Pixel Scroll 6/6/17 Scrolltime For Pixels

(1) RABID DRAGONS. Vox Day has posted his picks for “Dragon Awards 2017”. Castalia House and John C. Wright are well represented, along with other things he likes. But poor Declan Finn — he’s not on the list.

(2) BOOZY BARBARIANS. Fritz Hahn, in a Washington Post piece called “A ‘Game of Thrones’ pop-up bar where you can drink Dothraquiris on the Iron Throne”, reviews the Game of Thrones Pop-Up Bar, which will be open throughout the summer and where you can drink The North Remembers from a horn as well as all the Ommegang Game of Thrones beers. But don’t take any broadswords there or the bouncers will confiscate them!

After pop-up bars dedicated to Christmas, “Stranger Things,” cherry blossoms and Super Mario, the Drink Company team is turning the former Mockingbird Hill, Southern Efficiency and Eat the Rich spaces into five settings evoking George R.R. Martin’s novels. (Doors open June 21, just a few weeks before Season 7 premieres on HBO.) Immersive rooms include the House of Black and White (where you’ll find a Wall of Faces made of molds of employees and friends of the bar) and the Red Keep, where you can pose for a photo as House Bolton’s flayed man. There will be dragons and house banners, of course, though the real centerpiece will most likely be a full-size replica of the Iron Throne, which co-founder Derek Brown says “is going to be totally ridiculous.”

(3) OCTAVIA BUTLER SET TO MUSIC. A theatrical concert based on Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower is coming to Chapel Hill, NC in November.

Singer-songwriter-guitarist Toshi Reagon is a celebration of all that’s progressive and uplifting in American music. Written by Toshi in collaboration with her mother — iconic singer, scholar and activist Bernice Johnson Reagon — this powerful theatrical concert brings together 200 years of African American song traditions to give life to Octavia E. Butler’s acclaimed science fiction novel, with revealing insights on gender, race and the future of human civilization.

 

(4) SPECIAL NASFIC OBSERVATORY TRIP. NorthAmeriCon ‘17 members have a chance to join guest of honor Brother Guy Consolmagno, the “Pope’s Astronomer,” on a special tour of the Arecibo Observatory. Find out how at the link.

There are 25 spaces available for the VIP tour, which includes the visitor’s center as well as a 30-minute behind-the-scenes tour in small groups. Since we anticipate that demand for the VIP tour may exceed supply, we are creating a lottery to allocate these spaces. An additional 25 spaces will be available on the bus for the Visitor’s Center only.

The lottery will close at 10 pm ET on Monday, June 12. So as long as you request a spot by then you have an equal opportunity to be picked.

Also, the convention room rate for the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino ends on June 12. Reserve your rooms at the this link.

(5) WHETHER OR NOT YOU WISH. “This is really a neat piece, about the universe where a fantasy princess became a warrior general,” notes JJ, quite rightly. Princess Buttercup Became the Warrior General Who Trained Wonder Woman, All Dreams Are Now Viable by Tor.com’s Emily Asher-Perrin.

Spoilers ahead for the Wonder Woman film.

Those who know the secrets of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride know that he started writing the story for his daughters, one who wanted a story about a bride and the other who wanted a story about a princess. He merged those concepts and wound up with a tale that didn’t focus overmuch on his princess bride, instead bound up in the adventures of a farmboy-turned-pirate, a master swordsman in need of revenge, a giant with a heart of gold, and a war-hungry Prince looking for an excuse to start a terrible conflict. It was turned into a delightful movie directed by Rob Reiner in 1987.

The princess bride in question was played by a twenty-year-old Robin Wright….

(6) HENRY HIGGINS ASKS. In “Why Can’t Wonder Woman Be Wonder Woman?” on National Review Online, editor Rich Lowry says that conservatives will find much to like in the new Wonder Woman movie. He also addresses the mighty controversy about whether the film is feminist because Gal Gadot has no armpit hair in the movie…

(7) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB READING SERIES. On June 21, hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Catherynne M. Valente & Sunny Moraine. The event begins 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

Catherynne M. Valente

Catherynne M. Valente is the New York Times bestselling author of over 30 books of fiction and poetry, including Palimpsest, the Orphan’s Tales series, Deathless, Radiance, The Refrigerator Monologues, and the crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Own Making (and the four books that followed it). She is the winner of the Andre Norton, Tiptree, Prix Imaginales, Eugie Foster Memorial, Mythopoeic, Rhysling, Lambda, Locus, Romantic Times and Hugo awards. She has been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with her partner, two dogs, three cats, six chickens, and a small army of tulips.

Sunny Moraine

Sunny Moraine’s short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Tor.com, Nightmare, Lightspeed, and multiple Year’s Best anthologies, among other places. They are also responsible for the Root Code and Casting the Bones trilogies and their debut short fiction collection Singing With All My Skin and Bone is available from Undertow Publications. In addition to time spent authoring, Sunny is a doctoral candidate in sociology and a sometime college instructor. They unfortunately live just outside Washington, DC, in a creepy house with two cats and a very long-suffering husband.

KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.). Remember to donate to their Kickstarter. Readings are always free.

(8) THE FIELD OF MARS. Esquire explains “Why Wonder Woman Has the Most Powerful Opening Scene In Comic Movie History”.

The opening scene in Wonder Woman is a stunning statement: On the enchanted island, the Amazonian women prepare for the day the god of war Ares finds them and tries to wipe them out. To prepare for the god of war is to prepare for war. The camera swoops through the training ground, capturing the Amazonian warriors as they practice wrestling, hand-to-hand combat, archery, and horsemanship. They clash, fists to skin, on a lofted pedestal. They flip from their horses in slow motion, and they smash each other to the ground, all gleaming armor and sinewy muscle as they whirl through the air, braids whipping and breastplates glinting.

It’s a purely physical display of beauty and strength. In a brief minute of film, these women redefine what it means to be a fighter, setting the tone for the rest of the movie: This is going to be two hours of a woman who was raised by women charging straight into the bloody fray of war. You just don’t ever see this bodily type of combat training with women in a movie, and it is enough to make you giddy with anticipation of whatever graceful punishment the Amazonian women will dish out against a real enemy.

(9) BLUE MAN GROUP. I guess they are not playing around. “21st Century Fox’s FoxNext Acquires Mobile Game Studio Group Developing ‘Avatar’ Title”Variety has the story.

FoxNext, the recently formed gaming, virtual reality and theme parks division of 21st Century Fox, is sinking its teeth into the $40 billion mobile games market.

FoxNext has acquired mobile-game developer Aftershock, the entity spun off from Kabam after South Korean gaming company NetMarble acquired Kabam’s Vancouver studio and other assets last December in a deal reportedly worth up to $800 million.

Aftershock — which has studios in L.A. and San Francisco — currently has three titles in development. The only one that’s been publicly announced is a massively multiplayer mobile strategy game for James Cameron’s “Avatar” franchise, in partnership with Lightstorm Entertainment and 20th Century Fox.

(10) WHEN HE’S WRONG. ComicMix’s John Ostrander has a bone to pick with Bill Maher. (And it’s not the one I expected.)

Maher is very attack orientated and each week he winds up his hour with a rant on a given topic., Usually, I find him really funny and incisive but Maher does have his blind spots. He is anti-religion — Islam in particular. He thinks the majority of American voters to be morons and says so, which I find to be a broad generalization, counter-productive and not true.

His past two shows featured rants that gored a pair of my oxen. One was on space exploration, such as terraforming and colonizing Mars, and the other was a screed against super-hero movies.

Maher argued (ranted) that we should not be exploring space or even think of colonizing Mars so long as we have so many problems here at home. Neal DeGrasse Tyson rebutted Bill the following week when he pointed out that any technology that could terraform Mars could also terraform the Earth and restore what has been ravaged. I would add that a lot of our technological advances are a result of space exploration. That computer you carry in your pocket? That’s a result of the need to reduce the size of computers while making them faster and stronger to be of use to astronauts in space. Sorry, Bill, you didn’t think this through.

Then on his most recent show, Maher was quite disdainful about superhero movies in general.

He said there were too many superhero shows on TV and too many superhero movies at the cineplex and blamed the genre for the rise of Donald Trump. He said they “promote the mindset that we are not masters of our own destiny and the best we can do is sit back and wait for Star-Lord and a f*cking raccoon to sweep in and save our sorry asses. Forget hard work, government institutions, diplomacy, investments — we just need a hero to rise, so we put out the Bat Signal for one man who can step in and solve all of our problems.”

(11) BEESE OBIT. Conrunner Bob Beese suffered an aortic aneurysm and passed away on Friday, June 2. He is survived by his wife Pat “PJ” Beese. Both were past Marcon guests of honor.

Bob Beese worked on Chicon IV (1982) and other Chicago cons.

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 6, 1933 — The first drive-in movie theater of the United States opened in New Jersey.
  • June 6, 1949 — George Orwell’s novel of a dystopian future, Nineteen Eighty-four, is published. I may have to run this again in two days — many sources, including the Wikipedia, say it was published on June 8. The correct date has probably been lost down the Memory Hole.

(13) NEW MIDDLE GRADE FICTION PRIZE. Joan Aiken’s estate and the A.M. Heath Literary Agency have announced the creation of the Joan Aiken Future Classics Prize.

A.M. Heath and Lizza Aiken, Joan’s daughter, are launching a competition to find a standout new voice in middle grade children’s fiction.

Joan Aiken was the prizewinning writer of over a hundred books for young readers and adults and is recognized as one of the classic authors of the twentieth century. Her best-known series was ‘The Wolves Chronicles’, of which the first book The Wolves of Willoughby Chase was awarded the Lewis Carroll prize. On its publication TIME magazine called it: ‘One genuine small masterpiece.’€¯ Both that and Black Hearts in Battersea have been made into films. Joan’s books are internationally acclaimed and she received the Edgar Allan Poe Award in the United States as well as the Guardian Award for Fiction in the UK for The Whispering Mountain. Joan Aiken was decorated with an MBE for her services to children’s books.

The Prize will be judged by Julia Churchill, children’s book agent at A.M. Heath, and Lizza Aiken, daughter of Joan Aiken and curator of her Estate. The winner will receive £1,000 and a full set of ‘The Wolves Chronicles’.

A shortlist of five will be announced on August 28, and the winner will be announced on September 14. [Via Locus Online and SF Site News. See guys, giving a hat tip doesn’t hurt at all!]

(14) SMALL BALTICON REPORT. Investigative fan journalist Martin Morse Wooster gives File 770 readers the benefit of his latest discovery:

I learned from the Balticon fan lounge that there was Mythbusters slash fiction. No one knew, though, whether in these stories Jamie and Adam did it before, after, or during the explosions (because as we all know, the four best words in Mythbusters are “Fire in the hole!”

I’ll probably have to forfeit one of my Hugos for reporting that.

(15) STRIKING AGAIN AND AGAIN. Mark Kaedrin takes a stylistic cue from his subject — “Hugo Awards: Too Like the Lightning”.

You will criticize me, reader, for writing this review of Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning in the style that the book itself notes is six hundred years removed from the events it describes (though only two hundred years removed for myself). But it is the style of the Enlightenment and this book tells the story of a world shaped by those ideals.

I must apologize, reader, for I am about to commit the sin of a plot summary, but I beg you to give me your trust for just a few paragraphs longer. There are two main threads to this novel. One concerns a young boy named Bridger who has the ability to make inanimate objects come to life. Being young and having a few wise adult supervisors, he practices these miracles mostly on toys. Such is the way they try to understand his powers while hiding from the authorities, who would surely attempt to exploit the young child ruthlessly.

(16) INNATE OR OUTATE. Shelf Awareness interviews John Kessel about “Sex (and Pianos) on the Moon.”

John Kessel is the author of the novels Good News from Outer Space and Corrupting Dr. Nice and the story collections Meeting in Infinity, The Pure Product and The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories. His fiction has received the Nebula Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award and the James Tiptree Jr. Award for fiction dealing with gender issues. He teaches American literature and fiction writing at North Carolina State University. He lives in Raleigh with his wife, the novelist Therese Anne Fowler. Kessel’s new novel, The Moon and the Other (reviewed below), recently published by Saga Press, is set on the moon in the 22nd century and tells two love stories, in two politically opposed lunar colonies–the patriarchal Persepolis and the matriarchal Society of Cousins.

What was the genesis of The Moon and the Other?

When my daughter was little, I’d take her to daycare and watch her on the playground with other kids. There was a difference in the way that the girls and the boys played. The boys would run around, often doing solitary things. The girls would sit in a sandbox doing things together. So I began to wonder: To what degree is gendered behavior innate, and to what degree is it learned? I read up about primate behavior, including chimpanzees and bonobos, both related to human beings, but with different cultures. That started me wondering whether there are other ways society could be organized. I didn’t see myself as advocating anything, but I did consider how the world might be organized differently.

(17) THE SHARKES CONTINUING DELIBERATIONS. The Shadow Clarke Jury keeps its reviews coming.

Of the six novels on my personal shortlist, Emma Geen’s The Many Selves of Katherine North is the one that disappointed me most when I came to read it. I originally picked it partly because there was a slight buzz about it online, and I am always curious about novels that provoke online chatter. I chose it too because I’d gained an impression, mostly erroneous as it turned out, that the main character would spend a considerable amount of her time as a fox (and indeed, the novel’s cover art rather implies that this will be the main thrust of the novel), and I’m oddly fascinated by the human preoccupation with vulpine transformations (also, I happen to like foxes a good deal). When I initially wrote about my choices, I invoked David Garnett’s odd little novel of transformation, Lady Into Fox, but having read Many Selves and reread Lady Into Fox, I can see now that I was wrong, except perhaps for one thing, which I’ll come to in due course. Instead, as I read on I found myself thinking more about T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone. Again, I’ll come back to that shortly.

Even before it was published, The Underground Railroad enjoyed a spectacular amount of pre-buzz. I came to it with a certain amount of apprehension — could any book possibly survive the weight of so much hype? — but expecting to admire it nonetheless. Colson Whitehead is a writer with a notable track record in literary innovation — he gave the zombie novel the full Franzen, after all — and has always been a better-than-solid craftsman. Yet in spite of judging it a perfectly decent book — it’s a thoroughly professional, smoothly executed, highly readable novel on an important subject — I found myself distinctly underwhelmed. Where The Underground Railroad is concerned and in spite of wishing I liked it better than I do, I remain in a condition of some bemusement: I simply cannot see what all the fuss is about.

It is hard to think of a work that does a better job of articulating the artistic tensions at work within contemporary literary science fiction than Yoon Ha Lee’s Ninefox Gambit. Set in the same universe as many of the shorter works that Lee has produced since first entering the field in 1999, his first novel speaks to what science fiction must become whilst paying excessive lip-service to what some would have it remain.

Some thoughts. If anyone has ever read my blog they will, I hope, see that most of the implicit criticism is aimed at myself, though obviously some of what follows touches on various discussions on the Shadow Clarke board.

Subjective taste and critical practise depend on so many factors, thus any reading will privilege certain aspects — close reading, theoretical base, genre knowledge, life experiences, political orientation. Once you remind yourself of that basic idea, it becomes almost impossible to defend the rhetoric and moralism that goes into a special pleading for this book or that. I like a bit of rhetoric and I like a bit of hyperbole — it’s fun. BUT my head would not have exploded if The Power had won this year now would it? It will be hard to stop but I probably should. Moreover, I CAN understand why Priest, Mieville, MacInnes, Kavenna or ANY novel didn’t make it on to the shortlist. The idea that there is some objective truth or taste out there that says differently now seems to me entirely bogus. Even amongst those with a depth and breadth of knowledge about the SF megatext there is no agreement or consensus about the books this year or any year.

There is legitimate concern that by labeling The Underground Railroad as science fiction, readers might dismiss the horrors presented in this geographically and chronologically distorted history, thus relegating it all to whimsical fiction. Yet the SFnal device is there for a reason, and Whitehead’s manipulations of time and space are critical to that purpose: as unnerving as The Handmaid’s Tale, as destabilizing as The Man in the High Castle, as cognitively demonstrative as Viriconium, and as psychologically resonant as The Dark Tower€”all works that utilize alt universe devices to bring sociopolitical and literary concerns into powerful, stark relief. Whitehead’s use of this device is complex and brilliant, although I was unable to grasp just how complex and brilliant it is until this project, which has forced me into the tedious and meaningless position of having to argue for its place in science fiction.

But here we are.

(18) PERN RECOVERED. Book Riot reports: “Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern Trilogy Gets New Covers”.

Del Rey Books is celebrating its 40th anniversary as a publisher of quality science fiction and fantasy novels. Among those titles are the three books that make up Anne McCaffrey’s original Dragonriders of Pern trilogy and the more than 20 novels that have come since. And now, they’re getting a new look.

After August 1, readers will be able to purchase the trilogy, Dragonflight, Dragonquest, and The White Dragon, with shiny new covers.

Images of the covers appear at the post.

(19) SUNSTROKED. The BBC knows about “A planet ‘hotter than most stars'”.

Scientists have found a hellish world where the “surface” of the planet is over 4,000C – almost as hot as our Sun.

In part, that’s because KELT-9b’s host star is itself very hot, but also because this alien world resides so close to the furnace.

KELT-9b takes just two days to complete one orbit of the star.

Being so close means the planet cannot exist for very long – the gases in its atmosphere are being blasted with radiation and lost to space.

Researchers say it may look a little like a comet as it circles the star from pole to pole – another strange aspect of this discovery.

(20) STORYTELLING. It’s great to listen to authors reading — if they’re any good at it. Book View Cafe’s Madeleine E. Robins advises how to do it well in “Modulation: The Art of Reading to an Audience”.

You’re telling a story. When you’re among friends telling the anecdote about that time in Marrakesh with the nun, the waffles, and the chicken, do you tell it in a monotone? Not so much. Reading in a monotone does not give your material dignity–it flattens it. So read as if you’re talking to your friends. On the other hand, unless you’re a really gifted actor, you don’t have to act it out. No, really.

And dialogue? Speak it as you hear it in your head, as if your characters were saying it. Use the emphases you hear them using. Pause when they do. (Maybe I’m overselling this, but when I write I hear the dialogue, so that’s how I read it. Your mileage may vary.)

(21) THE PHOTON OF YOUTH. Golden Oldies on Vimeo starts at a Fifties sock hop, then explains the horrible things that happen when the music stops!

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Lurkertype, Andrew Porter, Alan Maurer, Mark-kitteh, Ellen Datlow, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall, who may not have realized what he was doing at the time.]

89 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/6/17 Scrolltime For Pixels

  1. I’ve read one book in Abnett’s Eisenhorn trilogy. It being the only Warhammer book I’ve ever read, and my having only briefly played the Fantasy RPG years ago, I suspect I would have enjoyed it more if I were more familiar with the Warhammer universe. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, and I found the depth of the universe exciting.

  2. Re: Computers and space: what johnstick said. These days, space-qualified hardware is frequently a decade behind the current state-of-the-art, because the former has to satisfy all kinds of additional requirements (such as radiation hardening) that the latter (aimed at the commercial market) doesn’t care about. And the idea that NASA, with its budget that is a tiny fraction of the commercial market, is the main driver of development is absurd.

  3. Michael J. Walsh on June 6, 2017 at 7:37 pm said:

    December 2012 Slate published Kim Stanley Robinson’s essay “Terraforming Earth”.

    July 2001 Tor published Jack Williamson’s novel Terraforming Earth. 🙂

  4. @Kip W: Prosper calls all the sprites his slaves as well, yet other than verbally scolding, he never shows any rancor to them, and never seems to use them to haul wood

    “Verbally scolding” is the only way Prospero can show rancor to Ariel, unless he follows through on his threat to re-imprison it in a tree. He’d be very unlikely to do that, since it would mean depriving himself of his single greatest source of power on the island; but fortunately for Prospero, either Ariel doesn’t understand human motivations well enough to see why that might be a hollow threat, or else the experience of being trapped like that was so unimaginably bad that it’s not worth taking the chance.

    Either way, Prospero is as arrogant to Ariel as he can be to something that isn’t human, has no physical form, and is probably in most ways far more powerful than he is. Caliban is just a person, and therefore suffers every form of abuse that can be visited on a person (I’m slightly surprised you didn’t mention the not uncommon theory that when Caliban refers to having been “prevented” from not only raping Miranda, but ever producing offspring, he means he’s been castrated).

    Regardless of how much embedded cultural bias there is toward over-respecting hierarchies and dehumanizing the oppressed, I think you have to really, really stretch to say that Shakespeare is trying to present Prospero in a good light, or as a just master. He went to some lengths to show that this is someone who has contempt for everyone who’s under his control, but who saves the worst of his behavior for the person it’s easiest for him to abuse— and who keeps that person close by him for no good reason other than to keep that abusive power trip going, because he has an unhealthy obsession with ruling in general. Sure, there would be plenty of assholes in the original audience, and in our own time, who would think that’s fine, but I think it’s pretty clear from Shakespeare’s characterizations in general that he does not.

  5. @Heather Rose Jones: I don’t normally read romance or paranormal romance either. It’s just that when I see something labeled as LGBT, I assume that there’s going to be a strong romance subplot. Maybe that’s a bad assumption, and the typical LGBT protagonist is simply LGBT and there’s generally nothing more than a few mentions of the protagonist’s partner, just as there’s usually not anything explicit in the other stuff I read, I’m good.

    I don’t even worry about lurid covers, I read with a Kobo with a sleep cover.

  6. (1) I’m torn – I don’t want to visit VD’s site, but on the other hand I don’t want to inadvertently read the crap he’s put in for the Dragon. Anything recommended by VD goes in the anti-mount TBR. I had enough with JCWrong’s execrable short that he gamed onto the Hugo award ballot this year. Jesus, not everything needs to be a Christian allegory. Dire set up, overblown prose, a “twist” that had me rolling my eyes (for God’s sake don’t go there, it’s so unoriginal, was I believe my thought three sentences in), the indistinguishable dialogue (no way of telling which character was speaking), three laws of robotics, positronic brains (that was 75 years ago, please move along), and such a dead horse concept that the whip has long since worn out.

    Apart from that, the story barely reached the shores of mediocrity. I only read to the end to see if he’d done something clever, don’t know why I bothered (the answer is no, for anyone else foolish enough to think that may be the case).

    And the extract posted above has to be JCWrong, although it is less overwrought than his normal scratchings.

    I wonder when JCWrongs’ new anthology comes out? I suggest “I found God and lost my talent” as the title (h/t P J O’Rourke).

  7. @ Bruce A

    The problem is that if you don’t label a book as “LGBT” then — given the statistics of publishing — the readers who care about being able to identify with characters on that basis (regardless of romance content) will have to pay an extra “effort tax” to find the books they want to prioritize. It is a massive elephant in the living room of writing queer characters. You’re damned if you do (readers pigeonhole you and avoid your books on false assumptions) and damned if you don’t (readers who would very much like your books will never stumble across them).

    And the assumption that a book that overtly labels itself as having LGBT content must necessarily be a romance (or–heaven help us–an erotic romance) feeds into the notion that sexual activity is the defining characteristic of the LGBT character (or author). On the other hand, it’s an assumption that exists both inside as well as outside the LGBT community. Within the community, books will get dinged for not being romance. And it’s complicated because romance stories are one thing that’s nearly impossible to get published outside specialty LGBT presses, so it often is a correct observation that there is a significant preponderance from those outlets. (Though–it must be noted–no more of a statistical preponderance than one finds for romance within publishing as a whole. It’s just concentrated in a single market.)

    I’ll just note that the books in the Storybundle were not selected as “SFF romance”. Which isn’t to say that there will be no romance subplots, but no more so than in straight SFF (which tends to regularly include romance subplots without comment).

    I’m not trying to pick on you. It just gets frustrating when I get comments like this from booksellers or from prospective reviewers: “I don’t know anything about your books, but I’m going to assume that because they’re advertised as having lesbian characters that they’re romance and not ‘real’ SFF.” One gets somewhat defensive. Obviously, I only want people to try the bundle because they genuinely expect to enjoy the stories. I just hope they won’t set that expectation on mistaken premises.

  8. @Heather Rose Jones: When I interviewed Deacon McCubbin ages ago, I asked him about labeling gay and lesbian books (yes, it was that long ago) in bookstores, because I’d run a trade book section and he’d made the point during his panel that you have to put them in a section because that’s where people look for them.

    What I didn’t go into with him during the interview–though I think we might’ve chatted about it later on–was that I’d consciously not put them into a section for exactly that reason. My customers knew to look for them elsewhere because if I had a section, the owner of the store would make me 86 them, though my manager turned a blind eye.

    Yes, it was that long ago. I mostly miss those days, but not that part of it. Oh, to be thirty-three forever.

  9. Chris S: I’m torn – I don’t want to visit VD’s site, but on the other hand I don’t want to inadvertently read the crap he’s put in for the Dragon.

    If you skip the Castalia House and JCW recommendations, then you’re only likely to encounter something on his list if it’s actually good. I think there are a few genuinely popular things on it, just as with his Hugo picks.

  10. 3) I wish I could see this. But I also wish that someone would do a musical adaptation of Leah Bobet’s “The Parable of the Shower”, which is a fine and memorable story in its own right.

    6) Oh FFS. I shave my pits or not as the whim takes me, and it doesn’t make me any more or any less of a feminist. Besides, isn’t feminism supposed to be about supporting women making their own decisions?

    14) Is it wrong of me to want to see Chuck Tingle’s take on that?

    15) That is way too reminiscent of Paarfi of Roundwood for me. May I assume that the book is also?

    20) It amazes me how many people do not understand that reading aloud IS telling a story. My partner’s daughter always got the best parts in school read-alouds of books because she was the only one who knew how to read with expression. Do people actually not hear the rhythms of speech in their heads when they read?

    21) Once a bully, always a bully (for some people). I was a bit peeved that the form his humiliation took was the tired old trope of “dressed like a woman”, but the ending makes up for it.

  11. Eli

    I should have caught that “prevented,” and it would have fit in the paper just fine, even if I had to shorted another paragraph for it. Oversight on my part.

    I can’t read Shakespeare’s mind. I can’t even work my way into Goethe’s or Heine’s. By this I mean that I can follow layers of ambiguity and irony in, say, “The Trout,” but I just can’t be sure at the end if the writer is really for or against the metaphorical fisherman, or if he’s just observing. How sympathetic is the writer to the boy who plucks the wild rose and bleeds for it (while the rose has given up far more than a drop of life)? My head’s just not sufficiently immersed in the time to be sure I’ve gotten the final twist or not.

    So, with Prospero, I can see clearly what a domineering, condescending pratt he is, but he’s also powerful, enlightened and also (this can be good for extra points) he is the engine who puts the machinery of the play in motion—a stand in for the playwright. Moreover, Shakespeare goes around backing him up. “Caliban tried to rape my daughter.” “YUP! I did that, all right! I’d do it again!”

    There’s no shortage in fiction of the time and later of powerful men, wizards perhaps, who are high-handed and capricious, and they’re never condemned, they get their way, and they’re hailed in the final reel. Is the author showing us irony? Or is that just how it is in the world the work came out of?

  12. Mark: “They should have several drinks named after Sean Bean, none of which you can finish.”

    Wouldn’t a Sean Bean drink just be a beer with the head taken off with a knife?

  13. @Lee

    That was also my take on #6. I have never understood the obsession with whether or not a woman shaves her armpits. In many countries, women don’t shave. Are they automatically feminist? I shave in summer only, so I must be a feminist in winter?

  14. (1) Poor Declan. Yaps all the time, but the pack of puppies ignore him.

    (2) And by “totally ridiculous”, he means it’s fiberglass and costs north of $30K? Cuz Worldcon and ComicCon and Dragoncon have already sat in that. I have a photo of me in it from Reno, plus one of GRRM surrounded by fen.

    (3) Hope this is available on video to the public.

    (4) Ooh, I wish I could go to PR. Glad they won the NASFIC. This is even cooler than the Chicon trip to Fermilab, or the LACon trip to shuttle landing.

    (9) Was anyone asking for this?

    (18) That’s my submission! Yay! As to the covers, I say “meh”.

    (20) I have heard her read, and she is good.

  15. So while I’ve been obsessing over Eurythmics videos today, I saw a Netflix ad for Sense8. Maybe they haven’t given up on it. It does look interesting, though not enough to make me get Netflix. I also appear to have borked my ability to make YouTube go full-screen. That’s a bit of a bummer. Those are great videos.

  16. @Lenora Rose: There’s nothing worse than monotone Bible readings. If it’s a “joyous praise” one, let me hear some joy! If it’s a gloom-n-doom part, let’s have some srs bzness tone. And the congregation knows who’s going to be good and bad, you can see if they sit forward or back in the pews. Luckily my BFF chose well in her wedding, people who had public speaking and acting experience. Even the atheists enjoyed 1Cor. 13.

    StoryBundle: Besides our Heather, there’s some fine work in there. I quite like Melissa Scott. Her books are good mysteries regardless of orientation. And properly fantasy, but *not* high fantasy; secondary world or alt-hist.

  17. @Eli: what Kip W says, and more; I think it’s a mistake to assume that Shakespeare steps much ahead of the attitudes of his time, even in the plays where he isn’t obviously kissing up to ~absolute monarchy (and even if The Alteration has him banned as a humanist, with his few acceptable plays attributed to someone else). Bear in mind that The Tempest was written only a few years after England’s first surviving colony (making the play an unlikely platform for anti-colonialism) and that Caliban is not even fully human, putting him even below commoners (who tend to be fools or brutes in the plays); I doubt that Shakespeare intended us to read Prospero as unreasonably harsh.

  18. Melissa Scott–fantasy? I don’t think I’ve encountered any of that. I like her SF quite a bit, though. Just re-read Dreaming Metal a couple of weeks ago.

    I’m not as much a fan of fantasy as SF in general, but I’d definitely be interested in seeing her approach to it. (I just hope she hasn’t been pushed into fantasy by her publishers because “SF is for guys”–a story I’ve heard from a couple of female SF writers.)

  19. Yes, Melissa Scott, fantasy! 🙂

    Point of Hopes (1995), with Lisa Barnett, and Death by Silver (2013), with Amy Griswold, are both included in the bundle. Melissa and Lisa wrote more Points fantasy/mysteries, and also The Armor of Light in 1988. Melissa has written more fantasy in recent years.

    I think you really will enjoy her approach to fantasy.

  20. And don’t forget the Silence Leigh books, beginning with Five-Twelfths of Heaven” — technoid fantasy (cf Metropolitan), but fantasy nonetheless.

  21. My impression is that Melissa hasn’t so much been “pushed into fantasy” as been “pushed out of mainstream publishing”. Everything I’ve seen from her recently has been from small presses or self-published. And what I’ve been seeing has been focused on queer characters (though that may be an artifact of what sorts of book news I tend to see). These two observations may not be unrelated.

  22. Heather Rose Jones: My impression is that Melissa hasn’t so much been “pushed into fantasy” as been “pushed out of mainstream publishing”. Everything I’ve seen from her recently has been from small presses or self-published.

    If so, that is a terrible shame. Burning Bright is one of my all-time favorite SF books and I did not know she’s still writing.

  23. The fact that many LGBTTQA publishers are A) mostly G then B* then L and barely any of the others if you look at their actual output, and B) assumed or explicitly romance focused, has been my bane when looking for a good locale for a novella with a lesbian protag and no romance.

    * When B isn’t rejected as too straight…

  24. I choose to be glad Melissa is still publishing, since ebooks are so delightfully portable, and I can find them wherever I have internet access. 😉

  25. Huh. It’s been quite a while since I read the Silence Leigh books, but I seem to have them loosely mentally classified as science fiction. (Ditto Metropolitan, though, so take that as you will…) 🙂

    And yeah, I can’t help but wonder if the lesbian angle made the sexism worse for her. “I’m sorry dear, some women may read science fiction, but lesbians read fantasy, because spaceships are too phallic!” Or some such nonsense. :/

  26. @ Xtifr

    And yeah, I can’t help but wonder if the lesbian angle made the sexism worse for her. “I’m sorry dear, some women may read science fiction, but lesbians read fantasy, because spaceships are too phallic!” Or some such nonsense. :/

    Pretty much everything she’s writing these days has gay male protagonists, so I don’t think that’s likely the reason. (I’m even more mystified by lesbians writing gay male protagonists than straight women doing so, but everyone should write the stories that inspire them.)

  27. WARNING: Do not google “Melissa Scott” without also appending “author” to the search query.

    Thanks to Heather Rose Jones et al for making me re-think my initial reaction of “not my thing” for LGBT SFF.

    ETA: Aside from but also including the bundle, what are some good entry points for Melissa Scott?

  28. @kathodus

    If you’re interested more in Melissa’s fantasy/historical side, I recommend The Armor of Light. If you lean more toward sci fi, people say good things about Trouble and her Friends. (Lately she’s been doing large quantities of Stargate tie-in books, which I don’t have an opinion on.) In addition to the two series that provided books to the Storybundle, there’s also a co-written series with something of a steampunk-adventure feel (series title: The Order of the Air).

  29. Thanks! I saw on her wikipedia page that she’s been doing Stargate tie-ins, which don’t interest me at all, but the fact that she’s doing Stargate tie-ins is a good sign, because if I were into tie-ins, I’d be very excited about that. If that makes sense.

    I’m looking forward to my post Hugo-reading time. I won’t read anything published in the last 700 days, dammit!

  30. @Xtifr: Huh. It’s been quite a while since I read the Silence Leigh books, but I seem to have them loosely mentally classified as science fiction.

    I also classified them as science fiction, if only because somewhere (I think it’s the first book) there is an explanation of why the alchemy-tech doesn’t work around computers. Our tech still exists, it’s just a dead end.

  31. @Mike Glyer: “Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall, who may not have realized what he was doing at the time.”

    Hehehe, accidental editor of the day, yay! 😀

  32. Soooo late to the party:

    (14) SMALL BALTICON REPORT. “I’ll probably have to forfeit one of my Hugos for reporting that.” – LOL (and at the story itself).

    (17) THE SHARKES CONTINUING DELIBERATIONS. Initially, I misread the first book title as “The Many Shelves of Katherine North.”

    (21) THE PHOTON OF YOUTH. Very cute.

    @Joe H.: OMG the second picture of the shiba inu just about made me fall over, it was so cute! Poor cats & dogs, but 😀 anyway.

    @Xtifr: I read Williamson’s novel back in the day; it had some cool ideas, some weird stuff, and some incredibly annoying and stupid characters and unbelievable interactions. Still, it was an interesting book.

    @Heather Rose Jones: I’m drawn to your parentheticals today, for some reason.

    (I’m even more mystified by lesbians writing gay male protagonists than straight women doing so, but everyone should write the stories that inspire them.)

    Even more surprising to me was discovering M/M erotic romance written by lesbians. 😉 No complaints, BTW – just surprise.

    (Lately she’s been doing large quantities of Stargate tie-in books, which I don’t have an opinion on.)

    Wow, there’s a metric buttload of Stargate tie-in books; I had no idea. I loved the TV series (and one fanfic I read years ago). I don’t read tie-in fiction, but one day maybe I should try a Stargate one.

  33. @Kendall: I’d agree almost completely with that assessment. Of course, Williamson was 92 when he wrote it, so one shouldn’t expect a particularly modern work in the first place. I think he was the last survivor of the Gernsback era! (That’s Hugo Gernsback, the guy the award is named for, for those of you who don’t keep track of such things.)

    But yeah. Not a great book by any means, but surprisingly interesting, if you can get past the characters.

    Historical note: Williamson is actually credited with coining the term “terraforming” in the first place. Which is another reason I was intrigued by seeing a book from him named Terraforming Earth. 🙂

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