Monthly Archives: October 2010

Halloween Hostage Standoff in Iraqi Catholic Church

A bunch of al-Qaeda types attacked the Iraqi Stock Exchange, were driven off by security forces, and ran into Our Lady of Deliverance church, shooting up random congregation members on the way. They then holed up in church with the congregation as hostages. Iraqi security forces ended the standoff by storming the building.

US estimates were that nine hostages were killed and thirty wounded, including a priest (apparently injured in the initial sprays of bullets when the insurgents ran into church) and a nun. Seven Iraqi security guys were killed, and five insurgents. Numbers apparently vary wildly from non-US sources.

Yup, just another Sunday goodwill tour for those charming Iraqi “insurgents”.

CNN has pictures of the church.

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What I Think about the New BBC Contemporary Sherlock Holmes

1. If it were just Steven Moffat, it would be better. Sorry, Gatiss. Of course, Moffat would probably kill everybody heroically, so probably it’s a good thing that Gatiss is involved. (Heh. Just ragging on you, guys!)

2. Aside from the curtseys to contemporary pieties and certain jokes that most Holmesians and Sherlockians won’t like, it’s very clever and funny. On the whole, the storytelling devices are solid, and the playful adaptation of A Study in Scarlet into an entirely different fanfic story is sensible enough.

3. The Watson writing and portrayal is quite good. I don’t quite buy Martin Freeman as ex-military (he obviously didn’t go through as good an actor boot camp as some), but I do buy him as Watson, with all the Watsonian qualities we know and love. The vexed question of Watson’s wound is dealt with in a very sensitive and interesting way.

4. Holmes… um. Well, Cumberbatch makes a fun Holmes, but he looks like an alien. Which would be fine if this were whatever that one was called, where Holmes was a genetically engineered time traveler, but it’s not. Nevertheless, he does a good job with many of the classic Holmesian traits. The writing of his character is another thing.

The insanification and pulpification of Holmes is more acceptable than turning the Doctor into someone willing to cross the line, because Holmes always has been highhanded. Nevertheless, I disbelieve that Holmes would ever torture anyone, even if he were amoral. There are ways to cheat that Holmes would not stoop to do, and he just doesn’t strike me as stupid enough to believe anything learned by torture. I also failed to believe the sexual harassment moment. This sort of thing is bad writing.

5. Rupert Graves is quietly competent as D.I. Lestrade. Just letting the man be a police inspector works very well, because Holmes is so crazy in this version. I totally failed to believe his crew, though. Particularly Sgt. Donovan. I don’t care how torqued off she was (and admittedly, one could be torqued off a lot by any Holmes, and particularly this one). She didn’t come across as a police detective doing her job, or as any kind of professional. If you’ve put up with some jerk on the job for several years, surely you will have achieved some kind of equilibrium. (Even if you then make mocking comments behind his back later.) If the writers were trying to do a tsundere character in real life, they also failed badly.

6. Mark Gatiss as Mycroft was hilarious, and the writing and staging was excellent for both his appearances. It’s obvious that both Moffat and Gatiss watched way too much Avengers and Airwolf, and that they read Stross. Not that that’s a bad thing.

7. I’m not sure why they threw in stuff to torque off the old-school fans, and then simultaneously threw in tons of in-jokes about Sherlockian/Holmesian papers that only true fans would get. I guess they can’t decide whether they want to be part of the tradition or not. (Either that, or they were getting their in-jokes from Les’ annotation books.)

8. Boy, did they make it abundantly clear why Holmes might not be romantically attractive. It was practically a male fanboy rant about “why do women like Holmes?”, except put into a visual format! Hysterical.

9. Watson as an optimist about romance just managed to avoid making him look like a loser, and also just managed to look like persistence and not stupidity. A fun take on Watson’s penchant for appreciation of the ladies, though I hope to see him achieve some success with his renewed self-confidence. Brave, proud, intelligent, kind guys who also look like Martin Freeman probably don’t stay home on Saturday nights. 🙂

10. I like the music. It’s pretty clearly a ripoff of the Sherlock Holmes movie score, which seemed to have been inspired by equal parts pub songs and Castle, but still it’s darned listenable.

11. I really, really like the contemporary deductions. Nice.

I am going to watch the show tonight, and I expect to enjoy most of it. It is probably not something kids should be watching, though, unless they’re older kids. If you missed the first episode, it will be available for viewing on until December 7, and the other episodes will also be available the day after airing.


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Cats Are in the Bible

I remember reading once that medieval people hated cats because they weren’t in the Bible, et cetera, et cetera. Most of medieval Europe was pretty fond of mousers, as it happened, though the Welsh were the ones who wrote all kinds of super-duper cat-favoring laws. Monasteries of both sexes seem to have had cats around to fight the mice, without the temptation to go hunting that ratter dogs provided.

But anyway, if you’re Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, cats are in the Bible.

Chapter 6 of Baruch, or (in Orthodox Bibles) The Epistle of Jeremiah, is said to be a copy of a letter from Jeremiah to the Babylonian captives. It may or may not be a work written in the Jeremiah tradition by somebody else; there’s some weird archaic stuff in there if you ask some scholars. Anyway, copies of it were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The letter reminds people, with great verve and sociological detail, to resist pagan peer pressure to worship idols and pagan gods. It points out this helpful truth about household gods in Baruch 6: 21-22:

“Owls* and swallows and other birds fly over their bodies and above their heads, and cats** walk*** on them in like manner, whereby you may know that they are no gods. Therefore, fear them not.”

(* Bats in modern translations.)
(** In the Vulgate, cattae, she-cats; in the Septuagint, it’s ailouroi, cats of either sex.)]
(*** Some claim that the verb for both groups of animals is about defecating on the idols, which would go along with all the talk about the household idols up in the rafters constantly getting dirty from dust and hearthsmoke.)

So there you go. Cats clearly are useful to the observant monotheist. And they are mentioned in the Bible.

So why are cats not mentioned in the Bible? Because your Bible is the abridged version. 🙂


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What’s Black and White and Read All Over?

Librivox’s new free audiobook about the life of Blessed Joanna of Portugal, A Crown for Joanna, by a Dominican named Sister Mary Jean Dorcy. It’s illustrated in black and white, it’s by a black-and-white-habited Dominican, and it’s read by Librivox’s finest.

(I know, it’s not funny if you’ve got to explain it….)

Joanna, the Infanta of Portugal, was offered the hand of Richard III of England after his beloved wife Anne Neville died, as part of a double marriage deal in which Elizabeth of York (Edward III’s daughter) would marry the Duke of Beja (the male heir to the Portuguese throne). Joanna didn’t plan on marrying anybody, but was pressured by her family. She apparently had a dream warning her that Richard was dead, and told her family that she’d marry Richard without demur if he still lived. Bosworth Field was already done.

Since Elizabeth of York got stuck marrying Henry VII, who proceeded to judiciously murder most of her relations and maybe her brothers too, instead of Manuel the Lucky, who got to run Portugal during its early glory days of African exploration, you gotta say she got the short end of the stick. Since Manuel’s resulting ambition to marry a Spanish princess set off some very creepy events in Portugal, I’d have to say that Portugal got the short end of the stick too. History has some very odd twists and turns.

However, since the princess by that time had already rejected three very royal suitors in favor of God, and since she was actually several months older than Richard, it leads one to wonder whether Richard was actually planning to marry this woman in the pursuit of kids, or whether he was just seeking somebody to help with admin and keep the councilors from pestering him to marry again. Shrug. He was still in the prime of life, and it was still possible for her to have kids; and royalty did tend to be very hopeful about such things, back then. But if Elizabeth of York was going to go off and become a queen-in-waiting, even illegitimate, you have to wonder whether Richard was just planning to name the Little ex-Princes his heirs, or what? It’s just a really weird development that I haven’t heard mentioned before.

At any rate, the Infanta Joana is a fascinating figure, sometimes a powerful regent of a farflung empire and sometimes kept from following her dreams by the prison of her rank. The Portuguese seem to love her still, but I wonder why we non-Lusitanians haven’t heard more about her.

An album of church music dedicated to her.

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Movie of Elizabeth Goudge’s The Little White Horse

There’s some other author named Goudge out there (a distant cousin or niece of some sort), but Elizabeth Goudge is the one we’re concerned with. She made her name with Green Dolphin Street (which became a justly famous Hollywood movie and a famous jazz tune). But she wrote a good many other novels after that.

Most of her novels are historicals, though some were contemporary to her time of writing. They tended to be set in the English countryside or in small old towns. The past tends to be a constant presence. Emotions run deep but don’t show up right away. Sometimes things slip into fantasy. Generally things are either cozy or terrifying, and there’s not much warning of either. She was a favorite of J.K. Rowling, among many other fans of note, but hasn’t gotten much reprinting. Out of her extremely prolific output, I’ve seen about ten of her books and that’s all.

So I’m surprised that anybody filmed the influential but deeply odd fantasy The Little White Horse. I’m even more surprised that they filmed it under the title The Secret of Moonacre, but so it is. Your man Ioan Gruffudd and your man Tim Curry are both in it.

When it comes to reprints, there are a few US editions these days, but mostly you’ll have to look to libraries, used book purveyors, and aged relatives. In the UK, the situation is not much different, alas.

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Blatantly Cute Picture of Fannish Dog

Yes, there are many costumes like this one. But this particular one is pretty darned cool.

The one you want is Picture #1 of 15, at Bow Wow Ween. Get it while it’s up.

I have attempted to persuade my mother that on Beggar’s Night, she should ensconce our dog and her bones out in the yard, along with some of those fake skeleton bones just beyond her area. Alas, I have been veto’d, so our dog will not appear to the neighborhood in the character of a friendly anthropophage this year.

(Warning: If you do this, you have to keep a close eye on your dog, because as we all know, some people like to pull mean pranks and steal things on Halloween. But it could be a fun gig for pretty much any dog, and would spare them being costumed.)

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A Gentleman’s Travels Through the Galactic Empire

Alexei Panshin isn’t an author or critic with whom I have much patience. But once upon a long time ago, he wrote tales both humorous and deep of a remittance man named Anthony Villiers and his alien friend Torve, traveling through the Galactic Empire and committing the odd act of derring-do.

Star Well, The Thurb Revolution, and Masque World were out of print for many years, and alas, Panshin did not continue the series to its conclusion. (First, because his publisher did not want a fourth book; second, because he claims he is no longer the same young man who wrote about Anthony Villiers.)

However, an omnibus edition of the books came out in 2003 (which I didn’t know), and said omnibus is currently available on Kindle for the discriminating reader, for less than two dollars a book. Thus, you will not have to attempt to obtain them by crawling through many an obscure used bookstore, interfering with illegal gambling operations or Lovecraftian rituals of summoning by disturbing their dusty peace.

However, for whatever bizarre reason, Amazon will not let you buy this Kindle book unless you have accepted the odious 1-Click system, which I shall never do. So feel free to send Amazon a nasty letter about their stupid prejudice against normal buying methods. Apparently they must have shifted their policy within the last month or so, because previously I had no trouble buying Kindle/Mobipocket books from them. Twits.

Fortunately, Fictionwise also sells it as an ebook in several formats, including Mobipocket, which would take care of your needs nicely. The price is a tad higher unless you’re in their ebook club, though.

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Actually, pretty free of politics this year. (There was one guy, but that was about it.) There was an amazingly sexist song (sexist against men) which actually won something, but I guess we’ll put that down to weird senses of humor.

Mostly it was all about good music, good fun and fellowship, and good times.

I wrote a song for the Iron Filker contest which won second prize. That was awfully kind of the judges, because it was decent for poetry and had an interesting argument, but was not really a finished, polished song. (I wasn’t totally satisfied with the melody, which I thought was boring. Probably that’s why it came out of my mouth in a much more improv manner than I ever intended — a case of jazz-itis.) Still, it went across well, for what it was.

I was a lot less tired, cold, out of breath, etc. this year. I think part of that was my braunschweiger fest not long before the convention. Apparently mild iron deficiency can make you feel mysteriously short on oxygen as well as giving you those A/C frozen hands, and scarfing raisins isn’t nearly as effective as liver in getting rid of it. I also didn’t suffer from depression for no reason, which might be all that Vitamin D and might be that scapular that practically fell out of its drawer onto me. (I can take a hint, if it’s obvious enough.) I hope I’m finally getting a grip on this stuff, because I can’t put up with all this invalidish nonsense. The last ten years, I’ve started to feel like somebody’s Regency novel hypochondriac mama.


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First They Came for the Spelling Correction Threads.

Apparently, there’s a brand new rule that’s been made up by FailFandom.

Even if five zillion thousand trolls show up in your comment box, you’re not allowed to close the post to comments, because that would be “closing down dialogue” and “devaluing the contributions of commenters”.

Now, I admit there’s a great deal of fun to be had and bravado to be displayed by keeping a comment box open to all comers, including trolls. But the default sensible position of all prudent people is to shut down comments whenever they get annoying (or start providing search terms that create spam or give people the wrong idea about your blog). Often, people shut down comments altogether to provide a cooldown period after a controversial post, or to make sure they don’t come back from a long weekend to a bunch of Viagra ads. When people are making opprobrious personal comments about you the blog-owner, it is always a reasonable option to shut down the comment box or delete comments as much as you please. The blog owner owns the blog; everybody else is there on sufferance.

So… Elizabeth Moon makes an uncontroversial post which becomes controversial. She doesn’t take down her essay; she leaves the comment box open until things get unmanageable. She then closes the comment box with a graceful suggestion that people take the argument outside (instead of a suggestion as to where they could put it, which many fans think would have been better). All this is apparently Evil and Wrong, because it doesn’t allow the FailTrolls full scope for their work.

I suspect that, if hundreds of piles of burning dog waste were suddenly to appear on their front doorstep, they wouldn’t want themselves or their friends to dialogue much with that. Indeed, they would feel oppressed and hurt, and annoyed at having to clean up the mess. But they don’t have the empathy and logic, or the honesty, to admit that it was their attack that really closed the comment box. Moon simply recognized a fait accompli.

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The Strange Pathways of Grace

Making Light/Electrolite’s got a comment section that breaks my heart (because people I respect in real life tend to say some amazingly toxic and stupid things as part of the fannish clique-mind). But it’s also full of stuff from the good parts of fandom when people are in a more edifying frame of mind, and currently has a couple of folks I know slightly as part of the group blog (not the editor bloggers, the others). So it’s one of those blogs I tend to remember and read every so often, until I am forced to remember why I stopped.

But — to my point. I find it chronicled that Teresa Nielsen-Hayden (raised Mormon, now not) decided that she wanted to make rosaries. (Out of fossils, which is logical enough and goes along with some historical fossil/rock names.)

So she made them, stuck them in the Boskone art show, and found out that a friend of Brother Guy Consolmagno had bought one for his birthday present. (After all, what do you give the Jesuit brother who’s got everything?) But I guess he must have considered it a bit too good for everyday use, maybe, especially since rosaries tend to get dropped and whacked against hard surfaces and lost.

So now, one of Teresa Nielsen-Hayden’s fossil rosaries is residing in a display case next to a moon rock, out at the Vatican Observatory at Minas Mithrandir… er, Castel Gandolfo.

This is what civilization among people of good will looks like. Think of all the chances and changes and hard work that led to such a thing happening, instead of barbarism and destruction totally ruling our world. Think of the blessings that flow together to let such a thing happen. It’s pretty boggling.


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Well. Um. I Guess This Is Why We Pray for the Souls of the Departed. Yeah.

A few months back, I heard about the sad death of sometime sf writer “Fergus Gwynplaine McIntyre”. He was a writer, he died in his apartment, it took a while to identify him. Very sad.

Now it turns out that… um… he had a bit more interesting life than a writer should really have, and that apparently he also was one of those guys who makes up interesting stories about himself. “Patrick O’Brien” did this, but he knew where to stop, on the issues front. This guy apparently didn’t.

Not everybody in fandom is nice, and not every writer is a good person to know. Take this as a cautionary tale, all you booklovers. (Though to be fair, he seems to have done okay in fandom. It was his neighbors he endangered.)

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What’s Black and White, Maize and Blue, and Scarlet and Gray?

Answer: Next school year, some of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. (Sometimes called the Ann Arbor Dominicans, and drawing many of their number from U of M. As seen on Oprah and EWTN. Yeah, them.)

A group of the sisters are coming to Columbus, Ohio to start teaching school there, and will make their home at the old convent at St. Michael’s, in Worthington while teaching at that parish’s school. They plan to gradually move to teaching all over the Columbus archdiocese as needed (they have a LOT of young teacher nuns), while living together in community at the convent.

This I heard at St. Michael’s, which (save for the non-Mass schedule-posting Pontifical College Josephinum) was the closest church to our convention hotel. I expect that, come next year, there will be many jokes trading on the traditional sports rivalries. But I also suspect that there will be some very happy parents and kids.

Btw, St. Michael’s is yet another seriously lovely Columbus church. It’s a 1964 church that’s got a lot of that “The Other Modern” going for it, with an ambo and altar area that must be seen to be believed. I saw a Benedictine altar arrangement and nice Oriental rugs in front of the altar too, though they’re not shown in this pipe organ page’s pictures. (Oriental rugs are handy for Catholic churches, because they’re lovely and sturdy, and they include every possible liturgical color, too.) Nice choir, nice music selection, friendly folks, good priests, kindly Boy Scouts doing good turns; and there’s a spirit of peace, dignity, and prayerful worship over all. Highly recommended.

So don’t say I never give you any original news reporting!

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Happy Ss. Nunilo and Alodia’s Day!

Funny that Elizabeth Moon and Juan Williams both got fired on the eve of their feast. Sometimes life rhymes.

My translation of the Nunilo and Alodia bits of St. Eulogius’ Memoriale Sanctorum got reprinted over at Catholic Exchange yesterday, as part of their “Feminine Genius” section. These two girls, just past puberty, were executed for the crime of apostasy for adhering to their mother’s Christian faith, because as children of a Muslim father they were counted as Muslims by Muslim law. They were just two of the many victims of the Cordoban persecution of Christians. (Yes, Cordoba, supposedly such a land of tolerance. Don’t you believe it.)

Here’s another translation. From the Mozarabic Psalter, pp. 262-263, a hymn to these sister-saints. It seems to follow the St. Eulogius account pretty closely.

Restant nunc ad Christi fidem
virtutis insignia,
que sanctorum rite possint
adsequi preconia,
que unius festa diem
celebrantur gloria.

Now they hold out toward Christ’s faith
The banners of virtue,
Who from the saints were able solemnly
To come as heralds,
Who together on one feast day
Are celebrated in glory!

Adsunt nempe sanctitatis
nobilis prosapie,
Nunilo siquidem virgo,
sanctaque Alodia,
que clarent germanitate,
clarentque martirio.

They are, of course, of holiness.
Of noble lineage,
Nunilo, though only a maiden,
and holy Alodia
who shone in sisterhood,
and shone in martyrdom!

Que ambo inueunti
etatis infantie
martires deo qua fide
dilitescunt domui,
sed Christi accense igne
enitescunt celibes.

Who both from the beginning,
From the age of babies,
Martyrs of God whose faith
they hid in the house,
But Christ, you reckon the fire
the unmarried ones started shining.

Tunc deinde functionem
cuiusdam versipelli
inpelluntur ad conspectum
presidis viam vici
vitam normam confitentes
Christiani dogmatis.

Then from there by the doing
of a certain Deceiver*
they were impelled into the sight
of the governor, in the street by chance;
they confessing to the rule of life
of dogma Christians.

Protinus regi delate
perducuntur pariter
urbis Osce adsistentes
principis presentia;
que interrogate pari
Christum voce clamitant.

Immediately carried to the king,
they are brought together
to stand before the city of Osca (Huesca/Adahuesca)
in the presence of the prince;
How both, questioned,
cry out, “Christ!” With one voice!

Ylico traduntur alme
private custodiam,
ubi quaterdenum tempus
dierum instantie
respuunt promissiones,
respuunt supplicia.

They were handed over on the spot, fed
under private guard,
where for four-tens’ time
of days of approaches
they spit on promises,
they spit on entreaties.

Sed in tali mancipate
dierum articulo
non cessant Christum precantes
ut illis constantiam
passionis atque mortis
largiretur optio.

But enslaved in such a way
for the days I articulate,
they do not cease praying Christ
for that constancy
to suffering and death,
when the choice would be given.

Igitur conpleta dies
inluxit feliciter;
conproducte producuntur
ad form perniciter
sic se ambo exortantes
ad palmam martirii.

Therefore, the final day
lights them with happiness;
They are led forward together
to the forum quickly,
thus both exhort each other
toward the palm of martyrdom.

Percitus litor hostendens
fulgurantes gladium
ubi conprosilit, prima
Nunilo sanctissima
crine sibi inligata
percussa prosternitur.

Hastily the lictor stretching out
his flashing sword
where it springs up, first
the most holy Nunilo
with her long hair tied up,
struck, was prostrated.

Quod cernens germana virgo
protinus Alodia
excipit flexa cerbice
inminentem gladium,
sicque ambe laureate
preveuntur etheris.

Which, seeing, her virgin sister
Alodia at once
pulls out from the bent neck
the sword sticking out;
and thus by it both, laurel-crowned,
come above the upper sky.

Inde tuam omnes sancte
flagitamus gratiam,
ut earum interventu
dimittantur crimina,
vitaque feliciorum
potiamur gaudia.

From there, all your holy
grace we ask earnestly,
so by their intervention
crimes may be dismissed,
and the life of the happy blessed
we may receive in joy.

Procul sit a corde dolum
pellantur lascivia,
caritatis omnis uno
conectamur vinculo,
quo carisma, dona sancti
perfruamur spiritus.

May deceit be far from our hearts;
may wantonness be beaten;
May everyone be one, in charity’s
chain be joined,
that by the charism, the gifts of the Holy
Spirit, we may be delighted.

Gloria patri natoque
semper et paraclito
laus potestas atque virtus,
gratiarum copia,
que deum cuncta fatentur
seculorum secula. Amen.

Glory to the Father, and the Son,
and the Paraclete always.
Praise, power and virtue,
abundance of graces.
May He be acknowledged God,
for ages of ages. Amen.

* versipelli: Deceiver — “versipellis” is literally a skinturner, skinchanger, shapeshifter. It was used figuratively in classical literature as meaning a crafty, deceitful person. In this case, they’re talking about the Devil.

PS — Probably the most prominent Alodia namesake today is the Filipina cosplayer and (according to that one fan documentary) “Queen of the Geeks”, Alodia Gosiengfiao. The whole phenomenon of a cosplay supermodel cracks me up…. Happy nameday to her, and to all you Alodias and Nunilons!

Mass singing of a contemporary hymn, and an instrumental version, for Ss. Nunilo and Alodia, from Huescar in Spain (a sort of sister city in Granada to Adahuesca, the saints’ birthplace in Aragon, that adopted the saints as their own). These mp3s are zipped up.

More information about Ss. Nunilo and Alodia, from a local Huescar confraternity. This seems to draw from the Aragonese account.

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The Women PC Women Won’t See.

WISCON, a literary sf convention dedicated to women sf writers and in charge of the Tiptree Award, has uninvited their Guest of Honor, Elizabeth Moon. All because she wrote an essay about citizenship, compromise for the greater good, and the Ground Zero mosque.

Here’s her brief dignified statement about the uninviting.

(So now would be a very nice time to preorder her next Paksenarrion fantasy, Kings of the North, or to buy any of her fine fantasy or science fiction/space opera books.)

There’s been kind of a round of disinvitation, lately. We talked about the impoliteness, but permissibleness, of a children’s book fair uninviting a local unpaid guest from having a signing because parents objected to her subject matter, and how some other local writers did not attend, and how the huhu got the book fair canceled, possibly forever.

I didn’t talk about how an East Coast science fiction convention uninvited all its local panelists, though they hadn’t actually been formally invited yet. But they were the people who usually do a good chunk of the panels and could assume that they’d be invited back every year; except now they aren’t, and their plans have to change. The poorer writers can’t afford to attend without a comped membership, so they’ll stay home. Permissible, but rude.

This one’s a bit more fraught. A convention’s Guest of Honor (GoH) does have a formal contractual relationship with the convention. Appearance fees and airfare may be involved (and must be, given Moon’s distance of travel). Hotel room and food pretty much always is, along with signings, a certain number of panels, a GoH speech (which is supposed to be deep), and whatever banquets and coffee klatches may be in store. All this is planned out well in advance — often more than a year ahead (so that next year’s guests can be advertised at this year’s convention). Vendors plan part of what merchandise to buy from publishers based on guests drawing their fans. Fans may decide to attend one convention instead of another because of guests, and they may preregister up to a year in advance, even before there’s a hotel chosen that they can reserve a room at.

So yeah, this is a Big Deal. Though at least they didn’t wait till next May to disinvite, so there’s one tiny note of sanity to cling to.

And what brought it on? Widespread fannish disgust and revulsion? People picketing bookstores and going on the talkshows? Oh, no. A few people on Livejournal (or Dreamwidth, these days). The pitiful little clique of trolls and Iagos that are known as failfandom. People joke about conrunners being the Secret Masters of Fandom (smofs). Well, these are the Tricotteuses of Fail Fandom, the toffs — the arbiters whom all must fear, the knock in the night. <a href="Peace Police, the Thought Police “>The Thought Police. The Peace Police. It’s like 4-Chan, except better at self-justification.

I can’t think of any time a GoH has been disinvited for any personal or political failing. Committee members and preregistered attendees have gotten banned or thrown out, but only for things like stealing a convention’s money, or being a convicted pedophile. But generally, even if somebody does or says something that really torques off the fannish world, that either makes him a more desirable guest (controversy is something to talk about!) or causes him not to be invited to stuff anymore after that.

Elizabeth Moon is somebody who’s pretty well-liked in fandom, I would think. Her books sell well and she’s a decent writer. She’s personable and reasonably good-looking. She has life skills in all sorts of areas from farming to fighting. She has an autistic son, and she wrote a deep novel about autism. She’s a feminist. She’s even a Democrat and a former Marine (not really, there are no former Marines, so she’s a Marine still).

But “be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny.” The Peace Police is looking for victims.

The amazing thing is the chutzpah. The WISCON committee whines that they had extensive “discussions” with Moon, and attempts somehow to make the uninvitation sound mutual without actually lying. They also claim that they’d be perfectly happy for her to attend and have “dialogues” about it. (Attend on her own dollar, all the way from Texas to Wisconsin.) And they whine and say it’s sad that she eventually closed her comment box to “dialogue”, although it’s plain that she was getting called a racist and so forth. But the convention committee also claims that they uninvited her because, otherwise, “people of color” would feel “unsafe” attending the convention.

So this is what all that “racefail” and feminist nonsense on Livejournal bred — a taste for blood. Go after the sweetest, nicest, most feminist women in fandom, like Jagi Lamplighter or Elizabeth Moon. Call the unprejudiced people prejudiced, and make sure you define that in terms nobody can possibly meet without the right kind of genes and the right kind of political kabuki.

You know, I’ve seen some crappy clique politics in fandom in my time. But this makes all that look like a papercut. If you want to destroy conventions and fandom as we know, keep right on going, Peacefail Police.

Lawrence Person at the beginning of the storm, and at WISCON’s disinvitation.

Glenn Reynolds on the situation. (The big guns come out.)

Liz Williams, last year, on how most online ‘feminists’ don’t have her back, no thank you very much.


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