Monday, August 31, 2015

More from the 2015 Hugo Awards

Here are a couple more photos from the 2015 Hugo Awards ceremony, held August 22, at Sasquan, the World Science Fiction Convention, in Spokane, Washington.

Elizabeth Leggett,  Best Fan Artist.

Ben Yalow, the Forrest J Ackerman Big Heart Award.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

2015 Hugo Award Winners

Here are some photos from the 2015 Hugo Awards ceremony held just a few hours ago, on August 23, at Sasquan, the World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, Washington.

Ken Liu, the translator of the Best Novel winner, 
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu.

Pat Cadigan, left, accepted for the Best Novelette winner "The Day the World Turned Upside Down" by Thomas Olde Heuvelt. At right is Laura J. Mixon, who won Best Fan Writer.

The editors of Lightspeed Magazine, winner of Best Semiprozine.

The editors of Journey Planet, the Best Fanzine.

 Wesley Chu, winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Julie Dillon won Best Professional Artist.

All the winners, and people who accepted for absentee winners.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

David Gerrold, George RR Martin, and more at Sasquan

Here are some photos from a couple of the events I went to today, Thursday, August 20, 2015 at Sasquan, the World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, Washington.

David Gerrold at the Guest of Honor interview.

Vincent Docherty conducting the David Gerrold interview.

George R.R. Martin reading from his forthcoming book "Winds of Winter."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sasquan souvenir book

Picked up the Sasquan souvenir book today, along with other materials for the 2015 World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, Washington. The wrap-around cover is by Brad Foster (only half is visible in this photo).

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Attention seeking troll puppies

The various Puppy leaders, it turns out, have little to say, and their arguments implode into insignificance. They don't think a literary award, the Hugos, should go to literary fiction. They don't think science fiction should contain messages, or be socially progressive. Their voting slates, of course, contain attempts at literary fiction and message fiction. If we set aside their arguments, all we are left with is noise. Their attention-seeking trolling of the Hugo nomination process in essence says "look at me, look at me!" That is sad, indeed.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Hugo Award slates
and the politics of exclusion

Slate voting is an exclusionary tactic.

Regular Hugo Awards voters nominate the stories and authors that they love in a scattershot manner, a method of voting that is easily overwhelmed in the nomination process by a relatively small group of lockstep slate voters.

The leaders of the Rapid Puppies and Sad Puppies recruited enough voters to march in lockstep, filling entire categories of the Hugo Awards ballot with their large slate of nominees. The motivation behind these slates, it is clear to me, has little to do with promoting under-appreciated authors and stories. Instead, their goal is the exclusion of others from the Hugo Awards ballot.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

'The Last Man on Earth'

Will Forte, the creator, writer, and star, of the new television series "The Last Man on Earth" is apparently the lone survivor of a deadly virus.

Robert Lloyd, a Los Angeles Times television critic, describes the series:
Despite taking place five years in the future and sharing the title and more or less the premise of a 1964 Vincent Price movie, it is not science fiction. It's an abstraction, really, a comedy about existential cares and social mores in the absence of society. It asks what you do when it doesn't matter what you do because there's no one else around to care, or to care about.
Do you stop at stop signs? Eat with a fork? Park in a parking space?
The emphasis is mine. I'm sure generations of science fiction authors who have written similar stories will be glad to know that Robert Lloyd doesn't think they are capable of abstraction or consideration of existential cares and social mores.

I'll mention one well-known example: "Not With a Bang" by Damon Knight (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Winter-Spring 1950): after a plague the last man and the last woman meet at a restaurant. He goes to the men's room. While there he is stricken with the illness. The last woman can easily save him -- she has the antidote -- yet she can't face the idea of entering the men's room.

"Not with a Bang" is one of the most frequently anthologized short stories of the past 60 years. For a partial list, see this listing.

Related link:
'Last Man on Earth' review by Robert Lloyd (Los Angeles Times)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Olive Kitteridge review

"Olive Kitteridge," the HBO miniseries, is a character study of a remarkable woman: bright, depressed, judgmental, and -- this is key -- able to see through other people's phoniness and bullshit, while unable to see through her own.

We know little of Olive's (Frances McDormand) background, other than that her (undiagnosed) clinically depressed father blew his own head off with a shotgun. In the miniseries, Olive is presented as an adult, fully formed: a wife, mother, and math teacher at the local public school. The marriage seems solid, although they are clearly bored with each other. Husband Henry (Richard Jenkins) is the local small-town pharmacist. They live on the coast of Maine.

Their only child appears to be bright, listless and unhappy, making little effort in school. He doesn't like his mother, who he says is hyper-critical of his every short-coming. Olive, while interested in her son, is disappointed by his lack of effort. She takes an interest in the students at the school who have great potential, yet who struggle because of family circumstances. She helps as she can with the depressed single mother of one of her talented students. She gravitates to the misfits and those in need.

The story is a chronicle of the relentless march of time, aging, and death. Olive's marriage has gone hollow and she struggles to find meaning in retirement after her teaching career. Every detail is keenly observed, making it all the more painful. The relentless march touches her or those near her with frailty, illness, and death.

Her son (John Gallagher, Jr.), after a failed first marriage has become alienated and uncommunicative. A bright spot, the birth of a grandchild, she learns about months after the fact. Much as she learned of her son's second marriage.

In the fourth hour of the four-hour miniseries, Bill Murray appears as a neighbor that Olive develops a relationship with. Some viewers may be allergic to Murray, but for me Murray was the perfect choice. All of the acting is top notch, with Frances McDormand giving her best performance ever. And, yes, that is saying a lot, for those who know her remarkable career.

Lest this sound depressing and unwatchable, let me assure you, this is a wise, even spiritual take on growing old. This is easily one of the most remarkable programs on television in 2014.