Not a Blog

Worldcon Time!

August 6, 2018 at 7:31 am
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It’s August, and that means that worldcon is coming around once again.   (In a properly ordered universe, worldcon would be coming on Labor Day weekend but sadly that seems to be a lost cause since Dragoncon stole those dates).

This year’s gathering is in San Jose, California.   It ought to be called ConJose II, but it’s not.   I like my worldcons to have names, not numbers, however, so I refuse to accede to this new twitch of numbering cons instead of naming them.   The SanJose folks keep insisting that this worldcon is not ConJose II, though.   So be it.   In the tradition of my Not A Blog, and of course the famous John W. Campbell Award (Not A Hugo), I shall henceforth refer to this year’s gathering as Not ConJose II.

I have cut way down on the number of cons I attend, due to the press of work, but there’s no way I’d miss a worldcon, by any name.   I’ve only missed one in the last thirty years.   Dragoncon and San Diego Comicon and GenCon and many other cons are now much bigger, but worldcon remains the original, and the best, the heart of the fannish community.   Worldcon is like a family reunion.   And yes, like any large family, we have our share of drunken uncles, loony cousins, and snot-nosed kids… but still, family is family.   I’ll be there for the whole con.  I hope to see many of you in SanJose.  Worldcon is great time for getting together with old friends and making new ones.

I know that some of you will be hoping to get your books autographed at the con.   There will be several opportunities for that.

My week will start on Tuesday, August 14, with a special fundraiser on behalf of LOCUS, an evening with John Picacio.   That event is not an actual part of the con, so tickets will be sold separately.  I will not be signing at the fundraiser, no… but we will have hundreds of pre-signed books available for purchase at the event.

https://foxrwc.showare.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=210

I also have three scheduled signings at Not ConJose II itself.  Friday at noon and Sunday at 1pm, I will be signing in the official autograph area.   The lines will be capped, however; there’s a limit to how many books I can sign in an hour.   (No, my hand doesn’t fall off.   It’s my lower back that protests).  Sorry, I can’t do personalizations or inscriptions, and we have a limit of one book per person.   Mind you, if the lines are short, I will sometimes loosen the rules and sign a second book, etc.   Don’t count on that, though; my lines have not been short in years.   Oh, and yes, I will sign things other than books.   Games, cards, replica swords, photographs, program books, interesting body parts…. but still, only one item per person, and no personalizations.   And I don’t sign babies, pets, or books written by other authors.

Besides these two general signings, we also have the Wild Cards signing, scheduled for Saturday morning at 10am in the dealer’s room.   That’s a mass signing.  Melinda Snodgrass, Caroline Spector, Marko Kloos, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Kevin Andrew Murphy, and several other Wild Cards writers and creators will be joining me, to deface your books with their illegible scrawls.  But at that event we will be signing ONLY Wild Cards books, so please don’t bring copies of any of my other works… those you can get signed at the general signings.

I do prefer to limit my autographing to these four scheduled events.   I want to enjoy worldcon like everyone else, without having to scrawl my way through it.  So please do not approach me before or after panels, at the Hugos, in the corridors, at the parties, while I’m having dinner (or breakfast, or lunch), or in the restrooms to ask for an autograph.   Your understanding would be much appreciated.

Aside from signing things, what am I doing at Not ConJoseII? you may ask.

At 5pm on Friday I will be part of the Gardner Dozois Memorial.   A sad event, but I think we’ll have some laughs as well.   Gardner was the funniest man in our field for half a century, he’d want to hear us laughing.

There’s also to be a Wild Cards panel, though I am not sure just when.   The present time is a conflict for me.   Depending on where the panel gets moved, I may or may not be on it.  But there will be a Wild Cards panel regardless.

Oh, and keep your eyes on Thursday.   We’re looking at doing a presentation and trailer screening for the new NIGHTFLYERS television series that debuts this fall.   Details are still being worked out   When we have more definite news, I will let you know.

And that’s it, so far as my public participation in Not ConJoseII is concerned.   But of course, I will be there all weekend, wandering the dealer’s room, drinking in the bar, visiting the art show… and, of course, hitting the parties.   That’s what worldcon is all about.

 

Current Mood: busy busy

Hugo Nominations Announced

March 31, 2018 at 6:54 pm
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The San Jose Worldcon has announced this year’s list of nominations for the Hugo Awards and the John W. Campbell Award.

LOCUS has the full list of finalists at:

http://locusmag.com/2018/03/2018-hugo-and-campbell-awards-finalists/

The Hugo is the oldest and most prestigious award in SF and fantasy. If you want your voice to be heard, there’s still plenty of time to join the San Jose Worldcon and cast your vote. There’s Attending memberships, if you actually plan to attend, and Supporting memberships, if you can’t, but either way you get a Hugo ballot.

Congratulations to all the nominees. Some of you will carry home a silver rocket come August. More of you will be Hugo Losers, but that’s almost as good. (I’ve lost lots of them myself).

Sad to say, Wild Cards did not get any love this year (sob)… but I was very pleased to see that our Wild Cards editor, Diana Pho, is one of the finalists for Best Professional Editor. You go, Diana. Win it for Jetboy!

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Hugo Nominations Open

February 7, 2018 at 2:53 pm
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Nominations for the 2018 Hugo Awards have now opened, I am informed. If you are a member of last year’s worldcon in Helsinki, this year’s worldcon in San Jose, or next year’s worldcon in Dublin, you are eligible to nominate. You should be receiving an email with a link to the ballot. (I have not actually received mine yet, but I’m told that others have, so I expect mine Real Soon Now).

I have a few things eligible for nomination myself this year… more for editing than writing, however.

GAME OF THRONES is eligible in the Dramatic Presentation category, of course. The whole of Season 7 can be nominated in Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, and any or all of the individual episodes can be nominated in Short Form. GOT has won in both categories in the past. Last year in Helsinki, three episodes actually had enough votes to make the ballot, but the new rule limits any series to no more than two places on the ballot, so we had to withdraw one. But you can nominate as many episodes as you like.

Wild Cards had a big year last year. We celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the series, and our twenty-fourth mosaic novel, MISSISSIPPI ROLL, was published in the fall. A couple of the older books were reissued, and we had two original Wild Cards story on Tor.com — “When the Devil Drives” by Melinda M. Snodgrass, and “The Atonement Tango” by Stephen Leigh. The two Tor.com stories are both novelettes and are eligible in that category. MISSISSIPPI ROLL is a more complex case. Like most Wild Cards books, it is a mosaic novel, with individual stories by half a dozen writers woven together to make a whole that is, we hope, more than the sum of its parts. One could argue that our mosaics are anthologies, I suppose… but they feel more like collaborative novels to me. If the former view prevails, the individual components of MISSISSIPPI ROLL are eligible in the short fiction categories, Steve Leigh’s “In the Shadow of Tall Stacks” in novella, the other stories as novelettes. If the latter, the volume as a whole could be nominated in novel.

In either case, I’m eligible for nomination in the editing categories. Short Form, most likely, for the stories in Tor.com as well as the book. (If you consider MISSISSIPPI ROLL a novel, then it counts for me as a Long Form editor, but I don’t think one book is enough to make me eligible in that category). My Wild Cards work was the only editing I did in 2017. The big cross-genre anthologies I co-edited with Gardner Dozois all came out in previous years.

Wild Cards as a whole is definitely eligible for nomination as Best Series. That’s a new category that first appeared on the ballot last year, as an experiment, but now it has been made permanent.

The only writing I had published in 2017 was “The Sons of the Dragon,” which was published in THE BOOK OF SWORDS, Gardner Dozois’s massive anthology of original sword & sorcery stories. Like “The Rogue Prince” and “The Princess and the Queen” before it, “Sons” is more of my (fake) history of the Targaryen kings of Westeros. By length, it is a novella… but it’s not a traditional narrative. By design, it reads like history, not fiction; but since the history is entirely imaginative, it’s still fiction, even if dressed up as (fake) non-fiction.

It has been pointed out to me that the publication of “The Sons of the Dragon” makes the entirety of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE eligible to be nominated as Best Series. I suppose that’s so. All I can say to that is : please don’t. If you like fake history and enjoyed “The Sons of the Dragon,” by all means nominate the story as a novella… but it’s really not part of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, and sneaking in the entire series by means of a technicality seems wrong to me.

If I may broaden the discussion a bit, while I think it is good that the Hugo Awards now have a category to recognize series books, I would quibble somewhat with how a “series” is defined. The rules were written very broadly, to include not only true series, like last year’s winner, the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold, but also any grouping of stories set against a common background, what we used to call “future histories,” as well as what I’d term “mega-novels,” those massive epics too long to be contained in a single volume. Three-quarters of the SF I wrote back in the 70s was set against a common background, but I never considered that I was writing a series when I visited the Thousand Worlds; it was a future history, made up of stories set hundreds of years apart, on planets separated by thousands of light years (though within the future history there was a series, the Haviland Tuf stories). On the other extreme, I don’t consider A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE a series either; it’s one single story, being published in (we hope) seven volumes. FWIW, Tolkien wasn’t writing a series when he wrote LORD OF THE RINGS either. He wrote a big novel and his publisher divided it into three parts, none of which stands on its own.

Anyway, that’s my own perspective on the matter. Obviously, the good folks who drafted the Best Series rules disagree. Ultimately I think the fans will decide the matter by what they choose to nominate. Worldcon committees have traditionally been reluctant to overrule the fans, even in cases where a nominated work would seem to be ineligible for one reason or other.

FWIW, Wild Cards is a series, plainly, so if you want to consider any of my work for Best Series, that’s the one I’d ask you to look at. Thirty-one years and twenty=four books is something to be proud of, and I am.

Regardless of whether or not you nominate any of my own work, I do urge all the worldcon members reading this to be sure to nominate. There are a lot of awards being given in SF, fantasy, and horror these days, but the Hugo was the first, and it’s still the one that means the most. It is, of course, important to vote on the final ballot too… but you can’t vote for works that have not been nominated, and it is crucial to have widespread participation in the nominating stage.

((Comments and debate allowed, but ONLY on these subjects. Stay on topic)).

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

Tea at Worldcon

September 18, 2017 at 11:15 am
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That Finnish Worldcon wasn’t all vodka and beer. It was also tea!

Maybe you missed the fun in Helsinki. If so, you certainly missed my guest appearance on TEA & JEOPARDY, Emma and Peter Newman’s Hugo (and Alfie) Award winning podcast.

But have no fear, it’s on line now:

http://teaandjeopardy.geekplanetonline.com/podcast/bonus-episode-live-tea-and-jeopardy-show-worldcon-75/

Enjoy. I know I did.

Current Mood: amused amused

A Sadness

September 10, 2017 at 3:51 pm
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Jerry Pournelle has passed away. He was 84.

It would seem that he attended Dragoncon in Atlanta, caught some kind of bug, and died in his sleep on September 8, after complaining of feeling unwell in his last blog post, on the 7th.

Pournelle has been a major figure in the field for as long as I have been a part of it. I first met him in 1973 at the worldcon in Toronto, where both of us were finalists for the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer (along with Lisa Tuttle, Ruth Berman, George Alec Effinger, and Robert Thurston). That was the very first year the award was given. To the surprise of no one, Pournelle won, though Geo. Alec Effinger finished so close behind the con gave him a special second place plaque, the only time THAT ever happened. (How close, you may ask? Ten votes, two votes, a single vote? No one knows. In those days, worldcons did not release vote totals).

The Hugos were given at a banquet in those days. I could not afford a ticket, so I came in after the meal for the awards. It was rather an unusual ceremony. The Hugo rockets had not arrived, so the winners received only empty bases… except for Jerry, since the Campbell sponsors (Conde Nast, in those days) HAD managed to come up with a plaque. There’s Jerry holding it, above.

The other weirdness about that night was that toastmaster Lester del Rey, for reasons only known to himself, chose to present the awards backwards. In other words, he started with Best Novel (the ‘Big One,’ then as now), working his way though short fiction and to the fan awards, and ended with the brand-new never-given-before Campbell. Thing is, people started leaving after each award was given, and by the end, there was hardly anyone left in the hall except me, Jerry Pournelle and his party, and the other nominees and their friends (I think Lisa Tuttle and Ruth Berman were there, but Thurston and Effinger were not, someone else accepted the plaque for Piglet).

I came out of the night all right. It was an honor, a huge honor, just to be nominated. And in the aftermath I came up with the idea of a Campbell Awards anthology. A couple editors told me it was an idea worth pursuing, but of course I needed to get all the nominees to sign on… and the key one was Jerry, the winner. So I bought him a drink and pitched him the notion, and he said yes (though, being the consummate pro, he made that contingent on me being able to pay competitive professional rates). Eventually that conversation led to my NEW VOICES anthology, and launched my career as an editor and anthologist… and I’m still going strong there, forty-four years later.

The Hugo voters knew what they were doing when they gave Pournelle that first Campbell; he went on to have an amazing career, both on his own and in collaboration with other writers, particularly Larry Niven. With INFERNO, LUCIFER’S HAMMER, FOOTFALL, and (especially) MOTE IN GOD’S EYE, the two of them helped transform the field in the 70s. They were among the very first SF writers ever to hit the big bestseller lists, and among the first to get six-figure advances at the time when most writers were still getting four figure advances… something that Jerry was never shy about mentioning. Though he was nominated for a number of Hugo Awards in the years that followed, he never won one… but if that bothered him, he did not show it. “Money will get you through times of no Hugos better than Hugos will get you through times of no money,” he said famously.

Pournelle was fond of talking about all the help Robert A. Heinlein (whom he always called “Mr. Heinlein,” at least in my hearing) gave him when he was starting out, and he was a passionate advocate of RAH’s “pay it forward” philosophy, and did much to help the generations of writers who came after him. He served a term in the thankless job of SFWA President, and remained an active part of SFWA ever after, as part of the advisory board of Past Presidents and (even more crucially) on GriefCom, the Grievance Committee. Jerry could be loud and acrimonious, yes, and when you were on the opposite side of a fight from him that was not pleasant… ahh, but when you were on the SAME side, there was no one better to have in your foxhole. I had need of SFWA’s Griefcom only once in my career, in the early 80s, and when we met at worldcon with the publisher I had Jerry with me representing Griefcom. He went through the publisher’s people like a buzzsaw, and got me everything I wanted, resolving my grievance satisfactorily (and confidentially, so no, no more details).

His politics were not my politics. He was a rock-ribbed conservative/ libertarian, and I’m your classic bleeding-heart liberal… but we were both fans, and professional writers, and ardent members of SFWA, and we loved SF and fantasy and fandom, and that was enough. You don’t need to agree with someone on everything to be able to respect them. And while MOTE IN GOD’S EYE may not have won the Hugo in its year, it remains one of the great classics of space opera, destined to be read and re-read for as long as people read science fiction (it IS an honor just to be nominated).

The last time I saw Jerry was at Keith Kato’s chili party at MidAmericon II. He loved Keith’s chili as much as I do, another point in his favor.

R.I.P. Jerry. You were one ornery so-and-so, but you were our ornery so-and-so. Hoist a pint for me at that Secret Pro Party in the sky, and say hello to Mr. Heinlein.

Current Mood: sad sad

Worldcon!!

September 1, 2017 at 4:33 pm
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It’s Labor Day weekend. Time for WORLDCON!! I’m so excited, I…

Oh, wait. Worldcon was over weeks ago. Finncon, Finnishcon, Helsinkicon, I remember (no, I will not call it “Worldcon 75,” I am not a number, I am a free fan). And a splendid con it was.

Even if it was held on the wrong weekend.

Worldcon belongs on Labor Day weekend. And always will. (After all, did Tom Disch slam my generation of writers as the “Early August Bunch?” No, he did not).

Dragoncon, you say? Dragoncon belongs back in July, where it was born.

Worldcon should move back to Labor Day and stay there, regardless of whatever other johnny-come-lately cons move to the same weekend. Worldon has dibs!

The Space Geezer has spoken.

Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

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Long Time No See

August 23, 2017 at 11:48 am
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I am home again in the Land of Enchantment, after almost a month on the road.

I flew to New Jersey for my nephew Sean’s wedding, which was a lot of fun.

Then I went to New York City for a week, checking in with my editors, publishers, and agents, and some old dear friends as well. Did a pizza crawl, had myself a Cel-Ray and an egg cream and a pastrami sandwich (New York health food), and did a lot of business.

From there it was off across the ocean to Helsinki for worldcon. My third visit to Finland, which never disappoints. Helsinki is a beautiful city, and it was a terrific con. Sure, we lost the Hugo, but the Hugo Losers Party kicked ass.

After worldcon, we hopped a train for Russia. A few days in St. Petersberg — my god, what a stunning city — and then off to the woods for Assembly Con. Our Russian hosts were warm and wonderful.

All in all, a great trip, but an exhausting one. The trip home was grueling.

Let me catch my breath, and might be I’ll have some more to say.

Right now, I need some green chile.

Current Mood: tired tired

My Worldcon Schedule

July 26, 2017 at 10:40 am
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The World Science Fiction Convention is only a few weeks away. This is the oldest SF con, the one that started it all, and though it is no longer the largest, it’s still the one that matters, the heart and soul of SF fandom. And for me, it’s home away from home.

Here’s my schedule this year in Helsinki:

WEDNESDAY August 9
4:00 pm Tea & Jeopardy Podcast, w Emma & Peter Newman

THURSDAY August 10
12:00 NOON panel discussion: Invented Religions

2:00 pm autographing

FRIDAY August 11
8:00 pm HUGO AWARDS

SATURDAY August 12
2:00 pm panel discussion: Built Upon the Shoulders of Giants

4:00 pm autographing

SUNDAY August 13
1:00 pm panel discussion: Thirty Years of Wild Cards

Those are my official public appearances… but of course I will also be attending parties, checking out the art show, wandering the dealer’s room, lunching and dining with editors, agents, friends, and colleagues.

For those of you who want books signed, please, bring them to one of my two listed autograph sessions. I will NOT be signing before or after panels, at parties, during lunch or breakfast or dinner, at the urinal, in the elevator, on the street, in the hall. ONLY at the autograph table. If the lines are as long as they usually are, I’ll only be signing one book per person.

See you in Helsinki!

Current Mood: busy busy

Tick, Tick, Tick

July 12, 2017 at 12:38 pm
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The clock is running.

Only three days left for worldcon members to cast those Hugo ballots.

And yes, of course I will be at Helsinki. See, it’s right there on my website, with a link.

(My website has an Appearances page that lists ALL the public events I have committed to, not only for this year, but for the next several years as well. Do check it regularly to see if I am going to be anywhere near you. There’s nothing that honks me off more than getting the inevitable email that says ‘How comes you never come to Trantor?” two weeks after I’ve just returned from Trantor).

I will be at worldcon all week. They are scheduling me for several signings, but those will be the ONLY times and places I will sign books. I’ll also be doing a couple of panels, but please don’t rush the stage afterward to get an autograph. I will not be signing after panels, or before panels, or when walking the halls, or on the trams, or while eating dinner (or lunch, or breakfast), or at the urinal, or at parties, or at the Hugo Awards… ONLY at my scheduled signings.

Thank you all for respecting that.

And hey, looks like GAME OF THRONES will be well represented in Helsinki. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are coming in from Belfast, and Sibel Kekilli is flying up from Hamburg.

Let’s party like it’s 1976.

Current Mood: working working

Hugo Deadline Approaches

July 10, 2017 at 7:29 pm
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For all of you who are members of the Helsinki worldcon… the deadline for casting your Hugo ballot is only five days away.

Voting will end on 15 July 2017 at 11:59pm Pacific Daylight Time (2:59am Eastern Daylight Time, 06:59 Greenwich Mean Time, 08:59 in Finland, all on 16 July)

You have to be a member of worldcon to vote. If you are, you should have already received a personalized link to your ballot.

There’s some really good stuff up this year, so do be sure to let your voice be heard. The Hugo is the oldest and most prestigious award in SF and fantasy, don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

VOTE!

Current Mood: working working