EPH Re-Ratified, Pro-Ukraine and Anti-Lukianenko Resolutions Passed by Chicon 8 Business Meeting

The “E Pluribus Hugo” system of counting Hugo Award nominations was re-ratified at Saturday’s Chicon 8 WSFS Business Meeting. Also passed were a resolution of solidarity with Ukraine, and another resolution condemning Sergey Lukianenko, a guest of honor of the forthcoming 2023 Worldcon, for his many statements supporting the invasion of Ukraine. (Thanks to Alex Acks’ Business Meeting liveblog for reporting this news.)

E PLURIBUS HUGO RE-RATIFIED. E Pluribus Hugo, the change in the way Hugo Awards nominations are counted, was passed in 2015 and ratified in 2016 to counter how Sad and Rabid Puppies’ slates dictated most of finalists on the Hugo ballots in those years. It came with a 2022 sunset clause attached, and had to be re-ratified this year in order to remain part of the WSFS Constitution. (See “Will E Pluribus Hugo Survive Re-Ratification?”)

At today’s business meeting Dave Wallace, one of the originators of EPH, said its overall effect has been “very beneficial”. He also spoke against the narrative that it is a “black box” and discussed his spot checking of the published voting reports.

David Kaplan presented a comparatively new argument against, that the EPH method may push works by marginalized creators down due to a slating effect of members of marginalized communities simply nominating those from their communities. He thought voters should instead use “no award” to counter slates.

In the end, EPH was “resoundingly” re-ratified. Alex Acks’ fuller notes of the discussion are here.

RESOLUTIONS. As reported by Alex Acks’ Business Meeting liveblog, Chuck Serface, a former Peace Corps volunteer who was in Ukraine, called on the meeting to support Ukraine by passing the following resolution:

Short Title: Solidarity with Ukraine 

Resolved, that it is the spirit of the Business Meeting to offer solidarity with Ukrainian Fans, recognizing that Ukraine has been invaded by fascists. We encourage all to boycott those who would platform or champion the illegal invasion. The Business Meeting looks forward to a return of freedom and fandom to Ukraine.  

Proposed by: Borys Sydiuk, James Bacon, Erin Underwood, Chris Garcia, Kelly Buehler, Frank Kalisz, Mike Glyer, Ian Stockdale, Dave Farmer, and Chuck Serface

Chuck Serface accompanied the submission of the resolution with the following statement:

Ukraine is an ancient and wonderful land. Ukrainians are kind and welcoming people. Ukraine is a young country. Our fandom is growing, our love of literature, science fiction and space fight strong, our conventions pleasant. We ask for solidarity. 

Fans who allow the platform or champion of the illegal invasion, should know that this is not right. Fandom is about friendship. Not a space for fascists to gloat or goad. We have asked for a clear message, it supports a civilized and democratic approach to this matter. 

As the Business Meeting had allocated only four minutes of discussion time to each resolution, there was time for only two areas of concern to be developed. First, the contention that a resolution concerning “real world politics” is not WSFS business. The chair of the meeting was asked to rule whether such a resolution is within their purview. He ruled it was, and his ruling was sustained when appealed to a vote by the meeting. Second, a member argued that the phrase “by fascists” be removed “due to Godwin’s Law.” That amendment was voted down.

Then the resolution – with its original wording intact — was passed.

Then the meeting took up the second resolution:

Short Title: Sergey Lukianenko

Resolved, that it is the spirit of the Business Meeting to show solidarity with Ukrainian fans and to condemn Worldcon 2023’s Guest of Honour, Sergey Lukianenko’s appalling utterances, calling Ukrainians Nazis and encouraging an illegal invasion of Ukraine. This is utterly unacceptable. Lukianenko should neither be platformed nor celebrated, and we ask the Chengdu 2023 committee, fans and members to refuse Sergei Lukianenko as your guest. it is shameful that he is honored by Worldcon.

Proposed by: Borys Sydiuk, James Bacon, Erin Underwood, Chris Garcia, Kelly Buehler, Frank Kalisz, Mike Glyer, Ian Stockdale, Dave Farmer, and Chuck Serface

Chengdu Worldcon co-chair Ben Yalow raised a Point of Order that the WSFS constitution forbids the interference of WSFS in the matter of Worldcon guests. The chair ruled against Yalow, because the resolution asks and does not direct or otherwise require action. This ruling was also appealed to a vote of the meeting and was sustained.

Then the meeting also voted to adopt the resolution.

Update 09/12/2022: Separated Chuck Serface’s statement from the language of the resolution.

Will E Pluribus Hugo
Survive Re-Ratification?

An answer from an episode of Jeopardy! aired in 2017.

The day of reckoning is here for E Pluribus Hugo.  The change in the way Hugo Awards nominations are counted was passed in 2015 and ratified in 2016 to counter how Sad and Rabid Puppies’ slates dictated most of finalists on the Hugo ballots in those years. It came with a 2022 sunset clause attached, and E Pluribus Hugo must be re-ratified this year in order to remain part of the WSFS Constitution.

It’s the first item of passed-on business in the Chicon 8 Business Meeting Agenda. (If you want to read the rule, you’ll find it quoted on page 30.) Six Hugo ballots (2017-2022) have been produced using EPH, however, if re-ratification looks automatic to you, don’t take that for granted. The arguments used to try and stop it from passing the first time still have adherents and may be heard again when ratification comes up at this year’s Business Meeting. Some of them are –

IT’S HARD TO EXPLAIN. What was the nominating system before EPH? The five eligible nominees with the most votes made the ballot (and in case of a tie including fifth place, all the tied eligible nominees were listed). That’s easy to remember. Easy to explain.

“Vox Day’s bloc voters dictated nearly all the finalists on the ballot” is also much easier to explain than EPH. Ease of explanation is not the only priority in play.

EPH DOESN’T GET RID OF SLATED NOMINEES. That’s right. EPH doesn’t get rid of slated nominees. People initially may have wished for an algorithm that would somehow weed out slate candidates, however, upon sober reflection it had to be admitted these slate voters had paid their memberships and it would be undemocratic to prevent their legal votes from having an effect on the finalists. What EPH was represented to do, and does, is make it more likely some nonslate nominees will also make the final ballot, giving people something to vote for beside No Award if they are opposed to the slated nominees.

EPH DIDN’T DETER SLATING ACTIVITY. Some will argue that neither EPH, nor anything else the business meeting did (like adding “4 and 6”) stopped Vox Day and his confederates from placing things on the ballot. And when their efforts diminished, whatever caused that to happen had nothing to do with the rules changes.

EPH received first passage in 2015. Before it was ratified, Vox Day turned around and ran another slate in 2016 and placed 61 of his picks on the final ballot. It was only because of the passage of EPH that Vox Day changed his strategy with his 2017 slate, making it one item per category (in most of them) — and 16 of his 22 picks had enough support to make the ballot. (In the end, because he didn’t check the eligibility of what was on his list, 5 of those items were kicked off — still leaving 11. Which was a lot less than 61.) The evidence is that EPH is what changed his behavior. What’s more, Vox Day himself said that’s what changed his behavior. [Internet Archive].

UNDER EPH, THE HUGO ADMINISTRATOR’S WORK CAN’T BE CHECKED; IT’S A “MAGIC BOX”. When people make this argument, it seems clear to me they’re visualizing the voting statistics that are published after the winners are announced, and how easy it is to check the spreadsheet arithmetic for the winners. They seem to overlook that under the old system it also was not possible to check the Hugo Administrator’s work in the nominating phase. The public could never review what the Hugo Administrator did to verify voter eligibility, or perfect the data prior to input (correcting all the mismatched ways of expressing a name or title). The public could only see the bottom line result — the totals in each category’s longlist.

If people believe the Hugo Administrator is competent to operate the software that generates the totals for the winners, it is reasonable to ask them to have the same faith in the person’s ability to operate the EPH software to determine the finalists.

EPH REWARDS SINGLE-BULLET VOTING. The contention is that there is a sense in which EPH is antidemocratic because it rewards single-bullet voting.

That there is a reward for the behavior appears to be accurate. Nicholas Whyte told the business meeting after he ran the 2017 Hugos, the first under EPH, that his “conclusion was that EPH made it relatively easier in 2017 for a nominee with a large number of bullet votes to get on the ballot; it made it much more difficult for a slate to get more than one candidate on the ballot.”

Since Vox Day’s 2017 slate only had one entry in each category for which he made a pick, it would have been a candidate for single-bullet voting. But again, EPH is designed to open the ballot to others, not to make it impossible for a slate nominee to become a finalist.  

EPH WAS PASSED IN A “PANIC”. I’ve seen an opponent characterize as “panic” the decisions made about EPH at two different years’ business meetings. But really? This was probably the most thoroughly-discussed proposal in the history of the WSFS Constitution. Besides everything said on Making Light where it originated, File 770 posts on the topic received hundreds of comments. For example: “E Pluribus Hugo Tested With Anonymized 2015 Data” 2/8/2016 – 407 comments. “Analyzing EPH” 5/16/2016 – 356 comments. The hours of discussion at the business meetings were just the tip of the iceberg.

THE THREAT IS GONE, SO THE CHANGES CAN BE DISCARDED. Any analyst could have seen from the voting statistics published over the years that it was theoretically possible to monopolize the final Hugo ballot. What kept that from happening? It wasn’t worth the expense for people who have no interest in the Worldcon to buy memberships so they could vote. Until it was. Until it became an expression of Sad and Rabid Puppy tribal loyalty.

However, some will argue that the threat they represented has gone away. The protections adopted against them made the process less transparent and less fair and should be dismantled.

Yes, there are people who think the slate-driven Hugo ballots of 2015 and 2016 were more fair than the present arrangement.

If you’re not one of them, and considering all the hard political work the community had to do to overcome the damage from the Puppies by passing and ratifying the existing rules changes, it doesn’t make sense to reopen a known vulnerability.

First Chicon 8 Business Meeting Agenda Posted

Chicon 8, the 2022 Worldcon, has published the initial draft of the Business Meeting agenda. It can be downloaded here. (Subsequent updates will be found on Chicon 8’s Business Meeting page.) This includes the usual spate of new WSFS Constitution proposals with clever titles meant to entertain fellow business meeting regulars and baffle everyone else.

Among the proposals are several from the Hugo Study Committee created at the 2019 Business Meeting.

The full text of the proposals plus supporting statements are at the link.


There are four resolutions to extend the Hugo eligibility of these science fiction films: After Yang, Strawberry Mansion, Neptune Frost, and Mad God; all proposed by Nana Amuah, Olav Rokne, and Cora Buhlert.


Several amendments to the WSFS Constitution ratified in 2016 in connection with the E Pluribus Hugo voting reform that included a 2022 sunset clause must now be re-ratified in order to remain in effect.

Then, there are these new rules changes which received first passage at DisCon III (2021) that are up for ratification.

“30 Days Hath New Business” creates a deadline for submission of new business.

“The Statue of Liberty Play” removes the requirement to pass on to the next Worldcon postal addresses as part of the contact information of people “who have given permission for that data transfer and only for the purposes for which permission to use that data was given.”

“A Matter of Days” adjusts existing rules language from months to a specific number of days.

“Non-transferability of Voting Rights” replaces the supporting/attending Worldcon membership structure with “WSFS memberships” and “attending member supplements”, with the WSFS memberships being non-transferable (e.g., could not be sold on by the owner.)


“The Zero Percent Solution” proposes to repeal Section 3.12.2 of the Constitution which sets conditions for not awarding a Hugo in any category where the total number of valid ballots cast (excluding those cast for “No Award” in first place) is less than twenty-five per cent (25%) of the total number of final Award ballots received. The case for this change is made by Olav Rokne in his File 770 article “Hugo Voting Threshold Reform Proposal”.

The Olav Rokne (and company) proposal is opposed head-on by the Hugo Study Committee’s “To Defuse the Turnout Bomb, Cut the Red Wire…” which moves to preserve the 25% rule but limit its application to circumstances where “the total number of valid ballots cast for that category, excluding those cast for ‘No Award’ in first place, is fewer than 200.”

The Hugo Awards Study Committee has also introduced these other proposals:

“Clearing Up the Artist Categories Forever (No, Really, We Swear It This Time!)” proposes to change the definition of “Best Professional Artist” to “One or more collaborators on a body of work first displayed during the previous calendar year and created as i) work for hire, ii) on paid commission, or iii) for sale (either directly or via a paywall-like structure).” And to change “Best Fan Artist” to “One or more collaborators on a body of work first displayed during the previous calendar year in a fashion that did not qualify for Best Professional Artist – i.e. neither work for hire, nor commissioned for pay, nor for sale.”

“One Rocket Per Customer, Please!” is actually about eligibility for the Best Series category, not how many trophies can be distributed.  Previous winners of the Best Series Hugo would be barred from future eligibility in the category (they current are eligible once certain conditions are met). So would any series “containing an individual installment which has won a Hugo Award of any type in its nominated format.” Also, no series would be eligible in the same year as any of its installments makes the final ballot.

“A Work, By Any Other Name…” is a second not-mutually-exclusive amendment regarding Best Series intended to bar “any series from appearing on the final ballot for the Hugo Award for Best Series only in a year where an installment for that series also appears on the final ballot. It was, however, drawn more broadly in order to also restrict (for example) a short story appearing in the same year that a fix-up novel containing such a story was published. Thus, ‘content’ was used in lieu of ‘work’.”

“An Aristotelian Solution to Fan vs Pro” according to the Committee “seeks to establish a uniform set of boundaries between the two general categories of content, as well as to ensure that no ‘gap’ emerges where something is considered Fan in one sense, Professional in another sense, and therefore not eligible in either category.” The proposal replaces the existing language of 3.2.11 with this text:

A professional publication is a publication produced by professional activity. Any category including language pertaining to non-professional or professional activity will be understood to use the definitions in 3.2.X and 3.2.Y.

3.2.X: Professional activity shall be that which was undertaken with the expectation of sale or other direct profit (by the creator or any co-creators), or which can only be accessed after a payment is made (other than incidental fees, e.g. convention membership fees).

3.2.Y: Non-professional activity shall be that which was not undertaken with the expectation of sale or other direct profit (by the creator or any co- creators), and which can be accessed in a full and final version without any payment.

3.2.Z: All activity shall be considered either Professional or Non-Professional. In cases where there is some doubt as to which category applies to a given work or activity, the will of the nominators should be considered, as should the greater need to protect fan (non-professional) activity against professional activity than the reverse.

“If a Tree Falls in The Woods and Nobody Is Around…” creates a mechanism that requires low-voter-participation categories to be considered for removal by the Worldcon Business Meeting:

3.12.3: In the event that the total number of valid ballots cast for a specific category (excluding those cast for No Award in First Place) is fewer than ten per cent (10%) of the total number of final Award ballots received in a non-Retro Hugo vote in two years out of three successive years, an amendment effecting the removal of that category from the list of enumerated Hugo Award categories shall be automatically placed on the agenda for the next Worldcon’s Business Meeting.

The Agenda says the Hugo Awards Study Committee (“HASC”) for 2019-2020 consisted of Cliff Dunn (Chair), Alex Acks, Andrew A. Adams, Ira Alexandre, Paul Cornell, Joni Brill Dashoff, Todd Dashoff, Vincent Docherty, Kathryn Duval, Martin Easterbrook, Lisa Garrison, Helen Gbala, Colin Harris, John Hertz, Kevin Hewett, Tim Illingworth, Kat Jones, Marguerite Kenner, Guy Kovel, Joshua Kronengold, Michael Lee, Perrianne Lurie, Mark J. Meenan, Farah Mendlesohn, Lisa Padol, Hanne Paine, PRK, Martin Pyne, Oskari Rantala, Mark Richards, Claire Rousseau, Ann Marie Rudolph, Kate Secor, Kevin Standlee, Corina Stark, Kelly Strait, Don A. Timm, Kári Tulinius, Jo Van Ekeren, Lew Wolkoff, Betsy Wollheim, and Ben Yalow. The agenda does not state whether any changes were made to the Committee’s membership in subsequent years.

Pixel Scroll 8/1/20 Scrollers Tick
In Vain

(1) WORLDCON ENDS: FILM AT ELEVEN. Watching CoNZealand’s Closing Ceremonies brought back a memory —

When Winnipeg started its bid for the 1994 Worldcon, chair John Mansfield had everybody on the committee fill out a questionnaire about their interests. On the last day of the convention he returned these forms to everyone saying, “Okay. Here’s your life back.”

At today’s Closing Ceremonies the gavel passed to DisCon III’s Bill Lawhorn and Colette H. Fozard.

(2) TABLE SERVICE. Camestros Felapton illustrates an aspect of the 2020 Hugo Award nomination process in “EPH Fan Writer”.

… As each person is eliminated, the points get redistributed. By looking at the change in points for each surviving nominee, you can calculate the proportion of points that the survivor gets from the eliminated.

(3) THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW. There are several good rundowns on the problems with last night’s Hugo Awards ceremony, including this one from Sean Reads Sci-Fi, “Uh-Oh, the Hugos Were a Hot Mess!”, which includes some good excerpts from the acceptance speeches.

…Some of the history was admittedly interesting, but I kept waiting for Martin to catch up to the present day, to illustrate how the long arc of the Hugos has bent toward justice, how the field continues to evolve to this day. He never did. He stayed rooted firmly in the past, and as the night wore on his stubborn refusal to acknowledge current movements in SF/F began to feel pointedly exclusionary rather than just incidentally so.

And I haven’t even mentioned the names! To mispronounce someone’s name live is one thing. As a teacher, I can attest to the fact that you will occasionally get someone’s name wrong on the first day. But (a) they had plenty of time to practice, (b) they almost certainly were given pronunciation guides by most authors, and (c) this doesn’t excuse the constant mispronunciations during pre-recoded segments, unless, of course, Martin refused to re-record them, which is its own set of problems. The folks behind the scenes should have done more to vet these segments, and should have pushed back harder when it became clear what Martin was doing.

What’s fascinating to me, though, is how the awards themselves drew such a sharp contrast to the nostalgic navel-gazing of the toastmaster. It really felt like the past and the future colliding – and the future won. Literally! The winners often talked about systemic problems within the industry, about the fights that we still have to fight, about the hard work that women, people of color, queer folks, and others have to do in order to even be considered alongside the white/cis/het fuddy-duddies running last night’s show. It was such a welcome breath of fresh air, for instance, when R.F. Kuang, one of the first winners, emphasized the barriers that she faced getting into the field:

If I were talking to a new writer coming to the genre in 2020, I would tell them, well, if you are an author of color, you will very likely be paid only a fraction of the advance that white writers are getting. You will be pigeon-holed, you will be miscategorized, you will be lumped in with other authors of color whose work doesn’t remotely resemble yours. Chances are very high that you will be sexually harassed at conventions or the target of racist micro-aggressions or very often just overt racism. People will mispronounce your name, repeatedly, and in public, even people who are on your publishing team. Your cover art will be racist, and the way people talk about you and your literature will be tied to identity and your personal trauma instead of the stories you are actually trying to tell. If I had known all of that when I went into the industry, I don’t know if I would have done it, so I think that the best way we can celebrate new writers is to make this industry more welcoming for everyone.


This was refreshing precisely because it’s an aspect of the history of the awards and of the fandom in general that George R.R. Martin, in his endless panegyrics to days gone by, refused to even acknowledge. Pointing out the deep-rooted, structural, and personal racism and sexism at the heart of the industry isn’t a sign of ingratitude – it’s a sign of strength and resolve in the face of tough barriers. As Ng put it in her speech:

Pulling down memorials to dead racists is not the erasing of history, it is how we make history … It would be irresponsible for me to stand here and congratulate us as a community without reminding us that the fight isn’t over and that it extends well beyond the pages of our books … Let us be better than the legacies that have been left us. Let them not be prophecies. Let there be a revolution in our time.


That revolution was in strong form last night, as most winners took the time to celebrate marginalized voices and denounce the forces that marginalized them in the first place. I keep coming back to Martine’s speech, as well – to the knife that hurts all the more because you loved it before it cut you. A trenchant description of an industry and a genre that many loved but were excluded from for so long. That is, thankfully, changing. Not fast enough to prevent last night’s debacle – but fast enough to allow for last night’s inspiring wins

(4) GRRM RESPONSE. George R.R. Martin has commented here on File 770 about some of the reports and criticisms in circulation, beginning with – https://file770.com/2020-hugo-awards/comment-page-2/#comment-1205393

Whoever is circulating the story that I was asked to re-record portions of my Hugo hosting to correct mispronounced names, and that I refused, is (1) mistaken, or (2) lying. Never happened.

CoNZealand did ask me to re-record three of my videos, all for reasons for quality control: poor lighting, poor sound, wobbly camera. I complied with their request on two of the videos, the two that opened the evening; I re-did those live from the JCC. (The originals had been done in my cabin on an iPhone, when we were just trying to get the hang of this thing). The third segment they wanted re-recorded was the bit about the Hugo trophy, where I had some fun with the juicer, the Alfie, and the like. In that case, we decided to stay with the first take, since I no longer had the props on hand and could not easily have reproduced what I’d done at the cabin, which everyone seemed to like.

There is also a story out there that I was provided with the correct phonetic pronunciations of all the names. That too is completely untrue….

(5) YOUR NEW HUGO LOSERS HOSTS. Who wouldn’t sign up for that?

(6) GROWING PAINS. Scott Edelman stirred up some memories that were called out by his sister-in-law in service of an anti-Vietnam War protest.

(7) LEM STORY DRAMATIZED. “Review: A Sci-Fi Classic Featuring a Multiverse of Stooges” comes recommended by a New York Times reviewer.

…You wouldn’t think that the 4-foot-wide by 8-foot-tall space, approximately the same shape as an iPhone screen, would be big enough for a play, let alone an avant-garde company. Yet the closet, only 2 feet deep, is one of the stars of Gelb’s Theater in Quarantine series, which since late March has produced, on a biweekly schedule, some of the new medium’s most imaginative work from some of its simplest materials. As in silent movies, clowning, movement and mime are usually part of the mix.

“The 7th Voyage of Egon Tichy,” which was livestreamed on Thursday evening and will remain available in perpetuity on Gelb’s YouTube channel, has all of those and then some. Based on a 1957 story by Stanislaw Lem, the Polish science fiction writer most famous for “Solaris,” it concerns an astronaut named Egon who, passing through a minefield of gravitational vortexes, is caught in a causal loop paradox that bombards him with innumerable (and insufferable) alternative selves.

Lem’s story is a satire of the infinite human capacity for self-defeat, with the various Egon incarnations bickering and undermining one another as the gyrations of space-time bend them into conflict. When “a meteor no bigger than a pea” pierces the ship’s hull, destroying the rudder, everyone has ideas about fixing it — but since it’s a two-man job, making cooperation essential, nothing actually gets done.

(8) HEARING A DISCOURAGING WORD. Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich asks “Why are all these science-fiction shows so awful?”

Science fiction was once a niche TV commodity, but March brought three major live-action genre projects. Star Trek: Picard finished its debut season on CBS All Access. FX shared Devs with Hulu, pitching the miniseries as prestige bait for the chattering class. Season 3 of Westworld was HBO’s new hope for a buzzy, sexy-violent epic. And they were all terrible….

I get it: We are all scared of phones, and bots, and the Algorithm. Yet by demonizing technology, these projects oddly exonerate the people behind that technology. CEOs with tragic origin stories in Westworld or Devs are puppets for machines they can’t control. Higher-tech powers in Brave New World and “You May Also Like” control whole civilizations comprised of unaware humans.

(9) LIBRARIES TAKE HEAT IN CANADA. Publishers Weekly has the story:“Canadian Libraries Respond to ‘Globe and Mail’ Essay Attacking Public Libraries”.

[Intro] Editors Note: In a nearly 3,000 word opinion piece published on July 25 in ‘The Globe and Mail’ Kenneth Whyte, publisher of Toronto-based indie Sutherland House Books, pinned the troubles of Canada’s independent bookstores and publishers on the work of public libraries….

Publishers Weekly reprinted the Canadian Urban Libraries Council’s response:

It is otherwise hard to understand why public libraries are to blame when bookstores and libraries have coexisted harmoniously and supported each other for decades.

So what’s changed? While there are a lot of changes that point to shifts in the marketplace, such as the research identifying a decline in leisure reading, coupled with less and less space for literary reviews in major news outlets, these are minor compared to the two major developments that have dramatically altered the book and reading landscape—and they have nothing to do with public libraries. First is the explosive growth in popularity of e-books and digital audiobooks. Second, is the increasing dominance of Amazon in the book retail and publishing marketplace.


  • August 1, 1986Howard The Duck premiered. Directed by Water Huyck and produced by Gloria Katz who were also the screenplay writers.  George Lucas was executive producer. Its human stars were Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones and Tim Robbins. Howard The Duck was Ed Gale in the suit with the voice being Chip Zien. Critics almost unanimously hated it, it bombed at the box office, and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 38% rating. It would be the last Marvel Film until Captain American twenty-one years later. (CE)


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 1, 1819 – Herman Melville.  Without debating – though some do – how far Moby-Dick is fantasy, we can claim some more clearly – hmm, maybe not the best word with this writer – anyway, “Bartleby”, “The Tartarus of Maids”, “The Encantadas”, let’s say nine or ten.  John Clute would include The Confidence-Man.  (Died 1891) [JH]
  • Born August 1, 1898 – William Ziff.  I mean Ziff Sr., though Ziff Jr. is noteworthy too.  The elder was the Ziff in Ziff-Davis Publishing, which took over Amazing from Hugo Gernsback, added Fantastic Adventures, comics with art director Jerry Siegel and e.g. John Buscema.  I happen to think this cover for Weird Adventures 10 is feminist – look how the man is fascinated while the woman with him knows they should fear – but then I think Glory Road is feminist, and how many see that?  (Died 1953) [JH]
  • Born August 1, 1910 Raymond A. Palmer. Editor of Amazing Stories from 1938 through 1949. He’s credited, along with Walter Dennis, with editing the first fanzine, The Comet, in May, 1930. The secret identity of DC character the Atom as created by genre writer Gardner Fox is named after Palmer. Very little of his fiction is available in digital form. (Died 1977.) (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1914 – Edd Cartier.  Oh, how great he was.  Eventually we put him on two Retrospective Hugo ballots.  We think of him as a comedian; true enough, but see this cover for Foundation and Empire.  Vince Di Fate knew; see his treatment of EC in Infinite Worlds.  World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award.  (Died 2008)  [JH]
  • Born August 1, 1923 Alan Yates. Though better known under the Carter Brown name where he wrote some one hundred and fifty mystery novels, I’m noting him here for Booty for a Babe, a Fifties mystery novel published under that name as it’s was set at a SF Convention. (Available from the Kindle store.) And as Paul Valdez, he wrote a baker’s dozen genre stories. (Died 1985.) (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1930 Geoffrey Holder. Best-remembered for his performance as Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die but he’s also the narrator in Tim Burton’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. He was also Willie Shakespeare in Doctor Doolittle but it’s been so long since I saw the film that I can’t picture his character. And he was The Cheshire Cat in the Alice in Wonderland that had Richard Burton as The White Knight. (Died 2014.) (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1945 – Yvonne Rousseau, 75.  Author, editor, critic, long-time fan.  Australian SF Review, 2nd Series with J. & R. Blackford, Foyster, Sussex, Webb.  Three short stories and a novelette.  Contributor to Banana WingsChungaFlagFoundationJourney PlanetThe Metaphysical Review, Riverside QuarterlySF CommentarySF Eye.  Fan Guest of Honour at ConFictionary, where the fire alarm went off and the hotel actually was on fire.  [JH]
  • Born August 1, 1954 James Gleick, 66. Author of, among many other books, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman and What Just Happened: A Chronicle from the Electronic Frontier, and he is one of us in that he writes genre reviews which are collected in Time Travel: A History. Among the works he’s reviewed are Le Guin’s “Another Story or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea” and Heinlein ‘s “By His Bootstraps”.  (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1955 Annabel Jankel, 65. Director who was first  a music video director and then the co-creator and director of Max Headroom. She and her partner Rocky Morton first created and directed The Max Talking Headroom Show, a mix of interviews and music vids which aired on Channel 4 and HBO. Jankel and Morton would go on to direct Super Mario Bros. And they’re both responsible for the Max Headroom movie and series. (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1969 – Dirk Berger, 51.  Five dozen covers, a score of interiors.  Here is Sucker Punch.  Here is Empire Dreams.  Here is Nova 23.  Here is his Website.  [JH]
  • Born August 1, 1979 Jason Momoa, 41. I knew I’d seen him before he showed up as Aquaman in the DC film franchise and I was right as he was Ronon Dex on Stargate Atlantis for its entire run. He was also Khal Drogo in the first season of A Game of Thrones. And not surprisingly, he was the title character in Conan the Barbarian. (CE)
  • Born August 1, 1993 – Tomi Adeyemi, 27.  Children of Blood and BoneChildren of Virtue and Vengeance, both NY Times Best Sellers.  Norton Award, Waterstones Book Prize, Lodestar Award.  Parents thought she’d be better off if they didn’t teach her their native tongue (they’re Yoruba), so with an honors degree from Harvard she got a fellowship to study it in Brazil.  Website here.  [JH]


  • Non Sequitur offers a suggestion on how to get started on that post-apocalyptic novel.

(13) BE PREPARED. A Public Service Announcement from the Dread Pirate Roberts channeling Inigo Montoya.

(14) ADVICE FOR SFF POETS. Veteran editor of Star*Line and Mobius: A Journal for Social Change “gives some surprising insights on submissions” in this interview conducted by Melane Stormm at SPECPO.

A must watch for any writer, but especially if you identify as female or if you’re feeling hesitant to submit your work someplace.

(15) ON BRADBURY’S SHELVES. The second installment of Phil Nichols’ Bradbury 100 podcast had dropped.

My guest is Jason Aukerman, Managing Director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. The “Bradbury Center”, as it’s known for short, is the place where Ray’s working papers are held in archive, along with the contents of Ray’s personal library, and many of his professional and personal artefacts such as awards, videotapes and film prints.

(16) BALESTRIERI JOINS READ-A-THON. A Bradbury Read-A-Thon is planned as part of the author’s centenary celebration: “Iowan to join top authors, celebs in sci-fi ‘read-a-thon’” RadioIowa has the story.

A library curator at the University of Iowa will join “Star Trek” actor William Shatner and a list of other celebrities, authors and science fiction experts in a Ray Bradbury Read-a-thon next month. The event on August 22nd will mark what would have been the famed author’s 100th birthday.

Peter Balestrieri, curator of science fiction and popular culture collections at the UI Libraries, says he’s thrilled to be taking part.

“The Read-a-thon will be about 40 people reading segments of Ray Bradbury’s famous novel, ‘Fahrenheit 451,’” Balestrieri says. “All of the clips from all of the different readers will be put together into one seamless audio-visual book.”

Balestrieri will read a six-minute portion of the book as part of the roughly-four-hour event. Top sci-fi authors who will also read aloud include Neil Gaiman, Marjorie Liu and Steven Barnes, as well as former NASA administrator Charles Bolden.

(17) THAT’S NOT GOOD NEWS. “Nasa: Mars spacecraft is experiencing technical problems and has gone into hibernation, space agency says” at Yahoo! News.

Nasa‘s Mars spacecraft is experiencing technical problems and has sent itself into hibernation, the space agency has said.

The spacecraft was sent to space Thursday in a launch that had no technical problems – even despite an earthquake that struck just before liftoff, and a preparation period that came during the coronavirus outbreak. Shortly after it was launched, Nasa announced that it had received its first signal from the spacecraft.

But soon after it was in space and headed towards Mars, it became apparent that something had gone wrong with the craft. After that initial signal, mission controllers received more detailed telemetry or spacecraft data that showed there had been a problem.

The signal, which arrived on Thursday afternoon, showed that the spacecraft had entered a state known as “safe mode”. That shuts down all but its essential systems, until it receives new messages from ission control.

The hibernation state is intended to allow the spacecraft to protect itself in the case of unexpected conditions, and will be triggered when the onboard computer receives data that shows something is not as expected.

Nasa’s engineers think that the state was triggered because part of the spacecraft was colder than expected while it was still in Earth’s shadow. The spacecraft has now left that shadow and temperatures are now normal, Nasa said in an update.

Mission controllers will now conduct a “full health assessment”, the space agency said, and are “working to return the spacecraft to a nominal configuration for its journey to Mars”.

(18) TOLKIEN SAYS. At BookRiot: “28 J.R.R. Tolkien Quotes From His Books, Essays, And Letters”.

“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.
‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’” —The Fellowship of the Ring

(19) NAVIGATING ON VIRTUAL SEAS. Mlex reports  on the Cyberpunk Culture Con (July 9-10), with some commentary on other virtual cons (BaltiCon, ConZealand, Fantastikon): “Cyberpunk Culture Conference”.

…I want to report on the recent virtual con, the Cyberpunk Culture Conference (Jul 9-10, 2020), which managed to swim perfectly through the fantastic milieu of the future that has already become the past, and floated out from the wreckage on that frenzied ouroboros of possibility waves as easily as a swimmer takes to an inflated tire inner tube on a summer pond.

The conference sprang up around recent books published by Routledge, which are quite excellent, I should add…

(20) 3D. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Great article about racing and 3D printing — “3-D Printing, a Boon for Racers, Inches Closer for Carmakers” — in the New York Times. Here’s two key ‘graphs from the top:

The Belgian racing team Heli had an engine problem. Specifically, under race conditions, the manifold of the four-cylinder turbo diesel in its BMW 1-series exploded, bursting along an ultrasonically welded seam that held together the manifold’s two halves.

…In 2018 Heli took the problem to ZiggZagg, a Belgian company that fabricates parts using an HP 3-D printer. ZiggZagg made a digital scan of the two-piece manifold and after 10 hours had a digital blueprint for a stronger, lighter, one-piece manifold. In its first race with the new manifold, printed using what is known as PA 12 nylon, the part held up and Heli took third. That same manifold lasted until the car was retired earlier this year.

(21) THE DRAGON RETURNING – MAYBE. NPR reports “Astronauts Set To Return To Earth In First U.S. Splashdown In Decades”.

The two astronauts that blasted off in the first private space vehicle to take people to the International Space Station are about to return to Earth — by splashing down in the waters around Florida.

This will be the first planned splashdown for space travelers since 1975, although a Russian Soyuz capsule did have to do an emergency lake landing in 1976.

NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley says that he and his crewmate Robert Behnken are prepared for the possibility of seasickness.

“Just like on an airliner, there are bags if you need them. And we’ll have those handy,” Hurley said in a press conference held on Friday, while on board the station. “And if that needs to happen, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that that’s happened in a space vehicle. It will be the first time in this particular vehicle, if we do.”

The astronauts will come home in the same SpaceX Dragon capsule that took them up on May 30. Their flight marked the first time people had been launched to orbit from U. S. soil since NASA retired its space shuttles in 2011.

The success of their trip in the SpaceX vehicle has been a major milestone for commercial space travel, and a vindication of NASA’s long-term plan to rely on space taxis for routine flights to and from the orbiting outpost—while the government agency focuses on developing vehicles for a return to the moon.

The current plan is for the Dragon “Endeavour” capsule to undock from the International Space Station on Saturday at 7:34 p.m. ET, with scheduled splashdown at 2:42 p.m. ET on Sunday. There are potential splashdown zones both in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. With a hurricane headed towards Florida, however, it’s unclear if the weather will cooperate with the plan.

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Virtual Viewing:  Disney’s Cruise Line’s Tangled, The Musical” on YouTube is an hour-long musical, with three songs composed by Alan Menken, that was performed on Disney’s Cruise Line and is worth seeing for people who need a Disney musical fix.  (Hat tip to Mark Evanier.)

[Thanks to Darrah Chavey, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Mlex, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

Pixel Scroll 4/23/17 Scroll White And The Seven Pixels

(1) BORN ON THE SEVENTH OF JULY. In “Spinning a high-tech web”, the LA Times provides an elaborate, photo-illustrated preview of Tony Stark’s upgrade to the new Spider-Man suit that will be seen in Spider-Man: Homecoming, due in theaters July 7.

(2) FILK HALL OF FAME. The 2017 inductees to the Filk Halll of Fame were announced at FilkOntario this weekend:

(3) FAHRENHEIT 451 TO SMALL SCREEN? The Bradbury novel is on the road to development once more. “HBO to Adapt Fahrenheit 451, starring Michael B. Jordan”  — BookRiot has the story.

Now, HBO is “moving toward a production commitment” (via Variety) on a feature-length adaptation of Bradbury’s 1953 novel starring Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Chronicle, Fantastic Four) as the protagonist Guy Montag and Michael Shannon (Man of Steel, Boardwalk Empire) as Montag’s boss, Captain Beatty.

The film will be directed by Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes, At Any Price), who is co-writing with Amir Naderi (99 Homes, The Runner). David Coatsworth (production manager on Underworld: Evolution, Ender’s Game, My Big Fat Greek Wedding) will serve as producer.

(4) THEY’RE HUUGE! “Black Holes Are Bigger Than You Thought” accuses Yahoo! News. (Just how big did you think they were? How did Yahoo! News find out?)

Now meet S5 0014+81.

It’s the largest black hole ever discovered and is heavier than our Sun by 40 billion times (40, 000, 000, 000) in the last observation.

If you plug in the equation above, you’ll find that this black hole has a Schwarzschild radius of about… 119 billion kilometers, along with a said diameter of about 236,39 billion km.

(5) THE TOUGHEST AROUND. Let Den of Geek point you at “17 really difficult LEGO sets”.

The Tower Of Orthanc

It may look simple enough on the box, but The Lord Of The Rings’ Tower Of Orthanc is actually a real tough cookie. Because most of its 2,359 pieces are jet black and slim, working out which bit goes where is the stuff of nightmares (in, um, a good way). The Treebeard that comes with it will make the struggle worth it… honest.

Buy The Tower Of Orthanc now for £348.07.


  • April 23 — World Book and Copyright Day

Pays tribute to authors and books and their social and cultural contribution to the world

(7) DID YOU KNOW? Last year the International Costumers’ Guild participated in a “friend of the court” brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, joining Public Knowledge, the American Library Association, and others, asking the Court to protect the rights of clothing designers and costumers to freely practice their craft.

(8) AT HOME. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak reports “Netflix will invest billions to shoot its original content in California”:

Netflix is betting that filming closer to home will produce better content. In 2015, the streaming giant has announced that it would be doubling its output of original content, and it is aiming to have original productions make up half of its of its streaming catalog in the coming years. The goal is to entice users to come to the service by providing content that can’t be found elsewhere, but that goal is proving to be a strain on the existing film studio infrastructure. To cope, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos announced that the company would be investing $6 billion to expand infrastructure in California, rather than chase tax incentives offered by states.

Sarandos explained to The Wrap that the company determined that going after the incentives leads to diminishing returns when it comes to their final products. Filming out of state is hard on the actors and crew of a project, and the move will help bring projects back home to California. That could prove to be costly for the company, even as California has increased its own tax incentive program in recent years. While remaining in the state will likely cost Netflix more, Sarandos seems to think that the extra cost will be worth spending.

(9) SQUEAK UP. YouTube’s TheBackyardScientist set up 10 megaphones end-to-end to see how loud a noise he could make.

The video, posted to YouTube by TheBackyardScientist, features Kevin Kohler explaining he was inspired by Bart Simpson‘s prank in the season 8 Simpsons episode The Secret War of Lisa Simpson to place 10 megaphones end-to-end and test the results.

Bart’s experiment led to a shock wave that shattered all of the windows in town — as well as Homer’s fridge full of beer — but Kohler quickly ran into a problem Bart didn’t face: a feedback loop.


(10) BITE ON. The number of people who give their smartphones to dogs as chew toys is probably smaller than the number of men who have walked on the moon, but for them — “There’s an anti-dog label inside the Galaxy S8 — here’s what it means”. Let The Verge explain it to you.

Basically, you don’t want Fido in a situation where a battery could hiss and explode in its mouth. It’s obviously possible that a child could bite through the battery as well, but the likelihood of him / her piercing through the battery is lower.

(11) ARTIFICIAL DOG INTELLIGENCE. Amazing. How is it mine doesn’t do that?

(12) FIX THE SLATING PROBLEM FOREVER. That’s what Greg Hullender would like to do. At Rocket Stack Rank he summarizes his views about the effectiveness of 3SV, EPH(+) and their combination. He says, “I  think it makes it really clear that we need both 3SV and either EPH or EPH+. Otherwise, even small slates (100 to 200 people) will be able to control a significant amount of the final ballot, including adding embarrassing nominees.”

For each year, we produced two theoretical maximum graphs. A “finalist graph,” which shows what percentage of finalists a slate could have captured for a given number of slate voters, and a “sweeps” graph, which shows what percentage of entire categories a slate could have captured.

Looking at those four pairs of graphs (2.1-2.4 below), we will draw the following conclusions;

  • Std (5/6) by itself is far too weak.
  • EPH doesn’t protect enough finalists, but it is excellent at preventing sweeps.
  • EPH+ is an improvement on EPH, but it’s still not enough by itself.
  • 3SV is much stronger for protecting finalists, especially for modest numbers of slate voters, but it’s vulnerable to sweeps, and it breaks down for slates above about 300 people.
  • The 3SV/EPH and 3SV/EPH+ combinations are far, far stronger than either component alone. Either combination is probably sufficient, but the second one is stronger.

Accordingly, we conclude that the Business Meeting should ratify both EPH+ and 3SV. That should protect the Hugos from slating interference for the nonce.

(13) DREAM CASTING. Enjoy “Miles To Go” hosted at Archive of Our Own. Note – Password = Vorkosigan (as it says at the post).

There once was a man who dreamt of the stars…

A fanvid based on the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold.

…Obviously, it’s not so easy to make a feast for a fandom with no existing visual source. But where there’s a will, or in my case an enormous and driving folly, there’s a way. It was always going to be an ensemble vid, with Miles as the star, but the question was how to cast it. I did eventually solve that problem, and I won’t discuss my solution in detail here because… spoilers.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, Robin Reid, JJ, Doctor Science, Greg Hullender, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]

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

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

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

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

The three main motions do these things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The text of the proposals follows the jump.

Continue reading

Hugo Voting Proposal Status Update

By Jameson Quinn: Since the last thread (“To Say Nothing of the Dogs”), there hasn’t been a whole lot of progress in Hugo voting proposals, but it’s still clearly time for an update on various fronts.

To summarize the (tentative) consensus plan developed in the last thread:

  • Ratify EPH this year.
  • Make the following two proposals this year, hopefully to pass and ratify at least one of them.
    • 3SV
      • This means a second round of voting in which the “longlist” of the top 15 from the first round is publicized, and clearly-unworthy works from that list are eliminated if they have enough votes against. It is not intended to deal with mere matters of taste, but merely to insulate against offensive works promoted by slate voters.
      • The text of this proposal is being worked on by a group of (what I’d respectfully characterize as) SMOFs led by Colin Harris. They are behind schedule for various reasons but still plan to reach the finish line.
    • EPH+
      • This means using the Sainte-Laguë divisors with EPH; that is, SDV-LPE-SL, as explained in my paper with Bruce Schneier. To put it in more understandable terms: it’s like EPH, but is slightly harder on works with above-average overlap with other winning works, so that a slate or slates like last years’ puppies could probably average under 3 nominations per category.
      • The text of this proposal is included below.
  • Next year, make one or more of the following two proposals:
    • +2 (or +1) against trolls
      • This is meant to go along with 3SV. It would mean that each voter in the second round could add 2 (or 1) nominations per category for works on the longlist. These nominations would be treated the same as first-round nominations.
      • This would help people make sure that their ballot would have at least one nomination with a viable chance of becoming a finalist, without requiring them to run out and read a full longlist in each category. By doing so, it would help reduce the “long tail” issue, and thus increase the power of non-slate voters. Since slate voters can already ensure they have nominated works on the longlist, their voting power would be largely unaffected.
    • Extend finalists (if it appears necessary)
      • This is also meant to go along with 3SV. It would mean that the elimination ballot would have three options; not just “eliminate” or “keep”, but also “keep but extend”. If a work with a quota of “keep but extend” votes became a finalist, then the number of finalists would be increased by one in that category. This would ensure that slate voters could not push things off the ballot using nominations for things that have non-slate support (such as the puppy support for Sandman: Overture this year).

So, if this is the plan, what still remains to be done in this thread?

  • Discuss whether this plan should be modified (I think not, but I’m open to counterarguments).
  • Settle on a wording for EPH+, find co-signers, and submit the proposal. Current draft is below.
  • Make sure the Colin Harris/ Kevin Standlee group submits their 3SV proposal. For now, I trust that they’re on the job, but if they continue not to have a proposal, I’ll shift that trust to the community to get them back on track.
  • If people want me to be there at WorldCon, then my fundraiser has to be successful. I am very grateful to the people who have so far helped me raise just over $700, but in order to actually go, I’d need $1400. And honestly, I’m hoping to raise even more than that; any excess goes to the Center for Election Science (electology.org), which works to bring well-designed, more-democratic voting systems to contexts beyond just the Hugos. (The consequences of poorly-designed intraparty democracy are on full display these days in both the US and UK. And speaking as someone who lived in Guatemala for 10 years, many other countries would be happy to have as much intraparty democracy as those two.) All donations are tax-deductible in the US.
  • Talk about voting systems and/or electoral pathologies in SF stories. For instance: in Too Like the Lightning, (minor spoilers to end of paragraph) one plot point is an asset voting system, that is, one in which voters can vote for any other valid voter, and each person who gets votes exercises power proportional to the number of votes they hold. This is an excellent voting system, and I’d be happy to discuss how it works / doesn’t work with the rest of the plot.

Here’s the proposed wording of EPH+:

(1) Calculation Phase: First, the total number of nominations (the number of ballots on which each nominee appears) from all eligible ballots shall be tallied for each remaining nominee. Next, a single “point” shall be assigned to each nomination ballot. That point shall be divided equally among all remaining nominees on that ballot. each nomination ballot shall give a point or fraction thereof to each remaining nominee on that ballot, according to the number of such remaining nominees, using the following pattern: 1 point for 1 remaining nominee, 1/3 of a point each for 2 remaining nominees, 1/5 of a point each for 3 remaining nominees, 1/7 of a point each for 4 remaining nominees, and 1/9 of a point each for 5 remaining nominees (extending this pattern as needed if a ballot legally has more remaining nominees). Finally, all points from all nomination ballots shall be totaled for each nominee in that category. These two numbers, point total and number of nominations, shall be used in the Selection and Elimination Phases.

Co-signers (all Rot13): Wnzrfba Dhvaa, Pynhqvn Ornpu, Obaavr Jnesbeq, Pngurevar Snore, Naqerj Uvpxrl, Ebtref Pnqraurnq, Qnivq Tbyqsneo, Yrr Rttre, Gnfun Gheare Yraaubss, Fgrira Unygre, Qnivq Jnyynpr.

To Say Nothing of the Dogs; or, How We Confound the Hugos’ Third Slump (Hugo voting proposal discussion 5)

By Jameson Quinn: After 1, 2, 3, 4 threads here, and countless more that are peripherally related and/or on other blogs, discussing how to make the Hugo nomination process more resistant to slate voting and other “griefer” attacks (in other words, protect them from those intent on using the rules to disrupt and provoke), I believe a logical way forward is becoming evident. Below, I outline a set of proposals that could be made and passed at the Business Meeting.

If you count every separate idea below, there are 5 new proposals. That’s a lot. Personally, I support all of them. But I realize that it’s unlikely that the business meeting will pass all 5. That’s why these proposals are designed to be as modular as possible. Sure, they could all be passed together and would work to reinforce each other; but in most cases each one would also be a sensible step forward if passed alone.

Following that, I will answer some obvious questions that these proposals bring up, in FAQ format.

At the end of this post, I’ll present a rough draft of how these proposals might be formalized. This is for illustration purposes only. In the case of 3SV, there is a group of current and future Worldcon Chairs and Hugo Administrators working on formal language, and I expect they’ll do a much better job than I have. But I needed to present an illustrative version of 3SV to make sense of the extra proposals that would modify it.

I will also have some things to say in the comment thread that shouldn’t be here in the main post.

Overall plan outline:

  1. Pass EPH this year. This should at least keep a slate from sweeping any category. (As for 4/6, it is not as important. I personally would support amending it to 5/6 passing it; but the plan does not hinge on this.) Also, remove the 5% threshold this year.
    1. Present a proposal for EPH+, a technical enhancement to the EPH vote-counting system which is projected to give slates about one fewer finalist per category in circumstances like the current ones.
  2. Create a “base 3SV” proposal, which inserts a new qualification ballot between the current nominating and final ballots.
    1. The Hugo Committee would publish a “longlist” of the top 12 or 15 works in each category from the nominating ballot without specifying their voting totals or the order in which they finished.
    2. A second round of voting would then be conducted in which members of the current Worldcon can “preemptively no-award” any of the works on the longlist.
    3. Longlisted works which are rejected by a majority of the voters AND by an absolute minimum number of voters would be excluded from consideration for the final ballot. (The absolute minimum would be a substantial number – potentially 20% of all eligible members – to ensure that a slate-voting minority cannot hijack this round of voting).
    4. The final ballot would then proceed as at present, with finalists being the highest ranked candidates from the nominating (first round) ballot who were not excluded by the subsequent qualification vote.
  3. Create several additional proposals, intended primarily to modify or go alongside the base 3SV proposal above:
    1. First, a “mercy panel”, established by the prior year’s Worldcon, with the power, by unanimous vote, to “spare” any longlist work(s) from the 3SV voting round. Works so “spared” would be able to become finalists without possibility of second-round rejection, but would of course still be subject to being voted below “no award” in the final round.
    2. Second, a “+2 against trolls”  (Hat tip) round of voting, simultaneous with the 3SV round. This would allow any eligible first-round voter to add nominations for 2 works per category, that they had not already nominated, from the longlist. These nominations would be counted in determining the finalists, just as if they had been made in round 1. (Note: most of the discussion on this point has been made on the “+1” version of it; it was first proposed in combination with 3SV as “3SV+1”. But passing +2 this year would allow us to amend that to +1 next year, while the reverse is not true; so +2 is the best way to keep our options open.)
    3. (Note: this is a new proposal which has not been discussed in the prior threads, and as such, it is far more tentative than the rest) Third, a “extend finalists” option in the 3SV voting, whereby voters may choose for each work between the options “Reject”, “Accept with extension”, “Accept”, and “Abstain”. If one or more works that had gotten more than a certain threshold of combined “Reject” and “Accept with extension” votes became a finalist, the target number of finalists in that category would be increased by 1 for each such work, up to a maximum target of 7 finalists. As with rejection votes, the totals for “Accept with extension” votes would be published after the Hugos were awarded, but the names of specific works would be anonymized, to make it clear that the judgment of “Accept with extension” has to do with voting process and not with the quality of a work itself
  4. (optional) Discuss the possibility of a proposal to go back and fix the no-awarded categories from this year and last year using retro Hugos. I do not believe that a proposal to do this should be made this year; the Business Meeting will be plenty busy enough without it. But I think it’s a good idea to begin this discussion and have a proposal like this ready for 2017 or 2018.


Overall structure

Q. You say that a way forward is becoming evident. In whose view?

A. Many of the aspects of the plan I’ve outlined have been arrived at collaboratively and have drawn more-or-less broad consensus in the relevant discussion threads (linked at the top of this post). It’s true that other aspects more clearly come from one person: me, Jameson Quinn. But the proposal drafts above are not the end of the road; please comment below, and we will continue to work on them (including discarding ideas, if appropriate).In this thread, even if you have no new arguments to add, it is useful to just say just “I like this part” and/or “I don’t like that part.” Of course, if you’re going to say one of those, please do read through this FAQ, as your concerns may be addressed already.

Q. We can’t make any actual decisions until the Business Meeting, and many people who will be there aren’t even paying attention yet. So why have this discussion now?

A. There is no question that the Business Meeting has the final word. We’re not trying to take over the decision process here, just to smooth the way. That is: the point of the discussion now is to refine the proposals, clarify their advantages and disadvantages, and get consensus on the points that become obvious through that process.

Q. Is this set of proposals too complicated to even work as designed? (joke youtube link)

A. I have several things to say to that. First off, you’re right, they are somewhat complicated; but I’d argue that well-designed voting systems, while they should avoid senseless intricacy, can reasonably be a bit involved. Secondly, each of the the three main parts of this — EPH/EPH+, 3SV, and +2 against trolls, — could stand on its own, helping solve some aspects of the current situation even if the other parts were not present. This partial redundancy means the whole is more robust, not more fragile, than any of the parts.

Q. Are these proposals worth the extra complexity they add?

A. I’ll address this question for each proposal separately. But more generally, it depends on what problem(s) you’re trying to solve. See the next question for more on that.

Q. Out of the 5 new proposals here (plus EPH), what is the least we could do that would address the problem?

A. That depends what you mean by “the problem”. You might think it’s:

  1. Slate sweeps (that is, the possibility that all the Hugo finalists in one or more categories come from a slate) In this case the minimal solution is to Pass EPH. See my paper with Bruce for more details.
  2. Slates nominating works that are intended to defame, harass, offend, or otherwise discredit the Hugos? In this case the minimal solution is to Pass 3SV.
    1. How could we solve the above without causing undue negativity? In this case the minimal solution is to may be 3SV, if social norms are enough to prevent campaigns to reject good-faith works. If not, adding on the Mercy Panel would help.
  3. Multiple categories without a choice between at least 2 organic (non-slate) works: In this case the minimal solution is to Pass EPH+. If you do not like EPH+, then you could get a similar result with a combination of EPH, 3SV and “+2 (or +1) against trolls”.
    1. If you think the problem is even 1 category without such a choice, then the minimal solution with enough of a safety margin is probably combining EPH+ and 3SV+2 (that is, both of the possible solutions just above).
  4. Slates acting as “kingmakers” (that is, supporting some works which already have organic support, merely in order to deny others the chance of becoming finalists)? In this case the minimal solution is either EPH+, 3SV, and +2 (or +1) against trolls; or, alternatively, EPH, 3SV, and extend finalists. For the greatest possible strength against kingmakers, therefore, you’d combine EPH+, 3SV, +2 (or +1) aganst trolls, and extend finalists.
  5. All of the above: to solve all the problems above, you’d probably need all the proposals.

Q. Even if you consolidated all of this, it would still be at least 2 and probably 3 different proposals. Do you really expect all of that to pass through the BM?

A. Well, it’s not impossible. But frankly, no, I wouldn’t expect all of this to pass. But I still think it’s worth comprehensively laying out all the different problems and what it would take to fix them all, so that we can make this decision with our eyes open.

Q. Isn’t there a simpler way? Have you looked for one?

A. We have looked for one, and I believe the proposals above are the best of what we’ve considered. Others may disagree. For now, this FAQ is just a starting point for more discussion.

Q. OK, enough beating around the bush. What do you actually hope passes?

A. I’d like all of it to pass. But I’d be pretty satisfied with EPH+, 3SV, and +1 against trolls. I’m not attached to the mercy panel or extended finalists.

EPH and EPH+

Q. Is EPH+ worth the extra complexity it adds? Why?

A. I think it clearly is; but then again, I (Jameson) may not be the best person to answer this question. The advantages of EPH+ are clear; it helps ensure more of the finalists are determined by organic voters. As for the disadvantages and/or complexity: since I live and breathe voting theory, it actually doesn’t seem any more complex than EPH to me. Though I realize that is probably not true for other people, it’s hard for me to judge how much of a problem that is.

Q. This is complicated. Where can I read more about why it was proposed?

A. Start with Bruce Schneier’s post. If you’re up for some academic jargon, you can supplement that with our paper. Finally, read this post from the previous thread in which I try to explain the reasons for EPH+ in plain language.

 Q. Is EPH or EPH+ still needed if we have 3SV, or if we have 3SV along with some of the related options?

A. I believe that at least EPH is still necessary to prevent a slate from taking over the longlist. Beyond that, see my answer to the “what is the least we can do” question.

Q. I want to look at lots of graphs!

A. I have a bunch. (more to follow on this, in the discussion.)

3SV base

Q. Is this proposal worth the extra complexity it adds? Why?

A. I believe it definitely is. If we want keep offensive and/or harassing works from becoming finalists, we need to empower somebody to do that. And fandom is too broad to entrust that power to a small group, so we need some proposal similar to 3SV. Obviously, we could write the proposal differently, but I believe the version above is a reasonable starting point and sticks to the essentials.

Q. Why 3SV (voting to eliminate finalists) and not just a second round of positive “semi-final” voting to decide finalists?

A. Several reasons:

  1. A semi-final ballot would give voters just a few weeks to assimilate and vote on an extended list of longlisted items. Many of the most careful nominators would barely vote for any; while the most prolific voters would probably be going mostly by kneejerk reactions. This is somewhat true for 3SV, too, but it is less of an issue as explained below.
  2. A semi-final ballot conflates two questions: “Do I like this work and feel it may deserve a Hugo?” with “Do I feel that this work’s presence on the longlist or in the list of finalists would be a legitimate result of honest fan preference?”. In 3SV, those questions are separate, and votes to disqualify a work are based on the second question alone — one which does not require fully reading/reviewing every longlist work.
  3. Unlike a semi-final ballot, 3SV deals decisively with the issue of “troll finalists”: that is, works promoted by slates explicitly in order that their shocking and/or offensive nature might cast discredit on the awards.
  4. 3SV would be similar in spirit to the “no award” option which is already enshrined in the constitution, except that works thus eliminated would not take up space on the list of finalists, and awkward moments at the awards themselves would be minimized.
  5. A semi-final ballot opens up new kinds of attacks on the list of finalists, such as actually increasing slate voter’s capacity to act as “kingmakers” and/or perform “area defense” against certain kinds of works. All they’d have to do was to have enough voting power to reverse the gap between two works which both have significant organic (non-slate) support. But under 3SV, actually eliminating a work would not be possible without a relatively high “quorum”* of voters, and we hope that community pressure would lead to a low background level of organic rejection votes, so a minority of slate voters would be unable to use rejection as a weapon.

Q. Wouldn’t this lead to constant campaigns to eliminate works people just happen not to like, and thereby to hurt feelings?

A. There are several safeguards against this. First and most important is social pressure; it should be clear from the outset that this is a just safeguard against outright bad faith, not a chance to express differences in taste, and I believe that any Worldcon members who promote disqualifying a work just because they don’t like it will not get much support. Second, there’s eligibility. Various rules, discussed below in “open issues”, have been proposed to prevent a campaign to bring in Worldcon outsiders after the longlist is public. Third, there’s the quorum; if participation in the second-round voting is low, it will not be enough to pass the threshold to eliminate any work. Fourth, there’s the relatively short period of the semifinals, also discussed below. And fifth, there’s the possibility that (under some versions of this proposal) elimination votes for a specific work would never be publicized; only anonymized distributions of votes for each category. (In some cases, of course, the identity of which work got a certain vote total would be easy to guess, but that would still be just a guess.)
See also the Mercy Panel FAQs below.

Mercy panel

Q. Is this proposal worth the extra complexity it adds? Why?

A. That’s up to the Business Meeting to decide.Multiple people have expressed concern with 3SV, calling it too negative, and worrying how possible “rejection campaigns” would feel to the authors in question. This proposal would remove the possibility of such campaigns in clear-cut cases, reserving the power of 3SV for the edge cases which need it.It would also simplify the task of voting in round 2. This is a case where a little extra complexity in the rules actually simplifies life for the majority.

Q. Would this proposal let the panel keep something from becoming a finalist? That sounds like a bad idea!

A. No! The only power this panel would have would be to allow the nominations (from round 1 and possibly the “+2 against trolls” round) to stand. In other words, the panel can be a “good cop” by letting a work with strong support become a finalist without passing through a rejection vote, but could not be a “bad cop” by preventing it from becoming a finalist. The only group who could keep something from being a finalist would be the voters at large; exactly the same group that currently has the power to rank something below “no award”.

Q. Would this be too much power to give to a small group?

A. I think not. The only power this panel would have would be to exempt a work from the 3SV process. Even if they overstepped that power, we’d be no worse off than we are currently. In particular, the voters as a whole would still be able to put an offending work below “no award”.

Q. Wouldn’t this just be painting a target on the individuals on the panel, setting them up for harassment?

A. To a certain degree, the answer is yes; if you can’t handle people on the internet saying mean things about you, you probably shouldn’t be on this panel. But I don’t think this is a good reason not to have such a panel. Here’s my reasoning:

First off, there are manifestly people in fandom who can handle being a target, whether it’s because they bear it as a negative, because they actually enjoy the battle, or because they are such towering figures as to be beyond good and evil. I believe that there is a subset of these people who have earned fandom’s trust and could well serve as “your mercy”.

Secondly, I think that a “mercy panel” is designed to minimize such targeting. The question they’re answering is not the fundamentally controversial one, “does this work deserve to be kept from being a finalist?”, but rather, “are there reasonable questions about whether this work should be kept from being a finalist?”. It is at least possible to believe the answer to the first question is an emphatic “no”, and still accept that the answer to the second may be “yes”.

Finally, the fact is, haters gonna hate. There is really nothing we can do to prevent some people from becoming targets in this mess. With a panel, at least the targets will be people who’ve signed up for the job.

+2 against trolls

Q. Is this proposal worth the extra complexity it adds? Why?

A. I feel that it is. Because there are so many eligible works each year, many people nominate without naming even one thing that has any chance of becoming a finalist. This would focus attention on a list of 15 strong works, and give nominators some extra time to review these and add one or two that deserve it. The resulting finalists will have been reviewed by more fans, will have won more support, and thus will almost certainly be higher-quality overall. The fact that this proposal helps resist slate voting is almost just a side-effect.

Q. Why not let people add as many nominations as they want?

A. The 3SV voting round, when +2 is happening, should go by relatively quickly. Voters have limited attention to devote to this issue. Asking them to look at the longlist, do whatever extra reading/watching is necessary, and pick one or two extra nominations per category is probably the limit of what they can do without cutting corners.
Slate voters, on the other hand, are all about cutting corners. They can easily decide to add as many extra nominations as they’re allowed to.

EPH or EPH+ both make the story a little bit more complex, because it’s no longer optimal to add too many extra nominations. Still, there are some cases where adding more than 2 nominations could be a smart move for a slate. Why give slate voters that freedom, even if the cases where it helps them are rare?

Q. OK, so why not allow just +1 instead of +2?

A. That may well be the best course. But if we pass a +2 proposal this year, then changing it to +1 next year during ratification is a valid “lesser change”. So +2 keeps our reasonable options open. (For instance: what if we decide it should be +2 for Best Short Story, but +1 for all other categories? With all the proposals to look at this year, it’s probably not worth getting into details like that now; but next year, things may be clearer.)

Extend finalists

Q. What’s the idea here?

A. This proposal helps 3SV deal with the issue of “hostage” or “kingmaker” works, which have clear merit of their own but which have evidence of mindless support from slate voters. For instance, this year (2016), Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves was supported by a slate and became a finalist. He’s had several books nominated for Hugos, and several that weren’t; without the slate support, it’s impossible to be perfectly sure whether Seveneves would have made it. This option would allow works in this situation to become finalists, as the slate support was not the author’s fault; but to do so without pushing any other work off the list of finalists, because the list would just expand.

Q. Is this proposal worth the extra complexity it adds? Why?

A. Perhaps; it’s worth at least considering, though for simplicity in the business meeting it may be better to fold it into 3SV rather than taking it up separately. This proposal helps 3SV deal with the issue of “hostage” or “kingmaker” works, where a slate throws support behind things that have clear merit of their own, so that those things gets some votes from people who read them and some from people who didn’t.

Q. Would this make authors feel bad?

A. It shouldn’t. A vote of “accept with extension” is in no way a judgement on the work itself, just a judgement that there is reason to doubt the motive of some significant fracion of the work’s supporters.

Proposal Texts (rough drafts, for discussion purposes only):

A proposal for 3SV is currently being prepared by a group of highly experienced Worldcon runners led by Colin Harris (2005 Worldcon Chair) and also including former Worldcon Chairs Kevin Standlee and Vince Docherty and former NASFiC Chair Warren Buff. They expect to have a draft proposal published within two weeks (by 12 June), and if this were just about 3SV, I would rather have waited for them and not written something myself. But the other proposals following 3SV relate to it closely. So in order to write those other proposals in a form clear enough for further discussion, I needed to first write an illustrative text for a 3SV proposal.


Moved, to amend Section 3.A.1 (1) of the E Pluribus Hugo proposal, as follows:

(1) Calculation Phase: First, the total number of nominations (the number of ballots on which each nominee appears) from all eligible ballots shall be tallied for each remaining nominee. Next, a single “point” shall be assigned to each nomination ballot. That point shall be divided equally among all remaining nominees on that ballot. each nomination ballot shall give a point or fraction thereof to each remaining nominee on that ballot, according to the number of such remaining nominees, using the following pattern: 1 point for 1 remaining nominee, 1/3 of a point each for 2 remaining nominees, 1/5 of a point each for 3 remaining nominees, 1/7 of a point each for 4 remaining nominees, and 1/9 of a point each for 5 remaining nominees (extending this pattern as needed if a ballot legally has more remaining nominees).  Finally, all points from all nomination ballots shall be totaled for each nominee in that category. These two numbers, point total and number of nominations, shall be used in the Selection and Elimination Phases.

3SV base (for reference only; to be superseded by the text from Colin Harris’s group)

Moved, to amend Section 3.7.1 (Tallying of Nominations), Section 3.9 (Notification and Acceptance), and Section 3.11.4 (Tallying of Votes) as follows:

Section 3.7: Nominations.

3.7.1: The Worldcon Committee shall conduct a poll to select begin the process of selecting the nominees finalists for the final Award voting. Each member of the administering Worldcon, the immediately preceding Worldcon, or the immediately following Worldcon as of January 31 of the current calendar year shall be allowed to make up to five (5) equally weighted nominations in every category.

Insert new sections 3.B and 3.C after section 3.8 and, if appropriate, 3.A from the E Pluribus Hugo proposal.

Section 3.B: Longlist publication.

3.B.1: In each category, the “longlist” shall consist of the top 15 nominees, as selected by the process detailed in section 3.8 [if EPH has passed] and section 3.A[end conditional]), but changing the number of desired nominees to 15 as appropriate. Any numbers involving limits on individual ballots shall not be changed.

3.B.2: In order to foment quick and accurate publication of each category’s longlist, the Worldcon Committee may exercise reasonable discretion in increasing the number of nominees on the longlist up to a maximum size of 18 nominees. Possible examples of situations that would call for such discretion are given in sections 3.B.3.1 and 3.B.3.2 below:

3.B.2.1: If eligibility cannot be quickly determined for a nominees, but it is thought to be ineligible, both it and an extra nominee may be included in case it is not eligible.

3.B.2.2: If the 15th-place nominee is nearly tied with the 16th-place one, and it is thought that a recount might show that their proper positions had been reversed, both may be included.

3.B.3: The names of the nominees on each category’s longlist, but not their order or vote totals, shall be made public with all due haste after the nominations poll is closed.

3.B.3.1 “Made public” means that the information should be conveyed to all eligible voters through some direct, personal means such as email and/asor postal mail, and also made generally accessible in some medium or media such as a web page.

3.B.4: Nominees on the longlist shall not be referred to as “semifinalists” or otherwise given any honorary status unless and until they have passed the eligibility voting described in section 3.C without elimination.

Section 3.C: Nominee eligibility voting.

3.C.1: After the longlist is published, each member of the administering Worldcon who had been eligible to vote in the nominations poll as described in 3.7.1 may vote on the eligibility of the longlist members.

3.C.2: At the discretion of the Worldcon committee, and with reasonable prior notice, the set of persons eligible to vote on nominee eligibility may be frozen before the close of voting, in order to ease calculation of the vote thresholds in 3.C.7 below.

3.C.3: The ballot for this round of voting shall present the voter with the following options for each longlist nominee: “Accept”, “Reject”, and “Abstain”.

3.C.4: Any voter who does not submit a ballot will be considered to have voted “Abstain” on all nominees.

3.C.5: Any voter who does submit a ballot but does not explicitly choose one of the three options for a given nominee will be considered to have voted “Accept” on that nominee. This default choice should be made clear on the ballot insofar as practical.

3.C.6: Postal mail ballots should be accepted insofar as it is practical given the schedule, but the Worldcon committee may if it chooses schedule this voting round in such a way that some members may not have ample time to submit such physical ballots.

3.C.7: A nominee shall be eliminated and considered ineligible if it meets the following two criteria: the number of “Reject” votes it receives is greater than 20% of the pool of voters eligible under 3.C.1 and 3.C.2; and the number of “Reject” votes it receives is also greater than the number of “Accept” votes it receives.

3.C.6: At the end of this voting round, the 5 finalists shall be chosen as follows:

3.C.6.1 The process described in section 3.8 [if EPH has passed]and section 3.A[end conditional] shall be used to put the entire set of nominees (eligible or not) in as strict an order as possible (that is, if the process is one of elimination, it shall continue until all nominees have been eliminated).

3.C.6.2 The finalists shall be the top 5 eligible nominees on this list.

Section 3.9: Notification and Acceptance.

3.9.1: Worldcon Committees shall use reasonable efforts to attempt to notify all of the nominees on the longlist, or in the case of deceased or incapacitated persons, their heirs, assigns, or legal guardians, in each category prior to simultaneous with the release of such information. Each nominee shall be asked reminded at that time to either accept or decline the nomination. If the nominee declines nomination, that nominee shall not appear on the final ballot.

3.9.A: [after 3.9.1]Since the longlist will be public information, members of the public may also help contact the responsible persons. Any nominee on the longlist which has not explicitly withdrawn by the end of the second round of voting shall be assumed to accept becoming a finalist.

3.9.2: In the Best Professional Artist category, the acceptance should include citations of at least three (3) works first published in the eligible year.

3.9.3: Each nominee in the categories of Best Fanzine and Best Semiprozine shall be required to provide information confirming that they meet the qualifications of their category.

3.11.4: The complete numerical vote totals, including all preliminary tallies for first, second, … places, shall be made public by the Worldcon Committee within ninety (90) days after the Worldcon. During the same period the nomination voting totals shall also be published, including in each category the vote counts [if EPH has passed] and points tallies as of elimination [end conditional] for at least the fifteen highest vote-getters and any other candidate receiving a number of votes equal to at least five percent (5%) of the nomination ballots cast in that category, but not including any candidate receiving fewer than five votes. 3.11.A This information shall also include eligibility and reason (if any) for ineligibility for each member of the longlist.

3.11.B In addition, for each category, the list of numbers of “reject” and “accept” votes for each work shall be published in descending order of number “reject” votes. The names of each work shall NOT be published alongside this list.

Mercy panel

Moved, to add Section 3.BA (Mercy panel) after section 3.B, and to amend Section 3.C.1 (Nominee eligibility voting) as follows:

Section 3.BA: Mercy panel

3.BA.1 Each Worldcon Committee shall appoint at least 3 natural persons and 2 alternates, and no more than 6 of each, to serve as a Mercy Panel for the following Worldcon. Presence on the Mercy Panel shall not necessarily preclude assuming other functions for any Worldcon. The procedure for such appointment shall be at the discretion of the Committee, and may or may not include voting.

3.BA.2 If for any reason there are not at least the minimum number of members and alternates from the prior year, the current Worldcon Committee shall appoint any which are lacking, using the same degree of discretion.

3.BA.3 The Worldcon Committee and the Mercy Panel shall remain in contact during the first round of voting, and the WorldCon Committee may elect to share preliminary voting counts as appropriate and practical. This information shall be treated as private, maintained with reasonable security precautions, and erased as soon as practical by the Mercy Panel.

3.BA.4 As soon as the longlist is published, the Mercy Panel shall proceed with all reasonable haste to rule on whether each nominee on the longlist should be subject to an eligibility vote as described in section 3.C.

3.BA.5 Any member of the Mercy Panel who has a conflict of interest regarding a given work shall allow an alternate to vote in their stead on that work. Any work which for this reason cannot be reviewed by at least 3 members of the Mercy Panel shall be subject to an eligibility vote.

3.BA.6 Nominees that should be subject to eligibility votes include any in the following categories:

3.BA.6.1 Those for which there is a reasonable argument that they contain harassment or libel against a living person or any past member of WSFS.

3.BA.6.2 Those which any member of the Mercy Panel considers to be likely to be offensive to the standards of at least 20% of WSFS members.

3.BA.6.3 Those for which there is some clearly-defined credible reason(s) to suppose that over 20% of the nominations were made based more on outside influences than on the nominator’s judgment of the nominee’s merit.

3.BA.7 Any nominees which are unanimously considered by the Mercy Panel not to fall in any of the categories enumerated in 3.BA.6 shall not be subject to an eligibility vote.

3.C.1: After the longlist is published, and after the Mercy Panel has ruled on all members of a category, each member of the administering Worldcon who had been eligible to vote in the nominations poll as described in 3.7.1 may vote on the eligibility of any of the longlist members not exempt under section 3.BA.

+2 against trolls

Moved, to amend Section 3.7.1 (Tallying of Nominations), Section 3.9 (Notification and Acceptance), and Section 3.11.4 (Tallying of Votes) as shown above in “3SV Base”; and also to add section 3.D as follows:

Section 3.D Addition of nominations during round 2

3.D.1 During the second round of voting (that is, simultaneous with the process described in 3.C, if present), all persons who were eligible to nominate in the first round of voting may add nominations as follows.

3.D.2 Each voter may add up to two (2) nominations per category.

3.D.3 Any additional nominations for the same nominee a voter has already nominated in the same category shall be ignored.

3.D.4 All new nominations must be for nominees that are on the longlist in the same category.

3.D.5 Postal mail ballots should be accepted insofar as it is practical given the schedule, but the Worldcon committee may if it chooses schedule this voting round in such a way that some members may not have ample time to submit such physical ballots.

3.D.6 All nominations added during this period shall be treated in all ways as if they had come during the first round of voting, except that they shall not be counted as violating the allowed number of nominations per category.

Extend finalists

Moved, to amend Section 3.C.3 and 3.C.7 of the 3SV proposal above, and to add section 3.C.A after 3.C.7, as follows:

3.C.3: The ballot for this round of voting shall present the voter with the following options for each longlist nominee: “Accept”, “Accept with extension”, “Reject”, and “Abstain”.

3.C.4: Any voter who does not submit a ballot will be considered to have voted “Abstain” on all nominees.

3.C.5: Any voter who does submit a ballot but does not explicitly choose one of the three options for a given nominee will be considered to have voted “Accept” on that nominee. This default choice should be made clear on the ballot insofar as practical.

3.C.6: Postal mail ballots should be accepted insofar as it is practical given the schedule, but the Worldcon committee may if it chooses schedule this voting round in such a way that some members may not have ample time to submit such physical ballots.

3.C.7: A nominee shall be eliminated and considered ineligible if it meets the following two criteria: the number of “Reject” votes it receives is greater than 20% of the pool of voters eligible under 3.C.1 and 3.C.2; and the number of “Reject” votes it receives is also greater than the number of “Accept” votes or “Accept with extension” votes it receives.

3.C.A: If the number of “Reject” votes and “Accept with extension” votes a nominee receives is greater than 10% of the number of voters eligible under 3.C.1 and 3.C.2; and the number of “Reject” votes and “Accept with extension” votes the nominee receives is also greater than the number of “Accept” votes it receives; and if the nominee is selected as a finalist; then the number of finalists in that category shall be increased by 1, up to a maximum of 7.

Three Possible Hugo Voting Alternatives

By Kevin Standlee: In light of the revelation that modeling of E Pluribus Hugo does not result in quite the “magic bullet” that some may have hoped for, we may need to consider other changes to the Hugo Award voting system to deal with bad actors deliberately setting themselves against the wishes of the majority of the voting members of the World Science Fiction Society. Over the past few weeks, I have written up descriptions of three different proposals that attempt to deal with bad actors in different ways, and to make it more likely that the results of the Hugo Awards represent the wishes of the majority of the participating members, without the members having to resort to the 16-ton anvil that is No Award.

All of the proposals below are compatible with either of the proposals up for ratification this year (EPH and 4/6). They are not necessarily compatible with each other. None of them require a Very Strong Administrator picking and choosing individual members’ ballots or disqualifying individual finalists on what I call “ideological” grounds. All of them aim to give the majority of the members a strong voice in picking the Hugo Awards.

In this overview, try not to get too deeply bogged down in specific details. For example, all three proposal refer to the “Top 15.” This is a reference to the “long list” currently defined in the WSFS constitution thusly:

3.11.4: The complete numerical vote totals, including all preliminary tallies for first, second, . . . places, shall be made public by the Worldcon Committee within ninety (90) days after the Worldcon. During the same period the nomination voting totals shall also be published, including in each category the vote counts for at least the fifteen highest vote-getters and any other candidate receiving a number of votes equal to at least five percent (5%) of the nomination ballots cast in that category, but not including any candidate receiving fewer than five votes.

Therefore, the “top 15” can be defined in different ways, and there’s a reasonable argument to be made for many of them. Don’t get too tangled up in specifics. These proposals have general principles, and if you’re agreeable to the general idea of any of them, then we can discuss the specific values for some of the blank spots in them.

In the list below, the links lead to my LiveJournal where each proposal is listed in more detail.

Proposal 1: 3-Stage Voting

3-Stage Voting (3SV) adds a new round of voting to the Hugo Award process, called “semi-finals,” between the existing nominating ballot and the existing final ballot. In 3SV, the top 15 nominees (including any ties, and see the warning about specifics above) are listed in a way that doesn’t show how many nominations they received. The members (supporting and attending) of the current Worldcon (not the previous and following Worldcons) are presented with this list, with a question on each of the fifteen semi-finalists in each category: “Is this work worthy of being on the Final Hugo Award Ballot?” with the choices being YES, NO, and ABSTAIN.

If a sufficient quorum (which is why counting explicit abstentions is important) votes, and if a sufficient number vote NO, that semi-finalist is disqualified from further consideration. As currently proposed, the necessary NO vote is “more NO than YES votes,” but the exact amount needed to disqualify is negotiable. Remember, even if every vote is NO, if a quorum (minimum number of voters) doesn’t participate, the work cannot be disqualified. (This makes it difficult for a small group to campaign against a work.)

At the end of the semi-final round, any works disqualified by the members, withdrawn by the nominees, or disqualified by the Committee on technical grounds is out of the running. From among the remaining semi-finalists, the five that got the most votes in the nominating phase become the finalists, and the final ballot continues as it currently does. Note that in this case it doesn’t matter how many YES votes a semi-finalist got, only that it didn’t get a negative majority.

3SV effectively moves the votes on NO AWARD to the semi-finals, although it would remain a candidate on the final ballot. It allows the members of the current Worldcon (the ones who will be voting on the final ballot) to decide in advance which works they think deserve to be on the final ballot. It does this at a price, however, and that price is to carve 6-8 weeks out of an already relatively crowded schedule. The proposal moves the deadline by which you have to be a member in order to nominate up by a month, and in practice would require the nominating deadline to be earlier in the year.

Another drawback of 3SV is that it triples the number of nominees that the Worldcon Committee (the Hugo Award Administrators) need to vet and contact. However, as a trade-off, it gives the administrator roughly three times as much time to do this contact work, and makes the vetting and contacting process public. That is because the Administrator would not need to contact semi-finalists in advance of announcing the “longlist” of semi-finalists. While the semi-final ballot runs, the Administrator would be contacting semi-finalists to give them an opportunity to withdraw from consideration in the final ballot. Administrators could put out a public appeal if they are unable to contact a given semi-finalist. In addition, the Administrator can do eligibility confirmation in public, with the help of the many other people who will undoubtedly be checking over the list and asking questions. Should a semi-finalist be disqualified on technical grounds, the semi-finalist would not be replaced on the semi-final ballot. Ineligible works show up on the existing Top 15 lists now, and the semi-final round would be too short to allow for replacing longlist slots.

An incidental feature of 3SV is that the finalists would not know they’d made the final ballot until the shortlist was announced. They’d know they were semi-finalists, and during the semi-finals they would have had time to decline if they so choose, but it would be impossible for them to leak being a finalist because they would not know it themselves.

Additional drawbacks to 3SV include the fact that it is explicitly negative. It is a place where you vote against things. Some people are philosophically opposed to “down-voting” works. Furthermore, should the known bad actors stop trying to game the system, there is little need for this semi-final round, and you might find people not even bothering to participate in it, which might result in complaints that we’d added complexity and expense for no obvious reason.

3SV is a “vote against stuff” system. An alternative to it was the second proposal.

Proposal 2: Double Nominations with Approval Voting

Double Nominations with Approval Voting (DN/AV, sometimes just DN) is similar to 3-Stage Voting, in that there would be a semi-final round with the Top 15 (see warning at the beginning of the article) nominees listed in an order that would not reveal how many nominations they received. Only members (attending and supporting) of the current Worldcon would vote at this stage. But instead of voting against semi-finalists as you do in 3SV, you would vote for those semi-finalists who you think deserve to be on the final ballot. You could vote for one or all of the semi-finalists. The version as currently proposed included a single write-in slot as well, primarily as a safety valve. In this case, the number of votes a semi-finalist gets here is critical, because only the top five would continue to the finals.

In 3SV, the number of YES votes doesn’t matter as long as there are fewer NO votes (or insufficient ballots cast to qualify the election at all). The relative number of YES votes doesn’t matter as long as the semi-finalist isn’t disqualified, because it’s the original nominating ballot count that sends works on to the final round if they survive the weeding-out process of 3SV’s downvotes. However, in DN/AV, the five works with the most votes in the semi-final round go on to the final ballot, and the number of nominating ballots cast to get the works onto the longlist is irrelevant. Some have called for nominating counts to be used as a tie-breaker, as they envision a 15-way tie for the final ballot. I personally think this unlikely, and there have been as many as eight finalists on a Hugo ballot due to ties for the final position, so I think we could live without a tie-breaker.

All of the extra administrative issues of 3SV are shared by DN/AV, so I won’t go over them again here.

DN/AV eliminates the “negative” aspect of 3SV, in that you vote for semi-finalists, not against them.

Some have suggested that there’s an implication that “you need to have read all of the semi-finalists in order to vote on this ballot,” although I don’t think that is true in either case. DN/AV is a second nominating round. Just as the current nominating ballot makes no pretense that you should have read everything published last year, DN/AV doesn’t expect voters to have read all fifteen semi-finalists, but instead to pick those that the voters think worth considering on the final ballot, knowing that only the top five will appear there.

The biggest advantage to either 3SV or DN/AV is that they put the decision of “what to have on the final ballot” in the hand of the members who will be voting on that final ballot, and that the majority will of those voters will prevail. Neither system is particularly susceptible to gaming by small minorities. The biggest drawback to either of the first two proposals is that they add an additional round of voting, with administrative overhead and complexity.

Some people have asserted, with various degrees of strength, that the Committee (Hugo Award Administrators) should simply ignore “slate voters” or disqualify “obvious slate-generated finalists.” In my opinion, such proposals are hugely problematical, in that they give Administrators authority they have never had in the entire history of the Hugo Awards. However, there is one historical precedent to which we can look when a group of bad actors appears to have forced a work onto the ballot, and the Worldcon Committee tried to ameliorate the action without actually disqualifying anyone. We’ll consider this in the final proposal.

Proposal 3: Plus Two

In 1989, the Hugo Award Administrator noticed an odd situation, where a set of nominating ballots arrived in close order with a single nomination cast in a single category. This was enough to place a finalist on the ballot that seemed unusual to anyone who had been watching the kinds of things that had made the shortlist in recent years. The ballots all having included membership payments in the form of consecutively numbered money orders further raised suspicions. According to the coverage of the situation in File 770 at the time, the 1989 Worldcon committee said in a statement at the time that they didn’t do any investigation, but that one person wrote to the committee to inquire why he had a membership when he hadn’t paid for it. (After they made a public statement, some fans contacted the committee claiming to have cast these votes with innocent intent.) In any event, there has always been a strong ethos in the Hugo Awards to allow the membership to speak, not a small committee. On the other hand, this case seemed to be doing someone out of a Hugo Award finalist slot unfairly. The Committee took the unprecedented step of adding the sixth-place nominee to the shortlist. Not too long thereafter, one of the six finalists (the one that seemed to be odd compared to the others) withdrew. There is no evidence or suggestion that the finalist who withdrew had anything to do with the string of bullet-voted ballots. At most, this was a case of enthusiasts with more money than common sense or ethics.

The final proposal that I’ve written up would explicitly authorize the Worldcon Committee (in practice, the Hugo Award Administration Subcommittee set up by the Worldcon Committee) to take the action that the 1989 Worldcon did whenever they think that there was a pattern of unethical voting in the nominating round. The Committee would be authorized to add up to two additional finalists from among the Top 15. They would not reveal which finalists they added until after the Hugo Awards ceremony, when it would be included in the post-ceremony detailed results.

I have no expectation that the current people who have typically been part of the Hugo Administration Subcommittee would be the ones who would make the actual Plus 2 decisions. I expect that any sensible Worldcon Committee would recruit additional Administrators for their literary judgement, just as the World Fantasy Award does. Any Administrator, no matter whether they were recruited for computer skills, literary skills, or public relations skills, would be ineligible for that year’s Award just as the current Administrators are.

Should the Administrators determine that there was no need to do so, they could choose to not add additional finalists. Thus, if known Bad Actors desist from their wrecking ways, the Administrators could simply continue running things as we have done in the past, leaving it up to the five highest pluralities of nominations. This would simplify administration and require relatively little change.

This proposal allows the Committee to pull from the Top 15, rather than simply the next two finishers in the nominations, to minimize multiple-slating attacks on the system that would try to dominate the top seven rather than the top five positions. While 20% of the electorate has been able to dominate the first five positions relatively easily, it seems unlikely that such a small group could dominate the top fifteen unless their voting power grew to a majority of the entire electorate. Inasmuch as solutions that represent a majority of the electorate (even if you personally dislike the result) are not contrary to democratic process, there is nothing in this proposal that tries to “defend against it.” As I’ve said above and will continue to say, if you can command a majority of the voters, you get your way, even if I don’t like it. It is minorities dominating the process that troubles me.

Note that there’s nothing magic about adding two additional works. It could be one or more. The exact value is debatable. However, consider that we do hope that most people read all or most of the finalists, and therefore making the shortlist too long works against any good you might get from adding (say) five extra works to the ballot.

Broadly speaking, Plus Two is compatible with either (but not both) 3SV and DN/AV. That is, this proposal can be considered separately from either 3SV or DN/AV, whereas the first two proposals above are antithetical to each other, and only one of them could be reasonably considered at a time.

The biggest advantage of Plus Two is that it’s relatively simple, does not add a lot of administrative overhead, and allows the existing two-stage process to stay in place, with only a relatively minor change of adding works to the final ballot. It also adds the “human judgement element” that it appears that many people seem to think is necessary to combat bad-faith efforts to sabotage the Awards.

The biggest disadvantage is that it gives Administrators an authority that they’ve never actually had before, and that they have used only once before, without any explicit sanction. Administrators may be reluctant to serve on the Hugo Award Administration Subcommittee if they know that they may be responsible in some way for adding works to the Hugo Award ballot.


There are no “magic bullets” when it comes to tinkering with the Hugo Award rules. None of the proposals here is a perfect fix. Indeed, per Arrow’s Theorem, there is no such thing as a perfect voting system. However, we can try to move things around and minimize unfairness, usually at the expense of additional complexity. The political question then is how much complexity we can tolerate to improve perceived fairness.

The Instant Runoff Voting system that we use on the final ballot is a case of trading complexity (IRV boggles the minds of people who reject anything other than First Past the Post voting) for fairness (IRV usually returns the least-disliked candidate in an election, rather than the one with the largest plurality; in a field of more than two candidates like the Hugo Awards, it usually returns a consensus winner, not just a strong front-runner). Should we decide that the changes we’ve started with E Pluribus Hugo and 4/6 that are up for ratification this year are insufficient to tilt the field back toward perceived fairness, it behooves the members of WSFS meeting in Kansas City this summer to consider additional changes now, not later.

WSFS rules are intentionally complicated to change, in order to prevent concerns of a day or even of a single year to overwhelm the process. However, that doesn’t mean that we cannot start queuing up additional changes now while we continue to monitor how things proceed, in order to protect our own longer term interests.

I expect at least one of the proposals outlined here to be on the agenda of this year’s WSFS Business Meeting. We might even have all three of them.

Pixel Scroll 5/16/16 Pixel McScrollface

(1) AGENT OF TERRA? Brad Templeton confesses, “I was investigated by the feds for taking a picture of the sun”.

A week ago, a rather strange event took place. No, I’m not talking about just the Transit of Mercury in front of the sun on May 9, but an odd result of it.

That morning I was staying at the Westin Waterfront in Boston. I like astrophotography, and have shot several transits…

I did not have my top lenses with me but I decided to photograph it anyway with my small size Sony 210mm zoom and a welding glass I brought along. I shot the transit, holding the welding glass over the lens, with all mounted on my super-light “3 legged thing” portable tripod….

At 10am I got a frantic call from the organizer of the Exponential Manufacturing conference I would be speaking at the next day. “You need to talk to the FBI!” he declared. Did they want my advice on privacy and security? “No,” he said, “They saw you taking photos of the federal building with a tripod from your hotel window and want to talk to you.”

(2) SHINING EXAMPLE. Ann Leckie discovered someone’s named a nail polish after her.

There’s a Jemisin and Le Guin too. In fact, Nerdlacquer has named its products after all kinds of sf/f references, from Octarine to General Effing Leia.

(3) #STARWARSFORJJ. Not our JJ. An Irish kid — “Star Wars hero Mark Hamill stuns brave Northern Ireland cancer teen Jamie Harkin”

Star Wars hero Luke Skywalker was reduced to tears when he felt the remarkable force of a brave Northern Irish teen who has fought off cancer twice.

Actor Mark Hamill, who plays the famous Jedi Knight , met up with super fan Jamie Harkin.

The brave 17-year-old has raised more than £15,000 for other children battling the disease….

And on Monday the Derry lad joined his idol for breakfast during a break in filming for the latest instalment of the sci-fi saga in Donegal.

“People say that you should never meet your idols, because you build them up in your head so much that when you do meet them, they are a let down, and to that, I say, ‘you’re wrong’,” he said.

(4) SLACKEROO BANZAI. Birth. Movies. Death. is not enamored of reports that Kevin Smith might get to make a Buckaroo Banzai TV series.

Dear fans of The Adventure Of Buckaroo Banzai,

We regret to inform you that, on a recent episode of his podcast, Tusk director Kevin Smith revealed that he has been approached by MGM about possibly adapting The Adventures Of Buckaroo Bonzai for television.

In situations like these, it is natural to look for someone to blame for your grief. In this case, it appears that you have The CW’s The Flash to thank (or, rather, Smith’s recent episode of The Flash).

According to i09, the studio was impressed with Smith’s work on that single episode (the studio is apparently unaware of Tusk, Red State, the porch sequence from Tusk, the trailer for Yoga Hosers, Mallrats, Smith’s intention to make a movie called Moose Jaws, Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back, most of Dogma, Clerks 2, and Cop Out), so much so that they invited him over to pitch ideas….

(5) KALDON CLARION SCHOLARSHIP. SF author Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon passed away on April 20. A GoFundMe campaign has been started to create a Dr. Phil Memorial Scholarship for the Clarion workshop.

Janiece Murphy says, “Dr. Phil was a kind and generous man, and we’d like to memorialize him in a way that reflects these qualities.”

Murphy explains there are two ways to give money.

Folks can donate to the GoFundMe campaign at https://www.gofundme.com/drphilclarion , or they can donate directly to Clarion in Dr. Phil’s name at http://imagination.ucsd.edu/support.html . If they choose the latter, I would ask that they ensure the gift is designated for the Dr. Phil Clarion Scholarship, otherwise it will go to the general fund.

The GoFundMe appeal has raised $1,045 of its $5,000 goal as of this writing.

(6) WHAT’S IMPORTANT. Joe Sherry makes a great point in “My Favorite Stories Sometimes Win: A Nebula Love Story” at Nerds of a Feather.

First, it should be noted that two of my favorite stories from 2015 did, in fact, win Nebula Awards on Saturday night. I adored both Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti as well as Sarah Pinsker’s “Our Lady of the Open Road“. Both are wonderful stories and I am so happy both Okorafor and Pinsker were recognized as being excellent pieces of fiction…

This leads into my second thing I’d like to talk about. So much of the conversation about awards, whether it is the Nebula or the Hugo or the any other award you’d like to mention, is about the winner. Don’t get me wrong, of course I want my favorite stories to be recognized as the “best” novel or short story or whatever other category. Of course I do. I not only get emotionally invested in the story, I sometimes also become emotionally invested in the success of the author. Of course I want my favorite author to win all the awards and sell all the books. Of course I do.

That’s okay, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that just receiving a nomination is a significant recognition and is difficult enough to do in any given year, let alone a single time in a career. Publish your best work in the wrong year and it may still miss the ballot for any number of reasons. The recognition of a nomination is important, both for the work as well as for the field itself. The nomination says “yes, this story was excellent and we value it”….

(7) KAGAN BOOKS AVAILABLE. To capture a news item seen the other day in comments: Baen has republished several long-out-of-print Janet Kagan works as ebooks – Mirabile, Hellspark, and The Collected Kagan.

(8) SFWA ELECTIONS. SF Site News covered this weekend’s SFWA officer elections.

Last year saw some officers elected for two year terms and others elected for one year terms. This year, elections were only held for positions which were elected for one year terms last year. Erin M. Hartshorn, Justina Ireland, and Lawrence M. Schoen ran for two open Director-at-Large positions.

  • Vice President: M.C.A. Hogarth, re-elected, unopposed
  • CFO: Bud Sparhawk, re-elected, unopposed
  • Director at Large: Justina Ireland
  • Director at Large: Lawrence M. Schoen

(9) NEBULA DIVERSITY. K. Tempest Bradford reported on the Nebula Awards for NPR.

…This weekend’s winners reflect many different types of diversity beyond gender. Half are women of color, half are self-identified queer women – which mirrors the overall diversity of the ballot. 24 out of the 34 works nominated for the award were written by women from multiple racial and cultural backgrounds and a spectrum of sexual orientations. Of the 10 works by men, five of them were written by people of color and queer authors.

“The Nebula ballot is everything a ballot should be in this community,” said Brooke Bolander, author of the nominated story “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead.” “It’s diverse, it’s wide-ranging, and it includes amazing stories by amazing authors.”

That’s an important point, given the ongoing conversation about diversity happening now in speculative fiction circles. The Hugos — the other major awards in the genre — are nominated by fans. Last year and again this year, Hugo nominations have been affected by the Sad and Rabid Puppies groups, who campaign against what they see as affirmative action-based nominating and voting in the Hugo and Nebula awards.

But “people want these stories,” says Alyssa Wong. She was the first Filipino author to be nominated for the Nebula award last year and is now the first to win it for her 2015 short story “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers.” Though she says she’s seen some Puppy-style criticism of her success, most of the reaction has been positive.

Readers “want to read stories from the points of view of people who have been historically been locked out of the genre,” Wong says. “‘Hungry Daughters’ is about a group of women who are all Asian-American and all from very different backgrounds, all of whom feel isolated in some way … But clearly this is not just Asian-American audiences who this is resonating with. I’m appreciative that people are reading more widely now. It means more opportunities — not just to be published, but to be seen.”

(10) SITE PICKED FOR 2019 COSTUME-CON. Over Mother’s Day weekend at Costume-Con 34 in Madison, WI, the site for Costume-Con 37 in 2019 was chosen.  It will be run under the auspices of MCFI with Aurora Celeste and Sharon Sbarsky as co-chairs. Social media still to come.

Costume-Con 37
Salem, MA
March 22-25, 2019
DoubleTree Boston North Shore
(actually Danvers, MA)
$129 Hotel Rate including Free WiFi, Free Parking, and Free Cookies!
$60 ($45 for those that voted) through at least December 31, 2016

(11) HUGO FIX. Damien Walter takes a math-lite approach to fighting slates, where Yobs = Ø

(12) DARLEY OBIT. Dick Darley, who directed Space Patrol, died April 21 at the age of 92. He also directed the first season of The Mickey Mouse Club.

Born in Los Angeles, he served as a fighter pilot in the United States Navy during World War II, then studied radio production and writing at USC. First working at San Diego’s KFMB, he later joined L.A.’s KECA where in 1950 he became director on the channel’s new series Space Patrol.

Set in the 30th century, the series followed the adventures of Commander-in-Chief Buzz Corry of the United Planets Space Patrol, who along with his sidekick Cadet Happy faced off against a rogues gallery of villains inspired by then-current Cold War. For its first 10 months, the show aired as 15 minute episodes Monday through Friday. In December, 1950, ABC commissioned a half hour version that ran on Saturdays, concurrently with the 15-minute version. Aimed at children, the show picked up a following of adult viewers and would go on to make history when it became the first regular live West Coast morning show to be beamed to the East Coast.

(13) A THREAT TO DEMOCRACY. Norman Spinrad has some strong opinions about Facebook.

Well my attempt to split my so-called Facebook “Timeline” into several different forums has been a dismal failure. Didn’t work, and more recent news (and I mean real news, not Facebook’s so-called “News Feed”) about Facebook begins not only to explain why, but begins to illuminate far larger issues about what Facebook is doing and trying to do.

Facebook has been accused of using both secret algorithms and human “editors” to control and even censor its so-called News Feed and “Trending topics” feed to suit the political agenda of Mark Zuckerberg &Co. But not to worry, Zuckerberg himself has appointed a committee to investigate.

Facebook had generously offered to finance free Internet service to third world countries, notably India. Well not exactly. The Facebook “free Internet service” would only connect to web sites approved and chosen by Facebook. India at least being a sophisticated democracy said no thanks. And other so-called “developing countries” have likewise gotten the point.

The point being that Facebook is becoming a threat to democracy itself, nowhere more so than in the United States, where a majority of people are getting their “news” from Facebook already and Facebook is expanding the process exponentially, as witness how it has weaseled itself into most of the televised presidential primary debates and now is funneling selected news stories from legitimate journalistic news channels through “News Feed” and “Trending” to far larger demographics than they can possibly reach by themselves.

And now it has been revealed that Facebook is in effect filtering and editing these feeds according Mark Zuckerberg’s political agenda. But not to worry, Zuckerberg has appointed a committee of his own minions to investigate himself.

Why is this a threat to democracy? Because it is already a huge threat to professional and politically neutral journalism itself, the commons cornerstone of any democracy….

(14) PROTECTION OR THEATRE? Recently the Society for Promotion of Japanese Animation, which runs Anime Expo in Los Angeles, announced a new Youth Protection program that requires all employees, volunteers, vendors and panelists to submit to a criminal background check and take online courses. Christopher Macdonald argues in an Anime News Network editorial that “The SPJA Needs to Change Its Youth Protection Policy”.

On the surface the new policy seems like a great idea. Who isn’t in favor of protecting children from predators? This policy isn’t unwarranted either, as with every similarly large event, bad things happen… and have happened. Unfortunately the SPJA’s new policy has many unintended consequences. Here are but a few:

  • Cost: It isn’t entirely clear who has to pay for the background checks, but these checks could be very expensive for people who have to pay for them. While a typical background checks costs as little as $50, the actual price can be prohibitively expensive for some vendors. For example, some background checks cost an extra $50 for every country a subject has visited in the past 5 years, and an extra $200 if they have lived outside the USA. With those prices, my background check would cost over $1,000 (note: AX has stated on Twitter “No artist, volunteer, guest, staff is being asked to pay for own bg check,“ however it seems that vendors and exhibitors do have to pay for the background checks).
  • Privacy & Security: The new SPJA policy requires that all vendors register with their real names & info. Many people in our industry, particularly professional and semi-professional cosplayers, have problems with stalkers. They do not want to be forced to wear badges with their real names, and they do not want their home address in the SPJA’s database. It may even be illegal to force employees of California based vendors to undergo background checks. There is a very limited number of cases in which an employer can mandate a background check, and this is not one of those cases. Therefore, it may be illegal for companies like Aniplex of America, Bandai, Crunchyroll, NIS America and Viz Media to ask their employees to undergo the background check.
  • Good People will fail the background check: I won’t go into too much detail about this here, there is plenty of information online about it, but many people often have significant trouble with background checks. Here are but a few of the reasons you can fail a background check: a name change, a minor violent arrest (got into a fight in a bar back in your college days), visiting an “undesirable” country (have you been to Iran or Cuba? I have), sharing your name with an actual criminal, etc…
  • It’s Insulting: Picture this, “Hi, you’re one of the top manga artists in Japan, and we’d really like to have you as a guest of honor at our show, but first we need to make sure you aren’t a child molester.” This is straight up offensive; you should expect that people will be insulted by this. And they are; I can say with absolute certainty that some of AX’s potential guests have pulled out because of this, and in at least one case an artist is disturbed enough that it is having an effect on their work. Have you noticed that we’re less than 2 months out, and almost no guests of honor have been announced? Guest contracts are in limbo while they wait for this issue to be resolved. For some guests it is already too late for them to commit to the event, their schedules are made more than 2 months in advance.

(15) TESTING FOR HUMANITY. The Futility Closet blog describes a proposed replacement for the Turing Test.

The original test, in which a computer program tries to fool a human judge into thinking it’s human during a five-minute text-only conversation, has been criticized because the central task of devising a false identity is not part of intelligence, and because some conversations may require relatively little intelligent reasoning.

The new test would be based on so-called Winograd schemas, devised by Stanford computer scientist Terry Winograd in 1972. Here’s the classic example:

The city councilmen refused the demonstrators a permit because they [feared/advocated] violence.

If the word feared is used, to whom does they refer, the councilmen or the demonstrators? What if we change feared to advocated? You know the answers to these questions because you have a practical understanding of anxious councilmen. Computers find the task more difficult because it requires not only natural language processing and commonsense reasoning but a working knowledge of the real world….

In July 2014 Nuance Communications announced that it will sponsor an annual Winograd Schema Challenge, with a prize of $25,000 for the computer that best matches human performance. The first competition will be held at the 2016 International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, July 9-15 in New York City.

(16) SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED. George R.R. Martin weighs in on the EPH discussion with “All the King’s Horses…” at Not A Blog.

I can hear the proponents of EPH and 4/6 saying their reforms were never meant to be a cure all. Yes, I know that, I never believed otherwise, and I applaud your efforts to help. I just wish these reforms helped more. Neither EPH nor 4/6 is going to prevent us from having VD on the Best Editor shortlist from now until the heat death of the universe.

And I also know that there are now other proposals out there, proposals that call for three-stage voting, for negative votes and blackballing, for juries. Some of these cures, I fear, might be even worse than the disease. We have plenty of juried awards; we don’t need another. Three-stage voting, with fifteen semi-finalists that get boiled down to five finalists and one winner? Maybe, but that considerably increases the workload of the Hugo administrators, whose job is hard enough already… and I fear it would actually ratchet up campaigning, as friends and fans of those on the List of Fifteen rallied around their favorites to get them on the List of Five. And a blackball round, voting things off the ballot? Is that really a can of worms we want to open, in this present climate? That would dial the ugliness up to eleven, I fear… or higher.

Sadly, I don’t think there is an answer here. No magic bullet is going to fix this. And I fear that the people saying, “pretty soon the assholes will get bored and go away,” are being hopelessly naive. The assholes are having far too much fun.

(17) BABELFISH NOW REALITY? Here’s the pitch.

Although the Indiegogo did not reach its goal, Waverly Labs appeas to be going ahead with production — the preorder campaign is scheduled to launch May 25.

1. How much will it cost? Retail is expected to be $249-$299
2. How much is the early bird? Early bird will be first come first serve. A limited quantity will go for $129, then another round for $149, and then a few more Late Early Bird options for $179+. Signup here: www.waverlylabs.com/launch
3. When can I preorder the Pilot? The preorder campaign is scheduled to launch on May 25th. We will keep everyone updated via email. As long as you have signed up for the launch then you will be alerted.
4. When will they be delivered? We are releasing a translation app this summer for basic translation. This is included in your purchase. However, the earpieces require much more testing, manufacturing and production time. Therefore, we anticipate the earliest will be in late fall/early winter, although fulfilling all orders could take until next spring. Again, it is first come first serve.
5. What’s included? The full package includes the Pilot and secondary earpiece (2 earpieces total), 1 portable charger, and an accompanying app. The app is where the languages are downloaded for the earpiece.

The rest of the FAQ is here.

[Thanks to Rick Kovalcik, JJ, Will R., Mark-kitteh, Lola McCrary, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]