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Posts Tagged ‘Hugo Awards’

Hey – maybe SFAwards Watch and IO9 will want to pick up on this one:

Glyer reveals in File 770 that the Secret Masters of Fandom have been talking about something called SCOOTERS.

I haven’t puzzled out the entire acronym, but I’m pretty sure that the first two letters stand for Secret Code.

Mike cleverly conceals whatever hidden message there is to be found in his entry by placing SCOOTERS into the context of a supposed conversation about handicap access at conventions. Of course, we have no real idea of what he’s talking about because the message itself can only be found on the SMOFs reading list which is, you know, kind of SECRET.

I’d really like to know what this passage is code for -

“So the problem for the Worldcon is not the expense, but having to front the money…”

Could this have anything to do with Hugo voting restrictions? Front the money from whom, to whom and for what?  It’s further illuminated by this later passage -

Denconvention seems to have given that help to fans who planned in advance. The question really is what future Worldcons should provide for these last-minute needs, if anything.”

Fronting money?  ‘Help’ to fans? Could Worldcon be paying fans to join so that they’ll “vote the right way” come Hugo Awards time? 

I’m thinking that the ‘advanced planning’ referenced in the above means ‘smart enough and connected enough’ to get on the SMOFs list. So that you can request a payout.

Don’t believe me when I say something is up? Check this out:

“The best suggestion I saw in the recent discussion on the Smofs list was Sharon Sbarsky’s idea…

(Sharon) “…If the idea catches on, then more spare scooters could be rented.”

‘Spare Scooters’ indeed.  Don’t need the code book for that one! But in case you do – ‘spare scooters’ is obviously the insider’s outlandishly punny name for ‘non-worldcon-attending fans’ and ‘renting’ is the stand-in for buying their vote…

You could check me on all of this, but you’d need to be a SMOF to get at the source material, and we’re all sworn to secrecy…

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YAY! Hugo Winners!

(Oh yeah, and congrats to the nominees too…)

So many others are posting this news that I’ll move on now to

FORD STREET PUBLISHING

Is becoming a powerhouse of Australian YA literature.  (They print other stuff too…) Paul Collins – he of other seminal Australian SF editorial accomplishments, has helmed this small press to a nomination on the short list for the Victorian Premier’s Award for the novel Pool by Justin D’Ath.

YA in the US has become something of a cause celebre these days.  Cory Doctorow just published one (like you didn’t know that what with all the constant PR and all) and several folks have been pointing to the better sales, better dollars, bigger growth aspects of that segment of the marketplace, suggesting that authors of traditional fare might want to give it a go.

They are also suggesting that it may be the gateway for salving the ‘graying-of-fandom’ by bringing in new, younger enthusiasts.

But what many may not know is that the Australians (and the New Zealanders for that matter) have been WAY AHEAD of this curve. 

And Ford Street Publishing is one of the leaders.

Considering that they are playing into a much smaller market AND doing so successfully should clue some folks in to the fact that they know what they’re doing.  If you’re looking for a model for small press success, there you go.

And if you don’t care about any of that crap and just want to read some fantasy – especially if you are looking for something a bit off the beaten path – here you go!.

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Everyone seemed to like it when I posted a ‘top something of something’ list a while ago, so I started working on a couple of others.

Most of my major blog articles these days are taking more than a few minutes to research and write – which is one thing responsible for the recent past paucity of posting.  I just finished up this Top Of list and now I’m posting it.

This is a Top 150 List of Classic Science Fiction Writers. 

What do I mean by classic? To begin, it means that they and their works were present at least twenty five years ago.  The cut off is 1983.  If you were writing and published in 1983 or earlier, you’re a Classic SF Writer – whether you want to be or not. 

If you are on the list, be thankful that I chose the word classic. If you aren’t on the list, feel free to substitute adjectives such as antique, ancient, vintage or some such.

My criteria for selection was as: 

Overall presence in the magazines of the era (SF was originally all about magazine-based fiction and hardly anything appeared published as a stand-alone novel). A summary of Astounding/Analog AnLab results, the Contento magazine lists and the covers of runs of the influential magazines of the period were used to acquire that data.

Presence in the anthologies of the era.  It is reasonable to assume that a much-anthologized story/author had a fair amount of influence on the genre – even if it was only because it had been much-anthologized.  Contento’s list was used of this – his ‘most published’ data, as well as the contents lists of seminal, highly-regarded (early) anthologies, such as Adventures in Time and Space – Healy & McComas, The Best Science Fiction – Conklin, SF Hall of Fame – Silverberg, etc.

Awards Won.  I looked at the Hugo (fan based) and Nebula (contemporaries based); between those two, you’ve got the longest-running awards and a representation of the entire field.  I then looked at the Locus Award to get a little more near-term comparison.

Awards Named For.  Look – if you are an SF author and someone names an award for you – a prestigious, influential award that is paid attention to by the people in the field, chances are they felt you had a reasonable degree of impact on shaping things as they are now.  Lord knows no one in the field has enough money to buy themselves an award, so there must be another explanation.

I then compiled all this information in a database, simplified everything by awarding one point for each mention of an author’s name, adding them up and generating a list that ran from most mentions to least mentions.  (Oh, I combined pseudonyms as well.)

Somewhat surprisingly, Harlan Ellison was at the top of the list.  He’s been anthologized a vast number of times AND he’s won a huge number of Hugos and Nebulas, so in retrospect, it isn’t all tat surprising.

I then cut the list off at two or more points.  That gave me 85 entrants.  Unfortunately there remained a huge number of single point entrants (actually, it’s fortunate for all of us who have had the pleasure of reading the stuff these folks have written).  There was no possible way for me to chop 91 entrants down to just 15 more, so I opted to go for the Top 150 rather than the Top 100.

These final selections were based on (oh my gosh) my own OPINION of the quality and influence the author has had.

In the final analysis, I actually had to add two names because they never showed up at all.  But those two authors have had an enormous presence in the genre almost from its inception.  I assure you, had those two names been missing, it would have utterly destroyed any validity this list might have.  And no, I won’t tell you who they were.

I could fairly easily add at least another ten names to the list:  some influential authors have made their mark almost exclusively with novels (and while they have been nominated for major awards, they haven’t won); other influential people are writers, but have made their major contributions in other ways, such as editing, or in film or academically.

So, without further ado, and with a great degree of trepidation, here are the TOP 150 CLASSIC SCIENCE FICTION AUTHORS – in alphabetical order:

Brian W. Aldiss

Christopher Anvil

Isaac Asimov

Poul Anderson

Robert Abernathy

Alfred Bester

Algis Budrys

Anthony Boucher

Eando Binder

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Edward Bryant

Frederic Brown

Gregory Benford

Harry Bates

J. G. Ballard

James Blish

Jerome Bixby

John Brunner

Leigh Brackett

Michael Bishop

Nelson S. Bond

Ray Bradbury

Robert Bloch

A. Bertram Chandler

Arthur C. Clarke

C. J. Cherryh

Cleve Cartmill

Hal Clement

John D. Clark

John W. Campbell

Suzy McKee Charnas

Theodore R. Cogswell

Avram Davidson

Gordon R. Dickson

L. Sprague DeCamp

Lester Del Rey

Philip K. Dick

Samuel R. Delany

Thomas M. Disch

Gordon Eklund

Harlan Ellison

H. B. Fyfe

Howard Fast

Philip Jose Farmer

Robert L. Forward

Charles L. Grant

David Gordon

Horace L. Gold

Martin Gardner

Randall Garrett

Raymond Z. Gallun

Tom Godwin

Edmond Hamilton

Frank Herbert

Harry Harrison

Henry Hasse

Joe Haldeman

Robert A. Heinlein

Malcolm Jameson

Neil R. Jones

Raymond F. Jones

Shirley Jackson

C. M. Kornbluth

Damon Knight

Daniel Keyes

Henry Kuttner

Barry B. Longyear

Frank Belknap Long

Fritz Leiber

Murray Leinster

R. A. Lafferty

Ursula K. LeGuin

Willy Ley

Anne McCaffrey

Barry N. Malzberg

C. L. Moore

Captain S. P. Meek

George R. R. Martin

John D. MacDonald

Judith Merril

Julian May

Katherine MacLean

Laurence Manning

Michael Moorcock

P. Schuyler Miller

R. DeWitt Miller

Richard Matheson

Richard McKenna

Vonda McIntyre

Walter M. Miller Jr

Ward Moore

Alan E. Nourse

Andre Norton

Larry Niven

Alexei Panshin

Frederik Pohl

H. Beam Piper

Jerry Pournelle

John T. Phillifent

Lawrence A. Perkins

Eric Frank Russell

Joanna Russ

Mack Reynolds

Milton A. Rothman

Ross Rocklynne

Spider & Jeanne Robinson

Tom Reamy

Walt & Leigh Richmond

Clifford D. Simak

Cordwainer Smith

E. E. Doc Smith

G. Harry Stine

George O. Smith

Howard Schoenfeld

James H. Schmitz

Leslie F. Stone

Nathan Schachner

Robert Sheckley

Robert Silverberg

Stanley Schmidt

T. L. Sherred

Theodore Sturgeon

Wilmar H. Shiras

Charles R. Tanner

James Tiptree Jr

Lisa Tuttle

Theodore L. Thomas

William F. Temple

William Tenn

A. E. Van Vogt

Jack Vance

Joan D. Vinge

John Varley

Jules Verne

Connie Willis

Donald Wandrei

Donald Wollheim

Gene Wolfe

H. G. Wells

Howard Waldrop

Jack Williamson

Jack Wodhams

James White

John Wyndham

Kate Wilhelm

Robert Moore Williams

S. Fowler Wright

Stanley G. Weinbaum

Wallace West

Roger Zelazny

Obviously, if you strenuously disagree with someone who is on the list, or someone who isn’t on the list – or perhaps more importantly, if you think you should be ON the list and aren’t, let me know.

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If you’re planning on attending Denvention – the 2008 World Science Fiction Convention – NOW is the time to purchase your membership.

Voting for the Hugo Awards ends in a week, and only members of the World Science Fiction Society are eligible to vote.  (You become a member of WSFS by purchasing a membership at the Denvention 3 site; you are actually purchasing a WSFS annual membership, which entitles you to attend the convention and vote on the awards.)

Attending memberships (you get into the convention) are $200.  Supporting memberships (convertible to Attending status by paying the additional fee) are $50.

Make a science fiction author, editor or artist happy. By voting you help insure that SF authors, artists and editors get to take home a model of a really nifty rocketship, one they can strategically place in their domicile and wait for guests and visitors to ask the inevitable “what’s that?” question.  After all, we know they need an excuse to talk about themselves…

Image courtesy Michael Benveniste (he did most of the award photos at The Hugo Awards site, along with Sheila Perry and Cheryl Morgan) from the Noreascon 4 website.  Credit information courtesy of Deb Geisler

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Is what happens when you wake up at 3:30 am, open up your reader and your blog and discover:

File 770 linked in to the blog.  This is Mike Glyer’s famous fanzine (now in electronic form here and here and really here) about fandom and fannish news.

If I weren’t in the process of moving, I’d be busily scanning a copy or two of the printed, 30 some-odd years old versions and putting them up here to give you all some idea of exactly what a fanzine really looks like (not to mention an idea of exactly how long Mike has been doing this).

BoingBoing mentions are all well and good and far-reaching and instantaneous and all, but a mention in File 770 is like, history man. ” – I mean, I’m no, I can’t – I’m a little man, I’m a little man, he’s, he’s a great man.” (Dennis Hopper, Apocalypse Now)

Maybe Linda Bushyager will resurrect Karass (I’ve got copies of that too to scan) and mention me in there too…

Then there’s this via BoingBoing: Copyright Renewal Notices Now Online

Way cool.  (Repeat after me)  “If I wasn’t moving today” I’d be typing a whole mess of titles into the search engine to check their status.

This has the potential of at least doubling the size of the print section of The Classic Science Fiction Channel.  Speaking of which:

The guy who maintained Phil’s Old Time Radio site over at Multiply.com has disappeared.  Right after I requested that he let me link directly to the radio show episodes he hosted over there (the ones you can’t play on The Classic Science Fiction Channel site).  I copied most of them down to my system and am going to upload to the server and launch them directly from the site, but some I didn’t copy and if Phil doesn’t re-surface, I may not be able to provide active links.  If anyone knows where Phil is, please get in touch. 

To return to File 770 for a moment: I’d have done a more visual presentation of Hugo Voting methods – if I wasn’t moving.

I also failed to mention SF Awards Watch, which just so happens to have a link to an article by Glyer currently running, which concerns predicting the Hugo winner for best novel and the divergence between the Locus Award, the Neblua and the Hugo.  Mike invites speculation as to why this is.

A lack of sweeps (winning all three) – I have no idea.  On the other hand: 29 of the 37 Hugo winners since 1971 (the first year all three awards were given out) have won two of those awards. So its a pretty good bet that either the Locus or Nebula winner will be taking home a Hugo, which means that this year either The Yiddish Policeman’s Union or The Yiddish Policeman’s Union has, based on historical statistics, a better than 78% chance of winning. 

On the other hand, Brasyl, Rollback, The Last Colony and Halting State (the other novel nominees – which doesn’t mean unusual nominees, it signifies length in this case) are all being given away as a free ebook (to current WSFS members), while TYPU is not.  Hmmm.

No, the authors of those books are not ganging up on Chabon in an attempt to skew the vote.  They just weren’t able to get permission to distribute a free e-copy.  (Rigggggght…, lol)

I could easily continue to do a second info dump at this time, more neat stuff (nifty keen even) keeps flooding in every second, but I have to stop somewhere, so I’ll close with these programming notes: I’m busily setting up internally hosted files of the “bad links” on the radio show section of TCSFC site, but today Comcast will be moving my service access from the old house to the new house, so these fixes may take some time.

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My own claims to Hugo Awards fame are:

Sorting mail into ‘ballot’, ‘no ballot’ piles

Preliminary sorting of ballots (along with several other volunteers and no one was allowed to leave the room with anything in hand) into piles based on broad categories.  This was not tallying, merely sorting.

Organizing and operating the banquet at which the awards were handed out.  (Hugo Award rubber chicken tastes just as rubbery as any other formal banquet chicken, btw.)

Today, I remember it as being loads of fun.  Back then – sometimes it was fun.

I mentioned the balloting process yesterday and wanted to revisit it.  But first:

As the Hugo Awards site  (maintained by WSFS) points out, the Hugos are given out by the fans and any current member of the World Science Fiction Society (which is open to anyone to join) gets to vote. The awards are not determined by committee, works are not submitted for consideration by their producers but rather are nominated by people who think enough of them to nominate and the design of the voting process was deliberately chosen to PREVENT a second-best choice from winning by default.  Unlike general elections, you can actually choose to vote for ‘NO AWARD’. No Award (that very busy fellow) has been nominated and has won in the past.

How’s that for your democratic process?

In summary (go to the above for the official explanation) here’s how it works:

Eligibility to vote: join WSFS as either an attending or supporting member (both are the same in terms of Hugo nominating and voting on the final ballot).  If you were a member of WSFS in the previous year, you get to nominate again this year. (You have to have joined WSFS by January of ’08 to be eligible to nominate and have to have a membership by July to vote this year). (Thanks Kevin)

Works that are eligible: anything US from 2007 that fits into one of the award categories. any foreign work that was first translated/made available in the US in 2007, even if it originated earlier in the ‘foreign’ market

Nominations:  You get to nominate up to five works in each of the categories. You can nominate anything from one work in one category, up to five works in each and every category.  There are 15 categories this year, so you could nominate up to 75 different pieces of science fiction goodness.

Process:  Write in your choices and send in the ballot.  Once all ballots are in they are tallied and the top five contenders from each category (if there are five) are placed on the final ballot.

Voting: You get the list of top finalists in each category. In addition to the top five candidtate works or individuals, the award administrators have also placed “NO AWARD” on the ballot for each individual category.   It might look something like this:

Best Novel Category
Novel One___
Novel Two___
Novel Three___
Novel Four___
Novel Five___
No Award___

You can final vote in all categories, some categories or a single category. The way you do it is to indicate your preference by ranking the nominations 1 thru 5.  If you think No Award was a ‘better’ novel than Novels 1, 3 and 5, your voting preferences might look like this:

Best Novel Category
Novel One_5_
Novel Two_1_
Novel Three_4_
Novel Four_2_
Novel Five___
No Award_3_

Process: Everyone eligible who cares to vote sends in their ballots and then the votes are tallied.

We’ll use Best Novel as the example – its one of the most popular categories.

The ballots are sorted into piles by 1st preference votes.  (My first preference vote is for Novel Two, above.)  If after tallying, one nominee has more than 50% of the total vote, there is a potential winner and we proceed to the ‘No Award’ test.  If not -

One of the nominees will end up at the bottom of the voting pile at this point (sometimes No Award, but not always).  Whichever nominee is at the bottom gets dropped from the process and those ballots are re-tallied by 2nd place preferences and added to the votes for the remaining nominees.

Let’s suppose that Novel Two gets dropped.  I voted for Novel Four as my second choice.  Since Novel Two is out of the process now, my second place vote will be added to the total of votes for Novel Four.

This process continues until a nominee receives more than 50% of the overall vote (unless there are ties, which has happened).  The final test is to insure that there are more total votes for the (potential) winner than there were for No Award.  The piles of ballots are divided into ‘Nominee Higher than No Award’, ‘No Award Higher than Nominee’ and ‘Preference for Neither’.

The ‘Nominee Higher’ and ‘No Award Higher’ piles are then tallied and, if the Nominee has more votes, the Nominee wins.  Otherwise, No Award wins.

The primary goal of the above process is to prevent a nominee which has not received a majority vote wins by default.  In a straight majority-based process in which there are five nominees, a ‘winner’ can result even if it receives less than 50% of the vote, because the majority can be spread out amongst the nominees. (One candidate receives 40% of the vote, the other four get 15% each.  60% of the voters are now unhappy…)

With preference voting, the winner will always have received votes from more than 50% of the voters; some of those votes might not be first choice votes (they could be fifth choice votes, in fact), but the point is that the final winner did receive more than 50% of the overall vote, regardless of the degree of preference.

The Hugo Awards are one of the few voting processes in which it is entirely legal to ‘vote, and vote often’. 

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How We Plan To Put Men On The Moon/JFK The Last Full Measure NatGeo 03/1964Well, as I feared, the acquisition of an RSS Reader has caused information overload.  There are far too many things to comment on, rebut, extend, investigate, research and write about, for me to know where to start.  Considering that I can’t seem to remember more than two pieces of information at a time (and I never got into the habit of taking notes because I used to be able to remember everything) I now find myself twisting in the wind of half-remembered somethings that I wanted to say something about.

Couple that with my personal desire to give credit where credit is due when someone brings nifty information my way and you end up with a large bundle of frustration.

Not to mention that the new personal schedule has now kicked in and I will be awakening at 3:30 am to drive my wife to her car pool (my night owl internal clock insists that I can get by on two to four hours of sleep a night for at least two weeks); we may all have an opportunity to discover (yet again) why my Mother banished me from the breakfast table all those many years ago.

I’m going to try to remember to take notes.  Of course, the remembering part wouldn’t be so hard to remember if I could remember what I was just talking about…

One thing I definitely want to write about is a bit of weirdness – but the last three times I’ve posted, I’ve forgotten what the weirdness was, so I’ll have to skip that one for now.

I’m definitely going to have something to say about fanzine fandom, core fandom and the SMOF list, by way of commenting on the proposed change to the Hugo Awards voting rules.

I also want to mention a couple of blogs I’ve recently been exposed to, want to comment on Obama’s impending nomination, do a little review of the documentary When We Left The Earth,mention a nifty interview over at TCSFC Radio Division and – I can’t remember the other things.

So.  Fanzines.  One of my first pieces of fanac was fanzine writing, editing and publishing.  Among my first fannish friends were Big Name Fanzine Fans like Gary Farber, Linda Bushyager, Suzle Tompkins, Fred Haskell and the whole lot of folks that they exchanged letters and APAs with.  I hadn’t noticed until recently, but the advent of the internet and programs like PDF have revitalized and extended the reach of these little personal magazines that used to be lovingly cut and hand typed onto mimeo stencils and then printed on twilltone (don’t forget the slipsheets).  If you’ve never heard of a Gestetner, you owe it to yourself to take a trip back to pre-Xerox days.  You can take a look at some ‘zines here and here: I’m sure there are other archives and collections as well.  There’s some mighty fine writing in them thar zines.  Several sites have also been/will be added to the blogroll.

Core Fandom. Apparently used to describe the folks who really TRUfanly carry the traditions of fandom with them, direct descendants of Ackerman’s Ackzample.  One of those things that if you are one, you know it and the other people who are one know it too.

As usual, fandom is not fandom without a feud or pseudo-feud.  Some Core Fans are now warring with WSFS, claiming the mantle of being the ‘real’ fandom and casting WSFS as the upstart insurgents, perverters of the propeller-beanie.  The argument seems to be that ONLY those fans involved with fanzine fandom can stake a claim on the mantle of trufandom.  Naturally, the trufans over at WSFS object to this besmirching of their honor.

And of course there are folks at WSFS who kinda-somewhat agree with the Core Fandom people and lots of fanzine fans who either kinda agree with the WSFS side or disagree with the Core Fandom side.

Makes me wish we could go back to arguing over whether we should be using SF or Sci Fi…

I subscribe to the SMOFs email list  (Secret Masters of Fandom), which is available by application, with said application being accepted if the current members agree that you belong on the list (seems like my con activities in the late 70s, early 80s is still remembered and was enough to qualify me).

The current topic of discussion is the proposed change to the definitions of membership types in WorldCon.  WorldCon (TM) is the administer of the Hugo Awards.  The only people eligible to vote for these awards are those who have a current membership in WSFS (World Science Fiction Society), which you get by purchasing a membership to a WorldCon.

There are currently two levels of membership – attending member and supporting member.  Both types are eligible to cast nominations and votes for Hugo Awards.

There are a number of issues that come up surrounding the awards and memberships;  one on-going one is the objection some have to buying a vote (you’re not really, you’re buying a membership that gives you rights and privileges, one of which is the right to cast ballots) and another is the paucity of participation.  Votes for particular awards are typically in the several hundreds – not the several thousands you’d expect for a literary genre that has its own category on Amazon.

Now there’s a proposal to amend the membership types, the details of which are boring: Kevin Standlee has the proposal here if you are interested in the details.

The proposal has reignited the fire under Hugo voting issues:  big objections are again being raised to the possibility of special interests being able to ‘rock the vote’ (defined as a concentrated effort to purchase enough memberships to effectively guarantee a win for a particular property).  Fingers are being pointed at the people responsible for the Star Trek episode nominee this year.  Its fans are on a campaign and several SMOFs are objecting – not so much to what this particular group is doing but to the possible future dire consequences.

Here’s my take:  first, the Hugos ought to be far more representative of fandom in general, not just the very small numbers who actually vote out of the relatively small number of fans who get memberships in WSFS.  (Full disclosure: I can rarely justify the expense of a WSFS membership myself: when I have been a member, I have voted.)

Hugos are respected and utilized by publishers and such for marketing purposes: Hugo winning books have new editions rushed into print, proudly displaying the win on their covers.

So you can’t say they are a meaningless award, despite the small amount of participation.  But I believe that they would be MORE meaningful if, instead of winning on four or five hundred votes, a novel, story, artist, magazine or movie won with four or five THOUSAND votes.

In terms of marketing it just makes viral sense: rather than four hundred people telling their friends “I voted for the winner this year, check it out”, you’ve got ten times that number saying the same thing.

Then there’s the ‘buy the vote’ issue to consider.  As some have pointed out, future sales of a winning property may very well justify the expenditure of the ten to twenty thousand dollars necessary to buy a win.  We’re still discussing the formula (the Hugo voting and nominating process is a complicated one and isn’t subject to the simple solution of merely purchasing a majority of votes), but most of us agree that it is possible to do.

There are really only two solutions available to solve that potential problem.  First is to restrict voting with a set of complicated qualifying rules designed to prevent such from happening.  Possible and draconian – and still subject to manipulation.

The second solution is to make voting accessible to so many additional people that no single special interest group can possibly put together a large enough bloc to insure the success of their nefarious plans.  I’m not sure where the cut-off in terms of dollars is, but I’m very sure that if the total number of voters was in the ten to 50 thousand range, no one would bother to try.  And even if they did, their voice would only be one small one among many doing the same kind of thing and it could safely be ignored by those interested in maintaining the purity of the awards.

Arguments are made about the ‘dilution’ of the awards’ significance, but again, I disagree.  In terms of common sense, the MORE people there are who vote for something, the GREATER the perception of importance.  I believe that opening the vote up will bring in more TRUFANS, who have not participated for one reason or another, than it will people who are only interested in one specific category of award.  And even if an initial opening up of the award does bring in hordes of pseudo-fans, guess what? Many, many many of them will quickly become TRUFANS, because by participating in the vote, they will necessarily become exposed to the much wider world of fandom that exists beyond their Star Trek, BSG, Firefly or other special interest doors.

Two final arguments: first, the economic one.  Let’s suppose that WSFS makes a ‘vote for the Hugos only’ membership available for a nominal fee like, say, $10.  Will this reduce attendance at WorldCon?  Doubt. The people who purchase attending memberships in WSFS do so to attend the event and consider voting for the award as an additional benefit.  This ought to be made amply clear by the disparity between the total number of attending memberships and actual votes cast.  Those who purchase supporting memberships are either die-hard supporters of WSFS (good on you!) and do so regularly because they do so, or are folks who are hoping to attend but don’t think they’ll be able to for one reason or another.   Allowing people a ‘vote only’ membership (that’s convertible for an additional fee to supporting or attending) becomes a marketing tool for the convention. 

Think about all the bloggers and website publishers who’ll stick a mention of the Hugos on their scribblings.  More marketing.  Marketing that the customer is paying for the privilege of engaging in.

Not to mention the additional cash flow.  Its entirely possible that participation in such a program could being in enough additional cash that WSFS would be able to LOWER attending membership costs, which would obviously have a beneficial effect on actual attendance.

Last but not least:  opening up the vote is far more in keeping with the new electronic community/economy.  The basic concept seems to be to allow as many people to have a sense of ownership as possible (guided and managed).  People who have a sense of ownership spend more money and participate more regularly.  They contribute.  They give things away for free and add value to already existing products.  John Scalzi is doing something along these lines by offering free E-copies of nominees to those who can prove WSFS membership.  Imagine something along the same line that’s now available to tens of thousands.

I think, therefore, that WSFS ought to take a good hard look at creating a (managed) way in which many many more people can become eligible to vote for Hugos.  I can’t really see a downside, unless you consider raising awarness of the award a bad thing.

I just saw most of the episodes of When We Left Earth (Discovery channel).  Its a documentary version of The Right Stuff.  Some day, I’m going to gather up my DVDs of The Right Stuff, From The Earth to the Moon, Apollo 13 and this presentation, and sit down for a 24 hour session of viewing “Reasons Why My Childhood Was A LOT More Exciting”. 

Which brings me to Obama.  I’m voting for him.  He absolutely reminds me of JFK.  Worry all you want to about ‘inexperience’ (I don’t see it), believe as much as you want to of the BS the right is slinging at him (I don’t).  I’m voting for him DESPITE his apparent positions against a robust manned space program (hoping that will change) because, dammit, we need to hope again.  I’m sick and tired of the fear mongering.  This country has always been at its best when its had a goal to strive for and a vision of the future that’s bigger than our eyes can see.  We need to remember that and I believe Obama can give it to us.

Check this out.  Academicsare apparently reading me and adding me to their blogrolls.  Well, one academic anyway.  Of course this particular blog is lauding the virtues of BSG, so I don’t really know how excited I really ought to be getting, but…  I’m adding it to my blogroll to return the favor.

You might also want to check out zine dump if my discussion of fanzines interested you at all.

See.  Until I re-read the entry, I forgot all about the fact that I wanted to mention this.

This is a radio interview with H. G. Wells and Orson Welles that took place just a few short months before Welles’ (note the ‘E’) release of Citizen Kane, the movie that many regard as THE perfect piece of cinema.  (I like the movie, but THE perfect piece of cinema is Casablanca.  Sorry, Orson.)

The two things I find most interesting about the interview are: the fact that you can actually hear the voice of a man who was born in the 1800s, who incidentally wrote The Time Machine, War of the Worlds, First Men In The Moon and etc.  There he is, right there on the radio, talking and chuckling away, acting all deferential to Orson and the audience, seemingly bemused by the attention and enjoying every second of it.

The second thing I find fascinating is the mention of Hitler’s denunciation of the western democracies, using Welles’ radio production of Wells’ War of the Worlds, and the panic it induced, as an example of why the western democracies are corrupt and doomed to fall.

I wish I could find a copy of Adolf’s speech wherein he makes those accusations.  I’d like to hear how he links fear of a Martian invasion to corruption and failure.  Second only to the claims made about Hitler is Wells’ own unspoken commentary: Silly colonialists.  If you weren’t in the habit of believing twelve impossible things before breakfast, you’d have known the Martians can’t be invading because there are no Martians. 

I think he’d be just as amused today, what with school teachers burning crosses in their student’s arms and all.  The justifications for the Iraq war were just as impossible to believe as a Martian Invasion and yet our fellow country bumpkins bought them just as readily as they did the Invasion back in the 30’s.  Seventy plus years later we’re still running around with pitchforks and pulling the covers over our heads.

 

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I frequent the SFFWorldforum (mostly the science fiction literature topic) and am continually reminded that there is definitely a generation-gap when it comes to the enjoyment of classic science fiction. (Or maybe its just lack of good taste. Sorry guys – just kidding.)

I started shaking my old-man-stick at some of the SFFW denizens today over some criticism of Larry Niven’s Hugo Award Winning novel – Ringworld.

The standard arguments prevailed: the characters had no depth (Nessus no depth?), the Ringworld is such a fantastic structure Niven should have spent more time showing it to us, and ‘I have no idea why this novel won anything‘.

Of course, there’s no accounting for taste – mine or anyone else’s.

But it did get me thinking about that feeling of utter shock, awe, discontent and anger you get when someone else states in absolute terms that something you love and cherish is drek.

The thoughts come in an instantaneous cascade: ‘How can you be so stupid? What’s wrong with you? Are you blind? You must have no imagination! I just bet you think Piggly-Wiggly is the epitome of literature! Idiocy must run in your family, because only a moron wouldn’t get it, and that’s the only possible explanation for not liking what I like!. Apologies to the morons in the room. Thought police!  Where are the Thought Police – this person is having dangerous thoughts!’

Of course, none of that is justified as everyone is entitled to react to art in whatever way they choose, whether its justified or not (and it doesn’t have to be justified).

But it did get me thinking; how would you go about making people like what you like, hate what you hate and say ‘eh’ to all the things you could care less about?  (Forget for the moment that science fiction fans are about the least conforming respecters of authority on the planet.)

And then it came to me.  HUGO-AWARD-ZOMBIES.  Genetically engineered fans, brought back from the dead, who selectively munch on the part of your brain responsible for not liking something I like. They’re very precise in their consumption of brain matter, excising only the disagreeable parts.  Victims can still function, at least enough to become infected themselves and last long enough to pass it on.

Stay away from the Nebula-Award-Zombies though.  They’re viscious undead authors, lack discernment and often end up killing their victims.

 

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