Here is the key information that came out of DisCon III’s publicity webinar today.
DUARTE HONORED. The legacy of the late Fred Duarte, a LoneStarCon 2 (1997) Vice-Chair, has been remembered with a grant to DisCon III’s Capitalize! Fan Fund, which is helping fans, staff, and program participants from marginalized communities to attend this year’s Worldcon.
DisCon III chair Mary Robinette Kowal announced that, working with the board of ALAMO, Inc., the 501(c)(3) corporation that hosted LoneStarCon 2, Capitalize! has received a $3,000 grant that commemorates Duarte’s work for fandom.
Kowal also repeated the correction to a DisCon III press release about their newly-appointed Vice-Chairs that mistakenly overlooked that Duarte was the first Latinx person in that position. She added, “I come out of live theater and we have the saying that ‘If you can’t fix it, feature it,’ and we cannot fix the mistake that we made, but we can feature it by using that error as an opportunity as a platform, to make more people aware of Fred’s legacy and to help us bring more people to Worldcon who deserve to be there. We’re also going to be having some more information about him in our program book so that more people know who he was and the amazing work that he did for fandom.”
OPENING AND CLOSING CEREMONIES. DisCon III’s Opening Ceremonies will be hosted by Ulysses Campbell, a creator with a local DC television show Fantastic Forum, which digs into different aspects of science fiction and fantasy media. The Worldcon will be able to showcase DC talent as well as the area’s connection to science fiction and fantasy.
Closing ceremonies will feature Raks Geek, a company that does flow arts and belly dance, in cosplay. They’re a Chicago-based group, and their performance will symbolize the transition to next year’s Worldcon in Chicago.
A FAN-RUN CON. Kowal emphasized that in contrast to corporate-run conventions the Worldcon is entirely fan run. Everybody is a volunteer.
She was joined on the webinar by two of those volunteers, her Vice-Chairs, Marguerite Smith from Ireland, and Lauren Raye Snow from Texas. Smith is helping lead the preplanning for a Dublin in 2029 Worldcon bid. Lauren Raye Snow explained her entry point to Worldcons was as a Mexicanx Intiative selectee attending WorldCon 76 in San Jose (2018).
COVID POLICY. A question about DisCon III’s Covid policy was responded to with a reminder that the con has a COVID Policy webpage with full information. A high level overview of that policy is that two things are mandatory: they require proof of vaccination, and masks must be worn. Something recommended in addition is downloading and installing the DC Covid tracker app that periodically checks all the random IDs associated with positive COVID-19 cases against its own list and If there’s a match, the user will receive a COVID-19 exposure notification, with further instructions from DC Health on how to keep themselves and the people around them safe.
Another thing the con has done is purchase clear masks, in order to make sure that while panelists’ faces are covered, anyone who needs to see their lips for lip reading can do that.
DisCon III is also modifying the con suite into a grab-and-go area, repurposing one of the larger rooms to be a sitting area where people can take their food. It’s a designated eating area. The room is very large and it has good air circulation, and people can spread out a little bit more.
Mary Robinette Kowal answered: “I know that it absolutely broke the former chair’s heart when making the decision to reverse that invitation. And I don’t see any reason to second guess what was a very long and difficult conversation. So I’m going to trust his judgment and let that decision stand.”
INVITATION EXTENDED. Kowal closed the session saying that it’s important the Worldcon is hosted in different places: “It’s a great event. All of us who are volunteers are here because we love it. We want other people to love it too. I want people to come to this Worldcon and think not just, ah, I went to the 2021 Worldcon, but that they experienced the DC Worldcon. If you are familiar with wine, there’s a sense of territory, that the place that grapes are grown influences the wine. And even though none of us are speaking to you from DC, we have so many in DC volunteers and creators involved in it. I want you to come. I want you to experience DC, and I want you to experience the wonder of science fiction and fantasy.”
The final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was released to widespread critical acclaim, and now the animated series will look to pick up some new accolades. It was announced this week that the seventh season of The Clone Wars has received three nominations at the upcoming Daytime Emmy Awards.
The show will look to take home the trophies for Outstanding Writing Team for a Daytime Animated Program, Outstanding Music Direction and Composition for a Preschool, Children’s or Animated Program, and Outstanding Sound Mixing and Sound Editing for a Daytime Animated Program.
The winners in the Children’s Programming and Animation category will be announced in a stand-alone show streaming at 8 p.m. ET July 17 on the Emmy OTT platform.
FIYAH is partnering with the LeVar Burton Reads podcast for their first-ever writing contest! Do you write speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, horror)? Do you love the podcast? Have you dreamed of getting your work in front of THE LeVar Burton ever since the days of Reading Rainbow? Well, here’s your shot. We are looking for one special story to be featured in Season 10 of the podcast
The first place winner will receive $500 and the story will be read by LeVar Burton on an upcoming episode of the LeVar Burton Reads podcast. The second place winner gets $250, and the third place winner, $100.
Editors for this contest include Diana M. Pho and L. D. Lewis, with the final selection being made by LeVar himself. View full submission guidelines and contest rules here.
After over 50 years of rubbing shoulders with the giants of the entertainment industry, Steve Vertlieb’s resume reads like a cinephile’s dream. This week I speak with the award winning journalist and film historian about the cultural impact of Rod Serling and his seminal science fiction anthology series “The Twilight Zone”.
The late 1950s/early 1960s were a time of staunch conservatism in America. This ideology was prevalent in the mainstream entertainment Americans watched on their television sets and at the local cinema. Rod Serling was a man with a message but it wasn’t a message many at this time wanted to hear. A talented writer, Serling was also a student of history and he knew that to get a message through a fortress wall, sometimes you needed to give the gift of a Trojan horse. “The Twilight Zone” was that gift and in the guise of science fiction, black comedy and horror Rod Serling’s voice reached out to open the eyes, ears and hearts of a fascinated public. This week we welcome award winning journalist, film historian and archivist Steve Vertlieb to the show as we discuss the cultural impact of “The Twilight Zone” and how Rod Serling’s message is still relevant over 60 years after the show’s debut.
… I’m sure you could find many SFF novels about such fuddy-duddy tourism turning strange. There are also novels that up the stakes by marooning the protagonist far from home. This will certainly give the protagonist a way to display do-or-die determination by denying them any choice in the matter…
Consider these five works about castaways.
The Luck of Brin’s Five by Cherry Wilder (1977)
Travel on Torin is a simple matter of hopping into a convenient space-plane and jetting to some other location on the Earth-like world that orbits 70 Ophuichi. Or it would be, if Scott Gale had not just crashed his expedition’s only space-plane on the far side of Torin, near the Terran expeditionary base’s antipodes. Oops.
Torin’s native population is unaware that they have off-world visitors until Scott’s space-plane falls from the sky. To the family of weavers known as Brin’s Five, Scott could become their new Luck (an integral member of each Moruian family’s five-member structure). His arrival may save the weavers from misfortune and starvation.
To Great Elder Tiath Avran Pentroy, also known as Tiath Gargan (or Strangler), technologically superior aliens are an unwanted disruptive element. Best to quietly dispatch Scott before Strangler has to deal with the ramifications of alien contact. And if Brin’s Five are not public-minded enough to surrender their Luck? Why, they can be dispatched as well.
I am very happy to announce Toni Weisskopf, Publisher of Baen Books, as this year’s keynote speaker for the combined Writers and Illustrators of the Future 36/37 Awards Ceremony. Many of our past winners and current judges are published by Baen Books. Writers of the Future and Toni first connected up in 1989, when as a volunteer, she helped out at the Writers of the Future Awards Event in New York City. We are happy she will be back again!
(8) TIME ENOUGH FOR CATS. Did we mention there is a Japanese adaptation of Heinlein’s The Door Into Summer? Let’s make sure it hasn’t been overlooked by the Scroll:
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1999 — Twenty-two years ago, Charles Vess wins a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for the illustrated version of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust which was published by Vertigo the previous year. Gaiman of course shared in that Award. It would also win a World Fantasy Award as well.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 29, 1919 — Slim Pickens. Surely you remember his memorable scene as Major T. J. “King” Kong in Dr. Strangelove? I certainly do. And of course he shows up in Blazing Saddles as Taggart. He’s the uncredited voice of B.O.B in The Black Hole and he’s Sam Newfield in The Howling. He’s got some series genre work including several appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, plus work on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Night Gallery. (Died 1983.)
Born June 29, 1920 — Ray Harryhausen. All-around film genius who created stop-motion model Dynamation animation. His work can be seen in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (his first color film) which was nominated for a Hugo at Detention, Jason and the Argonauts, Mighty Joe Young and Clash of the Titans. (Died 2013.)
Born June 29, 1943 — Maureen O’Brien, 78. Vicki, companion of the First Doctor. Some 40 years later, she reprised the role for several Big Finish Productions Doctor Who audio works. She had a recurring role as Morgan in The Legend of King Arthur, a late Seventies BBC series. Her Detective Inspector John Bright series has been well received.
Born June 29, 1947 — Michael Carter, 74. Best remembered for being Gerald Bringsley in An American Werewolf in London, Von Thurnburg in The Illusionist and Bib Fortuna in the Return of the Jedi. He plays two roles as a prisoner and as UNIT soldier in the Third Doctor story, “The Mind of Evil”.
Born June 29, 1950 — Michael Whelan, 71. I’m reasonably sure that most of the Del Rey editions of McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series was where I first noticed his artwork but I’ve certainly seen it elsewhere since. He did Heinlein’s The Cat Who Walks Through Walls cover which I love and many more I can’t recall right now. And there’s a wonderful collection of work available, Beyond Science Fiction: The Alternative Realism of Michael Whelan.
Born June 29, 1956 — David Burroughs Mattingly, 65. He’s an American illustrator and painter, best known for his numerous book covers of genre literature. Earlier in his career, he worked at Disney Studio on the production of The Black Hole, Tron, Dick Tracy and Stephen King’s The Stand. His main cover work was at Ballantine Books where he did such work as the 1982 cover of Herbert’s Under Pressure (superb novel), the 2006 Anderson’s Time Patrol and the 1983 Berkley Books publication of E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith Triplanetary.
Born June 29, 1968 — Judith Hoag, 53. Her first genre role was in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as April O’Neil followed by being in Armageddon playing Denise Chappel and then a Doctor in A Nightmare On Elm Street. She filmed a cameo for another Turtle film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, but it was deleted. She’s got one one-offs in Quantum Leap, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Strange World, The Burning Zone, X-Files, Carnivàle and Grimm. Her latest genre role was in The Magicians as Stephanie Quinn.
It is a good time to be a superheroic animal. DC’s League of Super-Pets animated movie is on the way and has somehow nabbed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the voice of Krypto the Superdog, along with Kevin Hart as Ace the Bat-Hound, plus Keanu Reeves, Kate McKinnon, Diego Luna, and more. But these critters—and maybe others—have long had superhero careers in the pages of DC Comics. It’s time to look at every member of the Legion of Super-Pets— and see how they compare….
(13) SALE OF THE MID-CENTURY. See a bit of sf history in a photo here on Facebook – at the 1968 Worldcon in Oakland/Berkeley, Harlan Ellison auctions off the services of David Gerrold (standing).
It’s time for a showdown of galactic proportions… In which universe does your loyalty lie, are you Team Spock or is Darth your daddy? Foxglove and Gee Quiz are proud to strike back in 2021 bringing you a quiz from galaxies far away, a showdown between Star Wars and Star Trek superfans.
Whet your whistle in Mos Eisely Cantina while the food replicator whips you up dishes from culinary worlds like Endor, Naboo, Vulcan and Remus. Have you ever tried Petrokian Sausage? All teams answer questions from both universes, including specialty bonus food and beverage rounds to test your knowledge of culinary delights that are out of this world. Every ticket includes 2 drinks, canape and shared table banquet dishes from all corners of the universe!
Book your six person team ($450) or book a single ticket ($75) and declare your loyalty and we’ll match you up with like-minded quizzers.
ORIGINAL: How big? When complete the starship will measure 42-inches long and 18-inches wide. Features will include electronic lights and sounds that can be controlled via an app, and you can open up the saucer section of the Enterprise to see a full 1966-style bridge. The body of the ship will also open to display the engineering room.
A large collaboration of astrophysicists report they have made the first-ever confirmed detections of shockwaves produced by mergers between neutron stars and black holes. The detections, 10 days apart, represent two of these enormous cosmic unions.
In January 2020, Earth quivered ever so slightly as shockwaves imperceptible to human senses passed through it. Those ripples were gravitational waves, perturbations in spacetime generated by all massive objects but only detectable from extremely huge events, like two black holes colliding. The waves were strong enough to be picked up by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory in Louisiana (the Washington branch of the instrument was offline at the time) and the similar Virgo experiment in Pisa, Italy. These experiments detect gravitational waves using a sensitive arrangement of mirrors and laser beams.
Black holes are points in space with such intense gravitational fields that not even light can escape. They form when a star dies and collapses in on itself. Neutron stars form similarly; they are the extremely dense collapsed remains of dead stars and are mostly composed of packed-in neutrons.
… Venus doesn’t have plate tectonics. But according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it may possess a quirky variation of that process: Parts of its surface seem to be made up of blocks that have shifted and twisted about, contorting their surroundings as they went.
These boogying blocks, thin and flat slices of rock referred to as campi (Latin for “fields”), can be as small as Ireland or as expansive as Alaska. They were found using data from NASA’s Magellan orbiter mission, the agency’s last foray to Venus. In the early 1990s, it used radar to peer through the planet’s obfuscating atmosphere and map the entire surface. Taking another look at these maps, scientists found 58 campi scattered throughout the planet’s lava-covered lowlands….
(18) SHOW BIZ WANTS YOU. Universal Studios Hollywood put out a call for contestants to be on “the first ever Harry Potter quiz show.” The application is here.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Ratchet and Crank: Rift Apart,” Fandom Games says the latest line extension of the Ratchet and Crank franchise is so familiar that “if it seems like a new coat of paint on an old favorite, that’s what it is” and shows the rule of the gaming industry, that, “If it ain’t broke, just slap newer-looking graphics on it and charge full price.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, James Davis Nicoll, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
I’ve now had time to review the recent allegations made about Baen’s Bar, both specific and general.
And I can say with confidence that not a one of them is justified. What I saw was a vibrant, international community of readers who enjoyed engaging with each other for civilized discourse about everything from slush to scampi, from swords to shamans. I’ve gone through hundreds of posts, though admittedly not all of the hundreds of thousands of posts that were made over the decades long history of the Bar.
Were there posts that I disagreed with? Yes, some quite strongly. But that’s point of free speech. Were there posts which taken out of the context of the discussion they were in could be misconstrued? Yes. I did not see illegal speech even in the most heated discussions. And I did see long-time users step in to calm discussions down—which is what happens in healthy forums….
Weisskopf lays down the rules of conduct – which are the same the Bar has subscribed to all along.
There are traditional rules of the Bar decreed by the God Emperor Himself, Jim Baen of Sainted Memory, the most important of which after “no illegal posts,” are “no hitting” and “don’t be a butthead.”
A later paragraph about what topics are likely to be discussed in the forums includes this line about Tom Kratman —
Kratman is going to be discussing the past, present, and future of war, everywhere, involving everyone—and he has to abide by these rules, too.
He needs to do three things; start his own news channel, start his own party, and start his own well-armed militia as part of the party.
The militia – again, a _well_armed_ militia – is necessary to present a threat in being to the powers that be such that, should they use extra-, pseudo-, and quasi-legal means to try to suppress the party, the price presented will be far too high. The militia will be heavily infiltrated; this is a given. No matter; it will not be there for any purpose but to present a serious threat of major combat, and the shame of defeat, and the reality of death, to the tactical elements, police and military, that may be used against the party….
Weisskopf’s statement closes with this peroration:
But let me put this very clearly: if you are seeking to plan imminent violence, from whatever political direction or none at all, that won’t fly. Equally, if the mere existence of an opinion that differs from yours means that you want that opinion eradicated from the Bar: that won’t fly either.
Despite the warnings, that the kind of thing Kratman uses the Bar for remains within bounds tells readers that the real limits on conduct are set right where you’d predict – the same place they always were.
The only thing that would have come as a surprise is if the status quo had not been fully restored. And there are no surprises to report.
[Thanks to George Phillies and Michael J. Lowrey for the story. Art by Alexis Gilliland.]
The story’s protagonist, Mull, has found himself living in a once spectacular tesseract house—an architect’s grandiose solution to L.A.’s housing crisis—which has collapsed yet is still habitable. The structure keeps shifting and Mull struggles to find his way around. A corridor he used one day may have vanished the next. When did you first imagine this building? Do you see it as a three-dimensional space in your mind’s eye? Do you know it better than Mull? Or as well as Mull?
The idea of a tesseract as building comes from Robert Heinlein’s famous 1941 short story, “—And He Built a Crooked House—” (an influence my story wears on the sleeve of its title). It was one of my favorite stories growing up, and, for a lot of readers my age, it might be as responsible for the introduction of the idea of a tesseract as Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time.” It’s also an L.A. story, and Heinlein was a resident when he wrote it. The house in the story is across the street from his own address, if I’m remembering right.
That people in Los Angeles live outside right now, in tents and under overpasses, is such a cruel and overwhelming reality that it may be atrocious to make reference to it in passing (though it probably isn’t better to leave it unmentioned at all, which is what happens constantly). I’ll try saying simply that I sometimes find it easiest to let certain realities express themselves in my thinking when I give them a surreal or allegorical expression.
(2) MORE COMMENTS ON BAEN’S BAR AND DISINVITING WEISSKOPF. Here are three recent posts that go beyond rehashing others’ opinions.
LawDog: “Freedom of Speech by LawDog”, a guest post on According to Hoyt, is a non-lawyer’s defense of Baen’s Bar hosting the sort of comments called out in Jason Sanford’s article.
…This, however, isn’t where the deplatformers come from (I’m looking at you folks taking a thunder run at Baen’s Bar in particular), they’ve decided that “Incitement to Violence” isn’t Free Speech, as they clutch their pearls.
Lawdog briefs a Supreme Court case, then proceeds —
“How,” I hear you ask, “Does this pertain to Baen’s Bar?”
Simple. If someone has been yacking about doing violence unto the Fed.gov for ten or fifteen years … it’s pretty safe to say that lawlessness is not “imminent”, and thus fails the Brandenburg test. That speech, distasteful though you may find it, is protected Free Speech.
And what is speech protected from? Protected from suppression by the government. So the government can’t prevent Baen’s Bar from hosting, for example, Tom Kratman’s advice about a Trumpian militia.
However, the pertinent question is do fans want to honor a figure in the sff field that hosts this speech? Lawdog’s cite does not bridge that divide.
Ben Sheffield takes a 360-dgree look at the topic in “Baenposting” at Coagulopath.
… That’s the main issue under consideration: are these “threats” on Baen’s Bar any more substantial or interesting than symbolic posturing, like a Twitter leftist with a guillotine avatar saying “eat the rich”? I don’t think they are.
So the expose has problems, and avenues of counterattack. But the reaction from the forum’s defenders has largely been to shoot themselves in the foot.
Baen’s publisher Toni Weisskopf had a hard row to hoe. If she deletes the mentioned posts and bans the offenders, her users will perceive this as a craven surrender to a bully’s demands. But if she ignores the expose, it will be spun as a further endorsement of violence.
She tried to have it both ways, temporarily closing the forum pending an investigation while refusing to condemn the violent threats. “We take these allegations seriously, and consequently have put the Bar on hiatus while we investigate. But we will not commit censorship of lawful speech.” She might have hoped that the scandal would blow over in a week, and she could reopen the Bar without doing anything. This approach blew up in her face, and caused her to lose her Guest of Honor spot at the 2021 Worldcon.
As I’ve said, you can’t win with forums. In chess, zugzwang is when you’re forced to make a bad move, because there’s no other way. Jason Sanford put her in zugzwang on February 15. There was no way she could have responded without suffering reputational damage, either from the SF community at large or from her own fans.
The smart thing to do, of course, would have been to never allow posts like that on Baen’s Bar to begin with.
But moderation is tricky, particularly with regards to powerful, respected users who are also personal friends. Forums founded on an ethos of “everything goes!” are generally moderated as little as possible, and this establishes precedent that’s hard to break. Like a roof with a hole in it, “everything goes” only seems fine until it starts raining. Moderation is almost always necessary, regardless of your friends’ feelings.
I’ve seen some attempted defenses of Baen’s Bar, and they’re not impressive….
Linda Bushyager, who in the Seventies edited the fannish newzine of record (Karass) before passing the torch to File 770, told Facebook readers that Toni Weisskopf didn’t deserve this outcome:
… I went to Discon’s website to read what they had to say about their decision. Basically the committee said because some users of Baen Books discussion had said violent or nasty or non PC or whatever comments, Toni, as the main editor at Baen would be disinvited. Note, Toni never made those comments, but I guess did not criticize them or ban them. However after complaints Toni did close down the “offensive” forum.
So it’s like you rent a room in your house to someone (a stranger) who turns out to be a robber, or Nazi, or racist, or whatever — well now let’s ban you too for whatever they said or did. Or maybe I belong to some club or organization or political party and someone else in this group said abhorrent stuff and I didn’t immediately withdraw from that group, so ban me from whatever honor you were going to give me, even if I disagree with those spoken views. Etc. There are many examples one could imagine. Am I responsible for everything not only my relatives and friends may say or do, but for acquaintances and people I work with or casually ride an elevator with? Where is the line?
Guilt by association.
All in all a sad day for Science Fiction fandom, as I see it — especially where in years past we were known for being tolerant to people who were different and who may have had different views. And when we found fans who had abhorrent ideas or said awful things, we tried to understand where they were coming from and tried to be tolerant and sympathetic where possible in an effort to understand and change minds, not just rebuke bad behavior thoughtlessly….
(3) COMIC-CON@HOME AGAIN. Comic-Con International has cancelled this spring’s WonderCon, and once more will run both it and the San Diego Comic-Con as virtual events: “Statement Regarding Comic-Con 2021”
As you may be aware, due to concern for public health and safety, San Diego Comic Convention had to cancel both of its in-person events in 2020 and recently announced that our spring 2021 show, WonderCon in Anaheim, will also be canceled. In its place, WonderCon@Home will once again be held as a free online event on March 26 and 27, 2021.
It is the policy of the organization to continue to closely monitor information from local and national healthcare officials as it pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic. Never could we have imagined what the world experienced in 2020 and continues to experience today. While we are buoyed by the rollout of the vaccine and the growing number of individuals being inoculated, it appears that July will still be too early to safely hold an in-person event of the magnitude of Comic-Con. For this reason, we have made the challenging decision to postpone Comic-Con 2021 as an in-person gathering until our 2022 dates, and once again hold this year’s celebration as the free online Comic-Con@Home. Unfortunately, the challenges of this past year and the multiple postponements of our two largest events have left us with limited financial resources, so this year the online experience will be reduced to a three-day event, spanning July 23-25, 2021.
Despite a decline in the number of new Covid-19 cases and the increasing rate of vaccinations, we cannot be certain there will be no threat come October. Last year, a major surge of the disease began just as the workshop would have been taking place. The new variants of the virus represent a wild card. No one is more disappointed with this outcome than we are, but we will not take risks with the safety of our students, instructors, and staff.
(5) TACKLING THE GENDER DIVIDE IN WANDAVISION. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Writing at the DailyDot, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw (@Hello_Tailor on Twitter) examines how differing standards for male and female magic users in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are indicative of existing prejudices about men and women. It’s an illuminating article about how often in comics (and superhero movies) a woman’s superpower is undercut by her own helplessness. “What ‘WandaVision’ and ‘Doctor Strange’ say about magical gender roles”. BEWARE SPOILERS.
…While Wanda Maximoff’s role is all about emotional upheaval and uncontrolled outbursts of power, her male counterpart (and future co-star) Doctor Strange develops his magic through rigorous academic training….
(6) FLASH FICTION CONTEST. Queer Sci Fi opened its annual Flash Contest today, and will be accepting entries through April 30. Full details at the link. (Via Locus Online.)
Every year, QSF holds a flash fiction contest to create an amazing new anthology of queer speculative fiction stories. We ask authors to do the nearly-impossible – to submit a sci fi, fantasy, paranormal or horror LGBTIQA story that has no more than 300 words.
The theme for 2021 is “Ink”…
We’ll be accepting works from across the queer spectrum, and would love to see more entries including lesbian, trans, bi, intersex and ace protagonists, as well as gay men. We also welcome diversity in ability (physical and mental) and in race. We had our most diverse set of entries yet in 2020 – let’s keep up the trend!
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
March 1, 1997 –On this day in 1997, the Crime Traveller series premiered on BBC. It was produced by Carnival Films for the BBC. The premise being of time travel for the purpose of solving crimes. It was created by Anthony Horowitz, and starred Michael and Chloë Annett. It would last but eight episodes being caught in the change of guard in the BBC Head of Drama position. You can watch the first episode here.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born March 1, 1885 — Lionel Atwill. He had the lead roles in Thirties horror films Doctor X, The Vampire Bat, Murders in the Zoo and Mystery of the Wax Museum but his most-remembered role was the one-armed Inspector Krogh in Son of Frankenstein which Kenneth Mars parodied in Young Frankenstein. He would appear in four subsequent Universal Frankenstein films. (Died 1946.) (CE)
Born March 1, 1915 – Wyman Guin. One novel, eight shorter stories. Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award. Some have praised his focus on the human implications of enduring the future, but I’ve always loved “Volpla”. (Died 1989) [JH]
Born March 1, 1918 — Roger Delgado. The first Master in the Doctor Who series. The role was written especially for him. He would appear only with the Third Doctor as he died in car crash in Turkey. Other genre appearances were Quatermass II, Danger Man, The Mummy’s Shroud and First Man into Space. (Died 1973.) (CE)
Born March 1, 1923 — Andrew Faulds. He’s best remembered as Phalerus in Jason and the Argonauts in which he was in the skeleton fight scene that featured model work by Ray Harryhausen. He appeared in a number of other genre films including The Trollenberg Terror, The Flesh and the Fiends and Blood of the Vampire. He had one-offs on Danger Man and One Step Beyond. Oh, and his first acting gig was as Lysander in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. (Died 2000.) (CE)
Born March 1, 1946 — Lana Wood, 75. She’s best remembered as Plenty O’Toole in Diamonds Are Forever. She was in The Wild Wild West as Vixen O’Shaughnessy in “The Night of the Firebrand” and Averi Trent in “The Night of the Plague” episodes. She was in both up the CBS televised Captain America films playing Yolanda, and she was still active in the genre as little three years ago playing a character named Implicit in Subconscious Reality. Be very suspicious that all the Amazon reviews of the later are five stars. (CE)
Born March 1, 1950 — David Pringle, 71. Pringle served as the editor of Foundation during the Eighties which In turned spawned Interzone during that time. The Glasgow Worldcon committee gave Pringle a Special Award for his work on Interzone. With Malcolm Edwards and Ian Watson, he also edited Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction from the late Seventies through the mid Eighties. Besides his various guides to the genre such as The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy, I see early on that he did a lot of work on J.G. Ballard such as Earth Is the Alien Planet: J. G. Ballard’s Four-Dimensional Nightmare and J. G. Ballard: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography. (CE)
Born March 1, 1952 — Steve Barnes, 69. I remember him best from the Dream Park series with Larry Niven but the Insh’Allah series is quite stellar as is the Heorot series that he did with Niven. His only award to date is an Endeavour Award for Lion’s Blood. (CE)
Born March 1, 1954 — Ron Howard, 67. Director of Cocoon and Willow. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And opinions are I believe are definitely divided on Solo: A Star Wars Story. As a producer only, he’s responsible for Cowboys & Aliens and The Dark Tower. (CE)
Born March 1, 1954 – Maureen Garrett, age 67. Known as a fanartist – she did the Nine of Wands in Bruce Pelz’ Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (see the whole deck here [PDF]; after BP’s introduction the suits are Cups, Pentacles, Swords, Wands, then the Trumps; yes, that’s the model for her card, named elsewhere in these birthday notes), contributed to Rune, moderated “What Is an Artist’s Life Really Like?” at ConFrancisco the 51st Worldcon – she was also Director of Fan Relations at Lucasfilm. [JH]
Born March 1, 1955 – Tracy Barrett, Ph.D., age 66. Six novels for us, two dozen all told. The Song of Orpheus, seventeen Greek myths we’re little acquainted with, has been called nonfiction, but I dunno. Anna of Byzantium is her novel of Anna Comnena (1083-1153; wrote The Alexiad, hello Joe Major). Taught at Vanderbilt thirty years. Likes Dickens’ Bleak House (as do I), “anything by Jane Austen, James Thurber, George Eliot.” [JH]
Born March 1, 1962 – Dave Weingart, age 59. Variously active fan, celebrated as a filker. InterfilkGuest at Consonance 2001. Official Filk Waif at FilKONtario 12. Music Guest of Honor at Apollocon 2010. Featured Filker at 8Pi-con. Filklore Award. [JH]
Born March 1, 1968 – Dorian Vallejo, age 53. Five dozen covers, a few interiors. Here is the Jul 91 Asimov’s. Here is The California Voodoo Game. Here is Lone Star. Here is Smoke and Mirrors. Jack Gaughan Award. Son of Boris, which some say irks him; his Website has “Born into an artistic family” and nothing of us; but like any artist he gets to do what he thinks best. [JH]
Born March 1, 1987 – Maxmilian Meinzold, age 34. Thirty covers, a few interiors. Here is The Silmarillion (in German). Here is The King of Camelot (in German; tr. of The Once and Future King). Here is The Hidden Oracle. Here is Zealand (spelled Seeland in German; subtitle, “hitch-hiking to the Strudel Throat”; yes, in English it’s too bad there’s an r). [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
In today’s episode of Spaceman Spiff at Calvin and Hobbes, Spiff finds a huge monster camouflaged as a mountain range.
…. And that brings us to another theme of the series, and this book in particular (right in the title, Transgressions of Power). For, you see, Della and Tagaret do want to break down those adamantine boundaries of Caste. They see, even if darkly and imperfectly (and Wade does a great job in making them fallible and human in it) that the caste system is really the root of the problems of the crumbling civilization and if there is any hope for the Varin, from the Grobal on down, it will take crossing those boundaries…in making transgressions, if you will. In keeping with that, not only do we see Tagaret and Della’s efforts, but we get an emphasis on a dreaded and whispered thing that can happen to the Grobal—to “Fall” down to another caste. This is shown as a dangerous and one possibility for Adon to escape the pressures on him, and while it is a societal safety valve, it is treated as a fate almost worse than death. It is also a Chehkov’s Gun that the author effectively fires in the conclusion, as well….
(11) THE EVOLUTION OF MARIO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the February 24 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber looks at the success of Nintendo character Mario.
Nintendo’s influential designer Shigeru Miyamoto came up with the blueprint for Mario when he was developing 1981’s Donkey Kong, in which a hero called Jumpman dodges obstacles to reach the top of a construction site where a gorilla is holding his girlfriend hostage. Mario’s characteristics were determined by technical limitations and accidents: his red and blue overalls were selected to contrast with a black background while his large nose and moustache were an effort to infuse personality into a character comprised of a handful of pixels. According tto company lore, his name was inspired by Mario Segale, the irate landlord of Nintendo of America’s warehouse.
Mario was first cast as a carpenter, then as a plumber for Mario Bros., which featured him and his twin brother Luigi fighting off monsters which oozed up from the sewers of New York. Soon a polish formula was established, with nefarious king Bowser, hapless Princess Peach and a cast of surrounding characters drawn in broad brushstrokes. Powers included mushrooms that made Mario grow or shrink, or items that turned him into a bee, a ghost, a flying squirrel, and, in the new release Super Mario 3d World, a cat. Mario appeared in educational games, a low-budget cartoon and an execrable 1993 live-action film–though an upcoming animated movie, co-produced by the studio behind the Minions films, might be better.
Daniel Greenberg, a member of MSCHF, claims there’s a serious side to Spot’s Rampage though. “Anytime you see a TikTok or a dance it’s like, ‘Oh God, Spot is so happy,’” Greenberg says. “But if we actually talk candidly about what it’s going to be used for in the real world, you could say it’s police, you could say it’s military.”
Needless to say, Boston Dynamics isn’t very happy. The company tweeted on Friday: “We condemn the portrayal of our technology in any way that promotes violence, harm, or intimidation. Our mission is to create and deliver surprisingly capable robots that inspire, delight and positively impact society.”
Perry adds that it is a particular concern because the company is trying to sell its robots. “It’s not just a moral point, it’s also a commercial point for us,” he says.
Because the robot periodically checks in with Boston Dynamics servers, it would theoretically be possible to disable the Spot that MSCHF is using. “We’re wrestling with that,” Perry adds. The MSCHF crew claim to have a workaround ready just in case.
(14) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. Fanac.org has made videos of the 1989 Worldcon Masquerade available on YouTube.
Norascon 3, the 47th Worldcon, was held in Boston, MA. In this recording, costumers make their appearance on the big stage, and showcase the physical results of their imaginations and their skills. The costumers range from Novices to Journeymen to Masters, and the themes from silly and playful to very serious. Note: Some sections have been muted due to copyright laws. There’s more to come in part 2.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Olav Rokne, Michael J. Walsh, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Darrah Chavey, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]
The committee of Discon III approached me this week to discuss the allegations about Baen’s Bar that were posted at Patreon. Baen is conducting a thorough investigation, which we feel we cannot rush, and has taken down the Bar while we conduct the investigation.
I do understand the immediate appeal of Discon III wishing to act quickly to respond to their community. Today they informed me of their official decision to remove me as their Editor Guest of Honor.
While I strongly disagree with the committee’s decision, I will regretfully accede to their wishes.
These excerpts for the Scroll are primarily by authors who condemned the decision (except for the final one).
So Toni Weisskopf has been formally disinvited by WorldCon and DisCon. Can’t say it was a surprise. I will however remind people of the personal policy I adopted years ago and reiterated in the case of ConCarolina and John Ringo. I will not attend a con which has disinvited a guest. You are always free to invite —or not—anyone you like. Any con which disinvites someone after the invitation has been issued and accepted, especially when they do so under pressure, however, does not deserve to be trusted by future guests.
He said more in the comments on his post, including —
…So Toni Weisskopf activated the most proactive, realistic option available to her: she closed the Bar, thereby ending any possibility that it might do further ostensible injury.
36 hours later, however, she was disinvited without any additional cause.
You will note, however, that no one asserted that she did not respond quickly enough. In fact, in disinviting her, there were no further/new discoveries added to those put forth in Mr. Sanford’s essay.
So what had changed? If the concom believes that 36 hours is enough time for her to resolve the matter completely, I once again point out that
a) any business person operating in the real world would *know* that is not enough time to conduct anything like a thorough review
b) in order to ensure that what Mr. Sanford reported could not expand or remain as a potential threat, SHE CLOSED THE WHOLE BAR DOWN.
If she had meant to stonewall, or not actually investigate the matter, she would not have taken the step of closing the Bar.
Do I repeat myself in this post? Assuredly so . . . because these are salient points which are being repeatedly, perhaps purposively, overlooked.
For anyone familiar with the musical Hamilton, cue “The Room Where It Happened” as we ponder “so what changed in 36 hours?”
…Then several years later, after the old controversy I caused had died off and most of us barbaric outsiders had said screw cheesy WorldCon and moved on with our lives, some of you still felt guilty for how you’d treated Toni, so you extended an olive branch. You offered her the Guest of Honor spot at your little convention. How nice. How fucking magnanimous.
Toni, being a far better human being than any of you could ever aspire to be, thought the offer over. She knew there was risks. She knew that she’d take heat from people on the right (and she has). Morons on my side of the political would call her a sell-out, quisling, traitor, boot licker, so on and so forth, and they did. She got attacked by the useless grifters on both sides, looking for hate clicks. But unlike you, Toni ignores the baying mob and always does what she thinks is the right thing to do. She looked at your peace offering, and said fine, If you want to try and mend fences, okay, I’ll take the heat, I’ll be your guest of honor. She was the bigger person.
She talked to me about her decision. I told her I understood, I wouldn’t do it, but I respected her call, but that she’d surely get yelled at by the idiots on both sides. She already knew, but she thought it was the right thing to do anyway. Because unlike you, Toni actually has a moral compass. Your moral compass is a windsock. Her one mistake in all this was assuming that any of you old time Smofs would have a spine….
A very large number of people today are reaching for rhetorical flourishes to complain about what happened. RS Benedict made this connection. (If you don’t recognize Isabel Fall’s name, run a search here. Also let it be noted that Weisskopf has been removed as GoH, not banned from attending.)
Mike VanHelder, an experienced conrunner, tried to understand the decision from a convention running perspective. As part of that he wrote this How It Should Have Ended scenario, in addition to other insights. Thread starts here.
…When we really, truly admire someone, whether they’re an Avenger or Anthony Fauci, there’s a tendency to mimic their personality, even their morality. Media theorists call these bonds “parasocial relationships”; parents of kids with one too many Star Wars posters (probably) call it “over the top.” But the people in it, the ones who write fic and spend days making cosplay before the next convention, call it part of their identity, the fabric of who they are.
Until it’s not. Earlier this week, actress Gina Carano lost her job playing Cara Dune on The Mandalorian. The former MMA fighter had been facing criticism for months for her anti-science views on mask-wearing, mocking transgender-sensitive pronouns, and tweets about voter fraud. Then, on Wednesday, after she shared an Instagram story that suggested having differing political views was akin to being Jewish during the Holocaust, the hashtag #FireGinaCarano began to trend on Twitter. That night, Lucasfilm issued the following statement: “Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future. Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”
Carano’s comments are harmful for a lot of reasons, but they seem to carry an additional weight for fans. Cara Dune was a hero, someone who fought for people, a tough, competent female warrior in a genre often dominated by men. Fans looked up to Cara, and by extension Carano, but the actor’s comments on social media left one of those things harder to do….
Viewers of WandaVision crashed Disney+ on Friday morning as the latest installment dropped on the streaming service.
There was a brief 10-minute outage in the early hours of Friday as episode seven of the Marvel Cinematic Universe-based series was made available, PEOPLE reports.
Fans expressed their frustration on social media after experiencing issues as they signed on in droves to catch the latest installment of Wanda and Vision’s Westview adventures.
(4) RECOVERED. Claire O’Dell has released a second edition of her award-winning River of Souls trilogy with new covers and updated text: River of Souls Series. The author blogged about the books here.
…Once Tor returned the rights to me, I decided to release a second edition, with new covers and updated text. I commissioned new artwork from the amazing Jessica Shirley. I badgered my long-suffering spouse into designing new covers. And I spent several months editing and proofreading the manuscripts. The e-books are now available at my on-line bookstore (here), individually or as a bundle, and will appear at all the usual vendor sites later this week….
…There are at least two kinds of Dyson Sphere. The first—the one Dyson intended—is made up of a myriad of independently orbiting objects. While this presents an interesting traffic control challenge, the Dyson Swarm has the advantage that not only can it be built incrementally over a very long period, but the components are gravitationally coupled to the star in question.
The second option is a solid shell with the star in the middle….
Retrieved by the Union from certain extinction on the ice-encrusted world Myan, Kaya is somewhat less than entirely grateful. After all, the reason Myan was freezing in the first place was Project Saion, the Union’s vast energy-gathering structure blocking Myan from its star, Saion. While the Union did belatedly notice the Myan natives and rescue them, this didn’t come to pass until 997 out of every 1000 of Kaya’s species had perished in the cold. Still, the Union is very, very powerful, while the handful of Myans are not. There is nothing Kaya can do to save her home world. At least, that’s what the Union believes…
The 69-year-old Lynnwood-based author and first-class raconteur still has a lot to say. He’s published four novels since aortic dissection surgery left him with a titanium heart valve six years ago and has plans for more. But he’s just not sure he wants to deal with the business of fiction publishing anymore after having a hard time finding a buyer for “The Unfinished Land,” eventually published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint John Joseph Adams Books.
“If I had written it and no one wanted to publish it, what would I do right at that point?” Bear said. “I considered just retiring. And I think I’m still making that decision at this point.”
Catalano reacts: “It’s end-of-days when Greg Bear can’t find a publisher. Ack.”
… Alex Kingston is releasing a brand new River Song novel, taking the popular companion on a brand new adventure.
The book, entitled The Ruby’s Curse, promises to tell a thrilling story set in New York in 1939, featuring both River Song and her alter-ego Melody Malone. It is Alex Kingston’s first foray into writing Doctor Who fiction, following in the footsteps of Tom Baker, whose story Scratchman follows the escapades of the Fourth Doctor….
“Having absolutely no idea of the journey I would be taking with River Song when I first uttered those words, “Hello Sweetie,” I cannot begin to express how excited I am to be able to continue not only River, but Melody’s adventures on the written page,” she says.
(8) MEMORY LANE.
1961 — Sixty years ago at Seacon in Seattle, A Canticle for Leibowitz, a fix-up of three short stories published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, written by Walter M. Miller, Jr. wins the Hugo for Best Novel. It was published by J. B. Lippincott. Other nominees that year were The High Crusade by Poul Anderson, Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys, Deathworld by Harry Harrison and Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon. Surprisingly this is the only award this novel won.
…In 1975, NASA introduced the worm, a sleek sequence of winding red letters, and the logo quickly became a tangible symbol of a boundless space age that lay ahead.
“We did get what we set out to accomplish,” Mr. Blackburn said. “Anybody we showed it to immediately said, ‘Oh I know what that is. I know them. They’re really great. They’re right on the leading edge of everything.’”
But in 1992, a few years after the Challenger explosion, NASA dropped the worm and revived the meatball in a decision that was said to be intended to improve company morale.
Mr. Blackburn and other designers lamented the choice. “They said, ‘This is a crime. You cannot do this,’” he said. “‘This is a national treasure and you’re throwing it in the trash bin.”
“His design sensibility was offended by what happened,” his daughter said. “He thought the meatball was clumsy and sloppy and not representative of the future.”…
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 19, 1923 – Alan Hunter. Fan and pro artist; founded the Fantasy Art Society (U.K.); fifty covers, three hundred fifty interiors, for Banana Wings, Dream, Fantasy Tales, Matrix, Nebula, New Worlds, SF Chronicle, Vector, the Millennium Philcon Program Book (59th Worldcon), the LoneStarCon 3 Program Book (71st Worldcon). Artist Guest at Fantasycon 1981. Here is the Spring 53 Nebula. Here is an interior from the Mar 53 New Worlds. Here is an interior from Dream. Here is the Oct 86 SF Chronicle. Here is Vector 112. Here is Banana Wings 38. Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here. (Died 2012) [JH]
Born February 19, 1937 — Terry Carr. Well-known and loved fan, author, editor, and writing instructor. I usually don’t list awards both won and nominated for but his are damned impressed so I will. He was nominated five times for Hugos for Best Fanzine (1959–1961, 1967–1968), winning in 1959, was nominated three times for Best Fan Writer (1971–1973), winning in 1973, and he was Fan Guest of Honor at ConFederation in 1986. Wow. He worked at Ace Books before going freelance where he edited an original story anthology series called Universe, and The Best Science Fiction of the Year anthologies that ran from 1972 until his early death in 1987. Back to Awards again. He was nominated for the Hugo for Best Editor thirteen times (1973–1975, 1977–1979, 1981–1987), winning twice (1985 and 1987). His win in 1985 was the first time a freelance editor had won. Wow indeed. Novelist as well. Just three novels but all are still in print today though I don’t think his collections are and none of his anthologies seem to be currently either. A final note. An original anthology of science fiction, Terry’s Universe, was published the year after his death with all proceeds went to his widow. (Died 1987.) (CE)
Born February 19, 1963 — Laurell K. Hamilton, 58. She is best known as the author of two series of stories. One is the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter of which I’ll confess I’ve read but several novels, the other is the Merry Gentry series which held my interest rather longer but which I lost in somewhere around the sixth or seventh novel when the sex became really repetitive. (CE)
Born February 19, 1946 – Rosemary Ullyot, age 75. Early member of the Ontario SF Club. Fanzine Kevas & Trillium with Alicia Austin and Maureen Bournes. “Kumquat May” column in Energumen. Twice finalist for Best Fanwriter. [JH]
Born February 19, 1957 – Jim Rittenhouse, age 64. Founded Point of Divergence, alternative-history apa. Guest of Honor at DucKon 12, Windycon 32. Judge of the Sidewise Award. Has read As I Lay Dying, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Suetonius’ Twelve Caesars, Adam Bede, Lolita, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. “Why do I like fountain pens? The smoothness and ease of writing, the clarity and solidity of the line, the profound coloring and the strong saturation of the ink.” [JH]
Born February 19, 1964 — Jonathan Lethem, 57. His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a weird mix of SF and detective fiction, is fantastic in more ways that I can detail briefly here. I confess that I lost track of him after that novel so I’d be interested in hearing what y’all think of his later genre work particularly his latest, The Arrest. (CE)
Born February 19, 1966 — Claude Lalumière, 55. I met him once here in Portland at a used book store in the the SFF section, and his wife wrote reviews for Green Man once upon a year. Author, book reviewer and editor who has edited numerous anthologies including two volumes of the excellent Tesseracts series. Amazing writer of short dark fantasy stories collected in three volumes so far, Objects of Worship, The Door to Lost Pages and Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes. Tachyon published his latest anthology, Super Stories of Heroes & Villains. (CE)
Born February 19, 1968 — Benicio del Toro, 53. Originally cast as Khan in that Trek film but unable to perform the role as he was committed to another film. He’s been The Collector in the Marvel film franchise, Lawrence Talbot in the 2010 remake of The Wolfman, and codebreaker DJ in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Let’s not forget that he was in Big Top Pee-wee as Duke, the Dog-Faced Boy followed by being in Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Dr. Gonzo which damn well should count as genre even if it isn’t. (CE)
Born February 19, 1970 – Victor Ehikhamenor, age 51. Writer, visual artist including photography and sculpture. Exhibited in the first Nigerian pavilion at the Venice Biennale (57th Biennale, 2017). Here is I Am Ogiso, the King of Heaven. Here is The Unknowable (enamel & steel), Norval Foundation, Cape Town. Here is Hypnotic Lover. Here is Wealth of Nations, Nat’l Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution. Website. [JH]
Born February 19, 1973 – Nikki Alfar, age 49. A score of short stories. Three Palanca Awards. Manila Critics’ Circle Nat’l Book Award. Co-editor, Philippine Speculative Fiction. Interviewed in Fantasy. [JH]
Born February 19, 1984 – Marissa Meyer, age 37. Re-told Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White in the Lunar Chronicles; the first, Cinder, MM’s début, was a NY Times Best-Seller; later Fairest, a prequel. Heartless has the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. Half a dozen more novels, a dozen shorter stories. Introduction to Yolen’s How to Fracture a Fairy Tale. Has confessed to writing (under another name) twoscore pieces of Sailor Moon fanfiction. [JH]
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Lio is always bizarre – this time it’s even funny.
The Flying McCoys reveals that Superman buys outfits off the rack! (When they’re in stock.)
(12) HE’LL BE REMEMBERED. Milton Davis reports the GoFundMe was successful and that the headstone and monument for Charles R. Saunders’ grave have arrived. The grave of famous fantasy writer Charles R. Saunders was without a headstone until friends raised money for it.
(13) REPURPOSED AND FUNNY. [Item by rcade.] The paranormal fantasy novelist Richard Kadrey has been reading some obscure science fiction paperbacks from the golden age of the lurid cover. Authors include Supernova Jackson, Cliff Zoom and Brawny Magnum.
The titles of Kadrey’s novels in his Sandman Slim series would be right at home on a shelf with these classics. They include Kill The Dead, Aloha from Hell, Ballistic Kiss and King Bullet, which comes out in August.
He’s also the founder with cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling of the Dead Media Project, which sought to save obsolete and forgotten forms of media. But it died.
…It makes sense on paper for a new show about Superman to fast forward through the stuff that’s been done to death in order to find some new way into the man, the myth, the legend. Why not make him a harried dad juggling apocalyptic threats with teenage boys, one of whom might have the same kind of powers as he does? The CW’s dads are already supernaturally hot, so hey, might as well lean into the brand. (Hoechlin, like Tom Welling before him, does not at all have a Christopher Reeve level of charisma to bring to the role — but to be fair, who does?)
But for all the logical storylines and character journeys that “Superman and Lois” includes, it nonetheless lacks the spark to make any of it very interesting. Despite solid efforts from Tulloch, Garfin, and especially Elsass to bring life to their stiff scenes, these Kents feel more stuck than striking
[Thanks to Michael Toman, rcade, James Davis Nicoll, John Hertz, Danny Sichel, Jeffrey Jones, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Steven H Silver, Frank Catalano, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Chris R.]
DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon, announced today in an “Update on Editor Guest of Honor” that Baen Books publisher Toni Weisskopf has been removed as one of the convention’s GoHs.
They published the following statement in explanation:
DisCon III condemns the violent and hostile content found within Baen Books’ forums. We also cannot condone the fact such content was enabled and allowed to ferment for so long. We want to make it clear abusive behavior is not, and will not be, tolerated at DisCon III. Such behavior goes entirely against our already established policies concerning inclusivity and creating a welcoming environment for our members, which can be found here: https://discon3.org/about/inclusion/.
We knew simply saying those words with no actions to back them up would be unacceptable. Too often, we have seen individuals and organizations say they are on the right side of issues yet do nothing to act on those words. We knew we had to take a hard look at our own position and take action based on our established policies.
As a result, after discussion with her, we have notified Toni Weisskopf we are removing her as a Guest of Honor for DisCon III.
We know this decision was not as quick as some of you would have wanted, and we understand your frustration. Our committee’s leadership was always in full agreement that there was a fundamental difference between the values Worldcon strives to uphold and the values allowed to be espoused on the forums-in-question.
In the entire eighty-plus year history of our community, no Worldcon has ever removed someone as a Guest of Honor. To remove a Guest of Honor was an unprecedented decision that needed discussion, consideration, and consensus. Those mechanisms sometimes do not move as fast as some would want, and we thank the community for its patience.
We also want to let everyone know that we are not planning on adding additional individuals to our Guest of Honor list.
We wish to thank you all for taking the time and energy to send us your feedback. Many of you have strong opinions on this issue, and we want everyone to know all your voices were heard and considered when rendering our decision. We will always welcome your feedback, questions, suggestions, and concerns, and we will continue to listen, reflect and act to ensure our members feel welcome at DisCon III.
…In the interest of full disclosure, I’m technically a Baen author. I have a story in a couple of Baen anthologies and another in an upcoming one. I also was the main decider in the choice to give Toni Weisskopf a Kate Wilhelm Solstice award in 2016 in acknowledgment of how much she has shaped the field. I have never been on their discussion boards, as far as I can remember….
She covers a half dozen subtopics before concluding —
…Online harassment is used by a number of folks to silence other people and it includes tactics like SWATting, contacting one’s employer, doxxing, and worse. Jason Sanford is experiencing some of this right now, to the point where he’s had to take his Twitter and Patreon private, but he’s not the first, nor will he be the last. It is shitty and invasive, and it’s something that can constantly ambush you.
Moreover, stochastic terrorism is a thing, and it’s one that some of the “my wishing you were dead wasn’t really a death threat because I didn’t say I’d do it personally” yahoos are hoping for. That hope that someone will be hurt as a result of their rhetoric flickers dimly in the depths of their creepy little souls, even when they claim otherwise, because here in America, it’s a possibility every time they stir up an audience to think of their opponents as NPCs rather than people. And it’s something that is particularly hard on the vulnerable. If you’re a white male experiencing harassment, know that if you were a woman of color, you’d be getting it a hundred times worse, whether you acknowledge that or not.
So… I don’t know what will happen with Baen’s discussion boards. I hope that they’ll do what sometimes happens as a result of these challenges: emerge as something better and more useful, something that creates more community ties than eroding them. Because it’s a time and place when we need more kind, brave words and less hateful, thoughtless rhetoric, and I feel any efforts to establish that is where true heroism lies. Thank you for issuing the challenge, Jason. I hope people rise to meet it.
Sheree Renée Thomas, who is set to co-host the 2021 Hugo ceremony, gives extended commentary about the implications for the Worldcon in a 16-tweet thread. Thread starts here.
Malka Older, the other 2021 Hugo co-host, aired her views in a thread that starts here.
Leona Wisoker does an overview of the Jason Sanford and Eric Flint essays and where they fit into the immediate present day in “Baen’s Bar Fight”.
… The boundaries of free speech and individual liberty in the wild world of genre fiction is, as I’ve said already, not a new battle. However, right here, right now, today, we’re dealing with a new twist on the old situation: the critical flash point of people spreading and believing dangerous lies for years. This started before Trump came into office. Before Obama’s first inauguration. Over the last ten years, the rise of groups like the channers, Gamergate, Reddit, Parler, Fox News, OANN, and QAnon has boosted those lies into explosive territory.
We’re no longer simply talking about malcontents complaining in a chat room. We’re now dealing with a series of connected, systemically based incidents that are driving credulous people into increasingly violent actions, in groups that are steadily expanding in size. We’re talking about bad faith actors — some in government and law enforcement — who are in it for the money and power, who have and will continue to use that misguided passion to their own benefit, and who don’t care who gets hurt along the way. To wave away the bitter speeches and threats of randos in internet forums is to entirely ignore the escalating situation that led to the Capitol insurrection in the first place….
…And here we return to two central questions that have been at the heart of genre fiction’s long-running culture war, just who is this community and what, if anything are its standards?
We have here a situation where the genre fiction “communty” consists of several disparate actual groups of people. These people have mutually exclusive definitions of the ideal present notwithstanding what they may want to see in fiction about the future, the past or other worlds. The attempts of mass conventions like DisCon III to serve these vastly disparate communities means it’s ultimately impossible to serve any.
Now I’m honestly quite shocked that there is going to be an in-person WorldCon this year. Between international travel restrictions and the clear and present danger of mass gatherings, it really feels like a live convention in 2021 is unsafe quite regardless of who the editor guest of honour is. With this said, while I do believe that Sandford turning over this particular rock exposed the peril lying under the surface of science fiction I don’t think de-platforming Weiskopf is going to make the convention any less dangerous for anyone unwilling to tow the American conservative line. Frankly, Toni Weiskopf isn’t the problem, she’s merely a symptom of it. Baen, and its stable of Trumpist malcontents is in fact only a symptom of the systemic problem that is the faulty assumption at the core of the SFF communities that there is some overarching and totalizing community for all to contribute to.
3) Lastly her statement was formulated so that it both showed a willingness to seriously engage the accusations, but without ceding ANY authority or agency over her rights and freedoms as the owner of a business. She did not stonewall the dertractors, did not counterattack, and did not cave, none of which are good strategies NO MATTER what politics are involved. That is smart business. And her tone was so measured and reasonable and *civil* that anyone who takes offense at it is essentially identifying their real motivation: to use this complaint as a weapon in the service of their deeper motive–cripple or kill Baen.
My assessment: she handled this as well as anyone could, and far, far better than most do.
…I went into Gailey’s new novel, The Echo Wife, with a big expectation for yet another immersive, wonderfully detailed, fictional setting. I was not catered to. There isn’t any real world-building in The Echo Wife because, well, there’s no world to build. It already exists. It’s our own. The book takes place, more or less, in the here and now, and even the rich concept behind its science-fictional premise — namely cloning — keeps a fuzzy distance. Once I got over my initial bout of pouting, though, I gave myself over to Gailey’s latest exercise in character-driven speculation. And I was happy I did…
(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
February 18, 2005 — On this day in 2005, Constantine premiered. Based off DC’s Hellblazer series, it starred dark haired Keanu Reeves as blonder haired John Constantine. It was, to put it mildly, produced by committee. The screenplay by Kevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello off a story by Kevin Brodbin. Its impressive cast included Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Tilda Swinton, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Djimon Hounsou, Gavin Rossdale, and Peter Stormare. Over the years, its rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes has steadily climbed now standing at an excellent seventy four percent. Huh.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 18, 1894 – Marjorie Hope Nicolson, Ph.D. First woman to receive Yale’s Porter Prize (for her dissertation), Cross Medal (as a distinguished alumna). First woman President of Phi Beta Kappa. Crawshay Prize (for Newton Demands the Muse). Voyages to the Moon reviewed by Willy Ley. Pilgrim Award. Festschrift in her memory, Zephyr & Boreas (works of Le Guin). More here. (Died 1981) [JH]
Born February 18, 1904 – Rafael DeSoto. A score of covers, a dozen interiors for us; also Westerns, thrillers, adventure. See R. Lesser ed., Pulp Art; D. Saunders, The Art of Rafael DeSoto. Here is the Feb 39 Eerie Mysteries. Here is the Apr 43 Argosy. Here is the Nov 50 Fantastic Novels. Yes, descended from Hernando de Soto. This site says it will be available again soon. (Died 1992) [JH]
Born February 18, 1908 — Angelo Rossitto. A dwarf actor and voice artist with his first genre role being in 1929’s The Mysterious Island as an uncredited Underwater Creature. His last major role was as The Master in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. He showed up in Galaxina, The Incredible Hulk, Jason of Star Command, Bakshi’s Lord of The Rings, Adult Fairytales, Clones, Dracula v. Frankenstein and a lot more. (Died 1991.) (CE)
Born February 18, 1919 — Jack Palance. His first SF film is H. G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come which bears little resemblance to that novel. (He plays Omus.) Next up he’s Voltan in Hawk the Slayer followed by being Xenos in two Gor films. (Oh, the horror!) He played Carl Grissom in Burton’s Batman, and Travis in Solar Crisis along with being Mercy in Cyborg 2. ABC in the Sixties did The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in which he played the lead dual roles, and He had a nice turn as Louis Strago in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which is worth seeing. (Died 2006.) (CE)
Born February 18, 1929 — Len Deighton, 92. Author of possibly the most brilliant alternative novels in which Germany won the Second World War, SS-GB. Itdeals with the occupation of Britain. A BBC One series based off the novel was broadcast several years back.(CE)
Born February 18, 1930 — Gahan Wilson. Author, cartoonist and illustrator known for his cartoons depicting horror-fantasy situations. Though the world at large might know him for his Playboy illustrations which are gathered in a superb two volume collection, I’m going to single him out for his brilliant and possibly insane work with Zelazny on A Night in the Lonesome October which is their delightful take on All Hallows’ Eve. (Died 2019.) (CE)
Born February 18, 1931 – Toni Morrison. A score of novels – Beloved (Pulitzer Prize) and God Help the Child are ours – poetry, two plays (one about Desdemona), libretto for Margaret Garner, nonfiction. Jefferson Lecture. PEN/Bellow Award (PEN is Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists, Novelists). Medal of Freedom. Nobel Prize. Oprah Winfrey: “I say with certainty there would have been no Oprah’s Book Club if this woman had not chosen to share her love of words with the world.” Today is TM’s 90th birth-anniversary; see this from the Toni Morrison Society. (Died 2019) [JH]
Born February 18, 1933 – Ray Capella. A score of short stories for us; twoscore covers, five dozen interiors. Here is Star Quest 4. Here is the Oct 75 Amra. Here is the Nov 81 Fantasy Newsletter. Here is the Apr 01 Alien Worlds. Here is an illustration for John Carter of Mars. (Died 2010) [JH]
Born February 18, 1936 – Jean Auel, age 85. The Clan of the Cave Bear, five more; 45 million copies sold. Studied how to make an ice cave, build fire, tan leather, knap stones, with Jim Riggs. “The Real Fahrenheit 451” in Omni (with Bradbury, Clarke, Ellison). Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters (France). [JH]
Born February 18, 1943 – Jill Bauman, age 78. One short story, a score of poems, a hundred thirty covers, ninety interiors for us; many others. An appreciation in Wrzos’ Hannes Bok. Here is Melancholy Elephants. Here is the Apr 89 F&SF. Here is the Aug 92 Amazing. Here is Thumbprints. Guest Artist at the 1994 World Fantasy Convention, Philcon 1999, Chattacon XXVI. Website. [JH]
Born February 18, 1968 — Molly Ringwald, 53. One of her was first acting roles was Nikki in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. She’ll later have the lead role of Frannie Goldsmith in Stephen King’ The Stand series. And does the Riverdale series count at least as genre adjacent? If so, she’s got the recurring role of Mary Andrews there. (CE)
Born February 18, 1979 – Shannon Dittemore, age 42. Four novels. Blogs for Go Teen Writers. Website says “Coffee Fangirl”. Has read The Importance of Being Earnest, Great Expectations, The Screwtape Letters, Les Misèrables, two by Shakespeare, a Complete Stories & Poems of Poe, Peter Pan, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and four by Jane Austen including Pride & Prejudice in the German translation by Karin von Schwab (1892-1940; alas, Stolz & Vorurteil doesn’t alliterate). [JH]
(7) COMICS SECTION.
Off the Markpeers over a vampire’s shoulder as he gets shocking news about his online meal order.
Randall Munroe got a hold of Perseverance’s schedule.
(8) OVERCOMING. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Entrepreneur interviews physicist & author Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein about her new book, The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred and about sexism and racism in science. They also ask her about her interest in science fiction and about speaking at conventions, even if their fact checkers did allow the proofreaders to get away with calling them “Khans.” (Khen Moore would have been so proud.) “This Theoretical Physicist Boldly Goes Where Few Black Women Have Gone Before” at Entrepreneur.
… Professor Prescod-Weinstein, an important theme running through your book is the sexism and racism inherent in science. Crucially, you take time to namecheck those who — like you —did make it through, such as Dr. Willie Hobbs Moore, Dr. Edward A. Bouchet, Dr. Elmer Imes, Professor Arlie Oswald Petters, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson and Dr. Marcelle Soares-Santos. It is only through seeing people like oneself that one can imagine being up there too, right? Yes, that’s valuable when you have the opportunity. But I also know that sometimes we don’t get examples like us. As far as I know, none of those people are queer, for example. It’s important then to be the person who is like yourself. I know that sounds silly, but I encourage students to get people to take pictures of themselves doing physics, so that they can see that they are indeed what a physicist looks like….
Sometimes a gem can be hiding in plain sight—or within hearing distance. A few weeks ago I turned on Turner Classic Movies (my go-to channel) and watched part of Alexander Korda’s 1942 production The Jungle Book, starring Sabu. I hadn’t seen it in a while and it’s very entertaining. But when Mowgli encountered the giant snake Kaa, I listened carefully to the voice and realized it belonged to Mel Blanc. It had never occurred to me before; he’s speaking in a very low register so it isn’t immediately apparent. Then I thought of him performing his parody of a popular radio commercial in a Warner Bros. cartoon, saying, “Beee-Ohhh” and I was certain….
[Thanks to Michael Toman, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]
What is it we do at Baen Books? We publish books at the heart of science fiction and fantasy.
Science fiction has traditionally been a unique kind of intellectual pleasure, a process of glorious intercommunication and inspiration, with ideas flowing from scientist and engineer to writer and artist, to reader and viewer, back and forth, in a delightful mélange of shared thoughts, wild speculation, cautionary tales, reality checks, and the sheer fun of playing with boundaries and ideas. It is not for everyone. But those who enjoy it, take great pleasure in the dialogue.
When the modern form of SF began, with Hugo Gernsback and the other pulp magazines of the early 20th century, the publishers fostered that interaction through letter columns in the magazines and by encouraging science fiction readers to organize in clubs and meet in conventions. Baen Books continued that tradition with Baen’s Bar, a kind of virtual convention and on-line conversation that has been around in some form for over 20 years.
The moderators are volunteers. The readers, editors, and writers post and interact on the Bar at their own desire. Some conversations have been gone over so many times, they’ve been retired as simply too boring to contemplate again. Sometimes the rhetoric can get heated. We do not endorse the publication of unlawful speech. We have received no complaints about the content of the Bar from its users.
That said, it has come to our attention that allegations about the Bar have been made elsewhere. We take these allegations seriously, and consequently have put the Bar on hiatus while we investigate. But we will not commit censorship of lawful speech.
It is not Baen Books’ policy to police the opinions of its readers, its authors, its artists, its editors, or indeed anyone else. This applies to posts at the Bar, or on social media, on their own websites, or indeed anywhere else. On the Bar, the publisher does not select what is allowed to be posted, and does not hijack an individual’s messages for their own purposes. Similarly, the posts do not represent the publisher’s opinion, except in a deep belief that free speech is worthy in and of itself.
Most sincerely, Toni Weisskopf Publisher
Jason Sanford tweeted an update thread responding to Weisskopf’s statement and contesting some of her claims. Thread starts here.
DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon at which Toni Weisskopf will be a guest of honor, answered calls for a statement with this tweet:
… It was lots of pearl clutching over regular people not toeing their arbitrary political lines, misquotes, errors, quotes taken out of context, and some flat out lies.
However, he declined to challenge any specific quotes cited by Sanford:
…I’m not going to talk about the moronic loser or go through all the nonsense in his ridiculous hit piece. Other people are going through it now and carefully cataloging his bullshit. In typical leftist fashion he’s already pretending to be the victim and claiming he’s getting death threats. Maybe he can get in touch with Anita Sarkesian and Arthur Chu for tips.
Correia urged readers to believe what is happening is a “coordinated attack,” that Sanford’s article is being used as the basis for complaints made to Baen’s internet service providers, and Baen’s Bar was temporarily taken down to “protect the rest of the company from being deplatformed.”
…However, this was clearly part of a coordinated attack in order to materially harm our business, because immediately after the hit piece was released complaints were filed with the various internet companies Baen uses for services to pressure them into kicking us off the internet. This hit piece was presented as “evidence”. Without going into details the companies then contacted Baen about these “serious allegations” so last night Baen temporarily took down the Bar forum to protect the rest of the company from being deplatformed.
…However, lying hit pieces from lefty activists aren’t anything new. We’re used to those. The real issue here is the complaints to the internet companies so they’ll deplatform anyone who doesn’t fall in line. The woke left saw what Big Tech did to Parler and they learned from it. This is a new weapon in their arsenal to beat America over the head with. The nail that sticks up must be hammered down.
Correia then assured readers that Baen’s Bar did not deserve this attention.
…The Bar isn’t a hotbed of extremism. It’s not a hotbed of anything. It’s an old forum that was mostly kept around because of tradition. It was created at the dawn of internet forums. I haven’t used it in years (I had already built up my online presence elsewhere when I started writing for them). But that isn’t the point. Anything that can be a target, will eventually be a target. They’re coming for your business next.
And naturally it took the MHI commentariat all of an hour to test the theory that Baen’s capitulated, reject that in favor of it being a coordinated attack by The Left (complete with the problematic content really being false-flag posts by Seekrit Leftist Infiltrators), assert that this is really about smashing Baen into nonexistence by denying them distribution, denounce such coordinated attacks as despicable lefty tactics, and finally call for a coordinated attack on Sanford’s Patreon account.
… But there is no way in hell that the Barflies, as they are affectionately known, are advocating for political violence. Opinions are expressed, especially in the politics forum, and tempers are running high on both sides of our current political divide, so there’s a certain degree of venting. And there are a surprising number of historians, who can be relied upon to summon up historical examples to back their points. And there are heaps of independent thinkers, who aren’t going to hew to any particular party’s line and can be trusted to step upon any sore political toes in the vicinity. And there are quite a lot of veterans, who know what violence is REALLY like — unlike the vast majority of people who are currently hyperventilating about it in this country — which means the LAST THING they would want would be to instigate violence that is anything except defensive.
… Baen Books is frequently characterized as a “right wing publisher.” That’s as stupid as the notion that the Barflies are plotting a violent coup….
To refresh readers’ memories, immediately after the January 6 insurrection Baen author Tom Kratman made an extended comment on the next move in his Baen’s Bar author forum which began:
So where do Trump and the nation go from here?
He needs to do three things; start his own news channel, start his own party, and start his own well-armed militia as part of the party.
The militia – again, a _well_armed_ militia – is necessary to present a threat in being to the powers that be such that, should they use extra-, pseudo-, and quasi-legal means to try to suppress the party, the price presented will be far too high. The militia will be heavily infiltrated; this is a given. No matter; it will not be there for any purpose but to present a serious threat of major combat, and the shame of defeat, and the reality of death, to the tactical elements, police and military, that may be used against the party.
It ought to be made clear that, “I can start the civil war with a stamp of my foot. I’ve refrained, so far, but you cannot count on that restraint under all circumstances. And if I am infiltrated, you are even more so.”…
Today Kratman also left a comment on Correia’s post which begins —
Jon Del Arroz, who has a Patton moment every time he sees there’s some attention he’s not getting (“An entire world at war, and I’m left out of it? God will not permit this to happen!”), also rushed to comment on Correia’s post. His efforts to horn in were recognized for what they were and Correia verbally flattened him. These excerpts are just one part.
Finally, here are other examples of the harassment being directed at Jason Sanford on Twitter. He has received more in direct messages there and on Facebook.
And with respect to the “helicopter ride” political murder meme:
It’s been brought to my attention by some helpful folks that speech not everyone agrees with, and that may have become unlawful speech, has occurred on Baen’s Bar. In order to fully investigate those serious allegations, and any violations of the Bar “no hitting” rule, we will be taking a break from the Bar as of noon February 16th, and encourage all our readers to enjoy their lawful conversations elsewhere for the time being.—Toni Weisskopf, Publisher
Sanford’s report of the disturbing number of right-wing users calling for political violence on Baen’s Bar has been met with retaliation in social media. He tweeted, “Instead of anyone dealing with my report on the Baen Books forum by, you know, simply banning advocacy of political violence there, I’m now getting death threats and harassment.”
When asked by a user how long Baen’s Bar will be on break, Weisskopf replied, “As brief as is possible. But no, not sure yet how brief that brief will be.”