Pixel Scroll 5/4/16 (Take Another) Piece Of My Artificial Heart

May the 4th be with you

(1) BREAKING THINGS. Wired studies the physics behind the destruction of a Super Star Destroyer in Star Wars.

The Mass of the Death Star

The real question remains—why is it moving so fast? There are three possible answers:

After rebels destroyed the bridge, the Super Star Destroyer veered out of control and used its thrusters to drive into the Death Star.

The Destroyer used its engines in some way to stay above the Death Star. The attack eliminated this ability, and the ship fell into the Death Star due to the gravitational interaction between the two objects.

The impact was the result of the engines and gravity.

For the purpose of this analysis, I am going to assume the collision was due only to the gravitational interaction. If that’s the case, I can use this to estimate the mass of the Death Star.

(2) ANATOMY OF A REWRITE. Mark Hamill confirmed the story: “It’s official: ‘The Force Awakens’ almost started with Luke’s severed hand”.

“I can tell you now, the original opening shot of [Episode] VII, the first thing that came into frame was a hand and a lightsaber, a severed hand,” Hamill reveals in a video Q&A with The Sun timed to May the 4th. “It enters the atmosphere [of the desert planet Jakku] and the hand burns away.”

The lightsaber landed in the sand, and an alien hand picked it up. Hamill says he doesn’t know if that alien was Maz Kanata, the castle owner who has the lightsaber in a trunk in the movie.

Then “the movie proceeds as you see it” — presumably meaning we’d cut from the alien hand to a Star Destroyer above Jakku as Stormtroopers depart in shuttles, then Max Von Sydow handing the all-important map with Luke’s whereabouts to Oscar Isaac.

(3) FOURTH WITH. Digg has a compilation of Star Wars related fan art.

The “Star Wars” fanbase has always been fantastically passionate and creative, so in honor of their greatest holiday, here’s a bunch of different kinds of fan art to represent every corner of the “Star Wars” universe.

(4) FASHION STATEMENT. Michael A. Burstein had a big day, and shared a photo with his Facebook readers.

Today, I was sworn in for my fifth term as a Brookline Library Trustee. In honor of Star Wars Day, I wore my Han Solo vest.

(5) EQUAL TIME. That other famous franchise is making news of its own. Canada Post will issue a set of Star Trek themed stamps to commemorate the show’s 50th anniversary. Linn’s Stamp News ran an article about the stamp for Scotty.

The three previous Canada Post Star Trek designs have pictured William Shatner as Capt. James T. Kirk on a commemorative stamp similar to the Scotty design, the Starship Enterprise on a coil stamp, and Leonard Nimoy as Spock, also in commemorative format. Full details of the set, and the planned issue date, have not been officially revealed by Canada Post, though information released with the “Scotty” stamp design added, “More stamps are to be revealed soon.”

And Canada Post has release several short videos previewing the series.

(6) YOU DID IT. Donors stepped up to support Rosarium Publishing’s Indiegogo appeal and Rick Riordan dropped $10,000 of matching funds in the pot. The appeal has now topped $40,000 in donations.

(7) J.K. ROWLING’S ANNUAL APOLOGY. On May 2, the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, J.K. Rowling followed her tradition.

(8) FIRST FAN. Inverse knows this is the perfect day to dip into Craig Miller’s font of Star Wars anecdotes: “George Lucas’s Original Plans for ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ and Boba Fett Revealed”.

Craig Miller, Lucasfilm’s first fan relations officer, reveals the original plan for ‘Return of the Jedi.’

…“At first there was one film, and then George originally announced that it was one of 12, and there were going to be 12, and then that changed to, oh there was never 12, there was only 9, and he was going to make 9,” Miller said. “And then during all of it, George kind of lost interest in continuing it… While we were working on The Empire Strikes Back, George decided he was going to complete the first film trilogy and that would be it.

“And I remember sitting in a mixing room with George, working on Empire, and he told me he was just going to make the third movie, which didn’t have a title at that point, and then stop,” Miller continued. “He was going to retire from making big movies and make experimental movies. And that’s why the whole plot of the third movie, what became Return of the Jedi, completely changed.”

Lucas’s 15-year retirement from Star Wars didn’t do much to derail the enthusiasm amongst hardcore fans, who showed early on that they were very, very dedicated to the Galaxy far, far away. Miller remembers one of his better publicity coups, setting up an 800 number (1-800-521-1980, the film’s release date) that allowed fans to call in before Empire and hear little clues about the upcoming sequel, as recited by Luke, Leia, Han Solo, C-3PO and Darth Vader.

“There was no advertising; we talked about it at conventions, and Starlog ran a two paragraph announcement of it,” Miller recalled. “And with just that, we completely swamped the 800 system.”

AT&T forced Lucasfilm to buy more phone lines, cease their advertising (easy, since they weren’t doing any), and apologize to the public and other 800-number users. “That was great because now it was being carried all over the world that we were apologizing that Star Wars fans were so enthusiastic about seeing Empire that they swamped AT&T,” Miller said, laughing.

(9) MAKING THE SCENE. Cat Rambo shares some material from a class, that takes apart what having a scene gives you for purposes of making it into a story: “More From Moving from Idea to Draft”

What it is:

A scene is usually a moment in time that has come to you. It usually has strong visual elements, and something is usually happening, such as a battle, or has just happened in it (a battlefield after the fighting is done). It is probably something that would appear at a significant moment of a story and not be peripheral to it.

What it gives you:

  • Everything but the plot. But actually, that’s not true. What is the main source of tension in the scene, what is the conflict that is driving things? That is probably a version of the overall plot.
  • A scene gives you a strong slice of the world and all that is implicit in that, including history and culture.
  • If characters are included in your scene, they are usually doing or have just done something more purposeful than just milling about. You have some sense of their occupation, their economic circumstances, and often some nuances of their relationship.

(10) NED BROOKS. Part of the late Ned Brooks’ fanzine collection is on display at the University of Georgia, where his family donated it.

The university library’s blog has posted “To Infinity and Beyond! Selections from the Ned Brooks Fanzine Collection”.

A look at a fun collection examining all facets of science fiction fandom. Included are representative fanzine titles from the 17,000+ issues to be found in the Brooks zine collection. They represent a variety of times (including the zine some hold to be the earliest Science Fiction zine in the U.S., Planet #1, from July of 1930), a myriad of international locales, and a broad spectrum of specialized Fandom communities and their interests. Mementos from Brooks’ 38-year career with NASA’s Langley Research Center, along with a vintage typewriter and early reproduction equipment.

The exhibit, in the Rotunda of the Russell Special Collections Libraries, will be up through July.

(11) COOL SPACE PICTURES. Digg has “The Best Space Photos from April”.

Every day satellites are zooming through space, snapping incredible pictures of Earth, the solar system and outer space. Here are the highlights from April.

(12) YA AND AWARDS. Joe Sherry makes raises a point about YA in his post about “2016 Locus Award Finalists” at Adventures in Reading.

This is likely worth a longer discussion, but this year’s Locus Awards are pretty close to what the Hugo Awards should have looked like in the absence of the Rabid Puppy participants voting a slate in apparent lockstep….

Now, there are things we can argue with because it isn’t an awards list or a list of books at all if there isn’t something to argue with. For example, the YA category features five books written by men even though a huuuuuuge number of YA novels are written by women. Further, Navah Wolfe points out that the nominees in this category are, across the board, writers best known for adult science fiction and fantasy.

In terms of the Locus Awards, I think this is a bug rather than a feature. Locus (and it’s readers who voted / nominated), as a whole, is far more plugged into the adult SFF scene. Their nominees for Young Adult Book very strongly reflects this.

This isn’t to say that these finalists are bad, because they very much are not, but they are also not reflective of the YA field.

A committee has been looking at a proposed YA Hugo category for a couple of years. The Hugo voter demographic is probably similar to that of Locus voters. So if we make two assumptions – that the category had existed this year and was not affected by a slate – wouldn’t the shortlist have looked pretty much like the Locus Award YA novel category? And how does that affect people’s interest in having a YA Hugo category?

(13) DEFECTION FROM THE RANKS.

(14) ANOTHER SHOCK. Because that’s what popularly voted awards do?

(15) USE OF WEAPONS. Paul Weimer curated the latest SF Signal Mind Meld reading pleasure today, in which people talk about their favorite SF/F weapons.

(16) TODAY IN HISTORY. Norm Hollyn remembered on Facebook:

May 4 is the 19th anniversary of the death of Lou Stathis, one of my closest friends and major influences (I first heard the Mothers thanks to him). Hopefully you’re happily playing the kazoo wherever you are.

(17) HAY THERE. Signal boosting author Judith Tarr’s appeal to help feed her horses.

Right now I do not know how I’m going to feed the horses for the rest of the month. I have managed to scrape out enough to pay for the last load of hay (if that late check finally gets here), but once it’s eaten, which it will be in about ten days, I don’t know what I’m going to do. The farm will be gone by midsummer unless I find a steady source of sufficient income. I’ve been hustling like a hustling thing but so far with minimal results.

The market does not want either me or the horses. The horses are all old and therefore retired and unsalable, or else would require thousands of dollars’ worth of training and show fees to have any sale value. No one can take them. The market is saturated with unwanted horses and the rescues are overloaded. I am over 60, hearing impaired (ergo, unable to use the phone), and with chronic fatigue syndrome which makes office or minimum-wage work difficult to impossible. And minimum wage would not support the animals, let alone me. All my income streams from backlist books, editing, writing, etc. have shrunk to a trickle or dried up. No one has booked a Camp in over a year.

I have had a few small things come through, but as with everything else, they’ve fallen short or failed to produce. I continue to push, and with the fiction writing regaining its old fluidity, I may manage to make something happen there. I’ve been urged to try an Indiegogo for a short novel, and I am closing in on that. (Indiegogo, unlike Kickstarter, offers an option that pays even if the goal is not met. The goal would be enough to cover mortgage, horses, and utilities for a month.) Since for the first time in my life I’m able to write more than one project at a time, that means I can continue to meet my obligation to backers of last November’s Kickstarter for a science-fiction novel, and also write the novella (and short stories, too).

A friend suggested that I offer sponsorships for the horses. I feel weird about that, but they need to eat. What I would give in return is a little writeup about the horse being sponsored, with a digital album of pictures and a monthly update. And short fiction as it happens, if you are a reader with an interest….

Details and specific support levels at the site.

(18) MEMORY OF THINGS PAST. Katster once was “Dreaming of Rockets”

Of course things got derailed.  My cunning plan to eventually raise myself to a point where I’d get notice from the nominating body of Worldcon crashed hard with two factors — the rise of blogs and fancasts as well as the related fact that pros were getting nominated in the fan awards and, more importantly, my own demons.

I’d end up semi-GAFIAting (the acronym means Getting Away From It All, and covered anybody who’s dropped out of science fiction) and not being very enamored of fandom in general.  The break point came in 2013, with a completely different award.  Fanzine fandom recognizes its own in an award called the Fan Achievement Awards (FAAns) and I’d hoped a particular issue of my fanzine Rhyme and Paradox I’d poured my heart into might have a chance at Best Issue.  A friend of mine said he was nominating it, and I hesitantly nominated it myself, hoping in some way that it would end up on the shortlist.  It didn’t, and the award was won by somebody that was well known in fandom for a typical issue of his (once a year) fanzine.

The blow really came when I got ahold of the longlist and found how many votes my ‘zine had gotten.  It had gotten two, one from my friend and one from me.  It stung like hell.  Here I had poured my heart out writing that zine (I still think it’s some of my best writing ever) and it had sailed quietly in the night.  I know, it’s just an award, and all these things are popularity contests, but even now, I feel the hurt in that moment.

I wonder if it’s the same hurt that has fueled the slates.  The influence of failing to get an award did somewhat lead Larry Correia to start making slates.  As I’ve said before, the Hugos were vulnerable to this kind of attack, but it was explained to me pretty early in fandom that making slates was anathema in fandom, a policy only practiced by Scientologists.  Everybody knows where the rest of this story goes.

(19) ANTI. “’Ghostbusters’ Is the Most Disliked Movie Trailer in YouTube History” says The Hollywood Reporter.

Not only does it have the most dislikes for a trailer on the social platform, but it also makes the top 25 most disliked videos overall.

Things are not boding well for director Paul Feig’s upcoming Ghostbusters based on the film’s first official trailer on YouTube.

Released March 3, the trailer, viewed 29.2 million times and counting, is the most disliked movie trailer in YouTube history, according to “MyTop100Videos” channel’s “Most Disliked Videos” list that was last updated April 16. (Justin Bieber comes in at No. 1 with 5.99 million dislikes for “Baby.”)

Coming in at No. 23, the reboot — starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth — has more than double the number of dislikes as likes (208,606)….

Although there has been controversy over the trailer, with many YouTube comments centered around the all-female cast, the video has been generating mostly positive reviews on Facebook with 1,186,569 positive reactions (like, love, haha and wow) and 32,589 negative reactions (sad, angry). The reactions add up to 97.3 percent positive sentiments on Facebook overall.

(20) BREAK THE PIGGY BANK. Coming August 16 in Blu-Ray/DVD — “The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension [Collector’s Edition]”. (Doesn’t it feel like you’ve been reading the word “buckaroo” a lot this week?)

Expect the unexpected… he does.

Neurosurgeon. Physicist. Rock Star. Hero. Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller, Robocop) is a true 80s renaissance man. With the help of his uniquely qualified team, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, Buckaroo is ready to save the world on a moment’s notice. But after his successful test of the Oscillation Overthruster – a device that allows him to travel through solid matter – he unleashes the threat of “evil, pure and simple from the 8th Dimension”… the alien Red Lectroids.

Led by the deranged dictator Lord John Whorfin (John Lithgow), the Lectroids steal the Overthruster with the intent of using it to return to their home of Planet 10 “real soon!” But no matter where you go, there Buckaroo Banzai is… ready to battle an interdimensional menace that could spell doom for the human race.

How can Buckaroo stop the Lectroids’ fiendish plots? Who is the mysterious Penny Priddy? Why is there a watermelon there? For the answers to these and other questions, you have to watch The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, monkey boy!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, James Davis Nicoll, Will R., Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

293 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/4/16 (Take Another) Piece Of My Artificial Heart

  1. Camestros:

    Oh yes, I am fully up-to-date on Cap & Avengers stuff (I’m Team Pre-serum!Steve). Good to know I don’t *have* to binge SHIELD — only if I want to. *g*

  2. Hampus Eckerman on May 5, 2016 at 1:09 pm said:

    I don’t think I would vote for 3SV. While it is good for weeding out blockvoters, I’m not fond of starting a culture of downvoting.

    Earlier today, I included an addendum to Double Nominations based on a suggestion posted at Making Light that the semi-final stage of DN be approval voting: check any of the works you like, up to and including all 16 including a write-in; the five works with the most yes votes make the shortlist; not checking a work is effectively voting against it. This might balance the desire for people to be positive and the countering desire to “vote against” things.

    In addition, I have written up yet another proposal suggested to me that doesn’t require an intermediate stage of voting, which I called Plus 2. This would allow the Administrators to add up to 2 (or 1, 3, 4, or 5; I’m not too hung up about the specific number other than being leery of doubling the number of finalists) finalists from among the Top 15 or those nominees that were named on at least 5% of the ballots cast in each category. This raises the spectre of Administrator Judgement and probably cries of secret cabals and backroom deals, but it also takes off the table the idea of letting Administrators disqualify individual voters or specific finalists for non-technical grounds. And as I explain in the LJ post, there’s even a historical precedent for Administrators to add entries when they think there has been foul play in the nominations, albeit it was done without legal sanction and in the end there were only five finalists anyway as a finalist withdrew.

    If presented with all three of these proposals, I honestly do not know which one I would prefer at this time. I need to think about it more, and I need to probably write something that discusses all three of them. I have been invited to write an overview piece on this subject, and hope to do so very soon.

  3. I strongly suspect that Chuck Tingle not only reads File770, but will be in attendance at WorldCon (and probably the Hugo Awards) even if no one knows it.

    Someone should bring “secretly Chuck Tingle” badge ribbons to hand out.

  4. Kevin:

    “Earlier today, I included an addendum to Double Nominations based on a suggestion posted at Making Light that the semi-final stage of DN be approval voting: check any of the works you like, up to and including all 16 including a write-in; the five works with the most yes votes make the shortlist; not checking a work is effectively voting against it. This might balance the desire for people to be positive and the countering desire to “vote against” things.”

    Oh, I can see I have to think about this for a while. It is a very interesting take. I do believe it removes one of my fears of 3SV where most people would skip voting in a year they thought the candidates were more or less acceptable, leaving the field open for political or personal down voters.

    Your Plus 2 seems like a variant of what is used in the Bram Stoker Awards. I could go with that one too I guess.

    This feels great. I hate it when there is only option to quickly where people are in panic mode and don’t really try to think of alternatives. Much better when people take their time to find the best solution and take as many parameters as possible into account.

  5. @Naomi Kritzer – Someone should bring “secretly Chuck Tingle” badge ribbons to hand out.

    I think that is a fantastic idea. Maybe in exchange for donations to the Orangutan Foundation?

    @Red Wombat, please take this half of an internet (it’s the half untouched by Chuck Tingle). That was awesome.

  6. Interesting. I’ll look forward to the overview. I personally don’t think Plus 2 would solve the problem. As a Worldcon member, what I’m looking for at this point is something to further mitigate the effects of any bloc that bears ill will and is pushing nominees in order to antagonize others.

    I don’t believe EPH will do enough to keep such a group from getting antagonistic picks onto the shortlist because that’s not the problem EPH was created to defeat. EPH goes after bloc voting and doesn’t cast a critical eye on the works that succeed, being a mere algorithm.

    Plus 2 also deals only with the number of finalists. It would give Hugo voters more choices to award, but would also allow antagonistic finalist works to remain. And I for one am not okay with having works on the shortlist that were voted there in order to harass others. I would prefer to have some sort of recourse for expressing my disapproval of such before the antagonizing work reaches the point where it is honored by becoming a finalist.

    From what I can tell so far, disapproval-based 3SV and approval-based Double Nominations would allow me to do that, so those are the proposals I am currently the most interested in.

  7. @10: typo? The link says “Ned Books” but the headline says “Ned Brooks”.

  8. @Kevin Standlee: This year has convinced me that something like 3SV is necessary, but I like your addended Double Nomination system even better.

  9. I’m picturing a Spartacus* moment during the award ceremonies where various people stand up and proclaim, “I am Chuck Tingle!”

    * Or To Tell the Truth if you’re not into gladiator movies.

  10. Lauowolf:

    I’d like to see a free-standing YA award, along the lines of the Campbell, living in the Hugos, but slightly separate.

    That’s actually what the committee is planning. Would it help with the current problem, though? The voters would still be the Hugo voters. It would help with the ‘How do we decide what is YA?’ problem (which, by the way, the Abercrombie case shows to be a real problem), and the ‘disqualifying YA from Best Novel’ problem’, but not the ‘the Hugo voters are the wrong people’ problem.

  11. Chip Hitchcock: Yep, a typo. Thanks for catching it. Appertain yourself the beverage of your choice!

  12. Re: “Double Nominations,” cross-posted to the LJ post:

    Hmmm.

    Currently, the Hugos favor entries with a strong support base for the shortlist, and then the least-disliked among those, which is a decent balance.

    This method adds a stage in the middle, where basically we consolidate among a longer list of entries with strong support bases.

    My chief fear is that this makes it even harder for something niche to make its way onto the ballot. If you’ve got a niche hit with 100 nominating votes, you could get that on the shortlist, and expose it to a wider audience. Under this proposal, though, you’d be on the shortlist, but getting onto the longlist would be really, really tough.

    A very plausible example is this: imagine the short story comes in with 13 stories that are free online; and 2 from print magazines. I can guarantee you that the number of new reads those print magazines are going to get from the longlist is going to be awfully, awfully slim.

    —-

    I don’t know. This sounds good on paper, but it worries me a lot. Think how many years people have hated the ballot, or most of it. Think of all the “My favorites never get a Hugo” sentiments, which is pure and fannish and fine. The idea that you’ll have enough participants in this new step who will be sufficiently engaged and enthusiastic about the longlist to push a “good” ballot to the top, opposed by a uniform bloc… Well, it’s not unreasonable. But to be honest, it’s asking rather a lot. It’s highly affected by, well, what people actually go ahead and vote for – if not enough of the nominees are clear “draws,” then sincere participation can be very low indeed. (And let’s be honest – if they were clear draws, they had a decent chance of making it past the slates anyway.)

    TL;DR: This seems to me like an awfully big step with strong potential to affect the results in unexpected ways – particularly, leaning towards existing popularity as opposed to spotlighting new work. I’d need some really good pitches for this proposal in order to warm to it.

  13. @Kevin Standlee.
    I like the sound of Plus2. I suspect it could be made less arbitary i.e certain numerical conditions could apply to trigger it – something that indicates that there are popular nominees that aren’t in the top 5.

  14. I’m about as invested in Ghostbusters as I am in Star Wars – not, IOW – but a quick perusal of comments on YouTube reveals numerous people bragging of downvoting the trailer on “principle” and creating new accounts to downvote it more than once. Looking just at the ratio of views to upvotes, it’s running a little behind the generally well-received “Ballroom Blitz trailer” for Suicide Squad. It has more than 10x the upvotes the last B(v)S trailer got. OTOH, it has two orders of magnitude more dislikes than the Fury Road trailer did, and Fury Road was of course an MRA boycott target.

    On balance, I doubt the downvote tally on GB means much. The YouTube cesspit is particularly corrosive of the sort of thing GB promises.

  15. Wildcat:
    I don’t believe EPH will do enough to keep such a group from getting antagonistic picks onto the shortlist because that’s not the problem EPH was created to defeat. EPH goes after bloc voting and doesn’t cast a critical eye on the works that succeed, being a mere algorithm.

    Yeah, EPH was created with last year’s finalists in mind. The slate works may have been dreck (IMO, and also the majority opinion) but they were nominated by WSFS members after all (albeit a small percentage). The problem was the small percentage gaining a disproportionately large representation on the final ballot.

    And I for one am not okay with having works on the shortlist that were voted there in order to harass others. I would prefer to have some sort of recourse for expressing my disapproval of such before the antagonizing work reaches the point where it is honored by becoming a finalist.

    Agreed. This year, some of the RP nominated works were chosen more for causing damage than any perceived award-worthiness. I think EPH should be ratified & retained because it addresses a weakness in the nominating system. But I also think an additional measure to prevent damaging works from making the final ballot is needful. The honor of being a Hugo finalist has been significantly devalued these last 2-3 years.

  16. I noticed a slightly different proposal by Django Wexler, which uses EPH for the second stage as well:

    You can do an “Approve/Neutral/Disapprove” vote where everyone breaks a (potentially large) ballot into those three categories, indicating “approve”, nothing, or “disapprove” for each work. Then you can do something EPH-style to successively eliminate works, redistributing each person’s votes first to their “approve” works and then to their neutral works but never to disapprove one.

    This has the advantage of being able to capture the preferences of someone who thinks, “I would like Anne Sowards (say) as Best Editor. If not her, then I don’t care, except I definitely would not want Vox Day.”

    I’m leery of the “disapprove” part – Double Nominations sounds much better. But the EPH bit seems good – perhaps it could mitigate Standback’s niche hit issue, since it’d be a “least-disliked” type voting for all 3 stages.

  17. Forgive me, multiple people, but in the context of current Hugo events, what I hear you saying is that you are willing to express your disapproval of maliciously nominated works anywhere except where it might be effective.

  18. @Camestros

    I like the sound of Plus2. I suspect it could be made less arbitary i.e certain numerical conditions could apply to trigger it – something that indicates that there are popular nominees that aren’t in the top 5.

    Just spitballing without going to look at historic results here: if the aim is to get extra non-slated works on to the ballot, then I’d suggest one of the numerical markers of slated works is a higher than normal percentage of the vote, while the non-slate works perform at “normal” percentages, so what this sort of system needs is to keep on bringing in the works with “normal” percentages.
    A system of “list everything above 5%, minimum 5, maximum X” could act to still bring in non-slated works.
    The obvious issue is that 5% would have radically different effects in e.g. novel v short (perhaps different %s would be needed) and also slate votes would still damage works by diluting their % slightly.
    It also probably wouldn’t work with EPH properly, so this is mostly a thought experiment that I’ve typed too much of to want to delete.

  19. Camestros Felapton on May 5, 2016 at 2:44 pm said:

    I like the sound of Plus2. I suspect it could be made less arbitary i.e certain numerical conditions could apply to trigger it – something that indicates that there are popular nominees that aren’t in the top 5.

    I think it has to be arbitrary or it misses the point. It’s specifically intended to allow human beings administering the awards to use their judgement to decide what works were nominated in good faith. You can’t define this. EPH is perceived as trying to mechanically do so, but likely only partially succeeds in this task. If you could define such a thing as “bad faith nominations” objectively, we’d be doing it already.

    Incidentally all three of the proposal I’ve written up are independent of either of the existing proposals (EPH and 4/6) up for ratification. I don’t think any of them interfere with either proposal, nor are the the proposals dependent upon them. This is intentional.

  20. @Bartimaeus

    Interesting. The attraction for me of Wexler’s suggestion is the potential for using “neutral” as “I haven’t read this so don’t want to recommend it, but believe it got here fairly”.
    With his 3 possible votes you’re performing a crude ranking rather then a straight approve/disapprove, which might be more palatable to some.

  21. I think that 3SV has the advantage that it allows a blocking vote as the style and mechanism of any year’s particular mischief becomes apparent. The other proposals can seem overly intricate, and overly invested in trying to square the circle – allowing the mischief to be removed, but in a way where no has to actually say they dislike anything.

    Some system that allows for any future ballot stuffing to be swiftly and efficiently excised is needed, and it has to be by a full vote. 3SV is the one thing that allows this to happen. No especially nerd-ed up voting system will allow this to happen while simultaneously meaning no-one has to actively express disapproval. I think the risk of being seen as mean is tied up in any system that will keep the griefers out.

    As someone from the American upper Midwest, this all seems so perfectly Midwestern – everyone wants to discipline the few bad actors, but no-one wants to actually have to say “I think these people are in bad faith and actively hurting the community.” As long as everyone’s first interest is not to be seen being disagreeable, each elaborated nerd solution will only be greeted with the trolls gaming it.

    Because there’s one thing I know for sure – as soon as the discomfort of a large number of people with down-voting becomes apparent, the horrors and just how mean down-voting is will be repeated ad nauseum on the various puppy blogs. Not Beale’s – the MGC type ones willing to carry his water with the appropriate defenses and excuses.

  22. Jim Henley: Forgive me, multiple people, but in the context of current Hugo events, what I hear you saying is that you are willing to express your disapproval of maliciously nominated works anywhere except where it might be effective.

    Ah, but can an algorithm distinguish between disapproval of maliciously nominated works and personal dislike of honestly nominated works? Take for example Wheel of Time in 2014, which divided fandom but was honestly nominated from what I can tell. If some kind of disapproval voting was used, would it have been knocked off the ballot?

  23. I don’t like the idea of explicitly down-voting, though that is effectively what using no-award is. Still the yes/no/abstain round solved a problem I had with the final vote.

    Suppose we have five finalists:
    Wow, just wow
    Okay if you like that sort of thing
    Not good enough
    Haven’t got round to reading it yet
    Insufferable drek

    So I mark them
    1 Wow, just wow
    2 Okay if you like that sort of thing
    3 no award
    4 Not good enough
    no rank Insufferable drek

    But what do I do with Haven’t got round to reading it yet? A round where I could abstain would seem to be fairer to it and reflect my ranking better.

    ETA Mark kitty said it much more succinctly.

  24. I must confess to a deep emotional aversion to institutionalising down voting things; it seems to me to be more likely to spark and/or stem from personal rancour than a measured appraisal, and I don’t want the Hugos to go there.

    In the end we all have the right to rank something below No Award, or omit it entirely from our ballot; I’m far from convinced that crowbarring something else on top of this is in the best interests of the Hugo.

    I do have faith in Kevin Standlee to think things through, and to come back with a calm appraisal of the various suggestions for me to consider.

    Provided, of course, they don’t include giving Chuck Tingle the chop; I can’t actually physically woman the barricades on this one, since I don’t think I can attend Worldcon this year, but I shall be there in spirit to support the inalienable right of fandom to show what it’s made of.

    And with RedWombat composing fandom’s Battle Hymn * who can stand against us? We will grind our enemies into the dust, bearing with us the wisdom of Pratchett’s finest battlecry:

    Today is a great day for someone else to die!

    *PS: Does it already have a tune?

  25. Forgive me, multiple people, but in the context of current Hugo events, what I hear you saying is that you are willing to express your disapproval of maliciously nominated works anywhere except where it might be effective.

    Seems like it has a problem that the malicious nominators get to vote in the disapproval round too.

  26. Thinking about Plus2 or other expanded ballot options.

    No Award is an effective way of expressing disapproval and denying an undeserving work an award. There are two downsides when faced with Sad-style slates and Rabid-style griefing:
    1. No Awarding crappy work doesn’t compensate for not being able to Award good work.
    2. Crappy nominees get to call themselves Hugo Finalists

    Plus2 can’t fix the second issue and possibly having extra voting rounds can. However, Plus2 could be simpler for voters and no worse for administrators.

    Now I’m thinking that it probably doesn’t need an arbitrary trigger but could be done numerically/algorithmicly. Lots of people have noted that the numbers follow distributions with known behaviors (most recently Greg Hullender applied that convincingly to work out the possible size of the Rabid vote).

    The Three Body Problem last year also demonstrates the obvious problem with the slates but also an issue that could occur without slates but with ‘organic’ strong coherence between voters – a work that was capable of winning the Hugo in its category not getting into the top 5 because of other works. Luckily, due to Kloos and Correia withdrawing, it did get on the final ballot and did win.

    One fairly simple approach would be to ditch the idea of a set number of finalists – instead the finalist could be determined by all those works that get above a set percentage. Unfortunately to repair the damage from 2015 slates that percentage could be pretty low and there is no obvious sweet spot that works across all categories e.g. 5% makes sense for some (2015 Novellette & Short Story) but would be way too generous for others (2015 Novella). Mind you that in itself suggests that different categories have different spreads of popularity and quality and that one-size does not fit all when it comes to number of finalists.

    Having said all that my quick back of the envelope calculation suggest that a everying-with-more-than-6%-is-a-finalist rule would not have blown out many categories in terms of nominees last year but at the same time would have made many ‘No Awarded’ categories competitive.

    Alternatively. The notion of slate-detection algorithms were discussed last year. As a means of disqualifying works I think that is awful no-good terrible idea. However, we know that similarity of ballots/voting-cohesion is something that can probably be measured but is also something that can occur to varying degrees organically. Identifying larger than normal degrees of coherence and then including additional works as a consequence would have the effect of not punishing any organic cases of people just all voting for similar stuff, while allowing stuff that was popular with a large minority of voters to get a look in. Too some extent EPH will do this and 4/6 may help as well but perhaps a more flexible expansion of categories may weather the slings and arrows of outrageous slating better.

    Apologies if the above was thrashed out already elsewhere and I wasn’t paying attention. Also I reserve the right to say these are terrible ideas at some future point.

  27. No Award, to put it bluntly, comes into effect too late in the voting process. The shortlist is a mess.

  28. Kevin Standlee on May 5, 2016 at 3:18 pm said:

    Camestros Felapton on May 5, 2016 at 2:44 pm said:

    I like the sound of Plus2. I suspect it could be made less arbitary i.e certain numerical conditions could apply to trigger it – something that indicates that there are popular nominees that aren’t in the top 5.

    I think it has to be arbitrary or it misses the point. It’s specifically intended to allow human beings administering the awards to use their judgement to decide what works were nominated in good faith. You can’t define this. EPH is perceived as trying to mechanically do so, but likely only partially succeeds in this task. If you could define such a thing as “bad faith nominations” objectively, we’d be doing it already.

    Apologies – I ended up writing a longer comment and people commented on my earlier comment while I built a big wall’o’text 🙂

    I agree that if the aim is to flexibly respond to overt bad actors then arbitrary is best and simplest. However, if a numerical/algorithmic/mechanical process does something similar and also deals with situations not generated by bad actors but which have similar consequences, then that might be better all round.

  29. @Jamoche

    There’s 200 odd of them and near four thousand odd of us. Heck, the Round of 15 in 3SV would be highly majoritarian – unlike the nominations phase, where a disciplined minority allows 200 odd people to turn 3800 people’s nominations into a bad joke, here the fact that it’s just 200 people mean they are stinging insects. They only get to down vote if the rest of us don’t show up.

    The hard truth is that EPH or Two Vote or any nerd system of ballot algorithms is a down-vote on the ability of such minorities, now and in future years, to put crap on the ballot. We’re already talking about a down-voting system, that will take a group of nominations and either reduce their mathematical effect or junk them, due to the idea that bad faith nominations need to be stopped. Most of the bad faith wailing and whining about EPH focuses on the fact that it is a partial way of down-voting the trolls – and thus Brian Z is here making bad faith arguments about it every second Tuesday.

    As long as we’re talking about putting in place a down-voting system, let’s make it an effective one. Let’s not cripple in the name of pretending it’s not a way to weed out utter crap nominees and toss them. Yes, I’ll down vote “If You were An Award My Love”, or the Castelia libels. Because they deserve it. Because no-one force the authors of those pieces to right crap or libels, and then no-one force them to allow Teddy to slate them. Because if your willing to write a crap, or libel, or crap-libel and then ballot stuff it’s way to victory, you damn well deserve to be down-voted.

    Yes, this means we’ll all have to down-vote occasionally, and not just let the people at the business meeting vote for a what is a system, like EPH or down-vote or whatever, that allows us to enjoy some level of down-votes on trash while the rest of us get to wash our hands of it and say how we’re all far to nice to down-vote anything.

  30. @Bartimaeus:

    Ah, but can an algorithm distinguish between disapproval of maliciously nominated works and personal dislike of honestly nominated works? Take for example Wheel of Time in 2014, which divided fandom but was honestly nominated from what I can tell. If some kind of disapproval voting was used, would it have been knocked off the ballot?

    Two questions here.

    1. Can an algorithm distinguish between disapproval of maliciously nominated works and personal dislike of honestly nominated works?

    No, but this isn’t an algorithm. It’s a way for a group of humans to make a decision.

    2. If some kind of disapproval voting was used, would [Wheel of Time, the whole series] have been knocked off the ballot?

    No idea. Perhaps it would have. Imagine that 3SV had been in place then and all years since, and stipulate that WoT got tossed in the semis and that this would be wrong. Is the wrongness of that worse than the rightness of having decent lists of finalists to vote for last year and this year? Worse than not having to NA five(?) categories last year? Worse than a ballot with “If You Were an Award, My Love?” on it? I say no. Other people may make other calls.

    @Jamoche:

    Seems like it has a problem that the malicious nominators get to vote in the disapproval round too.

    Yes, but in the disapproval round they can be outnumbered in a way that matters. In the current nominating round, for many categories they can’t.

    Or, as I’ve put it elsewhere, under 3SV there is a risk that 50.1% of nominators could engage in ballot-wrecking shenanigans. In the present system, 5% of nominators can do that.

    @TYP: Yes.

    @Wildcat:

    No Award, to put it bluntly, comes into effect too late in the voting process.

    Exactly! 3SV simply moves NA far enough forward to enable the voters to give an award to a worthy work. NA where it currently sits is great for expressing disapproval of an isolated problem. (That’s what you’re doing with NA: expressing disapproval.) It isn’t in a good spot to deal with a ballot-full of problems.

    @TYP: Yes again.

  31. Mark on May 5, 2016 at 3:11 pm said:

    The obvious issue is that 5% would have radically different effects in e.g. novel v short (perhaps different %s would be needed) and also slate votes would still damage works by diluting their % slightly.

    Yes,…if we pick say 5% or 6% as a figure the effect on each category is very variable. So on 2015 results, some categories would get lots of extra nominees and some categories would just get a couple of extra. Now notably some categories could get MORE THAN DOUBLE – which should make us think that even without slates some categories probably should have more finalists than others (which does happen the other way round with some categories having fewer).

  32. TYP

    There have been many ways of describing me down the years: being too nice isn’t one of them. It’s kind of hard to survive in the City of London at all, much less for over 30 years; too nice means you have 15 minutes to retrieve your potted plant and be marched off the premises by the security guards.

    I’m criticising it for the reasons I set out, radical as this may seem. On the other, the too nice bit will provide innocent amusement for my friends, so it’s not all bad..

  33. @Camestros Felapton,

    There were long & convoluted discussions for an algorithmic solution at Making Light (this post has links) that ultimately led to E Pluribus Hugo. I backed EPH & still think we should adopt it. But I no longer think it is sufficient.

    I now think the best approach is something like the revised Double Nominations with the David Goldfarb “Approval Voting” amendment. It places the decision in the hands of the individual WSFS members which is in keeping with a democratic society.

    It also allows WSFS members to collectively act *before* damaging works end up in the final ballot; if DN stops RPs & Vox Day from crowing about getting works like “Space raptor butt invasion”* into the final ballot, I am for it.

    *Though they don’t appear to be crowing any longer about SRBI…

    ETA: Just as voters this year might change how they respond to slates compared to last year, a DN system also has that flexibility built-in because it requires human decisions to be made every year. I think it’s an advantage over any purely algorithmic approach.

  34. I have a visceral reaction against downvoting systems but the discussion is bringing me around to considering supporting 3SV. It seems hard to believe that a majority of hugo voters would downvote maliciously, which is a concern. With a approve/reject/abstain, voters would be able to approve any work that they were familiar with and abstain on anything that they weren’t, which solves the problem of not having read all fifteen longlist novels. I imagine different people would vote different ways, but if this passes, I would use the reject vote sparingly and only in cases where I felt there had been shenanigans. For example, I felt Seveneves is Stephenson’s worst book, which starts out strong and disappoints more the further in you go, until it completely fails in every way in the final section. But I can believe that, for others, it was legitimately their favorite book. So I wouldn’t reject it, even though I didn’t like it. But I would reject Safe Space as Rape Room or whatever it’s called without hesitation or even feeling like I needed to be familiar with it.

    That said, my feelings on this issue are moot as I’m not going to be able to make it to Kansas this year or Finland next to vote on anything brought forward in the business meeting. Planning ahead for 2018, though, once we know where it will be.

  35. Seeing the arguments people have for 3SV here makes me more and more against it. It focuses on the absolute opposite of what I think voting should be about. It turns the Hugos to be about fear instead of joy.

    So I do prefer systems without downvoting, at least without adding rounds where downvoting is the absolutely only reason to participate. There is a certain personality type that is drawn to this and I don’t think they should have a higher influence on the final ballot than those who feel discomfort from it.

    DV in the last version has same possibilities to keep bad faith actors from the ballot as 3SV, but without downvoting and with reasons for everyone to participate. Much better.

  36. @Jim Henley As someone from the American upper Midwest, this all seems so perfectly Midwestern – everyone wants to discipline the few bad actors, but no-one wants to actually have to say “I think these people are in bad faith and actively hurting the community.”

    My issue is 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the road when we don’t have bad actors and enough new voters have forgotten why we added 3SV. Can the Hugos avoid the usual problems with downvoting over the long term?

    I can’t pick a long-term solution which is meant to stop a current problem. I guess I could assume VD is always going to be out there waiting for the next loophole to open up or for us to let our guard down. If I look at it that way, VD and followers are going to be around for another 20+ years, I can see the need for 3SV.

    But 5 years is the most I can see VD managing to keep his followers going. If Greg Hullender’s numbers are right he lost half of them this year. I believe DN shuts him out long enough. I think DN is better for the health of Hugo voting long-term because we keep the focus on positive instead of negative.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if someone comes up with something better over the next couple of months to all suggestions made so far.

  37. I haven’t yet decided on any of the three-stage proposals. My initial reaction is to dislike them for a number of reasons, but it’s not a huge dislike. They may end up being justified. But, like several other people, I’m a bit afraid of the long term consequences.

    Fortunately, it takes two years and two Worldcons to approve any changes to the rules. In this case, I think it might barely enough time. I’d rather wait a couple more years first to see what effect EPH & 4/6 have, but I think that two years is the minimum we should wait, and that’s baked into the rules.

    But don’t we need to do something now!? Well, we are doing something now—EPH and maybe 4/6. And I think the effects of those will be bigger than people estimate, in the mid- to long-term. Which is why I kinda want to wait a bit before doing more.

    As far as the general public is concerned, the Hugo is primarily an award for a novel! Yes, there’s dozens of other categories, but as far as most people are concerned, Best Novel is what the award is all about. Best Novel is already where the puppies of various ilks are struggling the most, and Best Novel is where EPH will help the most!

    Even if EPH still leaves the RP messing with the minor categories to an unfortunate degree, the fact that it will be protecting Best Novel is going to be a serious demotivator! Remember, they’ve got to pony up more money every couple of years. If the best they can do is swamp Fan Writer and BELF, while all the other categories have at least a couple of decent options, and Best Novel has several, it’s going to start feeling like a waste of money. Many of the RP aren’t actual fans, except in an extremely broad sense.* As far as many of them are concerned, Best Novel has to be the prize, and if they have no hope of targeting that, they’re likely to lose interest.

    But it’s going to take a couple of years for them to notice. So it’s going to take a couple of years to evaluate the longer-term effects of EPH as a form of discouragement to bad behavior!

    If one of the three-stage proposals passes this year, then that means that the only chance we’ll have to see EPH’s effects will be next year’s ballot. We’ll only see its short term effects before having to make the second, and final, decision on whether the three-stage proposal should be approved. That is the absolute minimum we should allow! And it gives us no chance at all to evaluate the longer-term effects of EPH and 4/6. Which makes me a bit uncomfortable.

    * This is not about “true fans” or any such nonsense. I read and enjoy mystery novels, but I wouldn’t consider myself a mystery fan. I suspect that a lot of the RP folks are no more SF fans than I am a mystery fan. That doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy SF. Many of them probably love Halo. But that’s not quite the same thing.

  38. @Tasha Turner said:
    My issue is 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the road when we don’t have bad actors and enough new voters have forgotten why we added 3SV. Can the Hugos avoid the usual problems with downvoting over the long term?

    The one thing fandom has is a long oral history. While the original actors may get lost to the mists of time, there may even be filks (hat tip to the earlier news item) regarding the Pups and Hugos.

    On a contradictory note to that thought, while I agree that something more than EPH would be needed to weed out bad actors, any such rules must take into account that people are ass hats on occasion. You must take a hard look at “how could this rule be used to screw people over”.

    Mind you, this is the first time today that I have had the spoons to read things, so I have only read this page of comments. I have not had a chance to dig in with regard to these new ideas. Mine is just a generalized voice of caution.

  39. Doctor Science on May 5, 2016 at 8:48 am said:

    Is there any way for me to get a link to my comment history, here? I’m trying to find a bunch of my “book reports” and can’t.

    I would love this, if it’s even possible. I left a comment asking a bunch of questions about NOLA’s WorldCon Bid and I can’t find it!

    Oneiros on May 5, 2016 at 10:24 am said:

    I’ve never been to a Worldcon – do you get to choose what’s on your name badge?

    Yes, your badge name can be (almost) anything you want it to be. However, I doubt they would allow you to use the name of a Hugo Finalist. At least I wouldn’t if I where Ghu.

  40. An unintended result of a plus/neutral/minus system could also be that voters would get a second chance at the ballot, beyond just removing bad actors.
    It might have the effect of actually broadening the range of the nominations.
    Once my own oh-my-gawd-I-love-this-with-a-deathless-passion weird original choice hasn’t made it onto whatever the short list is, I’d have a chance to vote a plus for other things I liked, things that enough other people liked for it to hover near the final list.
    MegaHit is going to be there anyway, but you could end up with voters glomming onto more unexpected choices once they are all facing a narrower list of possibilities.

  41. I really should get some sleep but it’s difficult: I’m really looking forward to seeing Mike nailing the quadruple toe loop triple toe loop combination in responding to some of today’s stories.

    Also, RedWombat’s Battle Hymn of the Fandom is so inspiring that it’s hard to dial it back abit…

  42. There’s karma for you — screwing up a date with two 5’s in it…

  43. @Amoxtli – Now that is the kind of attention to detail we expect!

    I’ll probably never not be a bit conflicted on the Hugo nom, but I am increasingly amazed by Dr. Tingle.

  44. I look forward to buying Buckaroo Banzai yet again, and I say that in all sincerity. I wonder if I can preorder it yet?

    (The DVD was marvellous and even if it’s just the same as that, I’ll be happier for the even higher quality video.)

  45. @Kyra: That Mightygodking parody is worth it just for “That’s right, Mighty Mark Millar! Keep a safe distance or Smilin’ Stan will smack you with his Almighty Pimp Cane! Excelsior!” Also Wolverine only saying “snikt bub snikt snikt bub”.

    @k_choll: Yes. Radiance should have won All The Things.

    Chuck Tingle has a troll level of OVER 9000. He’s having a lot of fun with it. I’m sure Zoe is proud to be a true buckaroo.

    @Oneiros: Yes, you can pick your badge name. I do hope someone takes up @Naomi Kritzer’s idea of ribbons, even more people will go for that. That’ll be a Spartacus thing (Zoe Quinn gets a fancy one).

    PoI: I nominated both “If-Then-Else” and “YHWH” (last season’s finale) because it was not only suspenseful but gave me all the feels. I mean, when gur cbffvoyl qlvat Znpuvar gbyq Unebyq “V’Z FBEEL SNGURE”… sob.

    @RedWombat: Standing ovation! Please enjoy all your internets.

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