Worldcon #77 – Day 2

Well that was eventful.

I was fortunate enough to be able to sleep in a bit this morning because the first thing I had to do was be at the convention centre for 11:00pm as Juliet McKenna was doing a signing. That went very well. We sold a whole bunch of books, both The Green Man’s Heir and The Green Man’s Foe. We were very happy.

Immediately after that I was moderating a panel on promoting translations. I was very pleased with that. I had a very knowledgeable panel, including Neil Clarke and Francesco Verso who are doing far more to promote translations than I am. We had an interesting discussion on how awards might help, what sort of awards were needed, and why the proposal for a Best Translated Novel Hugo is a bad idea.

While we were doing that, the Friday Business Meeting was in progress. While they rarely do Objection to Consideration any more, they can ask for a motion to be deferred for a year to allow more discussion to take place, and that’s what happened to the translation Hugo proposal. I do hope that the people who put it forward will listen to people in the translation community over the next 12 months rather than stubbornly bring back the same flawed proposal in Wellington.

During the panel, Julie Nováková said that she’d like someone to revive the SF&F Translation Awards (or something like them). The charitable organisation that we set up for them has been disbanded, but the website still exists and I’d be happy to talk to anyone who wants to take this on.

After the panel and a quick lunch I headed down to the other venue to check out the tech situation for tomorrow. I have to give my robotics talk in one of the Odeon rooms at The Point and I needed to make sure everything would work. These rooms are effectively overflow programming space, which is great because the con is much bigger than anyone initially expected. However, they are actually in an Odeon. The rooms are part of a multi-screen cinema. This means that the seating is great, but there isn’t much of it. Screen 4, where I will be, only seats about 80 people. What’s more, there is a queueing system. You can’t go and wait outside the room. If you don’t go through the official queueing process then you may not get in. Please bear this in mind if you are coming to listen to me tomorrow.

While I was at The Point I had a look around the Art Show which is very impressive. There are a lot of really good artists in there, the show itself is very big, and the large amount of natural lighting it gets is ideal. I have finally got to see some of Emma Newman’s art in the canvas, so to speak, and it is very pretty.

Unfortunately I also managed to lose my phone while I was down at The Point. I put this down to being very tired by that point and not thinking straight. Fortunately I was able to cadge favours of friends (thanks to Kevin & Andy and to Alan) and get the deivice disconnnected, and I didn’t have anything irreplaceable on it anyway, but it does mean that no one can phone me right now. I will go and talk to the phone company tomorrow, but I may not be able to get a new phone with my old number until I arrive in Belfast next week. If any of you are in the habit of contacting me on WhatsApp please bear this in mind.

Back at the Convention Centre, I inhaled a sandwich and headed off to moderate a panel marking the 50th anniversary of The Left Hand of Darkness. I was pleased with that, so thanks again to a great group of panelists. We all agreed that the book is very relevant, even if part of modern society are less hidebound in their attitudes to sex and gender than poor Genly Ai.

During the panel Nick Hubble mentioned Genly’s suspicion that the Gethenians were genetically engineered from baseline humans sometime far in the past. Genly thinks this was an experiment of some sort, but we only have his word for it and the details appear to be lost in the mists of Hainish history. I would love to see someone write a novel that tells the story of how the Gethenians came to be. Obviously there would be copyright issues, not to mention the jaw-dropping terror of trying to write a novel in one of Le Guin’s worlds, put I’m putting the idea out there just in case.

That was me done for the day. Thankfully I don’t have to go to the Business Meeting tomorrow to fight the translation Hugo proposal, so I have time to see about the phone situation. Over lunch I am being interviewed by Scott Edelman for his Eating the Fantastic podcast. Then it is off to The Point to give the Prehistory of Robotics talk.

We may have a solution to the issue of internet access for the Hugo Award Ceremony coverage, but there’s no guarantee that it will work. I must say that I am deeply disappointed at how successive Worldcons continue to not care in the slightest whether we are able to do this coverage. Despite Josh Beatty trying really hard for us, the Award Ceremony Director simply doesn’t have enough clout to make this happen. We have to get made an official part of the convention staff, with someone on the committee who can fight to get us what we need from the outset. I think WSFS Division is the only logical place for us, because we are an official WSFS function. I shall probably rant about this again after the convention.

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5 Responses to Worldcon #77 – Day 2

  1. Jonathan says:

    A Hugo for Translated works? This was in interesting suggestion when mooted, and one I initially supported. But I have decided that it would be a bad idea for the reasons made by others on-line over that past 18 months.

    However, I do wildly wonder whether there is merit in having a single Hugo category for Best Non-Anglophone/Translated novel?

    This would enable those supporting Worldcon from other nations to bring the attention of other works to the Worldcon community (hence English-speaking SF publishers). They’d have to compete against translated works which over half the Worldcon attendees being English-fist-language-speakers be would likely vote (but few of them in reality would as how many go out of their way to read translated works?) and so this might protect against a puppy-like domination of a group coming from one nation.

    Such an award might have propelled the likes of Sergei Lukyanenko to greater prominence in the west as Russians (obviously), Ukranians, Poles etc may well have nominated. Ditto Ukraine’s Sergey and Marina Dyachenko whose Vita Nostra has not only won a slew of awards in many countries but has recently been translated by Harper Voyager.

    However, becoming sober, I don’t think there really is the appetite of the majority of Worldcon go-ers for this given how a number of existing categories, like Best Fanzine (as you yourself have noted elsewhere), have nearly had ‘no award’.

    • Cheryl says:

      My view is that a single Hugo category for translated novels would be a disaster for translated fiction. It would establish the idea that translated works are not good enough to be considered alongside works written directly in English, and would therefore discourage nominations of translated works in the short fiction categories, where most of the best translated work can be found.

    • Tero says:

      I completely agree with Cheryl – any translation categories would be a very bad fit for the Hugos and would do more harm than good. IMO the correct way to promote non-anglo works to keep on talking about them and helping people find them.

  2. Jonathan says:

    it is absolutely essential that we look at ways of making more of Worldcon accessible over the Internet so that people can participate without having to travel“.

    I totally agree and will hopefully be amplifying this next year on SF² Concatenation in an article (part of a couple) on the future of Worldcons.

    A few cons already do this including recently videos of the Helsinki 2016 Worldcon and also the 2016 Eurocon Barcelona.

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