Pixel Scroll 12/27/21 The Force That Through The Green Pixel Drives The Scroll

(1) NEW YEAR’S WHO. “Doctor Who’s special time loop trailer teases huge Dalek moment”Digital Spy introduces the clip. BEWARE SPOILERS.

The New Year’s Day special ‘Eve of the Daleks’ will see Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor getting stuck in a time loop with Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill), Dan Lewis (John Bishop) and a group of deadly Daleks.

The episode also features Aisling Bea and Adjani Salmon in the roles of Sarah and Nick as they get ready to celebrate the start of the new year….

(2) TRANSPORT OF DELIGHT. Julian Yap and Fran Wilde begin weekly publication of The Sunday Morning Transport in January, delivering speculative fiction using a newsletter platform. Subscribe for one free story a month, or become a paid subscriber and get a story every week.

Subscribing to Sunday Morning Transport means bringing a a new speculative short story connection to your inbox every week, fifty weeks a year.

Sunday Morning Transport readers are makers, thinkers, scientists, artists, authors, dreamers. With a single speculative short story each Sunday, we connect across space and time. We deliver, right to your inbox: a moment of whimsy; a deep dive into an unknown world; a single illuminating transformation; a vibrant community of readers and writers built around the best new speculative stories each week.

Free subscribers receive one story a month. Paid subscribers receive one story each week, fifty weeks a year.  For paid subscribers, there’s more: the opportunity to join in a conversation about story, to ask questions, and to help build a year’s worth of moments with authors including Max Gladstone, Karen Lord, Elwin Cotman, Kij Johnson, Kat Howard, Elsa Sjunnesson, Kathleen Jennings, Katherine Addison, Juan Martinez, E.C. Myers, Maureen McHugh, Tessa Gratton, Sarah Pinsker, Michael Swanwick, Brian Slattery, Malka Older, and many more. 

Subscribe now, and get ready for your Sunday Morning Transport starting in January 2022.

(3) BUILDING A HUGO CATEGORY. Ira Alexandre has launched a discussion on Twitter by asking: For purposes of a Game Hugo, what does it mean for a game to be “in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects”? Thread starts here.

(4) A BAD WORD. Frell from Farscape is my favorite genre swear word, says Cat Eldridge. “Smeg and the art of sci-fi swearing” at Kerrang!

…For a long old time, the quickest way to get taken out of libraries or complained about by parents was to include swearing. This led sci-fi creators to come up with new alternatives to the usual suspects, both to evade censorship and emphasise the ‘otherness’ of the worlds in which their tales took place (if a movie was set 10,000 years in the future and started with someone calling someone else a shithead, that would just seem plain silly).

Bill The Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison is a terrific book, a laugh-out-loud funny anti-war satire with a hidden gut-punch of an ending. A bleakly hilarious look at the futility of war and the cruelty with which people can treat one another, it’s a book that should be read by as many people as possible – ideally when they are about 12. During the title character’s ascension through the ranks of the Space Troopers, there’s plenty of effing and jeffing, except Harry opts for his own coinage, ‘bowb’, instead of the curses we all know and love.

As with a lot of made-up swear words, ‘bowb’ is kind of all-purpose – the phrases “Don’t give me any of your bowb!”, “Get over here, you stupid bowb!” and “What is this, “Bowb Your Buddy Week?” suggest it can be substituted in easily enough for ‘shit’, ‘bastard’, ’asshole’ and ‘fuck’….

(5) IN TIMES TO COME NEXT WEEK. Nicholas Whyte tries the thought experiment of anticipating next year with the help of films and stories that treat 2022 as history: “2022 according to science fiction, in novels and films” at From the Heart of Europe. Some of these sources aren’t very helpful!

Time Runner (1993)

What’s it about? Mark Hamill, unsuccessfully attempting to fight off an alien invasion of Earth in 2022, somehow gets sent thirty years back in time to try and prevent it all from happening. He tangles with a corrupt politician who is destined to become the collaborationist president of the world, and ends up assisting at his own birth.

Is 2022 really going to be like that? Actually most of the film is set in 1992, apart from the very beginning and occasional flashforwards. As of now, we don’t (yet) have a President of Earth; as for the alien invasion, we will have to wait and see….

(6) FANZINES IN THE FAMILY TREE. Andrew Porter tells why the Gothamist report is sff-related: “Patti Smith Receives Key To New York City: ‘I Wish I Could Give NYC The Key To Me’”. It has to do with the photo accompanying the article.

In his last weeks as mayor, Bill de Blasio has been bestowing Keys to New York City to a number of figures, including legendary music producer Clive Davis (who helped stage the ultimately Mother Nature-interrupted “Homecoming” concert in Central Park), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for his indefatigable support for the city. On his last Monday in office, de Blasio honored one of his favorite artists, the “punk rock laureate,” Patti Smith….

Note Lenny Kaye in the photo behind her. Lenny was a teenage science fiction fan, active in science fiction fandom and publishing a fanzine, Here’s an article about his SF fanzine collection: “The Tattooed Dragon Meets The Wolfman: Lenny Kaye’s Science Fiction Fanzines”, a 2014 Thought Catalog post.

(7) TAKE BIXELSTRASSE TO I-95. Gwen C. Katz tweeted her interpretation of the history that shaped Worldcon’s administrative culture. Thread starts here.

(8) THE PRESTIGE. Catherine Lundoff followed-up the Katz thread with her thoughts about the Hugo Awards. Thread starts here. Lundoff evidently is focused on book-length work, since publishers of finalists like Uncanny, Clarkesworld, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, for example, aren’t operating with “deep pockets.”

(9) END OF WATCH. At Vox: “NASA will let the ISS disintegrate into the atmosphere. Here’s why”. When hasn’t been specified, but “NASA has only technically certified the station’s hardware until 2028.”

The International Space Station brings together astronauts from around the world to collaborate on cutting-edge research, and some have called it humanity’s greatest achievement. But after two decades in orbit, the ISS will shut down, and a crop of several new space stations will take its place. While these new stations will make it easier for more humans to visit space, they’re also bound to create new political and economic tensions.

NASA is scaling back its presence in low-Earth orbit as the government focuses on sending humans back to the moon and, eventually, to Mars. As part of that transition, the space agency wants to rent out facilities for its astronauts on new space stations run by private companies. When these stations are ready, NASA will guide the ISS into the atmosphere, where it will burn up and disintegrate. At that point, anyone hoping to work in space will have to choose among several different outposts. That means countries won’t just be using these new stations to strengthen their own national space programs, but as lucrative business ventures, too….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1893 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] One hundred twenty-eight years ago, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes was first published by G. Newnes Ltd. sometime late in 1893 with an actual publication date listed as 1894. It was the second collection following The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and like the first it was illustrated by Sidney Paget. This hardcover edition has two hundred seventy-nine pages comprising twelve stories. The stories were previously published in the Strand Magazine

Doyle had determined that these would be the last Holmes stories, and intended to kill off the character in “The Final Problem”, but a decade later a new series, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, would begin in the aftermath of “The Final Problem”, in which it is revealed that Holmes actually survived. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 27, 1938 Jean Hale. If you’ve watched Sixties genre television, you’ve likely seen her as she showed up on My Favorite MartianIn Like Flint (at least genre adjacent), Alfred Hitchcock Presents, My Brother the AngelWild, Wild WestBatman and Tarzan. (Died 2021.)
  • Born December 27, 1951 Robbie Bourget, 70. She started out as an Ottawa-area fan, where she became involved in a local Who club and the OSFS before moving to LA and becoming deeply involved in LASFS. She’s been a key member of many a Worldcon and Who convention over the years. She was the co-DUFF winner with Marty Cantor for Aussiecon 2. She moved to London in the late Nineties.
  • Born December 27, 1960 Maryam d’Abo, 61. She’s best known as Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights. Her first genre role was her screen debut in the very low-budget SF horror film Xtro, an Alien rip-off. She was Ta’Ra in Something Is Out There, a miniseries that was well received and but got piss poor ratings. Did you know there was a live Mowgli: The New Adventures of the Jungle Book series? I didn’t. She was Elaine Bendel, a recurring role, in it.
  • Born December 27, 1977 Sinead Keenan, 44. She’s in the Eleventh Doctor story, “The End of Time” as Addams but her full face make-up guarantees that you won’t recognize her. If you want to see her, she’s a Who fan in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Her final Who work is a Big Finish audio drama, Iterations of I, a Fifth Doctor story. And she played Nina Pickering, a werewolf, in Being Human for quite a long time.
  • Born December 27, 1987 Lily Cole, 34. Been awhile since I found a Who performer and so let’s have another one now. She played The Siren in the Eleventh Doctor story, “The Curse of The Black Spot”. She’s also in some obscure film called Star Wars: The Last Jedi as a character named Lovey. And she shows up in the important role of Valentina in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Not mention she’s in Snow White and The  Huntsman as Greta, a great film indeed.
  • Born December 27, 1995 Timothée Chalamet, 26. First SF role was as the young Tom Cooper in the well received Interstellar. His only other genre role was Zac in One & Two before he played Paul Atreides in Director Denis Villeneuve’s Dune.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side shows something by the side of the road – a little too big for a hubcap, I’m thinking.
  • The Argyle Sweater spots the moment an undercover operator’s cover is blown.

(13) IS SF ABOUT THE PRESENT OR FUTURE? Star Trek shouldn’t be gloomy insists Reason Magazine’s Eric Studer: “Even if Modern Star Trek Doesn’t Think So, the World Is Getting Better”.

For decades, various incarnations of Star Trek have offered mostly positive visions for the future of humanity—one in which we’ve set aside petty, earthbound squabbles in favor of boldly seeking out new worlds (and, of course, finding the occasional conflict). 

But the first three seasons of Star Trek: Discovery (Paramount+), the seventh television series in the long-running franchise, have too often seemed tied down by storylines that might have more in common with real-world politics of the 21st century rather than the unbridled optimism that was such an important part of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s original conception for the show. Discovery is highly serialized, more focused on a single calamity than a larger sense of exploration, and with far more internally focused characters who care more about their own interests than in a larger plan for society.

As a result, Star Trek now seeks to reinforce the trepidation and existential doubt that is a hallmark of our modern culture. Instead of showing the potential of what humanity can become, Discovery seems to reflect more on what the feelings of the human condition are today…

(14) INVADER FROM MARS. Space.com celebrates an anniversary: “On This Day in Space! Dec. 27, 1984: Famed Allan Hills Mars meteorite found in Antarctica”.

On Dec. 27, 1984, one of the most famous Mars meteorites was found in Antarctica. 

…Weighing in at just over 4 lbs., this space rock is considered to be one of the oldest Martian meteorites ever found on Earth. Scientists estimate that it crystallized from molten rock more than 4 billion years ago, when Mars still had liquid water on its surface. It also has been the source of controversy about the search for life on Mars that continues to this day.

(15) NOT JUST ANY KIND OF HORROR. The new episode of the Rite Gud podcast features an interview with John Langan on cosmic horror. And also about the horror of dealing with the publishing industry.

Bram Stoker Award-winning author John Langan joins us to talk about cosmic horror, his novel The Fisherman, upstate New York, how much money writers make (none), and how hard it is to get published when you’re a little too literary for the genre crowd but a little too genre for the literary crowd. Special appearance by Langan’s wiener dog/beagle.

(16) OPENING OUT OF TOWN. “Terry Gilliam’s Disputed Sondheim Show Finds a Home” – the New York Times knows its address.

For weeks, a question hung over London theater: What would happen to Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods”?

On Nov. 1, the Old Vic theater canceled a revival of the musical, co-directed by Terry Gilliam, after a dispute in which the renowned director was accused of endorsing transphobic views and playing down the MeToo movement. That left the production in limbo and London’s theater world wondering if anyone would dare to take it on.

Now, there is an answer. On Aug. 19, 2022, Gilliam’s “Into the Woods” will debut at the Theater Royal in Bath, 115 miles from London. The show will run through Sep. 10, 2022, the theater said in a statement….

(17) CRITICAL COMPONENT. DUST presents a short film about a young robot with a defective part, trying to find their way in the world.

(18) A BETTER PLAN. “Tesla agrees to stop letting drivers play video games in moving cars”  says the New York Times.

Tesla has agreed to modify software in its cars to prevent drivers and passengers from playing video games on the dashboard screens while vehicle are in motion, a federal safety regulator said on Thursday.

The agreement came a day after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a formal investigation of the game feature, which is known as Passenger Play. The investigation was announced after The New York Times reported this month on the potential safety risks the games posed….

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Alasdair Beckett-King’s parodies are news to me but not to his quarter of a million YouTube subscribers. Here’s a sample.

As the first person ever to spoof Doctor Who, I decided not to bother doing an impression of 13 different actors, and just wore a jaunty hat instead.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, N., Bill, Raquel S. Benedict, Jeffrey Smith, Nicholas Whyte, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

121 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/27/21 The Force That Through The Green Pixel Drives The Scroll

  1. And, as I said, there are plenty of awards existing already that they can care about more if they want to, with zero work required. I’m quite fond of the trophies The Stabbies use, personally, although the plushies given out by the various furry awards are a delight and I want all of them. The Nebulas even have nearly as much prestige, if that’s the main appeal.

    One of the comparisons I saw was that Worldcon is no SDCC – which is correct, but I think misunderstands that Worldcon isn’t trying to be, either. Worldcon hasn’t failed at being a megaconvention. Worldcon is very successful at being Worldcon, and also happens to have produced a very popular set of awards with consistently good results, because of its particular fanbase, because of who and what that fanbase has nominated and voted for over decades.

    SDCC has the Eisners, which are very fine – the best, biggest, and most well-known – comic book awards. If people want to watch the premier awards at the biggest convention they can. They just can’t watch the Hugos, because the Hugos belong to Worldcon, not just sf fans, everywhere. Worldcon isn’t obligated to give up their awards, or transform into something they aren’t, just because they did a really, really good job at it.

  2. Meredith on December 28, 2021 at 10:43 pm said:

    The problem is lashing out at those who have been harmed by some failing or other and demanding that they volunteer or shut up – regardless of whether they have, in fact, volunteered in the past.

    That would be bad. But is that really what is happening? I have seen angry rants on Twitter lashing out at Worldcon. If the person ranting had volunteered in the past, they didn’t say so. I’m not saying they should shut up. It would be nice if they could have more of a clue how Worldcon works, and some empathy for the volunteers they are lashing out at.

  3. Meredith: It’s putrid that anybody would be holding up the dream of shifting the Hugos to, let us say, San Diego Comic-Con, when SDCC has a notoriously deficient Code of Conduct (see this 2018 discussion and their CoC is still the same). Comparisons are made to spite Worldcon when convenient, even if the supposed model event lags way behind on other issues that are important to the sff community.

  4. @Tom Becker

    That would be bad. But is that really what is happening?

    Yes. It happened on File770, to me, last week. So maybe we could skip the debate and just go with, “wow, that sucks, it’s a shame people do that”. Okay? Cool.

    @Mike Glyer

    SDCC is really big and really corporate and isn’t run by fan volunteers who you can easily talk to/yell at. Much harder to get pushy about SDCC and dominate the conversation, so either people don’t or if they do then it’s drowned out by everyone squeeing over the latest MCU teaser. Who wants to worry about a code of conduct and the people who suffer for the lack of one when there’s a new Loki clip? Worldcon’s a softer, and therefore much more appealing, target.

  5. You must scroll on. I can’t scroll on. I’ll scroll on.

    My own reaction to Katz’s Twitter thread (in a subtweet) was “How did I go so many years without realizing I was a member of the Illuminati? Hope they don’t come looking for back dues.”

  6. (3) BUILDING A HUGO CATEGORY. Some interesting stuff and some silly. At some point, some of these arguments just make everything SF; IMHO Alexandre is over-analyzing things. Also, methinks Hugo admins normally leave “is it genre?” determinations up to voters anyway. I liked a couple of replies I saw (pointing out simpler ways to think about “is this game genre?”).

    (7) TAKE BIXELSTRASSE TO I-95. Her characterization of reactions and discussions during the Puppy Years is, well, let’s say “creative.” Others already commented on the glaring error re. Raytheon and other flaws, so I’ll stop there.

    (19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Heh, that’s cute. I watched the D&D one, then I realized I need to set aside time to watch some other ones because I’m liking his stuff a lot! 🙂

    . . . . .

    @Kathryn Sullivan: Thank you! I just thought it was all repeats.

    Plus, I was confused because initially, I accidentally hit something and the YouTube video rewound to the beginning (I checked the time marker). I was like “hey, that’s a cute trick.” Then I realized it was my mistake (not YouTube magic), so I watched and realized they were repeating (mostly) the trailer, which was cute (but I stopped partway through, with a little scrubbing). Anyway, thanks for pointing out the special bit late in the video!

    @Andrew (not Werdna): “Make Room Party, Make Room Party” – Great one! Hopefully coming soon to a Pixel Scroll near you.

    @Nancy Sauer: She does seem very “rules BAD,” which isn’t a panacea for improving anything.

  7. (7): Gwen Katz says that the Worldcon rules “keep outsiders out.” Yet the 2023 Worldcon has been awarded to Chengdu. I would think that the predominantly Chinese group of fans that voted for Chengdu and those who are planning to run the Worldcon there would have been considered “outsiders” with respect to the Worldcons of the past.

  8. Joshua K: Every effort was made by the Winnipeg bid to use the business meeting and its perception of the rules to invalidate enough Chengdu votes to change the outcome in their favor. I don’t know whether Katz is aware of that, but I’m certainly not seeing this year’s site selection debacle as any evidence of welcoming outsiders.

  9. Mike, I’m surprised to hear you say that.

    When the rules (WSFS Constitution 4.4.1, etc.) were actually applied — which process was by design vouchsafed solely to the individual discretion, advised by whomever he decided to listen to, of Tim Szczesuil, DisCon III’s Site Selection Administrator — what immediately and emphatically resulted was keeping the outsiders in, as they presented a legitimate, clear vote mandate from real, fannish voters.

    Chengdu won because the rules (and Tim, fairly interpreting the rules) said so.

    (I happily presupported Winnipeg, and now just as happily endorse Chengdu’s clear legitimacy, and look forward to their Worldcon.)

  10. (7) Gwen Katz comes across as an academic who has studied fandom and Worldcons from afar, and concluded on that basis that she has developed some deep insights into how fandom works, and then she basically turns up her nose at it. Maybe she reads and studies SF, but she is clearly not a “trufan” or part of the SF “fanily”. (She is not the first academic studying SF I know of who has looked down on fannish culture and refused to actuallly get involved with it.)

    (8) In my experience, Catherine Lundoff is wildly off-base by claiming that big money and promotion from publishers has a huge influence on Hugo awards. When I first got started nominating and voting for Hugos back in the 1970s, it was almost possible to read, say, all the finalists and do so affordably because there were a limited number of books, mostly published in cheap paperback editions, and a few magazines that held almost all the short stories. The genre was also pretty well-defined, and writers in other areas stayed away from SF and fantasy tropes.

    Nowadays, those tropes have pervaded the entire culture. There are far too many things written that are genre, genre-adjacent (alternate history, magical realism, tons of fantasy YA, one fantastic twist in what is basically a mystery, etc, etc.) to read everything. Plus, the books that most publishers aiming for their writers to earn Hugos promote are printed in expensive hardcover editions during the time period that they’re eligible for nominations and wins, and to accumulate them all, plus buy all the magazines and all the online pubs that might have good stories is just about impossible. Since we seldom buy hardbacks, and do not own an e-reader, we generally read the Hugo winners and nominees of interest after the awards, in paperback form, and we don’t nominate. Other reading is often guided by the recommendations of friends with similar taste to ours, or by a cover blurb that looks appealing and has testimonials from sources we trust. In some cases, Amazon reviews, too. The model is no longer the fan going down to the bookstore to see which book is being promoted at some table front-and-center in the store. The books that end up being nominated for Hugos are the ones that got read by a lot of people because of the buzz they generated within the Hugo-reading community.

  11. Chengdu won because the rules (and Tim, fairly interpreting the rules) said so.

    I don’t think we should get carried away crediting Tim Szczesuil with fairness after he proposed a last-minute resolution seeking the WSFS Business Meeting’s “non-binding” support to throw out 1,501 votes for lack of an address.

    He did the right thing after getting the Business Meeting’s backing to do the wrong thing. And we don’t know if he was ordered to do the right thing by people higher up the DisCon III org chart, which seems more likely than him deciding to keep the votes after his resolution asking to throw them out passed.

  12. I’m enjoying Gwen C. Katz’s assertion that early SF fans were outcasts because they intentionally put up gates to exclude the mainstream, not because the mainstream thought SF was childish and lowbrow and weird, mocking and belittling people who were devoting so much time to it.

    The people in first fandom were so desperate to find like-minded people they turned letter columns in pulp magazines into a community, became fanzine publishers and crossed the country to meet each other. This wouldn’t have been necessary if there was mainstream interest. There’d be a bunch of people in your own area eager to natter endlessly about the subject.

  13. (3) didn’t VD attempt to nominate a game back in the Rabid days? And it got dinged?

    Anybody that’s going to Chengdu, I’ll see you there! And Jeddah after that!

  14. Rcade: Having freshly read about 40s LASFS in Bixelstrasse, I can’t say these early fans are just misunderstood any more than the Jets singing that lyric in “Officer Krupke.” They did spend a lot of time running each other out of the club. For every evangelist in the prozines there was another happy to pitch a fellow fan out of the lifeboat.

  15. Rcade: As you say. Tim acted as the presenter of the resolution signed by the Winnipeg bid leadership asking the business meeting to affirm that ballots had to include the identifying info asked for in the various blanks in order to be valid. A resolution that passed. It was non-binding, but who thinks it was requested except with the intent of applying it? And why did no Chengdu bid representatives address the business meeting about the resolution? There’s obviously more to the story.

  16. They did spend a lot of time running each other out of the club. For every evangelist in the prozines there was another happy to pitch a fellow fan out of the lifeboat.

    A lot of that seemed like performative in-fighting to me rather than a genuine attempt to keep people out. There are a bunch of times in Immortal Storm where one group is squabbling with another — and expelling each other’s members from clubs, cons and fanzines — but it didn’t actually drive anybody away. Fans only gafiated when real life pulled them away or they got bored.

    Even when two groups were in-fighting, both wanted new people in SF fandom.

    P.s. Big LOL on the Krupke reference. “It’s just our bringin’ upke!”

  17. rcade: I think we’ve got a disconnect here. Because the intractable, purposefully Byzantine governance of the Worldcon through the business meeting doesn’t drive anybody out of fandom, either. It just prevents them from investing their time in the Worldcon.

  18. @rcade:

    He did the right thing after getting the Business Meeting’s backing to do the wrong thing.

    If that’s what was going on, given that the advisory resolution passed, then, by your theory, he should have used the “backing” to invalidate those ballots and then justified his action by referring to Business Meeting majority advice.

    But then you go further, hypothesising that, having (per you) successfully sought Business Meeting cover for taking the action he wanted to do, he was thereafter “ordered” to abandon his dastardly plan. Problem: I’ve never been a Site Selection Administrator (and am now thinking I’d run screaming, if ever asked), but that’s not my understanding of how it works; My understanding is that the Site Selection Administrator makes a determination by him/herself, and reads it to the Business Meeting as the Saturday morning first order of business, and the Business Meeting then either votes to accept that’and destroy the ballots, or All Fandom Goes to War.

    Thus, to the best of my understanding, the opportunity to “order” the Site Administrator thus doesn’t arise. (I could be wrong. Some year, we could have extra bonus hyper-drama, hearing that the Site Administrator has been fired overnight and replaced during counting. Won’t that be fun?)

    Here’s a thought: Maybe Tim honestly was hoping to get some guidance about an odd situation that has never come up before, that exposed arguable ambiguity (or at least, an issue not covered) in the Constitution, then it turned out the “sense of the assembly” tally didn’t help much, and he went back into a private suite over Friday evening and did his honest best. Why does he have to have been trying to act in bad faith and was only “ordered” otherwise? That’s pretty cynical.

    Maybe Tim listened to the debate for words of wise counsel, and walked away thinking “Ben Yalow had a good point about the intended meaning of 4.4.1.” Isn’t one of the rules of fandom “Don’t ignore Ben if he says something in WSFS affairs is really clear”?

  19. @Rick Moen: We can speculate on the details of what happened. But it reminds me of a project many years ago at Apple. Their e-mail stationery said “The project from Hell”, and “I could tell you, but then you’d have to work on it.”

    Bottom line, Ben was right.

  20. Rick Moen: It would be great if things happened as you’d like to imagine in this case. But why is Chekhov’s Resolution being read in the first act if no one wants to pull the trigger?

    I realize you aren’t confusing how Site Selection is managed with the autonomous subcommittee to which Hugo administration is delegated, but I mention the latter as how things would look if the Site Selection administrator wasn’t accountable to anyone.

  21. @Mike Glyer:

    But why is Chekhov’s Resolution being read in the first act if no one wants to pull the trigger?

    Sitting there wondering what the hell was going on with this non-agenda motion, I believed Tim Szczesuil when he then stood up and said (paraphrasing from questionable recollection) that, basically, he was seeking feedback about how to interpret 4.4.1 in a situation where some (unstated) number of ballots had (unspecified) irregularities in how they’d been filled out.

    I see no compelling reason to hypothesise anything else. But I guess we’ll never know with absolute certainty, unless we can strap everyone down and subject them to truth serums.

    By the way, I do take your point, that a Worldcon’s Site Selection Administrator could indeed per WSFS structure, within some very wild scenario, be fired and replaced mid-count. It would take a whole lot to motivate that action, I think. If it ever does, I seriously hope I’m outside the blast radius, when it happens.

  22. Why does he have to have been trying to act in bad faith and was only “ordered” otherwise?

    I didn’t say anything about bad faith. I was talking about fairness.

    The only reason to rush the resolution to the Business Meeting that makes sense is to get backing for throwing out 1,591 votes before actually throwing them out, knowing that this action would be extremely controversial. The resolution was co-signed by Winnipeg chair Terry Fong and vice chair Jannie Shea. Winnipeg wins if those votes are tossed.

    If there was no intent to throw the votes out, why propose the last-minute resolution at all?

    Thus, to the best of my understanding, the opportunity to “order” the Site Administrator thus doesn’t arise.

    I don’t see anything in the WSFS Constitution that gives the site selection area head the final say on ballot disqualification. The current Worldcon committee administers site selection. They had already replaced the WSFS business chair because he publicly released vote totals by country. They could have participated in the decision over whether to accept the no-address votes from China.

    P..s. I said it was 1,501 votes earlier but it was actually 1,591.

  23. Rick Moen: My point is a little less drastic than that. A Site Selection administrator doesn’t have to quit every time somebody doesn’t agree with his take. He could accept instruction from his Division Head as to how their Worldcon is going to do business. He could also take it from the Chair. In fact, it would seem reasonable to suppose one or both at least participated in the DisCon III discussion, and that Tim didn’t take the question directly to the business meeting, because the current year Worldcon is the one with the authority to make these decisions, not the business meeting, as was pointed out when the resolution was brought up at the business meeting (and why it had to be nonbinding).

  24. Mike: in your comment to rcade, you noted:

    Because the intractable, purposefully Byzantine governance of the Worldcon through the business meeting doesn’t drive anybody out of fandom, either. It just prevents them from investing their time in the Worldcon.

    Yeah, that’s me. A few years back, I was thinking about the problem(s) in “Best Related Work” because of the discussions here, and especially Cora’s excellent analysis. I really love the idea of rewarding good scholarly work in sff, but I also love the idea of rewarding good meta (in various media) that is also “related.” I toyed with the idea of seeing if people would be interested in working on proposals for change which would probably involve splitting the category into two. I say “toyed” with because after reflection, specifically my memory of reading about discussion around other Hugo changes, additions, etc. plus descriptions of the Business Meeting, etc. etc., I shuddered and walked away. I had a hard enough time dealing with academic bureaucratic procedures. And I was also entering the phrase in my profession that can best be described as “I’m too old for this shit” which affected decisions in a number of fan and professional areas! I retired now, but I’m even older, so, not something I want to spend time/energy on.

  25. rcade:

    If there was no intent to throw the votes out, why propose the last-minute resolution at all?

    Well, Tim Szczesuil said to the assembly that he wanted advice about what 4.4.1’s wording means. I tend to think he was telling the truth, and that that was the sum and substance of the motion. You seem to think he wasn’t. I’m baffled about why you think that, but each of us is entitled to his opinion.

    In passing, I’ll note that Ben Yalow, during debate, acknowledged that exact intent as stated above, and then gave very succinctly his view that it’s abundantly clear to him that 4.4.1’s wording means a site selection ballot paper must have space to write those four items, and nothing more, i.e., that the correct answer to the resolution’s question is “no”. (Again, I’m obviously paraphrasing, but I think well enough.)

  26. I’m baffled about why you think that, but each of us is entitled to his opinion.

    He was asking for advice when he knew that the interpretation of 4.4.1 would decide the winner of the vote. It should have been obvious to him and to the Winnipeg chairs that the resolution would be perceived as unfair to Chengdu.

    It also didn’t help that no one from the Chengdu site bid was present when the proposal was discussed. Were they even told there’d be a resolution that day seeking support for a rules interpretation to toss so many of their votes?

  27. @rcade
    Shouldn’t they have had a representative there regardless, so they could at least see how the business meeting works?

  28. @P J Evans

    At least some of the leaders of the Chengdu bid had visa issues and couldn’t attend Worldcon, let alone the business meeting.

  29. Shouldn’t they have had a representative there regardless, so they could at least see how the business meeting works?

    Yes — if it was possible — but they also have Chicon 8 next year and past Business Meetings on video from which to learn.

    When Winnipeg and the site selection area head began communicating about drafting a proposal for the Business Meeting about ballot disqualification, the area head should have informed the Chengdu bid what was going on. This would have given them a chance to offer a statement if no one could be present to represent their perspective on why so many voters left off their addresses.

  30. JJ: the Winnipeg bid was filed completely in accordance with WSFS rules

    The same can be said about Bush v. Gore, or indeed about the Puppy slating exploits. They were allowed under an approach and set of facts that, to my knowledge, had never been used before and will probably never be used again. As OGH notes later in the thread, the Winnipeg committee was not above pushing for more novel interpretations at a later stage in the process to try to win ’23. So.

    The more general discussion features people more or less making my point, which is that Worldcon is not clearly the premier science fiction convention for the world, and that the people closest to it (multi-year attending members, business meeting mavens, long-term volunteers, etc.) do not want it to be. They like Worldcon just the way it is, tyvm.

    The discussion also keeps making Meredith’s related point, that the go-to answer is “Don’t like it? Go make your own.”

    Which is too bad, really.

  31. @rcade: I have a feeling it was voters providing email addresses only and not postal addresses. The site selection form instructions said to provide an address. The form has a field titled “email address.” It also has a box for whether you want to receive paper publications at additional cost. It sure looks like an email address is the default and a physical postal address is optional for those who want paper publications.

    I agree with you that representatives of the Chengdu bid should have had an opportunity to present their side of the story. But I think it should not have even come up at all. Technically, as Ben Yalow pointed out, the ballots were valid. And it was a really bad look to disenfranchise science fiction fans for living like they were in the 21st century.

  32. @Doug: Taking your assertion at face value, the reason why Worldcon is “not clearly the premier science fiction convention for the world” is because people who didn’t like it went out and made their own. Which is how we have SDCC, DragonCon, World Fantasy, IAFA, CostumeCon and so on.

    Then there are the people who think Worldcon is clearly the premier convention for something and go to great lengths to gain the right to host it.

  33. @rcade:

    He was asking for advice when he knew that the interpretation of 4.4.1 would decide the winner of the vote.

    Granting for present discussion’s sake your above assumption, it doesn’t follow that Tim was dissembling, in saying he wanted advice about what 4.4.1’s wording means. (Thus my point.). Your inference that he was driven by “intent to throw the votes out” is… an opinion, but one not founded in any facts I see established, here — not to mention, as I said, that being a pretty seriously cynical inference. (Yes, I know Tim, it turns out, didn’t draft or co-sign the question. See below.)

    The point is, your gloss is far from the only interpretation, and IMO is not the one William of Occam would have smiled on. One simpler, more parsimonious interpretation was that Tim, presumably prodded by vote-observers from Winnipeg, simply was asking a room full of experienced WSFS people (including major conrunners) how they think the vague wording of 4.4.1 is properly applied.

    Without special objection to your term “rules interpretation”, but with concern about connotations: The assembly was very clear that Tim wasn’t referring any rules or other decision whatsoever to the Business Meeting, and that the Meeting had no jurisdiction in that matter. We were being asked (very unexpectedly, speaking for myself) what if anything 4.4.1 says about practical judging of those four fields’ attestation, because, Tim told us, he then had a (very vaguely described) problem and wanted our advice. We were not judges of the rules (in that matter), as we were explicitly out of the chain of command. (FWIW, I didn’t, at the time, recognise the two names at the bottom of the surprise motion printout suddenly passed out to us with basically no explanation. No affiliation was stated, just the two individuals’ names.)

    As to your view that the resolution “would be seen as unfair to Chengdu”, really? Asking a room-full of experienced con-runners their opinion about a vaguely described administrative issue peripherally touching on interpretation of the WSFS Constitution is unfair to someone? Again… I guess that’s an opinion. I’m not clear on how asking advice per-se equates to “unfair”. Maybe it’s just asking advice.

  34. Rick Moen: As to your view that the resolution “would be seen as unfair to Chengdu”, really? Asking a room-full of experienced con-runners their opinion about a vaguely described administrative issue peripherally touching on interpretation of the WSFS Constitution is unfair to someone? Again… I guess that’s an opinion. I’m not clear on how asking advice per-se equates to “unfair”. Maybe it’s just asking advice.

    The business meeting did not have authority over the validation of site selection ballots. It was improper to ask the meeting for a resolution.

    The resolution was authored by the heads of the Winnipeg bid.

    No representatives from Chengdu spoke to the resolution. But perhaps you wouldn’t have wanted to hear from them since by definition they weren’t experienced Worldcon runners. Like the Winnipeg bidders who wrote the resolution. Who obviously had an idea how the game is played.

    And the chair of the business meeting left the chair so he could speak in favor of the resolution.

    But if you think this was a fair process…. Well, you’re also entitled to an opinion.

  35. @Mike Glyer:

    The business meeting did not have authority over the validation of site selection ballots.

    Indeed. Everyone agreed on that, and it was made quite explicit when (IIRC) someone in the assembly inquired about that or a similar point.

    It was improper to ask the meeting for a resolution.

    That doesn’t, at least in any immediately obvious way, logically follow from the Business Meeting lacking authority over the validation of site selection ballots– even if you and I agree call it a “resolution” rather than the assembly’s answer to a procedural question. Or at least, I’d hope to see you elaborate what you mean by “improper”, in this context.

    In employment, the term “improper action” by a director or employee iis construed to mean that party violated a law or employment policy, or caused substantial unplanned blowback to the firm of various sorts, i.e., something the firm frowns upon irrespective of whether it’s within the party’s bailiwick. More broadly, the term “improper” tends to mean following incorrect procedure, or unsuited to the occasion, or in poor manners or taste.

    If you mean the Business Meeting attendees should not have been asked that question because X, then I’m not clear on what X is, because you haven’t said. You might mean it was a violation of procedure, but then, what procedure and whose procedure? It didn’t seem to violate WSFS’s procedures. Donald Eastlake’s ruling from the front table allowing the advisory motion seemed to follow the Business Meeting’s rules, as far as I could tell (and nobody appealed from the officer’s ruling). I’m not aware of any WSFS Division procedures that got violated. Site Selection remained in the hands of the authorised parties, and proceeded.

    The resolution was authored by the heads of the Winnipeg bid.

    I guess so. That’s a reasonable inference, at least, and the two names as makers of the motion turned out to be associated with the bid. On the other hand, the first speaker was Site Selection Administrator Tim Szczesuil, who said, more or less, that the motion was in front of the assembly because he wanted to know WSFS regulars’ view on that question posed.

    No representatives from Chengdu spoke to the resolution. But perhaps you wouldn’t have wanted to hear from them since by definition they weren’t experienced Worldcon runners.

    Excuse me?

    I had nothing at all to do with deciding who ought to speak or be heard from, and nothing to do with any of it except that I happened to be attending the meeting. All I said was that I gathered that Tim was seeking the views of seasoned WSFS people on a sudden, unfamiliar problem.

    And the chair of the business meeting left the chair so he could speak in favor of the resolution.

    Quite. The presiding officer of a deliberative assembly isn’t prohibited from participating in substantive debate, but merely cannot do both at the same time. You’ve seen this happen for decades. If you think that ought not to be allowed, see if you can get that apocryphal change put into the next edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, and good luck to you.

    But if you think this was a fair process [snip]

    What a very odd comment. I made absolutely no claim about the fairness or unfairness of anything. The only thing I said about “unfair” is that I am not clear about how asking advice per-se equates to “unfair”, and maybe it’s just asking advice.

    If you wish to explain why asking advice per-se equates to “unfair”, I suppose you could do so — but please don’t put words in my mouth attributing to me a position I didn’t articulate and don’t hold.

    On that occasion, I can say I found it a bizarre process, and I kept thinking (correctly, as it turned out) that there was a tremendous amount of important context that was being omitted from the question posed to the assembly. I rather suspected that, whatever problem Tim was trying to resolve, the advisory vote was of dubious use to him — but I hope the fracas got the attention of people who could better advise him. Maybe that’s what happened.

  36. Rick Moen: If you wish to explain why asking advice per-se equates to “unfair”, I suppose you could do so

    When I see you return again and again to this angle that Tim came to the business meeting just “asking advice,” I’m baffled why you would think that Tim, part of a committee full of experienced Worldcon runners, and numbering lots of WSFS veterans among his acquaintances (say, I bet he knows Ben Yalow!), wasn’t already up to his scuppers in advice before he arrived at the business meeting. And if Tim came to the meeting for advice, how is it he didn’t canvass anybody for advice, but called for a vote on a yes or no answer to a predetermined question. That’s because the object was not advice, but the appearance of an official endorsement of a maneuver that could have resulted in a decisive number of pro-Chengdu votes being invalidated.

  37. JJ: the Winnipeg bid was filed completely in accordance with WSFS rules

    Doug: The same can be said about Bush v. Gore, or indeed about the Puppy slating exploits. They were allowed under an approach and set of facts that, to my knowledge, had never been used before and will probably never be used again.

    Your “knowledge” is faulty. You still haven’t done your research. The Winnipeg bid was filed under the same rules as every other Worldcon bid has been filed for many years.
    There was no “exploit”.

     
    Doug: As OGH notes later in the thread, the Winnipeg committee was not above pushing for more novel interpretations at a later stage in the process to try to win ’23.

    True. But that had no relation to their original bid filing. One shady thing does not automatically make another thing shady.

     
    Doug: The discussion also keeps making Meredith’s related point, that the go-to answer is “Don’t like it? Go make your own.” Which is too bad, really.

    Now this is just dishonest. Comparing the fact that people who want to take Worldcon members’ awards away from them are being told, “sorry, you’ll have to make your own awards” to the fact that people who want Worldcon to be more accessible are being told “volunteer and help make Worldcon better, or create your own con” is… wildly irrational, to say the least.

    Worldcon members should indeed work harder at making Worldcon accessible, without expecting people with disabilities to do all the work.

    But hey, if you can come up with a legitimate justification as to why Worldcon members should be willing to give their own awards program away to someone else, I’m just dying to hear it.

  38. Mike Glyer:

    I’m baffled why you would think that Tim, part of a committee full of experienced Worldcon runners, and numbering lots of WSFS veterans among his acquaintances (say, I bet he knows Ben Yalow!), wasn’t already up to his scuppers in advice before he arrived at the business meeting.

    You think you’re baffled! I found the entire thing extraordinarily peculiar. But I’ve paraphrased what the man said to the best of my recollection. (If you want to get his exact phrasing, there’s the tape.)

    Not only did I not know whether he’d canvassed people prior to the meeting, but also I’d heard only vague and peculiar rumours before it occurred, and encountered Kevin Standlee telling me and my wife Deirdre that everyone was angry at him over something he did: Nobody had bothered to brief us, the at-con newsletter issue #1 that (reportedly) briefly mentioned the controversy was hastily hoovered up and disposed of, before we arrived at the Omni Shoreham and hit Registration, and we weren’t lurking on the Internet; we were trying to get to and participate in the Worldcon.

    Anyway, your proposed narrative continues to strike me as not holding together. An advisory, non-binding “sense of the assembly” vote at the WSFS Business Meeting would be useless as “official endorsement” for the obvious reason that, as you and I, and everyone at the Business Meeting agreed, that parliamentary body has no authority over Site Selection, i.e., it’s sadly short on the “official” part. But, if it were assumed so, then the “maneuver” seems to have been epically incompetent, as it didn’t work at all — fizzled totally. If that was an Evil Overlord foray, then it was one from people who failed to read the Evil Overlord List.

    I think the way I think it played out has less of Rube Goldberg about it. (But who’s to say, without that truth serum?)

  39. As of the beginning of April 2021, planning for 2023 site selection was that Discon III begins August 25; bids for 2023 closed on February 21; bids on that date were Memphis and Chengdu.

    In the first third of April, Discon III announced the moved to their December 15–19 dates. The FAQ from Discon contained the following:

    Will the Hugo voting timeline or 2023 Worldcon site selection be affected?

    There are a few WSFS division activities which are being affected. As we have already closed site selection, we will not be reopening and shifting the filing deadline. There will be shifts to the Hugo voting timeline, so please watch for future updates.

    Emphasis added.

    Less than three weeks later — and publicly available information about bidding for a Worldcon is at pains to stress that bidding is a years-long process to build presence and support — Winnipeg announced its bid, while bidding was still closed.

    Within two days, Winnipeg had secured their friendly ruling.

    But please, JJ, do go on about how this is just the same as every other filing since forever.

  40. Further, though on a different track:

    people who want to take Worldcon members’ awards away from them

    This is not something I have ever said, nor is it something I have supported or would support. What I have said, is that there is a bit of a mismatch between the heft of the Hugos and an event that is a quarter the size of, for example, DreamHack Leipzig.

  41. Doug: In the first third of April, Discon III announced the moved to their December 15–19 dates. The FAQ from Discon contained the following:
    … we will not be reopening and shifting the filing deadline.

    Okay, here is your problem. You are assuming that DisCon III sets the bid filing rules, and that what DisCon III said was correct. This is not true. The WSFS Constitution sets the bid filing deadlines, and DisCon III’s statement was not correct.

    Which was why they quickly backed down when Winnipeg’s bid was submitted – because they knew that if they refused to accept the bid filing, they would be in violation of WSFS’ Constitution, and they would have been in for a world of hurt from WSFS members if they refused to accept a legitimate bid.

    4.6.1: To be eligible for site selection, a bidding committee must file the following documents with the Committee that will administer the voting:

    4.6.3: For a bid to be allowed on the printed ballot, the bidding committee must file the documents specified above no later than 180 days prior to the official opening of the administering convention.

    Winnipeg’s bid was filed more than 180 days prior to the official opening of DisCon III.

    Again, doing your research in the future will help you avoid looking like a numpty.

  42. Doug: What I have said, is that there is a bit of a mismatch between the heft of the Hugos and an event that is a quarter the size of, for example, DreamHack Leipzig.

    So what? Why should Worldcon members care about the opinions of people who think that there is a mismatch? Why shouldn’t Worldcon members go on giving out their Hugo Awards the same as they always have?

    I’m one of the many Worldcon members who does not equate size with superiority. I wouldn’t be caught dead going to SDCC, DragonCon, or the Chengdu Worldcon, because I have zero interest in attending conventions where attendees are crammed in like cattle in railroad cars and have to stand in line for hours to see something from the back of a room with thousands of people in it.

    I much prefer the intimacy of a Worldcon, where I have had genuine conversations with many authors (some “big name”, some “well-known”, some “up-and-coming”), and have gotten autographs from them and photos with them – without having to stand in line or pay a fee to do so. I’ve bought them drinks and gotten to hear their personal stories.

    Why TF would I want to go to a cattle-car convention, when I can do the intimacy of a Worldcon? Why would I care about what some random a$$hole thinks about whether Worldcon members deserve to own their own awards program?

  43. Mike Glyer: I can’t say these early fans are just misunderstood any more than the Jets singing that lyric in “Officer Krupke.”

    Dear Worldcon Member,
    Ya gotta understand:
    It’s just our outcastness
    That gets us outta hand.
    Our mothers all are Trekkies,
    Our fathers all are Slans.
    Holy Heinleins, natcherly we’re fans!

    Gee, Worldcon Member, we’re very upset;
    We never had the love that ev’ry fan oughta get.
    We ain’t no excluders,
    We’re misunderstood.
    Deep down inside us there is good!
    There is good!

    Dear kindly GoH, Guest of Honor,
    Co-workers treat us rough.
    They sneer at our action figures
    They disdain our fannish stuff.
    They mock us for our costumes,
    They say our fandom’s sad.
    Ringin’ Ringworlds, that’s why we’re so bad!

  44. I have yet to see a justification that doesn’t boil down to “welp, you did a really good job with these awards, but now they’re too good for you, so you should let someone better – or at least bigger, since that’s apparently the measure people work from – take them off your hands.”

    Which… no? You want to join in, and you can save up the supporting membership fee, you can. You want it to have different finalists? Start recommending and talking other nominators into trying out the things you like. People have done that! You want to care about a different award, you can, there are lots of them! Many! Pick one! Pick several! You want to make your own, you can, people do that: it’s why there are so many. But you can’t steal someone else’s awards because you think they’re not big enough for the awards they built.

  45. I am surprised the Business Meeting let the ballot disqualification resolution get to a vote. If the WSFS Constitution is confusing to interpret, there’s supposed to be a multi-year process to revise it. There isn’t a shortcut where the people interpreting it get the current Business Meeting to vote on their preferred interpretation.

    Throughout the Puppies debarkle the wise fen told us nothing could be done in the short term and we had to suffer for two years before our first chance to address the problem.

    But in this case the site selection area head made a public WSFS vote part of the deliberative process on whether to disqualify ballots. That should never happen.

  46. I share the bafflement at the argument that the Hugos should be administered by a bigger con because they are such an important award. Arguably, one of the things that makes the Hugos significant (in both the sense of the sff canon and marketing of current work) is the historical record. The awards have been given every year since 1955–my birth year!–with the first attempt in 953 (according to the official Hugo site). That’s nearly 70 years of work and of consideration, and while there are flaws, as there are in all human endeavors, there is a lot to praise. The Nebulas which are controlled by the SFWA didn’t come along until 1965.

    If people don’t like how the process is handled or the awards are given, they have options. Commenters have noted awards administered by larger cons — but I’d also note that there are two other awards that in process and focus differ from the Hugos that are worth supporting: the Otherwise Award and the Carl Brandon Society Awards. Fans saw problems in the existing processes and systems and created their own. And I’d argue that the existence of the Otherwise and Carl Brandon Society awards have affected the Hugos as well.

  47. @robinreid:

    with the first attempt in 953

    Of course back then, the rules regarding publication in English meant “Old English.”

  48. @Andrew (not Werdna): and “publication” meant “part of Hrothgar’s mead-hall reportoire”.

  49. I share the bafflement at the argument that the Hugos should be administered by a bigger con because they are such an important award.

    The original tweetchain was in part complaining that the nature of the WorldCon makes it liable to make missteps and hard to call to account. Which is true. It’s a self organising miracle. Insert slime mold joke here.

    My first WorldCon was Conspiracy, which was prominently sponsored by a Scientologist front organisation.
    Same old same old.

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