Barkley: DisCon III Reporter’s Notebook and Observations

A gingerbread Frank Lloyd Wright Fallingwater house, originally posted by artist David Naiditch, December 8, 2020 on Facebook.

The 79th World Science Fiction Convention: My DisCon III Reporter’s Notebook and Observations

By Chris M. Barkley: Right now, a week and a few days after DisCon III began, seems like a distant dream. My partner Juli and I actually went there, participated and went home.

As dreams go, it was pretty good. At least for us. I have a few thoughts about that and other things…

Mary Robinette Kowal was right in that the World Science Fiction Convention, as an institution, was saved by the heroic efforts of the volunteers who worked tirelessly to pull it off with her as their unflagging and almost indefatigable leader. My two main takeaways are that: (A) Virtual participation in the Worldcon should become a standard operating procedure from now on, and (B) No disabled person should be subjected to any WSFS venue or facility that is not fully accessible to everyone. Juli and I saw far too many people struggling to get to panels and events. I know that DisCon III had to make do with the venue that had but I think that future Worldcon committees are on notice; THIS MUST NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!

As I was writing this passage, Mary Robinette Kowal issued this statement through on the DisCon III website: “Kowal Apologizes for Raytheon Sponsorship of DisCon III”.  

Speaking of participation, I had a whole list of panels that I wanted to report on but things did not shake out as I had planned. For that I profusely apologize. Maybe next year. (Yeah, RIGHT!)

In looking over the longlist of Hugo nominations, I was somewhat surprised to see that Baen Editor-in-Chief Toni Weisskopf qualified to be a finalist in the Best Editor – Long Form category. Ms. Weisskopf declined the nomination. And after being uninvited as a DisCon III Guest of Honor earlier this year, and who can blame her. As I have stated elsewhere, while Ms. Weisskopf and I may not see eye to eye politically I was appalled that she was removed as DisCon III’s Guest of Honor; once upon a time, she was originally chosen by the convention committee solely for her sterling editorial work at Baen Books. This wasn’t the first time the Worldcon community has let her down, but I am quite sure it will be the last time.    

Speaking of voting results, I CAN’T BELIEVE TENET CAME IN LAST PLACE! What the HELL, man?

Also disappointing; that a Worldcon took place three and a half miles away from the headquarters of National Public Radio and they did not send a single reporter to cover DisCon III. I, on the other hand, was wearing a NPR baseball cap when I (briefly) attended the historic Site Selection Meeting Sunday morning. Because I cared, even if they did not…

 Late Saturday evening and early Sunday morning, there was the now annual round of bitching from incels, racist malcontents and overall nitwits that the Hugo Awards are dominated by women, minorities and marginalized people, and that it was pretty obvious (to them) that they write “superior” sf and fantasy. 

Well, first off, the dominance of white male writers as the sole influence in the fannish and professional writing is quite over. And here’s an additional pro tip: GET OVER YOURSELVES. Your day (and night for that matter) is DONE. A majority of the people who vote for and care about the Hugo Awards have soundly rejected, repeatedly, year after year, your mostly male, mostly white, hetero-normative, sexist, racially insensitive and non-inclusive narratives. Just keep marinating yourselves in hate and bullshit, we’re getting pretty good at ignoring you.  

One such person who will not be heeding this advice is one Jon Del Arroz, whom well known fantasy and sf writer Adam-Troy Castro critically eviscerated is a Sunday morning Facebook post

Enough Said on this subject. For now.

One of the odd things about the act of observing or reporting, is that once people know you are doing either, more often than not, people change their behavior. In one such instance, my partner, Juli, had vacated her room so the hotel attendant (I REFUSE to merely call them ‘maids”) could change the linen and towels. 

While she was seated in one of the many comfy chairs located around the elevators, a man and woman approached to wait. When the man glanced over and noticed the press ribbon on her badge, he became very animated and friendly. He explained that he was an author and had a book out that he was selling at the convention. When he whipped the book out of his bag, Juli took a photo of him. Here it is:  

This also happened right after the conclusion the Hugo Awards Ceremony; while I was busy snapping pictures of the winners as they took the stage, Juli was approached by the well-known Italian sf artist and Hugo nominee Maurizio Manzieri, who took the opportunity to introduce himself and tell her all about himself and how HAPPY he was to be there. She took a photo of him as well.

In both instances, she promised to include them in my reporting. And here they are. We were happy to include you. You’re Welcome.

I’d also like to take a moment to personally thank one of DisCon III’s Advisors, Randall Shepherd. Mr. Shepherd sent me a text early last Saturday morning, asking if I had a suit. At that time, I was hard at work finishing Day 3 of these chronicles and didn’t see it until about an hour and a half before the Hugo Award Ceremonies. 

Little did I know that had I promptly answered that text, I could have been a part of the Ceremony. Mr. Shepherd was responsible for a skit that took place at the beginning and the end of the Ceremony, wherein several people, impersonating Secret Service agents, took the stage and pretended to cordon off the area as a pretend motorcade interrupted the hosts with blaring sirens and flashing lights (just as residents of the District tolerate and loathe practically every day.)  

I don’t think being in the skit would have worked out for me because one of the things I forgot to bring to DisCon III were my clip-on sunglasses. But I THANK YOU, Mr. Shepherd, for thinking of me. Maybe next year…

I, for one, missed having Daniel Dern at DisCon III. That kid could cover some ground at a con. He was sorely missed.

For anyone who cares, I weighed the gigantic Krazy Kat collection of Sunday pages purchased from Mike Walsh on a digital scale upon our arrival at home. It was 13.8 pounds…OOOFFFF! 

The one thing I think future Worldcons should do on a mandatory basis is having open receptions for the convention goers to meet the people they nominated for the Hugo Awards. I think that was a brilliant idea that every committee should consider. Period. Full Stop. 

Our cat, Nova, seemed to be glad to see us after being gone for nearly five full days. So far.

I would be remiss if I did not comment on the 2023 Worldcon being won by the Chengdu bid. For the record, I voted for the Winnipeg bid. Because Winnipeg is a lot closer than Chengdu, China.

A lot of fans were openly lamenting that the 81st World Science Fiction Convention was going to be held in what many, including myself, consider a totalitarian, one party police state. 

On the other side, the Chinese government has not only been encouraging people to read, they have been vociferously promoting the reading and writing of science fiction. Chinese fandom has grown exponentially in the past twenty years and the group that put together the Chengdu bid has been working towards this year’s Site Selection for the better part of a decade.

I would also remind people of two very salient and sobering issues; first, that a lot of fans, both here and abroad, were actively talking about boycotting DisCon III if the previous (and heinous) administration had been reelected. The other is that the United States of America came within mere minutes of becoming a one party dictatorship itself nearly a year ago. And just because that attempt failed, doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet.  

The fact of the matter is that Chengdu won the bid. The responsibility for holding the Worldcon is in their hands. And personally, I think they take this responsibility very seriously.

The biggest obstacle for everyone involved is whether or not the government of the People’s Republic of China will be involved with the Chengdu Worldcon. 

Because if the powers that be in Beijing decide to interfere with the programming, who may or may not attend or the administration of the Hugo Awards, I can pretty much guarantee that fandom will make sure that the first World Science Fiction Convention on Chinese soil will definitely be the last, at least in my lifetime. 

One last thing. 

While Juli and I were out and about the convention, several people stopped us and highly commended me on my frequent postings on the DisCon III Facebook page and my columns on File770.com. All of them mentioned that I should be nominated for a Fan Writing Hugo.

And I thanked them for thinking of me.

Which got me thinking when I got home. 

There was a time, when I began these columns several years ago, that I WAS doing it for the chance at a nomination. But as the years went by, I began to notice that my name has never been among the long list of nominations. And as time has passed, I became resigned to the fact that I may never be nominated, much less win a Hugo Award.

I happen to believe that File 770 is one of the largest fannish platforms on the internet. And I do believe that my writings and opinions have been heard, that people are reading me and that I have had some impact in fandom. 

But at this point in my life I am doing it for the love of writing and for the chance to be heard, not for my ego, the recognition or the glory. 

So, while I feel incredibly good that people are noticing my work, I cannot and will not either campaign for the honor or ask anyone to vote for me.

Thank you for spending some of your time with me. 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Very Happy New Year to you ALL.

88 thoughts on “Barkley: DisCon III Reporter’s Notebook and Observations

  1. (AIUI, there was no information on what Weisskopf had edited in 2020, so there was a real question whether she was even eligible for that nomination.)

  2. P J Evans: Although you’re right that there was a question what she edited in 2020, the Hugo Administrator didn’t disqualify her, they offered her the opportunity to accept.

    I didn’t see a copy of the email sent to nominees in 2021, but expect it included what I call “self-certification” language — a description of what is needed to be eligible in a category. And if someone recognizes they’re ineligible, you see something like the entry in the 2021 Hugo Nominations Report for the Best Fan Artist category, “Tithi Luadthong informed the Administrators that he had produced no eligible art in 2020.”

    However, I tend to agree that being disinvited as GoH is the most likely reason she declined. There were other years she accepted a nomination but did not provide support for it in the Hugo Voter Packet to answer the question of what her credits were.

  3. I was with Mark Roth at the first-floor elevators waiting for an elevator. I did leave the wheelchair in our room a few times and used the stairs to eat, as I hate sitting at dining tables while in the wheelchair. He did end up selling a few copies of his first SF novel over the five days of Discon III.

  4. As that writer, in fact, I never did notice her press pass. We were waiting for an elevator – that’s my SO behind in the wheelchair – but just started talking to another fan, as most folks do at cons. We got to books, and so I pulled out mine.

    Besides, having a press pass doesn’t mean you’re a reviewer. Then I really would have spent more time talking.

  5. “Hotel attendant” sounds a trifle cumbersome to me. I usually call the housekeeping staff “housekeepers.”

    I had to look up “incel.” At first, I thought it was a disease or something. Or maybe it had to do with spreadsheets. So, “incel” means “someone whose greatest challenge in life is getting a date.” Gee, much of fandom was like that back in the 1970s, and I don’t recall much complaining about it. In any case, I quit noticing the issue after the skipper said, “Engage,” and I got married.

    Anyhow, I’m not sure why these people complain of “marginalized people” vying for (and often winning) Hugos. Perhaps they forget that New York fandom’s Futurian Society was a prime collection of marginalized people. At least, that’s the overwhelming impression I’ve always gotten from Frederik Pohl’s “The Way the Future Was” and Damon Knight’s “The Futurians.” These same marginers helped build fandom, and prodom as well. After the Hugos were invented, ex-Futurians were often found among the nominees, and frequently won them. So, “marginalized people” have always been prominent on the Hugo ballot.

    I may comment later on Chengdu. I’m still sorting out my (mostly negative) feelings about it. Unlike many fen, I remember the Cold War very well. Suffice it to say that, had the 2020 election gone the other way, I would have considered the USA to be a country unfit to host a Worldcon.

  6. Thank you for saying what you did about the Chengdu victory.

    Like you, I think that if the government of the People’s Republic of China starts messing around with Worldcon, then that will ensure that it will be a very, very long time before there’s another Worldcon held in China.

    I spent some time on the Worldcon Discord in the Chengdu channels, and have been following discussions of Chinese fandom for some time now, enough to convince me that the bid and the interest in it is authentic. And, though I did obtain a Worldcon virtual membership, I was not able to vote on Site Selection, so…that said, like you, I probably would have voted for the closer convention.

  7. I’ve been nominating you for at least two years now for your thoughtful columns and thorough con reports, Chris, and I hope to see you on the ballot eventually.

  8. “the Chinese government has . . . been vociferously promoting the reading and writing of science fiction” that supports and promotes the policies of the Chinese government. They are not content-neutral.

  9. Cora Buhlert: Probably not. Lately, he’s also been active here trying to post comments under unbanned handles that target the same victims as his Twitter account. They weren’t unbanned for very long.

  10. @Jeanne (Sourdough) Jackson: I not only remember the Cold War extremely well, but also, growing up in Hong Kong in the ’60s, lived with a vivid and realistic fear that the Cultural Revolution was about to spill over the Hong Kong Royal Crown Colony border and put everyone I knew immediately into PLA camps.

    Xi Jinping’s era is of course not the same sort of crazy, more an orderly, syndicalist one-party state, of which there are of course many if not hundreds. Past ones where I’ve been a tourist include Brezhnev’s USSR, Ceaucescu’s Romania, and Tito’s Yugoslavia, cultural engagement with whom was not only highly rewarding but utterly essential to the future of the world. And, when I saw those enthusiastic voters happy that Chengdu gets to host a Worldcon, you know what I saw? I saw fandom. And I can’t wait to be with them.

  11. I was kind of young at the end of the cold war, but my memory is basically that it was awesome when people met each other over the borders, recognising there were humans at both sides. But then we were a neutral country and not involved in the brutal geopolitical war between US and Sovjet.

    At that time we were more scared of a nuclear war and everything that lessened the fears of that was seen as a blessing.

  12. I don’t think that censorship at the Worldcon in Chengdu will necessarily come directly from Beijing. It might come from the local fans themselves who don’t want to find themselves in trouble with the government.

    Suppose someone were to write an essay titled “Xi Jinping Can Fuck Off Into the Sun, Or: Why the Worldcon Should Not Be Held in a Dictatorship.” Now suppose that you were a Chinese fan working on administering the Hugos and found votes for this essay in Best Related Work. It would be in your personal best interests to suppress the votes for that title and just treat those votes as if they had never been cast, notwithstanding how popular that essay might be in the rest of the world. Ideally for you, nobody at the CCP would ever find out that such an essay had ever been under consideration for the Hugo.

  13. @Joshua K.: This is one of the many reasons why Hugo Administration is an administrative subcommittee with multiple, well known, trusted staff members. E.g., DisCon III had four highly competent and reliable members, each of whom could be trusted to check each others’, and their joint, work.

    This is really not our (WSFS’s) first rodeo, you know.

    Could the Chengdu concom stack the Hugo Administration subcommittee entirely with spineless, party-compliant aparatchiki? Could happen; definitely would not pass unnoticed, to say the least. Talk to us when/if it does.

  14. I think the biggest drawback to traveling to China for Worldcon would be China’s penchant for locking down at the first sign of a new major Covid variant. Which makes me leery of buying tickets to China. Who has the extra money and/or time to lose if you’re either forbidden to enter the country or have to quarantine for 10 days?

  15. I finally found the actual Worldcon site. It is not complete. I click subscribe but it is not working yet. I voted by mail and was not present at DisCon III, I do want to upgrade to attending.
    I am an old Cold Warrior. If China invades Taiwan, I will not attend it. It is bad enough that they are encroaching on the territory of Bhutan.

  16. @Rick Moen:

    The Worldcon can form a separate and independent sub-committee to administrate the Hugo Awards. Section 3.13’s external independent Hugo Committee is opt-in, it is not a requirement, and the default is that 3.2.12 applies and the Worldcon Committee directly administrates all functions of the Hugo Awards. They are not obliged to form an independent committee, let alone staff it with any previous members, and you might recall that my attempts to amend the WSFS constitution to require a standing Hugo Administration committee were shouted down.

    Your expectation that Worldcon 81 will follow traditional expectations might not be compatible with the local norms and regulations that Worldcon 81 will be conducted within. I certainly expect all Hugo Award nominations in 2023 will be subject to the ‘public sentiment analysts’ of the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party.

  17. @Ha Nguyen, yes, that’s a near-term worry, but if the world is still being wracked by waves of COVID-19 on August 16, 2023, we (where “we” means humanity) will probably have bigger problems. And, of course, the same objection could have been raised to conventions in my country, the USA, for a very long recent period.

    Come to mention that, visiting the USA as a foreign national is always next to impossible for residents of many countries wishing to come here (the USA), if they are not also dual-citizens, as many such countries’ citizens are simply denied visas. E.g., my wife and I were shocked and dismayed that a friend in South Africa is for all intents and purposes unable to visit our country at all. No special reason; it’s just that she’s a South African citizen, and denying visas to them is routine. So, my wife visited her, instead, with the freedom we with our passport enjoy but often forget many others lack. One reason I look fondly on Canadian Worldcon bids (in general) is, thus, that more of worldwide fandom can get entry into our northern neighbour country than into my own.

    Besides, if anything of that nature (what you speak of) arises, we-lot over here in North America could/would both have ourselves a NASFiC and virtually participate in “Chengdu WorldCon 81st”.

  18. @Jay Blanc: As you know, there are, in fact, notoriously only a couple of things a Worldcon concom must do. If memory serves, the list is confined to holding a WSFS Business Meeting, overseeing Site Selection, and handing out Hugo Awards. The Hugo Award Ceremony, Masquerade, panel discussions, GoHs, interviews, presentations, and the entire rest of the convention is, strictly speaking, entirely at their discretion.

    So, sure, the Chengdu WorldCon 81st concom can in theory carry out any number of bizarre actions. Because any concom could.

    As to whether this one would, speculative talk is cheap, and the slightly cynical side of me wonders what-all’s behind all the paranoia. More to the immediate point, all of that speculative viewing-with-alarm at a distance of over 1.5 years has zero operational value and suggests no actions whatsoever.

    On the other hand, you might make it interesting through probabilistic uses of currency on the question — you know, in the spirit of Smofcon’s fabled “probability and statistics seminars” (and in memory of Damon Runyon).

  19. @Rick Moen

    So, sure, the Chengdu WorldCon 81st concom can in theory carry out any number of bizarre actions. Because any concom could.

    As to whether this one would, speculative talk is cheap, and the slightly cynical side of me wonders what-all’s behind all the paranoia.

    You appear to be unaware the Worldcon 81 have already announced the composition of their committees. And that they have set numbers of foreign volunteers on their committees. The Hugo Awards will have one foreign volunteer.

    https://file770.com/tag/chengdu-in-2023/#jp-carousel-89755

  20. @Jay Blanc: I made no statement about the composition of their committees for reasons including that having no discernible relevance to your hypothesis about future conduct of the Chengdu WorldCon 81st concom.

    But to repeat my point: Your paranoid idle speculation doesn’t lead to any actionable proposal. Even after gifting us with a veritable flood of words on the subject of alleged future Chengdu badness, I failed to see even a syllable about what you would suggest WSFS fandom do or not do.

    My point is not merely that you’re posting nothing but ideology, but also that it’s ideology unattached to any specific real-world notion of what to do or not do.

    We already know that we all can either visit Sichuan (COVID, visas, passports, and finances permitting), or attend virtually, or skip the convention entirely. We already know that we can either participate in Hugo and Site Selection voting or not do so, and the results will play out in accordance with that year’s iteration of the WSFS process. So: Those alternatives being already clear, do you have in mind to propose something? Anything?

    If you’re not thinking of proposing something actionable that isn’t already on our contingency tree, then perhaps you should consider my suggestion of probabilistic uses of currency, as a way of connecting your Chengdu-being-bad speculation to epiphenomenal reality.

  21. @Rick Moen

    Some time ago I suggested the formation of a Hugo Standing Committee, which could have managed contingencies such as a Worldcon occurring in a state where the selection of Hugo Nominees might be subject to state censorship. That suggestion was shouted down.

    It is now too late to make such changes to the WSFS constitution before there will be a Worldcon in a country where it’s nominees will be subject to state censorship. I apologise for not being able to get people to take this seriously before now, but I lack a time machine to set things right.

  22. @Chris, thanks for the reporting. It’s been wonderful to read. Thanks also for your support of accessibility at all future cons. Fans having to struggle to participate because of facility limitations is unacceptable.

    I share your concerns about the horrors the Xi regime is infliciting on it’s population and other policies. While I’m sympathetic to comments above that cultural sharing is important, and normalizing relations can be beneficial, letting the despicable policies pass without comment is inhumane.

    @Rick’s observation that visiting the US can be impossible for many is important.

    While we’re not all going to agree on “the best political policies” for worldcons, we are in a very poltical world, and we have enormous political challenges ahead. Many of our best writers have written important stories about these issues. For us to try to ignore the world we’re in would be foolish.

  23. @Jay Blanc: You keep saying things like “will be subject to state censorship”, but at the same time say you lack a TARDIS, so one wonders what allows you to predict future events with such extreme confidence — and also why you aren’t, well, making book. Seen properly, this is an opportunity for creative capitalism.

    But thank you for clarifying that you, indeed, have no present notions of what to do or not do. Unfortunately, that means you’re just pushing ideology and proposing nothing, whereas WSFS business involves doing or not doing things.

    I vaguely remember your initiative failing by a huge margin at some past Business Meeting. It seems to me that you’d done roughly nothing to build consensus for it among the regular attendees, which is the surest and quickest of many ways to fail.

  24. @Rick Mown

    I vaguely remember your initiative failing by a huge margin at some past Business Meeting. It seems to me that you’d done roughly nothing to build consensus for it among the regular attendees, which is the surest and quickest of many ways to fail.

    That’s an interesting “memory” considering I withdrew it long before the Business Meeting, when it became clear that there would be loud drama causing objections on the basis of maintaining ‘the traditional way of doing things’, and I would be unable to attend DC in person to make my case.

  25. Jay Blanc: it became clear that there would be loud drama causing objections on the basis of maintaining ‘the traditional way of doing things’, and I would be unable to attend DC in person to make my case.

    The reason your proposed “solution” was roundly rejected by people here and on Twitter was because it was utterly unworkable and impractical, and you openly admitted that you couldn’t be bothered to learn the things you needed to know to come up with a workable solution.

    It wouldn’t have mattered if you could have attended in DC, your proposal would have gotten exactly the same result there.

    You spend all your time quoting from the WSFS Constitution mistakenly thinking that somehow makes you an expert, while having no actual practical knowledge of how WSFS, the MPC, and Worldcon work. You are not willing to put in any effort to learn what you need to know in order to formulate a proposal which would actually be functional – and then you continually whine and act as if everyone else is the problem.

  26. I’ve said this before, but since it clearly needs to be said again… There are plenty of valid reasons to be unhappy about a Chengdu Worldcon, but when I’m reading about sinister plots to destroy fandom instead of principled boycotts and expressions of solidarity with those targeted by the Chinese government? That’s looking like unexamined racism again. Less of the yellow peril stuff, please.

  27. @Jay Blanc: I already said it was a vague memory. Moreover, it was a pretty disinterested one. (Horses for courses, of course.) But if you ever wish to actually try to get something done at a WSFS Business Meeting, you know where to find them. And, gee, one of the advantages of requiring that motions be submitted by an in-person, human attendee (who does not have to be the drafter, by the way) is that it automatically filters out quite a lot of Internet time-wasting.

    Anyway: Have a great year. Don’t spend all five days at once.

    I might want to ask why you mangled my surname (copy/paste broken?), but I’m not really sure I want to know.

  28. @Rick Moen

    Since E and W are next to each other on a standard keyboard, I’d assume typo. Which is why it’s a good idea to be extra careful about proof-reading names and nyms.

  29. @Meredith, you’re right, and I didn’t actually take it personally. Someone with an odd surname like mine (a toponym meaning approximately “glaciated meadow” in Norwegian/Danish) sees a lot worse, on days ending in y. (But that’s also why I try to use Clipboard rather than retyping.)

  30. A very big thanks to Chris for providing non-attendees at Discon III a chance to get a taste of this years world con through his writing. It was very much appreciated – probably more that Chris would think. And I totally understand his care to get his book home, regardless of the weight, and joy to add it to his library. Been there, done that. All the best Chris and other Flyers for 2022! Look forward to meeting you at a Con one day.

  31. @Chris M. Barkley & @Mike Glyer: I’ve enjoyed the DisCon III reports, thanks. 🙂 (ETA: And I was there.)

    @mark (Roth): I enjoyed your reading at DisCon III and intrigued by your description of the novel. Seeing your name here reminds me to go check out the longer sample online. ::opening tab to read when I have time this week::

  32. “Someone with an odd surname like mine (a toponym meaning approximately “glaciated meadow” in Norwegian/Danish) sees a lot worse, on days ending in y.”

    To be honest, as I haven’t heard it pronounced, I have always wondered if it is pronounced as the Swedish lake by the Norwegian border or as an Americanised spelling of the Danish “Møn”.

  33. Hi, Hampus my friend, and a belated God Jul och Gott Nytt År.

    Grandma Margot from Oslo pronounced it thus, not quite the Danish way. However, Dad (who emigrated to Oakland, Calif. in 1929 at the age of 8) Americanised that to rhyme with “Bowen” (or “rowan” or “Owen”), which, oddly, is a FAQ.

    (I’m fine with any variation, or the more-common “Hey you!”.)

  34. To make somethink clear that Jay Blanc posted. He told us that Chengdu named the people in charge of working at the Hugos. In his link only the Head of the Hugo administration division is named with one experienced foreign volunteer wanted (as co-Head?). This is not the same thinks as the whole team named.
    Re restriction due to Covid: I have trouble critisizing the Chinese rulers for not letting foreigners in the country during a pandemic (for other thinks sure). But I am also hopping that Covid will 2023 be a leser topic.

  35. Rick:

    “Grandma Margot from Oslo pronounced it thus, not quite the Danish way.”

    Well, the Norwegian way is just about the Swedish way, so easy for me. 🙂 God Jul!

  36. @Jeanne (Sourdough) Jackson

    I had to look up “incel.” At first, I thought it was a disease or something. Or maybe it had to do with spreadsheets. So, “incel” means “someone whose greatest challenge in life is getting a date.” Gee, much of fandom was like that back in the 1970s, and I don’t recall much complaining about it. In any case, I quit noticing the issue after the skipper said, “Engage,” and I got married.

    Um. Denotatively, you’re correct. But connotatively, “incel” has come to mean a poisonous, misogynistic group of men who blame women for the fact that they can’t get laid. https://www.dictionary.com/e/slang/incel/ Hate speech and rape threats are a common feature associated with self-identified incels.

    For what it’s worth.

    I think what you’re remembering is undersocialized geeks which fandom, myself included, is full of. Not that same thing as incel.

  37. Incels have also been responsible for the odd mass murder here and there.

    In their… defence? most of them are quite clearly extremely mentally ill and suffering from a horrible cocktail of severe body dysmorphia, anxiety, and depression. Suicide and self-harm are far more likely than murder. But… they’re also willingly participating in a community that reinforces both toxic ideology about women and also the lies their mental illnesses tell them.

    It’s sad, because the community was originally made, and the term coined by, a woman who just wanted something akin to a support group (for INvoluntary CELibates), and it eventually turned out that too many of the participants were ill-equipped to support anyone, and now it’s what it is today.

    Contrapoints has a decent video about them, if shorter than her usual.

  38. I withdrew it long before the Business Meeting, when it became clear that there would be loud drama causing objections on the basis of maintaining ‘the traditional way of doing things’, and I would be unable to attend DC in person to make my case.

    A proposal depending on a single person to make the case for it wouldn’t pass. If you want to amend the WSFS Constitution for something as big as your withdrawn Standing Advisory Committee for the Hugo Awards proposal, you would need to do what the E Pluribus Hugo effort did and get a lot of members on the proposal.

    It was proposed by Jameson Quinn, Claudia Beach, Bonnie Warford, Catherine Faber, Andrew Hickey, David Goldfarb, Lee Egger, Tasha Turner Lennhoff, Steven Halter, David Wallace, Oskari Rantala and myself.

  39. A software feature makes it difficult to tell if ” the dominance of white male writers as the sole influence in the fannish and professional writing is quite over. ” was written by Barkley or is a continuation of the Kowal statement. Opening the paragraph after the end of the Kowal statement with ‘Returning to my own thoughts…” might have clarified matters.

    Somehow, insulting a group of authors with reference to their race seems less than tactful. Your mileage may vary. Whatever.

  40. @rcade, exactly. That’s part of what I was getting at when I advised @Jay Blanc, in this space, that building consensus for a Business Meeting motion in advance is key to getting it passed. EPH’s proponents not only had a long list of co-sponsors but also wisely consulted with, and earned the trust and support of, numerous WSFS Business Meeting Old Pharts^W^W regulars.

    I’ve so far only presented one motion to the Business Meeting, one with numerous co-signers (IIRC) but whose drafter couldn’t attend, so as a friend I volunteered to present it. (Sorry, JJ, I can’t offhand remember its gist, but this was back during the Puppy mess.).

    I think I did a creditable job making the motion’s case, but did not persuade the assembly, and in particular Ben Yalow spoke in opposition just before the vote. It was turned down and we moved on. Nothing to complain about; if it’s a good idea, it can be re-proposed at any time. And neither I nor the drafter went around wasting the meeting’s, or fandom’s, time complaining about the result. You propose a substantive motion (which means somebody, not necessarily you, must actually bother to attend, it’s adopted or not, and then everyone moves on to the next agenda item.

    It might be that if there’d been enough time for my friend’s motion to be more widely discussed in advance of that Business Meeting, that it could have passed. Maybe, but that’s a different timeline.

  41. @StefanB: Yes, at the time, I noticed in passing @Jay Blanc’s dubious assumption that staff assignments 1.5+ years out from Chengdu Worldcon 81st are exactly what they will be in 2023, but didn’t want to spend time dissecting that, not to mention his implication that a sole foreign participant, years before the event, per-se raises suspicion of malign intent. At a certain point, the sensible response to a stream of paranoid predictions becomes “Well, you could be right” and disengaging. Saves sanity points.

    But sure. Everything this far out could be the for-sure final committee assignments. Isn’t that the rule? After all, it’s not like a Worldcon has ever suddenly had a new con chair six months out, even. *cough*

  42. @George Phillies:

    Somehow, insulting a group of authors with reference to their race seems less than tactful. Your mileage may vary.

    Fair enough as stated — in that you graciously allowed that persons of goodwill may honestly differ. Since you brought this up, though: I’ve re-read Chris Barkley’s passage a few times (which was his, not Ms. Kowal’s), and and had “en kopp kaffe #1” before commenting, and honestly fail to see any insult in Chris’s salvo that “the dominance of white male writers as the sole influence in the fannish and professional writing is quite over”.

    I cannot see how that could be an insult, as t’was just observed fact. Pondering on that: The larger context is that nobody is now getting less. Everyone’s getting more. Far from any authors or fen having been shut out, the party had gotten bigger and better.

    Speaking for myself, I’m an SFF fan in part on account of neophilia; other perspectives and assumptions are the spice of life. (And, for clarity, yr. present commenter is a Northern-European ethnic who, here at latitude 37.4°N, gets sunburned in February.)

  43. @ Rick Moen Agreed, but I was looking more at “… A majority of the people who vote for and care about the Hugo Awards have soundly rejected, repeatedly, year after year, your mostly male, mostly white, hetero-normative, sexist, racially insensitive and non-inclusive narratives. Just keep marinating yourselves in hate and bullshit, we’re getting pretty good at ignoring you.” which does not appear to me to be tactful.

    “…ignoring…” I was modestly surprised that Toni Weisskopf made it to a nomination; I was unaware that people were going to nominate her, given the quaint events of the last year.

    On rereading, I suppose I could have worked out more easily where Kowal stopped and Barkley resumed.

  44. I seem to have erased my post rather than posting it. Trying again

    @ RIck Moen Agreed, though I was looking more at ” A majority of the people who vote for and care about the Hugo Awards have soundly rejected, repeatedly, year after year, your mostly male, mostly white, hetero-normative, sexist, racially insensitive and non-inclusive narratives. Just keep marinating yourselves in hate and bullshit, we’re getting pretty good at ignoring you. ”

    The ignoring appears to be mutual. I was surprised that Toni had three dozen supporters at WorldCon.

  45. ”A majority of the people who vote for and care about the Hugo Awards have soundly rejected, repeatedly, year after year, your mostly male, mostly white, hetero-normative, sexist, racially insensitive and non-inclusive narratives. Just keep marinating yourselves in hate and bullshit, we’re getting pretty good at ignoring you.”

    George Phillies: The ignoring appears to be mutual. I was surprised that Toni had three dozen supporters at WorldCon.

    Well, that’s a thing – acknowledging that Weisskopf’s supporters are writers and readers of mostly male, mostly white, hetero-normative, sexist, racially insensitive and non-inclusive narratives who are marinating themselves in hate and bullshit.

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