Pixel Scroll 10/21 One Ink Cartel

(1) The Onion reports a major addition to the movie ratings scheme.

WASHINGTON—In an effort to provide moviegoers with the information they need to determine which films are appropriate for them to see, the Motion Picture Association of America announced Tuesday the addition of a new rating to alert audiences of movies that are not based on existing works.

According to MPAA officials, the new “O,” or “Original,” designation will inform viewers that a particular film contains characters with whom they are unfamiliar, previously unseen settings, and novel plots. The rating will also reportedly serve as a warning of the potentially disorienting effects associated with having to remember characters’ names for as many as two hours and the discomfort that can occur when one is forced to keep track of narrative arcs for an entire film.

The MPAA’s new O rating will appear on all movies containing explicitly original, unadapted, and unfamiliar material.

(2) In a day devoted to Back To The Future nostalgia, Bill Higgins would like to remind everyone that Ronald Reagan “smuggled a quote from the film into an important speech to Congress.” C-SPAN has the clip, from Reagan’s 1986 State of the Union address.

Reagan also liked the movie’s joke about him being president – according to the Wikipedia he ordered the projectionist of the theater to stop the reel, roll it back, and run it again.

(3) Here’s a link to BBC video of the Back To The Future day unveiling for a Belfast university’s electric-powered DeLorean project.

(4) And in (wind) breaking news — “Michael J. Fox arrested for insider sports betting”

Fox aroused suspicion after achieving a statistically-impossible, perfect record on the site under the username NoChicken.

Authorities found an unusually worn copy of a sports almanac which was just recently printed and which has markings cataloging winning bets Fox has placed since the late 80’s.

(5) Today’s Birthday Girls:

  • Born October 21, 1929 — Ursula K. Le Guin celebrates her 86th birthday today.
  • Born October 21, 1956 – Carrie Fisher, famous for portraying Princess Leia onscreen, and author of the bestselling novel Postcards from the Edge.

(6) New York Mets fan James H. Burns is flying high. He has some tales you’ve never heard before in “The Curious Case of Daniel Murphy” on the local CBS/New York website.

(7) Steven H Silver, on the other hand, is suffering and reminds people about his 2008 article for Challenger, ”I Call It Loyalty, Others Call It Futility”.

Several years ago, I spent two summers working at Wrigley Field. When most people say something like this, it means that they sold beer or peanuts during the games (which is what my brother-in-law did). I did something different.

On Sundays during the season, when the Cubs are playing on the road, Wrigley Field is open for tours for a minimal charitable donation (at the time $10, which goes to Cubs Care Charities). I spent two summers giving tours of the ballpark. The tours included the standard places open to the public, like the concourse under the stands, the stands, and the bleachers, but also non-public areas like the press box, the visitor and home team locker rooms, and the security office. Two of my more interesting memories were getting to watch a Cubs game on television from within the confines of the visitor’s locker room and escorting a woman out to the warning track in center field so she could scatter her husband’s ashes.

The tours, of course, included information and trivia about the Cubs’ history and the stadium’s history. The tour guides were pretty good on the whole and worked to debunk legends and stories about the field while presenting information in an interesting and memorable manner.

(8) Ken Marable says the 2016 Hugo recommendation seasons begins November 2 – at least on his blog, which is coincidentally named 2016 Hugo Recommendation Season: The Non-Slate: Just Fans Talking About What They Love. For the first week he’ll focus on the Best Semiprozine category.

(9) The Wall Street Journal’s “Dan Rather, Still Wrong After All These Years” opines —

The movie ‘Truth’ is as bogus as the original attempt to smear George W. Bush’s wartime service.

Seeing that brought to mind my article about Gary Farber in File 770 #144 [PDF file] where I mentioned Farber’s then-recent participation in outing that fraud:

Within hours of “60 Minutes” purported exposé of memos by George W. Bush’s old Air National Guard commander, people were blogging away with accusations that the documents were forged because the text could not have been produced on typewriter likely to have been in use at a Texas military office in 1971, if indeed it could have been produced by anything besides Microsoft Word. Gary’s analysis showed no one knows better than a fanzine fan about the capabilities of 1970s-era business typewriters.

Another paragraph in my article praised Gary for a quality still missing from most political discourse today:

Amygdala shows how disagreement can be handled without loathing, and that evidence is more important than orthodoxy, two notions practically extinguished from the rest of the Internet in 2004. I’ve always been more conservative than a lot of fannish friends and favorite sf writers, finding the contrast informative and fascinating. Yet in 2004, I had to drop off two fannish e-mail lists to escape the constant spew of venomous political nonsense, and tell two individuals to quit sending me their mass-copied clippings. So not sharing too many of Gary’s political views, one of the pleasures I find in reading Amygdala is how his provocative viewpoints are expressed in a way that values the reader’s humanity regardless of agreement.

(10) Bob Milne reviews Larry Correias’s new Son of the Black Sword at Speculative Herald.

Larry Correia is an author best known for his guns-and-monsters, no-holds barred, testosterone-soaked urban fantasy sagas, Monster Hunter International and the Grimnoir Chronicles. For those who were curious as to how he’d make the transition from guns to swords, Son of the Black Sword is pretty much everything you’d expect, with his macho sense of almost superhuman bravado slipping well into a pulpy heroic fantasy world.

(11) What a wonderful alternate universe it could be…

(12) Mayim Biyalik on “My Sort-Of Acting Method”.

I’m not a real actor. Well, actually, I guess that’s not fair – what I mean is I’m not a trained actor. Many actors you love and see on TV and in movies studied acting for real. Like, some of them even have degrees in acting and stuff. I call those people “real actors.”

I have never studied acting in a class or in school or in college. I don’t know Stanislavsky from Uta Hagen or method acting from acting that isn’t method. It’s all Greek to me. But I do have a method of my own, from my almost 30 years being employed as an actor, and trained actors I know tell me my ‘method’ actually is a sort of method. So there you have it.

The scene I had with Jim Parsons in this past week’s episode of “The Big Bang Theory” (Season 9, Episode 5, “The Perspiration Implementation”) was a very emotional one. I cried the first time we rehearsed it and each time we showed it to our writers and producers. (Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen it.)

(13) “You too can learn to farm on Mars” promises the article.

“Congratulations! You are leaving Earth forever,” the case study begins. “You are selected to be part of a mining colony of 100 people located on the planet Mars. Before you head to Mars, however, you need to figure out how to feed yourself and your colleagues once you are there.”

The task is similar to that of Watney, who has to grow food in an artificial habitat after he is separated from his mission crew in a Martian windstorm. “Mars will come to fear my botany powers,” he boasts.

“Farming In Space? Developing a Sustainable Food Supply on Mars” can be found here. Teaching notes and the answer key are password protected and require a paid subscription to access.

(14) NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars photographed Earth on January 31 using the left-eye camera on its science mast. See a video of Curiosity’s Earth-from-Mars images here.

(15) Makes yourself clean and shiny before lining up to see the new Star Wars movie with the help of these Darth Vader and R2-D2 showerheads.

star-wars-showerhead-darth-vader-r2-d2-gif-1 COMP

What are the major differences between the Vader and R2 model? Aside from the price, the lowest setting on the Darth Vader showerhead makes water run from the mask’s eye sockets, allowing you to bathe in Sith Lord remorse. This model also provides a handle, leaving less of your bathing up to the Force.

Darth Vader has a handle, but I don’t know that I would want to aim Darth’s tears at any vulnerable body parts….

(16) Last night Camestros Felapton staked out his spot in comments with this video is about fours waking.

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, Bill Higgins, Will R., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

The Scarlet Litter 6/21

aka Puppy on a Hot Tin Roof

Today’s roundup brings you Spacefaring Kitten, Gary Farber, Peter Grant, Tom Knighton, Sgt. Mom, Martin Wisse, David Nickle, Edward Trimnell, John Scalzi, N. K. Jemisin, Neil Clarke, David Gerrold, Ferrett Steinmetz, Jonathan Crowe, Andrew Hickey, Jason Cordova, Nicholas Whyte, Tim Hall, Mari Ness, Kevin Standlee, Mark Ciocco, Lis Carey, Vivienne Raper, and Jonathan Edelstein. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Daniel Dern and James H. Burns.)

Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

“Having a successful boycott is not the point” – June 21

As I said before, Day is following the Tea Party/Breitbart Culture Wars playbook. Gin up outrage, energise your base, focus their attention on the designated enemy, then fleece the suckers. Vox knows how the game is played because he’d been working for Worldnet Daily one of the low rent rightwing clearing houses his daddy had set up until he became too loony even for them. What are the odds on the next instructions of Day, as “leader of the Rabid Puppies”, will next issue instructions that the only proper way to boycott Tor is to instead buy books by goodthink publishers like Baen or his own vanity press?

The key is not to win, the key is to keep the fight going and make some money doing so. That’s been the career path for whole generations of roghtwing bloviators: fart out articles and blogposts and books about the evil of libruls and blag your way onto wingnut welfare. But to do so you need that red meat to keep the suckers in line. Without the month late fauxrage at Gallo’s comments the Puppies wouldn’t have anything to talk about. But this? This they can spin out until long after this year’s Hugo results are revealed.

It’s hard to deal with this. Just ignoring it is one option, not giving the oxygen of publicity to these people, but can obviously backfire. You can’t deal with this thinking these are normal fans, and that just ignoring it will starve this “controversy” of the fuel it needs. People like Day (and Larry and Brad) are perfectly capable of keeping the fire stoked indefinitely. Not responding just cedes ground and helps them keep up the pretence that they’re speaking for some imagined silent majority.


Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“Kittens Will Prevail” – June 21

The culture war in science fiction and fantasy fandom is practically over before it even began — and it sure was the lamest war ever. The thing that has been clear for everybody except the Sad Kennelkeepers is that an overwhelming majority of SFF fans, authors and editors are and have always been liberal, in the broad sense of the word.

Yes, a huge part of fandom consists of unpolitical SFF enthusiasts who may from time to time sneer at pro-diversity people who suggest things they find a bit hardline, such as not reading books by straight white males for a year or something, but they’re still open-minded and tolerant. And sure, there are political conservatives in SFF too, but very few of them are interested in really taking any part in the culture war project lead by Larry Correia, Brad R. Torgersen and Vox Day/Theodore Beale, because they’re aficionados first and political activists second or third (and they, too, are mostly open-minded and tolerant). Importing the culture war dynamic somewhere where the other side is missing is not going to end well.


Gary Farber on Facebook – June 21

I can barely skim the Puppy summaries at FILE 770 any more because I literally start to feel physically ill. These people and their utter lack of interest in facts, their lunatic paranoia, their rationales for justifying every kind of tactic and practice on the grounds of imagining and alleging that their enemies do it, their crazy tropes (the Nazis were really left-wing!; Planned Parenthood is genocidal!; Emanuel A.M.E. Church isn’t a black church!; Tor Books is an leftist ideological publisher!”), literally make me sick. John C. Wright: “The other side consists of people at Tor who regard Tor as an instrument of social engineering, an arm of the Democrat Party’s press department, or a weapon in the war for social justice.” That would be why they publish … John C. Wright. Thirteen of his books so far.


Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man

“Latest developments over the Tor imbroglio” – June 21

Speaking of Vox, he’s taken note of speculation from SJW’s and their ilk that the individuals at Tor who’ve been named in connection with the boycott may be at risk of violence.  Since I’ve seen not a single reference to that – even the vaguest hint – from our side of the fence, I, like him, can only put it down to paranoia, or an utterly warped, twisted sense of reality (or the lack thereof), or deliberate lying.  It’s absolutely insane . . . yet they’re hyping it up.  (Edited to add:  James Sullivan absolutely nailed the process in a comment at Vox’s place.)



Sgt. Mom on The Daily Brief

“Making Blight at Tor” – June 21

And what ought to be the response of those who feel deeply and personally insulted by employees of Tor, such as MS Gallo, and those who clearly stand in agreement with her ill-considered remarks? And what ought Tor to do, over what they already have done? Clean house seems to be the basic consensus; leaving the precise details up to Tor. And to effect that? Some of the offended recommend and are participating in an outright boycott. Some of them – like me – have tastes that run to other and non-Tor published authors, and haven’t bought anything from Tor in years. Others favor purchasing their favorite Tor authors second-hand, and hitting the authorial tip-jar with a donation. I still have the sense that for many of us – after having weathered numerous comments along the same line as MS Gallo’s without much complaint – this was just the final straw.


David Nickle on The Devil’s Exercise Yard

“Art Lessons” – June 21

It seems to me that the life of my father Lawrence is a good example to bring up right now, in this very political culture war about what is at its root, an art form.  The point of doing art, to paraphrase Neil Gaiman, is to make good art. It is not to chase awards, or other sorts of validation; it is not to look enviously at those who do receive those awards, who bask in that validation, and try to supplant them through forces democratic or otherwise.

It would be naive to say that such things don’t happen in communities of proper artists. They do, again and again, and are happening now in this science fiction and fantasy community of proper artists.

But I think my father would have said that the behaviour of the Puppies whether sad or angry, is the one sure sign of not being a proper artist. He would take it as a vulgar sign of weakness. It would earn his quiet but certain contempt.


Edward Trimnell

“Boycott Tor Books, you ask?” – June 21

A few readers have recently emailed me to ask if I plan to join the boycott of Tor Books, or if I publicly support the boycott.

The short answer is: No. But let me give you the longer answer—because this covers some important issues.

First of all: I am on record as disagreeing with the positions of Patrick Nielsen Hayden and John Scalzi. (I’ve taken Mr. Scalzi to task on this blog many times.) I’m not as familiar with Moshe Feder and Irene Gallo. But what I have seen of them so far, I don’t evaluate favorably.

That said, I think the boycott is a bad idea. And here’s why:

I dislike the Internet mob—whether it is a rightwing mob, or a leftwing mob. I dislike the Internet’s hive mindset, which says:

“If you say something we don’t like, we’re going to whip up all of our minions into a frenzy, and then destroy your livelihood, or harass you into silence at the very least. Oh—and we’re going to do all of this anonymously, hiding behind bogus screen names, avatars, and IP addresses! And aren’t we courageous!”

That is, of course, exactly what the SJW crowd does. But I’m not one of them—and I’m not a joiner, either. Just because I disagree with John Scalzi & Co. doesn’t mean that I’m eager to flock to the banner of Vox Day and others on the far right.


John Scalzi on Whatever

“Note to WSFS Members: Killing the Best Novelette Hugo is a Terrible Idea” – June 21

[Excerpts two of five points.]

  1. It is unnecessary to get rid of the Best Novelette category in order to “make room” for the Best Saga category. I’m unaware of the need in the WSFS constitution to limit the number of Hugo Awards given out; it’s not a zero sum game. Speaking as someone who has both emceed the Hugos and sat in its audience, I understand the desirability of not having an infinite proliferation of Hugo categories, because the ceremony can be long enough as it is. But that’s not a good enough reason to give one fiction category the axe at the expense of another, nor can I think of another good reason why the inclusion of the “saga” category requires the doom of another fiction category. It is, literally, a false dichotomy.

This false dichotomy is bad in itself, but also offers knock-on badness down the road. For example:

  1. It privileges novel writing over short fiction writing. Bud Sparhawk, a writer and human I admire rather a bit, complained to me once (in the context of the Nebulas) that calling the Best Novel award “the big one,” as many people often do, is an implicit disrespect of the art of short fiction writing, and of the skills of those who write to those lengths.


John Scalzi in a comment on Whatever – June 21

Now, if the Best Saga Hugo proposal hadn’t had tried to unnecessarily murder the Best Novelette category, is it something I could see my way toward voting for?

My current thought about it is “no, not really.” Here’s why: …

[Makes a four-point argument.]




David Gerrold on Facebook – June 21

You can have my Best Novelette Hugo when you pry it out of my cold dead hands.



Jonathan Crowe

“Some Initial Thoughts on a Couple of Hugo Award Amendments” – June 21

The [Best Saga] amendment points out that most sf/fantasy comes out in series nowadays — around two-thirds, they claim — whereas Hugo voters tend to vote for standalone books. According to the proposal,

for the past decade, the Best Novel category has been dominated by stand-alone works, with nine out of the eleven winners being such (and one of the two series novels is a first book in its series). The distribution of Best Novel winners is badly out of step with the general shape of the market, even though the nominees run close to the market trend.

I’d argue that a decade doesn’t give us nearly enough data points. Over the past quarter century, the split between standalone books and series books among Hugo winners is about fifty-fifty — and I’m including the first books of eventual trilogies, such as Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice (2014), Robert J. Sawyer’s Hominids (2003) and Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin (2006). Sequels to have won Hugos include Lois McMaster Bujold’s Paladin of Souls (2004), Vernor Vinge’s Deepness in the Sky (2000), and Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead (1987). Books two and three of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars series won Hugos, as did the fourth installments of the Harry Potter and Foundation series. And that doesn’t get into the number of Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan books that have won Hugos as well.

So I’m not sure that the proposal’s premise holds up.


Andrew Hickey on Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

“Hugo Blogging: Sagas” – June 21

Were the “best saga” award to be brought in *and all books in series to be removed from the “best novel” category*, I would be ecstatic, because that would give more exposure to the standalone novels the field should be producing. As it is, though, it seems likely that it will encourage even further the decline of the field into a niche of thirty-book series called The Chronicles Of The Saga Of Dullworld. When the playing field is already tilted in one direction, tilting it further seems a bad idea.



Nicholas Whyte on From The Heart of Europe

“E Pluribus Hugo, and other proposals (long post)” – June 21

My conclusions on the various proposals: So with a slightly heavy heart – I regret that small-minded slate-mongers have killed off a large part of the wisdom-of-crowds aspect of the Hugo nominations process – I endorse E Pluribus Hugo as the best fix to prevent slates from dominating the process in future without irreparable damage to the credibility of the awards. Edited to add: I no longer think that a “large” part of the wisdom-of-crowds aspect has been killed off.

Three other proposals for reforming the Hugo process have been submitted to Sasquan. One is to abolish the 5% threshold; as I mentioned above, I agree with this faute de mieux, but E Pluribus Hugo removes the threshold requirement anyway, so I would only support it if E Pluribus Hugo is rejected.

I don’t support the proposal to merge two of the short fiction categories and create a “Best Saga” category. The multiple short fiction awards at present reward writers who express their ideas succinctly rather than at big commercial length, and I’m in favour of that. The “Best Saga” proposal doesn’t fix any existing problem but does create new ones – not least of which, who is going to have time to read all the finalists between close of nominations and close of voting?

I do support the “4 and 6” proposal, to restrict voters to a maximum of four nominations rather than five as at present, but to extend the final ballot to include six rather than five finalists. If E Pluribus Hugo is not adopted, the “4 and 6” proposal is a lesser safeguard against slates, in that it becomes much more difficult to marshall your minions to support six slated works if they have only four votes each. And if E Pluribus Hugo is adopted, voters who nominate five candidates will get less value for their nomination than those who nominate four, and so on; the first part of the “4 and 6” proposal seems to me a decent indication to voters that a slightly different nominating strategy is now necessary (even though it’s not actually part of E Pluribus Hugo). As for the second part, I do feel that good work is left off the Hugo ballot every year, and while Mike Scott’s proposal from April (1, 2, 3) would have designed a certain responsiveness in the system specifically in reaction to the slates, I’d prefer a broader, simpler and less slate-dependent change, and I think that expanding the final ballot to six rather than five does that.


Tim Hall on Where Worlds Collide

“E Pluribus Hugo” – June 21

Out of Many, A Hugo, the proposal from Making Light for changing the Hugo Awards voting system in an attempt to fix the problems that came to a head this year.

It uses a Single Divisible Vote, which is a form of proportional system rather than the first-past-the-post system used up to now, and is designed to prevent any well-organised minority from dominating the nominations out of all proportion to their numbers.

I like the system a lot, although the complexity of the counting system means the count must be computerised. It has many of the same advantages as the widely-used Single Transferrable Vote system, though a notable difference is that you don’t need to rank your nominations in any kind of order.


Mari Ness

“Proposed changes to Hugo Awards” – June 21

Moving onto the “KILL THE NOVELETTE CATEGORY ALREADY!” question, well, I’m a short fiction writer, so I’m an interested party here.

First, I’ll note that there’s some precedence for this, with the World Fantasy Award which does not offer a separate category for novelettes. Second, I am deeply sympathetic with the complaints of voters who do not want to check the word count for the short fiction they’ve read, and that the dividing line between novelette and short story has issues because of where it lands (at 7500 words) and that really, novelettes are just long short stories and should be treated like that. Not to mention the complaints that the Hugo ballot is waaaaayyyyyyyy too long as it is. I’ve made that last complaint myself. My understanding is that the novelette category has historically gotten fewer nominations than other categories, so even as a short fiction writer, I fully get the keeeeellll it! keeellllllll it dead! feeling here.


The first problem is the number of eligible short fiction works versus the number of eligible works in most of the other categories. Novels possibly come close, and, with blog posts eligible for the catch-all category of Best Related Work (which this year includes a nominee that isn’t even particularly “related”), that category does as well. Novellas are currently experiencing a resurrection, so those numbers might creep up.

Otherwise – the number of eligible podcasts is in the double digits. The number of semi-prozines and fanzines is also in the double digits; the same names keep popping up in those categories for a reason. The number of eligible graphic novels probably in the triple digits. Films are in the double, maybe triple digits. Television episodes, including cartoons, might pop up to a little over 1000. The number of eligible short stories, in that category alone, is conservatively around 6000. Expanding that category to include works up to 10,000 words will just expand that number.


Kevin Standlee on Fandom Is My Way Of Life

“New Business Is New Business”  – June 21

The deadline for submitting proposals to the Business Meeting this year is August 6, 2015. The procedure for submitting proposals is listed on the Business Meeting page on the Sasquan web site under “New Business Submissions.” The WSFS Rules are published online and are distributed to the members in the progress reports. None of this is secret. And if you have questions about the process, you can write to me or to the entire WSFS business meeting staff through the wsfs-business address @sasquan.org.

I’ve written a Guide to the Business Meeting that tries to explain this. I’m available to answer questions. I just beg of people to not assume the worst of everything. It’s very frustrating to work this hard and to hear people assuming that it’s all rigged in some way. Well, it’s set up to allow the members who choose to participate in the process to come to a decision in a way that balances the rights of the members as a whole, of the members who attend, of majorities and minorities, of individuals, and of absentees, in a fair manner. However, “fair” and “I got what I personally wanted” are not always the same thing, and it would be wise to keep that in mind when approaching any form of deliberative assembly.


Mark Ciocco on Kaedrin Weblog

“Hugo Awards: Novelettes” – June 21

[Reviews all five nominees]

Novelettes! Good old novelettes! What do you call something that’s longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel? A novella, of course, but that’s too easy. Let’s invent something between a short story and a novella, and call it a novelette! On the one hand, it is a bit odd that SF/F seems to be the only genre in literature that makes this distinction (something about a legacy of SF’s pulpy magazine roots, where different sized works had different pay scales) and it seems rather pointless and confusing for no real reason. On the other hand, it just means we get to read more fiction, which is actually a pretty cool thing. Once again, none of my nominees made the final ballot, but such is the way of short fiction awards. Last year’s Novelettes were pretty darn good (with one obvious and notable exception), and it looks like this years will rival that:…


Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine” – June 21

Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine is a 2015 Hugo nominee for Best Semiprozine.

Visually, I found this a lot more appealing than Abyss & Apex, the only other nominated semiprozine I’ve looked at so far. On the other hand, I was not as impressed by the accessible fiction. Also, there seemed to be no means to access the relevant material, i.e, what was actually published during 2014.


Vivienne Raper on Futures Less Traveled

“Reading the Rockets – Best Short Story” – June 21

[Reviews all five nominees.]

First up, Best Short Story. The nominees are:

  • “On A Spiritual Plain”, Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, 11-2014)
  • “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
  • “A Single Samurai”, Steven Diamond (The Baen Big Book of Monsters, Baen Books)
  • “Totaled”, Kary English (Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, 07-2014)
  • “Turncoat”, Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)

These range between dire and good. And only one of them, in my view, is even remotely worthy of being considered for a Hugo Award (if I’m being charitable). And that, surprisingly, is the military SF story Turncoat.


Jonathan Edelstein in a comment on File 770 – June 21

Officer Pupke


Dear kindly Sergeant Pupke You gotta understand It’s just that we’re fed up-ke About our losing hand; The lefties run the ballot And us they underrate: Golly Moses, that’s why we’re a slate!


Officer Pupke, we’re really upset Our writing never got the love that it ought to get. We’re not really rabid, we’re misunderstood – Deep down, our books are pretty good.


There’s some good!


There is good, there is good There is unread good! In the worst of us, there is some good.



Jonathan Edelstein in a comment on File 770 – June 20

[Parody of ”Guys and Dolls”]

…When you see a guy froth without knowing why You can bet that he’s angry about some CHORF. When you spot a dude sounding like he’s von Krupp Chances are he’s a Pup whose full-measured cup of outrage is up.

When you see Vox Day swear he’ll make Gallo pay And direct all his minions to cut Tor off Call it dumb, call it cloying But the thing that is most annoying Is that he’s only angry about some CHORF….



Cheryl, Meet Occam’s Razor

Like many fans, Gary Farber wants to know what stuff on the internet has been made eligible for the Best Fanzine Hugo now that the “Making the Web Eligible” rules changes have been ratified by the 2009 Business Meeting. Which is correct, my take in “The Future of the Best Fanzine Hugo” or something Cheryl Morgan wrote in reply to a comment Gary wrote on her blog?

As Gary commented on a post of mine:

You and Cheryl Morgan seem to be contradicting each other; she wrote in her comment #7 here that “To qualify as a fanzine the site still have to be non-profit and (at least currently) to have recognizable issues.”

Which would exclude blogs. So which is it? Are blogs eligible as Fanzines, or not? (I’m fine, I think, with them not, as that seems reasonable, what with them not being made of discrete issues, and the writers still being eligible, obviously, for Best Fan Writer; I’d just like a clarification of the facts here, please.)

The answer really depends on what next year’s Hugo Administrator does if a blog or website finishes among the top five Best Fanzine nominees. And that in itself demonstrates how defective the new rule is: on its face, a dramatic change has been made yet no one can say with authority what kinds of things are allowable as nominees in the Best Fanzine category on next year’s Hugo ballot. Including Cheryl Morgan, whose comment I’ll discuss at the end.

What’s comparatively easy to show is what the movers of the rules change intend to have happen: for certain blogs and websites to become eligible in the Best Fanzine category.   

The long-established Best Fanzine rule requires four cumulative issues, one in the eligibility year. But it doesn’t define “issue.” Doubtless most fans interpret “issue” to mean a discrete, separable publication. There isn’t any restriction on media, either — the old audio cassettes of Uncle Albert’s Electric Talking Fanzine were issues. It’s evident that the rules change hasn’t been made to address “other media” but to create an equivalency for a class of things not produced in issue form with those that are.

Obviously blogs and websites are not fanzines in the taxonomy of fanac, nor are they done in issue format in the manner of paper, PDF or audio cassette magazines.

The rules change actually erases the current functional definition of the category. – fanac done in issue format – and makes any non-professional etc. etc. publication that has added material four times in its existence, once during the eligibility year, eligible to be nominated for Best Fanzine. (“Publication,” of course, merely means “distributing copies of a work to the public.”) A static website would fail the multi-issue requirement. A blog with too few posts would fail it. That leaves plenty of others that will qualify.  

And that’s the meaning of the change addressed in the 2008 Business Meeting minutes. They report the Chair offering interpretive comments while discussing the interaction of two proposed rules changes, “One Fewer Award,” the motion to delete the Best Semiprozine Hugo, and “Making the Web Eligible”:

Chair: “One Fewer Award” would override “Making the Web Eligible” with regard to the deletion of the semiprozine Hugo category.
Ben Yalow (F): We’ve decided work is work, whatever the medium. This is just amending the categories to make it clear content is key, not the medium.
Warren Buff (PoI): Would blogs could go in 3.3.5 [Best Related Work, as amended] or best fanzine.
Chair: That’s down to the administrator.

Plainly, neither the makers of the motion nor the Chair answered Warren Buff’s point of information by saying “blogs are ineligible,” they answered that it would be the Hugo Administrator’s call what category they went into (because of the complex interaction of the new category definitions.)

Also, Warren Buff wrote online in July, “given that the Business Meeting resoundingly responded that blogs belong in the fanzine category when I asked about those last year…” — verifying the consequence intended by those changing the rules.

So that’s that. There’s always a chance the Smof Uncertainty Principle may come into play, stalling a foreordained result because somebody forces a public discussion about its merits. But there is no doubt about what was attempted – and as far as I can predict, will happen.

It is unfortunate that the “Making the Web Eligible” rules changes didn’t modify the definition of “issue.” We’re deprived of an authoritative measure of “the equivalent in other media.” But I know that the numbered series of text-filled postcards titled Nine Inch Nails were universally accepted as issues of a fanzine though they contained only a couple hundred words apiece. Wouldn’t a series of separately-dated blog posts be equivalent to issues of Nine Inch Nails? The wording of the rules, the report of the 2008 Business Meeting and subsequent online discussion by people who were there show that non-professional blogs and websites that have been updated sufficiently often will be eligible in the Best Fanzine category.

I believe the general object of the change is entirely reasonable and appropriate, and could have been done well. Since the days when Bill Bowers’ Fan Basic 101 “aimed at providing a concise entry point for fannish fans newly on line,” practically ever faneditor with a sniff at a Hugo nomination believes he needs to have an online presence. Only one perennial contender, Banana Wings, has no online counterpart. I had a website for years and started this blog in 2008. Nearly all of the nominees have a website or blog in addition to a paperzine and believe they could not get on the ballot otherwise. Let’s not pretend this isn’t happening.

Everyone also is aware of the trend for long-time fanzine editors to produce only PDF editions of their zines. The Hugo rules have always been interpreted to accept the eligibility of fanzines distributed solely online, for example at eFanzines.com. Therefore it is apparent that the latest rules change is aimed at admitting online work not done in the form of issues, such as blogs, or websites that change their content sufficiently often to qualify. I’d rather that were done in a way that keeps fanac as the focus of the category.

In that context, let’s turn to the answer Cheryl Morgan gave to Gary:

And note that we are not lumping all web sites into Fanzine. To qualify as a fanzine the site still have [sic] to be non-profit and (at least currently) to have recognizable issues.

What is at the bottom of these vague statements?

If not all web sites will be “lumped into Fanzine,” the reciprocal remains true, that some web sites will be eligible in the Best Fanzine category, yes?

However, it is absolutely untrue that the rules make “non-profit” status a condition of eligibility for the Best Fanzine Hugo. As most Worldcon runners know (and ‘til now, I’d have numbered Cheryl among them), a “non-profit” is a government-authorized entity, usually a corporation, organized as a step in applying for an income tax exemption (state or federal).

Sometimes people with a weakness for high-flown language say “non-profit” when all they mean is “doesn’t make money.” If that’s what Cheryl means, well, losing money also has never been a condition of eligibility for Best Fanzine and hasn’t been made one by the “Making the Web Eligible” amendments we’re discussing. The only measures of this type are in the definition of Best Semiprozine, which as I discussed the other day are useless for getting a handle on something like Locus Online.

Or maybe Cheryl simply lost track of what is meant by “non-professional,” which is one of the requirements of a Best Fanzine nominee. That would be an easy mistake to make. The Hugo rules no longer define “professional,” so you can hardly rely on them for any help in defining “non-professional.” Yes, there is a real-world distinction between the two classes, but a Hugo Administrator has been given nothing to point to when assailed by irate nominees he or she disqualifies.

Finally, her assurance that eligible nominees must “have recognizable issues” is the part that most begs the question. There is no definition of “issue” in the rules, so what would it mean to require that the issue be “recognizable”? How can the movers of something called “Making the Web Eligible” have intended to allow only things that look like paper magazines into contention as fanzines? For then, they need not have bothered to change the rules at all. And that’s where Cheryl runs afoul of Occam’s Razor.

The only thing that is absolutely certain about next year’s ballot is that semiprozines like Locus, NYRSF and Interzone still will be ineligible to be nominated for Best Fanzine.

Update 08/09/2009: Reworded explanation of “non-profit” in response to a correction from John Lorentz.

Snapshots 6

Here are six developments of interest to fans.

(1) Taking the Sci-Fi Theme Music Quiz was a humbling experience. I got the practice question right, but after that it was all downhill.

(2) Amy Sturgis is holding her fourth annual, month-long celebration of Halloween at her LJ, posting classic literature and contemporary links, generally celebrating.

(3) The many moods of Godzilla.

(4) Lorelle Van Fossen has a very interesting series of articles about what to do when somebody steals your blog content:

This is the first of three articles. This article covers tips, information and resources to help you deal with copyright infringement, the theft of your blog or website content. The second article includes helpful links and resources for finding stolen content and copyright infringements. The last article in the series examines the growing trends in content theft such as image hotlinking, website hijacking, and abusive use of feeds to replace original content without permission, as well as other copyright infringements on the rise.

(5) A studio is developing a feature version of Yogi Bear, the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon. The project is planned as a live-action/animated hybrid along the lines of Fox’s Alvin & the Chipmunks. Much of the movie will be live action, but Yogi Bear and sidekick Boo Boo will be done in CG animation.

(6) Gary Farber wants you to know: It’s snowing on Mars!

[Includes links via Isaac Alexander, David Klaus and Gary Farber.]

More About Jack Speer

Some new blog posts point out more things worth remembering about Jack Speer.

Gary Farber reminds us

If you’ve ever written a blog comment you owe this man.

Well said, Gary. In 1938, Jack invented the practice of making short responses —  mailing comments — in his zine to the other zines distributed through the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA). Other fans reciprocated his comments, and it’s gone on ever since. From his snowflake to today’s avalanche.

Speer worked in law and politics during his career:

In the mundane world, John Bristol Speer was a retired lawyer who resided in Albuquerque since 1962; previously, he was a Democrat state representative from the Bend, Washington area during 1959-1961.

Speer was also a former judge. It might be said that in his day he dispensed “law West of the Pecos.”