Sunday, August 13, 2017

Quick Notes on Fandom, Future Plans, Etc.

This post is going to cover a hodgepodge of topics, so many apologies in advance for its lack of unity.

Liberty Con XXX: A Brief AAR

Despite my limited mobility, I still enjoyed myself at this year's Liberty Con. For the second year in a row, I was able to stay up late enough on Saturday night to attend the annual Mad Scientists Roundtable, where - if I recall correctly - technological enhancements of the human brain and extra-solar Earth-like planets were among the subjects discussed. I also went to the Baen Roadshow (of course); took in a panel in which John Ringo, Tom Kratman, and other presenters regaled us with their funniest military stories (an event which should be both repeated and lengthened in future years); and, on Saturday morning, ate breakfast with the Hoyts on the Chattanooga waterfront. Every time I go to this con, I am reminded once again why I consider it to be one of my two "home cons" despite its being held a nine hour drive away. I dearly hope Brandy can find a new venue for 2018!

Speaking of Home Cons...

I'm returning to Dragon Con this year! While I'm glad I went to MAC II, met Jerry Pournelle, and thus crossed two things off my bucket list, the Science Fiction Literature track at Dragon Con is a place where I feel more welcomed. Sue Phillips runs interesting and entertaining programs every year, and I'm happy to be her lowly minion -- even if, this time around, my health may restrict what I can contribute.

By the way, I understand my blog has been brought up in discussions of the Dragon Awards by folks who apparently don't know anything about this con, so let me underscore that "lowly minion" bit. When it comes to the Dragon Con hierarchy of volunteers, I am an absolute nobody. I don't live in the Atlanta area, have never been to a staff meeting, and was not privy to any of the planning vis-à-vis said awards. So while I am indeed a Puppy, I had - and have - no influence on how the Dragon Awards are run.

No, there is actually a much simpler and non-nefarious reason why the 2016 awards (and the 2017 ballot) turned out the way they did: the Puppies were and are highly motivated to show up for a process involving no financial or status-related barriers to participation. Period. The end. If other groups show up, the ballots will almost certainly look different; indeed, even this year, we saw movement in that direction. So go ahead and start voting for your favorites; literally nothing is stopping you.

I honestly don't have much patience for certain prominent Pharisees who are loudly proclaiming their distaste for some of the campaigns surrounding the Dragon Awards. Ideally, I do want people to vote for books they have read and genuinely enjoyed and not for "'Murica" or any other irrelevant identity. But like, say, the concept of press neutrality, the notion that there was  or can be any such thing as a wholly "non-political" awards vote is really a utopian bit of fiction. The apparent belief among some that all non-Puppy Hugo voters have honored authors based on sober and objective analyses of their merit that are untainted by elite influence or personal biases - and that all Puppy voters have not - just does not fit the data (to put it mildly). So let's be honest and open for a change, shall we? Let's recognize that some people on both sides have voted and will vote for particular works for reasons outside "quality" - whether to "defeat the fascists" or to "defeat the commies" - and correct for that by increasing overall participation. Dropping out in a snooty huff is not impressive or productive; we know exactly what you're doing, and it's both dishonest and petty.

So What's Coming Up?

This Wednesday night is Ladies Night at the county fair, so I will likely be heading out there to assemble another one of my "Americana" photo albums. This weekend, meanwhile, I'm heading down south so I can catch the solar eclipse in South Carolina on Monday. Then, between the eclipse and Dragon Con, I will be meandering around the Smoky Mountains, Huntsville, and the Atlanta metro for some preplanned sight-seeing. Like I did last year for my big World Con trip, I'll be documenting my wanderings here. Hope you all enjoy!

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