Pixel Scroll 2/27/16 Hivers Against Humanity

(1) DRAGON HATCHERY. Naomi Novik is interviewed on NPR, “A Writer-Engineer’s Historical Fiction Hack: Add Dragons”.

Almost a decade after she first went online, she says she was working as a programmer for a computer game “and something about that whole process of building the structure of that game turned into a real kind of light-bulb moment for me as a writer.” At the time, her fan fiction at was inspired by swashbuckling adventure novels set in the Napoleonic era. But something started happening to her stories — they were getting longer and more complex.

“Then all of a sudden I sort of started to feel that I was constrained by the characters, as opposed to enjoying them,” she says. “And that remains for me to this day the line … where it’s like: OK, you’re not writing fan fiction anymore.”

She also had an idea she wanted to run with: “What could make the Napoleonic wars more exciting? Dragons!” And one dragon in particular: Temeraire. He’s central in her 9-book “Temeraire” series, which opens with the dragon becoming the responsibility of Will Laurence, a naval captain fighting for the British against Napoleon. Laurence is chivalrous with a keen sense of duty, but he embraces the 19th-century conventions that Novik paints in faithful detail — even some that are distasteful to 21st-century readers, like class hierarchies and the roles of women. Temeraire, on the other hand, is newly hatched; he provides a more critical, modern voice.

(2) SUIT & NERD & TIE. AnimeCon.org CEO Ryan Kopf sued Nerd & Tie blogger Trae Dorn in December, claiming Dorn had defamed him. Now Dorn has amended his suit to include Dorn’s podcast co-host Pher Sturz.

So many of you already know that in December AnimeCon.org CEO Ryan Kopf filed a lawsuit in the state of Iowa against me for articles I published here on Nerd & Tie about his organization. After I was served, I quickly went public — starting a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for my legal defense (because, y’know, lawyers are expensive).

Pher Sturz, who co-hosts the podcast with me (and came up with the name for it — which is where the name of this site comes from), was very vocal in his public support for me. Pher did this because he’s a good friend, and wasn’t really any more inflammatory (and in most cases significantly less so) than most other people sharing the link.

….To make this worse, Pher, frankly, doesn’t make a lot of money. And I know he won’t point this out himself, but he has a young daughter as well. Lawyers are really, really expensive and he needs to hire one fast. His original attempt to secure aid fell through, so now we’re reaching out to you — the Nerd & Tie readers.

Pher has launched a GoFundMe campaign (Titled ‘The Ryan Kopf is Suing Me Too! Fund‘) to try and get money together to hire someone, and I hope you’ll consider contributing. He’s asking for $3000 right now because (after fees) that’s effectively what he’ll need to get started.

(3) BITES THE DUST. SF Site News reports “Samhain Publishing Closing”.

Samhain Publishing has announced that they will be closing. According to Samhain, the main cause of their decision is changes with their terms with Amazon. They are planning a controlled shut down and will continue to pay royalties to their authors and will be returning rights on a schedule.

More here.

(4) OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE. Deborah J. Ross knows about “Rejection, Discouragement, and How a Few Loyal Readers Can Save an Author”.

Being discouraged is part and parcel of a working writer’s life. Negative reviews, ditto. Some of us are naturally more thick-skinned about them than others, and most of us develop coping strategies over the years. This is where networking with other writers can be very helpful.

…. Reviews, ah reviews, and in this category I include feedback from critique groups and beta readers. So much has already been said about the power of a caustic review or harsh feedback of a work in progress that I won’t belabor the point here. Suffice it to say that the natural human desire for praise (for our creative “children”) leaves us vulnerable to interpreting criticism of the work with condemnation of ourselves. Or, having torn off our emotional armor to write from the heart, we’ve also ripped off any defenses against sarcasm, etc. I’m among those who, having received scathing feedback, went home, and cried. I never considered giving up (although on more than one occasion, I contemplated getting even and thankfully resisted the temptation). But some writers have.

Negative feedback, if consistent and prolonged, can have a devastating effect on a writer’s self-confidence and ability to work. Support and encouragement from our fellow writers can be our greatest asset in setting aside the nasty things people have written about our stories. A hiatus from reading reviews is highly recommended.

(5) THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES. Since Steve Davidson found a stash of mimeographed File 770’s on a freebie table at Boskone he’s been thinking how Ye Olden Times in fandom compare with Today. Steve distills those thoughts in “Ode to File 770 (and a note on our changing culture)”:

File 770 what kind of people cover wade gilbreath CROP

I then met Mike in person for the first (and last) time at Iguanacon in 1978.  Where I had the disappointing task of having to inform him that the only part of Contact:SF (which by then had gone semi-pro) that I could show him was a tear sheet of the cover.  (American Airlines lost every single copy I was shipping to the con, which ended up financially killing it.)  Mike had offered to spread the news within the pages of his own (eventual Hugo Award winning) zine (after having a look of course) and I had been looking forward to a rapid climb within the world of fanzine fandom.  A Hugo award was not that far away in my mind at the time.  (Still isn’t, but I’ve got a warped sense of time.)

(6) MAGAZINE KICKSTARTER. Three days left in Richard Thomas’ Kickstarter appeal to fund “Gamut Magazine: Neo-noir, speculative, literary fiction”. It’s raised $45,764 of its $52,000 goal to date.

Gamut will be a website (and eBook) with a wide range of voices—genre-bending stories utilizing the best of genre and literary fiction….

So I’m open to:

  • Fantasy
  • Science fiction
  • Horror
  • Neo-noir, crime, mystery, thrillers
  • Magical realism
  • Transgressive
  • Southern gothic
  • Literary fiction
  • Weird / bizarro
  • Poetry

Anything done with innovation, heart and emotion—that’s what I want. Everything I enjoy reading and writing typically leans toward the dark side, but I have been known to embrace lighter work, and humor, now and then.

(7) GOING VIRAL. Ernest Hogan’s High Aztech sounds intriguing. It’s available on Amazon.


High Aztech takes place in 21st century Mexico, Tenochtitlán, the metropolis formerly known as Mexico City, is the most exciting place on Earth. Stainless steel pyramids pierce the smoggy sky. Human sacrifice is coming back into fashion, especially on the new Aztechan TV channels, and everyone wants an artificial heart. Xolotl Zapata, celebrated poet, skeptic and journalist, starts receiving death threats from a cult he’s lampooned in a comic book. But soon he will have much worse problems and be running for his life. The government, the Mafia, street gangs, cults, terrorists, even garbage collectors will be after him. Why? He has been infected with a technological development that will changing human life as we know it Zapata is carrying a virus that can download religious beliefs into the human brain – a highly contagious virus that is converting everyone he meets, and everyone they meet, to the Aztec religion. This is Witnessing with a PUNCH! Since he’s a virulent carrier he infects a large part of the city all by himself, and the masses, filled with visions and portents, await the End of the World.

Decide how it sounds to you – Hogan’s reading of the first chapter can be heard on this video:

(8) HOMELESS GNOMES. NPR reports “Popular Gnomes Seek New Home”

Officials at Little Buffalo State Park in Pennsylvania decided that dozens of tiny gnome homes tucked in trees around the park were a nuisance. The gnome homes were too popular, so they were evicted.

….Steve Hoke, with permission from the park, crafted teeny-weeny doors on hollow logs and built pint-size cottages on mossy tree stumps to the delight of children in the area, not to mention the families who drove hours to see them. The idea was to get kids out of the house, away from the electronics and go for a walk, Mr. Hoke told the media. But with so many visitors, state officials declared the itsy-bitsy abodes a nuisance and ordered them banished. So earlier this week, Steve Hoke carted off his Lilliputian village in his garden wagon. The evictions have angered many, hundreds have signed petitions to bring back the magic, and it appears there has been a reprieve for the homeless elves. Two neighboring towns have offered to take in the gnomes and their homes.

Full story in the New York Times


Little Buffalo told Mr. Hoke he had until Monday to clear out the gnome houses. Four days ago, he went to the park with a wagon and collected the dwellings scattered along about two and a half miles of trails.

“It was very emotional,” he said.

As he was leaving, he encountered a man and his daughter. They told him the girl had just finished her final round of chemotherapy and that her father had asked her what she wanted to do.

She said she wanted to go see the gnome houses.

“If I wasn’t so cold and wet, I probably would have stood there and wept,” Mr. Hoke said.

“That’s the part that the people who made this decision don’t get to see,” he added. “It was a mystery for the kids. It was magical.”

(9) THE CUSTOMERS MUST BE CRAZY. Gods Of Egypt received the not-especially-coveted “I’ve seen worse” rating from this reviewer at Birth. Movies. Death.

The most surprising thing about Gods Of Egypt was that I didn’t outright hate it. I have already seen worse movies this year, and I may yet see something even more abominable in the near future. The conceptual insanity of the movie could be the one selling point to it all, but the truth is unless you haven’t played a modern action-adventure game in the past ten years or so, this overbearing maelstrom of CGI bombast is rote and played out. I felt neither disdain nor schadenfreude during it, only boredom and a slight headache afterwards. I can’t even recommend “hate watching” this or checking it out for the morbid curiosity, since instead of being mesmerized by cinematic atrocity, you’ll be constantly reminded of fonder experiences you’ve had with other games and movies.

(10) SOME SATURN AWARDS COVERAGE. Blastr had this comment

As usual, the Saturns are so expansive and inclusive that we have to wonder at some of the nominees — like financial drama 99 Homes

India media reacts: “Baahubali to compete with Hollywood biggies” at Wishesh.

It is really a proud moment for the Indian movie audience, to know that even Baahubali was part of the nominations of these awards, that too in five categories – Best Fantasy Film, Best Supporting Actress (Tamannaah), Best Music (Keeravani), Best Production Design (Sabu Cyril) and Best Costume Design (Rama Rajamouli and Prashanthi Tipirineni).

India’s proudest epic and blockbuster, Baahubali-The beginning will compete with the popular Hollywood big films like Jurrasic World, Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Hateful Eight and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

On the other side, Baahubali – The conclusion, is currently in the shooting stage and aiming the next Sankranthi release. After that, the makers are even planning for Baahubali 3, which does not include Prabhas, Satya Raj and most of the key cast of Baahubali 1 and 2 parts, as declared earlier.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., Brian Z., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

131 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/27/16 Hivers Against Humanity

  1. I’m pretty confused about the art categories, despite having read the FAQs on the Hugo Awards site (as linked earlier). Does Minna Sundberg, artist of the frequently-mentioned webcomic “Stand Still, Stay Silent”, count as professional or fan? She has self-published at least one volume of the comic and of a predecessor comic, but that was through Kickstarter-type campaigns.

  2. @Tasha, yes, definitely there as well. (Are you picking particular chapters to list, or just listing the comic?)

    But wouldn’t she also qualify as an artist?

  3. @lurkertype: I’ve seen “meh” about a billion times – just never as a verb. As an exclamation (if that’s not contradictory, heh), sure. Anyway, just being silly.

    @Lisalc: Uh-oh, I just got the first “Widdershins” book for Xmas. 😉 Thanks for the comments; I should probably try that first.

    @Kyra: Thanks also for the comments. Between you and Lisalc, I’m not getting a great vibe for the Mick Oberon books. BTW I didn’t get far into the first Dresden book before stopping; I didn’t care for it and found the protaganist super annoying. I’ve heard they get batter, and my other half loves the series, but if I can’t finish the first book, it’s not gonna happen for me. BTW #2 congrats on your trilogy finishes. 😉

  4. @Tasha Turner: True, there’s been discussion in a lot of categories. 🙂 On the other paw, many of those are weird edge cases; few rulesets can cover every single edge case perfectly.

    @Greg Hullender: Fans do many things that aren’t in fanzines; I’d be strongly opposed to limiting Fan Hugos only to fanzines (especially if blogs are explicitly banned; in general, to me the type of work matters, not the medium).

    @Doctor Science: The internet always qualified, though there were some revisions to make it crystal clear, but whether the art is in a professional publication or not doesn’t depend on whether it’s sold on Amazon, Kickstarter, or both. Really, I believe you’re conflating “method of sale/distribution” (Kickstarter) with “is this professional or not” (unrelated to sold/distributed). If the art’s in a Kickstarted work, then it’s not a “display” any more than a magazine cover is considered a “display”; it’s a work and we turn to the “professional publication” rule, no? That’s my unasked-for fan take on it, anyway – take with salt grains. 😉

    Re. “The Luminarium”: Based on your description (not being familiar with it), it sounds like it would qualify for Best Fanzine, but see 3.2.9 – does it provide (or is it owned by something that provides) at least one quarter of someone’s income? Then it’s professional. If it pays contributors and/or staff in other than copies of the publication (in this case I’d read that as “does it pay them money”), then it’s semipro, but the artwork (unless used in a professional publication elsewhere also) would qualify the artist for Best Fan Artist.

    Just going by your description, though – I don’t know the payment thing, so it might not be a fanzine.

    Again, just my take on it….

  5. FWIW, I really enjoyed all four Widdershins books myself. Haven’t read any of his other stuff yet, though.

  6. Kendall on February 28, 2016 at 12:46 pm said:

    I thought Locus was still a semiprozine?

    Not since the definitions of the categories were changed effective with the 2013 Hugo Awards. That’s why Locus hasn’t been nominated for Best Semiprozine since 2012; it stopped being eligible in 2013 when it was reclassified by rule as a professional publication. The editors are eligible in Best Editor Short Form, though.

    …the flip side of this problem is that redefining awards to try to shift or exclude one publication is a bit weird, like gerrymandering or something.

    Well, without that, there wouldn’t have ever been a Semiprozine category in the first place, as you are doubtless aware.

    Kendall on February 28, 2016 at 1:01 pm said:

    No undefined terms like “unprofessional display” should be in the constitution. (Where’s my Standlee signal, heh.)

    The target of the Standlee signal sometimes goes into town, takes his wife out to dinner (at one of the host venues of the 2011 Worldcon, as it happens), and does his grocery shopping.

    Some things cannot be easily defined in an objective way. The Hugo Awards are a juried award, but there are thousands of jurors. When a term appears like that, the voters get to decide whether something is professional or not, unless something is so obvious that an Administrator is willing to buck the voters. (And such a decision is quite rare.)

    Tasha Turner on February 28, 2016 at 2:35 pm said:

    No one can read all the books published in a single year. Nevermind all the short fiction. Watch all the movies or TV. No one can do a complete survey for any category.

    Exacatly! Anyone who tries to disqualify him/herself by saying, “But I wasn’t able to read every possible work” is doing him/herself a big disservice. Nominate the things you saw and you liked, and assume everyone else is doing the same thing.

    Nothing in the Hugo Awards assumes that the voters should have read/watched every piece of work that appeared last year. Such a requirement is stupid. Don’t find reasons to disqualify yourself.

    jonesnori/Lenore Jones on February 28, 2016 at 5:51 pm said:

    I’m pretty confused about the art categories, despite having read the FAQs on the Hugo Awards site (as linked earlier). Does Minna Sundberg, artist of the frequently-mentioned webcomic “Stand Still, Stay Silent”, count as professional or fan?

    What do you think? Do you think she’s a professional artist or a fan artist? Vote her that way.

  7. Kevin Standlee on February 28, 2016 at 11:32 am said:

    WSFS tried that in the 1990s. It was a failure and was repealed after four years. (I also think it’s something of the genesis of the political* requirement that all new categories come with “sunset” clauses.) With Best Original Artwork, came pretty close at least once to having a “permanent” category dropped for lack of interest at the discretion of the Administrator, I think. At least with the Hugo Award electorate, this is one of those ideas that sounds like a good idea, but fails when you put it into practice.

    I wonder why it didn’t work?
    I was imagining something more narrow in scope (e.g. covers or cover art) so there was a more clearly defined field. I think just ‘Best Original Artwork’ would have greater problems now than then – the field is impossible to survey and evaluate.

  8. @jonesnori/Lenore Jones
    I keep meaning to write to her to find out if the printed book is eligible. If so that’s what I’ll nominate. If not, I’m hoping she can make a good suggestion.

    My feeling is there are so many good people and works I’m trying not to nominate anyone more than once. It’s a personal thing. Probably a reaction to the puppy slates last year.

    I’m still debating between which book and which shorts by a couple authors to nominate based on my 1 per rule. Daniel Jose Older and T. Kingfisher wrote a number of things and narrowing it down to one from each is hard. I’m having the problem with other people those two were easy to name off the top of my head.

  9. lurkertype: A few of them didn’t do that either, and came right out and said it. I meh-ed.

    If that’s the case, then I would call that an Editor and Author Fail. Authors have to be able to write to theme if they’re writing for a themed fiction anthology, and they have to be able to write to theme if they’re writing for a themed non-fiction anthology. The editors should have mailed back the essays with a “Try Again”, or gotten submissions from authors who could write to the theme.

  10. If it was good enough for fans 20 years ago, it’s good enough for me now!
    Things should not change! (Changes leading up to today don’t count – we’re talking about today!)
    Change is hard, Change has unintended consequences. Change leads to more change. Change often sucks. Change can cost money. Change means history books have to get re-written all the time. Change can shift power. Change can turn my lawn into a skateboard park. Change consumes up energy.
    I wish someone could change change.

  11. I wonder why it didn’t work?
    I was imagining something more narrow in scope (e.g. covers or cover art) so there was a more clearly defined field. I think just ‘Best Original Artwork’ would have greater problems now than then – the field is impossible to survey and evaluate


    Just looking over the nominations when the category was awarded, there was some division between a single piece of art (usually covers) and an entire volume (like a Dinotopia book.) There were two years where there were only three nominees. Perhaps it was hard to just get people to agree on particular pieces of art given there are so many covers and illustrations every year. As you say, it would be much worse now.

  12. I’m a pro illustrator of sorts, I get the Spectrum Annual every year, and I would still be painfully hard pressed to vote for Best Original Art. It’s the opposite of the video game award problem–there’s literally thousands of possibilities (and how one would note them on the ballot–“the one on the cover of that one book!”–yeesh!) I suspect I’d eventually come down to reinventing the Best Pro Artist award by proxy–“I dunno, Palencar does good stuff, so one of his,” or “that illustrated book was amazing, so the illustrator of that for the Whole Work.”

    Illustrators have their own awards that break down by categories, and the Hugos probably aren’t well suited to reinvent them.

  13. Kendall: I had exactly the same reaction as you to the Dresden books. When I spend more than half of the book wanting to smack the protagonist upside the head… well, I don’t spend my real-life time around assholes if I can avoid doing so, and there’s even less justification for me to do so voluntarily in what’s supposed to be a pleasurable pastime.

  14. Yes, particularly the Seven Virtues blend, but it’s gone through multiple filtering passes, while of course the Koala Tea of Mercy is not strained.

  15. @Terry, Bruce:
    I first heard that one about the Mersey Tea Shop customer finding hairs in his tea, and being told that the Koala Tea of Mersey is not strained when he asked to have them filtered out.

    This was in a Rolf Harris standup bit back in the 1980s.

  16. I don’t associate it with Rolf Harris. I heard it in the ’70s, I believe as part of a comedy act that was a fund raiser for KCET, Los Angeles’s public television channel.

  17. Gah! At this rate, we’ll be discussing drinks made by infusing the dried crushed leaves of the Camellia plant (or similar) in boiling water for infinitea.

  18. @Joe H.: Thanks re. the Widdershins books. You give me hope. 🙂

    @Kevin Standlee: Thanks; I don’t know why I can’t keep the latest criteria and who’s in what category straight (I’m mostly serious!).

    Well, without that, there wouldn’t have ever been a Semiprozine category in the first place, as you are doubtless aware.

    Yup! And since I think it’s a weird concept, I’d be fine with that. Though given how long Locus had a hold on Best Semiprozine, I understand (I believe I understand) why it was done.

    Thanks for the reply and various commentary. By the way, by referencing the “Standlee signal,” I wasn’t trying to imply you should be at my (or anyone’s) beck and call – sorry! Maybe that joke’s had too much airplay here.

  19. @ (5) One of these days, I will have to dig through my boxes of zines and find those moldy mimeo things, which I believe I once contributed to. Hi, Mike!

  20. Kendall on February 29, 2016 at 9:37 pm said:

    By the way, by referencing the “Standlee signal,” I wasn’t trying to imply you should be at my (or anyone’s) beck and call – sorry! Maybe that joke’s had too much airplay here.

    No offense taken. I just want everyone to understand that no matter how much it may seem to be the case, I’m not online 24/7 and I actually do have a life outside of sitting at the computer.

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