Pixel Scroll 9/10/16 Scroll Long And Pixel

(1) NEW ZEPPELINS FOR OLD. After striking a gusher of controversy with its initial program plans, World Fantasy Con made a large number of changes. Jason Sanford reviewed the new offerings in “World Fantasy tries again with programming”, then concluded:

I wish WFC had started totally from scratch with this year’s program, which they obviously didn’t do. But overall these changes are positive. It appears some of these changes were taken from Guerilla WFC, which put forward a truly innovative WFC program, which is a good sign. I’m also sure Ellen Datlow had a positive effect on the changes, as did everyone in the genre who justifiably ripped apart the previous program.

Update: The new program is now on the official WFC 2016 website. Go there to see the schedule.

(2) THEN, THE BOOK. I have spent many hours poring over Rob Hansen’s British fanhistory in zine and website versions, whether researching a blog post, or simply for the pleasure of learning the stories out of early fandom. Now that material has been polished further and given book publication by Dave Langford’s Ansible Editions. You’ll find a lot of information about the project here.then-cover

THEN was published in September 2016 with a list price of $22.50 (trade paperback) or $36.50 (hardback, discounted by 10% until November 2016). There is also an ebook edition.

Rob Hansen is acknowledged in Brian Aldiss’s autobiography The Twinkling of an Eye as “the historian of fanzines”. Then is Rob’s ground-breaking history of British science fiction fandom from its first stirrings in the early 1930s to 1980 and a little beyond. Originally published in four fanzine-format volumes from 1988 to 1993, this first book edition of Then is now greatly revised, corrected and expanded by more than 20% to give a massive trade paperback – and a simultaneously published hardback – running to 454 pages and nearly 228,000 words. Besides the results of much new research, Then includes over 300 photos of contemporary fans of all eras, dozens of scans of representative fanzine covers selected from each decade, detailed source notes and a full index (not to mention a separate photo index).

This first book edition of Then also has an appreciative introduction by Peter Weston, who writes: “without Rob we would know almost nothing about British fanhistory, whereas thanks to him we know just about everything … It’s a truly amazing thing, and something of a minor miracle that it ever came to be written.” It’s an epic piece of work. What’s more, it’s alive in the current conversation, and consulted by people who care about fanhistory.

(3) WHEN THE SHOW WENT ON. Ars Technica tells “How an over-ambitious Star Trek convention became ‘The Con of Wrath’”.

In 1982, nearly the entire TOS cast gathered for a disastrous four-hour variety show….

Rose also recalled that Koenig essentially acted as the show’s de facto director, given that no one else could seem to be bothered to do it. “None of us had a script, any idea what we were doing for the most part, but we knew that Walter had written some kind of play,” he said. “It was literally that Friday night, Walter comes over to me and he says ‘you’re the main guy, here’s what we’re going to be doing.’ He wrote it out what we’re going to do, cue this cue that. I had no warning whatsoever.”

Koenig ended up simply writing out the lighting and sound cues on a piece of paper and handing it to Rose. “‘We need a house announcer,’ and he writes out on paper and handed it to me!” Rose recalled….

“The amazing thing is that none of the actors walked, they did the entire weekend as it was planned,” Nemecek told us. To this day, he continues to view the whole thing as a modern marvel. After all, he believes that if such a fiasco unfolded today, it would reverberate across the Internet and likely damage the careers of everyone involved. “It really is the most glorious failure. All the actors, the fans, the dealers, and the organizers did something to make this happen.”


(4) WORLDCON 76. After San Jose won the rights to host the 2018 Worldcon, they issued Progress Report Zero. In case you haven’t already seen it, you can download it here.

Is San Jose really going with Worldcon 76 as its name? That’s what’s on the PR and its website. I’d be concerned that’s it’s too easily confused with Worldcon 75, the name used by Helsinki.

San Jose also announced Guests of Honor Spider Robinson, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and Pierre and Sandy Pettinger, and two Ghosts of Honor, Edgar Pangborn and Bob Wilkins.

(5) ONE VIEWER’S RECAP OF RECENT HISTORY. Nathaniel Givens overviews “Science Fiction Awards in an Age of Dragons” at The Loose Cannon.

…one of the problems with this many categories is that there’s no feasible way anyone could read all the nominated works and make an informed vote in every category. This has profound implications.

Traditionally, Worldcon attendees receive electronic copies of the nominated works and have a couple of months to read through them before voting closes. There’s a lot of material (5 novels, 5 novellas, 5 novelettes, and 5 short stories just from the core literary categories), but it’s not an unmanageable amount. It should be fairly routine, then, for a Hugo voter to end up reading works they haven’t read before and maybe even voting for one of those works. In short, the Hugos are designed as deliberative process in which a small cadre of dedicated fans try to come to a consensus about which works deserve recognition. At its worst, this means that the group is susceptible to being hijacked and/or manipulated by cliques and fads (political or otherwise). At its best, it means that we’re talking about a process that at least makes a meaningful attempt to transcend momentary popularity.

The Dragon Awards make no such pretense. There will never be packets of all the novels.15 Even if there were, there wouldn’t be time for people to wade through dozens of novels before voting. Deliberation and consensus are off the table.

(5) TRANSOM TO REOPEN. Strange Horizons has added a new fiction editor and will be re-opening fiction submissions.

We are therefore delighted to announce that Vajra Chandrasekera is joining us as a Fiction Editor, working with Lila Garrott, Catherine Krahe, and An Owomoyela.

If you’ve been reading Strange Horizons recently, there’s a good chance that you recognise Vajra’s name and if you do, I suspect you’re as excited as I am about him joining the magazine’s staff. As a book club participant, occasional reviewer and regular columnist, he has contributed some of the most insightful critical thinking we’ve had the pleasure of publishing in the last year. And as an author—with July’s “Sweet Marrow”, and this week’s “Applied Cenotaphics in the Long, Long Longitudes”—he’s contributed two wonderfully elegant and thought-provoking stories. Put another way, by far the biggest downside of him joining the magazine is that we won’t be publishing very much by him for the foreseeable future!

In organisational terms, this should mean that we will be able to re-open to fiction submissions in the near-ish future—although authors, we’ll still need you to bear with us for a few more weeks.

(6) A VERSE OUT OF TIME. Tom Becker shared this masterpiece in a comment.

This is just to say
I have taken
the time machine
I wanted to eat the plums
that were in the icebox
But I didn’t want you to find out

I took them
back a few minutes
then there were
twice as many
That was fun
so I did it again
Forward and back
Four times as many
Eight times
Sixteen times

If you were wondering
why your time machine
is full of plums
that is why
Please have some
for breakfast
I ate as many as I could
You can put the pits
in the pizza boxes

You should know
I saw a shoggoth
Perhaps it was attracted
by the time machine
If so please forgive me
The elder gods
so strange
and so cold

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, John King Tarpinian and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes  to File 770 contributing editor of the day snowcrash.]

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167 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/10/16 Scroll Long And Pixel

  1. @JJ
    Thanks for putting together the data.

    I don’t read the horror genre and cannot speak about the category. I also have not read enough of the SF nominees to comment. I’d read almost (or all) of the nominees in Military SF, Alt-History, and know the gaming categories cold.

    I also agree with many that the Dragon’s could be improved, hopefully by emailing a notification to every email they have of current & immediate past year memberships (if they have that information).

  2. I’m quite surprised at how far below Butcher, Correia was. I assumed it was a moderate gap that could be filled by a bit of extra publicising by Larry, but really his book isn’t in the same popularity league.
    I was also thinking that Weber probably didn’t need a boost, but actually his numbers are in the ballpark of Wexler and Kloos.

    A lot of the Puppy claims to be supporting the “really popular” authors (as opposed to the authors that win Hugos) is based on nothing more than the Puppy claims that those authors are popular. Even the relative popularity that they claim (i.e. the authors Pups like and support are way more popular than those the Hugo and Nebula voters like) is generally not based on anything but the Puppy claims that it is so.

    Never mind the fact that the oft-repeated claim that “Author X sells a lot of books, therefore the reading public thinks Author X’s work is the bees knees” is flawed in and of itself, there often isn’t much (or any) substance behind the Puppy claims that “Author X sells a lot of books”.

  3. Weber lost some momentum when he (1) stopped writing anything in the Honorverse for quite a while and (2) then started up again with something completely different. Which, of course, is his right to do — as GRRM reminds us, the author isn’t the readers’ bitch — but it had an impact on his sales.

  4. Well, I think a lot of people do define ‘fan’ in this way; people who criticise the Hugos for not properly representing fans often simply point to the sales figures, and say ‘these show that fans prefer X to Y’. And this is a perfectly legitimate sense of ‘fan’ in plain English; if you like something, you’re a fan of it.

    A fan of the book sure, but not necessary a fan of the genre. People generally rarely stick with one genre, but jump over boarders all the time..
    I really am not into crime novels, but will make an exception for the occasional Hiaasen, because they are so darn entertaining….

  5. A fan of the book sure

    They may not even be a fan of the book. I have lots of books that I purchased that I either didn’t like or am indifferent to. That doesn’t even get to the conversation about how I might buy a book and enjoy it and yet think it isn’t an award-worthy piece of work.

  6. @Aaron: “They may not even be a fan of the book. I have lots of books that I purchased that I either didn’t like or am indifferent to.” A friend of mine who’s much more into anime than I am has commented that this may actually be a kind of dedicated fan versus skimming, dabbling fan test. He was remarking on how much he’s gotten that didn’t light his fire, in the search for those buried treasures. That’d certainly fit my buying habits for the fields I’m really into.

  7. Peer Sylvester: Well, I just wanted to warn people not falling into the same trap as the puppies did and arguing that a book cant be popular among fans, if the sells dont match. (I agree howwever, that the numbers imply that the voting numbers were small and easiliy manipulated.. But not more than that, Im afraif)

    That isn’t the point I was making. The point I was making is that the Puppies have been vehemently criticizing the Hugo Awards for not reflecting popular opinion — and yet the Dragon Awards, about which they are now crowing, seem to have done less well at that than the Hugos.

    Which pretty much demonstrates that their claimed objections were really a smokescreen for “the Hugo Awards are not going to our books / books we like”.

  8. Which pretty much demonstrates that their claimed objections were really a smokescreen for “the Hugo Awards are not going to our books / books we like”.

    That, and a big chunk of identity politics. Without the religious/political persecution complex, I don’t think they would particularly care.

  9. airboy on September 11, 2016 at 10:11 am said:
    … Both the Sad Puppies and the 770s read a lot and are passionate about what they read.

    There’s not really a lot of evidence for the first part of this assertion. I’ll readily grant that various Pups ARE ‘passionate’ about what they read – but I remain unconvinced that they “read a lot.”

    (E.g., Torgersen has said that he hasn’t even read much Heinlein; various other Puppies have publicly asserted some rather startling gaps in their reading (“Who’s David Gerrold?” I’VE never heard of him!”); there’s a general lack of Puppy understanding of the history of the field, etc., etc.)

  10. JJ on September 11, 2016 at 10:41 pm said:
    The argument, from both the Puppies, and the Dragon Awards organizers (the Venn Diagram of which is unknown), is that the Dragon Awards, unlike the Hugos, truly represent ALL the fans, and not just some small minority of fans, and I’m looking at the Dragon Awards Finalists and how they rate on LibraryThing, GoodReads, and Amazon…

    Thanks for putting this information together – great job!

    It looks entirely plausible that the inaugural Dragon Awards were the victims of a ballot-stuffing campaign, though we’d need more information to be more certain.

    But it certainly appears possible that several of the “winners” may have received more VOTES than they have had in total SALES.

    Somehow, Thoreau’s remark about ‘circumstantial evidence’ comes to mind: “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.”

    There is no honor to be gained in “winning” an award by ballot-stuffing.

  11. @JJ,
    Thanks for bringing facts to the discussion. Without access to the nomination or voting statistics, it seems to me that the Dragon awards are sitting in that undesirable space between a juried award, an award voted by members of a specific society or organisation, or an award that is truly open & popular. Based on this year’s results, they don’t look like the sort of award* I’ll find useful for recommendations.

    *This is actually true of many of the multitude of awards in SFF (quite a few I’ve only learned of by reading the award announcements Mike publishes in this here blog).

  12. Soon Lee on September 12, 2016 at 7:39 pm said:
    Thanks for bringing facts to the discussion. Without access to the nomination or voting statistics, it seems to me that the Dragon awards are sitting in that undesirable space between a juried award, an award voted by members of a specific society or organisation, or an award that is truly open & popular.

    You left out another possible axis of that “undesirable space” that the Dragon Awards might be inhabiting:
    Unless they release some nomination/voting numbers, the Dragon Awards might simply be prizes that are handed out by A Shadowy Cabal.

  13. Okay, does anyone else have data lying around that is just begging to be collated into a spreadsheet or bar chart?

    OMG. I’ve turned into Camestros. 😯

  14. @airboy

    The Dragons have the potential to very helpful for those who think crowd sourced choices are useful purchase information.

    Not sure that still holds when the awards were effectively sourced to a crowd of one Vox.

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