Pixel Scroll 7/27 Riffing on AD&D

A long-eared geezer, eight stories and an embarrassing admission in today’s Scroll.

(1) Today’s birthday boy is… Bugs Bunny. He’s 75 years old.

(2) David Steffen answers “Why Do I Value The Hugos?” on Diabolical Plots.

[Excerpt is the second of seven points.]

I’ve been following the Hugos closely for several years, trying to read and review as many of the nominated works as I can digest between the announcement of the ballot and the final deadline.  I also follow the Nebulas, and I glance at the results from other SF genre awards, but for me the Hugos take up most of my attention come award season.  With this eventful Hugo year, it crossed my mind to wonder why the Hugos specifically, and whether I might perhaps be better off devoting more of my attention to awards that don’t collect controversy the way the Hugo Awards always seem to do, and in escalating fashion these last few years….

  1.  The Hugos Have a Long Reading Period

The Nebulas and the Locus awards have very short reading periods (the period of time between the announcement of the ballot and the voting deadline) of only about a month.  If I want to read as much of the fiction as possible, that’s not nearly enough time–I can’t finish all the short fiction, let alone start the novels.  The Hugo ballot is announced around Easter weekend (usually early April or so) and the voting deadline is at the end of July, so there are nearly four months to try to do all the reading.  The Hugo Packet isn’t released right at the beginning of the reading period, but usually enough of the short fiction was published in online venues so that I can fill my reading time with Hugo material.

https://twitter.com/LisaR_M/status/625448045316943872

(3) Then maybe Lisa would rather hear about – Worldcon site selection?

Spacefaring Kitten thinks it’s only fair that Helsinki win the right to host 2017 because all the other contenders have already had a turn…or seven.

A few facts to consider:

Five last countries that have hosted a Worldcon: United States (2015), United Kingdom (2014), United States (2013), United States (2012), United States (2011). Next year, the Worldcon will be in United States. In case the bid for Washington DC in 2017 (that is sort of a favorite at the moment, I guess) is successful, that’s third United States year in a row, and given the fact that there are only US bids for 2018 at the moment, it’s quite probably going to be four years of back-to-back United States Worldcons and seven United States Worldcons in eight years. That’s a lot of United States in one paragraph.

Competing for the 2017 Worldcon location, there are also bids for Montreal (in Canada) and Shizuoka City (in Japan). After 2000, the Worldcon has been in Canada twice (2009, 2003) and in Japan once (2007). Now, I’m sure that all proposed locations would hold a wonderful convention, but Helsinki would certainly be something new.

worldcon(4) Toymakers have got to protect the brand. Or, “Why Thomas the Tank Engine Doesn’t Kill Anybody in Ant-Man.

“I believe in Edgar [Wright] and Joe Cornish’s original drafts it was a train set,” Reed recalls. “At some point in the process that predated my involvement it became Thomas. As I came on, they had not secured the rights to Thomas. We had to do this whole thing where we did this presentation for the people who own the rights to Thomas. Thank God they agreed and found it funny, but there were definite stipulations. For example, nobody could be tied to the tracks and run over by Thomas. Thomas couldn’t be doing anything that could be perceived by children as evil Thomas. Thomas had to stay neutral in the battle, which was always our intention. Like anybody, they’re protective of their brand. I didn’t know what we were going to do if we didn’t get the rights to that. There are certain things I was going to be devastated about if we couldn’t have them. Thomas was one, because… you could do any kind of toy train, but the personality of that thing and the eyes moving back and forth give it a whole vibe and took it to another level.”

(5) Another Castalia House child prodigy! Jeffro Johnson reports in “First Session Report for my Daughter’s Dungeon Design!”

At the age of nine, my daughter has designed a 15 level dungeon, gotten paid for her work, and received back playtest report. It doesn’t get any better than that…!

It’s true – and entertaining, too.

(6) The Official Tolkien Calendar 2016 featuring artwork by Tove Jansson will be released on July 30. The cost is £9.99.

Jansson, who passed away in 2001, is well-known worldwide as the author and artists behind the popular Moomin series. As an accomplished artist, she provided the artwork for the Swedish editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Hobbit (also later used in Finnish editions). In Boel Westin’s autobiography of Jansson, she is quoted as saying “The figures are banal: dwarves, gnomes, fairies, dark-elves. But the scenery is luring in its macabre cruelty … Haunted woods, pitch-dark rivers, a moon-lit moor with burning wolves.

2016 Tolkien Calendar(7) Ursula K. Le Guin is offering writing advice through an “Online Fiction Workshop” at Book View Cafe. Use the form at the post to submit your question.

I have enough vigor and stamina these days to write poems, for which I am very thankful. It takes quite a lot of vigor and stamina to write a story, and a huge amount to write a novel. I don’t have those any more, and I miss writing fiction.

Reliable vigor and stamina is also required to teach a class or run a workshop, and so I had to give up teaching several years ago. But I miss being in touch with serious prentice writers.

So in in hope of regaining some of the pleasures of teaching and talking about writing fiction with people who do, I’m going to try an experiment: a kind of open consultation or informal ongoing workshop in Fictional Navigation, here on Book View Café.

I hope it will work its own process out as we go along, but here’s how I plan to start:

I invite questions about writing fiction from people who are working seriously at writing fiction.

(8) Explore the author’s earliest novels in Part I of SF Signal’s Interview with Samuel R. Delany.

Q: Your new book, A, B, C: THREE SHORT NOVELS, takes the reader back to the beginning of your career by offering up your first three novels. What is it about these works that impelled you to offer them up again?

Samuel R. Delany: With all these books’ clumsinesses and immaturities, I think—I hope—I was trying for something that is probably harder and harder to see with time’s passing. Indeed, it may never have been there. The only thing that might have thrown some highlighting onto it at the time they were published were slight differences between them and what was then coming out in the genre. Because so many changes have taken place in the background against which individual works now register, however, it’s harder and harder to read the signals.

(9) The Guardian included Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves on its 70 title longlist for the “Not The Booker prize”.

If you want to become part of this noble process, all you have to do is vote for two books from the longlist, from two different publishers, and accompany those votes with a review of at least one of your chosen books in the comments section below. This review should be something over 100 words long, although, as the rules state, we probably won’t be counting all that carefully.

Readers have until August 2 to vote titles onto the shortlist.

(10) After using geometric logic to deduce the wrong writer behind “Ray Blank’s” real-life identity, I was informed by a friend that it’s not even a secret. Eric Priezkalns says it’s him:

Ray Blank is the pen name I use when submitting speculative fiction to publishers.

And just in case I needed more convincing, my friend also ran comparative text samples through IBM Watson Personality Insights. Because science!

Really, though, it’s just not any kind of a secret.

[Thanks to JJ, Mark, Will R., Jonathan Olfert, and John King Tarpinain for some of these stories. Title credit to Soon Lee]

250 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/27 Riffing on AD&D

  1. I sorry. It’s a flaw in my character. I’ll go stand in the corner.

  2. Speaking of “Riffing”, a belated riff on yesterday’s Peter Grant item. Mosh along if you know the tune:

    Tor Pugs

    Puppies gathered in their masses,
    Just like Christians at night masses,
    Masterminds that plot destruction,
    Balloting by strict instruction.
    In the streets the books are burning,
    as the Tor boycott keeps churning.
    Losses daily getting bigger,
    mounting soon into six figures.

    Aristotle!

    Irene Gallo on her Facebook page,
    she only started the war.
    Calling puppies a fascist bunch,
    speaking doubtlessly for Tor.

    Yeah!

    Time will tell her she is power blind,
    insulting readers just for fun.
    Treating people just like robot clones,
    wait till her judgment day comes.

    Yeah!

    On book covers spaceships beckon,
    Social Justice Warriors wreck ‘em.
    Placing taverns in Science Fiction,
    genre mixups they’re inflictin’
    Charging folks with hydrophobia,
    leaving puppies anaerobic.
    Make ‘em pay for their sins,
    Vox Day laughing spreads his wings.

    Aristotle!

  3. @Microtherion
    Yeah, but do you have a Ronnie James Dio version? 😛

    Actually, thinking about it as I type, as much as I dislike Dio: Lock up the Wolves might have potential…

  4. @Shambles,

    The upset comes from “Chain Lightning” used against them. Would they feel the same if one of their magic users had cast it against the demons?

  5. It deserves a real filker but:

    In the houses of the Hugo
    To the middle of Spokane County
    At the cradle of the world(con)
    Ooh ooh yea

    There’s a black cat screamin’
    And it’s not even midnight, no
    At the cradle of the world(con)

    They’re screaming, “Aristotle”
    They’re screaming at you
    Lock up the pups, ooh
    Lock up the pups
    Yeah, yeah, yeah

    Now there’s a cloud over Heaven
    And a pain out of Populli
    In your corner of the world(con)

    Turn your back on the voters
    Does it feel like it’s colder
    In your corner of the world(con)

    They’re screaming, “Aristotle”
    They’re screaming at you
    Lock up the pups
    Lock up the pups, ohh
    Lock up the pups
    Lock up the pups

    Don’t you let ’em get away
    Lock up the pups
    Vote EPH or it’s over
    Lock up the pups
    Now don’t you let ’em get away
    Don’t let ’em get away

    There’s no back door to Heaven
    Just a front door to Hell, oh
    In this corner of the world(con)

    Now if you turn your back on the voters
    Well you feel it getting colder, aah
    In your corner of the world(con)

    They’re screaming, “Aristotle”
    They’re screaming at you, aaa aao
    Lock up the pups, yea
    Lock up the pups
    Lock ’em up

  6. If I can stop rolling on the floor long enough I am going to write a comment about how funny these filks are….

  7. my friend also ran comparative text samples through IBM Watson Personality Insights.

    Maybe I’m just a narcissist but that link was an extraordinary thing. Remote personality testing – I tried some lengthy text from my blog and the ratings on the Big 5 matched figures my real-life meat-robot brain has received. Spooky. And a bit freaky and maybe freaky stalkery-creepy as well.
    …or maybe it is just a random number generator 🙂

  8. I have to admit, the title “Tor Pugs” had my brain going:

    Tor pugs, Tor pugs, Tor, Tor pugs

    Always never quite right
    I’d like them to be Nuggets but I don’t think they’re Nuggets
    So tell me where’s the cabal and how come we weren’t invited?
    SJW does not fit all

    Don’t wanna write diverse stuff, do I have to write diverse stuff
    Why aren’t we reading this year what we used to get from Campbell?
    Yeah, I’d be cuter without guns in my spaceships
    My arsenal is greater than the sum of its parts

    She said that we were but we know we aren’t
    And Vox said that she’d leave but it hasn’t happened
    He did, and we know it, so there, CHORF!
    We must win it but they think that we’re the

    Sad pups, sad pups, sad, sad pups

    Really funny, who voted No Award on my category?
    May you be eternally bloc voted
    Me, wear tiaras with that Maoist gang?
    Uh, no thanks, why do you think they vote in secret?
    I mean, listen to him

    Scalzi, Scalzi, Scal, Scal-zi

    Ya know, his sales numbers should be black and blue
    Yeah, I mean no, huh, what?
    No, for like the whole last thirty years, why?
    Mamatas? Mamatas for what?

    But they told me we’d be fine with Vox Day
    Honest, I don’t even know how the Rabids got there
    Now, what would I do with 200 tire irons and axe handles?
    My plan will crush you all

    Tor pugs, Tor pugs, Tor…

  9. @LunarG
    Thank you! In fairness though Microtherion’s is brilliant and obviously took a lot of thought, mine is just slap dash word replacement. If you want to see my nom for Internet of the day though: check out Abi’s penguin riffs down in the 7/25 thread! ‘Call me Opus if you will’ 🙂

  10. Picture yourself in a Con in the World
    With EPH voting and SJW cliques
    Somebody noms you, you answer quite quickly
    Puppies with conspiracy eyes

    Fanacs and CHORF SMOFs with Maoistic souls
    Towering over your noms
    Look for the concom, agendas in hand
    And they’re gone

    Puppies in Worldcon with slates
    Puppies in Worldcon with slates
    Puppies in Worldcon with slates
    Aaaaahhhh….

  11. Mike Glyer,

    If I can stop rolling on the floor long enough I am going to write a comment about how funny these filks are….

    I wonder if they are funny enough to convince Gregory Benford to change his mind about not attending.

  12. To be fair to Kurt Busiek,

    I’d like them to be Nuggets but I don’t think they’re Nuggets

    and

    My arsenal is greater than the sum of its parts

    both show promise, but the rest of the filk fails to pull it all together. Where is Puppymandias when you need her?

  13. Hampus Eckerman on July 27, 2015 at 10:39 pm said:

    Oh, the illustrations by Tove Jansson!

    A little anecdote that caused me some minor outrage. A person close to me bought a bag in a bookshop with a picture of a person on it that they thought looked neat. They asked the person behind the counter if it was a character from a book and they said no. Anyway when I saw the bag I naturally exclaimed “She’s from the Moomins!” (the same image in the link was on the bag)

    Now I get that not everybody knows the Moomins but if you are running a book shop and are even SELLING MERCHANDISE with characters from the Moomins on it you’d think you’d know…

  14. On @everyone’s advice, I tried Seveneves. A rough start, I have to say. I don’t mind him closing his doorstops with an unbelievably pat ending – kind of his signature, and if it doesn’t provide much catharsis at least it serves to wind things down. But kicking things off with an unbelievably pat opening? I hope the next five thousand years get better.

  15. Kurt Busiek on July 27, 2015 at 11:09 pm said:

    Little My!

    Indeed – as it happens the bag had been bought as a present and the person it had been bought for fit the character rather well 🙂 [in a nice way]

    To be fair to the bookshop, it was a very, very, very long way from Sweden or Finland.

  16. Also, I’m wondering now if both N.S. and J.S. (according to him in that Post interview) pitched major novels after reading a line in one of KSR’s magisterial 2312 infodumps about how it was decided not to spin Luna and give it an atmosphere because of fears of tektite rain. Fortunately the Ian McDonald book is out in a few month and all will be right with the universe.

  17. Brian Z on July 27, 2015 at 11:17 pm said:

    On @everyone’s advice, I tried Seveneves.

    I’m enjoying it so far. Gur zvyyvbanver fcnpr ragercerarhe unf sybja bss gb pngpu n pbzrg naq gur GI nfgebabzre thl vf Ouhgna.
    Lrg V qba’g frr jul gurl’q tb gb fcnpr? V’q unir gubhtu tbvat haqretebhaq jbhyq or rnfvre. Pregnvayl vg jbhyq perngr vffhrf bs erplpyvat nve naq tebjvat sbbq ohg gubfr vffhrf jbhyq or jbefr va fcnpr. Maybe it is just my natural morlock tendency.

  18. Maybe it is just my natural morlock tendency.

    I think you are on to something. Could have been Stephenson’s Time Machine. A missed opportunity. But let me see what he does with the Eloi first. Eloi, ELOE, I feel a filk coming on.

  19. Camestros Felapton: I’m enjoying [Seveneves] so far… V qba’g frr jul gurl’q tb gb fcnpr? V’q unir gubhtu tbvat haqretebhaq jbhyq or rnfvre. Pregnvayl vg jbhyq perngr vffhrf bs erplpyvat nve naq tebjvat sbbq ohg gubfr vffhrf jbhyq or jbefr va fcnpr.

    Vg jnf zl haqrefgnaqvat gung haqretebhaq jnf abg n ivnoyr bcgvba sbe svir gubhfnaq lrnef — be rira gb fheivir guebhtu gur oheavat bs gur cynarg.

    But I’d love to hear from an expert on the subject if and how it could be feasible.

  20. @Camestros Felapton,

    On one hand, I have issues with the story. On the other, I’m still thinking about it weeks after finishing it.

  21. Ray Blank makes some value points, but they’re largely drowned out in the normal sea of just why it’s this thing not a completely different thing. I agree that the worldcon should represent the world, should attract people from around the world and ideally travel about bringing its joy to the whole world. I don’t see any sign that the organisers of Spokane are trying to work against that, or rejoicing that there are no Koreans coming.

  22. JJ on July 28, 2015 at 12:02 am said:

    Vg jnf zl haqrefgnaqvat gung haqretebhaq jnf abg n ivnoyr bcgvba sbe svir gubhfnaq lrnef — be rira gb fheivir guebhtu gur oheavat bs gur cynarg.

    That was my haqrefgnaqvat too initially but then given all the issues I don’t see why it was a worse alternative vs lbh qht qrrc rabhtu naq njnl sebz gur rdhngbe. 🙂
    I guess I should just keep reading…

  23. My score on the Guardian list is a pathetic zero. I spotted The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas, who has written some SFnal books previously, two of which I’ve read and not enjoyed (interesting set ups, wobbly execution, terrible conclusion). The Seed Collectors has blurbs from Neil Gaiman and William Gibson, and appears to have fantastical elements about plants. Anyone read it?

  24. nickpheas on July 28, 2015 at 12:47 am said:
    Ray Blank makes some value points, but they’re largely drowned out in the normal sea of just why it’s this thing not a completely different thing.

    Maybe. Part of me suspects it is not unlike a variety of a style of argument I saw recently in Australia. A politician called Barnaby Joyce argued that same sex marriage was a bad idea because Australia’s Asian neighbours wouldn’t approve and hence stop buying Australian goods.
    In this narrative current moves for improved rights for women and many others are re-defined as a Westetn indulgence that alienates us from the rest of the world. Which is poppycock but you get the idea.

  25. nickpheas: Ray Blank makes some value points, but they’re largely drowned out in the normal sea of just why it’s this thing not a completely different thing.

    Blank’s main premise is that the Hugos are something which should not be voted upon only by Worldcon members, but by all SFF fans in the world.

    As the Hugos were created by Worldcon members as a way for them to recognize what they found the best of the year, Blank’s main premise is based on nothing and the rest of his “reasoning” (and I’m being very generous by using that word) falls apart.

    If Blank wants to make the argument that there should be an awards program which is voted upon by all SFF fans in the world, fine. He’s also welcome to figure out how to accomplish that, and to create such an awards program. The “value points” he makes would apply to such a program, but they do not apply to the Hugos.

    Insisting that the Hugo Awards be co-opted and completely changed to suit his idea for SFF awards (presumably while still being funded by Worldcon members with thousands of dollars and volunteer hours) is, putting it kindly, such a clueless maneuver that it makes him utterly lacking in credibility.

  26. Results of the 90’s fantasy bracket have been posted on the 7/26 thread. The 80’s bracket will be posted here soon. For any pairing, you can vote for a work in the pair, a tie, abstain, or vote for another 80’s work not on the bracket.

    The 80’s bracket contains some of my personal favorite novels. I may be tempted to break my vague policy of neutrality and cast my allotted vote.

  27. Now, let me take you back to … THE EIGHTIES! As in the 90’s bracket and as always, first round novels have been paired randomly with each other by dice roll.

    1. FROM KU-FU TO TAI-TASTIGON
    Bridge of Birds, Barry Hughart
    God Stalk, P. C. Hodgell

    2. WEST COAST MAGIC
    Wizard of the Pigeons, Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm
    Tea with the Black Dragon, R. A. MacAvoy

    3. THE SWORD OR THE CHORD
    The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley
    War for the Oaks, Emma Bull

    4. TOTALLY STRAIGHTFORWARD NARRATIVE
    Soldier of the Mist, Gene Wolfe
    The Anubis Gates, Tim Powers

    5. WE DON’T DIE, WE JUST MOVE TO OTHER BODIES
    Daggerspell, Katharine Kerr
    The Silent Tower, Barbara Hambly

    6. MYTH MADE FLESH
    Mythago Wood, Robert Holdstock
    Fire and Hemlock, Diana Wynne Jones

    7. TITANIA VS. MORGAN LE FAY
    Little, Big, John Crowley
    The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley

    8. HELL IS OTHER ANGELS
    The Darkangel, Meredith Ann Pierce
    To Reign in Hell, Stephen Brust

  28. 2. Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm. I use my time machine to move this category to the 90s where Assassins Apprentice is a real favourite of mine. While I still like Wizard of the Pigeons, it is not that good.

    4. Tim Powers. The Anubis Gates is another one of my favourites, among my top ten books.

    5. No vote. I wasn’t very impressed by Daggerspell, found it adequate, but nothing more. Never read Hambly.

    6. I vote Wynne Jones unread, because I thought Mythago Woods extremely boring. I have no idea why I even finished it.

  29. 1. FROM KU-FU TO TAI-TASTIGON
    No vote

    2. WEST COAST MAGIC
    Wizard of the Pigeons, Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm
    Tea with the Black Dragon, R. A. MacAvoy

    3. THE SWORD OR THE CHORD
    The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley
    War for the Oaks, Emma Bull

    4. TOTALLY STRAIGHTFORWARD NARRATIVE
    Soldier of the Mist, Gene Wolfe
    The Anubis Gates, Tim Powers

    Close. Very close.
    5. WE DON’T DIE, WE JUST MOVE TO OTHER BODIES
    No vote

    6. MYTH MADE FLESH
    Mythago Wood, Robert Holdstock
    Fire and Hemlock, Diana Wynne Jones

    Oh that’s just evil. These two should surely have come together in the final?
    7. TITANIA VS. MORGAN LE FAY
    No vote

    8. HELL IS OTHER ANGELS
    No vote

  30. 1. FROM KU-FU TO TAI-TASTIGON
    Bridge of Birds, Barry Hughart

    This was a book that I could only describe as being beautifully written.

    Abstain from all others.

  31. The eighties. Oh dear. A few write-ins for me here.
    1. Hughart.
    2. Weird that I’m only getting into MacAvoy now, and I kaboing off Hobb/Lindholm. I’ve not read Black Dragon, and Lens Of The World is 1990, so I’m going to write in The Last Coin by James P Blaylock here.
    3. Another write-in – The Dragon Waiting by John M Ford.
    4. TOUGH ONE. Wolfe, becuse it’s beautiful.
    5. Kerr.
    6. SO TOUGH. Holdstock, because Mythago Wood Changed Everything (for me, at any rate.)
    7. I keep ricocheting off Little Bug and I never got around to Mists, and amn’t likely to now. Write in: Voice Of Our Shadow by Jonathan Carroll.
    8. Jeepers, I’ve read neither. Okay, left-field write-in: The Bridge by Iain Banks.

    (Yes, the gender imbalance of my write-ins reflects the gender imbalance of my reading in the eighties. I WAS A CHILD.)

  32. Some mornings I can go back to sleep after feeding the cat. This is not one of those mornings.

    1. FROM KU-FU TO TAI-TASTIGON
    Bridge of Birds, Barry Hughart
    God Stalk, P. C. Hodgell
    Abstain, having neither read nor heard of either. Adding to my list.

    2. WEST COAST MAGIC
    Tea with the Black Dragon, R. A. MacAvoy
    This was a book I hunted down in used bookstores based on recommendations. I think I found it in the Strand.

    3. THE SWORD OR THE CHORD
    War for the Oaks, Emma Bull
    Argh. I don’t think I’ve read this since the 80s.

    4. TOTALLY STRAIGHTFORWARD NARRATIVE
    The Anubis Gates, Tim Powers
    Anubis Gates is one of my all time favorites!

    5. WE DON’T DIE, WE JUST MOVE TO OTHER BODIES
    Daggerspell, Katharine Kerr

    6. MYTH MADE FLESH
    Mythago Wood, Robert Holdstock
    Fire and Hemlock, Diana Wynne Jones
    ARGH! Um. Fire and Hemlock and the nice cold cloth and cuppa for me.

    7. TITANIA VS. MORGAN LE FAY
    Little, Big, John Crowley
    The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
    ::whimpers:: Mists, because I re-read it regularly up until recently. But Little, Big stuck in my head. Screw it. TIE!

    8. HELL IS OTHER ANGELS
    The Darkangel, Meredith Ann Pierce
    To Reign in Hell, Stephen Brust
    Abstain. And I am not as well read in fantasy as I thought. But more books to add to the list!

  33. So much there I haven’t read. I’ll stop with casting votes for Bridge of Birds, Mythago Woodi, and Little, Big; and write in “Reindeer Moon” by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas. Although I’d normally want DWJ to advance farther, Fire & Hemlock isn’t my favorite of hers, and against Mythago Wood no hope. She should get another chance if you do a separate childrens edition.

  34. Soon Lee:

    That’s rather uncharitable. The criticism expressed of the chain lightning spell is that it took two hours of real time to calculate all of its effects. I’ve been in some tedious over-finicky combat sessions in my time, but that takes the biscuit.

  35. Oh, I’ve actually read some of these, so I can have a half-arsed go at voting:

    1. FROM KU-FU TO TAI-TASTIGON
    Bridge of Birds, Barry Hughart

    Never read God Stalk, but I’m confident that Hughart deserves my vote here.

    2. WEST COAST MAGIC
    Tea with the Black Dragon, R. A. MacAvoy

    Another half-blind pick; I enjoyed the MacAvoy, and never really clicked with what little I’ve read of Hobbs.

    3. THE SWORD OR THE CHORD
    Haven’t read either, so I’m going to write in The Golden Naginata by Jessica Amanda Salmonson, which I mentioned in the previous round.

    4. TOTALLY STRAIGHTFORWARD NARRATIVE
    Soldier of the Mist, Gene Wolfe

    Tough one, but though I greatly enjoy TAG, Latro beats it by a slim margin.

    7. TITANIA VS. MORGAN LE FAY
    Little, Big, John Crowley

    Potentially another tough one, but even passing over any personal feelings I have about MZB these days, I only ever read Mists once, while I’ve returned to Little, Big more than once, so it gets my vote here.

    I guess I should get around to Mythago Wood one of these days…

  36. Both worse and better than the 90’s round. I’ve read fewer nominees but there are more brackets I’m willing to vote on.
    4. TOTALLY STRAIGHTFORWARD NARRATIVE
    Soldier of the Mist, Gene Wolfe
    The Anubis Gates, Tim Powers

    Soldier of the Mist is an easy win. The Anubis Gates is good but Soldier of the Mist is a book that should have won non-genre prizes for its complex story telling. It is a book that demands that you pay attention and present a narrator who is both utterly reliable and utterly unreliable at the same time. Never mind the plot just feel the craftmanship – didn’t the ancient Greeks have a word for that? Arete?

    6. MYTH MADE FLESH
    Mythago Wood, Robert Holdstock
    Fire and Hemlock, Diana Wynne Jones

    Now I’ll concede I haven’t read Wynne Jones but Mythago Wood is one of the best ever attempts to capture mythic Britain. Anyone who has ever found themselves suddenly lost in what seemed to be a tiny piece of pastoral woodland in a tame landscape will get that Tardis like feeling of the woods that are bigger on the inside. Britain is the stuff of nightmares. Alan Garner with the dial turned to 11.

    7. TITANIA VS. MORGAN LE FAY
    Little, Big, John Crowley
    The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley

    Did I mention that the woods are bigger on the inside? The mythic landscape of Britain invades America and colonizes New York – Little Big wins hands down. It is like the Beatles of the Matter of Britain. Oberon, soap operas, memory palaces, Cottingley fairy like photographs, hints of Dodgson, and a house powered by a perpetual motion machine that is an orrery. Dream logic brilliantly executed. And that is why it is brilliant. In general other people’s dreams are just dull but Little, Big manages to capture that sense of everything never entirely making quite enough sense and keeps pushing you forward. One night, I re-read half of it listening to the Pogues (oddly not Fairy Tale of New York) and I was drunk and it made even more sense. Also meat-robot me has eyebrows that meet in the middle – which is cool in Little, Big (not so cool in Angela Carter’s Company of Wolves).

  37. (Also, although “So you Want to Be a Wizard” has a lot of nostalgia value for me, on mature consideration it doesn’t belong on this bracket. Its surface details were very fresh but its themes and structure very derivative.)

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