Pixel Scroll 7/19/18 And Then There Were 770

(1) DRAGON AWARDS. July 20 is the deadline to nominate for Dragon Con’s Dragon Awards. If you’re ever going to do it now would be a good time…. If you’re not, no hurry!

(2) “JUST WEAR CLOTHES, HONEY.” That’s the advice I got the time I called Arthur Bryant’s ribs place to ask if they had a dress code. I follow the same advice when I go to the Hugos.

(3) TOR TAKES LIBRARIANS BY SURPRISE. And not in a good way: “Tor Scales Back Library E-book Lending as Part of Test”Publishers Weekly has the story.

After years of relatively little change in the library e-book market, there has finally been some movement—unfortunately, librarians say, it is movement in the wrong direction. Leading Sci-Fi publisher Tor Books, a division of Macmillan, has announced that, beginning with July 2018 titles, newly released e-books, will be no longer be available to libraries for lending until four months after their retail on sale date.

In a statement to libraries through their vendors, Macmillan officials said the new embargo was part of “a test program” (although an “open ended” test, the release states) to assess the impact of library e-book lending on retail sales. But the statement goes on to say that the publisher’s “current analysis on eLending indicates that it is having a direct and adverse impact on retail eBook sales,” and that Tor will work with library vendors to “develop ongoing terms that will best support Tor’s authors, their agents, and Tor’s channel partners.”

…On July 19, American Library Association president Loida Garcia-Febo issued the following statement:

“The American Library Association and our members have worked diligently to increase access to and exposure for the widest range of e-books and authors. Over years, ALA made great strides in working with publishers and distributors to better serve readers with increasingly robust digital collections. We remain committed to a vibrant and accessible reading ecosystem for all.

I am dismayed now to see Tor bring forward a tired and unproven claim of library lending adversely affecting sales. This move undermines our shared commitment to readers and writers—particularly with no advance notice or discussion with libraries. In fact, Macmillan references its involvement with the Panorama Project, which is a large-scale, data-driven research project focused on understanding the impact of library holdings on book discovery, author brand development, and sales. For this reason, this change by Tor—literally on the heels of Panorama’s launch—is particularly unexpected and unwelcome.

“The ALA calls for Macmillan to move just as quickly to reverse its course and immediately lift the embargo while the Panorama Project does its work.”

(4) BIG REBOOTS TO FILL. Somebody thought this would be a good idea: “‘In Search Of’: Zachary Quinto Follows in Leonard Nimoy’s Footsteps… Again”.

We’re all very used to revivals and reboots these days but with the return of iconic sci-fi/mystery series In Search Of , one big reason to celebrate (besides its launch on the History Channel) is that actor Zachary Quinto is a part of this project.

Quinto, who first became known to TV fans for his role as the villainous Sylar on the original run of NBC’s Heroes, leapt to greater heights of fame in 2009 when he took over the role of the most famous Vulcan in the galaxy, Spock, in the updated Star Trek big-screen franchise. Of course, Spock was first played by Leonard Nimoy in the 1960s television series and, yes, Nimoy later hosted In Search Of.


(5) DROPPED IN POTTER’S FIELD. There’s an open question about why this happened: “London erects 25-foot Jeff Goldblum statue to commemorate ‘Jurassic Park’s 25th anniversary”.

They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should build a 25-foot replica of Jeff Goldblum.

Londoners and tourists alike were puzzled Wednesday morning to find a statue of Goldblum, his shirt unbuttoned in a recreation of his famous “Jurassic Park” pose, staring seductively at them from the banks of the River Thames near Tower Bridge.


  • Born July 19 – Benedict Cumberbatch, 42. Some of his sort-of genre and definitely genre roles include Stephen Hawking in HawkingThe Hobbit films as a certain cranky dragon, Star Trek into DarknessDoctor Strange, Sherlock, and possibly my fav role potentially by him as the voice of the title character in the forthcoming animated The Grinch film.
  • Born July 19 – Jared Padalecki, 36. Best known for his role as Sam Winchester on Supernatural, and not surprisingly, Supernatural: The Animation.


(8) OKAY. Mad Genius Club columnist Kate Paulk makes everything as clear as she usually does in “Eschew Claytons Diversity”.

…Take the Mad Geniuses. We’re Odds. We don’t fit in. But every last one of us fails to fit in in a different way than every other one of us….

(9) UNDER NEWTON’S TREE. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler is getting to dislike F&SF’s 1963 incarnation almost as much as he loathes Analog“[July 18, 1963] Several bad apples (August Fantasy and Science Fiction)”.  

I’ve discussed recently how this appears to be a revival period for science fiction what with two new magazines having been launched and the paperback industry on the rise.  I’ve also noted that, with the advent of Avram Davidson at the helm of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the editorial course of that digest has…changed.  That venerable outlet has definitely doubled down on its commitment to the esoteric and the literary.

Has Davidson determined that success relies on making his magazine as distinct from all the others as possible?  Or do I have things backwards?  Perhaps the profusion of new magazines is a reaction to F&SF’s new tack, sticking more closely to the mainstream of our genre.

All I can tell you is that the latest edition ain’t that great, though, to be fair, a lot of that is due to the absolutely awful Heinlein dross that fills half of the August 1963 Fantasy and Science Fiction.  See for yourself…

“Heinlein dross” turns out to be code for an installment of the novel Glory Road.

(10) SPACE SAILS. [Item by Mike Kennedy] An exploratory project at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville AL is examining metamaterials as the basis for a solar sail for CubeSat propulsion. The Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout) is being developed by Marshall and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a candidate secondary payload to launch with EM-1 the first uncrewed test flight of the Space Launch System.

NEA Scout would be a robotic mission to fly by an NEA and return data “from an asteroid representative of NEAs that may one day be human destinations.” The asteroid chosen will depend on the launch date; the current target is  1991 VG. Though this is still only a candidate mission (and thus may never happen), NASA explains the mission like this:

Catching a ride on EM-1, NEA Scout will deploy from SLS after the Orion spacecraft is separated from the upper stage. Once it reaches the lunar vicinity, it will perform imaging for instrument calibration. Cold gas will provide the initial propulsive maneuvers, but the NEA Scout’s hallmark solar sail will leverage the CubeSat’s continual solar exposure for efficient transit to the target asteroid during an approximate two-year cruise.

Once it reaches its destination, NEA Scout will capture a series of low (50 cm/pixels) and high resolution (10 cm/pixels) images to determine global shape, spin rate, pole position, regional morphology, regolith properties, spectral class, and for local environment characterization.

Popular Science article looks a little closer at the use of metamaterials for the sail, talking with Dr. Grover Swartzlander (Rochester Institute of Technology) who is the lead for the project.

The metamaterial Swartzlander is proposing would have several advantages over the reflective materials of the past. Swartzlander’s sails would have lower heat absorption rates due to their diffractive nature which would scatter solar rays, and the ability to re-use what Swartzlander told NASA was “the abundant untapped momentum of solar photons” to fly through the cosmos.

Swartzlander is leading an exploratory study through NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program. With nine months and $125,000, his research team will work on a NASA satellite called the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, or NEA Scout for short. A robotic reconnaissance mission, NEA Scout is a CubeSat meant to explore asteroids. NEA Scout would be NASA’s first craft to be powered by sails.

(11) THEY SWORE A MIGHTY OATH. No “Second Variety”? “AI Innovators Take Pledge Against Autonomous Killer Weapons”.

The Terminator‘s killer robots may seem like a thing of science fiction. But leading scientists and tech innovators have signaled that such autonomous killers could materialize in the real world in frighteningly real ways.

During the annual International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Stockholm on Wednesday, some of the world’s top scientific minds came together to sign a pledge that calls for “laws against lethal autonomous weapons.”

“… we the undersigned agree that the decision to take a human life should never be delegated to a machine,” the pledge says. It goes on to say, “… we will neither participate in nor support the development, manufacture, trade, or use of lethal autonomous weapons.”

The moniker “autonomous weapons” doesn’t draw the same fear or wonder as a killer robot, but weapons that can function without human oversight are a real concern.

(12) NOT THE SIZE OF A PLANET. No one will ever be wondering this about sff fans. Gizmodo’s article “Did Neanderthals Go Extinct Because of the Size of Their Brains?” follows up a paper in Scientific Reports and a theory that Homo neanderthalensis may have gone extinct because their brains — though larger than that of Homo sapiens — had a cerebellum that was proportionately underdeveloped relative to H. sapiens.

Indeed, though scientists have many Neanderthal skulls to work with, none of them contain actual brains, making it difficult to know what the inside of their heads actually looked like. The next best option, therefore, is to look at their fossilized skulls and try to figure out the shape, size, and orientation of the Neanderthal brain.

To do this, Ogihara’s team created virtual three-dimensional “casts” of brains using data derived from the skulls of four Neanderthals and four early modern humans (the skulls used in the study dated from between 135,000 and 32,000 years ago). This allowed the researchers to reconstruct and visualize the 3D structure of the brain’s grey and white matter regions, along with the cerebrospinal fluid regions. Then, using a large dataset from the Human Connectome Project, specifically MRI brain scans taken of more than 1,180 individuals, the researchers modeled the “average” human brain to provide a kind of baseline for the study and allow for the comparative analysis.

Using this method, the researchers uncovered “significant” differences in brain morphology. Even though Neanderthals had larger skulls, and thus larger brain volume overall, H. sapiens had a proportionately larger cerebellum, the part of brain involved in higher levels of thinking and action. Modern humans also featured a smaller occipital region in the cerebrum, which is tied to vision. Looking at these differences, the researchers inferred such abilities as cognitive flexibility (i.e. learning, adaptability, and out-of-the-box thinking), attention, language processing, and short-term and long-term memory. Homo sapiens, the researchers concluded, had better cognitive and social abilities than Neanderthals, and a greater capacity for long-term memory and language processing.

(13) FORTNITE. Brian Feldman, in “The Most Important Video Game on the Planet” in New York Magazine, looks at how Fortnite. since its introduction in July 2017, “has risen to become the most important video game currently in existence…obsessed over by rappers and athletes, hotly debated in high school cafeterias, and played by 125 million people.”

Since it launched in July of last year, Fortnite has risen to become the most important video game currently in existence. The 100-player, last-man-standing video-game shooter is obsessed over by rappers and athletes, hotly debated in high-school cafeterias, and played by 125 million people. All this, not because of a major technical or graphical breakthrough, or for a groundbreaking work of narrative depth, but for, essentially, a simple, endlessly playable cartoon. On a colorful island peppered with abandoned houses, towns, soccer fields, food trucks, and missile silos, players don colorful costumes, drop out of a floating school bus, and begin constructing ramshackle forts that look like they’ve popped straight out of a storybook, before blowing each other to smithereens.

(14) TITANS. Official trailer —

TITANS follows young heroes from across the DC Universe as they come of age and find belonging in a gritty take on the classic Teen Titans franchise.


[Thanks to JJ, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Lee, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Dann, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]

166 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/19/18 And Then There Were 770

  1. Stoic Cynic: How is it possible that a work of genius emerged from this kerfuffle?

  2. Confirming that aloha wear is what my parents wore to weddings, funerals and fancy occasions when I was growing up. And that there is a spectrum from cheap-and-touristy to department-store-middle-class to tailored-and-expensive.

    And that people who think bright patterns/colors are exotic are 85% more likely to wear socks with their sandals.

  3. 2) I recently completed my city’s Citizens Police Academy, and for graduation night I was able to scare up my only pair of nice slacks, my one dress shirt, and a tie. Should I ever be in the position to win a Hugo (and the Nominees for Most Sarcastic Fan – No Teeth, are . . . ) I’d do the same because the Hugos are important, and dressing well -to the extent of your ability – is a nice touch. Please note I am living on disability and my spending money mostly comes from recycling, so I am in the lower end of the ability to dress to the nines scale. I can dress to the threes.

    5) I have no problems with weird statues randomly appearing. But then, I *do* go to Burning Man . . .

  4. In tonight’s episode of Cloak & Dagger, a police officer references her background in New York and name-drops a powered individual named Misty. I suppose that’s the show’s way of defending its behind-the-scenes claims to take place in the MCU

    Haven’t read the rest of the comments yet so this may have already been covered, but I can’t help but look at the “bad guy” plot similarities of drilling for human-effecting energy source in both Cloak and Dagger and Runaways. I’m wondering about any possibility of their storylines crossing in season 2 (of either show.) In the Runaways comics, Cloak and Dagger was one of if not the first crossover encounters.

  5. I just finished “The Black Chamber” by SM Stirling.

    This was a very gripping alt-history military espionage story. The change point is President Taft dies of a heart attack while running for reelection. Teddy Roosevelt beats Wilson and gears the USA rapidly up for war with Germany.

    Stirling comes up with a plausible way the Germans could have won WW1 in 1916. The plot is really nasty, but the antoganists have strong positive qualities. The opponents are not cardboard villians. Most of the story revolves around a female spy in Teddy’s intelligence operation.

    I really enjoyed the book and had difficulty putting it down. I like well written alt-histories and this was the best one Stirling has written since the Peshwar Lancers.

  6. We could discuss what various authors thought would be formal dress in the future. For example, I always liked the shiny Nehru jackets formal uniforms in Star Trek, but didn’t care for the long tunic dress uniforms in Star Trek: TNG.

    Or how men wearing earrings to formal events seemed to be a thing in some stories. Like the author was showing us how it must be the future because men were wearing earrings despite the fact that men were wearing earrings when the book was written.

  7. And, having caught up, I see that I wasn’t repeating anything.

    Expecting people to pack a suit and tie for a trip isn’t really a big deal.

    I haven’t even owned a suit and tie in over 20 years. I’ve never worn a tux. If wearing any level of suit was a precondition for getting an award, I’d tell them that they could keep it. (“Keep”, if I was feeling polite.)

  8. I agree that the whole thing about the “dress code” seems like a tempest in a teacup. I certainly knew what was meant. But at the same time, there seems to be enough confusion and dismay that a clarification might well be a good idea. Some people seem to have oddly specific ideas about the definition of “semi-formal” that I (hippie child of fandom who grew up to be a silicon valley computer geek) wasn’t really aware of. (I, having never in my life worn a tux, have always assumed it counted as formal.*) This is a world con, so it’s probably better to use less ambiguous terms.

    So it might be a really good idea for WC to say something like “there seems to have been some confusion about our recent request for semi-formal attire at the Hugo Ceremonies. This was not a formal (or even semi-formal) requirement. We understand that fandom is what it is, and we love that about it. But this is an important (and very visible) event, and in honor of the nominees, it would be nice if you could dress nice–and wonderful if you could dress wonderfully!”

    Or something along those lines…

    * I’ve also never worn a tie outside of a job interview. Most of the weddings I’ve been to have involved more tie-dye than ties. 🙂

  9. I’m not clear on why “hadn’t they thought about it” is coming into this. The email has told them to wear a specific type of dress that is only a subset of what finalists usually do, and might incur a notable cost if they didn’t already have it available. If they have thought about it, they have planned something totally different already.

    Well, I use that language because the argument being made that this email is some sort of shock; that they otherwise had all their ducks in a row but now the idea of “hey this is a dressy thing, try to look nice” A. is somehow news at all and B. throws their plans askew.

    But, hey, this is fan culture, where many a convention program guide has to be all, “Maybe you might want to take a shower”.

    Though, fundamentally, I think the argument that people A. can’t and/or B. weren’t going to anyway is laced with dishonesty. Is there a nominee who is dead broke, had their whole trip crowdfunded, managed to live their whole life without any exposure or expectations of what “awards show” means, and is now all, “But all I have to wear is this potato sack”? OR is it a ginned up controversy, as Mike said upthread, of an email reminding them to do the thing they were probably going to do anyway?

    Like, again, I would get it if the email had spelled out very gendered, patriarchal expectations of what ‘semi-formal’ means, and I can respect how some people might react to the phrase as if it implicitly brought gendered and patriarchal expectations along for the ride. But is that REALLY what we’re talking about? Or is it, like the poverty argument, more smokescreen to cover the real “Don’t Tell Me What To Do!” outrage of this?

  10. And in another take on attire, there was “social stripping” in Bruce Sterling’s Schismatrix as the protagonist shedded his clothes to escape a useless argument.

  11. Rev. Bob:

    “Attending a convention, unless it’s in your hometown and you can day-trip it, is a luxury, and a somewhat expensive one. Let’s not pretend otherwise.”

    Have to disagree. MidAmericon II in Kansas City back in 2016 cost me and my wife $950 for memberships, hotel room for five nights, gas, food, and other incidental expenses. So $475 each. We split the room with another couple and all drove there in one vehicle. Not bad for five days of fun and memories. Of course it helped that it was only a six hour drive for us, but that’s why we used to have North American zones that Worldcon rotated around, so going to a Worldcon every few years wouldn’t have to be an unaffordable luxury.

    As for fancy dress, eh, not an issue really as it’s not a mandatory thing. Go up on state wearing a propeller beanie or a light bulb hat and that’ll be what gets noticed. But no peanut butter!

  12. Longtime lurker, first time keyboard masher…

    This Hugo Dress-Code thing really made me roll my eyes, as it came the day after my (female, so not a weird harassment thing) manager advised me to “look nice” for the following day’s meetings (neither of which were with particularly important personages in the corporate hierarchy), and I immediately rankled. Inwardly only, because I am a grown-ass person who has always behaved and dressed appropriately for my extremely informal work environment. Most of us wear jeans every day. My hair has been purple for two years, no one bats a lash. I have never shown “too much” cleavage or thigh, worn tripping hazard type shoes, had any wardrobe malfunctions, etc. and have never been advised by peers, managers or HR that I need to change my style, such as it is (business nerd casual). In fact, my manager on many occasions has given me compliments on whatever I’m doing with my hair, makeup or outfit. I think… THINK… the manager was just running off some pseudo-helpful boilerplate that someone told her was useful when supervising underlings. Because really, I am 45 damn years old and I certainly know what I’m doing.

    It irritated me all day, but in the end I wore what I was already planning on wearing, which was entirely on-brand for me, and well within the bounds of professional decorum. The only change I made was that I wore slightly more subdued eyeshadow. No complaints. But dang, was I feeling cranky and defiant all day. Don’t tell grown-ups how to dress. Assume that grown-ass people being nominated for a major industry award will bring the best they have, and if they don’t fit your tastes, well I guess that’s life. Also, for god’s sake, “professional” dress for people who don’t work in a cube farm is meaningless. If you have a hard dress-code, you need to be specific, and deal with the fall-out when the guests push back. What the Hugo email should have said was something like “Wear something you look and feel great in!” That would have been great, and treated the nominees like adults.

  13. @Darren: “I can’t help but look at the “bad guy” plot similarities of drilling for human-effecting energy source in both Cloak and Dagger and Runaways. I’m wondering about any possibility of their storylines crossing in season 2 (of either show.) In the Runaways comics, Cloak and Dagger was one of if not the first crossover encounters.”

    I was thinking that Runaways is X-verse, but apparently not, so you may be on to something. I am presently thinking that C&D’s Roxxon plot is more of a followup to Agent Carter than anything else, but then, I don’t have Hulu and thus haven’t seen Runaways.

  14. @Cassy B: no, you’re not taking it too far – both of those skirts would be perfect.

    Tho I’ll probably opt for the less expensive one. I’m at leastt half-semi-serious about this (though of course things mightt change between now and then.)

    Data point: dressing for the Hugo Awards: in 1977 I wore the following to the formal sit down dinner:
    Suncon t-shirt (orange w black print)
    frye boots
    australian digger’s hat

    I wore nearly the same outfit (different t-shirt) to the 1978 awards ceremony – but I was on security detail so was all the way at the back with my head stuck through the door.

    Point of interest: “stars” often get “dressed” by clothing firms looking to make a mark. I’m not sure what the financial arrangements are, but I would imagine some designer, somewhere, would be interested.

    Now all we need is the red carpett and ET reporters telling everyone what we are wearing and who designed it….

    Elsewhere, someone wondered about the attire of fans. Here’s my take/understanding/knowledge attained at the feet of earlier generations, for whatever it is worth:

    even in america, clothing reflects “class”. Fandom eschews such, often deliberately.
    or – I’m at a convention and lounge pants are just fine for the lobby
    or – I want to be comfortable, so I wear what makes me happy

  15. @ Rev. Bob: Nabbed ’em!

    @ Steve D & Cassy: There are a gazillion galaxy-fabric skirts on Amazon. Alas, many of them are minis, but I’ll bet there are some full-length ones too if you look.

    And Steve, the canonical shoes to go with a full-length skirt are high heels. But if you’re not already used to those, I’d recommend 1″-heel pumps instead. Men shopping for women’s shoes need to look 2 sizes up as a starting point. (IOW, men’s 7 = women’s 9.)

  16. Here’s something interesting:

    For the 40th anniversary of the landing in 2009, I put together a page where you can watch the original CBS News coverage of Walter Cronkite reporting on the Moon landing and the first Moon walk, synced to the present-day time. Just open this page in your browser and the coverage will start playing at the proper time.

    @Russell Letson: “And I keep thinking of Frank Zappa’s famous remark about everybody being in uniform, and don’t kid yourself.”

    I repressed the urge to post that very same fine quote myself in this thread today.

  17. This seems like a good time to cite something that was going around FB a while back (quotation from memory and doubtless inexact, context jury duty):

    “You can tell a lot about social privilege in America by observing the results when someone who has the power to throw you in jail for contempt requests that you dress up a bit for the job you’re doing. In this case, it resulted in a lot of white men in T-shirts and jeans, some in business casual. White women were mostly business casual. The one visibly Latino man had on a 3-piece suit. Black women were uniformly dressed for the boardroom.”

    @ Greg: I like the concept of “fan (or fannish) formal”!

    Personally, I’m a clothes-horse, and one of the things I say about fandom is “going to cons means never having to say ‘this is gorgeous, but where would I ever wear it?’ ” — I love dressing up even for hitting the room parties at my regional cons. But I don’t expect everyone else to agree with me, and I think that pressuring them to do so is a poor idea. Not to mention that IMO the way the e-mail was phrased made it sound like “we don’t want any non-fans who happen to see something about this to think we’re a bunch of freaks, so let’s try to look like a company annual dinner”.

    @ Russell: To me, “semi-formal” means one of my full-length Holyclothing dresses with fancy jewelry, or my really dressy salwar kameez with all the sequins. Or, as you say, a cocktail dress/LBD, although I don’t have much that would qualify as that.

  18. ” But is that REALLY what we’re talking about? Or is it, like the poverty argument, more smokescreen to cover the real “Don’t Tell Me What To Do!” outrage of this?”

    I think the problem is less of a “do not tell me what to do” and more of a “I’m tired of always being told how to fit in to someone else’s mold”.

  19. @Marshall Ryan Maresca

    I dunno, I’m just taking people’s concerns about this at face value.

  20. The Fans For Accessible Conventions thread is public afaik, but for people who don’t like Facebook: The Worldcon Events Division Head has popped up and explained that the text was meant as a suggestion rather than a requirement (and that it was the same phrasing used in 2011), but that since people aren’t reading it that way they’ll be modifying it for future communications.

  21. One truly fannish approach (say I) would be to waggishly interpret ‘semi-formal’ to mean a formal half and a casual one, e.g., tails and top hat above, bermuda shorts and sandals below. Doing the split vertically, though, is a challenge best left to the Costumers’ Guild.

    (I grew up with the same understanding of ‘semi-formal attire’ as @Greg Hullender, i.e., black tie for men, evening gown for women, but 2018 California use of said phrase is unpredictable at best.)

  22. For my part, this is absolutely Don’t Tell Me What To Do, because Look Professional in Semi Formal is bullshit I refuse to put up with in Real Life, and here it rears its head in fandom.

    I hate that email.

    I am much more likely to check with real people WT actual F and then ignore it than to tell the committee they can swivel, but I understand the impulse.

  23. @Greg Hullender:

    You can certainly turn up in a tuxedo if you want. I saw a number of men do that in Helsinki. I can remember attending an event in San Francisco about 30 years ago where they were at pains to make sure we understood that “semi-formal” meant “tuxedo with black bow tie” not just suit and tie. My office mate turned up in white tie and tails, commenting that it was always okay to be a bit overdressed, and, anyway, he’d paid for the outfit and he was going to wear it given the chance.

    Well done, that fellow! Men standing around resembling a flock of penguins always struck me as ridiculous, anyway. And, if worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.

  24. For my part, this is absolutely Don’t Tell Me What To Do, because Look Professional in Semi Formal is bullshit I refuse to put up with in Real Life, and here it rears its head in fandom.

    And that’s a fair cop. Or, if as Bo Bolander put it in her tweet: If I wanna show up naked with cat-buttholes over my nipples, that’s what I’m gonna do. And that? That “fuck you I’ll wear what I fucking want”? I’m all for that, if that’s what you want to do. But be honest about that instead of faux-handwringing whataboutism over theoretical people who “can’t” or something.

  25. Xtifr: “We understand that fandom is what it is, and we love that about it. But this is an important (and very visible) event, and in honor of the nominees, it would be nice if you could dress nice–and wonderful if you could dress wonderfully!”

    Voicing any expectations whatsoever is going to be interpreted as an unwelcome imposition of standards as the game is being played here.

    And never forget that the Worldcon committee needs to be punished because any organizing principle is — to someone — a symbol of authority that demands a rebellious response.

  26. Only just back in connection with my Camestros email account, so I’ve only just seen that actual text of the request regarding ‘semi-formal’. I’m confident it wasn’t meant that way but it does look a bit too much like an instruction rather than a suggestion.

    Sadly I won’t be attending, so I’ll be wearing my traditional Hugo ceremony watching garb of pyjamas and dressing gown.

  27. @ Rick: Yes, many of us (male and female both) lament the passing of men’s formal wear that was also a colorful display. It would be fun to see some of the men at the Hugos wearing Regency-style dinner clothing, or even getting further back into the Renaissance and Tudor eras.

  28. Lee: Although what you have in mind is nicer, I also remember Milt Steven’s legendary slime-green leisure suit.

  29. I was thinking that Runaways is X-verse, but apparently not, so you may be on to something. I am presently thinking that C&D’s Roxxon plot is more of a followup to Agent Carter than anything else, but then, I don’t have Hulu and thus haven’t seen Runaways.

    If you don’t mind a few spoilers (and it sounds like I’ve already exposed you to a few) take a look at this.

  30. Lis Carey says And because I probably do have to spell this out explicitly: I’m not saying that library ebook borrowing always involves a long wait. I’m saying it’s about as likely to involve a waiting list, and of similar effective length, as borrowing print books from a library.

    My local Library imposed longer wait times on the ebooks because, as I was told, folks were bypassing the printed books in favor of the ebooks which carried a use fee for every time they were checked out. And the borrowing time limit was set shorter to make sure they were returned promptly.

  31. @Cat Eldridge–Yes, the widely used ebook lending systems already have “features” designed to pacify the publishers, and they have to be paid for, because it’s just not practical for an individual library system to make its own system that publishers will cooperate with.

  32. Lis Carey to me noted Yes, the widely used ebook lending systems already have “features” designed to pacify the publishers, and they have to be paid for, because it’s just not practical for an individual library system to make its own system that publishers will cooperate with.

    The ALA I’m told looked into doing so but the costs were way too high to be worth doing so they decided not to do it. Tor does a lot of genre fiction where the profit margin is rather thin, so I can understand them trying to make sure that they actually sell books instead of having them read instead through lending services.

    Ok someone’s going to say Tor’s a very wealthy book company. Maybe, maybe not, but they expect each book to make money and if ebook lending is perceived to be causing that to be a problem, they’ll react.

  33. @Bill:

    I disagree with “has tweeted himself out of the job” as an accurate representation of “was canned over tweets he made ten years ago.”

  34. (2)

    In my experience, when attending a conference, and there is a dinner, it is stated at time of registration what the dinner dress code is, if there is a dress code. So I can understand if people are feeling blindsided by this.

    And per Peer, it seems to me that “semi-formal” is an imprecise dress-code, which adds to the confusion.

    And finally, having seen a few Hugo Awards ceremonies, the style of dress is best described as diverse, with the full spectrum ranging from tuxedos to the very casual, so the “semi-formal” request does not come across as in keeping with Hugo Award traditions.

  35. Soon Lee: …. so the “semi-formal” request does not come across as in keeping with Hugo Award traditions.

    You wouldn’t necessarily know that a message very like this one has been sent many times in the past. The range of apparel you witnessed has been the response. Adults have always been able to decide how they want to respond to the request.

  36. @Cat Eldridge: I heard only within the last year or so that Boston has a pay-per-use system — but I asked their help email point blank whether they had a preference (because there’s also labor in moving a book around the system, even in a geographically-small city like Boston — something about roads from cowpaths;-)) and was told I should just do what suited me. In a couple of cases I’ve held drag races between physical and e-books, and concluded that long queues have about the time differential expectable from different lending times (2 weeks for e-books, 3 for physical — IMO reasonable as an e-book doesn’t require a trip to pick up and another to return).

  37. I grew up with clothes from the Salvation Army (most passed down from older siblings, which made them a few hands more than secondhand) and I still shop Goodwill and TJ Maxx because, well, I like a bargain. I also like to dress up and I have been known to dress formally for awards shows even though I’m watching from home and my own living room. I know nobody cares about my anecdotal info and I’ve never been to WorldCon so what do I know? But the conversation about tuxedo jackets and skirts got me to pop in, because I did wear a short tuxedo jacket with a tutu to a formal event once. One of my favorite outfits ever! Steve Davidson, I recommend the tutu or poofy skirt with the tuxedo jacket. The poof helps. I also don’t think you need heels. I wore some weird wedgy type things in the 70s (I also had a fur coat from a church resale shop where the rich ladies offloaded their clothes for the benefit of the poors like me) but I never wore heels. A nice ballet flat is always good with a skirt. Or, you know, flip flops. Just as a helpful hint: Formal clothes are one of the most common things to find in resale shops because people only want to wear a prom dress once and they don’t have any use for that not-the-right-size-anymore suit they bought for their wedding.

    Because of my déclassé upbringing, I had no idea that semi-formal meant black tie. Learn something new every day.

  38. I’m late to my own contributing editorship! It’s tough to keep up with File 770, especially 3 pages of contentious comments. 😉

    ::bows:: Thanks, @Mike Glyer, for the signal honor. Sorry I missed my turn to find typos. …what, that’s not what the editor of the day is supposed to do?!

  39. Quite a few years ago now, I read a Miss Manners discussion of dress codes/terminology (possibly in her Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior) which tells the reader that “semi-formal” is meaningless, and that if you actually care what people wear to your wedding, dinner party, or barbecue, please be specific. Otherwise you’re likely to have people fretting; calling you to ask what do you actually mean by this; and either one person in a suit while everyone else is in t-shirt and shorts, or vice versa.

    She also noted that hosts tended to give unhelpful answers to “what should I wear?” (“oh, anything” isn’t helpful to someone who’s worrying about this, and neither is repeating “semi-formal”). In that context she suggests “what will you be wearing?” as a better guest-to-host question.

    @Mike: Yes, the Worldcon may send out that request or something like it every year, but I’m fairly sure that the reason they’re doing so is that the group of nominees keeps changing, not that they expect repeat nominees to have forgotten what they wore last time.

  40. I’m a Miss Manners fan as well, and I’m pretty sure she said Formal used to mean White Tie, and Informal meant Black Tie. As Vicki says, she recommends not using those terms now because people are unlikely to all understand them the same way. And Semi-formal is, to coin a phrase, right out.

  41. @BigelowT
    That’s a very good point. Formal clothes are quite common in second hand or thrift stores. People also tend to keep too good to discard formal clothes around and may well be willing to lend them to you for a special event. For example, for my prom equivalent, I wore a vintage disco era gown that had been my Mom’s. I also inherited a gorgeous hippie era evening gown from her that might actually still fit.

    Regarding formal/semi-formal, I have a couple of vintage etiquette books from the 1950s/1960s, which specify that semi-formal means tuxedo or a type of suit called Stresemann for men and cocktail dresses for women. Formal is a frock coat for men and an evening gown for women.

    However, I have never even seen a frock coat in real life outside a concert hall and I have never seen a top hat outside a funeral (pallbearers used to wear top hats in more conservative areas). Coincidentally, I have never seen a Stresemann in real life either. Even tuxedos are becoming rare these days outside televised awards shows.

  42. Vicki Rosenzweig: @Mike: Yes, the Worldcon may send out that request or something like it every year, but I’m fairly sure that the reason they’re doing so is that the group of nominees keeps changing, not that they expect repeat nominees to have forgotten what they wore last time.

    Perhaps I actually am insufficiently bright to understand the point you’re making because I don’t know why you said this.

  43. @Camestros Felapton

    Sadly I won’t be attending, so I’ll be wearing my traditional Hugo ceremony watching garb of pyjamas and dressing gown.

    Have you arranged for someone to pick it up for you in case you win?

  44. I plan on wearing a nice shirt (no tie), nice slacks, and my better pair of shoes. After all, the only other option is my Aztec Sun God outfit.

    And everyone has seen that.

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