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The vitriol of Twitter: How social media torpedoed Jonathan Ross hosting the Hugos
March 4, 2014 | 1:12 pm

Twitter as kid with red crayonHere’s an interesting article from The Nation about problems the feminist movement is having in discussions on Twitter. The fundamental problem is “intersectionality”: people in the feminist movement are other things besides “just” female—they’re rich or poor, they’re white or minority, and so on—and people at one end of a spectrum find things to be angry at the people on the other end about, even though they ostensibly share a common cause. And this anger is compounded by the Twitter discussion medium, whose short bite-sized chunks can lead to a spectacularly toxic environment. I don’t really have anything to...

Appointment of British comedian Jonathan Ross as Hugo Awards emcee triggers brief spat
March 1, 2014 | 11:21 pm

Jonathan-RossToday saw another blowup in a series of memorable events in recent history pertaining to sexism and science fiction. And the SFWA wasn’t even involved this time! The organizers of LonCon3, the London SF convention playing host to Worldcon and hence the Hugo Awards this year, announced today that British TV personality Jonathan Ross had agreed to emcee the Hugos. This immediately sent a shockwave through the community, because Ross has a history of raunchy and sexist humor on the air. A number of prominent SF writers and personalities declared their dismay, including Seanan McGuire, who tweeted: ...

The SFWA might just stay relevant after all
February 20, 2014 | 11:12 pm

apologycatHere’s an epilogue to the SFWA kerfuffle I posted about a couple of days ago: the central figure in the article, Sean Fodera, has posted a public apology to Mary Robinette Kowal for his unprofessional remarks (which she has accepted), and also a clarification on his attitude about women in SF. (The apology was apparently so popular that it caused SFF.net to go down for a while. It seems to be back up now, but just in case, screencaps are available at Radish Reviews.) In the apology, Fodera explains that his antipathy toward Kowal was not because she was a woman,...

Is the SFWA losing its relevance?
February 18, 2014 | 3:25 pm

“This is the song that doesn’t end…it just goes on and on my friend…” To mix musical metaphors, I’m getting that whole “second verse, same as the first” feeling as I look at the latest vitriol to come out of the whole Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) sexism affair (which we’ve covered in more detail here, here, and here). A few days ago, an article appeared on The Daily Dot blog citing posts from the public discussion forums on SFF.net pertaining to the latest round of ugliness. SFF.net is the discussion forum website of the SFWA, but has always...

Just when you thought science fiction couldn’t get any more adolescent…
February 11, 2014 | 12:15 pm

[caption id="attachment_107487" align="alignright" width="192"] Andrew Hamilton and Dave Truesdale - fighting for your right to bootie[/caption] And just when I might have felt the slightest smidgeon of self-doubt or contrition about my last post on science fiction, along comes a fresh sci-fi controversy to prove my point - in exhaustive, exhausting, relentless, grotesque, ridiculous detail. Yes, I'm talking about Dave Truesdale, founder and managing editor of the sci-fi review magazine Tangent, and now vigilante crusader for First Amendment rights to ogle big-bazoomba'd buxom blizzard-bound broads on the covers of the Bulletin of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SWFA) -...

Science fiction: A failing genre?
February 7, 2014 | 2:21 pm

Science fiction author and self-proclaimed geek fan Daniel Haight has made a post that calls into question the behavior of the sci-fi fan community - and the continuation of the genre. Entitled, "How Sci-Fi is Failing Fans (and How We Can Get it Back)", the post states that: "  The science fiction of 2013 is not what I grew up with and I’m hoping we can turn that around in 2014.   Science fiction is our mutual heritage of imagination and storytelling and it is threatened by some very destructive behaviors." And although Haight bemoans some ebbing support from the media...

Greetings from the future!
January 21, 2014 | 8:47 pm

Screenshot_2014-01-21-20-41-29 (1)I live in the future. (And here’s how it works. No, seriously.) I just deposited a couple of checks by taking photos of them with my smartphone. My new bank, Chase, supports deposit by smartphone app. Today was my first chance to try it out, and I was amazed at how easily it was accomplished. In the old days, back in Springfield, getting a check would have meant bicycling several blocks to the nearest ATM to deposit it. Here, I just pulled up the app, punched in an amount, snapped photos of the front and back of...

Hugh Howey’s prescription for fixing the Big Five: Become more like the indies
January 13, 2014 | 1:53 pm

hughhoweyHugh Howey, author of the Kindle Direct-published Wool SF series that was optioned by Ridley Scott, has a very interesting pair of blog posts on how he would “fix” the publishing industry, or at least one particular company in the publishing industry. As a thought experiment, he lays down what he would do in his first and second months if he were picked as HarperCollins’s new Chief Executive Officer. (He chose the publisher at random; it could as easily have been any of the others of the Big Five.) And while he does tend to overlook that these changes would...

Does science fiction need defenders?
December 30, 2013 | 12:38 pm

science fictionKameron Hurley, prize-winning SF newcomer and author of the highly successful Bel Dame Apocrypha series, posted a Christmas present to the science fiction community in the Perspectives section of Locus Magazine's website, entitled "Making Excuses for Science Fiction," which has attracted a lot of favorable comment since. Science fiction website io9.com actually linked to it under the title "The Can't-Lose Secret to Making Anybody Want to Read Your SF Novel," which strikes me as a sure-fire way to get any writer's attention from any genre whatsoever. And as other writers have already pointed out, the post gives advice that's applicable...

Buttons and nonsense: Handheld gadgets in TV SF
November 20, 2013 | 2:52 pm

20131120_130229_HDRI’m in the process of cleaning and packing up my room, preparatory to move to Indianapolis. Along the way, I ran across a few old toys, and they got me thinking about the way hand-held gadgets have been portrayed in a couple of TV science fiction shows. The one that really got me thinking was the Star Trek: The Next Generation tricorder. The tricorder always was my favorite gadget, because it was a hand-held computer device that told you everything. You could interface with the starship and download data, or copy information and beam it up…et cetera. TNG’s tricorder sort of took...

R.I.P. Frederik Pohl: Science fiction’s veteran iconoclast
September 5, 2013 | 12:39 pm

Frederik PohlFrederik George Pohl, Jr. (Nov. 26, 1919 – Sept. 2, 2013) was almost a living artifact of a bygone era in science fiction, as well as one of the genre's most fertile and perennially refreshed talents. Born in the immediate aftermath of World War I, he died in the epoch of Google Glass and the Large Hadron Collider, without ever losing his imaginative spontaneity or intellectual curiosity, or his ability to upset and disturb the genre consensus. For all its radical technological vision, science fiction has a reputation for frequently being socially and politically conservative, whether it's Orson Scott Card's anti-marriage equality...

SF writer Paul Cook warns of science fiction’s infection by girl cooties
September 4, 2013 | 8:49 pm

Okay, I know I’m feeding the troll here, and I feel bad about that, but I do feel it’s worth calling attention to this level of complete stupidity when I see it. Patrick Nielsen Hayden had this to say about the subject of my rant: “It’s rare that one gets to see somebody being a complete and total idiot. But Amazing Stories comes through!” The article in question is by Paul Cook, and it goes by the provocative title “When Science Fiction is Not Science Fiction.” Cook, it seems, is upset that writers such as Lois McMaster Bujold and...