The Latest Buzz

Paris in July — what better place and time to premiere David Cronenberg’s operatic adaptation of his 1986 horror film The Fly? I mean that in the nicest possible way, of course. I have no choice — The Fly will make its North American debut this September in my own home town, at the Los Angeles Opera.

The lead singer shared all the queasy details with the Toronto Globe and Mail: “‘One of the things I’m doing in Paris is being fitted for the prosthetics for my gradual transformation [into the fly creature]. And there are telepods and smoke and teleportation and videos of exploding baboons. There’s a lot going on,’ he said, with a slight laugh.”

(Thanks to Andrew Porter for the pointer.)

Hugo Voters Asleep at the Switch?

Hugo Administrator Mary Kay Kare is a bit anxious that her in-box is not filling with Hugo nominating ballots as rapidly as she’d like. She told Denvention 3 LiveJournal readers: “The Administrator would like to point out that nominations close in slightly over 5 weeks, and so far, she has received fewer than 100 nominating ballots.”

That’s not many. Hopefully there are a lot more coming. Looking back over the past dozen years, Worldcons typically receive 400-500 nominating ballots.

Of course, her concerns can only be magnified by the fact that Denvention 3’s deadline of March 1 may be the earliest in history. After many years when it fell in late March, the nominating deadline has slipped progressively closer to the beginning of the month — now it’s finally there:

  • Denvention 3, March 1

  • Nippon 2007, March 3

  • L.A.con IV, March 10

  • Interaction, March 11

  • Noreascon 4, March 25

  • Torcon 3, March 31

  • ConJose, March 31

  • Millennium Philcon, March 31

  • Chicon 2000, March 31

Thank goodness 2008 is a Leap Year, so fans have 60 days to respond. And they may very well respond. Nippon 2007 used a comparable deadline and still received 409 ballots.

Holding the Worldcon in early August instead of early September obviously forces committees to move the various Hugo deadlines earlier on the calendar. Mary Kay’s public expression of concern prompts me to wonder if there is a diminishing return involved — the deadline can be set so early voters become discouraged from participating. Here in January, with the eligibility year barely over, people need time to sift through their favorite stories and compare notes. She’s watching closely, and if in mid-February the trend still hasn’t righted itself I hope she will consider extending the deadline.

The League of Extraordinarily Selfless Fan Artists

Frank Wu has preemptively announced that he will decline if nominated for Best Fan Artist in 2008.

“This essay is incredibly hard to write. I don’t want to be misunderstood, to come across as churlish, arrogant, calculating or ungrateful…. Having won three Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist, in three of the last four years, I have decided that – should I be nominated – I will decline the nomination [in 2008],” wrote Frank in an editorial published in Abyss and Apex issue 24, dated the fourth quarter or 2007.

I learned about Frank’s decision when his editorial popped up in response to a Google search about another fan artist. Such news must have been reported and discussed long since (though not anywhere Google could show me). Such a remarkable example of selflessness is worth retelling, in any case.

Frank thoughtfully explains that his decision has been made for the sake of the vitality of the Best Fan Artist Hugo category. He wants to “break the logjam” for other fan artists like Alan F. Beck, Taral Wayne, Dan Steffan, Marc Schirmeister, Alexis Gilliland, and Stu Shiffman. (Though Frank surely must know Gilliland and Shiffman have won before.)

To help show that withdrawing is not an ungrateful response to his popularity, Frank lists many other people who withdrew from past Hugo races. He might have added the two most important examples from the Best Fan Artist category itself. There’s not another category where serial winners have been so conscientious about sharing the limelight.

Phil Foglio won the Best Fan Artist Hugo in 1977 and 1978. During his last acceptance speech, Foglio withdrew from future fanartist Hugo consideration saying, “I know how hard it is to get on the list, and once you do it’s even harder to get off.” Victoria Poyser won the category in 1981 and 1982, then announced she would not accept future nominations. Foglio and Poyser both went on to professional success.

Frank does tell how Teddy Harvia and Brad Foster declined their nominations in 1997. He speculates, “Apparently they were trying to clear the path for fellow nominee Bill Rotsler, who would pick up his Hugo and then pass away a month later.” Well, no. Just the previous year (1996) Rotsler had won the Best Fan Artist Hugo, a Retro Hugo, and a Special Committee Award. He’d already cleared his own path.  The reason Harvia and Foster gave in 1997 is that they had a self-perceived conflict of interest created by their close involvement with the San Antonio Worldcon. Foster had drawn the covers for all the Progress Reports, and Harvia contributed other art. They made a highly-principled decision. A past progress report artist had been criticized for having an unfair advantage over competitors for the Hugo — that’s fandom for you, where someone demands that our top talents forego Hugo nominations as a condition of being allowed to provide art for free!

2008 Aurora Award Nominations Open

Two great reasons to be Canadian right now: the Loonie is up, and you’re eligible to nominate in the prestigious Prix Aurora awards. (When Elst Weinstein reads this sentence, will he remind me that’s just as bad as saying “the La Brea Tar Pits”?)

The Prix Aurora website is accepting web-based nominations until March 17, 2008. Nominations submitted by mail must be postmarked by March 10. A friend sent me a PDF ballot which included a much earlier deadline, though I’m forced to believe that the fans keeping the official website know when they are going to stop accepting online votes, and that the deadline for paper ballots doesn’t need to be a month earlier.

The 10 category winners will be announced at Keycon 25 in Winnpeg, May 16-19, 2008. Click here for a history of the awards.

FAAn Voting is Open

Fan Achievement Award ballots are due in Murray Moore’s hands one month from today, February 23. The FAAns are a way we can all give thanks and egoboo to our favorite fanwriters, artists and publishers. And it’s easy to vote. Download the PDF ballot, fill it out and return it to Murray (via e-mail or paper mail). There will be no votes accepted at Corflu this year, so do it now while you’re thinking about it.

The final standings will be announced in Las Vegas on April 27 at the Corflu Silver banquet. The first-place finishers in each category will receive certificates drawn for the occasion by Brad Foster. (Won’t they be beautiful?) 

Murray tells voters: “Don’t worry about filling in every blank… Fill out as much of the voting form as makes you comfortable and send it in the usual manner. A partially complete ballot is definitely better than a blank one.”

It says on the ballot that Steve Stiles has removed himself from the Best Fan Artist category. Also, voting is open to anyone, but the administrator, Murray, has the right to ask for credentials from fans previously unknown to him. I’m going to ask Sierra to vouch for me — she’s been a fan her whole life!

Datclave Redux

One more sign of the Millennium? The Washington Science Fiction Association now holds Datclave more often than Disclave. Yes, Datclave II is about to take place.

The very first Datclave was held Leap Year weekend of 1980 according to a club rule that a con be held whenever there is a fifth Friday in the month of February. This only happens once every 28 years. However, the club stopped holding Disclave, its big Memorial Day convention, in 1997. (WSFA now sponosrs Capclave in the fall.) That’s why the proverbial turtle is going to win this race.

The fellow who chaired the first Datclave, Kent Bloom, claims a prior conrunning commitment this year, so Bob McIntosh has been pressed into service. Datclave II will be, as the flyer says, “the Washington D.C. Relaxacon with the Gettysburg Address.” They’ll hold it at the Hotel Gettysburg on Lincoln Square, February 29-March 2, 2008. For membership information, visit the club website.

Update 3/4/08: Corrected name of chairman.

Speaking of Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin now reads aloud to visitors at her website. “Read by the Author” begins with “The Open Boat,” an excerpt from the classic A Wizard of Earthsea. The readings may be played online or downloaded as MP3 files.

Over the next several weeks, new audio files will include Three Poems from Wild Angels, a complete short story, “She Unnames Them”, from Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences, and “A Book of Songs: Twelve Poems” from Incredible Good Fortune. [Source: SFWA Pressbook]

Why Spock Can’t Grok showed up as a result while I was running searches with Google. I decided to find out what the site had going for it besides the eye-catching domain name.

It’s a new people search engine. Making the obvious test, I typed in my own name. came up with a hit, with great confidence displaying a picture of “Mike Glyer” beside the text — who to my surprise appeared to be the identical twin of George R. R. Martin, right down to the green Archon 25 badge that read “George R. R. Martin.”

Now I was even more curious. I put in “Ben Yalow.” found him too, sort of: with his entry was a photo of Priscilla Olson. Things were getting worse: at least George and I both have beards.

Still, mistakes happen. So the third time, I gave every chance to succeed and typed in the name of the most famous fan I know, “Forrest J Ackerman.” Eureka! This time the image returned with the text was Forry, surrounded by his collection.

Why didn’t this seem to be working for us lesser mortals? I went back to re-run the “Ben Yalow” search, looking for clues. If nothing else, I intended to read the silly motto on Priscilla’s pullover and mention it in this article. But, no.  Now, next to Ben’s name was the picture of a toothbrush.

I can see why they call this beta software.