Will not get the issue pages posted until tomorrow, and may do so in the context of a design tweak to the homepage. More as time permits.
Monthly Archives: August 2005
OK, so I spent a little while last night and this morning setting up a page of last year’s book cover images, arranged by artist — which I’ve posted here (warning! big page! may be slow to load; has 389 cover graphics).
The page has only covers for books I personally saw and listed on the site (and whose cover artists were credited), thus is light on UK and Australian books. For 2005, it should be easy enough to gather cover artist info on such books from the listings in Locus Magazine. I’ll also include magazine covers on the 2005 list. And perhaps split the page up somehow.
I note that four of the 2005 Hugo nominated best artists — Jim Burns, Bob Eggleton, Donato Giancola, and John Picacio — all have at least a handful of items on this page, while the fifth, Kelly Freas, does not. Checking my magazine database, I don’t see a 2004 Freas cover there either. Hmm. It’s easy to understand why he was nominated, but I wonder if some sort of minimum qualifications analogous to those for other categories — say, at least 4 book or magazine covers within the eligibility year — would be appropriate. Or perhaps there is such a rule and I’m just missing the relevant covers.
UPDATE late afternoon — I corrected some variant and mis-spellings of artist names and regenerated the page.
Also, I ran a little group query to see, based on this set of data (which I grant is far from complete), which artists have the most book covers.
16: Stephen Youll
11: John Picacio (H)
11: Bob Eggleton (H)
10: Michael Whelan
9: Les Edwards/Edward Miller
8: Paul Youll
7: Steve Stone
7: Dave Seeley
7: Scott Grimando
7: Tom Kidd
7: Cliff Nielsen
7: Stephan Martiniere
7: Donato Giancola (H)
6: Stephen Hickman
6: John Harris
6: John Jude Palencar
6: Jim Burns H
(0): Kelly Freas (H)
Where the H’s indicate Hugo nominees and the winner.
I have in mind two lists to compile at the end of this year, for possible use in Hugo nominating and voting. First, since I have always documented the cover artist in the new book listings for Locus Online, and that data is all gathered in a single database, it will be simple to assemble a selection of cover images for those artists most active producing cover art during the calendar year 2005. The Hugo category of ‘best artist’ has, by its nature, relied on voters’ impressions of the various artists work in general, since there’s been no handy way of judging various artists’ works from within each eligibility year; compiling images of works from within a single year is a function that a website can easily serve.
Second, I’ll start reporting the editors responsible for individual books, in the weekly New Books listings, when that information is available — to begin with, those Tor books that list the editor on their copyright pages. Again, I’ll compile a list by editor at the end of the year. And I’ll explore the feasibility of gathering such data from other publishers.
Among Ellen Datlow’s photos from Glasgow is this one of my partner and me on The Tall Ship in Glasgow, site of the HarperCollins party, where guests were handed small bags with pirate paraphernalia — eyepatches and sashes. I wore the eyepatch for a while, but couldn’t see well with it on (especially climbing and descending those steep stair/ladders). Yeong tied his sash around his head, samurai style, and looks pretty good. The sun was in my eyes.
As of last night’s New Books page, I’ve re-instated links to BookSense, the network of independent booksellers, which I suspended a few months ago when I realized that, after a couple years of posting them, I’d never gotten any kind of feedback from BookSense, let alone commissions. (The Amazon links throughout the site do provide a few cents commission for each purchase made through them.) Some feedback from independent bookstore owners — who contribute to Locus Magazine’s monthly bestseller list — has led me to re-instate the BookSense links, even though BookSense itself reports absolutely no purchase activity through the previous links. So… if anyone does use the BookSense link for any book I’ve listed, and buys a book that way, please let me know. I’d like to know if the system is working.
There were some comments to my earlier post about losing the Hugo by one vote, so check them out, and my response, if you’re curious.
Finally, this passage from Entertainment Weekly‘s August 19th Fall Movie Preview issue, concerning A SOUND OF THUNDER, due in theaters September 2. It’s directed by Peter Hyams and written by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, and Gregory Poirier… it says.
[Ben] Kingsley also likes Ray Bradbury, the science fiction titan who wrote the futuristic story Thunder is based on. You know that old adage about how a butterfly flapping its wings can change the course of history? Legend has it that its origins lie in Bradbury’s 1952 tale.
Today my workplace was affected by the virus/worm that has been infecting Windows 2000 PCs over the past few days, causing my computer there to engage in an endless reboot cycle, until a PA announcement from our IT group told us to disconnect our computers from the network and await further instructions… which trickled down and cleared things up by mid-day. Until when I puttered, read the papers, and puttered. It’s amazing how little it seems possible to do without a computer, these days.
I don’t plan to recount my Europe vacation here, except (searching for any kind of skiffy relevance) to note that the rates for wireless connections in Amsterdam and Paris were just as exorbitant as they were in Glasgow. By Paris, I was logging on for only an hour at a time, every couple days. In contrast, my last few hotel stays in the US have provided free (if sometimes slow) wifi connections. Travels to Europe provide bracing contrasts to the occasionally stultifying and backward cultural attitudes of the US, but in this tech case, it is they who are sadly behind the times.
Still working my way through stacks of new books, magazines… and audiobooks and galleys, that I’ve been receiving more of, of late. I need to figure out a way of acknowledging and listing them on the site as well. There will be several Monitor pages of books and mags on the site by this weekend.
UPDATE on Thursday — All my credit card charges have been posted, so I can summarize actual costs of Wifi access in various cities:
Glasgow Moat House hotel, 1 week: 69 pounds = $127.02 [$.75/hour]
Dublin airport, 1 hour: $3.82
Amsterdam hotel, 1 day: 15 euros = $19.22 [$.80/hour]
Paris hotel, 1 hour: $10.24
(Of course, *everything* is expensive in Paris.)
At home, my DSL service runs $49.95/month, or about $.07/hour.
If I seem nonchalant about not winning the Best Website Hugo this time, it’s for several reasons. First, it’s because I’m aware that the category is controversial — for several reasons… including the notion that there might be a single obvious winner (though surely it’s presumptuous of me to imagine so) and that this obvious winner would be just another Hugo in the direction of Locus and Charlie Brown. I attended the panel on Monday morning of the con, addressing the question “Is there any point to the Best Website Hugo?”, and heard one of the panelists say this very thing. It is a blessing and a curse — having the support and connections of the most influential news magazine in science fiction history, and by the same token being regarded, no matter what I do, how hard I work, what innovations I create for the website, to be regarded as simply the ‘webmaster’ for the online presence of that same magazine. (And yes, I’ve considered changing the name of the site and going it alone… as friends have suggested… but would not do that.) Because of this quandry, I’m just as happy I didn’t win this time, because the result this time instead indicates that there is some legitimate competition in the category, thus perhaps increasing the likelihood of making the category permanent.
Second, I was very nervous before the awards ceremony, in part because I’d composed a little speech about the concept of the website category, and was relieved when the winner was announced that I wouldn’t have to deliver it — though by the time the category was to be announced, after sitting through several previous categories, I’d mentally decided to chuck most of the predetermined speech, and deliver a bare-bones thanks to CNB and congrats to the other nominees talk instead. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t deliver that speech; it would have seemed self-serving…
Third is a reason I’ll never tell anybody ever. Imagineers among you may speculate.
As I said, I did attend the Monday morning panel addressing the question “Is there any point to the Best Website Hugo?”. The dominant fact of the panel was that there were barely 10 people in the audience…. Obviously it’s not really a subject of great concern to very many. Hugo boffins, perhaps. I sat in the back row, unrecognized (I’m good at that), determined not to interject any of my own opinions and listen instead to what the panelists said. They included Jed Hartman, editorial contributor to Strange Horizons; Bill Burns, nominee for eFanzines.com; and James Shields, who didn’t say much. (Other scheduled panelists were Cheryl Morgan, who was unable to attend the con at all, and Chaz Boston Baden, who didn’t show.)
The panel addressed various familiar issues, including the apples & oranges issue — that various websites can’t be compared — and the timeliness issue — that voters would look at nominated websites as they existed at the time of nomination rather than as they existed during the official eligibility year… though of course these same concerns could easily be expressed about the artist, editor, fanzine, fan writer, fan artist, and semiprozine categories. In truth, the existing Hugo categories are a hodge-podge mix confusing works and roles; if it were up to me, skeptical about voters’ insight into what editors actually do [being one myself, on occasion], for instance, I’d replace the category about editors with categories about best magazine and best publisher… and so on, and so on.
Bill Burns, though he seemed obsessed with the idea of fitting material on websites into existing categories — Neil Gaiman’s almost-nominated site should instead be eligible for best fan writer, for instance, and Sci Fiction’s content would be up for the various fiction categories, and for best editor, but not as a site or publication — a determinedly reactionary attitude, it seemed to me, in contrast to the presumably flexible, forward-thinking of science fiction fans (would he remove the dramatic presentation categories and regard them as simply new-fangled variations of the prose fiction categories? — to extend this thinking backwards a century or so) — had a partially valid point, it seemed to me, in that the present Hugo categories don’t recognize forms such as publisher or magazine, so why should they recognize website? Instead they recognize roles — or the role, of editor. But to be consistent, he should be recommending the overhaul of those existing Hugo categories for fanzine and semiprozine and artist and so on… which of course he did not…
Meanwhile, I’m still catching up on emails, new books, new magazines, and so forth. Busy busy.
I’m back from my post-Worldcon European tour, and will be spending today catching up on email, logging in books and magazines, and posting news items…
Just to reiterate, I’m on vacation in Amsterdam and Paris for a few days, and so there’ll be no updates to the site until next Monday. Not only am I busy, but internet connections are just as expensive here as they were in Glasgow…
Will have more to say about the Hugo and the issue about the website category then…
Yeong and I had a rather awful breakfast buffet here at the Moat House, then did a mini-tour of the conference center so he could get his fill of the event, borrowing someone’s badget to gain admittance to the dealers’ room and art show for a quick stroll. Then we took a taxi to Sauchiehall (pronounced ‘suckey-hall’, I’ve been assured) Street where we strolled and shopped our way through the mall and down Buchanan, through Merchant City and eventually back up to Sauchiehall where we had a leisurely afternoon tea at the Willows Tea Room.
Then back to the room to rest a bit before the Hugo Nominees Reception at 6p.m., which had canapes and drinks, and where I chatted with David and Vincent and Geoff (who I realized was the presenter in my category…).
The ceremony itself went very smoothly, and was notable — I haven’t seen this mentioned elsewhere — for being attended by almost all the winners. Only the media winners, and Mike Resnick, weren’t there.
Afterwards we were bussed over to the Hilton for the Hugo Nominees Party (not, this year, called the Hugo Losers Party), where copies of the voting statistics began circulating, and I saw that in the Best Website category I’d lost by only a single vote — had led or tied, actually, until the final round. So it goes. This has happened before, or nearly so, and as I recall a losing nominee in this position made a fuss about it to the administrators, and of course came off as a sore loser.
This morning–Monday–we are packing and embarking for the continent, so there won’t be much more here until next week probably. Our parting event will be a panel this morning about whether or not there should be a Best Website category in the Hugos at all…
Spent an hour or so listening in on the WSFS business meeting, as they debated splitting the Best Editor Hugo category into two, listening to speeches and counterarguments and motions that went on in great detail. There are good arguments on both sides.
I dipped in and out of panels moreso than previously. I heard most of a panel about whether Harry Potter is good or bad — the books, and their influence, that is — with Jane Yolen, Sharyn November, Graham Sleight, et al; heard part of a panel on Science Denial — why do so many of the public believe weird things? — with Paul McAuley et al. And a couple others. Bought a couple more books. Took a nap. Went for a walk.
Later I taxied out to the airport to meet my partner, who flew in from LA for the last day and a half of the con before we depart for a week on the continent. I finagled an invitation to the HarperCollins Voyager party on The Tall Ship downriver a couple blocks from the SECC, where eyepatches and scarves were handed out amidst wine and beer and canapes. Chatted with Geoff, Jane, David. Then a taxi to our dinner reservation, at a recommended restaurant called Ubiquitous Chip, where we ate pork cheeks, scallops, pigeon, some kind of fish called leith (?), and desert, and I tried a Single Malt Scotch in the range I like but had not previously tried — Adberg, I think it was.