WWWednesday: August 24, 2016

This is the World Con edition of World Wide Wednesday.

Slide Welcome to the 2016 Hugo Award Ceremony, in the Pat Cadigan Theater

In the Pat Cadigan Theater

First of all, the Hugos! N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season won for Best Novel; Nnedi Okorafor won for Best Novella with “Binti;” Hao JingFang took home the Best Novelette statue for “Folding Beijing,” and Naomi Kritzer won for Best Short Story with “Cat Pictures Please.”

There were two categories where the voters awarded no Hugo: Best Fancast and Best Related Work.  Go here for a detailed list of all the winners.

On a personal note, Pat Cadigan, who hosted, was hilarious. Part of the time she shared the podium with Jan Siegel; and they reminded me of the two women from Absolutely Fabulous. Cadigan out-vamped Cher and Mae West. The best moment was when she and Robert Silverberg stretched the suspense over Best Novel until it nearly snapped. Two pros who are old friends working together; it completely paid off.

The entity known as “Dr. Chuck Tingle” did not win a Hugo, but he/she/they can be proud of the number of shout-outs received during the awards ceremony. Several people yelled “Love is real!” which is Tingle’s catchphrase, and in one speech a winner thanked Tingle for the high-quality “performance art.”

When Andy Weir won the Campbell Award for best new writer, his award (and tiara) was accepted, and worn… by an astronaut! Stanley Love accepted the award. When The Martian won for best Long Form Drama, that award was accepted by… another astronaut! Jeanette Epps picked up that one of Weir’s behalf. How cool is that?

Awards:

As near as I can tell from reading the rules on their site, there is still time to vote in the brand-new Dragon Awards. The Dragon Awards are open to anyone with an e-mail address. Here is their site. Check it out.

(L to R) Kat Hooper, Marion Deeds, Kate Lechler, Bill Capossere

(L to R) Kat Hooper, Marion Deeds, Kate Lechler, Bill Capossere, photo by Rob Hooper

WorldCon:

Five of us from the site managed to meet at WorldCon this year, and each of us is going to share a few highlights.

The Kansas City, Missouri MidAmeriCon team did an excellent job. As a consumer, I think that things ran smoothly and well; it was a great crowd, people were friendly and the whole convention was organized and ran smoothly. I’m sure things blew up behind the scenes now and then, but I didn’t see it. There were some controversies which we’ll mention below, but if there isn’t some controversy, it is really an SFF convention?

A Festive Dalek, part of New Orleans's bid for WorldCon 2018

A Festive Dalek, part of New Orleans’s bid for WorldCon 2018, photo by Kelly Lassiter

I also want to say that Kansas City seems like an excellent place for a national or international convention. The convention center is large. I won’t say I found the room numbering that intuitive, but it was possible to navigate. Lots of restrooms with good access! There are three major hotels within walking distance, and three more a few blocks away; public transportation looked look and within the Power and Light District there is a free streetcar that runs from the River Market, north of the Center, all the way to the Union Terminal. There are plenty of good eateries and lunch places, and a lot of great architecture, both historical and modern.

Bill: “My favorite part of course was finally getting to meet some of my colleagues face to face. But as for the convention itself:

“This shouldn’t (but sadly will) come as a shock to some, but scientists, astronauts, NASA engineers?  Smart people who know lots of stuff. Like, lots. What might surprise more is just how funny they can all be.  The science panels were some of my favorite groups—everyone well prepared, information more than up to date (including references to not-yet-released papers), and probably the best interaction with the audience.

“The two panels I attended on film were also quite good. The one on SF Films of the 50s was both informative and lots of fun. And how could it not have been, with discussion of and stills from ThemRobot-MonsterCat-Women of the Moon and the like?  The other one, on movie monsters, was less raucous fun but more thoughtful, with discussion for instance of how what is most frightening about monsters is what they make us do— “what depths will you sink to . . . You become a predator to fight them off; if you don’t you become one of them . . . The threat to someone’s humanity is more interesting.” My award for best efficiency of concept went to “Godzilla is guilt; Kong is innocence.”

“Speaking of high concept and depth of thought, in that vein nothing beat out the dialogue between Kate Eliot and Ken Liu on cultural change and the employment of history and sub-cultures in one’s work.

Hugo Nominee Sebastien de Castell

Hugo Nominee Sebastien de Castell

Sebastien de Castell and his wife just might be the nicest, friendliest people who live in Canada (we’re talking Canada, people—that’s saying something!)”

Bill also commented that while the academic and scientific track presenters were well-prepared, the writing/pop culture/entertainment panels were often uneven, which is something Kat and I noticed as well.

Kelly: “I loved the Hamilton panel I attended with Kate, the Dark Side of Fairy Tales panel I attended with you, the Archaeology in SF panel on Saturday afternoon, and the Jane Austen and Mary Shelley panel on Sunday (where Mary Robinette Kowal served Scotch, which she got in trouble for, and provided a classy response to. More below). Came home with shiny new autographs from Sarah Beth Durst and George R.R. Martin. Also got to experience some great Kansas City food and beer at Arthur Bryant’s and Flying Saucer with the FanLit crew.”

Kelly also had some good success with Pokemon Go if I remember correctly.

Kat: “My favorite part of the con was meeting you guys and my second favorite part was connecting with neuroscientists who are also SFF writers. They gave me some suggestions for incorporating short SFF stories into my neuroscience courses as a refreshing way to introduce ethical considerations. I can’t wait to add this to my class for next Spring (as well as actually review the stories for SFM).”

Kate: “My favorite panel was the Afrofuturism panel, where authors and publishers discussed the history and future of black writers and black characters in SFF. The panelists mentioned a lot of resources for Afrofuturism, including the Dark Matter and Reading the Bones anthology and the Rosarium publishing house. This was great, since I’m trying to expand my Sci-Fi class to include more of this material.

I also really liked the panel on using sci-fi in the college classroom, and the Hamilton panel. One of my favorite aspects of the con was going to several readings, and, in the case of Flash Fiction Online, hearing a communal read of Laura Pearlman’s story, “I am Graalnak of the Vroon Empire, Destroyer of Galaxies, Supreme Overlord of the Planet Earth. Ask Me Anything,” which is hilariously told in the format of a Reddit AMA. My favorite reading was Rose Lemberg’s, where they read a selection from their Birdverse novel. I really want to read the rest of this, so I need a publisher to pick it up!

Finally, it was so much fun to see friends I know from elsewhere like Julia Rios and Sunil Patel, to meet old friends for the first time such as my FanLit people and my online critique partner Allison Mulder, and to make SO MANY new friends.”

SFWA Grandmaster Connie Willis

SFWA Grandmaster Connie Willis

Marion: The biggest kick of the convention was getting to meet, face-to-face, at least a handful of the crazy geniuses who write on this site. The second favorite highlight was listening to Grandmaster Connie Willis deliver a critique of Donald Trump’s campaign at a Starbucks, right before she graciously posed for a picture for me. One of the biggest surprises was a panel I chose on a whim, “SFF in the Library,” a lively presentation from a group of Kansas City Librarians on how they use SFF to engage new readers, reluctant readers, and book groups.

Beth Meacham, an executive editor at Tor, gave some pragmatic and down-to-earth advice at one of the editing panels, and like Bill, I thoroughly enjoyed the “Movies and Monsters” panel – and I loved “What’s New with Dinosaurs!” Brother Guy Consolmagno, Director of the Vatican Observatory, is brilliant and funny. He didn’t talk about the heavens, but about the physical and bureaucratic realities of living in a system that is basically a religious monarchy—and, until recently, housed in a 15th century Italian palace.

I second Bill’s observation about Sebastian de Castell and his wife, who I met only briefly. She had just come back from an international librarian’s conference.

At the Flying Saucer Pub, from front Left: Allison Mulder, writing friend of Kate, Kat Hooper, Kelly Lassiter, Bill Capossere, Marion Deeds, Kate Lechler.

At the Flying Saucer Pub, from front Left: Allison Mulder, writing friend of Kate, Kat Hooper, Kelly Lassiter, Bill Capossere, Marion Deeds, Kate Lechler, photo by Rob Hooper.

Editors:

There were a couple of editor panels and I want to share some words of wisdom.

From Bill: “Clarkesworld really, really, really does not want you to send them a zombie story. No, stop thinking about one that will prove the exception. Seriously, stop it. They won’t take it.  I think his family was wiped out in a shambling attack or something . . .  Stop.”

From Marion:  Anna Yeatts at Flash Fiction Online is tired of protagonists with “emerald eyes.” “Don’t give me emerald eyes. Emerald eyes and flowing red locks… yeah, no!”

And then, the Controversies:

As I said, it probably isn’t a real WorldCon if there isn’t at least one dust-up, and apparently there were two. Dave Truesdale, from Tangent, was expelled from WorldCon after he gave an opening speech at the “State of Short Fiction” panel he was moderating. After stating that some “special snowflakes” were so sensitive they were offended by everything, he pulled out a handful of round-bead necklaces and apparently made a comment like “Here, just clutch your pearls and be quiet.” I was not at the panel, but Dave Truesdale has released the audio recording he made of it, to the surprise of his fellow panelists (he made it without telling them.) The editors on the panel disagreed with his with his dramatic point, the audience got impatient, and apparently it wasn’t a terribly successful panel. The MidAmeriCon Team followed their procedure when they have a report of a violation of the Code of Conduct. In this case it resulted in an expulsion.  Jim Hines covers it here.

On Sunday, Mary Robinette Kowal served alcohol at her panel on Jane Austen and Mary Shelley. This is a violation of the Code of Conduct and Kowal was suspended from the rest of the day. Her reaction, here, is somewhat different from Truesdale’s. What I like about Kowal’s post is how it informs us of the process. Read the comments; they’re interesting!

After the Con:

San Jose, CA, will host the 2018 WorldCon (2017’s is in Helsinki.) I like this, because I’ll be able to drive to it, but they will have to go some to beat KC.

Giveaways:

I am a week behind on the Giveaways because I was at WorldCon. If you are anxiously watching one, check those posts on Thursday, August 25. I should have them current by then.

Next week we return to our usual collection of links.

 

 


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MARION DEEDS, with us since March 2011, is retired from a 35-year career with county government, where she met enough interesting characters and heard enough zany stories to inspire at least two trilogies’ worth of fantasy fiction. Currently she spends part of her time working at a local used bookstore. She is an aspiring writer herself and, in the 1990s, had short fiction published in small magazines like Night Terrors, Aberrations, and in the cross-genre anthology The Magic Within. On her blog Deeds & Words, she reviews many types of books and follows developments in food policy and other topics.

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5 comments

  1. I’m so glad you all had a good time at WorldCon! Thanks for providing your individual impressions and some really great photos.

    • The convention, and meeting everyone, was definitely a highlight.

      And a shout-out to Kat’s husband Rob, who is a great guy and a great photographer.

  2. The convention sounds great, and I am SO ecstatic that NK Jemisin got the Hugo Award for The Fifth Season – that book was absolutely amazing, and the sequel The Obelisk Gate is equally great. Just finished it last night and read Jana’s excellent review this morning. The Hugo Awards reaffirmed that the SFF community embraces diversity AND quality writing – these awards were well-deserved.

    On a (possibly) different note, I noted that in the Related Works category, “No Award” was the winner, beating out Marc Aramini’s massive 826-page analysis of Gene Wolfe’s work:

    Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986

    Last year I tried and gave up on “The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction” because his stories are so cryptic and allusive. However, I got several very helpful and insightful comments from someone named “Aramini”, and realize they are one and the same. I’m now inspired to tackle some of those Wolfe stories again, armed with his very in-depth and erudite analysis. I would actually hazard the idea the voting may have been unfairly biased against this book because it is published by the notorious Castalia House, the Finland-based publisher associated with a vitriolic person I won’t dignify by naming (who is also infamous for bad-mouthing NK Jemisin, btw). Anyway, I do strongly believe in the idea of “Don’t judge a book by its publisher”, so having read some the book’s analysis of The Fifth Head of Cerberus, I think it is well worth reading for Wolfe fans and scholars. Let’s leave the politics out if possible.

    • Isn’t Aramini working on the second book? I don’t know when its’ due out but I remember seeing somewhere that he had two, or possibly three, books planned.

      • Yes, this book covers Wolfe’s output through 1986, so including The Book of the New Sun and a huge number of his short stories (including obscure ones), but not The Urth of the New Sun coda, Book of the Long Sun, Book of the Short Sun, or the Soldier of Sidon books, etc. It’s amazing that he has devoted so much time and attention to a single author’s work, but if any writer’s ouvre needed careful study it would be Gene Wolfe. It’s been very helpful so far, and only $6.99 on Kindle!

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