(1) BAYCON. The Mercury News shared its very positive impression of last weekend’s BayCon: “Bay Area science fiction fans beam up to San Mateo to talk Star Trek, transgender fans and activism”.
…Speakers over the weekend included Brianna Wu, a congressional candidate from Massachusetts who was one of the most high-profile victims of an online harassment campaign aimed at women in the video game industry in recent years.
In conversations with the attendees on Sunday — an intimacy organizer Chris Castro said is a selling point of BayCon over larger conventions — Wu and moderator Gregg Castro discussed activist burnout and creating spaces for people who want to help but may not be comfortable canvassing or making phone calls. Wu also encouraged more women to run for office, calling it “the best job in the world.”
Also presenting at that panel was Sarah Williams, who grew up in Fremont and now lives in Davis. She said discussing social issues and activism is “almost necessary” in science fiction because it’s so forward-looking. The panels are also useful in fans’ personal lives, she said. As a queer woman, Williams said she knew she had to be supportive when her daughter told her she was a transgender girl.
Still, she said, she needed guidance on what support her daughter would need. She could access that through panels such as “Transfans,” a presentation held on Sunday morning about transgender science fiction fans. Williams said she also knew she could look up the speakers and reach out to them for advice.
However, Sumiko Saulson was present at another panel which didn’t reflect that kind of acceptance, and wrote about the experience on Facebook:
I’m reluctant to get into what happened when I was on a panel yesterday because it was fairly traumatic, but the short of it is that a well-known author guest (David Brin) started the panel by saying he wouldn’t trust regular Americans with this but we’re alpha sci fi writers, then went into a very ableist spiel about how we all know some beings – including, specifically certain humans, and he referenced the developmentally disabled – are inferior, people are just too politically correct to say so. Then he asked a moral dilemma question about if it would be more ethical to uplift animals and have them as servants than to genetically alter humans as servants and make them low IQ
Then he got into an argument with a young enby [non-binary] person in the audience who was sitting near Darcy (Chris Hughes) and the rest of the extremely poorly moderated panel included lots of yelling between the audience and panel, as he’d set the tone. He seemed to be intentionally asking baited or loaded questions….
(The report goes on for several more paragraphs in which some panelists’ conduct grew even more disturbing.)
(2) ANIMENEXT UPDATE. As a result of harassment allegations against AnimeNEXT chair Eric Torgersen (see Pixel Scroll for May 22, item #4), he has been suspended while the con’s board of directors investigate. They made the following announcement on Facebook over the weekend:
…as of April 14th, 2019, Eric Torgersen has been suspended from AnimeNEXT staff, pending this investigation, and will not be present at the 2019 event. AnimeNEXT and Universal Animation, Inc. have hired a neutral third party to conduct the investigation.
Additionally, Mr. Torgersen has not been a member of the board since 2018 and has not been Convention Chairman since 2017.
AnimeNEXT and Universal Animation, Inc. want our convention to be a safe and positive experience. As such, we do not condone harassment of any kind. We appreciate your patience and understanding until this investigation is completed.
The Universal Animation Inc. Board of Directors
(3) ENTERPRISING FANS. Ernest Lilley tells Amazing Stories readers all about the Museum of Science Fiction’s weekend event: “MOSF Escape Velocity 2019 — Dominique Tipper GoH “.
While Amazing Stories editor Steve Davidson was holding down a booth at Balticon, the Capital Region’s largest sci-fi convention, I was an hour away at the Museum of Science Fiction’s annual convention: Escape Velocity 2019.
Escape Velocity is a different sort of con than anything else in sci-fi. Visually it looks like a media con, with lots of large-scale movie props and cosplayers, but behind the closed panel doors, there’s a serious attempt to create a fusion of pop-sci-fi culture, accessible science, resources for educators, and even a few policy wonks talking about the future of space conflict….
(4) PROOF NEGATIVE. Fabrice Mathieu unblushingly presents MOON SHINING » or: How Stanley Kubrick shot the Apollo 11 Mission? — “an imaginative behind the scenes of the Moon Landing of Apollo 11 directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1969!”
(5) MOON COLLECTIBLES AUCTION. And yet people bid millions on Heritage Auction’s Spring Space Exploration Auction #6206
This was the second installment of The Armstrong Family Collection™ (TAFC) and, when the floor sessions were over, the top seven and fifteen of the top twenty sale prices were TAFC lots. A section of Lunar Module Flown Wright Flyer Wing Cloth and a Lunar Module Flown Wright Flyer Propeller Piece tied for top price at $175,000 each. Currently, the total sales are $4.579 million with Post-Auction Buys continuing.
(6) WHO’S TOXIC? Marvel’s Captain Marvel is coming out on Blu-Ray, heralded by the release of an extended version of a scene from the film. It’s caused an uproar.
Stylist takes this side: “Why Captain Marvel’s deleted scene on toxic masculinity has angered trolls”.
… Captain Marvel counters with a handshake and introduces herself. The man tells her: “People call me… The Don.”
Releasing an unimpressed “wow”, Captain Marvel then unleashes her superhero powers on the man, sending electrical pulses through her hand, forcing the man to his knees in pain.
“Here’s a proposition for you,” she says. “You’re going to give me your jacket, your helmet and your motorcycle, and in return, I’m going to let you keep your hand.”
He quickly hands over his keys, and Captain Marvel lets go, adding: “What, no smile?”
In just a minute-long scene, Captain Marvel sums up what’s wrong with men telling women to smile, and unsurprisingly, that’s made some men angry.
…The men criticising the scene — and attacking Larson — are missing the point, and being purposefully obtuse as to its message.
Yes, it shows Captain Marvel using her powers to harm someone else, but plenty of superheroes before her have done exactly the same, and gone much further than she did. That Captain Marvel is called out for behaviour that male superheroes have got away with for decades is sexist.
And saying the scene will hurt “feminist causes” is a fundamental misunderstanding of what feminism is about — women want equality, and that partially means dismantling the idea that the only good women are nice women.
Max Florschutz takes the other side in “The Captain Marvel Kerfluffle”.
…. Both sides have, as you can predictably guessed, gone up in arms. Both make some good points, and both make some bad points.
However, the reason I chose to take some time out of my crunched day to post about this was because at its core, the argument Disney’s marketing team and the writers of Captain Marvel have claimed is … well, wrong.
Vers isn’t a hero in that scene. Not by any definition of the term. And to see people so aggressively defending Vers actions as “heroic,” even the writing team? Well … I think that’s in part why the Captain Marvel had the problems it had.
See, the problem isn’t that the scene exists, but that people, creators included, are insisting that it is “heroic.” And it isn’t. It’s far from it, in fact, unless you’re aiming to redefine “heroism” as something completely different. Which I don’t think the writers are trying to do … They just genuinely don’t seem to know what heroism is.
Already there are people defending the “heroism” of the scene online by saying that naysayers are only unhappy because it’s “a woman,” declaring that no one had issues with a male character doing similar in Terminator 2.
No. Because in Terminator 2 the T-800 is nota hero. He’s an anti-hero. If someone declares that heroic, than they’re wrong. Flat out. He threatens physical harm to innocents because he doesn’t care, and has no morals. Classic anti-hero trait.
Vers threatening a slimy guy past simply shutting him down isn’t heroism with the goal of stealing his possessions isn’t heroism. It’s the mark of an anti-hero, just as it was with the T-800….
(7) DOGGONE IT. This week New Zealand’s Stuff showed that a problem persists: “Game of Thrones fans buying huskies from unregistered breeders”.
…A New Zealand husky rescue charity that has dealt with hundreds of abandoned dogs after Game of Thrones ramped up the breed’s popularity is pushing for reform outlawing “backyard breeders.”
Michelle Attwood, who founded the Canterbury-based charity Husky Rescue NZ in 2009, said that hundreds of huskies had been abandoned to her charity every year since Game of Thrones launched – their TV connection clear through names like Ghost, Nymeria, Stark and Snow.
Huskies have become a real “status symbol,” she said, with Thrones fans driving a vicious cycle.
Peter Dinklage publicized the problem in 2017:
At the time he released a statement:
‘Game of Thrones’ star Peter Dinklage is asking fans to stop buying huskies as pets just because they resemble the fictional direwolves in the blockbuster HBO show. The actor warns fans the pups still need constant care after the novelty wears off. “Not only does this hurt all the deserving homeless dogs waiting for a chance at a good home in shelters, but shelters are also reporting that many of these huskies are being abandoned,” Dinklage said Tuesday in a statement released by PETA.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 28, 1908 — Ian Fleming. The James Bond novels of course which are no doubt genre but also Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang which originally was published in three volumes and became a much beloved film. Like Heinlein, he would do a travelogue, this one called Thrilling Cities. (Died 1964.)
- Born May 28, 1951 — Sherwood Smith, 68. YA writer best known for her Wren series. She’s also co-authored The Change Series with Rachel Manija Brown. She also co-authored two novels with Andre Norton, Derelict for Trade and A Mind for Trade.
- Born May 28, 1954 — Betsy Mitchell, 65. Editorial freelancer specializing in genre works. She was the editor-in-chief of Del Rey Books. Previously, she was the Associate Publisher of Bantam Spectra when they held the license to publish Star Wars novels in the Nineties.
- Born May 28, 1977 — Ursula Vernon, 42. She is best known for her Hugo Award-winning graphic novel Digger which was a webcomic from 2003 to 2011. Vernon is also the creator of The Biting Pear of Salamanca, a digital work of art which became an internet meme in the form of the LOL WUT pear.
- Born May 28, 1982 — Alexa Davalos, 37. Her first genre role i think was Gwen Raiden on the fourth season of Angel. She‘s Juliana Crain currently on The Man in the High Castle. And she was Andromeda in the remake of Clash of the Titans.
(9) HUGO AWARDS ON JEOPARDY! TOMORROW.For once you get the news before the show is aired. Kevin Standlee says, “The Hugo Awards will be featured in a category on Jeopardy! on Wednesday, May 29.”
(10) DARKNESS FALLS. Fantasy Book Critic weighs in on “Necromantica by Keith Blenman (reviewed by Lukasz Przywoski)”.
…Necromantica is, essentially, a love story. You feel it in the way Lama speaks to Mornia. You see it in Mornia’s behavior. Remember, they’re not sharing a drink. They’re in the midst of the battle and they slaughter enemies. Call it a dark fantasy romance. I mean, you don’t write a story called Necromantica without it being dark, right?
Lama and Mornia share heart-wrenching stories. Mornia used to live a free, spiritual life and wanted to grow into a healer. By the time the story begins, her life has been robbed from her and ell her loved ones killed. She survived, but she’s broken. Whatever magic she possessed, she used for revenge. Instead of healing people, she focused on black arts and necromancy. …
(11) BY THE HAIR ON THEIR CHINNY-CHIN-CHIN. SYFY Wire’s “Fangrrls” column has published a “scientific” study entitled “A very serious cultural study on beards and which dudes look hotter with them.”
To beard or not to beard, that is the question.
Last year, when the Avengers: Infinity War trailer revealed that Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers had grown a beard, the internet went wild. How is it possible that Evans, this hunky cinnamon roll of a golden retriever boy scout bro, could get even hotter? It was almost unfair, yet there it was. We mourned the loss of Cap-beard for an extended period of time on SYFY FANGRRLS, but it also got us thinking as to what it was about some well-organized facial hair that had us all aflutter.
It turns out that there’s a scientific reason for that. It’s not just pure shallowness! According to a study in 2013 on the subject, facial hair acts as a major influence in shaping people’s ideas about what we expect from men in society. The study revealed that “women judged faces with heavy stubble as most attractive and heavy beards, light stubble and clean-shaven faces as similarly less attractive.” For men, it was the opposite case, with full beards as the most attractive. Those conducted for the study also revealed that full beards were judged as an excellent sign of parenting ability and healthiness, so all your daddy Steve Rogers jokes paid off in a big way.
They go on to judge the beard-appeal and stylings for Jason Momoa, Chris Evans, Henry Cavill, Chris Hemsworth, John Krasinski, Rahul Kohli, Keanu Reeves, and Jason Mantzoukas.
(12) LOVE THAT MECHA. Future War Stories tunes into Japanese TV in “Future War Stories From the East: Armored Troopers VOTOMS”.
…Many of the more famous anime and manga is often defined and remembered because of a certain iconic character, unique setting, or piece of machinery (which is often Mecha). Some imported Japanese animations or comics are lucky enough to be imported wholly to the West along with other associated products like models, video games, or toys. Others were not so lucky and came over to our shores in pieces and over a great length of time, forging fans along with way….
…What is “Armored Trooper VOTOMS”? VOTOMS is the brainchild of Fang of the Sun Dougram creator Ry?suke Takahashi and despite being developed in 1983, VOTOMS is still an on-going Japanese military science fiction franchise encompassing anime TV series, OVAs, video games, models, and toys. At about the time that Fang of the Sun Dougram was ending its run on Japanese television, Takahashi and Nippon Sunrise animation studio would continue the mecha-centered war stories with the VOTOMS 52 episode television show that aired on TV Tokyo from April 1st, 1983 through March 23rd, 1984….
(13) NOVELLA NOTIONS. Garik16’s Hugo finalist reviews continue with — “Reviewing the 2019 Hugo Nominees: Best Novella”.
Hugo Award voting just opened at the start of May and continues through the end of July. For those of you new to the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre, the Hugo Award is one of the most prominent awards for works in the genre, with the Award being given based upon voting by those who have paid for at least a Supporting Membership in this year’s WorldCon. As I did the last two years, I’m going to be posting reviews/my-picks for the award in the various categories I feel qualified in, but feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comments….
(14) COLLECTIBLE HARDCOVERS. Gizmodo/io9: “Folio Society Is Doing Special Editions for All of A Song of Ice and Fire…If It’s Ever Finished”.
The Folio Society recently announced that it was releasing a special collector’s edition of A Game of Thrones, the first novel in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Now, on the cusp of the series finale for HBO’s Game of Thrones, it looks like we can expect even more—the entire A Song of Ice and Fire, including those famously still-unwritten books. Of course, that all depends on whether Martin ever finishes them.
In a statement to io9, the Folio Society’s representative confirmed that it was following up its A Game of Thrones hardcover edition with other books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The publisher says the project is a collaborative with Martin, who’s been involved “every step of the way.” The first book is available for preorder, and is set to come out on July 16.
(15) [PROCESSOR] POWER TO THE PEOPLE. “The tablet computer pulled by donkey” – BBC has the story, and a photo:
Back in 2016, mobile technology the like of which had not been seen before rolled into the remote community of Funhalouro, in Mozambique.
Pulled by donkey, the container consisted of four LCD screens, powered by solar panels.
It was a mobile roadshow, starting with music to draw a crowd and then switching to a three-minute film on the biggest of the screens.
While the topic – digital literacy – was not the most entertaining, it was engaging for the audience, many of whom had never seen a screen or moving images before.
After the film, the audience was invited to use smaller touchscreen tablets to answer a series of questions about what they had seen.
There were prizes of T-shirts and caps for those with the highest scores.
For those who couldn’t read, the questions were posed in diagram form….
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Shocking Truth of Lightsabers vs. Lightning,” on YouTube, Martin Archer, a physicist at Britain’s Queen Mary’s University, says that if lightsabers are made of plasma, having two of them blast each other is a bad idea and having lightning bolts sent toward a lightsaber is a really bad idea.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian. Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]