time, and another eye on CoverItLive, where Mur Lafferty, Cheryl Morgan and Kevin Standlee were texting about the ceremony. It was a bonus when Lafferty had to step away to accept the Campbell Award. Standlee says CoverItLive peaked at 822 viewers.