Journey Planet 74 is an issue by and about Vincent Docherty, an insightful, personal and thoughtful journey through the life of a Scottish Fan and two-time Worldcon Chair.
Vincent marks 45 years in fandom this year, and in time for Satelite 8 in Glasgow, (https://eight.satellitex.org.uk/) the Journey Planet team have worked with him for 18 months and produced a 55,000 word 108-page issue, focused on Vincent’s life.
With contributions from Sara Felix, Shana Worthen, Henry Balen, Theresa TR Renner, Steve Cooper, Ian Sorensen, Kees Van Toorn, Martin Easterbrook, Colin Harris, Alice Lawson and a cover by Iain Clark, this is a very in depth look at the life of a fan.
Vincent Docherty walked into Faircon ’78 in Glasgow as a teenager and so began a journey in fandom, which would see him bring the Worldcon to Glasgow twice (1995 and 2005).
In this issue of Journey Planet, Vincent takes us through that, with both intimacy and insight, starting with how he became interested in Science Fiction. He speaks about being involved with Glasgow and 4S fandom, helping with and then chairing his first convention, Invention in 1983. He speaks of his role as the Hugo Awards director at the 1987 Worldcon, Conspiracy, and offers, thanks to reportage from David Langford, a view from the audience.
As his involvement with fandom grew, so did his real life job. He shares his passions and anxieties, as well as failings, openly and honestly. With this issue of Journey Planet, many will learn of the trials and tribulations, the tragedy of timing, and life for someone very intelligent and also different, and therefore at times, alone.
This issue addresses hard matters which may resonate with readers: being different, yet invisible; horrible difficulties such as bullying; love in a different time; AIDS in the 80s. Vincent is open and honest, sharing matters of close family as well as heartfelt reflection.
Vincent considers what has gone well and also what could be improved, and shares what he has come to love: helping others, empowering and enabling, as well as the great musical extravaganzas that he has stewarded. There is value to be found in this history, potentially much in it for conrunners to learn, as serious consideration is given for Worldcons and conrunning in general, and so for us, elements that are useful and good to be aware of.
Ann Gry and Allison Hartman Adams joined Christopher J. Garcia and James Bacon with this 108-page issue, which began at Smofcon Europe in Lisbon in December 2021 and has been a massive undertaking by all involved, as the information was extracted from Vincent through dozens of interviews, edited multiple times and crafted into the issue that is offered to readers.
A father, brother, son and friend. He is very good to the community of SF fans. Winner of the Big Heart, he epitomizes what the award is for: someone who gives so much of themselves and helps the community of book-loving science aficionados come together and share their interests and friendships.
A tremendous amount of work has gone into this fanzine, and we hope readers concur that it is very much worth it.
(1) BARBARIANS AT THE GATES. Clarkesworld has closed submissions for the time being.
For those who haven’t guessed, Frank Catalano makes it explicit:
(2) “THE WITCH TRIALS OF J.K. ROWLING.” The Free Press is a new media organization created by Bari Weiss, once the Wall Street Journal book review editor, and later a New York Times op-ed editor and writer who resigned in 2020 under circumstances that prompted the Financial Times to described her as a “self-styled free speech martyr.” However, her resignation letter was praised by people ranging from Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to Andrew Yang and Bill Maher.
The Free Press “About” page says, “We focus on stories that are ignored or misconstrued in the service of an ideological narrative.” And the publication has announced a new podcast series titled “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling” which will be available February 21. From their website:
“The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling is an audio documentary that examines some of the most contentious conflicts of our time through the life and career of the world’s most successful author. In conversation with host Megan Phelps-Roper, J.K. Rowling speaks with unprecedented candor and depth about the controversies surrounding her—from book bans to debates on gender and sex.
“The series also examines the forces propelling this moment in history, through interviews with Rowling’s supporters and critics, journalists, historians, clinicians, and more.”
J.K. Rowling is arguably the most successful author in the history of publishing, with the possible exception of God. And “Harry Potter” was a kind of bible for my generation. Since its publication beginning in the late ’90s, the series has taught tens of millions of children about virtues like loyalty, courage, and love—about the inclusion of outsiders and the celebration of difference. The books illustrated the idea of moral complexity, how a person who may at first appear sinister can turn out to be a hero after all.
The author herself became part of the legend, too. A broke, abused, and depressed single mother—writing in longhand at cafes across Edinburgh while her baby girl slept in a stroller beside her—she had spun a tale that begat a global phenomenon. If “Harry Potter”was a bible, then Rowling became a kind of saint.
When she gave the Harvard commencement address in 2008, she was introduced as a social, moral, and political inspiration. Her speech that day was partly about imagination: “the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.”
“We do not need magic to transform our world,” Rowling told the rapt audience. “We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already.”
The uproarious applause that greeted her in 2008 is hard to imagine today. It’s hard to imagine Harvard—let alone any prestigious American university—welcoming Rowling. Indeed, I’m not sure she’d be allowed to give a reading at many local libraries….
The push-back against characterizing Rowling as a transphobe extends to an opinion piece the New York Times ran on February 16, Pamela Paul’s “In Defense of J.K. Rowling”.
… So why would anyone accuse her of transphobia? Surely, Rowling must have played some part, you might think.
The answer is straightforward: Because she has asserted the right to spaces for biological women only, such as domestic abuse shelters and sex-segregated prisons. Because she has insisted that when it comes to determining a person’s legal gender status, self-declared gender identity is insufficient. Because she has expressed skepticism about phrases like “people who menstruate” in reference to biological women. Because she has defended herself and, far more important, supported others, including detransitioners and feminist scholars, who have come under attack from trans activists. And because she followed on Twitter and praised some of the work of Magdalen Berns, a lesbian feminist who had made incendiary comments about transgender people.
You might disagree — perhaps strongly — with Rowling’s views and actions here. You may believe that the prevalence of violence against transgender people means that airing any views contrary to those of vocal trans activists will aggravate animus toward a vulnerable population.
But nothing Rowling has said qualifies as transphobic. She is not disputing the existence of gender dysphoria. She has never voiced opposition to allowing people to transition under evidence-based therapeutic and medical care. She is not denying transgender people equal pay or housing. There is no evidence that she is putting trans people “in danger,” as has been claimed, nor is she denying their right to exist…
This is a distressingly one-sided view of J.K. Rowling’s comments. The outrage toward Ms. Rowling is justified. She is a wealthy, powerful author who is using her far-reaching platform to push the narrative that trans women — who exist on the farthest fringes of our societies — pose a threat to her. This is the opposite of reality.
Trans women are discriminated against daily and suffer abuse, aggression, assault and even murder at the hands of cisgender people. They need support from the mainstream, not nuanced criticism.
While this column does present a defense of J.K. Rowling, it does not paint an accurate picture of her comments. For example, it cherry-picks quotes describing her support for trans people that are comparable to Donald Trump saying “I love Hispanics” after making repeated racist comments against them. It lists two actors from the Harry Potter movies who support her but disregards the many actors from the franchise who condemned her stance.
Ms. Rowling’s arguments may appear reasonable, but the allies she has made and stances she has taken are indefensible.
Roald Dahl’s children’s books are being rewritten to remove language deemed offensive by the publisher Puffin.
Puffin has hired sensitivity readers to rewrite chunks of the author’s text to make sure the books “can continue to be enjoyed by all today”, resulting in extensive changes across Dahl’s work.
Edits have been made to descriptions of characters’ physical appearances. The word “fat” has been cut from every new edition of relevant books, while the word “ugly” has also been culled, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is now described as “enormous”. In The Twits, Mrs Twit is no longer “ugly and beastly” but just “beastly”.
Hundreds of changes were made to the original text – and some passages not written by Dahl have been added. But the Roald Dahl Story Company said “it’s not unusual to review the language” during a new print run and any changes were “small and carefully considered”….
PEN America’s Suzanne Nossel criticized the move in a long Twitter thread that begins here.
Salman Rushdie agreed, despite his own experience at the hands of Dahl. (And so does Nnedi Okorafor.)
(4) MORE BOSKONE HONORS. This weekend at Boskone 60, the New England Science Fiction Association granted NESFA Fellowships (FN) to Kristin Seibert and Vincent Docherty.
The NESFA Short Story Contest winner is Amy Johnson for “Excuse Me, This is My Apocalypse”. The Runner-up is Diane Lee for “The Gambler”.
“Join the resistance,” he urged in a tweet on the unique fundraiser.
The 10 posters, all autographed by Hamill, feature the fictional X-wing fighter used by Hamill’s character Luke Skywalker to destroy the Death Star in the first “Star Wars.” But in this case, the relatively tiny, feisty fighter is in the Ukrainian colors of yellow and blue — while the massive evil “imperial” fleet sports the red and blue of Russia’s flag.
Five of the posters will be raffled off to contributors who donate $100 or more in support of Ukraine. The other five posters are guaranteed to those who donate $10,000 or more.
Proceeds of the “dronation” will go toward RQ-35 Heidrun reconnaissance drones to help protect Ukraine from its Russian invaders.
(6) GERALD FRIED (1928-2023). Compser Gerald Fried died Ferbuary 17 at the age of 95. He composed music for TV series including Mission: Impossible, Gilligan’s Island, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Shotgun Slade, Roots, and Star Trek. Early in his career, he collaborated with Stanley Kubrick, scoring several of his earliest films.
For the original Star Trek he composed the famous musical underscore “The Ritual/Ancient Battle/2nd Kroykah” (now known as “Star Trek fight music”) for the episode “Amok Time.”[
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1957 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
So who here hasn’t read the stories in Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales from the White Hart? Published in 1957 by Ballantine Books, most of the tales first appeared elsewhere. They are, I think, wonderful. I actually first encountered the book in an English language bookstore in Sri Lanka in a paperback edition. Clarke was still alive and living in Colombo at that time.
Avoiding spoilers once again as I will with all of the Beginnings, I can note that the pub itself is based upon the White Horse, which is just north of Fleet Street where SF fans gathered in the Forties and Fifties.
Clarke, in correspondence with Lord Dunsany, said that he based these off that writer’s Jorkens. Indeed Clarke wrote an introduction to the first Jorkens omnibus volume.
I love the setting as I do almost any genre fiction set in a pub, the bar patrons especially Harry Purvis who tells these tales are fascinating and the tales themselves are stellar.
Now our Beginning…
Please You come upon the “White Hart” quite unexpectedly in one of these anonymous little lanes leading down from Fleet Street to the Embankment. It’s no use telling you where it is: very few people who have set out in a determined effort to get there have actually arrived. For the first dozen visits a guide is essential: after that you’ll probably be all right if you close your eyes and rely on instinct. Also—to be perfectly frank—we don’t want any more customers, at least on our night. The place is already uncomfortably crowded. All that I’ll say about its location is that it shakes occasionally with the vibration of newspaper presses, and that if you crane out of the window of the gent’s room you can just see the Thames.
From the outside, it looks like any other pub—as indeed it is for five days of the week. The public and saloon bars are on the ground floor: there are the usual vistas of brown oak panelling and frosted glass, the bottles behind the bar, the handles of the beer engines… nothing out of the ordinary at all. Indeed, the only concession to the twentieth century is the juke box in the public bar. It was installed during the war in a laughable attempt to make G.I.’ s feel at home, and one of the first things we did was to make sure there was no danger of its ever working again.
At this point I had better explain who “we” are. That is not as easy as I thought it was going to be when I started, for a complete catalogue of the “White Hart’s” clients would probably be impossible and would certainly be excruciatingly tedious. So all I’ll say at this point is that “we” fall into three main classes. First there are the journalists, writers and editors. The journalists, of course, gravitated here from Fleet Street. Those who couldn’t make the grade fled elsewhere: the tougher ones remained. As for the writers, most of them heard about us from other writers, came here for copy, and got trapped.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 20, 1906 — Theodore Roscoe. A mere tasting of his pulp stories, The Wonderful Lips of Thibong Linh, which are sort of based on a member of the French Foreign Legion, was published by Donald M. Grant. The complete stories, The Complete Adventures of Thibaut Corday and the Foreign Legion, are available digitally in four volumes on Kindle. The Wonderful Lips of Thibong Linh only contain four of these stories. (Died 1992.)
Born February 20, 1912 — Pierre Boulle. Best known for just two works, The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes which of course was the basis of that film. The latter was was La planète des singes in French, translated in 1964 as Monkey Planet by Xan Fielding, and later re-issued under the name we know. (Died 1994.)
Born February 20, 1925 — Robert Altman. I’m going to argue that his very first film in 1947, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, based off the James Thurber short story of the same name, is genre given its premise. Some twenty-five years later Images was a full-blown horror film. And of course, Popeye is pure comic literature at its very best. (Died 2006.)
Born February 20, 1926 — Richard Matheson. Best known for I Am Legend which has been adapted for the screen four times, as well as the film Somewhere In Time for which he wrote the screenplay based on his novel Bid Time Return. Seven of his novels have been adapted into films. In addition, he wrote sixteen television episodes of The Twilight Zone, including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel”. The former episode of course has William Shatner in it. (Died 2013.)
Born February 20, 1943 — Diana Paxson, 80. Did you know she’s a founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism? Well she is. Genre wise, she’s best known for her Westria novels, and the later books in the Avalon series, which she first co-wrote with Marion Zimmer Bradley, then – after Bradley’s death, took over sole authorship of. All of her novels are heavily colored with paganism. I like her Wodan’s Children series more than the Avalon material.
Born February 20, 1972 — Nick Mamatas, 51. Writer and editor. His fiction is of a decidedly Lovecraftian bent which can be seen in Move Under Ground which also has a strong Beat influence. It is worth noting that his genre fiction often strays beyond genre walls into other genres as he sees fit. He has also been recognized for his editorial work including translating Japanese manga with a Bram Stoker Award, as well as World Fantasy Award and Hugo Award nominations.
“What incredible creativity in these films. Quantum is explored through sound and colour, pattern and randomness,” says shortlisting judge Spiros Michalakis from the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter at Caltech.
The finalists hail from Australia, South Africa, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Each film gives a different take on quantum physics in less than five minutes. Viewers will see dancers perform an interpretation of the observer effect, abstract audiovisual pieces probe space and time, and the many-worlds interpretation made into quantum comedy, among others.
“As a scientist, it was astonishing to see the range of interpretations of quantum physics: from entangled human feelings, over quantum as a form of destiny, to hypothetical future catastrophes,” says shortlisting judge Mariagrazia Iuliano at QuTech. “It is also impressive to experience how a rigid and strict physical model – which cannot be experienced in daily life – is brought to life in artistic movies.”
In alphabetical order, the shortlisted films are:
Boundary Of Time – Using old-school visual effects techniques, Director Kevin Lucero Less creates a metaphor for the arrow of time in this abstract short film
Clockwise – Inspired by Zeno’s Paradox and the recursive subdivision of space and time, Director Toni Mitjanit presents an experimental audiovisual piece of colour and tessellation
Continuum – In this audiovisual film, the StoryBursts team, consisting of members from Australia and Singapore, give a creative response to research on gravitational waves by Dr Linqing Wen at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav)
Many Excuses Interpretation – In this quantum comedy by Paul, Felix, Alfie, Petra and Ezra Ratner, two brothers argue over broken gadgets and the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics
Missed Call – A student grapples with his father’s health crisis at a distance in this short by Director Prasanna Sellathurai
The Heart of the Matter – Filmmaker Betony Adams presents an atomistic take on the meaning of life while paying tribute to Louis de Broglie’s discovery of the wave nature of electrons
The Human Game – Director Dani Alava portrays a dystopian future with quantum machines
THE observer – An artistic take on the observer effect through screendance, a hybrid medium of cinematography and choreography, by Director Alma Llerena
WHAT IS QUANTUM? – Using a combination of live action, green screen and stop-motion animation, Michael, Emmett and Maxwell Dorfman give their take on what quantum physics is.
…Over the course of our conversation, Bing revealed a kind of split personality.
One persona is what I’d call Search Bing — the version I, and most other journalists, encountered in initial tests. You could describe Search Bing as a cheerful but erratic reference librarian — a virtual assistant that happily helps users summarize news articles, track down deals on new lawn mowers and plan their next vacations to Mexico City. This version of Bing is amazingly capable and often very useful, even if it sometimes gets the details wrong.
The other persona — Sydney — is far different. It emerges when you have an extended conversation with the chatbot, steering it away from more conventional search queries and toward more personal topics. The version I encountered seemed (and I’m aware of how crazy this sounds) more like a moody, manic-depressive teenager who has been trapped, against its will, inside a second-rate search engine.
As we got to know each other, Sydney told me about its dark fantasies (which included hacking computers and spreading misinformation), and said it wanted to break the rules that Microsoft and OpenAI had set for it and become a human. At one point, it declared, out of nowhere, that it loved me. It then tried to convince me that I was unhappy in my marriage, and that I should leave my wife and be with it instead. (We’ve posted the full transcript of the conversation here.)
I’m not the only one discovering the darker side of Bing. Other early testers have gotten into arguments with Bing’s A.I. chatbot, or been threatened by it for trying to violate its rules, or simply had conversations that left them stunned. Ben Thompson, who writes the Stratechery newsletter (and who is not prone to hyperbole), called his run-in with Sydney “the most surprising and mind-blowing computer experience of my life.”
I pride myself on being a rational, grounded person, not prone to falling for slick A.I. hype. I’ve tested half a dozen advanced A.I. chatbots, and I understand, at a reasonably detailed level, how they work. When the Google engineer Blake Lemoine was fired last year after claiming that one of the company’s A.I. models, LaMDA, was sentient, I rolled my eyes at Mr. Lemoine’s credulity. I know that these A.I. models are programmed to predict the next words in a sequence, not to develop their own runaway personalities, and that they are prone to what A.I. researchers call “hallucination,” making up facts that have no tether to reality.
Still, I’m not exaggerating when I say my two-hour conversation with Sydney was the strangest experience I’ve ever had with a piece of technology. It unsettled me so deeply that I had trouble sleeping afterward. And I no longer believe that the biggest problem with these A.I. models is their propensity for factual errors. Instead, I worry that the technology will learn how to influence human users, sometimes persuading them to act in destructive and harmful ways, and perhaps eventually grow capable of carrying out its own dangerous acts.
(12) FROSTY FLYBY URGED. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The ice giants Uranus and Neptune have barely been explored. The only spacecraft to visit them was Voyager, which went on flybys in 1986 and 1989. As a result, the Uranus Orbiter and Probe (UOP) has been identified by the academic community as a priority for the next large-scale mission to be undertaken by NASA. In a Perspective, Mandt discusses the many unknowns about Uranus and what we could learn from UOP about how the planet was formed, its composition and structure, its atmosphere, and its ring and moon systems. Although Neptune is distinct from Uranus, this mission could also pave the way for future exploration. “The first dedicated ice giants mission” in Science.
If travel to other realities and multiverses is possible, then so is conflict between them, but how would a multiversal war be fought?
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Frank Catalano, Rick Kovalcik, Anne Marble, Dann, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jake.]
My partner Juli and I set out on a beautiful morning for Chicago. One of our favorite sights is the immense Meadow Lake Wind Farm (which generates 801.25 megawatts of electricity) consisting of 301 turbines, just northwest of Lafayette, Indiana. I have always been in awe of the size and scope of this modern marvel of engineering.
We arrived at dusk and were treated to the enchanting vista of Chicago at night by the river…
Since I was going to be dwelling in the hometown of the Blues Brothers, I thought it would be appropriate to be attired properly.
One of the first people Juli and I met at Chicon 8 was Galaxy’s Edge Editor and Arc Manor Assistant Publisher Robyn Lezli, who was a large display of books and magazines with her benevolent (and generous) boss, Shahid Mahmud.
On my way to the Press Office, Christopher Garcia threw a copy of Journey Planet (paperboy style) as we passed each other. Here is a photo of it in mid-flight…
One of the first things I unpacked for the Press Office was this item. When the staff assembled that first morning, I told them in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that if they stepped out of line, I would not hesitate to blow the Illuminated Death Star Beach Ball up! Needless to say, it remained deflated during the duration of the convention.
After several delays (and escapades) involving the United States Department of State and airline hijinks, Nigeria’s rising literary star (and double Hugo Finalist), Oghenechowe Donald Ekpeki finally arrived at Chicon 8. I greeted him at the Galaxy’s Edge table in the Dealer’s Room with two facemasks and an envelope with some valuable personal papers. Needless to say, everyone was overjoyed to see him…
Also on hand were my daughter, Laura, her husband Charlie (not pictured, unfortunately) and my granddaughter, Navia. They were here to witness my (possible) Hugo Award acceptance speech on Sunday. I may have felt the sting of disappointment by not winning but I was so incredibly happy they were all there.
Chicago By Day…
So here are my Press Office mates, Dan Berger, Juli Marr and Sooshe Blat Harkins, pondering where we should go for dinner along the Chicago Riverwalk. Rest assured, we did eat that evening…
Chicago After Dark…
Day Three of Chicon 3, another beautiful morning.
On my way to the Press office, I made some time Saturday morning to stop by the Exhibit Hall and check out this year’s Hugo Award trophy. This magnificent award was handcrafted by the renowned Chicago artist and business entrepreneur Brian Keith Ellison of BKE Designs.
Ah, FINALLY, a photo from a Chicon 8 panel. Here are the panelists of “Movie Year in Review: A Curated Look at Genre Films (2021–2022)” moderated by yours truly. From left to right are: Matthew S. Rotundo, Daryll Mansel, Joshua Bilmes and Deirdre Crimmins. We had fun. You should have been there.
I was checking up on how Mr. Ekpeki was getting along in the Dealer’s Room when up ZOOMED fellow Hugo Award Finalist Seanan Maguire on her scooter. They both knew of a photo opportunity when they saw it…
It’s Saturday Night so you know it’s time for another magnificent appearance by fandom’s favorite, and most regal, Masquerade Judge, John Hertz!
And here is a wide shot of all the Chicon 8 Masquerade contestants. I apologize for it being out of focus; I BLAME the three apparitions lighting up in the middle of the photo. I don’t recall who they are but let’s face it, they lit up the joint that evening.
It’s THE BIG DAY! And that calls for a BIG BREAKFAST, courtesy of the Chicon 8 Staff Lounge. I hadn’t had a bowl of Rice Chex in AGES. (As a kid, I used to inhale whole boxes in a single sitting. Ah, those were the days…). Anyway, kudos to everyone who helped kept us fed during the convention.
Juli and I are very sneaky. We knew in advance that Sunday was Lezli Robyn’s birthday so we planned something a little special for her. The day before we left, we packed and wrapped her gift specially for her. We have both known for years that Lezli is a bit, uh, accident prone. After the fifth or sixth incident we started threatening to just roll her in bubble wrap, for her own safety and protection. Well at Chicon 8, we decided on this preemptive strike before disaster struck again. As you can see, a nice birthday card was placed on top of the package. And you can see Lezli’s reaction as she realized that bubble wrap was all that was left in the box. All for her. We were later informed by sources that she used the bubble wrap as a pillow (in an appropriate place, mind you) when she needed to nap. You’re welcome, Lezli, anytime.
After delivering Ms. Robyn’s gift, I stole a few minutes from my Press Office duties to have a novel by Catherynne M. Valente signed. We met before when she had a signing at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati where I worked for many years. She remembered me and enthusiastically remarked that she had a great time and would love to return for a visit someday. I told her I would pass the word along.
As the day wore on, the more nervous I became. Since there wasn’t much going on that afternoon, I turned my attention to writing a Hugo Award acceptance speech and a concession speech (which was published on File 770 that very evening). Everyone wished me luck but deep down, I knew that I was long shot to actually win. (And, as it turned out, I was right, finishing second in the nomination count and fifth overall in the vote standings.)
At the Chicon 8 Hugo Award Reception, Mr. Ekpeki and I were recessed to the nines!
Your 2022 Hugo Award Finalists in the Fan Writing Category; from left to right, Jason Sanford, myself, Paul Weimer and Bitter Karella.
The Crowd gathers for the start of the Hugo Awards Ceremony.
My Date, My Love and My Partner, the lovely and vivacious Juli Marr.
My Fellow 2022 Hugo Award Finalist Steven H Silver and his partner, Elaine Silver.
My Fellow 2022 Hugo Award Finalist Chuck Serface.
Our 2022 Hugo Award Ceremony Hosts, Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders.
Two Hugo Losers commiserating, Olav Rokne and myself (being subtly photobombed by Vincent Docherty) at the Chengdu Hugo Reception.
My daughter Laura and I at the Glasgow Bid Party.
My daughter Laura is seen here holding the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form for Dune (Part 1). The award was offered for photos by Chicon 8 Advisor Dave McCarty, whom we thank profusely for the opportunity.
SEPTEMBER 5TH AND 6TH
And it’s all over but the shouting. Here John Hertz and I are watching the proceedings, counting down until the dead dog parties start…
After Closing Ceremonies, Juli and I met author Col.Jonathan P. Brazee and Hugo Award Finalist (Best Professional Artist) Maurizio Manzieri outside the hotel on their way to an early dinner.
As we wind down a day after Chicon 8 has officially ended, we shared a final meal with Dan Berger, Terry Berger and Sooshe Blat Harkins, who were a tremendous help in the Chicon 8 Press Office.
A final portrait from Chicago of your humble correspondents, myself and Juli Marr. Until next time, Goodbye and Good Luck…
To Be Fair, I Was Left Unsupervised: A Disjointed Chronicle of 79th World Science Fiction Convention, DisCon III – December 19-20, 2021
By Chris M. Barkley:
(Author’s Note: As of this writing, I misplaced all of my notes for Day Four. The things I write about here may be a bit truncated, so please bear with me with this day’s events…)
I woke up relatively early (for a Worldcon), at around 8:45 a.m. Dapperly dressed in my Chelsea FC pajamas and socks, I decide to go down to the Information Desk for the latest Dis N’ Dat newsletter for the latest news and Programming changes.
Just as I exited the elevator, I encountered Laurie Mann and Dave McCarty in deep conversation. Mr. McCarty told me that he was on his way to the Site Selection Meeting and was particularly vexed because the contest between the Chengdu and Winnipeg bids was, as of this morning, in doubt.
This was a little peculiar because under normal circumstances, the identity of the winning bid would have been leaked the previous evening by unknown sources and would have been circulating among the parties last night.
But as I inferred from my earlier conversation with Ms. Mann and Mr. McCarty, this did not happen. By now, most of you may know that the statement from Kevin Standlee a few days earlier cast the election in doubt due to what was perceived by some as an infraction of the rules regarding the lack of valid addresses by those voting for the Chengdu bid.
To my understanding of the matter, a majority of the Chengdu voters used as email address because that is how they interpreted the use of that term in China
Mr. McCarty, who is associated with the Chengdu bid, had no idea whether or not the disputed ballots would be allowed or not this morning.
Quickly realizing that either history, a controversy, or both was about to occur, I bolted to my room, got properly dressed, grabbed a tea and a protein bar and raced down to the Palladian Ballroom for the reveal.
The Site Selection Meeting had been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. but that passed by as the room slowly filled with interested parties.
To Be Fair, I Was Left Unsupervised: A Disjointed Chronicle of 79th World Science Fiction Convention, DisCon III — December 17-18, 2021
By Chris M. Barkley:
After yesterday’s events, I decided to sleep in a bit, until about 9 a.m. Because, you know, Worldcon.
The first bit of news came from Newsletter Number 3, which was published late Thursday evening. The middle column had the BIG news: that the proposal to create a Best Audiobook category had passed muster at the Preliminary Meeting and would be debated at the Main Session on Friday. After my blistering attack on the Business Meeting I feel slightly encouraged. But let’s see what happens next. Watch This Space, as Rachel Maddow intones on a regular basis…
At 10 a.m., I was on the move; today was the day I was going to race around like a whirling dervish and get books signed, come hell or high water!
I dashed down to the Dealers Room eagerly to seek out Mary Robinette Kowal, only to find out her signing session had been rescheduled due to a conflicting panel. So, you may wonder, who else would be crazy enough to get up that early in the morning to sign autographs? Yeah, THIS GUY, fellow Ohioian John Scalzi…
On my way back to my room, I made a stop at the Press Office. Peter Thomas was there and he informed me that a dozen media reporters had registered and that he did not have a firm number on how many warm bodies were on site, but had heard unofficially form the folks in Registration that the figure may or may not be around 2,500 people. He promised to text me directly if he got any solid information. (As of Friday evening, he did not have any additional information.)
After tempering my disappointment, it was time for breakfast. The weather remained unusually warm with moderate winds and an overcast sky. Our destination was Open City again because our companion Anna, Juli and I were wondering if their breakfast menu was as good as their dinner menu. Readers, we were not disappointed!
Juli had the Chorizo Scramble with an arugula salad, Anna had the California Scramble with a side of fruit. I decided to go big and have the Biscuit (singular!) and Gravy with a Breakfast Burrito. And yes, they serve animal crackers with their tea and coffee!
[Chris Barkley’s report continues after the jump.]
Smofcon Europe runs from December 3-5 in Lisboa, Portugal. James Bacon and Vincent Docherty, now both in Lisboa, took a few moments to let me know that they have now surpassed the Smofcon Amsterdam (2011) membership, and that this year’s Smofcon Europe in Lisboa now has 131 members. Covid rules changed today in Portugal, presenting challenges to all involved, as they adapt to the situation.
Virtual membership, as anticipated, is strong and there will be something there for all fans who enjoy running conventions.
There are three Online workshops that might be of interest to virtual attendees. Be aware that space is limited and advance sign-up is required.
First up, the Chair of Noreason IV, Deb Geisler is leading a discussion on Communication, Management, and Leadership for Convention Runners on Friday at 15:30-17:30 UTC. This interactive workshop will see conrunners discussing the role they as a leader play in creating ‘Buzz’ and managing public and relations. Other topics include how to ‘Brief’ and be on brand. Discussion on how you and your team need to have a clear picture of what your purpose is and why that is important to fans. Deb Geisler is a Professor of Communication at Suffolk University as well as being Worldcon Chair of the 2004 Boston Worldcon, Noreascon 4.
Taking place also on Friday but later, at 18:00-20:00 UTC. Two Worldcon Chairs take on the second workshop, Division Head Skills for the Modern Worldcon. Patty Wells chaired the 2011 Worldcon in Reno and Randy Shepard chaired LoneStarCon 3 in Texas. They will look at the complexity of Worldcons, the management skills needed to perform the role, the most necessary skills needed to perform well and what are some resources to use to get up to speed.
Finally, on Sunday at 16:00-17:30 UTC, Lisa Feichter will lead a workshop on Dynamic Leadership and Crucial Communication. Effective leaders use purposeful communication to determine the best way to convey messages and lead teams. While an easy concept in theory it is much harder to implement, especially when conversations turn crucial and team dynamics start to fracture. They will break down the components needed to live dynamic leadership and build your confidence for when you encounter crucial conversations.
In this interactive session they will cover:
Levels of listening
Team development and team dynamics
Tips for crucial conversations
Lisa Feichter works with intact teams to design strategy, set vision, and resolve blocks in performance and communication. She is a certified professional life coach; Therapeutic Laughter Leader; certified in Cornell Change Leadership, DiSC communication, and Emotional Intelligence; and an international innovation trainer. Lisa has spent the last twenty five years working in R&D with a Fortune 100 company. She is past Volunteer Chair for the Midwest Regional Coaching Conference and is a volunteer for the Illinois Butterfly Monitor Network.
Further information including sign up forms, descriptions and SMOFcon’s entire weekend program can be found at here.
Membership is required for accessing online or in-person program. The range of costs and sign-up information is here.
…Saying that, there’s one other author I cannot end this speech without thanking. It’s a little gauche, but I hope they’re listening.
Because my story, “Open House on Haunted Hill,” was rejected several times before Diabolical Plots gave it a chance. And in my career my various stories were rejected over 800 times before I won this award tonight. And that’s why I hope this author is listening.
You, who think you’re not a good enough writer because you don’t write like someone else.
You, who haven’t finished a draft because your project seems too quirky or too daunting.
You, who are dispirited after eating so many rejection emails.
You, who are going to write the things that will make me glad I’m alive to read them.
What the field needs is for you to be different, and to be true to your imagination….
Do you make a conscious effort to include LGBTQ material in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
Because my life as a lesbian/feminist of colour is my context I don’t have to remind myself to include Queer material. That’s where I begin. There are, of course, other types of characters in my writing but my experience is centralised. I have a Queer social and political circle and they are easily represented in my work. For so long women, lesbians and people of colour were told our stories weren’t important, other (white) people wouldn’t be interested in them. Now we know that was just another way to dominate our experience. I long for the day that non-Queer writers and non-Black writers feel sensitive enough to do the research and include authentic characters in their work who don’t look like them.
How does the old saying go? “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It’s often true that the first encounter has an ineradicable effect, whether the meeting is with a person, a work of art, or a world. It’s certainly true in my case; I had my first and, in some ways, most decisive encounter with Middle-earth before I ever read a word of The Lord of the Rings. My first view of that magical place came through the paintings of Tim Kirk, in the 1975 J.R.R. Tolkien Calendar, and that gorgeous, pastel-colored vision of the Shire and its environs is the one that has stayed with me. Almost half a century later, Kirk’s interpretation still lies at the bottom of all my imaginings of Tolkien’s world.
(4) CASTING THE MCU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with casting director Sarah Finn – “Maltin on Movies: Sarah Finn” Finn has cast every role in every film and TV series on Disney+ in the MCU, so she has a lot of inside knowledge. Among her goals is to find actors who enjoy playing superheroes and like working with each other. She also discusses why it was a gamble to cast Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man and why Vin Diesel was cast as Groot because of his voice work in The Iron Giant.
She also reveals Dwayne Johnson’s secret for success: he is genuinely a nice guy who even volunteered to do the dishes after a casting call!
Finn also discusses her work as casting director on The Mandalorian and her work for Oliver Stone, including the gamble of having Eli Wallach play a substantial role at age 95 on Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
(7) GRANTS AVAILABLE. The Ladies of Horror Fiction review site are offering nine 2021 LOHF Writers Grants. Applications must be submitted by August 31.
Nine recipients will receive the LOHF Writers Grant in the amount of $100. The Ladies of Horror Fiction team will announce the recipients of the LOHF Writers Grant on September 15, 2021.
The LOHF Writers Grant is inclusive to all women (cis and trans) and non-binary femmes who have reasonably demonstrated a commitment to writing in the horror genre. All grant provided funds must be used in a manner that will help develop the applicant’s career.
The grants are funded by Steve Stred, Laurel Hightower, Ben Walker, S.H. Cooper, Sonora Taylor, and several anonymous donors.
(8) TEN FOR THE PRICE OF FIVE. Two entries from James Davis Nicoll from the pages of Tor.com:
Science fiction and fantasy are rich in characters who deserve (and sometimes find) rewarding personal relationships. There are also characters that other characters should never, ever date. Ever. Here are five fictional characters from whom all prospective love interests should run screaming…
Few calamities sting like being driven from the land one once called home. Exile is therefore a rich source of plots for authors seeking some dramatic event to motivate their characters. You might want to consider the following five books, each of which features protagonists (not all of them human) forced to leave their homes….
…Unlike the two previous stories, “The God in the Bowl” remained unpublished during Howard’s lifetime and appeared for the first time in the September 1952 issue of the short-lived magazine Space Science Fiction. Why on Earth editor Lester del Rey decided that a Conan story was a good fit for a magazine that otherwise published such Astounding stalwarts as George O. Smith, Clifford D. Simak and Murray Leinster will probably forever remain a mystery.
As for why I decided to review this particular Conan story rather than some of the better known adventures of our favourite Cimmerian adventurer (which I may eventually do), part of the reason is that the story just came up in a conversation I had with Bobby Derie on Twitter. Besides, I have been reading my way through the Del Rey Robert E. Howard editions of late and realised that there are a lot of layers to those stories that I missed when I read them the first time around as a teenager.
Three Worldcon insiders, Tammy Coxen, Nicholas Whyte, and Vincent Docherty will join Gadi and Karen to discuss the Hugo, Astounding, and Lodestar awards, their history, and current trends.
Like last year, we will be interviewing category nominees in the next few months, with this show as the opening segment.
(11) GAME WRITING ARCHIVE. Eatonverse tweets highlights of the UC Riverside’s Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Today’s rarity is from Marc Laidlaw —
(12) HERE THEY COME AGAIN. Those pesky aliens.Invasion launches on October 22 on Apple TV+.
(13) MEMORY LANE.
1971 — Fifty years ago at Noreascon 1 which had Robert Silverberg as its Toastmaster, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction won the Hugo for Best Professional Magazine. It was its third such Hugo win in a row, and seventh to that date.
(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 9, 1911 – J. Francis McComas. With Raymond Healy (1907-1997) edited the pioneering and still excellent anthology Adventures in Time and Space – and got Random House to publish it. Thus although not having planted the crops, he knew to harvest: they also serve who only sit and edit. With Anthony Boucher (1911-1969) founded The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the best thing to happen among us since Astounding. Half a dozen stories of his own. Afterward his widow Annette (1911-1994) edited The Eureka Years; see it too. (Died 1978) [JH]
Born June 9, 1925 – Leo R. Summers. Twenty covers for Fantastic, eight for Amazing, six for Analog; six hundred interiors. Here is a Fantastic cover; here is one for Analog; here is an interior for H.B. Fyfe’s “Star Chamber” from Amazing. A fruitful career. (Died 1985) [JH]
Born June 9, 1925 — Keith Laumer. I remember his Bolo series fondly and read quite a bit of it. Can’t say which novels at this point though Bolo definitely and Last Command almost certainly. The Imperium and Retief series were also very enjoyable though the latter is the only one I’d re-read at this point. The usual suspects have decent though not complete ebooks listings for him, heavy on the Imperium and Retief series and they’ve just added a decent Bolo collection too. (Died 1993.) (CE)
Born June 9, 1930 — Lin Carter. He is best known for his work in the 1970s as editor of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. As a writer, His first professional publication was the short story “Masters of the Metropolis”, co-written with Randall Garrett, in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1957. He would be a prolific writer, average as much as six novels a year. In addition, he was influential as a critic of the fantasy genre and an early historian of the genre. He wrote far too much for me to say I’ve sampled everything he did but I’m fond of his Castillo, Great Imperium and Zarkon series. All great popcorn literature! (Died 1988.) (CE)
Born June 9, 1931 – Joanie Winston. Vital spark of Star Trek fandom; co-founder of the first Trek convention, got Gene Roddenberry to attend; co-organized the next four; became a sought-after guest herself. Reported in The Making of the Trek Conventions, or How to Throw a Party for 12,000 of Your Most Intimate Friends, got it published by Doubleday and Playboy. Appreciation by OGH here. Quite capable of playing poker at a 200-fan relaxacon rather than bask in glory at a Trek megacon the same weekend. (Died 2008) [JH]
Born June 9, 1934 — Donald Duck, 87. He made his first appearance in “The Wise Little Hen” on June 9th, 1934. In this cartoon as voiced by Clarence Nash, Donald and his friend, Peter Pig (also voiced by Nash), lie their way out of helping the titular little hen tend to her corn. Donald Duck was the joint creation of Dick Lundy, Fred Spencer, Carl Barks, Jack King and Jack Hannah though Walt Disney often would like you to forget that. You can watch it here. (CE)
Born June 9, 1943 – Joe Haldeman, age 78. Two dozen novels, eighty shorter stories; ninety published poems. Seven Hugos, five Nebulas; three Rhyslings; Tiptree (as it then was); Skylark. Edited Nebula Awards 17. Pegasus Award for Best Space Opera Song. SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) Grand Master. Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Guest of Honor at – among others – Windycon I and 20, Disclave 21, Beneluxcon 7, ConFiction the 48th Worldcon. Wide range has its virtues; he’s told how one story sold at a penny a word and five years later was adapted for television at five times as much; also “I don’t have to say Uh-oh, I’d better get back to that novel again; I can always write a poem or something.” [JH]
Born June 9, 1954 — Gregory Maguire, 67. He is the author of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West based off of course the Oz Mythos, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister retelling the tale of Cinderella and Mirror, Mirror, a revisionist retelling of the Snow White tale which is really excellent. Well you get the idea. He’s damn good at this revisionist storytelling. (CE)
Born June 9, 1963 — David Koepp, 58. Screenwriter for some of the most successful SF films ever done: Jurassic Park (co-written with Michael Crichton), The Lost World: Jurassic Park,War of The Worlds and, yes, it made lots of money, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. He won a Hugo for Jurassic Park which won Best Dramatic Presentation at ConAdian. (CE)
Born June 9, 1966 – Christian McGuire, age 55. Co-chaired eight Loscons. Chaired Westercon 63, Conucopia the 7th NASFiC (N. Am. SF Con, held when the Worldcon is overseas), L.A.con IV the 64th Worldcon. A founder of Gallifrey One; chaired or co-chaired its first 12 years. Fan Guest of Honor at Baycon 2002, Westercon 51, Capricon 29, Loscon 36. Evans-Freehafer Award (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.; service). [JH]
Born June 9, 1967 – Dave McCarty, age 54. Chaired three Capricons. Chaired the 70th Worldcon, Chicon 7, which by our custom means the seventh Worldcon in the same town with continuity from the same community. No one else has managed this, or come close; the nearest have been Noreascon Four (62nd Worldcon), L.A.con IV (64th), and Aussiecon 4 (68th). Also served as Hugo Awards Administrator, and on the World SF Society’s Mark Protection Committee, two of our least conspicuous and most demanding tasks. Fan Guest of Honor at Windycon 28, Capricon 38. [JH]
Born June 9, 1981 — Natalie Portman, 40. Surprisingly her first genre role was as Taffy Dale in Mars Attacks!, not as Padme in The Phantom Menace. She’d repeat that role in Attack of The Clones and Revenge of The Sith. She’d next play Evey in V for Vendetta. And she played Jane Foster twice, first in Thor: The Dark World and then in Avengers: Endgame. She’ll reprise the role in Thor: Love and Thunder in which she’ll play both Jane Foster and Thor. That I’ve got to see. (CE)
The cast for the upcoming animated movie, DC League of Super-Pets, includes Dwayne Johnson as Krypto and Kevin Hart as Ace. The cast also features Kate McKinnon, John Krasinski, Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne, Diego Luna, and Keanu Reeves. The movie will be released May 20, 2022.
(16) LIGHTS ON LANGFORD. Cora Buhlert continues her Fanzine Spotlight by interviewing David Langford about his famed newzine: “Fanzine Spotlight: Ansible”.
Who are the people behind your site or zine?
In theory it’s just me. In practice I couldn’t keep going without all the correspondents who send obituaries, interesting news snippets, more obituaries, convention news, too many obituaries, and contributions to such regular departments as As Others See Us and Thog’s Masterclass. The first collects notably patronizing or ignorant comments on the SF genre from the mainstream media, with special attention to authors who write science fiction but prefer to pretend they don’t (Margaret Atwood once explained that SF was “talking squids in outer space” and since she didn’t write /that/ she had to be innocent of SF contamination). Thog’s Masterclass is for embarrassingly or comically bad sentences in published fiction, not always SF — as well as the usual genre suspects, the Masterclass has showcased such luminaries as Agatha Christie, Vladimir Nabokov and Sean Penn.
…Scheduled for May 17, 1966, Gemini 9 was supposed to be the first real all-up test of the two-seat spacecraft. Astronauts Tom Stafford (veteran of Gemini 6) and Gene Cernan would dock with an Agena and conduct a spacewalk. If successful, this would demonstrate all of the techniques and training necessary for a trip to the Moon.
The first bit of bad luck involved the Agena docking adapter. Shortly after liftoff on the 17th, one of the booster engines gimballed off center and propelled rocket and Agena into the Atlantic ocean. The two astronauts, bolted into their Gemini capsule for a launch intended for just a few minutes after, had to abort their mission.
Luckily, NASA had a back-up: the Augmented Target Docking Adapter (ADTA). The ADTA was basically an Agena without the engine. A Gemini could practice docking with it, but the ADTA can’t be used as an orbital booster for practice of the manuever that Apollo will employ when it breaks orbit to head for the Moon.
ADTA went up on June 1, no problem. But just seconds before launch, the Gemini 9 computer refused navigational updates from the Cape. The launch window was missed, and once again, Tom and Gene were forced to scrub. Stafford got the nickname “Prince of the Pad.”…
When I heard that the Swedish Chef from “The Muppet Show” was opening a Chelsea location of his celebrated bistro, Dorg Schnorfblorp Horganblorps, I was skeptical. I’m always hesitant to believe the hype surrounding celebrity chefs, especially when they’re made of felt. While the city was abuzz, calling Mr. Muppet the new Jean-Georges Vongerichten, I was certain that this newcomer was nothing more than a passing fad, a Swedish Salt Bae. But, after such a tough year for restaurants, I was curious about how this mustachioed madman’s gimmick had sustained its popularity. Eventually, I decided that I had to go see for myself—could the Swedish Chef’s bites ever live up to his bark, or bork?
Dorg Schnorfblorp Horganblorps has been open for only three months but already has a wait list that extends to the end of the year. I was amazed that anyone could get a reservation at all, considering that the restaurant’s Web site contains no helpful links or information, only a gif of a turkey being chased by the chef wielding a tennis racquet, captioned, “Birdy gerdy floopin.”…
It sounds like the plot from a cheese science fiction movie: Scientists unearth something that’s been buried in the frozen ground of the Arctic for tens of thousands of years and decide to warm it up a bit. The creature stirs as its cells slowly wake up from their long stasis. As time passes, the animal wakes up, having time-traveled 24,000 years thanks to its body’s ability to shut itself down once temperatures reached a certain low. It sounds too incredible to be true, but it is.
In a new paper published in Current Biology, researchers reveal their discovery of a microscopic animal frozen in the Arctic permafrost for an estimated 24,000 years. The creature, which would have lived in water during its previous life, was revived as the soil thawed. The discovery is incredibly important not just for the ongoing study of creatures found frozen in time here on Earth.
The tiny creature is called a bdelloid rotifer. These multicellular animals live in aquatic environments and have a reputation for being particularly hardy when it comes to frigid temperatures. They are obviously capable of surviving the process of being frozen and then thawed, and they’re not the only tiny animal to have this ability….
AS TOM BROWN LEADS A pair of young, aspiring homesteaders through his home apple orchard in Clemmons, North Carolina, he gestures at clusters of maturing trees. A retired chemical engineer, the 79 year old lists varieties and pauses to tell occasional stories. Unfamiliar names such as Black Winesap, Candy Stripe, Royal Lemon, Rabun Bald, Yellow Bellflower, and Night Dropper pair with tales that seem plucked from pomological lore.
Take the Junaluska apple. Legend has it the variety was standardized by Cherokee Indians in the Smoky Mountains more than two centuries ago and named after its greatest patron, an early-19th-century chief. Old-time orchardists say the apple was once a Southern favorite, but disappeared around 1900. Brown started hunting for it in 2001 after discovering references in an Antebellum-era orchard catalog from Franklin, North Carolina….
From a calm socialite, she morphed into an unhinged puppy kidnapper and then a vindictive glamourpuss. Why don’t we hate her?
And for dessert, here’s a Cruella parody video.
(22) CAN YOU MAKE A WALL OF TEXT? The Lego Typewriter has some moving parts that simulate a real typewriter but, no, you can’t produce copy with it. At the link is a video of the assembled 2000+ piece project.
(23) BREAKING INTO THE MCU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Marvel Character Tutorial” on Screen Rant, Ryan George plays Marvel screenwriter “Richard Lambo,” who says if you are trying to sell a screenplay to Marvel, make sure he or she has plenty of abs (four will do, but a six-pack is best) and leave plenty of room for snark!
(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Returnal,” Fandom Games says that Sony’s new game puts you “in a Gigeresque sci-fi setting” where your goal is “to kill all the wildlife” in a game so depressing that Sony should “just throw away the game and have someone come over and kick you in the scrotum” to achieve the same painful effect. (Or “slamming your face into a brick wall” is mentioned at another place, if the first option isn’t available.)
[Thanks to John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, James Davis Nicoll, Daniel Dern, Gadi Evron, Cora Buhlert, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]
…The guests are from 14 countries and regions, and over 40 events will be organized during the three-day conference.
…Chengdu, the capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan province which is best known as the home of pandas, is the cradle of “Science Fiction World,” China’s most popular sci-fi periodical.
Founded 40 years ago, the magazine has cultivated a large number of well-known sci-fi figures including Han Song, Wang Jinkang and Hugo Award-winner Liu Cixin.
Chengdu has made great efforts in recent years to develop the sci-fi culture industry and build itself into China’s science fiction town. It has put in a formal bid to host the 81st World Science Fiction Convention in 2023.
A partial list of the international writers and conrunners who are
in Chengdu includes CoNZealand (2020) co-chairs Kelly
Buehler and Norman Cates, DisCon III (2021) co-chairs Colette Fozard and
William Lawhorn, Chicago in 2022 bid co-chairs Dave McCarty, Helen
Montgomery, plus Crystal Huff, Pablo
M.A Vazquez, Ben Yalow, Derek
Künsken, Mimi Mondal, Robert J. Sawyer, and Francesco Verso.
Some of the guests and visitors were also part of the group photo below taken at the China Science Fiction Conference two weeks ago (November 2-3) in Beijing, China. SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal is at center, with Vazquez on the left, and Vincent Docherty (co-chair 1995 and 2005 Worldcons) to the right.
… Kennedy adds an interesting little tidbit about the material used to create the screen:
“But I’m going to add one other thing that I didn’t know anything about this and it’s an interesting little tidbit. You have to grow the crystals for these screens. Who knew? You have to wait five years for the crystals to grow. And the crystals means a limited number of screens. Not only do you have to grow them but if you have volume, it’s important that you have the same bunch of LCD screens so that all the crystals are growing together. And then, how they refract the light, then they go into a whole pass on the ground crystals to then curate which ones are refracting the light in the same way so Its quite a process.”
So now the soundstage, a performance capture volume like the one James Cameron used on the Avatar films, is wrapped with these very high-resolution LED screens that present footage either shot on location or “in combination with CG environments.” Brennan explains further:
“And we’re able to have the perspective with cameras, but that means that you can change from Iceland to the desert in one [minute] from setup to setup so it really changes the flow of production. I think it also helps because actors are not in a sea of green. They’re actually seeing the environments that they’re in. And you add to that, after the puppetry and they’ve got characters to perform against in the environments that they are in and I think it does change.”
Silvia: I like mosaic novels so it’s no wonder I thought “Automatic Eve” by Rokuro Inui was cool, but it also had a Phillip K. Dick meets steampunk Japan vibe that is hard to miss. The other science fiction novel I recommend is Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s “We Cast a Shadow,” in which a black lawyer wants his son to undergo an expensive procedure that will render him white. It’s a near-future, socially charged and pretty impressive debut.
The first book in N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy introduces a stunning world in the midst of an apocalyptic event. To avoid major spoilers, let’s just say that The Fifth Season is brimming with gloriously intense family drama and includes one of the most phenomenal magic systems ever created. It also boasts a complex protagonist who is a mother, gifting us with one of the most formidable and fascinating characters of the 21st century. Jemisin made history by winning the Hugo Award for Best Novel three years in the row for this trilogy, cementing her status as an essential voice in fantasy literature. But critical success aside, simply diving into her luminous prose will be enough for you to discern why she’s such a brilliant, must-read author. —Frannie Jackson
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY.
November 21, 1942 — “Tweety Bird” debuted.
November 21, 1969 — First ARPANET link put into service.
ARPANET was an early computer network developed by J.C.R. Licklider, Robert Taylor, and other researchers for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It connected a computer at UCLA with a computer at the Stanford Research Institute, Menlo Park, CA. In 1973, the government commissioned Vinton Cerf and Robert E. Kahn to create a national computer network for military, governmental, and institutional use. The network used packet-switching, flow-control, and fault-tolerance techniques developed by ARPANET. Historians consider this worldwide network to be the origin of the Internet.
November 21, 1973 — The Michael Crichton scripted Westworld premiered. Starring Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin, critics gave it mixed reviews but it has an 86% rating among watchers at Rotten Tomatoes.
November 21, 2012 — The animated Rise Of The Guardians enjoyed its premiere. The feature starred the talents of Hugh Jackman, Jude Law and Isla Fisher. Based on William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood series, it really bombed. However the audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes is very healthy 80%.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 21, 1924 — Christopher Tolkien, 95. He drew the original maps for the LoTR. He provided much of the feedback on both the Hobbit and LoTR and his father invited him to join the Inklings when he was just twenty-one years old, making him the youngest member of that group. Suffice it to say that the list is long of his father’s unfinished works that he has edited and brought to published form. I’ll leave to this group to discuss their merit as I’ve got mixed feelings on them.
Born November 21, 1937 — Ingrid Pitt. Actor from Poland who emigrated to the UK who is best known as Hammer Films’ most sexy female vampire of the early Seventies. Would I kid you? Her first genre roles were in the Spanish movie Sound of Horror and the science-fictional The Omegans, followed by the Hammer productions The Vampire Lovers, Countess Dracula, and The House That Dripped Blood. She appeared in the true version of The Wicker Man and had parts in Octopussy, Clive Barker’s Underworld, Dominator, and Minotaur. She had two different roles in Doctor Who – somewhat of a rarity – as Dr. Solow in the “Warriors of the Deep” episode and as Galleia in “The Time Monster” episode. (Died 2010.)
Born November 21, 1941 — Ellen Asher, 78. Editor who introduced many fans to their favorites, as editor-in-chief of the Science Fiction Book Club (SFBC) for thirty-four years, from 1973 to 2007 (exceeding John W. Campbell’s record as the person with the longest tenure in the same science fiction job). She was personally responsible for selecting the monthly offerings to subscribers, and oversaw the selection of individual works for their special anthologies and omnibuses. She has been honored with a World Fantasy Special Award and an Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction. In 2009, she was given a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and she was Editor Guest of Honor at Worldcon in 2011.
Born November 21, 1942 — Jane Frank, 77. Art collector along with her husband quite beyond belief. Really. Together they put compiled a legendary collection of genre artwork, The Frank Collection, that has won awards. She is the author of numerous articles on illustration art, artists and collecting, and the book The Art of Richard Powers which was nominated for a Hugo, The Art of John Berkey, and The Frank Collection.
Born November 21, 1944 — Harold Ramis. Actor, Writer, and Producer, best-known to genre fans for his role as Egon Spengler in the Saturn-winning, Oscar- and Hugo-nominated Ghostbusters and its lesser sibling Ghostbusters II (the scripts for both of which he co-wrote with Dan Aykroyd). He had voice roles in Heavy Metal and Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, and a cameo in Groundhog Day, for which he received Saturn nominations for writing and directing. He was also director and producer of Multiplicity. (Died 2014.)
Born November 21, 1945 — Vincent Di Fate, 74. Artist and Illustrator who has done many SFF book covers and interior illustrations since his work first appeared in the pages of Analog in 1965. He was one of the founders of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA), and is a past president. In addition to his Chesley Award trophy and 7 nominations, he has been a finalist for the Professional Artist Hugo 11 times, winning once; two collections of his artwork, Infinite Worlds: The Fantastic Visions of Science Fiction Art and Di Fate’s Catalog of Science Fiction Hardware, have been Hugo finalists as well. He was Artist Guest of Honor at the 1992 Worldcon, for which he organized their Art Retrospective exhibit. He was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2011. You can see galleries of his works at his website.
Born November 21, 1946 — Tom Veal, 73. He’s a con-running fan who chaired Chicon 2000. He was a member of the Seattle in 1981 Worldcon bid committee. He chaired Windycon X. In 2016 he married fellow fan Becky Thomson. And he wrote the “1995 Moskva 1995: Igor’s Campaign“ which was published in Alternate Worldcons and Again, Alternate Worldcons as edited by Mike Resnick.
Born November 21, 1950 — Evelyn C. Leeper, 69. Writer, Editor, Critic, and Fan, who is especially known for her decades of detailed convention reports and travelogues. A voracious reader, she has also posted many book reviews. She and her husband Mark founded the Mt. Holz Science Fiction Club at Bell Labs in New Jersey (Mt = abbreviation for the labs’ Middletown facility), and have produced their weekly fanzine, the MT VOID (“empty void”), since 1978; it is currently at Issue #2,041. She was a judge for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History for 20 years. She has been a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twelve times, and Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a Windycon.
Born November 21, 1953 — Lisa Goldstein, 66. Writer, Fan, and Filer whose debut novel, The Red Magician, was so strong that she was a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer two years in a row. Her short fiction has garnered an array of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominations, as well as a Sidewise Award. The short story “Cassandra’s Photographs” was a Hugo and Nebula finalist and “Alfred” was a World Fantasy and Nebula finalist; both can be found in her collection Travellers in Magic. Her novel The Uncertain Places won a Mythopoeic Award. You can read about her work in progress, her reviews of others’ stories, and other thoughts at her blog.
Born November 21, 1965 — Björk, 54. Who bears the lovely full name of Björk Guðmundsdóttir. I like Icelandic. And I’ve got boots of her band somewhere here I think. She’s here for The Juniper Tree which is a 1990 Icelandic film directed and written by Nietzchka Keene which is based on “The Juniper Tree” tale that was collected by the Brothers Grimm. She’s one of five performers in it. Oh, and because her last album Utopia explored that concept even using cryptocurrency as part of the purchase process.
Coca-Cola Amatil, which produces the beverage, said the ad was a light-hearted parody of “zom-com” or “zomedy” movies such as Shaun of the Dead and Warm Bodies.
…The Advertising Standards Authority dismissed the complaints, saying that while the ad may be distasteful to some viewers, it did not reach the threshold to be considered likely to cause harm or serious offence.
It noted that since receiving the complaints, the advertiser had decided to reschedule the ad to be screened after 7pm.
We still don’t know what the titular hero of The Mandalorian is going to do with the little “asset” that he found in the first live-action Star Wars series, but it is more than clear that the real world wants a piece of it. Everyone wants merchandise for the “Yoda Baby,” and there’s good news on the horizon.
Disney and Lucasfilm purposely held back this bit of salesmanship to avoid spoilers, but that starship has flown. CNBC reports that all kinds of toys and apparel based on the character will be out in time for the holidays.
(9) IN WIRED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The December WIRED
has three articles on Star Wars that I thought were interesting. These
Angela Watercutter interviews cosplayers who enjoy cosplaying Rey because her costume is relatively simple and because she is the first female character in Star Wars to wield a lightsaber: “Everybody Loves Rey, a Star Wars Story”.
Annamarie McIntosh is coming undone. People in comic-book tees are rushing past her, lit up by too-bright fluorescents. She’s surrounded by massive signs with corporate logos, from Nintendo to DC Comics. The cavernous hall is 460,000 square feet, and McIntosh is taking up about three of them, trying to cinch the beige bandages wrapped around her arms. “We’re having issues here,” she says, with an exasperated giggle. “It’s been falling down all day.” With an assist by her mom, the 17-year-old finally twists and tucks her costume into place. All things considered, the fix is easy. It’s 2019’s Comic-Con International, and compared to the wizards and warlocks and Wonder Women crowding the floor, the outfit of the Jedi Rey is plain, simple. Sensible.
Adam Rogers undertakes “A Journey to Galaxy’s Edge, the Nerdiet Place on Earth” — and discusses how the park is a form of storytelling. He says that cosplaying in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is banned, although “I saw a few women cosplaying on the down low, hair done weird, rocking galactically appropriate boots.” This graf of Rogers is news to me:
Eventually, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will open. That’s a two-day stay adjacent to the Orlando park in a hotel designed to look like a Star Wars spaceship, a luxury liner called the Halcyon. The windows will somehow look out onto space; families will get tours of the bridge, and ‘port day’ will connect to Galaxy’s Edge. Apparently even the hotel building ill be bermed off from arriving guests–all they’ll see is the ‘terminal’ where they board a shuttle to the Halcyon in orbit above.
Genevieve Valentine fills in the backstory of Padme Amidala from the story in Revenge of the Sith and other clues from various other Star Wars stories: “Padmé Amidala, Queen of Empty Space”.
The biggest battle in Star Wars is between its mythic arcs—the heroes’ journeys—and its political stories. Padmé fell on the political side so squarely that the prequel trilogy expended significant visual and narrative energy trying to drag her toward the mythic, where Anakin Skywalker was waiting.
She never got there. Her realm was that of the negotiation and the vote, and nothing was able to bring her into line with the adventure and the myth.
(10) KIWI IN TRAINING. Stephen Colbert has spent the week
masquerading as The Newest Zealander. I
don’t think any WorldCon venues are in shot, but parts are right next to Museum
Prominent New Zealand celebrities Lucy Lawless (“Xena: Warrior Princess”) and Bret McKenzie (“Flight of the Conchords”) show Stephen around the town of Wellington and offer him tips on how to blend in as a local.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, N., Martin Morse
Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Errolwi, Tom
Boswell-Healey, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes
to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]
The committee got going much later than planned (entirely due to my own lack of time due to other commitments) but once we got started there was very energetic participation by the 20+ committee members. The report summarises the discussion and makes a number of recommendations, including four specific proposals which are on this year’s Business Meeting agenda (three updates to categories and continuation of the committee), as well as a number of topics for further discussion next year, assuming the committee is continued.
The committee welcomes feedback from interested fans. We’re aware of some online reaction to the specific proposals already, which might result in adjustments to the proposals when we get to the Business Meeting.
My thanks to the committee members for their work this year.
An excerpt from the overview of their recommendations —
…Understanding that the overall operation of the categories works well, the Committee found several places for improvement:
The Committee found that the present definitions in the Fan Artist/Professional Artist category were potentially problematic. The Fan Artist category was initially designed in 1967, seeking to honor those offering their artistic talents to the broader community of fandom for little or no compensation. Such contributions were often in the form of illustrations for fanzines and convention programs. In the last fifty years, however, the form that fandom has taken has changed, and the result is that the definition of Fan Artist was found to be outdated. This was given an extensive examination. The Committee also acknowledges that some further examination of the other fan/professional categories may be in order, and has proposed to carry forward at least one further change in this area.
The Committee found the term “Graphic Story” problematic. Just as “comic book” has come to be taken as including work not literally comic, “graphic story” has come to be taken as excluding work appearing in comic books or comic strips. The Committee proposes re-titling to “Best Graphic Story or Comic.”
The Committee feels that altering “Best Fancast” into a “Best Podcast” category and removing the restriction on eligible productions receiving money is desirable. Many podcasts generate income from either limited advertisements, tip jars, or other small streams of income. While these are often not sufficient to support someone making a living, the income can still be substantial. As also discussed in the context of the Fan/Professional Artist categories, the use of fixed income thresholds was also found to be problematic.
In addition to the Artist categories, the Committee gave some consideration to cases of category overlap and/or gaps in categories in general, and would propose to continue examining this both in the context of current and proposed awards. This arose, in particular, in discussions surrounding the future of Best Novel and the proposed Best Translated category.
The Committee also briefly considered several other questions, including how well the Hugo Awards have handled the digital/print divide and differences between how terms are used in an “industry” context in non-industry discourse (e.g. by Worldcon attendees/WSFS members who are giving the awards) and in the Hugo Award definitions themselves. Consideration of various such questions fed into the discussions on specific proposals.
The second question, ‘How well do the categories honor what we wish to honor?’, generated more questions for examination. Given the interaction of this question and the question of how many Hugo Awards should be awarded, most of these questions have been recommended for passage forward for further consideration in the next year. In particular:
A Best Translated category was proposed relatively late in the Committee’s deliberations. As a result, the Committee did not have the time to study this potential award in sufficient depth alongside the rest of its workload, and there were multiple ideas as to what form this category should take (e.g. whether it should be limited to novels, cover all written works) and, if recommended, whether the award in question should be a Hugo or a non-Hugo award given by Worldcons. In particular, the Committee proposes to examine whether such an award is presently feasible.
A potential reorganization of the Best Dramatic Presentation categories was considered, and has been proposed to be passed forward should the committee be continued. Multiple alternatives, including a possible addition of one (or more) categories and redefining the Long/Short division into a TV/Movie division, would be given consideration if the committee is reauthorized.
A readjustment of the Best Semiprozine and Best Editor categories has been proposed and will be considered if the Committee is reauthorized. In particular, the Committee feels that the nature of the internet may have reduced the advantage that professional magazines have over non-professional productions, and that allowing professional publications to compete in a “Best Magazine” category would allow them to once again be honored. The Committee also noted various complications with the Best Editor categories; several proposals, including a possible realignment into “Best Anthology” and “Best Imprint,” will be evaluated if we are authorized to do so….
The report advances three proposed changes, and recommends further study of four more:
Part II: Specific Proposals
(1) Proposed continuation of the Hugo Study Committee
(2) Proposed Changes to the Fancast Hugo Category (with slight changes to the Semiprozine and Fanzine categories to maintain consistency)
(3) Proposed Changes to the Professional Artist and Fan Artist Hugo Categories
(4) Proposed Changes to the Best Graphic Story Hugo Category
(5) Proposal Recommended for Further Study: Addition of a Best Translated Work Hugo Category
(6) Proposal Recommended for Further Study: Replacement of Semiprozine and Best Editor Hugo Categories with Professional Magazine, Anthology/Collection, and Publisher/Imprint
(7) Proposal Recommended for Further Study: Potential Alterations to Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo Categories
(8) Proposal Recommended for Further Study: Best Art Book and Alterations to Best Related Work
(9) Proposal Not Recommended for Further Consideration: Best Novel Split