Pixel Scroll 12/7/16 While Pixels Watched Their Scrolls By Night

(1) DAMN THE SPOILERS, FULL SPEED AHEAD. Scott Timberg writes for Salon on “The art of ‘Archer’: ‘The arc of the character of Archer is really interesting’”. I’m told there are spoilers – but I rarely watch Archer so I read the profile anyway….

Oh, yeah, Archer’s favorite movie is what again?

He loves “Gator” and also “Smokey and the Bandit.” And there are references to “Deliverance” and “Hooper,” all of them.

I took this show originally as a kind of guilty pleasure for other retro straight guys who like single-malt scotch and ’50s Playboy and “Man Men.” But I’ve found gay men and left-leaning feminist women who love “Archer,” too.

It makes me wonder: Is this a show that heroizes Sterling Archer as the coolest cat ever or is it somehow a critique of toxic masculinity? Is he a sleek, Bond-like hero or a cross between a frat boy, a hedge fund asshole and a lacrosse bro?

I think it’s all of that. But I also think it’s up to each individual viewer; I would never tell anybody what to think about it. What I personally love about it is that it shows all sides of Archer, this character. On one hand, he definitely fits the image of the lacrosse bro. And then he has a moment where he says, “Pam, I think you’re my best friend.” There’s a real heart to this person.

He’s not a flat character at all. He definitely has blind spots, you know? And he definitely pretends to have blind spots. There’s a description of him as “willfully obtuse,” which I think is quite apt.

(2) PARALLAX VIEWS OF THE NEWS. “Cassini sends back intriguing pictures of Saturn from new ring-grazing orbit” says the Los Angeles Times.

Cassini’s cameras captured the latest images of the giant hexagon on Dec. 2 and 3, a few days after the spacecraft first began its new orbit on Nov. 30. Each side of that six-sided figure is about as wide as Earth. At the center, a giant storm swirls on the north pole. It’s a surprising structure, surrounded by Saturn’s smoother rings, and scientists have long wondered how it maintains its shape. (Saturn’s larger cousin, Jupiter, has no such shape at its northern pole.)

“Forget the Great Red Spot – Saturn has a hexagonal storm” reports the BBC. (Both articles have the same newly-released photos.)

The destructive ending being planned for Cassini is a result of the spacecraft having nearly exhausted its fuel.

But Nasa is also concerned about the small, yet important possibility that the probe will crash into one of Saturn’s moons at some point in the future.

Given that some of these bodies, such as Enceladus, are potential targets in the search for extra-terrestrial life, it has the potential to contaminate these bodies with terrestrial microbes borne on Cassini.

Starting from April, Cassini will begin its grand finale, in which it will make the first of 22 dives through the 2,400km gap between the planet and its innermost ring.

The spacecraft will make its final plunge into the atmosphere of Saturn on 15 September.

(3) FUND APPEAL. Katherine Kerr needs to rebuild her career so she can afford her husband’s care. More details on her Patreon site.

Yes, my author photo there looks a little grim. Here’s why. Six years ago, my much-loved husband developed early-onset Alzheimer’s dementia.  As you can probably guess, this turned our lives upside-down.  My writing career first faltered, then ground to a halt while I desperately tried to take care of him myself.  Didn’t work — we now have a full-time live-in caregiver while I try to get my writing back on track.  Our primary caregiver, VJ, is wonderful but he isn’t cheap, just worth every penny….

What I want to do is get my writing career back on track. I have a contract for a new book in the Deverry universe.  I also want to write more short fiction. In the meantime, however, those bills make it hard to concentrate.  I spend about $300 a week on food, basics, and utilities, plus even more on medical expenses. My current income falls short.  Any help I can get is very very welcome. And thank you all very much.

(4) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #11. The eleventh of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for a flash fiction story from Stephanie Burgis, written specifically for the auction winner.

Today’s auction is for a brand new flash-fiction story written for you. That’s right, author Stephanie Burgis will write a story for the winner of the auction about any of the characters from her published novels – the winner gets to choose! You’ll let her know which character should be the protagonist, and Burgis will write it within a month of getting the commission. You can find all of her published works on her website.

Burgis reserves the right to share it with other readers later, but it will belong to the winner alone for the first month after she sends it to you.

(5) SWEDISH SF ARTIST LAUNCHES KICKSTARTER. There’s a new Kickstarter campaign for an RPG based on Simon Stålenhag’s art, Tales from the Loop: Roleplaying in the 80s that never was”.

In 1954, the Swedish government ordered the construction of the world’s largest particle accelerator. The facility was complete in 1969, located deep below the pastoral countryside of Mälaröarna. The local population called this marvel of technology The Loop.

Acclaimed scifi artist Simon Stålenhag’s paintings of Swedish 1980s suburbia, populated by fantastic machines and strange beasts, have spread like wildfire on the Internet. Stålenhag’s portrayal of a childhood against a backdrop of old Volvo cars and coveralls, combined with strange and mystical machines, creates a unique atmosphere that is both instantly recognizable and utterly alien.

Now, for the first time, YOU will get the chance to step into the amazing world of the Loop. With your help, we will be able to create a beautiful printed RPG book about the Tales from the Loop.

This game is our third international RPG, after the critically acclaimed Mutant: Year Zero and Coriolis – The Third Horizon. The lead writer is the seasoned Swedish game writer Nils Hintze, backed up by the entire Free League team who handle project management, editing, and graphic design.

(6) REPURPOSED HISTORY. The election of Donald Trump has made some people revise the history of the Puppy Wars of 2015 – can no one accurately remember what happened only last year? – to furnish a heroic example for the current resistance narrative. See — “Patrick S. Tomlinson Wants YOU To Fight The Power”.

Eventually, the intractable nature of the invaders became clear and a new strategy of opposition and containment emerged. To countermand the exploitation of the nomination rules slate voting represented, the equally devious, yet totally legitimate under the same rules, voting for “No Award” became the marching orders for the faithful.

And it worked. With a clear plan in place, our superior numbers and organizational skills kicked in and slapped the puppies’ poisoned pills out of five categories, doubling the number of times No Award had been given in the Hugo’s entire seventy-three-year history up to that point. I was sitting in the audience for the ceremony. It was electric.

And despite their whining in the aftermath about “burning down our own awards” the attack had been largely turned back. The very next year, puppy influence over the nominations had already begun to ebb, with fewer categories subject to full slating takeovers and fewer No Awards handed out as a result. More women and POC won major awards. And by next year, changes to the rules will see the threat recede even further in the future.

That is how in two short years we beat back the puppies, and that is the model we have to use now that the same sickness has metastasized onto our society, indeed all of Western Civilization. It’s easy to forget now, but the facts are the forces of fascism and intolerance are exactly like the hordes of GamerGate and the Puppies. They are loud, angry, aggressive, shameless, and without scruples.

But they are also a clear minority. As of this writing, more than two point three million more Americans had voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. More Americans voted for Democratic Senators. More Americans voted for Democratic Representatives in the House. It is only through exploitation of the rules in violation of the spirit of American democratic ideals that the forces of intolerance and bigotry maintain their majorities. This has been true for more than a decade. This makes them vulnerable to our superior numbers should we have the foresight and resolve to set aside our petty bickering and unify in an organized fashion and agree to a coherent plan of counterattack.

(7) POLISH FANZINE. For Eurocon this year the publishers of the Polish fanzine Smokopolitan produced an English-language edition, which includes two articles about fandom. You can download a .mobi or .pdf version here.

We proudly present our special English issue, created for Eurocon 2016 in Barcelona. Inside you will find short stories by, among others, Pawe? Majka, Andrzej Pilipiuk and Micha? Cholewa, as well as essays about many branches of speculative fiction in Poland

(8) GLENN IN HOSPITAL. Former astronaut and U.S. senator John Glenn reportedly has been hospitalized for the past week.

Hank Wilson with Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs said Wednesday that the 95-year-old Glenn is at the James Cancer Hospital, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he has cancer.

Wilson said he didn’t have other information about Glenn’s condition, illness or prognosis.

Glenn apologized for his poor eyesight this year at the renaming of Columbus’ airport after him. He said then he’d lost some of his eyesight because of macular degeneration and a small stroke. Glenn had a heart valve replacement in 2014.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 7, 1925 – Future five-time Olympic gold medalist and movie Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller set a world record in 150-yard free-style swimming.
  • December 7, 1945 House of Dracula shown for the first time. The film features four different actors in the role of Frankenstein’s Monster: Glenn Strange, Boris Karloff (via footage from The Bride of Frankenstein), Lon Chaney Jr. and his stunt double, Eddie Parker (via footage from The Ghost of Frankenstein).

house-of-dracula

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

(11) ANOTHER BEST OF THE YEAR LIST. The list of 44 books in “NPR’s Best SFF of 2016” has “Something to outrage (or at least annoy) almost everyone, I expect….,” promises Chip Hitchcock.

(12) AMAZING STORIES, THE MAGAZINE. Today Amazing Stories highlights “’The Great Milo’ by David Gerrold”, one of the stories by established pros included in its issue along with winning stories from its Gernsback Writing Contest. The tag from Gerrold’s story is —

Never piss off a man who buys ink by the barrel.

(13) COMING TO A TBR PILE NEAR YOU. Nancy Palmer and Bertie MacAvoy agree – they loved Craig Russell’s Fragment.

Nancy Palmer reviewed it at her website.

…I ended up reading the whole thing, compulsively. It’s a slender volume. The story, however, is a big one.

Sometimes what’s scary about a thriller is its plausibility. One of the things speculative fiction writers do best is tell the truth sideways.  And there’s a lot of truth here. Craig Russell’s near future ecological and political world are a little too easy to imagine as reality. It was a compelling, but uncomfortable read: I found myself reading faster as the story progressed, hoping there might be some way to avert disaster. Maybe something in the way of hope, that might be carried past the pages of the book and into the outer world. The hubris and political manipulation in Fragment: yes, there are real-world analogs. Seeing the potential outcome as spelled out in this novel? Dread inducing. But I couldn’t look away.

And Bertie MacAvoy praises it, too:

I just loved Craig Russell’s first novel, Black Bottle Man, and told him so, although I didn’t know the man at all.  It was an old-fashioned sort of novel, very much in control, and I found it fantastically well written.  May others have agreed, if you look at the number of awards it received for a debut novelist.  I awaited his second novel eagerly.

Not only  is it just as good, or better, but it is wildly unconventional, even for these most unconventional S.F. days, and it caught me so firmly I wasn’t even aware of the tricks he was playing on the reader until the book was 65% read. I love being tricked, when it is done well.  (Done poorly, however, of course, I just feel let down.)

It strides the border between intricate Science Fiction and an almost Kafka-esque style.  And doesn’t break the rules of either.  That is the ultimate trick.

So I advise all and sundry to read ‘fragment’.  You will be the better for it.  And, it’s quite a thrill-ride.

(14) CLIPPING SERVICE. “How The Internet Unleashed a Burst of Cartooning Creativity” is a piece on Medium.com that was originally published in The Economist in 2012 (so it’s not behind the Economist paywall).  Randall Munroe is prominently featured, but Kate Beaton and Zach Weiner are also interviewed. Also of interest is the section on Arab cartoonists who would be censored if they were restricted to newspapers but are freer to express themselves on the Net.

Triumph of the nerds

The decline of newspapers and the rise of the internet have broken that system. Newspapers no longer have the money to pay big bucks to cartoonists, and the web means anybody can get published. Cartoonists who want to make their name no longer send sketches to syndicates or approach newspapers: they simply set up websites and spread the word on Twitter and Facebook. Randall Munroe, the creator of “XKCD”, left a job at NASA to write his stick men strip, full of science and technology jokes (see above and below). Kate Beaton, a Canadian artist who draws “Hark, A Vagrant”, sketched her cartoons between shifts while working in a museum. Matthew Inman created his comic “The Oatmeal” by accident while trying to promote a dating website he built to escape his job as a computer coder.

The typical format for a web comic was established a decade or more ago, says Zach Weiner, the writer of “Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal”, or “SMBC” (below). It has not changed much since. Most cartoonists update on a regular basis?—?daily, or every other day?—?and run in sequence. “I think that’s purely because that’s what the old newspapers used to do,” says Mr Weiner. But whereas many newspaper comics tried to appeal to as many people as possible, often with lame, fairly universal jokes, online cartoonists are free to be experimental, in both content and form.

(15) SFFSFF. The annual Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival (SFFSFF) at Seattle’s MoPOP has announced its program selections for the January 28, 2017 event. From Seattle Seahawks battling giant monsters through the city’s streets to a mind-altering cell phone app with unintended consequences, this year’s lineup of 23 films is presented in two packages with a 30-minute intermission between sessions and concludes with an awards ceremony. Ticket information and further details at the linked site.

(16) SCOUTING REPORT. This Inverse article – “11 Science Fiction Books That Will Define 2017” includes the official title and cover for book #3 in Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy.

Science fiction books have always looked toward the future through both creative speculation and adventurous escapism. After the 2016 Presidential Election, science fiction authors are poised to be more influential than ever before.

Luckily for readers, sci-fi authors are known to churn out their books like rabbits, creating a never-ending stream of great works. In 2017, we’ll see the continuation of several acclaimed book series, but will also have plenty of impressive standalone science fiction, too. Below is a list of eleven books that are slated for release in 2017 that will define science fiction in the upcoming year. Keep in mind these dates can be finicky, and that they can change at warp speed. But, otherwise, happy reading to your future self!

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, James Davis Nicoll, John King Tarpinian, Dawn “No Middle Name” Incognito, J(“No Middle Initial”)J, Hampus Eckerman, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anthony.]

130 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/7/16 While Pixels Watched Their Scrolls By Night

  1. @Mark (Kitteh!): Thanks for the info & link. And BTW, I suspect I heard “hard fantasy” in reference to Jemisin’s series from someone else here, so I probably can’t take credit.

    @Greg Hullender: “Hard Rock Fantasy even.” Plus your song title choices – (groan) 😉 very good. The best may be “I am a rock” (which I also thought of) and “I feel the earth move under my feet.”

    @JJ: Hmm, okay I have to revise my impression to Science Fantasy for the “Broken Earth” books. I’d forgotten all about the tech-ish artifacts! Thanks for the reminder. Also – nice summary of how you look at SF/F markers, thanks.

    @Chris S.: “Maybe any rigorously structured magical system is indistinguishable from super-advanced technology?” – Hahaha, nice, yes.

    @Doctor Science: Psychic powers don’t necessarily make something F or SF for me. In “The Broken Earth,” some parts of them pull me a bit towards SF, but some parts (especially stuff introduced in book 2, IIRC) pull me more towards fantasy. For now, I’m going more and more with Science Fantasy. But for example, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Darkover” books were always SF to me.

  2. @Bill: “Your scroll is lifting me, Glyer” – ROFLMAO!

    @Dawn Incognito: I enjoyed “The Devil You Know” and am up for a little discussion. I might participate minimally, though (limited time, plus I’m not not as sophisticated as most book cussers and discussers here).

    @Camestros Felapton: Mmmm, pancakes.

    @Kyra: Yay, more quick takes on books!

    @Cat Eldridge: Is Stoddard’s series good? I’m pretty sure the first one made its way to our shelves years ago.

    @Xtifr: Heh, thanks for that link. From Buttbart – “TROMP BREAKS PROMISE BY RAISING BUTT TAX BY %30 ON LOW INCOME FAMILIES.” OH NOES!

  3. Is Stoddard’s series good? I’m pretty sure the first one made its way to our shelves years ago.

    I read the first two, and they were fascinating, but I think I liked the premise and the world more than the characters.

  4. 1) A dudebro would definitely say, “Pam, I think you’re my best friend.” But it wouldn’t mean what it sounds like it means; it would mean either he wants Pam to do him a large and inconvenient favor or he wants to get in her pants, or both. (Most of us have been Pam at one point or another, and gotten burned thereby.) So I don’t think that necessarily defines a particularly complex character.

    16) The Carrie Vaughn looks interesting, as long as the genius little brother doesn’t take over the story. Also, some people still can’t let go of the Slaveholders’ Rebellion.

    @ Darren: 100% agreement here. She’s a greedy idiot who brought this down on herself.

    @ Steve D. & Lenora Rose: Perhaps even more to the point, science fiction is one of the great teachers of critical thinking.

    @ Peer: Interesting article! But this rather jumped out at me: And the team has expanded beyond Harris and his brothers. His other siblings and three children help out, too.

    They couldn’t bring themselves to say “sisters?” Or was this a really clumsy way to express that his “other siblings” are gender-ambiguous?

  5. Black Panther – really enjoyed it but I agree that the first collection is much more a fragment of a story than, say Ms Marvel vol 1 was. Great writing, v compelling but really just feels like he was laying out all the pieces on the board. Just the nature of the story. Ms Marvel was one central character plus supporting characters but Black Panther was setting up a whole set of protagonists with deeper motives and framing a whole nations politics.

  6. I would say that the Vision series from NPR’s list more than deserves a look see. It’s far more self contained, and has an ending (of sorts).

    The pervasive sense of dread the whole plot has…. I don’t think I’ve ever read a comic like that. Much as I love what Coates has done to make Black Panther readable again after Hudlin, Vision is probably the best, and my favourite, series from this year.

  7. Kurt Busiek:The spacecraft slowly descended, pleased to be drinking sweet atmosphere once more, furling her petals just so to catch the last rays of the sun…

    Ooo! Kurt Busiek Flash Science Fiction Fantasy! 😀

  8. Kendall: But for example, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Darkover” books were always SF to me.

    Well, at least one of the books explains how their spaceship crash-landed on the wrong planet, and it’s explained in one or more books that the telepathic powers were acquired through interbreeding with a genetically-similar telepathic alien race which had settled or crash-landed on Darkover millenia before the human colonists. And one of the Darkover races is the result of genetic engineering by the human settlers.

    So there are plenty of SF markers there for me — though depending on where you entered the series, you might not have seen any of them right away.

  9. Kendall asks Is Stoddard’s series good? I’m pretty sure the first one made its way to our shelves years ago.

    I think so. It’s got a great settling, a stellar story and reasonably developed characters. It suffered in the marketplace from poor support from its publisher at the time, so very few even knew it existed. And Evenmere, the final novel in the trilogy, just came out last year.

  10. @JJ: Agreed. And I’m thinking there are a couple of novels that read pretty much like straight fantasy in “Darkover,” IIRC.

    @Cat Eldridge: Great, thanks!

  11. @Kurt Busiek: very good demonstration of the argument that no one trope can define a genre (to the extent that a genre can be defined at all). For a larger example, consider Five Twelfths of Heaven; I don’t remember it being much of a story, but it was built around magically(theistically?)-powered spaceships.

    @JJ: but Darkover Landfall made clear that there were a lot of ]people of [fey] tribes[ on the ship, strongly suggesting that there were some latent abilities wakened by kireseth(?) rather than those abilities coming solely from interbreeding. There’s also (IIRC) significant retconning in the later books. Psychic powers are a serious boundary problem for people who try to draw boundaries between F and SF, especially since they’re taken (from what I see) less seriously than they were in Campbell’s time (but not always unseriously — I heard an opinionated-but-coherent person declare that Stross’s Merchant Princes series was fantasy based on the first book, but didn’t take that opinion back to him when gur jbeyq-fuvsgvat novyvgl jnf genprq gb fcrpvsvp arhebaf gung pbhyq or phygvingrq va-ivgeb).

  12. Telepathy–IMHO ignoring the inverse square law for the propagation of radiation/energy is as bad as ignoring any other laws of physics. (In other words, even if someone was somehow biologically picking up the thoughts of others at a distance, they would need a brain the size or Arecibo for the “antenna”.)

  13. If science fiction had to obey the known laws of science, we’d have to bar almost all of science fiction from the category. Not just psychic powers, but all faster than light travel, all time travel, a whole boatload of other things.

    The “fiction” bit is equally important. If the laws of science as established by the narrative are maintained, I don’t see why a fuss should be raised about definition. There are SF books that make a specific point of using only “real world science” or (sometimes) currently plausible theories, but frankly it’s a subgenre, and a smallish one at that.

    I do get annoyed by books which are making a specific point of using only “real world physics” and get it wrong, but that’s a separate issue.

  14. @Chip Hitchcock

    In fairness to your opinionated person, the Merchant Princes was deliberately SF-by-stealth. IIRC, Stross had painted himself into a contractual corner and couldn’t release any SF books for over a year, and so deliberately wrote them to appear as fantasy at the start.

  15. I think John Campbell bears some responsibility for the disputes over the limits of science fiction here.

    CAMPBELL: Psi powers are real, and so fiction featuring them is science fiction.
    EVERYONE ELSE: No, psi powers are not real, and so fiction featuring them is not science fiction.

    Actually this is a non sequitur – science fiction needn’t be seen as including only things that are real, and if it did faster-than-light travel would also be excluded. But if you write a book about psi powers and say it’s science fiction, you may give the impression you agree with Campbell, which is an impression no one wants to give.

    PS: I agree that spaceships make something SF, but that shouldn’t be taken to mean that it isn’t fantasy. A work can be Both, if it includes distinctive features of a scientific or technological kind and also others of a magical or supernatural kind. That covers several recent works, but not Jemisin: all the distinctive features of her world are (within the story) scientifically explicable.

  16. CAMPBELL: Psi powers are real, and so fiction featuring them is science fiction.
    EVERYONE ELSE: No, psi powers are not real, and so fiction featuring them is not science fiction.

    Well, not everyone else.

    My response is “psi powers are (usually) fictional science, and so fiction featuring them is science fiction.”

    When things like telepathy or teleportation or telekinesis are accomplished magically, that’s fantasy. When they’re presented as science, that’s science fiction.

    But then, I’d also say that if psi powers were real, then stories featuring them would be straight fiction.

  17. Doctor Science: Re: size of Stillness. Cool! I had not picked up on its relative size (I may er be guilty of not paying enough attention to maps! or issues of distance when reading). Will have to send on to my student.

    @Chip: re one trope/convention: I was just about ready to post about Melissa Scott’s Roads of Heaven series which is all spaceships run by magic when I saw your post, and went YEP!: Great review here.

    So taverns are not always markers of fantasy, and spaceships are not always markers of science fiction, because critics make up genre categories, and writers create art and are quite happy to play around with genre conventions, and even cross them!

    My creative writing “Genres” course next spring always focused on a specific genre–last time it was memoir, this time it will be cross-genre works–any two or more genres! I think it will be an awesome course (the genre changes each time so students can take it twice for credit.)

    Am also thinking of McCaffrey’s Pern which started out looking all fantasy (dragons and medieval levels of technology because let’s remember technology existed from the first tool picked up/created back in Ye Olden Days) but soon morphed into lost colony/sf genre.

  18. Andrew M: Actually this is a non sequitur – science fiction needn’t be seen as including only things that are real, and if it did faster-than-light travel would also be excluded.

    I remember hearing Larry Niven introduce the reading of a draft saying it included his newest idea for a “doubletalk drive”. Because Larry, a devoted hard sf writer, acknowledged there was a certain absurdity in play when it comes to defining what sf means.

  19. Chip Hitchcock: Psychic powers are a serious boundary problem for people who try to draw boundaries between F and SF

    I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood. I’ve simply described how I decide for myself whether I think something is science fiction or fantasy. If the only “science fictional” element of a story is that there are psi powers, I consider it fantasy. And a lot of stories have both SF and fantasy elements; I consider them to be SFF. I do not expect other people to subscribe to my definitions, nor do I care whether they do. Such definitions are merely for my convenience.

    However, if I pick up a book that has been marketed specifically as science fiction, and the only “science fictional” element of the story is that there are psi powers, I will likely feel cheated and unhappy unless the book is exceptional.

  20. I thought we’d had taverns as a definitive demarcation point between fantasy and SF? Particularly snow-covered ones.

  21. @Chris S.: Ann Leckie put paid to that, I expect deliberately. A Wiscon panel a few years ago attributed ~”trees != SF” to Card, which ignores a ~50-year-old story that I \thought/ was called “To See It Fall” (colonists take down a huge tree just because they can, and find their houses rotting), but ISFDB doesn’t show it.

  22. Up until the late 1970s/early 1980s, a lot of people (including a lot of scientists) considered Psi fairly plausible. The flaws in the Rhine Institute’s methodology hadn’t been exposed yet, and a lot of prominent scientists were falling for charlatans like Uri Geller. The government was hiring people to stare at goats.

    So I give psi from that era and earlier a pass as SF. Maybe the writers should have known better, but so should a lot of people. More recent works featuring psi, though, I tend to classify as fantasy. Unless (and this is the tricky bit), it’s doing a shout-out to older SF.

  23. I have never seen a “rule” for distinguishing SF from Fantasy that works any better than “I know it when I see it.”

    That is to say, it is a very subjective call, and your SF may well be my Fantasy, and vice versa.

  24. Surprised but happy to see Hong Gildong on the NPR sci-fi list. I have a partially started blog post on how it may show the need for sci-fi. Since most of my posts are never published (since never finished) the gist of it is that a lot of the story’s weaknesses are due to setting it in the past, which is known and fairly well-documented. If it had been set in the future, those weaknesses could have been avoided and it could better explore its major themes.

    Any case, I found it a flawed story but nonetheless extremely interesting in part because of those flaws.

  25. @Shao Ping: I’ve just been looking at getting my hands on a copy of Hong Gildong, oddly enough… apparently it’s kind of a big deal in Korea, and my girlfriend recommended that I read it when I was asking her about Korean things to read/watch.

  26. @Oneiros: I don’t know Korean or much about Korea, but I greatly enjoyed the Penguin translation. I would also very much recommend reading the introduction (I read it after I read the book, but it doesn’t matter much whether you do or not) because he makes a good case that Hong Gildong‘s prominence in Korean culture is due to an influential misreading, namely that it’s Korea’s first vernacular novel, written by 16th century radical intellectual Heo Gyun. Minsoo Kang, the translator and author of the introduction, argues that the book was actually written in the 19th century.

  27. @Shao Ping: I also have minimal knowledge of Korea. I know the food is great, and I really love the bouldering gyms (at least the ones in Seoul), but as far as the history and culture goes I don’t know a whole lot either. In all honesty I’m more interested in Japan than Korea but since meeting the gf I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to learn about east (and south-east) Asia as a whole, and Korea really is interesting… in its similarities and differences to Japan… 🙂

    The is it old or really old debate sounds interesting; just the sort of thing I like to sink my teeth into (at least once I feel that I’m on firmer ground with it, anyway)

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