(1) HOUSE OF THE DRAGON ACTOR RECEIVES RACIAL ABUSE. “Steve Toussaint reveals racist abuse after being cast in House of the Dragon” – the Guardian has the story.
Steve Toussaint has revealed he received racist abuse online after he was cast as Corlys Velaryon in the upcoming Game Of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon.
The 57-year-old British actor has previously starred in Doctor Who, Line of Duty and Death in Paradise.
Speaking to the Radio Times about his lead role in the highly anticipated HBO series, Toussaint said: “When they announced [my casting], one of the first things I saw on social media was a drawing of the character [from the books] next to a picture of me.
“And then there was the racist abuse that came with that.”
In the books by George RR Martin on which the series is based, the Velaryons are described as having white skin, ghostly pale hair and purple eyes. However, in the new series the clan are reimagined as black nobles with long silver dreadlocks.
Reflecting on the backlash from fans of the series of books, Toussaint continued: “I kind of thought: ‘Oh, I get it’. When we were criminals and pirates and slaves in the other show, you were OK with that.
“But as this guy is the richest [character] in the show and he’s a nobleman, now you have a problem with it.
“In House Of The Dragon [our colour] is just a given – I quite like that.”
Despite the risk that acknowledging the backlash could give it greater prominence, Toussaint said he thought it was important to address it….
(2) EVERYBODY LOOK, WHAT’S GOING DOWN. Jay Blanc saw that someone in a Baen’s Bar forum is once more writing the kind of things that led Jason Sanford last year to do a report about the forum being used to advocate political violence.
Here’s people on @BaenBooks Web Forum talking about how to shoot someone wearing body armour in a thread about the Judge who signed the #MarALagoFBIRaid warrant.
Please boycott Baen Books for hosting a forum for domestic terrorists. pic.twitter.com/uYxRnp05iG
— Jay Blanc (@jayblanc) August 15, 2022
(3) SOCIAL MEDIA LIGHTNING STRIKES. IN A GOOD WAY. The Guardian profiles a 26-year-old author who got a six figure advance for her YA fantasy debut after it took off on TikTok: “More zeros than I’ve seen in my life’: the author who got a six-figure deal via ‘BookTok’”.
Having finally published her first novel, Alex Aster was feeling disheartened. The book had tanked during the pandemic and she had been dropped by her literary agent. Then, on 13 March 2021, she decided to take to TikTok, asking her followers if they would: “read a book about a cursed island that only appears once every 100 years to host a game that gives the six rulers of the realm a chance to break their curses.” One of the rulers must die, the short video revealed, “even as love complicates everything” for the heroine, Isla Crown.
Aster didn’t expect much, especially when she checked in a few hours later to see that her post had only clocked up about 1,000 views. Maybe the books world was right, she thought. Maybe there wasn’t a market for Lightlark, a young adult story she had been writing and rewriting for years, to no interest from publishers. The next day, however, she woke up to see her video had been viewed more than a million times. A week later, Lightlark had gone to auction and she had a six-figure deal with Amulet Books. Last month, Universal preemptively bought the film rights for, in her words, “more zeros than I’ve seen in my life”….
(4) WHEN BOOK LOVERS GET TOGETHER. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] ln the Guardian, Sarah Shaffi wonders about the future of literary festivals after Covid: “Are literary festivals doomed? Why book events need to change”. A lot of this applies to cons as well.
…Lizzie Curle, festival director at Capital Crime, which will be held in September, said festivals were “dealing with the psychological impact” of coronavirus, and people’s nervousness around the illness. To mitigate this, Capital Crime will be moving from its previous venue of the Grand Connaught Rooms in London to “fully aerated” tents in Battersea Park. Although the pandemic meant Capital Crime had to take two years off from an in-person event after its inaugural festival in 2019, Curle said the crisis “forced independent businesses like Capital Crime to get creative”.
Leah Varnell, managing director at Ways With Words in Dartington in Devon, said that “audience numbers were low across all events” at this year’s festival, something she has put down to the cost of living crisis.
“The mood music seemed that ‘leisure’ activities had to be jettisoned due to the already felt increased cost of fuel/food,” she said, “and there was a palpable anxiety about how much more expensive life may yet become and for how long the cost of living pressures would be felt.”…
(5) THE FUTURE IS MODULAR. Cora Buhlert’s latest article for Galactic Journey is about the rise of the shipping container, which is just taking off in 1967: “[August 16, 1967] Boxes, Big Steel Boxes: The Rise of the Shipping Container”.
… The first of the 226 containers on board was unloaded without a hitch. However, disaster struck when the second container, a refrigerated unit called a “reefer container”, carrying frozen chicken legs from Virginia, slipped from the hook of the on-board cargo crane of the Fairland and crashed down onto the driver’s cab of a brand-new truck waiting below. Thankfully, the driver was not seriously injured. The container survived the fall as well, as did the chicken legs, though the truck did not….
(6) WOLFGANG PETERSEN (1941-2022). Noted director Wolfgang Petersen died August 16 at the age of 81. While known for such films as The Perfect Storm, Air Force One and Das Boot, he also directed genre films The NeverEnding Story (1984), Enemy Mine (1985), and (dare we count?) Troy (2004).
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2011 – [By Cat Eldridge.] He-Man is a toy franchise, and yes, I’m approaching it that way, with a complicated history. It started twenty years ago on this date and ended on January 10, 2004. It wasn’t a particularly successful series lasting but two seasons and thirty-nine episodes.
So why did I emphasis the toy aspect? Because it was produced to coincide with Mattel’s revival of the Masters of the Universe toy franchise eleven years after a previous attempt, which failed quite spectacularly.
So the look and feel emulates the toy line. I’m not an expert on He-Man mythos, so I have drafted one in the guise of Cora Buhlert, who will give her extensive thoughts in a minute.
Video wise as I said, it’s been complicated. There’s been two films and seven series. That’s doesn’t include He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special. Seriously He-Man learns the means of Christmas.
Now let’s have Cora’s rather great review of this. But first she says that you, courtesy of Mattel, can legally watch it. The three-part pilot is up, and they are dropping a new episode she says every Tuesday. The playlist is here: “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002) | Season 1 Episode 1 | The Beginning, Part 1”.
Now for her review.
Cora Buhlert: IMO, it was a very good update of the early 1980s Filmation show. It had more internal continuity than the 1980s show and fleshed out the worldbuilding. Both Prince Adam and Teela were a bit younger in the 2002 show, sixteen as compared to eighteen/nineteen in the Filmation show, and also brattier, but then they are teenagers. This contrasts with the fact that the 2002 show was quite a bit darker and villains like Skeletor or King Hiss were genuinely nasty. Skeletor tortures King Randor and Man-at-Arms, throws a vial of acid in Randor’s face (which backfires) and tries to throw both Prince Adam and Randor into a bottomless abyss. King Hiss, leader of the Snake Men, eats people.
The 2002 show also gave the supporting characters both good and bad more to do and gave characters like Stinkor (who had never appeared in the original show) or Two-Bad an origin story. And the Snake Men, main antagonists of season 2, had never appeared in the Filmation cartoon at all, because they were introduced after the show ended. The 2002 show also popularized what is now the accepted origin story of Skeletor, namely that he once was Keldor, a blue humanoid and King Randor’s estranged half-brother. He gained his skull face, when he tried to throw a vial of acid into Randor’s face, only for Randor to deflect it and Keldor/Skeletor managing to burn off his own face instead. The character of King Grayskull, He-Man’s heroic ancestor who built Castle Grayskull, originates here. He most recently showed up in Masters of the Universe: Revelation, infuriating the usual suspects because he was portrayed as black in the later show. The man bun Man-at-Arms wears in Masters of the Universe: Revelation (the 2021 Netflix show) also originates here as does the fact (which shows up in my photo stories a lot) that Man-at-Arms and Fisto are brothers. Plus, the 2002 show has the best version of King Randor.
Oddly enough, the 2002 show was more closely tied to the toys Mattel was trying to sell than the 1980s show. Because while the toys would occasionally show up in the Filmation show, they often did whatever they pleased without paying any attention to the toyline. Meanwhile, in the 2002 show, you have a few episodes where the writers obviously tried to shoehorn in some toy Mattel was trying to sell, even though it doesn’t really fit the story, e.g. a touching flashback episode about the events that led to Teela’s birth is interrupted by a random fight with slime zombies.
Things I don’t like: Some of the fight scenes are too stylized – basically people jump into the air and twirl their weapons a lot. Cringer/Battlecat doesn’t talk in this one, whereas I prefer Cringer to talk. Queen Marlena who is a formidable woman in the 1980s show gets very little to do here. Count Marzo, a secondary antagonist from the 1980s show, unfortunately looks like an anti-semitic caricature in his non-powered form, which shocked me in a show made in the 21st century. And I’ll never accept that Fisto is Teela’s biological father, sorry.
(See Cora’s latest Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre photo story “The Mystery of He-Man’s Long-Lost Twin Sister” at the link.)
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born August 16, 1884 — Hugo Gernsback. Publisher of the first SF magazine, Amazing Stories in 1926. He also helped create fandom through the Science Fiction League. Pittcon voted him a Hugo titled Father of Magazine Science Fiction, and he was voted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. He’s the writer of the Ralph 124C 41+ novel which scholar Westfahl considers “essential text for all studies of science fiction.” There’s at least nine versions of it available at the usual suspects which is sort of odd. (Died 1967.)
- Born August 16, 1930 — Robert Culp. He’d make the Birthday Honors solely for being the lead in Outer Limits’ “Demon with a Glass Hand” which Ellison wrote specifically with him in mind. He would do two more appearances on the show, “Corpus Earthling” and “The Architects of Fear”. Around this time, he made one-offs on Get Smart! and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. before being Special FBI Agent Bill Maxwell in The Greatest American Hero. Did you know there was a Conan the Adventurer series in the Nineties in which he was King Vog in one episode? I’ve not seen it. Do we consider I Spy genre? Well we should. (Died 2010.)
- Born August 16, 1933 — Julie Newmar, 89. Catwoman in Batman. Her recent voice work includes the animated Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face, both done in the style of the Sixties show. They feature the last voice work by Adam West. Shatner btw plays Harvey Dent aka Two Face. She was on the original Trek in the “Friday’s Child” episode as Eleen. She also has one-offs on Get Smart!, Twilight Zone, Fantasy Island, Bionic Woman, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Bewitched and Monster Squad.
- Born August 16, 1934 — andrew j. offutt. I know him through his work in the Thieves’ World anthologies though I also enjoyed the Swords Against Darkness anthologies that he edited. I don’t think I’ve read any of his novels. And I’m not a Robert E. Howard fan so I’ve not read any of his Cormac mac Art or Conan novels but his short fiction is superb. His only award was a Phoenix Award which is a lifetime achievement award for a science fiction professional who had done a great deal for Southern Fandom. (Died 2013.)
- Born August 16, 1934 — Diana Wynne Jones. If there’s essential reading for her, it’d be The Tough Guide to Fantasyland which is a playful look at the genre. Then I’d toss in Deep Secret for its setting, and Fire and Hemlock for her artful merging of the Scottish ballads Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer. Now what’s the name of the exemplary short story collection she did late in life? Ahhh it was Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories with the great cover by artist Dan Craig. Yes, I bought it without opening the book solely because of the cover! (Died 2011.)
- Born August 16, 1958 — Rachael Talalay, 64. She made her directorial debut with Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, and she also worked on the first four of the Nightmare on Elm Street films. Moving from horror to SF, she directed Tank Girl next. A long time Who fan, she directed all three of Twelfth Doctor’s series finales; series 8’s “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven”; along with series 9’s “Heaven Sent” and “Hell Bent”; before directing series 10’s “World Enough and Time” and “The Doctor Falls.” She capped her Who work with “Twice Upon a Time”, the last Twelfth Doctor story. Her latest genre undertaking is A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting.
- Born August 16, 1960 — Timothy Hutton, 62. Best known as Nathan Ford on the Leverage series which is almost genre. His first genre was in Iceman as Dr. Stanley Shephard, and he was in The Dark Half in the dual roles of Beaumont and George Stark. He’s David Wildee in The Last Mizo, based off “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” by Lewis Padgett (husband-and-wife team Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore). He was Hugh Crain in The Haunting of Hill House series. I’m going to finish off this Birthday note by singling out his most superb role as Archie Goodwin on the Nero Wolfe series.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Macanudo shows what would happen if Peter Pan visited today (though where’s Nana?)
(10) COSTUME PROMPTS POLICE HARASSMENT IN CHINA. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Guardian has an article about a cosplayer being arrested in Suzhou, China, for wearing a kimono as part of her cosplay: “Chinese woman ‘detained for wearing Japanese kimono’”.
A Chinese woman said she was detained by police for hours and accused of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for wearing a Japanese kimono and taking photos in a city street.
The woman was wearing the kimono and a wig while cosplaying as a popular character from the manga series Summer Time Rendering. She was taking photos in Suzhou when she and her photographer were approached by a police officer, according to video filmed and shared to social media.
In the video, the woman explains she was conducting a photoshoot, but an officer tells her: “If you came here wearing Hanfu, I wouldn’t say this. But you are wearing a kimono, as a Chinese. You are a Chinese! Are you?”
Hanfu is a term for traditional Han Chinese dress. The woman asked why she was being yelled at and was told she was suspected of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, a catchall accusation used routinely by Chinese authorities against dissidents, journalists and activists.
The video cuts out shortly after she is grabbed by officers and taken away….
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Rich Horton, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
Diana Wynne Jones was always wonderful, be it Tough Guide to Fantasyland or Thomas the Rhymer. Her passing was one of our great tragedies.
8) andy offutt made his living mostly by grinding out pornography, a fact he never concealed; indeed, at one point he passed out a partial bibliography of his porn, complete with pseudonyms (he omitted the stuff aimed at male masochists). One of the many “offuttspring” who used to accompany him and Jodie to Southern cons, Chris Offutt, is a darned fine writer himself, and wrote the 2016 My Father, the Pornographer: A Memoir about growing up as andy’s son.
2: Baen’s Bar: ENOUGH with this boycott crap. Have you actually visited the bar? There’s more than a dozen different sub-bars, many moderated (like the 1632 ones, that I go to). I can guess which one that threat was in, probably Kratman… and it’s separated from everyone else. Stop saying screw everyone in every other sub-bar for one.
Birthdays: Hugo: ah, yes, Ralph 124c41+. I have a copy. Sam Moskowitz described it perfectly: a marvelous work of technical prophecy, broken every few page by a few words of execrable “plot”.
And yes, we miss Diana Wynne Jones a lot.
One more thing about Baen’s Bar: with RoF Press shutting down, the 1632 forums on the bar are the only place that all of us – and over 200 people have been published by the Grantville Gazette and RoF Press – can get together, and figure out what’s going on, and how we proceed.
(1) Sad, depressing, and too predictable.
(2) Toni Weisskopf knows what’s going on in Kratman’s forum, and is apparently just fine with it. And she’s the freaking publisher. If she’s not responsible for doing something about this advocacy of murder and terrorism on a platform her company maintains, who is? So no, I’m not buying the idea that Baen Books has nothing to do with what’s going on in the more poisonous parts of Baen’s Bar. If she doesn’t like the results, she can take some action.
Jim Baen must be spinning in his grave.
Diana Wynne Jones is indeed wonderful, but let me remind people that she was primarily a writer of (mostly) humorous middle grade novels, so these recommendations aren’t typical. Excellent and more typical works include the Chrestomanci books (my favorites are Charmed Life, The Lives of Christopher Chant, and The Pinhoe Egg), Year of the Griffin, Power of Three, Dogsbody, and The Homeward Bounders.
Lis… well, if someone went into that forum, and found that… perhaps instead of screwing the rest of us over, maybe someone should forward that information to the FBI. For real. Let the authorities deal with it.
Esp. since they could be considering that in the real world, and I’m sure they have other places to plan.
(2) Those are pretty bad comments in that context but they aren’t unexceptional beyond Baen’s Bar. I can (but won’t) show you similar apparent “shifts in topic” from the Trump FBI-raid to “this is the gun drills I’m doing” on Twitter and other mainstream platforms.
mark–Why are you assuming it hasn’t been reported to the FBI? Doing that and complaining publicly about Baen choosing to knowingly host that home of terrorism and open advocacy of murder are not mutually exclusive.
Nor is advocating a boycott at all similar to advocating murder of a judge who issued a warrant for thecsearch and seizure of classified documents by someone who had no right to be in possession of them, and giving instructions on shooting someone wearing body armor in the assumption that the judge might be, in the circumstances.
What Baen Books is allowing on that forum is actually dangerous. There’s no reason the rest of us should be expected to stifle our free speech, while advocacy of murder and terrorism is indulged as a legitimate use of free speech.
Lis – you’re not addressing the issue I brought up – the personal one, that the late Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire Press has shut down, and the 1632 forums on the Bar are the only place that the couple hundred of us can meet, and figure out what’s happening with things like payments, royalties, cover art, and our books.
For Baen to shut that off gets us, personally, directly, with no recourse. I mean, unless you want to set up a forum for us.
mark: Well, you 1632 people have just as much ability to set up an independent forum as Lis has — presumably much more, actually. I don’t agree we have to shut up about people using Baen’s Bar to discuss techniques of domestic terrorism because that might inconvenience writers.
Mike – I posted where we’re all dealing with this that I could set up a mailing list. The kind of forum that’s under Baen’s Bar… that’s complicated, and probably requires paying someone for the software.
So you think it’s logical and reasonable to suggest that someone who has nothing to do with 1632, and doesn’t like what’s going on in a forum Baen hosts, supports, and has defended, has to set up the forum for you, or STFU.
Nope. Not going to happen. You guys can do it for yourself, and have rather more resources to do so than I do.
I’m not planning to respond anymore, because I don’t believe this is a productive discussion.
Ms. Newmar was also Stupefyin’ Jones in the musical of Li’l Abner–and the Dogpatch Mythos certainly edges well into our territory. (Evil Eye Fleagle! Shmoos!)
“Authors need a place to talk money, so please ignore the homicidal fascists at the next table” is a hell of a look.
Mark – You are choosing to act helpless, and doing so in support of a forum that has routinely hosted vile and violent commentary. This is not even close to the first time these sorts of calls to violence have been called out there, and they continue to do nothing to stop them. The rest of us using our speech to call out these places, as well as reserving our dollars for publishers that do NOT host violent rhetoric, is a fair response. You should be absolutely livid at the Bar for hosting this crap, not us for calling it out.
So, to help you out: you can easily set up a free Slack channel for 1632 writers. You can set up a Discord channel. There are plenty of alternatives that cost you zero dollars and don’t require anything other than the ability to fill out a simple form to use. Then you’ll all have a place to gather and talk without worrying about who is hosting it. Up to you of course. You could put in a tiny bit of effort. And yes, I know, inertia and comfort is hard to overcome. But I’m certain you can if you wish.
Look, if it were me, I’d personally want nothing to do with such a place, even if that’s just one small forum off to the side. Just as I wouldn’t hang out at a bar that welcomed a once a month meeting of the Hitler & Goebbels fan club. There are plenty of other places I can spend my time and/or money without providing cover for the brown shirts of the world.
6) I honestly had no idea his career covered so many movies I’ve loved. And such a wide range of movies! Character based SF; children’s fantasy adventure; gritty WWII submarines; schlocky over-the-top action; realistic true-story disaster. What a loss to the world. I think Enemy Mine and Das Boot are my favorites, though.
I tweeted about it…and Baen responded saying they had nothing to do with the Forum, and snarkily said “what else could be wrong?” if the OP poster got that wrong.
Then Baen Barfiles started to dogpile me, Courtney Milan started to get involved…
…and we both decided to not get into the mess. I deleted my tweet (but screenshotted it and said I did) and Courtney deleted all of her tweets
I have enough trolls making my life hell as it is, after all.
As with the last time this came up, the problems at Baen’s Bar seem to be limited to one or two subforums, so the easiest solution would be to shut down those subforums or put them on strict moderation and let the rest of the Bar, including the 1632 forums, continue unimpeded. That Baen or whoever operates the forum on their behalf chooses not to do this is telling.
@mark have you looked into setting up a Discord server?
Thanks for the title credit, Mike.
Ralph 124C41+ is – I’ll admit it publicly – terrible.
No. Actually, it’s awful. Or maybe execrable is the right word? Turgid?
Perhaps a bit of mangled dialogue will help:
“How do you write Scientifiction so well?”
“I think of a novel, and I take away plot and characterization.”
(Apologies to As Good As It Gets.)
I’ve actually read it through, twice. Once when I didn’t know any better and once when I did.
As a teaching tool for authors wishing to try their hand at the newfangled and newly defined genre of Scientifiction (Est. 3/10/26), it is (imagine The Collector, as portrayed by Benicio del Toro, pronouncing the following) “beyond compare”. Mostly because it well portrays just about everything the author needs to avoid. In this respect, “Ralph” is very much like that chicken salad sandwich you bought from a subway platform vending machine that smelled a little funky but you were hungry and ate it anyway. Gonna be a LONG time before you’ll even think of eating chicken salad again, am I write?
Anyway. Yes, it is terrible and yes, it is required reading for any serious student of the genre. (And please do note “student” is not necessarily synonymous with author, fan, reader, etc.)
@Lis. From about 2014 on I’m seeing patterns of instigation using front men associated with that website.
@Orange Mike: Yes indeed, that biography is definitely worth the read!
(2) You can also start a free list at Io.Groups as long as it’s just up to 100 members. (There are also paid options, and in some cases, members have pooled their resources to fund the group.) It’s like YahooGroups but without ads. And unlike YG, so far, the groups I’m on haven’t mysteriously lost their archives. (And I’m on one group that has a massive archive with more than 100K posts.)
Baen’s reaction to this is annoying, but at this point, not unsurprising. As someone who used to buy tons of their books, I can say… Blech.
(3) There has been some controversy about Alex Aster. At this point, I don’t know if it’s true or sour grapes. The main issue seems to be that she portrayed herself as “rage to riches” on social media. But it turns out her parents own a business, and her sister works for a movie company and may have helped her get a major deal. So now, people are magically claiming her book isn’t good, and that seems to be a sudden judgment. (Have they actually read it, or are they just angry that she left out this pertinent information?)
(2) I’m torn on the Baen thing – I’m not on it, so I don’t know the crowd, but the first thing that immediately comes to my mind is, is the forum in question moderated, if Baen really doesn’t operate the bar, then who does and most importantly, as ugly as all of this is, do we really want to destroy a place where a lot of fine, perfectly societally functional people enjoy congregating because of what probably amounts to a small minority of LARPing malcontents talking big on a forum?
Use a scalpel, not a flamethrower in this case, no?
Additionally, doesn’t anyone know how Jay got his hands on that screenshot? I certainly hope HE’s not a member of the forum he’s been dedicated to trashing as of late.
@ Ben Harris
Right now in America, we should be taking all threats of right-wing violence very seriously. Just look around. What the Bar chooses (or does not choose) to do is up to them.
Julie Newmar in the 64-65 season also played a robot that lived with psychiatrist Bob Cummings. Interesting trivia. She was once engaged to Louis Lamour
Yes, obviously the person we should be looking askance at in this situation isn’t the person who advocates murder and provides instructions for shooting a person wearing body armor, but the person who points out that this is happening and that it’s probably not a good thing.
Thanks for clarifying your position on that.
Baen Books created, owned ,and operated Baen’s Bar for literally decades, before nudge, nudge, wink, wink transferring ownership and hosting elsewhere in the aftermath of previous incidents of advocating violence and terrorism. They did that instead of either shutting down or instituting real moderation (as exists on other Baen’s Bar forums) on the two forums on the Bar where the advocacy of violence and terrorism was happening. And is still happening.
And Baen still links to Baen’s Bar, at the top of the front page of their website, the last in a list of items that are proprietary Baen items and resources, with zero indication that Baen’s Bar is anything other than another of those Baen proprietary resources.
Using a scalpel on this problem would have been grand. Weisskopf quite explicitly refused to do that. Maybe you should complain to her.
Also, look up “stochastic terrorism.”
I really dislike being told I’m “acting helpless”.
I don’t like what’s happening in those forums, and if I had a say, there would be arrests, and people going to JAIL.
But… Mike, and the rest, you don’t understand the implications of Ring of Fire Press shutting down.
It’s been publishing a book a week for years… and only a few were second or third books by one author. And most of it was not 1632-related. I looked, and my book on Big River has a couple of hard copies on sale, and zero ebooks available. And the Grantville Gazette is closed.
What that means is that for hundreds of us, EVERYTHING ALL OF US HAVE WRITTEN FOR YEARS, and for some of us, everything we’ve ever had that was published is now OUT OF PRINT, full stop. And it’s going to be weeks or months before we get the notifications that the rights have reverted, and then all of us will whose stories are not in the 1632 universe will have to either decide to self-publish, or find another publisher. If it’s in the 1632 universe, people will have to get permissions/make arrangements with Eric’s widow.
No income. I’m okay, monetarily, and writers like Chuck Gannon and David Weber will just be annoyed, but people like Rosemary Edgehill and Tanya Huff will be hurt, and there are people who were getting thousands in royalties, and depended on that money… and we’ll get pennies on the dollar months, or years from now, when the bankruptcy completes.
This is a disaster.
@mark–If you don’t like being told you’re acting helpless, stop acting helpless.
The rights are being reverted to the authors. Eric’s widow isn’t going to be the Big Bad, preventing them from staying in print. The 1632 series is popular enough that I suspect another publisher will be interested.
Others may have more of a challenge, but if they can show that their books are profitable for the publisher, there should be interest.
Self-publishing is also a possibility, and while it’s challenging and isn’t the right path for everyone, there are quite a few it works very well for.
And yes, on Slack or Discord, you can set up a forum where you can discuss these issues, should you suddenly develop an aversion to what’s been going on for years in the toxic corners of Baen’s Bar.
And as Baen seems to be hellbent on making the disaster worse by having a forum hosting calls for terrorism, you should take any complaints there.
Getting angry at companies hosting calls for terrorism is the decent and natural thing. Wanting to disassociate from forums that host calls for terrorism is the decent and natural thing to want.
It is not something you should complain about or ask people to stop with. Instead, see what caused the problem.
2.) Honestly, if I were a Baen author, I’d be screaming my head off about this part of Baen’s Bar–oh wait, there are reasons why there’s no way on God’s green earth that Baen would ever see one of my manuscripts on submission. Even for competition. Incidents like this have happened just one too many times, and I’m sick and tired of the excuses for it. Baen clearly sees value in allowing this to happen, in spite of coy denials of any ties to the forum. At this point, I’d consider this to be a very toxic connection and would be running as hard as I could away from this publisher.
(Thank heavens Baen apparently didn’t like the Netwalk book…wrong kind of tough girl protagonist, I guess.)
And as for the Ring of Fire authors, welp, I do feel sorry for them. But not enough to justify the existence and participation in Baen’s Bar–and, as others have noted, there ARE alternative forums such as Discord. Just takes a little bit of organizing effort.
But there’s a further issue. The Ring of Fire authors are hardly the only writers who have ended up with a small press publisher blowing up on them. One-person shops are incredibly fragile, and any author who does business with one needs to have advance strategies for survival should Something Happen (and, from what I’ve heard from one author, they already were paying for cover art and editing, so just WTF were they getting? Connection with a known entity???).
I know the situation too damn well. I’ve been through two small press publisher implosions. None were caused by publisher death, but publisher health and inept management/planning were definitely factors. When you have a smaller operation that is overly dependent on one person, it is absolutely necessary to perform your due diligence in advance of signing a contract. I learned my lesson the hard way–and still have several short stories lingering in limbo as a result.
But at no point during my particular situations did I ever start whining about the need to have a place on a forum with questionable and problematic discussions taking place in one subforum as a justification for the entire forum to survive. Options exist.
Just a note for people claiming that Baen Books and Baen’s Bar are unconnected seperate entities…
I saved a copy of Toni Weisskopf both defending the past behaviour on Baen’s Bar, and outlining that the new corporate organisation of Baen’s Bar would still be under control of Baen Books by requiring a purchase from Baen.com in order to have an account there.
[Comment removed by request.]
If the only thing holding together the Ring of Fire Press community of authors and fans is a forum on Baen’s Bar, its members need to be addressing that as soon as possible.
Toni Weisskopf abruptly shut down her company’s forums the last time Baen got negative publicity for hosting right-wing extremist content and calls for violence. She has shown no interest in taking obvious steps to address the problem, like closing the offending subforums where it continues to happen and banning users.
If I was a member of a subforum on Baen’s Bar that does not allow or condone these kinds of offensive comments, I’d be looking to move before the whole thing gets shut down again to keep the press from nosing around.
I feel sorry for the Ring of Fire Press authors, but setting up a dedicated Discord Server, Facebook group, etc… as a fallback, should Baen’s Bar shut down again (which is by no means a given), would be a good idea.
I also feel sorry for Baen’s authors, many of whom are not even remotely rightwing and may not even know what’s going on. Baen just signed a couple of authors whose work I really like and I feel sorry for them being associated with this crap. However, one of the new Baen authors just yelled at me (and Lis and Jay) on Twitter for responding to someone’s question which authors I like Baen had newly signed with the usual “Baen is not connected to the bar, blah, blah”.
At this point, Baen strikes me not so much as a publisher, but as a cult. And I’m really having huge bellyaches buying Baen books.
Mark says No income. I’m okay, monetarily, and writers like Chuck Gannon and David Weber will just be annoyed, but people like Rosemary Edgehill and Tanya Huff will be hurt, and there are people who were getting thousands in royalties, and depended on that money… and we’ll get pennies on the dollar months, or years from now, when the bankruptcy completes.
Errrr, what bankruptcy? Did this publisher owe more that it had in assets? Why? i don’t recall anyone saying they were filing for this.
And a word of caution. Never speak for other authors. You say that “people like Rosemary Edgehill and Tanya Huff will be hurt” but you don’t know that as you’ve no idea just how much they made in sales off this publisher. The only person that you can speak for is yourself.
In follow up news…
My twitter account is now locked and disabled due to an unknown group of people reporting the Baen whistleblowing tweet as “abuse and harassment”. You can draw your own conclusions as to who would have done this.
As a sadly well known victim of such tactics by my personal set of trolls, I’m sorry, Jay.
Ah, the Free Speech warriors strike again, once again censoring criticism
@mark you’re telling me that in a forum with a couple hundred members there’s nobody that’s stepped up and started, say, a vbulletin offsite? Nobody’s started a slack or a discord? Is there a subreddit? Where’s the irc? Heck, is there a twitter group dm?
If not, you really have to ask yourself how much your fellow posters consider themselves to be a community separate from the rest of Baen’s Bar.
Sorry you’re having to deal with this, Jay.
Eh… I’m going away for a long weekend at an Anime convention, so I can put up with an enforced twitter Holiday, while Baen’s Bar discover the Streisand effect. When I come back I’ll decide if I want to keep upholding an appeal, or just delete the ‘offending’ tweet, and then link to the article here instead.
I’ve never read a 1632, but isn’t it about a community that gets isekai’d away from their established environment and has to learn to survive under adversarial and changing conditions?
@Jake: Yes – a West Virginia coal mining town from 1999, dropped into war-torn 1631 Germany.
When Baen’s Bar was briefly taken down last year, Walt Boyes of Ring of Fire Press wrote a guest post on the consequences to 1632 writers of it not being available. While a new forum could be started using a variety of technologies, there is apparently a lot of archival material in the existing one:
Whether they have done anything to back up that material since last year I don’t know, but I wanted to point out one aspect that wouldn’t necessarily be obvious to those who haven’t looked at the 1632 areas of Baen’s Bar.
Eric Flint was an important and influential figure in the history of Baen Books. Defenders of Baen’s reputation have frequently made use of Eric Flint’s reputation for honesty, frankness and socialism as a counterpoint to other perceptions of Baen. In particular 1632 has been a model for collaborative and non-traditional ways of creating popular genre fiction and is manifestly a major part of Flint’s legacy.
I’ve also been told many times that Baen is very successful and that major Baen authors are outselling other famous genre authors. Baen, apparently, has money and resources and a commitment to doing the right thing towards its writers and readers.
The sections of Baen’s Bar that indulge in what we might call “Boogaloo rhetoric” aren’t going away nor are they going to police themselves. I doubt Baen will ever take measures to truly distance themselves from those communities because a. they represent a key market and b. if Baen were to take measures the company would be damaged by the backlash.
However, Baen clearly good, in cooperation with whoever now manages Baen’s Bar, expedite a separate forum for 1632/Grantsville that could operate wholly distinct from Baen’s Bar. Indeed, currently, Baen’s Bar is far less accessible to a casual user precisely because of the 2021 scandal about insurrectionist rhetoric. Those restrictions were created to make it harder for critics to publicise extremism on the forums (although, as we’ve seen, not impossible) but in the process made it much harder for people to see and read what is in the non-extremist sections.
I appreciate that there are technical issues with the extensive archives of these forums. Those issues aren’t going to be insurmountable given resources and expertise. Surely Baen Books can find a way to ensure Flint’s legacy can continue undisruptted by the actions of people committed to an ideology the opposite of Flints.
Worth noting that it wasn’t any third-parties that shut down Baen’s Bar in the wake of the last scandal. The decision to shut it down and, in particular, the decision to shut the whole thing down, rather than just the problematic sections, was made entirely by the owners. Any blame for unfortunate consequences of that decision should go the people who made that decision.
I would say that, if a place I was in with a massive group of intense unified interest got shut down for an extended length of time not terribly long ago due to the misbehaviour of people NOT part of the group, and reinstated only at the kindness of people NOT part of the group, I would be recruiting all the tech savvy people IN the group to make backups of all that essential information, and start looking at the possibility of a mirror or at least an ongoing data storage for the same.
And if the site was at risk of it happening again in the near future due to identical misbehaviour (on the part of people not part of the group) due to the refusal of people (not part f the group) to moderate in any more moderate and reasonable fashion, I wouldn’t be flailing at anyone who mentioned the bad behaviour.
I’d be flailing at the site owners if I really wanted to flail, then assembling those same tech savvy folks within the group to check and redo all backups, and find an alternative home.
I wish you luck in this, but not in attacking Jay Blanc or File 770 critics of the misbehaviour.
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