2020 WSFS Business Meeting

By Kevin Standlee: The WSFS Business Meeting was probably the shortest such meeting ever held, albeit not the smallest, despite fears of being able to achieve the quorum of 12 members of WSFS physically present. Because New Zealand isn’t in internal lockdown, members of CoNZealand who were in Wellington could attend the meeting were induced to do so by the provision of coffee/tea/snacks, and in the end apparently 23 people attended. That means their meeting had more people attending that were at the WSFS Business Meetings held at Nippon 2007 in Yokohama.

With none of the originally-announced WSFS Business Meeting staff able to attend M. Darusha Wehm agreed to act as Moderator (or “Emergency Holographic Chair” as I put it), working from a “script” supplied by Business Meeting Chair Kent Bloom. The intention was to deal quickly with the small number of things that couldn’t wait, and postpone everything else to next year.

Those people attending Virtual CoNZealand could follow a text description of the Business Meeting by Daniel Spector (who was attending) on the convention’s Discord at #major-events. This makes more sense than one might think, in that functionally, the Business Meeting is more like a small Event than a program item. People like me who are suffering from WSFS Withdrawal Syndrome (I’ve not missed a single session of any WSFS Business Meeting going back to 1989.) could at least follow along.

According to the descriptions from Daniel and the tweets from Soon Lee, shortly after a quroum was achieved, the Preliminary Business Meeting was called to order. It took four minutes to receive all reports, unanimously approve the Hugo Award eligibility extensions (see http://www.wsfs.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/2020-WSFS-agenda-20200714.pdf p.25), continue all existing ad hoc committees as currently constituted, adopt blanket debate times for everything, and adjourn the preliminary meeting so that people could attack the coffee/tea service.

When the Main Business Meeting convened ten minutes later, things went even faster. The Site Selection results (announced the previous day) were received and the ballots ordered destroyed, which is the technical point at which time the election is final, not that there was any chance of there being a protest. Question Time for conventions and bids was waived.

The meeting effectively postponed the ratification of all pending constitutional amendments for one year. (There is more than one way to do this, and we won’t know exactly which was was used until we see the recording/get the minutes, but one possible route would have been to unanimously agree to reject ratification of every proposal and then immediately pass all of those same items as new proposals, resetting their ratification clocks.) There was no new constitutional business.

Because the election of the Mark Protection Committee members is in the Standing Rules, not the Constitution, it can and was waived. This means that the three seats whose terms ended this year went vacant. The MPC will meet via Zoom (open to any attending CZ member; it’s listed in the Grenadine schedule) just before Closing Ceremonies. Per existing authority in the rules, the MPC plans on appointing the three people whose terms ended this year (John Coxon, Linda Deneroff, and Dave McCarty) to temporarily fill those three vacant seats until next year’s Business Meeting, where the BM will need to elect six people instead of the usual three, with three people being elected to two-year terms.

With all constitutional business resolved, the Main Business meeting adjourned, having lasted about two minutes. It is possible to get a lot of stuff done if every single person in the room agrees to it and does not raise an objection to it.


Soon Lee’s Twitter coverage thread starts here.

Writers Circulate Letter of Concern About Saudi Worldcon Bid

Anna Smith Spark, a grimdark author from London, has organized an open “letter of concern” with several dozen co-signers, including Charles Stross, about the bid to bring the Worldcon to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2022, which will be voted on this week. The competition is a bid for Chicago in 2022.  

Anna Smith Spark sent File 770 the letter, and “Also (and I will be dead in the eyes of the WSFS for this) the email they sent me washing their hands of this and having a quick pop at those involved in the anti-Puppies work as well for good measure,” which is a reply received from WSFS webmaster Kevin Standlee.   


An open letter to the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) and to Norman Cates as the Chair of the 2020 WorldCon

Dear WSFS, and dear Norman,

As writers, publishers and readers of science fiction and fantasy, we are writing to express our concern that Saudi Arabia has been accepted as a potential host site for the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon).

SFF is the great genre of possibilities and pluralities. As readers, writers and publishers of SFF our task is to inspire wonder: we look up at the stars to seek out other ways of being, we look down at the earth around us to find enchantment, beauty, romance, horror, hope. We create new worlds because we believe that in doing so we can make this world a better and intellectually richer place. A Jeddah WorldCon would allow fandom a chance to visit a breathtakingly beautiful city, Jeddah. It would break new ground for SFF Fandom, open up a new world to fans who may otherwise never have an opportunity to travel there, and show solidarity with creative communities within Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. It’s therefore with great sadness that we must face reality for what it is, that the Saudi regime is antithetical to everything SFF stands for.

The most recent Amnesty International report on Saudi Arabia states that in 2019 the Saudi government ‘escalated repression of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. They harassed, arbitrarily detained and prosecuted dozens of government critics, human rights defenders, including women’s rights activists, members of the Shi’a minority and family members of activists.  […] Some people, most of them members of the country’s Shi’a minority, were executed following grossly unfair trials.’[1] Saudi women face systematic legal discrimination, while identifying as LGBQT+  is illegal and can be punishable with corporal punishment and even execution. Saudi Arabia is a key player in the war in Yemen that has left 80% of the Yemeni population in need of humanitarian aid, and has been accused of war crimes in the region[2]. The UN concluded last year that it was ‘credible’ that the Saudi Crown Prince personally ordered the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi for the crime of writing words[3]. It cannot and must not be acceptable to stage an international event against this backdrop. Indeed, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi alone should be enough to render the concept of a literary convention in the country an absurdity.

On a personal level, we note that many of us would ourselves not be able to write or to live freely under Saudi law. We refuse to attend an event if those staffing it cannot have the same basic freedoms. We express deep concern that many members of the SFF community would be excluded from attending an event because of their sexuality, nationality or religious beliefs.

We stand in solidarity with those who seek change in the country. And we write in protest but also in hope – that by raising awareness of the political situation in Saudi Arabia a WorldCon SA will one day be possible.

Yours sincerely,

Anna Smith Spark (organiser), Justin Lee Anderson, Andrew Angel, Helen Armfield, Allen Ashley, Graham Austin-King, Ali Baker Brooks, Andrew Bannister, RJ Barker, Alan Baxter, Donna Bond, James Brogden, Mike Brooks, Angela Cleland, Tom Clews, Adrian Collins, Lee Conley, Emily Cornell, Sarah Doyle, Margaret Eve, Mike Everest Evans, The Fantasy Hive, Fantasy Faction, Nick Ferguson, Karen Fishwick, Carol Goodwin, T. L. Greylock, Joanne Hall, Patricia Hawkes-Reed, Bethan May Hindmarsh, Stewart Hotson, Shellie Horst, Steve D. Howarth, Humber SFF, Barbara James, Cameron Johnston, Daniel Kelly, Simon Kewin, Alex Khlopenko, Shona Kinsella, Alex Knight, David Lascelles, Ulff Lehmann, Dale Lucas, Eloise Mac, Steve McHugh, Juliette McKenna, Peter McLean, Kevin McVeigh, Kareem Mahfouz, Masimba Musodza, Andy Marsden, GR Matthews, Simon Morden, Alistair Morley, T. O. Munro, Stan Nicholls, Chris Nuttall, Scott Oden, Graeme Penman, Peter Philpott, Steven Poore, Gareth L Powell, Robert V.S Redick, Ian Richardson, Courtney Schaffer, S. Naomi Scott, Ian Segal, Mike Shackle, Steve J Shaw, Sheffield Science Fiction and Fantasy Society, , Rita Sloan, Sammy HK Smith, Vaughan Stanger, Mark Stay, Charlie Stross, Allen Stroud, Amanda M Suver Justice, Clayton Synder, Sue Tingey, Three Crows Magazine, Tej Turner, Catriona Ward, Matthew Ward, David Watkins, RB Watkinson, Adam Weller, Graeme Williams, Phil Williams,  Deborah A Wolf.

Copied to the Board of the SFWA, Locus Magazine, Tor.com, Starburst, the UK Guardian newspaper


WSFS Web Site Team Reply

Anna:

There is no such entity as the “Board of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS).” WSFS is an unincorporated literary society that has no Board of Directors, no ongoing chief executive, and no “Head Office.” I am copying the co-chairs of ConZealand on this reply.

The rules of WSFS, which are made by the members of WSFS (the attendees of the Worldcon), set very minimal technical requirements for any group to bid for a Worldcon. The selection is not made by a Board of Directors or Executive Committee, but by the entire membership of WSFS, who vote on the choice, just as they vote on the Hugo Awards. Indeed, the process is very similar in both cases, in that Worldcons are not supposed to make subjective value judgments about nominees for the Hugo Awards. This decision is reserved to the entire membership, exercising their right to vote.

If you are interested in more information about how WSFS works and how you can propose changes in its rules, I can explain things in further detail.

This is not intended as being dismissive, but to try and explain that Worldcons and WSFS as a whole does not give anyone the right to make subjective judgements about either Hugo Award nominees/finalists or prospective Worldcon sites other than the entire membership.

Kevin Standlee, WSFS Web Site Team


[1] https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/saudi-arabia/report-saudi-arabia/

[2] https://www.unicef.org/emergencies/yemen-crisis

[3] https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24713

CoNZealand Business Meeting Plan

CoNZealand Business Meeting Presiding Officer Kent Bloom has explained how this year’s WSFS Business Meeting will be handled, one of the events that can’t be shifted online.

CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, announces that the Business Meeting of the World Science Fiction Society will be held in the CBD of Wellington, NZ, at 10 am on Saturday, August 1st, 2020 (exact location to be announced when finalised). Darusha Wehm has agreed to be Acting Presiding Officer for the meeting.

Because of travel and meeting restrictions imposed by the Government of New Zealand due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, many members of WSFS will be unable to be present in Wellington. We plan to have a very minimal meeting to satisfy the requirements of the World Science Fiction Society Constitution. We plan to take only actions which are time-constrained to the 2020 meeting, specifically extensions of eligibility for Hugo Awards under Section3.4.3 of the WSFS Constitution.

All business, including committee reports and financial statements, must be submitted to CoNZealand on or before July 2nd, 2020 and should be submitted to businessmeeting@conzealand.nz. We encourage members to submit business to the DisCon III business meeting (businessmeeting@discon3.org) instead of the CoNZealand meeting, as we plan to defer all business to 2021, when we hope more members of WSFS will be able to attend.

None of the sections of the WSFS Constitution requiring re-ratification fall due in 2020. They come up in 2021 or 2022 —

  • 2021: (3.3.18) Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book; (3.81) Tallying of Nominations [the provision for six finalists]; (3.8.3) provides that only the version of a series which received the most nominations can be a Best Series finalist
  • 2022: (3.9.4) provides after the initial Award ballot is generated, if any finalist(s) are removed for any reason, they will be replaced by other works in reverse order of elimination.

WSFS Division Head Colette Fozard said they intend to record the CoNZealand business meeting for later viewing.

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.