Jon Del Arroz Banned from WorldCon

It came to my attention early this morning that Jon Del Arroz, author of Star Realms: Rescue Run and For Steam and Country and several shorter works, who is also slated to write two novel spin-offs for the new Alt-Hero comic book series, has been banned from WorldCon, the annual convention that hands out the Hugo Awards, apparently without provocation. WorldCon claims that Del Arroz threatened to engage in some behavior contrary to the convention’s code of conduct, but the only information available indicates that he promised to wear a body cam and record it if anyone harassed him, something that is legal to do in the State of California, where the convention is to be hosted.

In the sci fi fandom—well, actually, it’s more among writers than among fans—there is a long-running political feud over WorldCon and the Hugos. It started a few years back, spearheaded by independently successful sf author Larry Correia, who suspected political bias in the way the awards are handed out. He started what became known as “Sad Puppies,” which grew into a small group of authors writing lists of what they considered the best sf of the previous year, and encouraging people to read those works and consider voting for them, as an alternative to alleged block voting dominated by Tor Books. The write-up on the situation at Know Your Meme is surprisingly even-handed.

Although this is a relatively innocuous activity, the Sad Puppies were labeled white supremacists and smeared in major media outlets including Entertainment Weekly (which retracted) and National Public Radio (which did not). I was an observer rather than a participant in the whole Sad Puppies debacle, but I know the authors involved. There’s a lot of talk lately about media bias and whether it’s a real thing, but for me, that’s not a matter of debate. There is most definitely a problem with media bias: I know this because I have watched the media lie about, smear, and write hit pieces on people I know.

My own opinion on Sad Puppies, if anyone cares, is that the Puppies’ complaints were legitimate if sometimes exaggerated. Hugos and Nebulas have in recent years gone to garbage in short fiction, but that is in large part because the short fiction market is garbage. The Hugos for best novel have remained considerably less awful. Nonetheless, it is certainly true that the social justice cult (and it does deserve to be called a cult) has wormed its way into sf as surely as into every other area of life, and this has affected who can get published, and what authors can say in public, as the present case illustrates.

Complicating the matter with the Sad Puppies was the involvement of Vox Day, who used it to further his personal feud with author John Scalzi and the Science Fiction Writers of America, which had ejected Day in violation of its own bylaws after he finally responded in kind to an authoress who had been insulting him for years. After being kicked out of the SFWA, Day took his ball and went home: living in Italy, he is the one-man show in charge of the Finnish publisher Castalia House, which has gathered a stable of talented yet disaffected authors, published numerous Amazon bestsellers, and is now planning a move into comics. While the Sad Puppies merely encouraged people to read, buy WorldCon memberships, and vote, Day’s “Rabid Puppies” created a voting block that skewed the award’s nominations; his greatest (and funniest) triumph was getting the self-published niche porn “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” by Chuck Tingle on the ballot for best short story. In subsequent years, however, changes to the voting rules largely defanged the Rabid Puppies.

Meanwhile, the Sad Puppies gave up because they have jobs and families and insufficient interest in being repeatedly libeled. Also, the Puppies have largely decided to ignore the Hugos in favor of the new Dragon Awards, given out by DragonCon, which have recognized authors that WorldCon and the Hugos have shunned for their political opinions.

Although the Puppies thing is mostly over, Vox Day has more than one prong to his attack: he has recently published Moira Greyland’s The Last Closet, which chronicles Greyland’s childhood sexual abuse at the hands of celebrated sf author Marion Zimmer Bradley. This publication follows up on several years that Day has spent shedding light on the long-running sheltering of pedophiles in the sf community; see especially the Castalia House blog series Safe Space as Rape Room. Day’s Rabid Puppies got Safe Space nominated for a Hugo, but WorldCon refused to put it in the voting packet on the tenuous grounds that its content might be illegal in some countries—thereby furthering the impression that WorldCon shelters child molesters.

Anyway, Jon Del Arroz is something of a latecomer to all this, as his name wasn’t made yet when Sad Puppies was at its height. Nonetheless, he is is openly right-leaning in his politics, which has made him a target for abuse by other sf writers and high-level fans, as indicated by his feud with File 770, whose creator Mike Glyer seems to have a hate-crush on him. After Del Arroz was banned from WorldCon for no apparent reason, Vox Day naturally followed up with the provocatively entitled blog post, “Worldcon doesn’t ban pedophiles.”

In the interest of Twitter sniping, I made the same the same point in a Twitter thread and suggested that Del Arroz was banned because he might catch someone grooming children on video. After I made the comment, I was within seconds kicked out of my Twitter account, and my comment disappeared—maybe coincidence, maybe not.

Grape-kun Is with Harambe Now

Waifus out for Grape-kun.

Okay, I admit I’d never heard of Grape-kun before yesterday, but all of a sudden, my social media timelines were full of him.

The handy website Know Your Meme breaks down the facts. Grape-kun was an elderly Humboldt penguin in the Tobu Zoo in Japan. For a while, the zoo had placed cardboard cutouts of characters from the manga and anime series Kemono Friends in the pens of various animals as an advertising gimmick. I’ve never seen Kemono Friends, but it is apparently yet another of the innumerable manga/anime about random objects anthropomorphized as little girls; in this case, the random objects are animals. The anime series is on Crunchyroll.

Anyway, the zoo placed an image of a character named Hululu, an anthropomorphized penguin, in the pen of Grape-kun. Thereafter, people noticed the penguin frequently staring at the image.

He’s probably wondering what happened to Hululu’s pants.

Naturally, people leapt to conclusions, and Goboiano reported on April 27 with the headline, “Japan Puts Anime in Zoo and Penguin Adopts a Waifu.”

Grape-kun died yesterday, October 12th. The zoo reported that the cut-out of Hululu was with Grape-kun through his final moments.

Four months ago, this comic showed up on the Internet. I’ve been unable to figure out if this is from the manga version of Kemono Friends, or if this is someone’s fan art, but either way, it is now relevant:

Rest in peace, Grape-kun.

‘Sailor Moon S’ Part 2 Released

I hope Uranus is ready for this, because Viz Media has released the second half of the uncensored sub of Sailor Moon S.

I’ve been looking forward to this for months and months. Now, in spite of my busy schedule, I’m planning to spend some quality time with Uranus. I will of course be talking about it here on the blog—because I want to make you feel the way Uranus makes me feel.

There are several ways to approach Uranus, but I’m planning to use iTunes.

I am prepared.

‘Sailor Moon Crystal’ Season 4 Confirmed

Moonkitty recently tweeted the news: the struggling and embattled Sailor Moon Crystal is set to see a fourth season, which will be in the form of a two-part movie.

“The same director” means Chiaki Kon, who did a lot to rescue season 3 from the problems that plagued seasons 1 and 2, by ordering revamped character designs and improving the animation.

Otherwise, I don’t know if this is good news or bad. My opinion of Crystal has been mixed, as you can see here. A two-part movie for the Dream arc, however, might be a good idea. If they’re not working to put out an episode on a bi-weekly basis, they might have the time they need to produce something more polished.

There was confirmation as far back as late January that this was going to happen, but there’s been little other news since then that anything was in the works.

Sailor Moon’s official birthday is June 30th, so that is apparently the reason for the announcement of the fourth season, which took place at a live event as Sailor Moon News explains. I chastise myself for having forgotten such an important date. I’ll send her a “belated birthday” card.

The live event also featured some info about the new stage musical, which is unfortunately irrelevant to us over here as the musicals never make it across the Pacific, not even in a subbed video.

Giant Robot Battle Scheduled for August

In other news, Suidoboshi Heavy Industries and MegaBots, Inc., have finally scheduled their mecha battle for some time in August, as reported in The Nerdist.

In case you didn’t know, both of these companies, the former from Japan and the latter from the USA, built giant robots as hugely expensive toys, the KURATAS and Mark II, respectively. MegaBots challenged Suidoboshi to a giant robot fight quite some time ago. I saw the original MegaBots challenge and Suidoboshi’s somewhat muted acceptance thereof back in 2015, but hadn’t heard anything since.

In the beginning, the Mk. II looked likely to take the KURATAS apart, as it was created to be a hulking beast, whereas the KURATAS was more of a rich kid’s toy. Both companies, however, have apparently upgraded their machines. MegaBots has released video of their new but incomplete Mk. III picking up and tearing apart cars, whereas Suidoboshi has kept its upgrades to the KURATAS a secret.

Both these machines are designed to be piloted, but I hope, for the fight, they set it up so the pilots are not actually inside, since they’re hinting of weapons like chainsaws and drills.

Jake and the Dynamo Update

Featured image: “A Magical Girl” by AngusBurgers, which he describes as “a magical skeletal with correct anime proportions.”

I know activity’s sporadic here, but my free time is limited. I did finally make it all the way through the recently released, uncensored first half of Sailor Moon S, and I have a lot I want to say about it, so look for that in the near future. Since I approached the Sailor Moon franchise first through the manga and then through Crystal and then through the Nineties anime, all in rapid succession, I’ve been enjoying making comparisons between the three. It’s particularly interesting to see how Sailor Moon S diverges from its source material more completely than Sailor Moon or Sailor Moon R did. As usual, I sometimes like the changes and sometimes don’t. Uranus is way less annoying in the animated version, mostly because they found a way to give her an internal conflict that isn’t stupid like the manga’s version.

Speaking of crossdressers in magical girl stories, the rough of chapter 25 of Jake and the Dynamo is complete. That’s what I’ve been dedicating my spare time to. It’s got a scene in it I’ve been looking forward to writing for quite a while now, and we’ll see the return of a character that some readers have asked about.

Sequel to ‘Cardcaptor Sakura’ Is Coming … Prepare Yourselves

Featured image: “Cardcaptor Sakura Fanart” by Daikazoku63

Cardcaptor Sakura is one of the biggest titles in the magical girl genre. It was the first foray into mahou shoujo manga by the unbelievably prolific four-woman team Clamp, which produced it from 1996 to 2000. Its anime adaptation, which began airing in 1998, is one of the few TV cartoons that can hold up in terms of technical quality more than a decade after its run. The anime adds a great deal to the story; some of it is padding, but a lot of it is real improvement. A sliced, diced, and dubbed version was released in English under the title of Cardcaptors.

For reasons I’ll explain in a post I was working on for today but didn’t get finished, I don’t care much for Cardcaptor Sakura. Nonetheless, I must announce that after all this time, Clamp is adding a third arc to the story, the “Clear Card Arc,” currently underway. The first collected volume appeared in Japan last month. I don’t believe any English translation has appeared as of yet.

An anime adaptation is slated to begin in January of 2018. Plan is to bring back director Morio Asaka and round up much of the original voice cast. The Cardcaptor Sakura anime had very good production values, so bringing back the old-timers rather than getting fresh blood seems to be a good move. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The original story featured its heroine in fourth and fifth grade, gradually powering up as she collects the “Clow Cards,” each of which contains a magic spell. The sequel now has her in middle school.

While many fans are excited, I’m scared. What is Clamp going to do to that poor girl now? She barely escaped all those perverts last time. I’m especially worried about Tomoyo, her obsessive best friend who at first seems to be an innocent little ten-year-old girl until Clamp casually drops the bombshell that she’s a monomaniacal lesbian stalker with a costume fetish and a penchant for voyeurism. Is this going to be the story arc where she hides a camera in Sakura’s bathroom or something?

NaNoWriMo Is This Month!

Featured image: “Magical Girl Tessa” by Primantis.

Just as a reminder, November is National Novel Writing Month. If you’ve ever wanted to write a whole novel in a single month, now is the time. There is an official website, linked above, where you can get pep talks, track your progress, and so forth.

I am reliably informed that if you hit writer’s block during a NaNoWriMo marathon, “just add ninjas” is a good way to get out of it. This is known as Chandler’s Law, formulated by pulp writer Raymond Chandler, who once said, When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.”

This technique has worked for me in the past. Jake and the Dynamo is a story very amenable to Chandler’s Law: I am unashamed to admit that I “just added robot dinosaurs from space” because I didn’t know how else to save Jake’s bacon.

ADDENDUM: I forgot to mention that, after the next two chapters are up, I believe Jake and the Dynamo will have hit the 100,000-word mark. Depending on who you ask, 40,000 is your basic novel length.

FUNimation Partners with Crunchyroll

In the world of anime fandom, this is really big news.

hope that it is also good news, but that remains to be seen. I don’t follow the politics of fandom, but I sometimes hear murmurs of discontent with FUNimation. However, I personally have been generally happy with Crunchyroll, the anime streaming service, though I recently let my subscription lapse for economic reasons. A few years ago, Crunchy seemed to be mostly a motley collection of obscure titles and hentai crap, but more recently, I’ve been really impressed as they’ve added more and more classic titles to their catalogue.

In fact, I finally bought my subscription when they picked up a complete set of Cardcaptor Sakura, the inexplicably popular and undeservedly influential magical girl story from CLAMP about an innocent little girl trapped in a world full of perverts. But I’ll talk about that show and why I detest it with a passion at another time. Continue reading “FUNimation Partners with Crunchyroll”