If you follow science fiction or fantasy literature at all, you may be aware of the current kerfluffle over the Hugo awards. Or perhaps kerfluffles, as there appear to be more than one.
“Kerfluffle” is a fun word, and I feel like it should have a more fun plural. I think I’ll nominate kerfluffen.
Anyway. I almost got a supporting membership to WorldCon, which allows you to vote in the current year and nominate in the next year, last year. The current unpleasantness oddly intensified my desire to be part of it– funny, that– and I shelled out my 25 euros yesterday (this year’s WorldCon is in London) to buy a supporting membership so that I can get the nomination packet and I can vote.
Note the price is in euros. My card was declined. “Oh, right,” I thought; “my silly little local bank probably doesn’t wanna buy shit what’s in Europe with my debit card.” So I switched cards and bought it with another card. No biggie.
Until I got the call this afternoon that they’d detected fraudulent activity on my card and were considering putting a hold on future transactions unless I called them and straightened shit out.
Which I just did, dutifully. I appreciate the service; I normally don’t buy shit from London in non-Americadollars and I’m good with my bank noticing and sending up a trial balloon when I do. So I called the number and got a computer asking me to verify certain recent transactions. I confirmed that the Europe charge was me and then they asked me about the (also online, but not in Europe) charge for the book cover, which I bought the same night.
And got the name of the company wrong. Which… huh. I was literally sitting in front of my computer looking at my bank website so I noticed it.
Is this, like, a gotcha or something? The name they gave me was close to the actual company name but it wasn’t exactly right. Am I supposed to say no right now?
I thought about it and said that, no, I hadn’t authorized that charge.
Hint: don’t do that.
They dumped me to a person who was not terribly convinced that I was who I said I was. And it took several more minutes of talking and cajoling before I managed to convince him that 1) Yes, I was me; 2) Yes, I’d authorized the charge in London; 3) yes, I’d also authorized the charge to the book cover folks, but that they’d fucked up the name of the company and that was why I’d said no, and not because a book-cover company representative was, like, holding a gun to my head for my seventy bucks or anything like that.
Yesterday’s fun was the ISTEP Practice Test. Which is nearly an hour of kids sitting in front of computers and having standardized instructions read at them, for stuff they’ve already done and know how to do. They have to have taken the practice test to be eligible for the actual ISTEP next week. Non-negotiable. And I had to be the asshole reading the instructions. I’ll let you imagine just how good seventh and eighth graders are at sitting quietly listening to an hour of instructions about something that is already insanely boring. I’ll also let you imagine how patient I was with their bullshit by, say, the third time I’d wasted an entire two-period block of class time (the week before ISTEP, mind you) on meaningless nonsense.
And then I’ll let you imagine the fucking internet going out for half an hour during the second test.
I’m expecting next week to be a horrorshow again, just like last year. But we’ll see.
On the writing end of things, I’m completing two stories right now and strongly considering massive revisions to BA #5, which you guys have already seen. The version on the website is admittedly first-draft (if you pay close attention, one character’s name changes partway through, and I think at least one temporally impossible thing happens) and wanted an editing pass anyway, but I’m thinking about some fairly major character-level revisions here. Most of it came from reading the piece Scalzi linked to above that referenced the “Diversity Era” of science fiction. The Benevolence Archives are basically a male buddy story, and are wanting for some gender diversity at the very least. (There has been only one human character in any of the stories, and his race wasn’t specified, so right now I’m not so concerned about racial diversity.) One of the stories you haven’t seen is entirely about Rhundi, but she doesn’t have quite the pull that the two main dudes have. So I want to work on that a little bit. Fun stuff. I like it when I’m actually writing.