Snapshots 90 North

Here are 7 developments of interest to fans:

(1) While Taral’s writing is the principal attraction of his zine Broken Toys #7 [PDF file], I’m not surprised to see one of the letterhacks pen an incandescent line:

“I finally managed to sum up my attitude to the Hugos when I wrote to Steve Stiles yesterday; ‘You can’t polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter and call it a rocket’ ” – Kim Huett, Sept 2012

(2) Far more sympathetic to the Hugos is Cheryl Morgan’s intriguing analysis of The Coode Street Podcast:

I’m happy to agree with Jonathan and Paul that the primary benefit of awards is to provide an excuse to talk about books. I’m delighted when my friends win with good books, and try not to become despondent or angry when I don’t like the results. I also try to ignore the seemingly endless accusations that particular awards are “broken” or “fixed”. Such things seem to be an inevitable part of the process. The one thing that really confuses me is when people complain that the Hugos produce winners that are really poor quality, and then go on to say that the results would be much better if far more people voted. Oh dear me no.

Cheryl, always an advocate of increasing Hugo voting participation, rightly challenges the implicit illogic of anyone who says the existing voters pick lousy winners and then turns around to argue that an even larger voting pool will yield a result more to their liking.

(3) Something I didn’t know about Neal Stephenson before I read his interview at The Register:

Stephenson is a keen swordsman. He has a collection of weapons, mostly blunted for training purposes, and recently raised half a million dollars on Kickstarter to create a realistic sword fighting computer game. He’s now recruiting a small band of geeks to code the system, but said that more money might be needed as “half a million doesn’t get you very far in gaming.”

(4) Are we in need of a Tesla Museum?

At the dawn of the 20th century, Nikola Tesla wanted to save the world from fuel dependency. Now, an Internet cartoonist [Matthew Inman, of The Oatmeal] wants to save Tesla’s last remaining laboratory as a tribute to the futurist inventor.

The structure, a 94-by-94-foot building, was the location where Tesla hoped to develop wireless communications and clean, free energy for everyone in the early 1900s. He moved his operation to the Wardenclyffe Tower in Shoreham, New York, in 1902 — so named because of a 187-foot tower rising from the ground (as well as being sunk 120 feet below it) that was to be one of the great transmitters for his wireless energy dream.

The facility was lost a few years later due to debts Tesla racked up, and the huge tower was demolished in 1917. The site would ultimately become a Superfund location because of silver and cadmium toxicity in the ground after a photographic film company used it for nearly 48 years. It has now been cleaned up and is no longer harmful.


“Tesla foresaw the wireless transmissions we do with our cell phones and our laptops,” Alcorn said. “He said there would come a day when people would send pictures, messages, words from one place to another without wires.”

The inventor convinced banker and philanthropist J.P. Morgan of how beneficial such wireless communication would be to business and received financial backing for his project. But after Guglielmo Marconi sent his radio signal across the Atlantic in 1901, Morgan pulled his funding.

(5) The release dates for the three movies in The Hobbit series have been announced. You are now free to fill in the rest of your calendar:

— “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,’ Dec. 14, 2012.

— “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Dec. 13, 2013.

— “The Hobbit: There and Back Again,” July 18, 2014.

(6) Hugo winner Ursula Vernon isn’t fond of the photo of herself that ended up on Neil Gaiman’s blog.  (Click here to see for yourself.)

As probably most of you know by now, Digger took the Hugo for Best Graphic Story Sunday night at Worldcon, and I may never fully recover. There is a photo of me and a bunch of other people on Neil Gaiman’s LJ. I have been hit with the worst possible camera angle and lighting and look like I weigh about eight hundred pounds, and I was also stunned and had been smiling weakly for photos for about ten minutes at that point, so it’s honestly a very bad shot of me. But I am carrying a Hugo and Gaiman is down at the end, and I will forgive the photographer everything because of that. Who cares if it’s a bad photo? I’m in it and I HAVE A HUGO.

Yes, quite. I’ve had that experience, too. When I’m not posing with the award I look much more like George Clooney.

(7) Charles Pierce works quite a bit of skiffy into a story about the New York Yankees for Grantland:

Getting to Yankee Stadium in New York is not like getting to the ballpark anywhere else. Once you get there, though, the first thing that catches your eye is a Hard Rock Cafe — a franchise that, I will bet you a shiny buffalo nickel, the Curiosity rover is going to find on Mars. Right next to a Banana Republic and a Chipotle.

Now, let me be clear. I like malls. In fact, when I’m on the road, I spend an inordinate amount of time in malls. They are something of a touch of home. (Future historians are going to marvel at how, all at once, the entire human race decided to eat nothing but bourbon chicken.)

Here, Pierce made me remember Motel of the Mysteries, a satire of Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods, which mocked the original by imagining how future archeologists could wildly misinterpret artifacts dug up from a 20th century motel.

[Thanks for these links goes out to Steven H Silver, David Dyer-Bennet, and David Klaus.]

Update 09/17/2012: Corrected title of the Von Daniken satire per Joe Major’s comment.

11 thoughts on “Snapshots 90 North

  1. Well, we don’t want to add just anybody to the Hugo votership!
    We want there to be more Hugo voters who vote like me!
    (or who vote as I would vote if I cared enough about the Hugos to vote more than once a decade.)

  2. @Morris: Looks like that’s just what they did, for some values of Morris Keesan. If you total how many different fans have been members of the Worldcon within the last decade, and use that as the denominator, then use the current year Hugo voters as the numerator, you may well have statistical fans who vote an average of 10% of the time…

  3. Few people are as well-principled and well-heeled as to have a Worldcon membership just to vote. Most fans won’t buy one unless they expect to go… and that implies another huge amount of disposable income.

  4. Are you claiming that the majority of people who buy supporting memberships do so with the intention of converting them to attending memberships?

  5. There have always been some who buy supporting memberships to (1) support the Worldcon, (2) qualify to vote in site selection, and/or (3) vote in the Hugos. Since the advent of the Hugo Voter Packet there has been a spike in the purchase of supporting memberships.

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