Uncategorized

Cool Stuff Friday

Friday wants a team-up movie with Black Widow and T’Challa’s Security Chief.

I don’t know if it’s tacky to mention my own stuff here, but I’m going to anyway. Earlier this week, I posted some of my pics as desktop wallpapers. I’m pretty happy with how they turned out!

Now, on to the rest of the links.

SF/F Being Awesome: Lar DeSouza and Sailor Bacon

I met Lar DeSouza when he was artist guest of honor at ICON in Iowa, back in 2014. Later that weekend, I met him again as Sailor Bacon.

Lar DeSouza as Sailor BaconYou see, back in 2013, Lar was fundraising for Multiple Sclerosis research, and promised his fans that he’d dress up in the cosplay of their choosing if they raised at least $10,000.

Which they did.

He’s continued to raise money for MS research — and to dress up as Sailor Bacon — ever since. He’s also offered incentives like custom artwork and dyeing his beard an additional color for every extra $1000 raised.

If my math is right, Lar and his fans have raised around $40,000 in total to fight MS.

There’s even a new Sailor Bacon plush, with a portion of the proceeds going to MS research.

Fighting MS by con light,
Winning breakfast by daylight,
Rainbow beard that is so bright!
It is the one named Sailor Bacon!

The MS Walk was May 1 this year, but it looks like you can still donate.

I love that geeks and fandom not only work so hard to do so much for good, worthwhile causes, but that we find weird and random and fun ways to do it.

Goblin: Keep Being Awesome!!!

Photos Using the Late Birthday Present

For a while now, I’ve been looking at the nicer DSLR camera lenses and drooling a bit. As a late birthday present for myself, I went ahead and purchased an L-series 100-400 mm lens, which arrived on Friday. Naturally, all productivity came to a screeching halt while I ran around to try it out. If we’re friends on Facebook, you may have already seen some of the results.

The lens is both bigger and heavier than I expected. I can take pictures and get a bit of a workout at the same time. It’s got three different stabilizer modes that I need to figure out yet, and long-range handheld shots are tricky, but I’ve gotten some pictures I’m very happy with.

You can see a few more, or check out larger versions of these, at Flickr.

Red Winged Blackbird Flower Alley Geese, in silhouette Geese, with babies! Squirrel, with Nut Nuthatch Macaw Frog

For those of you who do photography, do you think I should worry about watermarking any of these? I’ve never bothered before, but I’m still very much an amateur trying to figure out what I’m doing.

Baen Publishes Ebooks of Janet Kagan’s Work

Back in March, I posted about Janet Kagan’s work, which I love. Unfortunately, most of it was out of print.

Well, Baen Books has released her work in electronic form, which is awesome! They even put together a collection of her shorter work!

 

Hellspark

Amazon | B&N | Baen Books

 

Mirabile

Amazon | B&N | Baen Books

 

The Collected Kagan

Amazon | B&N | Baen Books

 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy some ebooks!

Author Photos Proposal

As some of you know, I’m a bit of a photography hobbyist — that is to say, very much not a professional. But it’s something I enjoy, and something I’d like to get better at.

It occurred to me as I was looking at my mostly-outdated press kit pics that authors need author photos.

Some authors pay professional photographers for their author photos, and that’s great. Others go through shots their friends have taken and try to find the best ones. And sometimes we just panic and snap a bunch of selfies and hope for the best, because the editor wants it right now and I can’t find anything and I’m panicking and why can’t I just send a picture of my cat instead?

Anyway, as an idea, what would you think of me offering to do photo sessions at future conventions for authors? I’m not sure exactly how this would work, but it would be good practice and experience for me, and I’d send the authors their pics and rights to use them however they need.

While I’m not a pro, I like to think I don’t completely suck. Here are some of the pics I’ve taken over the past couple of years that people seemed to like. (Keep in mind, these were generally snapped in the spur of the moment, so I didn’t always have time to move for better lighting or background and such.)

Wesley Chu

Wesley Chu

John Scalzi

John Scalzi, with Tor Ring

Terri LeBlanc and Ann Leckie

Terri LeBlanc and Ann Leckie

Michelle Clark

Michelle Clark

Tierany Seriflame.

Tierany Seriflame

Doselle Young

Doselle Young

Anthony Hendon

Anthony Hendon

What do you think? What are the downsides I’m missing? I figure I’d need to be clear up front that I can’t guarantee perfection. On the other hand, I can probably promise that you’ll get your money’s worth. Ideally, folks get decent photos they can use, and I get to have fun practicing and getting better at something I enjoy.

I figure I could either do it informally, with folks emailing me ahead of time to set something up at a convention, or else talk to the con about maybe getting an hour or two on the schedule to either shoot outside or in a program room or…well, it would probably be best to scout locations beforehand, to be honest.

Anyway, feedback welcome and appreciated.

SF/F Being Awesome: Books for Kids

Welcome to the first of what I hope will be many SF/F Being Awesome posts.

Charity Auction FlyerFor close to 20 years, Balticon and the Baltimore Science Fiction Society have been raising money to provide books to kids — particularly kids who might not otherwise be able to afford them — and to school libraries as well.

I spoke with Kelly Pierce, who’s been coordinating the Bobby Gear Memorial Charity Auction at Balticon since about 2002. The auction raises the bulk of the money for Books for Kids each year.

In the beginning, BSFS Books for Kids worked with RIF (Reading is Fundamental) to buy and hand out the books. When RIF stopped operating in Maryland, BSFS Books for Kids chose to continue, and to distribute the books themselves.

The auction is named in honor of Bobby Gear, who was a BSFS volunteer and teacher at Buck Lodge Middle School, one of the first schools to benefit from the generosity of BSFS Books for Kids.

Since it all began, Balticon and BSFS has probably raised around $50,000 to provide books to libraries and kids in need, with the bulk of that money comes from the annual auction.

Think about that for a moment. Think about how many books this group of fans has passed out. Think about how much that means to kids who might not be able to afford books of their own.

This is what I love about fandom. People don’t just get together to celebrate the stories we love. They pour in hundreds and thousands of hours of work to help others, to share those stories and books with others. To share that love.

For more information:

Thank you Kelly for taking the time to talk to me, and thanks to everyone who’s volunteered and donated and supported BSFS Books for Kids over the years.

Goblin: Keep Being Awesome!!!

Do you have a suggestion for a group, organization, or event to be featured on the blog for general awesomeness? Email me at jchines -at- sff.net, or through my Contact Form.

A Few Hugo Requests

As we go through this strange sensation of Déjà Hugo, I had a few requests to put out there.

1. Don’t tell me, or anyone else, how to vote.

If you want to talk about deciding how you’re going to vote, great. If you want to put forth an argument for No Award or for avoiding the No Award option or for how to treat blatantly rabid nominees vs. trolling nominees vs. human shields or whatever else, fine. But I’m already starting to see people doing the, “If you vote this way (or don’t vote this way), you’re an asshole” thing.

Let me put it this way. The rabid puppies were able to make this year’s mess by lining up and following their voting orders (a tactic which hopefully won’t work very well in the future). Do you really want to follow that guy’s strategy of trying to tell people how to vote?

Some people will probably choose to No Award the whole slate. Others will try to evaluate every work on its own merit. Me, I’ll try to read and evaluate them all, though I’ll probably be more skeptical of most of the rabid works.

I’m not complaining about discussion/debate on how to respond to the rabid puppies this year. I just don’t appreciate people trying to dicktate how I should vote.

2. No asterisks, please.

I did make a crack about asterisks and the Hugo last year after the trophy was released. And I think a lot of people had a mental asterisk over the whole thing, because let’s be honest, last year was anything but normal for the Hugo awards. So yeah, I definitely get it.

But at last year’s Hugo award ceremony, they handed out wooden asterisk plaques, and later sold additional wooden asterisks.

I don’t believe this was done with malicious intent (though I obviously can’t read anyone’s minds). Maybe it was an attempt at humor, and/or to acknowledge the elephant in the room. I appreciate that the sale of the asterisks raised several thousand dollars for a good cause.

Whatever the intentions, it resulted in a lot of people feeling hurt and attacked. I know from experience how nerve-wracking a Hugo ceremony can be in a normal year. Last year, and this year, tensions and anxieties and fears are exponentially higher. And for many of the people in attendance, the asterisks felt like a big old slap in the face.

Like I said, I don’t think that was the intention. (Others will disagree, and have gleefully pointed to the asterisks as “proof” that “the other side” is evil and nasty.) In this case, I don’t think intention matters so much as the impact it had, including hurting some good, talented people.

3. Don’t be an abusive doucheweasel.

For example, here’s a conversation from last year where Moshe Feder had to delete someone’s comment calling for the Sad Puppies to kill themselves. WTF, people?

Screenshot - Puppies Should Kill Themselves

Or here’s someone suggesting the Sad and Rabid Puppies be rounded up and dropped into Daesh territory.

Puppies-Daesh

Then there’s the vitriol directed at the nominees themselves. Particularly at the women on the ballot. (I’m sure we’re all shocked to hear that women tended to get the most and the nastiest of the attacks.)

As one nominee noted last year, “We have been called assholes, bitches, mongrels, yapping curs, talentless hacks and so many more things that I can’t even name them all. I have seen at least one suggestion that all of us should be euthanized.” Another talked about the “helpful” emails they received, saying things like, “If you don’t reject the nomination, you will be forever linked with those people. Always hated.”

And whatever choice the nominees made about withdrawing or staying on the ballot, there were people who would attack them for it, calling them gutless, comparing them to Nazi sympathizers, and worse.

Gutless

SS

I’m not trying to say anyone can’t or shouldn’t be angry, or trying to stop anyone from expressing that anger. But there’s a difference between expressing anger and harassing people. There’s a difference between criticizing people who are actively trying to “burn the Hugos down,” and attacking everyone and anyone who might in any way be connected with — or being used by — those people.

I’m also not interested in debating whether one “side” was worse than the other. I’m simply pointing out that this shit happened. These are some of the public comments. Some of the emails/messages sent directly to folks were far worse.

Finally, I know there are people who delight in being abusive doucheweasels, and nothing I write here is going to change that. I guess I’m just asking the rest of us, myself included, to be careful, and to remember Wheaton’s Law.

Thanks for listening.

Jim C. Hines