Motion to Abolish the Retro Hugos Submitted to 2024 Business Meeting

Ray Bradbury's 2004 Retro Hugo for Fahrenheit 451.
Ray Bradbury’s 2004 Retro Hugo for Fahrenheit 451.

Kent Bloom, seconded by Kevin Standlee, are proposing to repeal the Retrospective Hugo Awards from the WSFS Constitution in a motion submitted to the upcoming Glasgow 2024 Business Meeting.

Here is the markup showing the language to be removed and added, followed by their reasons for seeking the change.


Short Title: No More Retros

Moved, to amend the WSFS Constitution by striking out Section 3.14.1 to remove the Retrospective Hugo Awards from the WSFS Constitution, and to insert text to preserve those given previously:

Section 3.14: Retrospective Hugo Awards

3.14.1. A Worldcon held in a year that is an exact multiple of 25 years after a year in which no Hugo Awards were awarded may conduct nominations and elections for retrospective year Hugo Awards for that year with procedures as for the current Hugo Awards, provided that year was 1939 or later and that no previous Worldcon has awarded retrospective year Hugo Awards for that year.

3.14.2: In any listing of Hugo Award winners published by a Worldcon committee or WSFS, Retrospective Hugo Awards presented prior to the 2026 Worldcon shall be distinguished and annotated with the year in which such retrospective Hugo Awards were voted.


Commentary:

It seems very unlikely that the Retro-Hugos given so far would match those which would have been given by the Worldcon in the year they would have been awarded.

It also seems that the people being honored by these awards are not available to receive the honors, so the awards have little meaning as far as encouraging and rewarding the creators. 

And it does not seem that the awards have made any significant impact on the availability and popularity of the works / people who received them.

Thus it seems to us that they have outlived their usefulness and should be abolished.

  • Kent Bloom, Member #0383
  • Kevin Standlee, Member #0377

Pixel Scroll 6/11/24 A Pixel Is To Be Hugged And Sung Lullabies Lest It Grow Up Feeling Unwanted. And Then It Won’t Want To Be Scrolled

(1) GLASGOW 2024 TOWN HALL ABOUT BUSINESS MEETING ON 6/15. Glasgow 2024 will host a virtual Town Hall Event about the WSFS Business Meeting on Saturday, June 15, at 7:00 p.m. BST (which is 11:00 a.m. Pacific). Sign up for a free ticket at this Eventbrite link.

Key members of the Business Meeting and The World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) team from Glasgow 2024 will discuss the Business Meeting that will occur at Glasgow 2024.

The event will be moderated, taking questions in advance. If you wish to submit a question for consideration, please do so below. There may not be enough time to cover all questions, but we will do our best to get to as many as we can. https://forms.gle/goRw9ZGspQ4YE3mA9

(2) SHE’S ON THE FRONT. Nnedi Okorafor is featured in the June 10 issue of Publishers Weekly.

(3) CREDIT FOR HELPING SAVE TREK. Bjo Trimble’s daughter Lora reports on Facebook she “again went to the Peabody awards last night to watch Star Trek be honored with the Peabody Institutional Award. What Bjo didn’t know was Alex Kurtzman paid tribute to her and My father John Trimble and all the work they did to save Star Trek and keep it going! It was a lovely evening.” More photos at the link.

Bjo Trimble attends the 2024 Peabody Awards at Beverly Wilshire on June 9. Photo by Jon Kopaloff.

Below you can see J. J. Abrams and Alex Kurtzman accepting Star Trek’s Peabody Award, including Kurtzman’s mention of Bjo.

(4) A STELLAR VILLAIN. “Paul Giamatti Joins ‘Star Trek: Starfleet Academy’ as Main Villain” reports Variety. (Does Starfleet Academy have holiday holdovers?)

Set phasers to stunned. In another casting coup, the upcoming Paramount+ series “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy” has cast Emmy winner and multiple Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti in a recurring guest role as the first season’s main villain, who has a sinister connection to the past of one of the (yet to be cast) cadets.

Giamatti joins Holly Hunter, who Variety exclusively reported in May is boarding “Starfleet Academy” as the Academy’s captain and chancellor.

“Sometimes you’re lucky enough to discover that one of the greatest actors alive is also a huge ‘Star Trek’ fan, and meeting Paul was one of those miraculous moments for us,” said co-showrunners Alex Kurtzman and Noga Landau in a statement. “The sheer delight with which he dove in on ‘Starfleet Academy’ is only surpassed by the gratitude we feel about him joining our incredible cast.”…

(5) HOW MANY VIEW WHO. Steven Moffat told Facebook readers today:

According to Russell T Davies, the ratings for Doctor Who are “far above expectations.”

While he admits that the figures “aren’t where we want them. We always want higher”, an independent BBC review has revealed that it is the most watched show for under 30s in the world.

The series has “reached and exceeded every target, so we are showing no signs of slowing down.”

(6) NO VROOM AT THE INN. New York Times critic Esther Zuckerman recommends “A Four-Hour-Long Hotel Review That Is Actually About So Much More” – Jenny Nicholson’s report on Disney’s Star Wars-themed Galactic Starcruiser hotel, now shut down, which she deems a spectacular failure.

…One of the most captivating pieces of entertainment I’ve seen so far this year is a four-hour-long YouTube video in which one woman describes her stay at a Disney World hotel. I’m as shocked by this as anyone.

To be clear: I was initially resistant when my partner encouraged me to watch Jenny Nicholson’s epic “The Spectacular Failure of the Star Wars Hotel,” which breaks down in microscopic detail her visit to Disney’s Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. During the experience, now closed, guests on vacation were encouraged to live out their George Lucas dreams by participating in a role-playing game while staying in a structure on the outskirts of the park near Orlando, Fla.

Nicholson’s monologue, which runs longer than “Lawrence of Arabia,” has been viewed more than seven million times since it was uploaded last month and has been the talk of social media, yet I was still unprepared for how absolutely riveting it was. While it highlights a litany of problems with the hotel itself, the video can also be viewed as a diagnosis of the entertainment industry’s current ills writ large. In her frustration, Nicholson becomes a valiant truth teller, clearly articulating how corporate greed betrays loyal fans to sell a cheaper and less emotionally enriching product. And she does this against a backdrop of stuffed animals and while wearing various costumes, including, at one point, a giant suit resembling a Porg, the puffin-like creature in “The Last Jedi.”…

…The great irony is that Nicholson herself produced what Disney couldn’t: a comprehensive, entrancing experience that held my attention.

(7) PLEASE DON’T FEED THE BOTS. Clarkesworld’s Neil Clarke has updated his blog post “Block the Bots that Feed ‘AI’ Models by Scraping Your Website” to warn about another offender: “If you haven’t updated your robots.txt to protect your work from scraping for ‘AI’ training recently, there’s probably a few bots you aren’t blocking. Added Applebot-Extended this morning.”

Applebot-Extended does not directly crawl webpages. It is used to determine whether or not pages crawled by the Applebot user agent will be used to train Apple’s models powering generative AI features across Apple products, including Apple Intelligence, Services, and Developer Tools….

(8) ANOTHER SCURRILOUS TACTIC. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] I was listening to a favorite law podcast of mine, Law and Chaos, (“PA Dad Takes On Moms For Liberty”) and they were  interviewing a Pennsylvania father who discovered books were quietly going missing from his kid’s local school library and decided to figure out why. Turns out it was a “shadowban” campaign against books that Moms for Liberty hates and included such lovely behavior as the school creating fake student library accounts, checking out the books to those accounts for an entire year, and then adding the books to the list of items to be removed from the library on the grounds that they weren’t being checked out (!). It’s a fascinating story about just how far Culture Warriors will go to ban books! The titles secretly removed included the entire “A Court of Thorns and Roses” (ACOTAR) fantasy series, which, while not my cup of tea where fantasy is concerned, are very popular with teenage girls who deserve to have the right to check out the books if they want.

The Bucks County Beacon wrote about the Dad who discovered what was going on: “Uncovering the Cover-up: How Republican Pennridge School Board Directors Secretly Banned Books”.

…Frustrated by the lack of answers, I submitted a Right-To-Know request seeking a report that listed the books checked out of the high school library by non-students.  To my surprise, the report furnished by the district was discernibly inaccurate. It did not contain any of the targeted titles that had recently gone missing.

I hired an open records attorney, Joy Ramsingh, to negotiate with the district’s law firm, Eckert Seamans. I was simply requesting the production of a good faith public record. My goal was to learn which books were being censored.  

I wanted to give the community a fair opportunity to read, defend, and debate the merit of literature before it was permanently removed from the library. My lawyer sought to reach a quick and amicable resolution, but the negotiations were unsuccessful. We appealed to the Court of Common Pleas.

After a year of litigation, my attorney was able to prove that the RTK report furnished by the district was illegally manipulated. Faced with overwhelming evidence, the district eventually conceded that an employee had deleted records from the report. It was a clear attempt to hide the removal of books from public scrutiny….

(9) MEDICAL UPDATE. Adam-Troy Castro, in a public Facebook post, has announced he is battling cancer again – but it should be survivable. Full details at the link.

…They remove this and give me another round of chemo and it is pretty survivable. Which is a lot different than this would be if the Colon Cancer had metastasized in any other organ. Anywhere else would have been a case of, “okay, we’re bailing water to keep the boat afloat until it sinks.”

On the scale of having Stage 4 any kind of Cancer, this kind of cancer is not as bad as most. Okay? It’s survivable.

Does this suck?

Yes.

Does it suck a lot less than it could suck if it has to suck?

Yes….

(10) WHAT THE SCROLL SHOULD HAVE ADDED ABOUT H. BRUCE FRANKLIN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Pixel Scroll 5-23-24 item #9’s mini-obit of H. Bruce Franklin, while acknowledging him as “author of numerous books, essays, and exhibitions related to science fiction.” fails to cite what (to me at least) are the obvious suspects (titles) Future Perfect (an antho that I read decades ago; my memory burped the title up instantly when I saw the NYTimes obit a few weeks ago) and it looks like he also wrote a book about Heinlein, Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction, and, along with political/historical non-fiction, this one of interest no doubt to SJW credentials: The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden and America.  

And thanks to Scott Edelman, here’s an unlocked copy of the New York Times obituary: “H. Bruce Franklin, Scholar Fired for His Antiwar Views, Is Dead at 90”.

(11) WORKING THROUGH LOSS. Sharon Lee writes about her experiences while grieving the death of her husband, Steve Miller, in “While one lives, both stand”. Here are the opening paragraphs.

Grief puts funny ideas into your head.

For instance, for awhile back in March, I was convinced that Steve had left me — walked out of our partnership and left no forwarding address.  I couldn’t imagine why, and spent way too much time minutely reviewing our past, looking for my error.

Then I became convinced that we had gotten done at this house, and were moving on.  As has been the case in previous moves, Steve had gone on ahead, leaving me to clean up these last few things before I joined him.  This delusion is particularly pernicious because for those of us who speak Metaphor, it’s true.   Only it’s not.

Anyhow, it’s been my goal for some while now to find or create for myself a place of gratitude for having been privileged to share so much time, love, and magic; for having had Steve in my life.  While it’s certainly a very lonely, hard, and scary thing to no longer have him for back-up, for taking the lead, for producing surprising — and occasionally infuriating — insights — surely unrelenting misery was not the best lesson I could take from our life together.

So, I started looking for ways to achieve, at first, equilibrium.  I didn’t expect to leap from misery to gratitude.  I expected there to be a process, and backsliding, and all the things that attend the pursuit of any mighty goal.

Steve and I not only shared our mundane lives, but we shared an active and beguiling fantasy life.  The worlds we built, the people who live there, the lessons, the philosophies — those also fed the richness of our partnership and informed our mundane lives…

(12) DOUG LEWIS (1955-2024). Thomas Kellogg, in a Centipede Press newsletter, paid tribute to bookseller and publisher Doug Lews, who died May 20.

Doug Lewis who with his wife Tomi, owned and operated the Little Bookshop of Horror/Roadkill Press in Arvada, Colorado and won a World Fantasy Award in the Nonprofessional category in the 1990s, died on May 20, 2024 of complications of diabetes. 

Doug started their bookstore when he was unable to find a copy of Joe Lansdale’s The Night Runners to purchase locally. The Lewis’ store primarily featured horror, fantasy, science fiction and crime fiction. Soon they were sponsoring readings by Joe R. Lansdale, along with Edward Bryant, Harlan Ellison, Dan Simmons, Connie Willis, Nancy Collins, Norm Partridge, Steve Rasnic Tem, Melanie Tem and many others. 

The Night Voices series of readings spawned a long friendship between Doug, Tomi and Ed Bryant. Ed was in many ways their mentor. Ed was the MC for the readings and his introductions were memorable by themselves. The readings spawned a publishing venture Roadkill Press. The initial idea was to publish chapbooks of the writers featured in readings. At that time chapbooks were a rarity. The concept was a quality item using high quality paper, with illustrations, signed by the writers that were incredibly affordable. The line of chapbooks was a big success. A collectible that was affordable was unusual in a time dominated by costly limited editions.

…It all came to a crashing end when Tomi became ill and was diagnosed with cancer. Although she fought bravely, she was gone in less than eight months. A farewell auto tour across the county to see all their friends was thwarted by the ravages of the chemotherapy. Doug was crushed by Tomi’s passing. Nothing mattered anymore. Tomi was the extrovert of the pair. With her gone, Doug fell into an abyss of despair that would last the rest of his life.

Adrift in that despair, his physical health deteriorated. He became a type 1 diabetic almost overnight. I remember at the time he told me that he wasn’t going to let diabetes run his life. Caring about nothing, he failed to take care of himself. The disease ultimately destroyed life. 

My 30 year plus friendship with Doug spanned both his highs and his lows of his life. It as a tragedy that he couldn’t overcome the loss of Tomi. As with us all, he had his demons. Many friends reached out multiple times in the years after Tomi’s passing, only to be rebuffed or ignored. I like to think he avoid responding because it only deepened his sense of loss….

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Compiled by Paul Weimer.]

Born June 11, 1971 P. Djeli Clark, 53.

By Paul Weimer. By day, he is a historian of slavery in history and popular culture. By night. P. Djèlí Clark is a ferocious new talent in science fiction and fantasy.  It took me a bit to come across his work, a friend of mine practically pushed his novella, The Haunting of Tram Car 015 into my hands, telling me that this was going to be my jam.  And an alternate historical late 19th century Egypt with magic, becoming a world power? Djinn, magic, spirits and a strong sense of place in this alternate Cairo?  It most certainly was, and is. 

P. Djèlí Clark

His A Master of Djinn continues in that same world as the novella, and builds and extends and grows that world in a very satisfactory manner. Like the first novella, it builds and works with themes of colonialism, race and gender relations, and magical worldbuilding in exploring the consequences of “The magic returns” and making Egypt a powerhouse. I would so love to physically visit this alternate Cairo and photograph its wonders, but for the moment, can only hope for more books set in this world.

 I have not yet read the copy of Ring Shout on my Kindle although, given his day job, it is probably the work of his thus far that is closest to his day job and his academic research interests. I am confident that it will be excellent, but it remains buried in Mount TBR. For now.

However, as part of my Hugo Reading for 2024, I read and enjoyed “How to Raise a Kraken in Your Bathtub”. It’s a clever little story that takes its worldbuilding as a matter of fact sort of approach to add Krakens, and merpeople, to a 19th century Britain not really equipped or ready to deal with the consequences of racism and colonialism and sexism.

As of the writing of this, I have started reading an ARC of his forthcoming work, The Dead Cat Tail Assassins. This story, unlike his others, is firmly set in a secondary world, and reminds me, as of this moment, of the secondary world fantasy of N K Jemisin, in particular the Dreamblood novels. The setting is an entrepot city, and indeed, the main character is one of the titular Dead Cat Tail Assassins. Shenanigans have already ensued.  It’s a new and different mode for Clark, and I look forward to seeing how he continues with it. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) THE GAME’S AFOOT. Inverse’s Ryan Brittthinks “’Indiana Jones and the Great Circle’ Could be the Best Indy Adventure in 35 Years”.

…But for the most ideal Indy results, perhaps it’s still best if the entire adventure happens in the 1930s or 1940s, with Dr. Jones looking and sounding like he’s in between the events of the first three movies. And with the release of a new trailer for the upcoming Bethesda game Indiana Jones and the Great Circle, it seems the franchise is getting back to its roots in an unexpected medium.

Set in 1937, The Great Circle takes place right in between Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade and pairs Indy with a new character named Gina Lombardi. As revealed in the new trailer, the primary mystery in this story is centered on various spiritual sites of great importance — from the Vatican to the Great Pyramids — that form a kind of invisible circle. A madman named Voss is after this power, and it’s up to Gina and Indy to stop him while they race to unlock the secrets of the circle.

Indy is voiced by Troy Baker, but you can barely tell this isn’t Harrison Ford uttering the lines. The mystical and religious overtones of the story also feel very aligned with the tone of The Last Crusade. In other words, this feels authentically Indy in a way that aspects of Dial of Destiny and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull didn’t.

(15) BAIT FOR YOUR CLICK. “’Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim’ Debuts Epic First Footage”Variety has the reaction. (But no video!)

Warner Bros. Animation, New Line Cinema and Sola Entertainment previewed 20 minutes of its upcoming anime feature “The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim,” receiving thunderous applause during the packed presentation on Tuesday at the Annecy Animation Festival.

Director Kenji Kamiyana said he was inspired by not just J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” books, but by the films of Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, who were confirmed as exec producers of the movie during the session.

The new story is set nearly 200 years before Bilbo Baggins comes into contact with the ring of power, and centers on the House of Helm Hammerhand, the King of Rohan (voiced by Brian Cox), with a focus on his daughter, the strong willed Princess Héra (voiced by Gaia Wise). In the clip, a dispute erupts during a council meeting, leaving Wulf, a ruthless Dunlending lord, seeking vengeance. Miranda Otto reprises her “Lord of the Rings” role as Éowyn, this time as the movie’s narrator….

(16) BYE, BOYS. “’The Boys’ Is Ending With Season 5 on Amazon” says The Hollywood Reporter.

The Boys will have their final fight in the near future.

Eric Kripke, the showrunner of Prime Video‘s super(anti)hero series, said on social media Tuesday that the show’s fifth season — which the streamer ordered in May — will be its last.

“Season 4 premiere week is a good time to announce: Season 5 will be the final season!” Kripke wrote on X. “Always my plan, I just had to be cagey till I got the final OK from Vought. Thrilled to bring the story to a gory, epic, moist climax.”…

(17) NO SCRAPING UNLESS IT’S MY SCRAPING. Gizmodo tells us “Elon Musk Just Cancelled iPhones”.

Apple and OpenAI’s partnership is only a few hours old, and Elon Musk is already going to war over it. The owner of Tesla, X, SpaceX, and xAI said he would ban Apple devices at his companies if Apple integrated ChatGPT at the operating system level, which the companies are very much planning to do. Musk, a founder of OpenAI who is now suing the present owners, said ChatGPT integrated iPhones present an “unacceptable security violation.”

“If Apple integrates OpenAI at the OS level, then Apple devices will be banned at my companies,” said Musk in a tweet on Monday. “And visitors will have to check their Apple devices at the door, where they will be stored in a Faraday cage,” said Musk in a follow-up tweet

(18) STEVE HEADROOM? “Brighton general election candidate aims to be UK’s first ‘AI MP’” reports the Guardian. Candidate Steve Endacott tells journalists how it’s supposed to work.

‘Politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians’, so the saying goes.

This may be why a businessman in the south of England is proposing a novel solution: putting himself forward as a candidate in the UK general election as the first “AI MP”.

AI Steve is a nominee on the list of candidates for the 4 July general election in Brighton Pavilion, last held by the Green party’s Caroline Lucas, who is stepping down.

The man behind AI Steve is Steve Endacott, a self-described entrepreneur who lives in Rochdale, but “maintains a house in Brighton”.

Endacott, who is the chair of an artificial intelligence company called Neural Voice but “made his fortune” in the travel sector, claims he will attend parliament to vote on policies as guided by AI Steve’s feedback from his constituents.

He claims the AI representative would answer constituents’ concerns and questions using a rendition of Endacott’s voice and an avatar.’…

(19) SMALL BANG THEORY. “Webb telescope reveals asteroid collision in neighboring star system” at Hub.

Astronomers have captured what appears to be a snapshot of a massive collision of giant asteroids in Beta Pictoris, a neighboring star system known for its early age and tumultuous planet-forming activity.

The observations spotlight the volatile processes that shape star systems like our own, offering a unique glimpse into the primordial stages of planetary formation.

“Beta Pictoris is at an age when planet formation in the terrestrial planet zone is still ongoing through giant asteroid collisions, so what we could be seeing here is basically how rocky planets and other bodies are forming in real time,” said Christine Chen, a Johns Hopkins University astronomer who led the research.

The insights will be presented today at the 244th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Madison, Wisconsin.

Chen’s team spotted significant changes in the energy signatures emitted by dust grains around Beta Pictoris by comparing new data from the James Webb Space Telescope with observations by the Spitzer Space Telescope from 2004 and 2005. With Webb’s detailed measurements, the team tracked the dust particles’ composition and size in the exact area previously analyzed by Spitzer.

Focusing on heat emitted by crystalline silicates—minerals commonly found around young stars as well as on Earth and other celestial bodies—the scientists found no traces of the particles previously seen in 2004–05. This suggests a cataclysmic collision occurred among asteroids and other objects about 20 years ago, pulverizing the bodies into fine dust particles smaller than pollen or powdered sugar, Chen said.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. PRINT Magazine praises “Design Army’s Out of This World Campaign for the Hong Kong Ballet”.

The Hong Kong Ballet is celebrating its 45th anniversary with a groundbreaking campaign in collaboration with Design Army and Dean Alexander Productions. The production brings the ethereal beauty of ballet to the masses, transforming it from a symbol of privilege to a universal cultural experience. This inventive campaign, inspired by Degas’ ballerina portraits, the Renaissance, and artistic hip-hop, redefines ballet in a uniquely Hong Kong context. From the witty “Tutu Academy” to sci-fi extraterrestrial scenes, the film captures the essence of dance as a universal language, connecting everyone, even aliens, to its unearthly magic. With vibrant settings ranging from university halls to iconic plazas, the campaign showcases the troupe’s artistry against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s cultural landmarks, making ballet accessible, relatable, and joyfully unconventional….

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, and Kathy Sullivan for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

WSFS Mark Protection Committee Draft Amendments

The WSFS Mark Protection Committee, chaired by Donald E. Eastlake III, is circulating drafts of amendments to the WSFS Constitution that they are considering submitting to the Glasgow Business Meeting. The drafts are being posted publicly for comment.  Download a PDF copy here.

The first proposal replaces the current practice of informally licensing Worldcons to use the WSFS marks with a written license agreement.

The second proposal provides for independent monitoring of site election and Hugo Award administration.

It would make mandatory, instead of optional, the delegation of all authority over the Hugos to a Subcommittee whose decisions are irrevocable by the Worldcon Committee. Two members of that Subcommittee will be chosen by the Business Meeting and charged with reporting to the Business Meeting and Mark Protection Committee “as to the propriety of the procedures followed by the Hugo Award administrations.”

Likewise, the Business Meeting will choose two persons who shall report to the Business Meeting and to the Mark Protection Committee “as to the propriety of the procedures followed by the…site selection that they monitor.”

The third proposal makes two changes. It provides the means for Mark Protection Committee members to cause a meeting of the MPC to be held. And it creates authority and a mechanism for the Mark Protection Committee to remove an elected member of the MPC by a two-thirds vote of that committee.

The MPC gives a fuller justification for each proposal in the draft document.

Pixel Scroll 5/27/24 Pixel Yourself On A Scroll By A Tickbox

(1) WAYWARD WORMHOLE Signups are being taken for the Rambo Academy Wayward Wormhole – New Mexico 2024. Full details at the link.

The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers is pleased to announce the second annual Wayward Wormhole, this time in New Mexico. Join us for the short story workshop to study with Arley Sorg and Minister Faust, or the novel workshop with Donald Maass, C.C. Finlay, and Cat Rambo.

Both intensive workshops will be hosted at the Painted Pony ranch in Rodeo, New Mexico. The short story workshop runs November 4-12, 2024, and the novel workshop runs November 15 through 24, 2024.

(2) EARLY ENTRY ON THE 2024 BUSINESS MEETING AGENDA. Linda Deneroff, Alexia Hebel, Kevin Standlee, and Kevin Black have submitted to the Glasgow 2024 Business Meeting an amendment to the WSFS Constitution to restore “supporting” and “attending” to replace “WSFS Membership” and “Attending Supplement”.

Short Title: The Way We Were

Moved, to amend the WSFS Constitution by striking out and inserting the following:

Moved: To replace WSFS Membership with Supporting Membership wherever it appears in the Constitution, and to replace Attending Supplement with Attending Membership, including all similar variations of the words (e.g., WSFS Memberships, WSFS members, attending supplement) to their grammatically correct replacements.

Proposed by: Linda Deneroff, Alexia Hebel, Kevin Standlee, and Kevin Black

Commentary: Since both terms involved the word “Membership” there has been a lot of confusion among people purchasing memberships who do not understand why they have to purchase a “second” membership, or why they have to buy a “WSFS membership” in the first place. Under the original terminology, the price of an attending membership was inclusive of the support price.

Any reimbursement restrictions could still remain in place, with the price of the supporting portion of the attending membership deducted from any refund.

(3) IF IT’S NOT MADE IN MIDDLE-EARTH, IT’S CRAP! “Why Do Dwarves Sound Scottish and Elves Sound Like Royalty?” While Atlas Obscura  tries to say Tolkien had a lot to do with it, their evidence shows it’s not his books but the filmmakers who adapted them that are the greatest influence.

…Of course the original readers couldn’t hear what Tolkien’s creatures sounded like, but the intense focus he placed on developing their languages gave people a pretty good idea. “Tolkien was a philologist,” says Olsen.“This is what he did. He studied language and the history of language and the changing of language over time.”

Tolkien would create languages first, then write cultures and histories to speak them, often taking inspiration from the sound of an existing language. In the case of the ever-present Elvish languages in his works, Tolkien took inspiration from Finnish and Welsh. As the race of men and hobbits got their language from the elves in Tolkien’s universe, their language was portrayed as similarly Euro-centric in flavor.

For the dwarves, who were meant to have evolved from an entirely separate lineage, he took inspiration from Semitic languages for their speech, resulting in dwarven place names like Khazad-dûm and Moria….

… However, the dwarves of the Lord of the Rings movies don’t speak with an Israeli accent, and the elves of Warcraft don’t have a Finnish inflection. This comes down to the differences between how Tolkien portrayed his fantasy races and how he imagined they should talk, and the readers’ interpretation….

(4) KEEP THEM SEQUELS ROLLIN’. “Alien? Mission: Impossible? Toy Story? What is the greatest movie franchise ever?” The Guardian’s staff stake their claims. Here’s Jesse Hassenger’s pick.

Predator

There are a lot of movie series that made it through four or five entries as an unusual rotating showcase for different directors before giving in to the temptation to re-hire past successes. I still love the Alien and Mission: Impossible movies dearly, but they’ve also made me extra-grateful for the rare franchise that has managed to never repeat a director or major (human) cast member. I’m talking – for now – about the Predator movies, the B-movie little siblings to the classier, weirder, more thought-provoking A-list Alien. Only one is bad – the second Alien vs Predator match-up, nonsensically subtitled Requiem. All of the rest, where various badass aliens hunt various opponents (including Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Danny Glover, Olivia Munn, the xenomorph and Adrien Brody, among others) for sport, filter their premise through a different vision of monster-movie splendor. On one level, you always know what you’ll get: clicky noises, gory deaths, those triangle laser-sight things. Yet the specifics have plenty of wiggle room: should they be scary, funny or nasty? Action, horror or sci-fi? It’s a throwback to when movie franchises knew their place as fun programmers, rather than tentpole sagas. Alas, Dan Trachtenberg is about to become the first Predator director to return to the series. He did a great job with the entertaining Prey; it’s just a shame for the series to lose its constant one-and-done churn. For now, I’ll continue to savor those no-nonsense weirdos with the ugly mandibles and over-elaborate armor, and their accidental compatibility with B-movie auteurism. Jesse Hassenger

(5) THAT 70’S ART. This link assembles many examples of “Space Bar” themed examples of “70s Sci-Fi Art”. (And from later, too).

(6) JOHNNY WACTOR (1986-2024). Best known for his work in daytime TV, Johnny Wactor was reportedly killed by thieves on May 25. The New York Times’ summary shows he also had roles in several genre series.

Johnny Wactor, an actor best known for his role in “General Hospital,” was shot and killed on Saturday, reports said, amid what his family described as an attempted theft of a catalytic converter in Los Angeles.

Ms. Wactor said her son thought his car was being towed at first, and when he approached the person to ask, the person “looked up, he was wearing a mask, and opened fire.”

Mr. Wactor … also appeared in episodes of “Westworld,” “The OA” and “Station 19.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Paul Weimer.]

May 27, 1934 Harlan Ellison. (Died 2018.)

By Paul Weimer. Or, even though he has passed away, he still might sue me from beyond the grave, so Harlan Ellison® .

My reading of Harlan Ellison® was benefited to me thanks to my older brother, whom I have mentioned earlier in this space was mainly responsible for me to get into science fiction and fantasy, and his bookshelf were my early steps into the genre. As it so happened, he had a fair number of the extant Harlan Ellison®  short story collections. So very early on in my SFF reading, I did come across “I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream” “Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes” and other SFF stories of his. At that early age, I found few SFF short story writers that could match him.

Harlan Ellison at the ABA convention; Larry and Marilyn Niven behind him: Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

And I learned, thanks to the collections my brother had, that Harlan Ellison®   wrote far more than SFF short stories. I’m not even talking about his movie or television scripts.  Ellison is the first SFF author who I read non-SFF work by. I read The Glass Teat and The Other Glass Teat. I read and reread his criticism of television and cinema and began to understand the wide range of his talent. When I discovered he wrote mimetic short stories, and horror short stories as well, there was a point that I wondered what Ellison didn’t excel at as a writer in the short form.

My favorite Harlan Ellison®  is not “Mouth” because I think that is just too easy an answer. I have a fondness for the sadness of “Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes” and the tragic fate of the protagonist. “Jeffty is Five” breaks my heart every time I read it. “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs” moved me, even though I was too young to know it was a take on the Kitty Genovese murder.

I will reach more deeply and go with “Paladin”, which I saw first as the Twilight Zone episode “Paladin of the Lost Hour” and then later read the Hugo winning novelette. It’s a poignant story, with some of the sadness and gray veil that you find in some of Ellison’s work.  It’s as if Harlan Ellison® is grabbing me by the collar and shouting. “Feel something, you coward. Feel something!”.  The anger of raging against the dying of the light and being angry when people shoulder-shrug, give up, and shuffle along?  I may not have ever met Harlan Jay Ellison®, but I think Paladin helps you feel just how powerful, angry, and potent a writer he was. Love him or hate him, his work could not and would not be ignored.  

I think there are definite periods and waves of Harlan Ellison® ‘s work. And like another sui generis artist, David Bowie, you probably will find a wave or period of Harlan Ellison® that you will like best. Not all of his oeuvre worked for me, there is a definite band I like, and a narrower (but not narrow) band that I really like. This may be the consequence of his extensive oeuvre and constant ability to change and try and write new things, or rewrite old things in a new way. Restless, Angry, Raging. Potent. 

 I loved his cameo on Babylon 5 which he served as a creative consultant and wrote an episode “A View from The Gallery”.  (Which may mean that we have  Harlan Ellison®  to thank for Lower Decks, which is to Star Trek that this episode is to the rest of Babylon 5.) 

That, my friends, is the work of Harlan Ellison® 

Harlan Ellison in 2014 at Creation event in Las Vegas.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) ANOTHER HARLAN TRIBUTE. Janis Ian marked Harlan Ellison’s 90th with this tribute on Facebook.

In my life, there have been very few colleagues who viscerally understand having been an “enfant terrible”. Even fewer that lived up to their promise. And even fewer who continued to be brave, and bold, fearlessly speaking out despite the consequences.

Today is the birthday of my late friend Harlan Ellison. A writer who completely understood what it was like for me at the age of 15, when “Society’s Child” became a hit. Unable to connect with most of my peers because of the experiences I was having, unable to much time with those I could connect with, who were always 5 to 10 years older and usually on the road.

Harlan understood better than most that Fame hadn’t changed me, it had changed the people around me. And he understood the impossibility of living up to the expectations placed on me because of my innate talent and ability.

He could be an unbelievable pain in the rear. He could be absolutely impossible. He could be rude and obnoxious and he did not suffer fools. God help you if you annoyed him. But to me, he was unfailingly courteous, generous, kind, and giving. I miss him more than I can say, and I regret the years I did not know him.

(10) APPLAUSE FOR BRENNAN. Rich Horton reviews “Cold-Forged Flame, and Lightning in the Blood, by Marie Brennan” at Strange at Ecbatan.

Marie Brennan has been publishing short SF and Fantasy (mostly Fantasy, I think) for a couple of decades, after winning the Asimov’s Undergraduate Award back in 2003. (That’s an award which spurred some excellent careers over time — writers like Rich Larson, Marissa Lingen, Eric Choi, and Seth Dickinson are also among the past winners.)…

…The two books [Cold-Forged Flame, and Lightning in the Blood] concern Ree, whom we meet “coming into existence” as Cold-Forged Flame opens. She has no idea of her name, only a dim sense of her abilities (she is a warrior, for one thing) and of her character (suspicious, prickly) — but also aware that she is bound to do what the nine people who have summoned her ask. After some debate, she learns what these people want: she must go and bring back a vial of blood from the cauldron of the Lhian. And, in exchange, they offer her her freedom — and, but only after the fact, what knowledge they have of her … history. To tell too much in advance would harm her, they suggest….

(11) SAM I AM. Knowing that a fan’s brain is never sufficiently stuffed with trivia about Tolkien, CBR.com brings us “The Lord the Rings’ Samwise Gamgee’s Real World Inspiration, Explained”.

…In Appendix C of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien explained the in-universe origin of the surname Gamgee. It came from the family’s ancestral village of Gamwich, which meant “game village” in the language of the hobbits. Over time, the name Gamwich evolved into Gamidge and later to Gamgee. This was one of many examples of the great amount of thought and effort that went into even the tiniest worldbuilding details of The Lord of the Rings. However, this backstory was a retroactive explanation that Tolkien came up with long after settling on the name Sam Gamgee for his story’s deuteragonist. The real-world basis for Sam’s surname was more unusual, and its origins predated Tolkien’s conception of Middle-earth.

Gamgee is a real — albeit uncommon — surname. In fact, in 1956, a man named Sam Gamgee wrote a letter to Tolkien after learning that a character in The Lord of the Rings shared his name. Tolkien was surprised and delighted by this coincidence. Since the real Sam had not read the novel for himself, Tolkien assured him that the fictional Sam was “a most heroic character, now widely beloved by many readers” and offered to send him a copy of the book. In Tolkien’s response, he also explained the reason that he chose to use the name. It was a long story that began with a famous surgeon: Dr. Joseph Sampson Gamgee.

Born in 1828, Joseph Gamgee made major strides in the field of aseptic surgery, the practice of ensuring that a doctor’s hands and tools remain sanitary during medical procedures….

(12) WOLFE PACK ON LOCATION. Black Gate has Bob Byrne’s newest installment of “Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone”: “Welcome to Kanawha Spa – The Wolfe Pack 2024 Greenbrier Weekend”. He joined the Wolfe Pack for a descent on the West Virginia resort featured in Too Many Cooks.

…Trish [Parker] is the resident Greenbrier historian. She is also a Wolfe fan! She gave a really cool presentation that talked about the Greenbrier, the logistics of of other locations (Barry Tolman was NOT going to make that court session he was pressing to be at), and other related information.

I loved it! It was really neat. Especially as she knew the story. I really enjoyed it. She took a couple questions and got a healthy round of applause.

Intelligence Guided by Experience – A question I heard more than once over the weekend was, “Did Rex Stout stay here before he wrote the book?” While the thought seemed to be, ‘Probably, as he knew the place pretty well.’ it’s unknown. The records from that early have been lost over the years. No proof he had been to the Greenbrier….

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Rob Jackson, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Proposal: that there should be a permanent Hugo Tech Working Group. Guest Post by Doctor Science

Mini Hugo rocket carried into space and photgraphed by astronaut Kjell Lindgren in 2015.

By Doctor Science: This is a first draft. I don’t know all the arcane rituals for submitting something to the WSFS Business Meeting, but I hope to get to that in due course.


Proposal: that there should be a permanent Hugo Tech Working Group

This Working Group shall be answerable to the WSFS, either in the form of the Business Meeting, or in the form of some other committee or group.

The Hugo Tech Working Group (HTWG) doesn’t set rules for the Hugo Awards software, it actually does the work (hence the name). The HTWG is not a directly elected group, but it must report and be answerable to elected groups. The HTWG will include:

  • one or more “Gurus”: people who had a major role in writing the open-source software currently being used (hi Chris!)
  • one or more “Scribes”: responsible for documentation, manuals, and reports
  • 1 person from Worldcon N-1
  • at least 3 people from Worldcon N
  • 2 people from Worldcon N+1

where N is the current Worldcon.

The “Hugo Awards software” is whatever performs the following functions:

  1. validates that a given person has the right to nominate or vote. This is a function of the registration system, which is handled by Worldcon N
  2. accepts nominations
  3. canonicalizes nominations, i.e. makes names uniform
  4. calculates finalists
  5. accepts final ballots
  6. calculates winners

What problems am I trying to solve with this proposal?

One of the (many) shocking revelations in Chris Barkley’s interview with Dave McCarty was that the software McCarty wrote to determine the final ballot was erroneous, and he knew it: “The SQL query from from the data for the ballot counts in each category actually has a fucking flaw and it’s and it’s mistaken.”

I said, “Why is Dave talking about SQL? Is each Worldcon re-inventing the vote-counting wheel?”

Chris Rose/Chris_R/offby1, who’s worked on the software for numerous Worldcons, replied:

in my observation, convention committees all seem to have at least one person on them, in a position of authority, who wants to be the one to invent the software suite to rule them all that will solve all future fannish endeavours henceforth. I’ve seen it result in thousands of hours of volunteer software development in the short time I’ve been in this community, and I don’t foresee it [stopping].

Then Mary Robinette Kowal said she’d learned that McCarty had not only written his own Hugo Awards software, but it’s proprietary, he won’t show anyone else the code.

Unlike what we’ve had so far, the Hugo Awards software (HAS, hereafter) needs to have these characteristics:

transparency: HAS cannot be a black box. It has to be clear to qualified nerds (of which SFF fandom has a plethora) how the results are generated, at each step. This almost certainly means it has to be an open-source project. I understand that many major tech companies have vampiric employment contracts that make it impossible for their workers to contribute to open-source projects on their own time, but this shouldn’t be a limiting problem for the WSFS. We are literally Nerd Central, we can cast a net a little wider than the Usual Suspects and find people who aren’t hamstrung by their employers.

checkability: it must be possible for each step to be audited. It must be possible for a recount to take place, if necessary. This would mean coming up with some way to break the connection between a particular ballot and the person who cast it, something comparable to the separation of a mail-in paper ballot from its identifying envelope.

dependability: if HAS worked in year N, it should work in year N+1. Voters and conrunners should be able to treat HAS as a reliable utility, not a box of surprises.

flexability: it should be possible to make small modifications and extensions to HAS without starting over. This is another reason it probably has to be some variety of open-source project.
Every decade or two technical debt and technological change will probably mean that HAS will need to be re-done, but since the Working Group has a lifespan longer than that of a single Worldcon, the project will have a chance to be done rationally.


I’m making this proposal because I don’t have a horse in this race. I don’t have the technical experience to work on HAS, but I’ve been married to a guru-level database and software consultant for 35 years, I used to develop websites, I understand the desire to be the Mighty Wizard of HAS. But I can see that this desire to be perfect has been the enemy of the good, and at times even the functional.

So one big purpose of a Hugo Tech Working Group is to make HAS boring, to discourage people who have a Grand Vision while encouraging those who just like to do work that gets done. It makes it lower-stakes, maybe even reducing the load on the Worldcon tech team, so they can do a better job and yet still have time for fun, without massive burnout (a gal can dream).

Structurally, people have been talking about splitting WSFS Worldcon functions from Hugo Awards functions. The HTWG would be part of the Hugo Awards half, but mostly staffed by people from Worldcons.

My idea is that most of the HTWG staff are the tech people from current Worldcon N, the ones who set up the software, run it, do the hand-checking for canonicalization, and so forth. There’s one person from Worldcon N-1, whose job is to say “this is what we did last time that worked, this is what we tried that didn’t work.” There are also 2 people from Worldcon N+1, who are there to learn the ropes and to start setting up their instance of HAS.

The real working group part of the HTWG comes when HAS has to be modified. The Gurus are there to know the details of the code, what’s actually easy or difficult to do with this software, Worldcon N-1 person to talk about what changes would have helped most, Worldcon N+2 people to talk about problems they see on the horizon.

Mr Dr Science advises me that this is the sort of situation where holy wars can start, which I’m sure is part of why HAS has kept being changed in the past. I’m eager for advice on how to structure the HTWG to avoid holy wars and other purity contests, so that it keeps focused on: Does this work? Is it transparent, checkable, dependable? Does the HTWG need non-technical members or overseers, for instance?

I eagerly invite comments and suggestions, especially on how to structure this proposal for presentation at the Business Meeting in Glasgow. For instance: can it be presented as a stand-alone, or does it go as a subset of some larger Splitting-the-WSFS proposal? Is the position of Scribe necessary, to do the documentation, put together reports, etc?

Some objections that have already been raised:

When I first made this suggestion on File770, Nicholas Whyte said:

It is my firm belief that institutionalising tech solutions for WorldCons in a standing committee, as proposed above, will be disastrous. It will blur accountability and demotivate volunteers. … The “permanent Tech Team” already exists informally. The pool of knowledge is not wide but it is deep.

I’m not sure what about the HTWG he was objecting to, or if he was talking about something in the discussion more generally.

As proposed, the core of the HTWG is the tech subcommittee from Worldcon N. Yes, it constrains them, by saying “this is the software suite we’ve been using and that you’re going to have to use”, but it also helps them, bringing them in as soon as they win the bid, listening to their needs and suggestions, training them, and making them part of the Tech Team in a way that’s *not* informal and based on friendship networks. Informal networks are great if you’re not being covered by major news outlets, but we’ve passed that point.