Never Mind The News – File 770’s Best Feature Articles of 2021

Was the year too heavy, deep, and real? Yes, but it was also rich in creativity, humor, and shared adventures. It’s a gift and privilege for me to be continually allowed to publish so many entertaining posts. Thanks to all of you who contributed!


David DoeringMost Remote SF Bookstore in the World?

Meet “Book Island” in the town of Saint Denis on Reunion Island—a small speck in the vast Indian Ocean

Pierre E. Pettinger, Jr.Never Too Late To Start: Guest Post by Pierre E. Pettinger Jr.

… Like many fans, I had tried my hand with writing, especially as a teenager. I wrote notes, drew weird aliens, and even wrote a novel which will never see the light of day. But during all this I did noodle, consistently, with several recurring characters and a story line. It shifted and changed, of course, as I matured and different interests came into my life, and eventually they just settled in the back of my mind.

John HertzAt the Height of His –

… Once when [Tim] Powers was being interviewed at an SF convention someone asked “Do you actually believe in this stuff?”  He said “No.  But my characters do.”  As Gordon Bennett wrote, and Frank Sinatra sang, “This is all I ask, this is all I need.”

JJ2020 Novellapalooza

… I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story Synopsis had some appeal for me). …

Patty WellsLearn About SAFF, the Space Agency Fan Fund

… The mission of SAFF is to keep the factual progress of space exploration out there for our community and to help individual Worldcons and other conventions in dealing with the arrangements and funding of space experts as special guests. 

JJWhere To Find The 2020 Nebula Finalists For Free Online

To help propel you into your awards season reading, here are links to excerpts or complete works from the 2020 Nebula Award finalists.

John HertzGood Names for Bad Guys

 During 1937-1956 a radio program called “The Answer Man” was broadcast over the Mutual Broadcasting System….  

Wolf von WittingInexplicable Phenomena and How To Approach Them

… Another solved mystery was that of the vanishing pancake. A friend of mine, by profession police officer, was standing at his stove, frying pancakes. As we both did with pancakes, we flipped them around in the air. So did my friend on this day.

His mystery was that the pancake never came back down. It vanished. There was no trace of it….

A Multitude of FilersOpening Lines Rewritten for a Pandemic — By Filers

Eli Grober’s “Opening Lines Rewritten for a Pandemic” in The New Yorker humorously changes the beginnings of famous books to suit life as we knew it in the plague year of 2020…. Filers answered the challenge to add to the list. Here is a collection from yesterday’s comments….

The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed, being careful to maintain a distance of at least six feet.

–Nina Shepardson

Brendan DuBoisIn Happy Pursuit of Jeopardy!

… It was the Jeopardy! gameshow display screen one saw all the time on television, in real life, just yards away, here inside the cool Sony studios.   Six rows across with the categories, columns of five numbers under each.  To the right of the large display was Alex Trebek’s podium, and nearby were the three contestant stations. 

There were sixteen of us here, and before the end of the day, all of us but one would have our thirty minutes of fame — or infamy — in this very special place.

But how did I get here?

John HertzAnother Well-Titled Book

Glorious, the Greg Benford – Larry Niven novel appearing last year, is one of the more ambitious SF stories.  

Rich LynchRocket Boy

… The model took off and rose straight up for maybe 100 feet or so before the second stage kicked in, but then there was trouble.  Instead of continuing its upward flight, the thing veered to the right and zoomed away horizontally, slightly descending all the while.  It went directly over a house across the street and continued on, neatly bisecting the span between two tall trees behind the house.  And then it was gone from sight.  I remember that my uncle gave me a quizzical look and asked, “Was it supposed to do that?”…

IphinomeFour Reviews by Iphinome

Reading. That’s what I do, I read and I snark things.

IphinomeIphinome Reviews Novik’s A Deadly Education

El (Galadriel) is pissed off. Her classmate Orion just rescued her for the second time –needlessly. She’s capable, more than capable, El’s powerful – El, power, get it? Get it?…

Lyrics by Aydrea Walden and Jocelyn Scofield“All Because of You” Lyrics from the Nebula Awards Ceremony

But then I had a spark, a realization
While floating here all by myself
I’m actually in the best of company
Because you’re on my shelf

Mark L. BlackmanDeath and Doom (and Cats) at the KGB Bar with Seanan McGuire and Nadia Bulkin

On the evening of Wednesday, June 16, 2021, the Fantastic Fiction at KGB Reading Series, hosted by Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel, presented authors Seanan McGuire and Nadia Bulkin in livestreamed readings on YouTube. (Neither reader is running for Mayor of New York.)

This is the 16th month of virtual readings, in place of in-person reading at the eponymous bar in the East Village in Manhattan, noted Kressel. New York City may be “open,” added Datlow, but they don’t yet feel comfortable “going into the crowd” at the Bar for at least a few more months….

Mike GlyerSmell Like A Superhero

Is there a science fiction movie character you want to smell like? Forget Swamp Thing, c’mon, he’s not in Fragrance X’s catalog. Otherwise, there’s no end of superhero and genre branded colognes you can buy.

Sara FelixWhy I Work on Worldcon: Guest Post by Sara Felix

There was a post a while ago on twitter that asked, “So what motivates y’all to continue entering bids to host Worldcons? Genuinely curious.”

And I responded with, ”I think there are some great bids out there like Glasgow 2024 that you can genuinely tell they are enthusiastic and want to put on a good show.  Working on Dublin was like that for me as well.  I am not saying they are perfect but the excitement is really important.”

But that is just the tip of the iceberg of what I wanted to say…

Cat EldridgeLeague of Extraordinary Gentlemen Film Anniversary: Celebrate or Not?

… Now back to Connery. The film would leave him with such a bad experience that claimed he the production of the film and the film’s final quality was what he caused his decision to permanently retire from filmmaking, saying in an interview with The Times that, “It was a nightmare. The experience had a great influence on me, it made me think about showbiz. I get fed up dealing with idiots.”

Martin Morse WoosterSpace Jam: A New Legacy – A Review

Space Jam:  A New Legacy is a fun-free synthetic entertainment substitute.  Its many writers (six are credited) created a screenplay from artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and gas….  

Mark L. BlackmanTwo Too-Near Futures from Kim Stanley Robinson and Nancy Kress

… Datlow asked Robinson, “How can you be so optimistic?” He replied that his mother was; she felt that it was our duty to be optimistic and to help people….

Mike GlyerLe Guin Stamp Issued Today

The Ursula K. Le Guin commemorative Forever stamp was officially unveiled today during a ceremony at the Portland (OR) Art Museum.

Steve VertliebCelebrating The Wonderful Nehemiah Persoff At 102

… I began to wonder whatever became of this marvelous actor and so, before retiring for the evening, I started to research Mr. Persoff’s whereabouts on my computer. As luck would have it, I found him and wrote him a rather hasty letter of personal and lifelong admiration. To my shock and utter astonishment, he responded within five minutes….

Melanie StormmEmails From Lake Woe-Is-Me: Links To Every Installment

Stormm began her humorous series about the misdirected emails she gets from Writer X in August and has done 17 regular and two bonus installments. It swirls together comedy, horror, and the pitfalls of being a writer.

Robin A. ReidWriting Against the Grain: T. Kingfisher’s Feminist Mythopoeic Fantasy

The purpose of this presentation is to place Tolkien’s theory of mythopoeic fiction in dialogue with fantasy series by T. Kingfisher in order to argue that her work is feminist and mythopoeic. While there are a number of elements of Kingfisher’s fiction that are relevant to my purpose, I’ll be focusing on two: her version of Faërie and system of magic, and her portrayal of female characters whose relationships are with failed warrior heroes….

Brian Z.A Modest Proposal for the Very Retro Hugo for Genre-Related Work

The talk of time capsules and 1000-year M-discs in the Pixel Scroll 8/12/21 discussion of item (16), the Louis XIII Cognac 100-year sci-fi film vault, got me thinking that Worldcon should do Hugos for Best Genre-related Work Created 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 and 40,000 years ago….

Sultana RazaHergé’s Multi-Layered Worlds

… Considered to be a genius by many, not only was Hergé skilled at drawing, he was also good at fascinating his readers with mysteries, and intriguing situations. For example, why was Prof. Calculus going into the heart of a volcano, following the agitated movements of his pendulum, instead of running away, like all the others? Perhaps he was so oblivious to his real surroundings, and was so desperate to find the cause of the wild swinging of his pendulum for the sake of science, that inadvertently, he was willing to risk his very life. Or was he running away from mundane reality? And why did Tintin rush back to save his friend from going deeper in the maze of the mountain? Possibly because that was Tintin’s nature, to rescue not just the innocent people of the world, but it also showed his deep friendship with the absent-minded professor….

Robert RepinoConsequences as an Engine of Storytelling: A Guest Post by Robert Repino

…After watching [John Wick: Chapter 3], my friends and I got some drinks at a nearby bar. There, I found myself repeating a single word from the movie: “Consequences.” Wick utters this word whenever one of the characters points out that his past may have finally caught up with him. Since I like to drive jokes into the ground, I began to say “Consequences” in response to everything that night, in a poor imitation of Wick’s scratchy voice. Why did we need to buy another round? “Consequences.” Why should someone else pick up the tab? “Consequences.” And maybe I should call out sick tomorrow? “Consequences.”…

Mike GlyerHallmark Rolls Out 2021 Ornaments

Right after the Fourth of July might not be when I shop for Christmas ornaments, but somebody does, because that’s when Hallmark runs its Keepsake Ornament Premiere.

If the timing is for the convenience of retailers, there is also a certain logic in picking a spot on the calendar that is as far away as you can get from a date associated with Christmas trees. It’s plain some of these ornaments are intended for a Halloween or Thanksgiving tree, while others probably are destined never to decorate a tree at all but to remain pristine in their original wrapping on collectors’ shelves….

Craig MillerPreview of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

In, I believe, 1927, the Academy of Motion Pictures was founded.

In 1929, they decided there should be a museum of motion picture history and memorabilia.

In three days, a little shy of a hundred years later, the Academy Museum will open to the public….

Martin Morse WoosterReview: Museum of the Bible

Continuing my reports on museums that might be of interest to Filers coming to Washington for DisCon III, I offer a report on the Museum of the Bible, which I visited recently.  (I had a Groupon!)…

Glenn HaumanOh, The Place We Boldly Stop.

The Dr. Seuss Enterprises lawsuit against us is finally over….

Esther MacCallum-StewartCOP26 and Glasgow in 2024

… COP26 has produced an enormous impact on Glasgow….

Sultana RazaFan or Spy?

… I couldn’t help thinking of the passage from The Lord of the Rings, where the Crebain go searching for the Fellowship. In fact, there are many birds as spies in fantasy fiction, such as the Three-Eyed Raven, the, One-eyed Crow, or Varamyr Sixskins warging into an eagle in A Song of Ice and Fire, to mention a few…. 

Mike GlyerShould the Best Series Hugo Category Be Kept?

The Best Series Hugo category was added to the WSFS Constitution in 2017 with a sunset clause requiring a future re-ratification vote to remain part of the Worldcon Constitution. That vote happens next week at the DisCon III Business Meeting. If you were there, would you vote yes or no on keeping the category?

Shana WorthenTwas the Night Before DisCon III

Then down the long hall there arose so much chat,
that I sprang from my chair to see what was that?
Through archways, past plant pots, I slipped through the throng
as the loud murmuration came strolling along.

Colin HarrisThe World in Worldcon

… In reality, China is a huge country with a vast population and an expanding middle class; an enormous SF field and well established fandom. Chengdu is an established international convention site as well as a centre for science and technology.

I rather suspect that from the Chengdu bid’s viewpoint, the US-centric history of Worldcon is at odds with the very name of the event and its claim to be the leading global celebration of the genre. I do not need to believe there is anything suspicious about the bid, because it only needs a tiny percentage of Chinese fans to get behind it to make it a success….

Sultana Raza (and others)International Interactions with Tolkien – A Roundtable

Though Tolkien’s novels were very successful in the last century, after the Peter Jackson trilogy in the early 2000s, their reach increased to encompass the globe. Irrespective of geographical or linguistic differences, they spoke to us in different ways. In an informal Discussion Group at Oxonmoot 2021, (held online), participants were welcome to share their thoughts/reactions/ take on various aspects of Tolkien’s works, mainly his Legendarium….

Mike GlyerThe Twenty Percent Solution: A Self-Published Science Fiction Competition Judge’s Upvotes

… Based on reading 20% of Team File 770’s assigned books, I found there are actually 12 I’d say yes to – so I am going to need to cut two more before I finalize this list….


The saga of Sheriff Trigger Snowflake, the lovely Coraline, and the shenanigans of the Solarian Poets Society added several chapters this year that were not so much ripped-from-the-headlines as amused by the news.

Ingvar Trigger Snowflake and the Election

… Trigger put his cup down, as he saw Coraline wave a paper in the air.

“Trigger!” she said, “Look at this! Look who’s standing for president!”

IngvarTrigger Snowflake and the Dessert

A few days later, down at the Coffee Emporium, Trigger was having breakfast. A nice cup of Bean of the Day and a grilled synthecheese. As he finished the last bite of the synthecheese, Barbara Dimatis walked up to his table.

“Sheriff Snowflake, may I sit?”

“Why, sure, Ms Dimatis. What troubles you?”

“You’ve heard of Bistro Futuristo? Well, turns out that the editor and owner of Futuristo Magazine has made an announcement.”…

Ingvar Trigger Snowflake and the Grand Reopening

“Sheriff! Sheriff! Have you heard?”

“No, Ms Dimatis, I don’t believe I have?”

“The Bistro has re-opened!”

“Bistro Futuristo?”


Brandon Sanderson WFC 2020 Interview Highlights – Conducted by David Doering

Far Sector Round Table with N.K. Jemisin – Conducted by James Bacon and others


ConStellation Hat. Photo by Craig Glassner/Pinterest/Hat of the Day

… Needless to say, I have witnessed or participated in a number of remarkable, bizarre and historic incidents during my tenure working at Worldcons. I not only know how the sausage was made, I helped make it as well….

… Before I reveal my BDP Hugo Nomination Ballot choices, let’s contemplate these ten outstanding films from 2020…

So forget about what the naysayers are saying; Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a big, exciting, sprawling, violent, intense, profane, beautiful and ultimately moving film.

DECLASSIFIED! Seven Secret and Untold Stories From the Worldcon Press Office


Commemorative button.


Ride along with Chris at this year’s Worldcon, everywhere from major events to favorite restaurants.


In addition to reviewing comics and graphic novels, James used his camera and descriptive abilities to take us along on visits to all kinds of fascinating exhibits and pop culture events.



[date of publication]

The World in Worldcon

Opinion Piece by Colin Harris (Co-Chair, 2005 Worldcon): Chengdu’s bid to host the 2023 Worldcon has caused much debate and not a little hand-wringing. With reports of up to 3,000 ballots being cast in Site Selection, and the likelihood that China will be hosting the Worldcon in 20 months’ time, this debate is only going to intensify.

There is no doubt that a Chinese Worldcon (like a Saudi Arabian Worldcon, had the 2022 Jeddah bid succeeded) raises serious questions, not least around human rights and the safety of attendees. People will have strong views on the degree to which it is appropriate for the Worldcon to be hosted in such locations, but I would like to put that aside and ask some broader questions about the nature of Worldcon – past and future.

A Brief History of Worldcon. From its origin in 1939, the Worldcon was as global as the World Series; indeed the name came about through association with the New York World’s Fair rather than any intention to create a truly international convention.

For much of its subsequent history, zoning rules then controlled the event’s location, as it rotated by default between the Western, Central and Eastern United States.  Occasionally, an overseas bid would take the event outside North America – starting in 1957 with Loncon (London, UK). By 2000, there had been 10 such Worldcons in total (5 in the UK, 3 in Australia, 1 in Germany and 1 in the Netherlands); meanwhile, 48 others (83%) were held in the US or Canada.

Between 2001 and 2022, 15 further Worldcons (68%) have been awarded to North American locations, while 7 others have travelled further (2 to the UK and one each to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, and Ireland). Just four of the first 80 Worldcons have been held in countries where English is not the first language.

We’ve Always Done It That Way. Let us be under no illusion; there is a clear lineage running throughout the first 80 Worldcons – expectations that define how the event should look and feel. This lineage is not based on the WSFS Constitution that formally governs the event; the Constitution only sets out minimum obligations in terms of running the Business Meeting, Site Selection and Hugo Awards. The consistent presentation of the Worldcon has rather been controlled through the Site Selection process, where existing members decide who will host future events. To be credible, bids have had to demonstrate their commitment to meeting the established expectations. This commitment has typically been backed by having established Worldcon runners in leadership positions or at the very least advising on “how we do things”. And the voting base has always been dominated by the existing Worldcon community, so the whole process is self-perpetuating. It has always been theoretically possible for any group to win the Worldcon simply by having enough followers willing to join up and vote for their site; but in practice, no one outside of (or at least backed by) the traditional community has been able to rally enough voters in this way.

Every Telescope Has Two Ends. There is an old adage that things often look different from the other end of the telescope. Within the echo chamber of the existing (and particularly the North American) Worldcon community, Chengdu’s ability to rally thousands of Chinese fans willing to join Discon III and vote for a Chinese Worldcon is concerning if not suspicious.  Cries of conspiracy and the Worldcon being bought ring out; questions are raised about the legitimacy of the voters (are the people real? Is the bid backed by the Chinese State? Did they pay for people to vote?).

In reality, China is a huge country with a vast population and an expanding middle class; an enormous SF field and well established fandom. Chengdu is an established international convention site as well as a centre for science and technology.

I rather suspect that from the Chengdu bid’s viewpoint, the US-centric history of Worldcon is at odds with the very name of the event and its claim to be the leading global celebration of the genre. I do not need to believe there is anything suspicious about the bid, because it only needs a tiny percentage of Chinese fans to get behind it to make it a success.

Similarly I have seen concerns that Chinese fandom will annex the Worldcon for alternate years starting in 2023; after all if 50,000 Chinese members turn up in Chengdu, and 10% of them vote for the event to come back to China (say, Beijing) in 2025, then the event will return there. Yet surely this has always been part of the Worldcon picture; seen from outside, US fans have mostly selected US sites, run by US conrunners. Bids have been supported by Convention and Visitor Bureaus, with in-kind or even cash support; locals are encouraged to join up and vote to bring the Worldcon to their city.

What is happening here is surely no different, except that the Bid is not part of the “usual” Community. More specifically, Chengdu have sought to win the vote by mobilizing their own supporters to join Discon III rather than by appealing to the traditional (Western) voter base – who would want to see them committing to running the usual event and drawing on existing Worldcon runners to ensure historical expectations are met.

What If? The existing Worldcon model – every year seeing essentially the same event, with all its historic baggage, plus a little local flavour – is not the only one we can imagine. And if history had played out differently, it’s not necessarily the one we’d have today.

Let us instead imagine a universe where cities and countries compete to run an annual global celebration of science fiction. They must of course demonstrate their competence to deliver the event; but they are then free to execute it as best fits their own national and fannish culture. Within this broad canvas, they are then obligated to host the Hugos etc in line with formal rules. One might even imagine that the administration of these required events is not delegated to the annual committee but managed by a standing organization (let’s not call it WSFS Inc, though). The continual reinvention of what Worldcon is or could be might create a tremendous level of positive energy and freshness to take Worldcon forward.

To be clear, I’m not necessarily saying this should be the future of Worldcon. But I think the existing Western Worldcon community would benefit from a good hard look in the mirror. I am sad to see a lot of “othering” of the Chengdu bid – that goes beyond the legitimate concerns about the Chinese State and fails to recognize the genuine and vibrant nature of Chinese SF and Chinese fandom. I also think there’s a lot of hubris in comments about the Chengdu team’s failure to put more effort into understanding existing Worldcon approaches and recruiting established Worldcon runners to their team. Perhaps the Chengdu team, coming from outside traditional Worldcon fandom, has a very different view of the event; perhaps they see it as a chance to make it something unique and distinctive to their own fannish culture for a year; something for their own fandom to participate in and enjoy. Bring the Worldcon to China; not take China to the Worldcon.

Let us be honest with ourselves. There are two ways to feel about Chengdu and about the idea of a large and youthful Chinese fandom wanting to host Worldcon more regularly in the future. We can see it as a glimpse into another universe where Worldcon is more dynamic and more fluid; where each fandom takes this jewel and makes it their own for a year. Or we can see it as someone taking away our toys; a threat to 80 years of tradition. Either view is legitimate, but if we adopt the second, let’s abandon any idea that Worldcon is really a truly global celebration of the genre, or that it’s capable of evolving beyond its historic context.

Hugo Voting Rules Proposals Sponsored By Harris, Buff, Standlee, Others

Mini Hugo rocket carried into space and photgraphed by astronaut Kjell Lindgren in 2015.

Mini Hugo rocket carried into space and photgraphed by astronaut Kjell Lindgren in 2015.

Apart from the discussions Jameson Quinn has been leading here, another group of fans has been working on ideas for reforming the Hugo voting process. Yesterday they published the drafts of their three main motions and an amendment to EPH (given its first passage last year) as a Google document.

The three main motions do these things:

(1) Change the deadline you must be a Worldcon member to be eligible to nominate from January 31 to December 31 of the previous year.

(2) Restrict eligibility to nominate to members of the current and preceding Worldcon.

(3) Add a second round that allows members to vote out something that makes the initial long list (“Three Stage Voting”).

Colin Harris (co-chair of the 2005 Worldcon), Warren Buff, Kevin Standlee (co-chair of the 2002 Worldcon), Nicholas Whyte, and Colette Fozard each sponsor at least one of the several motions. Harris explains:

We plan to submit the motions officially in about a week; we are publishing them now to encourage discussion, rather than because we expect to change the text — but of course if people point out important things we’ve missed, we’ll take the opportunity to fix any issues.

Commenting specifically about the Three-Stage-Voting proposal, Harris says:

To be clear, my stance as the main mover on 3SV is simple. I wish this change was not necessary, but I believe that EPH and the other proposals already in hand will not achieve the necessary outcomes. In particular, I believe that guaranteeing a couple of broadly acceptable finalists per category is simply not a high enough bar for “success” in restoring the integrity, reputation and stability of the awards. I do not know if 3SV will pass, but I believe that the Business Meeting should have the opportunity to discuss this more direct option for tackling manipulation of the nomination process.

The text of the proposals follows the jump.

Continue reading

Harris Creates New Conrunning List

Colin Harris, co-chair of the 2005 Worldcon and veteran of many other conventions, has established a new conrunning discussion list, Con-Talk.

“In taking the lead on this,” says Harris, “I’m hoping to create something that has the benefits of an email list (e.g. Push technology) and a positive environment for improving the way we share our ideas on improving conventions.”

In contrast with the Smofs list, Con-Talk has formal House Rules and Moderators.

One example of the House Rules is –

Harassment of any kind is not tolerated. This includes discrimination or prejudiced behaviour of any kind, as well as personal attacks or comments about other list members. More generally, our aim is to create a positive environment where everyone feels able to express themselves. We therefore aim to avoid the competitive communication style seen on some Internet lists. Remember – an atmosphere of trust is hard to create and easy to lose.

Harris is one of six moderators. The others are Eemeli Aro, Warren Buff, Janice Gelb, Laurie Mann, and Patty Wells. All of them have provided detailed resumes except Laurie Mann who felt it sufficed to say, “Laurie has been part of online fandom since 1988 so she isn’t afraid to use a kill file…”

There are currently 130 members. A list of those who have opted for public identification can be seen here.

I’ve been on the Smofs list since 1992. In the past six months it has reached transcendent heights of toxic unreadability, making it easy for me to understand why someone would seek a moderated alternative.

TAFF Platforms Released

Brad and Cindy Foster, Curt Phillips and Randy Smith are your official Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund candidates in the 2014 race to pick a delegate to Loncon 3. Here are their platforms and nominators —

Brad and Cindy Foster

Why Brad and Cindy? Because they are one mind in two bodies. (They wish they had two minds, but that’s asking too much.) Because between them they have covered almost all the fannish bases. And, because this is probably the only way they will ever get to see London. He draws pictures – lots of them, and has lived the life fannish through zines and locs. (A paper-person.) She has been social (a people-person) through conventions and conversations. He’ll have to look you up in his files to remember which zine you pub, but she’ll remember your name, face, and family history.

Nominators: Mike Glyer (US), Andy Hooper (US), Steven Silver (US), David Langford (UK), Yvonne Rowse (UK).

Curt Phillips

I am a fan. I guess I always have been; I think I always will be. I’ve collected more science fiction than I’ll ever have time to read, but I keep on collecting more. I’ve written for and published fanzines; I’m the OE of FAPA. Have done many other fannish things in my time, both usual and unusual. But I’ve never traveled outside America. I’d very much to meet some of the wonderful fans in the UK and from across Europe as your TAFF delegate, and then come home to write about my adventures for you. Please support TAFF! Vote!

Nominators: Randy Byers (US), Ulrika O’Brien (US), John Purcell (US), Claire Brialey (UK), Pat Charnock (UK).

Randy Smith

Fandom is a conversation that began in the letter columns of the 1920s pulps and now extends around the world. As active participants in that conversation, we can look for new ways to expand, strengthen, and create new and divergent paths of exchange. We truly never know where it will take us. The TAFF delegate to LonCon 3 will be able to contribute in some small and unforeseen ways to that creative conversation. I would be honored if that person were me. I also promise a speedy appearance of my trip report.

Nominators: Christopher J. Garcia (US), Mark Olson (US), Kevin Standlee (US), Colin Harris (UK), Patrick McMurray (UK).

[Thanks to Jim Mowatt for the story.]

Another TAFF Candidate Announces

Randy Smith has entered the 2014 TAFF race. On his Facebook page he posted “I am informed by the TAFF administrators that my name will appear on the ballot for 2014. Many thanks to my nominators: Christoper J Garcia, Kevin Standlee, Mark Olson, Colin Harris, and Pat McMurray!”

This makes a three-way race, Curt Phillips and Brad and Cindy Foster having announced a few weeks ago. The nominating deadline is December 31, leaving open the possibility one or two more fans may decide to vie for the trip to the 2014 Worldcon in London.

[Thanks to Chris Garcia for the story.]

Harris: Renovation Kiva Reaches Goal

[This is an update about the Kiva team started by members of the Renovation Worldcon committee. Kiva provides financial services such as small loans to low-income individuals and those without access to typical banking services, often in the Third World.]

By Colin Harris: Since you enquired before, I thought you might like to know that the Kiva lending team I set up for Renovation has just achieved its original objective of lending over $10,000. We didn’t quite make our original target of hitting that number by the convention – but that was deliberately a stretch target, and this was also unknown territory in terms of knowing what to expect as a response. I am really grateful to the 20 people who’ve joined the team and consistently loaned and re-loaned their money to individuals around the world over the last two years. In total we have made 284 separate loans in over 40 countries. See for details.

Helping the Worldcon, and the World Too

Colin Harris piqued my curiosity when he invited Renovation committee members to help him form a Kiva team. Kiva is an organization that facilitates microfinance, providing financial services such as small loans to low-income individuals and those without access to typical banking services, often in the Third World. The team would be independent of and unrelated to the Worldcon, the members simply having that fannish connection in common.  

So far 17 team members have stepped forward. They have put $4,025 out to loan in 102 transactions.

I had not heard of Kiva before and asked Colin, a past Worldcon chair (2005) and part of this year’s Worldcon committee, to tell me more. He wrote:

I thought that creating a Renovation team was a nice idea because I was sure there would already be Renovation members who were also Kiva lenders and that they would enjoy this chance to link their interests together. I also thought that it would raise the profile of Kiva with Renovation members who’ve never heard of Kiva or microfinance, and maybe encourage some new people to join. So it reflects my personal support for Kiva and what it stands for.

The first key point to say straight away is that this isn’t an official Renovation activity (hence for instance you won’t find it linked from our website or discussed in the PRs). As I’m sure you know very well, things like official con charities are very contentious and within any staff or member community there will be a spectrum of opinion from

“conventions should have nothing to do with “causes” as they are inherently political (with a small “p” at least).”


“science fiction as a genre is highly sensitive to the future of the world and of society and the SF genre and SF fans have an opportunity, indeed almost a duty, to try and make the world a better place.”

The idea for the group was mine, and I openly admit to appreciating both of the above views. SF IS a genre of the future, full of stories that help us think about the world we are in now or the one we’re creating, and I have always met many fans who (as fans or professionally) are concerned to make the world better. However I also believe that it’s wise to avoid such initiatives becoming official convention activities because there IS a diversity of views about any specific cause and that can become divisive. Far better in my experience to provide space for special interest groups etc, so that fandom helps those who want to come together, while not forcing participation or contribution on people against their will.

This is an open team — anyone can join, click on

The first step is to create a personal account on Kiva. You deposit funds, then you choose who to lend them to. Colin explains:

This creates a direct connection between lender and receiver which makes the experience much more tangible for lenders. The idea is to spread risk, so a loan of $1000 total will typically be covered by e.g. 20 people lending $50 each in case of a default. (You lend in units of $25).

When funds are repaid to your account, you can lend them again, or withdraw them – so it really is a loan arrangement, not a charity donation.

Teams are just way of affiliating the loans you make to a social group. If you’re a member of a team (and you can be in none, one, or more than one), then when you loan you get asked if you want to count your loan against that team.

I am very taken with the idea of micro-finance as a way to encourage sustainable development in a tangible way, rather than an aid dependency culture. I’ve been a member of Kiva for about 18 months now myself.

Much Ado About Who

Doctor Who’s David Tennant and Catherine Tate will perform Much Ado About Nothing in London’s West End this summer and tickets are going fast. BBC reports:

The stars will portray reluctant lovers and constant sparring partners Beatrice and Benedick in the Bard’s comedy.

It will be Tate and Tennant’s first appearance together since starring in BBC One’s Doctor Who. The play, directed by Josie Rourke, will open at Wyndham’s Theatre on 1 June and run until 3 September.

The production was announced on Friday. Colin Harris, past Worldcon chair, lives in London and hurried to snap up some tickets. He reports that nearly all the good seats were gone in the first 48 hours on sale. He predicts the whole run will have booked up in another week.