Pixel Scroll 8/10/18 This Pixel Scroll Title Has Been Used Before

(1) TARDIS MAKEOVER. Doctor Who Today has this leaked photo of a new TARDIS design.

(2) ANOTHER BIG $ALE. The Hipsters of the Coast report that the “Art for Chandra, Torch of Defiance SDCC Promo Sells for $35,000”.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance, the third of the five San Diego Comic Con promotional planeswalker paintings by Terese Nielsen, has sold for $35,000. The final bid all but doubled in the closing minutes of the auction that ended on eBay Sunday evening.

…Chandra, Torch of Defiance blew past the final prices of Liliana, Untouched by Death ($22,950) and Nissa, Vital Force ($25,600), eclipsing the highest total by almost $10,000. I did not expect Chandra to surpass these two, and I’m not sure that anyone, even Terese herself, might have guessed she would either.

(3) CHICAGO 8. The Book Smugglers feature an Uncanny Kickstarter promo about Chicago by the hosts-in-waiting of Uncanny TV: “Eight Nerdy Chicago People and Organizations We Love By Matt Peters and Michi Trota (Uncanny Magazine Kickstarter shout out)”

Our home nerd community in Chicago has countless examples of nerdy groups and individuals using their own geeky passions to inspire and shape incredibly diverse and wide-ranging projects. Their work reminds us why stories matter, and wanting to talk with creators like them and hear their own stories is a primary reason we’re so excited for the potential of Uncanny TV. Chicago is one home among many to geeky creators from all walks of life, and our hope is that Uncanny TV will have a chance to visit as many of those communities as possible. We couldn’t possibly name all of the nerds and geeks we know whose art and activism are fueled by their geeky loves, but here are eight based in Chicago who provide a snapshot of the inspiring work being created in fandom.

Acrobatica Infiniti Circus

“Cosplay” and “circus” aren’t two things we would have thought of putting together before but thankfully someone did! Acrobatica Infiniti Circus, also known as “the Nerd Circus,” was created several years ago by Tana “Tank” Karo, who had a background in dance and design but had wanted to create something that allowed her to merge her love for circus and geekery. The resulting collaboration among extraordinarily talented and undeniably nerdy jugglers, acrobats, aerial artists, contortionists, and object manipulators is delightful and surprising each time: Leeloo performing mind-boggling contortionist poses, Totoro juggling sootballs, Harley Quinn on a trapeze. The fact that the group has a rotating cast allows the performers to stay fresh and provides continuous opportunities for new performers to come in and join the show. And rather than approaching the performance scene as a competition, AIC often works in collaboration with similar performance groups to encourage more artistic development and positive ties within the community….

(4) LITTLE-KNOWN WORLDCON BUSINESS. I must have missed this on my first read-through of the agenda. The thread starts here.

(5) 2007 BUSINESS MEETING. Kevin Standlee has uploaded four videos of the 2007 WSFS Business Meeting in Yokohama.

It took him awhile to do it. Kevin says, “My upload bandwidth at home is so poor that I could only upload one file per night overnight.”

(6) SIMULATING MARS. NBC News posts a video (“The human factor: What it will take to build the perfect team for traveling to Mars”) about a simulated mission to Mars that didn’t turn out as planned.

Hi-SEAS in Mauna Loa, Hawaii is a simulated Mars habitat that’s meant to facilitate the study of human behavior. A group of four-to-six participants is selected from a pool of hundreds of astronaut aspirants to make up the crew for each mission. So far five missions have been conducted successfully. Mission VI began earlier this year but things didn’t go exactly as planned.

The Atlantic thoroughly reviews what happened in the article “When a Mars Simulation Goes Wrong”.

… In February of this year, the latest batch of pioneers, a crew of four, made the journey up the mountain. They settled in for an eight-month stay. Four days later, one of them was taken away on a stretcher and hospitalized….

(7) ACROSS THE WALL. Cora Buhlert writes from the divided Germany of 1963 at Galactic Journey“[August 10, 1963] The Future in a Divided Land, Part 3 (An Overview of Science Fiction in East and West Germany)”.

In the last two entries in this series, I gave you an extensive overview of West German science fiction. Now let’s take a look across the iron curtain at what is going on in East Germany. For while the inner German border may be nigh insurmountable for human beings, mail does pass through. A lot of us have family in the East, including myself, and are in regular contact with them via letters and parcels. Parcels from West to East Germany usually contain coffee, nylons, soap, canned pineapple and all sorts of other consumer goods that are hard to come by in Communist East Germany.

Unfortunately, we cannot send books and magazines, cause they will probably be seized at the border for fear of “dangerous” ideas spreading. East Germans, on the other hand, are free to send books and magazines to relatives and friends in the West. And since my love for reading in general and for “space books” in particular is well known to my aunts in East Germany, the occasional science fiction novel from beyond the iron curtain has found its way into my hands.

…However, the most exciting of those voice from beyond the iron curtain is not German at all, but a Polish writer, Stanislaw Lem, whose work I encountered via East German translations. I particularly enjoy Lem’s humorous stories about the adventures of a space traveller named Ijon Tichy, which have been collected as Die Sterntagebücher des Raumfahrers Ijon Tichy (The Star Diaries of the Spaceman Ijon Tichy).

Lem’s more serious works include the novels Eden with its fascinating portrayal of a truly alien society, Planet des Todes (Planet of Death), which was even filmed in 1960, and the generation ship story Gast im Weltraum (Guest in Space), which is currently being filmed in Czechoslovakia.

(8) MASSIVE ROUNDUP. Todd Mason has an ambitious collection of more than three dozen links to recent reviews and essays in “Friday’s ‘Forgotten’ Books and more: the links to the reviews” at Sweet Freedom.

(9) STEAMIN’ WORLDCON. Included in The Steampunk Explorer’s “Steampunk Digest – August 10, 2018”:

Worldcon, the World Science Fiction Convention, will be held August 16-20 in San Jose, within shouting distance of The Steampunk Explorer’s International Headquarters. The program lists several steampunk-themed panels, including “Carriger & Adina Talk Steampunk (tea and silliness optional)” with authors Gail Carriger and Shelley Adina; “The Victorian & Edwardian Tech Tree” with Steve Frankel; and “Defining Steampunk” with Elektra Hammond, Anastasia Hunter, William C. Tracy, Diana M. Pho, and Jaymee Goh. We plan to be there, and for the benefit of attendees, we’ll be posting stories about steampunk-related attractions in San Jose and elsewhere in Silicon Valley.

(10) LOOKING FOR BOOKS. Donations needed –

(11) WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AT WAR WITH EAST BAYSIA. The Digital Antiquarian remembers the big brawl between Apple and Microsoft in “Doing Windows, Part 8: The Outsiders”.

…Having chosen to declare war on Microsoft in 1988, Apple seemed to have a very difficult road indeed in front of them — and that was before Xerox unexpectedly reentered the picture. On December 14, 1989, the latter shocked everyone by filing a $150 million lawsuit of their own, accusing Apple of ripping off the user interface employed by the Xerox Star office system before Microsoft allegedly ripped the same thing off from Apple.

The many within the computer industry who had viewed the implications of Apple’s recent actions with such concern couldn’t help but see this latest development as the perfect comeuppance for their overweening position on “look and feel” and visual copyright. These people now piled on with glee. “Apple can’t have it both ways,” said John Shoch, a former Xerox PARC researcher, to the New York Times. “They can’t complain that Microsoft [Windows has] the look and feel of the Macintosh without acknowledging the Mac has the look and feel of the Star.” In his 1987 autobiography, John Sculley himself had written the awkward words that “the Mac, like the Lisa before it, was largely a conduit for technology” developed by Xerox. How exactly was it acceptable for Apple to become a conduit for Xerox’s technology but unacceptable for Microsoft to become a conduit for Apple’s? “Apple is running around persecuting Microsoft over things they borrowed from Xerox,” said one prominent Silicon Valley attorney. The Xerox lawsuit raised uncomfortable questions of the sort which Apple would have preferred not to deal with: questions about the nature of software as an evolutionary process — ideas building upon ideas — and what would happen to that process if everyone started suing everyone else every time somebody built a better mousetrap.

(12) NAVIGATING THE AMAZON. Peter Grant relates more “Lessons learned from a trilogy, Part 2: the impact on sales of rapid releases, and other factors” at Mad Genius Club. He discovered several benefits from releasing a trilogy of new novels in a short timeframe.

You can see at once that sales rose a little per volume after each launch, but not spectacularly so.  What did rise very strongly were KU [Kindle Unlimited] “borrows”.  The triple “bounce” is obvious to the naked eye, even without numbers.  It seems that, once they were aware of the series, KU readers jumped on it, and read each volume in turn (sometimes “binge-reading” all three within a week).  That drove the series’ sales ranks higher, and is still doing so, long after I’d have expected the earlier books’ ranks to drop by much more.  As I write these words, all three volumes are still ranked in the top three-tenths of one percent of all books in the Kindle Store.  Needless to say, I find that very satisfying.

(13) DID THEY GAME THE SYSTEM? Six writers who have been booted from Amazon say they can’t understand why: “Amazon self-published authors: Our books were banned for no reason” at Yahoo! Finance.

In recent weeks, Amazon (AMZN) has taken down e-books written by at least six self-published novelists who say they did nothing wrong and depend on the platform to make their living, those six novelists told Yahoo Finance.

The six authors published many of their books through Amazon’s online self-publishing platform Kindle Direct Publishing Select, and they expressed shock and frustration over losing their livelihoods without understanding why.

Amazon, for its part, has been cracking down on KDP Select authors who supposedly game the system in order to get paid more. But the authors Yahoo Finance spoke to insist they haven’t engaged in this kind of fraud, and that Amazon banned them without sufficient explanation of wrongdoing.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 10 — Rosanna Arquette, 59. Amazon Women on the Moon as well as voice work in Battle for Terra, appearances in Medium and Eastwick.
  • Born August 10 — Antonio Banderas, 58. Genre work in Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, the Spy Kids franchise, voice work in Puss in Boots and Shrek 2, appearances in the forthcoming The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle and The New Mutants.
  • Born August 10 — Suzanne Collins, 56. The Hunger Games trilogy which became a film series as well and The Underland Chronicles, a epic fantasy series.
  • Born August 10 — Angie Harmon, 46. Barbara Gordon in the animated Batman Beyond series and voice work in the current Voltron series, appeared on Chuck. 
  • Born August 10 — Joanna Garcia Swisher, 39. Quite a bit genre work including the From the Earth to The Moon miniseries, the animated The Penguins of MadagascarAre You Afraid Of The DarkThe Astronaut Wives Club,  Kevin (Probably) Saves the World and Once Upon a Time series. 

(15) SHORT FICTION REVIEWS. Charles Payseur sells Ceaseless Sips by the seashore: “Quick Sips – Beneath Ceaseless Skies #257”.

I am sorely tempted to guess that the link between the two latest stories from Beneath Ceaseless Skies is that their both authored by a Christopher. Because, at first glance, these two pieces are very different in terms of character, tone, and theme. Looking closer, though, and the stories seem paired not because of how well they work in harmony, but in how well they contrast, showing two sides of the same coin. On one, we get to see a man on a quest realize that he’s in danger of losing something of himself and pause, take stock, and find comfort and guidance in another person. In the other story, though, we find a man who has fully embraced his quest, regardless of who he needs to destroy or hurt. Both stories feature mostly conversations and philosophy, but in one a lesson is learned, and in the other it is utterly destroyed. So yeah, let’s get to the reviews!

(16) PICK SIX. Grow your TBR pile by reading “Six Books with Sam Hawke” at Nerds of a Feather.

  1. What upcoming book you are really excited about?Probably Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett is the one I’m looking forward to the most. He wrote one of my favourite fantasy trilogies of recent years (the Divine Cities) and Foundryside has the thieves and heists in city state, Locke Lamora kind of vibe that I dig. Special mention to The Monster Baru Cormorant (because the Traitor was amaaaaazing) though I am scared of how much it is going to hurt me.

(17) POWER ARRANGERS. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams surprises with his deep interest in the meanings of Lord of the Rings: “Master of his universe: the warnings in JRR Tolkien’s novels” in New Statesman.

…Yes, Sam is an idealised version of a socially ambivalent and archaic stereotype. Forget this for a moment and look at his instinctive realisation that fantasies of high-octane power, celebrity and control are poisonous. He is anything but perfect: his stubborn parochialism and his taunting of Gollum are failings, with bad consequences. But he retains some fundamental instinct of moral realism. This helps him share Frodo’s burden without collapsing. Frodo’s empathy for Gollum (rooted in a shared understanding of the Ring’s terrible seduction), finally leads to a genuinely shocking denouement; but Gollum, furious, alienated by Sam, recklessly greedy for the Ring, saves Frodo from his self-inflicted catastrophe and dies as a result.

Somehow, the tangled web of interaction between these three ends in “salvation”. Some force overrules and rescues them – but only through the weaving together of a whole set of flawed agencies, mixed motives, compassion, prejudice, courage and craving. Tolkien is seeking to model the way in which the creator works not by intervening but by interweaving. It is this starkly unexpected conclusion to the quest and the journey that makes the book most clearly a Christian fiction.

But even for the non-religious reader, this diagnosis of power is a reason for treating Tolkien more seriously than many are inclined to. Look beyond the unquestionable flaws: the blandly patriarchal assumptions, the recurrent patronising of the less “elevated” characters, the awkwardness of the would-be High Style of narrative and dialogue, the pastiche of Scott or Stevenson at their worst; beyond even the fantastically elaborated histories and lores and languages of Middle Earth.

The work is ultimately a fiction about how desire for power – the kind of power that will make us safe, reverse injustices and avenge defeats – is a dream that can devour even the most decent. But it is also a fiction about how a bizarre tangle of confused human motivation, prosaic realism and unexpected solidarity and compassion can somehow contribute to fending off final disaster. Not quite a myth, but something of a mythic structure, and one that – in our current climate of political insanities and the resurgence of varieties of fascistic fantasy – we could do worse than think about.

(18) UP YOUR UPLOAD. BBC discovered “This rigged charger can hijack your new laptop”. “Who ran a sewer through a recreation area?” is joined by “Who put charging on a data line?”

A neat feature of many modern laptops is the ability to power them up through the USB port. Unlike the rectangular USB ports of old, the newer type – USB-C – can carry enough power to charge your machine.

That’s great news: it means you don’t need to add a separate port just for charging. And when the USB port isn’t being used for power, it can be used for something useful, like plugging in a hard drive, or your phone.

But while you and I may look at that as an improvement, hackers see an opportunity to exploit a new vulnerability.

One researcher, who goes by the name MG, showed me how a Macbook charger could be booby-trapped. Modified in such a way it was possible to hijack a user’s computer, without them having any idea it was happening.

(19) SENT BACK LIKE GANDALF? “Gladiator 2: The strangest sequel never made?” — Maximus resurrected by Jupiter to fight a rebel god, then sent time-travelling through wars of the ages.

At the time, [Nick] Cave had written just one produced screenplay, John Hillcoat’s Ghosts… of the Civil Dead, and he was concentrating on his music career. But he couldn’t resist when Crowe offered him the Gladiator 2 job, despite one obvious misgiving. “Didn’t you die in Gladiator 1?” he asked. “Yeah, you sort that out,” replied Crowe.

And that’s what he did. Cave’s Gladiator 2 screenplay opens with Maximus waking up in the afterlife. To his disappointment, it isn’t the sun-kissed Elysium he dreamt of in Gladiator, but an endless rain-sodden netherworld where wretched refugees huddle on the shores of a black ocean. With the help of a ghostly guide, Mordecai, Maximus treks to a ruined temple where he meets Jupiter, Mars and five other diseased and decrepit Roman deities. Jupiter explains that one of their number, Hephaestus, has betrayed them, and is now preaching the gospel of another god who is more powerful than all of them. Just to quibble for a moment, Hephaestus is a Greek god, not a Roman one, so Cave should really have named him Vulcan. But the screenplay compensates for this slip with some writing to relish….

(20) DO YOU REMEMBER WHO KILLED SUPERMAN? At SYFY Wire“An oral history of the original Death and Return of Superman, 25 years later”.

…Jurgens fittingly enough would be the artist who drew that final image of a battle-weary Superman finally succumbing to battle with Doomsday, cradled in Lois Lane’s arms, with Jimmy Olsen forlorn in the background.

Jurgens: As for that final double page splash, well… it first appeared as a triple page spread at the end of Superman #75. I don’t think it has ever been reprinted that way, with a double page spread that then folds out into a triple pager. We spent an extraordinary amount of time getting it to work properly and I think it really helped bring Superman #75 to an appropriate close.

Superman #75 would go on to sell millions copies over multiple printings, reaching sales figure that were bolstered in no small part by the mainstream attention the death of this international icon had attracted.

Ordway: Coincidentally, the public’s actual reaction mirrored what we did in the comics — they suddenly came out in numbers, professing their love for Superman. That was what we wanted all along, though of course none of us had any idea it would sell. We had hopes that people would respond, maybe comic shops might order more Superman comics.

Jurgens: There is no way we, DC or anyone was prepared for the reaction to our story. We were simply trying to tell a good, dramatic story that said something about the nature of a great character.

Carlin: I still can’t believe people believed Superman would be gone forever. Reporter after reporter came up to DC and asked “Why are you killing Superman?” and my standard answer was “When was the last time you bought a Superman comic? Hell, when was the last time you bought ANY comic?” And every reporter said they hadn’t bought a Superman comic since they were kids, to which my response was: “Then you’re the one who killed Superman!” And most of these reporters, men and women, said that they were reporters because of Clark and/or Lois’s inspiration!

For the creative team, the story they yearned to tell was not the slugfest that led up Superman’s death, but the stories of loss afterward.

Bogdanove: In what seemed like no time, we’d written most of “Funeral for a Friend,” which was where the real meat of the story was. I think we accomplished exactly what Louise spoke of. Through the eyes of Metropolis and the world, via the reactions of heroes, villains and the friends and family he knew, I think we got to say a lot about why Superman matters.

Certain scenes stand out in my memory: Bibbo (Bibowski, a supporting character who idolized the Man of Steel) saying, “It shoulda’ been me!” Ma and Pa Kent watching the funeral of their own son on television, all alone by themselves. Some of these scenes we talked about that day still make my eyes tear up just thinking about them.

(21) JOIN THE SPACE FORCE. Commander Fred Willard comes out of retirement to enlist in Trump’s Space Force.  “We’re going to build a big, beautiful wall and those filthy Neptunians are going to pay for it.”  “When there’s trouble in space, we’re on the case.” From the Jimmy Kimmel Show. Fast forward to 3 minutes and 30 seconds.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Kevin Standlee, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, David Doering, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and Hyman Rosen for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

What’s Five Thousand Miles?

By John Hertz: My antennae tingled. It turned out Inoue Hiroaki was in town. He was Guest of Honor at Animé L.A. XIII, 27-29 Jan 17 at the Ontario Convention Center. Over 9,000 attended.

Chaz Baden started ALA, chaired it for years, and is now Chair Emeritus. With help from him and a host of others, a few hours’ driving time, and a few dollars at Registration, I arranged to meet Inoue-san on Sunday afternoon at 3.

To animé folk he’s the producer of Tenchi Muyou! (which I suppose we may call a franchise, an ongoing stream of animé, novels, manga, video games, soundtrack records – isn’t a Compact Disc a record? – radio, role-playing-game books, and whatnot).

Tenchi Muyo! means “Right side up with care” or “No need for Tenchi” – if you think you’re a punster, you ain’t seen nothin’ – and has been running over 25 years.

Also he teaches animé in Japanese university courses. He addressed the Massachusetts Institute of Technology fifteen years ago. I might say something about a list of achievements as long as your arm, but we’re talking about animé, who knows how long that might be?

To me he’d been the chair of Nippon 2007, the 65th World Science Fiction Convention, the first in Asia, the first in Japan. Fame, like obviousness, is relative – obviously.

I’d had a fair lot to do with that bid and that con, and was sent there (and brought back) by a one-time traveling-fan fund HANA (Hertz Across to Nippon Alliance; hana in Japanese is “flower” or “blossom”, a word much used in poetry) started by Murray Moore; you can see my report here (first half) and here (second half).

In earlier days of ALA I had myself been a feature on Sunday afternoons. But that’s another story.

“Where,” I’d asked Chaz, “is this meeting?” He said “I’ll work on that.” When I arrived, a Chaz-gram awaited me. A staffer said “You’re John Hertz! This is for you” and another said “I’ll take you there.”

Inoue-san and I rejoiced. I bowed, so he shook my hand.

The Nippon 2007 bid had formally begun in 2000. But you could say it began in 1957 – or 1927, the year Shibano Takumi was born.

I told Inoue-san on Sunday, “Nippon 2007 was only possible because of three giants: Shibano-sensei [“teacher”], Peggy Rae Sapienza, and you.” None was available for the Shizuoka bid. For 2017 my Helsinki friends beat my District of Columbia, Montréal, and Shizuoka friends. But another Japanese Worldcon may come.

Mason Beninger interpreted for us. We may have overloaded him. This had happened before.

At the 8th NASFiC (North America Science Fiction Convention, held when the Worldcon is overseas) Inoue-san, who was Animé GoH, joined Marie Cooley and me judging the Masquerade. He was very perceptive, but only because of the extraordinary interpreter Karahashi Takayuki could we manage any speed.

I’ll spare you other stories, like the time an interpreter from the Yokohama Tourist Bureau – oops.

Inoue-san asked how Peggy Rae’s widower John was doing. I said “Well; but his heart hurts.” Of course that’s true for all of us.

All around were animé folk, many in costume; signs, dealers’ tables; lines and clumps. It was the Exhibit Hall.

We marveled at this flourishing of one part of the Imagi-Nation while, in the United States anyway, there wasn’t much cross-fertilizing. I’d been one of the Masquerade judges who gave Best in Show to an entry based on Trinity Blood at the 64th Worldcon. But mostly They don’t come to our village and we don’t go to theirs.

Diversity takes a lot of work.

Still,

What’s five thousand miles
And two languages between
Fans who seek the stars?

Pixel Scroll 10/5/16 That’s Appertainment!

(1) BEST SERIES HUGO FLAW? Sami Sundell is dissatisfied with the 2017 Hugo test category, judging by his title: “Best Series is a popularity contest”.

Last year, Eric Flint wrote about the discrepancy between popularity in bookstores and winning (Hugo) awards. I then pointed out, that the big time bookstore magnets tend to write series. So, on the face of it, adding a new category could bring the awards closer to general populace…..

Re-eligibility of a nominee

The actual series proposal suggests a non-winning nominee for Best Series could become re-eligible after at least two additional tomes and 240 000 words. If the series is long enough and the writer prolific enough, you might see the same series popping up every few years, adding at least quarter of a million words to the reading effort every time.

You see, that’s another thing about the popular series: they hook their readers. Even if the quality wanes, it’s hard to let go of a series you’ve started – and some of those series have gone on for 40 years.

There’s nothing wrong with the same author and series being nominated multiple times; that happens regularly with other categories. In this case, however, it’s not just the latest installation that should be considered. It’s the whole body of work, which may span multiple authors, media, and decades.

More than any other written fiction category, Best Series has makings of a popularity contest in it: people will vote for whatever they are familiar with and attached to. That’s fine for selecting what to read next, but it shouldn’t be grounds for a Hugo.

(2) AUDIBLE INKLINGS. Oxford fellow Michael Ward (Planet Narnia) narrates Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings in the Audible Audio Edition, released September 26.

Bandersnatch cover

(3) MYTH BUSTED OR INTACT? Aaron Pound looks at the “2007 Hugo Longlist” and commences to bust what he feels is a Hugo voting “myth.”

Whenever a Worldcon is held outside of the United States, people suggest that genre fiction works produced by local authors and editors are going to receive a boost in the Hugo nomination process and subsequent voting. Nippon 2007, the Worldcon held in 2007, was located in Yokohama, and given that Japan has an active science fiction and fantasy scene, one would think that the ballot would have been filled with Japanese books, stories, movies, and television shows. At the very least, one would think the Hugo longlist would be filled with such works. With the exception of Yoshitaka Amano’s appearance on the Best Professional Artist category, the 2007 Hugo longlist appears to be entirely devoid of any influence from Japanese voters.

Based upon the evidence of the statistics from 2007, it seems that the “bump” for local writers and artists is negligible at best….

This question really requires a more nuanced investigation of ALL Worldcons held outside North America, not just the one in Japan (inexplicable as the result was).

Looking at the final ballots from UK and Australian Worldcons, you can see a number of nominees (especially in the fan categories) who don’t get that support when the con is in North America.

However, the membership of most Worldcons is predominantly US fans, which gives things a certain consistency, wanted or not.

(4) KNOW YOUR GENRE. Sarah A. Hoyt explains the traits of a long list of genres and subgenres in a breezy column for Mad Genius Club.

If I had a dime for every time someone approaches me and says “My erotica/romance/science fiction/fantasy isn’t selling and I can’t tell why.”  And/or “I keep getting these really weird comments, like they’re angry at me for not being what I say it is.” I’d be buying a castle somewhere in England, as we speak.

And almost everytime I look into the matter, my answer is something like “But that’s not an erotica/romance/science fiction/fantasy.”

I will say right here that most of the time the problem is that people don’t read the genres they’re identifying their books as.  They just heard of them, and think that must be what they are.  This also explains all the people who assure me I write romance (rolls eyes) and that’s why they won’t read Darkship Thieves, or Witchfinder, or…

Because there is a romance in the book, somewhere, and they think that’s what the romance genre is.

It’s time to get this figured out, okay?…

(5) LUKE CAGE’S SHORTCOMINGS. Abigail Nussbaum finds a new Marvel superhero series wanting — “Tales of the City: Thoughts on Luke Cage” .

“For black lives to matter, black history has to matter.”  A character says this shortly into the first episode of Luke Cage, Netflix’s third MCU series, and the fourth season of television it has produced in collaboration with Marvel as it ramps up for its Defenders mega- event.  It’s easy to read this line as a thesis statement on the nature of the show we’re about to watch, but it’s not until some way into Luke Cage‘s first season that we realize the full import of what creator Cheo Hodari Coker is saying with it, and how challenging its implications will end up being.  As has been widely reported and discussed, Luke Cage is the first black MCU headliner–not just on TV or on Netflix, but at all.  And, unlike the forthcoming Black Panther, whose story is set in a fictional African superpower, Luke Cage is explicitly a story about African-Americans in the more-or-less real world, at a moment when the problems and indignities suffered by that community are at the forefront of public discussion.  It is, therefore, a show that comes loaded with tremendous expectations, not just of introducing a compelling character and telling a good superhero story, but of addressing increasingly fraught issues of race, in both the real world and the superhero genre.  It’s perhaps unsurprising that Luke Cage falls short of these expectations, but what is surprising is how often it doesn’t even seem to be trying to reach them.  Or, perhaps, not surprising at all–as the first episode spells out, Luke Cage is less interested in black lives than it is in black stories.

(6) FINAL INSTALLMENT. Renay from Lady Business has produced her last column for Strange Horizons:

When I started this column back in 2013, I didn’t know a lot of things. I didn’t know a lot about the depth and breadth of the science fiction and fantasy community. I didn’t know what it felt like to have a wider audience. I didn’t know yet how many people would be kind to me and also didn’t know (thankfully, because I might have run the other way) that people would be cruel. I hadn’t done any of the things that would change my perspective as a fan: write a fan column, be paid for writing, be included in a fan anthology, edit a fan anthology, become a Barnes & Noble reviewer, start a podcast with another big name fan, be a Hugo nominee, or go to Worldcon. But I’ve done all those things now and here’s what I’ve learned….

(7) CHARACTER (ACTING) COUNTS. Edward L. Green’s website for his acting career is now online.

(8) SUPPORTING HOMER HICKAM. San Diego fan Gerry Williams is encouraging a boycott of the musical October Sky at the Old Globe Theaters in his hometown. He explains:

ROCKET BOYS author Homer Hickam is in a very serious dispute and lawsuit with the corporate establishment at Universal Studios and with The Old Globe Theaters. He has tried to have his name removed from the Old Globe’s production (to no avail) for their Rocket Boy’s version of his story. You can read about all the problems on his blog here: http://homerhickamblog.blogspot.com/2016/09/my-struggle.html Personally I’m urging our local Southern California space community to stand with Homer Hickam and BOYCOTT The Old Globe’s production.

Hickam’s many frustrations about the rights struggle include the effect it’s having on the musical adaptation he himself has written Rocket Boys, the Musical.

Meantime, if you’re curious about the version being produced at the Old Globe —

October Sky

Book by Brian Hill and Aaron Thielen Music and Lyrics by Michael Mahler Directed by Rachel Rockwell Inspired by the Universal Pictures film and Rocket Boys by Homer H. Hickam,  Jr.

“A sumptuous production of an old-fashioned crowd-pleaser. October Sky feels good all over!” —Talkin’ Broadway

The beloved film is now a triumphant new American musical that will send your heart soaring and inspire your whole family to reach for the stars! In the small town of Coalwood, West Virginia, every young man’s future is in the coal mines, but after the launch of Sputnik in 1957, the world’s race to space inspires local highschooler Homer Hickam to dream of a different life. Against the wishes of his practical-minded father, he sets out on an unlikely quest to build his own rockets and light up the night sky. October Sky is an uplifting musical portrait of small-town Americana packed with youthful exuberance, and a sweeping, unforgettable new score.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

October 5, 1969  — Monty Python’s Flying Circus first appeared on the British Broadcasting Corporation’s BBC-1

(10) TERRY JONES RECEIVES BAFTA CYMRU AWARD. The Guardian has video of this touching acceptance:

Monty Python star Terry Jones collects his award for outstanding contribution to television and film at the Bafta Cymru awards on Sunday. Jones announced last month he has a severe type of dementia which affects his speech. He was accompanied on stage by his son Bill who told the audience it was a “great honour”

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born October 5 – Paul Weimer
  • Born October 5, 1958 — Neil DeGrasse Tyson

(12) WAYWARD FACULTY ADDITIONS. Who they are and what they’ll teach – the new faculty joining Cat Rambo’s Academy.

Now the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers (classes.catrambo.com) adds three new teachers to its roster: Ann Leckie, Rachel Swirsky, and Juliette Wade. Each presents both a live version of the class, limited to eight students and taught via Google Hangouts, as well as an on-demand version.

Swirsky’s class, Old Stories Into New (http://catrambo.teachable.com/p/old-stories-into-new/), discusses existing forms and how genre writers draw on the stories that have preceded them–particularly folklore, mythology, and fables, but also beloved literature and media. The class presents the best methods for approaching such material while warning students of the possible pitfalls.  Readings, written lectures, and writing exercises from Hugo and Nebula award winning writer Rachel Swirsky teach the student how to keep work original and interesting when playing with familiar stories.  A live version will be offered on October 29, 2016; the on-demand version is available here.

Wade’s class, The Power of Words (http://catrambo.teachable.com/courses/the-power-of-words-linguistics-for-speculative-fiction-writers), focuses on the study of linguistics and its relevance to genre writing. Wade shows how linguistics differs from the study of foreign languages, and gives a survey of eight different subfields of linguistics. The class examines principles of language at levels of complexity from the most basic articulation of speech sounds to the way that language is used to participate in public forms of discourse. Wade looks at how each subfield can be used to enhance a writer’s portrayal of characters and societies in a fictional world. Then she takes the discussion to the level of text to consider how principles of linguistics can hone point of view and narrative language in storytelling. A live version will be offered on December 17, 2016.

Leckie’s class, To Space Opera and Beyond, will centers on space opera: its roots as well as its current manifestations as well as how to write it.  Topics covered include creating and tracking multiple worlds, characters, and plots,  interlocking and interweaving plots, writing storylines stretching across multiple books, and developing engaging and distinct politics, languages, and other cultural institutions. Both live sessions of the class are sold out. The on-demand version will be available in November.

Live classes are co-taught with Cat Rambo; registration details can be found at: http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/upcoming-online-classes/.

(13) THIS WASN’T A TEST WHERE I WANTED TO SCORE WELL. “10 Habits of extremely boring people”. Send help — it’s alarming how many of these I checked off…

(14) BUCKAROO BANZAI CAN’T GET ACROSS THE AMAZON. Joseph T. Major in concerned. He looked at this article and said, “It looks like the World Crime League is making a score.” — “Rights Issues Stymie BUCKAROO BANZAI Amazon Series”.

Buckaroo Banzai may be in trouble and this time it is not from the machinations of evil Lectroids from Planet Ten or the World Crime League, but from something far more vexing – rights issues.

In an interview, W. D. Richter, director of the 1984 cult classic The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai: Across The Eight Dimension, revealed that it is possible that the rights to the actual character of Buckaroo Banzai actually lie with screen writer Earl Mac Rauch. And that could impact the television version of the film that writer/director Kevin Smith is currently developing with MGM for Amazon Studios.

(15) WHERE DID YOU GET MY NUMBER? I don’t make a lot of phone calls, but when I do the person on the other end seems more surprised to be getting a call than that it’s from me, and that may be part of  trend – Slate explains: “The Death of the Telephone Call, 1876-2007”.

The phone call died, according to Nielsen, in the autumn of 2007. During the final three months of that year the average monthly number of texts sent on mobile phones (218) exceeded, for the first time in recorded history, the average monthly number of phone calls (213). A frontier had been crossed. The primary purpose of most people’s primary telephones was no longer to engage in audible speech….

Calling somebody on the phone used to be a perfectly ordinary thing to do. You called people you knew well, not so well, or not at all, and never gave it a second thought. But after the Great Texting Shift of 2007, a phone call became a claim of intimacy. Today if I want to phone someone just to chat, I first have to consider whether the call will be viewed as intrusive. My method is to ask myself, “Have I ever seen this person in the nude?” The sighting doesn’t have to be (indeed, seldom is) recent. Nor is it necessary that I remember it. I need only deduce that, sometime or other, I must have seen this person naked. That clears phone calls to a wife or girlfriend, to children, to parents, to siblings, to old flames, to former roommates from college, and very few others.

(16) TREKKIE STONELORE. UPI tells us Redditor Haoleopteryx posted a photo of the business cards he had specially printed to deal with constant jokes about the name of the profession.”

I’m a volcanologist and I really don’t know how it took me so long to actually get around to making these

 

View post on imgur.com

[Thanks to Cat Rambo, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day — Heather Rose Jones because I noticed her post it, and Kip W. because he actually suggested it first eight hours earlier. The bar is open — everybody appertain your favorite beverage!]

Suppose They Gave A Culture War And Nobody Came

Immediately after Jim Baen died in 2006, his friends’ wide-ranging discussions about their great respect and affection for him as a person, and regard for his accomplishments as an editor, woke Francis Turner to the realization fandom would have only one more chance to vote him the Best Editor Hugo

Baen had revitalized Galaxy in the 1970s with works from many top writers (most of John Varley’s great early stories were published in Baen’s Galaxy). He ran Ace’s sf book line under publisher Tom Doherty, and later did the same at TOR Books, before starting his own company, Baen Books. Prior to his death he’d received seven Hugo nominations, but the last had been in 1981 and he had never won the award.

Francis Turner wrote a blog post on L’Ombre de l’Olivier in August 2006 encouraging people not only to vote Baen the Best Editor (Long Form) Hugo the following year — but to visualize “A Baen Sweep of the Hugos”.

Turner listed three goals:

  • Get Jim Baen nominated and voted for Editor (books) for 2006 [i.e., the eligibility year for the 2007 Hugos]
  • Increase the participation in the Hugo process
  • Get some Baen works on the ballots

Turner’s first stop in the get-out-the-vote campaign was going to be Baen’s Bar.

As noted at Toni’s Table, the electorate for Hugo awards (and the Campbell award) is almost as small and fluid as that of a “Rotten Burough”. Also noted there is that Baen hasn’t won many such awards recently despite Baen being the #2 or #3 (depending on how you count/who is counting) speculative fiction (SF) publisher. This totally unaffiliated page is therefore set up so that loyal Baen Barflies can do a little consensus building and nominate appropriately with the goal of seeing Jim Baen nominated as editor and ideally also seeing a Baen author/artist win some other category of the 2007 Hugo awards.

Some of Turner’s other arguments have proven equally evergreen:

The participation of the wider SF community in the Hugo awards is declining….

To be honest I find it sad that even 5 years ago less than 1000 people could be bothered to vote for the awards that are supposed to represent all of SF-fandom. The fact that these numbers have now dwindled to two thirds of that in 2006 is even more tragic. What I think is also sad is that I, personally, had only read one 2006 Novel nominee – Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” – and that a number of books that I thought were great did not appear. Most of the books I liked were published by Baen (but not all were) and it was notable that none of the 5 most nominated works were published by Baen…

This is an attempt to mobilise the large number of loyal Baen readers to nominate and vote so that their point of view is recognised within the SF world. I believe both the awards and SF as a whole would benefit from the Hugos not being seen as a high-brow cliquey award…. I hope to do this by convincing a number of loyal Baen readers (aka Barflies) to register as attendees for Worldcon 2007 or as voting associates and, having done so, to nominate Jim Baen for the editor award and to nominate some Baen works/authors/artists for the other awards.

Well aware of the objections that would be raised in other quarters, Turner preemptively insisted —

There is NO intention to produce a Baen “slate” and to insist (as if it were possible) that Barflies nominate and vote for the “slate”.

And another entire section tried to deflect “Potential Controversy.” There, Turner offered such reassurances as —

Secondly despite the title, I neither want nor expect a sweep of all the awards – not in 2007 at least 🙂 .

Surprisingly, considering how well Correia and Torgersen did with the same arguments later on, Turner’s appeal failed to generate the faintest support.

Yes, Jim Baen was nominated for Best Editor. However, that was accomplished with just 30 votes and there’s no sign they were the product of any concerted effort. Because if you look at the Best Novel category in the 2007 Hugo Award nominating statistics you’ll find zero Baen novels among the top 27 books receiving votes — and it took only four votes to be listed in the report.

Two other Baen Editors, Toni Weisskopf and Jim Minz, each received seven votes.

Although Mike Resnick’s novelette “All the Things You Are” (Jim Baen’s Universe October 2006) was a Hugo finalist, nobody has had more fiction nominated for the Hugo than Resnick. He achieved that result without any dependence on Turner’s efforts.

But reading Turner’s 10-year-old post certainly produces a stunning sense of déjà-vu.

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh for the story.]

Nippon 2007 Debt Update

Nippon 2007, the Worldcon in Japan, revealed publicly for the first time at Chicon 7 last year how much money it had lost.

The latest financial report [PDF file] from Nippon 2007 to members of LoneStarCon 3 corrects an error and now lists the total loss in US dollars as $94,736.84, somewhat less that originally reported. Donors have given $72,370.81. The remaining shortfall is $22,366.03.

Donations were collected in Japan and from past Worldcons with surpluses. The report notes some of these donations have yet to be paid out and are currently held in US and Canadian funds.

Future Worldcon Bidders

Here is a summary of ongoing bids for the Worldcon pieced together from the presentations at Chicon 7 and online discussions I’ve seen since then, with some Machiavellian speculation thrown in for seasoning.

2015

There are bids for Helsinki, Orlando and Spokane.

Helsinki, Finland: The recently announced bid for Helsinki in 2015 is chaired by Eemeli Aro, with a committee of (so far) Andrew Adams, Jukka Halme, Lisa Hertel, Crystal Huff, Johan Jönsson, Kristoffer Lawson, Jeff Orth, Ann Marie Rudolph, Nicholas Shectman, Heikki Sørum and Megan Totusek.

The website explains, “We’re an international crew of conrunners, with a Finnish core, and we’re hoping to build the most international Worldcon yet.”

Site selection is less than a year away, but the bid has not proposed a date for the con or identified its facilities.

In fact, fans feel obligated to begin a discussion of the new Helsinki in 2015 bid with mutual assurances that it is real. Not long ago the chair Eemeli Aro and two other top leaders were pushing Mariehamn, Finland in 2016, aka Wårldcon 2016. So far as the internet is aware, they still are.

Nevertheless, Helsinki bidders made a presentation to the Chicon 7 business meeting and ran a bid table at the recent FenCon. Helsinki has styled itself as a real bid from the start, in contrast to the Bermuda Triangle committee which took awhile to become seduced by the possibility of actually winning the 1988 Worldcon. (They made a real race of it before losing to New Orleans.)

The Mariehamn bid’s overarching advantage was that site selection voting for 2016 is to be done at Loncon 3 in the UK. There is no better timing for a European bid that wants to win, as European membership in the current year’s Worldcon will be at its peak. (Remember that The Hague defeated the LA in ’90 bid by a hefty margin at a site selection vote also held in the UK.)

Yet the serious Helsinki bid is sprinting toward an immediate up-or-down vote at a North American Worldcon against two bids for U.S. cities. Do they like their chances anyway?

If not, might this be a subtle way to party on with less risk of winning?

Or could there be an even deeper game involved? Does the committee have a contingency plan to roll over the Helsinki bid to the better year with the benefit of increased public awareness? In recent years several other bids have kept running after an initial defeat, Chicago victoriously, but KC and Columbus both losing the second time around.

Orlando, Florida: Adam Beaton chairs the Orlando bid committee. They propose to hold the con over Labor Day weekend, September 2-6 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort at Walt Disney World.

Others on the Orlando committee in addition to Beaton are Mary Dumas, Robbie Bourget, John Harold, Eva Whitley, Lynda Manning-Schwartz, Charles Schwartz, Colette Fozard, Adam Ferraro, Pam Larson, Thomas Safer, Arthur Sanders, Katie Katz and Patricia McConnell.

The bid styles itself as a revolutionary approach to Worldcon running, committing to outreach, lowering Worldcon costs, and getting the next generation of fandom excited about Worldcon. These principles are discussed in detail in “The Orlando Manifesto”.

Spokane, Washington: The bid is being run by Alex von Thorn. Bobbie DuFault and Sally Woehrle are the prospective Worldcon co-chairs if they win. Spokane’s dates would be August 19-23.

They propose to use the Spokane Convention Center and nearby hotels, the largest being the Doubletree, Red Lion at the Park and the Red Lion River Inn.

The announced committee is: John Ammon, David Glenn-Anderson, Patricia Briggs, C.J. Cherryh, Bobbie DuFault (Convention Co-Chair), Jane Fancher, Bruce Farr, kT Fitzsimmons, Jerry Gieseke, Char Mac Kay, Randy Mac Kay, Tim Martin, Michael Nelson, Carole Parker, Pat Porter, Gerald Power, Rhiannon Power, Sharon Reynolds, Susan Robinson, Marah Searle-Kovacevic (Bid Vice-Chair), Chris Snell, Danielle Stephens, Bill Thomasson, Tom Veal, Alex Von Thorn (Bid Chair), Tracy Williams, Mike Willmoth (Hotel Negotiation), Sally Woehrle (Convention Co-Chair), Drew Wolfe, Kate Mulligan Wolfe, Chris Zach.

2016

There is a bid for Kansas City, and with caveats, Mariehamn.

Kansas City, Missouri: KC in 2016 proposes to hold the con August 17-21 at Bartle Hall and the Kansas City Convention Center. They have signed a contract with the rights of first refusal with their proposed facilities.

Co-Chairs of the bid are Diane Lacey, Jeff Orth, and Ruth Lichtwardt. The committee is: Chaz Boston-Baden, Margene Bahm, Warren Buff, Aurora Celeste, Barry Haldiman, Sheril Harper, Parris McBride Martin, Tim Miller, James Murray, Paula Murray, Mark Olson, Priscilla Olson, Jesi Lipp Pershing, John Pershing II, John J. Platt IV, Keith Stokes, Beth Welsh, Ben Yalow, Jim Young. No longer named as part of the bid committee is René Walling.

Mariehamn, Finland in 2016, aka Wårldcon 2016: Eemeli Aro and Johan Jönsson are co-chairs, and Jukka Halme is vice chair. The bidders made a presentation at Smofcon last December and when challenged about facilities, Eemeli Aro raised the possibility of anchoring a cruiseliner in the harbor for the duration of the con.

2017

There are three bids in various early stages of activity, Montreal, New York, and Nippon.

Montreal, Canada: Originally announced as a 2019 bid at the 2011 Smofcon, the Montreal committee reportedly now is setting its sights on 2017, in competition with a declared Nippon bid and a possible NY bid.

The Montréal group would bring the con back to the Palais de Congrés, the 2009 Worldcon facility.

René Walling, who chaired that Wordcon, made Montreal’s bid presentation at Smofcon.

New York: Mr. Shirt and his wife, Stacey Helton McConnell, reportedly are considering making a run at hosting a Worldcon in New York for the first time since 1967.

NYC didn’t make a presentation at Chicon 7. According to Petrea Mitchell, the New York bid did not intend to begin active campaigning until 2013.

Some have expressed resistance to a Worldcon run by a pseudonym, while others are undisturbed by people using handles as their fannish identity following the example of the internet.

Nippon: The official site for the bid is www.nippon2017.org which has no information at all, and a www.nippon2017.us site “independent of and not associated with the Bid Committee, but dedicated to encourage and assist them in returning the Worldcon to Japan” which has almost as little to say. Neither site lists committee members or a proposed date.

Andrew Adams told fans at the 2011 Smofcon that the Japanese bid planned on using the same venue in Yokohama as the Nippon 2007 Worldcon. But information shared at Chicon 7 indicated the bid committee is looking at two other sites, also in the greater Tokyo area, in Chiba, and Makuhari Messe in Saitama.

The Nippon in 2017 bid is immediately handicapped by questions about the huge loss incurred by the 2007 Worldcon in Japan whose full dimensions were only revealed this month. Bid spokespersons say funding for 2017 is separate. In a move to bolster their credibility they’ve added Vince Docherty to lead the finance division. A great deal more will need to be done to persuade voters that it is economically practical to hold another Worldcon in Japan.

2018

A New Orleans group is considering launching a bid.

The New Orleans in 2018 Pre-Bid Committee is Raymond Boudreau (Chair), Michael Guerber, Cordelia (Colin) Murphy, Rebecca Smith, Stu Segal, Jessica Styons and Kendall Varnell.

Committee member Jessica Styons told File 770, “Obviously we are in the early stages of building support, gauging interest and staking a claim but we are interested in all comments, offers of support and assistance.” Rebecca Smith, chair of CONtraflow, also is working on the bid.

2019

No bids.

2020

The one serious bid is for New Zealand.

New Zealand in 2020 is led by Norman Cates, a past DUFF delegate. The general committee members are Kevin Maclean (New Zealand),Maree Pavletich (New Zealand), Lynelle Howell (New Zealand), Malcolm Fletcher (New Zealand), Louise McCully (New Zealand), Struan Judd (New Zealand), Daphne Lawless, Andrew Ivamy (Queensland, AU Agent), James Shields (European Agent).

The committee says it’s an open question where they’d hold a Worldcon. There are said to be two facilities in Auckland and one in Wellington that could support a 1500-3000 member con.

Helping Nippon 2007

The 2007 Worldcon in Japan sustained a large loss and still owes over $84,000.

Anyone willing to help clear the deficit can make a nondeductible donation to the cause by (1) writing a check payable to Nippon 2007 and (2) mailing it to BWAWA, P.O. Box 314, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701-0314.

BWAWA is the Baltimore-Washington Area Worldcon Association, Inc. The nonprofit corporation hosted the 1998 Worldcon in Baltimore and is pursuing the right to host the 2014 World Fantasy Con.

[Via The Write Stuff #9.]

2007 Loss Surprise

Although it had long been understood that Nippon 2007, the Worldcon in Japan, lost some amount of money, its financial report to the Chicon 7 Business Meeting shared (apparently for the first time) that the figure was huge. The convention suffered a net loss of $116,384. The report also lists the total shortfall as over $142,000, a number which I couldn’t reconcile to the rest of the reported data. Whatever the case, the Nippon committe says $84,005 of the deficit is still unpaid.

The 2006, 2009 and 2010 Worldcons have already contributed a combined $15,500 from their post-con surpluses. Vincent Docherty, looking at the financial reports submitted by other past Worldcons, noted that they hold in aggregate enough surplus cash to retire the debt. The 2001 Philadelphia concom alone has over $40,000.

There is much that is not understood in this situation about Japanese law and business customs, though it was stated that the convention chair is considered to owe the debts personally.

Once before the Worldcon-running community put together a plan to buy out and settle at a discounted rate the unpaid bills of the 1983 Worldcon, around $35,000. However, that was in the U.S. where debt resolution techniques are comparatively well known to fans and there were no real communication barriers in the way.

Sakyo Komatsu (1931-2011)

Nippon 2007 GoH Sakyo Komatsu died July 26 at the age of 80. Pneumonia was the cause of death.

Komatsu was born in Osaka. He studied Italian literature at Kyoto University. After graduating he worked as a magazine reporter and a writer for stand-up comedy acts. His first SF story came out in 1962.

Japan Sinks, published in Japanese in 1973 and in translated into English in 1976 is Komatsu’s best-known title worldwide. Edward Lipsett’s tribute on the Nippon 2007 website analyzes some of the uniquely Japanese qualities of the novel:

While most English SF presents a problem, rises to a climax and resolves the problem, a great deal of Japanese SF ends after only the first two elements, leaving the reader with a chewy nugget rather than a marshmallow to melt away as passing fun.  In “Japan Sinks,” for example, there is no resolution…  the title of the book reveals the climax, and the story is in the interpersonal relations and descriptions of how Japan tries to cope with the end of its world.  And we never do find out if Japan was successful in its efforts, as the story ends with boat people watching the steaming waves that have swallowed their homeland.  Science fiction is a vehicle for Komatsu, a means of illuminating different and often hidden aspects of the Japanese worldview or culture and stimulating us to think. 

John Hertz’ Nippon 2007 report described a special Komatsu exhibit featuring twelve novels and thirteen shorter stories, with notes in English and Japanese, posters, and color reproductions of book covers. Komatsu’s Japan Sinks was humorously referenced during opening ceremonies by another GoH, Yoshitaka Amano, when he reminded the audience that the convention site was built on landfill — “This used to be sea, so Yokohama is suitable.”

Seeking Word of Japanese Fans

In the hours since a massive quake hit Japan fans have hoped to find that their friends in that country came through all right.  

Two contacts were reported on the Smofs list. Miho Hiramoto, Takumi and Sachiko Shibano’s daughter, told Craig Miller that both she and her mother (and their homes) are fine. Andrew Adams and his wife Tomoko, reached by Martin Easterbrook, are also okay.

LASFSian Tadao Tomomatsu wrote on Facebook that although his parents live in the U.S., 90% of his family lives in Japan and he is anxiously waiting to hear how they fared.

Update 03/13/2011: In later posts to Smofs, Nippon 2007 chair Hiroaki Inoue and his wife Tamie Inoue, and Nippon in 2017 bidders Tomoki Kodama and Saori Yamamoto were confirmed fine by Glen Glazer.  Andrew Adams also reported that “the HalCon/JASFIC/Nippon 2007 folks all seem to be fine. No reports of anyone hurt or missing.”