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There have been a few updates since my primer on the recent Worldcon and Hugo Awards controversies. First, DisCon announced that Bill Lawhorn had resigned as convention chairperson. Linda Deneroff was also announced as taking over the division head position, which is responsible for administration of the Hugo Awards.
Finally, DisCon's Gadi Evron emailed finalists stating that the four-person limit has been rescinded and all Hugo finalists and their plus ones are welcome at the Hugo reception and ceremony.
Evron's email also stated:
- Day passes will be provided at no cost to Finalists and their plus ones for the entire day of the Reception and Ceremony. If you cannot attend in person, we will be glad to have you attend virtually.
- Finalists will be able to participate in the Hugo Ceremony remotely.
In addition, the Discon program team "will be holding two open forums through Zoom on July 10th and July 11th, accommodating people in various time zones."
It's worth pointing out, as John Scalzi did the other day, that the issues we're seeing here are actually with the Hugo Awards ceremony, not the awards themselves. The Hugo Awards have actually been doing really well, as demonstrated by this year's excellent finalists.
DisCon has also released this year's Hugo Voter Packet. Members of DisCon can access the packet by logging into the member-only area.
Strange Horizons on Hugo Nomination and Collective Role in Creating the Magazine
As mentioned in my original Worldcon/Hugo report, some people in fandom blamed Strange Horizons for the recent controversy because the magazine listed the names of 87 staff members who helped the magazine become a Hugo finalist.
I personally saw the blowback against Strange Horizons as uncalled for. After all, the magazine was simply recognizing the large number of volunteer staff who helped create their magazine in 2020. Too often people downplay, ignore, or are not aware of how much the SF/F genre depends on volunteers like these. So I'm glad Strange Horizons took the step to recognize all of their people when they received a Hugo nomination.
I asked the Strange Horizons staff for their take on all of this. Below are their responses.
"At Strange Horizons, we believe that all art comes from collaborative labour. The zine that you read is the result of the combined efforts of first readers, copy-editors, accessibility editors, content editors, and special guest editors. We believe in recognising the labour of all these individuals. And in our ideal world, this would not be an outlier: when talking about novels, for example, we would honour the author, the editor, the proof-readers, the beta readers, the printers, and so many others. We hope that this can be the beginning of just such a conversation about how our community recognises and respects collective labour." — Gautam Bhatia, Co-Ordinating Editor, Strange Horizons
"We also note that in the past, narrow practices of recognition have served as devices of exclusion, and that is why we believe that it is doubly important that all nominees who wish to, be able to, attend the Convention. We believe that this is what genuine inclusion looks like." — Dan Hartland, Reviews Editor, Strange Horizons
"Specific to our zine, the list of names we gave is an accurate accounting of who decides what goes in our pages and how it looks when it gets there. In the past, to meet the criteria of not more than seven names, we've had to randomise and rotate the names we send in; that, however, is not true to our horizontal and collective structure — what we have done this year, is." — Romie Stott, Managing Editor, Strange Horizons
Heated Discussion in Horror Genre about Content Warnings
The horror genre held a contentious discussion about content warnings earlier this month, a discussion Tim Waggoner described as "Holy hell." The debate got even more heated when Silver Shamrock Publishing wrote a thread comparing content warnings with Nazi censorship. The thread was later deleted (for more on the thread, go here, here and here). Silver Shamrock later apologized then followed up the apology with more complaints.
All this led Chesya Burke to ask, "So Silver Shamrock Press literally died mad about it?
Despite the heated discussions, many good points were raised during the overall conversation. As Emily Reed stated, "The point of wanting trigger warnings is not censorship; it's about being prepared."
Bracken MacLeod also wrote a good thread, saying that "If Horror is truly intended to be for everyone, then we have an obligation to be considerate of our audience. I do NOT believe that TW/CWs ought to be required. Quite the opposite. I think it's a matter of the author's individual conscience. BUT, we're not all writing about heady cloudless days and easy nights on the beach. We're often writing about trauma and the effect of emotional and physical trauma. And here's the thing, 'triggers' are not mere offense. They're a forceful rekindling of past trauma."
However, as Silvia Moreno-Garcia said content warnings "can be wildly inaccurate. I had someone content warn one of my works for poverty. Another one for animal death (the dog lives). The Storygraph lists Mexican Gothic for 'cannibalism' as explicit, moderate & mild. Which one is it? A little bite or a buffet?"
Moreno-Garcia also pointed out that content warnings are frequently applied to writers of color. "What I've seen happen most commonly with warnings is that when it's something people like, they'll read it anyway (like a superhero show, etc). But when it's some author of color or minority writer, it immediately becomes an impassable hurdle. So Beloved, can't read it because incest but Game of Thrones gonna watch all seasons. It's an especially easy tool to wield for censors who hate things like GLBT authors or POC. They can hide their hatred under a fig leaf."
Moreno-Garcia was then attacked for this thread and called a bad author who hated readers; in response she wrote a very good follow-up thread. Alex Brown also responded, saying "you can't go about making your case for TWs/CWs by harassing authors and putting them on specious 'bad authors' lists. This is a big, complicated conversation with answers that will never satisfy everyone, but trolling marginalized authors ain't one of them."
Adiba Jaigirdar was inspired by Moreno-Garcia's thread to go to Storygraph and see what content warnings were listed on Jaigirdar's book The Henna Wars. Turns out incorrect content warnings for the title included warnings for racial slurs, child abuse, and transphobia, none of which are in the book. "Talk to me again about how content warnings don't get weaponised against POC," Jaigirdar said. Also check out this follow-up thread, which goes into more details on what Jaigirdar discovered.
Otherwise Award Update
While this year's Otherwise Award (formerly known as the Tiptree Award) is behind schedule, they're still planning to name finalists and hand out an award for a work published in 2020.
"Our timing has been delayed due to the pandemic," said Sumana Harihareswara of the Motherboard, which manages the award for the James Tiptree Literary Award Council.
Motherboard chair Alexis Lothian added, "Yes, the award will be taking place this year! The pandemic has delayed us from our usual schedule, but our jury is reading away. We don't have a final date for an announcement scheduled, but I can confirm that there will be an award!"
Other News and Info
- Seven months after Brian J. White took over as Fireside's interim editorial director following the racist audio recording of Regina N. Bradley's essay "Da Art of Speculatin'," the magazine has announced new management. LeKesha Lewis will take over as publisher while Chelle Parker will serve as managing editor. LeKesha and Chelle will be in charge of Fireside's day-to-day operations while White will stay on as executive editor and owner. Andrew Liptak's Transfer Orbit has an in-depth look at all that went on at Fireside and the magazine's work to regain their status as one of science fiction's leading anti-racist voices.
- Congrats to the winners of the Nebula Awards and the Locus Awards!
- I'm thrilled to see Bill Campbell and Rosarium Publishing receive a well-deserved special Locus Award for amplifying diverse voices. If you aren't familiar with Rosarium, check out their books, including the must-read Sunspot Jungle anthologies.
- If you thought all the stuff going on with Worldcon was confusing, try understanding the issues with TSR Games. Essentially, there are currently two companies named TSR Games due to a lapsed trademark. One of them employs Ernie Gary Gygax Jr., son of the late Gary Gygax who created Dungeons & Dragons. Gygax Jr. recently "laughed at and mocked the concept of gender identity and disparaged Native Americans among several other statements," resulting in the other TSR Games coming out fully against his statements. To sort through all this confusion, check out this excellent thread by Darryl Mott, who also clearly identifies which company is which.
- In an interview with Variety, the creators of Harley Quinn revealed that DC Comics wouldn't let Batman give oral sex to Catwoman because "Heroes don't do that." Thus was born a billion memes and tweets including such quips as Nick Hanover saying "I know Bruce Wayne doesn't own Spectrum Internet because it goes down on me every night" and Saladin Ahmed pointing out "Batman does, but Alfred does it RIGHT." And definitely read this account of 1960s Batman stars Adam West and Frank Gorshin getting kicked out of a Hollywood orgy because they wouldn't break character.
- Brian M. Williams was approached by an agent who "likes my book but says before she can offer to rep me, she wants to act as an editorial developer on it for a fee (which she'll only collect if the book doesn't sell or I choose to self publish)." Williams then asked if this was the new normal (spoiler: it's absolutely not). As Williams later stated, of the 400 responses received to that tweet, 57% said No, 23% said Hell No, and 17% said Run!
- Interesting article comparing the success of the Fast & Furious films to Dungeons and Dragons in how audiences accept the illegal street racers in the first F&F film growing in abilities until they're saving the world in the ninth film. "Why does it work at all? Well, look at D&D. In the classic role-playing game, characters are supposed to continually level up. In a traditional campaign (a story that unfolds over many sessions and often many years), the heroes start off facing low-level monsters and criminals threatening their tiny village, but as their powers grow, they tackle more existential threats, like enormous dragons or sorcerers who threaten to end the world."
- The group which ran Worldcon 76 settled with Jon Del Arroz over his lawsuit for being banned from the 2018 convention and for statements made by Worldcon. They paid Del Arroz $4,000 and published this statement on their website. File770 has coverage of the entire lawsuit.
- Camestros Felapton has been writing a detailed history of the history and fallout from the puppy fiasco at the 2015 Hugo Awards. Felapton has now collected the first volume of the history into ebook form, billed as "the epic saga of how a culture war came to consume science fiction's most famous literary award and the web of connections that help explain modern politics." I highly recommend people read the book, which will be on my short list for next year's Hugo Award for Best Related Work.
- Please, please, please read this thread about the more common responses autistic people get when they try to confide in people that they're neurodivergent. This is an issue very close to my heart.
- Uncanny Magazine was open to novella submissions for the month of April and received 501 submissions with an average word count of 24,544 words. As the magazine stated, "Sadly, we were only budgeted to buy a single novella."
- LeVar Burton lays down some wisdom: "If you have not the ears to hear me when I speak my truth or the eyes to see my pain when shared, at least have the decency to stand silent and refrain from criticizing condemnation."
- National Geographic presents a deep dive into the history of how the Pentagon learned to start worrying and investigate UFOs.
- Some biologists and ecologists think social media is a risk to humanity, a theory anyone with a Twitter account will readily understand.
- Thanks to streaming music services, individual songs are gaining attention these days at the expense of individual artists. While this Vox article focuses on the music industry, I can easily see some of the same dynamics in the book industry. Makes me wonder if in a few years readers might be reading books in a similar manner and not care much on who the books' authors might be.
- The deadline to nominate works for the Dragon Awards is July 19.
- Out of all the memes playing with the now famous "for the better, right?" scene from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, this one will likely resonate with writers.
- The first confirmed photo of the ever-fabulous Chuck Tingle has been released! Love is real!
- Sign of the times: DisCon won't release a public listing of their members because some bad actors have used the previous Worldcon member lists to harass people.
- Here's the full video of the 1984 Nebula Awards ceremony. Phoebe Barton also pointed out some of the highlights of the 1984 Nebulas: "Following the banquet, Harlan Ellison punched Charles Platt over comments Platt had made regarding an award given to Larry Shaw. Tom Disch also punched William Gibson, without explanation."
- As Locus reports, major publishers in the US and UK have "begun planning to return to the office, but they're not just going back to the way things used to be."
- A year after famed comic writer Warren Ellis was accused of "coercion, manipulation, and sexually predatory behavior," he attempted a comeback. It didn't go so well.
- Alex de Campi offers a good thread on how editors upset with Warren Ellis can help change things: publish more women!
- Only six days left in the Kickstarter for Xenocultivars, a plant-themed speculative fiction anthology about queer growth. Check it out and consider helping them meet their goal.
- As Victoria Strauss details, old publishing scammers don't die or fade away, they merely change their names.
- Neil Gaiman defended casting nonbinary and Black actors in the upcoming Netflix adaptation of The Sandman, saying "I give zero f---s about people who don't understand/haven't read Sandman whining about a non-binary Desire or that Death isn't white enough."
- Cheryl Morgan, dipping into her inner Oscar Wilde, wrote the best tweet about the entire Worldcon affair: "To lose one con chair, Worldcon, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."
- Being caught in the book buying vortex of love isn't a bug, it's a feature!
- Where do you fall on the novel writing app alignment chart?
- If Lex Luthor did this in a Superman comic, people would be like "pshh way too over the top like not even a super villain would be this obvious."
- Diabolical Plots, which published the amazing Nebula Award winning short story "Open House on Haunted Hill" by John Wiswell, is looking for volunteer first readers. Deadline to apply is July 10. And Diabolical Plots will also be open to submissions for the first two weeks in August. Finally, Diabolical Plots will have their first themed submission window in October. The theme is "Diabolical Potts” and it will be a food-themed speculative story issue edited by Kel Coleman. Details>>
- The Dream Foundry contests for beginning SF/F writers and artists are returning for another round. This year, the prizes for first through third place in each category will be $1000, $500, and $200. There is no submission fee. Deadline August 10. Details>>
- The Horror Writers Association (HWA) has established two $2500 Scholarships to assist in the professional development of horror writers. In addition, the HWA is also offering the Rocky Wood Memorial Scholarship Fund for Non-fiction Writing, an endowed fund providing grants for research and writing nonfiction relating to horror and dark fantasy literature. Deadlines for all these scholarships is just after midnight on August 1. You don't have to be HWA member to apply. Details>>