File 770 Issue #163 Available

File770-163I couldn’t let a year go by without a new issue of File 770 and, with creative help from Taral, John Hertz and John King Tarpinian, I managed to get one done just before the last page was torn from the calendar.

File 770 #163 [PDF file] boasts Taral’s diplomatic memoir about his brief time as an artist for an sf publisher, a full LoneStarCon 3 report from John Hertz, and Martin Morse Wooster’s account of Readercon 24, the first one since It Happened.

This is an especially good a day to visit to Bill Burns’ eFanzines site. The latest three zines to be posted, besides my own, are Robert Lichtman’s Trap Door #29, Steven H Silver’s Argentus #13 — and Journey Planet #18, guest edited by Helen Montgomery, where anonymous contributors say what they think about the effects of social media on fandom.

Montgomery: Science Fiction
Outreach Project
Does Dallas

Our improvised Friday setup.

Our improvised Friday setup.

By Helen Montgomery: This year, with Worldcon being in San Antonio, the SFOP decided to head on down to Dallas Comic Con to give away books and tell attendees about LoneStarCon 3.

Our saga begins on Wednesday, May 15.  Three of us were heading down from Chicago – but Mother Nature intervened with a bunch of tornados.  We were all grateful that we weren’t stuck in the storm, but it certainly threw off our stride!  We finally all arrived at the convention center on Thursday, ready to move in our three pallets of books and shelving.

There had apparently been a miscommunication along the line, and instead of having our expected two 8′ x 10′ booths, we had two 8′ x 7′ booths.  Having only 14′ feet of width is a problem when your shelves are 16′ all by themselves!  We scrambled a bit and came up with a layout that involved only half our shelves and two tables with shelves built up on them.

Friday went well, but we were a tad anxious how the smaller space would work on Saturday.   Fortune smiled upon us though, and the people who had the booth across the aisle from us never showed up.  Our friends from Fencon / WhoFest had the booth next to us and they were able to move across the aisle which allowed us to expand to our full set up using their booth space.  They were also delighted with the move, as they now had space to bring in their full-sized Dalek.  All is now well in the universe!

 

Our usual setup -- hooray!

Our usual setup — hooray!

Saturday went fabulously well.  We gave away a lot of books and talked a lot about Worldcon.  As usual, our booth was crowded the whole day  with people coming back over and over, bringing along their friends.  It was great to see strangers chatting and recommending books to each other.  Kids and teenagers had a great time going through their special boxes.

Typical scene for the weekend.

Typical scene for the weekend.

We did it all over again on Sunday.  Towards the end of the day we had more boxes left than we had anticipated (largely due to being able to put out significantly less on Friday that we usually do), and a few people asked if they could take away full boxes – without even knowing what was in them!  Apparently they figured that a box of authors with last names starting with “C” was a good bet!

One of my favorite stories of the weekend involved a boy who was probably around 10 years old.  He came by on Friday, and chose a book called “100 Cupboards”.  I commented to him that I had read the back and thought is sounded really interesting.  I asked if he was coming back the rest of the weekend, and when he said yes, I asked him to go home that night and read the first few chapters, then come back and tell me if it was as good as it sounded.  On Saturday afternoon, a man came up and said that the boy had needed to leave earlier, but insisted that Dad come over and tell me that the book was excellent.  Dad said he didn’t stop reading until they forced him to so he could go to bed!  On Sunday, the boy himself came by and asked if I remembered him.  He then proceeded to say “It was so good!  I couldn’t put it down!”

That, folks, is why we do what we do.  A new fan has been brought into the family!

Thanks, as always, to everyone who donated books over the last year.  We thank the conventions that sponsored book drives, and the publishers who sent us books, and the groups that gave us grant money to pay for our expenses.  We would also like to thank Brad Foster for our new tip jar artwork!

Brad Foster's tip jar art.

Brad Foster’s tip jar art.

We’re planning to head across the pond next year to help our SFOP compatriots in London at one or two comic conventions there, which will help promote Loncon 3.  We are exploring options for an event in the U.S. as well, but have not finalized any plans.

Please feel free to email us at sfoutreachproject@gmail.com if you’d like to donate either books or money, and don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook (Science Fiction Outreach Project – USA).

Ed-u-cate!  Ed-u-cate!  (Dalek courtesy of FenCon / WhoFest)

Ed-u-cate! Ed-u-cate! (Dalek courtesy of FenCon / WhoFest)

Help Wanted as SF Outreach Prepares for Dallas Comic Con

SF Outreach logoBy Helen Montgomery: Some of you are familiar with the Science Fiction Outreach Project (SFOP), which was started a few years ago to help promote science fiction fandom to comic book fans. Headed up by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Spike, and Helen Montgomery, we went to WonderCon in San Francisco in April 2011 to help promote Renovation. Last year, headed up by James and Helen, we went to CE2 in Chicago to help promote Chicon 7.

This year, the SFOP is going to Dallas Comic Con to help promote Texas fandom and LoneStarCon 3.

We give away books. Between 5,000 and 6,000 of them in three days. That’s the hook – find the readers or potential readers of SF, and talk to them about our fandom. It’s a ton of fun, meeting lots of people, seeing how excited people get when they find a good book or see a Hugo Award in person (we’ve been able to borrow one to display in past years, and will this year as well), finding out about Worldcon…

It’s a big endeavor, and we are looking for volunteers who are able to join us in Dallas.

(1) Book Sorting: We need to sort alphabetically all the books that have been donated. We are going to be doing this on Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5. We will be at the Animefest “clubhouse,” 675 N Glenville Dr, Suite 165, Richardson, TX (Dallas area). We’ll start at 10 a.m., we will provide lunch for volunteers, and we finish up when we all get hungry and tired and go to dinner.

(2) Dallas Comic Con (DCC): Move in is Thursday, May 16 and the morning of Friday, May 17. The actual convention is the afternoon of Friday, May 17 through Sunday, May 19. We need folks who are willing to do some manual labor for Move-in on Thursday/Friday, and again for Move-out on Sunday night. We also need folks who will be willing to help fans find books, chat up Texas fandom and LSC 3, and generally be cheerful and welcoming during the convention itself.

If you are interested in helping us out on either weekend, please email Helen at sfoutreachproject@gmail.com to let her know. Once we know who is interested, we’ll send out more details as they fall into place.

Thanks!
The SFOP

P.S. We are still also accepting book donations! If you have gently used SF/F (all age groups), please contact Helen at the email above to make arrangements to get them to us.

Journey Planet Tempts Fate

If there were any triskaidekaphobes on the editorial staff of Journey Planet would they have dared fill issue #13 [PDF file] with arguments about sexual politics?

Guest editors Emma King and Helen Montgomery rounded up nearly three dozen fans to discuss gender parity on convention panels, a topical controversy ever since Paul Cornell announced his personal plan to do something about it, and the 2013 Eastercon made it a policy.   

A few writers uphold the 50/50 side of the argument against all comers, and a good thing they’re able to do it because most of the contributors oppose a fixed male-female ratio of panelists.

As Carol Connolly frames the question:

After all, this is the 21st Century! It’s not as if anyone is deliberately keeping women away. Surely as long as the con has a generally welcoming environment towards women, they’ll just turn up on panels. Like mushrooms in a field (translation for city folk: “like Starbucks franchises”).

Except that hasn’t happened, has it? Although women make up over 50% of the population, that fact is not mirrored in panel demographics.

That fundamental disparity is always on my mind as a program organizer, even if I am not a 50/50 advocate.

Opponents of 50/50 make forensic arguments about whether panels should mirror the population when the community of pro writers does not, and logistical arguments about the difficulty of aiming for 50/50 amid all the variables of assembling a convention program. Several women even argue that 50/50 would not advance feminist principles. For example, Emma Jane Davies feels 50/50 might be an impediment to dealing with the genuine issue:

Panel parity effectively makes a genuine problem invisible to fandom and the rest of the world. Are we so ashamed by the paucity of female SFF writers that we must deny the disparity, even to ourselves? Would the truth not act as a better motivation to those who wish to correct the real problem?

Certainly the zine will be must reading for conrunners because so many of their colleagues are in it and it’s a great way to see some of the other players’ cards.

(Full disclosure: I wrote for #13, too. Was that good luck for the editors, or bad?)

Chicon 7 Fixes Hugo Voter Packet

The full Hugo Voter Packet now is available – including previously missing samples for the Best Editor – Short Form, Best Semiprozine, Best Related Work, Best Graphic Story and Best Fanzine categories.

Helen Montgomery, Vice-Chair, attributed the delay to a “very large bug” which was resolved with a lot of hard work by the Chicon 7 tech team and their ISP. The problem caused a 10-day delay in making the missing material accessible, everything else in the packet having gone online by May 18.

James Bacon: C2E2 Outreach Ready

Outreach at C2E2

By James Bacon: With support from Baen, Tor, Penguin as well as fans from as far afield as Arizona, California and Boston, the Science Fiction Outreach Project had a massive boost from Midwest fans and now has over 5,700 books to give away!

Financial support has been amazing from within fandom and so we are all set up here at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2), for a busy weekend.

Helen Montgomery and Terrence Miltner led the charge with Sondra, Leane, Dave, Geri and myself helping and we even had time to check out the show (and I held a real Captain America shield.)

All books have a bookmark, listing websites of all the amazing supporters and we are hoping for a busy weekend.

SF Outreach at WonderCon

John O’Halloran, Helen Montgomery Leane Verhulst, and Chris O’Halloran, ready for business on Day One.

By the Science Fiction Outreach Project TeamJames Bacon, Chris Garcia and Helen Montgomery 

It was an incredibly brilliant experience. We benefitted hugely from teamwork and generosity of fans.

Between a variety of book drives, donations and even people turning up at WonderCon (April 1-3) with small bags, we had between 5,500 to 6,000 books.  Borderlands, Berkshire Books, Locus Magazine, and Half Price Books (in both the Bay Area and the Chicagoland Area) also donated books.

We had boxes of Locus and SF and F to give away as well.

We had bookmarks made, and every book had one inserted prior to shelving.

We were able to shelve around 1400 books at a time in the space we had, and had stacks of flyers for other cons on both tables, promoting a wide variety of cons as well as progress reports for Renovation.

We set up on Thursday, after spending Monday through Wednesday sorting books, picking up books, and then loading a truck, etc.

On Wednesday after loading the truck, we popped into the Moscone Convention Center, and this was fortuitous as we got our badges and met our contacts, and they were real nice.

Thursday we built our shelving, the Freeman move-in experience was a good one, as was the whole set up.

Friday — well it was interesting, we were all set up and within minutes of opening our booth area had about 6 people in it, and from then till close we never had less, and frequently had too many.  This was the pattern for the rest of the weekend as well.

A continual information dump from the team (we had 7 on hand at opening and this increased throughout the weekend) to the attendees, and then longer time taken to explain what cons are (I know, but wow – you should have seen their faces when they realized what else is out there!), what Reno is, what Worldcon is and what we were doing meant at all times we were busy.

There was much interest, and people from the Bay Area, Sacramento, and Reno especially interested in the World Science Fiction Con coming to somewhere nearby or Westercon or Loscon, while folks from further afield were pointed at cons in their states and generally anyone who wanted to know about something local to them was satisfied.

The diversity of people calling into the booth was much more varied than our experience at book conventions, and yet all folks wanted to do was talk about books, get recommendations or talk about these “book conventions” that we were promoting. Everyone was super friendly (well, the books were free) but the interest in the overall hobby was noticeable.

Also, the knowledge of people was superb, many of these people were genuine SF readers – who just are not aware of what’s going on in the SF fannish community.

Friday we cleared the bookshelves, and on Saturday and Sunday both days we refilled throughout the day and managed the books well, and so by Sunday night we ended up with only 80 books not taken.

It was real hard work, it was an incredibly fun thing to engage with people about books and our wider hobby and we are pretty sure we can call it a success.

Helping out the core team were: Dave Gallaher, Dave Clark, Mike Ward, John O’Halloran, Chris O’Halloran, Kevin Standlee (who brought a Hugo statue for us to display!), Steve Libbey, Tom Becker, Lynda Wentzelberger, “Hitgirl” (a random attendee who decided what we were doing was cool and started to help), Jo Mead, and Leane Verhulst. 

We would also like to thank Kimm Antell and Meredith Branstad for helping to design bookmarks and postcards and banners for us.

We really, really, really want to thank Colin Harris for updating our Facebook page throughout the weekend (despite us being on the Pacific coast, and him being in London, England!), which got us some great comments from folks who were there, found us, and went to find us on FB later!  (Have you “liked” us on FB yet?  We are “Science Fiction Outreach Project – USA”)

Highlights for us included:

  • Seeing the looks on people’s faces when they realized the books really were free
  • Watching people light up when they heard about SF conventions
  • Watching people get so excited when they realized they could be part of the Hugo Awards process
  • Watching people recommend books to each other
  • One of us recommended a book that was already taken, and another person overheard and said “Yup, it’s great. I was going to take it but you have it.” (This happened more than once, including adults giving some stuff over to teenagers just getting into the genre.)
  • People being happy to hear that Worldcon is coming to a town near them
  • Young adults getting even more excited when they learned about the YA discount and the options about volunteering to make Worldcon affordable
  • Writers and publishers who had their own booths at the convention coming over and donating books for us to give away (especially Archaia Publishing, who gave us a big box of comic books to give to kids)

It was quite honestly one of the most amazing experiences some of us have ever had in fandom.

WonderCon is only just over – but we’re already gearing up for what comes next!  We have a few ideas of what we would like to do, and will keep the readers of File 770 updated as we go.

We cannot thank you all enough for your support, it was a great weekend.  I truly believe we got our message out and in a good way, and that fandom will benefit from this for sure.

Many thanks,
The Science Fiction Outreach Project Team (James, Chris, and Helen)

Day Two, with Hugo rocket.

Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

The final remains on Day Three.

Chicago in 2012
Hits the Campaign Trail

The Chicago in 2012 Worldcon bid was officially launched at Denvention 3. The bid’s leadership includes Dave McCarty (Chairman), Helen Montgomery (Secretary), and Tom Veal (Treasurer).

Those who believe nothing exists until it hits the internet can also consider the official launch to have happened this weekend. There’s now a well-designed bid website, a Chicago in 2012 LiveJournal community, and a Facebook page.

The website indicates there eventually will be available for download copies of the souvenir pulp magazines the bid is creating and giving to $20 presupporting members. Fred Pohl wrote the story for the premiere issue.