Category Archives: Fandom

FilkOntario Draws To A Close

It’s been a most wonderful weekend. The dead penguin party continues as we wind down.

Today’s HOF concert was a singular event for me, having dear friends performing my favorite songs. I also performed my signature song, “Ronald Reagan – Carl Sagan – San Diego Pagan Blues,” for the first time in many, many years.

I have seen many old friends and made many new friends, had some fascinating conversations, learned new songs, and even dragged out a decades-old song from PFNEN to sing. (In public and everything!)

A million thanks to the FilkOntario convention committee and Filk Hall of Fame jury, especially Dave & Judith Hayman and Peggi Warner-Lalonde, who have pulled off miracles to make it all run smoothly.

FilkOntario has been wonderful! I can’t wait to come back!!

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Filed under Fandom, Music, Travel

Slaying Delayed

Long day. All evening doing an online task which I do not enjoy but can not avoid. Not feeling the joy.

Listening to some tunes, as I have been known to do. (BTW, someone changed the key on “Jesus Christ Superstar.” I used to be able to sing along with that. Now it’s just ugly.) Tonight it’s Julia Ecklar for reasons I don’t recall, but I’m having a good time listening again.

Given the task and my mood, I’m ready for “Temper of Revenge.” As she says on the live version on another CD, “One set of chords and you’re all lusting for blood!”

So here we go! “Bring me my lance! Bring my shield! Strong as my sword is…”

“beep, beep! beep, beep! beep, beep!” My phone has cut off the music to have my alarm go off.

Stick a pin in that thought, I’ll be back in five minutes to wade hip deep into the demon horde, slinging entrails and limbs right and left with my massive broadsword. Right now it’s been two hours since dinner and I have to go do that blood test thing to make sure I’m not hypoglycemic.

Who knew that that’s what they meant by “lusting for blood?”

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Filed under Fandom, Health, Music

At Consonance 2017

Too busy listening to concerts & chatting with friends I see far too rarely to write much. But (of course) there are pictures!

For Interfilk Guest Leslie Hudson’s concert there was plenty of help.

The Guest of Honor concert was the main event tonight. From left to right are Leslie Hudson, Mary Crowell, Betsy Tinney (amazing cello!), and GOHs Bill & Brenda Sutton.
For those I haven’t indoctrinated into SF true fandom, when I’m done having fun I’ll explain those terms.

For now, it’s the open filk:

With luck, we’ll be up way, way too late doing this!

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Filed under Fandom, Music, Science Fiction, Travel

Go, Pokemon, Go! (And Don’t Come Back!)

It’s been a bit disturbing for the last week or so to see more and more people I follow and talk to on Twitter and Facebook succumbing to this latest craze.

I understand and expect many science fiction and fantasy fans to be jumping on the Pokemon Go bandwagon. Hell, I would be amazed if many of them weren’t first adopters or even beta testers. No worries, it goes with the territory.

I’m not surprised to see many of that generation (including my kids) embracing it enthusiastically. They grew up with Pokemon, they’ve played the games on one gaming platform after another from teeny-tiny monochrome LCD screens all the way up to Retina display supercomputers that you can carry in your pockets.

But the number of well respected scientists, writers, and researchers that are out there trying to “catch them all” caught me off guard. Aren’t these folks supposed to be out there solving the mysteries of the universe 24/7 and tweeting about it so that I can hover in their shadow? Isn’t that the job description?

Instead, I find that my friends from SF&F fandom are all chasing Pokemon. Younger people I follow (kids, nephews, nieces, etc) are all chasing Pokemon. And now a high percentage of my NASA, NASA Social, flying, astronomy, space exploration peeps and tweeps are all chasing Pokemon.

Thank god I don’t follow any celebrities or sports figures. I can only imagine what’s going on over in that sector.

This may be a classic “Get off my lawn!” moment for me. But augmented reality has been an intriguing possibility for years and I’ve been waiting for it to get into the mass markets. Where’s the app where you can turn on your phone’s camera in an unfamiliar city and have it show you where the nearest subway is or overlay on the picture directions to a restaurant you’ve picked? Where’s the app where you can go house or apartment hunting and have your phone tie into Zillow and show you the price and amenities for all the homes in a neighborhood, while also point out which direction and how far it is to the nearest park or school? Where’s the app where you can point your phone at a sign in a foreign city and have it translated into English for you?

Oh, right, that last one exists. WordLens will translate signs in German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Russian. On the fly, in real time, you can take something like this:


(It’s what I had sitting on the desk – just go with it)

…into this:

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Nope, instead we’re getting the teeming masses who are (we hope) otherwise sane and rational critters out wandering about aimlessly, staring intently at their phones.

Staring intently and wandering about as they walk into the street, off of piers, into light posts, and so on. It’s madness.

Also, watch out for the Laws of Unintended Consequences. There are some nice stories out there with Marines catching burglars while playing, people getting outside and getting some exercise for the first time in ages, and people meeting people they otherwise never would have met and finding out that they’re just, you know, people. There are also stories of muggers realizing that the Pokemon gyms and hot spots are perfectly good places to find people with expensive phones who are paying absolutely no attention to their surroundings.

Then there’s the whole Westboro Baptist Church thing. Suffice it say that anything that royally pisses off those assholes is a good thing in my book.

I guess in the end, I just don’t get it. I would love to have a HoloDeck from the Enterprise, but this seems a bit lame.

So far as my personal unintended consequences go, I was briefly saddened while reading about people coming out of their houses for the first time in ages. I missed the window of opportunity to buy stock in companies making sunblock and sunglasses. It’s okay – I realized that there was still time to invest in companies that make aloe gel and Ben Gay.




Filed under Computers, Distracted Driving, Fandom, Paul

All Together Now!

  It’s been years since the whole family has been together. 

Our son has been stationed overseas for years. Our daughters have been on various continents for months and years at a time, and while they’re back in California now, it’s a big state.

We’ll see them individually from time to time, and sometimes in pairs. Rarely all three. 2006 in St. Louis. 2011 (?) spring training in Phoenix.

This time it’s San Jose for Consonance, a small science fiction convention which centers around filk music. (I’ll explain later.)

For a day we’re together. With The Younger Daughter’s boyfriend, that’s a table for six.

(Thanks to Jim Robinson for taking our picture for me!)

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Filed under Family, Fandom, Science Fiction

What Book Have You Read Multiple Times?

A question from The Younger Daughter the other day (“Should I read ‘Dune’ or ‘Time Enough For Love’?”) got me to re-reading Heinlein’s “Time Enough For Love” again. And by “again,” I mean like for at least the tenth time.

I know that many critics and fans don’t consider it to be one of Heinlein’s better works, and as I read it again I do find sections that don’t shine quite the way I remembered. Yet it’s still the one book I would take to a deserted island with me. Perhaps it’s the circumstances under which I first read it – lots of stress, lots of uncertainty, lots of dreams lying shattered about me, feeling isolated, lost, and abandoned. My eighteen-year-old mind was probably vulnerable at the time and I may have imprinted on that book the same way a baby duckling does on the first thing it sees.

(Thank god I didn’t read “Atlas Shrugged” at that point!)

Despite the 1960’s sensibilities and some supposedly far future technology that my cell phone can run rings around, as a whole I still find the book to be one that I hold near and dear to my heart.

Other books I’ve read multiple times – “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” by JRR Tolkein, “Dune” by Frank Herbert, “Starman Jones” by Robert Heinlein, “Ringworld” by Larry Niven, “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant” by Stephen Donaldson, the “Red Mars / Green Mars / Blue Mars” trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, “Startide Rising” by David Brin, the “Foreigner” books by CJ Cherryh, the earlier “Dragonriders Of Pern” books by Anne McCaffery, “Red Storm Rising” by Tom Clancy, “Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain, the “Titan” novels by John Varley…

“Red Storm Rising” is probably my second choice for my library on that deserted island, but I always come back to the Heinlein work.

So – what book or books have you read multiple times, and which one is your absolute favorite and why?


Filed under Fandom, Science Fiction

My Funeral

First of all, I’m fine. I’m not dying, at least, not any more than the rest of us. I didn’t get any recent news of a tumor, blocked artery, or astronomically high blood pressure, nor do I know of a bullet or a bus with my name on it.

I am not superstitious (or “stupidstitious”) about it being Friday The 13th. Today’s date means nothing other than tomorrow is “Pi Day Of The Century“! Which also means nothing, since the calendar and our measurement of time is about 90% arbitrary, but it’s a great excuse to be goofy and have pie. Mmmmm, pie…

But this song came up in my playlist the other day (see #16) and my brain got to spinning off onto a dozen tangents, as it is occasionally wont to do. (Silly brain.) So, given greater and lesser amounts of seriousness, to be updated periodically as I change my mind or come up with other goofy crap to do, here are some suggestions/requests/orders (you don’t want to be haunted, do you?) for my eventual funeral:

  1. Please do not call it a funeral. “Memorial service,” “life celebration,” whatever the politically correct term of the week is, but not “funeral.” Although as you’ll see, I want the “fun” put back in “funeral!”
  2. Someone take a LOT of pictures. I would do it, but, you know, “dead” and all that.
  3. If at all possible, start the event just before sunset, outdoors, under a clear sky.
  4. Wearing a suit and tie or fancy dress will be frowned upon, unless of course some serious (and entertaining) gender-bending is going on. Depending on the weather, if you must wear “normal” clothes, Hawaiian shirts for summer or turtlenecks for winter are okay.
  5. Extra points: Wear Hawaiian shirts with airplanes on them.
  6. Beaucoup extra points: Wear turtlenecks with airplanes on them.
  7. All things being equal, people should be encouraged to wear costumes — fannish friends might consider bringing extras for the mundane factions of my family and friends.
  8. If not into fannish costumes, mundane costumes will do. Angels, Chiefs, or Kings jerseys and/or hats are all acceptable. Their rivals’ gear will, obviously, not be acceptable.
  9. Extra points: Anyone wearing a combination of Angels, Chiefs, and Kings gear will be recognized for their creativity and given a seat of honor for the event as a reward.
  10. Beaucoup extra points: Have the Angels’ World Series trophy, the Chiefs’ Lombardi Trophy, or the Stanley Cup there for people to take selfies with.
  11. Have a flyover. My pals at the CAF will do a great job.
  12. Extra points: Get the Blue Angels or Air Force Thunderbirds instead of the CAF.
  13. Beaucoup extra points: Get the Blue Angels, and the Air Force Thunderbirds, in addition to the CAF.
  14. Everyone’s invited. (Yes, that means you too!)
  15. God’s invited (s/he’s included in “everyone”) but it’s my party, not God’s, so let’s not make any deities the Guest of Honor, ok? Either I’ll be some mythical afterlife actually talking to some deity or another (my mother’s bet) or I simply won’t (my bet). Either way, I’ll know and you won’t. (Wait, if I’m…then I won’t… Never mind.)
  16. Play “Into The West” from Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King, the one sung by Annie Lennox. I absolutely love that song and have wanted it played at my funeral memorial service ever since I first heard it.
  17. Extra points: Get Annie Lennox to sing it live with a full orchestra.
  18. Beaucoup extra points: Get Annie Lennox to sing it live with a full orchestra and Amanda Palmer!
  19. Tell jokes, tell stories, tell more jokes. I’ve done plenty of stupid things, let’s relive them in all their glory.
  20. Share my photographs, and keep sharing them for years and years beyond. They’re a big part of the proof that I was here.
  21. If I’ve managed to get any of my stories published, read some choice selections. If I didn’t break through, pick a couple of my less sucky Flash Fiction efforts to fill time until it gets dark.
  22. As it gets dark, keep the lights off (or at least to a minimum, or hand out flashlights with red lenses) so that everyone can get dark adapted.
  23. Bring out the telescopes and spend the evening (all night if you want!) with everyone taking turns looking through them at the planets, stars, nebulae, comets, moon…
  24. Whatever the venue, sing. Sing filksongs, but use the broad definition of the term (“Anything I’ve ever heard sung at a filksing”) so that things like “A Dying Cub’s Fan Last Request” are included (yeah, gotta sing that one!), and don’t limit it to just filksongs. If it feels good, sing it!
  25. With luck I will have had organs donated, so let people know what went where. I want any usable spare parts of mine used to help others when I’m no longer in need of them, and others should be encouraged to do the same. Have forms there for people to sign up for blood and platelet donations, as well as become organ donors.
  26. Serve chocolate chip cookies, Oreos, chocolate cake, ice cream, apple pie… None of this vegy plate and health food crap – life’s too short, as I will have obviously just demonstrated.
  27. Alternative idea #1: If it’s cloudy or you can’t find a dark sky location, or if it’s just later in the evening and you’re “telescoped out”, light up as many Christmas lights as you can (make it visible from space!) and then follow up with a massive fireworks display.
  28. Alternative idea #2: Have all of the above (or as much as practical) at a ball game. Angels, Chiefs, or Kings doesn’t matter. Can you just imagine a group of my family members, my CAF friends, my fannish friends, and other assorted knuckleheads taking up a whole section at an Angels game on a Big Bang Friday and partying all night?
  29. No flowers. Just because I’ll be dead doesn’t mean that we need to spend a money killing a bunch of innocent flora, most of which are probably allergens to someone in attendance. Instead, take the money you might have spent on flowers and donate it to a worthy charity. The CAF. Habitat For Humanity. UNICEF. Pick a group that’s going to deliver the biggest bang for your buck and help the most people.
  30. In other words, if you wish to donate in my memory, please pick a good, efficient charity, by which I mean one that isn’t going to piss away huge chunks of the donations on six-figure CEO salaries. Education is a huge area of interest, so maybe a group that puts disadvantaged kids through college, or just helps them get through high school. Or maybe a group that educates girls and young women in societies where they’re considered property. (You get the idea – if in doubt, read a few of my rants to see what pissed me off, then give to the group I would consider “the good guys.”)
  31. Hug The Long-Suffering Wife and my kids for me, early and often. As much as I might want this to be a silly & fun party instead of a somber & serious funeral, they might have have a tougher time than I will playing their parts.
  32. Have fun!!

I’ll see you there! (Wait, I forgot…)

Actually, by the time I plan on going, we’ll be doing all of this just to say goodbye to the meat-sack part of me. The all-important “me” part of me will be uploaded into a computer or robot and I’ll be there partying right along with you.

Beaucoup BEAUCOUP Extra Points: Upload “me” into the computer of a Goliath-class starship scout vessel, load the party and all of my friends and family on board, and let’s party on (or at least, near) all nine planets! (Yes, Pluto too.) Drop off those who want to stay back on Earth, then the rest of us will head outbound at some large multiple of c.

Yeah, that’s the best plan of all.

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Filed under Astronomy, CAF, Christmas Lights, Family, Fandom, Fireworks, Flying, Habitat For Humanity, KC Chiefs, LA Angels, LA Kings, Music, Paul, Photography, Sports, Writing

The Author & Moisture Combination

I had the pleasure this evening of seeing John Scalzi talk at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena. Mr. Scalzi is on his four-week long national tour for his new novel, “Lock In.”

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It was a great turnout, standing room only, and (as always) the readings, questions, and snappy banter was very well received.

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Mr. Scalzi gives good book tour. I’ve seen him before on tour (and at conventions) and I’ve always enjoyed his in-person presentations just as much as I enjoy his writing. And it’s not just his novels that I admire (and I’m a pretty huge fan of those) but also his “Whatever” website. Would that someday I can write a fraction as well as he does.

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This is how physicists talk also, i.e., with their hands. (My apologies for the blurry pictures, but in a setting like this I never want to be “that guy”, the one who’s rudely getting in everyone’s way and then firing off a flash that’s annoying to everyone in the room. Sometimes ambient light means that you just have to live with some blur. As with astrophotos, shoot a lot of frames, one or two should come out.)

The short version is simple — if you have a chance to catch Mr. Scalzi on this tour, at a convention, or on some other future tour, I highly recommend that you make time to go see him speak. It’s well worth it. (I’m looking at you, people of San Diego, Iowa City, Gurnee, Lexington, Troy, Brookline, Concord, Saratoga Springs, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Chicago.)

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On the way home from Pasadena, there were some great clouds to be seen as thunderheads built up over the mountains and high deserts. Hurricane Norbert is a Category Three storm off of Baja California, and it’s pumping moisture into the area, which is highly unusual for this time of year.

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The great part about moisture and clouds are the great sunsets they create. We don’t get that many of them here in Southern California.

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Way too often it’s “clear and a million,” which is great for the Chamber of Commerce postcards, but not good for colorful sunsets. That’s why the great sunset pictures come from tropical islands and beaches at jungle locales.

So let’s go find a tropical island with a beach next to a jungle! For the sunsets, and science, and art, of course.

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Filed under Fandom, Weather, Writing

The 2014 Hugo Awards

Back in April when the final ballot nominees for the Hugo Awards were announced, I talked a bit about them an encouraged anyone who might be interested to get a Worldcon membership, download the voter’s package, read as many of the nominated works as possible, and vote for your favorites. I also said that I would be reading and critiquing and commenting. In reality, all I did was some reading, and then I voted. (Not quite my most epic fail, but it does give me something to improve on next year.)

Yesterday the Hugo Awards winners were announced at Loncon3 in London. You can find a list of the winners here. In general, I was very pleased with the winners and the ceremony, which I watched online. (You can watch it here — getting an account is free.)

A few comments, if I may, more or less off the top of my head:

First, it was wonderful to see so many women being recognized for their work in the field. Women won eight of the fourteen non-dramatic-presentation categories, plus Sofia Samatar won the John W. Campbell Award For Best New Writer (not a Hugo Award) (*). Best Fan Artist (Sarah Webb), Best Profession Artist (Julie Dillon), Best Fan Writer (Kameron Hurley), Best Editor Long Form (Ginjer Buchanan), Best Editor Short Form (Ellen Datlow), Best Related Work (Kameron Hurley), Best Novelette (Mary Robinette Kowal), and Best Novel (Ann Leckie).

Isn’t it great to see that better than half of the awards went to the gender that makes up over half of the population? Not that there ever should be any kind of requirement for a strict 1:1 ratio or quota, of course. The best work should always win, regardless of whether it was written by a man or a woman. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, and if anyone brought it up they would be looked at funny, as in, “Why could that possibly matter?”

But it’s not a perfect world, and women have been fighting an uphill battle in science fiction and fantasy literature forever, just as they have in all other fields of literature, and in all other fields of employment, and in just about every other aspect of society. Especially with some of the terrible misogynistic bullshit that’s gone down this year in both fandom and in the professional ranks (**) it’s good to see some pushback and some positive recognition of the contributions women are making to the genre.

Secondly, it was fantastic to see Randall Munroe win the Best Graphic Story award for his XKCD comic, “Time.” XKCD is consistently intelligent, wonderful, amazing, clever, delightful, and sometimes able to bring me to tears at the drop of a hat. For me, this category was a slam dunk, and the voting results (here) confirm that XKCD was a runaway winner in the category.

Thirdly, I was very happy to see the two winners in the Best Dramatic Presentation categories. For the Long Form, “Gravity” won, as I had hoped it would. I could have seen “Frozen” taking it on a big vote from that demographic (my daughters are still gushing over it), or “Pacific Rim” taking it on a big vote from that demographic (people like Grant Imahara and Adam Savage from “Mythbusters” and Wil Wheaton gushing over it). To me, not only was “Gravity” a better film than the other nominees, but it was a better science fiction film, despite some of the factual quibbles from NASA astronauts. It’s incredible that 1950’s science fiction has become today’s reality, and now today’s reality feeds back to be the basis of today’s science fiction. This movie was the closest the general public has come to actually being in space and I think it deserves every award it can get.

In the Short Form, as always, the category was dominated by Doctor Who episodes and specials. Three of the five nominees were Doctor Who related, along with an “Orphan Black” episode (I hear the show is wonderful, but haven’t seen it yet) and a “Game Of Thrones” episode. Surprisingly, to me at least, especially with the convention in London and a heavily British membership and vote, the “Game Of Thrones” episode won. The episode in question is both one of the best and one of the most gut wrenching in the series, which is saying quite a bit given some of the brutality in the plot and the incredible body count of primary characters. I was worried that the very disturbing events of that particular episode might turn the voters off, but not so.

Fourth, I was thrilled to see Mary Robinette Kowal win the Best Novelette award for “The Lady Astronaut of Mars.” She’s wonderful, the story’s wonderful, and it was a well-deserved win, especially after the story was nominated last year and then pulled from the ballot on a technicality. I’m glad that they found a way to get around that issue and get the story qualified for this year. Once it was on the ballot, it was another instance where I figured it was the story to beat in the category.

Fifth, Ann Leckie’s win for “Ancillary Justice” as Best Novel was what I considered to be a Very Good Thing. “Parasite” by Mira Grant is great and I love Mira’s (Seanan McGuire’s) work. The fact that the entire “Wheel Of Time” set of seventeen humongous novels got nominated was a huge surprise, and the series has a bajillion fans, so I thought it had a chance to win. Charles Stoss has won in the past (this year’s Best Novella and 2005’s) and has had novels nominated for both the Nebula and Hugo Awards, so it wouldn’t have been a huge surprise if he won. But having said all of that, everyone and their cousin had been gushing over how great “Ancillary Justice” was. I’m glad it won.

Sixth, there was a fair amount of controversy (***) about a couple of this year’s nominees, how they got on the ballot (legally, but perhaps unconventionally), why they got on the ballot, and who the nominated writers were. One nominee might have been collateral damage in the other group’s “mission from god,” but I haven’t read his novels (nor do I intend to) so can’t offer an informed opinion. The main character in all of this brouhaha is a really unpleasant individual who doesn’t write very well at all, but most importantly, has some truly vile and disgusting points of view. It was with a great deal of pleasure that I saw that not only did his nominated work not win, but it finished so far down in the voting that it actually lost to the “No Award” option. I think that’s the only the second time that’s ever happened. It couldn’t have happened to a more worthy story or author.

Finally, the webcast of the ceremony was very well done. The last two years have had problems, primarily when the Best Dramatic Presentation nominees were read. The names of the nominees are usually accompanied by a clip from the TV show or movie, and this has repeatedly caused copyright “bots” on the internet to shut down the webcast for presumed copyright violations, despite the fact that the clips have been obtained with full rights to use them at the awards ceremony and on the broadcast. Whether it was as a result of that or not, this year there were no clips and the webcast was clear, solid, stable, with good audio. As for the show itself, it seemed to move right along and for the most part do a very good job. In particular, the segment which displayed a video scroll with the names of deceased fans and people related to fandom (for example, astronaut Scott Carpenter, author Tom Clancy, and actor Robin Williams) was very moving and well executed.

All in all, it was a great show and a wonderful slate of winners. I enjoyed watching it. Now it’s time to start reading and getting ready for next year’s nominations and awards in Spokane. (Remember, rates go up September 1st!)

Maybe we’ll see you there?

(*) – For those who don’t know, this award has been given out for over forty years, is nominated and voted on along with the Hugo Awards, is presented along with the Hugo Awards, but it’s always mentioned about a hundred times throughout the process and at the awards ceremony that it is “not a Hugo Award.” This is now sort of like the thing they read in the middle of every baseball broadcast about, “The pictures and accounts of this game are the property of [insert team here] and any rebroadcast, reproduction, dissemination, or other use  without the express, written consent of Major League Baseball is strictly prohibited” — only SF&F fans are a bit more snarky about it.

(**) – If you don’t know what I’m talking about and are curious, ask and I’ll be more than happy to jump into the fray and tell you where to look for the grisly details. It’s something I’m pretty passionate about.

(***) – Again, if you don’t know and are curious, I can point you in the right direction. I would caution against actually reading anything by this guy or any of his minions. Every time I do, I feel the strong need for a shower, a stiff drink, and something to restore my faith in humanity.

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Filed under Fandom, Science Fiction

Odds & Sods For Friday, April 25th

Item The First: The following tweet from CNN is offered as proof that President Obama reads this blog:

2014-04-24 Proof That Obama Reads My BlogIt’s obvious. I post pictures about my visit to Gyeongbok Palace (here and here) and the next thing you know, Air Force One is in Seoul and the President’s getting a tour. Since coincidence = causation, ipso facto, the President reads this blog. (Mr. President, give me a call at your convenience, I’ve got a few thoughts on planetary exploration and the NASA budget that I would like to discuss.)

Item The Second: When I talked about the Hugo Award nominations a few days ago I mentioned that some of the nominees might require some effort to track down, being published in places I don’t normally read. I had forgotten that since 2006, many (if not most, or all) of the literary nominees are available in electronic form to all eligible voters.

Of course, this year the twist is the inclusion of “The Wheel Of Time” novels (all fourteen of them) as a Best Novel nominee. People were wondering how that would be handled, whether or not they would include one novel or just not include any. Instead Tor has decided to include all of them.

That may or may not have any bearing on whether or not other works are included (it’s at the discretion of the author and publisher) but it instantly guarantees a new record for the number of Supporting Memberships for a Worldcon.

It works like this — you get the package of e-books and stories if you’re eligible to vote for the Hugo Awards. You’re eligible to vote if you’re either an Attending Member or a Supporting Member of the convention. Anyone can join. An Attending Membership is currently $205 (and the price will increase in July) and lets you attend pretty much anything at the five-day convention. (We won’t be going unless we win the lottery or something, a fact which displeases me. I really love going to Worldcon!) So if you’re going to be or can be in London in August, get an Attending Membership and have the time of your life!

If you can’t go, you can get a Supporting Membership for $40 (which will also increase in July) and while it doesn’t let you get into the convention, it does let you:

  • get a copy of the program book and other publications
  • vote on where Worldcon will be in 2016 (currently Kansas City and Beijing are competing for the bid)
  • vote on the Hugo Awards, which in turn means that you…
  • …get the books & stories in the voter’s packet.

Let’s do some quick math. The fourteen “Wheel Of Time” books currently are available in the Apple store for a total of $94.86. (For the sake of argument I’m leaving out the one prequel novel, but for all I know Tor might be including it as well.) “Ancillary Justice” is $8.99, “Neptune’s Brood” is $10.99, “Parasite” is $9.99, and “Warbound: Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles” is $9.99. That’s the potential for $134.82 worth of novels for $40, plus (potentially) many of the best novellas, novelettes, and short stories of 2013, plus voting rights for the Hugos and 2016 site selection, plus the convention program book and other publications.

Now do we see why they’re going to be flooded with $40 supporting memberships?

Item The Third: This is what I have snoring on my left most of the day when I’m at my desk in my home office:

Joey_smallWhen the hummingbirds start hovering outside she gets a bit agitated.

Item The Fourth: The Beijing vs. Kansas City vote for the 2016 Worldcon Site Selection will be a tough one for me. I had an extremely good time on my one visit to China (Shanhai) and would love to go back to see Beijing. (If at all possible we never just go into town for the convention and then boogie back out. We always try to spend at least a few days to visit and see the sights.)

On the other hand, I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas (my elementary school years) and still have many things that I love about the city. (Chiefs! Chiefs! Chiefs!) It will certainly be a lot cheaper to get to KC than Beijing. That could decide it for a majority of US voters — but China’s a really great visit, so don’t rule it out, guys!

Then for the 2017 site selection, there are already bids for Japan, Montreal, Helsinki, and Washington, DC. Tough choice!  I also had a fantastic time on my visit to Kyoto, Japan (we’ll get to those pictures after the Korean pictures) and would love to see the country again. I’ve never been to Scandinavia, so Helsinki would be incredible. Washington, DC is one of my favorite cities on the planet, and I haven’t been there in over thirty years. As for Montreal, it’s okay, but we’ve been there, gotten robbed there, been there again.

Item The Fifth: This is what I have farting on my right most of the day when I’m at my desk in my home office:

jessie_smallShe loves her “desk cave”, but the semi-enclosed area tends to trap the odors. I’ve thought about putting in a fan and a venting system to the outside, but I fear that the neighbors over on that side would (justifiably) demand an Environmental Impact Report, which we would probably fail. Look at all the problems the Sriracha factory is having in Irwindale.

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