Editorial: Things To Come

by Steve Davidson

Things To Come.  An absolutely fantastic film. Produced by Michael Korda, directed by William Cameron Menzies and written by H. G. Wells, based on his own works.  I don’t think that any science fiction author since has had such a wonderful opportunity and been gifted with such talent as working partners.

The film attempts to convey Wells’ theme/conviction/certainty that the triumph of humankind is inevitable. Our better natures, our intellect, our unquenchable desire to look over the next hill will take us into and through adversity. Things may certainly get ugly along the way, but if we can just hang on a bit longer, the future will be bright, shiny and clean.

Right now, I’m trying to get Amazing Stories to that shiny, bright and clean future. The one were Raymond Massey offers up a choice of possibilities for mankind with the familiar words: “All the universe, or nothing. Which shall it be?”

Up to that point in the film, mankind’s survival was a race between barbarism and extinction or civility, maturity and hope.

Which is kind of where I find myself right now.

I’m extremely grateful to all of those who have contributed materials for these two ‘relaunch, prelaunch’ issues. They’ve been little jewels of hope and progress along the path I’m taking with Amazing.  They’ve provided an anchor in my on-going work of raising funds, licensing and extending the brand and in general trying to bring the old girl back to life. And they’ve more than achieved their purpose.

Unlike Raymond Massey though, I can’t count on Wings Over the World or ‘the gas of peace’ to level the playing field and clear the path ahead.  I’m still largely operating as a one man band and I can only get so much done in a day (inbetween everything else I’m juggling at the moment).

In order to get to the next phase, I have reluctantly made the decision that the Volume Zero issues will go into hiatus.

There’s still work to do on them; I’m currently in the process of converting issue 1 into a PDF (and other e-book formats) for download.  The same will take place for issue 2.

What I have to concentrate on now is preparing the video for September’s Kickstarter campaign, finish up some documents for presentation, massage the cover for the relaunch issue into shape (Frank Wu’s art is coming along nicely) and:

conduct a title design contest, begin work on the graphic story anthologies and fire up a couple of small but still important revenue-producing projects.

If I continue to try and solicit, edit, layout & etc., additional Volume 0 issues, I’ll not have the time for any of the foregoing.

Which I think is more important than producing a few more issues.

I’m happy to be able to say that with the August issue I’ve published everything that has been submitted and I’m pretty pleased with the results.  There’s a lot of love for Amazing Stories out there and I hope that these two issues show it.

So to recap:

Downloadable PDF (& mobi?) copies of these two issues coming soon

Kickstarter campaign coming in September

Frank Wu’s artwork for the first cover of the actual issue to be unveiled soon

The Amazing Stories Project blog to continue on a daily basis right here.

Please share, tell your friends and sign up with the site so that as things happen, I can keep you informed.

The happenings at this past Readercon are heating up the Geek-O-Sphere.  My few words on the subject.

Readercon, long considered to be the industry’s leading working convention (more authors, artists, editors and publishers per square foot than the Justice Department’s anti-trust court room) has been an excellent event that I’ve managed to attend on several ocassions. The panel subjects are wonderful, the parties grand, the gathering phenomenal (a tremendous diversity – more so than just about any other con I’ve ever been to) and the ‘vibe’ energizing.

Unfortunately, the convention has had its run-ins with “stalkers” and attendees who subject other attendees to unwanted attention in inappropriate ways.

Suffice to say that this year’s Readercon board of directors walked right into it when they decided to NOT enforce their policies regarding such behavior (a lifetime ban) when it came to applying it to a high profile fan (whom some are referring to as a SMOF or Secret Master of Fandom; using that term in this case is unfortunate as there really is no such thing as a monolothic SMOFs group and it comes across as conferring more import to the individual in question than is deserved).

There are two discrete issues here:  The first is the activity of rules writing.  The second is how one handles inappropriate behavior.  The former first:

No one should ever write a rule they (or someone else) may be expected to enforce unless they have run it through the ringer of ‘worst case scenario’ and found it to be acceptable.  By this I mean, if you write a rule calling for a lifetime ban, you need to ask yourself: “Am I willing to enforce a lifetime ban against the publisher who just offered me a billion dollar advance for the first novel I ever wrote that isn’t even finished?”  Better yet: “Am I willing to enforce this rule against my significant other?”

If the answer is anything other than an absolute, unequivocal ‘YES’, then you need to re-think that rule.  It is as simple as that.  ALWAYS test your rules against the worst case possible.  You’ll quickly discover its flaws.

As to how one handles the kinds of situations that Readercon experienced this year, a few thoughts spring to mind; hire a security firm and stop relying on ‘fans’ to do the dirty work. (They can still supervise the dirty work, but it is a lot easier to say to a rent-a-cop “yes, they broke the rule, throw them out” than it is to say “you’re banned for life” to a friend or colleague.)

Convention organizers (SMOFCON, I’m looking at you) need to get serious about creating some kind of robust, legal and workable information exchange.  The more that is known about trouble-makers, the easier it is to prevent them from attending an event in the first place – which is of course the most desireable option.

Cons need to articulate good examples of what unacceptable behavior is at the beginning of each and every event.  Advocates or Ombudsman or some kind of overseer class needs to be created, people with training in interpersonal relationships. Perhaps attending “how to act appropriately at a public venue” should become mandatory for every con-goer. Take it at one con, get your ribbon and you’re good to go – carrying the burden of having been informed that your creepy behavior is not normal  nor acceptable. It’s a lot easier to kick someone out of a con when you know for sure that “they should have known better”.

Right now we’re on the cusp of figuring out how to attract and retain a much more diverse representation of the human race at our conventions.  This is important and necessary for our future growth.  Let’s not screw it up because we’re unprepared.

I’ll close this by saying that I have asked that my name be added to the various petitions that are going around, asking Readercon to change their decision and asking them (and other cons) to come up with workable, sensible, effective policies and to enforce those policies equally across the board.

I’ll also say that I won’t be attending any convention that doesn’t enforce its stated policies (regardless of what they are) equally across the board and cons that are obviously not making an effort to make ALL of their attendees feel comfortable and safe.


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