Pixel Scroll 8/6/21 Mrs. Scroll, We’re Pixeled

(1) BRIANNA WU’S REVELATION. The Brianna Wu tweet below led the Washington Post to interview her about the significance of the apologies, and what forgiveness does and doesn’t entail.

Read the Washington Post article here: “GamerGaters inundated Brianna Wu with death threats. Now some are apologizing — and she forgives them”.

…In the years since GamerGate, Wu said she has received more than 100 apologies from the trolls and harassers who fixated on her. And though the apologies are outpaced 10-to-1 by insults and continued harassment, she says she nearly always forgives those who apologize.

She wants to be clear: Many people involved in GamerGate have not learned and don’t deserve forgiveness. But some, she says, truly did and do. And when she hears their stories, she generally can’t help but tell them she accepts their apologies.

Wu said she gets a message about once a week along these lines: Hey, you don’t know me, but I wanted reach out to you and apologize. I was part of the people sending you death threats and things during GamerGate. I was egged on by my friends, I was dealing with depression, I was in the closet, my parents were getting divorced, something like that. And I look back at that and I feel a deep sense of shame, and I’m very sorry.

She said her conviction to forgive GamerGaters began after the first time she met one in 2015. She had just given a talk at a college, and he approached her afterward to explain why he had supported the movement.

“I’m not talking to a monster, I’m talking to someone that is under-socialized and lonely and is looking for respect, which I think is something all of us as humans understand,” she said. “It was such a lightbulb moment, that these aren’t people I should be angry with as much as people I should try to have empathy for.”..

The reaction to the Washington Post article shows there remain many unrepentant abusers.

(2) VALUE OF TRIGGER WARNINGS. Queer Sci Fi’s J. Scott Coatsworth announced in “FOR READERS: Trigger Warnings” a public Facebook group discussion: “Trigger warnings – we’ve all seen them. When are they useful to you? When are they not?” There are several dozen responses.

(3) PROPOSED HEART TEST. Kharma Kelley reacted to the controversy over one of the RWA’s Vivian Award winners (see a roundup here) by proposing a screening test. Thread starts here.

(4) FRAZETTA, THE NEXT GENERATION. The Rogues in the House podcast hears from Sara Frazetta, granddaughter of Frank: “Sara Frazetta Interview”.

The Rogues are thrilled to host Sara Frazetta from Frazetta Girls. Tune in as we discuss her grandfather’s legacy, her business approach to bringing that legacy to a new audience of sword and sorcery fans, and her own journey of discovery in the S&S genre.

(5) GET UPSIDE DOWN AGAIN. “Stranger Things 4 confirms 2022 release with teaser footage”SYFY Wire analyzes the video for clues.

… Among the never-before-seen snippets, you can see Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) being detained by what looks like shady government agents, Hopper (David Harbour) entering a room with an active flamethrower (à la Kurt Russell in The Thing), a high school cheerleading squad, and a group of core characters (Steve, Dustin, Nancy, Max, Lucas, and Robin) exploring a creepy old house. Even with these small flashes, you can tell that our young heroes are maturing along with the overall scope….

(6) THERE WILL BE WARHAMMER. The Scroll linked to Cory Doctorow’s post “Games Workshop declares war on its customers (again)” two days ago. Now, in “Warhammer 40k Fans in Revolt Over ‘Zero Tolerance’ Fan Animation Policy”, Vice reports from the rebellion’s front line.

In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war between fan communities and the corporations that own the intellectual property they love. The Warhammer 40k community is furious at Games Workshop, the tabletop game’s creator, because of new “zero tolerance” policies about fan-made animation videos. 

….At issue is an update to Games Workshop’s intellectual property guidelines. The new policies explicitly laid out the dos and don’ts of how the company wants fans to handle Warhammer 40K and its other universes. At the bottom, it detailed a list of infringements it has a “zero tolerance” policy towards. It includes pirating books, using a 3D printer to make copies of their models, and a ban on fan animations.

“Individuals must not create fan films or animations based on our settings and characters,” the guidelines said. “These are only to be created under licence from Games Workshop.”

… GW is a notoriously litigious company so it’s no shock that Alfabusa and others are packing it in ahead of possible litigation. It has repeatedly attempted to enforce a trademark on the words “Space Marines” with mixed results and gone to legal war with a company that was manufacturing miniatures of characters it had never made.

On August 25, GW will launch Warhammer Plus—a subscription service for Warhammer fans that includes access to several planned animated series, which may in the community say must be the impetus for the new policy. One of those series is Astartes, which began life as an unlicensed fan-made YouTube show by creator Syama Pedersen. It caught caught GWs attention and it offered Pedersen a job. This is the exact kind of thing GW’s new policy seeks to eliminate….

(7) RIDING THE EARWORMS. “Arrakis Rippers: A Guide to ‘Dune’-Inspired Metal” at Bandcamp Daily. List five bands, with introductions and sample tracks.

…It goes without saying that Scottish progressive post-metal quintet DVNE have been heavily influenced by Frank Herbert’s work. Starting out as an instrumental three piece, the band were trying to figure out what message they wanted to get across through their music, while coming up with their name. “It felt like we were trying to tell a story, and the best kind of story with us would be something out-of-this-world,” explains singer Victor Vicart, recounting the band’s beginnings….

…. Big fans of the Dune saga, Seattle-based doom rockers Sandrider ended up naming themselves after the Fremen wormriders of Arrakis, whom they felt embodied the heavy direction of their music. “Thematically, a little desert warrior surfing a massive sand worm fits the sound of the band pretty well,” says singer Jon Weisnewski….

(8) THE POINT. “With billions in federal funding at stake, library leaders must see this moment for what it is: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to truly transform the future of libraries,” says Sari Feldman in “An Inflection Point for Libraries” at Publishers Weekly. (The title prompted Michael Toman “to wonder if anyone has ever written a “Jonbar Point for Libraries” (featuring Benjamin Franklin?) story?”

… The last 18 months with Covid-19 has been a historically difficult period. But with the rollout of safe and incredibly effective vaccines, we can now see the way forward. And if there is a silver lining as we prepare to hopefully come out of this pandemic, it is that the important work of libraries has once again gained the attention of Congress.

In 2020, lawmakers appropriated an additional $50 million in relief funding to be distributed to libraries via the IMLS through the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act). And in March of 2021, IMLS received another $200 million boost to distribute via the American Rescue Plan Act the largest single investment in the agency’s 25-year history.

Building on that support, Congress last month approved significant increases in annual federal library funding in the FY2022 budget, including a $25 million increase for the IMLS that includes a $9 million increase for the LSTA (the Library Services and Technology Act); a $3 million increase in IAL funding (Innovative Approaches to Literacy); an additional $37 million for the Library of Congress, and new funding for Native American libraries, as well as other institutions that serve diverse populations, including historically black colleges and universities….

(9) ASTEROID BELT AND SUSPENDERS. Bill Capossere reviews a compelling book titled “Asteroids: How Love, Fear, And Greed Will Determine Our Future in Space” at Fantasy Literature.

Asteroids: How Love, Fear, And Greed Will Determine Our Future in Space (2021), by Martin Elvis, is a thorough and wonderfully detailed exploration not of asteroids as objects (which he does do to some extent), but of the possibility of our interacting with them in order to a) prevent them from killing us off as one did (maybe) to the dinosaurs, b) exploit them for resources, and c) use them as a stepping stone for further exploitation of space. If you thought the idea of asteroid mining belongs only in the realm of science fiction, Elvis will (probably) convince you otherwise….

(10) ADDITION BY SUBTRACTION. At Nerds of a Feather Arturo Serrano has an interesting take on Masters of the Universe: Revelation, unfortunately with a spoiler in the title, thus we’ll just say the link is here.

When your character is defined plainly as “the most powerful man in the universe,” there’s no such thing as narrative stakes. In any episode of the classic He-Man show, which ran from 1983 to 1985, there’s never any question that the hero will win. He’s beyond Superman syndrome, beyond Dragon Ball syndrome: he simply can’t be beaten. Whereas Superman syndrome was addressed early in his stories with the addition of kryptonite, and Dragon Ball syndrome can be temporarily patched with yet another escalation, He-Man syndrome has no solution… 

(11) ANIMANIACS SEASON 2. Come join the Warner Brothers and the Warner Sister Dot as they announce that Season 2 of Animaniacs with 13 new episodes will premiere on November 5 on Hulu. Narf!

(12) MEMORY LANE.

  • 2000 – Twenty-one years ago at Chicon 2000 where Harry Turtledove was the Toastmaster, Galaxy Quest would win the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo. It would also win the Nebula Award for Best Script.  It was directed by Dean Parisot with the screenplay by David Howard and Robert Gordon; the story was written by David Howard. The other Hugo finalists were The Matrix (which was just three votes behind it in the final count), The Sixth SenseBeing John Malkovich and The Iron Giant

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 6, 1911 Lucille Ball. She became the first woman to run a major television studio, Desilu Productions, which is where Star Trek was produced. Her support of the series kept it from being terminated by the financial backers even after it went way over budget in the first pilot. (Died 1989.)
  • Born August 6, 1926 Janet Asimov. Author of some half dozen novels and a fair amount of short fiction on her own, mostly as J.O. Jeppson; co-author with her husband, Isaac, of the Norby Chronicles. Her memoir, Notes for a Memoir: On Isaac Asimov, Life, and Writing, came out thirteen years ago. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 6, 1956 Ian R. MacLeod,  65. Another author I need to read more of. I’ve read the first two in what’s called the Aether Universe series, The Light Ages and The House of Storms, but there are other novels I’m intrigued by, including Song of Time and The Great Wheel. He’s won some impressive Awards including three Sidewise Awards for The Summer Isles (short and long forms) and for Wake Up and Dream novel. He also won a World Fantasy Award for “The Chop Shop” short story. 
  • Born August 6, 1960 Leland Orser, 61. If you look closely, you’ll spot him in Escape from L.A. as Test Tube and in Independence Day in the dual roles of the Day Tech and a Medical Assistant.  He’s in Daredevil as Wesley Owen Welch, Kingpin’s right hand man. And someone at Trek casting liked him as he was on Deep Space NineVoyager and Enterprise. All different roles. 
  • Born August 6, 1962 Michelle Yeoh, 59. Her first meaningful genre roles was as Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies and Yu Shu Lien in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I actually remember her as Zi Yuan in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the first film of a since cancelled franchise. And then there’s her dual roles in the Trek universe where she’s Captain Philippa Georgiou and Emperor Philippa Georgiou. She’s attached to the Section 31 Star Trek series announced in 2019 as being in development. 
  • Born August 6, 1972 Paolo Bacigalupi, 49. I remember the book group I was part of some years ago having a spirited debate over The Windup Girl (which won a Hugo at Aussiecon 4 and a Nebula as well) over the believability of the central character. I think he did a better job with characters in his next novels, Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities, but he’s really not about characters anyways. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) DISCOVER MANHWA. Publishers Weekly tells why “Korean Comics Gain Popularity in North America”.

There’s more to Korean comics than webtoons. While vertical-scroll digital comics have surged in popularity among English speakers since the Netcomics, Webtoon, and Tapas Media platforms started publishing Korean comics in English, the growth in popularity of print manhwa (the Korean term for comics) in North America has been more of a slow burn.

While manhwa overall remains a small category in the print comics world, the category is growing in the North American marketplace. Drawn and Quarterly has published several manhwa a year since 2017, and their 2019 manhwa, Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, a powerful story of sexual slavery during WWII, won the Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Print Comic of the Year and was nominated for two Eisner awards. Chugong’s Solo Leveling, an action fantasy manhwa that started out as an online webtoon, has been a bestseller in print for Yen Press. Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook and Ryan Estrada with art by Hyung-Ju Ko, a memoir of Sook’s college years under a repressive Korean government, was published by Iron Circus Comics and nominated for an Eisner Award this year. And in August, Ablaze Comics will publish the first volume of the action manhwa The Breakers, by Jeon Guk-jin and Kamaro, as a 400-page omnibus….

(16) EXPLAINING THE WORLD. James Davis Nicoll looks far south to find “Five Fantasy Stories Inspired by Mesoamerican History and Folklore”.

… The world is a very large and old place, however, and there is no compelling reason for authors to reject alternative inspirations. These five authors, for example, turned to Mesoamerican history and folklore to produce five very different works….

Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard (2010)

Death is natural, an unavoidable part of the world. Accordingly, God of death Mictlantecuhtli commands cautious respect as one who rules a fundamental aspect of existence. Acatl, Mictlantecuhtli’s priest, has many duties that demand daily attention. Being drawn into the role of amateur detective should not be one of them.

Priestess Eleuia has vanished. Perhaps she absconded under her own power but the fact her room is painted with blood suggests otherwise. The signs suggest she has carried off by some occult means. Whodunnit? Acatl is tasked to find out.

The list of people who wanted Eleuia dead is short. Near the top of the list is Acatl’s warrior brother, Neutemoc. With authorities more concerned with finding someone to blame than with finding the correct person to blame, either Acatl clears his brother or Neutemoc is doomed. And there is no guarantee Neutemoc is innocent.

(17) OLD TIME RELIGION. The initial tweet inspired some artists to respond with drawings of characters based on the discovery.  Thread starts here.

(18) TEETHING. Nothing is certain but death and taxonomy. This spoiler-filled featurette explains the human-animal hybrids in Sweet Tooth.

(19) CLAYMATION BULLET TIME. io9 has three more 15-second videos to close out the series: “Sci-Fi Claymation: 2001, The Matrix, Alien for Dust”.

Over the past few weeks, you may have noticed an uptick in io9 posts featuring short claymation scenes recreating iconic moments from famous sci-fi movies. We shared Star Trek II and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and now we’ve reached the grand finale. Not one, not two, but three all-time sci-fi classics2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix, and Alien.

These little slices of clay-recreated heaven come from artist Joseph Brett, who did them to commemorate the fifth anniversary of online sci-fi platform Dust….

(20) BUG HUNT WARNING. YouTuber Kyle Kallgren has posted the third part in his series on Heinlein and Vanderhoven’s Starship Troopers. It comes with bonus mentions of a wide variety of other SFF-nal names and topics, mixed in with a lot of discussion of fascism.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Rob Thornton, Jennifer Hawthorne, Michael J. Walsh, Cora Buhlert, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

RWA Rescinds One of the Inaugural Vivian Awards

The Romance Writers of America’s announcement of the inaugural Vivian Awards on July 31 was met by an immediate backlash against one of the winners.

The “Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements” category winner, At Love’s Command by Karen Witemeyer, is a western romance whose male protagonist takes part in the Wounded Knee massacre and then is redeemed by religion and the love of a good woman. The award drew social media users’ attention to the novel’s portrayal of a genocidal event, and initiated many complaints, especially on Twitter.

“As a Taino, I’m not at all surprised that a book has romanticized genocide. However, I am VERY (disappointed) to see it won an award,” tweeted author Mimi Milan. “Membership permanently cancelled.”

“A ‘romance’ in which the ‘hero’ commits genocide against Native Americans is honored with an award named after the pioneering Black woman founder of RWA is why the organization continues to bleed membership,” tweeted Kymberlyn Reed.

Reed’s tweet refers to the new RWA board’s effort to recover from the mass resignations of officers and loss of members after their predecessors’ attempt to censure Courtney Milan. One measure taken to signal their changing vision for the problem-ridden organization was to remake RWA’s annual awards, retiring the old RITA Awards and creating a new series named after RWA’s founder Vivian Stephens, an African-American woman.

On August 2, the day after the complaints broke out, RWA President LaQuette issued a “Statement on 2021 VIVIAN Awards” that defended the awards finalists as a whole, and contended none of the 13 judges who scored the Witemeyer book had reported any “perceived objectionable or harmful content” to staff as judges had been instructed to do.  

LaQuette also asserted that “Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements, as a subgenre of romance, requires a redemptive arc as a genre convention. Essentially, the character can’t be redeemed by human means; only through their spiritual/religious awakening can they find redemption for their moral failings and or crimes against humanity” – implying that the type of character being objected to is baked into the category definition. However, the RWA’s Vivian Contest Rules only say that eligible works are those “in which spiritual beliefs are an inherent part of the love story, character growth or relationship development, and could not be removed without damaging the storyline. These novels may be set in the context of any religious or spiritual belief system of any culture.”

RWA’s statement was condemned by another 2021 Vivian winner, Sara Whitney, who announced she would decline her award in protest: “My statement about returning the Vivian award”.

Saturday night, I won the inaugural Vivian award for Best Mid-length Contemporary Romance from the Romance Writers of America. In my acceptance speech, I thanked RWA for creating an award recognizing Vivian Stephens and for encouraging members to work together toward meeting the challenges we faced to become a better organization for all writers and readers.

Tonight, I am telling RWA that I am declining my Vivian award and resigning from the organization.

I had decided to remain with RWA after its actions in 2019 because I didn’t want to cede the organization to the racists without a fight. I saw new board members stepping up to make much-needed changes toward inclusivity and equity, and I wanted to be a member who would help work toward those goals.

When I entered my book in the inaugural Vivian awards, I did it in the hope that the new judging rubric and DEI training would allow for historically excluded authors to be given the same consideration I’ve always been awarded as a cis straight white woman. I also hoped the new system would root out overtly racist or otherwise problematic books.

After discovering which book had won the inspirational category, I realized that my hopes were misplaced. RWA simply hasn’t done enough.

This afternoon’s statement from the RWA Board of Directors was the last straw. Its narrow definition of inspirational romance and discussion of characters seeking redemption from “crimes against humanity” prove the organization has not listened or learned from its current or former members.

I don’t only want to be an ally. I want to be a co-conspirator. And I cannot in good conscience accept a Vivian award or remain a member of RWA under these circumstances.

The following day, August 3, the RWA Board announced that after an emergency meeting they had rescinded the Vivian awarded to At Love’s Command:

…RWA is in full support of First Amendment rights; however, as an organization that continually strives to improve our support of marginalized authors, we cannot in good conscience uphold the decision of the judges in voting to celebrate a book that depicts the inhumane treatment of indigenous people and romanticizes real world tragedies that still affect people to this day….

The media by then were already reporting the story. The Washington Post article “After award win, Christian romance novel draws criticism for ‘romanticized genocide’ of Native Americans” begins:

Christian romance novels are generally known for their more “wholesome” take on the genre.

But this year’s winner of the Romance Writers of America’s Vivian Award for best romance with religious or spiritual elements has still managed to stir controversy.

The book — “At Love’s Command” by Karen Witemeyer — opens with a depiction of the Wounded Knee Massacre that some readers and authors have criticized as romanticizing the killing of Native Americans….

BookRiot’s Sarah Nicolas, in “Romance Writers of America Awards Book with Genocidal ‘Hero’”, describes the opening of the book in some detail, and quotes a tweet complaining about this particular book at the time the finalists were announced.

And several articles, including The Mary Sue’s “Romance Writers of America Awards Book Downplaying Genocide”, say the situation reminds them of the 2014 controversy when RWA’s RITA Awards shortlisted a book in the “inspirational” category about a Jewish woman who falls in love with her Nazi Kommandant at a concentration camp and converts to Christianity.

Courtney Milan also has made extensive comments about the RWA leadership’s decision to rescind the award, and in her view, their failure to craft the new award’s rules to authorize some things they have done. Thread starts here. She asks such questions as:

The RWA, meanwhile, promises its Vivian Task Force, headed by RWA Director-at-Large Jackí Renee, will be reviewing the contest’s effectiveness and recommending ways “to improve the contest and identify and manage potentially harmful content at the earliest stages in the contest lifecycle.”

[Thanks to Cora Buhlert for the story.]

2021 Vivian Awards

The winners of the 2021 Vivian Awards, which succeed the Romance Writers of America’s retired RITA Awards, were announced July 31.

The winners of genre interest follow.

Speculative Romance – Long

Works in which fantasy worlds or paranormal or science fiction elements are an integral part of the plot that are 80,000 or more words in length.

  • A Stitch in Time by Kelley Armstrong

Speculative Romance – Mid

Works in which fantasy worlds or paranormal or science fiction elements are an integral part of the plot that are between 50,000 and 80,000 words in length.

  • Betwixt by Darynda Jones

In 2020, as the new board of Romance Writers of America was recovering from the backlash of mass resignations of officers and loss of members following their predecessors’ attempt to censure Courtney Milan, one measure taken to signal their changing vision for the problem-ridden organization was to remake RWA’s annual awards and name them after founder Vivian Stephens, an African-American woman.

Romance Writers of America Announce Inaugural Vivian Award Finalists

The finalists for the 2021 Vivian Awards, which succeed the Romance Writers of America’s retired RITA Awards, were announced April 14. It may not be a complete list yet, as the webpage said “we’re posting names here as they’re notified,” however no new names have been added to the genre categories in the past 24 hours and romance specialty blog Ruby Slippered Sisterhood has the same list at this hour. The nominees of genre interest follow. RWA’s list of all categories is here.

Speculative Romance – Long

Works in which fantasy worlds or paranormal or science fiction elements are an integral part of the plot that are 80,000 or more words in length.

  • Curse of Seduction by Claire Robertson
  • Echoes of the Runes by Christina Courtenay
  • A Stitch in Time by Kelley Armstrong
  • Written in Water by Elizabeth Schechter

Speculative Romance – Mid

Works in which fantasy worlds or paranormal or science fiction elements are an integral part of the plot that are between 50,000 and 80,000 words in length.

  • Betwixt by Darynda Jones

Speculative Romance – Short

Works in which fantasy worlds or paranormal or science fiction elements are an integral part of the plot that are between 20,000 and 50,000 words in length.

  • No finalists named yet

In 2020, as the new board of Romance Writers of America was recovering from the backlash of mass resignations of officers and loss of members following their predecessors’ attempt to censure Courtney Milan, one measure taken to signal their changing vision for the problem-ridden organization was to remake RWA’s annual awards and name them after founder Vivian Stephens, an African-American woman.

In a statement last year, “Introducing The Vivian, a New Award for a New Era”, they said —

The RWA Board of Directors is thrilled to announce the introduction of a brand-new award, The Vivian, named after RWA founder Vivian Stephens, whose trailblazing efforts created a more inclusive publishing landscape and helped bring romance novels to the masses.

…In support of The Vivian, and guided by the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, the contest task force has been hard at work developing a contest that aligns with the Board’s vision for RWA 2.0 and that is designed to fulfill the following mission:

The Vivian recognizes excellence in romance writing and showcases author talent and creativity. We celebrate the power of the romance genre with its central message of hope–because happily ever afters are for everyone….