Posts Tagged ‘IO9’

Yesterday there weren’t any entries.  Not four, not three, not two, not even one measly  little line of an entry. And after a very long string of uninterrupted daily posts.

Listen closely and you can hear the sound of me wrist-slapping myself with one of those 18″ rulers.

Ow. Ow, ow ow!

Sorry about that, especially if for some god-forsaken reason you’ve come to rely on a daily read from me.  I must plead ‘exhaustion’ and the press of “other things going on”.

Mental and physical exhaustion from those ‘other things’.

Physical exhaustion from having refereed and managed a small, single day paintball tournament.

Which brings me to the subject of paintball and its cultural intersection with science fiction.

In case you somehow missed the social phenom of the past two decades, paintball is the ‘sport’ that uses those fancy, expensive compressed air guns to shoot gelatin, dye-filled marbles at other people in order to mark them.

I found this game about 18 months after it was first invented and quickly discovered that it was addictive, I loved to play and – surprise – I happened to be pretty darned good at it.  (If gelatin-fearing aliens ever invade the Earth, have no fear, paint-slinging boy is here!)

I spent a quarter-century becoming heavily involved in just about everything paintball: my game-design background put me in good stead as I introduced a set of rules for competition play that actually made sense (and are still in wide, slightly modified use today all over the world), began my non-fiction writing career, edited a magazine and traveled the world playing, designed product,  coached and managed teams, etc. etc. 

Picked up a bunch of kudos too, like Top 100 Player of All Time (wish I had a plaque for that one), Top 50 Team of All Time, and ‘that &*%$!*%! bastard’.

Now I play the part of ‘retired professional player’, and do some weekend work helping to manage a local field and quasi-coaching the local team.

Which is where I was yesterday, doing a little three-player tournament.  I take great pride in delivering a fairly judged event and making sure that everyone from winners to bottom-dwelling losers have a good time (which can be difficult when the bottom-feeders have PAID for the privilege of getting shot at all day and go home with the added bonus of a kick in the kiester).

The game itself is, unfortunately, vulnerable to players who want to cheat, which raises the temperature for everyone even before the first game is played at an event. Back in the bad old days it didn’t bother us so much – we’d just have a brawl in the woods with the other team and count up black eyes.  But these days we’ve got teens and pre-teens competing under the watchful eye of parents, so that manly solution is not available anymore.

Here’s a pic of the team I’m now coaching playing in a five-player event from a few weeks ago, just to give you some idea of what it looks like:

(That’s the KnIghtmare Saints deployed to their bunkers right after the start of the game. They finished 4th at this event.)

I only go into the background and circumstances here to lead into the fact that over the past couple of years I’ve made an interesting observation.  Science Fiction and Fantasy enjoy a unique relationship with paintball. It’s a one-way relationship.

Lot’s of paintballers are science fiction and fantasy fan, while very few fans are paintballers.  I’m not entirely sure why, but I think it has a lot to do with the generally vicarious nature of being a fan, while most paintballing fans seem to have gotten the bug after they’ve already established their participatory nature.

I find it an interesting relationship, one that I’ve been exploring for a while now and intend to keep on looking at.  There just might be some ‘dirt’ worth mining there.


I see from File 770  that Ellison is suing Paramount (again?).  They used his ST:TOS script (City of the Edge of Forever) tobase a novelization on and Harlan hasn’t gotten any royalties.  If I were Paramount, I’d pay the man now – he has a habit of winning these kinds of things.

It actually mystifies me that anyone would fight after a quick background check would tell them that the claim is a valid one.  I’ll jump the gun and say – congrats to Harlan for another win in the fight to protect writer’s interests.


IO9.  OH IO9.

I’ve been pretty critical of the site here (not that most of my friends don’t disagree that it well earns the sobriquet of ‘fluff’).  Perhaps that criticism is responsible for my lack of coverage over there: they used to feature some of my entries, but haven’t done so SINCE I’ve been vocal on that score. 

I’m well aware that in the PR game you’re not supposed to bite the hand that feeds you. Right. But.

 I’d also be terribly flattered if it turned out that IO9 thought they were accomplishing something by ignoring me.

I can not, however, ignore them, especially considering this truly non-sensical and ill-considered piece that appeared today about ‘Sir Iguana’, the artist who sells sketches on Ebay.

Are the lives of the editors at IO9 so absolutely bereft of meaning that they must verify their self-justification by putting Ebay artists down?  I mean, in every sense of the cliche – ‘come on!’. How frickin long did it take to come up with that little piece?  Are they actually mining Ebay for things that offend their sensibilities?

These guys publish 20, 30, 40 stories all day long and THIS is the best they can come up with?

Before that story ran my only real criticism of the site was that they were going for fluff and tended to embrace the SKIFFY side of things (as in – more lit, less media); that, and their ‘humor’ never escaped the level of ‘cutesy’.  IO9=Skiffy Fluff.  Big deal and who cares?

NOW, I’ve got reason to dislike them – and a good one.  IOniners – if you’re going to play the critic game, how’s about picking on people your own size?  Right now, all of you guys are looking like a six year old nascent bully burning ants with a magnifying glass. And next comes torturing kittens and puppies.  IO9 is psychopathic, truly and horrifyingly mentally ill.


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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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On December 12th, 2008, 20th Century Fox will be releasing their remake of the 1951 classic SF film The Day The Earth Stood Still. (Click the pic to go to the TDTESSTWTOMD webpage.)

The new version stars Keeanu Reeves and will benefit(?) from 57 years of film-making advances.

57 years is enough time for two generations to have passed since Michael Renne starred in the original.

That’s more than enough time to guarantee that the audience going to see this remake is unlikely to even be aware that it is a remake, and certainly more than enough time for anyone who has seen the original to forget how utterly fantastic and spot on it was.  Not just for its own time, but for all time.

That is why it is so very important for those of us who have seen and do remember the original to make sure that anyone who goes to see the remake will have seen the original BEFORE they do.

Nivair Gabriel, writing on IO9, explains some of the many reasons why:

There is no reason to remake something that is absolutely perfect.

Remakes insinuate that there was something deficient about the original movie, that it’s somehow necessary to update the film for today’s audiences. The vast majority of the cinema-going crowd will watch the version with the actors they know in an instant, and never bother to rent the first one.

We might be afraid of terrorists now instead of communists, but we still haven’t managed to end nuclear proliferation and create lasting worldwide peace. I think there’s still quite a lot to The Day the Earth Stood Still’s message that we might pose a threat to the rest of the universe if we can’t get a grip on our violent tendencies; and I think Klaatu’s non-destructive way of shocking humanity into action is even more brilliant today.

Michael Rennie’s alien, by the way, is an example of a truly flawless and understated performance; anyone who thinks that Keanu Reeves can show that up should stop reading now to go smack their head against a wall a few times. I don’t want to see any current child actor try to replace Bobby Benson; Billy Gray’s adorable portrayal of The Most Fifties Boy Ever will warm my heart for all time.

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a treasure; it’s one of the best films we humans have ever managed to produce. It was fabulous in 1951 and it’s only matured with age, like the finest sci-fi-themed wine in all the world. The movie packs a huge amount of vision about human identity and aspirations — in fact, it’s almost impossible to believe it was made eighteen years before we Earthlings reached the moon. So why in the name of everything beautiful would a person want to taint those waters with a totally unnecessary rehash?

The viewing public has a right to be exposed to the original before they see the remake; they have a right to judge the two side by side – BEFORE the computer-generated dazzle has a chance to influence them. They have a right to view these films in their historical order, to be free from hype and marketing blitz before they are asked to choose which one they prefer.

The only fair and decent way to give the original the credit it is due is for everyone who has ever seen it to pledge that they will get at least one other person to watch the film before December 12th, 2008.

That is why I have declared December 10th, 2008 to be THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL TO WATCH THE ORIGINAL MOVIE DAY day.

I have added a page to my website that provides all of the necessary links – no need to rent or purchase a DVD, no need to schedule a special viewing.  Just grab your friends, siblings and significant others, sit them down in front of the ‘puter and watch. 

I’ve also added links to the original story Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates, the original soundtrack, movie posters and even model kits based on the original film.

If you would like to keep track of how many people you’ve gotten to watch the film, post a message in the comments of this post.

I’ve already done my bit – I got Karen, my wife, to sit still through the whole thing.  She likes super hero movies better than SF ones, but she enjoyed every minute of it. Her comment – why are they bothering to remake it?

Visit the webpage, stick 12.10.08 on your calendar and get others to watch!

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Skiffy (sci fi -> ski fi -> skiffy) is the fannish word that derogatorily describes people who insist on using Sci Fi for Science Fiction AND just don’t get it. 

If you use Sci Fi and get it, that seems to be ok these days.  To qualify as an acceptable use, the person uttering the phrase or the thing described by the phrase must actually BE  science fiction(al). Otherwise, it’s SKIFFY.

The Sci Fi Channel is, in my personal and totally and completely un-humble opinion, Skiffy.

In order to convey my displeasure and disgust, I created the Classic Science Fiction Channel.  (Some of the offerings are certainly bad, but they’re not Skiffy.)  I also coined Skiffytube as an alternative name for the channel that I hope transmits both the nature of the beast and its contents. 

Recently the corporate giant behind this abomination announced plans to extend its tentacular reach into a multiplicity of other media – games, toys, new social networking websites and brand name products.

IO9 carried a storyon it and a thoroughly enjoyed the commentary that followed. Not a one of the posters looks to be rushing out for a SciFi corporate branding.

I spent a little time last nite working up some t-shirt designs that riff off those comments. If folks like them, I think I’ll open a CafePress shop.

and now in color –

Yes, that is an Irwin Allen font. The Sci Fi Channel’s content reminds me of a compilation of Mr. Allen’s SF offerings: “The suits from the corporate Land of the Giants got Lost in Space. They offer programming that requires a Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea to find its nearest equivalent. I wish I had a Time Tunnel so I could escape to another era.”

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Two Quick Mentions

Tor’s new website has been in beta for a bit now. I just signed up and you can too.  (Sign-up is still a bit buggy – I was unable to use a password that had numerals in it.)  Looks pretty good and there are already a couple of stories up – for free – by Scalzi and Stross.

Slightly related to the prior post (Ping Pong) is this rant that riffs on IO9’s bit about SF that has been bad for science.  Seems I’m not the only one who’s happy to get mentioned by IO9 but not pleased with their particular take on how to present the genre.

My take? Scientific RESEARCH (read ‘legitimate research’  which is, yes, a whole other discussion) is never the culprit.  The development of and engineering of the new technologies that research gives rise to can be used for both good and bad.  More often than not, the negative extremes of those developments are more often fully realized than the positive extremes.  Our continued existence is evidence that the bad is never as awful as it is orginally predicted to be.

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IO9 heats the Locus Awards controversy up again (Locus doubled susbscriber vote count in an effort to diminsh the effect of online votes) and the following solution occurred to me: Locus should include a ‘How to Count the Vote’ category in the ballot.  They can offer numerous formulae (votes from ‘Steves’ will be quadrupled…).  The kicker is, whichever methodology wins is implemented three years from now – not in the current year.

Interestingly, the commentary on IO9 (and elsewhere) includes a fairly large number of anti-Doctorow missives.  Cory is being castigated for ‘over-the-top’ self-promotion.  Perhaps in the interest of internet fairness, Cory should offer an opt-out capability.  “If you no longer wish to see Cory’s self-promotion, click here”.    Of course, the opt-out would only be effective for the current promo…

I was absent yesterday because it was the opening of Hillsboro’s annual Baloonfest, an extravaganza of hot air.  Wonderfully appropriate considering the foregoing, hmmm?  Above you can see Hillsboro’s own concept of self-promotion.  Chandler fans will note that it is all taking place at Grimes’ Field.  That’s Commodore John Grimes’ field. 

The Astronautical Superintendent was very fond of dirigibles and ballooning (he once won a balloon race against a Shaara Princess using Andrews Airship type balloons) and the people of Faraway (Rim Worlds Confederacy) have honored him appropriately.  (Once a year an interdimensional gate opens up on the outskirts of Hillsboro, NH, making it possible for us to visit Grimes Field on Faraway.)

So I was down there all day yesterday, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Commodore (no such luck), eating (bad) cheesesteaks, laughing at the (bad) midway amusements and totally getting off on the balloons.  A few shots below:

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I’ve got a couple of google alerts set up for science fiction subjects.  Usually they’re a waste of time, but every once and a while they send me something that’s at least worth looking at.

Today I got pointed to IO9.  The folks there are definitely fans, but they seem to be trying too hard to be cutesy and edgy.  They are often also woefully ‘incomplete’.  For example: a while ago they had a piece on Martial Arts & SF and, if you go to the comments, you’ll see that there’s probably more television shows they forgot to mention (originally) than were initially included.  I had to add Ultraman and AstroBoy (and its beyond me how anyone could miss those shows even during a casual survey).

The biggest issue I have with that site (which obviously has some talent and money behind it) is the emphasis on media SF over everything else.  Yes, more people watch “SF” than read it, but – come on. I just can’t take you seriously when you act as if Battlestar Galactica is some kind of breakthrough, most original, never seen or heard anything like this before in the history of the genre thing.

Google alerts also pointed me to the SciFiSource website a ‘hand-edited directory’ of SF&F sites on the web.  While making my way through their several thousand links (I’m not anywhere close to finished) I found a fair number of dead or redirected links, I submitted by Rimworlds Concordance site and I happened across C.J. Cherryh’s personal website and weblog.

Way back in the late 70s, a dinner with C.J. (and several others) at the Japanese Steakhouse in Baltimore introduced me to kobe beef and shitake mushrooms.  I’m forced to use a cliche here: that food literally melted on your tongue like butter.  The dinner conversation was quite enjoyable, with a good part of it devoted to C.J.’s thesis on Alexander the Great.

Anyway.  Ms. Cherryh has what looks like an unfinished piece on her site devoted to her thesis on obtaining a proper grounding in SF literature and devotes most of her time to gold and silver age authors.  No mention of BSG here.  I find it interesting and gratifying that one of the top authors of what I’ll call the ‘third wave’ finds her roots in the ‘classics’.



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