Brianna Wu Plans Legal Defense Fund

Game designer Brianna Wu, a GamerGate target driven from her home by threats in mid-October, has announced she is creating a legal defense fund to fund action against harassers who violate the law.

One of the biggest ways Gamergate operates is character assassination. Well, we have laws protecting you against that. I’m not a lawyer, but the fund will pay lawyers to find cases on libel and defamation and prosecute them in civil court. These cases might be mine, or they might be other women targeted by Gamergate. It will be cases the legal team feels they can win.

Sadly, fighting back is all these bullies understand. I’m in the process of making sure the fund complies with our legal and tax structure. My suggestion to anyone in Gamergate is to think very carefully about saying something libelous or defamatory about the women you target.

More Changes In WisCon Committee Revealed

WisCon’s LiveJournal reported in October that close to a dozen people resigned in the aftermath of the Frenkel harassment ban. No names were publicized, though in addition to Jeanne Gomoll’s resignation, File 770 has learned about changes in status of three other former WisCon chairs. The departure of one of them, Richard S. Russell, was involuntary.

Jim Leinweber is no longer chair of the 2015 WisCon. He reportedly is still a member of the committee and its parent organization SF3. The new chairs are Levi Sable and Mikki Kendall. File 770 has yet to learn the reason for the change.

James Hudson, who chaired or co-chaired WisCon 21 (1997), WisCon 29 (2005) and WisCon 33 (2009), has voluntarily resigned from the WisCon committee and SF3 Board. Hudson told File 770: “My choice. Didn’t agree with some of the directions the committee was going and I was close to retiring anyway.”

Richard S. Russell, one of WisCon’s founders and chair of WisCon 9, was notified on October 24 by SF3 President Jackie Lee that he had been removed from the WisCon committee by the SF3 Board “due to his alienating current and prospective concom members, as well as WisCon as a whole” and for “behavior [that] violates WisCon’s Statement of Principles.”

Russell has worked on all 38 conventions in the series and had expected to continue serving —

WisCon is always a stressful and exhausting experience, but that has been more than offset by the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment I’ve felt after each one. Despite having slowed down somewhat at the age of 70, I was very much looking forward to doing it all again next year for WisCon 39.

Regrettably, however, WisCon has fallen under the control of a bunch of self-appointed commissars of political correctness with a low tolerance for differences of opinion on matters of policy, and they have in fact ousted me from the concom.

Russell’s continuing expression of his views in committee channels about WisCon’s People of Color Safe Space and the Jim Frenkel harassment complaint was an issue, the parties disagreeing how that deserved to be characterized.

Russell sent File 770 a copy of the letter requesting his removal from the committee, which says in part:

We appreciate Richard’s extensive contributions as a volunteer, and we are not currently seeking a ban on his presence at Wiscon. However, we feel that his continued presence on the concom is alienating and damaging to many concom members and potential members, and to Wiscon as a whole.

We believe that Richard’s behavior is not in keeping with WisCon’s Statement of Principles, which the SF3 membership has now affirmed as a policy the SF3 board and WisCon concom members should adhere to.

  • Richard continues to protest the very existence of the established POC Safer Space at WisCon, and continues to insist that his interpretation of what is racist is more important than the lived experiences of people of color. (see addendum for quotes from 2009-present on this subject)
  • Richard’s characterization of the POC Safer Space as “racial segregation” and his refusal to drop the subject despite being told to stop, by fellow members and by several successive sets of chairs, has caused members of the concom to leave, and will continue to cause members of the concom to leave if he remains.
  • Suppressing his comments about the POC Safer Space, as has been done for the last four years, is not an adequate solution. He has threatened to bring up the issue at a concom meeting as recently as Wiscon 38 in 2014, and there is no mechanism to moderate his Basecamp comments.
  • Moderation as currently implemented requires the concom list moderator to be in the exposed, singular position having to decide which of his messages to let through, and to bear the brunt of his reaction. Richard has sent the moderator outraged emails over moderated messages (see addendum).
  • Richard’s trivialization of harassment discussions as “angst and breast-beating” and his characterization of harassers as needing an incentive to not harass people (“Where’s the incentive for anyone to clean up their act* if they’re just going to be discriminated against indefinitely based on a single accusation?”) indicates that his presence on the concom during discussions of harassment will be disruptive and alienating to fellow members.

The request was signed by Juliana Perry, Elliott Mason, Levi Sable, Jess Adams, Gabby Reed, Jackie M., Sandy Olson, Julia Starkey, and Kat Tanaka Okopnik.

Russell’s own take is that he is upholding the Statement of Principles –

I support it enthusiastically and whole-heartedly. My main wish is that the concom as a whole would do likewise, in particular with regard to this provision:

Feminism is part of a larger constellation of movements seeking social, political and economic equality for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, sex, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, creed, ability, status, or belief.

And, more recently, this one:

… we cannot pick and choose which people deserve justice and which issues we are more comfortable with. We are called to be true to our principles, even (and especially) when they are unpopular.

And this one:

Meetings, decision-making processes, program development, and guest of honor choice all reflect a commitment to feminist ideals of equality, respect for everyone’s right to be heard, and the obligation to hold each other accountable for what we say.

The expulsion letter’s first bullet point is a reference to Russell’s protest against the “People of Color Safe Space” established by WisCon several years ago, described by one proponent, N.K. Jemisin, as a place –

away from the main traffic of the con; I’ve found it useful after a panel in which somebody said something highly problematic, to go somewhere and either cool down by myself or rant at other people who understood what I was feeling.

The pithiest of Russell’s comments quoted by the letter (from a 2009 discussion) says:

Any “solution” that involves overt racial segregation is only one among many possible approaches to whatever the problem is. I have never seen a clear statement of the problem for which this “safer space” is supposed to be the solution, let alone any indication that anyone spent any serious amount of time considering alternative approaches.

The last bullet point in the expulsion letter objects to a comment he made in an online discussion about WisCon’s reconsideration of the terms of the Frenkel ban (earlier in 2014):

I preface this statement with an acknowledgement that I am far from impartial on the matter of how WisCon should treat Jim Frenkel, because Jim has been a personal friend of mine for 30+ years. I babysat his kids, attended Josh’s bar mitzvah, worked with him on opening-ceremonies skits for Odyssey Con, traded books with him, served with him on panels at cons, used him as entree to conversations with Gardner Dozois and George R. R. Martin, and so on. He is a frequent guest at my house and I at his.

So take whatever I have to say with the appropriate number of grains of salt.

And what I have to say is this: The guy already lost his job over this incident. How many sticks do we have to beat him with before he’s sufficiently bloody to satisfy everybody?

Where’s the incentive for anyone to clean up their act* [*even assuming Jim’s act needed to be cleaned up, which is by no means a certainty] if they’re just going to be discriminated against indefinitely based on a single accusation?

Earlier in this thread, somebody said “The matter was dealt with at the time, and now the case is closed.” IMHO, that’s the way it should stay. Let’s move on.

Russell further complains that when he was removed from the committee by decision of the SF3 executive board they “did not even do me the courtesy of notifying me that they were contemplating this action, let alone soliciting my reaction to it.” Undeniably that would have made it a more transparent process, however, there appears to be nothing in SF3’s Bylaws requiring notice.

Burns’ Halloween Reverie on CBS

Frequent File 770 contributor James H. Burns made the “front page” of CBS New York’s website today with “Halloween Reverie: Then and Now”, a memoir about Long Island’s changing trends for celebrating the holiday.

On one Saturday in the early ’70s, I donned my first and only Halloween makeup job, a result of my new-found fascination with the Universal monsters that I had been introduced to on WNEW-TV’s Creature Features. I was some kind of green-skinned, fanged apparition.

When the afternoon proved so cold that my mom insisted I wear a sweatshirt under my jacket, I acquiesced, probably recalling that Frankenstein’s creation also wore layers in one of his later appearances (and that perhaps his ancestors–the whole lot of them!–might also have cared about his well-being!)

These days James is at home handing out candy:

My mainstays have been the miniature Hersheys with almonds and some kind of lollypop. The Scooby Doos were popular years  ago but I have to admit to keeping many of the “reds” for myself! The most popular candies over the years? No doubt, it was the eyeball bubblegum balls, although the Tinkerbelle candy necklaces, as well as other Disney character candies were also a hit a few years back.

Hooper is Hip, Hops to Help WOOF

By John Hertz: WOOF is the World Organization Of Faneditors, an amateur press association whose publication is collated and distributed annually at the World Science Fiction Convention.

The 2014 Worldcon, Loncon III, was August 14-18. In closing it duly turned over operations to Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon, August 19-23 at Spokane, Washington, U.S.A.

Sasquan with commendable alacrity — a fine word, even if not very fannish — meaning alacrity, not commendable — has already posted Randy Byers as host of its Fanzine Lounge. This too should be jes’ fine.

Through various exchanges with Byers and Andy Hooper his frequent co-operator I learn, and am authorized to say, that Hooper in his typical acuity has taken the torch and will be the Official Collator for the 2015 WOOF.

WOOF began in 1976. Its sole officer is an Official Collator; but this place has at times been vacant. WOOF has now and then missed Worldcons — whether or not Worldcons have missed WOOF (although 1990s Business Meetings considered a proposal to make WOOF an official publication) — but so far has risen again.

There was alas no WOOF collation at Loncon III, possibly due in part to “Aren’t you doing it?” “I thought you were doing it!” One regular contributor who could not attend sent his WOOFzine via global overnight delivery, followed by messages via telephone, E-mail, electronic text, and courier, in hopes of answering the eternal question What the Foucault is going on? (The contributor is a physicist. Of course I only paraphrase.) That’s fandom, folks.

WOOF is a Bruce Pelz invention. Suford Lewis offered the two best proposed epitaphs for him I’ve heard, Si monumentum requiris, circumspice (“If you seek his monument, look around you”, alluding to Sir Christopher Wren) and He had a fruitful imagination. It may be worth mentioning that from Radio Station WOOF, Hoople, Southern North Dakota, Peter Schickele while ignorant of WOOF the apa so far as I know has broadcast music of the composer he discovered to the world, P.D.Q. Bach. I knew Pelz, and have been associated awhile with this WOOF, but it would take a less trepid fan than I (I am not, however, a tepid fan) to venture whether it, younger than Schickele’s, was named ignorantly of him.

Stu Shiffman Has Setback

After enjoying gradual but sustained improvement since his 2012 stroke, fan artist Stu Shiffman is again having serious problems. A week ago he had a fall, and Tom Whitmore reported on Stu’s CaringBridge page that he did not regain consciousness after surgery. Doctors think there has been more damage. Stu is in the Neurological ICU at Harborview in Seattle.

This was quite unexpected, as Stu had recovered to the point that just a week earlier he’d been able to use a powered wheelchair for the first time since his stroke.

Disneyland’s Bradbury Tree

The pumpkins on the Tree were not mere pumpkins. Each had a face sliced in it. Each face was different. Every eye was a stranger eye. Every nose was a weirder nose. Every mouth smiled hideously in some new way.

There must have been a thousand pumpkins on this tree, hung high and on every branch….

Ray Bradbury thought a Halloween Tree was just the thing to celebrate this particular holiday, and Disneyland agrees. Every year they pay tribute to Bradbury’s 1972 novel The Halloween Tree with a decorated tree on Main Street. (For a quick summary of the book, click here ).

And given File 770’s proclivity for reporting all things Bradbury, there could be no more appropriate topic for today’s first post.

SF&F Translation Awards Ended

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards series has come to an end. Cheryl Morgan, a director of the Association for the Recognition of Excellence in SF & F Translation (ARESFFT) which administered the award, announced October 29 the organization is being dissolved.

There are many reasons for this, but mostly they are to do with the time and effort required to run the awards on an amateur basis. It has become increasingly difficult to find people willing to act as jurors. Several of the existing Directors have had major changes in their lives that have left them with far less free time than they had previously. And all attempts to find new Directors have failed to produce any volunteers.

The members of the Board of Directors were Gary K. Wolfe, President, Kevin Standlee, Secretary-Treasurer, Melissa Conway, Rob Latham, Cheryl Morgan and Nalo Hopkinson.

The SF&F Translation Awards were given from 2011-2013.

Freberg Fete at the Egyptian 11/2

Stan Freberg, in the days when he voiced puppet characters on "Time for Beany."

Stan Freberg, in the days when he voiced puppet characters on “Time for Beany.”

American Cinematheque will host “The Genius of Stan Freberg: Celebrating 70 Years of Creative Entertainment” at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on November 2 beginning at 7:00 p.m.

Celebrate 70 hilarious years of creative entertainment with the great Stan Freberg, the legendary comedian, satirist and cultural pioneer who has made a lasting impact on the worlds of comedy recording (“Stan Freberg Presents The United States of America” and creator of the word “Grammy”), animation (over 400 voiceovers for Warner Bros.), television (“Time for Beany,” “The Chun King Comedy Hour”), and advertising (father of the funny commercial and winner of 21 Clio Awards).

Harry Shearer (The Simpsons, Le Show) will emcee and there will tributes and live performances from “Weird Al” Yankovic, Micky Dolenz, Jerry Beck and Eric Goldberg, among others, along with rare clips from Freberg’s body of work. An on-stage conversation between Stan and Hunter Freberg will conclude the evening.

My Mileage Varied

logo darkWhen I think of Nantes I think of Omnes Omnibus and Scaramouche. Apparently I ought to be thinking about Utopiales, a science fiction con that starts there today, October 29, and runs through November 3.

Europa SF contributor Cristin Tamas confidently assures his readers this is the biggest SF convention anywhere:

Last year, Utopiales’s attendance was over 60.000 participants, making the Festival the biggest Earth’s science fiction event.

Utopiales is not only the biggest European SF Festival, it’s the largest SF event on Earth.

As a comparison, the “World” Anglophone conventions have between 6 to 8,000 participants at maximum.

A 60,000-person convention is nothing to sneeze at. But “the largest SF event on Earth”?

I thought Tamas, perhaps, was making some fine point. A purely literary sf convention drawing 60,000 would be unheard of. Something we Anglophonies with our so-called “World” conventions can’t imagine. And still can’t, for as Tamas explains —

The Utopiales Festival is celebrating and exploring all means of expression of science fiction, literature, film (international competition and European contest of short films), theater, comics (best album contest, exhibitions), art exhibitions, concerts, games videos, a role playing site, plus panels, discussions and debates on scientific topics.

Utopiales is a big tent sf-in-all-media convention. As big as it is, it’s not in the same league as the MCM London Comic Con (101,600 attendees) or San Diego Comic-Con International (over 130,000) — and then there’s Comiket, the semiannual Tokyo comic book fair which draws over half-a-million and is so big you could slice it into three San Diego Comic-Cons and have enough fans left over for two Dragon*Cons.

Prix Utopiales Jeunesse 2014 Nominees

The winner of the 2014 Prix Utopiales Jeunesse will be announced this weekend at Utopiales, the Nantes International Festival of Science Fiction in France. The award recognizes European authors of “the genre called ‘literature of the imagination.’”

The shortlist was selected by a committee consisting of a librarian, a bookseller, and a translator. The winner will be picked by a jury of 13-to-15-year-olds, Emilie Auffret, Barbara Chotard, Ronan Nourrisson, Emma Poignan-Choemet, Eliott Pratz, Paola Raoul and Doman Tavernier.

The name of the award is translated by one writer as “European Youth Prize,” but it seems to be an award for juvenile fiction, similar to the YA category.

The finalists are:

  • Bazmaru et la fille du vent de Maëlle Fierpied, L’école des loisirs, 11/13
  • Les substituts de Johan Heliot, Seuil, 04/14
  • Dresseur de fantômes de Camille Brissot, L’Atalante, 05/14
  • La symphonie des abysses Livre 1 de Carina Rozenfeld, Robert Laffont, 02/14
  • Pixel noir de Jeanne-A Debats, Syros, 03/14
  • Automne de Jan Henrik Nielsen (traduit par Aude Pasquier), Albin Michel, 01/14