Pixel Scroll 11/24/22 On The Avenue, Second-Fifth Avenue, The Filetographers Will Snap Us, And You’ll Find That You’re In The Pixelgravure

(1) TURKEY DAY. Following that overstuffed title it’s time to pay homage to another Thanksgiving tradition, one I’m sure you’ll immediately recognize.

(2) SIGNERS OF THE TIMES. “Bob Dylan Gets Tangled Up in Book Autograph Controversy” – the New York Times tells why.

Simon & Schuster sold 900 signed copies of the singer’s new essay collection, but superfans and internet sleuths noticed something wasn’t right with the autograph. Now the publisher is issuing refunds.

… So when Simon & Schuster, Dylan’s publisher, advertised limited-edition, hand-signed copies of the musician’s new collection of essays for $600 each, Bernstein was among 900 fans who went for one. Last week, he received his copy of “The Philosophy of Modern Song,” Dylan’s first collection of writings since he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, with a letter of authenticity signed by Jonathan Karp, the publisher’s chief executive.

There was only one problem.

Karp’s signature “looked more legit than Bob’s,” Bernstein said.

Bernstein was one of hundreds of fans who sleuthed their way around social media, reaching the conclusion that the supposedly hand-signed books had not, in fact, been signed by Dylan.

“I got the nostalgia bug,” said Bernstein, who already owned an unsigned copy of the book, as well as a Kindle version and an audio version. He added, “If he touches this book — he wrote it, signed it — it feels like the soul of Bob Dylan is with me.”

Instead, many fans suggested that the “autographed” copies of the book had been signed by a machine….

(3) OCTOTHORPE. “Just Nearly Froze to Death”, Octothorpe episode 71, is ready for listeners.

John is on the Holodeck, Alison is in the past, and Liz is at school. We discuss what Alison got up to at Novacon before chatting about a few other bits and bobs. Listen here!

(4) SMACKAGE. “Stephen King, Elon Musk spar: MyPillow will be Twitter’s ‘only advertiser’” on MarketWatch.

That was master of horror and bestselling fiction writer Stephen King riffing on the parade of advertisers including GM, United Airlines and Audi pausing or scrapping their marketing on the social-media platform since Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took over…. 

…This is perhaps why Musk responded to King’s most recent tweet about MyPillow with “Oh hi lol.” 

Musk followed up by asking, “Is My Pillow actually a great pillow? Now I’m curious.” 

(5) DRAGONS DEFENDED. In “Weber & Correia on the mil-SF Dragon Award” – Camestros Felapton delivers lengthy excerpts from the two authors’ remarks delivered in the wake of the Dragon Awards deleting the Military SF category. Weber tries to justify the decision to his grumpy fan base, and Larry Correia upbraids “the people who are nominally supposed to be on my side” for their “black pilled doom nonsense.” If you care what Weber and Correia think about the situation, this would be the place to find out.

(6) PUSH THE PANIC BUTTON! SF2 Concatenation, in an Autumn 2022 editorial headlined “The 2023 Worldcon in China may be cancelled! If, that is, the UN COP15 Convention on Biodiversity (CBD-COP15) changes are a portent”,  is volunteering the Winnipeg NASFiC as the backup plan.

The 2023 Worldcon in Chengdu China has had its problems, not least political controversy due to its Guests of Honours’ support for political aggression, namely: China’s Uyghur policy, Putin’s war on Ukraine and apparent tacit support (being willing to share a platform with those of such views) thereof respectively.  However, these are not  the reasons the event may be cancelled.  China has a strict ‘zero CoVID-19 policy that has meant that as soon as a number of cases are reported in a city, then that city is put into strict lockdown: this has already happened a number of times this year.  So, for instance, following discussions with China, on 21st June (2022) the United Nations announced that the CBD-COP15 meeting would no longer be held in Kumming, China, but be held instead 5th – 17th December (2022) in Montreal, Canada.  The risk of the CBD-COP running foul of, or even itself causing – with the international influx of thousands of participants – a mini CoVID outbreak so triggering, a strict lockdown in Kumming was real enough for the UN to make the change: it was considered a non-trivial risk….

Meanwhile, following the above being written in July-August following the UN CBD-COP15 change, at the beginning of September (2022) 25 million people in Chengdu, China, have been put in lockdown.  This is a portent if ever one should be needed, irrespective with what has already happened with the UN’s CBD-COP15.

The crew’s vision for rescuing the Hugo Awards is a little shortsighted — “The rest could be arranged by those regularly associated with WSFS governance (the World SF Society being the body under whose auspices the Hugo’s are organised)” – because WSFS is not an administrative body, it is the members of the seated Worldcons. There’s no WSFS management to pull the plug on Chengdu, or to take funds from them to pay for award trophies. That would take the Chengdu Worldcon’s cooperation. And consider that the minimum requirements for the Worldcon are far more modest than a UN convention. What if Chengdu fell back on doing a virtual Worldcon, like CoNZealand?

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1993 [By Cat Eldridge.] Tombstone 

The Old West has a significant impact upon the SFF genre, be it in video such as Star Trek’s “Spectre of the Gun”, Doctor Who’s “A Town Called Mercy”, The Wild Wild West series or, to note but two novels, Emma Bull’s Territory and Midori Snyder’s The Flight of Michael McBride

So I’m going to look at some of my favorite Westerns starting with the Tombstone which premiered twenty-nine years ago. 

It directed by George P. Cosmatos from a screenplay by Kevin Jarre. He was also the original director, but was replaced early in production.  It had three producers — James Jacks, Sean Daniel and Bob Misiorowski.

It quite possibly the most extraordinary cast ever assembled for a Western —  Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer and Sam Elliott in lead roles, and with Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, and Dana Delany in supporting roles, as well as narration by Robert Mitchum. The Dana Delany appearance, though brief, I think was one of her best ever.

The film was screenwriter Kevin Jarre’s first job as director but he was overwhelmed by the job, failing to get needed shots and falling behind the shooting schedule. Biehn threaten to quit being his close friend but Russell talked him out of it.

I see no need for spoilers as likely you know the story as they really didn’t deviate that much from what has been told before. It’s how they told it that I find such a stellar story. Each of the principal characters is realized, a completely believable human being. And each is given enough lines to come to life in this story. If I had to single out one actor here in particular, it’d be Val Kilmer as the dying Doc Holliday. That is a performance for the ages. 

One of the actors gets much of the credit for what the final shooting script looks like. Russell worked endlessly with producer Jacks to ruthlessly cut to the bone Jarre’s originally vastly overblown script, deleting endless subplots and emphasizing the oh so important relationship between Wyatt and Doc. 

It is disputed to this day who directed the actual film. Russell claims that he and not Cosmatos did. He says that the latter was brought in as a “ghost director” because Russell did not want it to be known at the time that he was directing the film. 

Critics either really liked it or really, really hated it. The latter, all male I must note, thought it treated women badly. I didn’t. 

Box office wise, it was a fantastic success, making three times what it cost to produce. 

I’ve watched it at least a half dozen times. The Suck Fairy has equally enjoyed it each times she’s viewed it with me. She particularly liked the final scene with Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp and Dana Delany as Josephine Marcus dancing in the snow in San Francisco. She does have a soft heart, you know.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 24, 1882 E. R. Eddison. Writer whose most well-known work by far is The Worm Ouroboros. It’s slightly connected to his much lesser known later Zimiamvian Trilogy. I’m reasonably that sure I’ve read The Worm Ouroboros but way too long ago to remember anything about it. Silverberg in the Millenium Fantasy Masterworks Series edition of this novel said he considered it to be “the greatest high fantasy of them all”. (Died 1945.)
  • Born November 24, 1907 Evangeline Walton. Her best-known work, the Mabinogion tetralogy, was written during the late 1930s and early 1940s, and her Theseus trilogy was produced during the late 1940s. It’s worth stressing Walton is best known for her four novels retelling the Welsh Mabinogi. She published her first volume in 1936 under the publisher’s title of The Virgin and the Swine which is inarguably a terrible title. Although receiving glowing praise from John Cowper Powys, the book sold quite awfully and none of the other novels in the series were published at that time. Granted a second chance by Ballantine’s Adult Fantasy series in 1970, it was reissued with a much better title of The Island of the Mighty. The other three volumes followed quickly. Witch House is an occult horror story set in New England and She Walks in Darkness which came out on Tachyon Press is genre as well. I think that is the extent of her genre work but I’d be delighted to be corrected. She has won a number of Awards including the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, Best Novel along with The Fritz Leiber Fantasy Award, World Fantasy Award, Convention Award and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1996.) (JJ )
  • Born November 24, 1926 Forrest J Ackerman. It’s no wonder that he got a Hugo for #1 Fan Personality in 1953 and equally telling that when he was handed the trophy at Philcon II (by Asimov), he physically declined saying it should go to Ken Slater to whom the trophy was later given by the con committee. That’s a nice summation of him. You want more? As a literary agent, he represented some two hundred writers, and he served as agent of record for many long-lost authors, thereby allowing their work to be reprinted. Hell, he represented Ed Wood! He was a prolific writer, more than fifty stories to his credit, and he named Vampirella and wrote the origin story for her. His non-fiction writings are wonderful as well. I’ll just single out Forrest J Ackerman’s Worlds of Science FictionA Reference Guide to American Science Fiction Films and a work he did with Brad Linaweaver, Worlds of Tomorrow: The Amazing Universe of Science Fiction Art. Did I mention he collected everything? Well, he did. Just one location of his collection contained some three hundred thousand books, film, SF material objects and writings. The other was eighteen rooms in extent. Damn if anyone needed their own TARDIS, it was him. In his later years, he was a board member of the Seattle Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame who now have possession of many items of his collection. (Died 2008.)
  • Born November 24, 1948 Spider Robinson, 74. His first story, “The Guy with the Eyes,” was published in Analog (February 1973). It was set in a bar called Callahan’s Place, a setting for much of his later fiction.  His first published novel, Telempath in 1976 was an expansion of his Hugo award-winning novella “By Any Other Name”. The Stardance trilogy was co-written with his wife Jeanne Robinson; the first book won a Nebula. In 2004, he began working on a seven-page 1955 novel outline by the late Heinlein to expand it into a novel. The resulting novel would be called Variable Star. Who’s read it?
  • Born November 24, 1957 Denise Crosby, 65. Tasha Yar on Next Gen who got a meaningful death in “Yesterday’s Enterprise” after getting an earlier truly meaningless one. In other genre work, she was on The X-Files as a doctor who examined Agent Scully’s baby. And I really like it that she was in two Pink Panther films, Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther, as Denise, Bruno’s Moll. And she’s yet another Trek performer who’s popped doing what I call Trek video fanfic. She’s Dr. Jenna Yar in “Blood and Fire: Part 2”, an episode of the only season of Star Trek: New Voyages as Paramount was not amused. 
  • Born November 24, 1957 Jeff Noon, 65. Novelist and playwright. Prior to his relocation in 2000 to Brighton, his stories reflected in some way his native though not birth city of Manchester. The Vurt sequence whose first novel won the Arthur C. Clarke Award is a very odd riff off Alice in Wonderland that he describes as a sequel to those works. Noon was the winner of an Astounding Award for the Best New Science Fiction Writer.
  • Born November 24, 1957 John Zakour, 65. For sheer pulp pleasure, I wholeheartedly recommend his Zachary Nixon Johnson PI series which he co-wrote with Larry Ganem. Popcorn reading at its very best. It’s the only series of his I’ve read, anyone else read his other books? 
  • Born November 24, 1965 Shirley Henderson, 57. She was Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She was Ursula Blake in “Love & Monsters!”, a Tenth Doctor story, and played Susannah in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, a film that’s sf because of the metanarrative aspect.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! shows that even a successful experiment by a mad scientist can cause problems. (Or do they always?)
  • The Far Side shows the real reason they went extinct.

(10) I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT. Radio Times is agog as “Doctor Who unveils new look at David Tennant as Fourteenth Doctor”.

…Fans were previously treated to a closer look at Tennant’s Fourteenth Doctor outfit at MCM Comic Con last month, where a special exhibit showed off the blue coat and white trainers that the Doctor will wear in the upcoming 60th anniversary episodes, which are set to air in 2023.

The exhibit also featured the striped jumper and green jacket worn by Catherine Tate, who will be reprising her role as the Doctor’s companion Donna Noble in the three specials….

(11) SHOCKWAVE WIDER. Nature shows how “Shock waves spark blazing light from black holes”.

Radiation from a jet of ultrafast particles powered by a supermassive black hole suggests that the particles are accelerated by shock waves propagating along the jet, making them shine with the brightness of 100 billion Suns!

Most of the 200 billion galaxies in the Universe are centred around enormous black holes that can weigh as much as one billion Suns. Many of these black holes are dormant, but some are still growing, devouring gas from their surroundings and releasing vast amounts of radiation. Even fewer of these active supermassive black holes are capable of launching powerful jets from their cores — ultrafast streams of particles that shine brightly, and can travel distances of up to 100 times the size of their own galaxy. But what provides the initial kick that enables these particles to release so much energy? Writing in Nature, Liodakis et al. report that the push comes from shock waves that are generated naturally…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Patrick McGuire, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Dragon Award Reveals Category Changes for 2023

The Dragon Award administrators have announced they will reduce the number of award categories from last year’s 15 to 11 in 2023. Two categories will be eliminated, and six other categories will be doubled together, leaving three, however, they are also adding one brand new category.

The changes include:

Deleting the Media Tie-In and Military Fantasy/Sci-Fi categories;

Merging the following categories:

  • Comic Book and Graphic Novel will become one category, Best Comic Book or Graphic Novel;
  • PC/Console and Mobile Game have been combined into Best Digital Game;
  • Board Game and Miniatures/Role-playing/CCG Game will be merged into Best Tabletop Game.

Adding a category:

  • Best Illustrative Book Cover, which the administrators say will “more accurately reflect our roots and fandom in the Art community.”

Although the home page also announces that nominations are open for 2023 and they are accepting registrations to receive a ballot next August, neither function was working at the time this was written.  

2022 Dragon Awards

Dragon Awards. Photo by Sean CW Korsgaard.

The 2022 Dragon Awards winners were announced on September 4. (Thanks to Ray Radlein for livetweeting the results.)

1. Best Science Fiction Novel

  • Leviathan Falls by James S.A. Corey

2. Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

  • Book of Night by Holly Black

3. Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel

  • A Dark and Starless Forest by Sarah Hollowell

4. Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

  • A Call to Insurrection by David Weber, Timothy Zahn, Thomas Pope

5. Best Alternate History Novel

  • The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley by Mercedes Lackey

6. Best Media Tie-In Novel

  • Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil by Timothy Zahn

7. Best Horror Novel

  • The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig

8. Best Comic Book

  • Immortal X-Men by Kieron Gillen, Mark Brooks

9. Best Graphic Novel

  • Dune: House Atreides Volume 2 by Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, Dev Pramanik

10. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series

  • Stranger Things, Netflix

11. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

  • Dune by Denis Villeneuve

12. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game

  • Elden Ring, Bandai Namco Entertainment

13. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game

  • Diablo Immortal, Blizzard

14. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

  • Star Wars Outer Rim: Unfinished Business, Fantasy Flight Games

15. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game

  • Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, Wizards of the Coast

Also presented at the ceremony:

2022 JULIE AWARD

  • Jim Starlin

In 1998, Dragon Con established the Julie Award presented annually in tribute to the legendary Julie Schwartz. The Julie Award is bestowed for universal achievement spanning multiple genres, selected each year by our esteemed panel of industry professionals. The first recipient in 1998 was science fiction and fantasy Grandmaster Ray Bradbury.

2022 HANK REINHARDT FANDOM AWARD

The recipient of the Hank Reinhardt Fandom Award, formerly the Georgia Fandom Award, is John Carrol.

Scoring the 2022 Dragon Awards Nominees

2021 Dragon Award trophies. Photo by Sean CW Korsgaard.

The 2022 Dragon Award Ballot came out this week, and it was interesting to see that collectively the nominees are keeping up the trend toward becoming more organic year by year – books that are widely talked about, and may even be up for other awards in the field.

While the award instructions encourage writers to campaign (i.e., “it is perfectly acceptable for you to encourage your fans to vote for you”), there’s really no way to measure the effectiveness of calls for fans and fellow writers to support people’s Dragon Award ambitions – detailed voting statistics are never published.  Therefore, since the award was launched, File 770 has looked at the number of Goodreads ratings received by the finalists as a means of exploring how extensive their fan bases might be.

The 2022 ballot represents a further move away from “clique picks” and toward books that more readers are following, evident in the declining number of finalists that have microscopic totals of Goodreads ratings from readers. Here’s a year-by-year summary of the Dragon Award book finalists with fewer than 100 ratings as of the time the ballot came out:

2017 – 24

2018 – 11

2019 – 8

2021 – 3

2022 – 0

(I didn’t research the numbers in 2020.)

This year is the first time that none of the finalists have had under 100 Goodreads ratings. And altogether, only four books have fewer than 500 ratings.

Here is a list the 2022 Dragon Awards nominees with their date of publication and the number of Goodreads ratings as of August 15

1. Best Science Fiction Novel

RATINGSTITLE
33,404Leviathan Falls by James S.A. Corey (11/21)
19,002The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi (3/22)
1,119Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky (8/21)
960You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo (11/21)
773Goliath: A Novel by Tochi Onyebuchi (1/22)

2. Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

RATINGSTITLE
22,686Book of Night by Holly Black (5/22)
10,832Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki (9/21)
9,789Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher (4/22)
9,375Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee (11/21)
2,101Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James (2/22)
1,584Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham (2/22)

3. Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel

RATINGSTITLE
43,917Gallant by V.E. Schwab (3/22)
41,084Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao (9/21)
6,858Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko (8/21)
2,485A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger (11/21)
1,838Akata Woman by Nnedi Okorafor (1/22)
701A Dark and Starless Forest by Sarah Hollowell (9/21)

4. Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

RATINGSTITLE
4,376Backyard Starship by J.N. Chaney, Terry Maggert (9/21)
3,467Citadel by Marko Kloos (8/21)
1,094Against All Odds by Jeffery H. Haskell (4/22)
942A Call to Insurrection by David Weber, Timothy Zahn, Thomas Pope (2/22)
716The Shattered Skies by John Birmingham (1/22)
560Resolute by Jack Campbell (6/22)

5. Best Alternate History Novel

RATINGSTITLE
32,142She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan (7/21)
5,724When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill (5/22)
2,046*The King’s Daughter by Vonda N. McIntyre (9/97)
969Invisible Sun by Charles Stross (9/21)
862The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley by Mercedes Lackey (1/22)
1271637: Dr. Gribbleflotz and the Soul of Stoner by Kerryn Offord, Rick Boatright (9/21)

(*) Goodreads apparently includes cumulative ratings from original 1997 publication.

6. Best Media Tie-In Novel

RATINGSTITLE
6,269Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil by Timothy Zahn (11/21)
4,017Star Wars: The Fallen Star by Claudia Gray (1/22)
456Star Trek: Picard: Rogue Elements by John Jackson Miller (8/21)
449Star Trek: Coda: Oblivion’s Gate by David Mack (11/21)
238Halo: Divine Wind by Troy Denning (10/21)

7. Best Horror Novel

RATINGSTITLE
65,806The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix (7/21)
17,404My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones (8/21)
13,779The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig (7/21)
10,706The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling (10/21)
10,706Hide by Kiersten White (5/22)
2,438Revelator by Daryl Gregory (8/21)

(Note: The two entries with 10,706 votes are not a mistake of duplication.)

Pixel Scroll 8/12/22 The Hamster, My Friend, Is Scrolling In The Solar Wind

(1) RUSHDIE HOSPITALIZED AFTER ATTACK. Salman Ruhdie was attacked and stabbed at least twice while speaking onstage this morning in upstate New York. He was airlifted to a hospital and taken to surgery. The CNN story says:

The suspect jumped onto the stage and stabbed Rushdie at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen, state police said. Staff and audience members rushed the suspect and put him on the ground before a state trooper took the attacked into custody, police said.

… Henry Reese, co-founder of the Pittsburgh nonprofit City of Asylum, who was scheduled to join Rushdie in discussion, was taken to a hospital and treated for a facial injury and released, state police said. The organization was founded to “provide sanctuary in Pittsburgh to writers exiled under threat of persecution,” according to the Chautauqua Institution’s website.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters Friday a state trooper “stood up and saved (Rushdie’s) life and protected him as well as the moderator who was attacked as well.

The story did not have an update about Rushdie’s condition.

There is now an update from Publishing Perspectives:

Salman Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, has told The New York Times’ Elizabeth A. Harris, “The news is not good. Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”

Wylie’s information, emailed to Harris, is the first description of the condition of the author following surgery….

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports “Stabbing sends ripples of ‘shock and horror’ through the literary world.”

Literary figures and public officials said that they were shocked by the news that the author Salman Rushdie had been stabbed in the neck on Friday morning while onstage to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institute in western New York.

“We cannot immediately think of any comparable incident of a public violent attack on a writer during a literary event here in the United States,” said Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive officer of the nonprofit literary organization PEN America, who noted that the motivations for the attack and Mr. Rushdie’s current condition were unknown as of Friday late morning.

Mr. Rushdie is a former president of PEN America, which advocates for writers’ freedom of expression around the world.

She said in a statement that the organization’s members were “reeling from shock and horror.”

Here is Neil Gaiman’s response on Twitter.

(2) PINCH-HITTER. Congratulations to Abigail Nussbaum, who was invited to cover for the Guardian‘s regular SFF columnist, Lisa Tuttle. You can see her reviews here at the Guardian.

…I was a bit nervous about the experience—five books is a big commitment of time and energy, and readers of this blog know that I’m not accustomed to summing up my thoughts on anything in 200 words or less. But I ended up having a lot of fun, mainly because the books discussed were a varied bunch, several of which weren’t even on my radar before the column’s editor, Justine Jordan, suggested them.

The column discusses The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean, a twist on the vampire story that has more than a little of The Handmaid’s Tale in its DNA. The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay, a horror author whom I’ve been hearing good things about for years, so it was great to have an opportunity to sample his stuff. Extinction by Bradley Somer, part of the rising tide of climate fiction we’ve been seeing in recent years, but with a very interesting and original approach. The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings, a story about witches that combines a magical realist tone with pressing social issues. And The Moonday Letters by Emmi Itäranta, a whirlwind tour of the solar system reminiscent of Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 but with a slant all its own. I’ll have more to say about that last book in the near future, but all five are worth a look….

(3) OVERDRAWN AT THE BLUE CHECKMARK. From one of my favorite authors, Robert Crais:

(4) 2022 WORLDCON ADDS MONKEYPOX POLICY. In addition to its COVID-19 Policy, Chicon 8 now has issued a Monkeypox Policy. More details at the link.

On Aug. 1, 2022, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker declared Monkeypox a public health emergency in the state of Illinois, in order to rapidly mobilize all available public health resources to prevent and treat Monkeypox and ensure smooth coordination at all levels of government….

(5) CATHEDRALS OF BOOKS. With the help of DALL-E, Joe Stech is designing “Future Libraries”. He shares many examples in his latest Compelling Science Fiction Newsletter.

Many years ago I spent some time learning to paint and sketch, and got halfway decent (to the point where I could at least convey a little bit of what was in my head, albeit clumsily). The amount of time it took me to draw something halfway decent was fairly incredible, and after I stopped drawing regularly my meager skillset deteriorated. I still remember how it felt to finish a sketch though, and generative art models like DALL-E 2 have helped me recapture that joy with a much smaller time investment….

(6) DOINK-DOINK. Meanwhile, back on the courthouse steps in New York: “Frank Miller Sues Widow of Comics Magazine Editor for the Return of Artworks”.

The comic writer and artist Frank Miller is suing the widow and the estate of a comics magazine founder over two pieces of promotional art he created that she was trying to sell at auction. The art, which appeared on covers of David Anthony Kraft’s magazine Comics Interview in the 1980s, includes an early depiction of Batman and a female Robin — from the 1986 The Dark Knight Returns series — and is potentially a valuable collectible.

The lawsuit seeks the return of the Batman piece, which was used on the cover of Comics Interview No. 31 in 1986, as well as art depicting the title character of Miller’s 1983 Ronin series. He had sent both to Kraft for his use in the publication; the Ronin artwork was used as the cover of Comics Interview No. 2 in 1983. Miller contended in the court papers that he and Kraft agreed they were on loan, citing “custom and usage in the trade at the time,” and that he made repeated requests for their return….

(7) SEEKING FANHISTORIC PHOTOS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This year’s DeepSouthCon is working on a project to create a photo gallery of past winners of the Rebel and Phoenix Awards.

We are looking for contributions from anyone who may have such photos. Digital files are preferred, obviously. We’d rather not be responsible for receiving your one-of-a-kind print photo and getting it back to you in one piece. The mail and other delivery services are more than capable of ripping any given package to shreds.

The gold standard would be a photo of the person holding the award at time of presentation or shortly after. We’re also happy to take more contemporary photos taken months, days, years, or decades later. If no such photo is available, we’re also happy to take photos of the winners themselves, just the award, or one of each.

Mike Kennedy, Co-chair, DeepSouthCon 60

(8) ON THE SCALES. Cora Buhlert has a rundown on the creators and works on the latest Dragon Awards ballot: “The 2022 Dragon Award Finalists Look Really Good… With One Odd Exception”.

…Anyway, the finalists for the 2022 Dragon Awards were announced today and the ballot looks really good with only a single WTF? finalist (more on that later) and a lot of popular and well regarded works on the ballot. This confirms a trend that we’ve seen in the past three years, namely that the Dragon Awards are steadily moving towards the award for widely popular SFF works that they were initially conceived to be, as the voter base broadens and more people become aware of the award, nominate and vote for their favourites. It’s a far cry from the early years of the Dragon Awards, where the finalists were dominated by Sad and Rabid Puppies, avid self-promoters and Kindle Unlimited content mills with a few broadly popular books mixed in….

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

2006 [By Cat Eldridge.]ONCE THERE WAS A CHILD WHOSE FACE WAS LIKE THE NEW MOON SHINING on cypress trees and the feathers of waterbirds. She was a strange child, full of secrets. She would sit alone in the great Palace Garden on winter nights, pressing her hands into the snow and watching it melt under her heat. She wore a crown of garlic greens and wisteria; she drank from the silver fountains studded with lapis; she ate cold pears under a canopy of pines on rainy afternoons.” — First words of The Orphan’s Tales: in the Night Garden

There are works that I fall in love from the first words. Catherine Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden is one of those works. Well actually it was from the cover art by Michael Kaluta that I fell in love. 

I don’t remember if it came out before or after I had coffee with her in a coffeehouse in the east coast Portland where we both live. (I was married and living on the mainland. She was single and living on Peaks Island. I’m now single and still living on the mainland; she’s married and on Peaks as far I know with her first child. It was an interesting conversation.)

I do remember that she got an iMac that I was no longer using as a result of that meeting, one of the aquarium style ones. Blue I think. I’m sure you’ve read fiction that was written on it.

Now back to the books. It stunned me of the non-linear nature of them which was quire thrilling. Living  in a palace garden, a young girl keeps telling stories to a inquisitive prince: impossible feats and unknown-to-him histories of peoples long gone which weave through each other again and again and again, meeting only in the telling of her stories. Inked on her tattooed eyelids, each of these tales is a intriguing piece in the puzzle of the girl’s own lost history.

I can’t call either a novel in the traditional sense as they really aren’t. They’re something much more complex. What they are is Valente’s take off the 1001 nights but keep in mind that the 1001 nights stories weren’t connected to each other and these are, and so it is a spectacular undertaking of that concept, weaving stories within stories within stories myriad times over. It takes careful paying attention to catch all the connections. 

So what we have here is quite delightful and they are matched up very up by well by the artwork by Michael Kaluta. The cover art for both is by him so that gives you an ample idea of what he does on the inside though those are all black and white. There are hundreds of drawings within, each appropriate to the story you are reading. One of my favorite illustrations is in the prelude of a gaggle of geese. Simple but very cute.

They both won the Mythopoetic Award and the first an Otherwise Award.

I’ve spent many a Winter night reading these. They are wonderful and I really wish they’d been made into an audiobook as they’d be perfect that way. And they really, really do deserve for some specialty press like Subterranean to publish a hardcover edition of them, though I expect getting the rights to the illustrations from Random House could be difficult to say the least. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 12, 1881 Cecil B. DeMille. Yes, you think of him for such films as Cleopatra and The Ten Commandments, but he actually did some important work in our genre. When Worlds Collide and War of The Worlds were films which he executive produced. (Died 1959.)
  • Born August 12, 1894 Dick Calkins. He’s best remembered for being the first artist to draw the Buck Rogers comic strip. He also wrote scripts for the Buck Rogers radio program. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Complete Newspaper Dailies in eight volumes on Hermes Press collects these strips.  They’re one hundred and fifty dollars a volume. (Died 1962.)
  • Born August 12, 1929 John Bluthal. He was Von Neidel in The Mouse on the Moon which sounds silly and fun. He’s in Casino Royale as both a Casino Doorman and a MI5 Man. (Why pay the Union salaries?) He had roles in films best forgotten such as Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World. (Really. Don’t ask.) And he did play a blind beggar in The Return of the Pink Panther as well, and his last genre role was as Professor Pacoli in the beloved Fifth Element. Lest I forget, he voiced Commander Wilbur Zero, Jock Campbell and other characters in Fireball XL5. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 12, 1931 William Goldman. Writer of The Princess Bride which won a Hugo at Nolacon II and which he adapted for the film. He also wrote Magic, a deliciously chilling horror novel. He wrote the original Stepford Wives script as well as Steven King’s King’s Hearts in Atlantis and Misery as well. He was hired to adapt “Flowers for Algernon” as a screenplay but the story goes that Cliff Robertson intensely disliked his screenplay and it was discarded for one by Stirling Silliphant that became Charly. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 12, 1947 John Nathan-Turner. He produced Doctor Who from 1980 until it was cancelled in 1989. He finished as the longest-serving Doctor Who producer. He cast Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors. Other than Doctor Who, he had a single production credit, the K-9 and Company: A Girl’s Best Friend film which you can currently find on BritBox which definitely makes sense. He wrote two books, Doctor Who – The TARDIS Inside Out and Doctor Who: The Companions. He would die of a massive infection just a year before the announcement the show was being revived. The Universe often sucks.  (Died 2002.)
  • Born August 12, 1960 Brenda Cooper, 62. Best known for her YA Silver Ship series of which The Silver Ship and the Sea won an Endeavour Award, and her Edge of Dark novel won another such Award. She co-authored Building Harlequin’s Moon with Larry Niven, and a fair amount of short fiction with him. She has a lot of short fiction, much collected in Beyond the Waterfall Door: Stories of the High Hills and Cracking the Sky. She’s well-stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born August 12, 1966 Brian Evenson, 56. Ok, I consider him a horror writer (go ahead, disagree) and his Song for the Unraveling of the World collection did win a Shirley Jackson Award though it also won a World Fantasy Award as well. He received an International Horror Guild Award for his Wavering Knife collection. He even co-authored a novel with Rob Zombie, The Lords of Salem. Which definitely puts him on the horror side of things, doesn’t it?
  • Born August 12, 1992 Cara Jocelyn Delevingne, 30. Her first genre role was as a mermaid in Pan. She then shows up in James Gunn’s rather excellent Suicide Squad as June Moone / Enchantress, and in the (oh god why did they make this) Valerian and in the City of a Thousand Planets as Laureline. She was also in Carnival Row as Vignette Stonemoss. It was a fantasy noir series on Amazon Prime which sounds like it has the potential to be interesting.

(11) LEARN FROM AN EXPERT. Here is Cat Rambo’s advice about using social media. Thread starts here.

At the end of the list:

(12) THEY DID THE MONSTER CA$H. NPR is there when “General Mills brings back Franken Berry, Count Chocula, Boo Berry, Frute Brute”.

General Mills is releasing four limited-edition Monster Cereals boxes as part of a new collaboration with pop artist KAWS.

Franken Berry, Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Frute Brute are back for this year’s seasonal release. Fans are particularly excited about the appearance of Frute Brute, which is available for the first time since 2013.

…Franken Berry and Count Chocula now bear the bone-shaped ears seen in many of KAWS’ works. They also have KAWS’ signature Xed-out eyes, as do Boo Berry and Frute Brute. The boxes have been reimagined following the same design as the original boxes, with an illustration of each character and a photo of the cereal in a bowl, all set on a blank white background….

(13) BIGGER THAN SATURN. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  In today’s Science: “Starship will be the biggest rocket ever. Are space scientists ready to take advantage of it?”

Jennifer Heldmann, a planetary scien-tist at NASA’s Ames Research Centre…   wants to send another rocket to probe lunar ice—but not on a one-way trip. She has her eye on Starship, a behemoth under development by private rocket company SpaceX that would be the largest flying object the world has ever seen. With Starship, Heldmann could send 100 tons to the Moon, more than twice the lunar payload of the Saturn V, the work-horse of the Apollo missions.

(14) FAN-MADE FF TRAILER. “Fantastic Four: Krasinski, Blunt and Efron stun in jaw-dropping trailer” declares Fansided.

…This awesome fan-made concept trailer from Stryder HD imagines what a Fantastic Four movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be about, showcasing how Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm all become their heroic alter-egos….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Book of Boba Fett Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says in The Book of Boba Fett that Boba Fett is the worst crime boss in the galaxy.  But the writer explains he got bored and wrote a couple of episodes of The Mandalorian instead.  The producer gets excited when he hears Baby Yoda is in it, because Baby Yoda is “my little green money baby.”  But then we go back to Baba Fett and how he fights someone who fans of The Clone Wars will recognize while everyone else will be confused.  So the producer concludes, “at least we have some content.”

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 8/11/22 Pixel Scroller, Qu’est-Ce Que C’est?

(1) UGANDA BID FOR 2028 WORLDCON. Starburst Magazine’s Ed Fortune reports “Uganda To Bid For Worldcon 2028”.

…If successful, it will be the first time in the convention has ever been to the continent of Africa. The bid chair is Kabunga Micheal, an author, industrial artist and science-fiction fan. Other members of the bid committee includes the film director Anita Nannozi Sseruwagi.

The aim of the bid is to empower local artists and increase international awareness of Uganda’s contribution to world science fiction. The bid has not announced an exact location as yet, as it is very early days. Kampala has a plethora of possible sites….

The bid website is here: Kampcon 2028.

(2) DRAGON AWARDS 2022 BALLOT. The 2022 Dragon Awards Ballot was posted today. The public is invited to vote on the winners. You may register to receive a ballot until 11:59 (EDT) on the Friday of Dragon Con (September 2). Here’s the link — Dragon Con 2022 – Fan Awards Signup Form.

(3) DOWNTIME. Daily Science Fiction! told followers today they are going on hiatus. However, the site is scheduled to present stories into December.

Hi. Many of you have noted that we’ve been closed for story submissions for a bit. Many more of you (our most loyal supporters–Thank you!) noticed that today we just canceled automatic renewals for the DSF membership. This is because we have decided that, as we pass our 12th anniversary, we will go on a hiatus, either temporary or somewhat longer. The good news is that we have stories accepted and scheduled to present to you through the middle of December.

Thank you for reading and for your support through more than a dozen years of fun and stories.

(4) AWARD JUDGES. The Aurealis Awards 2022 Judging Panels have been announced – see the names at the link.

We are very pleased to welcome our 2022 Aurealis Awards judging panels. We had a massive response to our call out this year, and are delighted to welcome both returning and new panelists to the team. All our judges are volunteers and we are extremely grateful for their hard work and professionalism throughout the process. The Awards would not exist without them!

(5) THE WAY HOME WAS THROUGH THE COURTHOUSE. “Peter Beagle, Author of ‘The Last Unicorn,’ Is Back In Control” says the New York Times in a profile.

…After a lifetime writing whimsical stories and struggling to cover his bills, Beagle lost control of his intellectual property to his manager, Connor Freff Cochran, who also controlled his finances, and later claimed to friends and family that Beagle had dementia.

Now, after a lengthy court battle in which he accused Cochran of financial elder abuse, Beagle has the rights to his work back, and is making the most of it: A new edition of “The Last Unicorn” came out in July, a sequel called “The Way Home” is scheduled for publication next year, and he has another novel out on submission to his publisher.

“A line I wrote in ‘The Last Unicorn’ when I was in my early twenties,” Beagle said, turned out to be as prescient, for better and worse, as anything he’s written since. “‘Mortals, as you may have noticed, take what they can get.’”

Beagle, 83, has a mischievous sense of humor, and when he speaks, it sounds like he’s reading a play on a 1940s radio program, his full, rumbling voice spooling his stories and delivering the punchline just so.

“I know I’m a good story teller,” he said, “which makes my life sound more interesting than it actually is.”…

(6) RESISTANCE THROUGH CROWDFUNDING. “Residents raise almost $100,000 for Michigan library defunded over LGBTQ books” according to NBC News.

Residents of a small town in western Michigan helped raise almost $100,000 for their local library after it was defunded over the inclusion of LGBTQ books.   

Primary voters in Jamestown Township, a community 20 miles east of Lake Michigan, rejected a proposal last week to renew tax funds to support the Patmos Library in nearby Hudsonville that serves Jamestown and the surrounding area. The rejection, which passed with nearly two-thirds voter approval, eliminates 84% of the public library’s annual budget, or $245,000….

Two days after the vote, Jesse Dillman, a Jamestown resident and father of two, launched an online fundraiser to help raise the $245,000 to keep the library open. 

“I am very passionate about this, and I have people that are behind me to do this,” he said in an interview. “I think I have to do it now, because the iron is hot. If this is going to happen, it’s going to happen now.” 

As of Thursday morning, approximately 1,800 people had contributed more than $90,000. While many of those donors are local, people from as far away as Australia have contributed, Dillman said.

(7) DOES THE ORVILLE HAVE A FUTURE? “Seth MacFarlane has ‘no idea’ if The Orville will return” reports Winter Is Coming.

Last week marked the season 3 finale of The Orville, and what a run it has been. After two seasons on FX, the show made the jump to Hulu for its third season, where it flourished. Subtitled The Orville: New Horizons, season 3 of the comedic science fiction drama was not only better than its previous seasons by leagues, but also one of the most polished shows on TV.

But as of this writing, the fate of The Orville is still up in the air. Creator, executive producer, and star Seth MacFarlane (Captain Ed Mercer) spoke at length with Syfy Wire and gave a bit more insight into the state of the show and his approach to crafting its third season finale, which was intentionally designed to be satisfying for fans in case The Orville wasn’t renewed for season 4. The title — “Future Unknown” — is a nod to this. “You do want to continue to expand the world and, in a perfect scenario, tease what’s to come. But we just don’t know what’s to come. We just haven’t gotten a firm answer,” MacFarlane said.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1989 [By Cat Eldridge.] Yes, I’m a big fan of Bradbury with my favorite works being The Illustrated Man and Something This Way Wicked Comes (now that’s horror done properly), but I really do like much of his short fiction as well. (Yes, I know The Illustrated Man is really short stories.) And that is how we come to Ray Bradbury Theatre’s  “A Sound of Thunder” which aired for the first time thirty-three years ago on this evening.

It was adapted, of course, from “A Sound of Thunder” which was first published in Collier’s in the June 28, 1952, issue and published again in The Golden Apples of the Sun collection by Doubleday a year later. The Golden Apples of the Sun collection is available from the usual suspects. Interestingly Hard Case has Killer, Come Back to Me: The Crime Stories of Ray Bradbury which they released just two years ago. Ymmmm!

SPOILER ALERT (JUST IN CASE SOMEONE HAS READ OR SEEN IT) 

Two time travelers paid a hefty fee to Time Safari Inc. to go hunting dinosaurs who would’ve died in a few minutes. This means they don’t alter history at all. But they make a horrible, time stream altering mistake that they were told never, ever to make: don’t get off the marked path. One does and kills a a butterfly and changes the stream forever.  

Is Bradbury the origin of the oft told meteorological story about a butterfly flapping it’s wings in China altering weather conditions around the world?  

END SPOILER ALERT (WHO OF YOU COULD NOT HAVE SEEN IT?)

Unlike the latter film with Ben Kingsley which of course was padded out and critics like Roger Ebert saying that it was really bad and yes it gets a eighteen percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, I thought it did a more than just credible job of presenting Bradbury’s story. Given the low budget nature of the series, it carried off the SFX rather well. But then I thought the entire series was quite excellent.

The major streaming services carrying it are Amazon and Peacock. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 11, 1902 Jack Binder. Thrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, where the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity” is known to happen. In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics. During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.)
  • Born August 11, 1932 Chester Anderson. New Wave novelist and poet. He wrote The Butterfly Kid, the first part of the Greenwich Village trilogy. It was nominated for a Hugo Award at BayCon. He wrote one other genre novel, Ten Years to Doomsday, with Michael Kurland. Not even genre adjacent, but he edited a few issues Crawdaddy! in the late Sixties. (Died 1991.)
  • Born August 11, 1944 Ian McDiarmid, 78. Star Wars film franchise including an uncredited appearance in The Empire Strikes Back, other genre appearances in DragonslayerThe Awakening (a mummies horror film with Charlton Heston), The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles series and reprising his SW role in the animated Star Wars Rebels series.
  • Born August 11, 1959 Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take on the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid Eighties. Bone Music is his only work available from the usual suspects. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 11, 1961 Susan M. Garrett. She was a well-known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom given its short longevity.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 11, 1962 Brian Azzarello, 60. Comic book writer. First known crime series 100 Bullets, published by Vertigo. Writer of DC’s relaunched Wonder Woman series several years back. One of the writers in the Before Watchmen limited series. Co-writer with Frank Miller of the sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
  • Born August 11, 1964 Jim Lee, 58. Korean American comic-book artist, writer, editor, and publisher. Co-founder of Images Comics, now senior management at DC though he started at Marvel. Known for work on Uncanny X-MenPunisherBatmanSuperman and WildC.A.T.s.
  • Born August 11, 1965 Viola Davis, 57. Amanda ‘The Wall’ Waller in the first Suicide Squad film, and back again in The Suicide Squad; also appeared in The Andromeda Strain miniseries (2008), Threshold and Century City series, and the Solaris film.
  • Born August 11, 1976 Will Friedle, 46. Largely known as an actor with extensive genre voice work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the Future, Peter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go! to name but a few of his roles.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side shows where prelates go when they’re not looking at the Sistine Ceiling.

(11) SUPERHERO CREATOR. The BBC’s Outlook program reports on an artist who is “Creating a Puerto Rican superhero to save the world” at BBC Sounds.

Puerto Rican Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez grew up in the Bronx, New York. By the time he was 18 years old he’d lived in 22 different places, but one constant in his life was his love of comic books. Edgardo was a natural artist and storyteller and even at primary school he would write stories for the other children. He is now a highly successful graphic novelist and has created a series based on a female Puerto Rican superhero called La Borinqueña. Her mission? To fight for social justice and save the world from climate change. 

(12) CENSORING AN ANTI-CENSORSHIP ICON. In the summer “Banned Books” issue of Reason​, “’Fahrenheit 451′ Was Once Sanitized for Public Schools” discusses the school edition of Fahrenheit 451.

…Starting in 1967, publisher Ballantine Books produced a second version of the text for consumption by high schoolers, omitting supposedly offensive curse words and a reference to a drunk. This version became known as the “Bal-Hi” edition, for Ballantine High School, and for several years it was available concurrently with the original text. In 1973, Ballantine began publishing only the Bal-Hi version, and it continued doing so until Bradbury, who had not consented to the publication change, complained in 1979….

(13) ESCAPE THE PODIUM. Ted Gioia shares “My 10 Rules for Public Speaking” and most of them make a lot of sense. This one is not quite as intuitive to me as the others, so I’m repeating it here to help keep it in mind:

(4) Remember That the Audience Always Wants You to Succeed:

I’ve never met anyone who went to an event hoping to be bored and disappointed. The audience really, really wants you to succeed, and if you give them even the slightest chance at having a good time, they will cheer you on. 

Just understanding this takes away much of the fear of public speaking. Even better, this desire for success is contagious—and in both directions: When you radiate enjoyment, the audience feels it too. When the audience is having a good time, you do as well.

That’s a virtuous circle, and you want you get into it as soon as possible. You should try to find a way of signalling within your first minute in front of an audience that everyone will have a good time today. Often you will even see the relief on the faces of people in the crowd in that moment when they realize that your talk won’t be a kind of punishment or chastisement. They will be grateful—and you will be too.

(14) S. KOREAN MOON PROBE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Reported in this week’s Nature journal, by this time next week, South Korea’s first lunar probe will be on its way to the Moon. The probe, Danuri, which means ‘enjoy the Moon’, should arrive at its destination by mid-December and orbit for a year…  Scientists in South Korea say the mission will pave the way for the country’s more ambitious plans to land on the Moon by 2030. Success for Danuri will secure future planetary exploration. “South Korea set for first Moon mission”.

(15) TIME TO CONSIDER HUMAN EXTINCTION. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has posted “Climate Endgame: Exploring catastrophic climate change scenarios”.

Scientists are usually rather measured in their proclamations even if they do think outside of the box. However, when it comes to climate change, the scientific community has not considered the ultra-extreme situation, a possible extinction level threat.

Now, https://www.pnas.org/doi/epdf/10.1073/pnas.2108146119  research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) calls for the need to explore catastrophic climate scenarios. The proposed agenda covers four main questions: 1) What is the potential for climate change to drive mass extinction events? 2) What are the mechanisms that could result in human mass mortality and morbidity? 3)What are human societies’ vulnerabilities to climate-triggered risk cascades, such as from conflict, political instability, and systemic financial risk? 4) How can these multiple strands of evidence—together with other global dangers—be usefully synthesized into an“integrated catastrophe assessment”? It is time for the scientific community to grapple with the challenge of better understanding catastrophic climate change…

(16) MORE MORTAL. Warner Bros. dropped the trailer for Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Andrew Porter.] “Goldilocks (Sci-Fi Short Film by Blake Simon)” on YouTube.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Bill, Andrew (not Werdna), SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day John A Arkansawyer.]

2022 Dragon Awards Ballot

The 2022 Dragon Awards Ballot was published on August 11. Registered voters should expect to receive notice by email.

To be eligible for the 2022 Dragon Awards the book, comic, game, movie, must have been released between July 1, 2021, and the close of the eligibility period, June 30, 2022, which accounts for the mix of nominees from last year and this year.

Most categories have six nominees, but Best Science Fiction Novel and Best Media Tie-In have only five, and Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series has seven.

Recipients of the award will be announced on Sunday, September 4, 2022 at Dragon Con.

1. Best Science Fiction Novel

  • Leviathan Falls by James S.A. Corey
  • The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
  • Goliath: A Novel by Tochi Onyebuchi
  • You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo
  • Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

2. Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

  • Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham
  • Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James
  • Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
  • Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
  • Book of Night by Holly Black
  • Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee

3. Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel

  • Gallant by V.E. Schwab
  • Akata Woman by Nnedi Okorafor
  • A Dark and Starless Forest by Sarah Hollowell
  • A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger
  • Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko
  • Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

4. Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

  • The Shattered Skies by John Birmingham
  • A Call to Insurrection by David Weber, Timothy Zahn, Thomas Pope
  • Citadel by Marko Kloos
  • Backyard Starship by J.N. Chaney, Terry Maggert
  • Against All Odds by Jeffery H. Haskell
  • Resolute by Jack Campbell

5. Best Alternate History Novel

  • She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
  • Invisible Sun by Charles Stross
  • The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley by Mercedes Lackey
  • When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill
  • The King’s Daughter by Vonda N. McIntyre
  • 1637: Dr. Gribbleflotz and the Soul of Stoner by Kerryn Offord, Rick Boatright

6. Best Media Tie-In Novel

  • Star Wars: The Fallen Star by Claudia Gray
  • Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil by Timothy Zahn
  • Star Trek: Coda: Oblivion’s Gate by David Mack
  • Star Trek: Picard: Rogue Elements by John Jackson Miller
  • Halo: Divine Wind by Troy Denning

7. Best Horror Novel

  • The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix
  • The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig
  • The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling
  • My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
  • Hide by Kiersten White
  • Revelator by Daryl Gregory

8. Best Comic Book

  • Devil’s Reign by Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto
  • King Conan by Jason Aaron, Mahmud Asrar
  • Immortal X-Men by Kieron Gillen, Mark Brooks
  • Step by Bloody Step by Simon Spurrier, Matías Bergara
  • Twig by Skottie Young, Kyle Strahm
  • Nightwing by Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo

9. Best Graphic Novel

  • Geiger by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank
  • Bitter Root Volume 3 by David F. Walker, Chuck Brown, Sanford Greene, Sofie Dodgson
  • Dune: House Atreides Volume 2 by Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, Dev Pramanik
  • Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Phil Jimenez
  • Monstress, Volume 6: The Vow by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda
  • Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

10. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series

  • Stranger Things, Netflix
  • The Expanse, Amazon
  • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Paramount+
  • Wheel of Time, Amazon
  • For All Mankind, Apple TV+
  • Halo, Paramount+
  • The Boys, Amazon

11. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

  • Dune by Denis Villeneuve
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home by Jon Watts
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness by Sam Raimi
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife by Jason Reitman
  • The Adam Project by Shawn Levy
  • Free Guy by Shawn Levy

12. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game

  • Elden Ring, Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Metroid Dread, Nintendo
  • Destiny 2: The Witch Queen, Bungie
  • Age of Empires IV, Xbox Game Studios
  • Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters, Frontier Foundry
  • Lost Ark, Amazon Games

13. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game

  • Diablo Immortal, Blizzard
  • Pokémon UNITE, The Pokémon Company
  • Baba Is You, Hempuli
  • Townscaper, Oskar Stålberg
  • Alien: Isolation, Sega
  • World of Demons, PlatinumGames

14. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

  • Ark Nova, Capstone Games
  • Cascadia, Alderac Entertainment Group
  • Return to Dark Tower, Restoration Games
  • 7 Wonders Architects, Asmodee
  • Alien: Fate of the Nostromo, Ravensburger
  • Star Wars Outer Rim: Unfinished Business, Fantasy Flight Games

15. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game

  • The One Ring, Second Edition, Free League Publishing
  • Thirsty Sword Lesbians, Evil Hat Productions
  • Root: The RPG, Magpie Games
  • Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, Wizards of the Coast
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – Revised Core Set, Fantasy Flight Games
  • Magic: The Gathering, Innistrad: Crimson Vow, Wizards of the Coast

What Are You Nominating for the Dragon Awards?

Dragon Awards trophies from 2016. Photo by Fran Wilde.

Will voters become complacent after last year’s progress toward prying Puppy paws loose from the Dragon Awards?

In 2021 the seven novel categories on the ballot were loaded with books fans read and talked about. Wouldn’t it be great to keep it that way?

The nomination deadline is fast approaching — July 19, 2022. Make your nominations here (one per category.)

ELIGIBILITY. Nominees should be first released between 7/1/2021 and 6/30/2022. The eligibility period means, among other things, that you can’t just plug in Hugo finalists, because four of the six came out before July 1: A Desolation Called Peace, by Arkady Martine, Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir, A Master of Djinn, by P. Djèlí Clark were Dragon Awards finalists last year, while The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, by Becky Chambers was also published during the 2021 eligibility period.

Only two of the 2022 Hugo finalists were published in the current eligibility period, Light From Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki and She Who Became the Sun, by Shelley Parker-Chan.

LAST YEAR’S BALLOT. As a reminder, here’s what made the Dragon Award ballot in 2021, with the winners in bold.

1. BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
  • Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow
  • Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
  • The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Machine by Elizabeth Bear
  • A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

2. BEST FANTASY NOVEL (INCLUDING PARANORMAL)

  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
  • Battle Ground by Jim Butcher
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
  • Dead Lies Dreaming by Charles Stross
  • Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
  • Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

3. BEST YOUNG ADULT / MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL

  • Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
  • A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
  • The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke
  • The Tinderbox: Soldier of Indira by Lou Diamond Phillips
  • A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer
  • A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

4. BEST MILITARY SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY NOVEL

  • Gun Runner by Larry Correia, John D. Brown
  • Demon in White by Christopher Ruocchio
  • Fleet Elements by Walter Jon Williams
  • Sentenced to War by J.N. Chaney, Jonathan Brazee
  • Direct Fire by Rick Partlow
  • Orders of Battle by Marko Kloos

5. BEST ALTERNATE HISTORY NOVEL

  • The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Daggers in Darkness by S.M. Stirling
  • Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis
  • The Russian Cage by Charlaine Harris
  • A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark
  • 1637: No Peace Beyond The Line by Eric Flint, Charles Gannon

    6. BEST MEDIA TIE-IN NOVEL
  • MacGyver: Meltdown by Eric Kelley, Lee Zlotoff
  • Firefly: Generations by Tim Lebbon
  • Shadows Rising World of Warcraft: Shadowlands by Madeleine Roux
  • Star Wars: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule
  • Penitent by Dan Abnett
  • Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy by Timothy Zahn

    7. BEST HORROR NOVEL
  • The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
  • True Story: A Novel by Kate Reed Petty
  • The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher
  • Synchronicity by Michaelbrent Collings
  • The Taxidermist’s Lover by Polly Hall
  • Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

Nominations Open for 2022 Dragon Awards

The Dragon Awards website has reset and is now taking nominations for the 2022 awards.

I tested the site and was informed my nomination had been accepted —

The update was done within the past six weeks, not as soon after Dragon Con as in 2021 when it was ready by November 1.

Eligible works are those first released between 7/1/2021 and 6/30/2022.

The deadline to make nominations is July 19, 2022. The initial batch of final ballots will be released in early August 2022.

Dragon Con says they will attempt to notify all nominees by August 2, 2021.

2021 Dragon Award trophies. Photo by Sean CW Korsgaard.

Goodreads Ratings of the 2021 Dragon Award Ballot

2021 Dragon Award trophies. Photo by Sean CW Korsgaard.

The Dragon Awards winners were presented for the sixth time in September 2021. With the award still in its early years, people are continuing to refine their ideas about what it means to win one.

Three main things are known about the award.

First, there is open popular online voting – no convention membership required. A voter must register their name and “primary email address” to participate. Each voter is limited to one nomination per award category, and can vote for only one work per category in the final round. However, the process is not transparent, neither nominating nor final voting statistics have ever been released (apart from the total votes cast).

Second, the Dragon Award instructions encourage writers to campaign (i.e., “it is perfectly acceptable for you to encourage your fans to vote for you”).

Third, the winners get a spectacularly beautiful trophy.

BUT DOES VOTING COUNT? The Dragon Awards are publicized foremost as a people’s choice award. Ironically, given the early watch for signs of vote manipulation through logrolling (you vote for me, I vote for you) or duplicate voting by people controlling multiple email addresses, there are also skeptics who have studied the Dragon Awards rules and questioned whether voting genuinely determines who receives the awards.

Camestros Felapton is among the skeptics: “There is a mismatch between the marketing of the award as a popular vote and the actual rules which give the organisers the capacity to determine the winner how they wish.”

The rules formerly were linked from the voter registration page but are no longer visible anywhere on the Dragon Awards site. An online archive copy from 2016 showed they were obligated to make up the final ballot from “the most popular entries” but that the “selection of winners shall be made by Dragon Con in its sole discretion” —

ONLINE VOTING: One (1) vote in each category is allowed per person. The most popular Entries, as determined by number of nomination submissions during the Nomination Period, will be featured on the Website between 9:00 A.M. ET on August 2, 2016 and 11:59 P.M. ET on September 1, 2016 (hereinafter, “Voting Period”). Voting shall occur in a manner as determined by DRAGON CON.

… SELECTION OF WINNERS: All decisions regarding the voting process and selection of winners shall be made by DRAGON CON in its sole discretion, shall be final, and shall not be subject to challenge or appeal…

In contrast, a statement by the administrators in 2017 that they were looking into changes asked for by authors (a controversy discussed below) affirmed that any changes made would not alter the character of the award: “It will still be the ‘fan’s choice’ award, with fans nominating the works and fans voting on the winners. …Fans still have the final say.”

This article, in making its assessment of what it means to be voted a Dragon Award, assumes that fans do indeed have the final say for the simple reason that analyzing the character of the Dragon Awards is only interesting if we believe the nominees and winners are produced by a large group dynamic, and not a small-group process like juried awards – does anybody want more articles like those explaining the literary leanings of Clarke Award jurors? — or the arbitrary choices of corporate management.

DRUMMING UP SUPPORT. The Dragon Award further distinguishes itself from the Hugos with a Candidate FAQ that tells creators “it is perfectly acceptable for you to encourage your fans to vote for you.” At least, in previous years it was part of the Hugo voting culture to shame anyone who engaged in campaigning for a nomination, marking this statement as another way to separate the Dragons from the Hugos while also leveraging more participation.

Of course, every new year now arrives with a blizzard of award eligibility statements. That particular gate has been smashed for all awards. Rounding up support from fans and fellow writers to get shortlisted for various awards is commonplace. But the Dragons are unique in embracing the practice.

MAKING THE DRAGON BALLOT. The first set of Dragon Awards given in 2016 are remembered for having been captured by Sad Puppies John C. Wright, Larry Correia, Brian Niemeier, and other conservative writers including David Weber, and Nick Cole.

The second set of nominees in 2017 was heavy on Puppies, too, but that was overshadowed by the authors who withdrew their books from contention after the ballot was announced (N.K. Jemisin, Alison Littlewood, — and initially John Scalzi, though he soon reversed his decision).

However, the final ballot for the third set of awards in 2018 had something in common with “that curious incident of the dog in the night-time.” Although both Vox Day and Jon Del Arroz had put out Dragon Awards slates, none of the books they pushed made the ballot. This happened without any public comment from the administrators, but still skeptics wondered if it was a symptom of actions taken behind the scenes under authority of the posted rules.

In 2019 the trend to broader representation continued with more finalists lining up with what fans and critics had pointed to as the best books of the year. Yet the ultimate Dragon-winning Best Science Fiction Novel was not one of the books by Becky Chambers, James S.A. Corey, Dave Hutchinson, Arkady Martine, or Kim Stanley Robinson — the winner was the unheralded novel by Brad Torgersen, lead dog of Sad Puppies 3 in 2015. Several other categories were won by Larry Correia, David Weber, and S.M. Stirling.

By contrast, in 2020 and 2021 not only was the ballot increasingly filled by widely-celebrated titles, the actual winners likewise were recognizably popular writers, such as John Scalzi, Andy Weir and T. Kingfisher (a result several Puppies sourly blamed on Covid.)

The trend away from “clique picks” and toward books that more readers are following is also evident in the declining number of finalists that have microscopic totals of Goodreads ratings from readers. Here’s a year-by-year summary of the Dragon Award book finalists with fewer than 100 ratings as of the time the ballot came out:

  • 2017 – 24
  • 2018 – 11
  • 2019 – 8
  • 2021 – 3

(I didn’t research the numbers in 2020.)

What about the most recent year, 2021? These ratings totals were compiled on September 9 – probably not radically different from what they were when the Dragon Awards nominations closed on July 19.

Winners in BOLDFACE.

1. BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

RATINGSTITLE
105,306Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (5/21)
93,436Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline (11/20)
17,749Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (10/20)
8,473A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine (3/21)
7,339The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson (10/20)
1,457Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow (10/20)
1,297Machine by Elizabeth Bear (10/20)

2. BEST FANTASY NOVEL (INCLUDING PARANORMAL)

RATINGSTITLE
357,037The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (10/20)
74,281Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (9/20)
63,771Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson (11/20)
31,656Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (10/20)
30,169Battle Ground by Jim Butcher (9/20)
1,768Dead Lies Dreaming by Charles Stross (10/20)

3. BEST YOUNG ADULT / MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL

RATINGSTITLE
54,987A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (9/20)
9,794A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher (7/20)
7,788Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger (8/20)
1,435The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke (9/20)
1,231A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer (7/20)
392The Tinderbox: Soldier of Indira by Lou Diamond Phillips (10/20)

4. BEST MILITARY SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY NOVEL

RATINGSTITLE
3,307Orders of Battle by Marko Kloos (12/20)
1,321Sentenced to War by J.N. Chaney, Jonathan Brazee (2/21)
1,125Direct Fire by Rick Partlow (7/20)
797Demon in White by Christopher Ruocchio (7/20)
398Fleet Elements by Walter Jon Williams (12/20)
355Gun Runner by Larry Correia, John D. Brown (2/21)

5. BEST ALTERNATE HISTORY NOVEL

RATINGSTITLE
14,686Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis (7/20)
4,998The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal (7/20)
4,408A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (5/21)
3,613The Russian Cage by Charlaine Harris (2/21)
2481637: No Peace Beyond The Line by Eric Flint, Charles Gannon (11/20)
79Daggers in Darkness by S.M. Stirling (3/21)

6. BEST MEDIA TIE-IN NOVEL

RATINGSTITLE
11,886Star Wars: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule (1/21)
6,614Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy by Timothy Zahn (9/20)
1,854Shadows Rising World of Warcraft: Shadowlands by Madeleine Roux (7/20)
778Firefly: Generations by Tim Lebbon (10/20)
503Penitent by Dan Abnett (3/21)
11MacGyver: Meltdown by Eric Kelley, Lee Zlotoff (11/20)

7. BEST HORROR NOVEL

RATINGSTITLE
31,794The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (7/20)
14,352Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay (7/20)
9,554The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher (10/20)
4,171True Story: A Novel by Kate Reed Petty (8/20)
109Synchronicity by Michaelbrent Collings (5/21)
71The Taxidermist’s Lover by Polly Hall (12/20)

2021 OBSERVATIONS. There is only one category in which the winner also had the highest number of Goodreads ratings, which is Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary.

There also is one category where the winner had the dead last number of Goodreads ratings, which is Gun Runner by Larry Correia and John D. Brown.

GETTING ON THE BALLOT. When you look at the wildly disparate numbers of ratings of books that only have in common that they made the Dragon Awards final ballot, although it isn’t hard to imagine why books that have many Goodreads ratings would turn out to be finalists it is not so easy to explain how books with comparatively few ratings did it.

The first thought that might come to mind is “Wow, some of these writers must be awfully effective at rounding up votes!” Or have we just been conditioned by the hype that so many people are voting that the number would sound good rolling off the tongue of Carl Sagan? (Remember “billions and billions”?)

If we stop being dazzled by that illusion, we can also consider a second possibility — that there are finalists with low numbers of Goodreads ratings because it only takes a trivial number of votes to get on the bottom rungs of the ballot.

The Dragon Awards don’t release their voting statistics, however, it may help envision this possibility by looking at the performance of Hugo Awards nominees. (Note: I haven’t forgotten that the Hugo finalists are now determined by EPH scores, but those don’t enter into this discussion of participation levels.) From the past five years in the Hugo’s Best Novel category, here are (1) the nominating votes received by the lowest finalist, and (2) the number received by the last title on the longlist (usually 15th place).

HUGOS

  • 2021 132 / TBA
    • 2020 195 / 54
    • 2019 203 / 60
    • 2018 128 / 81
    • 2017  166 / 85

When you reflect on the dropoff from the lowest Hugo finalist to fifteenth place (or in 2020 sixteenth place, because one finalist withdrew), then consider that the Dragon Awards collectively had 43 books on the 2021 ballot, it would not be surprising if the books at the end of the Dragon’s long tail also had a small number of supporters.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WIN THE DRAGON AWARD? Many awards can be regarded as popularity contests, even those where voting is restricted to guild members, but unlike the Dragon Awards, the Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker, and Locus Awards voters have weeks or months to read and vote for their favorite finalists. The implication is that voters are making an informed choice among the competitors.

In 2021 the Dragon Award ballot was distributed on August 11 and closed September 4 – a span of 24 days. With 43 finalists in seven categories for text novels there’s no expectation that people will read and compare the finalists.

The timing and mechanics of Dragon Awards final voting also emphasize rallying around one favorite work in a category, given that a person can only vote for one finalist in each category. The winner needs to receive a plurality of the votes – it doesn’t need to be the favorite of a majority.  (Which resembles how the Hugos worked in the early Sixties.)

That paves the way to buy the theory that the Dragon Awards represent a competition between the most enthusiastic fan bases. But Goodreads ratings are not a consistent predictor of what is going to show up on the final ballot or win. Neither have slate-makers (JDA, Vox Day, even Declan Finn) been able to dictate the ballot. What do you think is the key to understanding who wins this award?