Pixel Scroll 4/18/22 You Get A File, I’ll Get A Troll, We’ll Head Down To The Pixel Scroll, Honey, Enemy Mine

(1) NEXT YEAR’S EASTERCON COMMITTEE PICKED. Conversation is the 2023 Eastercon – it will be held April 7-10. Where? “We don’t have a confirmed site yet,” they say. But somewhere in England. The convention website is here: Conversation 2023. And the guests of honor will be —

  • Zen Cho
  • Niall Harrison
  • Jennell Jaquays
  • Kari Sperring
  • Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Ursula Vernon (T Kingfisher).

(2) EUROCON REPORT. Polish fan Marcin Klak writes about “Luxcon Eurocon 2022 – Convention From Behind the Mask” – a report that includes a photo of TAFF delegate “Orange Mike” Lowrey.

It was so good to see the people. I haven’t seen some friends for two and more years. Being able to greet them differently than on Zoom was great. Meeting some new people was also awesome. And last, but not least I had the opportunity to meet in person people whom I met online but haven’t yet seen in the real world – this was so cool. I had no idea how strongly I missed all of that. Don’t understand me wrong – virtual conventions are awesome. I appreciate them and think they were a blessing for those of us who attended them. Yet getting back to in-person conventioning was magical….

(3) SEPTEMBER SONG. Allen Steele told Facebook followers his email contained “A ROTTEN EASTER EGG”, and after being turned down as a Chicon 8 program participant he had much to say about the application process. He says he was “uninvited” after answering the questionnaire — because he claims they initiated the contact thus, in his view, issued an invitation. However, Chicon 8’s head of program says it was Steele who initiated things by filling in the form on the website requesting to be contacted.

When I opened my email this morning, here was what I found, printed verbatim. It came from a staff member for this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, an annual event I’ve attended — albeit infrequently in recent years — as a fan since 1973 and as a professional SF writer since 1989. I hadn’t yet decided whether to attend this year’s worldcon, but if I had, it would’ve been the fourth time I’ve been to one in Chicago (including once as a writer with a story on that year’s Hugo ballot).

“Dear Allen Steele.

“Thank you for reaching out to us with your interest in being on Program at Chicon 8: The 80th World Science Fiction Convention. We’re sending this email to inform you that we will not be extending you an invitation to participate as a panelist for the 2022 Worldcon in Chicago.

“Deciding who to invite as panelists is an ongoing multistep process that includes reviewing your program survey answers and the input of many members of the Chicon Program Team. As we have received requests from well over 1500 people, we cannot accept everyone, and so some difficult choices have to be made.

“Best,

“[NAME DELETED}

Head of Program for Chicon 8

My Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs”

This has really floored me, in a number of ways and for a number of reasons. First: I didn’t “reach out” to them. Instead, they reached out to me, in email I received in early March asking whether I would be interested in attending this year’s worldcon. Perhaps it was not technically an invitation, but in the past when I’ve received letters of this nature from worldcon committees, I’ve always felt it safe to assume that I was being asked to attend (for those who don’t know: this kind of invitation doesn’t include a free membership or having any of my hotel or travel expenses paid; it simply asks whether you would like to participate in panels, book signings, readings, etc.). So when I received it, I gave a positive response, assuming this was another worldcon invitation, something I’ve done dozens of times for dozens of years….

Steele also “joked” about pronoun preferences such as they/them/theirs.

Artist Bob Eggleton, in comments, made a suggestion in the spirit of Jon Del Arroz:

Chicon 8’s process for becoming a program participant is explained in detail here. After someone contacts the committee, this is the first of several things that happen —

    • Within a few weeks we will send you the program participant survey. This tells us who you are, and gives us an overview of what you hope to contribute to the program. Among other things, this survey will include the opportunity to (optionally): Suggest panel topics that you would like to see run at the convention. Propose workshops and presentations that you would like to conduct as solo or duo presenters.
    • Potential participants will be put through a vetting process to make sure that they are aligned with the values and principles set out in the convention code of conduct and anti-racism statement….

(4) THAT’S NOT STREAMING, IT’S A FLOOD. Ask.com wants to know “When Did It Become a Job to Be a Fan?” You might wonder after reading the previous item. But conrunning is not the focus of this article.

I never watched episodes three and four of Disney+’s The Book of Boba Fett. I read recaps and just tuned in for the juicy Mando-and-Baby-Yoda-filled episodes of the Star Wars show. I didn’t bother with HBO Max’s Peacemaker; James Gunn’s brand of humor and the absurdist violence in the DC Extended Universe’s (DCEU) The Suicide Squad wasn’t exactly my thing. And even though I have a soft spot for Oscar Isaac, I don’t know if I’ll ever finish watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) Moon Knight. 

There’s way too much stuff to watch to be able to stay on top of everything — just take a look at our selection of movie and TV releases for April — and yet I can’t help but feel like a failed pop culture writer and media critic for all the things I’m skipping. I should be watching — and probably enjoying — all of it. But, most of the time, these serialized shows and movies that are part of a larger universe feel like homework….

(5) CHINESE SF. The Shimmer Program has released New Voices in Chinese Science Fiction, a collaboration between Clarkesworld and Storycom, edited by Neil Clarke, Xia Jia and Regina Kanyu Wang , including eight stories from Chinese sf writers. Early bird copies of the anthology have been sent out to the Kickstarter backers and it will be made available for purchase in June.

Writers: Shuang Chimu, Liu Xiao, Yang Wanqing, Hui Hu, Congyun “Mu Ming” Gu, Liang Qingsan, Shi Heiyao, Liao Shubo

Translators: Carmen Yiling Yan, Andy Dudak, Rebecca Kuang, Judith Huang, Emily Jin

(6) LONG REMEMBERED THUNDER. “Prehistoric Planet” is a five-night documentary event coming to Apple TV+ May 23.

…This series is produced by the world-renowned team at BBC Studios Natural History Unit with support from the photorealistic visual effects of MPC (“The Lion King,” “The Jungle Book”). “Prehistoric Planet” presents little-known and surprising facts of dinosaur life set against the backdrop of the environments of Cretaceous times, including coasts, deserts, freshwater, ice worlds and forests. From revealing eye-opening parenting techniques of Tyrannosaurus rex to exploring the mysterious depths of the oceans and the deadly dangers in the sky, “Prehistoric Planet” brings Earth’s history to life like never before. 

(7) HALF A CENTURY OF SIMULTANEITY. Space Cowboy Books of Joshua Tree, CA has released the 50th episode of the Simultaneous Times podcast.

Stories featured in this episode are:

  • “RealView”- by Liam Hogan (music by RedBlueBlackSilver), read by Jean-Paul Garnier & Robin Rose Graves
  • “Psionic Thread” by Sam Fletcher (music by Phog Masheeen), read by Jean-Paul Garnier

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1997 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] On this date a quarter of a century ago on Canada’s Citytv (which is sometimes just called City), Lexx (also known as LEXX: The Dark Zone Stories and Tales from a Parallel Universe) premiered as a series of four films. The series follows a group of rather unique and sometimes dysfunctional individuals aboard the living craft Lexx as they travel through two universes and encounter various planets including an Earth that is decidedly not ours. 

It was created by Paul Donovan, Lex Gigeroff and Jeffrey Hirschfield, none of which had a background in the genre in any meaningful sense before this. Hirschfield wrote for three of the four seasons Lexx ran and voiced the character of the robot head 790. 

Now Lexx had a large cast including Brian Downey, Eva Habermann and Xenia Seeberg. Should you be so inclined, and I’m not saying saying that you should be, go ask Google for the uncensored versions of the City broadcast Lexx as regards Eva Habermann and Xenia Seeberg. Let’s just say that when it hit Syfy that network reduced it from a hard “R” to a very friendly “PG” rating in terms of both language and nudity. I’ve also heard that quite a bit of violence was also removed as well. Remember that I’ve mentioned previously that Syfy emasculated Fifties SF series when they ran there too.

It would run, including the original four films of ninety-three minutes in length, for five seasons with the four actual seasons ending with a total of sixty-one episodes with a conventional running time of between forty-five and forty-eight minutes. SyFy trimmed three to five minutes out of each of these episodes. 

Though the series was primarily filmed in Canada and Germany befitting it being a Canadian and German co-production, additional filming done on location in the British Virgin Islands. Iceland, Namibia, New Zealand, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. I need a guide to which scenes were filmed where. Seriously I do. 

Reception was decidedly mixed. The New York Daily News reviewer said she “can only imagine that the great SciFi channel must have been captured by idiot monsters from outer space and Germany” but the Independent got it spot-on when they noted that it is “extremely gory, not a little nasty and rather fun”.  Finally the TV Guide summed it up by noting it is “a siren of distinction for its black comedy, skewed take on the human condition and open sexuality.” 

It currently has a ninety-two percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 18, 1884 Frank R. Paul. Illustrator who graced the covers of Amazing Stories beginning with this cover for April 1926, as well as Science Wonder Stories and Air Wonder Stories from June 1929 to October 1940 and a number of others.  He also illustrated the cover of Gernsback’s Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660 (Stratford Company, 1925), published first as a 1911–1912 serial in Modern Electrics. He was the Guest of Honor at the very first WorldCon, Nycon, in July 1939. He was inducted into Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2009. Stephen D. Korshak and Frank R. Paul’s From the Pen of Paul: The Fantastic Images of Frank R. Paul published in 2010 is the only work I found that looks at him. (Died 1963.)
  • Born April 18, 1930 Clive Revill, 92. His first genre role was as Ambrose Dudley in The Headless Ghost, a late Fifties British film. He then was in Modesty Blaise in the dual roles of McWhirter / Sheik Abu Tahir followed by The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes playing Rogozhin. A choice role follows as he’s The Voice of The Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back.  As for one-offs, he shows up in The Adventures of Robin HoodThe New AvengersWizards and Warriors in a recurring role as Wizard Vector, Dragon’s Lair, the second version of The Twilight ZoneBatman: The Animated Series in recurring role as as Alfred Pennyworth, Babylon 5Freakazoid in a number of roles, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Pinky and The Brain… that’s not even close to a full listing! 
  • Born April 18, 1946 Janet Kagan. Another one who died way too young, damn it. “The Nutcracker Coup” was nominated for both the Hugo Award for Best Novelette and the Nebula Award for Best Novelette, winning the Hugo at ConFrancisco. She has but two novels, one being Uhura’s Song, a Trek novel, and quite a bit short fiction which is out in The Complete Kagan from Baen Books and is available from the usual digital suspects as everything else by her.  (Died 2008.)
  • Born April 18, 1965 Stephen Player, 57. Some Birthday honor folks are elusive. What I did find is awesome as he’s deep in the Pratchett’s Discworld and the fandom that sprung up around it. He illustrated the first two Discworld Maps, and quite a number of the books including the25th Anniversary Edition of The Light Fantastic and The Illustrated Wee Free Men. Oh, but that’s just a mere small taste of all he’s done, He also did the production design for the Sky One production of Hogfather and The Colour of Magic. He did box art and card illustrations for Guards! Guards! A Discworld Boardgame. Finally, he contributed to some Discworld Calendars, games books, money for the Discworld convention. I want that money.
  • Born April 18, 1969 Keith R. A. DeCandido, 53. I found him working in these genre media franchises: such as Supernatural, AndromedaFarscapeFireflyAliensStar Trek in its various permutations, Buffy the Vampire SlayerDoctor WhoSpider-ManX-MenHerculesThorSleepy Hollow,and Stargate SG-1. Now I will admit that his Farscape: House of Cards novel is quite fantastic, and it’s available from the usual suspects. He’s also written quite a bit of non-tie-in fiction.
  • Born April 18, 1971 David Tennant, 51. The Tenth Doctor and my favorite of the modern Doctors along with Thirteen whom I’m also very fond of. There are some episodes such as the “The Unicorn and The Wasp” that I’ve watched repeatedly and even reviewed over at Green Man.  He’s also done other spectacular genre work such as the downright creepy Kilgrave in Jessica Jones, and and Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He’s also in the Beeb’s remake of the The Quatermass Experiment as Dr. Gordon Briscoe.
  • Born April 18, 1973 Cora Buhlert, 49. With Jessica Rydill, she edits the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a most excellent site. She has a generous handful of short fiction professionally published, and was a finalist for Best Fan Writer Hugo at CoNZealand and DisCon III, and has been nominated this year again at Chicon 8. Very impressive indeed! And of course she’s a member of our community here. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) COMICS FOR UKRAINE. Kurt Busiek is among the many stellar contributors to Comics for Ukraine: Sunflower Seeds, a benefit anthology edited by multi-Eisner Award-winner Scott Dunbier. The book will be full-color, 96 pages, 8×12 inches, and available in both hardcover and softcover editions.

Mark Evanier will be in the book, too:

Among the many writers and artists contributing to this effort are Sergio Aragonés and myself. We’re doing a new Groo story that will be included. You can see the whole list of contributors here and you can get your order in for a copy of this historic volume on this page.

There have been $28,808 of pre-orders, with 30 days to go. Order here.

A benefit anthology featuring an all-star lineup of comic book creators, with all proceeds being donated to Ukrainian refugees. Comics for Ukraine: Sunflower Seeds features an incredible roster of comics talent united under the mission of providing relief to the war-torn Ukraine, which has suffered attacks from neighboring Russia since late February. With the exception of hard costs (printing, credit-card fees, marketing) all of the funds raised by Comics for Ukraine: Sunflower Seeds will benefit the relief efforts in Ukraine in partnership with Operation USA. Since time of of the essence, if the campaign is successful, right after the campaign is over and payments have been collected by Zoop, all funds will be sent to Operation USA immediately.

(12) NO BRAINER? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] It’s apparently been a burning question for almost 2 decades. Is 28 Days Later a zombie movie or not? I mean, the revening hordes are not technically undead – type zombies, but they do act pretty much like one & spread the infection by biting their victims.

So, what does screenwriter Alex Garland say? But what about director Danny Boyle?  “28 Days Later writer settles long-running debate” at Digital Spy.

…The premise of 28 Days Later follows a pandemic caused by the accidental release of a contagious virus named The Rage, but the infected don’t die and then come back to life like a typical zombie.

However, they do exhibit zombie-like aggressive behaviour and spread the disease by biting victims, though, so that’s where the debate comes in….

(13) HE’S A BLOCKHEAD. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] News has broken that Jason Momoa will be trading in the ripped physiques of Aquaman and Duncan Idaho for the squared off physique of a lead character in a movie based on Minecraft. Or, at least, negotiations to that effect are nearing completion. “Jason Momoa to Star in ‘Minecraft’ Movie for Warner Bros.” says The Hollywood Reporter.

… Gaming movies have been on a hot streak in recent years, with 20th Century launching a hit franchise with Ryan Reynolds’ Free Guy last year, and Paramount finding success with its Sonic sequel earlier this month.

Momoa and Warners have Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom due out in March 2023. The film is the sequel to the $1 billion-grossing 2018 film Aquaman

(14) DROPPING THE HAMMER. Marvel Studios’ Thor: Love and Thunder opens in theaters July 8, 2022.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced – a quest for inner peace. But his retirement is interrupted by a galactic killer known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who seeks the extinction of the gods. To combat the threat, Thor enlists the help of King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi) and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who – to Thor’s surprise – inexplicably wields his magical hammer, Mjolnir, as the Mighty Thor. Together, they embark upon a harrowing cosmic adventure to uncover the mystery of the God Butcher’s vengeance and stop him before it’s too late.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Lindsay Ellis and Princess Weekes discuss “Why Magical Realism is a Global Phenomenon”.

Blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, magical realism in literature and other media combines fantasy elements with concrete realities to make statements about the world we live in. In this episode, we explore its roots, lay out the tenets of the genre, and discuss how it has flourished in Latin American Literature. Hosted by Lindsay Ellis and Princess Weekes, It’s Lit! is a show about our favorite books, genres, and why we love to read.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Rob Thornton, Bill, Will R., Nickpheas, 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 John A Arkansawyer.]

52 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/18/22 You Get A File, I’ll Get A Troll, We’ll Head Down To The Pixel Scroll, Honey, Enemy Mine

  1. Happy birthday Cora!

    (4) THAT’S NOT STREAMING, IT’S A FLOOD.
    I decided a long time ago not to be a completist. It’s not possible to watch/read everything. I’ve accepted that some things I just won’t get too, and the reasons for that are varied.

    BTW, “I Got Today’s Scrolldle in Fifth Guesses”.

  2. 4) THAT’S NOT STREAMING, IT’S A FLOOD. No, it isn’t a job to be a fan. I haven’t watched any of the Disney + series nor plan to in the foreseeable future, same for the HBO Max material.

    His argument is like saying that I need to read everything that major publishing houses, what I call the Great Houses, put out every year and that’s not going to happen either, is it?

    Relax, watch what you want to. You’ll be happy that way. Me I’m on series fifteen of the twenty five that the forensic mystery series Silent Witness has done so far and very, very satisfied that I’m watching it from beginning to its current series.

  3. 9) Re Frank R. Paul: He was also the Guest of Honor at The World Science Fiction Convention (which was all the name it officially had) in 1939 in New York. In those days, they didn’t have different classifications of Guests of Honor, nor did they have more than one. I don’t think they had an official Toastmaster at that con, either, although by some accounts Sam Moskowitz filled the role most effectively with his booming voice.

  4. A job to be a fan… and then mentions not one writers not connected to movie/tv?

    Paul was a wonderful artist, and people should seek out his work – they’re art.

    Ralph 124c41+… ah, yes. I have a copy. Sam Moskowitz described it perfectly as “a brilliant work of technical prophecy, broken every few pages by a few dreadful words of plot.”

  5. mark says A job to be a fan… and then mentions not one writers not connected to movie/tv?

    Thank you for noting that. I can go months without watching anything genre related but consume something of la iterary nature that’s genre nature every day. Right now I’m reading Gareth Powell’s most excellent Stars and Bones along with dipping into Jo Walton’s superb An Informal History of The Hugos.

  6. Cat – I was in the fecesbook group Concellation for the better part of a year, until I was attacked several times as a “gatekeeper” (whereas I was trying to open the gate…), and it would always be a flash mob of half a dozen or more. But what really got me fed up was that their definition of “fan” apparently was “DCU” or “MCU”. I realized what was going on when I actually saw someone ask if everyone would hate them if they “jumped fandoms”.

    As which point I said, “say wha?” Fandom, as I’ve been in it most of my life, has encompassed everything – books, movies, anime, comics, tv… and they think they’re only allowed one.

    sigh

  7. Thanks for the birthday wishes and thanks for including me in the birthday list. 🙂

    3) There is no obligation on the side of Chicon or any other con to put anybody on programming, if they don’t want them, if that person is a known troublemaker or not a good fit in general.

    Also, as far as I recall there was no obligation to fill in the pronoun field, if you didn’t want to.

    4) I sympathise with this a little. There are way more shows and movies out there, many of which are probably good, than I have time to watch. Plus, if you have been covering a show since the beginning there’s a certain pressure to continue, even if it’s no longer as good as it used to be.

  8. Mark says As which point I said, “say wha?” Fandom, as I’ve been in it most of my life, has encompassed everything – books, movies, anime, comics, tv… and they think they’re only allowed one.

    sigh

    Sigh indeed.

    I never understood the idea of purity. I really do like both the DCU and Marvel Universes as well things like the Gargoyles series and let’s not get started on the allure of the Sandman series and what place that fits into. Why not enjoy what you want without worrying about where it fits in some box?

  9. Cora Buhlert says Thanks for the birthday wishes and thanks for including me in the birthday list.

    You’re welcome. It was my pleasure to do so.

    And my deepest congratulations for getting nominated for Fan Writer for the third year in a row. That is indeed an impressive honor!

  10. Those Lexx episodes on YouTube are likely pirated which is why I didn’t link to them in my essay. I think it’s a bad idea to support piracy of intellectual material in any form what so ever here.

  11. David Tennant is Ten, not Eleven. We should also mention his brilliant ensemble work with Michael Sheen as the demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale, respectively, in Good Omens and the upcoming Good Omens 2

  12. (9) Happy birthday, David Tennant! He’s currently in Around the World in 80 Days, which should be genre, no? And like David Bradley and Sean Bean, he’s a fine Shakespearean actor, having played Touchstone, Romeo, Hamlet (with Patrick Stewart as Claudius) and Richard II (with Stewart as Gaunt) for the RSC, and Benedick with his buddy Catherine Tate.

  13. No, no obligation of any convention to have any individual on program, but when you get an email that includes an invitation to fill out the questionnaire, that was customarily considered to be an indication that you were being considered for inclusion, if not already wanted for inclusion provided you wanted to participate.

  14. (9) another fan of “The Nutcracker Coup” and Hellspark and Mirabile

  15. It is quite a leap to go from “considered for inclusion” to “entitled to a spot on programming” and making a big public fuss over it.

    The only result from this tantrum that I can see is that future Worldcons should just cross Steele off their list. He’s not worth the trouble.

  16. @Steve Davidson,

    After I purchased my membership for Worldcon 76 in Dublin, I received an email inviting me submit my details to perhaps be a panelist or otherwise participate in programming (as well as being invited to volunteer, but that is a very different thing of course). So just receiving such an email invitation doesn’t necessarily mean that the recipient has been pre-screened or pre-selected, it might simply be something that all members receive.

    I’m sure that everyone who did submit their details was, in fact, considered – just that not everyone was or could be accepted (for any number of reasons), as is the case with any position to which people might apply or for which people might volunteer.

  17. (3) A lot of conferences invite people to give suggestions on panels. That doesn’t mean they will accept them all. There are only so many rooms and so many time slots.

    One magazine I submitted to recently asked people to include pronoun preferences. This is useful to them because there are quite a few people with names that could be misgendered. (Imagine accidentally referring to Michael Learned as “Mister.”) Also, if somebody provides a rude answer that they think is clever, then that tells them this author might be a struggle to work with.

    By the way, if you pledged on the Brandon Sanderson Kickstarter, keep an eye out for a survey email asking for information so that you can get your rewards later. I got my email this morning. 🙂

  18. A day late, aber alles Gute zum Geburstag nachträglich Cora.

    3) I see such a reaction as a reason to not want someone at a con again as speaker.

    And you feal how old you are, when someone (a relative in this case), that you remember as baby is cellebrating her 18. birthday.

  19. 3.) I was somewhat flabbergasted by all the drama. It’s almost as if Steele felt he was entitled to a position, and then fell back on hollering “ageism! It’s all ageism!” when his posturing on pronouns got him rejected.

    Thing is, he was being a jerk about pronouns. In my experience (and a lot of conrunners, I suspect), if you’re being problematic about pronouns, odds are you’re going to be one about other people and their identities (as well as other things) on the panel. I may be an old, but I’ve been around long enough to know that if I see someone being an ass on social media, a quick look at their bio (especially on Twitter) will reveal someone being an ass about pronouns.

    Perhaps it’s because I’m small in the world of publishing (very very small), but I take every application to be on programming as seriously as I would a job interview. Which means not being an ass about pronouns on the application, for one.

    I don’t take being accepted for granted, and if I did get on panels at something like Worldcon, I’d be dancing for joy. I’d hope that if I ever become an “overnight success,” that I would still have that attitude….

  20. @cat

    Those Lexx episodes on YouTube are likely pirated which is why I didn’t link to them in my essay. I think it’s a bad idea to support piracy of intellectual material in any form what so ever here.

    Since they’re in a playlist headed with a typical YouTube label as ‘Free with ADS’, I think they’re fine. YouTube has acquired a lot of content, some of which they charge for individually, others they do ‘Free with ADs’.

  21. I think mid-list hard SF writers like Allen Steele are the core of SF, and should appear on the Chicon programme.

  22. Joyce Reynolds-Ward, pronouns counts a lot. Mike and I spend considerable time getting them just right in the Birthdays which is sometimes more difficult than you’d think it would be. I’ve had more than one such Birthday that I was writing up where the individual actually contradicted themselves in several places as to what the proper pronouns to use were!

    Lather was thirty years old today
    And Lather came foam from his tongue
    He looked at me eyes wide and plainly said
    Is it true that I’m no longer young?
    And the children call him famous
    What the old men call insane
    And sometimes he’s so nameless
    That he hardly knows which game to play
    Which words to say
    And I should have told him, no, you’re not old
    And I should have let him go on, smiling, baby wide

  23. John Bray says I think mid-list hard SF writers like Allen Steele are the core of SF, and should appear on the Chicon programme.

    Really? You want hard SF from what we call a midlist writer? (And that term is largely meaningless, isn’t it?) I’ll gave you Alasdair Reynolds, Joel Shepherd and Neal Asher who are far better writers than Allen Steele will ever be.

    Now there’s really no core to modern SF as it’s long since outgrown its Campbellian toots as a hard SF, hasn’t it? And thank the Queen of Air and Darkness for that! Arkady Martine writes what is hard SF and N.K Jemisin as well. I’d rather have them there than a whiner like him who kvetched about pronouns.

  24. I think mid-list hard SF writers like Allen Steele are the core of SF, and should appear on the Chicon programme.

    No matter how much bigotry they insist they must be free to spew! Yeah!

    And if any non-binary fans, or fans who care about non-binary fans, have any problems with being mocked, dehumanized, threatened, and insulted, that’s on them!

    Yes, that’s certainly an available choice. Alas, it’s not as if we had any non-bigotry-displaying midlist hard sf writers to choose from!

  25. Since I happen to remember some Allen Steele books I enjoyed a lot, I don’t think it’s necessary to denigrate his fiction simply to underline a decision made on the basis of what’s in his social media or his program participant application.

  26. I’ve not read anything by Allen Steele that I can recall, but even a cursory look at Wikipedia shows three Hugo Awards, over a reasonable stretch of time – all for written fiction, all for ‘Best Novella’. This seems to suggest someone a bit better than ‘mid-list’.

    And certainly, a multiple Hugo award winner could be a great choice to be on a panel – so inviting them to apply so participate seems like an excellent idea.

    Nevertheless, there are lots of circumstances where many more are invited to apply for something than will be able to be selected. And the choice of “winners” or in this case panel participants can come down to all sorts of reasons – and it may well be that every single applicant could have been excellent, but still some choice has to be made and some will not be chosen.

    So even in the face of such an invitation, nobody is entitled to be on a panel.

  27. hristian Brunschen says I’ve not read anything by Allen Steele that I can recall, but even a cursory look at Wikipedia shows three Hugo Awards, over a reasonable stretch of time – all for written fiction, all for ‘Best Novella’. This seems to suggest someone a bit better than ‘mid-list’.

    The number of Hugos a writer has won has nothing to do with the term midlist. Midlist is an industry term that merely means they sell well enough to justify their publisher continuing to contract with them for future work but not so well that they are ever actually are bestsellers.

    Hugos are given by fans, contracts by numbers crunchers. Big difference there.

    Such authors are just one poor selling work from getting dropped by their publisher or being asked to agree to terms much less favorable than what they have now. Yes, I know of both happening.

    I’m betting there are more than a few authors who have multiple Hugos to their name that were anything but successful financially speaking.

  28. at Eldridge on April 19, 2022 at 11:51 am said

    The number of Hugos a writer has won has nothing to do with the term midlist. Midlist is an industry term that merely means they sell well enough to justify their publisher continuing to contract with them for future work but not so well that they are ever actually are bestsellers.

    I’m not in the publishing industry, but I guess I’ve learned a new term.

    It seemed to me that ‘mid-list’ was being used in this conversation to suggest that the author’s writing was generally bad; the fact that their writing has won multiple Hugo awards suggests at least in part otherwise. That’s really all I was trying to convey.

    The rest of the point stands, of course – even being invited to apply to participate does not constitute a guarantee that a place of participation will be found, nor does it entitle anyone to such a place.

  29. Christian Brunschen: I’m also troubled by the use of the term midlist for two reasons, first, I only see it used as a pejorative, second, if there is a top of the list at a publishing house it stands to reason only a few writers are on it. So why should we act like being on the midlist is some kind of embarrassing thing when getting published, especially repeatedly, represents a mark of success in this field.

  30. Mike, I’m not using it as a pejorative. But it is a matter of life for far too many authors that being midlist is an awful place to be as one less than optimal selling work can get you dropped by your publisher or be told that your contract will be much less desirable.

    And yes only a few authors at any given time are perched at the top of the tree whereas the rest are lower down in the branches. Some much, much lower.

  31. Christian Brunschen says It seemed to me that ‘mid-list’ was being used in this conversation to suggest that the author’s writing was generally bad; the fact that their writing has won multiple Hugo awards suggests at least in part otherwise. That’s really all I was trying to convey.

    No, but Hugos have nothing to do with writers as being generators of economic wealth. A Hugo is honor given by members of fandom. Midlist is statement of where a writer stands within the status of a given publishinghouse. They have absolutely nothing in common.

    A poorly selling novel can win a Hugo. And I’m sure some have. We don’t give Hugos based on well a work sells, do we?

  32. Meredith Moment: Early Bird Books has an ebook sale featuring Alan Dean Foster, Barbara Hambly (most notably the Darwath trilogy in one volume for $2.99), Paul Di Fillipo, C.L. Moore, and others. Available at the Usual Suspects.

  33. I see “midlist” as referring to authors who are known for steady sales, even if they aren’t best-sellers. They are the authors who hold up the publishing industry because of their steady sales. When I first learned the term, I realized most of my favorite genre authors were midlist authors.

    Publishing attitudes have changed toward midlist authors — because of accounting and inventory. (Look up articles on the Thor Power Tool Company decision.) But not because of their quality.

    Midlist authors are more often cut than they were when I first learned the term. All it takes is one bad cover, one book that a chain decides not to order for whatever reason, one distribution problem…

    Does anybody remember when a big publisher cut a large number of genre midlist authors (circa 1997), and it made actual national news?

    About that time, I attended a writing seminar where the keynote speaker was a midlist mystery author. Weeks before the seminar, she was cut by her publisher. As you might expect, much of her speech was about that and about what genre writers have to do to avoid being cut in that environment.

    I overhead some ignoramus in the audience muttering that he couldn’t believe the main speaker was someone who had been cut by her publisher. “What can she teach us?” (Hmm… Manners, for one?)

  34. There’s a writer who’s a friend of mine who was on Tor who had one work that underperformed after years of very well selling works. Yes he was a midlist author who yes had won major genre Awards.

    He has given the option, no told, that he could only stay with them if he accepted a contract that was much more unfavorable than his existing one. He walked away and has had a successful career elsewhere with several different publishers.

  35. Anne Marble says Midlist authors are more often cut than they were when I first learned the term. All it takes is one bad cover, one book that a chain decides not to order for whatever reason, one distribution problem…

    I have to believe that the Pandemic was particularly devastating on midlist writers everywhere. Top selling writers could ride out the closure of damn near every bookshop in North America but these writers couldn’t as the loss of in-person sales at places like Books-A-Million had to really, really deeply effect their finances.

  36. It’s not an exact fit, but for “midlist wrier,” try substituting “character actor.” But then, just about every movie or TV production needs character actors, which makes it a stable job category and career niche. And since many publishers seem to have decided that they can make their businesses go with only stars and up-and-coming potential stars, “midlist” has come to imply “underperforming” or “insufficient ROI” or other spreadsheet-centric things. (Consolidation and concentration of coporate ownership doesn’t help, either.)

  37. Russell Letson says It’s not an exact fit, but for “midlist wrier,” try substituting “character actor.” But then, just about every movie or TV production needs character actors, which makes it a stable job category and career niche. And since many publishers seem to have decided that they can make their businesses go with only stars and up-and-coming potential stars, “midlist” has come to imply “underperforming” or “insufficient ROI” or other spreadsheet-centric things. (Consolidation and concentration of coporate ownership doesn’t help, either.)

    The crucial difference, and it is a very important one, is that most midlist authors are generally tied inextricably to one or two publishing houses whereas character actors are not tied to one production company as that’s not how that business operates for them. They’re freelancers

    A character actor that’s well known and in demand by casting agents can work on productions that are done by companies that have nothing to do with each other. Say that individual is resident in Vancouver, British Columbia — you might see her on a half dozen of your favorite genre series that are filmed there. That never happens to a midlist writer who’s lucky to have contracts with three or four publishers.

    Admittedly that character actor is being paid one-off rates most times. Hopefully they are a Union member.

  38. Cat, thanks for the Jefferson Airplane. I assume but do not know if Paul Kantner, a well known SF fan and Hugo nominee, played on that great song, “Lather.”

  39. A quick search reveals that Grace Slick supposedly wrote “Lather” as a memorial to the 30th birthday of their drummer Spencer Dryden and the arrest of their bassist Jack Casady on nudity charges.

  40. Dave Hook says Cat, thanks for the Jefferson Airplane. I assume but do not know if Paul Kantner, a well known SF fan and Hugo nominee, played on that great song, “Lather.”

    He’s present when they preform it live on The Smothers Brothers.

  41. @Cat on two separate things:
    Thanks for the Jefferson Airplane quote–it was one of Gail’s (my late wife’s) favorite songs.

    As for JWC Jr, his day was done around the time I was born (1950). F&SF (Boucher and later the Fermans) and Galaxy (Gold) provided competition Astounding couldn’t quite match. By the time Campbell changed its name to Analog, Frederik Pohl was in charge of If and Galaxy (and for a time Worlds of Tomorrow), and Campbell fell further and further behind. I don’t think Campbell ever knew what the New Wave WAS, while Pohl embraced it (and Ellison practiced and preached it). Sometimes I think most of the current griping about “traditional hard SF” vs. “all that other stuff” sounds a lot like the complaining I heard back in the 1960s and 1970s about the New Wave. It seems as though they’re beating a horse that has been dead for so long it’s just a skeleton.

  42. I put in an application for programming because of my experience with Worldcons who list the people on the Business Meeting staff (in my case, assistant videographer, i.e. Lisa Hayes’ gopher) as program participants, which means those people need to be in Programming’s database. When I got a “sorry” email, I wrote back and told them explicitly that I wasn’t offended by that.

    Programming gets to decide who is on Programming. Nobody is entitled to be on programming. Unless you want a single program item scheduled for 3 AM on the day after the convention on the sidewalk in front of the hotel entitled, “All of the People who Consider Themselves Entitled to be on Programming.”

  43. I also went through the programming procedure for Chicon—and was also turned down. So I’ll be able to heckle Joe Siclari and Edie Stern from the audience, instead of having to sit on panels somewhere and talk about Stuff.

    I had a long talk with Allen Steele at Boskone. We share medical procedures, having both had Whipple Procedures (Google it) for Pancreatic Cancer. His incision was vertical, mine horizontal. No idea why.

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