Category Archive 'Sci Fi'

29 May 2018

Trauma at WisCon42

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What would a world be like run by ordinary, not necessarily all-that-elite, college-educated Americans? You can find a pretty good demonstration just by looking at what things are like at a current Sci Fi fan convention.

Last Sunday, for instance, there was trouble with a capital-T at the 42nd WISCON convention.

Today’s geeks and nerds are a sensitive and Woke lot, prone to devote serious thought to important moral questions and to consider the plight of unpopular minorities, minorities like J.R.R. Tolkien’s orcs and Robert A. Heinlein’s bugs.

So a chin-stroking panel was scheduled with some serious scrutiny of certain guilty Living & Dead White Authors on the agenda. Its mission was described, thusly:

In SFF with an action element there’s a desire for cool giant battle scenes, heroes who spin, twirl, slice off heads, and general melee violence. This is an old background trope: the killable mook, guard, or minion whose life can be taken in a cool or funny way is familiar from traditional action films. But many SFF stories take this trope further with a killable race or non-sentient army: the Orcs in Lord of the Rings, the Chitauri in Avengers, and the many robot armies that we see represented solely so that heroes can create cool violent carnage without having to answer difficult moral questions. What happens when SFF comes to rely on this trope? If we’re going to have violent action in SFF, is this better than the alternative? Is it ever not just super racist?”

Apparently, however, all the Social Justice was marred by the intrusion of (the horror! the horror!) a dissenter who triggered the panelists and caused harm to these sensitive souls through vocal thought crime.

As we all know, saying things people don’t like constitutes harassment.

The WISCON 42 blog has the details:

During the Killable Bodies In SFF panel at WisCon this morning (Sunday), a panelist engaged in Nazi and Confederate apologia and also appeared to posit that disabled or injured people sometimes “have to be sacrificed.”

They continued this behavior even after the audience and other panel members expressed the harm this was causing them.

WisCon rejects these ideas. They are in conflict with our Code of Conduct. The panelist in question will be banned and asked to immediately leave convention spaces.

The relevant passage from the Code of Conduct is here:

    Harassment includes: Verbal or written comments or displayed images that harmfully reinforce structures of oppression (related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, geographic origin, or class); deliberate intimidation; stalking; body policing (including gender policing in all bathrooms); unwelcome photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events; inappropriate physical contact; and unwelcome sexual attention.

Please read the full Code of Conduct here.

If you or anyone you know are in need of any support following this experience, please contact us. We will be working to find folks who can provide emotional support to you.

ETA: This particular individual has been banned for WisCon 42. The decision as to whether this ban will be extended in the future will be determined by our Anti Abuse Team post-con. Should you have information to contribute, you are welcome to email safety@wiscon.net.

01 Dec 2016

US Army: Attention, Mad Scientists…

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madscientist

Small Wars Journal:

The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command is pleased to announce its first Mad Scientist Science Fiction Writing Contest and will accept submissions between November 22, 2016 and February 15, 2017.

The topic for this competition is “Warfare in 2030 to 2050.” Writers from all walks of life have the opportunity to contribute ideas that are outside what the Army is already considering about the future. These stories are being used to explore fresh ideas about the future of warfare and technology. Writers are asked to consider (but not limited to) how trends in science, technology, society, the global economy, and other aspects could change the world in a meaningful way, with implications for how the Army operates in future conflicts.

The winning contestant will receive an invitation with most expenses paid to the concluding 2017 Mad Scientist Conference co-hosted by Georgetown University, Center for Security Studies, School of Foreign Service, Washington, D.C. Submissions selected as runners up will be published in one of several professional military journals.

For more information and guidelines for the competition visit the TRADOC G2 2017 Mad Scientist Conference Science Fiction Writing Contest Page or contact Allison Winer at allison.d.winer.civ@mail.mil.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

06 Nov 2013

Saving the World

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02 Mar 2010

The Alarming Jewish Fantasy Gap

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Karen has forwarded to me a link to an article by Michael Weingrad undertaking a nerdworthy analysis of the lack of significant Jewish contribution to the Tolkienian fantasy genre.

[I]f Christianity is a fantasy religion, then Judaism is a science fiction religion. If the former is individualistic, magical, and salvationist, the latter is collective, technical, and this-worldly. Judaism’s divine drama is connected with a specific people in a specific place within a specific history. Its halakhic core is not, I think, convincingly represented in fantasy allegory. In its rabbinic elaboration, even the messianic idea is shorn of its mythic and apocalyptic potential. Whereas fantasy grows naturally out of Christian soil, Judaism’s more adamant separation from myth and magic render classic elements of the fantasy genre undeveloped or suspect in the Jewish imaginative tradition. Let us take two central examples: the magical world and the idea of evil.

Christianity has a much more vivid memory and even appreciation of the pagan worlds which preceded it than does Judaism. Neither Canaanite nor Egyptian civilizations exercise much fascination for the Jewish imagination, and certainly not as a place of enchantment or escape.

I’m not sure that his thesis is actually all that correct. If so, he would have to have to have a very specific kind of fantasy fiction in mind. Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale is a fantasy. Roger Zelazny’s Amber series ought to serve as a very successful example of Jewish-written fantasy. Neil Gaiman is Jewish. And so on.


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