(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]
Con reports: Arthur Liu (part 2)
Arthur’s con crud is subsiding, and he was able to post the second (of a projected four) part of his con report. This one covers the setup ahead of the event. Disclosure: I am also mentioned in this part. Via Google Translate, with minor manual edits:
…in late September (around the 21st), the organizing committee terminated the sale of offline tickets without any notice. The financial problems of fan groups have already been mentioned in the previous article. Among them, members’ travel expenses and conference attendance expenses are equally expensive. Affected by this, as the situation at the booths has not progressed, members of the Tsinghua University Fantasy Association were still waiting and watching, planning to buy tickets after the situation settled down a bit. However, this unexpected situation caused almost all members who were expected to participate in the exhibition to be wiped out. After many inquiries, the volunteers said that there would be work permits, but the number could not guarantee that all people would be covered. This left the fan booth’s participation in the exhibition in a state of limbo until the end of the conference…
Man-made landscapes related to the science fiction conference are everywhere along the way. As I approached the venue, I saw the huge contrast in the street scenes in different areas of Pidu District (outside the main city, there are many open spaces and wastelands, new buildings and abandoned buildings), which also made me realize the importance of the science fiction conference. For the local government, the potential economic significance of hosting this conference is significant…
The security check area was crowded with people, and each gate had a large number of security guards. The inspection process was probably the most thorough in my life ever. Part of our luggage was examined, every page was taken out and checked. After delaying for a while, we arrived inside the venue. The smell of air freshener was very strong and there was also a strong pungent smell…
After boarding the train, [con liaison] L said that a special car had been arranged to pick us up, but it was no longer needed. On the way, I learned from [con liaison] LY that when the pen club I applied for was handed over within the volunteers, the demand for personnel control (15 people) was not handed over. Now there was no guarantee that this demand would be met, but she promised to report it to the above… By this time, both of us were exhausted and had reached the limit of emotional management.
At 19:03, we finally arrived at Wyndham, and [con liaison] L met us in the lobby. Before checking in, we went to the check-in office to get our guest badges, and then we were told that the conference manual had not been produced yet, nor had the attendant badges. Historically, some science fiction fans will start from a certain point and feel that the entire community is not worthy and is no longer worth bothering with. This was probably that moment for me. In the guest room, I got very angry with [con liaison] L – actually it was not his own fault, so I apologized to him – and explained several requirements: the member’s ID, as well as the participation manual and traffic control map, the next day. Given that the con was about to begin, the last two were necessities for participating in the con. They had to exist.
In the second image, the data visualization shown on the TV on the right can be found here (note; the UI is Chinese only).
Request for submissions to Zero Gravity
Dear friends, if you write about the memories of the Chengdu WorldCon, welcome to send me the English version and pictures. Chinese Fanzine Zero Gravity newspaper is organizing the Chengdu WorldCon story, we will organize human translation.
The email is: [email protected]
CCTV news report on the Worldcon
I doubt many will sit all the way through this untranslated 21 minute CCTV news item from Monday 23rd about the Worldcon, but I include it just in case. Notable faces in the early part of the video include (in order of first appearance):
- RiverFlow and Ling Shizhen
- Ben Yalow
- Cixin Liu
- Enzhe Zhao
- Hai Ya
Later on, from around 16:00, we also see:
- Liang Xiaolan (Honorary Co-Chair of the con)
- Dave McCarty
The core of the piece is a videolink interview with Best Novelette winner Hai Ya from around 04:00 to 12:45.
There’s then more a bit more reportage of the con – mostly the ceremonies – followed by coverage of the Galaxy Award ceremony that took place over in the Sheraton, before going back to the con.
From 16:30 there’s a telephone interview with (Hugo finalist, SF World editor, concom member) Yao Haijun, during which Nicholas Whyte pops up (again 😉 in footage at around 19:23, followed shortly thereafter by James Bryant.
Hai Ya responds to criticism of his work following his Hugo win
SF Light Year posted a brief Q&A with Hai Ya on Wednesday 25th, following the negative reaction in some quarters to his Hugo win, as covered in Tuesday’s Scroll. Here’s an extract, via Google Translate:
My current mentality is very stable and I have a clear understanding of the award and myself. As for the work, I never thought it was very elegant or something that people expected of me. I could only present what I thought was a better state within the scope of my abilities. Let the readers judge. There will definitely be criticism and harshness. It is actually difficult to define how much of this is objective, but popular novels must accept this unfair scrutiny, and I have the consciousness to accept it.
Compared with the position of a writer, I prefer to define myself as a science fiction fan. I agree with some of your ideas. The science fiction circle should be more diverse. The increase in science fiction fan activities and comments is a sign that the ecosystem is getting healthier
A couple of days later, on Thursday 26th, Hai Ya made a brief statement on Weibo. Via Google Translate (which seems to be slightly more readable than the Alibaba Cloud rendition available within Weibo, but still far from flawless):
After nearly a week of busy work, things are gradually sorting out, thank God. What I want to express has basically been made clear. I am personally neither qualified nor interested in doing too much value output. Writing science fiction has always been a very personal matter for me, and I have become more and more cautious about various activities and invitations, leaving them to the editor. Happily, despite all the criticism, there were few personal attacks. Friends who care about me, please rest assured. As the saying goes, if you want to wear a crown, you must bear its weight. What I got is not a crown, and the pressure I receive is not that great. Currently I’m in good condition.
There’s at least one hater in the comments.
Weibo SF promo image
(Via SF Light Year) The Weibo app had a splash page at launch promoting “The New Power of Science Fiction”, showing the avatars of the three Chinese Hugo winners, and namechecking the Hugos and Hai Ya’s Best Novelette win. A further post shows the page shown if you clicked on the button, you would get a list of notable SF people’s accounts, including previous Hugo winner Hao Jingfang, and some of this year’s finalists Bo Jiang, Regina Kanyu Wang, Lu Ban and Yao Haijun.
Linking to the same list, RiverFlow reported that his number of followers had jumped from around 1,100 to 38 thousand.
Bits and pieces from Xiaohongshu
The following are a handful of posts that I’d never gotten round to submitting before now.
- One of the con’s translators posted a few photos of, and comments on the work he’d done
- A selection of ribbons
- A video of a book of ribbons
- A few photos from the Hugo Night party – I think the poster was involved in the Kormo/Kemeng mascot, or some other marketing promotion stuff along those lines
- This 14 minute video of the table area features, amongst several others, a rep from the Seattle 2025 at 09:45, followed by a rep from the Uganda 2028 bid. Liza Groen-Trombi at the Locus table appears at 12:40.
(2) A SNAPSHOT FROM WFC. Greg Ketter of DreamHaven Books and Comics feels disrespected. For good reason.
(3) AGGRESSIVE FAKES. Victoria Strauss exposes the “Imposter Syndrome: The Rise of Impersonation Scams” at Writer Unboxed.
…When I first started discovering these AS knockoffs (here’s my first blog post about them), they were mostly just selling Author Solutions-style publishing and marketing packages–although exponentially more overpriced and deceptively advertised than the original, with terrible customer service and the books and other products far more likely to be of poor quality (and that’s when they didn’t just take the money and run).
In recent years, though, their numbers have exploded—there are hundreds of AS knockoffs in operation now, and more cropping up all the time—creating fierce competition for customers in an increasingly crowded field. This has driven them to adopt ever more brazen practices to support their quest for writers’ cash: forging documents and contracts from Big 5 publishers, selling completely fictional products such as “book insurance”, engaging in elaborate front operations involving multiple fake businesses, and impersonating reputable literary agents, publishers, and movie companies.
Impersonation scams especially have become common over the past couple of years, and they can be quite convincing. In this post, you’ll find examples of the three types of impersonation scam you’re most likely to encounter, along with a look at the telltale signs that can identify them….
(4) INTERVIEW WITH CHANDLER DAVIS BIOGRAPHER. [Item by Olav Rokne.] I’m really hoping this book gets some serious consideration for the Best Related Hugo. Very well written, thoroughly researched. Doesn’t focus very much on the science fiction career of Chandler Davis, but he’s still a figure from the genre’s past, and it’s an interesting and relevant read.
Got to interview the author Steve Batterson: “The Un-American Treatment of a Leftist Science Fiction Fan” at the Hugo Book Club Blog.
… The book starts off with a fairly straightforward biography of Davis’ early life. His childhood as the son of leftist academics who were members of the Communist Party, his education at Harvard and involvement with science fiction fandom, his military service and his marriage to Natalie Zemon-Davis. All of this is in service of the focus of the book: Davis’ brief stint at the University of Michigan, his firing, and the six-year legal saga that led to his imprisonment.
“It was incredibly courageous what Chandler did,” Batterson explains. “He was 27 or 28 years old when this all started. He had a wife and one child at the time – with another on the way. His wife was a graduate student, and it wasn’t clear at the time that she would go on to become one of the greatest historians of her generation.”
During the period after his firing, the Davis family faced economic hard times. When friends and colleagues took up a donation for them, the FBI ended up with a list of who donated; sadly it appears few in the science fiction community stood by their former compatriot.
“There’s not a lot of mention of science fiction or fandom in the FBI documents,” Batterson notes. “The FBI didn’t consider that to be disreputable.”
After he was released from serving his six-month prison sentence in 1960, the family emigrated to Canada where both Davis and his wife became professors at the University of Toronto. He rejoined fandom there, and published a handful of later stories. In 1989, he was one of the guests at the 47th Worldcon held in Boston. Both he and his wife had distinguished academic careers….
(5) FOR EXPOSURE. Jane L. Rosen reports on “A Night of Reading, Cover to Uncover” to the New York Times. “The author of ‘On Fire Island’ wasn’t sure what to expect when she was invited to appear at a ‘Books & Burlesque’ event. Here’s her unblushing report.”
Early in the summer, an unusual email popped up in my inbox. Sandwiched between a podcast request and an offer to speak at a South Florida chapter of Hadassah was an invitation to read an excerpt from my latest novel, “On Fire Island,” at a “Books & Burlesque” evening on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The event, as the show’s producers Fortune Cookie and Rosie Tulips explained, would feature five writers reading, each paired with a burlesque or drag artist creating an act inspired by the author’s work.
It took me a minute. Funny? Outrageous? Ill-advised? Possibly, but most of all, an intriguing change from the usual folding-chair-strewn book talk or stodgy Q. and A session. Even though the closest I’d ever gotten to burlesque was a brief stint as a young Gypsy Rose Lee at Camp Lokanda in the late ’70s, I nervously accepted….
(6) IF YOU THOUGHT GETTING MARRIED WAS SCARY BEFORE… The New York Times tells about couples “Vowing Till Death Do Us Part at the Hotel That Inspired ‘The Shining’”.
Couples who get married in October at the Stanley Hotel, situated at the doorstep of the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park, Colo., sometimes have a hard time getting their guests to R.S.V.P.
Lauren Nichols and Jeffrey Sheffler, who will marry there Oct. 28, couldn’t convince a dozen of their out-of-town guests to stay on the premises of the hotel that inspired Stephen King to write “The Shining,” his novel turned film, after staying there in 1974. And Melanie Pingel, who married Kyle Johnson there Oct. 13, was compelled to reserve a quiet space on a separate floor for guests who needed a moment away from the ghostly festivities. “My mom called it the place where the old ladies get to go have a break from it all,” she said.
These and other concessions — Jennie Wilson, a 2017 Stanley bride, was told by a guest “straight up that she wouldn’t come” — are perhaps a necessary trade-off for couples who want to exchange vows at what many call “The Shining” hotel….
Only a handful of couples who plan well in advance are greenlit for their October celebrations, said John Cullen, the Stanley’s owner. Those who do snag a spot between Oct. 1 and Halloween, the hotel’s busiest season, tend to share a common aesthetic: bridal fangs and cakes with Frankenstein-like surgical stitching can be part of it. Flower girls dressed as the sinister, not-quite-living Grady twins from the 1980 horror classic, or table décor that includes jars of pig hearts preserved in formaldehyde, can also be used.
The spookiness of the place is the allure for many couples, said Shayna Papke, a popular local planner for Halloween season weddings at the Stanley. “A wedding is the ultimate expression of who you are, and there are just people in the world who, this is who they are,” she said. “They’re the outliers who like dark music and dark stories. They’re fascinated by the death part of life.”
Many who fit that description flock to the Stanley for a ghost tour led by the hotel’s staff or to participate in a séance (More than 100,000 people visit per year; October is busy also because elk walk the streets and it’s “a really nice time to be in Estes Park,” Mr. Cullen said.) Still others consider it the ultimate location for committing to each other….
(7) RICHARD MOLL (1943-2023) [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Though possibly best known for his role as Bull the bailiff in the original run of Night Court, Richard Moll did an amazing amount of genre work over a long career. This includes a lot of voice work in animation and video games (see dozens of credits at IMDb.) One of his notable later appearances was in the 2010 live-action film Scooby-Doo: Curse of the Lake Monster in which he played the mysterious lighthouse keeper Elmer Uggins. Full profile: “Richard Moll, Bull the Bailiff on ‘Night Court,’ Dies at 80” in The Hollywood Reporter.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born October 28, 1944 — Ian Don Marter. He was known for his role as Harry Sullivan on Doctor Who. As this is a Birthday listing of writers of authors, you might ask why he’s here. That’s because he’s one of the few Who actors authorized to write fiction in that universe in that time. As a result, he wrote nine novels before he died of a diabetic heart attack. He co-wrote in collaboration with Baker and director James Hill a script for a film provisionally titled Doctor Who Meets Scratchman (also known as Doctor Who and the Big Game). However due to a lack of funding as no one was interested in underwriting it , the project was ultimately abandoned. Bake and Hill novelized this script and there’s a Big Finish version as well. (Died 1986.)
- Born October 28, 1951 — Joe Lansdale, 72. Writer and screenwriter whose animated DCU Jonah Hex is far superior to the live action Hex film. Bubba Ho-Tep, an American comedy horror film starring Bruce Campbell, is his best-known genre work though he has done a number of another works including The God of The Razor and Reverend Jedidiah Mercer series which are definitely Weird Westerns.
- Born October 28, 1951 — William H. Patterson, Jr.. Author of Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, a two-volume look at Heinlein which arguably is the best biography ever done on him. He also did The Martian Named Smith: Critical Perspectives on Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. This “Tribute to Bill Patterson” by Mike with comments by Filers is touching indeed. (Died 2014.)
- Born October 28, 1957 — Catherine Fisher, 66. Welsh poet and children’s novelist who writes in English. I’d suggest The Book of The Crow series of which Corbenic won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. Her Incarceron and Sapphique also earned a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature nomination.
- Born October 28, 1958 — Kristin Landon. Author of the uncompleted space opera Hidden Worlds (The Hidden Worlds, The Cold Minds and The Dark Reaches) and a one-off, Windhome, a first contact story. (Died 2019.)
- Born October 28, 1958 — Amy Thomson, 65. Writer of four novels, including Virtual Girl. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer and was nominated for the Campbell Memorial, Endeavour, Philip Dick and Prometheus Awards. Very impressive indeed. Her short fiction “The Ransom of Princess Starshine” appeared in 2017 in Stupefying Stories, edited by Bruce Bethke.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- The Argyle Sweater shows a monster who you don’t ordinarily think of as moving that fast.
- Thatababy introduces us to Konbanwa in a strip devoted to cinema history.
- Jess Bradley says this is what the Singularity will really be like.
- Finding Dee shows us true horror.
(10) SHOT ON LOCATION IN HALLOWEEN TOWN. “‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’: A Hit That Initially Unnerved Disney” – Tim Burton and director Henry Selick look back 30 years at the making of a cult favorite.
…Over the course of its original run, “Nightmare” grossed $50 million at the domestic box office. And while that number is by no means dismal, it’s a far cry from Disney animated hits like “Aladdin,” which just a year earlier brought in $217 million from U.S. screens alone.
At the time, Disney couldn’t figure out how to market the operatic saga of Jack, a lanky, sharply dressed skeleton, infatuated with bringing the wonder of Christmas to his monstrous friends in uncanny Halloween Town.
Selick initially worried that the number of songs Danny Elfman had composed for the movie, a total of 10 tracks for the brisk 76-minute run time, would alienate viewers. In retrospect, he said, the memorable tunes were crucial to the film’s eventual success, once audiences connected with its unconventional rules of storytelling and design.
These days Selick can’t go a week without running into a fan wearing a sweater, hat or other apparel emblazoned with “Nightmare” imagery.
“This year there’s a 13-foot-tall Jack Skellington you can buy at Home Depot, and people have them on their lawns,” Selick said. “I like that because it’s pretty bizarre and extreme. That’s not just a T-shirt, that’s a real commitment.”
For Burton, the character of Jack Skellington embodies a preoccupation common in his work over the years: the terrifying notion of being misunderstood. “The conception of it was based on those feelings growing up of people perceiving you as something dark or weird when actually you’re not,” he recalled.
Selick compared the skeletal antihero’s amusingly manic behavior to Mr. Toad from the animated classic “The Wind in the Willows,” one of his favorite Disney protagonists. “I’ve always been drawn to characters like Jack Skellington,” Selick said. “He gets carried away with something new and goes way overboard with his enthusiasm.”…
(11) HERZOG Q&A. While promoting his memoir Every Man for Himself and God Against All, Werner Herzog tells the Guardian: “’I am not that much in pursuit of happiness’: Werner Herzog on beer, yoga and what he would ask God”.
…So, this new book he’s just written about the Austrian musician-cum-dairy-farmer combines two of Herzog’s passions then? “Neither is milking cows a great love of mine nor is rocking so…” he replies with an amused smirk. “But I understand. I catch your drift.”
Herzog is probably best known for his documentary films, which include 2005’s Grizzly Man, the tale of bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell in Alaska, and Cave of Forgotten Dreams, made in 3D in 2010 from footage shot inside the prehistoric Chauvet Cave in southern France. Increasingly, though, Herzog devotes his creative energies to writing. In 2021, he published his first novel, The Twilight World, based on the Japanese army lieutenant Hiroo Onoda, who refused to believe the second world war was over and only emerged from the jungle and surrendered in 1974.
“I’ve been a writer from the very beginning,” he says. “And it’s important to say one thing because people are puzzled: films are my voyage, and writing is home. And since 40 years, I keep preaching to deaf ears that my writing will arguably outlive my films, all of them.”
Certainly, Every Man for Himself and God Against All is a joyous, fulfilling read….
(12) BRADBURY HISTORY. Phil Nichols’ new Bradbury 100 podcast episode covers “Chronological Bradbury, 1940”.
…Ray published nine stories in 1940, nearly all of them in fanzines (and one of them in a semi-prozine). Here’s a list, with links to online versions of the stories, where they exist….
(13) ORSON WELLES PROFILE. Steve Vertlieb invites you to read his post “Vertlieb’s Views: Xanadu: A Castle in the Clouds: The Life of Orson Welles” at The Thunder Child.
Celebrating the genius of this extraordinary artist with my published look at the turbulent life and career of Orson Welles, the fabulous, visionary film maker whose personal demons sadly overshadowed his staggering talent, and finally, tragically destroyed him.
Yet, in spite of his personal failings or, perhaps, because of them, Welles rose to become one of the most remarkable film makers of his, or any other generation.
From his groundbreaking first feature length motion picture Citizen Kane, regarded by many still as the greatest single film in motion picture history, to Touch Of Evil, his remarkable “Cinema Noir” tale of a squandered life and legacy corrupted by bribery and temptation, Welles remains one of the most extraordinary directors in the history of film.
His is a story of unwitting sabotaged achievement and haunting, incomparable genius.
Here, then, is “Xanadu: A Castle In Clouds … The Life of Orson Welles.”
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, Mlex, Olav Rokne, Kathy Sullivan, Lise Andreasen, Steve Vertlieb, Steve French, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]