Pixel Scroll 9/15/19 Rikki, Don’t Scroll That Pixel, It’s The Only One You Own

(1) SOUND AND FURY. Locus Online has a fine summary of recent developments in “Audible’s Caption Controversy”.

Audible, Amazon’s audiobook publishing arm, announced plans for “Audible Captions,” a fea­ture that displays the text of a book along with the narration on listener devices. Audible said the feature would be “available on hundreds of thousands of audiobooks at launch” – a decla­ration that was met with surprise and alarm by publishers who haven’t licensed the rights to publish such text to Audible. Publishing the text without permission would likely be a violation of copyright.

The Association of American Publishers filed a lawsuit on August 23, 2019 in the southern district court of New York to block the program….

(2) RECEIVED WISDOM. New “Worldcon Runner’s Guide Updates” are posted on the WSFS web site.

The Worldcon Runner’s Guide Committee has issued updates to several guide sections. These are now available on the main Guide page. The sections that have been updated are:

(3) JOE ON JOE. In a teaser for the Joe Lansdale documentary — All Hail the Popcorn King: Joe Hill talks Lansdale inspiration”

Joe Hill is currently one of the hottest scribes around. His popular book, NOS4A2 has been adapted for an AMC series. Netflix will be partnering with producer Carlton Cuse on a 10 episode version of Hill’s comic book series, Locke and Key.

Recently, the busy writer sat down with Hansi Oppenheimer, the director of the upcoming documentary on Joe Lansdale, All Hail the Popcorn King. He discussed his deep admiration and fondness for his fellow author.

As an impressionable 13-year-old, Hill read Lansdale’s The Drive In and was transformed. He made such a deep connection with the novel that he felt that it was written especially for him. Which is one of the best compliments to receive when you are a wordsmith. It is what you strive for, to make an impact on your readers.

(4) AUTUMN LEAVES. Entertainment Weekly’s Kristen Baldwin includes a couple of genre works on her list of “The 8 must-watch new TV shows this fall”.

First, a disclaimer: With approximately 183 TV series premiering every hour in America, it would be all but impossible for any one critic to view all the new fall shows. That said, I was able to screen 31 of the programs making their debut in the coming months — and now that my eyes have readjusted to sunlight, I humbly submit this report.

One of them is Evil. The other is —

Watchmen

Oct. 20, 9 p.m., HBO
Confession: I know nothing about Watchmen. Never read the comic or saw the (polarizing) 2009 film. I had to pause many times while watching the pilot so I could look up characters and backstories on Wikipedia. With that said, I can’t wait to see more. Set 30 years after the comics, Watchmen takes place in a world where police hide their identities due to terrorist attacks and a long-dormant white supremacist group wants to start a race war. The show is expensive-looking but not hollow. There’s a humanity to the characters that is often lacking in comic book adaptations, due in large part to the exceptional cast, including Regina King, Jeremy Irons, and Don Johnson. Hardcore fans will have to make up their own minds, but this novice is intrigued.

(5) FOUNDATIONS OF HORROR FILMMAKING. SYFY Wire thinks fans should go ape over “Fay Wray’s underappreciated career as a genre queen”.

Fay Wray is remembered best for her role in the original King Kong as Ann Darrow, the woman who is kidnapped and carried about like a rag doll while Kong goes on his city-wide rampage. Yet she had a much longer career than just that one film, spanning several different genres and working for more than half a century. In her early years in Hollywood, she would have been better known for a series of westerns she had done in the silent era than anything else, but even at that, she’d also been in several comedies and romances. Wray was a working actor for most of her life, so her filmography is mostly all over the place.

Of course, we’re mostly here for Wray’s career as a Scream Queen. In the time leading up to what would become her definitive role, she starred in a series of low-budget horror movies that are now considered as much a part of classic horror canon as Frankenstein or The Mummy….

(6) GROWING UP GRYFFINDOR. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Behind a paywall at Financial Times, Alice Ross discusses how YA authors in Britain are increasingly interested in politics.

The second legacy often credited to Harry Potter is that the series helped to form a generation of liberal thinkers.  In Harry Potter and the Millennials (2013), political scientist Anthony Gierzynski published th results of his survey of more than 1,000 college students.  He concluded that readers of Harry Potter were more often to diversity and more politically tolerant than non-fans…

…Modern authors of children’s books both in the UK and the US–many of whom hail from the Harry Potter generation–tend to feel strongly about social or moral issues, and they bring this into their writing.

‘I really do believe that all writing is political and you have to try to do that; you are not just bringing yourself to your work,’ says Kiran Millwood Harris, whose debut novel The Girl of Ink and Stars won the 2017 Waterstone Children’s Book Prize. ‘I see some people saying, ‘I don’t want to be political’ but actually now it’s kind of immoral not to speak up or take a stand as some people don’t have that luxury.  Her latest book The Way Past Winter deals with the environmental crisis, increasigly a topic coming up in children’s books.

(7) DYSTROPIA. Michelle Goldberg’s opinion piece “Margaret Atwood’s Dystopia, and Ours” in the New York Times coincidentally shows how hard it is for fictional commentary to keep pace with cultural changes.

…And it’s not just in America that truth has lost its political salience. Naked censorship continues to exist, but it’s augmented by the manipulation of search algorithms, and by trolls and bots harassing dissidents and spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories. Truth is less suppressed than drowned out. Contemporary propaganda, write P.W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking in “LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media,” “is colorful and exciting, reflecting the tastes of the digital age. It is a cocktail of moralizing, angry diatribes, and a celebration of traditional values, constantly mixed with images of scantily clad women.” There’s a solemn churchlike hush in Gilead. Modern authoritarianism is often as lurid and cacophonous as a casino.

Dystopian fictions that extrapolate from this shift are starting to appear. (Though young adult novels had a head start: “The Hunger Games” foresaw the nightmare of fascism run as a reality show.) There’s a scene in “Years and Years,” a recent series co-produced by HBO and the BBC, where Vivienne Rook, the sly British demagogue played by Emma Thompson, is asked about the spread of fraudulent, digitally created videos of her political rivals making inflammatory statements. “Oh, of course they’re fake videos. Everyone can see they’re not real,” she says to an interviewer. Then she adds, with faux concern, “All the same, they really did say those things, didn’t they?” Soon after, she is elected prime minister…

… “Writing dystopias and utopias is a way of asking the reader the question, ‘Where do you want to live?’” Atwood said when I talked to her last year….

(8) SCHELLY OBIT. Comics fan, writer, and historian Bill Schelly (1951-2019) died September 12 of cancer. His books included The Golden Age of Comic Fandom (1995; rev. ed. 1999) published by his own company, Hamster Press, Harvey Kurtzman, The Man Who Created “Mad” (Fantagraphics, 2015), and his autobiography Sense of Wonder, My Life in Comic Fandom – The Whole Story (North Atlantic Books, 2018). Carl Slaughter recommended Schelly’s biography Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionaryto Filers in 2016.

Many friends have left comments on his Facebook page. Neil Caputo penned “Bill Schelly: In Tribute”, Mark Evanier ends his appreciation “Bill Schelly, R.I.P.” at News From Me by saying:

Bill was quite good…just a lovely, talented man. I’m sure going to miss talking to him on the phone and at conventions, and I’m sorry we aren’t going to get all the other books that he would have written. Such a loss.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • September 15, 1965 — CBS debuted Irwin Allen’s  Lost In Space as “The Reluctant Stowaway” episode seeing the Jupiter 2 being sabotaged by  Dr. Smith who became part of the inhabitants. The theme music was composed by a little known composer then credited as, Johnny Williams.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 15, 1890 Agatha Christie, or to giver her full name of Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE (née Miller). ISDB lists her Harley Quin tales as being genre as they think the lead character is supernatural though no reviewers I can find think that he is. Anyone here who has read them? They also list one Hercule Poirot story, “The Big Four”, as genre – it apparently involved the use of atomic explosives in a 1927 story. Weirdly iBooks has almost nothing by her but Kindle has works beyond counting. (Died 1976.)
  • Born September 15, 1925 Carlo Rambaldi. He won Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects in 1980 and 1983 for, respectively, Alien and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial which was for the mechanical head-effects for the Alien creature and the design of the E.T. himself. The 1976 version of King Kong earned him an Oscar for Best Visual Effects as well. He also worked on Dune, Conan the Destroyer, King Kong Livesand films you’ve likely never heard of such as Fire Monsters Against the Son of Hercules. (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 15, 1940 Norman Spinrad, 79. I’ll admit that the only novel I’ve read by him is Bug Jack Barron. My bad. And I was fascinated to learn he wrote the script for Trek’s “The Doomsday Machine” episode which is an amazing story. So how is that he’s never won a Hugo? 
  • Born September 15, 1943 John M. Faucette. He published five novels and one short story. He left seven unpublished novels in various states of completion at his death. Two of his novels; Crown of Infinity and Age of Ruin, were published in the Ace Doubles series. None of his works are in print  in digital or paper format currently including his Black Science Fiction anthologywhich he as an African-American SF writer was very proud of. (Died 2003.)
  • Born September 15, 1946 Howard Waldrop, 73. I think that the The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 which he wrote with Jake Saunders is my favorite work by him. His short fiction such as  “The Ugly Chickens” which won The World Fantasy and Nebula Awards is most excellent. A generous selection of his short fiction and novellas are available at iBooks and Kindle. 
  • Born September 15, 1956 Tommy Lee Jones, 73. Best known as Agent K in the Men in Black franchise, he’s has done other genre with the first being in Batman Forever as Harvey Dent / Two-Face. He’s Colonel Chester Phillips in Captain America: The First Avenger as well. 
  • Born September 15, 1962 Jane Lindskold, 57. My first encounter with her was the Zelazny novel she finished, Donnerjack. It’s excellent though how much is Zelazny is open to vigorous debate. Of her own novels, I recommend The Buried Pyramid, Child of a Rainless Year and Asphodel as being very good. 
  • Born September 15, 1987 Christian Cooke, 31. He’s Ross Jenkins, a UNIT Private in two Tenth Doctor stories, “The Sontaran Stratagem” and “The Poison Sky”. Genre wise, He’s also been Luke Rutherford-Van Helsing in Demons, a six-part series from the Beeb, and he’s Frederick Beauchamp in the second season of The Witches of Eastwick.
  • Born September 15, 1960 Kevin Roche, 59. Chaired Worldcon 76 in San Jose (2018). Prior to that he co-chaired Westercon 66 in Sacramento in 2013 and chaired Costume-Con 26 in San José in 2008. He’s a veteran costumer and masquerade emcee, who co-directed the 2011 Worldcon’s Masquerade as well as Masquerades at Anime Los Angeles, Westercon, and BayCon. Roche is a research scientist at IBM Research Almaden. He also is the editor of Yipe! The Costume Fanzine of Record.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shows what happens when aliens reach the border.

(12) CLASSIC REVIVED? The Far Side web page made this announcement:

Uncommon, unreal, and (soon-to-be) unfrozen.

A new online era of The Far Side is coming!

(13) SCOOBY TAXONOMY. Eleni Theodoropoulus, in “How Scooby Doo Revived Gothic Storytelling for Generations of Kids” on CrimeReads, says that Scooby-Doo is really a Gothic series rather than mystery, as she discusses how the show’s supernatural elements made it so popular.

.. From its first episode, “What a Night for a Knight,” Scooby Doo establishes the very atmosphere that is integral to the gothic genre. The episode opens onto an empty country road under a full moon when a pickup truck rolls into view. The crate in the back opens. An armored knight rears his head and fixes his glowing eyes on the driver. Danger is imminent. “What a nervous night to be walking home from the movies, Scooby Doo,” says Shaggy, echoing the viewer’s sentiment. Moments later they come across the abandoned pickup truck where the suit of armor sits behind the wheel. Pristine, it shines in the moonlight. Suddenly, the head of the armor rattles and tips over, landing at their feet. Boy and dog chuckle nervously before they run away in what will become their signature manner of dealing with problems. The next two seasons of Scooby Doo, Where Are You! follow in this same vein, resting on a balance between suspense and fear, mystery and horror.

Instrumental to evoking these feelings in the viewer was less the plot itself than the atmosphere framing it….

(14) PLAYING FOR TIME. Cecilia D’Anastasio relates the “Confessions Of A Teenaged Strip-Mall GameStop Delinquent” at Kotaku.

… Once a week, I’d enter that GameStop to ask whichever bored employee was manning the place when they’d get Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii, and whether they’d give it to me early. I wanted to play a video game before anybody else, and I wanted it to be Super Smash Bros. Brawl so I could get really good and nobody would ever be able to catch up. Certainly, I felt, GameStop had that power and would be generous with it. Theo, who worked at that GameStop, told me many times: Cecilia, it comes out in December. Each time, I’d fuss, forget what he said, and distract myself with some other game they had pre-installed on the Wii kiosk in the store. Then I’d go in again the next week….

… Back then, I was usually grounded. Each sentence lasted for a week, two weeks, a month, and eventually, it all blurred into an endless, sprawling, dusty-grey dream. My mom theorizes that I’d purposefully do bad teen stuff so she’d ground me. That way I could avoid my increasingly complicated friendships at the strip. Time would spin on there without me: break-ups, fights, pranks, insults. In the world of Final Fantasy XI, I had comrades who needed me. As my dedication to leveling up heightened, so too did my in-game friends’ expectations of me as a community member. A couple times a week, one would reach out to me on a forum, or on Myspace, or eventually even through text message, asking me to log on and help them with some level grinding, some quest.

Then came the emotional labor. As a teenager, I did not have the tools to counsel the cat girl FlameKitty, the avatar of an older man, through his joblessness, his unpaid bills, his loneliness. I could not offer authoritative advice after a married mother of five fell in love with another Final Fantasy XI companion, whose shadowy forum profile picture featured a katana. …

(15) A FAMILIAR FACE. The Waterloo (ONT) Public Library is doing a sff author panel October 5 – details on the programs calendar. You should recognize at least one of the participants.

James Bow moderates a panel of five other authors talking about Canada as a setting for science fiction and fantasy novels. Why should New York, Los Angeles, or London have all the fun? Canada boasts some of the world’s best science fiction and fantasy writers, and some of the most innovative tech sectors. We have a part to play in the wider science fiction community, and we intend to represent.

Science Fiction and fantasy writers Erin Bow, James Nicoll, Leah Bobet, James Alan Gardner and (maybe – still to be confirmed ) Sarah Raughley join moderator James Bow in a free-flowing discussion of what Canada can contribute and has contributed to science fiction and fantasy. The event at the Main library will be followed by the launch of James Bow’s new urban fantasy novel, “The Night Girl”. Books will be sold and authors are available to sign copies. Everyone welcome

(16) BOARD OF EQUALIZATION. FastCompany thinks “‘Ms. Monopoly’ is not as patronizing as Hasbro’s version for millennials, but it’s not empowering either”.

…However, last year, Hasbro shook the table with Monopoly for Millennials, which critics universally bemoaned as an “insulting experience.” The game’s tagline of “Forget real estate. You can’t afford it anyway” seemed to signify that Hasbro was perhaps more interested in wooing back older players (who also like dunking on young adults) rather than genuinely appeal to a new generation discovering the joys of game night. (The reasons why millennials can’t afford homes are varied and complex and have nothing to do with pouring our income into artisanal coffee and avocado toast—xoxo, a millennial.)

Then just last month there was Monopoly for Socialists, another widely panned bit of pandering to older people who might still be afraid of the s-word that the game-centric site Polygon dubbed “horrible, even as a parody.” The release also led to the surely unintended wider dissemination of Monopoly’s roots as a game created by a woman named Elizabeth Magie to spread the message that landlords and real-estate hoarding are societal ills, yet it was appropriated by men and turned into a pro-capitalist pastime.

Now, there’s Hasbro’s latest addition to the Monopoly family: Ms. Monopoly. Its tagline is “The first game where women make more than men.”…

(17) TRACKING DOWN BARGAINS. Contact Mr. Muffin’s Trains for all your Hell-bound “O” Gauge model train needs….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Walk The Dog Before I Sleep on Vimeo is an animated music video by Drew Christie of a song by Brian Cullman.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, James Davis Nicoll, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Alan Baumler, Mike Kennedy, Steve Johnson, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Dublin 2019 WSFS Business Meeting Day 4

Corina Stark completed the marathon today with notes of Monday’s session, “WSFS Business Meeting 3”, which can be read on Alex Acks’ blog.

Once video of the meeting has been uploaded, it will be available at Worldcon Events on YouTube.

The agenda is available here. The references (e.g. “D9”) identify items in it.

Chair Requested to Rule on Handouts: Business meeting chair Jesi Lipp answered Nicholas Whyte’s request for a ruling about charging debate time against opponents to a motion due to a handout they distributed at yesterday’s meeting, and/or their allowability in general.

Lipp said there is nothing in the rules that explicitly disallows handouts of any kind, nor any provision about printed materials classified as debate. While they qualify philosophically as debate, procedurally they do not. They are not disallowed. However, a proposed rule about them, submitted yesterday and referred to committee, will be addressed next year.

Someone appealed the ruling of the chair. The meeting voted to sustain the chair’s decision.

New Business: Item D9, Non-Transferrability of Voting Rights. This would essentially divorce the membership of WSFS from attending the con.

The motion was referred to committee with Dave McCarty and the makers of the motion, Ben Yalow and Kate Secor (along with anyone else who asks to be added). Yalow will chair the committee. 

D10, Preserving Supporting Membership Sales for Site Selection. The proposal would add this rule:

1.5.10: No convention shall terminate the sale of supporting memberships prior to the close of site selection.

The makers of the motion, Cliff Dunn, Kate Secor and Ben Yalow, proposed the rule because Dublin 2019 terminated the sale of attending memberships and day passes [but not supporting memberships] two weeks prior to the start of the convention.

An attempt to refer the motion to committee was defeated. The main motion passed and will be up for ratification at next year’s business meeting.

Close of Meeting: The Chair was presented with an engraved gavel which says “Jesi Lipp, Chair, World Science Fiction Society, 2019, Dublin, Ireland.” The Chair said they had fun, “even though it is sick and twisted to call this fun.” The meeting adjourned.

Dublin 2019 WSFS Business Meeting Day 2

Corina Stark provided full notes of the Saturday session in “WSFS Business Meeting 1 Liveblog”, which can be read on Alex Acks’ blog.  (And Acks will be writing summary articles later.)

Once video of the meeting has been uploaded, it will be available at Worldcon Events on YouTube.

The agenda is available here. The references (e.g. “D7”) refer to items in it.

Mark Protection Committee: The current year’s open seats on the Mark Protection Committee were filled by Kevin Standlee, Ben Yalow, and Jo Van Ekeren by vote of the meeting.

New Resolution. A new resolution was added to the agenda, B4: Credit to Translators of Written Fiction. In it, Mark Richards, Chris Barkley and Juli Marr request that when a work in translation for Novel/Novella/Novelette, or Short Story wins a Hugo, that a Hugo rocket also be awarded to the credited translator. (See makers’ explanation in File 770 post “Resolution Asks That Hugo Trophy Also Be Given To Translator, When Applicable”.)

Business Passed On: Items that received first passage in 2018 were brought up for ratification.

C1, Adding Series to the Series, adds the bolded words and deletes the struck-over word.

3.2.6: The categories of Best Novel, Novella, Novelette, and Short Story, and Series shall be open to works in which the text is the primary form of communication, regardless of the publication medium, including but not limited to physical print, audiobook, and ebook.

The motion passed unanimously.

C2: Comic Books and Graphic Stories. The motion adds “or Comic” to the category title. The change was a product of the Hugo Awards Study Committee.

3.3.7: Best Graphic Story or Comic. Any science fiction or fantasy story told in graphic form appearing for the first time in the previous calendar year.

The argument was that it avoids any implication that comics are less eligible than graphic novels. The meeting voted to ratify the change.

C3, Notability Still Matters. The motion adds the language in bold. (See Dave Wallace’s File 770 guest post “How ‘Notability Still Matters’ Would Have Affected the 2017 and 2018 Hugo Long Lists”.)

3.12.4: The complete numerical vote totals, including all preliminary tallies for first, second, . . . places, shall be made public by the Worldcon Committee within ninety (90) days after the Worldcon. During the same period, the results of the last ten rounds of the finalist selection process for each category (or all the rounds if there are fewer than ten) shall also be published. Rounds that would otherwise be required to be reported for nomination may be withheld from this report if the candidate to be eliminated appeared on fewer than 4% of the ballots cast in the category and there are no candidates appearing on at least 4% of the ballots cast in the category in rounds to be reported below them.

Dave McCarty advocated the change, saying it would lower the burden on administrative staff as many administrators publish a long “long list” anyway.

Dave Wallace shared an analysis of past results if the change had been in effect, saying that the Short Story category is disproportionally affected and that it would have left off many excellent stories by well-known names in the field. As this helps Hugo voters to discover new works, the harm of leaving this information off outweighs the benefits of the proposed amendment.

Ratification failed, by a vote of 41 for, 44 against.

New Constitutional Amendments: Any of the proposals that pass get forwarded to next year’s Business Meeting for a ratification vote.

D1, Clarification of Worldcon Powers. The proposal removes struck over words and adds words in bold.

3.2.12: The Worldcon Committee is responsible for all matters concerning the their Awards.

Kevin Standlee said the change would make it mechanically impossible for a future Worldcon to “take away” Hugos from a previous year. The motion passed unanimously.

D2, Disposition of the NASFiC Ballot. The proposed addition to the rules would resolve Site Selection if it crashes at a NASFiC, which has never happened, but this would allow for a safety net and call a Business Meeting at a NASFiC solely to deal with Site Selection.

4.8.5: In the case the administering convention is a NASFiC, it shall hold a Business Meeting to receive the results of the site selection voting and to handle any other business pertaining directly, and only, to the selection of the future NASFiC convention. This meeting shall have no other powers or duties.

The motion passed.

D3, A Problem of Numbers. The proposed change clarifies that a member can vote in the Final Hugo Awards and the Site Selection even if they do not know their membership number or it has not yet been assigned, as the staff may supply it for them. The motion passed unanimously.

D4, The Needs of the One. Clarifies that an item can be moved around on an individual ballot, while the other clauses in the line item applies to categories as a whole. Adds the words in bold.

3.8.7: The Committee shall move a nomination on an individual ballot from another category to the work’s default category only if the member has made fewer than five (5) nominations in the default category.

Motion passed unanimously.

Item D5, The Forward Pass. Clarifies that the pass-along of member information to future Worldcons must be done in compliance with all appropriate laws such as GDPR. Discussion surfaced several issues that could not be immediately resolved and the pending amendment and a related motion on the floor were referred to the Nitpicking and Flyspecking Committee for a report next year.

D6, That Ticket Has Been Punched. The proposal would amend the WSFS Constitution by adding a subsection to Section 3.4.2:

3.4.2.1: For finalists in the Series category which have previously appeared on the ballot for Best Series, any installments published [in English] in a year prior to that previous appearance, regardless of country of publication, shall be considered to be part of the Series’ previous eligibility, and will not count toward the re-eligibility requirements for the current year.

During debate a motion to amend the proposed rule by adding “in English” was passed 39-29. Stark’s notes don’t say where the words were added, so I have placed the phrase in brackets about where it seems to belong, pending confirmation. The motion as amended then passed and will be subject to ratification next year.

Stark’s notes say “D7, Five and Five will take significant time to discuss and debate…” without stating what happened to it, but that the meeting voted to proceed to item D8.

D8, No Deadline for Nominations Eligibility was debated. The proposal would get rid of the requirement for people to buy Worldcon memberships by the December 31 deadline in order to be allowed to nominate for the Hugos. (See File 770 discussion “The Right Date?”) Martin Pyne moved to add a sunset clause for 2024.

At that point the meeting adjourned, with plans to take up D8 on Sunday tomorrow with proper wording of the sunset clause. D13, the Best Game or Interactive Experience amendment, will also be discussed on Sunday, after the Site Selection results are presented.

Dublin 2019 WSFS Business Meeting Day 1

Corina Stark did a fantastic job of notetaking in “WSFS Preliminary Business Meeting Liveblog”, which can be read on Alex Acks’ blog.  

Once video of the meeting has been uploaded, it will be available at Worldcon Events on YouTube.

The agenda is available here. The references (e.g. “D7”) refer to items in it.

Short summary: The business meeting rejected the proposed Best Translated Novel Hugo by a motion to postpone indefinitely. Basically, everything else was assigned a debate time and will be taken up tomorrow.

Here are the highlights – see the full post for what the participants had to say, and details of the parliamentary maneuvering.

Last year’s Worldcon chair (Worldcon 76) Kevin Roche responded to a question about their financial report. “Kevin Roche reports they are still in litigation which reduces the pass-along funds, but he has brought three checks for Dublin, CoNZealand, and the 79th Worldcon. First four complaints dismissed with prejudice, defamation claim still pending…. Kent Bloom questions Roche about surplus to give a donation for preserving the Worldcon memorabilia. Roche will check his budget, but they anticipate prevailing in the lawsuit however it is a hope not a guarantee.”

The motion to add a Standing Rule giving the Committee of the Whole the ability to extend itself rather than repeat the labyrinthine maneuver from last year’s business meeting was passed, and (by a second vote) given immediate effect. The text of the rule is —  

Rule 5.12: Committee of the Whole. The Committee of the Whole shall have the right to amend its duration without seeking permission from the Business Meeting by way of a motion to extend debate.

Motions to extend the Hugo eligibility Prospect and Worlds of Ursula K LeGuin both passed.

Debate times were set for ratification of business passed on from last year, to be considered on Saturday.

Debate times were set for new constitutional amendments D1-D6.

D7 – the “Five and Five” motion to cut back the number of Hugo finalists in a category to five – was challenged by a motion postpone indefinitely. . [See discussion of motion at File 770 in “Reform or Rollback?”] The motion to postpone indefinitely failed, for lack of a two-thirds majority, 46 in favor, 30 against. Debate time was set.

D8-D11 debate times set.

D12 – The proposal to add a Best Translated Novel Hugo was eliminated when the meeting voted in favor of a motion to postpone indefinitely.

D13 – The proposal to add a Best Game or Interactive Experience Hugo survived a motion to postpone indefinitely and debate time was set.

All the items for which debate time was set will come up for consideration at a subsequent business meeting session this weekend.

The Right Date?

[Editor’s Note: Second in a series. Dublin 2019 has posted the 2019 WSFS Business Meeting Agenda (July 21 update) [PDF file] containing all the business submitted by the July 17 deadline. File 770 will post about some of the proposals and invite discussion.]

Another proposed rule rollback would get rid of the requirement for people to buy Worldcon memberships by the December 31 deadline in order to be allowed to nominate for the Hugos.

Item D.8 on the Dublin 2019 business meeting agenda is — Short Title: No Deadline for Nominations Eligibility.


D.8         Short Title: No Deadline for Nominations Eligibility

Moved, to amend the WSFS Constitution by revising Section 3.7.1 as follows:

3.7.1: The Worldcon Committee shall conduct a poll to select the finalists for the Award voting. Each member of the administering Worldcon or the immediately preceding Worldcon as of the end of the previous calendar year shall be allowed to make up to five (5) equally weighted nominations in every category.

Proposed by: Nicholas Whyte, Kathryn Duval, Marguerite Smith, Steven Mollmann, Tammy Coxen, Hanne Madeleine Gates Paine, Doug Merrill, Karl-Johan Norén, Claire Rousseau and Vince Docherty

Commentary: At present, those who want to nominate for the Hugos must either be members of the previous year’s Worldcon, or have joined the current Worldcon before 31 December of the previous year.

Until recently, the deadline was 31 January. The move to make it a month earlier (proposed by Nicholas Whyte and Kathryn Duval in 2017, ratified in 2018) was partly prompted to fit with the then proposed three-stage nominations process (which did not pass) and partly inspired by tidiness (no other date is in the constitution).

In practice, it has led to some frustration among members who join after 31 December and who did not realise that there was a deadline.

From the administrator’s point of view, it is actually much easier to give new members nominating rights, up to the deadline, than to exclude them. This has been the practice for voting on the final ballot for the Hugos for a very long time.

This does carry a certain risk of entryism, with people joining at the last minute as part of a campaign. The deterrent here is social: Hugo voters have now demonstrated that they will react strongly against any such moves by voting for No Award ahead of finalists who have reached the ballot as a result of such campaigns.

*****


Commenting on the supporting arguments —

In practice, it has led to some frustration among members who join after 31 December and who did not realise that there was a deadline.

If this year’s administrators have had to deal with people who are unaware of the deadline, could a contributing factor be that Dublin 2019’s WSFS page fails to tell people there is any deadline in its description of the rights of members? It only says —

If you are a full or supporting member of Dublin 2019 then you are a member of WSFS.
As a WSFS member (through Dublin 2019) you are entitled:

    • to nominate works for the 2019 Hugo Awards, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book, and the 1944 Retro Hugo Awards.

Next, there is an argument about the administrator’s convenience:

From the administrator’s point of view, it is actually much easier to give new members nominating rights, up to the deadline, than to exclude them.

Let’s remember that there has been a deadline in the rules for almost three decades – it has been part of the Hugo Administrator’s brief for a long time. That it would be “much easier” not to have to do that part of the job might not mean that it should stop being part of the job.

This has been the practice for voting on the final ballot for the Hugos for a very long time.

It is more accurate to say that practices for Hugo nominating and final ballots have been different for a very long time, and not gloss over the reasons why there are different rules for each.

In 1989 the Noreascon 3 committee was confronted with a flagrant case of bloc voting. (See details in “Source Materials About The 1989 Hugo Controversy”.)

“In counting the nominations, we observed a significant pattern of what appeared to us to be bloc voting, amounting to over 50 votes in some categories. The number of these votes was sufficient to place nominees on the final ballot in the following categories: Novel, Professional Artist, Fan Writer, Fan Artist, and John W. Campbell Award. More seriously, about half of these ballots were received with new Supporting Memberships, nearly all of which appeared to have been paid for by the same persons (the payments were made with blocks of consecutively-numbered $20 money orders, purchased at the same post office.) We were highly disturbed by this practice….”

Leslie Turek, editor of N3’s conrunning publication Mad 3 Party, looked for ways to make this abuse more difficult to repeat. The first of her two ideas was to encourage maximum participation by members in nominating works for the Hugos. Her other idea produced the rules change —

Second, I’m thinking of proposing a change to the voting rules, to limit nominations to people who joined the Worldcon by December 31 of the year covered by the awards… This would mean that no one could send in a membership and a Hugo [nominating] ballot at the same time: they would have to purchase their membership before December 31, and then also send in a ballot after December 31. This won’t stop a determined bloc-voter, but it would certainly mean they’d have to plan a lot further ahead and be a lot more organized.

The motion was passed for the first time in 1989. At the 1990 business meeting, it was amended to make the deadline January 31, ratified by vote, and added to the WSFS Constitution.

Even the makers of the current motion understand that by rolling back the rule they will be increasing the risk of abuse:

This does carry a certain risk of entryism, with people joining at the last minute as part of a campaign.

But they think everyone should be satisfied because they can always vote No Award – rather than continuing with a rule meant to discourage the abuse.

The deterrent here is social: Hugo voters have now demonstrated that they will react strongly against any such moves by voting for No Award ahead of finalists who have reached the ballot as a result of such campaigns.

Maybe so, but people campaign under the existing rules already – the question is, how much easier do you want to make it for them? Fans at the Dublin 2019 business meeting will need to decide if a membership deadline is a helpful tool in leveling the playing field.

RELATED: Reform or Rollback?

Reform or Rollback?

[Editor’s Note: Dublin 2019 has posted the 2019 WSFS Business Meeting Agenda (July 21 update) [PDF file] containing all the business submitted by the July 17 deadline. File 770 will post about some of the proposals and invite discussion.]

While the Sad and Rabid Puppies slates were filling up most of the slots on the 2015 and 2016 Hugo ballots, majorities at the Worldcon business meetings passed and ratified several rules changes that made it much more difficult for that to keep on happening. The success of these majorities has tended to overshadow how many fans did not want any changes made – no matter how often Vox Day dictated what made the ballot – or else did not want these particular changes made. And there are business meeting regulars who evidently feel now is the time to start turning back the clock.  

Here’s a matched set of proposals to end the “5 and 6” part of the Hugo nomination reforms. If you are going to the Dublin 2019 business meeting, you will have to decide whether the claims made about convenience and efficiency warrant undoing the protective rules put on the books just a few years ago.

RELATED: The Right Date?


B.4         Short Title: Suspend 5 and 6 for 2020

Moved, to suspend the changes introduced by 5 and 6 for the following year’s Hugo Award nominations (only).

Proposed by: Nicholas Whyte, Kathryn Duval, Marguerite Smith, Steven Mollmann, Ian Stockdale, Tammy Coxen, Hanne Madeleine Gates Paine, Karl-Johan Norén, and Vince Docherty

Commentary: Please see the commentary for Amendment D.7.


D.7         Short Title: Five and Five

Moved, to amend Section 3.8.1 by deleting and adding material as follows:

3.8.1: Except as provided below, the final Award ballots shall list in each category the six five eligible nominees receiving the most nominations as determined by the process described in Section 3.9.

Provided that unless this amendment is re-ratified by the 2022 Business Meeting, the changes to Section 3.8.1 shall be repealed, and

Provided that the question of re-ratification shall be automatically be placed on the agenda of the 2022 Business Meeting with any constitutional amendments awaiting ratification; and

Provided further that any business meeting prior to 2022 may move to suspend the changes introduced by 5 and 6 for the following year’s Hugo Award nominations (only).

Proposed by: Nicholas Whyte, Kathryn Duval, Marguerite Smith, Steven Mollmann, Ian Stockdale, Tammy Coxen, Hanne Madeleine Gates Paine, Karl-Johan Norén, and Vince Docherty

Commentary: “Five and Six” was one of the reforms made in 2015-16 to minimise the future effects of block voting. It already has a 2022 sunset clause and a provision that any business meeting may suspend its operation for the following year’s Hugo Awards.

After three years, we now have enough information to be clear: EPH does make a difference to deter bad actors, “Five and Six” rather less. On the other hand, having 20% more finalists does significantly increase the administrative and financial burden on each year’s Worldcon, as anyone who has been to a recent pre-Hugo reception can testify.

In addition, the burden placed by the Hugo process on diligent readers has also increased in recent years, with the addition of a new category of novels (the Lodestar) and especially of the Best Series category. In 2019 there are 31 categories in the Hugo Awards, a record. It would be a kindness to voters to reduce the required reading from six finalists per category back to five.

Although there is a 2022 sunset clause for “Five and Six”, realistically we already have enough information to repeal it now, and to make life a little easier for Hugo administrators and voters from 2020 onwards.

The Constitution normally takes two years to amend, but in this particular instance the WSFS Business Meeting also has the power to suspend Five and Six for the following year. So we can decide now to do that for 2020 (see Resolution B.3), with the constitutional amendment taking effect in 2021.

The losers will be those who had placed sixth in recent years. There is only one case of a sixth-placed finalist at nominations stage going on to win the Hugo in the last three years (the rather odd situation of Best Fan Artist in 2017, where two finalists were disqualified). On the other hand, a reduced pool of finalists increases the cachet of being among that number.

*****


“After three years, we now have enough information to be clear: EPH does make a difference to deter bad actors, ‘Five and Six’ rather less. On the other hand, having 20% more finalists does significantly increase the administrative and financial burden on each year’s Worldcon, as anyone who has been to a recent pre-Hugo reception can testify.”

That’s it – that’s the argument — the sixth nominees are eating too many canapes at the pre-Hugo reception?

And if “Five and Six” is conceded to have some effect – at the time it was passed people already knew its impact would be “rather less” – then let’s take pleasure that the nominees eating the cheese and crackers were not picked by somebody’s slate.  

Motion to Extend Hugo Eligibility of Prospect

By Olav Rokne: Recently, JJ, Chris Barkley, and Kevin Standee helped me refine a motion that I intend to present at the next WSFS business meeting. The motion is in support of extending the eligibility of the movie Prospect, which was eligible for the 2019 nomination season, but was largely unavailable to most viewers until just over a month ago. It’s a low-budget SFF movie that I think really deserves attention from the fandom community. Getting this a Hugo nod would help it reach the wider audience that it thoroughly deserves. 

Here’s the motion: 


Short Title: Hugo Eligibility Extension for Prospect

Moved, to extend for one year the eligibility of the movie Prospect, based on limited availability, as authorized by Section 3.4.3 of the WSFS Constitution.

Proposed by: Olav Rokne, Marshall Boyd, Amanda Wakaruk, Chris M. Barkley

Commentary: The American film Prospect had its global premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas on March 5, 2018. There were a very limited number of theatrical screenings in large American cities in November of 2018.

Prospect was released on video-on-demand and home media on March 8, 2019.

Due to its limited release in 2018 and early 2019, very few members of Worldcon 76 or Dublin 2019 had the opportunity to view the film before the deadline for nominating the 2019 Hugo Awards.


Extending the
Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin

Few people have had the chance to see Arwen Curry’s documentary Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, which began making the rounds of film festivals in June 2018 but won’t be available to a mass audience until it airs on PBS in late 2019. It isn’t a finalist for this year’s Hugo Awards, and some who feel that might be the result of underexposure have announced plans to ask the Dublin 2019 business meeting to extend the film’s eligibility.

Here is the draft text of their motion:


Short Title: Hugo Eligibility Extension for Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin

Moved, to extend for one year the Hugo Award eligibility of the film documentary Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, based on limited availability, as authorized by Section 3.4.3 of the WSFS Constitution.

Proposed by: Jo Van Ekeren, Hampus Eckerman, Adri Joy, Theodora Goss, Terry L Neill, Juliette Wade, Paul Weimer, Ziv Wities

This motion extends eligibility for the Hugo Awards under Section 3.4.3; therefore, it requires a two-thirds vote of approval.

Commentary: Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin is a documentary film by Arwen Curry exploring the life and legacy of the late feminist author Ursula K. Le Guin. Work on the documentary began as early as 2009, and the filmmaker was able to complete the many hours of filming prior to the author’s death in January 2018. The film premiered at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival on June 10, 2018. Since then there have been a number of screenings at film festivals in various locations around the world; however, the film has not yet been made available for viewing by the general public. Arrangements are in progress for the film to be shown at Worldcon in Dublin in August, and the film will be broadcast in the U.S. on PBS American Masters in October 2019.

Due to its limited release in 2018, very few members of Dublin 2019 had the opportunity to view the film before the deadline for nominating for the 2019 Hugo Awards. Passage of this proposal would make the documentary eligible for nomination in the Best Related Work category for the 2020 Hugo Awards next year.


As noted in the motion, the authority for extending the eligibility period comes from WSFS Constitution Section 3.4.3:

In the event that a potential Hugo Award nominee receives extremely limited distribution in the year of its first publication or presentation, its eligibility may be extended for an additional year by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the intervening Business Meeting of WSFS.

This provision of the WSFS Constitution was used in 2015 to extend eligibility for the film Predestination and for the short film I Remember the Future, and to extend the eligibility of the anime Summer Wars in 2011.

Pixel Scroll 9/29/18 People Are Still Scrolling Pixels And Nothing Seems To Stop Them

(1) LOOK OUT BELOW. On S.T. Joshi’s blog, the sclerotic author posted the Table of Contents for his next book, 21st-Century Horror. The third section takes aim at these well-known writers —

III. The Pretenders

Laird Barron: Decline and Fall
Joe Hill: Like Father, Like Son
Brian Keene: Paperback Writer
Nick Mamatas: Failed Mimic
Paul Tremblay: Borrowing from His Predecessors
Jeff VanderMeer: An Aesthetic Catastrophe

(2) WORLDCON DOCUMENTS. Kevin Standlee reports the “Rules of the World Science Fiction Society” webpage has been updated with:

  • the 2018-19 WSFS Constitution
  • the Standing Rules
  • Business Passed On to the 2019 WSFS Business Meeting

You can also find there the —

  • Minutes of the 2018 WSFS Business Meeting
  • updated Resolutions and Rulings of Continuing Effect
  • the link to the recordings of the 2018 WSFS Business Meeting

(3) PLANETS ANNIVERSARY. NPR commemorates an influential musical work — “‘The Planets’ At 100: A Listener’s Guide To Holst’s Solar System”.

100 years ago, a symphonic blockbuster was born in London. The Planets, by Gustav Holst, premiered on this date in 1918. The seven-movement suite, depicting planets from our solar system, has been sampled, stolen and cherished by the likes of Frank Zappa, John Williams, Hans Zimmer and any number of prog-rock and metal bands.

To mark the anniversary, we’ve enlisted two experts to guide us on an interplanetary trek through Holst’s enduring classic.

First, someone who knows the music: Sakari Oramo, chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra…

Next, someone who knows the real planets. Heidi Hammel is a planetary astronomer who specializes in the outer planets, and the executive vice president of AURA, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy….

Filers will remember that Jubal Harshaw used the Mars movement as Valentine Michael Smith’s anthem in Stranger in a Strange Land.

“Mars is a war machine,” Oramo says. “You could refer to Mars as the forefather of music for films describing interstellar warfare.”

Since we’re talking movies, what about the “Imperial March,” perhaps the most recognizable music John Williams wrote for Star Wars? I played a clip of it for Oramo as we discussed Holst’s music.

“Yes, Star Wars. Oh, I love it!” Oramo says. But isn’t it a rip-off of “Mars?”

“I wouldn’t call it a rip-off,” Oramo answers. “It’s based on the principals Holst created for ‘Mars.’ And all composers steal from each other.”

(And some get caught. Oscar-winner Hans Zimmer was sued by the Holst Foundation for writing music an awful lot like “Mars” in his score for Gladiator.)

(4) SHORT FICTION MARKET, QUICK TURNAROUND. Over on Gizmodo, io9 is looking for short fiction on the subject of “the Future of Death.” They want pieces of speculative fiction (not horror) shorter than 2000 words and promise rates starting at 50¢ a word for first publication rights plus a 90-day exclusive window. The submission deadline is 25 October.

Perhaps death has become a thing of the past—for some humans, at least. Maybe a newly sentient AI must decide whether to program some form of death into its universe. Whatever the premise, we’re looking for creative takes on what it means for an object or entity to cease to be. We’re most interested in futuristic and science fiction-infused tales; no gore or straight horror, please.

…To submit, please email a short summary (a few sentences will do) of the scope and plot of the story, as well as links to any other published work you’d like for us to see, to fiction@io9.com. Please include your story as an attachment.

(5) PEOPLE AT NASA WHO LOVE SFF. In a lengthy (well, for today’s short attention spans anyway) article on CNET, Amanda Kooser talks to several NASA scientists, including an astronaut, about their connections to and love of science fiction (“When NASA meets sci-fi, space adventures get real”).

A love of science fiction threads through the space agency, and it’s also part of NASA’s public outreach. The agency has sought out exoplanets that mirror Star Wars planets, sent scientists to commune with fans at Comic-Cons and partnered with William Shatner, Capt. Kirk of the original Star Trek, to promote the Parker Solar Probe.

The love runs both ways. In a NASA video honoring Star Trek’s 50th anniversary in 2016, Shatner said, “It’s phenomenal what NASA’s doing with science that is, when you look at it, the equal of science fiction.”

I talked with some of the people of NASA who hunt for asteroids, study dwarf planets and actually step out into the blackness of space, and together we roamed across a shared universe of science fiction.

Kooser talks with astronaut Mike Fincke (381 days on orbit) who also has an appearance on Star Trek: Enterprise on his resume. Marc Rayman, director and chief engineer for the Dawn mission, talks of reading Asimov’s “Marooned off Vesta” as a child and now overseeing a spacecraft that has actually been to Vesta. Amy Mainzer, who was the principal investigator for the asteroid-hunting mission Neowise, says, “science fiction has always been about thought experiments and letting you see a vision of the future and trying out ideas.” Tracy Drain’s current focus is the upcoming mission to visit the metal asteroid Psyche; she’s a second-generation fan, getting the love of science fiction from her mother.

(6) SECOND CAREER CHOICE? Mashable has the clip from Wednesday’s episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert where Colbert has New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as a guest. Among other things, he asks  if she was in the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit movies (“Of course, New Zealand’s Prime Minister tried to get a role on ‘Lord of the Rings’”).

Jacinda Ardern dropped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Wednesday night, revealing that she had been knocked back for a role on the movie, as she lived close to where the films were shot.

“I do find it slightly offensive that everyone thinks that every New Zealander starred in either Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit,” Ardern said. “Some of us auditioned but weren’t successful, OK? That’s all I’m going to say.”

The two also discussed whether Colbert could become a citizen of Hobbition. No key to the city is involved, but he’d get a mug. Ms. Ardern did say Colbert would need to visit New Zealand to make it official.

 

(7) NO SH!T SHERLOCK. Here’s a mystery – who cast Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in a Sherlock Holmes movie?

The Step Brothers are reunited – this time playing the world’s greatest consulting detective and his loyal biographer

 

(8) MARTIN-SMITH OBIT. New Zealand fan Sue Martin-Smith died September 23 reports SFFANZ’ Ross Temple.

Sue was a central figure in NZ fandom over a couple of decades starting in the late ’70s. She made very major contributions to conventions, the club scene, fanzines and other fannish activities. She founded the Phoenix SF Society in Wellington which is still running today (and was first editor of its magazine). She was also one of the founders of FFANZ which also continues to operate promoting fannish cooperation.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born September 29, 1810 – Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, Writer. Much to my surprise, this English author who was not known for her fantasy writing – to say the least – had two volumes of The Collected Supernatural and Weird Fiction of Mrs. Gaskell published by Leonaur, a U.K. publisher more known for serious history works. Her The Life of Charlotte Brontë, published in 1857, was the first biography of Brontë, so these tales are quite unexpected.
  • Born September 29, 1927 – Barbara Mertz, Writer under her own name as well as under the pseudonyms Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels. While she was best known for her mystery and suspense novels and was awarded Grandmaster by both Bouchercon’s Anthony Awards and the Mystery Writers of America, a significant number of her works are considered genre, including the supernatural Georgetown Trilogy and the novel The Wizard’s Daughter.
  • Born September 29, 1940 – Peter Ruber, Writer, Editor, and Publisher of many works written by Arkham House founder August Derleth between 1962–1971, some under his own Candlelight Press imprint, and researcher of Derleth’s life and time for nearly forty years. He became the editor for Arkham House in 1997, after Jim Turner left to found Golden Gryphon Press.
  • Born September 29, 1942 – Madeline Kahn, Oscar-nominated stage and screen Actor, Comedian, and Singer who appeared in many Mel Brooks movies including Young Frankenstein, the sci-fi comedy Slapstick of Another Kind based on the Vonnegut novel, and several episodes of Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, before her life was tragically cut short by cancer at the age of 57.
  • Born September 29, 1942 – Ian McShane, 76, Actor of English/Scottish heritage who has appeared in many genre TV series and movies, including the John Wick films, The Twilight Zone, Space: 1999, American Horror Story, Game of Thrones, and currently has a lead role as the con artist god Odin in the series based on Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.
  • Born September 29, 1944 – Mike Post, 74, Composer, winner of numerous Grammy and Emmy Awards and best known for his TV series theme songs (many of which were written with partner Pete Carpenter), including the themes for The Greatest American Hero and Quantum Leap.
  • Born September 29, 1954 – Cindy Morgan, 64, Actor best known for the dual roles of Lora and Yori in TRON, as well as roles in science fiction B-movies Galaxis and Amanda and the Alien.
  • Born September 29, 1971 – Mackenzie Crook, 47, British Actor, Comedian, Writer and Director known as the comic relief in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and the Warg Orell in Game of Thrones. He collected Star Wars figurines as a child, and is now immortalized in plastic as a six-inch-high pirate action figure.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) SCIENCE FICTION FROM THE FRINGES. And now an entry from the “science fiction is d@mn near everywhere” department: Women’s Wear Daily brings news of two actors at the Elie Saab fashion show discussing their latest genre projects (“Roxanne Mesquida, Paz Vega Talk Science Fiction at Elie Saab”).

STRANGE ENCOUNTERS: The leading ladies sitting front row at Elie Saab may have been dolled up for the occasion, but their latest acting jobs are of a more alien kind. Roxanne Mesquida said she had lots of fun shooting the Steven Soderbergh-produced series “Now Apocalypse,” due out in April. […] Paz Vega’s latest project is of a similar genre. The Spanish actress stars in the second season of the Netflix series “The OA.”

(12) CAT SPACE. A pet adoption event in the LA today promoted itself with a space theme —

(13) CBS SHUTS DOWN TREK FAN PROJECT. Reports have surfaced that a fan-made VR recreation of the Next Gen era Enterprise has been scuttled by a legal threat (EuroGamer: “Cease and desist forces impressive fan recreation of the Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation to self destruct ‘The line must be drawn here. This far, no farther!’”).

A fan-made recreation of the Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation has been pulled offline following a cease and desist.

Stage-9 was a two-year-old fan project that let users explore a virtual recreation of the Enterprise-D, the spaceship made famous by The Next Generation tv show.
The hugely-detailed virtual recreation was built using the Unreal game engine, and was available on PC as well as virtual reality headsets Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. […]

… Then, on 12th September, the cease and desist letter from CBS’ lawyers arrived. The decision was made to put all of the Stage-9 public-facing channels into lockdown while the team tried to convince CBS to change its mind. They suggested tweaking the project to ditch the inclusion of VR, ditch the use of the Enterprise-D specifically and even change the name, but CBS insisted Stage-9 end.

 

(14) HOTHOUSE. According to National Geographic, “Want to Find Alien Life? Look at Older, Hotter Earths.”

If alien astronomers are out there searching for signs of life on Earth, they might just find it in the telltale pattern of light reflected by our plants, from redwood forests to desert cacti to grass-covered plains. That reflected fingerprint has been visible since vegetation first began carpeting our rocky terrestrial landscape about half a billion years ago. And as Earth aged and evolution marched onward, the reflected signal strengthened.

Now, two astronomers are suggesting that plants could leave similar fingerprint-like patterns on distant exoplanets, and perhaps the first signs of life beyond our solar system could come from light reflected by forests covering an alien moon like Endor or cacti living in Tatooine’s deserts.

(15) THERE’S A HOLE IN THE ISS. RT sums up the latest developments — “ISS hole saga’s new twist: More drill scratches discovered on outside hull”.

…It was initially thought (let us leave conspiracy theories behind) that the air leak, which was discovered in late August on Soyuz spacecraft docked at the ISS was caused by a micrometeorite. Later on, Russian media revealed the drill hole was made on the ground by a reckless assembly worker – he was identified and properly sanctioned, we were told.

Yet, the story does not end there. “There are drilling traces not only inside the living module [of the ISS], but also on anti-meteorite plates,” a space industry source told TASS news agency. These plates are mounted outside of the station’s hermetic hull.

“The one who made the hole in the hull passed straight through it and the drill head hit external non-hermetic protection,” the source explained.

Judging by previous media reports, there is a high probability of negligence. The worker in question apparently accidentally drilled the hole, but instead of reporting it, simply sealed it, according to Russian media.

The makeshift sealant held for at least the two months the Soyuz spacecraft spent in orbit, before finally drying up and being pushed out of the hole by air pressure. The ISS crew had noticed the drop of pressure in late August.

Having found themselves in an emergency, the crew fled in the Russian segment of the station as soon as the alarm went off. They began locking down modules of the station one after another, and were eventually able to detect the source of the problem in the Soyuz spacecraft docked to the ISS.

The hole was located near the toilet and covered by decorative fabric. Using an ordinary toothbrush and an endoscope, they found that only one of the two-millimeter cracks had actually pierced the hull and was leaking air.

The Russian crew members used impromptu means of fixing the problem: epoxy-based sealant with metallic additives to plug the hole. Mission Control later advised the crew to place another patch on the crack, which was immediately done

(16) TIM ALLEN ON CONAN. Don’t go to a superhero movie with Tim Allen.

Tim doesn’t understand how the Hulk’s pants still fit when he grows.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Brian Z., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title creditgoes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 9/1/18 Knives, Pixels, Files, Scrolls Of Energy Raved Against The Screens Of The Dentless

(1) SPIDER STORY. Worldcon 76 GoH Spider Robinson’s hometown paper profiled him before the convention: see “Spider Robinson’s star shines in Worldcon’s sci-fi universe” in the Bowne Island Undercurrent.

In the waning charge cycles of a 12-year-old MacBook Pro, Spider Robinson is typing out his autobiography.

“I’m writing the serious, logical case that I’m the luckiest [person] who’s ever lived,” he said.

“My luck ran out, but all luck does.”

It’s extraordinary that a man who lost both his wife and daughter prematurely can still count himself as lucky.

But Robinson concentrates on the joy that his family and career brought to his life.

The well-known science fiction writer, winner of three Hugo awards and a Nebula award, has lived on Bowen Island since 2001.

This week, Robinson is one of the guests of honour at Worldcon, the 76th World Science Fiction Convention, this year held in San Jose.

(2) CANON FIRE. Foz Meadows’ “Trash and Treasure” column for The Book Smugglers does a recap on Worldcon 76, including thoughts inspired by the Author vs Fan Ownership panel there wasn’t enough time to unpack:

 …Afterwards, multiple audience members asked for my thoughts about the recent trend in claims by some fandom extremists that fans literally own the stories they love, whatever those stories might be, just by straight-up virtue of passion.

To give an example of two of the more toxic examples of this sense of fannish entitlement, taken from both ends of the fan-political spectrum, consider both the MRA Star Wars fans who tried to crowdsource funding for a new, lady-free version of The Last Jedi, and the lone Voltron: Legendary Defender fan who tried to blackmail Studio Mir into making their gay ship canon. In both cases, there’s a belief that wanting a personal, idealised, specific version of the narrative to exist in canon should not only trump the plans of the creators, but effectively constitute a shouted BECAUSE REASONS! override of their actual, legal ownership….

(3) MAINTAINING TWEET SILENCE. Is Wil Wheaton coming back to Twitter? Eh, no. He turned it off one day in August, for reasons he explains in “The world is a terrible place right now, and that’s largely because it is what we make it.” Then he thought he found another social media home, but the administrators wearied of the flood of complaints (see post for explanation) and he left there too.

As most of you know, I deactivated my Twitter account earlier this month. It had been a long time coming, for a whole host of reasons, but Twitter’s decision to be the only social network that gives Alex Jones a platform to spew hate, hurt innocent people, and incite violence was the final straw for me. But I haven’t regretted leaving for even one second. Having that endless stream of hate and anger and negativity in my pocket wasn’t good for me (and I don’t think it’s good for anyone, to be honest).

I was on Twitter from just about the very beginning. I think I’m in the first couple thousand accounts. I remember when it was a smallish group of people who wanted to have fun, make jokes, share information and tips on stuff that was interesting, and oh so many pictures of our pets. It was awesome.

It started to get toxic slowly at first, then all at once, starting with the misogynist dipshits who were behing the gate-which-shall-not-be-named. That was clearly a turning point for Twitter, and it never really recovered from it. I watched, in real time, as the site I loved turned into a right wing talk radio shouting match that made YouTube comments and CSPAN call-ins seem scholarly. We tried for a couple of years to fight back, to encourage Twitter to take a stand against bad actors (HA HA LIKE ME BECAUSE I AM A BAD ACTOR RIGHT YOU GOT ME HA HA HA). Twitter doesn’t care about how its users are affected by themselves, though. Twitter cares about growth and staying on the good side of President Shitler’s tantrums….

(4) LIGHT IS THE BEST DISINFECTANT. An event called KekCon set out to publicize itself at Dragon Con and drew criticism on social media. Lura Groen’s thread starts here.

Groen, who received at least one threat after tweeting her thread, reports the KekCon reps left Dragon Con.

(5) PRESCRIPTION FOR ENTERTAINMENT. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie thinks Filers may enjoy The Third Pill, which BBC Radio 4 has just put on iPlayer.

The Third Pill by James O’Neill

Greg works in children’s publishing but feels middle aged and out of touch. Then something pops up on his computer that will transform his life. A comedy about finding that elusive elixir of youth.

Surely it is a scam, or is it?  And if it works, what are the consequences….

(6) A STROLL DOWN MEMORY ROAD. “A graphic tale: the visual effects of Mad Max: Fury Road” is a nuts-and-bolts of how many of the shots were built over bits of reality. From 2015 – but may be news to you!

But the intense Namibian shoot, and further filming in Sydney, was only half the story in the creation of Fury Road’s insane stunt action and post-apocalyptic landscapes. Hundreds of visual effects artists, led by overall visual effects supervisor Andrew Jackson, would spend considerable time crafting more than 2000 visual effects shots and helping to transform the exquisite photography into the final film that at times feels almost like a single car chase. Even more plate manipulation would also be carried out by colorist Eric Whipp, weaving in a distinctive graphic style for the film with detailed sky replacements and unique day for nights.

(7) A STACK OF REVIEWS, AND A STACK OF WAX. Links to the reviews below at Patti Abbott’s blog: “Friday’s Forgotten Books, August 31, 2018”.

  • Mark Baker. LOST LEGACY, Annette Dashofy
  • Yvette Banek, MURDER MAKES MISTAKES, George Bellairs
  • Les Blatt, AND DANGEROUS TO KNOW, Elizabeth Daily
  • Bill Crider, EPITAPH FOR A TRAMP, David Markson
  • Kate Jackson at CrossExaminingCrime, TILL DEATH DO US PART, John Dickson Carr
  • Martin Edwards, THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, Minette Marrin
  • Curtis Evans, THE MAN WITH TWO WIVES, “Patrick Quentin”
  • Rich Horton, THE FOUR FEATHERS, A. E. W. Mason
  • Jerry House, ELECTION DAY 2084, ed. Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg
  • George Kelley, THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION STORIES AND NOVELS, 9th SERIES, T.E. Dikty and Earl Kemp
  • Margot Kinberg, FACES OF THE GONE, Brad Parks
  • Rob Kitchin, THE SHINING GIRLS, Lauren Beukes
  • Kate Laity, SWITZERLAND, Joanna Murray-Smith
  • Evan Lewis, WATERFRONT FISTS, Robert E. Howard
  • Steve Lewis, SEEING IS BELIEVING, Carter Dickson
  • Todd Mason, 1960s audio recordings: THE ZOO STORY, Edward Albee; NO EXIT, Jean-Paul Sartre (translated by Paul Bowles); LUV, Murray Schisgal; JUST SO STORIES, Rudyard Kipling
  • Matt Paust, LAST BUS TO WOODSTOCK, Colin Dexter
  • James Reasoner, THE WATER BEND FEUD, William MacLeod Raine
  • Richard Robinson, A FALL OF MOONDUST, Arthur C. Clarke
  • Kevin Tipple, BAD LITTLE FALLS, Paul Doiron
  • Tomcat, FLASHPOINT, John Russell Fearn
  • TracyK, DARK PASSAGE, David Goodis

Links to online archives of some of the recordings under discussion at Todd Mason’s post: “THE ZOO STORY, Edward Albee; NO EXIT, Jean-Paul Sartre (translated by Paul Bowles); LUV, Murray Schisgal; JUST SO STORIES, Rudyard Kipling”

(8) EC COMICS REMEMBERED. The Society of Illustrators in New York City will exhibit “Tales from the Crypt: The Revolutionary Art of MAD and EC Comics” from September 5 to October 27, 2018.

For the first time in NYC, an exhibition of the EC comic book art that struck fear in the hearts of arbiters of good taste will see the light of day. Featured are more than 70 large original comic book art pages by comic art masters. On display September 5 through October 27 in the Hall of Fame Gallery….

A big business in the fifties, as many as 100 million comic books were sold monthly. Although the superhero and funny animal titles were popular in the forties the appetite had turned to subjects that reflected current trends and interests.

Perhaps the most prominent comic book publisher at the time was Entertaining Comics (EC), led by William M. Gaines. An aspiring high school teacher, Gaines found himself the 25 year old head of a struggling publishing company when his father died in a boating accident. Gaines knew little about the industry but hired young, creative editor/artists Al Feldstein and Harvey Kurtzman to test new formats and launched a broad slate of revolutionary titles covering science fiction, horror, crime, war, suspense and humor.

The EC team would later be called among the most talented assembly of comic book artists and writers the industry had ever seen. While quickly copied because of their unprecedented success, EC stories were markedly different from the competition. They were expertly illustrated, written for an intelligent audience and offered an unexpected twist ending. Critics would point to the violence depicted in the crime and horror titles or the mature nature of the story subjects. Gaines had assumed an intelligent audience comprised of young adults and older readers and not children who would otherwise find little meaning in the work.

Titles presented in the exhibit include Aces HighCrime Suspenstories, Crypt of Terror, Extra!, Haunt of Fear, Frontline Combat, Impact, Piracy, MAD, Two-Fisted Tales, Tales From the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, Weird Fantasy, Weird Science, Weird Science Fantasy, MAD 3-D art and more. Artists featured include Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Will Elder, George Evans, Al Feldstein, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingels, B. Krigstein, Harvey Kurtzman, Joe Orlando, John Severin, Marie Severin, Angelo Torres, Al Williamson and Wally Wood.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 1, 1902A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) is directed by Georges Méliès is released.
  • September 1, 1954Tobor the Great premiered.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 1, 1885 – Edgar Rice Burroughs. Pulp writer (and no I’m not being disparaging with my use of that term) of many series of which I’ll single out the BarsoomPellucidar, Tarzan and Venus series.  Both Rudyard Kipling and Ray Bradbury considered him to be an influential and entertaining writer. Edgar Hamilton in an interview said once that “We sort of grew up on Edgar Rice Burroughs.”
  • Born September 1 — Diana Pleasance Case Gillon, 103. Only one novel, The Unsleep, but noted here for one hundred and three years old! Or at least that’s what three sources think.
  • Born September 1 – C.J. Cherryh, 76. Author of several major series set in different settings including the Alliance-Union universe, the Foreigner universe, the Russian stories, Heroes in Hell, the Fortress universe and Ealdwood. I think my favorites are the Russian stories, particularly Rusalka which was a Locus Fantasy Award nominee. Downbelow Station and Cyteen both won Hugo Awards as did her short story titled “Cassandra.”
  • Born September 1 – Timothy Zahn, 66. I’ll admit that I’ve not read anything by him on and only know of him by his work in the Star Wars Universe. His other work appears largely to be milsf and largely on Baen Books.
  • Born September 1 – Brad Linaweaver. His Moon of Ice novella was a Nebula Award finalist and the novel length version won a Prometheus Award

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest decide it’s better to go with their second favorite name for a new invention.

(12) A COOKIE WITH MORE BITE TO IT. Oreo has introduced two new cookie flavors — wasabi and hot chicken wing. For now, they are only available in China.

(13) A LITTLE LIST. Kendall has read the comments here before and introduced this as “Another list for people to slam!”

Unbound Worlds, who posted a ‘100 Best Fantasy Novels of All Time’ list a while back, now has a 100 Best Sci-Fi Books of All Time list. As before, they’re clear they just asked staffers for top sci-fi recs…

Hey, there are a bunch of books on this list I like, and if I’ve read 41 of them, your count probably will be even higher.

(14) IT’S NOT EPIC BUT IT IS FANTASY. Camestros Felapton reviews Matt Groening’s new series for Netflix, Disenchantment.

A new series from Matt Groening of Simpsons and Futurama fame was bound to generate some excitement. Using an epic fantasy/fairytale faux-medieval setting sounds like a fun premise for the kind of genre subverting humour that worked for Futurama. I’m up to the last two episodes and well, it isn’t great. It isn’t terrible but it isn’t great.

There are two issues:

  • Quite a lot of Futurama wasn’t that great either but your brain edits in the best bits.
  • Disenchantment leans too much on standard jokes and tropes used in its predecessors, making the show feel less fresh and novel.

It gets better, mainly because the characters start working on you and sometimes because of basic plot development.

(15) DOCTORDONNA IS IN. Sometimes the unexpected happens at Dragon Con. Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia Stacey Abrams encountered actress Catherine Tate.

(16) SIDEBAR. Cat Rambo found comic relief at the SFWA business meeting during Dragon Con.

(17) RUGRATS. Airboy notes, “There was a ‘weird news’ story on the front page of August 31’s Wall Street Journal on the odd carpet design of the Marriott Hotel in downtown Atlanta that is one of the DragonCon Hotels.  It had an odd carpet that was eventually removed due to age.  Some fans obsessed over it creating dresses, camo outfits, and eventually a group of them marched together in the annual DragonCon parade in downtown Atlanta.”

The article is online behind a paywall at the Wall Street Journal, “‘We’re Spending Our Hard-Earned Money to Dress Up Like Carpet.’ The Tight-Knit World of Rug Fans”.

These are the people who are obsessed with carpet and rug patterns in hotels, airports and office buildings; Dragon Con at the Marriott

Here’s a lot more material (free!) at the Dragon Con Eternal Members site: “Marriott Carpet Pattern”, including the famous photo of two prone cosplayers whose camo military uniforms blend almost perfectly with the rug.

(18) IN CASE YOU’RE CURIOUS. I’d never seen a photo of Dragon Con CEO Pat Henry before (not that they aren’t available). Writers of the Future’s John Goodwin posted a photo of them together.

He also posted a photo of the Writers of the Future panel with Contest judges Kevin J. Anderson, Robert J. Sawyer, Mike Resnick and Jody Lynn Nye.

(19) MORE CON HEALTH ADVICE. In advance of this weekend’s PAX West convention, the Seattle’s Public Health Insider warned con crud is a thing: “Gaming, Cosplay, and Con Crud, Oh My!”

PAX West opens on Friday and will bring tens of thousands of people to downtown Seattle. Be prepared for legions of cosplayers and badge wearers in downtown, even if you aren’t attending.

So… what is “con crud”?

“Con crud” is an artificial term that refers to the common cold, mild flu, or other non-threatening illness that may strike towards the end of a convention, or soon after leaving. You might have also heard it called PAX pox, festival plague, or even nerd flu.

The balance of the post advises ways to avoid getting it. [Via Ron Oakes.]

(20) AIR APPARENT. Fixing a flat: “Astronauts tackle air leak on International Space Station”.

Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are having to deal with an air leak from a possible collision.

It has been traced to a small hole in a capsule that was used to deliver a new crew to the laboratory 400km (250 miles) above the Earth in June.

It is thought the damage was caused by the impact of a high-speed rocky fragment flying through space.

(21) BACK ON THE RAILS. BBC tells “How the Hogwarts Express was saved from a Welsh scrapyard”.

Emerging from the clouds of steam engulfing platform nine and three-quarters, the gleaming Hogwarts Express commands a special place in the hearts of Harry Potter fans.

Yet there was a time when the only place this engine could call home, was a south Wales scrapyard where it lay rotting among the hulks of a bygone era.

That is because the locomotive that entranced millions of Potter viewers and now sits proudly in Warner Brothers Studios, was once earmarked to be dismantled for the furnace.

Written off, abandoned and forgotten for 17 years, this lowly engine’s final destiny was originally far from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

(22) MORE THAN JUST ONLINE. “Telepresence: ‘My robot makes me feel like I haven’t been forgotten'”. – about helping shut-ins keep up with school.

Internet-connected robots that can stream audio and video are increasingly helping housebound sick children and elderly people keep in touch with teachers, family and friends, combating the scourge of isolation and loneliness.

Zoe Johnson, 16, hasn’t been to school since she was 12.

She went to the doctor in 2014 “with a bit of a sore throat”, and “somehow that became A&E [accident and emergency],” says her mother, Rachel Johnson.

(23) CASTING CONTROVERSIES. ScreenRant analyzes “10 Superhero Castings That Caused Fan Backlash.”

(24) ALMOST TIME. The House with a Clock in Its Walls – in theaters September 21.

In the tradition of Amblin classics where fantastical events occur in the most unexpected places, Jack Black and two-time Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett star in The House with a Clock in Its Walls, from Amblin Entertainment. The magical adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) who goes to live with his uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But his new town’s sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead. Based on the beloved children’s classic written by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is directed by master frightener Eli Roth and written by Eric Kripke (creator of TV’s Supernatural). Co-starring Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Vanessa Anne Williams and Sunny Suljic, it is produced by Mythology Entertainment’s Brad Fischer (Shutter Island) and James Vanderbilt (Zodiac), as well as Kripke.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Todd Mason, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. And belated thanks to Joanna Rivers for an item the other day. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]