By Danny Sichel: [Reprinted from the Winter 2021/2022 issue of WARP.]The latest Clarkesworld is out, and it includes “The Cold Calculations” by Aimee Ogden, most recent in a string of answer stories to Tom Godwin’s 1954 “The Cold Equations” – from “The Cold Solution” (Don Sakers, 1991), to “The Cold Crowdfunding Campaign” (Cora Buhlert, 2020), and many others with less obvious titles.
“The Cold Equations” — also known as the “throw the girl out the airlock” story — has long been criticized for multiple shortcomings, in both its themes and its content. The situation is contrived! The society is broken! The EDS is bad engineering! There are other things Barton could have thrown out! Many people have complained about this last one, incidentally. There are indeed items on board that could very well have been sacrificed (including, as in Sakers’ story, the legs of both the pilot and the stowaway, which Sakers’ pilot assumed could be re-grown); apparently Damon Knight came up with a whole list.
Lately, though, a far more common criticism has been that “The Cold Equations” isn’t the story that Tom Godwin wanted to write. When Godwin sold the story to John W. Campbell for publication in Astounding Science Fiction, Campbell sent the story back for rewrites three times, because — in the words of Joseph L. Green, who spent five days with Campbell in 1970 — “Godwin kept coming up with ingenious ways to save the girl!” The moral of the story is often seen as being “space is dangerous”. This may be the case, but as Campbell biographer Alec Nevala-Lee found in a letter Campbell wrote to a friend, the story was also written as a “gimmick on the proposition ‘Human sacrifice is absolutely unacceptable.’” The situation in “The Cold Equations” is intended to force the reader to agree that human sacrifice can be not just acceptable, but necessary. As a result, you can definitely see a lot of places where Campbell’s thumb is on the scale, and remnants of earlier versions.
There are a lot of things wrong with “The Cold Equations”, and therefore I choose my words very carefully when I say: Campbell’s interference made the story better, but not for the reasons he thought.
What makes “The Cold Equations” special, what makes it an enduring classic, is that it’s about failure. Given the grossly negligent environment in which Marilyn was able to stow away in the first place (per Richard Harter, “there is a word for pilots who short cut their preflight checklist. They are called dead.”), without which the story couldn’t have happened in the first place, and the complete lack of margin for error, and, really, all the other factors that Godwin-under-Campbell’s-guidance used to make the story possible… given all that, if Barton had been able to jettison the pilot’s chair, or whatever “ingenious” thing Godwin had originally intended as the basis for a happy ending, then today… no one would remember it. It would have been Just Another Puzzle Story.
It’s more than that, though. I first read “The Cold Equations” in the early ’90s, in the same general span of time that I read “The Old Man and the Sea”, which is also about failure in some very important ways, and which may have nudged my thinking in certain directions. As is typical, I was aghast by the story’s conclusion, especially because there were so many possibilities as to how it could have been resolved without a death. But, I thought, that was the whole point.
I saw “The Cold Equations” as a classic not because the tragedy was unavoidable, but because it wasn’t.
This is what makes literature, isn’t it? Characters who aren’t perfect. They have flaws. That’s why the whole concept of the “tragic flaw” exists.
Barton was in a puzzle story. A life was on the line. All the pieces of the solution were there. And… he didn’t put them together. He wasn’t insightful or creative or educated enough to see the solution. He wasn’t bold or confident or stubborn enough to go against regulations. The pressure was on… and he didn’t make the right decision at the right moment. He wasn’t good enough.
He wasn’t the hero. He was only the protagonist.
“I didn’t do anything,” Marilyn says at the end, as she goes out the airlock to die. “I didn’t do anything.”
And neither did Barton.
And that’s why, despite everything, the story works.
(1) RIDLEY TO WRITE NEXT BLACK PANTHER SERIES. The New York Times announced today in an exclusive interview that Academy Award-winning writer John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) will helm Marvel’s next Black Panther comic book series alongside Marvel’s Stormbreaker artist Juann Cabal (Guardians of the Galaxy). Their series will begin this August.
Building from the epic last chapter of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ groundbreaking multi-year Black Panther run in BLACK PANTHER #25 next week, Ridley will kick off an action-packed espionage story that will impact everything in T’Challa’s life and have ramifications for the entire Marvel Universe!
In this new ongoing series, secrets from T’Challa’s past have come back to haunt him. Fresh from returning from his adventures in space, Black Panther receives an unexpected and urgent message from a Wakandan secret agent. T’Challa must race the clock not only to save his agent, but also to keep his true agenda under wraps. Because if the truth comes out, it could cost T’Challa everything…
“It’s a hybrid espionage-superhero thriller, but at its core, it’s a love story,” Ridley told The New York Times. “And I don’t mean just romantic love, although there’s some of that as well. It’s love between friends.
“We’re coming out of a summer where we saw Black people fighting for our rights, standing up, fighting in ways that we haven’t had to do in years,” Ridley added. “And it was really important to me after the year we had where we can have these conversations with Black people and we can use words like love and caring and hope and regret and all these really fundamental emotions that everybody has.”
Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is pleased to announce that we have signed an agreement with Amazon Publishing to make all of the approximately 10,000 Amazon Publishing ebooks and audiobooks available to libraries and their patrons through the DPLA Exchange, the only not-for-profit, library-centered content marketplace. This marks the first time that ebooks from Amazon Publishing have been made available to libraries. Like our previous publisher arrangements, this agreement furthers our mission to expand equitable access to ebooks and audiobooks while protecting library patron privacy.
Amazon Publishing titles will begin to be available in the DPLA Exchange via four licensing models this summer; we expect that libraries will be able to access all of the Amazon Publishing titles by the end of the year:
Unlimited, one user at a time access, two-year license
Bundles of 40 lends, available with a maximum of 10 simultaneously, with no time limit to use the lends
Bundles of five lends, available simultaneously, with no time limit to use the lends
26 lends, one user at a time access, the lesser of two years or 26 lends license
Library patrons will be able to access Amazon Publishing titles through SimplyE, the library-developed and managed e-reader app founded by New York Public Library.
(3) LIVING INSIDE THE STORY. F&SF invites readers to find out just how far Eugen Bacon, author of “When the Water Stops” in F&SF’s May/June issue, will go to research a new work in this author interview.
SRT: What literary (or other art/history) pilgrimages have you gone on?
EB: Bendigo is a mining town in Australia. I took a tour to the Central Debora Gold Mine for what they called Nine Levels of Darkness (228 metres) in a miner’s cage to research a portion of my novel Mage of Fools by Meerkat Press in March 2022. One scene happens in a mine and I needed to experience it to write it. Imagine what would happen if I were researching a cannibalistic serial killer.
Determined to find his lost home world, Dumarest of Earth travels from world to world. Itinerate labourers like Dumarest must travel by the cheapest method available: cold sleep, AKA “Low Passage.” True, the odds of waking from Low Passage are only five in six, assuming the traveller is well-fed and healthy, but it is a risk Dumarest and his companions accept.
Surviving yet another gamble with Low, Dumarest is confronted by yet another Low reality: there is no protection or warning for the traveller should the starship captain alter destination in flight. Rather than waking on prosperous Broome, Dumarest is stuck on tide-locked Gath. Gath is not prosperous and escape may prove quite difficult. If escape is possible at all.
Amazon is looking to bulk up its film and TV operations with MGM’s deep film library and substantial television production work as it looks to keep Prime Video competitive with Netflix and Disney+, which are spending billions to dominate the streaming wars, the sources said.
The Seattle company had long been thought to be a potential acquirer largely because of the appeal of the MGM film and TV library, which includes 4,000 movies such as “Robocop” “The Pink Panther” and “The Silence of the Lambs.” MGM’s scripted TV division is responsible for “Fargo,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Vikings.”
The Information first reported the talks, which escalated recently and are said to be in the advanced stages. Sources said the purchase price being discussed is within a range of $7 billion to $9 billion….
(7) ELECTION INTERFERENCE. Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron will continue its discussion of threats to last year’s US elections in “US Election Interference in 2020 and Beyond Part II – Domestic Interference”. Register at the link. Joining the team for this program will be Bryson Bort (founder of Scythe), Matt Masterson (Former Election Security Lead for CISA), Harri Hursti (Nordic Innovation Labs), and SJ Terp (Strategist, ThreeT Consulting).
For all his talk about wanting to make humanity multiplanetary, Elon Musk hasn’t said much about how he would ensure people would stay alive on another world. Musk is happy to talk about how Starship can make it possible for people to go to the Moon, Mars, and elsewhere in large numbers, including that vision of a million people living on Mars. But exactly what people would do once on Mars, and how they would survive the extreme environment there, is an exercise left for the reader.
That reader—or maybe Musk himself—could turn to the two volumes recently published by John Strickland, called Developing Space and Settling Space. Strickland, a longtime space advocate and regular contributor to The Space Review, spares no detail in his analysis of how humans can not only get to other worlds—or create their own in the form of space settlements—but also survive and thrive once they got there….
(9) DON SAKERS OBIT. Author and retired librarian Don Sakers (1958-2021) died May 17. From 2009 to the present he was Analog’s book reviewer, with a“Reference Library” column in every issue.
He most enjoyed being remembered for exploring the thoughts of sapient trees in The Leaves of October (part of his Scattered Worlds series), beating the “Cold Equations” scenario (“The Cold Solution,” Analog 7/91, voted the magazine’s best short story of the year), and editing Carmen Miranda’s Ghost is Haunting Space Station Three (1989), an anthology inspired by Leslie Fish’s filksong, to which he contributed two stories.
Sakers lived at Meerkat Meade in suburban Baltimore with his spouse, costumer Thomas Atkinson.
(10) GRODIN OBIT. Actor Charles Grodin has died of cancer at the age of 86. His best genre roles were in the movies Rosemary’s Baby (1968), King Kong (1976), Heaven Can Wait (1978), The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981), and The Great Muppet Caper (1981). He also appeared in single episodes of TV’s Captain Nice, and My Mother the Car. The Hollywood Reporter’s career notes mention —
…Grodin’s characters occasionally displayed a sinister side. In King Kong (1976), he played the shady businessman who tries to cash in on the giant ape; two years later, he portrayed an oily lawyer in the screwball comedy remake Heaven Can Wait, starring Warren Beatty.
Early in his career, Grodin was in the running to star as Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate (1967), then played an obstetrician in Rosemary’s Baby (1968)….
(11) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
May 18, 1962 — On this date in 1962, The Twilight Zone aired “I Sing The Body Electric,” scripted by Ray Bradbury. They make a fairly convincing pitch here. It doesn’t seem possible, though, to find a woman who must be ten times better than mother in order to seem half as good, except, of course, in the Twilight Zone. — Intro narration. Although Bradbury contributed several scripts to the series, this was the only one produced. An large ensemble cast was needed, hence Josephine Hutchinson, David White, Vaughn Taylor, Doris Packer, Veronica Cartwright, Susan Crane and Charles Herbert all being performers. This was the year that the entire season of the series won the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo at Chicon III.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 18, 1852 – I.L. Peretz. A great figure in Yiddish literature; a score of stories for us, among which a classic version of the golem legend. Extra credit: compare Avram Davidson’s. (Died 1915) [JH]
Born May 18, 1919 – Margot Fonteyn. Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire; named prima ballerina assoluta of the Royal Ballet by Elizabeth II. Danced many fantasies e.g. The Firebird, Giselle, Raymonda, Swan Lake. (Died 1991) [JH]
Born May 18, 1930 — Fred Saberhagen. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read the entirety of his Berserker series though not in the order they were intended to be read. Some are outstanding, some less so. I’d recommend Berserker Man, Shiva in Steel and the original Berserker collection. Of his Dracula sequence, the only one I think that I’veread is The Holmes-Dracula File which is superb. And I know I’ve read most of the Swords tales as they came out in various magazines. (Died 2007.) (CE)
Born May 18, 1931 – Don Martin. Album covers for Miles Davis, Art Farmer, Stan Getz. A cover and thirty interiors for Galaxy. Mad’s Maddest Artist, of floppy feet, onomatopoeia – his car license plate was SHTOINK – and National Gorilla Suit Day. Fourteen collections. Ignatz Award, Nat’l Cartoonists Society’s Special Features Award, Will Eisner Hall of Fame. (Died 2000) [JH]
Born May 18, 1934 — Elizabeth Rogers. Trek geeking time. She had two roles in the series. She provided the uncredited voice for “The Companion” in the “Metamorphosis” episode. She also portrayed Lt. Palmer, a communications officer who took the place of Uhura, in “The Doomsday Machine”, “The Way to Eden”, and the very last episode of the series, “Turnabout Intruder”. She also had appearances on Time Tunnel, Land of The Giants, Bewitched, The Swarm and Something Evil. (Died 2004.) (CE)
Born May 18, 1946 — Andreas Katsulas. I knew him as Ambassador G’Kar on Babylon 5 but had forgottenhe played the Romulan Commander Tomalak on Star Trek: The Next Generation. His first genre role on television was playing Snout in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and he had a recurring role in Max Headroom as Mr. Bartlett. He also had appearances on Alien Nation, The Death of the Incredible Hulk, Millennium, Star Trek: Enterprise anda voice role on The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. (Died 2006.) (CE)
Born May 18, 1946 – Larry Smith, F.N. Chaired Marcon III-XII, Fan Guest of Honor at XIII; vice-chair of Chicon IV, Fan Guest of Honor at Windycon 27; co-chaired Ohio Valley Filk Fest 14, World Fantasy Con 2010. Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service). Bought Dick Spelman’s book business when DS retired, became a leading book dealer with wife Sally Kobee, ran Dealers’ Room at many Worldcons. (Died 2017)
Born May 18, 1948 – R-Laurraine Tutihasi, age 73. Active in fanzines, the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n; won its Kaymar and Franson awards), and otherwise. Loccer (“loc” also “LoC” = letter of comment, the blood of fanzines) at least as far back as Algol and The Diversifier, also Argentus, Janus, Flag, Broken Toys. Her own fanzine is Purrsonal Mewsings. [JH]
Born May 18, 1952 — Diane Duane, 69. She’s known for the Young Wizards YA series though I’d like to single her out for her lesser-known Feline Wizards series where SJW creds maintain the gates that wizards use for travel throughout the multiverse. A most wonderful thing for felines to do! (CE)
Born May 18, 1958 — Jonathan Maberry, 63. The only thing I’ve read by him is the first five novels in the Joe Ledger Series which has a high body count and an even higher improbability index. Popcorn reading with Sriracha sauce. I see that he’s done scripts for Dark Horse, IDW and Marvel early on. And that he’s responsible for Captain America: Hail Hydra which I remember as quite excellent. (CE)
Born May 18, 1969 — Ty Franck, 52. Half of the writing team along with Daniel Abraham that’s James Corey, author of The Expanse series. I’ll admit that I’ve fallen behind by a volume or two as there’s just too many good series out there too keep up with all of them, damn it, but now that it’s ended I intend to finish it. (CE)
Born May 18, 1971 – Boros Attila, age 50. (Personal name last, Hungarian style.) Two dozen covers. For Wild Cards, here is Four Aces, here is Only the Dead Know Jokertown, here is Ace in the Hole. [JH]
(13) COMICS SECTION.
AtLio’sbooth he charges ten times what Lucy did – which makes a kind of sense when you consider what the demand was for his makeover material a year ago.
(14) IN TUNE WITH SFF. Jackiem Joyner is a contemporary saxophonist, author, and music producer. He’s released seven albums, has two number one hit songs, and five Top 10 Billboard singles. On the sff side, his second sff novel, Timelab: Episode One, came out in October.
Two Scientists. One from long ago. The other from modern day 2018. Both on the precipice of greatness. Both met with disdain, and in one case, branded a witch.
Sir Bernard, a seasoned and trusted scientist, living in the time of King Caesar, is lauded by many… until his invention sparks rage and fear among the people. When they brand him as a witch, practicing dark magic, he makes a daring escape via his time machine. He finds himself in San Francisco, 2000 years in the future. There, he befriends Kyle, a young, talented physics student, whose brilliance also sparks distrust, and in some cases, maltreatment. Together, the two scientists are a formidable force, but there are barriers that prevent them from making good use of their scientific theories. Sir Bernard’s homeland is on the brink of war. To save his people, he must go back in time, but first he’ll need a new, more powerful time machine. Kyle has struggles of his own. His brain puts him ahead of the class, but he has trepidation about his mother’s legacy. He wants to clear her name and prove that she didn’t intentionally detonate a scientific lab, killing everyone, including herself. Two scientists from vastly different worlds fight to erase the past. Can they prove their theories are real and can they save lives and reputations, including their own?
C. Robert Cargill‘s just-published science-fiction novel Day Zero hinges on the relationship between a boy named Ezra and his tiger-resembling “nannybot,” Pounce.
“It’s the eve of the robot revolution,” the author and Doctor Strange co-writer, 45, tells EW. “When everything hits the fan, it’s up to a nannybot to decide whether he wants to join the revolution or protect the boy he loves.”
… Day Zero is a tip of a hat to the late science fiction writer Harlan Ellison, whose tale A Boy and His Dog found a character named Vic and his telepathic canine partner Blood attempting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Cargill got to know Ellison when he and Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson signed on to turn the Ellison-written Outer Limits episode “Demon With a Glass Hand” into a movie.
“The big deal was announced and nobody had told Harlan,” says Cargill. “Harlan immediately hit all of the [web] boards he was frequently on and goes, ‘Who the hell is C. Robert Cargill?’ Three different friends reached out to me on the same Saturday morning and said, ‘Ah, Harlan Ellison is looking for you. He seems kind of pissed.'”
Although the film was never made, the pair became friendly.
“We’re honored to have the one and only King Pokémon!” an announcer calls out.
On this mid-March day, he strides into Collect-A-Con, a two-day, first-of-its-kind conference dedicated to non-sports trading cards, in Frisco, Texas. By his side are fellow Pokémon royalty — RealBreakingNate and Leonhart, two mega-popular Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) YouTubers. Making his way through the cheering crowd, King Pokémon waves and smiles, his demeanor that of a kid popping bubbles: lit-up, blissful.
The King is Gary Haase, a 67-year-old father of three from Las Vegas. His Pokémon TCG collection’s estimated total value is more than $10 million, making it the most expensive in the world. In this windowless Embassy Suites ballroom, owning top-tier Pokémon cards makes you a star. And Haase, who has obsessively collected Pokémon cards since 1998, is a bona fide celebrity. One meet-and-greet, expected to go for an hour and a half, lasts five hours….
…He mailed a ransom note to the store demanding a million marks—the equivalent of more than a million dollars today. “I gave you a demonstration of my determination to achieve my goal, including with violence,” he warned. “The next time there will be a catastrophe.” Funke instructed the store to place a coded message in the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper if it was willing to comply: “Uncle Dagobert greets his nephews.” Dagobert Duck is the German name for Scrooge McDuck, the money-grabbing duck from Disney’s “Uncle Scrooge” comics and “DuckTales” TV show.
Funke sent directions to a forested area, where police officers found a box attached to a telephone pole, with a linen bag inside bearing the “DuckTales” logo and an image of Scrooge McDuck. They also found a strange contraption designed to connect the money bag to the back of a train using electromagnets. Funke instructed them to attach the money bag to a train from Rostock to Berlin. When the train roared past, he pushed a button on a transmitter to deactivate the magnets, but the package didn’t drop; the police had tied it to the train. He sent another letter, changing the pickup location. On August 14th, he again waited near the train tracks, wearing gloves, black glasses, and a gray wig. This time, the package eventually detached and crashed against the tracks. As Funke ran to pick it up, the train stopped and police officers jumped out. “Stand still or I’ll shoot!” an officer cried, firing his weapon into the air.
Funke grabbed the package and scampered to safety. When he opened it, he saw that only four thousand marks were real; the rest was Mickey Mouse money. He had threatened the store with another bomb if it didn’t pay up. Meanwhile, it didn’t take the police long to connect the two bombings: both involved voice changers, a treasure hunt, ingenious gadgets, and money thrown from a train. They were dealing with a serial bomber who appeared to take inspiration from the capers in comic books featuring Scrooge McDuck. From that moment on, they called him Dagobert….
(19) TRAILER PARK. Hotel Transylvania: Transformania comes to theaters July 23. SYFY Wire frames the scene:
As the film opens, the title hotel — set up by Dracula (Brian Hull, replacing original star Adam Sandler) as a haven for himself and his monster friends where they could be free of human persecution — is celebrating its 125th anniversary, and Dracula’s son-in-law Johnny (Andy Samberg) is doing his best to throw a killer bash for his father-in-law. When things go wrong, Johnny worries that he’ll never really be able to relate to Dracula and his pals because he’s not a monster.
Enter Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan), who reveals that he’s developed a “Monsterification Ray” that will transform Johnny into the monster he’s always wanted to be. Of course, the ray can also transform any monster it hits into a human, and when the invention goes haywire, the whole monster squad gets an unexpected and unwelcome taste of mortality.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Resident Evil Village” on YouTube, Fandom Games says in this game you “Have the arena of a small country as you blast away at vampires, werewolves, livestock, and the Borg!”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]
But wait, you’re thinking. Barrett died in 2008. How is that possible?
It turns out that just before her death, Barrett recorded an entire library of phonetic sounds for future usage. It’s so thorough that it’s already been used, most recently in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot. Technically, Barrett could be the voice of Starfleet for eternity.
(2) UNDERSTANDING EPH. Karl-Johan Norén writes: “Not that it matters that much now that things are settled for another year, but I wrote down a walkthrough how EPH works: http://kjn.livejournal.com/65023.html Hopefully it can help fen understand better what EPH sets out to accomplish and how it goes about it.”
Right now I see a bit of pushback against the newly ratified E Pluribus Hugo rules (see eg Jed Hartman and Rachael Acks). In part this is because the test runs on prior Hugo nominations didn’t yield as good results as some may have hoped for, another might be that many fans do not feel they can exactly understand how EPH works. FPTP may be unfair, but it’s simple to understand. At its core, E Pluribus Hugo isn’t about selecting the works with the most “support”. It’s more about selecting the set of works that generates the most voter happiness, where happiness is defined as “getting a work onto the final ballot”. I think this framing has gone missing from the discussion. But in order to help with understanding, no, grokking how EPH works, here is my manually run example…
(3) PAWPROOF. In a comment, Lee calls our attention to software designed to detect when your SJW credentials are using your keyboard, which can then prevent inadvertent posting, expensive unintentional eBay purchases, or data destruction: Pawsense.
PawSense is a software utility that helps protect your computer from cats. It quickly detects and blocks cat typing, and also helps train your cat to stay off the computer keyboard.
Every time your computer boots up, PawSense will automatically start up in the background to watch over your computer system.
Even while you use your other software, PawSense constantly monitors keyboard activity. PawSense analyzes keypress timings and combinations to distinguish cat typing from human typing. PawSense normally recognizes a cat on the keyboard within one or two pawsteps.
Long before becoming part of a fandom was as easy as starting a Tumblr account, female Trekkies (or Trekkers, as some older fans of the series prefer) not only dominated the “Star Trek” fan community but helped to create that community in the first place.
“It redefined the classic nerd to be much more inclusive. There were more women involved,” Stuart C. Hellinger, one of the organizers of the first ever fan-led “Star Trek” conventions, told Revelist. “The entire show was diverse in many ways, including the people that worked on the show. You had women writers and women story editors, and that wasn’t as common back then. A lot of different areas were opened up because of Gene [Roddenberry]’s vision, and a lot of the fannish community took that to heart, which is a very, very good thing.”
The framework that these women and men and wonderful weirdos put into place not only extended the legacy of “Star Trek” into what it is today, but became the basis for many aspects of fandom that modern people take for granted.
(5) EDITING AN ANTHOLOGY, STEP BY STEP. Joshua Palmatier, author, and editor of anthologies including Clockwork Universe, Temporally Out Of Order, and Aliens and Artifacts, has started a series of blog posts on “How to Create an Anthology.” The first entry is about finding a good concept.
This is the first of a series of blog posts that I intend to do in order to show how I create the anthologies for Zombies Need Brains, the small press that I founded in order to produce anthologies. It’s basically a behind-the-scenes look at the process, which will be covered in multiple parts. Obviously, this is only how I produce an anthology and there may be other roads to follow in order to produce one. Keep that in mind. So the first step in creating an anthology–at least a themed anthology, like the ones Zombies Need Brains creates–is to come up with a concept. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Ideas are a dime a dozen and can be found on every street corner. The problem is that not every idea will actually work as an anthology theme. There are some key aspects to the idea that need to be present in order for the anthology to work.
(6) MIDAMERICON II PROGRAM. I’m a big fan of con programming, which also seems the hardest part of the Worldcon to find out about afterwards. All those smart and creative people, all the different topics. Seems like once missed, it’s gone forever. Except for Jake Casella at PositronChicago blog who has posted recaps of numerous MACII panels. You’re a lifesaver, Jake!
(7) A DIALOGUE WITH GIBRALTAR APES. Kate Paulk scientifically proved the Worldcon is dead, and has always been, in a Mad Genius Club post “Worldcons and Hugos by the Numbers.” But standing out from the anti-Worldcon comments she elicited was Ben Yalow’s personal testimony about what he gets from his continued attendance. It made me want to stand up and cheer, as someone said in an old Frank Capra movie.
…The Worldcon was still full of those magic moments, despite being an enormous amount of work.
But watching a real astronaut accepting the Campbell for Andy Weir bubbling about how he got the science right was magic. And looking at the original typewritten correspondence between the previous KC Worldcon (in 1976) and Heinlein (the GoH that year). And walking into the exhibit hall, and seeing Fred, our 25 foot high inflatable astronaut — knowing it was named Fred because the funds to get it were donated by a Texas club in memory of Fred Duarte, a friend of mine for decades, and Vice-chair of the first Texas Worldcon, who died much too young last year. And having a video of a panel from 1976, with Jon Singer showing how a mimeo works by kneeling on a table and having the other panelists crank his arm. And watching the Business Meeting tie itself up in knots, and going through a long parliamentary routine, so as to let Kate Paulk ask Dave McCarty (this year’s Hugo Administrator) to state his opinion on the wisdom of EPH at a time when that question wasn’t in order (and, as expected, he was able to answer that he was opposed). And seeing Robert Silverberg at the Hugo ceremony, realizing that he’s been to every one of them since the first one in Philadelphia in 1953. And — I could go on for a long time, but won’t.
And watching, and being part of, a team of volunteers from around the world get together to make it all happen. We agreed on some things, we disagreed on others — but it all happened, and lots of people went home with their magic moments. And that’s what’s important to me.
(8) WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT ALFIES. George R.R. Martin writes about his first Hugo Losers Party, and its latest sequel, in “Our Kansas City Revels”.
The night before, at the awards ceremony, I had lost two rockets (one to Larry Niven, one to Roger Zelazny, fwiw). The affair began as a modest little party in a modest little room, with some peanuts and cheese curls and whatever booze we had been able to scrounge from other parties. But as fate would have it, my room was next to the pool deck, which allowed us to overflow the confines of my double, which we soon did, to become the loudest, largest, and most memorable party of the con. Gardner Dozois was our ‘herald,’ announcing each guest as they appeared, and naming them either a winner or a loser. Losers were cheered and welcomed, winners were booed and cursed and pelted with peanuts… unless they told a good story about they were really losers. (Which Alfie Bester did most memorably). Thus did that first Losers Party pass into fannish legend.
Martin’s next post details the Alfie awards ceremony – “Losers and Winners”. Here’s part of his commentary about the Alfies given in the fan Hugo categories.
Aside from two ‘committee awards’ (I am the ‘committee’), I do not choose the Alfie winners. The fans do, with their nominations. The Alfies go to those who produced outstanding work in 2015, but were denied a spot on the ballot, and thus the chance to compete for the Hugo, by slating…..
One of my special ‘committee awards’ went to BLACK GATE, which had 461 nominations in the Fanzine category, second among all nominees and good for a place on the ballot. But Black Gate turned down the nomination, just as they did last year, to disassociate themselves from the slates. Turning down one Hugo nomination is hard, turning down two must be agony. Integrity like that deserves recognition, as does Black Gate itself. Editor John O’Neill was on hand to accept the Alfie.
Our Alfie for BEST FAN WRITER went to ALEXANDRA ERIN, whose 213 nominations led all non-slate nominees in this category. (I note that I myself got 103 nominations in the category, good for thirteenth place. What the hell, guys, really? I thank you, but… I know professionals have won in this category before, but I’m really more comfortable leaving the Fan Writer awards for fans).
JOURNEY PLANET, by James Bacon and Christopher J. Garcia, had 108 nominations for BEST FANZINE, and took the Alfie in that category. Have to say, I loved Bacon’s enthusiasm (and he’s the calm, quiet, shy one of the two).
(9) NEW EPIC SUPPORTED BY PATREON. Two authors launch a vast fictional project, which they hope readers will back with regular contributions.
Authors Melissa Scott and Don Sakers had always wanted to collaborate on a project, but each attempt produced sprawling ideas and enormous casts of characters that couldn’t easily be confined to a conventional series of novels, much less to any shorter format. As electronic publishing opened up new formats and lengths, it became possible to imagine serial fiction again — and not just serial fiction, but the kind of serial fiction that would allow novelists to explore the sort of expansive, elaborate universes more commonly seen in comics. For the first time, Scott and Sakers could work at the scale their story demanded, without sacrificing character, setting, or idea. What’s in the story? Pirates. Judges. Weird physics. Desperate refugees. Struggling colonists. Missing persons and a mystery ship. A quest for human origins in a pocket universe. A thousand individual stories that together create a much larger tale.
Thanks to websites like Patreon to handle payments, and open-source website building tools like Drupal, the sprawling serial space opera The Rule of Five launches in September 2016, taking full advantage of the enormous canvas available on the web. Each month, Scott and Sakers will post an episode of at least 2000 words — a solid short story. All subscribers will be able to see each month’s episode plus the previous episode. Subscribers at higher levels can get a quarterly ebook compilation, access to all past episodes, and even a print editions containing each completed Season, as well as public acknowledgement for their support. For readers joining the series in progress, quarterly and seasonal compilations will always be available to bring them up to speed.
As discussed here before, quite a few sf conventions have adopted an anti-harassment policy within the past two years. More conrunners are interested in hearing about real-life experience administering these policies. Examples are not easy to find because of the privacy protection accorded those who file a complaint. As it is usually people with unresolved complaints who are motivated to go public, nearly all the best-known examples are controversial.
I want to talk about an issue of harassment and discrimination that came up at a con this weekend. I’m going to name the con, but first I want to make crystal clear that the issue was settled to everyone’s satisfaction and that the con committee has done everything within their power to make things right.
Let me say that again: the con committee made everything right. For this particular con, the issue is closed with a very happy ending.
If it’s all over, why talk about it at all? I have two reasons. First, I want to have this story out there to inspire and empower others who may find themselves in similar situations. And second, I want other cons to be aware so they can possibly avoid such messy situations.
A con illegally discriminated against LGBT fans by posting a “mature content, no one under 18 allowed” sign on an LGBT panel with no such content, while posting no sign on other panels with obvious adult content. We didn’t get any satisfaction from the first con staffer we talked to. When we raised the issue to the full con committee, amends were made and the con intends to have a full track of diversity-in-sf/fantasy programming next year
Then he goes into the episode in full detail.
The complaint was resolved at the convention’s gripe session by a public discussion and the posting of this Apology from the Committee —
An unfortunate misunderstanding occurred at the convention this weekend. It caused hurt feelings, and, inadvertently, violated Maryland law protecting individuals against harassment and discrimination. Farpoint would never intentionally harass or discriminate against any person. We exist to encourage and nurture our fellow fans. What happened was a mistake, and it will be corrected.
Our logistics coordinator would like to make the following statement;
I, Karen Donnelly, publicly and sincerely apologize for posting “Adult Content” signs for panels at Farpoint and thereby breaking Maryland law, committing harassment against Farpoint attendees. This action will not happen again.