My partner Juli and I set out on a beautiful morning for Chicago. One of our favorite sights is the immense Meadow Lake Wind Farm (which generates 801.25 megawatts of electricity) consisting of 301 turbines, just northwest of Lafayette, Indiana. I have always been in awe of the size and scope of this modern marvel of engineering.
We arrived at dusk and were treated to the enchanting vista of Chicago at night by the river…
Since I was going to be dwelling in the hometown of the Blues Brothers, I thought it would be appropriate to be attired properly.
One of the first people Juli and I met at Chicon 8 was Galaxy’s Edge Editor and Arc Manor Assistant Publisher Robyn Lezli, who was a large display of books and magazines with her benevolent (and generous) boss, Shahid Mahmud.
On my way to the Press Office, Christopher Garcia threw a copy of Journey Planet (paperboy style) as we passed each other. Here is a photo of it in mid-flight…
One of the first things I unpacked for the Press Office was this item. When the staff assembled that first morning, I told them in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that if they stepped out of line, I would not hesitate to blow the Illuminated Death Star Beach Ball up! Needless to say, it remained deflated during the duration of the convention.
After several delays (and escapades) involving the United States Department of State and airline hijinks, Nigeria’s rising literary star (and double Hugo Finalist), Oghenechowe Donald Ekpeki finally arrived at Chicon 8. I greeted him at the Galaxy’s Edge table in the Dealer’s Room with two facemasks and an envelope with some valuable personal papers. Needless to say, everyone was overjoyed to see him…
Also on hand were my daughter, Laura, her husband Charlie (not pictured, unfortunately) and my granddaughter, Navia. They were here to witness my (possible) Hugo Award acceptance speech on Sunday. I may have felt the sting of disappointment by not winning but I was so incredibly happy they were all there.
Chicago By Day…
So here are my Press Office mates, Dan Berger, Juli Marr and Sooshe Blat Harkins, pondering where we should go for dinner along the Chicago Riverwalk. Rest assured, we did eat that evening…
Chicago After Dark…
Day Three of Chicon 3, another beautiful morning.
On my way to the Press office, I made some time Saturday morning to stop by the Exhibit Hall and check out this year’s Hugo Award trophy. This magnificent award was handcrafted by the renowned Chicago artist and business entrepreneur Brian Keith Ellison of BKE Designs.
Ah, FINALLY, a photo from a Chicon 8 panel. Here are the panelists of “Movie Year in Review: A Curated Look at Genre Films (2021–2022)” moderated by yours truly. From left to right are: Matthew S. Rotundo, Daryll Mansel, Joshua Bilmes and Deirdre Crimmins. We had fun. You should have been there.
I was checking up on how Mr. Ekpeki was getting along in the Dealer’s Room when up ZOOMED fellow Hugo Award Finalist Seanan Maguire on her scooter. They both knew of a photo opportunity when they saw it…
It’s Saturday Night so you know it’s time for another magnificent appearance by fandom’s favorite, and most regal, Masquerade Judge, John Hertz!
And here is a wide shot of all the Chicon 8 Masquerade contestants. I apologize for it being out of focus; I BLAME the three apparitions lighting up in the middle of the photo. I don’t recall who they are but let’s face it, they lit up the joint that evening.
It’s THE BIG DAY! And that calls for a BIG BREAKFAST, courtesy of the Chicon 8 Staff Lounge. I hadn’t had a bowl of Rice Chex in AGES. (As a kid, I used to inhale whole boxes in a single sitting. Ah, those were the days…). Anyway, kudos to everyone who helped kept us fed during the convention.
Juli and I are very sneaky. We knew in advance that Sunday was Lezli Robyn’s birthday so we planned something a little special for her. The day before we left, we packed and wrapped her gift specially for her. We have both known for years that Lezli is a bit, uh, accident prone. After the fifth or sixth incident we started threatening to just roll her in bubble wrap, for her own safety and protection. Well at Chicon 8, we decided on this preemptive strike before disaster struck again. As you can see, a nice birthday card was placed on top of the package. And you can see Lezli’s reaction as she realized that bubble wrap was all that was left in the box. All for her. We were later informed by sources that she used the bubble wrap as a pillow (in an appropriate place, mind you) when she needed to nap. You’re welcome, Lezli, anytime.
After delivering Ms. Robyn’s gift, I stole a few minutes from my Press Office duties to have a novel by Catherynne M. Valente signed. We met before when she had a signing at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati where I worked for many years. She remembered me and enthusiastically remarked that she had a great time and would love to return for a visit someday. I told her I would pass the word along.
As the day wore on, the more nervous I became. Since there wasn’t much going on that afternoon, I turned my attention to writing a Hugo Award acceptance speech and a concession speech (which was published on File 770 that very evening). Everyone wished me luck but deep down, I knew that I was long shot to actually win. (And, as it turned out, I was right, finishing second in the nomination count and fifth overall in the vote standings.)
At the Chicon 8 Hugo Award Reception, Mr. Ekpeki and I were recessed to the nines!
Your 2022 Hugo Award Finalists in the Fan Writing Category; from left to right, Jason Sanford, myself, Paul Weimer and Bitter Karella.
The Crowd gathers for the start of the Hugo Awards Ceremony.
My Date, My Love and My Partner, the lovely and vivacious Juli Marr.
My Fellow 2022 Hugo Award Finalist Steven H Silver and his partner, Elaine Silver.
My Fellow 2022 Hugo Award Finalist Chuck Serface.
Our 2022 Hugo Award Ceremony Hosts, Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders.
Two Hugo Losers commiserating, Olav Rokne and myself (being subtly photobombed by Vincent Docherty) at the Chengdu Hugo Reception.
My daughter Laura and I at the Glasgow Bid Party.
My daughter Laura is seen here holding the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form for Dune (Part 1). The award was offered for photos by Chicon 8 Advisor Dave McCarty, whom we thank profusely for the opportunity.
SEPTEMBER 5TH AND 6TH
And it’s all over but the shouting. Here John Hertz and I are watching the proceedings, counting down until the dead dog parties start…
After Closing Ceremonies, Juli and I met author Col.Jonathan P. Brazee and Hugo Award Finalist (Best Professional Artist) Maurizio Manzieri outside the hotel on their way to an early dinner.
As we wind down a day after Chicon 8 has officially ended, we shared a final meal with Dan Berger, Terry Berger and Sooshe Blat Harkins, who were a tremendous help in the Chicon 8 Press Office.
A final portrait from Chicago of your humble correspondents, myself and Juli Marr. Until next time, Goodbye and Good Luck…
By Chris M. Barkley: Last weekend, I was in the Cincinnati branch of Joseph Beth Booksellers (my last place of full-time employment and one of the best independent bookstores in America) to buy copies of Heat 2 by Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner and What If 2 by Randall Munroe when a book display at the register stopped me dead in my tracks.
The sign on top of a very large display of the quality paperback edition of the 2022 Hugo-nominated novel Project Hail Mary announcing that author Andy Weir was scheduled for a signing in Cincinnati the following Wednesday (October 12).
Mr. Weir’s signing in Cincinnati was the next to last of a five Midwestern city tour to promote the paperback edition of Project Hail Mary, which was released on October 4th.
My partner Juli Marr and I arrived an hour early and a large group of fans were already beginning to accumulate in the store. Since I was an annual premium bookstore member, I was given a first place line ticket for the signing.
At a little after 7:00 p.m., Andy Weir and noted suspense novelist David Bell descended the main stairs to the first landing for a 45-minute talk and a brief question-and-answer session with the crowd of several hundred people, which your intrepid correspondent recorded on his phone (to the best of my ability).
(Chris Barkley’s video of the interview can be viewed on his YouTube channel here.)
After the Q&A session, I ascended the stairs to have Mr. Weir sign (and date) my hardcover first edition of his acclaimed first novel, The Martian AND the bonus blu-ray disc of the 2016 Extended Edition of the Oscar-nominated (and Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form Hugo Award winning) of the film version.
After I introduced myself to Mr. Weir and Mr. Bell, I said, “You and I have something in common.”
“Oh really? What’s that?”
“You and I are the only 2022 Hugo Award nominees within a hundred mile radius of this bookstore.” (I stated that because I know that our fellow nominee, Jason Sanford, lives in Columbus, Ohio, hence the reference to the mileage.)
I explained that I was one of the finalists in the Best Fan Writer category on the ballot as Mr. Weir happily signed my book and blu-ray disc (which he vaguely suggested I might sell for an enormous amount of cash on eBay, ha, ha). He also posed for a photo with me, which was taken by a bookseller working the event.
We then shook hands and wished him the best of luck the next time he’s on the finalist ballot, which I predict will be in the very near future.
Andy Weir’s last stop will be this coming Friday, October 14th at the Wisconsin Book Festival in Madison, Wisconsin at 7:30 (Central Time) at the Central Library Community Rooms 301 and 302. Further details can be found here.
To Be Fair, I Was Left Unsupervised: A Disjointed Chronicle of 79th World Science Fiction Convention, Discon III – Day Five
By Chris M. Barkley:
DAY FIVE: THE LAST DAY
Sunday, the very last day of Discon III, was a VERY busy day.
Juli and I had finished packing the night before.
I was also up early (again) because I had a 10am panel; “Inspired Or Copied, The Ethics of Art”, featuring artists agent Jane Frank, attorney at law Harold Feld, and authors Keith DeCandido, J.T. Greathouse and myself. As I looked in the program book, I did not see anyone listed as a moderator. Which made me wonder why I was on this panel to begin with. Oh well, I thought…
But first, there were two other issues on my plate that morning. As I got dressed, Juli informed me that I maybe in hot water with our friend, author Jonathan Brazee. Apparently, I misstated his rank in the United States Marine Corps as “Lt. Colonel” instead of his actual rank upon retirement as full Colonel.
If you think the distinction is rather minor, think again. Consider this; my brain fart is the equivalent of mistaking the rock band Nickelback for The Beatles. I have several friends and relatives who have served in the armed services and nothing upsets them more than civilians like myself getting aspects of their lives dead wrong. So, I got dressed, dreading the prospect of running into the Colonel.
The other thing that caught my attention was a Facebook post by Adam-Troy Castro. In it, Mr. Castro totally eviscerates Jon Del Arroz, a internet provocateur (troll) mostly known for his incredibly egotistical boasts of writing talent and notorious passive-aggressive attacks on progressive writers, women, the LGBTQ community and practically anyone else who casts doubts his on his “greatness”.
Needless to say, I picked up Mr. Castro’s post and spread it all over Facebook (including the DisCon III page) and on my Twitter page with the caption (gleefully borrowed from Game of Thrones): “He who SHOUTS that he is a King, is no king.”
THAT, dear readers, felt very, VERY satisfying.
On my way to my panel, I decided to grab a quick bite of something in the DisCon III Green Room (located just off to the side of the hotel’s main restaurant) to tide me over until I could eat a fuller breakfast. And guess who was there, having coffee with a friend —
As I started to apologize profusely, he laughed and said that he actually got a kick out of being one of the “luminaries” spotted at the bottom of the first column of this series of DisCon III reports. Totally relieved that I would not be set upon by angry veterans or service members of the armed forces, I grabbed a cup of tea and made my way to my panel. (Subsequently, Col. Brazee contacted me via text and said that no further public apology was necessary but I must disagree. When a mistake of that magnitude is made by a reporter, a correction is not only called for, it’s mandatory as far as I’m concerned.)
As I passed through the lobby, I stopped by the Information Desk for the last newsletter and the traditional hoax parody as well. I also saw that there were several dozen silver colored, Flash Gordon shaped foam rockets on the next table over. Curious, I went over and examined one and saw the red and black label, which is how I found out that the defense contractor Raytheon was an official sponsor of DisCon III. (WHAT? I should have been paying more attention during the con! In my defense, I was unsupervised…)
Thinking that these would make a nice trinket for my four grandchildren, I grabbed several of them. As I passed by Ellen Datlow, who was seated in the East Promenade eating from the grab and go buffet, I gifted her with one as well. She was very appreciative since this rocket was MUCH lighter than the Short Form Editing Hugo Award she had won yesterday evening.
[Chris Barkley’s report continues after the jump.]
To Be Fair, I Was Left Unsupervised: A Disjointed Chronicle of 79th World Science Fiction Convention, DisCon III — December 17-18, 2021
By Chris M. Barkley:
After yesterday’s events, I decided to sleep in a bit, until about 9 a.m. Because, you know, Worldcon.
The first bit of news came from Newsletter Number 3, which was published late Thursday evening. The middle column had the BIG news: that the proposal to create a Best Audiobook category had passed muster at the Preliminary Meeting and would be debated at the Main Session on Friday. After my blistering attack on the Business Meeting I feel slightly encouraged. But let’s see what happens next. Watch This Space, as Rachel Maddow intones on a regular basis…
At 10 a.m., I was on the move; today was the day I was going to race around like a whirling dervish and get books signed, come hell or high water!
I dashed down to the Dealers Room eagerly to seek out Mary Robinette Kowal, only to find out her signing session had been rescheduled due to a conflicting panel. So, you may wonder, who else would be crazy enough to get up that early in the morning to sign autographs? Yeah, THIS GUY, fellow Ohioian John Scalzi…
On my way back to my room, I made a stop at the Press Office. Peter Thomas was there and he informed me that a dozen media reporters had registered and that he did not have a firm number on how many warm bodies were on site, but had heard unofficially form the folks in Registration that the figure may or may not be around 2,500 people. He promised to text me directly if he got any solid information. (As of Friday evening, he did not have any additional information.)
After tempering my disappointment, it was time for breakfast. The weather remained unusually warm with moderate winds and an overcast sky. Our destination was Open City again because our companion Anna, Juli and I were wondering if their breakfast menu was as good as their dinner menu. Readers, we were not disappointed!
Juli had the Chorizo Scramble with an arugula salad, Anna had the California Scramble with a side of fruit. I decided to go big and have the Biscuit (singular!) and Gravy with a Breakfast Burrito. And yes, they serve animal crackers with their tea and coffee!
[Chris Barkley’s report continues after the jump.]
To Be Fair, I Was Left Unsupervised: A Disjointed Chronicle of 79th World Science Fiction Convention, Discon III – December 16-17, 2021
By Chris M. Barkley: There are some days, you just feel LUCKY.
On this fine day, Juli, our friend Anna and I decided to try the Omni’s restaurant for breakfast. After ordering coffee and tea, I suddenly remembered that I had not taken my diabetic meds.
I excused myself and walked back to the elevators. There was a bit of a crowd there so I decided to take the steps up one flight to our room. There are two sets of steps and the convention had posted signs indicating which ones to use going up and which to go down. I went to the right and up the steps.
As I opened the door, I looked down and became very surprised; there on the floor right at the entrance was my convention notebook! Apparently, it dropped out of my pocket as we left our room. I scooped it up and immediately wrote my name and phone number on the inside of the front cover. If I had the cash for a lottery ticket, I would have gotten one today. I was smiling for the rest of the morning…
We were joined at Breakfast by Chicago area super-fan Sandra Levy, who was having a splendid time at Discon III.
After breakfast, Juli and I decided to go Vote at the Site Selection area in the Dealer’s Room. Along the way, we encountered Laurie Mann at the Boskone Fan Table, who exhorted us to VOTE!
At the Site Selection Desk, Sharon Sbarsky reported that had been a steady stream of fans coming to vote, both yesterday and today.
As we wandered through the Dealer’s Room (which I found out later in the day was actually the Omni’s Parking Garage and looks very reminiscent of the sets they used on The Matrix films…) we came across the table of former Worldcon Chair (ConStellation, 1983) and bookseller Mike Walsh.
My eye was immediately drawn to a BIG collection of Krazy Kat comic strip Sunday pages. And when I mean big, I ACTUALLY MEANT GIGANTIC!
Being an ardent fan of George Herrimann, the late creator of the classic comic strip, I was immediately smitten with it. As I frantically wrote out a check to make the purchase, the Best Girlfriend in the World had already whipped out her credit card and gave me a very early Christmas gift. I LOVE you Juli and I thank you for loving my stupid face every day. At 3:00, we checked out the Con Suite, which was located on the 8th floor of the East Wing of the hotel. The food and drink were quite varied and plentiful but due to the pandemic, no one was allowed to eat in the suite. The suite’s balcony was open and a few people at a time did go out to take in the captivating view of Washington D.C.
At 4:00 p.m., we caught up with Hugo Award-winning author Jo Walton (whom we last encountered at the Dublin Airport on the way home) and the Hugo Award winning editor-in chief of Clarkesworld, Neil Clarke. Since I could not bring the many books I’d like to have signed, both happily consented to signing several book plates instead.
Also in the Dealers Room, Dave McCarty introduced me to writer/director Eric Brammer, who is shooting here with a crew for a documentary on Worldcons. He hopes to have either a rough cut or finished version done to show at Chicon 8 next year.
Later in the day, Juli and I sat for a while with fan writers and editors Nicki and Richard Lynch, who live about an hour away from D.C. They are longtime attendees of our local Ohio relaxacon Midwestcon and asked about its status for 2022. (It is currently unknown to me.) We were lucky to catch them because they are lovely people (i.e.: baseball fans) and were only attending for the day…
Nearby, The Hugo Nominee’s reception was in full swing…with The Little Big Band, an ACTUAL swing band!
In the reception area, constant Filer (and Hugo Nominees) Olav Rokne and his partner Amanda Wakaruk were holding court with Skiffy and Fanty podcast host Shaun Duke.
We had dinner at the Open City restaurant, a delightful eatery located a half a block away from the hotel. Dinner was so delicious that Juli and I agreed that we would make that our destination for breakfast the next day.
As I began writing up the day’s events (and keeping an eye on the Eagles-Chief game on Fox) we tried to find a first run copy of Day One’s Dis ‘N Dat, which featured the first mention of the Site Selection controversy. We examined all the copies we had on hand but they were all the redacted versions.
We eventually surmised that by the time we arrived on Wednesday, ALL of the offending copies had already been rounded up and destroyed.
But anyone who does have an original, is in possession of one of the rarest of all ephemeral artifacts, ground zero of this year’s biggest fannish scandal. I can only imagine seeing it on Antiques Roadshow twenty or thirty years from now…
An Editorial About the WSFS Business Meeting. On the second day of DisCon III, a Preliminary Business Meeting of the World Science Fiction Society was held to confirm the agenda for the Main Business Meeting, which will be held on Friday.
I did not attend the Preliminary Meeting nor do I intend to go to the Main Business Meeting.
The Business Meeting and I became first acquainted in 1999 at Aussiecon 3 and parted bitterly at the Dublin Worldcon in 2019 and I, dear reader, was the plaintiff.
Back on November 22nd, File 770 published a link to Nicholas Whyte’s analysis of the 2021 WSFS Business Meeting’s Hugo Award Study Committee, which, over the past several years, has been charged with recommending rule and category changes to the WSFS Constitution.
What they have done is left a trail of obfuscation, hand-wringing and utter disdain for the proposals that came before them. I should know, I was one of the people doing the proposing.
It was only through the persistence of myself and a dedicated group of supporters and collaborators that any changes have been made at all. They have my undying gratitude for all the time and effort they have put into getting those changes through the arduous process of being ratified.
As many of you regular readers may know, I was one of the main proponents of the Young Adult Book Award, now known as the Lodestar Award.
And, as one of the more recent additions to the WSFS Constitution, the Lodestar Award is up for re-ratification this year. I support its continuation, even though I, and many other people, would prefer it be recognized as a full-fledged Hugo Award category, as it was originally intended.
Reading Nicholas Wyhte’s comments on this year’s Business Meeting agenda stirred up some strong feelings within me.
Specifically, I have found that many times, the proposals that had been made and debated online in advance of the Business Meeting, most egregiously in the case of the Young Adult Book Award, there were motions to delay debate on or outright reject proposals with BM sanctioned committees, like the Hugo Award Study Committee mentioned by Mr. Whyte, for the sole purpose of obstructing and eventually killing any possibilities for new award categories.
There have been arguments that any new award proposals should be accompanied by evidence or statistics that would support a new award. The people making these objections claim they are doing so to protect the integrity of the Hugo Awards but know that such evidence is either hard to collect or nearly impossible to produce.
As any mathematician worth their salt will tell you that a negative cannot be proven. The only appropriate way to see if a proposal is viable is to persuade a Worldcon committee to use its special award privilege as specified in the WSFS Constitution:
3.3.19: Additional Category. Not more than one special category may be created by the current Worldcon Committee with nomination and voting to be the same as for the permanent categories. The Worldcon Committee is not required to create any such category; such action by a Worldcon Committee should be under exceptional circumstances only; and the special category created by one Worldcon Committee shall not be binding on following Committees. Awards created under this paragraph shall be considered to be Hugo Awards.
In the past decade, the members of the Business Meeting have taken very swift action on some issues when there has been a consensus that something needed to be done.
Per wit; the Fancast Award and Best Series Award were fast tracked through the process without too much resistance and legislation was quickly passed and ratified during the Angry/Sad/Rabid Puppy Crisis to deter a rash of slated voting.
In the meantime, the Young Adult Book Hugo Award proposal languished in committees and discussion groups as they argued over the worthiness of honoring a branch of literature that the Locus and Nebula Awards have no problem honoring previously for many years.
The Lodestar Award, sans it’s Hugo Award status, finally debuted in 2018.
As I have argued over the past twenty one years, the Hugo Awards NEED to evolve and change with the times lest they become irrelevant and obsolete in our cultural landscape. And when I say change, which includes the categories I had a hand in creating, the Long and Short Form Best Dramatic Presentation, Short and Long Form Editing and Best Graphic Story or Comic (which, upon further reflection, NEEDS the term Manga added to the title to expand and clarify the category’s reach).
In examining its record over the past few years, I too have concluded that the Hugo Award Study Committee has been a dismal failure, having accomplished nothing except squelching debate on new categories and delaying vitally needed reforms for a whole host of issues, including categories I mentioned above and the Best Fan and Professional Artist categories as well.
As Mr. Whyte mentioned in his blog post, the Lodestar Award is up for a final ratification for a permanent spot on the Hugo Awards ballot. I have every expectation that it will be ratified, seeing that it has more than proved its worthiness having averaged well over 500 nominating ballots over the past four years.
I am also of the opinion that if the Lodestar Award were struck down by the Business Meeting, it would not only be a black eye for the fannish community and it would also invite a backlash from the wider Young Adult readers around the world.
The other measure up for re-ratification is the Best Series Award; I expect that it too, will be a permanent fixture on the ballot, at least until the literary quality of the series being nominated falls off.
The move to limit a television or a streaming series to a single nomination (instead of the current limit of two) is probably a mistake because it will restrict the voting for two connected, serialized episodes, which I think would be profoundly unfair. The only upside I can see is that more people will start nominating an entire mini-series or a season of a series in the BDP Long Form category, something that I have been advocating people to do, even at the expense of some of the longer eligible films.
The solution to this particular conundrum would be to redefine the Best Dramatic Presentation into Best Series and Best Film categories, with a third category for very short items of under one hour’s running time. (This solution was actually submitted to the Business Meeting by myself and Vincent Docherty way back in 2015 when we were both members of another “Hugo Award Committee”. It was summarily dismissed and subsequently ignored.)
While I enthusiastically support the idea of a Best Audio Book award, I am afraid that it will either be voted down not to be considered or, if they’re lucky, relegated to a study committee where it will either be hashed around for several years or ignored and discarded.
I have a word of advice to Michele Cobb and Nicole Morano, the fans who proposed the Best Audio Book Award. The only way to advance your idea is to show up with enough supporters to advance your amendment past the Preliminary Meeting to get to the Main Meeting and hope for some spirited debate between yourself and them.
If you fail, my advice to you is to be PERSISTENT. Show up and keep showing up.
If not this year, then next year and the year after that. Wear them down until they actually listen to you. Persuade people. Build coalitions. Spread the word. Build a groundswell of support among fans of audio books.
And, if you love your idea and believe in it, do not retreat and never, ever, surrender to the naysayers.
The day started out as pretty dreary to fly out of Cincinnati. The morning was punctuated by heavy rain showers and overcast skies. But, as the morning progressed, the skies cleared from the west and the sun revealed itself in full splendor.
My partner Juli and I received our first bit of DisCon III news just before we boarded our plane. Kevin Standlee reported on the geographic distribution of the 2023 Site Selection ballots in advance of the end of voting on Friday. The fact that this dispatch reflected that the Chengdu bid was projected to win in a landslide caused a HUGE kerfuffle online and at DisCon III. So much so that the upper management of DisCon III, asked that the post be removed and/or redacted online. And shortly thereafter, it was.
I must note here that Kevin Standlee has been a very good friend of mine over the past twenty plus years and that my heart goes out to him. But I fear that he has done the Worldcon and the Site Selection process a great disservice by his actions.
This development came on the heels of an editorial published Tuesday on File 770 by the distinguished UK fan Colin Harris, who suggested that if the bid from Chengdu did win that the fan community should take a deep breath and accept the results of the election.
I have heard a great many good things about the members of Chengdu bid, in the earnest efforts to become a part of the worldwide community of fandom and their work towards winning the 2023 bid. I applaud their efforts, but I must say that my only fear, along with many others, is not any racial animus towards Chinese fans but that the authoritarian government of the People’s Republic of China may interfere with the convention committee, its members and its programming.
(Thursday morning addendum: Kevin Standlee has been removed as the Chair of WSFS Business Meeting and also been fired as an advisor from 2023 Winnipeg bid for in an announcement on the JOF Facebook page, “acting without consulting the bid’s senior management”. )
Well, counting Wednesday, there are three more days of voting to go. As NBC’s statistical analyst (and khaki pants advocate) Steve Kornacki will tell you, the early vote may be in but all of the precincts have yet to be heard from and that it’s still anyone’s race. We’ll find out for sure by late Friday night or very early Saturday morning. Watch This Space.
The flight was smooth and the landing was only slightly terrifying. Being seated on the left side of the plane, Juli and I were treated to a 45 second tour of all of the classic tourist sights anyone could want; the Capitol Building, the National Mall, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials AND the Watergate apartment and business complex. So much for sightseeing!
As we were strolling through National Airport in search of the taxi station, we spied a cute CNBC kiosk. We didn’t stop to shop but I am imagining that all of the Brian Williams items have been marked down ninety percent. Just Sayin’…
At first sight, the Omni Shoreham Hotel looks quite massive; it is at least several hundred yards long and ten stories high. The exterior looks rather modern but the interior has the feel of an older hotel. Inside we found a spacious area around the lobby but it feels rather smaller as you journey inwards. Which leads me to the first of several criticisms of the hotel, the elevators are dreadfully small. So I can only imagine how chaotic things are going to get as people want to go to parties, programming events or checking in and out.
Accessibility for the disabled was a hot topic before the convention and the Omni Shoreham’s deficiencies were on full display as I noticed many individuals struggling to get to Opening Ceremonies. This is not to say that accessible services are non-existent, but it is sorely in short supply abound the entire hotel. Did I mention that those elevators are REALLY SMALL?
Easily getting through Registration has never been a hallmark of any convention and DisCon III was no exception. The incredibly long line stretched from the Western part of the Promenade all the way to the Eastern Promenade elevator bank. Juli and I entered the end of the line around 2:30 p.m. After fifteen minutes, I decided to go forward to investigate why.
What I found were two people seated at a station near the Registration Desk checking everyone’s Covid-19 vaccination cards. Only two. Around the corner, there were only two or three people relentlessly processing convention badges.
It was at this moment that DisCon III was critically short of volunteers. Everyone reading this knows that Worldcons are run by volunteers.
I, for one, refuse to completely blame DisCon III for the shortage of people working the convention. They have been begging for help for months and due to the pandemic and moving the convention date to December has decimated the number of people who normally would have volunteered.
(Personal Note: I was asked to head up the Press Office earlier this year but I declined because I was unable to persuade the people I usually work with to come to DisCon III. This was the impetus for me to write the Press Office Manual and its anecdotal notes that were published here several months ago.)
But here we are. And we will have to make do with the resources we have on hand.
ON the bright side, EVERYONE was masked and distancing as well as they could.
At around 3:30 p.m., I was beginning to think that Juli and I wouldn’t make it to Opening Ceremonies so I took some drastic action. I hated to cut through the throngs of people waiting but I went to the Press Office (which was conveniently located near Registration), made the acquaintance of Kevin, the Deputy Head of the office, who provided us with press ribbons and made sure Juli and I got our badges. We then rushed off to find the Regency Ballroom, which was located on a lower level of the hotel.
And Opening Ceremonies were a splendid affair, hosted by Ulysses E. Campbell, and featuring a performance from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Show Choir (who serenaded the group with a medley of Christmas carols, complete with choreography!) and an honor guard as well. I was personally delighted that the recipient of this year’s Big Heart Award was given to longtime fan Linda Deneroff, who was absolutely stunned and speechless (a rare occurrence, I assure you) as she accepted her plaque.
The event climaxed with Sebastian Martorana’s incredibly informative presentation on how he fashioned this year’s Hugo Award base, which were made from the same sort of marble from Baltimore that was used to construct the top portions of the Washington Monument.
Unfortunately, we had to leave right afterwards because it was 5:15 p.m. and my first panel, “What Makes A Classic A Classic,” was due to start at 5:30. There was another mad dash to find the Calvert Room, which we found with minutes to spare.
What followed was a wild and wooly hour about how the panel felt about what makes our favorite works of sf and fantasy classics. Our Moderator was Shaun Duke of the Skiffy and Fanty podcast and featured myself (singing, wut?!?!?), author, scholar and editor Ellen Kushner, collector and writer Bradford Lyau and the legendary fan editor and writer John Hertz. A full audio version will be posted on File 770 sometime in the next day or so.
Finding dinner was strangely fortuitous; Robert’s, the restaurant located in the atrium of the hotel, told Juli that they were closing at 7:00 p.m. due to a lack of serving personnel and supplies. You would have thought that the hotel would have made plans for extra service with a major convention starting that week. Well, noted and logged…
That threw us both for a loop. After seeing the meager offerings at the pop up takeaway in another corner of the hotel, we decided to go to one of the eateries on the corner of Calvert Street and Connecticut Avenue.
On our way out the door, we encountered mega-fan Bobbi Armbruster, her husband Warren, Kathi Overton and her partner John Pomeranz. They all enthusiastically endorsed going to The Gourmand Grill, a Mexican American place that was a short walk right around the corner.
It was a rather small place down a steep set of stairs but Juli and I were totally enchanted by the atmosphere, the affordable menus and the incredibly helpful wait staff.
When someone canceled an order of Chipotle Shrimp, our server offered it to us at no extra charge. I had the Fish and Chips and Juli had the Meatball appetizer with a small side salad. Everything was eagerly devoured. I am quite certain we will be returning before the end of the convention.
At around 8:30 p.m., I wanted to go find the Con Suite. Juli was feeling rather tired and decided to retire to our room.
After a bit of confusion about its location, I was told that the Con-Suite was located in Room 840 in the Western part of the hotel. Upon arrival, I was informed that they had closed at 8:30. A passerby did mention that there was a party being held by a group called TANSTAAFL on the fifth floor.
While I was there, I was asked by Dave McCarty to engage in a contest. Once he outlined what it was all about, I enthusiastically accepted the challenge. What is it? What is it all about? I’ll explain in a future post, AFTER I have performed my part. Laters!
I snacked on a few dessert items and then I decided to call it a day at around 10 p.m.
After seeing what happened today, I knew tomorrow would be more of the same, if not more so.
More As It Happens, Your Faithful Correspondent
On Site Head Count: Not Available.
Luminaries Spotted Today: Nancy Kress, Dave McCarty, John Picacio, Marah Searle-Kovacevic, Tammy Coxen, Greg Ketter, Ellen Kushner, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, Lt. Colonel Jonathan Brazee (Ret.), Kathi Overton, John Pomeranz and Michael J. Walsh.
M. Barkley: Author’s
Note: This column is being written on the day after our return from Ireland.
Because, time travel. AND jet lag.
I received a text from John and incredibly, Carole’s wallet was FOUND with
all of the contents intact. I immediately spread the news on the Dublin
2019 Irish WorldCon Community Group and on my own page. I hope the details
on who found it and where it was lost will be forthcoming. Needless to
say, there was much rejoicing in the land this day!
has a taxi service called FreeNow, which, I have come to discover, is
neither. I was considering filing a suit with the World Trade Organization
but HEY, Carole’s wallet was found, so forgetaboutit…
flatmates nor myself have turned on the tv since we’ve been here. And
we’re good with that.
flatmate Peter has sadly informed me that Hurling is a sport that does not
involve vomiting on a professional level. I told him I was very relieved
to hear this because the programmers at Fox Sports do not need any
I do regret
not getting to John Scalzi’s incredibly danceable DJ session Saturday
night. It probably would have annoyed him if I had pestered him all night
requesting Manchester (UK) bands like The Stone Roses, The Smiths, 808
State, Inspiral Carpets, Swing Out Sisters, Simply Red, Oasis, The
Chemical Brothers, Electronic, The Mothmen, The Mindbenders, The
Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Charlatans, The Happy Mondays, New Order,
Elbow, The Fall, The Courteeners and The Drones but not Bauhaus. Don’t get
me wrong, they’re a great band, but from Northampton. Sorry.
people of color and of alternate and non-conforming genders dominated the
Hugo Awards for the umpteenth year in a row. Bravo. There must have been
much squealing of horror from the basements of cis-gendered nerd boys last
evening. White men had dominated fantasy and sf awards for decades so I am
not feeling too sorry that other folks are in the ascendance right now. I
am reminded of what Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked in
2010, “How many women would be enough on the Supreme Court?” She replied,
nine… There have been nine men there for a long, long time, right? So
why not nine women?”
I began the day solo because Juli had been hit with a double
play of a sinus infection and a migraine brought on by the raising and lowering
of the house lights during the Hugo Award Ceremony. As such, she remained in
bed for most of the day.
Both Juli and I had one big regret out trip; that we hadn’t had time to very
much sightseeing beyond the city. But, as I was walking about the city and
looking at all of the people from different countries, cultures and languages,
all working and living in this big, bustling cauldron of humanity felt like a
more worldly, more cosmopolitan city than my own home town. I was both humbled
and awed by the city of Dublin.
As I was crossing the drawbridge, I saw an older woman of
indeterminate heritage, sitting off to the right side of the walkway with a
dixie cup of with a few coins in it.. I stopped in front of her.
Several weeks ago, while looking through a grocery trash can
for losing lottery tickets (which could be redeemed for state lottery prizes),
I saw a gleaming flash coming from the bottom. I reached in and pulled out a
one Euro coin. My thought was that it was brought back to the US by a tourist
and was used to rub lottery scratch off tickets and was either accidentally or
deliberately thrown away.
But here I am, an American with an honest to god Euro and I
was going to an honest to god country in the European Union. Right there and
then, I vowed to make sure that this little Euro went home where it belongs.
And there I was on the bridge. I took that Euro and another
coin out of my wallet. I leaned over and she smiled and held her cup up. “ I
found this coin my country,” I said to her as I put the coins in her cup, “and
I am just returning it to its home.”
The woman gave me a broad smile and said something that was
unintelligible to me but to me it felt both grateful and heartfelt. I wish I
had given her more but the only thing I had left at this point in the trip were
a few American bills, which would have been problematic for her to exchange. I
walked on, hoping for the best for her. When I returned later, she was gone.
There was a Sunday session of the Business Meeting but I
decided to skip it for reasons that will become very clear in my final
I checked the schedule of remaining items and there was
nothing of interest as far as I was concerned. So I made a beeline for the fan
exhibit/dealer’s room. I had only been through the room once before and since I
had a limited amount of space and weight allowance for our one suitcase and I
wanted to buy at least one thing while I was in Dublin.
Joe Scilari, Edie Stern and Boston superfan Mark Olson were
manning the Fanac.org table and they proudly informed me that over 3500
pages of information had been uploaded to be archived, a tremendous success for
If you are unfamiliar with Fanac, their website says:
“This site is devoted to the preservation and distribution of
information about science fiction and science fiction fandom. There are
fanzines, photos, and all sorts of strange and wonderful information about
So, check it out sometime.
While making my way to the New Zealand bid table, I wandered
too close to the Chicago in 2022 table and was beckoned over by Dave McCarty,
who was sporting the most garishly red Grateful Dead shirt I have ever seen.
Mr. McCarty specifically called me over for the expressed
purpose of explaining, in passionate, excruciating detail, why the US Women’s
Soccer team was being wrongheaded in their approach to their lawsuit against
FIFA for equal pay.
I will not go into detail about what his arguments were (if
you were to contact him directly, I am quite sure he would be MORE than happy
to lay out all of the evidence for you) but I conceded that he may have a
point, which seemed to satisfy him (for now). And before you all label Mr.
McCarty merely a sexist “mansplainer”, I want you to know that he is the father
of a daughter and he desperately WANTS them to achieve to goal of being paid on
an equal basis as the men’s team.
I also had the good fortune of being present when Mr. McCarty presented his
lovely eight-year-old daughter, Mia, with her convention gift, a replica
version of Hermione Granger’s wand.
My next stop was the CoNZealand table where I checked on the
price for a pair of supporting memberships. One of the staff members (whose
name, unfortunately, I did not record) was utterly delighted to see my “Saint”
symbol button and told he about how she obtained a rare copy of the original
Leslie Charteris novel Meet The Tiger and how she was lucky enough to
get it autographed by the late Sir Roger Moore!
Speaking of which, I had my phone out to check on my Paypal
balance when I was approached by a fan named, wait for it…JAMES BOND, who
asked me for some help finding a program item on Dublin’s online Worldcon app,
“One moment please,” I said as I put my phone down and
reached into my crossbody bag for the printed pocket program book.
“Here you go. I’m analog today, not digital.” Mr. Bond got a
good laugh out of that remark. For the record, I did NOT expect him to
die…laughing. Just Sayin’.
When I finally got around to shopping the dealer tables, I caught sight of a
book that I was very interested in; Farrah Mendelsohn’s The Pleasant
Profession of Robert A. Heinlein, a deep, unflinchingly and critical
look analyzing his fiction and non-fiction and how he influenced science
While I was buying the book, I was reunited with my fellow File
770 reporter, Daniel Dern. We were also joined briefly by one of Dublin’s
Special Guests, Spider Robinson and his “driver”, writer and comedian Stephan
Herman. Spider had trouble remembering me until I reminded him that I had
scored some pot for him and his late wife Jeanne at the 1994 Worldcon in
Winnipeg, Canada. Ah good times. Also, yay for the statute of limitations.
Spider told me he had a fantastic time in Dublin and was very
excited to sit down with a local genealogist while he was there. “ I have
learned more about my family in that one hour than I ever did from the rest of
my family during my life,“ he gushed.
I went back to our flat to check on Juli around 3:30. She was
feeling well enough to go to the Closing Ceremonies at 4:30, but I wanted to
take a short nap myself.
This decision proved to be a bad idea because Juli, thinking
that I wasn’t getting enough sleep on this trip, let me sleep in until
We rushed to the auditorium but the ceremony was already
under way and we arrived in time to see George R.R. Martin and his partner
Parris McBride on stage, accepting a Committee Award from Chair James Bacon for
his contributions to Fandom and the Dublin bid in particular. I was saddened to
see Ms. McBride in a neck brace and I sincerely hope she recovers soon.
I was surprised and happy to see that Dublin had recruited
the creator of Artemis Fowl, Eowin Colfer, as the Host of Closing Ceremonies.
Soon enough, Mr. Bacon took to the stage to thank the convention committee, his
staff and volunteers and finally the fans who attended, to make it a memorable
experience for everyone.
Memorable? Indeed it was, But I can assure everyone reading
this that the Dublin convention will be studied, scrutinized and autopsied more
closely than any other recent Worldcon due to the cutoff of the sale of
attending memberships weeks before the start of the convention, the size of the
venue, the imposition of queuing lines by the owners of the convention center
and the confusion they caused between the staff, volunteers and the attending
fans. But, it’s Worldcon. It’s a certainty that things WILL go wrong and there
will be some embarrassments and obstacles to overcome. People may have
been angered over some incidents and inconvenienced by others but in the long
run, the only thing that matters is that everyone survived and no one died.
Having gone the 29 Worldcons now, I can attest to that).
After the gavel was symbolically passed to the New Zealand
bid via interpretive dance and acrobatics, Juli and I headed over the The
Drunken Fish for a celebratory dinner with Wyn, Liz, our flatmates Anna and
Peter and our Australian fans, Susan and Grahame. As usual, I ordered too much
food but, in the spirit of detente between the US and Ireland, I finished it
all. Except for the extra helping of kimchi someone passed my way. There
is only so much kimchi a person can take, I mean, c’mon man.
Wyn and Liz had been in country for nearly a week
before everyone else arrived and took an extended driving tour of Ireland,
visiting many castles along the way.
“Were any of the castles white?,” I asked Liz, who, thinking
of the ubiquitous American fast food restaurant chain, broke out into a
As a matter of fact, we did see a white castle,” said
Wyn in a very serious manner.
“Really?” I turned to Liz. “How was the food?” Liz collapsed
in uncontrollable laughter. Mission accomplished.
After dinner was consumed, we said goodbye to our dinner
companions The flatmate squad then called a cab and traversed over to the
southside of Dublin for a whiskey tasting at The Market Bar, the nicest looking
hole-in-the-wall that I have ever seen in my life. Since I don’t drink spirits,
I drank in the atmosphere and watched grown adults swoon over whiskey. Good
It took five tries but we were finally able to summoned a
FreeNow cab (which, as I noted above, is neither) and we made our way back
While the flatmates recovered by chatting about their
convention experiences, I began packing for the flight home, which was
scheduled for 12:55 local time tomorrow.
As always, United Airlines advised us to get to the airport
at least three hours in advance of the flight. Juli was particularly
worried about getting there early but hey, when we’ve flown in America,
the wait time was usually a bogus ruse to get us there and buy stuff while we
Damn it, why didn’t I pack a pair of blue jeans? I mean, blue colored blue jeans? It would have SO matched the shade of blue of my Samuel R. Delany t-shirt. Ah, so it goes.
The weather this morning was brilliantly good. And then came the rain squalls. I had such high hopes. Is this what makes the Irish, Irish?
In case anyone was wondering, my identifying pronouns at the Business Meeting were HE, HEY YOU and THAT GUY.
I am convinced that one of my three flatmates is a cultural saboteur; for several days now I have placed the toilet paper in the bathroom to roll from the top, only to turn late and it’s been reversed. I have vowed to discover who the culprit is BEFORE I LEAVE THIS ISLAND! Enough said.
Speaking of the loo, my first encounter with toilet in the apartment was startling to say the least. As I flushed, an epic Angel/Niagara/Victoria Falls torrent of water crashed into the bowl, scaring me out of my wits. I sure hope that’s all greywater and not the drinking sort.
Juli and I saw our good friends Robbie Bourget and John Harrold on
the tram this morning. They were headed to the Business Meeting to hear the
announcement of the Site Selection team of the winner of the 2021 Worldcon bid.
They looked remarkable happy at that moment so I suspect that they were either
not working or their jobs were completed and they were enjoying themselves…
The meeting started promptly and, as expected, Washington D.C. was
the overwhelming choice with 798 votes.
The 2021 Worldcon has been dubbed DisCon III and will be held from August 25 (MY BIRTHDAY, WooT!) to August 29. The Guests of Honor are author Nancy Kress, Baen Editor in Chief Toni Weisskopf, Uber Fan Ben Yalow, with Special Guests Malka Older and Sheree Rene Thomas. Co-Chairs Bill Lawhorn and Colette H. Fozard promised that an Artist Guest of Honor will be announced at a later date.
The runner up results in themselves were whimsical and amusing in
None of the Above 18
Minneapolis in 73 3
Tampere in 2032 in 2021 3
Peggy Rae’s House 2
Rapid City, South Dakota 2
Xerpes 2010 2
Any Country That Will Let Me In 1
Anywhere NOT in the United States 1
Beach City 1
Boston in 2020 Christmas 1
Free Hong Kong 1
Haimes, Alaska 1
Helen’s Pool Cabana 1
I5 in ‘05 1
James Bacon’s Living Room 1
Laconia Capital City, Laconium Empire 1
Malmo, Sweden 1
Port Stanley, Falklands 1
Ratcon in 2002 1
One of these days a joke bid is going to win and there’s going to
be trouble. I must also say that as an American, I was surprised that there
weren’t a lot more protest votes against the DC bid considering our, let’s say,
turbulent political situation at the moment. The mere thought of the current
president showing up unannounced is a logistical and political nightmare none
of us want. But, we’ll see, I suppose.
Worldcon 76 convention Chair Kevin Roche presented pass along checks of $10,000 (US) to the con-chairs of Ireland (James Bacon) New Zealand (Norman Cates) and Washington. This generous donation was done despite the pending litigation brought against Worldcon 76 by Jon Del Arroz, who filed a lawsuit alleging defamation after being banned from the event.
Mr. Roche promised that more funds would be distributed to current
and future bid when litigation has been concluded.
In other news, the group backing an amendment to establish a Best
Game or Interactive Experience category suffered a minor setback when the
members of the meeting voted to refer the legislation back to the Hugo Study
Committee for another year discussion.
This was done in spite of a fairly extensive 60-page report
compiled and written by the group sponsoring the category. I spoke to one of
those sponsors, Claire Rousseau and several others who were there to see the
outcome. They were all extremely upset that this proposal would not be
discussed in a formal debate for at least another year or more.
As a personal aside, I told them that I had been on the receiving
end of these sorts of setbacks on numerous occasions and while they may be
feeling disappointed right now, they should should remain vocal and more
importantly, persistent, if they feel they have a just cause.
Mark Richard’s advisory motion to also issue an award to translators of Hugo Award winning works was also soundly rejected by the attending members. After the vote Mr. Richard, was approached by Jo Van Ekeren and Joni Brill Dashoff with some helpful suggestions on how to make the proposal clearer and more palatable to the members who opposed it.
Profound disappointment does not even begin to describe how I felt
about this, but I will refrain from editorializing about this until my final
By a fortuitous coincidence, my final Worldcon panel, “Get Us Out
of the Twilight Zone: the Work of Jordan Peele,” was scheduled right after the
Business Meeting in the same room. My panelists were media critic and Abigail
Nussbaum (who won the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer), Dr. Andrew Butler,
a distinguished film critic from the UK and Dr. Wanda Kurtcu, who organized the
POC meetup the previous day.
Looking through my bag, I could not find the placard with my name
printed on it, which we were supposed to keep and use at each panel. Luckily, I
found a folder filled with name placards and not only found one with a blank
side to write on, I also picked up an autograph as well.
Over the course of our hour, we took an in depth look at Mr.
Peele’s first two films, the Academy Award winning horror film Get Out
and Us, a more overtly ambiguous fantasy film. I believe that while Us
is a more ambitious movie, Get Out had an edge in being my favorite
because of its straightforward and take no prisoners narrative.
Doctor Butler had not seen the first season of the revival of The
Twilight Zone so when the other panelists and I discussed the episodes we
were a little diligent not to drop too many spoilers for him and the other
audience members. Doctor Kurtcu pointed out rightly that Twilight Zone,
like the original Rod Serling series and other shows like Black Mirror, darkly
reflect what is going on in the world today.
Ms. Nussbaum, like myself, were not really ardent fans of the
horror genre but it seems as though Jordan Peele has a true artistic vision to
express that is striving to transcend the usual boundaries of genre.
Towards the end of the session, an audience member said that Mr.
Peele’s next project was a reboot of the Candyman film franchise.
“All right,” I said. “We all know what to do. NONE of us should
say Candyman three times before the film is released.”
We appeared at the Press Room office a little before seven to pick
up a lanyard for Juli so she could attend the Hugo Award Ceremony. We were
delighted to find out that some of the press passes had not been claimed so now
she could sit with me in the designated area. (This is not unusual; when I ran
the Press Office, there were occasions where passes had not been picked up and
I issued them to late arriving reporters or convention staff members who wanted
a seat closer to the action.)
While we were waiting to be escorted to the press section, I came
across UK author Paul Cornell, who I had not been in close proximity to since
LAcon IV in 2006. I was particularly delighted to see him because he wrote one
of my favorite Doctor Who stories of the modern era, the Hugo-nominated
episode “Father’s Day”.
The Press section wasn’t that close to the action this year; it
was located in the first three rows of the upper balcony just to the right of
the center of the stage. What it lacked in proximity was made up for by its
height, which provided a sweeping view of the stage.
The first big surprise of the evening was the winner of the John
W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, Jeanette Ng. Not surprising that she had
won the award, because she is an exceptionally fine writer and was favored in
this category. Oh no. It was because of what she said in her acceptance speech:
John W. Campbell, for whom this award was named, was a fascist. Through his editorial control of Amazing Stories, he is responsible for setting a tone of science fiction that still haunts the genre to this day. Sterile. Male. White. Exalting in the ambitions of imperialists and colonisers, settlers and industrialists. Yes, I am aware there are exceptions.
But these bones, we have grown wonderful, ramshackle genre, wilder and stranger than his mind could imagine or allow.
And I am so proud to be part of this. To share with you my weird little story, an amalgam of all my weird interests, so much of which has little to do with my superficial identities and labels. But I am a spinner of ideas, of words, as Margaret Cavendish would put it.
So I need (to) say, I was born in Hong Kong. Right now, in the most cyberpunk in the city in the world, protesters struggle with the masked, anonymous stormtroopers of an autocratic Empire. They have literally just held her largest illegal gathering in their history. As we speak they are calling for a horological revolution in our time. They have held laser pointers to the skies and tried to to impossibly set alight the stars. I cannot help be proud of them, to cry for them, and to lament their pain. I’m sorry to drag this into our fantastical words, you’ve given me a microphone and this is what I felt needed saying.
<do the hat thing>”
You can see that “hat thing” (eventually) on YouTube or the
streaming broadcast online.
I was one of the people madly cheering this speech. I posted a
meme on Facebook as she was still speaking: “Jeannette Ng is AWESOME!!!!!”
Moments later, swept up in the moment, I posted another meme, “I’m just gonna
say it: The Name of the John W. Campbell Award SHOULD BE F***KING CHANGED!”
To clamor atop a soapbox for a moment; NO, I am not advocating
that the life and work of John W. Campbell, Jr. be scrubbed from history. But
neither should we turn a blind, uncritical eye to his transgressions. When the
winners of such a prestigious award start getting angry because the person
behind it is viewed to be so vile and reprehensible, that ought to be
acknowledged as well.
I think work and legacies of film director D.W. Griffith and H.P.
Lovecraft have survived fairly intact since they have been deprived of their
privileged status. And that is precisely the point; for decades JWC’s white
privilege has given him cover to be adored by generations of readers, writers,
editors, fans and scholars. The time has finally come to call him out.
Jeannette Ng said out loud what people have been either thinking
and whispering for the past several decades. Rebecca Roanhorse’s speech last
year in San Jose alluding to her discontent was the tipping point. Ms. Ng just
picked it up and threw it over the edge. (Climbs off soapbox.)
Other momentous moments included Charles Vess double whammy for
Best Professional Artist and the Special Category addition for Best Art Book,
both for his meticulous and detailed art for the gigantic omnibus, The Books
of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition. Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers
won Best Series, a dizzying ascension for a writer who only had a draft
version of her debut novel five years. She tearfully thanked her supporters,
readers and the Hugo voters for making “room for her at the table”.
The Best Long and Short Form Dramatic Presentations went to
popular front runners; the former to the Oscar winning animated film Spider-Man:
Into the Spider-Verse and the latter by “Janet(s)” an excruciating funny
episode of NBC’s farce/philosophy seminar The Good Place.
There was a lot of criticism that the Lodestar Award (or, as I
call it, The Ursula K. LeGuin Memorial Award) either would not be very popular
at all or might suffer from “award fatigue” by Hugo nominators in general
reading community. Well, the statistics posted online after the ceremony show
that there were 216 nominated books on 512 ballots. So, as far as I’m
concerned, you can stick a fork in that theory, because it’s done.
Best Profession Editor went to the late Gardner Dozois. I must
report that I did not vote for him; he was a fine person, a marvelous writer
and one of the greatest, if not THE GREATEST, editor we are ever likely to see.
But, I note, he had won fifteen Hugos for editing between 1988 and 2004. Now
his estate has another award that he will never know of or enjoy. It’s fine for
us to honor the dead, but not at the expense of the living.
Best Novel went to Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars,
an alternate history story in which the 1950’s suffers a cataclysmic event and
the “space race” is reframed is an actual struggle for the survival of the
human race, led by women astronauts. I hope that this book, and its sequels,
will not only endure but inspire future generations of young adults and
A PDF of the voting results and nomination longlists are available
We headed to Martin’s after the ceremony and almost immediately
ran into Carole’s partner John. He told us that the wallet had not been turned
in yet and everyone is presuming it is lost for good. Credit cards have been
canceled and other friends have offered other help, too. Carole was there, enjoying herself and John
reassured us that she was feeling a lot better since that night. We were rather
concerned so it was nice to see that she was having a good time.
John also said, “Hey got get a drink at the bar. DC is paying for
all of the drinks on their tab!”
I feigned confusion. “Your mean DC Comics?” John gave me one of
those resigned looks he make after hearing a bad joke. “Go get a drink,” he
shouted over the din.
We got into the nearest queue but the DC tab had already been
tapped out so we had to resort to buying our own drinks. Hugo Admin Nichols Whyte sidled up to the bar
and in a burst of American generosity, we bought him two ciders, citing his
fine work for the con.
As we were ordering our own ciders our, I was accosted by an older
man standing next to me, whom I thought was a complete stranger. But it wasn’t;
Jerry Kaufman was a fan we had met previous at the Spokane Worldcon. “So,” her
said, “what are you proposing for the name change?”
Now it was my turn to be genuinely confused. “Excuse me?”
“I heard some people talking about it. It was your Facebook post.”
With that I sat down and whipped out my phone and checked the post
I had completely forgotten about from two hours ago. While it had not gone
exactly viral, it had several “likes” and who knows how many views.
While I sat and posed for a few pictures with my friends, I
suddenly realized that I was drinking this cider on an empty stomach, which
meant that I was going to be incredibly tipsy in the next five or ten minutes.
I told Juli about my dilemma and after some chit chat with some
friends in passing, we bade everyone good night. We stepped into a chilly and
damp night. The walk back was bracing and kept me on my feet as we walked back
to our apartment.
After fumbling to check the Facebook post and send my esteemed
editor a brief, spell check enhanced email, I fell into bed, and, according to
Juli, was asleep in two minutes.
P.S. DAY FIVE BREAKING NEWS! I am incredibly PLEASED to report that Carole’s wallet was turned in to the local police station today, WITH THE CONTENTS ALL ACCOUNTED FOR!!!!
Carole and John have already left Dublin for a tour but will be returning to the city on Friday recover the wallet.
Who’s says there are no Happy Endings at Worldcon? A big THANKS to the local citizens and the Dublin Garda for your diligence in this matter…
A resolution by Mark Richards, Chris Barkley and Juli
Marr has been added to the Dublin 2019 Business Meeting agenda. It has been
designated B4, (although there was another item which had that number.)
B.4 Credit to Translators of Written Fiction
Resolved, it is the sense of the Business Meeting that, for the written fiction categories of Best Novel, Novella, Novelette, and Short Story, when the winner in one of these categories is a translated work, the credited translator shall be awarded a Hugo alongside the author.
Mark Richards explains the purpose of the resolution with these comments:
The choice of translator can make the difference in the impact of a work of fiction in translation, in comparison to its impact in its original language.
Fluency in the original language may be enough for a good translation. We feel that familiarity with the context in which a work was written adds to the quality of the result, and that a translator’s contribution there can make a difference.
For example, Liu Cixin’s Three-Body Problem wouldn’t have been nearly as successful had Ken Liu not gotten all of the nuance of Chinese history during the Cultural Revolution and been able to transmit that emotional impact.
And there’s a collection of connected short stories, Kalpa Imperial, by the Argentine author Angelica Gorodischer, Any decent translator, I imagine, would have given us a good translation. It was the late Ursula Le Guin, however, whose prose style was perfect for giving us as fine a work in English as it presumably was in the original Spanish.
Closing, we feel that a translator’s contribution to the success of a story merits recognition in the awarding of a Hugo.
By Chris M. Barkley: After a brutal and taxing
trans-Atlantic transit on Monday, my partner Juli and I were able to obtain our
membership badges fairly easily Tuesday morning.
Yesterday was mainly spent getting used to our surroundings and
the weather; the city could have been any busy port city in New England in tone
save for the local traffic patterns were the opposite from what we Americans
were used to and the skies were for the most part slightly chilly, overcast
with partial, misty showers throughout the day.
At 10:20 a.m., Juli and I walked to the Convention Centre which was located less than a kilometer away from the gated apartment complex we were renting for the week.
My first panel was at 11 a.m. in a moderately sized room on the
second floor of the Centre, “Crime and Punishment in the Age of Superheroes.”
Since it was early in the morning on the first day, my expectations were quite
low. I met my fellow panelists, UK fan Rachel Coleman and US novelist Dan Moren
in the Green Room situated at the top floor of the building. In our initial
greetings they reminded me that I was the moderator of the panel, which I had
conveniently forgotten and was a momentary source of amusement. Our fourth
member, the Hugo-nominated French author Aliette de Bodard was missing but we
weren’t particularly worried that she might not show.
Imagine our surprise when we walked into our room and saw that it
was nearly standing room only crowd! As we settled in, Ms. de Bodard came
hustling in out of breath but quite able and willing to dive into our subject.
What followed was a lively session in which we discussed the
degree superheroes might be legally liable for their activities, the rendition
of super villains, how any super-powered person might be tried and imprisoned
and what sort of punishment would be appropriate and what would be considered
“cruel and unusual punishment”.
One of the more entertaining bits of discussion was comparing the
relative degree of danger a person the psychological profile like Tony Stark or
Bruce Wayne would be versus some like Peter Parker, who, at least at this point
in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is relatively altruistic.
As always with the panels I moderate, half the time was spent with
the panel and the remaining time we took comments and questions from the
We could have easily gone on for another hour. At the end of our
time, the audience gave us a healthy round of applause and we were quite pleased with their
My next panel, “Sports in Science Fiction and Fantasy” was scheduled
for 2 p.m. We decided to cruise through the Dealer’s Room, which was rather
smaller in comparison to the previous Worldcons I have attended but I was quite
happy with the number of vendors and their wares.
Another early shopper was the well-known media mogul/mega best-selling
author George R.R. Martin (pictured below), who was only slightly disguised
(eschewing his usual fishing cap in favor of a Game of Thrones baseball
cap) and enjoying himself immensely. He also took a moment to take me to task
for proposing yet another Hugo Award category (In this case, the Best
Translated Novel, which might be discussed at the Main Business Meeting
if it is passed on from the Preliminary Business Meeting on Friday.)
“It’s getting to be too much,” Martin said. “I hope it doesn’t get
to be like the Emmy Awards.”
“What do you mean,” I asked.
“Well, some of the awards are not going to be televised and are
going to be given out before the show. I don’t want that to happen to the
I assured GRRM that I did not want that to happen either and that
I personally did not have any plans to introduce any other changes at the
moment. We then parted, he with a somewhat relieved look on his face. Have a
Happy Worldcon, George…
I had to make a courtesy visit to the Press Office, where Daniel
Dern presented me with a spare File 770 “Scum and Villainy” button and
met the Area Head, the gracious and amiable Diana Ben-Aron, who presented me
with a Press ribbon.
UK fan Neil Williamson was the moderator of “Sports in Science
Fiction and Fantasy” along with novelist Fonda Lee, prolific writer Rick Wilber
(author of many baseball and sports related short stories. I described myself
as a lifelong baseball fan whose home is also that of the first professional
baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds, celebrating this year the 150th Anniversary
of the first team.
With that, I pulled out my black ESPN cap and offered a Euro to
the first person who could tell me what the letter “E” stood for. A number of US fans in the
audience were flummoxed by the challenge but a quick-thinking male European fan
remembered that it stood for Entertainment Sports Programming Network. Hilarity
ensued when I fumbled around and was unable to FIND the coin in my change
purse. Anxious to move on, Neil produced a coin and paid off the winner. (Juli
gave me a coin to reimburse Neil and I found the coin later and paid her back…)
Fonda Lee and Rick Wilber gave some excellent examples through
their own works of how the portrayal of sports in fiction gave some insight
into the societies they were writing about. Neil and I mostly mused on how the
sports we love might change in the future. Again, the audience seemed to have
had a good time and gave us all a round of applause.
From there we checked off the obligatory “American food experience
in a foreign country” of the travel list with a lunch at Eddie Rocket’s, a
disturbingly familiar place that served burgers, fries and milkshakes.
The restaurant was adjacent to the Odeon Theater at The Point our
next programming destination, where artist John Picacio was giving a slideshow
overview of his works. The venue was rather unique because it took place in a
mid-sized movie theater in the complex.
Mr. Picacio regaled the almost full house with stories of how he
became artist, techniques and style tips for beginning artists and some
fascinating stories of how George R.R. Martin roped him into doing the 2012 Game
of Thrones calendar and how the images from this source were highly-referenced
by the producers and casting directors in choosing actors for their roles.
The highlight of the day was the Opening Ceremonies which also
presented the1944 Retro Hugo Awards. After some festive banter by our hosts
Ellen Klages and Dave Rudden, we were treated to a short comi-tragic play and
the introduction of the Guests of Honor, who also served as Hugo presenters.
Hilarity ensued through the evening as each successive presenter
struggled to open the award envelopes, which were triple sealed by masking AND
Well, not all of the presenters; Author Guest of Honor Diane Duane
was undaunted because she was the only one who was carrying a knife, because,
as she explained, “Knives ALWAYS work.” She declined to share the knife with
any of the other presenters.
After that it was off to the parties, which were being held on the
third level of the Centre. As crowded and festive as this gathering was, I can
only wonder what Edie Stern, Joe Siclari and former Worldcon Chair Michael
Walsh were intensely discussing near the escalators away from all the