Pixel Scroll 6/12/19 If It Is A Pixel That Walks Through Walls, You MAY Get Scratched

(1) MCFARLAND ANNIVERSARY SALE. The late Fred Patten’s Furry Tales (finished in summer 2018) is available for preorder from McFarland Books.

Fans will also be interested to discover that McFarland Books is celebrating their 40th anniversary by offering all their books at a 25% discount through June 30. Use the code —

We’re turning 40, and we’re celebrating with a special fortieth anniversary sale! Through June 30, get a 25% discount on ALL books when you use the code ANN2019. Thank you for supporting our first 40 years—we look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with you.

(2) SCOFFERS. The Guardian rejects the implicit coolness of this idea: “Spielberg After Dark: will a horror show that can only be watched at night be scarier?”

Right, now I get it. A horror series that you can only watch in total darkness. Well, not total darkness, because electric lights exist now, remember.

So it is a horror series that you can watch in the brightest surroundings imaginable? Yes, but only if the sun has set outside.

I still don’t see the point. I don’t expect you to. This is cutting edge. Spielberg After Dark has untapped a brand-new way of watching TV. This might only be the start.

How so? Well, if the technology exists to prevent you from watching something until a certain time of day, think of the potential. Maybe the next big show after Spielberg After Dark will be Spielberg First Thing in the Morning.

Or Spielberg on a Thursday Lunchtime. Why not go even further? Why not have a show that can’t be watched until you’re at a specific location? Spielberg in Gloucestershire, maybe.

(3) THAT MIGHTY BRAIN THING. Eneasz Brodski ponders whether “Consciousness required for Culture?” at Death Is Bad.

…And considering how expensive it is, it must be a massive benefit just to survive. And yet, not only has it survived, it’s taken over the planet. And still we cannot discern any survival advantage that consciousness gives us. It seems to cost a ton with literally no benefit.

(aside: this is the reason we regularly see Science Fiction with advanced non-conscious aliens. It seems intuitively obvious that a non-conscious species would have a huge advantage over a conscious one, and contact with one would lead to our quick extinction. This is also how the Harrises fell into the “the answer must be that consciousness is a fundamental property of physics” trap.)

By coincidence, at about this same time Scott Alexander posted his review of “The Secret of Our Success”. A truly fantastic book which argues, in short, that our species survives and thrives due not to our individual intellect and reasoning ability (which isn’t even up to the job of keeping us from starving to death in a friendly environment overflowing with natural resources and food), but due to the creation and transmission of cultural knowledge. Read Scott’s review at the very least, and pick up the book if you can, you won’t regret it.

Wherein it occurred to me – perhaps consciousness it necessary for culture….

(4) MARVEL AT DISNEYLAND. The LA Times follows the paperwork and discovers “With Star Wars expansion open, Disney gets permits to launch Marvel land”.

The Disneyland Resort has moved full steam ahead on building next year’s planned expansion, a land at California Adventure Park themed for the superheroes of Marvel comics and movies.

The city of Anaheim has approved a handful of building permits for projects such as a bathroom overhaul, a retail outlet, a microbrewery, a character meet-and-greet area, plus improvements to behind-the-scenes buildings

The construction permits assess the value of the work so far at more than $14 million.

One of the permits, approved Wednesday, allows for a 2,071-square-foot merchandise outlet, with three attached canopies. In comparison, the average home in the Western U.S. is 1,800 square feet, according to census data.

(5) INTERNATIONAL DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD. US author Emily Ruskovich has won the 2019 International DUBLIN Literary Award for her novel, Idaho. The non-genre work topped a 10-title shortlist that included George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo, and Moshin Hamid’s Exit West.

(6) REFROZEN. Check out the official trailer for Frozen 2, and see the film in theaters November 22.

Why was Elsa born with magical powers? The answer is calling her and threatening her kingdom. Together with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, she’ll set out on a dangerous but remarkable journey. In “Frozen,” Elsa feared her powers were too much for the world. In “Frozen 2,” she must hope they are enough.

(7) REVENGE. James Davis Nicoll has something to say about another dish best served cold: “SFF Stories Of Revenge and Forbearance (But Mostly Revenge)” at Tor.com.

On the whole, society works better if people choose forbearance. But revenge gives ever so much more opportunity for drama. Guess which option science fiction and fantasy authors seem to prefer?

(8) TIMELESS TALES. At CrimeReads, Sandra Ireland tries to work out an answer to her question “Are Crime Thrillers Our New Folklore?”

…In The Lore of Scotland: A Guide to Scottish Legends (Arrow Books, 2011), Sophie Kingshill describes folk tales as a way of personifying the forces of nature, a way of helping people understand the world and giving them some control over their surroundings and circumstances.

Are crime thrillers our new folklore?

It’s my belief that today’s readers want the same things from a story as their ancestors did, long before the invention of the written word. Huddled around a fire in a dark cave, our forebears must have thrilled to tales of light and dark, of good and evil, of life and death. Such things lie beyond the safe circle of the firelight. Who knows what dwells out there, in the dark? Humans are capricious. We enjoy being afraid when the threat is only in our imaginations…

(9) BRADBURY IN ’85. Tom Zimberoff remembers “Photographing Ray Bradbury” as Captan Ahab. (Terrific photo at the link.)

…Ray Bradbury wanted to be portrayed as his all-time favorite character from the canon of American literature: Captain Ahab from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. By the way, Bradbury wrote the screenplay for John Huston’s adaptation of Melville’s novel on the silver screen, featuring Gregory Peck cast as Ahab. Ray thought he could do a better job.

If the harpoon doesn’t look exactly true to form, it’s because my stylist, Shari Geffen, and I had less than a day to come up with all of the props we would need to make Ray up like Ahab. But Shari was a genius. She made a reasonable facsimile of a harpoon out of found material and got the rest of the props and costume from, I think, Western Costume, a rental company catering to the movie and television industries in Hollywood. Lisa-Ann Pedrianna, our makeup artist, painted a collodion scar wickedly down the side of Ray’s face and attached the beard.

Being part whale himself, with his prothesis fashioned from the jaw of another sperm whale, to replace the leg that Moby Dick chomped off, and mythically sanctified by fire when a lightning bolt struck his face (rumored to run down the length of his body), Ahab was nuts.

…The whalebone peg leg required Ray to endure having his ankle cinched up behind his back and tied with a rope around his waist. No Photoshop in those days. He stood that way for several hours! Then, to show off to his wife, he hopped into a cab?—?literally, of course?—?and rode home that way. The cabbie returned the costume and the peg leg the next day.

(10) HOLLYWOOD GOSSIP. Nerdrotic says these are the questions that match its answers: “Star Trek Discovery’s Kurtzman Out? Picard Testing Poorly?”

Rumors keep coming in from behind the scenes at CBS’ Star Trek Discovery and Star Trek Picard. We have heard Netflix rejected Picard and now we hear the test screenings are being received poorly. Star Trek Discovery season 3 may be in question and on top of all of this my insider tells me CBS is done with Alex Kurtzman.


  • June 12, 1987Predator was released on this day.
  • June 12, 2012Ray Bradbury’s Kaleidoscope was released


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 12, 1924 Frank Kelly. All of his short fiction was written in the Thirties for Astounding Science Fiction and Wonder Stories. The stories remained uncollected until they were published as Starship Invincible: Science Fiction Stories of the 30s. He continues to be remembered in Fandom and was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1996. Starship Invincible is not available in digital form. (Died 2010.)
  • Born June 12, 1930 Jim Nabors. Fum on The Lost Saucer, a mid-Sixties series that lasted sixteen episodes about two friendly time-travelling androids from the year 2369 named Fi (Ruth Buzzi) and Fum (Jim Nabors) who land their UFO on Earth. (Died 2017.)
  • Born June 12, 1940 Mary Turzillo, 79. Best known for her short stories of which she has written over forty. She won the Nebula Award for Best Novelette for her story “Mars is No Place for Children”.  She has written several books of criticism under the name Mary T. Brizzi including the  Reader’s Guide to Philip José Farmer and the Reader’s Guide to Anne McCaffrey. There’s an Analog interview with her here.
  • Born June 12, 1948 Len Wein. Writer and editor best known for co-creating (with Bernie Wrightson) Swamp Thing and co-creating Wolverine (with Roy Thomas and John Romita Sr.) and for helping revive the the X-Men. He edited Watchmen which must have been interesting. He’s a member of the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 2017.)
  • Born June 12, 1953 Tess Gerritsen, 66. ISFDB lists her as genre so I’ll include her even though I’m ambivalent on her being so.  They’ve got one novel from the Jane Rizzoli series, The Mephisto Club, and three stand-alone novels (Gravity, Playing with Fire and The Bone Garden). All save Gravity couldbe considered conventional thrillers devoid of genre elements.
  • Born June 12, 1964 Dave Stone, 55. Writer of media tie-ins including quite a few in the Doctor Who universe which contains the Professor Bernice Summerfield stories, and Judge Dredd as well. He has only the Pandora Delbane series ongoing, plus the Golgotha Run novel, and a handful of short fiction.
  • Born June 12, 1968 Marcel Theroux, 51. Author of The Confessions of Mycroft Holmes: A Paper Chase, and his Strange Bodies novel won a John W. Campbell Memorial Award. His Far North is a sf novel set in the Siberian taiga. Yes, that’s a novel I want to read. 
  • Born June 12, 1970 Claudia Gray, 49. She’s best known for her Evernight series, but has several more series as well, including the Spellcaster series and the Constellation Trilogy. In addition, she’s written a number of Star Wars novels —  Star Wars: Lost Stars, Star Wars: Bloodline, Leia, Princess of Alderaan and Star Wars: Master and Aprentice.


  • Chip Hitchcock says, “I’m with Arlo.”
  • Bizarro remembers the labors of Hercules fils.
  • The Hogwart’s board is a hard sell at Rhymes with Orange.

(14) (DONUT) HOLE IN SPACE. Popsugar says “Disney’s New Star Wars Doughnuts Are So Cool, They’d Make Kylo Ren Crack a Smile”.

The release of these X-Wing and R2D2-inspired snacks is perfectly timed with the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland. The Force is far-reaching with these! Get an intergalatic sugar rush before you set out for the day or satisfy your sweet tooth as you’re heading home. Do or doughnut, there is no try.

(15) THE COW JUMPED. This is nothing like one of Van Vogt’s “wheels within wheels” stories, although it does involve a wheel that went to orbit, as Gastro Obscura reminds readers in “SpaceX Space Cheese”.

…In 2010, the rocket venture formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. announced a “secret payload” aboard the maiden flight of their Dragon spacecraft. Fearing the secret cheese would distract press from the actual point of the mission, Musk refrained from revealing anything about it until the project was completed. 

The Dragon’s mission marked the first time a space capsule developed by a private company was launched into orbit and successfully returned to Earth. In a feat previously accomplished by only six government space agencies, the cone-shaped capsule reentered the atmosphere and emerged from its Pacific Ocean splashdown intact. Only then did Musk reveal that a wheel of Le Brouère had hitched a ride, circling Earth twice on its journey. 

Chris Rose says, “I wish I could find somewhere to buy it, but if someone’s near Hawthorne CA I’d love to get a report. Maybe Scott Edelman can eat the sciffy?”

(16) DEADLY CREDENTIALS. Assassin’s Kittens – the fluffy hazard of the Assassin’s Creed! (From 2014.)


(18) AND RETROS, TOO. Steve J. Wright has completed his Retro Hugo Short Story Finalist reviews.

Short Story

Evelyn Leeper also delivers reviews of the Retro-Hugo short story finalists, but precedes them with remarks about the burden on dedicated Hugo voters:

Before I start, though, I have some general comments. There are too many categories and/or too many finalists in each category. And having a Retro Hugo ballot in a given year makes this totally ludicrous.

The Hugo voting method works best (or perhaps works only at all) when the voter ranks every finalist in a given category. Currently this means that a voter needs to read six novels, six novellas, six novelettes, and six short stories to vote on just the fiction categories. Oh, wait, there are also six series. Actually, that category alone is impossible for most voters–certainly impossible in the time between when the finalists are announced and when the ballots are due.

(19) MOON SHOT. “Chandrayaan-2: India unveils spacecraft for second Moon mission” –BBC has the story.

India’s space agency has unveiled its spacecraft that it hopes to land on the Moon by September.

If successful, India will be the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the Moon, following the US, the former Soviet Union and China.

…This mission will focus on the lunar’s surface and gather data on water, minerals and rock formations.

The new spacecraft will have a lander, an orbiter and rover.

…If all goes according to plan, the lander and rover will touch down near the lunar south pole in September. If successful, it would be the first ever spacecraft to land in that region.

(20) TRUNK MANUSCRIPT. Architectural Digest considers the possibility that “Parks of the Future May Include Elevated Walkways Through Trees”. (From 2017.)

…The firm’s plan for Parkorman, a space located six miles north of Istanbul’s bustling city center, is a series of several different zones that come together in creating an experience that would otherwise not be possible in traditional, densely packed spaces. First, at the park’s entrance, is the Plaza. Here, visitors can easily gather, sit, or lie down on the lawn, much like a traditional park. From there the environment opens to a segment dubbed ‘The Loop,’ where visitors can enjoy a series of swings and hammocks situated above the park floor. ‘The Chords,’ another area on the grounds, invites people to wander through a footpath that twists around tree trunks, giving the park a signature look unique from any other public park in the world. “The initial idea with ‘The Chords’ was to make it possible to experience nature in ways we don’t typically have,” says Dror Benshetrit, head of the firm that bears his name. “The elevated pathway creates a new interaction with trees at different latitudes.”

(21) KRYPTIC IDEA. Ethan Alter, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story “Brendan Fraser remembers the time he auditioned to play Superman: ‘You feel kind of invincible'”, says that Fraser recalled testing for Superman: Flyby around a 2004, a J.J. Abrams project that ultimately morphed into Superman Returns. He chats about putting on the super-suit and how much he enjoyed doing it even though the film was never greenlit.

Fraser also remembers really loving Abrams’s script, which imagined a world in which Krypton didn’t explode. Instead, young Kal-El is sent to Earth by his father, Jor-El, to avoid a raging civil war on his homeworld. Once he grows up into Superman, his adopted planet is then visited by a group of war-mongering Kryptonians — led by his cousin Ty-Zor — who kills the would-be champion. But the Man of Steel bounces back to life and plans take the fight to Krypton in a potential sequel. Given the radical changes in store, Warner Bros. tried to keep Flyby details from leaking to the public. “The script was printed on crimson paper with black ink so it couldn’t be photocopied,” Fraser remembers. “I was allowed to sit in an office and read it for an hour. It was like a covert operation.”

(22) HADESTOWN. ScienceFiction.com tells why fans should give this musical a listen: “The Myth-Based Newcomer ‘Hadestown’ Won Eight Tony Awards; Watch The Rousing Performance Here”.

Singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell based the musical on her own concept album of the same name, which reinterprets the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, about the son of Apollo, who falls in love with Eurydice and must journey to the underworld to save her.  Mitchell wrote the music, lyrics and book herself, reimagining the ancient Greek tale, set in the US during the Great Depression.

(23) BACK TO THE FUTURE. ScienceFiction.com also previews the forthcoming Back to the Future musical: “Listen To The First Original Song From ‘Back To The Future: The Musical’, ‘Put Your Mind To It’”.

‘Back to the Future: The Musical’ will open at the Manchester Opera House on February 20, 2020, and will run for 12 weeks, before transferring to London’s West End.  Provided it goes well, presumably it will then be brought to the US.  Tickets to the Manchester shows are already on sale.

The YouTube video introduces the number in these words:

GREAT SCOTT! Turn your flux capacitor on and get ready for 1.21 gigawatts of excitement… Back To The Future – Musical is gonna change musical history at the Manchester Opera House for 12 weeks only from 20 February 2020.  From Back To the Future’s original creators Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, and the combined eight-time Grammy Award-winning pairing of Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard will send you on an electrifying ride through time with an all-new score alongside the movie’s iconic hits, including The Power of Love, Johnny B Goode, Earth Angel and Back in Time!

[Thanks to Chris Rose, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Brian Z, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]

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39 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/12/19 If It Is A Pixel That Walks Through Walls, You MAY Get Scratched

  1. 23) I suppose since music is so key to its climatic scenes, a BTTF musical kinda makes sense

  2. (12) “The Lost Saucer” was from the mid-1970s, and I’ve got the flashbacks to it to prove it (also the IMDB cite https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072536/). A while back I mentioned that “Downsized” borrowed its conceit from an episode of “The Lost Saucer” file770.com/downsizing-teaser-trailer/#comment-702942

  3. @18: I have a little sympathy for Leeper (as I think the Retro Hugos are a fundamentally bad idea) — but I note that she’ll probably live to see them over with; either the next few Worldcons will skip them, or we’ll run out of chances to do them until some time in the 2040’s.

    edit: 5th!

    also edit: whoever did @16 has way too much time on their hands — but it’s cute.

  4. (3) While other species do have culture, all the ones we know of that do, are also fairly big-brained. It has at least first-pass plausibility that culture aids survival, and consciousness is necessary for culture.

  5. (10) I have no idea whether the alleged developments are really happening, but nonetheless I find the idea of Kurtzman’s creative input being rejected to be oddly pleasing.

  6. Once again, a reminder to folks, especially those who may be new to WSFS and the Hugos: you don’t have to vote in every category.

    I do think you should try to judge all the nominees fairly in a category you do decide to vote in, but keep in mind that skipping the category completely is a perfectly reasonable alternative, if you’re struggling to keep up. (Or genuinely don’t care, or whatever.)

    Until this decade, I don’t believe I’d ever voted in all categories. 🙂

  7. Xtifr: keep in mind that skipping the category completely is a perfectly reasonable alternative

    Or, if you’ve read only some of the finalists in a category, and think that one or more of them is worthy of winning a rocket, then it’s okay to put any or all of the ones you’ve read on the ballot and just leave off the ones you haven’t read.

    Hugos are awarded on the basis of a general consensus that a work is especially good. Don’t feel as though you can’t vote just because you haven’t read all the works in a category.

  8. Or, if you’ve read only some of the finalists in a category, and think that one or more of them is worthy of winning a rocket, then it’s okay to put any or all of the ones you’ve read on the ballot and just leave off the ones you haven’t read.

    I think that’s a slightly more controversial claim than mine was, but it would be hypocritical for me to say it’s wrong, so I shan’t. 🙂

    I would try to ensure that nothing I hadn’t at least tried to read ended up below No Award–but I rarely bother to rank NA, unless there’s something on the ballot I thought was utterly unworthy, which doesn’t happen all that often.

  9. (2) SCOFFERS made me laugh out loud several times (ultimately requiring me to reiterate the article for my officemate). Definitely worth clicking through to the entire thing.

  10. @JJ:

    Or, if you’ve read only some of the finalists in a category, and think that one or more of them is worthy of winning a rocket, then it’s okay to put any or all of the ones you’ve read on the ballot and just leave off the ones you haven’t read.

    I know I can do that, but I definitely feel uncomfortable with it, since it does rank all the ones I haven’t read beneath even the least favorite of the ones I have.

    Last time I voted and encountered this, I had a category on the order of one “GIVE THIS A HUGO PLEASE” finalists, one No Award, one so-so, three unread.
    So I used an online list randomizer to fill in all the middle spots, with my favorite on top and the No-Awarded one on the bottom. (No finalists were No-Awarded without me reading them 😛 (except maybe there was a vile Puppy one?) )

    I’m sure this is insignificant, but it was the most elegant solution I found, especially if other voters follow suit 😀

  11. (12) Nabors also has a semi-genre connection through his frequent uttering of the word “Shazam!” while portraying Gomer Pyle. (Only semi-genre because while he said it several times per episode, it never led to him being struck by lightning or turning into Captain Marvel.)

  12. Xtifr: I would try to ensure that nothing I hadn’t at least tried to read ended up below No Award–but I rarely bother to rank NA, unless there’s something on the ballot I thought was utterly unworthy, which doesn’t happen all that often.

    Oh, I agree with that. But just leaving unread things off the ballot doesn’t automatically place them below No Award (unless the voter specifically puts No Award on their ballot below the things they have read), and I think that most people who haven’t read everything are not likely to be trying to NA something.

    I really want Hugo voting participants to feel, just as with the Nomination process, that they aren’t required to have an encyclopedic knowledge in order to express some opinions on their ballot. 🙂

  13. 18) The plugs are always appreciated (I know I don’t say that enough).

    There is a lot of reading involved, I grant you, but I haven’t found it quite as onerous as Evelyn Leeper suggests…. Firstly, as others have pointed out, you don’t have to rank everything in every category. Secondly, a lot of stuff – particularly in the Retros – is stuff I’d already read, and in several cases nominated for the awards. Unless your taste in SF is way out of step with everyone else’s in Fandom, it’s very likely that a chunk of every Hugo ballot will already be known to you. (I concede, the “Best Series” category does throw a lot of extra stuff at the readers….)

  14. Steve Wright: The plugs are always appreciated (I know I don’t say that enough).

    Oh, pish, posh, and nonsense.

    In the past I’ve spent many, many hours dragging myself through hundreds of “reviews” for the Hugo Review Roundups. Last year, I estimate that I got > 90% done before I ran out of steam and time, because it’s hella hard work.

    This year, In lieu of that, I’ve been sending Mike selected sets of Hugo finalist reviews by people who’ve done a good job of genuinely engaging with (rather than just uncritical gushing or unmitigated bashing) the works. I have always found your reviews to be thoughtful and well-balanced, and that’s why they get sent to Mike for the Scroll.

    Honestly, if your reviews were shyte, I wouldn’t be sending them to Mike. They appear here because you’ve done a good job on them — so I and other Filers are the ones who should be thanking you — and I do. 😀

  15. I don’t think the problem is that my taste in SF is way out of step with everyone else’s in Fandom–well, maybe it is, but the bigger problem is that aside from the Hugos I avoid brand new books. I generally focus on books that are at least several years old–books where I can read a variety of reviews, books where the sequel is out and people have assessed whether the promise in volume one has paid off, books where there’s no hold list at the library or that someone else at my office has finished and dropped on the free book shelf in the lunchroom. Reading the Hugo nominees forces a significant change on my reading patterns. I went into this year’s Hugos having read two novels (both of which came out at the very beginning of 2018 and thus weren’t brand new by the time the ballot appeared, heh), half a dozen shorter works, and one graphic novel. What’s left? Quite a lot. But I soldier on…

  16. This year really is extreme, because we have both Hugos and Retro Hugos und because we have more Hugo finalists in general due to upping the finalists to six per category plus the addition of the series category and the Lodestar.

    Of course, it helps when you’ve read and nominated several of the finalists. But even though I have read many of the retro stories that was often years ago, so I still have to revisit them. The current year ones are more fresh in my mind, but again there are categories where I’ve read very little, e.g. the Lodestar where I nominated one, tried and abandoned another and haven’t read the remaining four.

    With short stories and novelettes, I always try to read the whole thing, even if it’s not to my taste. And two stories, which I’d previously started to read but abandoned, turned out to be pretty good, they just needed some time to get going.
    With anything from novella up, I check out everything, but give myself permission to skim or abandon the books, when I don’t like it.

    My Mom is also a little groaning a bt under the Hugo load. And since she doesn’t want to no award anybody, “because they all worked hard on those things”, she even tries to finish the ones she doesn’t like. That said, she did no award Vox Day, the awful John C. Wright story and the dinosaur erotica in 2017, but her “no award” threshold is a lot higher than mine.

    Though she really enjoyed the retro fanwriters.

  17. Meredith Moment:

    Starlings, a collection by Jo Walton, is part of the KDD at Amazon US for $1.99.

    Slipping: Stories, Essays And Other Writing by Laura Beukes is also part of the KDD at $1.99.

    Both look good, though I’ve read a bit more of the work in the Walton previously and know her work better, I haven’t read that much by Beukes, who is relatively new to me.

    As to Hugo voting, there are categories I’m not interested in, so I neither nominate nor vote. I focus on the fiction categories first and read what I can get to in the time allowed. It helps that I’ve read most the novels already in both 2018 and in the Retro.

    I have read most of the short fiction as well, fortunately, The Retros are usually easy, because I read and recall most of the ballot years ago. It’s an imperfect process, but it’s an imperfect world and I’m an imperfect person. I can live with that,

    As to Series, most of them I’ve read at least some of the series before. I typically know if I would enjoy continuing a series early. I read in the series which aren’t familiar to me, decide when to stop, vote to the best of my ability and trust the process to pick up for my drops. There are enough people voting that I trust the results will hold up in most cases over time. I do this for fun.

  18. That was pretty much my attitude when I was still voting — with a side of “I really should be able to get through all of these in the ~4 months between announcement and voting”. The series award changes that in theory — but if it’s a series and none of the descriptions have inspired me to read any of it before the current year, I’d feel less guilty about not marking it.

  19. @8: ISTM that the essay is trying to justify the author’s bending of old stories to fit the present day — but this is not unique to crime fiction; see (e.g.) Windling’s fairy-tale series (~1985 – ~1995), in which supernatural stories were adapted to often-contemporary fantasy (de Lint setting Jack the Giant Killer in the unseen world of a Canadian city, Dean putting Tam Lin into an early-1970’s college). Most authors don’t this sort of adaptation consciously, and I’m not convinced that many of them do it unconsciously — it’s certainly not highly visible. I have seen arguments that crime fiction is about the restoration of the norm (which might make it like older stories) where SFF is about breaking those norms and/or setting new ones, but I’m not sure how generally valid this model is.

  20. The trouble with the way No Award works is that, if you use it, the system assumes that means that if none of your higher-ranked stories wins, then you’d rather give no award at all. It always means “My faves or nothing.” There’s no way to have it mean “anything else is fine except these turkeys” unless you actually rank all the works.

    I’ll admit to doing some of what Standback talked about: when I had one work I really wanted to put under No Award but there were two or three I knew nothing about, I went ahead and ranked the unknown works randomly above No Award.

    What would fix it would be a checkbox to “rank” a work as “I don’t know.” At computation time, the software would need to compute a count of votes and I-don’t-know votes for each candidate at each stage. No Award would have to beat the sum of both counts. All other works would be compared only on the basis of regular votes (just as is done now).

    That would work exactly like the current system if no one ever used the checkboxes, but it would mean you could vote specific works below No Award without having to rank things you’d never read.

    Probably more trouble than it’s worth, but thinking about it makes it easier to understand what the current system does.

  21. What I wish I could do, is enter what is technically called a partial order, so not everything is necessarily compared against everything else, but transitivity still holds: if A beats B, and B beats C, then A beats C, but I’m not required to state either A beats B or B beats A. Sometimes I’d like to express a tie between a set of works.
    You’d have to use a different method of aggregating people’s preferences to come up with an overall winner, however.

  22. (3) “we regularly see Science Fiction with advanced non-conscious aliens”

    Do we? I can think of one example, maybe two. I’m not as widely read as I could be, but it seems to me that this is only true if you include categories like “they have a hive mind [which acts like it’s collectively conscious, but how would we know?]” or “they have a lot of conceptual differences and it’s unclear what that means”.

  23. I’m very fond of Walter Jon Williams’ story “Dinosaurs” which has conscious aliens and non-conscious (future) humans.

  24. June 12 is also the birthday of Rona Jaffe who gave us Mazes and Monsters and a made for TV movie with Tom Hanks based on the same book. Remember kids, stay out of steam tunnels.

    Also Peter Jones who was the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Remember kids, know where your towel is.

    Scroll, with occasional Pixel

  25. With respect to No Award, my practice is to use it only when I feel strongly that works on the ballot that I have not already ranked do not deserve a Hugo. I don’t place any works below No Award, because I’m not interested in ranking these undeserving works. I try to avoid No Award, and allow for the fact that lots of fans like things that I don’t care for. So I often just rank the works that I like and consider deserving, and omit the rest. I hope I understand the system correctly.

  26. @Eli, yea. Only Peter Watts’ Firefall stories come immediately to mind for me.

  27. You don’t have to vote in every category, and indeed the voting figures, which vary substantially between categories, show that few people do. For instance, I don’t ever vote in Fancast, I will only vote in the Dramatic categories if i can easily access the material, and I’m happy to skip the Editors and Semiprozine if I don’t have the time. But I think it is part of the essence of the Hugos that a lot of people will vote in a lot of categories; there is a community of Hugo voters, whose judgement the result ought to represent; the result wouldn’t have the same significance if it were produced by different groups of people each voting in their favoured field. Of course we are nowhere near that yet, but as the work involved in Hugo voting expands we slowly creep closer to it. (And I have seen people suggest that the Hugos should be like that, since only thus can they represent everyone interested in science fiction.)

    I think one should strive to read everything in the categories in which one votes, or at least sample it (voting on Series on the basis of a sample is fine), not so much because of technical issues to do with No Award, but because of the general idea that the Hugos are a consideration and comparison of works, not just a counting of fans. The voting system is clearly devised to support this – it seeks the most widely acceptable work, not the one with the most fans. The Dragons and Goodreads work differently, but the Hugos have a distinctive approach, and that is important.

    I think Series would be impossible to vote in if it was in fact full of the kind of infinite-length series it seems to have been devised for; since in fact we are getting quite a lot of series which are either short, or consist of relatively self-contained stories, it’s manageable so far.

    I would say it is quite reasonable that being a Hugo voter should involve quite a lot of work. The awards have some features of a juried award, only with a very large jury; they come from a group of people who aren’t exactly experts, but are engaged in a conversation about the field. It makes sense that the participants should be people who either keep up with the field as new material appears, or are prepared to put in some time working through the Hugo packet. But for that to be a workable system the time involved has to remain finite.

  28. (22) Amanda and I saw Hadestown during its Edmonton run a year ago. It’s excellent and deserves all the honours its receiving.

  29. (18) I had actually forgotten that “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” was one of this year’s Retro Hugo finalists. Serendipitously, I just read it in David Hartwell’s The Dark Descent anthology. I enjoyed it despite being able to predict well in advance what the outcome would be.

  30. @Andrew M
    I don’t follow movies or videos, so there’s no point in me trying to vote in BDP. Likewise, I see little artwork and few zines, so I’m unlikely to vote in those. I doubt that I’m unusual in not voting in categories where I’m uninformed. This is how it’s supposed to work.

  31. 18) I haven’t read it in … decades, but I’ve always remembered “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper”. I first encountered it in one of those Alfred Hitchcock anthologies and it was one of the very few stories (the other being Lovecraft’s “Colour Out of Space”) that actually scared me when I read it.

  32. The Debian project (an international, all-volunteer, free software group I was part of for many years–the details aren’t important) uses a ranked-voting system which explicitly does allow ties. Basically, you assign each option a number between 1 and n, where n is the number of options you’re voting on.

    This way, if there is, for example, only one option you love and one you hate, you can rank the first as one, no award as three, the one you hate as four, and all the rest (however many that might be) as two.

    There have definitely been times I wished the Hugo ballot allowed this, but I can understand why there might be reluctance to change.

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