(0) Short scroll today because I need to hit the road. Am driving up to my brother’s for a birthday party – mine! Toot your party horn, or leave your own news links in comments….
(1) LACEY LEAVES CANSMOFS. Diane Lacey has announced her resignation from CanSmofs on Facebook. CanSmofs is a Canadian sf convention running group now bidding for the 2027 Worldcon.
I wish to announce my resignation from the board of CanSmofs. I can not effectively represent the board given today’s revelations about the Hugos and my part in it. I want to emphasize that nobody has requested this. It is of my own volition, and I wish them and the Montreal bid well.
Lacey shared 2023 Hugo administration team emails Chris M. Barkley and Jason Sanford for use in “The 2023 Hugo Awards: A Report on Censorship and Exclusion”, and discussed her own work on the Hugos in an open letter.
(2) MORE HUGO REPORT COVERAGE.
NBC News interviewed Paul Weimer for its post “Science fiction authors were excluded from awards for fear of offending China”.
…Among the reasons cited for excluding Weimer was his supposed previous travel to Tibet, a Chinese region where Beijing is also accused of abuses.
“The funny thing is that I didn’t even go to Tibet. I was in Nepal. They didn’t get basic facts right about me,” he said.
Weimer, whose display name on X had as of Friday been changed to “Paul ‘Nepal is not Tibet’ Weimer,” said the vetting went against the spirit not only of the Hugo Awards but of science fiction itself.
“Censoring people based on what you think that a government might not like is completely against what the whole science fiction project is,” he said….
Vajra Chandrasekera has a very good thread on Bluesky which starts here. One thing they discuss is the Science Fiction World recommendation list:
Zionius has a post “2023年雨果奖审核情况初探” at Zion in Ulthos. It’s in Chinese; they dropped an English excerpt into comments here yesterday.
…Content censorship does seem to have an impact on the final shortlist, but the greater impact is likely to be from invalid votes. The opinions of the censors are neglected most of the time (though here we can only see detailed opinions from Western censors), whereas with like 1000 votes declared invalid, the shortlist can be completely changed. None of the top 5 best novels in initial shortlist got through to the final shortlist. In the initial shortlist of the five print fiction categories, 2/3 works are from China, the final shortlist has only 2/15 Chinese works.
The items suffered most from invalid votes basically come from two Chinese publishers, Qidian and Science Fiction World. SFW’s recommendation list is almost identical to the initial shortlist in the Chinese part, which might be the reason why the Hugo team decided to remove most votes related to SFW and Qidian. Slates in thousands is beyond the capacity of EPH.
Last but not the least, the “invitation list” mentioned so many times in “Validation.pdf” appears to have huge impact on the final shortlist. It appears to be a separate ranked list. 5 works on invitation list were not among the top 10 of the initial shortlist, yet still they made it to the final shortlist (Spare Man, Nona the Ninth, Kaiju Preservation Society, DIY, Stranger Things 404). OTOH, 3 works on the initial shortlist were marked as “disappeared on invitation list” (Upstart, Hummingbird, Sandman 106), then they disappeared on the final shortlist….
Publishers Weekly leads with Esther MacCallum-Stewart’s statement in “Glasgow Worldcon Chair Vows Transparency Following Chengdu Hugos Censorship”.
(3) VANDEMEERS SUFFER VANDALISM. Ann and Jeff VanderMeer are reporting their streetside mailbox was intentionally wrecked.
(4) IT’S NEVER TOO LATE FOR THE NEW WAVE. “The 2024 Met Gala theme has been announced — along with four superstar co-chairs” at CNN.
Fashion’s biggest night of the year is just around the corner, and the Met Gala red carpet theme has finally been announced — along with superstars Zendaya, Jennifer Lopez, Bad Bunny and Chris Hemsworth as this year’s co-chairs.
Organizers announced today that the official dress code for the event, which will take place on May 6, is “The Garden of Time.” The theme takes its title from a 1962 short story written by British author J. G. Ballard, set (as its title suggests) in a garden filled with translucent, time-manipulating flowers….
Ballard, who is closely associated with New Wave science fiction, often set his searingly relevant dystopian stories in eras of ecological apocalypse or rising dissenting technologies.
(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.
[Written by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 16, 1954 — Iain M Banks. (Died 2013.) There are deaths that are sad, there are deaths that are just ones you just don’t want to hear about and then there are deaths like that of Iain M. Banks in which, and this is the only way I can express this, what the hell was the Universe thinking when it did this to him?
Of course the more rational part of me sadly knows that very bad things randomly do happen to very good people that we care about and so that happened here.
I was just editing the review of his epic whisky crawl when he announced that he was dying. So though not genre, let’s start off with Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram. It’s about single malt whisky, good food and his love of sports cars. Specifically the one he bought with the advance for this work. Nice, dry nice.
Of course, I’ve read every novel and even the few short works in The Culture series. My favorites? Certainly The Hydrogen Sonata was bittersweet for being the last ever, Use of Weapons and the very first, Consider Phlebas are also my favs.
Now “The State of the Art” novella about a Sixties Culture mission to Earth is out on the usual suspects. He’s only written nine pieces of genre short fiction and eight are here. No idea why the ninth isn’t.
Of his one-offs, I think The Algebraist is fascinating but the best of these novels by far is Against a Dark Background, the story of a heist that goes terribly wrong.
(6) THE SOUND OF A SOLAR ECLIPSE? Maybe in space they can’t hear you scream… “NASA Urges U.S. Public To Listen During April 8’s Total Solar Eclipse” reports Forbes.
April 8’s total solar eclipse will not only be something you see—it will be something you experience on many levels. Part of that is the sights and sounds of how insects, animals and nature react to sudden totality. At many of the eclipses I’ve witnessed, I’ve seen cows return to the barn as the light levels gradually fall, cicadas build to a cacophony then fall silent during totality, and birds panicking as “night” begins when they least expected it.
Sound Of Eclipses
“Eclipses are often thought of as a visual event—something that you see,” said Kelsey Perrett, communications coordinator with the NASA-funded Eclipse Soundscapes Project. “We want to show that eclipses can be studied in a multi-sensory manner, through sound and feeling and other forms of observation.”
April 8 is an opportunity like no other. On that day, over 30 million people in the U.S. already live within the path of totality—the track of the moon’s shadow as it sweeps across the planet—despite it being just 115 miles wide. That’s compared to 12 million people that lived within the path during the last total solar eclipse in the U.S. in 2017. Cue a large-scale citizen science project, which will seek to collect the sights and sounds of a total solar eclipse as recorded by members of the public. The end result will be, scientists hope, a better understanding of how an eclipse affects different ecosystems….
(7) FOR THE BOOKS NEXT DOOR. Amazon is one place to buy the “Bookend Magic House Building kit”. 1488 pieces – holy cats!
This bookend is carefully assembled from 1400+ blocks, presenting the unique charm of the classic magical house building in the film, every detail shows the high quality of production workmanship.
Compared with traditional bookends, our block bookends incorporate the magic elements of the film, which instantly fills your bookends with the charm of the wizarding world, giving a brand new visual experience and making the reading time more fun, it will add a chic and unique to your bookshelf…
(8) YOU CAN’T FIGHT IN THE WAR ROOM! TechCrunch tells how “Bluesky and Mastodon users are having a fight that could shape the next generation of social media”. Because of course they are.
People on Bluesky and Mastodon are fighting over how to bridge the two decentralized social networks, and whether there should even be a bridge at all. Behind the snarky GitHub comments, these coding conflicts aren’t frivolous — in fact, they could shape the future of the internet.
Mastodon is the most established decentralized social app to date. Last year, Mastodon ballooned in size as people sought an alternative to Elon Musk’s Twitter, and now stands at 8.7 million users. Then Bluesky opened to the general public last week, adding 1.5 million users in a few days and bringing its total to 4.8 million users.
Bluesky is on the verge of federating its AT Protocol, meaning that anyone will be able to set up a server and make their own social network using the open source software; each individual server will be able to communicate with the others, requiring a user to have just one account across all the different social networks on the protocol. But Mastodon uses a different protocol called ActivityPub, meaning that Bluesky and Mastodon users cannot natively interact.
Turns out, some Mastodon users like it that way….
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]