Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Book Review: "The Politics of Fandom" by Hannah Mueller

The Politics of Fandom by Hannah Mueller (McFarland, 2022)

If you recently read Jeffrey Redmond’s article “Politics in Science Fiction” in Ionisphere #34 or my piece “Fanatiquette: The ‘New’ Fan Etiquette,” you might also be intrigued by this book, published just this year. Originally offered as a dissertation at Cornell University, the book explores in depth the kinds of conflicts that can threaten and sometimes unify the various people and communities involved in fandom.

Similar to most recent fandom studies texts, the book distinguishes between literary or affirmational fandom (those who like to read and publish fanzines) and media or transformative fandom (those who like to watch and create). (I know that’s an oversimplification, but I’m suspicious that transformative fan terms are mostly used by transformative fen and academics. Affirmational fen have an opportunity to discover new forms of fan activity and new ways to communicate.) The book, written by the managing editor of Diacritics, considers both types of fandom through a transformative lens and offers several ideas for those interested in bridging the older generations of fen and newer, younger fen. Those opportunities for bridge building are welcome and inspiring to at least this fan, who increasingly feels at home in both camps.

Over the course of the book, Mueller considers a handful of case studies offered as instructive examples of political conflicts dating back to the earliest days of fandom. In fact, there are at least two issues of Tightbeam included among the citations, as well as Donald Franson’s 1962 N3F Fandbook Some Historical Facts About Science Fiction Fandom. The N3F also shows up in the index.

The conflicts considered by Mueller include the Great Exclusion of 1939, in which the Worldcon organizing committee ostracized politically outspoken participants. That con lobby skirmish led to the formation of New Fandom and eventually the National Fantasy Fan Federation. Mueller does well to compare the two groups’ approaches to considering the role of politics in sf, fantasy, and horror. She also considers the Breen Boondoggle in 1964, in which fen decided to exclude Marion Zimmer Bradley’s husband Walter Breen from Pacificon II and the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (or its wait list, at least). While less explicitly political in nature, that controversy again highlighted aspects of inclusivity and exclusivity in fandom, focusing on how adults interact with children in fannish and other settings.

The book then fast forwards to several more recent political movements within fandom, including RaceFail ‘09, which took place primarily on LiveJournal rather than in fanzines—highlighting transformative fandom’s move online to platforms such as fan fiction repository Archive of Our Own—in which fen and professionals alike considered the role of race (and by extension, the working class, the poor, and women) in literature and media, as well as within fandom itself. Of special note in this chapter is Mueller’s consideration of fan-pro relationships and the role of authority, hierarchy, and power in political conflict within fandom. While several newly popular authors have emerged from RaceFail, the pros challenged at the time didn’t necessarily hold their own with grace and charm.

Also considered in the text: Puppygate and its impact on Hugo voting; how an influx of Twilight fen affected cons and fandom; the role of cosplay and other transformative fan activities; Glee fen and their criticism of the television show when it started to stray from topics and themes that initially attracted fen; and the transmedia marketing of The Hunger Games, which enabled fen to participate on both sides of the novels’—and movies’—narrative politics, introducing questions about and concerns with the commercial aspects of fan activity.

All in all, Mueller does well to examine the cohesion of community and ideals of tolerance within fandom, the tensions between hierarchical organization models and looser online networks of fen, and the desire for entertainment as well as social change. “[T]ransformative fans are starting to appear as equal to, and in some ways even more influential than the affirmational fans of literary science fiction and fantasy,” Mueller wrote. “[T]he divide between politically progressive and politically conservative fractions of fandom has in fact deepened once more, and the feuds that are carried out between different camps in the fannish sphere are more directly and openly connected to national and global political developments than perhaps ever before in fandom history.”

What’s missing in the book, through no fault of the text itself, is a solution—or solutions. One of the things that struck me is that requests to not discuss politics in fannish spaces are often arguments for the continuation of traditional politics, even if not positioned explicitly as such. Perhaps it’s not whether we talk about politics in fandom but how we do so. This book is a lively, wide-ranging first step toward finding such solutions.

Piece of the Day: Red Norvo Trio, "Move!"


Daily Headlines for May 31, 2022

‘Tamagotchi children’ are the future of parenting we deserve
Get in loser, we're disrupting childhood

Lidar exposes the remnants of an overgrown ancient civilization in the Amazon

France’s linguistic watchdog issues edict: it’s not esports, it’s ‘jeu video de competition’
The Académie Française has offered official translations of English loanwords

Deliberate ploy: whistleblowers reveal why Facebook’s Australia news ban included non-news sites
Employees within Meta say the move amid the standoff with the Morrison government was no accident

Guardian launches Tor onion service
Readers of the Guardian can now access our journalism entirely within the Tor network – an internet communication system designed to promote online privacy and offer enhanced protection from digital surveillance

From ‘Star Wars’ to streaming wars: How AIops is fueling the intergalactic streaming battle

BeReal is the latest buzzy social media app trying to go mainstream. Here’s how it works

Best mystery games on Apple Arcade 2022
Add a little more mystery to your life with these Apple Arcade games.

A cybersecurity expert explains why it would be so hard to obscure phone data in a post-Roe world
Not even a burner phone would be good enough to guarantee privacy.

Seen and Unseen review: George Floyd, Black Twitter and the fight for racial justice
Marc Lamont Hill and Todd Brewster’s brilliant book considers the history of communications technology in a racist society

South Africa wants to give every resident free broadband. Can it pull that off?
Broadband has long symbolized South Africa’s alarming wealth gap, as 7.5 million low-income South Africans are paying 80 times more than others for internet.

The rise of AI is pushing patent laws to their limits
Can software be an ‘inventor’? As courts wrestle with AI patent applications, the law must change to keep up

Turning AI failure into AI success stories

Remembering Apple’s Newton, 30 years on
On its 30th anniversary, we look at the groundbreaking product's enduring legacy.

China Smartphone Demand Weakens Amid Covid Resurgence
From Apple to chip makers, companies warn of fewer shipments and weaker consumer spending in the world’s biggest smartphone market

Everyone has moved their data to the cloud — now what?

3 most common — and dangerous — holes in companies’ cyber defenses

The metaverse: A huge network and connectivity challenge

Why 5G and the edge could be the keys to the metaverse

Start-up investors are warning of dark days ahead as boom times are ‘unambiguously over’

The Tech Crash Could Be a Talent Bonanza for Big Tech
After years of fighting to keep engineers and other sought-after employees from leaving for rivals or buzzy startups, the healthiest of the big tech companies are increasingly attractive for tech workers suddenly more keen on stability

Why more businesses are considering ending the 40-hour work week
With the shift in working arrangements during the pandemic, businesses are taking a closer look at their schedules.

How to make better and faster decisions when you are struggling to keep up
The ultimate goal is not perfection or being right all the time, but finding better ways of being wrong.

7 Leadership lessons from Pop Culture’s Worst Bosses
These bad bosses may be fictional, but they deliver real-world lessons in leadership and management.

Digital health has failed, but that doesn’t mean the future is hopeless
Digital health must ground its functions not just in AI and basic diagnostics, but in expert-informed clinical guidance.

5 omnichannel trends to integrate into your marketing strategy in 2022
We've done the research, so you don't have to

Data is the strongest currency in marketing and there may be too much of it

NFTs and the creator economy are on a collision course

Can Paramount Go It Alone?
The dominance of Netflix and Disney in streaming has forced many companies to join forces. So far, Paramount has gone its own way.

Ted Sarandos Talks About That Stock Drop, Backing Dave Chappelle, and Hollywood Schadenfreude
The Netflix executive says he — and the company he helped build — will survive a bout of bad earnings numbers.

Why this startup is encouraging employees to microdose psychedelics at work
Employees at MUD\WTR are swapping out their morning coffee for mushrooms—including psychedelic ones.

Why Jones Road is paying customers to post TikToks about its products
Some customers of Bobbi Brown’s makeup brand are receiving $1 for every 100 views of their TikTok videos about the products.

‘Don’ of a new era: the rise of Peter Thiel as a US rightwing power player
The Paypal Mafia’s lynchpin is putting his vast tech fortune to work for candidates aligned to Trump’s agenda in the midterms

Why Gen Z cares less about getting a 4-year college degree
Younger workers are pursuing different education paths, along with embracing the Great Resignation.

Developers: Stop feeling the pressure to learn every new technology — do this instead
Top tech companies thrive on the insecurity economy

Why do we have to wait so long for a COVID-fighting nasal spray?
A nasal-spray COVID-19 vaccine could prevent more infections of fast-spreading variants. Here’s why the science is taking so long.

Product returns are wasteful for companies and the planet. Here’s how to change that
Product returns are financially and environmentally costly—but they don’t have to be. Here are 3 ways companies can rethink returns to boost revenues and reduce waste.

Climate change is blowing down houses. This could save them
Extreme windstorms are an increasingly destructive threat, but resilient design can help.

Sort Apple Music albums with ease on Mac and mobile
Do you need help sorting music in the Music app for Mac or mobile? You've come to the right place!

Netflix adds content warning to Stranger Things season 4 premiere after Texas school shooting
‘Chapter One: The Hellfire Club’ now comes with a warning

Stranger Things 4's new monster is made with practical effects, some CG, and lots of lube
Vecna is here to terrorize Hawkins

PlayStation keeps pushing into TV and film with a Horizon Zero Dawn Netflix series
It’s going all in

Disney’s Pinocchio is full of hope in its first teaser trailer
Tom Hanks stars as Geppetto

Friday, May 27, 2022

Song of the Day: The Linda Lindas, "Nino"


Book Review: "My Memoirs of the Dark Shadows Conventions" by Anthony Taylor

My Memoirs of the Dark Shadows Conventions by Anthony Taylor (AuthorHouse, 2021)

This very brief ebook (29 pages) focuses on Dark Shadows conventions on the east coast between 1993 and 2016. A presumably Black fan who grew up watching the television show in the 1960s and 1970s—enamored by Lara Parker, “​​a sexy, beautiful … white woman”—discovered fandom several decades later by way of a video tape advertisement for a convention. Taylor attended Dark Shadows conventions in 1993, 1995, 2001, 2004, 2006-2007, 2009, 2012, and 2016.

In a sequence of brief chapters, the author shares personal recollections of the cultural importance of the program, the impact of the show’s supernatural elements, and the many actors he was able to meet and obtain autographs from. Taylor also comments on various aspects of attending cons through the eyes of a newcomer: the speakers and screenings, the openness of the featured cast members, the dealers rooms, con literature such as the 50th anniversary album, and other attendees: “Most were rich, and from the Caucasian race.”

He details his favorite actors, recognizes the deaths of Dan Curtis and Jonathan Frid, and credits his involvement in the Dark Shadows Fan Club in part for his success as a trustee at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Brooklyn. The ebook ends with several personal photographs of what might be Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, New York.

I was surprised to find this multi-year con report available on Amazon, and I’m glad that Taylor wrote it. I’m also glad he found lifelong enjoyment and involvement through Dark Shadows fandom. His memoir ably communicates its personal importance and meaning.

Daily Headlines for May 27, 2022

The future of US reproductive rights after Roe v. Wade

Why bittersweet emotions underscore life's beauty

"We cannot sanitize these killings": News media considers breaking grimly routine coverage of mass shootings
As journalists descend on Uvalde—as they did on Columbine, Newtown, and Parkland—some are questioning whether a more graphic approach is required to capture the reality of America’s gun violence epidemic. “It’s time,” suggests one industry leader, “to show what a slaughtered 7-year-old looks like.”

Nadine Dorries launches BBC mid-term charter review to examine broadcaster’s ‘impartiality’

Plan to deliver a digital-first BBC
The plan focuses on creating a modern, digital-led and streamlined organisation that drives the most value from the licence fee and delivers more for audiences

Could smart guns save lives?
In the wake of the Uvalde, Tex., school shooting, entrepreneurs say the time is finally right to add identifier technology to guns

An in-depth look at the race to charge your phone in mere minutes
The science, history, and, politics of fast charging

The DeanBeat: What would Orwell think of big tech vs gaming?

Watch with envy as this hoverboard soars over Paris
Can a hovercraft achieve it’s aviation dreams?

From Argentina to Nigeria, people saw Terra as more stable than local currency. They lost everything
"I have nothing left, not even a penny."

NJ talent firm exposed thousands of resumes, detailing immigration statuses and security clearances

Too many people are working while sick. The Great Resignation could help change that
‘Sickness culture’ is a huge problem—for employees, and for businesses’ bottom line.

Only 15% of VC general partners in Europe are women
A new report from European Women in VC reveals that female GPs also have less carry than their male peers

MacBook factory workers 'beginning to revolt' over lockdowns in China
"Over the past weekend, media reports went viral of a large group storming a dormitory housing Quanta's Taiwanese managers after a dispute over the prolonged lockdown and pay -- triggering an hours-long standoff confirmed by several workers within the compound."

What really killed Honest Tea—and what it means for mission-driven brands
The demise of Honest Tea shows how even a successful mission-based brand can fall apart.

After experiencing wage theft, L.A. car washers started their own worker-owned business
The co-op, incubated by the Clean Car Wash Worker Center, wants to reshape the car wash industry in Los Angeles.

Chattanooga Finds Fresh Identity as a Tech, VC Hub
The little city on the Tennessee River has had citywide superfast internet for over a decade, and a high quality of life. In the age of remote working, those are paying off big time, says Mayor Tim Kelly.

Inside Rotterdam’s quest to green 10 million square feet of rooftops
The Rooftop Days festival is part of a campaign to use more of Rotterdam’s flat roofs to add greenery, harvest solar power, and collect rainwater.

Barnes & Noble wants to save you from reading on an iPad with its new e-reader
If you want an e-reader and don't want a Kindle, there's a new option in town.

This intricate COVID-19 memorial was designed to go up in flames
Designed by an artist known for his work at Burning Man, this memorial aims to provide a cathartic release for those mourning the millions who have died.

Music Video of the Day: Blind Guardian, "Blood of the Elves"

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Song of the Day: Bob Marley & the Wailers, "High Tide or Low Tide"

Book Review: "Mission: Interplanetary" by A.E. van Vogt

Mission: Interplanetary by A.E. van Vogt (Signet, 1952)

This paperback edition features an alternate title for van Vogt’s 1950 novel The Voyage of the Space Beagle. Sporting an excellently dark painting cover by Stanley Meltzoff, the book is a fix-up of several short stories. Rewritten as a novel, the book includes material from “Black Destroyer” (Astounding Science Fiction, July 1939), “War of Nerves” (Other Worlds Science Stories, May 1950), “Discord in Scarlet” (Astounding, December 1939), “M33 in Andromeda” (Astounding, August 1943), and some new linking material.

As a fix-up, it basically follows a series of adventures and encounters of the crew of the Space Beagle, staffed by scientists, including Elliott Grosvenor, a Nexialist. A Nexialist is someone trained in integrated science and thought, accelerated learning techniques, and hypnosis. Unlike more specialized scientists, they are able to see the connections between different disciplines that others cannot see. In the book, Grosvenor is also skilled in conflict resolution and at encouraging people to collaborate to solve complex problems.

Given the creatures and situations encountered by the crew, they need all the help they can get. Some of the newfound enemies reach out to the crew accidentally—and alarmingly. Others have decided ill intent, perhaps to take over the rest of the universe. Only by working together is the crew able to overcome their challenges. And despite disagreements among the different crew members, leaders, and scientific disciplines, in the end, Nexialism gets a fair hearing.

The writing of van Vogt is clear and compelling, and as a fix-up, the novel offers multiple places to take a breather if one needs to take a break. I found the idea of Nexialism extremely intriguing and wonder if there’s a real-world corollary among the sciences. It reminds me slightly of Ken Wilber’s integral theory, a philosophy that strives to synthesize all human knowledge and experience. You can learn more about Nexialism in Gautham Shenoy’s 2017 article “The Nexialist approach: Van Vogt and the idea that ‘specialisation is for insects.’” You can also read some select quotes from later portions of the novel.

Daily Headlines for May 26, 2022

Why Australia has had only one mass shooting since 1996
Australia’s government banned automatic and semiautomatic guns, created a national firearms registry and made a 28-day-long waiting period for gun purchases.

90% of Asian Americans worry about being attacked as anti-Asian violence and hate crimes spike
A shooting at a Dallas hair salon this month is part of a wave of attacks against Asian Americans, prompting many to change their daily routines.

After 30 years, the world can now play the lost Marble Madness II
Scrapped Atari arcade rarity traded trackballs for joysticks—was it the right call?

Evil Dead: The Game review – gratifying guts and grue
Gory asymmetrical horror is a demonically fun, well balanced power struggle with boomsticks and bonus Bruce Campbell

Vampire: The Masquerade - Swansong review – a thriller to get your teeth into
Solve a string of murders as an undead psychopath in this chatter-heavy role-playing game – while feeding on humans, obviously

Metal: Hellsinger hands-on: First-person demon-slaying, cranked to 11
This "sometime in 2022" game could overtake Doom 2016 as the most metal FPS ever.

OpenAI punished dev who used GPT-3 to ‘resurrect’ the dead — was this fair?
The ethics of creating 'deadbots' are still murky

Big hair and glasses make good headphones sound bad — here’s what you can do
It's not just earbuds that require a good seal

Woman confronts retail worker over stolen AirPods she tracked to store
"Ms Fox later explained the employee's partner claimed he accidentally took the AirPods and said they wanted to return them to her."

Scientists grow cells on a robot skeleton (but don’t know what to do with them yet)
A new method of tissue engineering is only a proof of concept for now

The Great Resignation and its unintended consequences for IT

Cybercriminals target metaverse investors with phishing scams

How to future-proof your job by thinking like a futurist
It’s about considering where (and how) you can add value.

Your constructive feedback helps no one if you trigger this emotional reaction
Your great feedback makes no impression without being mindful of this universal human trait.

This is how my anxiety helped me learn how to work better
Leanna Lee lived with anxiety and situational depression for over 15 years. Seems like a recipe for disaster—especially since she runs her own business—but here’s what she’s learned to be successful.

How to make performance reviews less terrible — even for remote employees
There really is a better way.

Your BIPOC employees are sick and tired of getting asked this question
This microaggression is another example of ostracizing or ‘othering’ employees of color in the workplace.

This leadership style is powerful and effective
There are four distinct characteristics that allow these leaders to make a lasting impact on the lives of others.

Tech industry groups are watering down attempts at privacy regulation, one state at a time
Coordinated industry lobbying is overwhelming the scattered efforts of consumer groups and privacy-minded lawmakers

The state of the GDPR in 2022: why so many orgs are still struggling

Sequoia coaches start-ups to cut costs or face a ‘death spiral’ amid stock market slump, bleak economic backdrop

Not trademarking can be an Excruciatingly Expensive® and Wildly Annoying® mistake

Rapid grocery delivery boom comes to a grinding halt as Getir, Gorillas slash jobs

Tim Sweeney: Epic will fight Apple and Google to keep the metaverse open
‘Fortnite’ game creator says tech giants must not be allowed to use monopoly power to dominate new platforms, as they do with smartphone apps

Bowery opens a new vertical farm in Pennsylvania

This ingenious tool helps cities avoid rabid NIMBY arguments over housing
Balancing Act helps calm the contentious process of deciding where housing should get built.

The Key to a Good Parent-Child Relationship? Low Expectations.
Imperfect people can still enjoy a satisfying and healthy bond.

As temperatures skyrocket, Barcelona has devised a simple (and replicable) way to keep people cool
Barcelona set up 163 climate shelters to help residents stay cool in the scorching summer months.

A ‘doorway’ on Mars? How we see things in space that aren’t there
Things aren't always what they seem, especially beyond our orbit

What to expect at Netflix’s Geeked Week
A week-long news event? I’ve seen stranger things

Another live-action Speed Racer is coming to Apple TV Plus with J.J. Abrams behind the wheel
Who’s ready for even more flesh and blood Speed Racer?

Apple TV+ and J.J. Abrams reportedly working on a live action 'Speed Racer' series
The project has apparently been in the works "for a considerable amount of time."

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Quotes of Note: H. Beam Piper, "Little Fuzzy" III

Quotes of note from Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper:

(Page numbers gleaned from the 1983 eighth printing of the Ace mass-market paperback.)

"You never get anywhere by arguing religion with a priest." (p. 95) 

"You [don't] have to believe a thing to prove it. It helps, but it isn't necessary." (p. 96)

"People who have been charged with crimes ought to have public vindication if they are innocent." (p. 117) 

"In colonial law, you can find a precedent for almost anything." (p. 118)

"[O]nly one-tenth, never more than one-eighth, of our mental activity occurs above the level of consciousness." (p. 123) 

"[N]onsapient beings think, but only subconsciously... ." (p. 123) 

"[I]f you're innocent you're better off before a court-martial and if you're guilty you're better off in a civil court." (p. 149) 

"[O]nly the sapient mind thinks and knows that it is thinking." (p. 159) 

"The nonsapient animal is conscious only of what is immediately present to the senses and responds automatically." (p. 159) 

"The sapient mind ... is conscious of thinking about these sense stimuli, and makes descriptive statements about them, and then make statements about those statements, in a connected chain." (p. 159) 

"[T]he sapient mind can generalize. To the nonsapient animal, every experience is either totally novel or identical with some remembered experience." (p. 159) 

"The sapient being can conceive of something which has no existence whatever in the sense-available world of reality, and then he can work in plan toward making it a part of reality. He can not only imagine, but he can also create." (p. 168)

Song of the Day: Hickoids, "Benny & the Jets"

Book Review: "Magnetic Brain" by Volsted Gridban

Magnetic Brain by Volsted Gridban (Scion, 1953)

Inspired by an interview with Philip Harbottle in Justin E.A. Busch’s wonderful sercon fanzine Far Journeys and subsequently reading Harbottle’s book on the early history of sf publishing in England, Vultures of the Void: The Legacy (Cosmos, 2011), I picked up several examples of early British paperbacks and sf magazines, including this 1953 novel. Written by John Russell Fearn using the, oh, so awesome pseudonym Volsted Gridban, the 128-page book was published by Scion Ltd. The book’s cover painted by Ron Turner is absolutely beautiful and starkly colored but has little to do with the story—other than the image’s portrayal of how a reader might imagine the titular magnetic brain.

Hearn was a very prolific writer, publishing no fewer than 19 novels in 1953 alone. In that year, he wrote five novels as Gridban, with the bulk of his output credited to Vargo Statten. So the book was quickly written and inexpensively printed. Regardless, Magnetic Brain is a fun, brief read—I read it in two sittings—and includes several interesting science fictional ideas.

After crash landing on Mars and suffering a head injury, the protagonist, Timothy Arnside, receives medical care from a noted experimental Martian surgeon, who implants a device in his brain. Upon returning home on Earth, Arnside realizes that he is now able to read the minds of humans—but not Martians or Venusians—within a six-foot radius. The newfound ability plays helpful havoc with his marriage and affects his friendships and business prospects. (A relatively unsuccessful salesman, Arnside was fired shortly after his return home.)

Arnside becomes embroiled in industrial espionage, as well as governmental intervention in some Venusian fifth column activity initially led by a charismatic orator calling for armed defense of the planet Earth. That leads to the Venusians targeting the protagonist to remove the threat to their sleeper agents living on Earth. But Arnside’s decaying moral fabric—caused by his falling prey to the temptations offered by his telepathy—and side effects of the surgical implant lead to a problematic end.

Other than the magnetic brain itself, the book also includes elements of anti-gravity flight—which could inspire a sequel, were one so moved—and a fictional wonder metal, niridium. The book isn’t the best sf novel by any stretch of the imagination, but Hearn’s authorship and Scion’s publication are of historical importance. It offers an interesting look at the early state of mass-market sf publishing in post-war England.

Daily Headlines for May 25, 2022

How to help Uvalde school shooting victims: 4 things you can do right now
Nineteen children were gunned down at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. It is America’s 27th school shooting of the year.

Big-budget The Lord of the Rings: Gollum video game gets a 2022 release date
It's the first triple-A video game set in Middle-earth since 2017.

Edgeworks Entertainment unveils space terraforming sim TerraGenesis: Landfall

NY State is giving out hundreds of robots as companions for the elderly
A new way to address the West’s ‘loneliness epidemic’

Sick of picking up toys? Dyson’s future home robots want to do it for you
Company expects its robots to be doing your household chores in a decade.

Gen Z social app Yubo rolls out age ‘estimating’ technology to better identify minors using its service

If Europe and Japan can have small, cheap EVs, why can’t America?
Europe's VW ID.1 will cost $18,000; Japan's Nissan Sakura is just $14,000.

Report: Average time to detect and contain a breach is 287 days

Gen Z doesn’t want to go back to the office without these 3 things
Workers generally want more flexibility, but these things are also important to the youngest cohort of employees.

Recruiters are passing over college degrees for this essential soft skill
A curious mindset may carry more weight in the current hiring market.

AI reskilling: A solution to the worker crisis

Why we need ’emotional diversity’ at work right now
A truly human workplace is not one that wants to make us happy all the time, contends Tim Leberecht, the cofounder and CEO of the House of Beautiful Business. 

How to give genuine recognition to your employees
Recognizing and rewarding employees properly is essential if you want to retain top talent.

Future of Work: Taskrabbit CEO permanently ditches the office
Taskrabbit CEO Ania Smith says the future of work needs to be more beneficial for both corporate and gig workers

Snap Plunges, And There Goes Social Media’s Online Ad Biz
Profit warning from social platform Snap hits Meta, Pinterest, Twitter, Alphabet and even Amazon

This is how Florida educators are fighting back against ‘Don’t Say Gay’
LGBTQ+ education organizations in Florida are helping teachers navigate the confusing bill and maintain safe spaces for students, all while keeping an eye on the battle in other states.

Sliding to mild? Nope—omicron BA.2 caused worse COVID symptoms than BA.1
Study of 1.5M finds COVID symptoms shifted with variants. BA.2 caused the most.

3 ways to make flying more climate-friendly

This Michigan greenhouse takes a whole new approach to ‘farm-to-table’
A multipurpose greenhouse is an incubator, a commercial kitchen, and an event space.

Earth’s orbital debris problem is worsening, and policy solutions are difficult
"Who's responsible? Who pays? How much do they pay?"

Spy agency awards ‘historic’ contracts to commercial satellite firms
The awards to Maxar, BlackSky and Planet by the National Reconnaissance Office show the government’s reliance on commercial imagery

Apple is looking for more female-driven soaps, dramas for TV+, according to leaked document
"...the streamer is in search of female-driven soaps like Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon's "The Morning Show," broad but prestige-y dramas à la Chris Evans vehicle "Defending Jacob," and fizzier fare like WeWork dramatization 'WeCrashed'"

What to expect from Star Wars Celebration 2022
There will be stars and probably some wars

Get a recap of season one from the cast of 'For All Mankind'
I wonder if a season two recap is coming next!

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Song of the Day: Vanille, "Carte de Ciel"

Book Review: "The Handmaid’s Tale" by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Anchor, 1998)

Margaret Atwood’s 1986 novel The Handmaid’s Tale has experienced a relatively major resurgence in the last handful of years. First gaining new traction about the time of President Donald Trump’s election in 2016, the book has since re-entered the public conversation because of the Hulu streaming television show and, more recently, the Supreme Court’s leaked preliminary ruling to strike down Roe v. Wade. Dark days call for dark books. While my wife read the book shortly following Trump’s election with a book discussion group, when the Supreme Court ruling was leaked, I pulled the book from our shelves to read it myself. I never had. I read it in two sittings, over the course of two evenings, and I’m of the opinion that everyone should read this book.

Atwood’s book, some have said on social media, isn’t prescient—though one could argue that it still is—it’s history. Though both positions are unfortunate and valid, it might depend on a reader’s point of view—and knowledge of history. Yes, the Salem witch trials of 1692-1693 persecuted women for a number of social causes, including factionalism, family rivalries, fraud, sexism, and socio-economic hardships. Yes, the United States government jailed tens of thousands of “promiscuous” women during World War I ostensibly to protect soldiers from prostitutes and sexually transmitted diseases. Yes, more than 60,000 people—mostly non-whites, and mostly women—were sterilized in a majority of the United States during the 20th century, well into the 1960s. And yes, the Tuskogee Syphilis Study led to the death of more than 100 untreated Black men between 1932 and 1972. Eugenics and race- and gender-based persecution is real, and more recent—still current—than we might have realized. And they could return. 

Atwood’s book is a stark, simply told story of a society in which all rights are removed for women. They cannot work. They cannot maintain their own bank accounts or credit cards. They can either work in forced labor camps, as prostitutes, as caregivers for men, or as handmaids—surrogate mothers—for the wealthy, well to do, and well positioned. Men are in charge. It’s a riveting read and well worth public attention. The most recent documented attempts to ban the book in American high schools—in 2020—failed, and the book was retained.

Not only is Atwood’s novel socially relevant and a serious warning for citizens not considering the body politic—it’s inspired me to learn more about body autonomy and integrity as human rights issues—it’s a very well written book. Largely considered a dystopian novel, I’d suggest it qualifies as social science fiction in which society, politics, and culture become the speculative technology under consideration. I view it on par with Ray Bradury’s Fahrenheit 451, Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell’s 1984, and Ayn Rand’s Anthem. Cautionary tales for times of societal unrest and upheaval.

The end piece, “Historical Notes on The Handmaid’s Tale,” is offered as a fictional academic paper and presentation delivered at the Twelfth Symposium on Gileadean Studies. The paper examines the discovery and legitimacy of the document, its potential authorship, and the impact of the Gilead regime. Along the lines of social science fiction, it also mentions the “top-secret Sons of Jacob Think Tanks, at which the philosophy and social structure of Gilead were hammered out.” Yes, the persecution of women was planned and socially engineered, with the Sons of Jacob in stark opposition to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, which was entrusted to preserve and protect human knowledge in order to rise from the ashes of a collapsed society.

The Handmaid’s Tale is about the societal collapse in terms of the removal of citizens’ rights, and the first generation of women to experience it—the transition. To paraphrase the Aunts—female educators and wardens—that first generation will get used to it, and future generations of women won’t know any better because they won’t know the way things were before Gilead. That, I think, is the true horror of the book.

Daily Headlines for May 24, 2022

Have aliens visited Earth? US Congress doesn’t rule it out
We have seen some really weird stuff in the skies

Pushing Buttons: Why linking real-world violence to video games is a dangerous distraction
In this week’s newsletter: Tragic shootings in the US have resurrected the disproven theory games turn people into killers. Why does this myth persist?

If you can’t leave Facebook, know these Facebook privacy settings

What is Discord, the chat app used by the Buffalo suspect?
Vile conversations unfold on the popular chat service, but so do wholesome ones

Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki will join MSNBC this fall

Sony’s classic games blunder: Why PAL isn’t your friend
First-party PlayStation Plus classics launch at slower 50 Hz standard.

The Gollum video game launches in September
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum will be available on September 1st, my precious

West Hunt, a new social deduction game, is moseying up next month

Tech neck: what are smartphones doing to our bodies?
Bending your head to use a phone stresses the spine, say chiropractors – and that’s not the only way the devices are injuring and changing us

How will AI be used ethically in the future? AI Responsibility Lab has a plan

“Tough to forge” digital driver’s license is… easy to forge
A litany of security flaws allows forgeries that are easy, quick, and cheap.

How Ukraine's wide use of cryptocurrency is playing out during the war
With Michael Chobanian, the president of the Blockchain Association of Ukraine

See the retro icons that let you turn your computer into a 1984 Mac screen
If you’re feeling nostalgic for 1980s Apple, British designer Ben Vessey has just the thing for you.

Activision Blizzard’s Raven Software workers vote to form industry’s first union
The vote marks a victory for labor advocates in an industry mired with allegations of abuse and poor working conditions

A group of Activision Blizzard workers vote to unionize
The Raven Software QA testers formed the first recognized union in US gaming

Most people can’t answer all 5 of these basic financial literacy questions. Can you?
A new report from BrightPlan, a financial wellness company, shows that financial literacy has declined, even as opportunities to learn about money abound.

These are the 15 highest-rated workplaces by LGBTQ+ employees, says Glassdoor
On average, LGBTQ+ employees rate their workplace experiences lower when it comes to diversity, compensation, and work-life balance.

Today’s interns are tomorrow’s employees. This is how leaders can help them thrive
Leaders, Gen Z is looking for flexibility, competitive compensation, access to senior leaders, and environmental responsibility. Here’s how to provide it.

It’s time to tap your secret recruitment weapon: your workforce
In the Great Resignation talent crunch, employees may very well be a company’s best—and often overlooked—cultural ambassadors.

Yet to try a 4-day week? Here’s how to do it productively
Here’s how to ensure you still have time for socializing and creative brainstorming.

This is why you should play games at work. And no, it’s not ‘mandatory fun’
“What I initially believed would be time spent socializing and simply getting to know one another evolved into something greater,” explains Suneil Kamath.

7 tools that will help your teams work better together
The right collaboration tech stack lets your team capture, organize, and use ideas and information efficiently, so there’s less human conflict and more human productivity.

This futuristic office was designed for 5,000 people—and 100 robot coworkers
This new building by Korean tech giant Naver was designed to experiment with the future of automation.

ServiceNow powers hybrid work with indoor mapping

Why forward-thinking brands are pursuing ‘inverse’ social commerce

Amazon shareholders to challenge on pay, tax and working conditions
Proposals at this week’s AGM will be test of leadership for new chief Andy Jassy

Amazon Plans to Sublet Warehouse Space to Reduce Excess Capacity
The company has acknowledged it overbuilt as it sought to meet pandemic demand

Walmart plans to expand drone delivery to six states this year

How one New Hampshire sawmill is taking a stand against big timber
Timberdoodle’s founders believe forestry should follow in the footsteps of the slow food and fashion movements in centering transparent and local production.

Nomagic picks up $22M for its e-commerce warehouse picking robots

This nonprofit will use big data to fight voter suppression in the midterm elections
Using smartphone location data, the nonprofit can see where voters are waiting in long lines—and alert voting rights organizations, who can advocate for changes.

Two years after George Floyd’s murder, this is how to keep allies in the fight
Advice for allies to keep energized and committed in the face of seemingly intractable challenges.

How is your city tackling the climate crisis?

The metaverse could lead to an urban exodus
City parks and green spaces could be replaced by a virtual urban environment

9 ways design can actually help you heal in the hospital
Physical aspects of a hospital’s interior space can have a big positive impact on patients’ mental and physical health.

How a Substack newsletter gave Dracula a new lease on life
“Dracula Daily” has become the coolest book club on the internet. What makes the newsletter so interesting, though, is the way the material is being consumed by fans.

Mr. Boop, the psychosexual webcomic that is a scathing critique of copyright
It’s also about being married to Betty Boop

MusicBox is the hot new listen-later app you didn't know you needed
Now you have somewhere to put all that music you say you'll listen to one day.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Song of the Day: Reina del Cid and Toni Lindgren, "Roswell"


Book Review: "Foundation and Empire" by Isaac Asimov

Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov (Avon, 1966)

I started reading this immediately after reading Foundation. That’s not always the case with me for series or sequels. For example, while I’ll return to Jack L. Chalker’s Well World series and Larry Niven’s Ringworld series based on the strengths of the first books—which I also read recently—I wasn’t driven to do so immediately. With the Foundation series, however, after all these years, I had to. It’s just that good. Again, what was I waiting for?

Like Foundation, Foundation and Empire is also a fix-up, collecting two short stories published over the course of several issues of Astounding Science Fiction. The novel combines “Dead Hand” (Astounding, April 1945)—here, the section titled The General—and “The Mule” (Astounding, November-December 1945). Both continue Asimov’s ongoing exploration of the activities and impact of various kinds of men after the collapse of the Empire.

While Foundation considers the role of the psychohistorians, encyclopedists, mayors, traders, and merchant princes, Foundation and Empire narrates the first steps of a returning Empire, considering the generals, as various leaders reclaim border planets while vying for power against the Foundation. And the Mule is a very special leader indeed. You see, he’s a mutant.

Both sections—stories, really—of the novel are excellent, but it is the Mule (“The Mule”) that sings. The character Ebling Mis might remind readers of Hari Seldon. Bayta Darell might remind you of Teela Brown from Niven’s Ringworld. She doesn’t have the same luck, but her realization of why she and her husband Toran seem to be present for the occurrence of so many notable events struck me as a similar epiphany.

In the end, the Mule is humanized. Readers will empathize. And the Darells are left to continue to search for the Second Foundation, on the opposite end of the galaxy. Just as I searched for the next novel, Second Foundation, in a few boxes of paperbacks we have in our library. I don’t have the next book easily at hand, so I can’t continue reading the series immediately like I want to. Instead, I’ve turned momentarily to Lloyd Biggle, Jr. Hopefully my copy of Second Foundation isn’t on the opposite end of the galaxy, too.

(Interestingly, my copy of the mass-market paperback, the thirty-second printing of Avon’s 1966 edition of the 1952 novel, was missing a page of text: Page 94. Very little text was on that page, so I transcribed it from an online copy using a Bic Flair pen.)

Daily Headlines for May 23, 2022

America’s billionaire class is funding anti-democratic forces

The pandemic created a new billionaire every 30 hours as millions brace for extreme poverty
“The super-rich have rigged the system with impunity for decades and they are now reaping the benefits,” Oxfam International warns.

Buffalo Shooting Tests Internet Antiterrorism Accord
Live-streaming of the rampage shone spotlight on the Christchurch Call, launched after 2019 mosque killings in New Zealand

Why we need a public Internet and how to get one
‘We need politics. We need public policy. We need social movements’

SiriusXM acquires Conan O’Brien’s Team Coco podcast company for $150 million

Nintendo Switch Sports shows that innovation is necessary for sequels to thrive
After being given so much, it's hard to be taken away from.

The hard truths about Web3: What no one else is talking about

In a decentralized Web3, DAOs will be the driving force of decisions

Why some recommendations fall flat: Recommendation engines & their challenges

Augmented reality, superhuman abilities and the future of medicine

Don’t expect large language models like the next GPT to be democratized
They're frightfully expensive to build and train — and give their creators a competive advantage worth protecting

For the metaverse, embodied reality is the true final frontier

Shining a light on equal pay and the wage gap

Christine Lagarde says crypto is worth nothing

How the résumé business has changed amid the Great Resignation (and what that means for you)
TopResume’s Amanda Augustine says “career-advancement opportunities” replaced “day-to-day work” for the first time as one of the top three priorities for 2022. Here’s how your résumé can reflect that.

Taking a career hiatus is now perfectly okay
LinkedIn research shows a break in your career journey is no longer something to hide or speak vaguely about.

How to give your boss feedback (and keep your job)
Sometimes it’s necessary to provide feedback, but it can be a delicate situation.

What it’s like to have employer support for abortion care
On the latest episode of The New Way We Work, we hear from Emma Hernandez about her experience accessing abortion care at two different points in her life: with and without employer support.

An effective way to recruit talent? Try to get your current workers to leave
Forget about the ‘why you joined’ story. Encourage your team to tell a ‘why I would not leave’ tale.

Everyone is drafting their own startup Black Swan memo

How to Design (and Redesign) the Practices of Company Culture

Hello? Hello? Is This Facebook? Anybody There? (Nope.)
Users with account problems go to extreme lengths to reach someone, anyone, for customer service; ‘I have never been able to speak to a human’

Apple Looks to Boost Production Outside China
iPhone maker tells suppliers it wants to manufacture more in India and Southeast Asia

Elon Musk’s Planned Twitter Takeover Creates a ‘Chaos Tax’ for Employees
Deal has left employees bewildered about what their jobs are and will be

Government faces High Court trial over £854mn supercomputer contract
Atos claims it was wrongfully excluded from bids for advanced system for predicting weather and climate change

How tech from Slack to Discord can prepare students for the future of work
Nectir CEO Kavitta Ghai maintains that we should be encouraging students to use social and collaboration tech in the classroom to be more effective when they join the workforce.

COVID-19 relaxed red tape in cities. Then the bureaucracy returned
The fight over a parking lot in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a microcosm of a bigger problem that’s playing out across the country: Cities are designed for cars, not people, and not even a global pandemic has changed that.

How NASA finally melted its giant “self-licking ice cream cone”
"Government should be about getting the taxpayer the best value."

The new season of Love, Death and Robots doesn’t miss
A violent, clever, and eclectic animated anthology

Stranger Things 4 cranks everything up way past eleven
The Upside Down is back and more brutal than ever

The stunts don’t stop in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning’s first trailer
The seventh Mission: Impossible hits theaters in 2023

Friday, May 20, 2022

LOC for MT Void #2220-2223

The following is a letter of comment sent to Mark and Evelyn Leeper, editors of MT Void, commenting on #2220-2223.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Leeper:

Having recently received several new issues of MT Void via the National Fantasy Fan Federation’s franking service—and having had a letter of column printed and even responded to by a fellow reader (Hello, R. Looney!)—I see fit to write again after reading #2220-2223.

The reprint and discussion of Dale Skran's review of Motherland: Fort Salem is intriguing. Given the current anti-woman and anti-reproduction rights leaning in the United States, I’m not sure if I’d enjoy the television program right now, but I did recently read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Perhaps the fantastic elements of the show will dull the parallels sufficiently. Last weekend, my wife and I participated in a reproductive rights rally in downtown Los Angeles. We definitely don’t need another witch hunt right now. Skran’s review also reminded me slightly of The Nevers, which is streaming broadly—and an excellent television program. Have you watched The Nevers? You and Mr. Skran might also get a kick out of the Image comic book limited series Man-Eaters: The Cursed. Its precursor (Man-Eaters) was an amazing story, and the subsequent miniseries quite good as well, swinging the title’s attention from women as lycanthropes to witchcraft.

I also recently read John Scalzi’s The Kaiju Preservation Society and appreciated Joe Karpierz’s review. My review appeared in The N3F Review of BooksApril 2022 issue. I read it, while Karpierz listened to it, but I can imagine how enjoyable Wil Wheaton’s narration must have been. Very cool.

The reviews of relevant movies recently aired on Turner Classic Movies were welcome—but I wish I’d been aware of their scheduling beforehand so I could watch them, too! I’ll have to pay more attention to their schedule. I usually do in October for their active classic horror lineup leading up to Halloween. Maybe it’s something my alter ego Cathode Ray could work into his “Celluloid Sentience” movie and DVD release column for FanActivity Gazette. Not a bad idea, and one for which I thank you. (As a side note, I’ve been enjoying the MT Void mini-reviews that Philip De Parto circulates to the The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County. Another pleasant surprise in my in box!) 

Karpierz’s review of Kimberly Unger’s The Extractionist doth compel, but the book isn’t even out yet! (Now, that’s science fiction for you.) The reviewer, lucky fellow that he is, must have received an advance reading copy. Evelyn’s consideration of Arthur Conan Doyle’s “​​A Study in Scarlet” was also inspiring. I’m curious whether you’re active in Mrs. Hudson's Cliffdwellers or The Priory Scholars of NYC. It looks like The Sherlock Breakfast Club in Los Angeles hasn’t met since 2017, but The Curious Collectors Of Baker Street are still active. Thanks for the inadvertent nudge!

And I found Skran’s “Reforming the Short Form Hugo” of high interest. The N3F and its directorate has been having a similar discussion about the categories and approach to nominees for the National Fantasy Fan Federation Speculative Fiction Awards, or Neffy Awards, which while not as notable or visible, still run slightly parallel. I agree with Skran’s proposal: a Dramatic series Hugo focusing on series from the last year. We could even take some cues from the Emmy Awards, which offers useful precedent. My preference—for the Neffy Awards at least—is to focus on shows that premiered during the previous year. But my Neffy thinking hasn’t gone further than that. For the Hugos, the Emmys’ attention to any six eligible episodes for final-round judging might be a useful standard. Skran’s three is also a reasonable number.

The Emmys also concentrate on episode length. They consider Short Form series as having episodes with an average running time of two to 20 minutes, Half-hour series as 20-40 minute episodes, and Hour-long series as 40-75 minute episodes. Taking that approach could still allow room for other shorter-form content. And I think Skran’s general concern about the Hugo category being potentially biased toward large streaming platforms (or network or cable TV, for that matter) has merit. The N3F Directorate has had similar conversations about conventionally published, print-on-demand, and self-published books. I’d advocate for breaking them all out and including them all, while we currently lump them all together and have a slight bias against conventionally published books in some quarters.

But why I’m really writing to you is because I read Catherynne M. Valente’s Comfort Me With Apples last night. I’d requested the ebook from my local library, missed the first hold release, and wanted to jump on the subsequent hold release. So I read it in one sitting lest my 21 days pass uneventfully. What an absolutely wonderful and surprising read. Thank you, Mr. Karpierz, for recommending it. Given my remarks in the letter of comment in #2221, it did not end up being the book I was expecting. Though it was wholly unlike The Cabin at the End of the World, The Couple Next Door, or Lying in Wait—though still a domestic thriller—it was even better than I’d imagined. More along the lines of Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives reimagined by Neil Gaiman. I’m not sure what Looney would make of it. The Comfort Me With Apples he mentioned (by Peter DeVries) is described as “a laugh-out-loud novel about teenage pretensions and adult delusions from an author whom the New York Times has called ‘a Balzac of the station wagon set.’” Valente’s book, a serious doozy of a read, is not that comic, for sure. Instead, it is darkly fantastic, mundane and mythic in its scope, and subtly shocking at times. I would not have read it were it not for MT Void. Thank you.

I hope you and yours are well.

LOC for Alexiad Vol. 21 #2

The following is a letter of comment sent to Lisa and Joseph Major, editors of Alexiad, commenting on Vol. 21 #2.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Major:

Last night, I read Alexiad Vol. 21 #2—which I received through the National Fantasy Fan Federation’s franking service—and wanted to drop you a brief note to wish you well. It’s overcast and cool in southern California today, downright gray, and my neighbors are doing some construction work, so my home office is full of the sounds of hammers, power tools, and Mexican radio. I don’t mind the radio. And I’m thankful it’s Friday.

I remember seeing an issue of Alexiad previously. I’m not sure if I printed it out at work to read or if you mailed it to me, but it was definitely a hard copy, so if I’ve been remiss on responding to a mailing, I apologize. I am also sorry that you have been not entirely well and harassed by other issues. Things have been slightly heavy here, too, with family concerns, work challenges, and world affairs over the last few weeks.

My wife and I enjoyed the recent lunar eclipse and plan on traveling to see the 2024 solar eclipse somewhere in the Midwest. Our son went on a camping road trip with the Scouts in 2017. I was unable to join the troop because of work commitments and regret not being able to participate. He had a grand adventure by all accounts.

Your review of Moira Greyland’s memoir The Last Closet interested me. I, too, read it not that long ago—and I’d been unaware of the scandal when it came to light in 2014. (My review is in the March 2022 edition of The N3F Review of Books and is also available on my blog.) Your commentary focused more on issues I didn’t address, and I found your point of view thought provoking. Vox Day’s involvement in the publication of the book definitely lends a political purpose to the book, and I was disappointed by Greyland’s conflation of child sexual abuse with homosexuality—though I have never experienced anything like what Greyland survived and I can only empathize. It was, after all, her traumatic experience.

While I agree with the idea of not kicking someone when they’re down—or dead—I’m not sure how compelling I find the argument that Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen can no longer defend themselves. Do they need to? Breen’s penchant for abuse—and his fate—were determined before his death. And while Bradley wasn’t found guilty of a crime, necessarily, her and Elisabeth Waters’s depositions make for concerning, if not alarming, reading. If we can accept their depositions at face value, if any of the claimants involved are reliable narrators—Greyland included—Bradley didn’t really actually counter any of her daughter’s claims; instead, she merely claimed that she didn’t know any of it had happened until well after the fact. And Waters’s deposition seems to bolster and confirm Greyland’s claims.

In any event, it is definitely a series of unfortunate events, and my heart goes out to Greyland—even if I think it’s incorrect to place the blame on her parents’ sexual identity or orientation. This is just one study, but C. Jenny, T.A. Roesler, and K.L. Poyer’s “Are children at risk for sexual abuse by homosexuals?” (Pediatrics. 1994 Jul;94[1]:41-4) suggests that the risk of children being abused by homosexual adults ranges between 0% to 3.1%. Meanwhile, in 82% of the cases in that study, the alleged offender was a heterosexual partner of a close relative of the child. Given the changing makeup of families over time, more recent studies might need to be done to better assess the likelihood of a parent or partner abusing a child, regardless of their sexual orientation. But the case doesn’t seem strong enough to suggest that all (or even most or much) LGBTQ+ parents are likely to abuse, much less that all parents are.

The earlier Breendoggle was paired with the Great Exclusion of 1939 for consideration in Hannah Mueller’s The Politics of Fandom (McFarland, 2022), which I also recently read and reviewed for the N3F Review. So I was momentarily thrown by your subsequent comments on Tom Veal’s Igor's Campaign: A Tale of Ambition. I had to laugh out loud when I realized it was an alternate history! The ebook might make a fun parallel read with Andy Hooper and Carrie Root’s “Read and Enjoyed, but No Content” play script reprints in Captain Flashback. I’ve ordered it and will let you know what I think.

Your comments on the Worldcon bids are poignant: “Some argued that old writers who weren’t being read any more had no appeal to the contemporary crowd. Others regretted the end of an era where one could mix with those who had made the field.” Makes me wonder, though: Who makes up the contemporary crowd? Yes, there’s a generational shift in fandom underway. It’s been going on for some time, at least since the advent of Star Trek and the resultant media fandom, exacerbated by so much of communication’s move online and the shift away from fanzines and more traditional correspondence culture. Then there’s the more recent shift to mainstream pop culture cons rather than fannish cons. (I would love to read the model railroading and rail fanning story you remember—I do not know what it is, either. Perhaps Dale Speirs of Opuntia knows? Sounds like something he’d come across.)

But there’s got to be room for everyone, regardless of whether you’re a literary fan or a media fan, an offline fan or an online fan, or a fandom studies academic’s vision of an affirmational fan or transformative fan. Do we need to jettison the past to move into the future? Or can we bring our history with us and leave room for the old and the new, contemporaneously? Ghods, I hope so.

I wish you and your wife well, in happiness and in health. The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society recently lost member Karl Lembke to cancer, so the mortality of fen is foremost in mind. Hopefully we can avoid the mortality of fandom itself.