Pixel Scroll 5/14/17 Ain’t Any Ivory Soap Deal

(1) TOMORROW’S NEWS TODAY: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction will be Wikipedia’s featured article of the day on May 15. Thanks to Gordon Van Gelder for the hot tip.

And if you’d like to amaze your friends by predicting what the featured articles will be for some number of days into the future — just change the digits in the URL….

(2) VOICE OF EXPERIENCE. Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist completes its questioning in “Tad Williams Interview, part 2”.

With your wife Deborah, you have an in-house editor perusing everything you write. Then, at Daw Books you have Betsy Wollheim and Sheila Gilbert editing your novels. With that many editors having you under the microscope (and I reckon that your British editor also has something to say before anything goes into print), some would think that it could become a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. And yet, this approach obviously works well for you. Why is that?

Well, for one thing, I’m stubborn. As much as I love and respect all those folks, including my overseas editors, ultimately the complaints and/or suggestions have to make sense to me before I’ll make any large changes. I’ve been doing this writing gig for quite a while now and I don’t think you get to the point I have — making a living at it for decades — without trusting your own instincts. So if one person says they don’t like something, I’ll look at it and consider it but won’t necessarily change it unless the complaint strikes a chord for me. However, if all or at least several of them say that such and such a section is boring or confusing or whatever — well, I’m not stupid. On the other hand, because I have intelligent, skilled readers and editors like the three you mentioned, I also feel I can try new and unusual things and they are all clever enough to understand what I’m trying to do, which gives me a certain sense of freedom combined with the reassuring feeling that if I screw up too badly, they have my back and will help me fix it.

(3) OCTAVIA BUTLER EXHIBIT AT THE HUNTINGTON. It would be commonplace to start an item like this, “I wonder if Octavia Butler would have been surprised to hear that one day she’d be the subject of an exhibit at the Huntington Library?” But after viewing some of the ambitious notes to herself shown in this article, I don’t think it would have surprised her that much. “At the Huntington, see the inspirational note black sci-fi writer Octavia Butler wrote to herself” in the LA Times.

Octavia E. Butler was a powerful and pioneering voice in science-fiction. The first black woman acclaimed as a master of the genre, she was known for vivid, expertly crafted tales that upended conventional ideas about race, gender and humanity.

Although her creations were bold, Butler, who grew up poor in Pasadena, was “a private, reflective person who struggled with shyness and self-doubt,” said Natalie Russell, curator of a new exhibition at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino.

How such struggles influenced her life and art is one of the themes explored in “Octavia E. Butler: Telling My Stories.” Russell said the show uses an invaluable resource — the author’s archive — to examine both her published work and “who she was as told through her personal papers.”

(4) CASE STUDY. Paul Linebarger may have written the military classic Psychological Warfare, but don’t assume he didn’t need some shrinkage himself — “Remembering Cordwainer Smith: Full-Time Sci-Fi Author, Part-Time Earthling” in The Atlantic.

One hot June day, probably in the late 1940s or early 1950s, psychoanalyst Dr. Robert Lindner received a phone call from a physician who wanted to refer a troubling case to him for treatment: “The fellow I’m calling you about is a man in his 30s, a research physicist with us out here. As far as I can tell, he’s perfectly normal in every way except for a lot of crazy ideas about living part of the time in another world—on another planet.”

This famous case study, which Lindner shared in his 1955 book The Fifty-Minute Hour, is now believed by some to be a real-life account of Paul Linebarger (1913-1966)—better known to science-fiction fans under the name of Cordwainer Smith, a writer who still retains a strong cult following in this year of his centenary. The accumulated evidence suggests that Smith, who published more than two dozen short stories and a single sci-fi novel during the 1950s and 1960s, may have drawn on his personal experiences, broadly defined, in crafting his peculiar and visionary tales of intergalactic life. Brian Aldiss first reported the possible linkage between Smith and Kirk Allen—the name used by Lindner for his patient—in 1973, and subsequent research by Alan Elms and Lee Weinstein has tended to substantiate, although not definitely prove, the connection.

(5) WONDER WOMAN HEALTH FOOD. Forget those protein bars —

Ahead of the release of the new Wonder Woman movie, Cold Stone Creamery is releasing a fierce new flavor. The promotional flavor is called Dark Chocolate Triple Berry Ice Cream, and the new Creation is called the Wonder Woman Berry Bold, which has the Dark Chocolate Triple Berry Ice Cream plus chocolate shavings, raspberries, and gold glitter. And that’s not all. The ice cream shop is also releasing a new cupcake called Triple Berry Wonder, which has layers of moist Red Velvet Cake and Dark Chocolate Triple Berry Ice Cream, topped with chocolate frosting, gold glitter, and a Wonder Woman logoed Chocolate Medallion.

(6) FAN MAIL. Be part of Worldcon 75’s postcard exhibit –

(7) GOLDEN AGE. “Science fiction’s new golden age in China, what it says about social evolution and the future, and the stories writers want world to see” in the South China Morning Post.

…Some 104 original sci-fi titles were published in China in 2016, compared to 75 the previous year, and 461 novelettes were released last year.

Author Regina Wang Kanyu, 27, a long-time sci-fi fan, has witnessed its growth in recent years. “It’s the golden age of Chinese science fiction,” she says.

Wang is a co-founder of AppleCore, a group of mostly university students who get together in Shanghai to read science fiction. It grew from an alliance of several university clubs into a community, and organises film screenings, visits to virtual reality labs and annual festivals.

She now works full time in the science fiction field – as a public relations manager for start-up Storycom by day and a sci-fi writer by night. Storycom purchases and publishes works by Chinese authors, and Wang’s task is to promote them in foreign markets. “We are not simply marketing the works owned by our company, but the entire genre of Chinese science fiction. We would like to increase its influence, outside China and especially beyond the field of literature, into arts and tourism.”

Last month, writers Regina Wang, Wang Yao and Hao Jingfang attended Melon Hong Kong, the city’s first science-fiction conference to bring together Chinese and Western writers….

Note that Wang Yao writes as “Xia Jia”. Regina Wang Kanyu is a contributor to Amazing Stories.

(8) TIME TRAVEL. A zoomable copy of Berenice Abbot’s photo “Newsstand, Southwest Corner of 32nd Street and Third Avenue, November 19, 1935” can be viewed at the Heritage Auctions site.

Travel back in time to the pulp era, when you could have bought a copy of Weird Tales Nov 1935, with a Conan story by R. E. Howard and a letter by Forrest Ackerman, for the original price!

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

(10) THE VIEW FROM ECBATAN. Rich Horton carries on with “Hugo Ballot Reviews: Short Story”.

My ballot will look like this:

1) “That Game We Played During the War“, by Carrie Vaughn

Easy pick for me. It was the only story on my nomination list to make the final ballot. (As I’ve noted before, that’s not unusual.) And it’s SF. More importantly, it’s really good. From my Locus review: “”That Game We Played During the War” is a moving piece about Calla, a woman who was a nurse for Enith during their war with the telepathic Gaant people. The war is over, and Calla is visiting Gaant, trying to meet and continue a game of chess she had been playing with Major Valk, whom she had encountered both in Enith and later after she was captured, in Gaant. This version of chess is unusual — because of the Gaantish telepathy — and it’s not so much the point — the point, of course, is how enemies can come to a peaceful meeting (and, too, how telepathy complicates that!)” So — a core SF idea used very well in service of a worthwhile moral point. With good writing and good characters. Works for me.

(11) BLASPHEMY. That’s what John King Tarpinian said when he spotted this LA Times headline: “So many books to help you get rid of stuff (like too many books)”. The related article, at least, does not single out books as targets of the de-cluttering process.

That stuff-to-happiness equation is at the heart of one of the hottest trends in publishing for the last few years. Publishers have been pumping out book after book celebrating the rewards of getting rid of stuff. Japanese author Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and “Spark Joy” have sold over 7 million copies worldwide, and she’s got another coming next month: “The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story” a graphic novel which casts Kondo as a kind of joy-sparking Sailor Moon who helps a disorganized young woman get her life in order.

(12)  OLD BLUE EYES. He passed away 19 years ago today. Read Steve Vertlieb’s “Sinatra All The Way” tribute at The Gull Cottage.

On the night of Thursday May 14th, 1998, America and the world lost the most iconic, beloved entertainer of the twentieth century. Sadly, it has been nineteen years since the passing of The Chairman Of The Board. William B. Williams assigned that name to Francis Albert Sinatra on his WNEW Radio program a half century ago, and it stuck. No performer either before or since has had the cultural impact of Sinatra. Singer, Actor, Director, Dancer, Painter, Producer, and Social Activist, Frank Sinatra remains the single most influential multi media artist in show business history. On the anniversary of his passage into both history and legend, we take a look back at his remarkable career and commemorate more than one hundred years, as well as one of The Greatest Stories Ever Told, with this retrospective and one hundredth birthday celebration of the life and times of Frank Sinatra.

(13) BROTHER GUY IN THE NEWS. Fan favorite Brother Guy Consolmagno got some ink this week — “The Vatican Is Looking for God in the Stars”.

If you think faith and science can’t share common ground, think again. Experts in both realms met last week at the Vatican Observatory to prove their theory that you can’t have one without the other. “If you have no faith in your faith, that is when you will fear science,” said Brother Guy Consolmagno the Vatican’s chief astronomer, whose works include such titles as “Would you Baptize an Extraterrestrial?

Brother Consolmagno led the three-day conference called Black Holes, Gravitational Waves and Spacetime Singularities at the Vatican Observatory’s Castel Gandolfo labs outside of Rome, the former papal summer residence that is remote enough to allow for clear stargazing with minimal light pollution.

He challenged astronomers, cosmologists. and other experts in the field who also believe in God to “come out” and talk about the intersection of faith and fact. What he ended up with are talks like, “The Internal Structure of Spinning Black Holes” and “The Big Bang and its Dark-Matter Content: Whence, Whither, and Wherefore.” Not once in the whole program does the word “God” or “religion” even appear, which is rare for a conference sponsored by the Vatican.

(14) A SCRIBE IN KALAMAZOO. Heather Rose Jones has posted her extensive and fascinating notes about the paper sessions she attended at the Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo. For example –

What Did it Mean to Be a Magician in al-Baqillani’s Baghdad? The Social Implications of the Discourse on Magic – Mushegh Asatryan, Univ. of Calgary

(could not be present due to immigration status concerns, but sent paper to be read)

11th c Baghdad, implications of magical practice. Book concerns difference between saintly miracles, tirckery, soothsaying, magic, and ??.  Works to distinguish and offers examples. Clear case where theological speculation is informed by social context of author. Life experiences that led the author to compose the work. “Prophetic miracles” (only prophets can perform) vs. “saintly miracles”.

Miracles: something only God can perform, and not others including supernatural creatures. Breaks the usual custom of events. E.g., flying through the air, moving mountains. One test is claim of prophecy. If someone claims to be a prophet and can still perform the action, it’s a miracle not a trick/magic.

Tricks are manipulation of people’s perceptions.

Magic is considered to be real, and is otherwise similar to miracles in breaking the usual course of events.

The author considers these categories in the context of determinism and atomism. Things are considered magic/miracles only because their break the apparent habit of what God wills, but they are still in alignment with God’s will. A magician cannot effect change in an object but any change is due to God’s action. So a magician can’t prove his actions to be proof of prophecy., as God won’t coincidentally break his habits to create the appearance of the effectiveness of his actions. Unless he’s a prophet and they are actual miracles. So if a magician makes a false claim of prophecy, either he must be punished, or the apparent miracle must be made into a natural law (i.e., a habit of God).

While the author condemns Muslim magicians for this reason, he does not do so for Christian or Jewish magicians,. They post no threat to the Islamic power structure of Baghdad, while Muslim magicians did. Internal political conflicts may have been relevant, e.g., Shi’ites were associated with claims of magical powers. (There is discussion of the authority structure with regard to scriptural interpretation.) The author defends the concept/acceptability of magic in order to counter Shi’a magical claims.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Gordon Van Gelder, Bill Mullins, Cat Eldridge, Steve Vertlieb, John King Tarpinian, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor Raymond Chandler, with an assist from John A Arkansawyer.]

96 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/14/17 Ain’t Any Ivory Soap Deal

  1. 4: CASE STUDY: A long time ago I was curious enough to look up the book by Robert Lindner and read the case study supposedly about Cordwainer Smith. I wasn’t convinced at all. What this excerpt doesn’t mention is that “Kirk Allen” really thought he lived on another planet, which was the reason he went to a psychiatrist in the first place. But authors don’t really do that — despite what some people think, they do know the difference between fiction and non-fiction. And there were other parts in the study that didn’t seem to fit Smith’s life, though admittedly I don’t know all that much about him.

    Also, Lindner was a strict Freudian, and had some, shall we say, now outmoded ideas.

  2. In todays thrilling episode! Trigger Snowflake, Lawman and their sidekick Fantasitical Zing take on the Sherman Earworm!

  3. @Mike Glyer:

    Missive should be winding its way through the wires to a mail server near you, as I type.

  4. Since there’s about five different variations on the first page of comments I feel like pointing out that Carrie Vaughn’s Hugo nominated story about telepathy is titled “That Game We Played During the War“.

    Also, Tor.com have released “The Tor.com Hugo Bundle” for USD 20, with all the Hugo-nominated fiction from Tor.com – four novellas, two novelettes and three short stories. Note that a Tor.com staffer explicitly say in the comments that the bundle will be in the packet – this is an offer meant for non-Worldcon members. (I suppose we’re waiting for some other publisher to put their contributions together.)

  5. (5) I think I will print out this paragraph and hang it somewhere in my office. And imagine it being read by James Earl Jones.

  6. Tyg:

    Just recall that her Man’s World sidekick (No, not Steve Trevor, the other one) both originally in the comics and in the movie is named Etta Candy.

    Woo woo!

    Darren:

    So are people really calling manga “graphic novels” now?

    Since what “graphic novels” means, these days, is “book-format comics,” why not?

    Manga is comics. Manga in book form is book-format comics.

    It’s odd to call something that — apparently — is self-help/how-to rather than strictly fiction a novel, but it’s not the first time book-format non-fiction comics have been called “graphic novels.”

  7. But this is the first time I’ve personally seen a manga volume called a graphic novel. (I’m geek enough to think of it as a tankobon.)

  8. @Bill: You may have my internet as well. Those are some very good rhymes. Another candidate for File 770 Theme Song.

    @Nigel: I’m out of internets. Please have a Wonder Woman ice cream cone.

    @Ingvar: I hope Mike posts it!

    @Lisa: Yeah, it doesn’t fit at all. Linebarger was an expert in psyops (he literally wrote the book) and in realpolitik both East and West, as well as being an author. This idea is BS and insults him and his children.

    (5) I am on a Very Serious diet. This article made me whine. The other promotion irritated my brain, this one only bothered my stomach. Our local Cold Stone is in the same center as the grocery store and the Target… I may need restraining.

    (10) His hatred of fantasy has really messed up his ratings. I don’t get what so many people see in “That Game We…” after reading it a couple times. It’s a good story, but it didn’t orbit my socks. Whereas I lost a pair the first two times I read “Seasons of Glass and Iron”. “That Game” straddled the boundaries of SF vs. F for me, too.

    (11) Since it has a fictional narrative (though based on a real person and her ideas), I think graphic novel is fine. Once it’s in English, it’s a graphic novel, just like floppies are comic books once translated, not bandes dessinées.

  9. Telepathy doesn’t inherently make a story fantasy or science fiction. The reason behind the telepathy does. There was no reason given in the story, so it could be either. I was not, incidentally, trying to imply that there should be such an explanation — I was glad that there wasn’t one, it wasn’t needed. Why would I want such an explanation simply so I could categorize the story neatly into the proper box? How silly.

  10. (4) Besides what Lisa and others have pointed out about this not fitting well with the details of Linebarger’s life, I don’t think this article was much good at describing his fiction, beyond “it was weirder than a lot of other SF.” Plots and premises are summarized in a sloppy way that suggests the writer either read these things a long time ago, or just skimmed someone else’s summary of them… and may also not be particularly well read in other SF of the time, because the basic premises in most of these cases are really not that much more outlandish than other writers’ work; what makes the stories distinctive and unmistakably Cordwainer Smith is the execution– the tone and the prose.

    The closest the article comes to conveying that is in calling “Scanners Live in Vain” creepy and surrealistic– although that’s undercut by saying that the title characters are only deaf, when the truth is so much worse. Also, if the writer had paid more attention to that story and the critical writing about it, he might’ve been less impressed with this Kirk Allen idea: it’s very easy to see the story as being based in the experience of major depression, whereas it’s very hard to see how it would come from someone who felt “normal in every way” but had delusions about living in a colorful pulp fiction world. But in general, this article makes no effort to draw any kind of logical connection between the content or style of these works and the purported psychiatric issues of the author, other than the very superficial level of “weird person writes weird things.”

    Pretty much the only positive thing I can say about this piece is that it might make someone curious enough to read some Cordwainer Smith.

  11. Darren:

    But this is the first time I’ve personally seen a manga volume called a graphic novel. (I’m geek enough to think of it as a tankobon.)

    Amazon has been including them in the “Comics & Graphic Novels” section as long as there’s been one.

    And while “tankobon” technically means a standalone book, what it most often gets used to mean is “comics in book format.” Or what in English is usually called a graphic novel.

    Essentially, you’re wondering why they don’t use the common Japanese term for the format instead of the common English term. One might also wonder why we don’t call French comics “bands dessinées” — the answer is that while some people distinguish between Japanese comics in book form and other comics in book form, a lot of people don’t. They don’t think of Haruki Murakami’s work as something different from a non-Japanese author’s work; THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE gets called a novel in English-speaking countries, not a sh?setsu. So they use the English term for book-format comics, just as they use the English term for novel.

    [I see lurkertype has said much the same thing, but more efficiently.]

  12. Lurkertype — “my hatred of fantasy”? Please.

    We can disagree about the qualities of a given story without imputing motives to each other. Well, I haven’t imputed motives…

    That said, my totally messed up ratings had “Seasons of Glass and Iron”, hmmm, one place behind “That Game We Played During the War” on my ballot.

    Oh well.

  13. I wanted to take a moment to thank my incredibly talented collaborator Raymond Chandler for helping me to this honor. I have been retyping his words devotedly for years now, and drinking gimlets in honor of whatever whenever I felt particularly blue and lonely. Any sort of gimlet will do–gin, vodka, even once a tequila gimlet a sweet bartender at San Francisco’s Beauty Bar made me that sad weekend in November 2004 just after the the election. Hi, Camille W., wherever you are! Thank you for making me a tequila gimlet! No one else has ever made one which was more than drinkable. God knows I’ve driven many other bartenders to not drink whenever I’ve asked for one.

    Anyway, Mister Chandler, if I ever write that alternate history that ends with Robert Heinlein and Dashiell Hammett collaborating on “The Stone Pillow” while rooming together in Leavenworth, I will strongly consider dedicating it, at least in part, to you, in memory of this joyous occasion.

    4) I wish my copy of The Fifty-Minute Hour were to hand. I’d love to see exactly how wrong that article is.

    Cordwainer Smith did write weird, though, I’ll give the author that, weird good.

  14. @lurkertype

    I don’t get what so many people see in “That Game We…” after reading it a couple times. It’s a good story, but it didn’t orbit my socks. Whereas I lost a pair the first two times I read “Seasons of Glass and Iron”. “That Game” straddled the boundaries of SF vs. F for me, too.

    That’s largely a matter of taste, however. For example, “That Game We Played During the War” knocked my socks off upon first reading, was on my nomination ballot and sits firmly at the number 1 spot in this category for me.

    Meanwhile, I get what many people love about “Seasons of Glass and Iron”, but it’s just a tad too predictable for me. Besides – and that is purely a personal thing – I don’t particularly care for fairytale retellings/fairytale inspired stories, since most of them are not nearly as clever and innovative as they think they are. To be fair, “Seasons of Glass and Iron” is one of the better fairytale inspired stories out there and it certainly won’t place last on my ballot. But then, we are lucky that we have five very fine finalists in this category this year (and JCW).

  15. @Ingvar: I guess from your name that you may not be a native speaker of English, and in particular may not be aware that when you say “Master Glyer” you are using what is traditionally a form of address to boys. (To be sure, it’s an address that is little-used nowadays, even slightly archaic.) I’m sure you meant no harm here, but I can imagine cases where someone might take offense.

  16. David Goldfarb: “Master Glyer”

    You may be right, but since I assumed it was meant semi-ironically I found it in good form.

  17. when you say “Master Glyer” you are using what is traditionally a form of address to boys

    It read to me like he was addressing a Master Magician — so there’s the influence of SFF on personal perspective, I guess.

  18. I remember getting letters addressed to “Master [name]” when I was younger. I also had a Korean martial arts instructor at one point whom I called Master Han – his choice to have us use the English word rather than the Korean version of master/teacher/sensei. Always found that slightly odd, especially as I also do Japanese martial arts and typically use Japanese honorifics in those (except where an instructor explicitly is uncomfortable with us using those terms). Come to think of it, I also generally referred to my very French wing chun instructor as Sifu during class. I miss doing martial arts these days actually… been a while since I’ve trained in a dojo with other people, although I do keep my sword skills from getting too rusty.

    tl;dr don’t worry I said nothing of any importance.

  19. @Bill re. the Allan Sherman riff: Excellent! 😀

    @Rich Horton: Thanks. BTW the only motive I impute to you is that you seem to prefer SF over fantasy (but my telepathy is wonky, so I don’t know to what degree).

    @lurkertype: FWIW (nothing, I know), I rank “Seasons of Glass and Iron” below “That Game We Played During the War.” Neither knocked any socks off.

    @Cora: Thanks for using telepathy (don’t tell me whether it’s SF or fantasy!) to read my mind, so you could sum up my feelings about “Seasons of Glass and Iron” and fairytale-inspired stories in general. 😉

    @Ghostbird: “Ice cream is marketed as comfort food for women.” That may be true (I skip past ads on TV, or ignore them, so that’s news to me), but ice cream seems to be a comfort food for plenty of men I know. I always thought of it as a universal comfort food (along with most sweets, frankly). Or maybe it’s just me who finds all bad-for-me things comfort food. ::blush::

  20. @John A Arkansawyer: Ooh! Ooh! I just read on Kathleen Jacques’ Twitter feed that Band Vs. Band is nominated for a Reuben Award this year!

    That is really good news! Band vs Band is a really sweet slice-of-alternate-world life comic, and one of the bright spots of the week. And Kathleen Jacques is a truly nice person onTwitter

  21. @Kurt: You are the only person ever to write that I “said the same thing, but more efficiently.” Possibly since this is the first time it’s happened.

    @Rich: Okay, your grumpy reluctance to acknowledge that the Hugo is equally for science fiction and fantasy, the line between which has never been sharp.

    “That Game…” struck me as a slightly sf-nal take on any number of: former enemies become more than fond of each other, with a touch of Stockholm Syndrome, and the nurse falls for handsome patient thing, and chess = smart people. I’ve read all that before. Also predictable plot-wise, and the prose didn’t wow me. Shrug. I reread it today and nope.* Still not Hugo-worthy. However, even the second through fifth best in this category is/will be a good piece of reading.

    *It also made me wonder “How could the war be that close? Wouldn’t the telepaths have conquered the non-TP long before their tech and societal level got close? Or long before the non-TPs realized how to combat it if they were equal or the TPs were a little behind?” The rest of the story isn’t good enough for me to not have that nagging, whether it’s SF or F.

  22. I suspect it may be down to “separated by a common language” (at least in the circles I move, “Master / Mistress X” is a honorific rather than a diminutive, but I shall happily admit to have somewhat odd trajectories, at the best of times).

  23. I acknowledge, by the way, that telepathy as a trope can be either Fantasy or SF — I default to an SFnal reading absent other evidence of magic, but I have no argument with anyone who reads it as Fantasy.

    I do admit to a mild preference for SF over Fantasy, and I certainly concede that that’s a matter of personal taste. Any look at my yearly Best of the Year anthologies, however, will show a whole bunch of Fantasy. (Without having counted recently I suspect in a typical year the book is 55/45 SF/Fantasy.) I think that this ballot is overwhelmingly weighted to Fantasy in the Short Fiction categories. There are two perhaps ambiguous cases (“A Taste of Honey”, which most people seem to read as Fantasy; and “That Game We Played During the War”). There are two definite SF stories (“Touring With the Alien” and “The Art of Space Travel”. And there are three Puppy choices, the best of which is Fantasy, the worst of which is bad porn, and the third of which is SF.

    Of the non-Puppy nominees, then, between 2 and 4 stories — between 13% and 27% of the ballot — are SF. I believe that’s an historically low number, and as such worthy of comment. (Even if we count the Puppy nominees, and stretch to consider every borderline story SF, the total is 6 of 18, or 33%.)

    I also believe — as a matter of personal taste — that many of the best stories of the year that were overlooked for this ballot are SF: “The Vanishing Kind”, “Lazy Dog Out”, “Everyone From Themis Sends Letters Home”, “The Visitor From Taured”, “Empty Planets”, “Red in Tooth and Cog”, “Project Empathy”, most of Rich Larson’s stories.

    I think that’s interesting. And, yes, I do think the ballot is noticeably weaker for the lack of those stories — but, as I’ve said again and again, I think good stories miss the ballot every year.

    I will note without endorsing their point of view that many people still regard the Hugos as preferably an SF-centric award, noting that Fantasy has the World Fantasy Award, for example. I don’t agree — Fantasy has always been eligible, and has won at least since “That Hell-Bound Train”.

    I’ll just conclude by saying that in a field in which the short fiction is typically split roughly 50/50 between SF and Fantasy (maybe even tilted a bit to SF), it is notable when a ballot is so tilted in one direction. There are many possible explanations, including the very plausible one that in any given year, statistically, it’s not that surprising that such a split could happen. My argument, for this year, is that even so, IN MY PERSONAL OPINION, the ballot is weaker because many of the best stories that didn’t make it were SF.

  24. Cora said exactly what I was going to say. So clearly we’ve established that telepathy is a thing.

  25. I’m reminded of Skylark DuQuesne, which is SF nutty nuggets (is it not?) and whose denouement hinged on the actions of a trio of witches psychic women. I’m not so sure it would fly today, but I take psionic powers as one of them borderline genre thingees myself.

  26. @Dawn Incognito: And in James Schmitz’s Telzey Amberdon stories, which I absolutely loved as a teenager, psi powers are clearly presented as science fiction rather than fantasy; there are, for example, electronic shields that can be used against them.

  27. I have to agree; psi ain’t Hard Science, but it’s definitely allowed in SF-not-Fantasy stories. (And how has nobody mentioned Star Trek in this context yet? Spock and Troi are but two easy examples.)

  28. Master has several meanings:

    – Address for a male child in general, a bit archaic (the only place I’ve seen this is airline reservations.)
    – Address for a male child of landed gentry, even more archaic except in rare circles and folk songs.
    – Address for an acknowledged expert in a variety of crafts and/or trades
    – Address for an acknowledged expert and teacher of martial arts.
    – These last two often imply a teaching element but don’t absolutely require it.
    – Address for some religious figures and gurus, usually again with the implication of teaching.
    – Address for SCA members how have earned certain peer-level awards, usually for either a form of crafting (called “Arts and sciences” but science in this case is closer to trade skill than to science) or for high level volunteering/service. Less commonly also used for people skilled in fencing archery or other forms of marital skill other then “Heavy fighting” (which gets Knighthood instead).

  29. @Lenora Rose: you are not universally correct about martial skills in the SCA; those who merit knighthood but prefer (for personal or persona reasons) not to swear fealty to each new monarch may choose to be called “Master” instead of “Sir”, and have slightly different insignia. I do archery regularly with one such I’ve known for 40 years, but I’ve confirmed that at least in the East Kingdom this is still done. (I don’t know about other kingdoms.) And note that both offices expect conduct as well as skill; e.g., 30 years in An Tir I was told that people with purely martial skills became Sergeants.

  30. The only adult person I ever hear addressed as “Master” is Batman. And that’s only by Alfred.

  31. @lurkertype, Kurt:
    I still remember groaning when I first discovered there was a comics shop in Brussels called The Band of Six Noses, or ‘La Bande des Six Nez’.

  32. Jenora Feuer, ok, I admit it. I can tell there’s a joke there from the delivery, probably a pun from Kendall’s groan… but I confess it went right over my head. (I guess my reflexes aren’t as fast as Drax’s.)

  33. Cassy, in French,
    La Bande des Six Nez (The Band of Six Noses)
    and
    La Bande Dessinée (literally, “The Drawn Strip” or “Strip of Drawings”)
    are homophones.

    I groaned, too. 😀

  34. Oh, nice! I knew how to say the French phrase (more or less) from French class <mumble> years ago, but I didn’t know the word “dessinée” so that didn’t do me any good….

  35. If Alfred addresses the adult Bruce Wayne as “Master Bruce”, it can only be out of long habit since Bruce was a boy.

    Or perhaps it’s when he thinks Batman is being particularly immature.

  36. In my experience ‘Master’ by itself can be a title of respect in various circumstances, but ‘Master + surname’ is used only for boys – and I am old enough to have got letters addressed to ‘Master Andrew M…..’ in my youth.

    How this came about is a bit of a puzzle. It would seem that ‘Master’ as a general term of respect was modified to ‘Mister’ when used of adults, but not when used of children; but it’s hard to see why that would happen.

  37. Or perhaps it’s when he thinks Batman is being particularly immature.

    Hmmm… thinks… you may have it there! It’s usually when Bats is about to or has done something even stupider/dangerous than usual.

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