The six works nominated for the 2021 Philip K. Dick Award were announced by the judges and the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, along with the Philip K. Dick Trust on January 20.
Failed State by Christopher Brown (Harper Voyager)
The Book Of Koli by M. R. Carey (Orbit)
Dance On Saturday by Elwin Cotman (Small Beer Press)
Bone Silence by Alastair Reynolds (Orbit)
Road Out Of Winter by Alison Stine (Mira)
The Doors Of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Orbit)
First prize and any special citations will be announced on Friday, April 2, 2021 at Norwescon 44 which will be held virtually this year. The link to the ceremony will be posted here when it is available.
The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States during the previous calendar year.? ? The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust and the award ceremony is sponsored by the Northwest Science Fiction Society.? ?
Last year’s winner was Sooner Or Later Everything Falls Into The Sea: Stories by Sarah Pinsker (Small Beer Press) with a special citation to The Little Animals by Sarah Tolmie (Aqueduct Press).
The 2021 judges are F. Brett Cox, Brendan A. DuBois, Cynthia Felice, Tim Pratt, and Jessica Reisman (Chair).
By Curt Phillips: Bob Madle will celebrate his 100th birthday on June 2, 2020. Originally there was to be a fairly lavish birthday party at Bob’s home in Rockville, MD, but now for obvious reasons that can’t happen. So I have a favor to ask of every Fan reading this message, no matter where you are. Would you please join me in sending Bob Madle a birthday card?
Bob was one of the original members of the fandom we’re all part of today, and is almost the last living link we have with our earliest history. He was an original member of the Philadelphia SF Society and the Science Fiction League. He was at the 1936 Philadelphia SF Conference, and was at the first Worldcon in 1939. He served in WWII, came home and became a specialty SF book dealer and still operates that business. He wrote the column Inside Science Fiction for the Columbia pulps in the 50’s, was the TAFF delegate in 1957, and was for many years a fixture in convention dealer’s rooms everywhere. He’s a very knowledgeable and passionate science fiction fan and nearly all of his contemporaries are gone now. Please join me in sending Bob a birthday card for his 100th birthday, just to let him know that Fandom remembers and appreciates his lifetime of devotion to science fiction. Bob is a good friend whom I last saw about a year ago when I visited him in Rockville, and I deeply wish that I could be there in person to wish him a happy birthday this year. I would love it if the Post Office delivers a sack full of birthday cards to his home this year, and that’s why I’m asking your help. Please take a moment to find a birthday card, or write a note, and drop it in the mail to:
Robert A. Madle 4406 Bestor Drive Rockville, MD 20853-2137 Tel: (301) 460-4712
Bob doesn’t have an email address, and doesn’t use a computer so an old fashioned birthday card is the way to go. It will be very easy for each of you to let this request slip by, but I’m asking you to help make Bob’s 100th birthday a little happier by sending that card or note.
And please help spread the word to every fan and fannish group you know. No matter what your fannish interests are, no matter what area of fandom you might inhabit, comics fan, Star Trek fan, gamer, filker, cosplayer, fanzine fan, convention fan, or a book & magazine collector; it all traces back to the fandom of the 1930’s and Bob Madle is right at the heart of it. He was there in the beginning and he’s still here with us. This may be your only chance to ever tell him “thanks” for helping to get Fandom going and for helping to keep it alive for all of us today.
Please copy this request to any fans or fannish groups you can think of. Convention mailing lists, clubs, what have you. This is a once in a lifetime event that we all can share in. If you live outside the US and don’t think you can get a card in the mail in time, you can also email me your greetings for Bob which I’ll print out and promptly mail to him.
(1) DRAGON CON STILL ON SCHEDULE. Dragon Con told Facebook readers today they are proceeding with plans for their Labor Day event.
Many things in the world are uncertain right now. One thing isn’t: We are planning to throw one sorely-needed, amazing celebration come Labor Day. We’re moving forward to keep #DragonCon2020 on schedule.
Currently, there are no plans to reschedule or cancel the event, however we’re keeping in touch with the experts either way, and working with our venue partners to make sure everything and everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy.
Rest assured if at any time we feel that cannot be accomplished, we will do what is needed to protect our community.
I’m sure everyone’s familiar with America’s snack, as ubiquitous at ball games as beer and hotdogs. As caramel corn goes, it’s pretty mediocre stuff, though once you start eating, you find you can’t stop. And the real incentive is the prize waiting for you at the bottom of the box. Will it be a ring? A toy or a little game? Maybe a baseball card.
This month, like most months recently, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is kind of like a box of Cracker Jacks. But the prize at the end of the May 1965 issue is worth the chore of getting there.
Creative platform Patreon has laid off 30 employees, which is 13% of its workforce, TechCrunch has learned.
“It is unclear how long this economic uncertainty will last and therefore, to prepare accordingly, we have made the difficult decision to part ways with 13% of Patreon’s workforce,” a Patreon spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. “This decision was not made lightly and consisted of several other factors beyond the financial ones.”
(4) VISITOR FROM BEYOND. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Jeff Hecht (who’s sold sf stories everywhere from Analog, Asimov’s and Interzone to Nature and various anthologies — ) has an article in the April 21, 2020 Sky & Telescope on recent interstellar visitors: “The Origins of Interstellar Objects”.
…Comet Borisov was easy to recognize as a comet, but our first interstellar visitor, 1I/’Oumuamua, was like nothing astronomers had seen before. It was elongated, tumbling erratically, porous, moving oddly, releasing only wisps of gas — even evoking thoughts of derelict alien spaceship….
In terms of SF relevance (beyond “we also are interested in science fact stuff”), Jeff notes, regarding this article, “The only SF twist was saying they finally found a way to explain the origin of ‘Oumuamua other than as an alien spacecraft.”
(5) MOORCOCK REVEALED WHEN PAYWALL FALLS. Stacy Hollister’s “A Q&A With Michael Moorcock” is an interview with Michael Moorcock about his novel King Of The City that first appeared in the November 2002 Texas Monthly, which has lowered its paywall for the rest of the year.
texasmonthly.com: What’s your mission as a writer?
MM: I’m very moralistic. I think I bear a certain responsibility for the effect of the fiction I write. Anger at injustice, cruelty, or ignorance is what tends to fire me up. I try to show readers where we might all be wearing cultural blinders. I hate imperialism, so therefore much of my early work was an attempt to show admirers of the British Empire, say, what kind of injustice, prejudice and hypocrisy such an empire is based on. I am very uneasy with current Anglophone rhetoric about responsibilities to other parts of the world, for instance. King of the City deals with some of this, especially the destruction of African society by imperial rapacity.
(6) SMALL SHOW RECAP – BEWARE SPOILERS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Last night on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, the time ship ended up in British Columbia in 2020 and ended up in a woods which ultimately led them to the set of Supernatural. They didn’t see any members of the cast, but they did see Sam and Dean’s car and opened the trunk, which was full of monster-fighting equipment. They then used the equipment to fight a bunch of zombie-like creatures, and learn the creatures have killed the crew shooting Supernatural.
“How will they finish season 15?” one of the legends asks.
Well, now we know why Supernatural still has seven episodes left to shoot…
(7) ENTERTAINMENT FOR SJW CREDENTIAL OWNERS. Martin Morse Wooster, our designated Financial Times reader, peeked behind the paywall and found that in the April 17 issue Sarah Hemming reviews fiction podcasts.
Nadia, star of Russian For Cats (created by Pam Cameron), has escaped from prison and is desperately seeking refuge. She discovers it with Brian, a loser who lives in a caravan in a state of great disorder and despondency. When Nadia arrives, he finds a confidante and she finds sanctuary.
The only thing is, Nadia is a cat: a talking cat fluent in Russian. Here’s a story ideally suited to lockdown :a gently absurd thriller, featuring a chatty feline, the chance to learn Russian (a short lesson follows each episode), and a sinister explanation for popularity of cat memes. Is your cat spying on you? Do you need to ask?
(9) CASEY OBIT. Past President of the Philadelphia SF Society Hugh Casey died April 21 after a long illness, including a stroke. He is survived by his partner Stephanie Lucas.
In happier times Hugh made File 770 with this humorous incident from 2002:
Philadelphia SF Club President Hugh Casey almost made his show business debut in September. “I was supposed to be checking out an alternate location for meetings, but was unable to make it due to being held up in traffic. In fact I ended up driving into the middle of filming for Kevin Smith’s upcoming movie Jersey Girl – apparently disrupting a shot and getting some crew members very angry at me. I did not see either the director or the stars.”
In 2017, when Casey battled cancer, his friends rallied to raise money for his medical expenses by creating “HughCon” –
…The Rotunda has donated their space, Star Trek-themed band The Roddenberries have donated their time and talent, a number of makers and vendors have donated items for our silent auction, and a lots of people have donated their time and effort
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
April 22, 1953 — Invaders from Mars premiered. It directed by William Cameron Menzies and produced by Edward L. Alperson Jr. from the script written by Richard Blake with the story by John Tucker Battle. It starred Jimmy Hunt, Helena Carter, Arthur Franz, Morris Ankrum, Leif Erickson, and Hillary Brooke. Invaders from Mars was nominated for a Retro-Hugo at Noreascon 4 but lost out to The War of The Worlds. Critics at the time liked it quite a bit, and At Rotten Tomatoes, it holds an approval rating of 82% among audience reviewers. You can watch it here.
April 22, 1959 — The Monster Of Piedras Blancas enjoyed its premiere. It was produced by Jack Kevan who started out as a makeup artist on The Wizard of Oz as written and directed by Irvin Berwick who was associate produced later on for The Loch Ness Horror. The screenplay was by H. Haile Chace It starred Jeanne Carmen, Les Tremayne, John Harmon, Don Sullivan, Forrest Lewis, and Pete Dunn. It received universally negative criticism with most calling it amateurish with the script, dialogue, and monster design being noted s being bad. It holds a not terribly bad 33% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. You’re in for for a special treat as you can see it here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 22, 1902 — Philip Latham. Name used by Robert Shirley Richardson on his genre work. His novels were largely first published in Astounding starting in the Forties, With the exception of his children’s SF novels that were published in Space Science Fiction Magazine. He also wrote a few scripts for Captain Video, the predecessor of Captain Video and his Video Rangers. His Comeback novel starts this way: ‘ When Parkhurst heard the announcement that climaxed the science fiction convention, he found that he’d been right, years ago when he had faith in science-fictionists’ dreams. But, in another way, he’d been wrong . . .’ It’s available at the usual digital suspects for a buck. (Died 1981.)
Born April 22, 1934 — Sheldon Jaffery. An editor and bibliographer of pulps whose non-fiction Work and genre anthologies are both fascinating. Among the latter are such publications as Sensuous Science Fiction From the Weird and Spicy Pulps and The Weirds: A Facsimile Selection of Fiction From the Era of the Shudder Pulps, and from the former are Future and Fantastic Worlds: Bibliography of DAW Books, The Arkham House Companion: Fifty Years of Arkham House and Collector’s Index to Weird Tales. (Died 2003.)
Born April 22, 1937 — Jack Nicholson, 82. I think my favorite role for him in a genre film was as Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick. Other genre roles include Jack Torrance in The Shining, Wilbur Force in The Little Shop of Horrors, Rexford Bedlo in The Raven, Andre Duvalier in The Terror, (previous three films are all Roger Corman productions), Will Randall in Wolf, President James Dale / Art Land in Mars Attacks! and Jack Napier aka The Joker in Tim Burton’s The Batman. I watched the last one, was not impressed.
Born April 22, 1944 — Damien Broderick, 76. Australian writer of over seventy genre novels. It is said that The Judas Mandala novel contains the first appearance of the term “virtual reality” in SF. He’s won five Ditmar Awards, a remarkable achievement. I know I’ve read several novels by him including Godplayers and K-Machines which are quite good.
Born April 22, 1967 — Sheryl Lee, 53. Best remembered as being cast by David Lynch as Laura Palmer and Maddy Ferguson in Twin Peaks and in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, and reprised in the later Twin Peaks. Her other interesting genre role was playing the title role in Guinevere based on Persia Woolley’s Guinevere trilogy. Finally, she was Katrina in John Carpenter’s Vampires for which she won the very cool sounding Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Born April 22, 1977 – Kate Baker, 43. Editor along with with Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace of the last two print issues Clarkesworld. She’s won the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine twice, and the World Fantasy Award (Special Award: Non Professional) in 2014, all alongside the editorial staff of Clarkesworld. She’s a writer of three short genre stories, the latest of which, “No Matter Where; Of Comfort No One Speak”, you can hear here. (Warning for subject matters abuse and suicide.)
Born April 22, 1978 — Manu Intiraymi, 42. He played the former Borg Icheb on the television series Star Trek: Voyager. A role that he played a remarkable eleven times. And this Birthday research led me to discovering yet another video Trek fanfic, this time in guise of Star Trek: Renegades in which he reprised his role. Any Trekkies here watch this?
Born April 22, 1984 — Michelle Ryan, 36. She had the odd honor of being a Companion to the Tenth Doctor as Lady Christina de Souza for just one story, “Planet of the Dead”. She had a somewhat longer genre run as the rebooted Bionic Woman that lasted eight episodes, and early in her career, she appeared as the sorceress Nimueh in BBC’s Merlin. FinallyI’ll note sheplayed Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in BBC’s Learning project, Off By Heart Shakespeare.
“The ‘powers that be’ — white male editors at white publications — have kept folks of color to a minimum on their pages so as not to cause a stir. That’s the case still,” says Barbara Brandon-Croft, whose trailblazing strip “Where I’m Coming From” was distributed by Universal Press Syndicate from 1991 to 2005 — making her the first black woman to achieve national mainstream syndication as a cartoonist.
“You had to go to the black newspapers — as early as the ’30s — to find black characters drawn by black hands,” she says. ”And a black woman lead — what? Jackie Ormes’s ‘Torchy Brown’ was truly groundbreaking.” (Ormes, the first African American woman to have a syndicated comic strip, was elected to the Will Eisner Comics Hall of Fame in 2018.)
Sources close to the production have confirmed that creator Jon Favreau has been “writing season 3 for a while,” and that the art department, led by Lucasfilm vice president and executive creative director Doug Chiang, has been creating concepts for Season 3 “for the past few weeks.”
…The Mouse House also has two others series from a Galaxy far, far away in the works, namely an Obi-Wan Kenobi series with Ewan McGregor reprising the iconic role, and a Cassian Andor series starring Diego Luna, which recently added Stellan Skarsgard and Kyle Soller, as Variety reported exclusively.
As the comic book industry seeks to rebuild in the wake of store closures and publication pauses caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC) is announcing the formation of a new fund specifically aimed at assisting comics, the Comicbook United Fund.
Combining the $100,000 pledged last year to BINC from the Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group to support comic book retailers with the $250,000 pledged earlier this month by DC, the Comicbook United Fund is intended to be the central location for any and all figures and organizations hoping to raise money for comic book retailers.
(16) EMERGENCY. The roleplaying game designer Guy McLimore (FASA’s Star Trek: The Roleplaying Game, Mekton Empire, The Fantasy Trip) says he had to break social distancing for an exceptionally good reason:
…I’m sure, in her incredible, gifted, magnificent imagination, she never even considered for a second that, almost 100 years into her future, someone whose parents weren’t yet born would take her work, bring it to life in a unique way, and then distribute that new work to anyone who wants it, in the world, without even getting out of my desk chair.
What amazing thing is sitting just over our horizon? What amazing thing is waiting for our grandchildren that we can’t even imagine right now? Why aren’t we doing more to protect our planet and each other, so our grandchildren don’t have to live in some apocalyptic nightmare?
A team of researchers from India, upon discovering a new species of green pit vipers, have decided to name the snake after the one, the only Salazar Slytherin. Their findings were published this month in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.
For those not familiar with Harry Potter, a quick history lesson. In a nutshell, Salazar Slytherin was one of the founders of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, along with his pals Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff.
Along with being some of the most powerful witches and wizards of their time in the Harry Potter world, they’re also the namesakes of the four Hogwarts houses.
Slytherin, partly known for his ability to talk to snakes, is linked to the animals — the snake is, after all, the symbol of the Slytherin Hogwarts house. That’s why the researchers chose the name Trimeresurus salazar.
A Richardson man who has had a lifelong love of “Star Wars” and particularly stormtroopers, took to the streets to bring a smile and an important message to his neighbors.
Rob Johnson dressed up as a stormtrooper and patrolled the sidewalks near his home carrying signs reminding people “Good guys wear masks” and “move alone, move alone.”
The stormtrooper shows a sense of humor too, with one sign reading, “Have you seen my droid, TP4U?”
(21) TV TIME. Edgar Wright’s doing a thing on Twitter:
Not specifically genre related but it looks fun. Here’s some relevant replies:
[Thanks to Cath Jackel, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, rcade, Bill, Daniel Dern, N., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
The 2019 Philip K. Dick Award was presented April 19 at
Norwescon 42 in SeaTac, Washington.
The winner is:
THEORY OF BASTARDS by Audrey Schulman (Europa
A Special Citation also was awarded to:
84K by Claire North (Orbit)
Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K.
Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original
form in the United States during the previous calendar year.
The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction
Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust. The award ceremony is sponsored by the
Northwest Science Fiction Society.
The award judges were Madeline
Ashby, Brian Attebery, Christopher Brown, Rosemary Edghill, and Jason Hough
The award judges are Michael Armstrong (chair), Brenda Clough, Meg Elison, Lee Konstantinou, and Ben Winters.
The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States during the previous calendar year. The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust and the award ceremony is sponsored by the Northwest Science Fiction Society.
First prize and any special citations will be announced on Friday, April 14, 2017 at Norwescon 40 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle Airport, SeaTac, Washington.
(1) DAYLIGHT STEALING TIME. Disney’s Alice Through The Looking Glass trailer investigates a time crime.
(2) TAKING INVENTORY. Bill Roper had some insights about being a convention dealer while doing “That Taxes Thing”.
One of the distressing things about doing the taxes for Dodeka is seeing:
– How many different titles we carry.
– And how many of them appear to have sold one or fewer copies in 2015.
Some of these are the result of having bought out Juanita’s inventory when she retired and having acquired various CDs that had been sitting in her inventory for too long. A few of them are the result of my own ordering errors.
The problem is that the boxes are large and heavy and the table is very full. But if you don’t take the CDs out to the cons with you, you can’t sell them…
Filk is an extremely regional business. And given that we’re in the eighth-or-so year of a sucky economy, I certainly understand people’s reluctance to take a flyer on something that they aren’t familiar with.
(3) BATMOBILE REPLICA MAKER LOSES. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a Ninth Circuit decision in favor of DC Comics, which had sued Mark Towle over his unlicensed replicas of the 1966 and 1989 Batmobiles, sold for about $90,000 each. So DC wins.
According to Robot 6:
Towle argued that the U.S. Copyright Act doesn’t protect “useful articles,” defined as objects that have “an intrinsic utilitarian function” (for example, clothing, household appliances or, in this case, automobile functions); in short, that the Batmobile’s design is merely functional.
However, a federal judge didn’t buy that argument… Towle appealed that decision, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wasn’t any more sympathetic, finding in September that, “the Batmobile is almost always bat-like in appearance, with a bat-themed front end, bat wings extending from the top or back of the car, exaggerated fenders, a curved windshield, and bat emblems on the vehicle. This bat-like appearance has been a consistent theme throughout the comic books, television series, and motion picture, even though the precise nature of the bat-like characteristics have changed from time to time.”
In his petition to the high court, Towle insisted that the U.S. Copyright Office states outright that automobiles aren’t copyrightable, and that the Ninth Circuit simply created an arbitrary exception. He also argued that there have been “dozens” of Batmobiles in DC comic books over the decades that “vary dramatically in appearance and style” — so much so that the vehicle doesn’t have the “consistent, widely-identifiable, physical attributes” required to be considered a “character.”
When he [Forry Ackerman] set off on his own, he founded the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. While every other Science Fiction League chapter closed—as well as many of the other fan groups—the LASFS survives to the present day, the longest running science fiction club in the world.
In the coming decades, the club became an important focal point for the growing science-fiction community. It counted some of the genre’s biggest writers as its members: when Ray Bradbury’s family moved from Arizona to Los Angles, the young storyteller quickly found the group. “A turning point in his life came in early September 1937,” Sam Moskowitz recounted in his early history Seekers of Tomorrow: Masters of Modern Science Fiction, “when poring through the books and magazines in Shep’s Shop, a Los Angeles book store that catered to science-fiction readers, he received an invitation from a member to visit the Los Angeles Chapter of the Science Fiction League.” Through the league, Bradbury quickly got his start as a writer, publishing “Hollerbochen’s Dilemma” in the club’s fanzine, Imagination!
The Weeping Angels are scary. Really scary. They possess a natural and unique defence mechanism: they’re quantum locked. This means that they can only move when no other living creature is looking at them. These lonely assassins also have the ability to send other beings into the past, feeding on the potential time energy of what would have been the rest of their victims’ lives.
But how do you survive a Weeping Angel attack? Well, here’s our guaranteed, foolproof 4-step guide…
(6) TOP DRAWER. Peter Capaldi proves to have a flair for sketching his predecessors as Doctor Who.
(9) TOMLINSON OBIT. E-mail pioneer Ray Tomlinson died March 5 at the age of 74. The New York Times report gave a brief history of his development.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Mr. Tomlinson was working at the research and development company Bolt, Beranek & Newman on projects for ARPANET, a forerunner of the Internet created for the Defense Department. At the time, the company had developed a messaging program, called SNDMSG, that allowed multiple users of a time-share computer to send messages to one another.
But it was a closed messaging system, limited to users of a single computer.
Mr. Tomlinson, filching codes from a file-transfer program he had created called CYPNET, modified SNDMSG so that messages could be sent from one host computer to another throughout the ARPANET system.
To do this, he needed a symbol to separate a user name from a destination address. And so the plump little @ sign came into use, chosen because it did not appear in user names and did not have any meaning in the TENEX paging program used on time-sharing computers.
He is widely regarded as the inventor of email, and is credited with putting the now iconic “@” sign in the addresses of the revolutionary system.
He could never have imagined the multitude of ways email would come to be used, abused and confused.
Just think – right now, someone, somewhere is writing an email she should probably reconsider. Count to 10, my friend. Sleep on it.
Another is sending an email containing brutal, heartbreaking words that, really, should be said in person… if only he had the nerve.
And of course, a Nigerian prince is considering how best to ask for my help in spending his fortune.
Chip Hitchcock says, “AFAICT, nobody saw person-to-person email coming; computers were for talking to central data, as in ‘A Logic Named Joe’ or even The Shockwave Rider. The closest I can think of to discussing the effects of mass cheap point-to-point communication is the side comment on cell-phone etiquette in the opening scene of Tunnel in the Sky. Can anyone provide another example?”
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
March 13, 1981 – Joe Dante’s The Howling premieres in North America.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
Born March 13, 1911 – L. Ron Hubbard
(12) HUGO NOMINATORS: NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER. Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens reappears after a five-month hiatus, because it’s “Hugo Season!”
The annual SFF self-loathing theme weeks are here again — I feel (as I feel every year) like a total loser for not having read enough new science fiction and fantasy to make informed nominations for the Hugo award. I haven’t read Seveneves, haven’t seen Ant-Man, haven’t had the time for Jessica Jones, haven’t waded through a lot of short fiction.
Damn damn damn.
Then again, you’re always going to feel that way, no matter what. And it’s not football (which means “soccer”, in case you’re American), so whining doesn’t help.
On Saturday afternoon in Seoul, AlphaGo, the Go-playing artificial intelligence created by Google’s DeepMind, beat 18-time Go world champion Lee Sedol for its third straight win in a five game series.
The win was a historic one for artificial intelligence research, a field where AI’s mastery of this 2,500 year old game was long considered a holy grail of sorts for AI researchers. This win was particularly notable because the match included situations calledko fights which hadn’t arisen in the previous two games. Prior to AlphaGo’s win, other Go experts had speculated that ko situations could prove to be stumbling blocks for the DeepMind program as they had been in the past for other Go computer programs.
“When you watch really great Go players play, it is like a thing of beauty,” said Google co-founder Sergey Brin, himself a self-proclaimed adamant Go player in grad school, after the match. “So I’m very excited that we’ve been able to instill that level of beauty inside a computer. I’m really honored to be here in the company of Lee Sedol, such an incredible player, as well as the DeepMind team who’ve been working so hard on the beauty of a computer.”
… I’m tempted to call this “A Prolegomena to Any Future Discourse about Political Correctness.”….
Is political correctness a cut-and-dried free speech issue? Why is it that many examples of the “political correctness has run amok” narrative involve cases where one group exercises its freedom to speak against ideas or to decide what speech they want to support in their space? Is this really a threat to free speech in general if it’s limited to a particular space? Is there a right to tell people what speech to support in their space? Does political correctness threaten free speech in a more fundamental way by making people feel uncomfortable to say certain things at all? How do we decide what counts as a threat to free speech in general? Are there some things that just shouldn’t be said in certain contexts? Should all speech be allowed in all contexts? If not, how do we decide when it’s permissible to limit speech? Is there a difference between limiting speech and simply asking people not to say certain things?
What is the difference between political correctness and politeness or basic respect? Is there a difference? What happens if what one person calls political correctness another person calls being polite, civil, or respecting the humanity of others? How do we settle these disputes? Is it possible that this whole issue is really just based on the feeling that people don’t like being told what to say? Is it possible or desirable to change that feeling and thus shift the whole narrative on this issue?
Hopeful applicants will be able to learn whether or not they’ve been accepted to MIT by logging onto the admissions website starting at 6:28 p.m. on Pi Day. This time represents another reference to pi as 6.28 is known as “Tau” or two times pi.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]
Carol Kabakjian, long-time member of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, passed away May 15 at the age of 59. She spent the last months of her life in hospice care after a four-and-a-half year battle with cancer.
Carol served as PSFS club Secretary (teamed with her husband Rich) and Archivist for a number of years. She worked on Philcons and ran the Con Suite for the Philadelphia Worldcon, Millennium Philcon, in 2001.
Filksinging was her greatest enthusiasm. She wrote many songs, and published a filk fanzine – The Philly Philk Phlash. And having been inspired by attending the 1988 ConChord, she decided to organize an East Coast filk convention. The first ConCerto was held in 1990 in Cherry Hill, NJ.
March 9: SF author Michael Swanwick will interview Billee Jenkins Stallings, daughter of Will Jenkins, best known as Murray Leinster, the original “Dean of Science Fiction”. Leinster/Jenkins invented the alternate world story and the first contact story. Stallings and her sister, Jo-An Evans, have written a memoir about their father titled, Murray Leinster: The Life and Work ( McFarland, 2011).
April 13: On this Friday, fans who defy superstition will be lucky enough to hear from critic Michael Dirda.
These are General Meetings, open to the public. See the club website for location, starting time and other information.
Tom Purdom describes Philcon, and science fiction conventions generally, in his recent post on the Broad Street Review. He begins with a great hook:
The “Women in Science” panel at the recent Philadelphia Science Fiction Conference attracted some ten women, all scientists or technologists. The moderator was a NASA astrophysicist, and the audience included a nuclear engineer and a molecular biologist who had switched to medicine after several years in pure research. All had overcome the barriers that confront women scientists, including the junior high “Boys don’t like smart girls” syndrome. They had stuck it out, from what they said, primarily because they’d become fascinated by a scientific field when they were young and decided they would work in it no matter what.
All the women on that panel, incidentally, cited science fiction as one of the reasons they became interested in science and technology. Nobody ever became a wizard because they read fantasy. But plenty of people have become physicists and biologists because they read science fiction.