Damien Walter’s Alternate History

Damien Walter, in his essay for the Guardian “Science fiction’s real-life war of the worlds”, sets out to give Larry Correia a verbal spanking (though without ever mentioning Correia by name, following the latest weasely fashion).

Heaven knows Correia deserves one for asking Hugo voters to put politics ahead of literary quality. Unfortunately, Walter’s attempt to deliver an apocalyptic knockout is so inept it’s the fans he ends up insulting.

Walter’s critique of Correia’s bloc voting campaign accuses it of interfering with the triumphant march of history:

Of course there is a certain irony in forming a political clique and launching an overt political campaign to de-politicise sci-fi– although registering the irony requires more self-awareness than these authors can seem to muster. And that irony is only made stronger when 2014 has proved to be a pivotal year in liberating science fiction from its own innate political biases.

For decades, science fiction’s major awards were given, year after year, to white male authors….

Year after year? What an insult this is to those of us who have been voting Hugos to women’s stories – for decades. Walter is guilty of what C. S. Lewis and Owen Barfield called “chronological snobbery,” acting like people of the present-day have a monopoly on virtue.

Women have won 16 Best Novel Hugos since 1970. They won 4 out of 10 in the Seventies and 4 out of 10 in the Nineties.

Five times between 1974-2001 women won half the fiction Hugos awarded in a year.

Year after year? Women won the Hugo in 5 consecutive years from 1981-1985, and in 10 consecutive years from 1988-1997.

In short, in the past few decades a lot of major sf awards have been won by people who are not white dudes.

If Walter wants to point out that happened less often in the past than in this decade, there’s still no reason to act like it absolutely never happened before.

2014 Audie Awards

The 2014 Audie Awards for achievement in audiobooks were presented in New York on May 29. Genre winners were —

  • FICTION: Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King; Read by Will Patton
  • SCIENCE FICTION: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, by Lois McMaster Bujold; Read by Grover Gardner
  • PARANORMAL: Reviver, by Seth Patrick; Read by Ari Fliakos
  • FANTASY: Wisp of a Thing, by Alex Bledsoe; Read by Stefan Rudnicki
  • PACKAGE DESIGN: Clockwork Angels: The Watchmaker’s Edition, by Kevin J. Anderson; Read by Neil Peart
  • MULTI-VOICED PERFORMANCE: World War Z: The Complete Edition, by Max Brooks; Read by Max Brooks and full cast

The full list of winners follows the jump.

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Ebert Biopic

life_itself_igg_graphicLife Itself, a movie about film critic Roger Ebert, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and will be released in theaters July 4.

Work began on the documentary while Ebert was still alive. Its $1 million budget was supplemented with $150,000 raised via crowdfunding.

Many of his admirers in the film industry speak about him on camera:

Director Steve James (HOOP DREAMS) has conducted interviews with over two dozen people, including lifelong friends, professional colleagues, the first ever interview with Gene Siskel’s wife, and filmmakers Errol Morris, Werner Herzog, Ramin Bahrani, Gregory Nava, Ava DuVernay, and Martin Scorsese, who is one of the executive producers.

Life Itself shows Ebert’s development as a film critic, the iconic rivalry with Gene Siskel that made both household names, and his courageous persistence as a writer while suffering major health problems, including cancer surgery that rendered him incapable of speech.

There are no hints in the prerelease publicity that the film mentions Ebert’s background as a science fiction fan, let alone the names of any of his old friends in fanzine fandom. Perhaps we’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Bradbury Review Plans 451 Tribute

Plaque commemorating Bradbury and Typing Room“Truffaut and Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451” will be the theme of a special issue of The New Ray Bradbury Review next year, marking the 50th anniversary of Francois Truffaut’s adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s famous novel.

Guest editor Phil Nichols has put out a call for papers. He’s listed some topics he’d like to see covered:

  • The emergence of “cinematic” writing in Bradbury’s fiction
  • Fahrenheit 451 as a novel with a filmic structure
  • The use of the film Fahrenheit 451 in teaching the novel
  • Narrative analysis of the screenplay (by Truffaut and Jean-Louis Richard)
  • The film’s use of mise en scene, cinematography and editing
  • Fahrenheit 451 as a film with a delight for literature
  • The portrayal of relationships and intimacy in Fahrenheit 451 and the other films of Truffaut
  • Linguistic issues for a French director/screenwriters working in English
  • The reception of the film Fahrenheit 451 by critics and viewers
  • Other attempts to film Fahrenheit 451 (by Mel Gibson, Frank Darabont and others)
  • Bradbury’s theatrical play version of Fahrenheit 451 (Dramatic Publishing, 1986) as a response to Truffaut’s film

Nichols is Senior Adviser to the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies and willing to help contributors access material held by the Center, such as Bradbury’s manuscripts, the Truffaut/Richard screenplay, and various items relate to the novel and film.

Paper proposals must be submitted by August 15.

Loncon 3 Releases Hugo Voter Packet

The 2014 Hugo Awards Voter Packet was made available today to members of Loncon 3. It is located here and is accessible to those with a Worldcon membership number and PIN. The packet will remain online until voting closes at 0000 PDT on August 1.

The bundle includes full editions of some nominated works and preview versions of others.

Notably, Tim Holman, publisher of Orbit, announced earlier this month that the three shortlisted novels from his company will be represented only by previews —

We are of course very much in favour of initiatives that help readers to engage with important awards, and we are always looking for new ways to help readers discover new authors. However, in the case of the voter packets, authors and rights holders are increasingly feeling that if their work is not included in the packet it will be at a disadvantage in the awards. It’s difficult for anyone to know for certain whether this is the case, but either way we don’t feel that authors and rights holders should feel under pressure to make their work available for free. There are a lot of different attitudes to the idea of giving work away for free, but we hope most people would agree that writers and rights holders should be able to make their own choice, without feeling that their decision might have negative consequences.

Later tonight I will have time to explore the complete bundle. In order to get a quick sense of how this year’s version will operate I opened one of the smallest directories, that for Best Fan Writer. As a result I found that Meadows, Hurley, Bourke and Nussbam are represented, but the directory contains nothing from Mark Oshiro.

The Loncon 3 team will shortly release a voter packet for the Retro Hugos, commemorating the best in science fiction and fantasy available to fans in 1939.

The full press release follows the jump.

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Sincerely Yrs HPL

H. P. Lovecraft

H. P. Lovecraft

A signed H. P. Lovecraft letter is being offered on eBay for $4,400.

He wrote the 1,125-word missive to fantasist Clark Ashton Smith on March 15, 1927.

As a Los Angeleno I blush to read Lovecraft’s perceptive comment about our fair city:

….Los Angeles appears to be a particular centre of emptiness & pretense—a nest of crazy cults & lopsided Babbitry & realtorism out of which nothing good can be expected for many mellowing generations…

The current price is a 20% discount on the original asking price.

Full Suncon Hugo Ceremony Online

As reported here the other day, people have been working to repair and digitize Debbie King’s two audio tapes of the Suncon (1977) Worldcon Hugo Ceremony.

Now that Hobbit from Techno-Fandom has repaired the first tape, the contents of both are available online:



[Via Michael Kerpan.]


By James H. Burns: Who knew that Spider-Man now worked for the post office?

Spiderman box SMALL

But I was even more surprised today, having somehow missed the news, to see that a Charlton Heston stamp was released in April.

Heston Sheet

Having starred in Planet of the Apes (and its first sequel, as well as appearing in the remake), The Omega Man and Soylent Green Apes and Harry Harrison’s opus are mentioned in the sheet’s bio — does this make Heston the first SF superstar, live action, to be thus honored?