Pixel Scroll 7/24/16 The Pixel Who Walks Through Walls

(1) CLOTHING SHRINKS. NPR takes a psychological look at cosplay in “Cosplayers Use Costume To Unleash Their Superpowers”.

These cosplayers are invoking clothing’s subtle sway over us. People have used clothing to subdue, seduce and entertain for millennia. In some outfits, people not only look different, but they feel different. Psychologists are trying to figure out how clothes can change our cognition and by how much. Adam Galinsky, a psychologist at Columbia Business School, spoke with NPR’s Hanna Rosin for the podcast and show Invisibilia. Galinksy did a study where he asked participants to put on a white coat. He told some of the participants they were wearing a painter’s smock, and others that they were in a doctor’s coat.

Then he tested their attention and focus. The people who thought they were in the doctor’s coat were much more attentive and focused than the ones wearing the painter’s smock. On a detail-oriented test, the doctor’s coat-wearing participants made 50 percent fewer errors. Galinksy thinks this is happening because when people put on the doctor’s coat, they begin feeling more doctor-like. “They see doctors as being very careful, very detailed,” Galinksy says. “The mechanism is about symbolic association. By putting on the clothing, it becomes who you are.”

Almost any attire carrying some kind of significance seems to have this effect, tailored to the article as a symbol. In one study, people wearing counterfeit sunglasses were more likely lie and cheat than those wearing authentic brands, as if the fakes gave the wearers a plus to cunning. “If the object has been imbued with some meaning, we pick it up, we activate it. We wear it, and we get it on us,” says Abraham Rutchick, a psychologist at California State University Northridge.

(2) WOMAN OF MYSTERY. The LA Weekly claims to know “Why This Might be Elvira’s Last Comic-Con (as Elvira)”.

Cassandra Peterson has been playing Elvira, the self-proclaimed Mistress of the Dark and horror movie hostess, for 35 years, and she’s been attending Comic-Con as the character for longer than she can remember.

“I was going through my records trying to find the first Comic-Con I came to, and it was in the basement of some motel or hotel or something,” she says. She used to come almost every year, but this year will likely be her last, at least as Elvira. She’s here now to promote her upcoming coffee table book, which features commentary and photos spanning Elvira’s 35-year history (including a few behind-the-scenes shots, like one of her in full costume, seven months pregnant).

Reflecting on her years at the convention, she’s enjoyed meeting her idols, like Forrest Ackerman, a prominent figure in the sci-fi and fantasy scene, and running into colleagues. “I saw Gene Simmons last time I was here, a couple years ago, and that was awesome, because I don’t often run into him, and he was in his KISS drag, I was in my Elvira drag, kind of scary. We were both going, ‘How long are we going to be doing this?’”

But what sticks out the most is a memory of her first Comic-Con, where she was one of the only women in attendance. “When I was there, I was really the ‘odd man out,’ being a woman,” she says. “And now, I am positive that it’s at least 50 percent women [here] that are interested in the whole genre, whether it’s horror, fantasy, sci fi. And I’ve seen that, in my 35 years, just completely change.” She adds, “I was one of those geek girls who was into that stuff when I was a kid, so to see it catch on, for me, is pretty thrilling.”

(3) ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE. Trek Core relays word from SDCC: “The Roddenberry Vault Reveals Lost Star Trek Clips, New Blu-Ray Release Arriving in Late 2016”.

In a surprise reveal today at its own San Diego Comic Con panel, STAR TREK: THE RODDENBERRY VAULT, a years-long endeavor to recover lost and cut footage from the making of the original Star Trek series, debuted with never-before-seen clips from production of the series.

The source of the recovered material (to be released as part of an extended documentary) comes from hundreds of film reels of archived, unused Original Series footage – called the “Holy Grail” by Denise Okuda – which remained in Gene Roddenberry’s possession after the conclusion of filming on the classic series.

Mike and Denise Okuda spoke to the motivations behind the nine-year (!) project, starting from hints of cut scenes in the James Blish novelizations of the classic Trek episodes to occasional publicity photos that the pair had never seen before.

Producer Roger Lay, Jr., who worked on the Next Generation and Enterprise Blu-ray releases, also confirmed that a Blu-ray release of this recovered footage will be arriving before the end of 2016 – but the team has not yet finalized the documentary, and could not specify how many minutes of recovered footage will be included.

…We have no information yet on the timetable for release of this fantastic-sounding new Blu-ray, but as Lay reiterates at the end of the panel, this is a Fiftieth Anniversary production that WILL be out before the end of 2016.

 

Roger Lay Jr. and Ray Bradbury back in the day.

Roger Lay Jr. and Ray Bradbury back in the day.

(4) YOU’RE THE CADET. Guelda Voien was at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum to see an exhibit celebrating 50 years of Star Trek, and pronounced it “Every Dork’s Wet Dream”.

…It is Career Day at the Academy, and you’re given a chance to try out all the different stations—tactical, medical, navigation, command and communications. You perform tasks, like a phaser exercise or choosing which planet to evacuate your crew to, and take a sort of quiz at the end. Your RFID bracelet tracks your progress. It’s like the part of the Museum of Tolerance where you track a Jewish child through the Holocaust, but less horrible.

I did all of them except for communications. No offense, Uhura, but I did not go to Starfleet Academy to talk (though your role got way better in the reboots, thanks, J.J.). No, I went to shoot stuff, try to heal a Klingon and try the fucking Kobayashi Maru.

And I got to do all that stuff. The assessments straddled the obvious and full-on dorkbait in a way that kept me pretty much giddily entertained for an hour (the ticketed show is intended to take about that long and costs $25 for an adult nonmember). At some point, I turned to Danny and asked, “Is Kronos in the Alpha Quadrant?” He thought about it for a second. “I don’t think it is.” I thought about it. “Well, Bajor, Earth and Cardassia definitely are, so it must be Kronos that isn’t.” But I was also thinking, “Hmm, wasn’t Kronos destroyed by the time TNG began?” And that’s why they just call the Klingon homeworld “the Klingon homeworld” later in the timeline, right? And I was happy. This is why I came.

(5) MARVEL AT DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE. The Los Angeles Times says Marvel Studios has made official what fans have been speculating about for awhile — “Tower of Terror to get superhero makeover at Disney California Adventure Park”.

….Walt Disney Co. bought Marvel Entertainment Inc. in 2009 for $4 billion but had yet to inject many of the Marvel characters into the Anaheim theme parks. The ride will reopen next summer.

The move to re-create the Tower of Terror into a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction has been rumored on Disney fan blog sites for months but the Burbank-based entertainment giant has refused to comment on the speculation.

The announcement was made by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige at San Diego Comic-Con, the annual celebration of comics and pop culture.

“We are eager to present the attraction to the millions who visit Disney California Adventure and place them in the center of the action as they join in a mission alongside our audacious Guardians of the Galaxy team,” he said in a statement.

In the past, Disney has added new features to existing rides to renew interest among park visitors. Space Mountain, for example, became Hyperspace Mountain when the park added elements borrowed from the popular Star Wars franchise, now owned by Disney.

But Disney representatives say that the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride will keep the fast-dropping elevator from the Tower of Terror, but the rest of the attraction will be completely overhauled.

They declined to say how much Disney will spend on the project.

Disney fans have speculated that the overhauled attraction will stand at the entrance to a new Marvel land at the park.

 

(6) GONE. Variety reports “Popular Movie, TV Set Location Sable Ranch Destroyed in California Wildfire”. IMDB shows a number of sf TV episodes were shot there.

Sable Ranch, a location boasting Old West-style buildings that have been used for countless movies and TV shows, is one of the latest casualties of a Southern California wildfire that has nearly blocked out the sun in Los Angeles all weekend.

The ranch in Santa Clarita, Calif., was destroyed by the fire on Saturday despite the efforts of dozens of firefighters, according to the Los Angeles Times. Some offices were reportedly able to be salvaged, but the set is gone.

Sable Ranch served as host to such movies as horror film “Motel Hell” and Chevy Chase’s “The Invisible Man,” as well as classic Westerns like “The Bells of Coronado.” Television shows including “The A-Team,” “Maverick” and “24” also shot at the location.

(7) HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’RE FINISHED? Caroline Yoachim says this was her way —

(8) SDCC AS SEEN FROM WILLIAM WU BOOKS. Sundays are less crowded than Saturdays in front of William Wu Books.

wu books at sdcc

(9) I THINK HE LIKED IT. Ian Sales was surprised to be pleased by Station Eleven. By the end of his review I was convinced to add the book to my TBR list – something the thoroughly favorable reviews I read had never accomplished.

Station Eleven, Emily St John Mandel (2014). This won the Clarke Award last year, and while I’d heard many good things about it, it’s a lit-fic post-apocalypse novel and I find post-apocalypse fiction banal at the best of times, and lit fic attempts at the genre all too often seem to think they’re doing something brand new and innovative, that no one has ever thought of before, and so the prose tends to reek of smugness. So my expectations were not especially high. Happily, Mandel proved a better writer than I’d expected, and I found myself enjoying reading Station Eleven. It’s still banal, of course; more so, in fact, because it trots out the Backwoods Messiah With The Persecution Complex plot, which should have been retired sometime around 37 CE. Anyway, a global flu epidemic wipes out most of humanity. Station Eleven opens in Toronto, when a famous actor has a heart attack on stage and dies. Then everyone else starts to die from the flu. The book jumps ahead twenty years to a post-apocalypse US, and a travelling orchestra/acting troupe, who travel the southern shores of the Great Lakes. And then there is a half-hearted attempt at a plot, which ties in with some of the flashback sections, which are about either the actor or the main character of the post-apocalypse story, a young actress in the travelling troupe. The writing was a great deal better than I’d expected, and so despite being post-apocalypse I came away from Station Eleven a little impressed. A worthy winner of the Clarke Award.

(10) AUTHOR EARNINGS. At Mad Genius Club, Fynbospress pointed out a new round of statistics has been posted:

Author Earnings just did an in-depth analysis of the romance genre, and presented it at the RWA (Romance Writers of America). …

2.) Down in the comments at the bottom, both of the report itself and in the comments at Passive Voice, Data Guy provides breakouts for SF&F, and for Mystery/Thriller/Suspense, too!

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 24, 1948 – Marvin the Martian (not yet given that name) appeared onscreen for the first time in the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Haredevil Hare”.

275px-Looney_Tunes_'Haredevil_Hare'_-_screenshot

  • July 24, 1969 — Apollo 11 returned to Earth, ending its historic moon-landing mission. After the spacecraft’s splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were flown by helicopter to the recovery ship USS Hornet.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS

  • Born July 24, 1951 – Lynda Carter, called by some the Only and True Wonder Woman.
  • Born July 24, 1982 — Anna Paquin

(13) THOUGHT FOR THE DAY. Neil Armstrong said the Apollo missions demonstrated that “humanity is not forever chained to this planet, and our visions go rather further than that, and our opportunities are unlimited.”

(14) SELDEN’S XANATOS PLAN. Vox Day teases “No one foresaw it” at Vox Popoli.

It’s no wonder the SF-SJWs are always a few steps behind.

It had been believed that the slaters would lose interest if they couldn’t sweep entire categories, since it that would mean that they could neither get awards for their own favorites (since fans would No Award them) nor “burn down” the awards, since fans would have at least a couple of organic works to give awards to. No one foresaw the “griefing” strategy of nominating works whose mere presence on the finalist list would cast the awards into disrepute. – Greg Hullender at File 770

They still don’t quite get it, do they? Rabid Puppies didn’t nominate “If You Were a Dinosaur My Love” or “Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” for the Hugo Award. We didn’t give a Best Novel Nebula to The Quantum Rose (Book 6 in the Saga of the Skolian Empire) or a Best Novel Hugo to Redshirts. We’re not casting the awards into disrepute, we are highlighting the fact that the SJWs in science fiction have already made them disreputable. I wonder what they will fail to foresee next? That’s a rhetorical question, of course. I already know….

(15) A VOX ON BOTH THEIR HOUSES. RameyLady doesn’t understand the impact of the Rabid Puppies slate on the finalists –

The nominees continue to suffer, in these shorter works, from poor selection but perhaps that’s as much a result of fan voting as it is the Puppies’ attempt at chaos and domination.

— but still writes a good overview of the Hugo-nominated novelettes.

In order of my appraisal:

  1. “Obits” by Stephen King is going to be my top pick in Novelette, though my #2 selection is within a hair’s breadth of taking my top vote.  But it’s hard to deny the feel of sentences coming off the pen of a man as experienced and talented as King.

(16) BALLOT SNAPSHOT. Mark Ciocco says Lois McMaster Bujold gets his vote for Best Novella in his survey of all five nominees.

After last year’s train wreck of a Novella ballot, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this year’s finalists. But it seems my fears were misplaced, as this might be the most solid fiction category of the year. Novellas can be awkward and to be sure, a couple of these don’t entirely pull it off, but even those manage better than the other categories.

  1. Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold – No surprise here, as I was one of the many who nominated this in the first place. I’m a huge fan of Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga and it’s very much to her credit that I’ve followed her from my preferred SF genre to her fantasy worlds. This story takes place in her Chalion universe and tells the story of a young man who accidentally contracts a demon. This is both better and worse than you’d expect. Better, because in Chalion, demon possession can grant great powers. Worse, because with great power comes intrigue and scheming by those interested in your new powers. That’s all background though, and the story itself is well plotted and the character relationships, particularly between Penric and his demon, and extremely well done. Easily and clearly tops this list. (Also of note: the sequel to this story is out!)

(17) RESPIRE OR EXPIRE. Spacefaring Kitten tackles The Martian in “Aspiration Porn — Campbell Nominee Andy Weir”.

While watching The Martian, I remember enjoying the cosmic visuals, but the reader of the book doesn’t have that and she has to be kept in awe of the science. It was quite impressive, considering that the natural sciences interest me very little. Still, Weir was able to force me into the aspiration porn mindset — ISN’T IT GREAT THAT THE HUMAN RACE HAS DONE SUCH A WONDERFUL THING AS GOING TO SPACE (AND MOSTLY ALSO MAKING IT BACK ALIVE??!!). Yeah, it is. Little less bable about making water and oxygen wouldn’t have hurt, but I guess that really paying attention to these technical details was what Weir’s project was about.

(18) IT’S ALIVE! Bradley W. Schenck tells how he achieved “My successful human hybrid experiment” – which is a piece of digital artwork.

It’s with no small amount of pride that I can now reveal my second, and most successful, human hybrid experiment. I wish I knew exactly what it was; but, as you can see, it’s keeping an eye on us until I figure that out.

Over the past year or so I’ve learned some new tricks with my morph-targeted character heads, and the most interesting tricks are the ones I can play on characters that are already done. Some of this is due to Collapse to Morpher, a very useful 3DS Max script.

Morphs are terrific, but they rely on the source object and its morph targets sharing the exact same topology. That means they need to have the same number of vertices, and (importantly!) those vertices have to be numbered in the same order. If you’re not careful you can end up with two objects that used to share those properties but which now are subtly and fatally different. You just can’t morph them any more.

(19) ANOTHER MARVEL SUPERHERO HEARD FROM. Doctor Strange movie trailer #2 dropped at Comic-Con.

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

112 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/24/16 The Pixel Who Walks Through Walls

  1. (13) THOUGHT FOR THE DAY. Neil Armstrong said the Apollo missions demonstrated that “humanity is not forever chained to this planet, and our visions go rather further than that, and our opportunities are unlimited.”

    Neil, you’re a hero. But, no. The Apollo missions did no such thing.

  2. They should make a stylus for graphics tablets with an eraser tip that’s also a screen cleaner, so when you erase those little dots in the image, you get the ones on the surface at the same time.

  3. (14) SELDEN’S XANATOS PLAN.

    I can’t say I’ve ever read anything by Catherine Asaro, but apparently her writing contains some kind of voxdaytonite*. He’s been grouching about her for decades**
    Am I missing some part of the super-villain back story or is it just that she is an author of a gender he finds threatening?

    *[like kryptonite but for voxes]
    **[I may be exaggerating]

  4. @Camestros

    I suspect that it goes back to *at least* to The Thread Where Day Got His Arse Handed to Him, where – as he had previously pontificated about how them wimmin couldn’t write hard SF ‘coz they don’t have the scientific acumen dontchaknow – Dr Asaro helpfully pointed out, among others, her doctorate in Chemical Physics, Masters in Physics, and B Sc (honours) in Chemistry.

    As is typical, he’s been on a tear about it for years know, including some laughably terrible posts at Black Gate few years back IIRC, which again involved a lot of people explaining the concept of linear time to him.

  5. Further to Dr. Asaro: not only is she a woman physicist who writes Hard SF books, she puts romance cooties in them. 😉

  6. The night they scrolled old Pixel down…

    (9) I quite enjoyed Station Eleven. I think it had been awhile since I’d read a good old-fashioned post-apocalyptic story. And I apparently really dig a non-chronological narrative.

    In other news, I finished watching Archer season 7. Which I mostly liked (the 3rd and 4th episodes were my favourites), but was disappointed that they seemed to walk back the character growth that Sterling Archer went through in season 6. Still made me laugh a lot, though.

    I also discovered that there was a scavenger hunt this season. I have basically come to accept that I’m a nerd (for good or bad, depending on my self-esteem), but that walkthrough showed me that there are heights or depths of nerdery that I can barely comprehend. A sample:

    In this fractal-like maze, 54,288 pieces are identical. One is unique. How the hell are you supposed to find this piece of hay in that giant stack of needles?

    A clue in episode 10, X: 8756, Y: 9152 reveals the exact pixel coordinates of this unique piece, but the scavenger hunters were clever enough to figure it out on their own using a custom algorithm. PRETTY IMPRESSIVE!

    Impressive indeed! Huzzahs and felicitations to those intrepid nerds!

  7. Further further to Dr Asaro: she’s also a past president of SFWA so obviously in the inner circle of the SJW conspiracy.

  8. @Camestros: and not only does she have multiple hard science degrees, and put romance cooties all over them, Dr. Asaro has the effrontery to have women characters who aren’t there just as prizes for the menz! Why, they’re often far more competent and tougher! And the hereditary galactic leader is the Empress!

    Mornington Crescent?

  9. JJ on July 24, 2016 at 10:57 pm said:

    Further to Dr. Asaro: not only is she a woman physicist who writes Hard SF books, she puts romance cooties in them. ?

    Ouch. I bet she scores higher than Vox on vocabulary tests as well 😉
    Also “Doctor Asaro” sounds like the name for an evil genius – although maybe with a z it would be better.

  10. lurkertype on July 24, 2016 at 11:20 pm said:

    @Camestros: and not only does she have multiple hard science degrees, and put romance cooties all over them, Dr. Asaro has the effrontery to have women characters who aren’t there just as prizes for the menz! Why, they’re often far more competent and tougher! And the hereditary galactic leader is the Empress!

    zoiks!
    Clearly the sinister forces on Vox’s home planet created her just to defeat him!

    Mornington Crescent?

    Oh! Not fair – you snuck that in when I was busy laughing!

  11. snowcrash on July 24, 2016 at 10:46 pm said:

    I suspect that it goes back to *at least* to The Thread Where Day Got His Arse Handed to Him, where – as he had previously pontificated about how them wimmin couldn’t write hard SF ‘coz they don’t have the scientific acumen dontchaknow – Dr Asaro helpfully pointed out, among others, her doctorate in Chemical Physics, Masters in Physics, and B Sc (honours) in Chemistry.

    Narcissistic amateur tries to explain technical subject to experts in that field. Fails.

  12. Camestros Felapton on July 24, 2016 at 10:21 pm said:
    (14) SELDEN’S XANATOS PLAN.

    I can’t say I’ve ever read anything by Catherine Asaro, but apparently her writing contains some kind of voxdaytonite*. He’s been grouching about her for decades**
    **[I may be exaggerating]

    I went to his blog to check and I was exaggerating…but not by much. The earliest post complaining about Asaro date from 2005.

  13. Camestros Felapton on July 25, 2016 at 12:23 am said:

    I went to his blog to check and I was exaggerating…but not by much. The earliest post complaining about Asaro date from 2005.

    It’s lucky that he’s not one of those bitter, grudge-bearing Gamma chaps that he’s always talking about on his blog.

  14. In Suck Fairy-related news, I’ve started a Dragonlance Chronicles re-read. I wonder how they’ll bear up? I enjoyed those books a lot when I was a kid.

  15. @rob_matic

    Hoo boy. Those (along with Eddings maybe?) were my entry point into fantasy. Based on the bits and pieces from the Tor.com re-read, I can say definitively that for me at least, the Suck Fairy has hit those books hard.

  16. @rob_matic:

    Ooh, please give updates! Chronicles and Legends were the only Dragonlance books to survive the Great Purge of 2012, and I was thinking about giving them a reread soon for giggles.

  17. @Camestros Felapton: Doczor Asaro? Bit strange, but whatever floats your boat.

  18. @Re Asaro. Yeah, I think its the romance cooties that really has gotten his goat. Beale really has a bee in his bonnet about The Quantum Rose, especially since that one was, what, back in 2001?

  19. Leftover Novel Reading:

    Coming Home by Jack McDevitt (2014)
    This was a Nebula nominee. I would describe it as “Dirk Pitt in Space”. 10,000 years from now, the protagonist is a hunter of antiquities (meaning artifacts from our time) who mainly finds things for, and sells things to, wealthy collectors of such items. He’s on the trail of the cache from the NASA museum, which was lost when the sealevel rose and buried much of the U.S. coastline. But it’s almost time for the reappearance of an interstellar ship of a particular model which, it’s been discovered, had a flawed warp drive that stranded most of those ships in warp space, where seconds pass for the passengers while years, even decades, pass for those in normal space — and his beloved uncle and mentor is on that ship.

    I loved the premise, and found the novel enjoyable but perhaps not as rave-worthy as I’d hoped. It’s a good, solid space adventure, with some interesting future projections.

    Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher (2015)
    A soldier who was killed, but brought back to life 100 years later, gallivants around the universe, seeking revenge on the AI who killed him and installed an alien thrall brain in his body.

    Well, if you’re into endless pages of graphic descriptions of a human body morphing into an inhuman crustacean-spider-being with very alien physiology, you might just love this book. But I read it every day at lunch for a couple of weeks and 1) never felt inclined to dig it out when I got home at night, 2) got way more than halfway through it without ever feeling “grabbed” by it, such that 3) when it came due, I just returned it to the library without even bothering to renew it. It’s my understanding that some of the novels in Asher’s Polity universe might push my buttons. This isn’t one of them.

    Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald (2015)
    The Moon is ruled by five familial dynasties which control the major industries. This is a story of the rise — and fall — of one of those families, and the people who work for them or whose lives are otherwise affected by them.

    This is another one that I found okay, rather than loved — despite the fact that it should have pushed a lot of my buttons. Only one of the numerous main characters was someone I really cared about. I’ll probably get around to picking up the sequel, Luna: Wolf Moon, at some point — but it’s really not a priority for me.

  20. Oneiros on July 25, 2016 at 2:00 am said:

    @Camestros Felapton: Doczor Asaro? Bit strange, but whatever floats your boat.

    Well that’s exactly how it sounds when I do my comedy Transylvanian accent at parties

  21. rob_matic on July 25, 2016 at 1:13 am said:

    It’s lucky that he’s not one of those bitter, grudge-bearing Gamma chaps that he’s always talking about on his blog.

    Yup, lucky escape on his part. Good that he knows how to let things go 😉

  22. @JJ

    Pretty much sums up how I feel about McDevitt in general, it’s good solid stuff that I’ll happily read but just does lack slightly in sparkle.

    That particular Asher although starting a new trilogy is not a great jumping on point for the series as a whole, I think readers more familiar with the Polity verse would get a lot more out of it. I like Asher a lot, but to me the obvious Banks Culture parallels makes it suffer slightly in comparison.

    Luna: New Moon currently in TBR pile, now reading The Invisible Library.

  23. 2016 Novel Reading:

    Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold (2016) (Novella)
    This sequel picks up 4 years after Penric’s Demon left off: with Penric gradually adjusting to the 12-personality demon which inhabits his psyche (and with the demon adjusting to him). There’s the mystery of a murder and a missing man — and Penric is tasked to solve both.

    It’s a testament to Bujold’s supreme skill that this story, like its predecessor, is just so quietly awesome. The conflicts are, for the most part, subdued — but no less impactful for that. Penric is a flawed but wonderful character who is easy to care about — and his quiet, thoughtful approach tempered with a wry humor makes a really nice contrast to the all-too-common over-the-top superhero protagonist.

    What Could Possibly Go Wrong? by Taylor, Jodi (2016)
    The latest installment in The Chronicles of St. Mary’s time-travel series finds the gang engaged in further historical mishaps and threats from old enemies.

    Superficially, these novels bear a strong resemblance to Connie Willis’ Oxford Time-Travel series. However, they are considerably different in plotting and tone. They have some good humor and snark. I would call them “cozy SF” (along the same lines as “cozy mysteries”). Avid historians seem to find the inconsistencies in them untenable, but I just kind of roll with them and enjoy them. I won’t be nominating this for a Hugo, but it makes for an enjoyable evening of reading if you can let go of the deep analysis (in other words, a “Ghostbusters” sort of book: meant to be enjoyed, but not thought too hard about).

    Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (2016)
    A young girl falls into a sinkhole; when she is rescued, it is from a deep hole with a giant-sized hand in a room of huge wallpanels of a mysterious substance, which display strange glowing symbols. As an adult with an advanced degree, she is tasked with studying the object — and she discovers that there are matching giant body parts distributed all over the earth, which can be assembled into a “body” driven by a “control room” located in the torso.

    This debut novel is mainly told through interview transcripts, with some personal journal entries. It’s a fast, enjoyable read, with some interesting worldbuilding. The ending is clearly a setup for the next book in the series, but I enjoyed it enough not to mind that. I don’t know that I’d consider it “Hugo-worthy” — but it’s certainly better than some of the novels by established writers that I’ve read in the last couple of years which left much to be desired *cough* Neal Stephenson *cough*.

    Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer (2016)
    This story, from a few centuries in the future, tells of a society which has gotten away from wars caused by tribalism and territoriality by organizing into huge international family groups based on shared interests and vocations rather than geographic location.

    I love a good SF mystery. Based on what some other people had said, I expected to love this book. I wanted to love this book. There are a lot of promising seeds in the worldbuilding and in the plot — but to be honest, I found it a tedious, muddled slog. I fell asleep several times while trying to read it — and I never fall asleep reading a book (not even last year reading Skin Game).

    The author is clearly quite well educated in the Classics and in the Great Philosophers, and the book is steeped in references to those. But it seems like it’s just trying too hard to be literary, and not hard enough at telling a good story. The narrative constantly changes styles, and the narrator constantly refers to how things would be perceived differently in the reader’s time — but with explanations that are so oblique that they don’t seem to provide any meaningful information. I found the rationale for some of the worldbuilding quite dubious. With the exception of one precocious child, I honestly did not care about any of these characters. When one of the “big reveals” came about 2/3 of the way through, my reaction was “yeah, whatever”. However, if you’ve got an extensive background in Philosophy, you may love this novel — as quite a few people have seemed to do.

    When the sequel comes out early next year, I may try reading this again first — or I may just bypass the sequel, as I did with The Dark Forest, because life’s too short, and Mount Tsundoku is too tall, to spend it reading things which feel like a slog.

    Arkwright by Allen Steele (2016)
    This is the story of an Asimov-Clarke-Bradbury-era SF writer who makes it big and channels his fortune into funding research for an interstellar ship to carry humans to a habitable planet in a nearby galaxy, and the decades as his descendents work toward, and finally achieve, that goal.

    25% to 35% of this novel is comprised of the novella The Long Wait, an Asimov’s Readers’ Poll Finalist this year (which I liked so much that it was on my Hugo nomination ballot).

    I really enjoyed this novel, and it’s on my Hugo longlist for next year.

  24. ETA: Oh, and I spent at least a whole day being really angry about all the time and effort I’d invested in slogging through Too Like the Lightning, because it doesn’t have an ending — it just STOPS. It’s not even pretending to be a whole book. In my opinion, the jacket should make this blindingly clear. I feel utterly hoodwinked — and I’m not happy about it.

    If you want to read it, my advice is to wait until the sequel comes out next year and read them both at the same time, so you don’t have to spend months (and possibly forget huge swathes of the first book) before reading the second.

  25. IanP: now reading The Invisible Library

    That book, and its sequel, The Masked City, really hit my sweet spot. It’s on my Hugo longlist for next year; I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

  26. Isn’t there a rule that Mornington Crescent cannot be played on a white square until after another player has rolled a Mudchute?

  27. ULTRAGOTHA on July 25, 2016 at 4:14 am said:

    Isn’t there a rule that Mornington Crescent cannot be played on a white square until after another player has rolled a Mudchute?

    Yes but it’s winter here and Monday evening.

  28. Before we go on we’ve got a letter here from a Mrs Trellis of North Wales: “Dear Mr Titchmarsh,” she says “never let them tell you that size isn’t important. My aunt told me that, but then all my new wallpaper fell off.”

  29. You know, prior to my realization that I would not be able to attend BigMac, I was working on a game (for fun) that was basically Puppies vs Fans in a fight to get a Hugo across the goal line.
    Dropped it because it was just for hoots, but this morning’s scroll reminded me of it and got me thinking – how about the “Vox Day Game”, where everyone gets to be Vox and attempts to execute a “Xanatos Gambit”. First player to find the quarter with an eagle on both sides wins, or some such.
    But then I got to thinking about the rules and I realized:
    If such a game were to truly reflect reality:
    The Vox player would be allowed to change the rules/victory conditions every turn, would be able to ignore the rules every turn, and, further, would be capable of retroactively changing whatever happened in any and all previous turns.
    Fortunately, that makes designing this particular game pretty damned easy, so here you go – the first “print-n-play” game ever offered on File 770 without advance permission from Mike:
    VOX DAY & THE XANATOS GAMBIT GAME (tm, copyright 2016. No portion of this game may be reproduced without the express permission of the rights holder: from the designer: No puppy has permission. The rest of you – creative commons with attribution, please.)

    THE GAME: YOU are Vox Day, notorious internet ankle-biter and champion to confused internet denizens everywhere.
    During this game you will attempt to win intellectual (‘ahem’) internet “arguments” from within your Bubble of Self-Delusion and Fantasy (it’s a nice, comfy and warm place where everything smells of marshmallows and caramel, there are no hard corners, everything is covered with pillows and you wear a custom Brain Protecting Helmet – black with red flames and white deaths heads stenciled on it).
    HOW TO PLAY: 1. Go to the internet and find something that annoys you. This should not take more than a second or two. If it does, you can choose an already prepared argument from the handy list provided below:
    A. Hugo Awards & the Cabal
    B. Scalzi
    C. Gerrold
    D Nielsen Haydens
    E. Asaro
    F. File 770
    (Note, for a bit of fun, you can use 1D6 to randomly choose an argument from the list.)

    2. Once the argument has been selected, it is time to counter it. Roll 1D6 to choose your CAW (Counter-Argument Weapon). (Note: the CAW is similar to the SAW – Squad Automatic Weapon – in that it can be used multiple times prior to reloading. (Other Note: That was obligatory gun porn.))
    CAW Resolution Table
    Roll Result
    1. Awesome internet graphic that demonstrates your superiority
    2. Incredible quote taken out of context that unquestionably makes your point
    3. squishily worded, inflammatory statement that can mean anything (and often does)
    4. facts and statistics from questionable authority
    5. smug restatement of previous argument with implications that opponent is an obvious idiot
    6. comment invocation: anyone who is anyone clearly agrees with you

    3. RESOLVING “COMBAT”. Determine who wins the argument. Roll 1D6 using the following table to determine the outcome:

    Argument Die Roll
    ARG 1 2 3 4 5 6
    1 * * * * * *
    2 * * * * * *
    3 * * * * * *
    4 * * * * * *
    5 * * * * * *
    6 * * * * * *

    * = VD Wins!!!! Always! Yes! I Rule! I’m unbeatable! Where’s my flaming sword?

    4. DO OVERS. You are Vox Day! Reality must conform to your wishes, otherwise, life in the bubble is just no fun. If you do not like the result of the CAW roll, do it over until you obtain the result you are looking for. Similarly, if you do not like the “Combat” resolution result, keep rolling until you obtain one you do like.
    ALTERNATE RULE: Throw all of the preceding away. Find a copy of Muhammad Ali’s “I am the Greatest!” speech. Photoshop your face over Ali’s. Record as an endless loop. Play repeatedly.
    This game will no doubt provide certain special people with endless hours of amusement. Enjoy!

  30. Yes but it’s winter here and Monday evening.

    Nah, that’s the Woolooware variation. Pretty sure we agreed to the Pixel Junction rules.

  31. (14) I’m not sure that “we aren’t responsible for well-written fiction getting nominated for awards” is quite the selling point Beale seems to think it is.

    Also, his list of offending works is pretty small. Could he really only come up with four alleged problem children spread out over two awards over fifteen years?

  32. I finally finished my Hugo Novel reading this weekend. This was a HUGE accomplishment, with my current schedule I am really shocked I was able to do it.

    I was really not looking forward, for some reason, to reading both The Fifth Season and Uprooted; but holy cow was I misguided! Fifth Season was just remarkably good, well-written, and interesting. Uprooted, though, was the shocker for me. I loved it and can honestly say that I might’ve gotten choked up at the end, even though it was somewhat expected. I really loved that world. I’d read the first 3 Temeraire books by Novik, and found them OK but I ran out of steam on them really fast.

    I can honestly say I have no idea how I’ll vote yet.

    TIE FOR FIRST: Ancillary Mercy, Uprooted, The Fifth Season
    Then I don’t know…I don’t know if I will go No Award, then Seveneves, or go Seveneves and Aeronaut’s Windlass. I did enjoy both of those books; but the first three books on the list are just SO MUCH BETTER that I almost don’t want to vote for the other two.

  33. 10) AUTHOR EARNINGS.

    Data Guy should realise that all Amazon data on book sales is flawed as it includes both deeply discounted titles, often selling for one dollar, and worse yet titles offered for free. So total unit sales doesn’t actually give you a feel for how healthy a genre is. Or how much an author is earning. To a much lessor extent, this holds true for book sales in general.

    Amazon definitely the place to see epubs if you’ve got control of your backlist as one author who who lost his major publishing contract pointed out to me. Roughly 90% of his income now comes via fans buying his epubs on Amazon.

  34. snowcrash on July 24, 2016 at 10:46 pm said:

    I suspect that it goes back to *at least* to The Thread Where Day Got His Arse Handed to Him, where – as he had previously pontificated about how them wimmin couldn’t write hard SF ‘coz they don’t have the scientific acumen dontchaknow – Dr Asaro helpfully pointed out, among others, her doctorate in Chemical Physics, Masters in Physics, and B Sc (honours) in Chemistry.

    I also know for a fact that she’s spoken at the NSA, albeit to their SFF club. It’s about the only story that relative’ll tell about his time working there.

  35. @JJ

    This is another one that I found okay, rather than loved — despite the fact that it should have pushed a lot of my buttons.

    I enjoyed it, but it takes a long time to find its feet as a book. I suspect that the sequel will be much stronger out of the gate.

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