Pixel Scroll 7/31/16 O You Who Turn The Wheel And Look To Scrollward, Consider Pixel, Who Was Once Handsome And Tall As You

(1) IT IS THE END MY FRIEND. My daughter went to the midnight Cursed Child book launch at her local store. She’d keep buying Potter novels if Rowling would keep writing them, but that is not in the works — “J.K. Rowling Says ‘Cursed Child’ Is the Last Harry Potter Story: ‘Harry Is Done Now’”.

The author, 51, spoke at the opening night of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage play in London’s West End theatre district on Saturday, July 30, where she told fans that she’s finished with the series.

“[Harry] goes on a very big journey during these two plays and then, yeah, I think we’re done,” Rowling told Reuters on Saturday night. “This is the next generation, you know. So, I’m thrilled to see it realized so beautifully but, no, Harry is done now.”

(2) BEAM ME – OH, NEVER MIND. Steven Murphy of ScienceFiction.com canna stand the strain – of Star Trek’s inconsistent and underimaginative use of the transporter. He makes his case in “Star Trek and the Optimization of the Transporter”.

Does it bother anyone else that the characters of ‘Star Trek’ regularly overlook the obvious solution? They’re not stupid. I’d understand if they were stupid. They are among the smartest collection of people in fiction. They just have a huge blindspot: the power of teleportation.

In ‘Star Trek,’ transporters can dematerialize people or things in one location and rematerialize them elsewhere. I wouldn’t be the first to point out that the functionality of the technology maddening varies based on the requirements of the plot.

Murphy develops three main themes:

  • The Federation Should Weaponize Transporters
  • The Federation Should Use Transporters Defensively
  • Transporters Should Be Used As A Warp-Alternative

(3) POLITICAL SF/F. Ilya Somin recommends “7 Fantasy/Science Fiction Epics That Can Inform You about the Real-World-Political Scene” at Learn Liberty.

Battlestar Galactica

The original 1970s TV series was remade in the 2000s. Both versions focus on the survivors of twelve human colony worlds that have been devastated by an attack by the Cylons, and both feature many of the same characters. Yet the original series and the remake are otherwise fundamentally different.

The former reflects a conservative response to the Cold War: the humans fall victim to a Cylon surprise attack because they were influenced by gullible peaceniks; the survivors’ military leader, Commander Adama, is almost always far wiser than the feckless civilian politicians who question his judgment. Concerns about civil liberties and due process in wartime are raised, but usually dismissed as overblown.

By contrast, the new series reflects the left-wing reaction to the War on Terror: the Cylon attack is at least partly the result of “blowback” caused by the humans’ own wrongdoing. The series stresses the importance of democracy and civilian leadership, and condemns what it regards as dangerous demonization and mistreatment of the enemy—even one that commits genocide and mass murder.

Both the original series and the new one have many interesting political nuances, and both have blind spots characteristic of the ideologies they exemplify. The sharp contrast between the two makes them more interesting considered in combination than either might be alone. They effectively exemplify how widely divergent lessons can be drawn from the same basic story line.

(4) DEL TORO COLLECTION. The Los Angeles County Art Museum exhibit “Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters” opens August 1.

DelToroMain_0

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters Guillermo del Toro (b. 1964) is one of the most inventive filmmakers of his generation. Beginning with Cronos (1993) and continuing through The Devil’s Backbone (2001), Hellboy (2004), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Pacific Rim (2013), and Crimson Peak (2015), among many other film, television, and book projects, del Toro has reinvented the genres of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Working with a team of craftsmen, artists, and actors—and referencing a wide range of cinematic, pop-culture, and art-historical sources—del Toro recreates the lucid dreams he experienced as a child in Guadalajara, Mexico. He now works internationally, with a cherished home base he calls “Bleak House” in the suburbs of Los Angeles.

Taking inspiration from del Toro’s extraordinary imagination, the exhibition reveals his creative process through his collection of paintings, drawings, maquettes, artifacts, and concept film art. Rather than a traditional chronology or filmography, the exhibition is organized thematically, beginning with visions of death and the afterlife; continuing through explorations of magic, occultism, horror, and monsters; and concluding with representations of innocence and redemption.

(5) SOMETHING MORE TO VOTE ON. Still on that adrenaline high after voting for the Hugos? You can help James Davis Nicoll – he’s looking for readers’ opinions about the books he should review. He explains, “That specific set of reviews is of books I read as a teen, so between 1974 and 1981.” Register your choices in a “non-binding” poll” at More Words, Deeper Hole.

(6) AN IMPONDERABLES REVIEW. Dave Feldman enjoyed playing Letter Tycoon.

Once you get started, game play is remarkably fast and hassle-free. Letter Tycoon is a combination word game and stock market game. You form words using your own letters combined with three “community cards.” The longer the words you form, the more assets (in the form of cash and stocks) you earn. If you accumulate enough cash, you can buy patents in the letter(s) you have used to form your words. These patents function like houses and hotels in Monopoly; you get paid every time another player forms a word using “your” patented letters. As you’d expect, it costs more to buy a patent on the most frequently-used letters, but some more obscure letters possess special powers that can make them valuable.

(7) TOOLS THAT CHANGE THE TOOL USER. Matthew Kirschenbaum, author of Track Changes, asserts “Technology changes how authors write, but the big impact isn’t on their style”.

“Our writing instruments are also working on our thoughts.” Nietzsche wrote, or more precisely typed, this sentence on a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, a wondrous strange contraption that looks a little like a koosh ball cast in brass and studded with typewriter keys. Depressing a key plunged a lever with the typeface downward onto the paper clutched in the underbelly.

It’s well-known that Nietzsche acquired the Writing Ball to compensate for his failing eyesight. Working by touch, he used it to compose terse, aphoristic phrasings exactly like that oft-quoted pronouncement. Our writing instruments, he suggested, are not just conveniences or contrivances for the expression of ideas; they actively shape the limits and expanse of what we have to say. Not only do we write differently with a fountain pen than with a crayon because they each feel different in our hands, we write (and think) different kinds of things.

But what can writing tools and writing machines really tell us about writing? Having just published my book “Track Changes” on the literary history of word processing, I found such questions were much on my mind. Every interviewer I spoke with wanted to know how computers had changed literary style. Sometimes they meant style for an individual author; sometimes they seemed to want me to pronounce upon the literary establishment (whatever that is) in its entirety.

(8) LOCUS POLL COMMENTS. At Locus Online you can read voters’ Comments from the 2016 Locus Poll and Survey. For example:

I actually read a couple of first novels I liked, which surprised me! I don’t read those very often these days, but these were strongly urged on me and I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve been reading e-books for about a year now and they’re starting to form a large chunk of my “book” buying in general, though I still buy more genre in print form than e-book. I’m buying a lot of the old classics in e-book (i.e., Ye Olde Deade Whyte Guys, like Twain, Shakespeare, Mary Shelley (;)) and some of the older sf/f/h titles as well. The “Great Distemper of 2015” left me with a dull ache behind my eyes and reminded me why I ducked out of the fannish aspects of SF 20 years ago or so. I fervently hope it goes away soon. I read more and liked more of what I read last year. There must be something wrong with me! (innocentlookicon) I’m trying very hard to work up my inner “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!” attitude about the state of SF, but I can’t.

(9) FINAL CHAPTER. A Los Angeles Daily News story about several LA-area bookstores facing closure.

Adryan Russ slips behind the counter at Bookfellows/Mystery & Imagination in Glendale to say goodbye to co-owner Christine Bell, who recently announced that her long-standing used bookstore will be closing at the end of August.

With a hug, the longtime customer wishes her well.

“To see this store have to follow the trends of today’s world, where we won’t be holding books much longer, you can see the sadness in her eyes about it,” says Russ, a musical theater lyricist based in Glendale. “It’s like a whole era is fading.”

The shuttering of Bookfellows comes as economic pressures from an increasingly competitive online marketplace, rising rents and dwindling walk-in traffic make it hard for some Southern California independent used booksellers to keep their large storefronts.

(10) ONE NY BOOKSTORE IS STICKING AROUND. The New York Times found a bookstore with an edge on the competition — “Want to Work in 18 Miles of Books? First, the Quiz”.

As Jennifer Lobaugh arrived at the Strand Book Store to apply for a job this spring, she remembered feeling jittery. It wasn’t only because she badly wanted a job at the fabled bookstore in Greenwich Village, her first in New York City, but also because at the end of the application, there was a quiz — a book quiz.

She rode the elevator to the third floor, sat down at a long table and scanned the quiz: a list of titles and a list of authors. She matched “The Second Sex” with Simone de Beauvoir right away. But then she had doubts. “I thought I would have no trouble,” said Ms. Lobaugh, 27, who has an M.F.A. in creative writing and a background in French and Russian literature. “But I got nervous.”

The Strand is the undisputed king of the city’s independent bookstores, a giant in an ever-shrinking field. It moves 2.5 million books a year and has around 200 employees. While its competitors have closed by the dozens, it has survived on castaways — from publishers, reviewers, the public and even other booksellers.

For nearly a century, the huge downtown bookstore has symbolized not only inexpensive books, but something just as valuable: full-time work for those whose arcane knowledge outweighs their practical skills.

Can you pass the Strand’s literary quiz? Match each book with its author. Test Your Book Smarts.

With a score of 33/50, I probably won’t be working at Strand until they start hiring folks whose specialty is asking, “Would you like fries with that?”

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

It was the first time humans had experience driving on another world, and by all accounts, the LRV was awesome.

The LRV was used mainly to extend the astronauts’ travel range up to a few miles from the landing site (for Apollo 15, the LRV traveled more than 17 miles in total). This allowed the science-focused missions of Apollo 15, 16, and 17 far more reach than hoofing it around the moon’s surface.

Jerry Seinfeld also had something to say about driving on the moon:

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born July 31, 1965 – J. K. Rowling

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY WIZARD

  • Born July 31, 1980 — Harry Potter

(14) GIANT ROBOTS. Kevin Melrose of Comic Book Resources thinks “Glorious ‘Transformers’ fan film is better than any of Michael Bay’s”.

Called “Generation 1 Hero,” it’s directed by Lior Molcho and stars members of Arizona Autobots, a group of Transformers cosplayers who create their own costumes. “Y’know, it was a lot of fun having them punch each other,” Molcho said in a behind-the-scenes video. “It’s a boy’s dream come true, y’know: giant robots punching each other! This is pretty awesome!”

 

(15) AN EDITOR’S ADVICE. Amanda S. Green’s post “It is a business”, quoted here the other day, attracted comment from the publisher of Castalia House, Vox Day in “Submissions and so forth”. His counsel begins —

  1. Most of the stuff that is submitted isn’t anywhere near ready. Seriously, we’re talking “WTF were you thinking” territory. Don’t submit just to submit, practice, then file it away if it’s not genuinely on par with what the publisher publishes and move on to the next work.
  2. You have VERY little time to impress the slush reader, who is wading through large quantities of writing that ranges from barely literate to mediocre. Make it count.
  3. Keep the cover letter short and to the point. No one is going to be impressed by how BADLY you want to be published or HOW MUCH you want to work with the publishing house. What you want has nothing to do with how good your book is.

(16) LARPOLOGY. The thirtieth installment of Marie Brennan’s Dice Tales column for Book View Café has the irresistible headline: “Every Title I Can Think of for This Post Sounds Like Spam”.

When you introduce a new character to an ongoing campaign, narrative integration is only one of the problems you face. The longer the game has been underway, the more you need to think about mechanical balance.

(17) LAST DAY OF VOTING. Peter J. Enyeart makes a fascinating assessment of Neal Stephenson while explaining how he ranked the nominees in the Best Novel category, but here’s who he thought should win —

  1. Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie In the closing novel of the trilogy, Breq faces ever greater challenges as she finds herself a high-value target in the Radchaai civil war. I feel a little bad about picking this one for the top spot, since it’s a sequel to a book that won two years ago, but it was definitely my favorite. It’s the only nominee I had read before the nominations were announced, and the only nominee that I actually nominated. I read the whole thing in about 24 hours, the week it came out. It even makes me feel more charitable towards the second installment in the series, which I liked less, because it serves as a nice set up for this satisfying conclusion. Breq is one of my favorite characters in fiction. So cold, aloof, detached, and calculating, and yet so empathetic, observant, devoted, and inspiring. It’s a tall order for a writer to pull off that combination, but she did it. Breq provides a model for leadership that seems like something a person like me could aspire to, and I’m very appreciative. (I like the Presger Translators a lot, too.) Well done, Ann Leckie.

(18) ANOTHER COUNTY HEARD FROM. Charon Dunn, on the other hand, put Stephenson’s novel first on her 2016 Hugo Ballot.

Seveneves

Earnestly focusing on books as they linearly progress from beginning to end is for noobs and editors and people like that. Sometimes you just want to dive into a ballpit of words and mosh around. Seveneves is one of those, hard science flavored, where humanity reaches the mostly dead state before seven intrepid spacewomen start cranking out babies, thus founding seven distinct races, each one bioengineered per their founding mother’s will. Setting the scene for future highjinks.

Many of the reviews I have read make a pointed effort at informing readers that the bioengineering in Seveneves is hogwash. A lot of my generation feels the same way about bioengineering that the Victorians did about sex, which makes it a fun taboo to read and write about. Sure it’s hogwash, so are Death Stars, who cares. The science in Seveneves follows this soothing cycle of looming disaster; implement solution; new looming disaster. I’m a fan of this method of plot organization.

(19) A NEW LEAF. And if you assumed that someone writing for a blog called Books & Tea would pick the book by the tea-loving Leckie, then Christina Vasilevski will surprise you with her choice, in “What I’m Voting for in the 2016 Hugo Awards”.

  1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin — As I mentioned when I read and reviewed this book last yearThe Fifth Season blew me away. I’m so glad this one ended up on the ballot. Jemisin’s writing is lyrical and her willingness to put her politics front and centre in her stories is great.

(20) FAN ARTISTS. Doctor Science posted an overview of the Fan Artist nominees. Earlier, the Good Doctor covered Pro Artist.

(21) HOW DO YOU GET THIS OUT OF SECOND GEAR? Forbes’ infographic contrasts Star Trek’s warp drive with what scientists are working on today.

If you want to experience the thrill of travelling faster than the speed of light, all you need to do is hitch a ride on the Starship Enterprise and engage the ‘warp drive’. You’ll be able to enjoy a cup of hot Earl Grey while visiting countless worlds through interstellar travel, all thanks to the power of warp drive! Easy peasy.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, and Steven H Silver for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ann Leckie.]

99 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/31/16 O You Who Turn The Wheel And Look To Scrollward, Consider Pixel, Who Was Once Handsome And Tall As You

  1. It gives the assassins the victory.

    Replacing the elected leader of the world with a secret puppet gives the assassins a victory. Making the assassination public means that the process of democracy can take over. All of the rationalizations by the secret cabal to replace the dead prime minister are just that – rationalizations.

  2. @Aaron:

    How is “making it public” result in policy being decided by any secret cabal?

    The indisputably made-public assassination of Yitzhak Rabin seems like a decent analog. It’s safe to say post-assassination occupation policy in Israel has been much more like what the secret cabal of assassins preferred than Rabin’s own vision, substantially because it turns out the peace party had no alternative leader as compelling. As a counter-factual, imagine a situation where, at Ichilov Hospital, Team Rabin is able to substitute a body-double or SHIELD-style Life Model Decoy capable of carrying off the deception that the PM survived.

    I’m not saying such a deception would be morally justifiable. But it seems very likely the policy Rabin supported as the duly elected prime minister – making the Oslo Accords work – would’ve had a better chance of surviving the 90s.

  3. @Steve Wright

    Hm. I just took the test (49/50), and it scored “None of the Above” as the correct answer to “The Master and the Margarita,” so I thought perhaps they’d fixed something. But they scored “Smith” as a wrong answer to “White Teeth”. Your raspberry is a proper response.

  4. @Chip Hitchcock:

    No, the intent is to replace him with a facematched puppet; in the beginning, Smythe is a xenophobe who generally votes for the other side. I wonder whether RAH had any idea how much real-world policy was/would-be made by aides.

    And as he deeply studies the life and writings of Bonforte, he becomes him. A non-unpredictable result. And I’m pretty sure Heinlein knew exactly how much policy is made by aides. See The Star Beast and Stranger in a Strange Land (off the top of my head) for support for that.

  5. @ Hampus
    If our prime minister was kidnapped, I would prefer that was made public than that a secret cabal would try to continue to rule by putting an actor in their place.

    Strictly speaking, Bonforte wasn’t PM when he was kidnapped. He was leader of the Opposition Party. The election to PM happened after Smythe started the impersonation. (So, in a sense, Smythe was elected PM — no constitutional crisis!)

  6. I think it’s in “Gulf” that Heinlein observes taking out the top person in an evil organization tends to kill the organization, because so much of that organization is embodied in the leader. It’s interesting that in Double Star he shows us what happens when a good organization’s leader is killed.

    I’m not saying the observation is necessarily right, just that it’s something coming from a viewpoint character who might just be speaking for Heinlein.

  7. “@Hampus Eckerman: So you would rather policy be decided by a secret cabal of assassins and conspirators than by a secret cabal consisting of the staff of a democratically chosen leader? “

    No. I would prefer a bloody revolution or just about anything other than secret cabal A (with our blessing) or secret cabal B (the evil bastards!). I do not believe in letting assholes play games to fool the public.

  8. @Bill:

    Strictly speaking, Bonforte wasn’t PM when he was kidnapped. He was leader of the Opposition Party.

    I’m slipping. I’d forgotten this. That leaves the impetus for the original impersonation in place but greatly lessens the pressure to maintain the masquerade.

  9. It’s interesting that in Double Star he shows us what happens when a good organization’s leader is killed.

    I think it is not an obvious conclusion that the Bonaforte faction in Double Star is a good organization.

  10. @Hampus Eckerman:

    No. I would prefer a bloody revolution or just about anything other than secret cabal A (with our blessing) or secret cabal B (the evil bastards!). I do not believe in letting assholes play games to fool the public.

    I have a lot of sympathy for this view. Many of my fellow atheists got all warm and runny over the attempted Turkish coup to restore secular government, and I told them they were wrong. (I didn’t mention they were foolish, too, but subsequent events have borne that out.)

    But I think I’d do almost anything to avoid war, and war includes bloody revolution. Oddly enough, your position on armed revolt is closer to what I understand Heinlein’s to be than mine is. Except in this book, which is somewhat different from most of his work. And that’s part of why I love it so.

  11. @Aaron:

    I think it is not an obvious conclusion that the Bonaforte faction in Double Star is a good organization.

    Their opponents are attempting to cause a diplomatic rupture between races at a minimum and a genocidal war at a maximum by way of assassination. I think that makes Bonforte’s folks the good guys. I’m not troubled by lying in such a situation, any more than I look down on FDR for helping lie the United States into World War II.

    (Any parallels to the current American election are valid though not my original intent.)

  12. I’ve been out having adventures recently, FWIW.

    (17), (18), & (19)

    Loved Seveneves, but it faded after a couple of weeks. The combination of the third act and various scientific flaws dragged it down, IMHO.

    Thought Ancilliary Mercy was good, but as a single novel, it wasn’t really up to the task. It went below Noah. (As a series, I might have thought differently, but if the response is “but you have to read the first two to get it”, then the third really isn’t worthy of nomination on it’s own, IMHO.)

    The big surprise was Fifth Season. I enjoyed it and after a couple of weeks, it wound up as #2 on my ballot. Behind Aeronaut’s Windlass. The inspiration of characters seeking to be better than they are made the difference when compared with the “burn it all down” mode of the Fifth Season.

    Really checking in to give a big shout out for Emma Newman’s Split World series. Book 4 drops tomorrow. I pre-ordered based on the strength of the first three.

    The books provide a comparison between Elizabethan England and a more modern society. Elizabethan England does not fare well by comparison. Add in several factions (some magical, some not) that at various times compete and cooperate for a surprisingly fast paced read. Assuming that she does as good of a job in the fourth book at bringing the new reader along, then this easily ought to be in the discussion for next year.


    Regards,
    Dann

  13. I think that makes Bonforte’s folks the good guys.

    That might make them better than their opponents, but it doesn’t make them good guys. Willing subversion of democracy isn’t an attribute of a “good organization”.

  14. Dann on August 1, 2016 at 10:31 am said:

    Really checking in to give a big shout out for Emma Newman’s Split World series. Book 4 drops tomorrow. I pre-ordered based on the strength of the first three.

    I read the first of these recently and enjoyed it. Glad to hear that the quality is sustained in later volumes – I’ll hopefully be reading them soon.

  15. I am a big fan of Em’s fiction as well. Looking forward to the next Split Worlds novel.

  16. @Aaron:

    That might make them better than their opponents, but it doesn’t make them good guys. Willing subversion of democracy isn’t an attribute of a “good organization”.

    I don’t necessarily disagree. I’m willing to back down to “the good-enough guys” for the sake of discussion.

    It’s not obvious to me, either, that they are completely right. Just right enough.

  17. Just finished Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library. Thoroughly enjoyed that. I had a slightly shaky start which I put down to having just finished an expospeach heavy book and got more in the first chapter, but soon got over that and by the time I reached:

    Naq gung jnf jura gur nyyvtngbef ohefg guebhtu gur qbbef.

    Uvynevgl rafhrf.

    I was well sold. I’ll be grabbing book 2 ASAP.

  18. Tasha:

    I’m so glad it helped! I’ve felt very guilty for falling down on the “Hugo Art” job this summer. I had planned to introduce a suggestion for new Artist categories, for instance, but got distracted by other things — partly Mr Dr’s cardiac issues (which are proceeding nicely! but, you know, distracting), mostly political, partly getting on Twitter, which is a time-suck like no other. I just started using LeachBlocker to keep me off Twitter most of the day, and I can already see it’s helping.

    Hmm. Maybe I’ll put up an Artist Categories Re-Do post today, see if ya’ll can help me get it in shape by Aug. 3.

  19. Also, we just started our first Babylon 5 re-watch this millennium — we’re about 1/2 way through Season 1 so far. Sprog had never seen it before and is impressed at how good it is. What’s also impressive is how well it handles issues of 2016 interest: the fact that all sorts of POC have roles, for instance.

    The FX have actually held up moderately well, because they mostly used models instead of CGI. And they remain (AFAIK) the ONLY SF show OR movie to show the defining visual feature of outer space: the Galaxy.

  20. @IanP and @Oneiros:

    Reese is like the Batman that Christopher Nolan wanted to make, but wasn’t quite successful. I find his quiet monotone and blank face (or tiny smirk) far more unsettling than the BatMask and gravelly BatVocoder.

    And episode 9 gave me Real Murder Police doing their work! Yayyyy!

    After the first couple of episodes I had questions regarding the collateral damage incurred in preventing one act of violence, but the way the season’s progressing I feel like that will be addressed. Definitely very interesting.

    And now, a novella review: “This Census-Taker” by China Miéville (c/p from my Goodreads)

    Challenging. Mysterious, haunting, and occasionally brutal. If you’re familiar with Miéville this should not be surprising.

    There are many questions, and I’m sure many clues, but no easy answers. I may reread shortly to see what I can pick up that made no sense the first time through. The narrative shifts, mostly first-person with the odd second- and third-. Possibly a distancing mechanism from the traumatic events the narrator is going through. Possibly something else.

    I’m not sure I “got” it. I’m not sure I will. But it will stay with me for some time. Worth the challenge, I think.

  21. @Doctor Science

    The FX have actually held up moderately well, because they mostly used models instead of CGI.

    Not sure if you mis-typed or not, but all the Babylon 5 effects were CGI, including CGI added to live action. The first season was mostly done on Amiga computers. They were definitely ground breaking at the time and led to everyone else going CGI (including Star Trek Voyager).

    I remember seeing the first footage of the Babylon 5 station at WesterCon in 1992 when Straczynski screened a demo reel (with Star Trek’s Rick Sternbach looking on in the back of the room).

  22. Lee:

    No, I had no idea! I assumed the shots of the station, etc., were models because they look so good.

    Huh. I wonder why B5 FX looks good to me, when a lot of recent stuff (a lot of the Stargate shows, for instance) looks plastic & fake after only a few years pass.

  23. @Mike Glyer

    RE: Dragon Awards: I’m interested to see what ends up on the final ballot. Aside from the initial announcements and an occasional social media post by someone pushing their work for the awards, the amount of publicity for them has been minimal. Did they send anything out to people who had memberships? There’s really nothing current on twitter aside from one recent retweet of a GRRM blog post that mentions them. Not even anyone indicating they got nominated (assuming they are even notifying people in advance). No reminders that nominations were about to close and nothing about final voting starting tomorrow (according to the rules at least).

    And, I just got a response to a query by tweet to @DragonCon that “Announcement will come when voting is opened”.

  24. Doctor Science: Is it a good idea to make new proposals for Hugo changes now (especially in light of the Business Meeting agenda, posted above)?

    Of course, it’s possible that slates will continue to cause problems into the foreseeable future, so that the agenda will be just as full every year. But it’s also possible that this is the high water mark of slates, and future years will be more peaceful, in which case it might be better to delay other changes till then. (I know Kevin Standlee is delaying his editor proposals for this reason.)

  25. @Doctor Science

    I think the amount of detail the B5 FX people put into the computer models really showed and helped them to both look unique and also hold up over time.

  26. Andrew M:

    I’m inclined to think it isn’t a good time, either. The kind of changes I’m talking about are clearer indications about what counts as Pro or Fan: current definitions don’t mention online art at all. But perhaps we can get a good discussion going at the Con & put forth a proposal for next year.

  27. Well, I’m guessing it’s seen as obvious that online art is ‘public display’. (There was a rule change a few years ago to make Fan Writer and Best Related cover online material, so I take it they didn’t include Fan Artist because they felt the existing rules covered that.)

    My own feeling is that the present rules make pretty good sense – one award for illustrators, which Pro Artist explicitly is, and another for those who produce SFF inspired art in other contexts: it’s just that the names are confusing, because the awards don’t really fit the normal sense of ‘Pro’ and (especially) ‘Fan’.

  28. @Dawn Incognito:

    Ooh, someone who liked This Census-Taker. I agree that it stays with you; the answers aren’t revealed directly but it’s very tantalizing. I have some theories about it:

    Do you think gur obl’f zbgure jnf gur jbzna jub ena njnl sebz gur prafhf-gnxre? On a re-read, lines like this jumped out:

    Jura ur zrg gur zna jub orpnzr uvf yvar znantre gur obl jnf n puvyq naq anïir ohg abg dhvgr vtabenag, ng yrnfg va yrggref, orpnhfr bs uvf zbgure’f yrffbaf.

    Yrffbaf ba pbqrf naq frpergf creuncf?

    Ng gur raq ur fnlf “Guvf Prafhf-Gnxre Vf Ebthr”. Ohg juvpu prafhf-gnxre vf ur gnyxvat nobhg? Gur yvar znantre, be gur obl uvzfrys?

  29. 8) Re: Locus comments-I never really thought I’d appear in a Pixel Scroll, albeit as an anonymous quote excerpted from a link! Of course, I hadn’t even realized my comments from my Locus ballot were posted at the Locus website (no spoons the last couple of days, so I haven’t done much).

  30. In Soviet Hive, pixel scrolls you.

    Miéville is one of those authors I’ve always meant to try but have never gotten around to. These days it’s difficult to know where to start too.

  31. “Miéville is one of those authors I’ve always meant to try but have never gotten around to. These days it’s difficult to know where to start too.”

    King Rat is still my favourite. A bit of Gaiman over that one.

  32. @Doctor Science
    With the Hugos there is always next year. I did better this year but not as well as I wanted to but I can work to do better next year. 😀

    This year I was:
    1. Better educated on the various categories
    2. Succeeded in nominating for 1st time
    3. Got much of my voting in early

    Things I’d like to do better next for 2017:
    1. Keep better track of not just what I want to nominate in each category but priority rank & rerank it as I go along & keep all the misc info Worldcon wants to know: author, publisher, links, eligibility for Campbell, eligible art, etc. so I’m not floundering

    2. Pay attention to more categories – art I really fell down on

    3. Recommend more & review more – not doing well so far this year

    4. Get nominations in and finish voting a few at least a week before deadlines

  33. Ah, I envy anyone just starting PoI. The rare show that got better and better as it went along. I’m still verklempt when I think of it.

  34. Actually, King Rat is one of my least favorite Miéville books. To be honest, the more oblique and hermetic his writing is, the better I like it on the whole (didn’t care for the simplification of Un Lun Dun). I think either The City and the City or Embassytown might be a good starting place, or maybe The Tain for a weird London story.

    This Census-Taker impressed the hell out of me. It’s a story that is between the lines, because the political situation of the setting is only hinted at, and the adult narrator is choosing to tell a story about his childhood instead of all the things he’s learned since then, which he can’t say for some reason. But his father, who came from the conquerors’ nation, is in himself something of a key to the violences and silences.

    V jbhyq unir gb er-ernq gb frr jung V guvax bs gur “Ebthr” prafhf-gnxre jub xrcg ba qbvat uvf wbo nsgre orvat “erpnyyrq” — vg vf fvavfgre gung ur vafvfgf ba genpxvat qbja nyy bs “gurve crbcyr”, ohg ba gur bgure unaq gur tbireazrag ur jrag ebthr sebz frrzf cerggl bccerffvir. (Va erfcbafr gb lbhe dhrfgvba nobhg gur obl’f zbgure, fur pna’g or gur jbzna jub pnzr jvgu gur prafhf-gnxre orpnhfr fur’f n angvir bs gung gbja.)

  35. Boo headache make it go away please.

    Thanks for thoughts on “This Census-Taker”, like I said I’m going to give it a reread and see what I can suss out. It finally pulled me in last night, but I had a lot of trouble processing at least the first third.

    V gubhtug gur zbgure jnf gur ebthr nf jryy. Fur yrsg gur Fbhgurea unys bs gur pvgl, qvq fur abg? Fnj gur frn? Naq gurer’f gur znggre bs gur qrgevghf va ure irtrgnoyr cngpu gung vf yrsg gb ure fba…

    @IanP:

    My favourite three Miéville are Looking for Jake (short works that give you an idea of his various flavours), Perdido Street Station (hallucinatory steampunk horror fantasy), and The City & The City (neo-noir and speculative social science. Or maybe not. Opinions seem to differ).

    I loved the setting/setup for Embassytown, but thought he kind of fumbled the denouement.

    And now for a lie-down.

  36. Due to business (taking another class), my ballot from July 28 ended up being my final ballot–which is totally fine, I only failed to vote in one category (Pro Artist).

    Re: The Strand: I interviewed there for a job in 2004, when I was working at Barnes & Noble, but they didn’t pay any better than B&N, the store was dusty, and there was very little sunlight. Not worth it. But they either weren’t giving the quiz then or I was given a free pass due to B&N.

    I still scored 48/50 on the quiz. (Got lucky on Stones and The Sea Around Us.)

  37. I bounced too hard on Babybon 5 (when it was still not very known / lauded) because in the first episode, there is a slum with a burn barrel afire – in a space station.

    I should try again.

  38. Now look what you’ve gone and done. I need to go re-read This Census-Taker again soon!

  39. Hey I had another thought on “This Census-Taker” that I didn’t see mentioned:

    Vg vf nffhzrq gung gur aneengbe qvq vaqrrq frr uvf sngure xvyyvat uvf zbgure; ng yrnfg vg jnf ol zr. Gung gur snerjryy yrggre jnf n sbetrel ol gur sngure va beqre gb pbire uvf genpxf. Ohg ner jr fher?

    Jung qvq gur prafhf-gnxre svaq, be cbffvoyl snvy gb svaq, va gur ershfr cvg?

    Definitely giving it a reread sooner rather than later.

  40. @Dawn Incognito: I have a conspiracy theory about that (might sound a bit far-fetched):

    Jung vs gur aneengbe vf orvat ernyyl farnxl naq vg’f npghnyyl uvf zbgure jub xvyyrq uvf sngure? Abg qverpgyl, ohg ol vaqhpvat gur prafhf-gnxre gb neevir naq xvyy uvz.

    Na haeryngrq gubhtug – jura gur obl rfpncrf jvgu Qebor, ur tbrf vagb n ubhfr jvgu n fgntr naq qenjf uvf sngure’f xrlf jvgu punyx naq gur enva fgbcf. Fbzr cntrf yngre, jr yrnea gung uvf sngure’f xrlf pna punatr gur jrngure.

    Maybe it’s just for effect (or even a deliberate red herring) and I’m reading too much into it.

  41. @Bartimaeus:

    Gung urycf rkcynva gur svefg yvar hggrerq ol gur obl va gur fgbel: “Zl zbgure xvyyrq zl sngure!” Gur ynpx bs oybbq ba uvf unaqf, naq va gur nggvp.

    Gurer vf nyfb gur rkgerzryl vzcbegnag cbvag gung nyy bs gur obl’f fgbel vf orvat jevggra ol gur gehr aneengbe. Jurer’f gung dhbgr?

    Vs V tbg onpx fbzrbar’f frpbaq obbx, jryy, V’q tvir lbh gung, bs pbhefr: gur frpbaq obbx’f sbe ernqref, ur fnvq. Ohg lbh pna’g xabj jura gurl’yy pbzr, vs gurl qb. Vg’f gur obbx sbe gryyvat: ab pbqr sbe gung bar. Ohg–ur pbhagrq bar ntnva naq unq zl pybfr nggragvba–lbh pna fgvyy hfr vg gb gryy frpergf naq fraq zrffntrf. Rira fb. Lbh pbhyq fnl gurz evtug bhg, ohg lbh pna uvqr gurz va gur jbeqf gbb, va gurve yrggref, va gur beqrevat ba yvarf, gur neenatrzragf naq eulguzf. Ur fnvq, gur frpbaq obbx’f cresbeznapr.

    ETA: @Vasha:

    something of a key to the violences and silences.

    That’s beautiful, right there.

  42. I got 50 on the Strand test when I took it a couple of days ago. i answered “None of the Above” for “The Master and Margharita” and “Smith” for “White Teeth”. Also “Smith” by a process of elimination for “A Tree Goes in Brooklyn”, which was the only one I didn’t actually know.

  43. @John A Arkansawyer: Sorry for the late reply; still busier than expected and I kept postponing reading comments.

    What impressed me about Double Star was it anticipated Clark and Chalmers’ “The Extended Mind.” Not only are the Farley Files by which Bonforte “remembers” what his brain can’t part of his extended mind, but his advisors are too. In fact, if you take the extended mind hypothesis seriously (and I do), one could argue that Smith really is Bonforte.

    I’ll admit I’m less interested in whether putting Smith in for Bonforte is democratic since I feel that was really just an excuse to examine issues of personal identity (not just extended minds, but also how we are our roles) and how politicians especially are not what we ordinarily think of as individuals. Though given Jim Henley’s reference to Yitzhak Rabin, maybe I should take that aspect more seriously too.

    @Guillaume: I finally got around to watching Babylon 5 this year. So much of it in my mind shouldn’t work, yet it somehow does. It’s now my favorite sci-fi show.

  44. @Shao Ping:

    In fact, if you take the extended mind hypothesis seriously (and I do), one could argue that Smith really is Bonforte.

    I’ll admit I’m less interested in whether putting Smith in for Bonforte is democratic since I feel that was really just an excuse to examine issues of personal identity (not just extended minds, but also how we are our roles) and how politicians especially are not what we ordinarily think of as individuals.

    Those are what I find most compelling about it. That, and Heinlein writing something radical individualism. Bonforte’s ideas are vital; the man himself is not. That you can substitute someone into a role like that and it be a difference which makes no difference? Those are not the Heinlein ideas you’re looking for.

    For sufficiently constrained values of “you”, of course. Present company excluded unless they want to be included.

  45. @John A Arkansawyar: They may not be the ideas Heinlein wanted to have in there but I think they are there. 🙂

    But tbh I’m not much of a Heinlein fan. I mainly read it since I decided it would be fun to read the Hugo winning novels I haven’t read. So far I’ve read that and The Big Time and while I’m glad I read both, I get the feeling early Hugo-award winners aren’t my cup of tea. At least, not the ones I haven’t yet read: I love The Demolished Man and A Canticle for Leibowitz.

  46. Dawn Incognito: I’m not sure I “got” [This Census-Taker]. I’m not sure I will.

    That’s pretty much how I feel about it.

    Bartimaeus: Do you think gur obl’f zbgure jnf gur jbzna jub ena njnl sebz gur prafhf-gnxre?

    Absolutely. There were several clues along the way which convinced me of that.

    Bartimaeus: Ng gur raq ur fnlf “Guvf Prafhf-Gnxre Vf Ebthr”. Ohg juvpu prafhf-gnxre vf ur gnyxvat nobhg? Gur yvar znantre, be gur obl uvzfrys?

    I think the first. And I really got the impression that the Census-Takers freirq n qhny checbfr nf obgu prafhf-gnxref naq fcvrf/vagryyvtrapr-tngureref sbe gurve tbireazrag (be sbe fbzr funqbjl betnavmngvba.

    Vasha: (Va erfcbafr gb lbhe dhrfgvba nobhg gur obl’f zbgure, fur pna’g or gur jbzna jub pnzr jvgu gur prafhf-gnxre orpnhfr fur’f n angvir bs gung gbja.)

    I’m pretty sure I remember reading something along the lines that fur yrsg ure ubzrgbja jura fur jnf zhpu lbhatre, naq pnzr onpx jvgu ure uhfonaq gb yvir naq envfr n snzvyl.

    Dawn Incognito: Vg vf nffhzrq gung gur aneengbe qvq vaqrrq frr uvf sngure xvyyvat uvf zbgure; ng yrnfg vg jnf ol zr. Gung gur snerjryy yrggre jnf n sbetrel ol gur sngure va beqre gb pbire uvf genpxf. Ohg ner jr fher? Jung qvq gur prafhf-gnxre svaq, be cbffvoyl snvy gb svaq, va gur ershfr cvg?

    V jbaqrerq vs gur puvyq’f svefg rkpynzngvba gung “uvf zbgure unq xvyyrq uvf sngure” unq gb qb jvgu ure cebibxvat gur sngure va fbzr jnl — “xvyyvat uvf fbhy” — juvpu pnhfrq uvz gb fanc naq xvyy ure. Vg frrzf cerggl pyrne gung gur prafhf-gnxre sbhaq bar be zber obqvrf va gur cvg, nsgre juvpu ur jrag gb gur sngure’f ubhfr naq xvyyrq uvz, gb xrrc uvz sebz pbzzvggvat nal shegure unez.

    It’s quite a bizarre story. I’m not sure I’m invested enough to spend the time and effort to re-read it. I would do so if I thought I would gain additional enlightenment from it — but I’m really not sure that I would. It has some really intriguing threads, but I don’t know whether they will ever come together well enough to satisfy me and make me feel as though I “got it”.

    Dawn Incognito, I would be interested in hearing any new thoughts you have after you re-read it.

  47. JJ:

    I did the reread, but came up with more questions than answers. I’m having a helluva time putting my thoughts in order, so have a jumble!

    V cvpxrq hc gung gur zvyqrjrq jbbqra qbyy’f urnq jnf yrsgbire sebz gur jne. “Ehzbef bs qvfgnag vafheerpgvba unq zrnag gur beqrevat bs qrfgehpgvba, gur tyrryrff qvfzrzorevat bs nyy fhpu trnerq pbafgehpgrq svtherf.” Jung vf gur fvtavsvpnapr bs gur obl fbzrgvzrf erzrzorevat uvf zbgure jvgu guvf urnq? V qhaab. Jnf fur n arj zbqry bs pbafgehpgrq svther? Vf gung jul Sngure’f zrgubqvpny fznfuvat bs guvatf? Vf gung jul ab oybbq va gur nggvp?

    Ohg…”gur ybbx zl sngure fbzrgvzrf jber, nf vs ur’q ercynprq uvf bja rlrf jvgu pyrne be pybhqrq tynff barf” erpnyyf gur tynff rlrf bs gur qbyy’f urnq nf jryy.

    V qba’g xabj vs zl fhfcvpvba gung fbzrobql vf n ebobg vf ba gur znex be abg.

    Gur svefg zna Sngure xvyyrq pnyyrq uvz “pbhapvyzna” naq bssrerq uvz n fvyire sybjre, juvpu Zbgure fnvq jnf fbzrguvat lbh tvir fbzrbar sbe ehaavat njnl.

    Gur ebthr prafhf-gnxre vf gur bar gur obl zrg. Sngure fubhgrq, “Gurl jrer erpnyyrq! Jul’f guvf bar fgvyy pbhagvat?”

    Jub vf gur “ntrag” gung gur prafhf-gnxre fcrnxf bs? Gur jbzna Qebor zrg fnvq fur jnf jnf gelvat gb svaq fbzrbar, “abg ure obff, ab, ohg fbzrbar jub genpxrq *uvz*, va erny nhgubevgl. Gb cerfrag rivqrapr bs n pevzr.” Jnf gung jbzna Zbgure? Jnf Qebor zber pvephzfcrpg guna V tnir uvz perqvg sbe? Qvq jr rire frr guvf “ntrag”?

    Gur vzntr bs n obl va n wne vf boivbhfyl fhccbfrq gb zrna bhe aneengbe. Envfrq va n pbagebyyrq raivebazrag, orvat pnershyyl xrcg naq srq jung fpencf uvf xrrcre pubfr.

    Very intricate, very strange, and I still don’t feel like I “got” it. I think this is the type of story academic papers are written about. I still enjoyed it the second time around, though.

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