Pixel Scroll 11/19 The Endochronic Pixils of Resublimated Scrollotimoline

(1) Randall Munroe has a piece on The New Yorker blog called “The Space Doctor’s Big Idea”.  He’s explaining Einstein and relativity, but doing it with his cartoons and quirky humor.

The first idea is called the special idea, because it covers only a few special parts of space and time. The other one—the big idea—covers all the stuff that is left out by the special idea. The big idea is a lot harder to understand than the special one. People who are good at numbers can use the special idea to answer questions pretty easily, but you have to know a lot about numbers to do anything with the big idea. To understand the big idea—the hard one—it helps to understand the special idea first.

(2) Steven Barnes’ new book Star Wars Saved My Life: Be the Hero in the Adventure of Your Own Lifetime has been released. Amazon Prime members can borrow it free, all others pay cash!

SW Saved My Life COMP

It’s finally here! The book I’ve been hinting about for months, STAR WARS SAVED MY LIFE is the first self-help book ever written for science fiction fans, the LIFEWRITING system applied to healing finances, career, health, and the wounded heart. A pure work of love, available FREE to anyone with an Amazon Prime membership, it is my way of saying “thank you” to all of you who helped me find my way, gave me friendship, support, and love.

(3) Downthe tubes.net reports that Star Trek comic strips published in various UK comics and annuals back in the 1970s (and never in the US) will be republished in a collection next year.

In all, the British Star Trek ran for 257 weekly magazines spanning five years and 37 storylines and in addition to its weekly appearances, more original material drawn by Ron Turner, Jack Sutter, Jim Baikie and John Canning appeared in the 1969 Joe 90 Top Secret annual, the Valiant 1972 Summer Special, the 1971-1973 TV21 hardcover annuals and the 1978-1979 TV Comic annuals.

An original Frank Bellamy Star Trek strip also appeared in the June 27, 1970 issue of Radio Times to promote the show’s return to BBC1.

These strips have never been published in the United States and were not written with strict adherence to Star Trek‘s core concepts. The U.S.S. Enterprise frequently traveled outside our galaxy, and the crew committed many violations of the never-mentioned Prime Directive along the way. Spock shouted most of his lines and often urged Kirk (or “Kurt,” as his name was misspelled in early issues) to shoot first and ask questions later.

(4) Nancy Hightower’s picks for the “Best science fiction and fantasy books of 2015” at the Washington Post include one that hasn’t been heavily discussed here.

THE ONLY ONES

By Carola Dibbell (Two Dollar Radio)

This fascinating first novel details the emotional journey of Inez Fardo, a 19-year-old who has survived terrible trauma and yet still manages to find life sometimes wondrous. In a time when most of the population has been wiped out by a series of superviruses, she makes a meager living cleaning up contaminated sites. But when it’s discovered that she is resistant to the viruses that continue to threaten the world, an amateur scientist and his team offer to harvest her DNA to make healthy babies for others. Inez goes along with the plan, but soon a series of events forces her to raise the one child produced by the experiment. What follows is a heart-piercing tale of love, desire and acceptance as Inez tries to give her daughter a different life from the one she’s experienced.

(5) Larry Correia turns off the game long enough to offer “Fallout 4, Initial Thoughts”.

The atmosphere is great. Unlike many post apocalyptic things, Fallout doesn’t take itself too seriously. So everything has that retro cool, 50s but blown up vibe.

It gets really buggy at times, but better than the last one. This engine is dated, and it shows. Sometimes you kill stuff and it flies up into the air and spins around for a while. Other times a body will get stuck in the wall and vibrate forever. I’ve had a few crashes, freezes, and once I had to unplug and replug in the Xbox to get it to launch. But still better than the last one, and less buggy than Skyrim.

I had to turn on subtitles, because the music has a tendency to get annoyingly loud when people are trying to tell you important things. Then I learned that the subtitles only show up about half the time. So I turned the music way down and the voice volume way up, and even then I miss lots of things my companions are telling me. Damn it, Piper. Speak up. My character has been in like 400 gun fights without hearing protection, so maybe this is just added realism.

(6) John DeNardo has a fun discussion of “Why I Love Retro Science Fiction” at Kirkus Reviews.

Simply put, retro-futurism is what people of the past thought their future might look like. It’s our great-grandparents’ depiction of today. Or, the future that could-have-been.

Retro futures can be observed in many mediums: books, television, film, even sculpture. When you see an “old school” ray gun, you’re looking at a retro future. When you see the people wearing shiny white uniforms on Moonbase Alpha in Space: 1999, that’s the show’s creators’ view of how people in their future might dress. When you see Captain Kirk pull out his cellphone—er, personal communicator—you’re seeing someone from the past predict what cool gadgets the future might bring.

(7) Jason Sanford calls for writers to “Stop Duotrope’s attempt to own authors’ personal submission data”. The service authors use to track submissions and research markets is now trying to restrict users’ rights to their data.

According to Duotrope’s terms of service, “Any data downloaded from this website, including but not limited to submission histories, is strictly for personal use and may not be shared with any third parties or used for commercial purposes.”

What does this mean? It means that if you upload your submission information to Duotrope, you no longer have the right to use your own data as you see fit. You can’t use the data to write an article about submissions for a magazine or upload your data to another online submission system such as the site run by Writer’s Market. Basically, once you use Duotrope you can’t leave and take your data elsewhere.

Duotrope also attempts to make a blatant copyright grab, with their terms stating “The website and its database are also protected as a collective work or compilation under U.S. copyright and other laws and treaties. All individual articles, pages and other elements making up the website are also copyrighted works. Use of any of these original works without written permission of Duotrope LLC is expressly forbidden.”

Duotrope is skating on thin ice here because you can’t copyright data. But combine this copyright statement with their terms of use for the data and Duotrope is essentially saying they own any submission data uploaded to their system by authors.

(8) Annie Bellet asks people not to nominate her for awards in 2016.

I don’t wish to have my work considered for awards this year. I’d like to just have 2016 to get stuff done, worry about my readers and my career, and (hopefully!) not be involved in any award business. I’m not attending Worldcon 2016 either (I’ll be there for 2017 though, yay excuse to go to Finland!).

So please… if you read and enjoyed something of mine that was published this year (and there were a few things I think are some of my best work),  thank you. But don’t vote for my stories.   I’ve got cool work coming out next year, and maybe by 2017 I’ll have healed the stress of this last award season, but for now… please, I want a year of not having to even worry about it, slim as my chances might be.

(9) Fantasy Literature has launched its “Second annual Speculative Fiction Haiku Contest”. Leave your entries in the comments. Can you improve on this entry from last year? I knew you could…

a meddlesome god
sows nightmares in childhood dreams
meesa jar jar binks

(10) Sarah Avery writes the kind of immersive conreport I like. Now at Black Gate — “World Fantasy 2015: It’s the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead of Convention Reports”.

Lots of interesting stuff about trying to line up an agent is woven around accounts of WFC’s panels and conversations in the bar. I’m picking this passage for the excerpt, because Avery was actually on one of Mari Ness’ panels that made news here:

After reminding myself a couple of times that panels were not, overall, my mission, I prepared for the one panel I was on.

That panel turned out to be newsworthy not for its content, but because of accessibility issues. Author Mari Ness, who uses a wheelchair, was unable to get onto the stage because there was no ramp. This issue has been covered elsewhere, with all its ramifications for policy, conrunning logistics, and ethics. All I can add to the accessibility discussion is that the other panelists (David Hartwell, Darrell Schweitzer, Stephen R. Donaldson) and I were nearly as uncomfortable with the situation as Ness was. The hotel staff said they’d have to take the stage entirely apart to put their ramp on it, and we were late already, so Ness decided to do the fastest thing. She positioned her wheelchair close enough that we could pass her a microphone. Donaldson was an excellent moderator, and Hartwell and Schweitzer (who on occasion have been known to hold forth) kept themselves uncharacteristically concise to make space in the discussion for Mari. The physical space might not have been inclusive, but we were all determined that the discussion would be.

As it turned out, Mari was the only one whose remarks drew spontaneous applause. We were talking about the ancient epics, contemporary fantasy epics, and what kinds of lineages do or don’t connect them. What, Donaldson asked, were our personal favorites among the modern epics? And though the rest of us got more and more obscure with our picks, Mari’s was Star Wars. And that felt more personally foundational than any other epic we’d discussed.

(11) And as often as I’ve been invoking her name lately, I should also publicize Sarah Avery’s Kickstarter appeal to fund publication of her fantasy novel The Imlen Bastard, which has raised $6,695 to date, achieving its initial $4,500 goal, then a stretch goal that will pay for the audiobook, and finally aspires to raise $9,600 which will allow Avery to commission more Kate Baylay art.

(12) Movie footage was shot at the first Worldcon. We may see it someday, if it hasn’t been tossed, and if anyone can ever find it. Doug Ellis has been searching for years, as he explains in “The Elusive Film Footage of the Very First Worldcon” at Black Gate.

I have a carbon copy of a letter dated August 16, 1939 that Darrow wrote to his friend, Walt Dennis, concerning the first Worldcon. In part, it reads as follows.

The following day was the big day of the convention. [NOTE – DARROW IS REFERRING TO SUNDAY, JULY 2, 1939, THE FIRST DAY OF THE CON.] Otto [BINDER] picked up Bill, Jack [JACK WILLIAMSON], Ed Hamilton and myself and we took a bus to the convention hall. Bill and I had had no breakfast and it was almost noon, so we deserted the gang long enuf to invade an Automat. Arriving back at the hall we found a mob gathered at the door. Somebody shoved an autograph book in my face. [PERHAPS THIS IS WHAT’S CAPTURED IN THIS PHOTO] They way they worked this was to ask every stranger they saw for their autograph and then look to see who they got. I took several snaps (enclosed) and Bill took snaps and movies. There seemed to be a lot of excitement when Forrest J. Ackerman and I met for the first time. Bill took movies of the handshake. Forrie was quite a surprise to me. Tall, handsome and quiet. A very pleasant fellow. He was dressed in an outfit out of Wells’ pic Things to Come.

(13) Gregory N. Hullender has posted Rocket Stack Rank’s evaluation of “Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft”, and adds this incentive to click the link – “The fact that I not only worked at Microsoft for a long time but actually worked on some of these technologies might make this a bit more interesting.”

(14) Yes, I can imagine.

(15) This just in from 2009! “Moon landing tapes got erased, NASA admits”. We now join our conspiracy theories already in progress.

The original recordings of the first humans landing on the moon 40 years ago were erased and re-used, but newly restored copies of the original broadcast look even better, NASA officials said on Thursday.

NASA released the first glimpses of a complete digital make-over of the original landing footage that clarifies the blurry and grainy images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the surface of the moon.

The full set of recordings, being cleaned up by Burbank, California-based Lowry Digital, will be released in September. The preview is available at www.nasa.gov.

NASA admitted in 2006 that no one could find the original video recordings of the July 20, 1969, landing.

Since then, Richard Nafzger, an engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, who oversaw television processing at the ground-tracking sites during the Apollo 11 mission, has been looking for them.

The good news is he found where they went. The bad news is they were part of a batch of 200,000 tapes that were degaussed — magnetically erased — and re-used to save money.

(16) Jeremiah Moss at Vanishing New York asks friends to help Jerry Ohlinger

A couple of years ago, I visited Jerry Ohlinger’s amazing movie material store in the Garment District. In business since 1976, it was the last store in New York City dedicated to movie photos.

Struggling with the rent, Jerry closed his shop and moved most of his “one million and one hundred thousand” photos to a warehouse in New Jersey as he downsized to a much smaller shop on West 30th, with limited hours.

Now Jerry needs help. The items in the warehouse need to be moved again, and there’s no money to do it. Visit <https://www.gofundme.com/996j7zvc> and consider giving him a hand.

Jeremiah wrote about the old store for The New Yorker a few years ago in “The Last Picture Shop”.

Jerry Ohlinger’s Movie Material Store has been in business since 1978. It started on West Third Street, moved to West Fourteenth, and eventually ended up on West Thirty-fifth, in the Garment District. With the Internet stealing customers, business isn’t what it used to be, and the nine-thousand-dollar-a-month rent is more than movie photos can pay. Jerry will be closing his shop and selling just online in the next three to six months.

This is unfortunate, because a computer screen will never provide the physical, sensory experience you get when you step into Ohlinger’s. An obsessively organized clutter of movie posters and postcards, stacks of DVDs, and boxes full of eight-by-seventeen poster reproductions, the small front of the store is walled by towering shelves packed with shopworn three-ring binders, all strapped with duct tape and hand-labelled in Magic Marker with the names of the movie stars contained within. The space smells of Jerry’s cigar and the musty vanilla aroma of old paper slowly decaying.

“We’ve got about two hundred and fifty thousand to three hundred thousand photos in all these books,” Jerry says, waving his gummy, unlit cigar in the air.

(17) NPR is impressed —  “Amazon’s ‘High Castle’ Offers A Chilling Alternate History Of Nazi Triumph”.

Many of the goose-bump-inducing moments in this new drama are visual and are startling. Picture this: In Times Square, a giant neon swastika emblazons a building. Or an American flag with the familiar colors — but instead of stars and stripes, there’s a swastika where the stars used to be. Even the map of the former United States of America is disturbing to witness — much more so than those wind-up maps of opposing territories opening each episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones.

The alternate-history American map in The Man in the High Castle is made even more jarring, and creepy, by the sound, and the song, that accompanies it in the opening of each episode. It’s the sound of a film projector whirring into action — underscoring the importance of those illicit films — followed by the old familiar song “Edelweiss” being sung in a much more haunting performance than you’re used to from The Sound of Music.

(18) Rachel Swirsky collected writing advice from novelists about how to start your second book – quotes from Steven Gould, N. K. Jemisin, Ken Liu, and Helene Wecker.

Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni:

First, celebrate. Turning in your novel is a huge hairy deal. Go out for a fancy dinner with a significant other or something. Give yourself permission to relax for a few days. You’ve probably been holed up for a while, so go talk to some humans. Send a few emails to friends, accept an invitation to coffee. Go for a walk outside.

Ok, now back to work. It’s a good idea to focus on marketing during the pre-pub months, and to that end you’ll want to prep a master Q&A about the book. My publisher sent me one with about a dozen questions (“How did the idea come to you?” “Who were your favorite characters to write?” “Describe your research process,” etc). It took forever to fill out, but it meant I didn’t have to think on the fly during interviews or readings. If your publisher doesn’t do it for you, make one yourself, with what you’d guess are the most likely questions that a reader or interviewer would ask. It might feel tedious, but you won’t regret it.

(19) Songwriter P. F. Sloan died November 13 at the age of 70. Though best known for his hit “Eve of Destruction”, Sloan also wrote the theme song for Secret Agent Man, which became a hit for Johnny Rivers. The Wikipedia entry for “Secret Agent Man” sets the song in context of genre history:

The lyric “They’ve given you a number and taken away your name” referred to the numerical code names given to secret agents, as in “007” for James Bond, although it also acts as the setup to the “continuation” of Danger Man, the cult classic The Prisoner.”

(20) Wonder if the rest of the book lives up to this line?

 [Thanks to Janice Gelb, Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Mark-kitteh, Tasha Turner, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Mari Ness Posts World Fantasy Report and a New Personal Policy

In “World Fantasy Convention 2015 – Disability and Accessibility”, author and Tor.com blogger Mari Ness tells in narrative form the frustrations she shared with her Twitter audience last weekend while trying to participate in WFC as a wheelchair user.

[Unfortunately] this is not the first disability/accessibility problem I have had with conventions, or the first time a convention has asked/agreed to have me on programming and then failed to have a ramp that allows me to access the stage.  At least in this case it wasn’t a Disability in Science Fiction panel that, incredibly enough, lacked a ramp, but against that, in this case, the conrunners were aware I was coming, were aware that I use a wheelchair, had spoken to me prior to the convention and had assured me that the convention would be fully accessible, and put me on panels with stages but no ramp.

Ness says that in the future her policy will be to attend only conventions that satisfy two conditions:

  • Offer an accessibility statement on the convention website, and/or a written statement to me guaranteeing disability access, and offering specifics about that disability access.
  • Provide access ramps to stages.

Ness concludes: “I am, granted, only a very small voice in fandom, but I’m a very small voice that can no longer use my money and time to support conventions that cannot take the time to ensure that I can fully participate in the con.”

People have tweeted support for her announcement.

Pixel Scroll 11/8 Five If By Scroll

(1) Mari Ness tweeted from World Fantasy Con that when she was unable to get her wheelchair on the dais, her co-panelists moved their seats to the floor. Crystal Huff shared a photo of the scene —

(2) Galactic Journey, whose blogger is a time traveler living 55 years in the past, reports that Kennedy defeated Nixon in today’s U.S. presidential election.

And so the 1960 election ends with the country divided sharply, not just demographically, but physically.  Nixon swept the West and Appalachia.  Kennedy won the Northeast and South.  Yet, it is a testament to how far we’ve come since the election just a century ago that the losing half of the populace will not riot or secede.  In two months, they will give their respect and reverence (though perhaps with a modicum of grumbling) to the new President.

The burgeoning Space Race, decolonization, Communist expansionism, and desegregation are going to be the volatile issues of the 1960s.  Let’s all hope that President Kennedy, whether he’s in the White House for four or eight years, will be up to tackling them.

(3) Suggestions are pouring in about what image should replace Lovecraft on the World Fantasy Award. Kurt Busiek’s idea is one of the most peculiar expensive ambitious.

(4) “Warner Brothers Is Reportedly Negotiating With The BBC To Include ‘Doctor Who’ In ‘The LEGO Movie 2’” reports ScienceFiction.com.

Now comes word that ‘Doctor Who’ the ultra successful BBC sci fi series, may crossover into the cinematic sequel to ‘The LEGO Movie’!  Director Rob Schrab appeared on the Harmontown Podcast and teased that Warner Brothers was in negotiations with the BBC to work The Doctor into the highly anticipated sequel, which sadly won’t be out until 2018.  (‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ will arrive first, in 2017.

(5) I missed a golden opportunity to follow yesterday’s Marcus Aurelius reference with this tweet by Paul Weimer, who is touring Italy this week.

(6) Does Brad R. Torgersen need to “get” Marcus Aurelius references? I don’t know whether he does or not, and if he still gets paid, does it matter? I pondered this question while reading Torgersen’s take on the recent topic of science fiction classics in “Classics: A Third Way” at Mad Genius Club. And don’t assume I’m hostile to his points – while I’ve read lots of classic sf, I haven’t read most Burroughs or A. Merritt, etc. Their devotees are probably as disappointed as Le Guin readers will be about Torgersen’s lack of interest in her work.

I have occasionally seen good-hearted appeals to community. “Let’s patch this crazy field back together again!”

But a community requires common touchstones, and at least some degree of shared values. It ought to now be obvious (in the year 2015) that there are no more shared touchstones, nor any single set of shared values spanning the total spectrum of fans and professionals. There are simply disparate circles of interest, some overlapping with others, but none overlapping with all. They each have their own touchstones, and they each esteem different things.…

Thus, the third way acknowledges the men and women who built the field, without saddling new fans and authors with the unpleasant chore of having to push up-hill through thousands of books and thousands of stories, all the while never even catching up to what’s current.

Like any culture argument, this one won’t ever be settled. Nor am I trying to have a last word. I am merely thinking about my own experience — as someone who came in very “late” and who can’t mass-consume every single piece of the field, dating back to the 1920s or beyond, much less everything generated in 2015 alone. It’s too much.

But with some curiosity and a little research, I was able to make myself aware of the field’s major literary players. At least up through 1994. New players have since emerged. Some of them probably are (*ahem*) for lack of a better term, overhyped. But many are not. I think Andy Weir’s book is liable to go down as having been a very significant landmark in the SF/F of the new century — just like Hugh Howey’s Wool universe, and of course J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Past a certain point, audience penetration becomes self-sustaining and self-expanding. “Viral” is the term most people under thirty would use today.

Knowing the new landmarks, as well as the old, is (in my opinion) a happy chore that shouldn’t consume a lot of time. Just pay attention to what’s going on. Read the things that look genuinely interesting to you. And don’t feel bad if you can’t get to everything. Nobody can. Nobody has, for many decades. And nobody will. Let it not be your fault, as long as you’ve seen the forest for the trees.

(7) Jeff VanderMeer said on Facebook:

People on twitter seem upset/incensed/incredulous that I voluntarily smelled rotted whale mixed with the mud it rotted in. In a bottle. Like, if I’d had no choice, no problem. But that I actually said to the incredulous biodiversity museum volunteer, “Yeah, uncork that and give me a whiff,” somehow makes me dubious. Well, I’m a fiction writer. I’d smell a bear’s ass if it gave me a sensory advantage I needed in a story.

(8) I have never sniffed rotted whale and I’ve never played Fallout, however, I’m not so opposed to doing the latter after enjoying Adam Whitehead’s “Fallout Franchise Familiariser” at The Wertzone.

On Tuesday, Bethesda Softworks will release the computer roleplaying game Fallout 4. The previous games in the series have sold tens of millions of copies, and Fallout 4 will likely be battling with Star Wars: Battlefront and Call of Duty: Black Ops III for the title of biggest-selling game of the year. A lot of people are going to be talking about it, but what if you have no idea what the hell the thing is about? Time for a Franchise Familiariser course.

(9) Mari Ness also sent a wistfully humorous tweet from WFC:

(10) Let everyone on the road know where you stand with the Godzilla Attack Family Car Sticker Set

Godzilla Attack Family Car Sticker

No more boring stick figures! With these customizable stickers, show off your love for fun and imagination. All sets start with a large, Godzilla decal, over 6.5 inches in height. Being chased by Godzilla, is a family. The default family is a Dad, Mom, Girl and Boy. In total, the set comes with a Large Godzilla chasing a family of 4, made up of a dad, mom, girl and boy stick figure.

The same business will also sell you the Family of Silly Walks car sticker, a Doctor Who-themed family car sticker, the Cthulhu Family car sticker, and others…

(11) Today In History

  • November 8, 1895William Conrad Röntgen discovers x-rays; Superman was given one of this abilities beyond those of mortal men, and 50s sci-fi movies were never the same…. (How is it you know what I mean, when this sentence makes no grammatical sense?)

(12) Today’s Birthday Boys

  • November 8, 1836Milton Bradley began to amass his fortune by selling The Checkered Game of Life only after suffering a business setback —

When he printed and sold an image of the little-known Republican presidential nominee Abraham Lincoln, Bradley initially met with great success. But a customer demanded his money back because the picture was not an accurate representation—Lincoln had decided to grow his distinctive beard after Bradley’s print was published. Suddenly, the prints were worthless, and Bradley burned those remaining in his possession…

His drama reviews brought him to the attention of Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905), a tall, dark and well-regarded actor of the Victorian era who was said to have served as an influence for Stoker’s Count Dracula. Stoker eventually became Irving’s manager and also worked as a manager for the Lyceum Theater in London. He published several horror novels in the 1890s before the debut of his most famous work, “Dracula,” in 1897.

  • November 8, 1932 – Ben Bova

(13) Today’s Internet Winner

The advertisement that quoted John is here….

(14) A recent art exhibition in Turin was inspired by Theodore Sturgeon’s “The Dreaming Jewels” — “So Much More Than the Sum of Its Tropes” at Norma Mangione Gallery, Turin. The exhibition title even references a Jo Walton review of Sturgeon.

The exhibition in which the works act as “figurative places” of the scenes from Sturgeon’s book, asks the spectator to move around inside the space in the way in which you move in a narrative text, with the suspension of disbelief typical of fiction and the analytic and personal participation that characterizes the fruition of art: painting after painting, sculpture after sculpture, intervention after intervention. All the way to the point of imitating the act of immersive reading in the trans human movement inside the gallery.

Curated by Gianluigi Ricuperati with the collaboration of Elisa Troiano. Works by Antonia Carrara, Raphael Danke, Fabian Marti, Nucleo, Elisa Sighicelli, Michael E. Smith.

The exhibition closed October 28.

[Thanks to Matthew Davis, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Accessibility Issue at World Fantasy Con

Fantasy writer and Tor blogger Mari Ness uses a wheelchair, which cons often fail to accommodate when they invite her to participate in panels set on a dais or stage. Ness made these criticisms of World Fantasy Con 2015, taking place this weekend in Saratoga:

Quite a few voices were raised in support.

Every event must comply with the requirements of the ADA. However, due to the way WFC 2015 handled its anti-harassment policy a certain amount of internet tinder awaited a spark, and ignited in this pair of tweets by Mary Robinette Kowal:

Kowal went on to make more general comments about the issue in a blog post,  “Thoughts on accessibility at conventions”.

Flash backwards to NerdCon: Stories. This convention was amazing. Truly. I will go again, and again. One of the things that I noticed, right away, was that they had a sign language interpreter. In hindsight, again, I’m realizing that there’s a reason that I saw more than one group of fans conversing in ASL. Not because there are more in Minneapolis, but because this is what fandom looks like when it is accessible.

Most of the conventions I go to are fan run. They start as a big party and then grow. So, it’s understandable why a first year con might not think about being ADA compliant. But after the first year… there’s no reason why a panelist should have to address a room from the floor, while the other panelists are elevated on a platform. Simple things like, don’t registration in a space that’s not accessible by wheelchair users. Have websites that are accessible for the blind.

Mari Ness, who often shares insights and her experiences with wheelchair accessibility while traveling and at conventions, said last year’s World Fantasy Con in DC scored much better:

Apart from two minor issues with my hotel room, both promptly addressed by Hyatt, I did not have any disability issues at this con.

(I did have issues outside the con while attempting to navigate Alexandria and DC, but that’s on those two cities, not World Fantasy Con. I also did get sick more than once anyway, but…well, I think that’s more or less my status quo now.)

As long time readers know, this is not something typical of World Fantasy, which for the last several years have featured Disability Fail after Disability Fail after Disability Fail. So it’s a major relief to find that yes, this convention can get it right, and I want to thank the 2014 World Fantasy Committee for getting it right this time.

In contrast, she had a stressful adventure just trying to board a train while in London for the 2014 Worldcon

We had five minutes to reach coach C (way way way way way down) on the other platform, and no access people in sight.

I offered to take the next train. I had underestimated the helpfulness of other Brits; the other wheelchair user was in an electric, so he offered to take my suitcase (it’s wheeled) and we rushed. I never ever want to push my manual that quickly, that distance, again. At the station end of the platform we explained the situation and were allowed through Secret Inaccessible doors and then sped down that way. At that point I started having breathing problems. My suitcase went on ahead of me; a porter saw me and started running with me down the platform. The ramp was set up and the train left while we were still getting ourselves into place.

That took awhile because I was still having breathing issues and palpitations. After that, I got my head down and pretty much stayed there until Swindon, which is to say if you are looking for a lovely description of a train ride from London to Bath you need to look elsewhere.

Also, she made this observation about Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon —

1. Once again, apparently the only way to reach the Hugo stage? Stairs. No ramp.

2. On a much happier note, SASQUAN did provide a sign language interpreter throughout the ceremony, something I hope future Hugo Award ceremonies will continue to do. My understanding is that a sign language interpreter was also at the business meetings, so yay.

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.

But.

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

CORREIA:

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!

CORREIA AND PUPPIES:

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.

CORREIA:

There’s some good!

PUPPIES:

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

[Continues.]

 

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….

[Continues]