Welcome to the YA Roundup, giving you the inside scoop on bookish news, book deals, new releases and cover reveals for the YA genre!
This week covers the new Mockingjay Part 1 teaser, the hilarious Divergent Honest Movie Trailer, the first If I Stay clip, and classic books that teens hate.
My friend Elise Matthesen last year filed a report at the WisCon science fiction and fantasy covention, because she believed that (then) Tor editor Jim Frenkel had sexually harassed her. Harassment policies are not only about what those policies say, but how those policies are administered and those reports handled. Here’s Elise telling you how WisCon, which identifies as the world’s leading feminist science fiction convention, handled her report. The short version: It did so very poorly.
Last year at WisCon 37, I told a Safety staffer that I had been treated by another attendee in a way that made me uncomfortable and that I believed to be sexual harassment. One big reason I did was that I understood from another source that he had reportedly harassed at least one other person at a convention. I learned that she didn’t report him formally, for a lot of reasons that aren’t mine to say. I was in a position where I felt confident I could take the hit from standing up and telling the truth. So I did.
I didn’t expect, fourteen months later, to have to stand up and tell the truth about WisCon’s leadership as well.
More than a year after I reported, following an outcry when WisCon revealed that they had lost other reports of misconduct — and after the person in question had not only attended WisCon 38 but had been one of the volunteer hosts in the public convention hospitality suite – WisCon appointed a subcommittee to investigate my report, along with others they had received about the same person, and to determine what action would best benefit WisCon.
That subcommittee made their statement on Friday, July 18. Their decision seemed to focus on the rehabilitation of the person, and to understate the seriousness of the conduct. I found their decision inadequate and troubling, and could not understand how they had arrived at it. A week later, on Friday, July 24, I compared notes with Jacquelyn Gill, a member of that subcommittee. (I am incredibly grateful that she made a public statement about her experience on the committee, which allowed me to reach out to her.) We discovered to our mutual dismay that WisCon leadership never gave her all the details I had reported as evidence upon which she could make her decision. Instead, WisCon leadership gave her a version that watered down my account of the harassment, including downplaying the physical contact significantly enough to make the account grossly misleading.
I don’t know whether the relevant details were removed or summarized away from the report I made, or were never written down in the first place. As yet I have seen no evidence that the safety logbook itself contains them. I wonder whether the chairs at WisCon 37 were ever even given the details.
When the subcommittee was formed this year after WisCon 38, Debbie Notkin chaired it. While I can see the sense of having the Member Advocate – which was also Debbie — participating in the subcommittee, I was shocked to learn after the decision that the Member Advocate was also the chair of the subcommittee. To my way of thinking, that was a clear conflict of interest which I would have balked at, had I been informed. Still, since she was present when I reported in detail, I can’t imagine why she didn’t see that the watered-down summarized version presented to the subcommittee was materially different than what I reported. Despite that knowledge, she allowed the subcommittee to base their decision on inadequate and frankly misleading information. And the subcommittee cooperated with that. The subcommittee performed no follow-up with me or the witnesses, or with other reporters and their witnesses.
What has happened here is beyond my comprehension. People other than me will have to figure it out and do whatever needs to be done. I hear Ariel Franklin-Hudson has built improved systems for collecting information on incidents, and that’s needed, but what went wrong here is deeper than that.
A proper harassment investigation takes some thought and training, but it is well within the abilities of a good-faith WisCon committee to conduct one. Experts who train people on harassment investigations emphasize the essential elements of an investigation:
(1) act promptly,
(2) gather all existing written information and reports,
(3) based on those, thoroughly interview the complaining witness, the accused, and any witnesses to the complained-of conduct,
(4) ask those witnesses for other witnesses or evidence (like documents) that might help illuminate the situation;
(5) document what you learn and maintain control and privacy of the documents, and
(6) make a decision based on all of the information that you’ve gathered in a methodical and effective way.
WisCon, instead, lost reports of complaints, selectively interviewed only the accused, failed to conduct follow-up interviews with complainants and other witnesses, and failed to probe whether the reports on which they relied were complete or accurate. In other words, in addition to disputing the result, I think that the process was haphazard.
I will not blame Debbie for everything that went horribly wrong, because this isn’t just one person. Debbie made a grave error of proper investigation and decision-making, but this is not just Debbie. This is the safety chairs who didn’t investigate further. This is the con-chairs who didn’t follow up and didn’t ever interview me and Lauren. This is the subcommittee members who didn’t push further and contact me and Lauren and Mikki. This is lots of people, some unwitting, some just preferring not to look at the ugly stuff, not to learn something that would require that they confront someone — or confront their principles.
This is a system. And it is fucking powerful and it is fucking broken. I’m not the only one who’s said so. I don’t like putting these details out here. But this is all I have left to do, at this point: stand up and tell the truth.
I would prefer that what this has cost all of us not be wasted. If you care about WisCon, rebuild it. I wish I knew how. I’m at my limits. But as Kameron Hurley said,
“There’s a future that needs building, but somebody who’s actually courageous and principled needs to take up the fucking spade and build it.
“Is it you?”
You’ve checked out the preview of the stunning new collection of Fred Gambino’s artwork, and now’s your chance to see the rest! Out tomorrow from Titan Books, Dark Shepherd: The Art of Fred Gambino has 160 pages filled with Gambino’s concept art, illustrations, paintings, sketches, and excerpts from his personal multimedia project, ‘Dark Shepherd.’
We have three copies that we want to share with you! Comment in the post to enter!
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Sony’s PS4 didn’t have much of a presence at this year’s Comic Con (given recent sales numbers, perhaps they felt they didn’t need one), but Microsoft made itself known via a few different games, including a hands-on demo of Sunset Overdrive—an Xbox One exclusive that went on to become one of E3’s surprise hits. So how’s the game that Microsoft is hoping will become a console-defining gamechanger holding up, three months prior to release?
[This game just might make you cut back on your Red Bull intake.]
The trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is here, and it looks like it's going to be a doozy, for sure.
The Seventh Miss Hatfield is seventeen year old Anna Caltabiano’s second novel: a scientific romance, after a fashion, and indeed, an extraordinary feat for someone so young. I can’t in good conscience recommend it, however—much as I might like to champion the work of such a promising new author.
It’s 1954, and Cynthia, a lonely little girl on the edge of adolescence, has become fascinated by her new neighbour: a strange lady who has spoken to no one in the weeks since she moved into the street. The better to get a glimpse of this antisocial character, Cynthia puts away her doll one day to take Miss Hatfield a package the postman abandoned when she refused to open her door. To her surprise and delight, she’s invited in for a glass of freshly made lemonade. Her host, however, slips some mysterious liquid into her drink: a drop of water from a lake discovered in the distant past by Ponce de Leon which immediately makes her immortal.
Plenty of women’s and fashion sites trying to get in on the SDCC coverage have been declaring that various celebrities “won Comic-Con fashion” this past weekend with their bright eyeliner, quirky geek-themed accessories, and other daring fashion choices.
But we think we can declare a clear winner, and that is Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams.
I want to rent a car in Brussels for 4 days at the end of August, for a trip to Germany for Rhein on Skates. The round trip will be about 900km, with 2 drivers. We need a small car – Polo or Clio or something like that. I have a German address, and the other driver has a Belgian address.
So first question: book using the Belgian or the German versions of the main car hire websites? Avis BE or DE, Hertz BE or DE, and Europcar BE and DE? Each site deals with residence differently – Europcar allows residence to be set regardless of the landing page you use, while Avis and Hertz default to residence in the country of the domain name of the site.
Having worked that out, what are the prices for 4 days of hire, with 2 drivers?
With Avis, booking in Belgium is €1.00 cheaper than booking in Germany. The German price stipulates unlimited mileage, and while the Belgian site does not list this I assume it is included.
With Europcar, stating your residence is Germany makes the price €5.47 more expensive than putting Belgium as your residence. Here prices contain 1000km as standard.
Oddly, listing Belgium as place of residence gives you a larger range of hire locations, including “Brussels Center Crown” that is conveniently located close to central Brussels, but isn’t available if you live in Germany.
With Hertz, the price differential is the opposite – the German price is €4.41 cheaper than the Belgian price, if you pay when you collect the car. If you are in Belgium you can pay immediately, and save some money. But here if you book in Belgium you get only 700km included by default, while if you book in Germany the distance is unlimited. Plus trying to work out how much an additional driver costs eluded me altogether on Hertz’s website – hence the lower prices listed here than for Europcar and Avis.
This whole thing leaves me bewildered and annoyed. There can be no tax-based reason for these differentials, as Hertz’s pricing is opposite to that of Avis and Hertz. This strikes me as price discrimination by nationality, pure and simple. Then the companies do not allow you to compare like with like, even within the same company. I wonder what can be done to solve this?
The news that Chuck Palahniuk was authoring a sequel to Fight Club—in comic book form, no less—was one of the big pieces of news that blew up right before San Diego Comic-Con this year. Palahniuk's signing events at the con were hugely popular, and his Saturday night panel was jammed. I was able to attend the panel, where Rick Kieffel moderated a kind of oral history of the film, and the comic book sequel with Palahniuk, his longtime editor Gerald Howard, director David Fincher, Dark Horse Comics editor-in-chief Scott Allie, and artists Cameron Stewart and David Mack. And the next day, I sat down with Palahniuk to talk about Fight Club 2, with a brief aside to his new novel, Beautiful You.
All of our events will be in the ExCel Centre. I have taken the liberty of condensing the official panel descriptions. The full program guide is here.
Thursday, 14 August
1:30 - 3:00 PM, London Suite 2
Diggy Diggy Hole!: Minecraft and Gaming Communities
(What it says on the tin. The game is one thing, but the intense communities it's spawned are another.)
Esther MacCallum-Stewart [m], Abi Sutherland, Mark Slater, Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson
4:30 - 6:00 PM, Capital Suite 9
Ideology versus Politics in Science Fiction
(And how most SF hasn't got a clue how either of them work.)
Teresa Nielsen Hayden [m], Martin McGrath, Laurie Penny, Kim Stanley Robinson, John Courtenay Greenwood
Friday, 15 August
10:00 - 11:00 AM, Capital Suite 1
Don't Tell Me What To Think: Ambiguity in SF and Fantasy
(Ambiguity: it's a thing.)
David Hebblethwaite [m], Nina Allan, Scott Edelman, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Ellen Klages
10:00 - 11:00 AM, Capital Suite 9
The Deeper the Roots, the Stronger the Tree
(Pre-genre authors whose work featured little or no fantastic content, but who SF&F people read and obsess about anyway. Dumas, Doyle, Austen, etc.)
Abi Sutherland [m], Zen Cho, Mary Robinette Kowal, Keri Sperring, Delia Sherman
12:00 - 1:30 PM, Capital Suite S
Settling the Alien World
(Worldbuilding in real time.)
Marek Kukala [m], Robert Reed, Tobias Buckell, Amy Thompson, Abi Sutherland, Laurence Suhner
3:00 - 4:00 PM, Art Show
Art show docent tour
(May require advance signup.)
Led by Teresa Nielsen Hayden
4:30 - 6:00 PM, Capital Suite 3
The Role of Fandom in Contemporary Culture
(Or, how the entire world turned into fandom while you were distracted.)
Chris Gerwel [m], Jean Lorrah, Emily January, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Laurie Penny
4:30 - 6:00 PM, Capital Suite 2
Saturday Morning Cartoons: The Next Generation
(You may have heard that there's a lot of good stuff happening here lately. You heard right.)
Amal El-Mohtar [m], Abigail Nussbaum, Abi Sutherland, Andrew Ferguson
Saturday, 16 August
10:00 - 11:00 AM, London Suite 4
(Will definitely require advance signup.)
Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Haytden
4:30 - 6:00 PM, Capital Suite 14
What Is I?
(Consciousness: it's a thing.)
Ken MacLeod [m], Russell Blackford, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Martin Poulter, Ashley Pollard
Monday, 18 August
10:00 - 11:00 AM, Capital Suite 8
All the Traps of Earth
(Culture, the "natural" world, and how their relationship's been handled in SF&F.)
Sam Scheiner [m], Glenda Larke, Amy Thomson, Anne Charnock, Patrick Nielsen Hayden
1:30 - 3:00 PM, Capital Suite 16
Codes of Conduct
(At science fiction conventions. Sure to be a dull panel, because nobody has any opinions about the subject.)
Crystal Huff [m], Michael Lee, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, B. Diane Martin, Patrick McMurray
In the annals of moral casuistry, you’d be hard pressed to find a better example of the perils of moral reasoning than this defense, brought to you by The New Republic, of the slaughter of Palestinian civilians in Gaza:
We can say that there is a principle worth fighting and dying for: Civilians cannot be used to make just wars impossible and morality will not be used as a tool to disarm. And once we have that principle, the proportionality calculation changes. The deaths of innocents are not simply outweighed by Israelis’ right to live without daily rockets and terrorists tunneling into a kibbutz playground; but by the defense of a world in which terrorists cannot use morality to achieve victory over those who try to fight morally. It is the protection of that world, one in which moral soldiers still have a fighting chance, that justifies Israel’s operations against Hamas today. And it is that greater cause that decisively outweighs the terrible toll in innocent life.
Can we confidently say that the anticipated harm to innocents is justified by Israel’s expected military gains? The degrading of Hamas’ rocket capabilities, and most of all the destruction of its terrifying network of offensive tunnels (fortified by the limited cement that Israel permitted into Gaza for humanitarian purposes) are valuable military goals. But as the Palestinian death count rises above 500 [editorial note: it’s now over 1000]—many of these civilian—I find myself bewildered: Are these tunnels really worth the lives of all those children?
Rather than confront reality, the philosopher of war resorts to reason. If the problem is the mismatch between the terrible grandeur of the means and the pedestrian poverty of the ends, don’t rethink your means, much less the war; simply inflate the ends.
There is, however, a way out of this paradox. And we find it at the moment we realize that Hamas’ actions have made this war about more than Israel or Palestine; it’s a war about future of morality in armed conflicts. For if Israel declines to fight, we live in a world where terror groups use their own civilians, and twist morality itself, to bind the hands of those who try to fight morally. In this world, cruelty is an advantage, and the moral are powerless in the face of aggression and indiscriminate attack. And make no mistake: The eyes of the world are on Hamas, and terrorist groups worldwide will—as they have for generations—learn from the tactics of Gazan terrorists and the world’s reaction. So if Israel allows Hamas’ human shields to defeat it now, we will all reap the results in the years to come.
The Gaza war, you see, is not a war over tunnels. It’s not even a war in defense of Israel. It’s a war about…war, a war in defense of just war. Once upon a time, crackpots thought they were fighting a war to end all wars. That was its justice. Now they’re fighting a war in order to make just war possible. That is its justice.
The theory of just war is supposed to impose limits upon the launching and fighting of wars. It’s a condition of, a constraint upon, war. But here it becomes the end—both the aim and the justification—of war. Because that is the aim of Israel’s war, “civilians cannot be used” to make such a war “impossible.” They must instead be used to make it possible.
Hannah Arendt would have had a field day with this kind of reasoning: how it takes an action that it acknowledges to be dirty, puts it through the ideological rinse cycle, and makes it come out clean; and how it turns the manufacture of human corpses into the instrument of a higher law. It’s not, as the idealist would have it, that the law places a condition or constraint on the manufacture of corpses. Nor is it, as the cynic would have it, that the law provides an excuse or justification for the manufacture of corpses. It’s something stranger, more terrible: the law requires the manufacture of corpses.
It’s sad that we have to wait to discuss “The Terror Within”—one of the tensest episodes to date, bringing back the sense of real menace that Amon had—in order to talk about how the sausage gets made, but we should. There is an elephant koi in the room: Nickelodeon has decided not to air the rest of The Legend of Korra and instead will make the remaining episodes available online. I know, I’d rather talk about how we finally get to see an all-out battle between Zaheer and his team of what fans are calling the “Red Lotus Society” versus Team Avatar and the Metal Clan, but we need to discuss the nuts and bolts of how we’re going to be able to see the stories, while we’re at it. I mentioned I was worried last week, but it was too little, too late. At least the episode we actually did get was excellent, right?
My old friend, the publisher and editor Peter Day, left very precise instructions for his funeral, which took place at lunchtime today at the Charterhouse in the City (where he spent the last 14 years of his life). There was to be absolutely NO EULOGY, and he guaranteed laughter throughout the chapel by wry comments left in his undated set of instructions about who might or might not be around to see him off. The place was packed, which was a tribute to the vast, and not always inter-locking, range of friends that he had. Very few from English or International PEN, I was sad to note, but plenty from the worlds of publishing and literacy agencies, including a gaggle from Allison & Busby, for whom he edited the first paperback edition of my André & Oscar. His great friend Julian Wilson — much talked of, but never met, so far as I and many others of the old PEN circle were concerned — was there with his extended family. And so too were others who have contributed to the ongoing tribute website http://www.peterdaymemorial.com (to which I added a short piece the other day, transferred from this blog). The service was admirably short, but ending with a particularly poignant organ recital of Bach’s Fantasia in C Minor (BWV562), as Peter’s mortal remains were carried off to Golders Green crematorium. There was a suitably generous reception afterwards — Peter would never have wanted his friends to go hungry, or much less thirsty — enabling all of us to catch up on old friends and make new ones, while paying nodding respect to Old Father Time.
The teaser trailers for Doctor Who season 8 have been frustratingly vague—the last one had only one word!—but new Doctor Peter Capaldi has spilled some hints about Twelve’s upcoming adventures in a new interview. (It’s about time, considering the series returns on August 23!)
Capaldi told The Sunday Times how they landed on his stark black-and-red costume (and which piece they threw out), creeping on fans before his role was announced, and why everyone who squeed over Eleven/Clara should prepare themselves for disappointment now.
With the advanced weaponry the Star Wars universe purports, it’s really no surprise that biological warfare would have been developed and enacted to a certain degree. So… who wants to encounter that as a teenager? You probably guessed it!
It’s the Young Jedi Knights, if you’re still guessing.
That’s right, the whole Diversity Alliance debacle will come to a head right now as the kiddies encounter The Emperor’s Plague! Which sort of sounds like the worst carnival ride ever. We will not be riding in those rusty cars any time soon.
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