Pixel Scroll 12/9 The Flounce On The Doorstep

(1) MST3K+PO. Patton Oswalt has agreed to join Mystery Science Theater 3000 as the Forrester’s newest Evil Henchman, TV’s Son of TV’s Frank. Joel Hodgson explains:

I first became aware of Patton around fourteen years ago, when he was doing “commentary” for the MTV Awards – live in the room during the event! I realized right away he was a kindred spirit, and damn funny too. Since then, obviously, he’s bloomed into this amazing comedy/internet dynamo, and I’ve gotta tell you: I’ve seen a lot of stand-ups over the years, but – no lie – Patton really is one of the best ever. And just as important, he’s a very fun, articulate and witty soul – just the kind of person who we’ve always tried to bring onboard for MST3K.

That’s probably why, when I started putting together my dream roster of special “guest writers” for the next season of MST3K, the idea of Patton kept coming back to me. I knew he was a Mystery Science Theater fan from way back – he even moderated our 20th Anniversary Reunion panel at San Diego Comic-Con)–and I thought he’d be terrific at writing riffs. Then I started to wonder if he might be a good fit on camera, too.

Remember last week, how I said my creative process usually starts with visuals, and then I work backward? Well, in this case, I first imagined Patton dressed up like TV’s Frank. I figured maybe he’d be Frank’s son, or at least a clone. But yeah: the idea of Patton wearing black lab assistant’s garb, with a big mound of silver hair and a spitcurl…? It was just really funny to me, in a visual / cross-referential / meta kind of way.

(2) HIGH CASTLE. Marc Haefele, once the editor for some of Philip K. Dick’s later books from Doubleday, praised Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle on an NPR affiliate’s show “Off-Ramp.” BEWARE MINOR SPOILERS.

Juliana (Alexa Davalos) — Frink’s estranged wife in the book, his girlfriend in the series — was that rarest of Dick characters, a strong, positive, effective woman. She is even more so on the screen. The substitution of various film reels for the original fictional novel McGuffin generally works, albeit there seem to be a few too many abandoned operating 16 mm projectors left around.

And there are some clunkers. Like when the Nazi elevated monorail from which-side-is-he-on Nazi/underground operative Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank) descends bears the label “U-Bahn.” Whoops, that’s a subway folks. The elevated is an “S-Bahn.” Or why is “Mack the Knife,” a song by a Communist  (Bertolt Brecht) and a Jew (Kurt Weill), being  sung at an otherwise terrifyingly well-imagined Aryan Victory Day picnic in occupied Long Island?

(3) BEST STAR WARS MOVIE. Michael J. Martinez marches on: his Star Wars rewatch has reached movie #5 — “Star Wars wayback machine: The Empire Strikes Back”.

In this rewatch, we have the crown jewel of the entire saga: The Empire Strikes Back. Pretty much everything we love about Star Wars is front-and-center here, and this one stands up to the test of time as well as any classic film you can think of. Yes, it’s as good as I remembered.

(4) FICTIONAL HISTORY. Jonathan Nield delivers “A defense of historical fiction” at Pornokitsch.

…Perhaps this introduction may be most fitly concluded by something in the nature of apology for Historical Romance itself. Not only has fault been found with the deficiencies of unskilled authors in that department, but the question has been asked by one or two critics of standing – What right has the Historical Novel to exist at all? More often than not, it is pointed out, the Romancist gives us a mass of inaccuracies, which, while they mislead the ignorant (i.e., the majority?), are an unpardonable offence to the historically-minded reader. Moreover, the writer of such Fiction, though he be a Thackeray or a Scott, cannot surmount barriers which are not merely hard to scale, but absolutely impassable. The spirit of a period is like the selfhood of a human being – something that cannot be handed on; try as we may, it is impossible for us to breathe the atmosphere of a bygone time, since all those thousand-and-one details which went to the building up of both individual and general experience, can never be reproduced….

(5) RIDING HIGH IN APRIL, SHOT DOWN IN MAY. We all have those days.

(6) BURSTEIN IN TRANSLATION. Michael A. Burstein had a short story in a recent issue of the Chinese prozine Science Fiction World.

I am pleased to announce that my short story “The Soldier WIthin” has been translated and published in the November 2015 issue of [Chinese characters]. (In English, the magazine is known as Science Fiction World.) This is my first time having a story translated into Chinese or published in China. I’d like to thank Joe Haldeman for having purchased the story for the anthology Future Weapons of War back in 2007, and the editor of SF World, Dang Xiaoyu (I hope I have that right), for choosing to reprint the story .

In theory, this means the story will be read by approximately 1 million people in China. That would make it the most widely read story of mine.

(7) THE BILLIONS NOBODY WANTED. Remember when no film buyers wanted Star Wars for their theater chains? Me neither. But several swear it happened in “’Star Wars’ Flashback: When No Theater Want to Show the Movie in 1977”, an article from The Hollywood Reporter.

LENIHAN I was 23 and booking country towns in Northern California for United Artists, which also owned the Coronet Theatre in San Francisco. I tease Travis all the time that the only time I ever won was when he picked The Deep for a theater in Redding, Calif., while I picked Star Wars. On opening day at the Coronet, there were lines around the block. It played there until Close Encounters of the Third Kind opened in December, and we were still hitting our holdover numbers.

(8) FAMOUS COSTUMES. The “Star Wars and the Power of Costume” exhibit will be moving to Denver where it will run from November 13, 2016-April 2, 2017.

Included in the show’s 60 costumes, which will be displayed in the museum’s Hamilton Building Anschutz and McCormick galleries, are such classics as Princess Leia’s bikini, Darth Vader’s menacing black uniform, and the royal red gown Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) wore in 1999’s ” Star Wars: Phanton Menace.”

In addition to featuring costumes and conceptual art, the exhibit includes videos with designers, actors and George Lucas talking about the creative process.

(9) UNHEARD OF. New York Magazine discovered it takes less than 90 seconds to repeat all the dialogue spoken by women other than Princess Leia in the entire original Star Wars trilogy.

(10) STAR CHOW. And if that doesn’t give you a case of Star Wars-related indigestion, here’s a couple more things to try.

You’ll need:
Donut holes
12 ounces white candy melts
Black icing
Blue icing
Orange Icing
Lollipop sticks


When it comes to setting up a holiday dinner table, why not make it more festive by incorporating Star Wars! Flavored butter can be made to be savory or sweet. Pumpkin Spice and Cranberry orange butters are warm and seasonal and taste great with breads and scones. Garlic Herb and Sriracha Lime have a kick that goes well with crackers and sandwiches made of leftovers.

By shaping them into stormtrooper helmets the butter becomes a unique and fun way to add Star Wars to your traditional holiday meal.

(11) HOLY ANDY WARHOL! Or failing that, an entire line of Campbell’s products in Star Wars-themed cans.

star wars campbell soup cans COMP

(12) HOUSE CALL. Should you need an antidote, try paging through Dining With The Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook by Chris-Rachael Oseland.

Your taste buds are about to take a wibbly wobbly, timey wimey adventure through the 2005 Doctor Who reboot. Megafan and food writer Chris-Rachael Oseland spent a year rewatching all of series one through six and experimenting in her kitchen to bring you a fresh recipe for every single episode. There are recipes in here for every level of cook. If you’re terrified of the kitchen, there are things so simple even Micky the Idiot couldn’t get them wrong. For the experienced chefs, there are advanced fish and beef dishes that wouldn’t be amiss on the Starship Titanic. Along the way, you’ll also find plenty of edible aliens to decorate the table at your next Doctor Who viewing party.

This book is a treat for any Whovian who wants to offer more than a plate of fish fingers and a bowl of custard at your next viewing party. Want to host an elegant dinner party to show off your new Tardis corset? Start the evening with a Two Streams Garden Cocktail followed by Baked Hath, Marble Cucumber Circuits with Vesuvian Fire Dipping Sauce, Professor Yana’s Gluten Neutrino Map Binder, Slitheen Eggs, and some of Kazran’s Night Sky Fog Cups for dessert.

(13) PARODY. Ed Fortune wrote and produced a homage to the world of sci-fi fandom called This Is Not The Actor You Are Looking For, the story of an actor from a popular movie franchise with a confession to make.

(14) THEY MIGHT BE. The BFG official trailer #1. A girl named Sophie encounters the Big Friendly Giant who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kindhearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because unlike his peers refuses to eat boys and girls.

(15) INSTANT CLASSIC. Kyra’s lyrics to “Old Man Zombie”

Old man zombie,
That old man zombie,
He don’t say nothing
But won’t stop moving —
He just keeps shambling
He just keeps shambling along.

It might be fungal,
It might be viral,
We might be trapped in
A downward spiral,
But old man zombie
He just keeps shambling along.

You and me, we sweat and swear,
Body all aching and racked with fear,
Bar that door!
Hide that pit!
I wandered off alone
And I just got bit.

I’m infected
Your brain I’m eyeing,
I’m scared of living
And tired of dying,
I’m old man zombie
And just keep shambling along!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Hampus Eckerman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Josh Jasper.]

239 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/9 The Flounce On The Doorstep

  1. @ Bruce Baugh
    re: Audible

    Can I pick your brain a bit on how membership works, there doesn’t seem to be a FAQ?
    I join and pay $14.95 per month and can listen to any one book each month regardless of retail price (like the entire Great Course on the origin of life that you mentioned)? I pay retail for any subsequent books I choose within that month? How do you earn credits or is that just how many free books available, like if you had paid for 2 months but hadn’t had time to listen you’d have 2 credits?

  2. @junego: Happy to help! You’ve pretty much got it all. You get your credit, and it can apply to any volume. A few works are split into multiple volumes – James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom is one, I recall – but the overwhelming majority of books go for one credit. Likewise for Great Courses.

    After that, you will get some discount on just about everything they offer, often bringing a book down to a price more like hardcover or even trade paperback level. (There are also a ton of sales and deals, which you’ll get in email.) You can buy additional credits; it’s something like three for thirty-odd dollars. And yes, credits accumulate if you don’t use them right away, up to a total of 6 or so.

  3. The kerning is now messed up on the clock at the top of my ipad screen. 🙁

    The “4”s downstroke looks too fat and too abbreviated at the bottom.

    … This is *such* a First World problem … 😛

  4. Bruce Baugh on December 10, 2015 at 12:36 pm said:
    I believe that “swords & sorcery” has subsumed a lot of what people used to use “low fantasy” for.

    To be honest, I had forgotten that “Low Fantasy” was a thing.

    “Swords and Sorcery” is a pretty old term, isn’t it?

  5. ::ticky::

    I write this suffering multiple panicked-kitten wounds after an unsuccessful attempt to transplant them from the attic to the apartment at large. I overestimated the trust little Sansa had for me, and underestimated her ability to panic. As someone who’s had cats for nearly two decades, that is bizarre. Next attempt will go the wrapped-in-a-towel route.

    Some folks asked for pictures – I’ll post some when I figure out where to do so. I’ve become unforgivably lazy about that sort of thing in the last few years, and tend to upload only to Facebook.

    I’m a little over half way through In Silent Graves. Should probably work on some 2015 books next. Also just grabbed The Scarlet Pimpernel and added the Riddle trilogy to my Kindle.

    Sad to hear VD has apparently peaked so soon. I was hoping for three 5ths next time, or five 6ths, or who knows – as The Vandals said, “that man’s a frickin’ genius!”

    ETA: Oh, and grabbed Bryony and Roses based on recommendations here. And recently acquired the Digger phonebook, as my girlfriend doesn’t do web comics and would highly appreciate the art. So that was the “we both will love this” part of her birthday gift.

  6. @ Vasha
    I really, really liked “To Die Dancing”, it’s on my long list.

    The characters and their actions started one place and ended up not where you expect, but you feel empathy for both. This one stuck with me, interesting questions about what I would do in similar circumstances.

  7. To be honest, I had forgotten that “Low Fantasy” was a thing.

    These days we call it Grimdark.

  8. Thanks, Bruce. I may join after this year’s Hugo reading just for the Great Courses “reads”, They have interesting subjects by some of my fav scientists…Sean Carrol, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Robert Sapolsky, etc. At $14.95 each, that’s an extraordinarily good deal all by itself.

  9. @Peace: Yes, it’s a term from mid-century. I just have the sense that sword-and-sorcery (I go back and forth on the number of swords) and low-fantasy ended up as somewhat competitive terms mostly referring to the same thing in the ’70s and ’80s, and sword-and-sorcery won out.

    Google Ngram seems to agree with me.

  10. Petréa Mitchell on December 10, 2015 at 12:59 pm said:
    (Like SFE, I’m used to the term being “sword-and-sorcery”, not “swords”.)

    Huh. Me too, come to think of it. Or rather, I use the terms more or less interchangeably. “Sword-and-sorcery” has a more old-fashioned feel to it, I think.

    Looking at the link I was reminded of the marvelous term, “Picaresque Adventure”, which means specifically the adventures of a roguish character in a low, corrupt environment, quite the subgenre all on its own.

    I think there ought to be a subgenre called “Picaresque Fantasy”, and that it ought to encompass much of what was originally described as “Low Fantasy”, such as the Conan stories and the Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories.

  11. Hmmm … I’ve never considered the Thomas Covenant books to be sword & sorcery …

    I’ve heard the term both ways (“sword” vs. “swords”) — de Camp edited an anthology in 1963 called Swords and Sorcery — but if I really think about it, the singular form feels more correct.

  12. I’ve been hanging around the roleplaying games community, where “swords and sorcery” feels more natural, I think.

    Of course, I could be talking through my hat and just remembering things idiosyncratically.

  13. @Bruce. It does look like the data you provided suggests S&S is the preferred term these days.

    Adding in High Fantasy to your chart is interesting too.

    Picaresque is an adjective for fantasy I generally see with the lack Jack Vance, or Matthew Hughes pastiche of same.

  14. Mapping the subvarieties of a genre (particularly one that is alive and evolving as a result of readerly demand for the-same-only-different and corresponding writerly ingenuity) is always going to be a challenge, and sticking labels on the constantly-changing map is going to be even trickier. Nearly every element of a genre’s formula can provide any number of axes-of-variables, and the notional space described by all the axes and virtual territories is not going to be neat or even easily visualized. “Urban fantasy” is one of the easier subgenres to deal with, since it consists of a pair of fairly constrained descriptors and has a fairly easily traced family tree/exemplar-set. I can list three writers who produced works that arguably form a line-of-descent: Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, and Fritz Leiber. Leiber’s 1941 “Smoke Ghost” is iconic, and his last novel, Our Lady of Darkness, clearly occupies the same space. Fair a line through The Three Imposters, John Silence, and the Leiber and you have some idea of what kind of story an “urban fantasy” can be. Add examples and you can define a space with a sloppy center and fuzzy boundaries. That’s about as much as you can expect.

    Re: “low fantasy.” I remember when I first spotted that Wikipedia article and posted some questions and suggestions on the Talk page. The term is a good example of folk taxonomy/terminology, and I noticed a strong disinclination among amateur critics to go to the library and do research, or to even take much care with what they Googled up in the pursuit of supporting evidence. (Don’t get me started on the difference between literary taxonomy and marketing labels or bookstore geography.)

  15. Bruce Baugh on December 10, 2015 at 1:09 pm said:
    @Peace: Yes, it’s a term from mid-century. I just have the sense that sword-and-sorcery (I go back and forth on the number of swords) and low-fantasy ended up as somewhat competitive terms mostly referring to the same thing in the ’70s and ’80s, and sword-and-sorcery won out.

    Google Ngram seems to agree with me.

    A fascinating tool. I checked “Sword and sorcery” versus “swords and sorcery” and the former vastly outnumbered the latter.

    I must conclude that my impression was in error and idiosyncratic. “Sword-and-sorcery” seems to be the accepted usage.

  16. Paul (@princejvstin) on December 10, 2015 at 1:15 pm said:
    @Bruce. It does look like the data you provided suggests S&S is the preferred term these days.

    Adding in High Fantasy to your chart is interesting too.

    It’s interesting how the usage of all those terms peaked around 1980.

    Unless that is some artefact of the sampling process?

  17. It seems to me that ‘low fantasy’ is not a helpful term, because ‘high fantasy’ does not mark one end of a scale, but a point within a complex space; it must be (at least) both other-worldly and about large issues, and I’m not sure if those two things are sufficient. Hence, it has no opposite as such.

    The Wikipedia article sounds to me rather as if someone was thinking ‘Well, it must mean something. Let’s try to see what it might mean’.

  18. @ Greg Hullender
    I haven’t read “Calved” yet. Read your review, sounds interesting. I’m going to have to soon decide which back issues of the magazines I’m going to invest in. I already decided I can’t read everything that’s recommended. I really liked another Miller story, so I’ll add this one to the possible list.

    I’m getting some subscriptions next year, it’s, slightly, cheaper!

  19. I define “Picaresque” as “that adjective I can never remember when I’m trying to describe a Jack Vance Dying Earth story”.

  20. @peace

    If its NOT an artifact of sampling, it might be a signifier of a high water mark of the wave of post-Tolkien fantasy in the late 70’s (Terry Brooks, Donaldson, et al)

  21. Another thought on “low fantasy”: It is pretty clearly a terminological back-formation from “high fantasy,” as “soft SF” is from “hard SF.” Both of the source terms originated in critical/reviewing contexts and were adopted as useful descriptors–which in turn generated their “opposites.” In the case of low fantasy, it was not clear at first exactly what notional geography the difference in elevation applied to: moral, social, magical, grittical. BTW, the jessesword/OED site still doesn’t have an entry for “low fantasy.”

  22. Wow, that Wikipedia page is awful. There’s no credible citation for any of those claims.

    I confess, I had never once heard that “Low Fantasy” meant a low *amount* of fantasy in the story (and the corresponding “High Fantasy” having a *high* amount), as the Wikipedia article claims.

    I mean … never, not once.

    I did have some sense that there was some faintly *moralizing* element in the labels, that the “low” in “Low Fantasy” meant common, small scale, and perhaps a bit grubby, whereas the “high” in “High Fantasy” meant ennobled, sweeping, epic, aspiring, etc.

    But as should be blindingly clear by now, I’m no authority. I could be talking as much through my hat as the authors of that Wikipedia article are.

    (And oh, lord, that Talk page. My jaw dropped when I got to the commenter who confidently asserted that “Low Fantasy” means everyone has magic powers and “High Fantasy” means only an elite class does.)

  23. @Junego: I remember essays and letters in the sf magazines and apas about various things that it might be sensible to call “low fantasy”, looking at qualities “high fantasy” (which had broad early agreement) had that these other things did not. So relatively local focus (as opposed to having a lot of traveling), relatively low stakes (as opposed to Fate Of Everything On The Map), ambiguous morality (as opposed either to strong jawed heroes or, as in Tolkien, a clear moral code and people who have trouble living by it), magic that is rare (in the story itself, as well as in the world at large) and/or subtle and/or weak and/or corrupting, and so on. Boundaries shifted a lot in the course of all this.

  24. @Peace: (“low fantasy”)
    @Andrew M: “a point within a complex space”

    I’ve seen the term used fairly recently, referring to material like Alex Bledsoe’s The Sword-Edged Blonde that’s undeniably second-world fantasy, but deals more with grubby everyday concerns than epic world-saving. (To Andrew M’s point – to me, both “high” and “low” carry “second-world” as a requirement, leaving scope as a distinct axis. If it’s in something approximating the real world, that’s something else – contemporary, historical, whatever. I suppose the Arthurian legends could be high-historical, but that’s something of an exceptional case.)

    Speaking personally, I usually can’t stand traditional “high fantasy” or “epic fantasy” work. Either it’s mired in court stuff that bores me to tears, or it’s another cookie-cutter Assemble The Party to Go To The Place and Get The Thing to Save The Day story. (Sometimes both, if you’re Saving The Day by defeating the Evil Advisor To The King.) Unless there’s some kind of twist, I just can’t get into that. Urban, contemporary, low, comedic, or other variations on those, though… that’s my style. Tolkien no, Asprin yes.

    (And the “4” on my iPad mini’s clock looks fine to me…)

    @nickpheas: “These days we call it Grimdark.”

    No, grimdark’s all about tone. The Chicks in Chainmail or Guardians of the Flame books are low fantasy, but they sure as heck ain’t grimdark.

    As for “sword(s)-and-sorcery,” I tend to associate that with formulaic fantasy that can be either high or low. High correlation to the extruded “get a team and do the thing” product.

  25. It looks like (via Google Ngram, thank you, Bruce Baugh) the term “High Fantasy” dates to around 1850, which may fit with my sense of a sort of Victorian moralizing aroma to the term.

  26. Petréa Mitchell: Conlan Press has a public statement on the Beagle lawsuit. TL;DR: “I know you are, but what am I?”

    I find it interesting that Cochran can find the time to solicit and post a bunch of character references but not to fulfil the 10-year backlog of books and other promotional items for hundreds of buyers who have paid thousands of dollars and not received their promised items. There are pages and pages of posts on the Internet from these people. It’s pretty appalling, and I’m sure that Beagle had no idea this was being done in his name. :-/

  27. junego: The standing jokes at our house about old sf movies are “When does she offer to make coffee for the men?” and “How loudly does she scream when menaced/rescued?”

    I just got done reading Clarke’s A Fall of Moondust (think Poseidon Adventure set on the moon), and oh, the casual sexism is rampant in that book (along with a bit of casual racism as well: the arrival of the white man was a blessing-in-disguise to the Aboriginals, who were too busy trying to survive to attain a civilization).

    It’s a pretty well-done story otherwise, but the copious amounts of sexist comments on womens’ appearance, behaviour, and proper roles tended to throw me out of the story a lot.

  28. The literary categories that we call “genres” are not static, purely structural entities–they are dynamic and historically-determined* by the interplay of writer and readership, often with the intervention or encouragement of the marketplace/marketers. Add the sometimes-misleading labels that are applied to stable and fairly well-defined genres (heroic fantasy, sword and sorcery, urban fantasy, space opera, alternate history) and you can have all kinds of interesting confusions.

    A literary genre forms around one or more exemplars–works with a set of features that can be reused, varied, elaborated, extended, violated, contradicted, hybridized, and generally messed with. A genre can stagnate to the point of stylization (e.g., the rainy-mean-streets, trenchcoat-and-fedora, simile-laden first-person prose of the hardboiled detective story), at which point some enterprising artist will freshen things up by violating a crucial audience expectation or throwing in elements from a neighboring genre. (A wonderful example of this: Reginald Hill’s Pictures of Perfection, which grafts the police procedural onto the cozy village mystery.)

    * Even “genre” has a history that can complicate discussions. When I was an academic sprat, some of my teachers would have insisted that literary genres were drama, poetry, and narrative fiction. “Content” was not definitive–“form” was, and by that they meant rhetorical form. Or they would fall back on the Greeks and point to epic, tragedy, comedy, pastoral, pastoral-tragical. . . . (and so on into the Polonial night).

    But I do go on. This is what happens when one waxes nostalgic for the vanished classroom (and has forgotten the slog of grading term papers). Now maybe Roth should wax the dean. . . .

  29. Bruce Baugh, thank you for mentioning the 6 credit limit! Next month I would have lost a credit – hadn’t even occurred to me that they wouldn’t role over.

  30. @JJ:

    Oh, blimey, it looks like Beagle’s children are involved and Cochran is requesting that the Internet be silent on the case for the sake of the family.

    The thing is that no amount of glowing testimonials as to character actually neutralizes legitimate complaints.

    If you have defrauded a hundred people, it does not matter that you can get two hundred people to say what a great guy you are.

  31. DMS, it actually depends on the subscription you have: it’s 6 credits stored if you have the one-per-month subscription, 12 if you have the two-per-month one.

  32. @junego:

    I’m going to have to soon decide which back issues of the magazines I’m going to invest in.

    Ooooh pick me pick me pick meeeee!

    I highly recommend the March/April issue of F&SF. It’s got the novella “What Has Passed Shall In Kinder Light Appear,” by Bao Shu, which is one of my favorite things I’ve read in a long time. It’s got a brilliant premise, a kind of twist on alternate history, and it’s so interesting and done so well I just want to push it into everybody’s hands. Here’s a quick review I wrote about the story.

    But I’m particularly recommending it to you because that just happened to be a particularly good issue, full of standout stories. I reviewed the issue as a whole here on Goodreads.

  33. (Do people here use Goodreads? I am suddenly fantastically curious. Having Filers on my Goodreads feed would make my Goodreads come alive.)

  34. My encounters with the term “picaresque” suggest that it also has an air of “a sequence of independent incidents without really having any overall plot arc or character development” in addition to having a roguish protagonist. (Wikipedia seems to support this impression.)

  35. Standback on December 10, 2015 at 2:20 pm said:
    (Do people here use Goodreads? I am suddenly fantastically curious. Having Filers on my Goodreads feed would make my Goodreads come alive.)


    I explained in detail in an earlier post why I left Goodreads (after so much useful activity that I am still getting almost daily emails about “Likes” two or three years after I left it).

    Short form: Angry self-published authors threatened me and my family members; seven or so moderators for a site of over two million members, and not even on duty on weekends; moderating policy is to erase anything an author complains about, to hide controversy by sweeping it under the rug; I did not feel safe and was deathly worried about the safety of my family members.

    GoodReads sold itself to me as a place for readers, but it is really a publicity mill for authors. No reader who displeases an author is allowed a voice, and that includes even the mildest criticism. Known internet stalkers were allowed free rein to harrass innocent readers trying to talk to each other.

    A lot of prolific reviewers left around the same time I did, I noticed.

    I wonder how many people still dare to review self-published books, or even to note their presence on lists (which had been my sin).

  36. I’m on Goodreads, doing that tricky balancing act of being both an author and a reader-reviewer. Under the name you see here, which is my real name.

    Every once in a while I deeply understand why people create entirely separate online identities. As a purely personal decision, that went against my long-ago choice never to spend time in a closet. But I really do understand why others make a different choice. Reviewing things under the same name I write under definitely affects my willingness to read or review things I don’t think I’m going to like.

  37. Look, it’s very simple —

    Urban Fantasy: Fantasy set in a city
    High Fantasy: Fantasy set in the mountains
    Low Fantasy: Fantasy set in the Netherlands
    Fantasy of Manners: Fantasy set in manors
    Epic Fantasy: Fantasy in the form of a lengthy narrative poem
    Fairy Tale Fantasy: Fantasy about fairies with tails
    Science Fantasy: Science fiction but there’s an annoying pedant in the seat behind you saying that it’s fantasy because FTL travel isn’t real plus the Force, what about that
    Sword and Sorcery: The party must include a magic user, a cleric, a fighter, and a thief
    Weird Fiction: Like, the characters know they’re in a book and some of the text is upside down and stuff like that
    Steampunk: Everyone has cybernetic enhancements but get this, they’re CLOCKWORK
    Dieselpunk: Like Steampunk, but the cybernetic enhancements require diesel fuel
    Mythpunk: Like Steampunk, but the cybernetic enhancements have tiny gods in them
    Grimdark: When the superheroes change their costumes so that now they’re in dark colors, weird
    Magic Realism: Like when your aunt actually believes that if you put the knife under the crystal pyramid, it will totally get sharper
    Paranormal Romance: Fantasy with naughty bits
    Young Adult Fantasy: One of the above genres marketed to a group that will actually buy it

    See? Easy.

  38. @Kyra: “Paranormal Romance: Fantasy with naughty bits”

    And here I thought it was fantasy about naughty bits…

  39. @JJ

    One of my long-term favorite authors was Poul Anderson – I still re-read a lot of his stories every year or two. But yeah, Golden Age white male SF writer, and the occasional sour note of sexism or racism is present, especially in a lot of his older work. It’s the kind of thing that you can’t unsee once you’ve noticed it. I have a hard time recommending him to new readers any more, at least not without caveats, no matter how much I still enjoy his work myself.

  40. @Peace: I hear you on all that :-/

    I’ve heard a lot of those stories. Absolutely miserable. I’ve never really dug deep into the self-publishing end of the pool myself, so it’s always been stuff I hear about from others rather than encountered myself. And yet at the same time: UGH.

    (I do remember how the GR staff were moronic in one incident where they decided to unilaterally delete a bunch of reviews with no warning or explanation. And then when people exploded at them they made a couple of very vague non-apologies, hand-waved something about how very clear their policy is, and then vanished. ARRRGGGGGHHH.)

    Ultimately, GR is about community management, and they’re counting on people to self-organize and do a good job of that themselves; the staff not actually needing to do any real moderating. I guess I’m lucky enough to naturally keep to the areas where that actually works.

  41. @ Russell Letson This comment is just to sigh over the absolute brilliance of Pictures of Perfection— the experience of reading it for the first time and the total cognitive dissonance at the very end when the shooter reappears… God, I miss Reginald Hill.

    When Death Comes for the Fat Man came out, I made my roommate read it first and tell me if Fat Andy was okay.

    (And more brilliance from Kyra. Do you store your internets off-site somewhere? You must, otherwise there’d hardly be room to move in your place.)

  42. Do people here use Goodreads? I am suddenly fantastically curious. Having Filers on my Goodreads feed would make my Goodreads come alive.

    Yep, I’m on Goodreads. You might be overwhelmed by my growing TBR as I take advantage of Amazon purchases being added to TBR easily. I update my reading and star books but am not good about reviews anymore.

    @Peace I understand your issues

    @Heather Rose Jones it is so tricky being yourself online. BTW I just finished your 2 books and loved them. When did you say the next book would be out? No pressure. 😉

    @Kyra fantastic have another internet

  43. I knew Fat Andy would survive anything, because he and Pascoe eventually go to the moon. Hill (and Warren Clarke) proved mortal, but Andy goes on forever, as do Jim Rockford, Sid Halley, Joe Leaphorn, and (apparently) S. Holmes (in all manner of incarnations).

  44. @ JJ
    re: isms in older media.
    One of the very positive things I see in the modern world is just how much has changed in my lifetime. It’s soooo noticeable when looking back at old stories, songs, movies, etc. When anyone makes noises about ‘protesting, advocating, organizing, evangelizing doesn’t do any good’ and/or ‘you’re going too far, pushing too hard, alienating too many, it’s changed as much as it can’, I look at those changes and think “Unh, unh. Not true.”

    Of course, there are still large mountains yet to conquer, but reading old stories or watching old movies can help see that there has been some progress. They also provide a certain amount of humorous tension relief (or crying, if the suck fairy is involved with a remembered favorite). :^}

    I loved Clarke back in the day, but I haven’t read A Fall of Moondust in decades. I don’t feel a great need to revisit it after your description either. :-/

  45. I highly recommend the March/April issue of F&SF. It’s got the novella “What Has Passed Shall In Kinder Light Appear,” by Bao Shu, which is one of my favorite things I’ve read in a long time. It’s got a brilliant premise, a kind of twist on alternate history, and it’s so interesting and done so well I just want to push it into everybody’s hands.

    I heartily agree. It’s the best piece of short fiction I’ve read this year, and I’ve also been recommending it to anyone that I could.

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