No Award (Part One)

The following is a guest column by Chris Chan, the first of eight parts, to be published in this space over the next few weeks. The topic is a tidbit of inglorious Science Fiction fandom history in which I played a small part, known of old as the Sad Puppies Kerfuffle, and hence might be of interest to my readers.

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This article first appeared on the now-defunct NerdHQ blog. “No Award” The Hugo Awards, Sad Puppies, and Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literature Part I: What’s Happening with the Hugos?

Source: No Award (Part One)

No Award (Part Two)

SPEAKING OF ZOMBIES: Rescuing Science Fiction from the Horde of ‘Woke Zombies’….

SPEAKING OF ZOMBIES: Rescuing Science Fiction from the Horde of ‘Woke Zombies’.

I recall a panel at Loscon many years ago: “The Anti-Imagination Movement”. At the time, I thought it might discuss the opposition to AD&D and similar games. (I didn’t manage to attend.) Now we have a metastastisized Anti-Imagination Movement attacking all of science-fiction.

Source: SPEAKING OF ZOMBIES: Rescuing Science Fiction from the Horde of ‘Woke Zombies’….

Message Received

Message Fiction strikes again

Shoplifting in the Marketplace of Ideas

One of the greatest dividing lines in current Science Fiction is the debate over “Message Fiction”. It was an issue that began to rear its ugly head decades ago, long before it became the genesis of the Sad Puppies. But this isn’t yet another Sad Puppies post. I want to look at the topic of Message Fiction because I recently came across a particularly arch example.

Now, when it comes down to it, short of pure action-adventure stories, almost all science fiction has some kind of idea or message behind it – the “What if” that makes the fiction speculative. Exploring those possibilities is what drives the story. 1984 was a dystopia that asked the question “What would life be like if the UK became the ultimate expression of an authoritarian socialist state?” But to have a story, one needs a conflict. Thus, 1984 has Winston Smith, a cog in…

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…Like With a Brillo?

TheNewNeo notes some curious things about Professor Ford.

One of the strangest aspects of Ford’s story is that, by the time her identity was revealed, much information about that identity had been removed from the internet with an unusual degree of thoroughness for a layperson, indicating the participation of someone who knew exactly what he or she was doing, not an amateur such as Ford herself. How was this done, and who did it?

For me, one of the most curious aspects of all is that her high school yearbooks disappeared from their online site as well, not long after almost all of her personal information was scrubbed . Ford did not have the power to do this because the yearbooks were not displayed at her site or social media pages. So who did it for her, and why, and at whose behest? What’s more, the site that claimed to have archived and displayed the yearbooks disappeared as well not all that long after.

It takes quite a bit to get me into conspiracy theories, but this has been extremely odd. Are the yearbooks that were displayed at that site authentic? If so, why did the site that offered them disappear without any explanation? The yearbooks revealed massive drinking and partying by the young ladies of Holton Arms, including Ford herself. I’d love to get some clarification on all of this.


Are the aliens merely sleeping? – Marginal REVOLUTION

Some time ago, I realized that the cosmic microwave background at 2.7K meant the universe was too warm to allow superfluid helium to form “in the wild”. Superfluid helium shows up at temperatures below 2.17K, so the universe needs to expand and cool of a bit more before the science fiction stories involving superfluid helium life forms become even theoretically possible. Maybe alien civilizations have decided to wait until superfluidity and superconductivity are common outside of cryogenics labs?

“While it is possible for a civilization to cool down parts of itself to any low temperature,” the authors write, that, too, requires work. So it wouldn’t make sense for a civilization looking to maximize its computational capacity to waste energy on the process. As Sandberg and Cirkovic elaborate in a blog post, it’s more likely that such artificial life would be in a protected sleep mode today, ready to wake up in colder futures.

If such aliens exist, they’re in luck. The universe appears to be cooling down on its own. Over the next trillions of years, as it continues to expand and the formation of new stars slows, the background radiation will reduce to practically zero. Under those conditions, Sandberg and Cirkovic explain, this kind of artificial life would get “tremendously more done.” Tremendous isn’t an understatement, either. The researchers calculate that by employing such a strategy, they could achieve up to 1030 times more than if done today.

Source: Are the aliens merely sleeping? – Marginal REVOLUTION


WhedonCon 2017

WhedonCon is a new convention; 2017 was its second year. This is a convention celebrating the works of Joss Whedon: Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Serenity, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and others. As a result, I spent the past weekend doing what I call “Convention Weight Training”. This is a fitness program that involves moving lots of heavy objects to and from a hotel, and moving them around in the hotel as I need to get at supplies and equipment.

For the second year in a row, I handled supplies for the Green Room. I bought the snacks and munchies, the beverages, and provided a lunch set-up around mid day. Everyone was quite happy with the provisions in the Green Room, and I used just over 80% of my budget. (Thanks in part to Kneady Bakery, which donated three shopping bags filled with baked goods to the convention.) Hospitality uses a lot of ice, and after the hotel staff showed me where the heavy-duty ice machine lived, I filled up my 150-quart ice chest with ice both Friday and Saturday nights. I had a cart I could use to move the chest through the hotel, but lifting it off the cart when it was full was something that had to be done by hand.

So, the day after I finished loading stuff out, I’m still quite tired.

One thing I didn’t do very much of was attend the convention. I made it to one panel, and caught the tail end of one where the subject was the monsters we are all capable of becoming. Comparing Trump with Hitler was apparently considered not the least bit controversial.  (I chose not to call anyone on their non-inclusiveness at that point.)

A lot of the programming was kind of “how to do it” lectures and demonstrations — writing, make-up, special effects, and so on. There was a panel speculating about what the second season of Firefly would have been like, and a couple of panels dedicated to everyday heroes. There were also meet-and-greet sessions, autograph sessions, and photo opportunity sessions. If I were passionate about any of those, I’d probably not be working the Green Room.

All in all, I did have fun. I guess I fall into the class of “convention-running fans” — the sort who’s more interested in running a convention than in the subject matter of any given con.  I guess I like the challenge of putting together a spread for as little as possible.

Anyway, back to ranting about politics.