The Hugo Control Group

Sam Lubell thinks the question Does Being GoH Tilt the Playing Field? will be answered more accurately by using statistics that isolate the Worldcon GoHs’ records as Hugo nominees before they were announced as guests and may have gotten the benefit of publicity. Let’s see what we learn.

Parameters: First, only GoHs who received a Hugo nomination in the year they were honored are listed. Also a Worldcon’s “special guests” are counted among the GoHs because they received the same publicity.

Second, the nomination process wasn’t added to the Hugos until 1959, therefore, only the 1960 and later GoHs get counted. 

Third, to determine the control years I needed to know when site selection happened, which is the year the GoHs were announced. Worldcons through 1970 were selected one year in advance, from 1971 through 1986 two years in advance, from 1987 to 2007, three years in advance, then from 2008 to the present, two years in advance again. (Would you believe, this information wasn’t lying around the internet in plain sight? After I figured out the answer I updated the Wikipedia entry for Worldcon so we can all find it again.) That means, for example, the “neutral” years for any GoH of Nippon 2007, which was selected in 2004, are those before 2005.

[The results follow the jump, because the table is oversized.]

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Gaiman and Palmer Tour Starts on Halloween

Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer’s 5-date West Coast tour starts in L.A. on October 31. Their coming has already been heralded in social media by the raising of $133,341 on Kickstarter from people who have prepaid to download a digital recording of the event and to receive other goodies.

we’ll have a piano, a ukulele, and maybe some other weird instruments, as well as some unpublished and uncollected Neil Gaiman stories and poems. we’ll both probably switch up what we’re presenting from night to night. we’ll be taking questions from the audience, chat-style, and trying to do special things in each venue, busting out a few surprises, and more or less trying to feel like we’ve connected with you, the people we love and usually only get to talk to directly on twitter & blog-land.

The L.A. Times profiled their marriage in the October 26 edition:

“This was meant to be us doing a gentle road trip, having a chance to be together,” Gaiman says. “We love each other, and the nature of our lives right now is that we are apart as much as we are together. So it seemed like a glorious excuse, working and also having a holiday in each other’s company.”

And Palmer describes their marriage like this:

“I realized one of the deal sealers with Neil in the early days was that he was absolutely willing to have a relationship that didn’t look like any other relationship,” she says. “And so was I. I looked at his life and his situation and his job and my job and who we are and what we value and what we do, and we both said, ‘Whoa, whatever we figure out and whatever we decide to do, it’s not going to be like anything people would even understand.’ To this day we struggle with space and time and attention and energy. But every couple does. So I never think of us as special.”

Besides, the free-spirited, outspoken Palmer — who’s raised eyebrows for lyrics about a victim of date rape having an abortion, not to mention for her own unusually plucked brows — would never fit into traditional matrimony. Gaiman had already tried that route.

“I actually feel like myself, instead of some bizarre pod version of a wife,” she says. “I look at people who hold that 9-to-5 and see each other every night, and I go, ‘Wow, I would kill that person.'”

I noticed that the early commenters on the article weren’t big fans of Amanda Palmer and/or the marriage. Regrettably, every LA Times article collects these social barnacles. I am pleased to see an editor has since come along and scraped off the most offensive.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Snapshots 74

Here are 11 developments of interest to fans.

(1) Wired magazine selected UC Riverside’s Eaton Collection as a Hotspot on its list of  “Geeky Destinations and Smart Side Trips.”

The world’s largest nonprivate athenaeum of science fiction, fantasy, and horror includes an original copy of Thomas Moore’s Utopia, more than 500 editions of Philip K. Dick’s writings, Ray Bradbury’s personal letters, and 125,000 superhero comics. Pow!

Wired ranks Eaton number two on the list ahead of many other rival destinations with fannish appeal — New Zealand’s Lord of the Rings shooting locations, the Arecibo Observatory and the Baikonur Cosmodrome, to name just a few. The Paris Sewer Museum comes in at #6 but I skipped over that because it isn’t the image of fandom we’re trying to cultivate here…

(2) The Cat’s Out of the Bag – Greg Ketter let it out personally. He’s closing DreamHaven, one of Minneapolis’ famous SF bookstores, at the end of January 2012. He’ll still be in business, selling by mail order and at conventions. What’s more the store isn’t actually going away. Ketter says, “I’m not planning to move so it’s conceivable that I’ll open the doors once in a while and have a sale or even host some sort of event. But I won’t maintain any regular hours.”

He made the decision because DreamHaven’s walk-in trade “just disappeared” in the first quarter of the year and has improved only slightly since then:

I blame A) The Economy B) Changing Dynamics of Retail (online shopping) C) E-Books. Each one of these could make quite a difference on their own but all together they spell disaster for many retailers. I’ve been hedging my bets for some time and I’ve been buying good used and rare books and collectibles and I’m doing well with them. Ironically, the store is better stocked than ever and I’m more pleased with the overall store “experience” than I’ve ever been….

Sadly, some of those who do come in to enjoy it, abuse it terribly. Theft is up so far it’s almost off the charts. Again, I blame the economy for the rise, but it doesn’t really explain the fact that people seem to not care who gets hurt as long as they get the things they want. I lose in the neighborhood of 5 – 20 THOUSAND dollars a year to theft and have for the last three decades.

(3) That being said, don’t ask me how Salathiel Palland’s Off the Beaten Path Bookstore and Café, a steampunk-themed bookstore in Farmington, MI is able to “project a profit of $60,000 for this year.”

(4) Do you think that in Tarsem Singh’s remake of Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs look like they came straight out of Time Bandits?

(5) Bruce Sterling has geocoded J. G. Ballard for Wired, which means mapping terrestrial references in the author’s stories. It’s good to have a hobby.

(6) In contrast to our elected officials, the cartoonist’s answers to “What Can Your Government Do About the Economy?” are intentionally humorous.

(7) Comics creators in need of financial and medical assistance will find a friend in The SideKick Foundation. Clifford Meth, a former Executive V.P. of IDW Publishing and recent spokesman for Kars4Kids, established Sidekick. Its Board of Advisors includes Neal Adams, Harlan Ellison, Joe Sinnott, Tom Palmer, Herb Trimpe, and Morris Berger (former president of IDT Entertainment and chairman of IDW Publishing).

(8) Andrew Stanton, lead writer of Pixar’s Toy Story trilogy, is branching out with John Carter, a live action film for Walt Disney Studios based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars novels. New Yorker Magazine’s interviewed him in “Second Act Twist.” (To access the article you must subscribe or at least register for a “free trial subscription.”)

For animators, turning to live action is like driving stick in Britain: familiar yet alarmingly strange. At Pixar, production begins only after the company has critiqued a story in reels six or seven times. In live action, you get only a few takes of a given scene and then you must assemble the film from a relatively modest larder of footage.

(9) Rose Fox at Genrville reports Suzette Haden Elgin’s health seems to have ended her writing for the internet, if not her career altogether:

Elgin is now 75 years old, and I think she has been having health trouble and other difficulties for some time. In early 2009 she combined her three newsletters into one; last December she stopped sending out newsletters altogether. Six months ago she said that she was rewriting her latest novel, start to finish, in longhand, as she recently had to give up her ancient computer and couldn’t get the hang of working in Word. Perhaps it was predictable and inevitable that even brief blog updates would become too difficult for her—but that doesn’t make it any less awful.

Andrew Porter is shocked: “I suddenly feel ancient. I pulled her first short story, ‘For the Sake of Grace’, out of the slushpile when I was assistant editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Ed Ferman published it in 1969. It was subsequently widely reprinted and anthologized. She was one of the few authors I discovered who went on to a wide-ranging and productive career.”

(10) Bram Stoker’s private notebook, discovered by author’s great-grandson, has ‘clear parallels’ with Jonathan Harker’s journal in vampire novel writes Alison Flood in The Guardian:

The notebook was found by the author’s great-grandson, Noel Dobbs. Dobbs sent photographs of pages from the book to his relative, Stoker’s great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker, author of the recent novel Dracula: The Un-Dead, and Stoker has worked to decipher his ancestor’s “terrible” handwriting with Dr Elizabeth Miller of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula. The Lost Journal, complete with annotations, is now lined up for publication by Robson Press next year, marking the centenary of Bram Stoker’s death in 1912…. The notebook opens with an entry entitled Night Fishing – the earliest known example of Stoker’s writing – which Dacre Stoker and Miller said “shows an aspiring writer composing an excessively descriptive passage in flowery prose”.

(11) The prolific Alison Flood has also published an interview with Terry Pratchett in The Guardian:

Narrativia has been beside him all the way. “If you’ve been a good boy and worked at what you’re doing, then the goddess Narrativia will smile on you,” he says, recounting his delight at a particular piece of her work, when he was writing Thief of Time more than a decade ago. He decided to call one of his characters Ronnie Soak. Soak is the fifth horseman of the apocalypse – the one who left before they got famous. His name was picked at random, so Pratchett was astonished when he noticed what it sounded like backwards. Suddenly, he knew of what this particular horseman would be a harbinger. “I thought chaos – yes! Chaos, the oldest,” he says. “Stuff just turns up like that.”

[Thanks for these links goes out to David Klaus, Sam Long, Michael J. Walsh, Charles Tan/SF Signal, Paula Lieberman, Ansible Links (Dave will never miss just one) and Andrew Porter.]

Tough Neighborhood

Today’s “Ha-ha-made-you-look” story on the interest asks “Is the Milky Way a galaxy killer?”

Scientists once theorized that we have 500 galactic neighbors — but it turns out that, once the Milky Way wreaked its havoc, only 20 survived…

Why doesn’t our Milky Way galaxy have many neighbors? Because it throttled nearby star systems during the universe’s youth, according to a new study presented by French researchers Pierre Ocvirk and Dominique Aubert. Published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the study examines why few galaxies exist in close proximity to the Milky Way, while galaxies farther away have thrived. It turns out the Milky Way is not easy to live next to.

As if we weren’t already preoccupied with guilt for everything Western Civilization has ever done! Now we find out we’re to blame for stuff that happened before the Earth even existed!

The scientists are a bit hazy about motive, but they’ve nailed down means and opportunity. Reionization occurs when ultraviolet (UV) light from mature stars, such as the Milky Way’s, “cut up the hydrogen atoms that new stars need to form.” Dark matter kept the Milky Way’s UV rays at their most intense near the center of our galaxy, and so nearby satellite galaxies suffered a rapid evaporation of their gas while those farther away were able to form more stars.

Expect a strongly-worded petition opposing this sort of thing to appear on Facebook momentarily.

All Jacq’d Up

Visitors may like the idea that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. When that’s where you live and you want to win a fan fund trip out of town, keeping it all a secret is the last thing you want to do.  So Jacqueline Monahan and friends are promoting her TAFF candidacy in a new fanzine All Jacq’d Up #1 [PDF File].

Alan White’s cover is the signature artwork. Copious examples of Monahan’s own fanwriting are accompanied by contributions from Nic Farey, Steve Green, John DeChancie, John Purcell, John Nielsen-Hall and Aileen Forman.

John Nielsen-Hall has some of the best lines in the issue:

She was, as I recall the best new Fan Writer or some such category winner, and it’s always good that someone wins an award for actually doing something, like writing, not least because too many of us folks in this part of the State of Fandom are Old and Fat and not doing very much of anything, except sitting around with our computers all day and indulging in idle gossip and speculation, very often about who Jacqueline Monahan actually is…

If you read the zine, you’ll find out.

Kramer Freed on Bond in Connecticut

Connecticut authorities released DragonCon founder Ed Kramer on a $250K bond on October 20.

Kramer was arrested last month in Milford, CT after police reportedly found him alone in a motel room with a 14-year-old boy. This led a Georgia judge to rule Kramer had violated a bond posted in that state, where Kramer has been facing child molestation charges since 2000. The judge has issued a bench warrant for his arrest.

The Gwinnett County District Attorney has been working to have Kramer extradited from Connecticut. The Gwinnett Daily Post reports:

Kramer was scheduled for a court appearance last week, Milford officials said. He faces up to 10 years in prison on a felony charge of risk of injury to a minor, Connecticut law states.

Porter said he wasn’t sure when Kramer’s next hearing in Connecticut is scheduled or where he went after the monthlong jail stint. A prosecutor in Connecticut handling the Kramer case did not return a call for comment Thursday [October 20].

“We’re working on extradition,” Porter said. “I don’t know where (Kramer) is.”

Porter has filed paperwork with the Georgia Governor’s Office to extradite Kramer, pending his prosecution in the Connecticut case.

[Thanks to Nancy Collins for the story.]

Better Red?


Although I haven’t seen the e-mails myself, Andrew Porter tells me some of the participants in a Southern fandom listserv are offended by the Communist iconography and themes in artwork being used to promote the Orlando in 2015 worldcon bid. Porter explains, “For young fans, it may seem like ancient history, but for fans who served in Vietnam or others, they’re offended by the use of these symbols.”

On the website “Orlando” is bracketed by red stars and written with a backwards “N” to suggest the Cyrillic alphabet. Beside that is a slogan saying they are “The Revolutionary Bid for the World Science Fiction Convention.”

Personally I haven’t warmed to the campaign theme because of those associations, but should I be offended?

Things could be worse, they might have done something with the Confederate flag.

The idea being to attract votes with bid publicity, Orlando bidders will want to locate the fans who say they are unhappy with the current theme and factor their views into any evaluation of how well the theme is serving their needs.

Another Con — Not SF — Bites the Dust

The last Friends of Old-Time Radio Convention takes place this weekend in Newark, NJ. Why is the con ending its 36-year run?

Three sf conventions having cancelled this month I am morbidly curious about the answer whether or not the event is connected with sf fandom.

It isn’t the economy:

The reason is simple, says Jay Hickerson, a musician who has been running the show from the beginning: the march of time.

“Lack of OTR (old-time radio) guests. And the committee is getting older,” he said.

Ironically, sf is the source of one of the con’s rare celebrities whose fame is of comparatively recent origin:

Simon Jones is one of the celebrity guests for the weekend. Jones doesn’t exactly qualify as a Golden Age of Radio star. He played Arthur Dent in the BBC’s hugely popular radio and TV adaptations of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, starting in 1978. But he’s been here before and is delighted to be asked.

[Thanks to Sam Long for the story.]

2012 GUFF Voting Begins

You can help decide whether Grant Watson or Kylie Ding will win the 2012 Get-Up-and-over Fan Fund, as GUFF is known in the years delegates go from the Antipodes to Europe. This fund has no geographic voting restrictions, you can vote if you were active in fandom prior to August 2009 and contribute at least GBP5 or AUD10 (or the equivalent in other currencies) to the fund.

GUFF administrators James Shields and Sue Ann Barber & Trevor Clark have released the 2012 GUFF ballot [PDF file].

Votes can be cast by mail (see ballot for addresses) or via PayPal to Sue Ann Barber, activeim (at) hotmail (dot) com or James Shields, lister (at) liv (dot) ac (dot) uk.

Voting ends January 22, 2012 at 23:59 GMT.

[Thanks to Irwin Hirsh for the story.]