Pixel Scroll 6/21/17 Pay No Attention To That Scroll Behind The Pixel

Commence appertainment in 5..4…3…2…

(1) BOMBS AWAY. Contrasting Giles Coren’s first novel experience with his own career, Ben Jeapes explains “Why everyone should be a science fiction fan” at Milford SF Writers.

…Ten years later he felt brave enough to make a documentary about it. Links have changed since I first saw it, but search “Giles Coren my failed novel” and you’ll find it. It’s really quite touching as you see the penny begin to drop. He speaks to the reviewers who had slated it. He listens in on a book club tearing it apart. He takes the first chapters to a creative writing course workshop. He tries rereading it himself and finds it unbearable. (He can’t get through the Bad Sex Award-winning passage without breaking down into laughter.) He listenes in awe to the likes of David Mitchell and Jeffrey Archer as they describe their highly disciplined writing habits, and admits to the latter that he had basically been lazy.

And he comes to the conclusion that this was the first novel everyone has – the one that should be written and then spend the rest of eternity in a trunk in the attic. Only, because he was Giles Coren, his got sold for a £30k advance. You sense that even he feels the injustice of this. No one likes being done a favour.

But here’s the thing. Coren was born in 1969. He’s in his late 40s, but I can’t imagine his discoveries and revelations being news to anyone past their late 20s or even late teens. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve been spoiled by growing up in the science fiction community, where expertise and experience flow like milk and honey. I read Dave Langford’s columns in 8000 Plus. I went to Milford. I jostled with the large crowd trying to get through the narrow doorway of Interzone acceptance. I knew it took hard work. I knew that if you didn’t think this was your best yet then you didn’t send it in. How did anyone not know that?

Conclusion: everyone should be an sf fan….

(2) WHERE THE IDEAS COME FROM. The Red trilogy features in “The Big Idea: Linda Nagata” today at Whatever.

Next, it occurred to me that if I set the new book even closer to the present time, I might have a chance of pushing beyond the science fiction genre and making inroads into the military thriller market.

Hey, we can all dream.

The Red trilogy was written around a unit of US Army soldiers. Following that similar-but-different philosophy, I decided the new novel would involve a private military company, because that would allow for more freedom with the plot.

Even with the benefit of hindsight, this all still makes sense to me. But in selecting my protagonist, I embarked on a major gamble.

My version of brainstorming is to engage in swiftly typed stream-of-consciousness question-and-answer sessions. It’s the best way I know to develop ideas. I was brainstorming the possible identity of my main protagonist when I typed this:

Hey. Maybe she’s middle aged. (How to kill a novel in one bad move.)

Generally speaking, middle-aged women are not considered to be cool main characters of the sort that commonly inhabit techno-thrillers. So this was a perfect example of the creative and logical parts of my mind contending with one another. The logical part immediately recognized the risk, but the obstinate, defiant, creative part turned out to be in charge.

(3) A STATISTIC. Here’s Clarkesworld’s box score.

(4) OPIE TO DIRECT ‘HAN SOLO’? Let’s just drop his name here: “Ron Howard Top Choice To Take Over Han Solo Film?” Deadline has the story.

Deadline hears that Ron Howard has emerged as front-runner to replace Phil Lord & Christopher Miller on the untitled Han Solo Star Wars spinoff film. Disney dropped a shocker this afternoon with the announcement that the duo exited a picture that has been in production since February at London’s Pinewood Studios. This after an inability to recover from creative rifts with Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. The latter has been mentioned as possible to step in, but I’m putting my money on Howard.

(5) ‘BOTS! IT HAD TO BE ‘BOTS! I suspect this review is more entertaining than the movie. Nick Schager at The Daily Beast says “‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Is Two-and-a-Half Hours of Racist Robot Torture”.

Those fans will be thrilled to hear that the latest entry in the canon du Bay-hem, Transformers: The Last Knight, more or less picks up right where its predecessor left off—by which I mean, in an orgiastic stew of detonations, jingoism, and sequences in which CGI vehicles make that weird wrink-wronk-wrank-wank noise as they turn into CGI titans. The only thing missing is Wahlberg unsubtly lusting after his offspring. Luckily, though, he’s still playing a character named Cade Yeager—a moniker that would make Keanu Reeves’ Point Break hero Johnny Utah stand up and slow-clap in appreciation—and this time around, he at least has an amusingly floppy new haircut. Oh, and there’s a three-headed Transformers dragon who’s amassed from ancient Autobots who used to hang out with a drunken Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table. If you were worried that Bay had lost his touch for sublimely absurd, wantonly steroidal toy cinema, you can lay your fears to rest.

(6) PALEO-HEDGEHOG. Live long enough and you see strange things happen, like 1991 becoming “the good old days” — “Sega Forever makes Genesis classics free on mobile”.

We have no shortage of shiny, life-like HD games these days, but if you’d like to revisit older titles from a bygone era, Sega has got your back. The video game company has just officially launched the first wave of the Sega Forever collection with five titles meant to begin “a retro revolution that will transport players back through two decades of console gaming.” Starting today, the 1991 version of Sonic the Hedgehog, fan-favorite RPG Phantasy Star II, classic arcade-style beat ’em up Comix Zone, platformer Kid Chameleon and Greek mythology-themed beat ’em up Altered Beast will be available on Google Play and iTunes as free ad-supported games. If you have an iPhone or an iPad, your games will even come accompanied by iMessage sticker packs.

(7) ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. After reporting the other day that he was too shy to try, Wil Wheaton got to meet David Tennant after all.

(8) ALIEN TRIPPER. Mark Kaedrin ranks the finalists in another category — “Hugo Awards: Novelettes”. There’s an alien in first place, and another in last place.

So we come to the short fiction categories of this year’s Hugo Awards. This year, I start with the Novelettes, that odd category that fits stories that are longer than a short story but shorter than a novella. If the past several years are any indication, these stories actually tend to be my favorite of the short fiction finalists. Short stories have been almost uniformly a disaster for the past few years (partly the doing of the Puppies, but it was an issue for me even before then). Novellas somehow seem to be bloated and overlong while still missing the depth you get from a novel (with the notable exception of Bujold’s Penric novellas, which I love). Novelettes hit the Goldilocks zone, providing enough space for a complete narrative, but not so much that the story drowns in hooptedoodle. Does the trend continue this year? Let’s find out:

  1. Touring with the Alien by Carolyn Ives Gilman – Mysterious alien ships arrive one night without warning. Translators (comprised of formerly abducted humans) emerge and claim the aliens come in peace and don’t want anything. A woman is hired by the government to drive around a translator so that he can see the sights. It turns out that the aliens are intelligent but unconscious, which has some interesting implications. This story works well, with a good exploration of consciousness with the occasional detour into other areas. The ending has a twist that’s pretty easy to see coming (though it does elicit some questions as to the premise of this whole road trip – aren’t there, like, security clearances or something? Is the trip even necessary?), but it works. Lots of open questions, but at least we’re getting something that’s engaging with an interesting idea and trying to hit that sense of wonder that makes SF so great. Short and sweet, this is certainly not perfect, but it’s got some solid ideas and it works well enough…

(9) NOMINATED NOVELLA. Elan Samuel praises “The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe – Kij Johnson”  at Warbler Books.

A strange and delightful congruity connects The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe with the last Hugo-nominated book I reviewed, The Ballad of Black Tom. Both reach back toward Lovecraft, grab hearty handfuls of story, and mold it into works that manage the requisite respect for the author of such incredible tales while openly challenging his prejudices. You can refresh your memory about how Victor LaValle elegantly reframes Lovecraft into a tale of loss and revenge in last month’s review. We’re here today to talk about Kij Johnson’s brilliant, expansive, and enthralling The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe.

(10) INSIDE THE VOTING BOOTH. Ariela Housman of Geek Calligraphy gives readers the lowdown about how she’s voting in three categories on her Hugo ballot – including a thorough discussion of Best Fanartist, which is something you rarely see. Here’s part of her take on the Best Novel finalists.

Best Novel

Novels are my favorite thing to read and what I read the most of. I had already read a number of the nominees before nominations opened, much less after they closed.

  1.  A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers I adored The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, which was an utterly delightful reading experience. But it lacked the emotional punch that the sequel delivers here. I’m a sucker for “what does it mean to be a person?” books, and this one comes at it from both ends in a devastating way.
  2. Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee I will admit that I couldn’t finish this one, which I started before award season. I bounced off it in much the same way I bounced off Ancillary Justice my first time around. Serious culture shock, working too hard to absorb the world to be able to sit back and enjoy the story. Though I finished AJ on my first attempt, it took me until my third readthrough to just enjoy it. I suspect it will be the same here. As is, I recognize the technical accomplishment already.

(11) FB. After being away for a while Joe Vasicek put a set of fresh eyeballs on Facebook and here’s what he found:

First, the site is a mess. It’s like a weird cross between Goodreads and MySpace. I know there’s a lot of people who love Goodreads, but sorry, that site is almost impossible to navigate. Way too much clutter, with the option you’re looking for hidden in some tiny link that doesn’t actually look like a link. Unless you’re a frequent user, you constantly feel like you’re lost. That’s Facebook now. It’s very unfriendly for new users, which I know is like me and ten people living in Yurts in Mongolia, but still. In terms of user-friendliness, it’s going the way of MySpace.

Second, Facebook has become really slutty. Again, first impressions here. It’s really interesting when Facebook has nothing to base their algos off of. I assume from what I’m seeing that the recommendations default to its power users, which at a cursory glance are mostly chicks and dude bros. Also, some of the group recommendations I’m seeing are insanely over the top in terms of sheer raunchiness. Since when did Facebook turn into Potterville?

He’s also a critic of multiracial emojis.

But Joe, what’s the harm in an emoji that reflects your skin tone? Two things. First, social media divides us far more than it unites us. It walls us off into tribes, helping us build our own custom echo chambers full of people who only agree with us. It’s an incubator for much of the divisiveness in society right now. Second, there is a very real effort in the country today to divide us all by race.

(12) THE FRENCH HAVE AN EQUATION FOR IT. Of concern to Traveling Jiants everywhere: “Why suitcases rock and fall over”.

It’s a common experience when dashing for a train or plane while lugging a two-wheeled suitcase.

The bag rocks alarmingly from side-to-side and threatens to overturn.

Now, scientists have investigated this conundrum of everyday physics. Speeding up rather than slowing down can solve the problem, they say.

Alternatively, you can pivot the handle of the suitcase as close to the ground as possible.

French scientists studied a model suitcase on a treadmill to see what goes wrong when a suitcase rocks out of control at high speed. They developed equations to explain why two-wheeled trolleys have a tendency to rock from one wheel to the other.

(13) ON RELIGION. Annalee Newitz at Ars Technica reviews American Gods season 1: “American Gods may be the best show about religion on TV”

The first season of American Gods ends with an image that compacts the many themes of the series into one odd moment. It’s an aerial shot, slowly revealing a line of cars, buggies, and other vehicles crowding the tiny road to a neglected Wisconsin tourist trap called The House on the Rock. Without giving you any spoilers, I can say that this scene captures American Gods‘ perspective on religious faith in America.

And now, with a generous dose of spoilers, I will tell you what I mean by that….

(14) LOST LIGHT. The Wertzone is sarcastic about the need for a Watchmen TV series: “Damon Lindelof penning frankly unnecessary WATCHMEN adaptation for HBO”.

Scriptwriter Damon Lindelof will be helming the new project, as he continues to play Russian Roulette with his career. He charmed millions of fans with his TV series Lost, only to annoy them with a somewhat confused ending, and then really annoyed lots of people with his scripts for Star Trek (2009) and Prometheus (2012), which were both troubled. More recently, however, he has won plaudits for his work on HBO’s The Leftovers, which recently concluded a three-season run with a lot of critical acclaim and plaudits.

(15) NEW GAME OF THRONES TRAILER. Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres this July. “It may be the first day of summer, but #WinterisHere on 7.16.”

(16) PHILIP “TWO SHEDS” PULLMAN. House Beautiful reports “Author Philip Pullman’s old shed is Shed of the Year 2017 contender”.

This shed has an impressive literary history – it was once owned by renowned author Philip Pullman. He allegedly even wrote His Dark Materials trilogy within it. It was passed down to current owner Ted, who is an author himself. But this shed comes with one strict rule – it must be freely passed on to the next steward of creative endeavours.

(17) STRANGE MAN. There’s a common saying that “Inside every man, there’s X trying to get out.” How often does X = dragon? I Am Dragon (2017) Movie Trailer.

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

43 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/21/17 Pay No Attention To That Scroll Behind The Pixel

  1. (2) WHERE THE IDEAS COME FROM.

    Just an FYI, apart from a couple of brief references to The Red, the linked Big Idea piece (and most of the quoted text) is actually about Nagata’s newly-released novel The Last Good Man (which I am at this moment about halfway-through).

  2. @JJ

    My copy of that turned up a few days ago, but I’m in the middle of reading the Temeraire series…such bad timing.
    (Also Temeraire is just sooo easy to breeze your way through.)

  3. (17) STRANGE MAN.

    Ah, it seems that this is an English-dubbed version of the 2015 Russian movie On – Drakon. The trailer, for the most part, hides that it is dubbed.

    I suspect that there will be some unhappy people when they get into the theater and find that the dialogue does not match the lip movements.

  4. I suspect that there will be some unhappy people when they get into the theater and find that the dialogue does not match the lip movements.

    @JJ Ha, not after all the hours I spent playing Life is Strange.

  5. 11) You spelled Joe Vasicek’s name wrong which made it hard for me to google him and find that he’s not that much older than me. He shouldn’t have devolved into Abe Simpson quite so young.

  6. Durnit, Scott Frazer beat me to the appertainment button. Weird – I’ve never read any of Vasicek’s books, but I immediately thought “isn’t it Vasicek, not Vesicek?” I feel like I’ve read him commenting somewhere.

    (10) I can empathize with her inability to quickly digest Ninefox Gambit. If I hadn’t had the support of my fellow Filers, I would have bounced off it less than 50 pages in, too confused to continue, but I was told that would pass, and it did.

    However, regarding A Closed and Common Orbit (which I finished about 24 hours ago) – I seriously loved that book. It caused a huge controversy within my Hugo ballot. I had to consider whether a novel with an inherently positive outlook on life could possibly compete with the other top contenders – a surreal and creepy piece of calendrical heresy and a novel showing the gritty, grim nature of existence. Ultimately, I decided that, given this past dumpster fire of a year, I will feel good and fuck the consequences. I pretty much never write to authors, regardless how much I love their work, but I almost composed an emotional email to Becky Chambers around 12:30am yesterday (I have no idea if I could have found her email on her web site or whatever, but I was sorely tempted to write some gushy thank you note). And really, though, it’s not like that universe is all smiley bumblebees and frollicking kittens, but the characters are all trying so hard not to be dicks and to figure out how things work. Also, the realization that the first novel wasn’t just a setup for a series set on a ship was exciting. I look forward to the next book set in this universe.

    If I’ve already said all of this elsewhere, I apologize. I’ve been operating on very little sleep lately. The last week is a blur.

  7. @kathodus

    While I’m Ninefoxing it all the way, aCaCO is a lovely book. I don’t think that an inherently positive outlook on humanity should be a negative, but it does seem to make some people automatically consider it a bit lightweight by comparison to grimmer, darker books. I know I had that reaction and had to step back and try to look at it more objectively.
    (Book three will be “Record of a Spaceborn Few” incidentally)

  8. So glad that Wheaton managed to navigate the hurdles of his early career and end up such a charming total geek. That picture is one of the most heart-warming things I’ve seen all day–and I was looking at kitty pics earlier! 😀

    We come from the land of the ice and scroll
    From the midnight sun where the pixels flow. (Ah Ah)

  9. @Mark, kathodus – I thought A Closed and Common Orbit had a lot going for it, not least the way Chambers slipped some serious SFnal questions about the nature of identity into a light, generally feel-good story. I don’t think “grim, epic, doom-laden” necessarily equals “serious” in any case, and this is a sterling example of a non-grim novel which is, nonetheless, deeply thoughtful.

  10. @kathodus I’m very much with you on ACaCO.
    I found Planet just too unrelentingly perky, but the woven strands of the two characters learning how to be a human really worked even if:
    Gur hygvzngr urvfg zbivr qrabhrzrag jnf pbzcyrgryl haarprffnel. Unq Crccre whfg tbar gb gur qnza zhfrhz naq gbyq gurz gung fur pbhyq ghea n zvabe rkuvovg sebz n uhtr jnerubhfr vagb n znwbe fgbel nobhg gur jnl gur uhzna enpr nqncgrq gb gur fgnef naq gur yratguf uhznaf jbhyq tb gb trg gurve serrqbz, gura fheryl gurl jbhyq unir whzcrq ng vg naq nyybjrq ure gb frr vs Bjy jnf fgvyy va gurer.
    Gur nffhzcgvba gung gur zhfrhz jbhyq jnag gb or n onfgneq, rfcrpvnyyl tvira gung gur angher bs gur havirefr vf gb or abg onfgneqvfu fnlf n ybg nobhg Crccre’f qrfcrengvba gb or fher, ohg gur bgure punenpgref, gubfr yrff vairfgrq jbhyq fheryl unir xabja gung?

    I am admittedly only 25 pages into Ninefox.

  11. Commence appertainment in 5..4…3…2…

    That Guy, here, just mentioning that the five is a dot short of a proper ellipsis. (As a smug Mac hipster, I get those with Option + semicolon.)

    Fiftheenth.

    eta: Double-Seven-Oh: License to File

  12. (11) Poor Joe! The entire world isn’t arranged for his comfort, convenience, and entertainment, like it’s supposed to be!

    And he fancies himself an sf writer and fan, but is distressed and appalled about noticing the existence of people who Aren’t Like Him because that will somehow divide us.

    Younger than me. And not by a little bit. Joe is he going to cope with becoming a numerical minority during his lifetime?

  13. Hello all!

    A little off topic:
    * Saw PACIFIC OVERTURES with George Takei last week for my birthday weekend of theater in NYC. So good! Very stripped down with regards to set and costumes, and so much done with props and lighting.

    * Also got to meet up with my old book group, which was wonderful for mostly a discussion of Amberlough with some side-tracks to All The Birds In The Sky.

    * Re-upped my subscription to F&SF.

    * Will be attending Readercon (Quincy, MA) in July. There will probably be an attack of shyness, so I’ll watch panels and not say a word.

    Thank you, Mike, for all of your hard work here. Even though I’m kind of on the fringe as far as commenting goes, this community is a wonderful resource and place to find new books and authors.

  14. I’m wondering what, exactly, Vasicek has “liked” that causes Facebook to suggest all sorts of raunchy groups. I certainly don’t see them in my Facebook newsfeed, unless you count the naughty word in “I F*cking Love Science” and hot bee on flower action in various gardening groups.

  15. Just a reminder — the Scroll will be later than usual again today because I will be helping out with my mother-in-law.

    Filers surfaced a great discussion item yesterday about the Brust speech. A lot to think about.

  16. A Meredith Moment:

    Tales From High Hallack, Volume 1: The Collected Short Stories of Andre Norton is on sale at Amazon for $1.99.

  17. @Mark

    I don’t think that an inherently positive outlook on humanity should be a negative, but it does seem to make some people automatically consider it a bit lightweight by comparison to grimmer, darker books. I know I had that reaction and had to step back and try to look at it more objectively.

    Same here. I have similar problems with Scalzi’s writing, at times.

    @NickPheas

    Gur nffhzcgvba gung gur zhfrhz jbhyq jnag gb or n onfgneq, rfcrpvnyyl tvira gung gur angher bs gur havirefr vf gb or abg onfgneqvfu fnlf n ybg nobhg Crccre’f qrfcrengvba gb or fher, ohg gur bgure punenpgref, gubfr yrff vairfgrq jbhyq fheryl unir xabja gung?

    V unq gung fnzr ernpgvba juvyr gurl jrer cynaavat gur urvfg. V ena vg guebhtu zl urnq n srj gvzrf, naq pnzr gb gur pbapyhfvba gung, qrfcvgr zl rzbgvbany vairfgzrag va Crccre naq Bjy naq gurve fgbel znxvat gur qrpvfvba boivbhf, gurer jnf ab thnenagrr gung gur zhfrhz jbhyq unir gur fnzr ernpgvba. Crccre unq vaqrrq rkcrevraprq gur rknpg bccbfvgr ng gur unaqf bs gur TP ohernhpenpl. Ure zrzbevrvf bs ure gvzr jvgu gur TP naq ure srryvatf nobhg TP ohernhpengf ner irel artngvir. Rira n .01% punapr gung gur zhfrhz jbhyq qral gurve erdhrfg jnf gbb zhpu, pbafvqrevat gur fgnxrf. Crccre pbhyqa’g chg erfphvat Bjy va gur unaqf bs nalbar ryfr (urapr ure bhgentr jura Fvqen pbzrf hc jvgu naq rkrphgrf n orggre cyna crefbanyyl. Jryy, gung naq ure jbeel sbe Fvqen). Nyfb, va gur oebnqre aneengvir bs gur frevrf fb sne, NVf ner abg pbafvqrerq rira frpbaq pynff pvgvmraf – gurl ner frra fvzcyl nf cebtenzf, gb or hfrq naq qvfpneqrq nf arprffnel. Ba gur bar unaq, gur urvfg erdhverq zber fhfcrafvba bs qvforyvrs sbe zr cebonoyl guna nal bgure fprar va gur obbx, ohg ba gur bgure unaq, V guvax gur zbgvingvba gb chyy vg ubyqf hc va gur pbagrkg bs gur fgbel.

    Nabgure guvat V whfg gubhtug bs nobhg NPnPB – V rawblrq gur cnenyyry fgbel nepf, obgu vaibyivat rffragvnyyl n cebtenzzrq orvat yrneavat gb or n crefba, naq ubj gur gjb fgbevrf jrer wbvarq ng gur raq. V guvax V jnf znlor unys jnl guebhtu gur obbx jura V fnj jurer vg jnf tbvat (fbzrubj qvqa’g ernyvmr gurl jrer tbvat gb erfphr Bjy hagvy V fnj Crccre’f dhrel ybbxvat sbe gur fuhggyr, gubhtu). Zl vagreany znc bs gur fgbel nep unf n cyrnfvat flzzrgel. Gur zber V guvax nobhg NPnPB, gur zber V ybir vg.

  18. More Meredithing: Furies of Calderon (the first of Jim Butcher’s Calderon series, which combines a lost Roman legion with Pokémon) is $1.99.

  19. @Rob Thornton:
    Oooh, as an old Glorantha Trading Association member that helped get the Hero Wars game printed back in 1999, and staff member of Glorantha Con VIII here in Toronto, thank you! I’ve been a bit disconnected from that for the last few years, and hadn’t seen this strip before. Now I have something to catch up on.

  20. @Jenora Feuer

    There’s been a Gloranthan mini-renaissance happening in recent years, spurred on by the very successful Kickstarter for the massive two-volume Guide to Glorantha and the return of RuneQuest to Chaosium. So you might be pleasantly surprised in other ways.

    (P.S. I have a swell depiction of Arkat attacking Nysalor from the Kickstarter!)

  21. Good on you, Mike, for helping Mum (or whatever you call your mum-in-law).

    That reminds me to mention that Jordin Kare is having heart surgery in Cleveland right at the end of this month. Mary Kay and Jordin are staying in Cleveland a couple of weeks for preparation and recuperation. She is accepting good thoughts and other emotional support from well-wishers. I don’t have much detail, but she tweeted about it yesterday (after I missed earlier tweets).

    Jordin, when he’s not punning*, has been turning science fiction into reality for long enough that I can’t list his accomplishments here (see Wikipedia!), but I have to say that many of us will remember his name always for being on the team that not only worked out how to zap mosquitoes with frickin lasers, but actually worked out how to determine their gender first.

    Me, cross Jordin Kare? Aw, hell no! And I mean that from gratitude, not (justifiable) terror at his prowess.

    * Who am I kidding? Of course he was punning while he did it.

  22. @Jj

    the linked Big Idea piece (and most of the quoted text) is actually about Nagata’s newly-released novel The Last Good Man

    Thanks for that, I’ve just finished First Light and reading (2) had me a little bemused.

  23. @Mark (kitteh)

    I don’t think that an inherently positive outlook on humanity should be a negative, but it does seem to make some people automatically consider it a bit lightweight by comparison to grimmer, darker books.

    Right there with you. Also Ninefoxing over here, but ACaCO will be #2 on my ballot for sure.

    You know what would be nice? If someone talked about a sequel to their wildly popular book/movie and said the sequel would be “Brighter and more fun!” than the previous installment. Too often, we get the “Darker and more gritty” cliche…

  24. Unfortunately, as I said, I’ve been disconnected from that for a few years, in part because our old GM moved out of town. I didn’t hear about the Kickstarter until after it was over.

    I do have one of the 2003 hardcover limited edition HeroQuest books (from the Steve Jackson Games partnership) with a mostly-unique rune on the cover due to the rune being involved with a Hero created by our playtest group (I think one other person has the same one, and he was the GM).

    That was a fun campaign. When our group was about to be exiled from our village (voluntarily on our part, in an attempt to save the village from being destroyed by the Lunars who were getting upset with our activities), we started setting up equipment caches that we could get back to in an emergency. Caches in remote areas with dangerous creatures that we could handle or that actually liked us and would act as guards because we’d fixed other problems.

    It wasn’t until after we’d set up the plans for this that one of the other players commented, “You realize that what we’re doing is setting up a classic dungeon, don’t you?”

    … Even when you’re not actively trying to follow a story in that game, you end up creating stories.

  25. @Mark – I bet the pendulum will swing to “brighter and more fun” at some point soon. I’ve noticed people (*ahem* me *ahem*) are losing interest in eg Rainbow Brite, but gritty!

  26. kathodus, Mark-kitteh, Mark-Kaedrin: with regard to your comments about A Closed and Common Orbit.

    I have also seen comments which indicate disdain for the story because it’s about good people who try to treat each other well and is thus somehow “lightweight” — a label I really disagree with. There is plenty of room for, and need for, uplifting stories. I read ACaCO shortly after the U.S. election — and I found it a sorely-needed balm for my soul. But it’s far from being a brainless balm. I’ll echo what Steve Wright says, because he put it so well:

    I thought A Closed and Common Orbit had a lot going for it, not least the way Chambers slipped some serious SFnal questions about the nature of identity into a light, generally feel-good story. I don’t think “grim, epic, doom-laden” necessarily equals “serious” in any case, and this is a sterling example of a non-grim novel which is, nonetheless, deeply thoughtful.

    Right now, it’s at the top of my ballot. I haven’t read The Obelisk Gate yet, but given that I did not love The Fifth Season (didn’t hate it, just didn’t think it was that fantastic, either), I don’t see that changing. I’ve decided that I’m quite okay with putting “a non-grim novel which is, nonetheless, deeply thoughtful” at the top of my ballot.

  27. (1) This is an interesting perspective, and a good one. Indeed, the publishers and editors deserve much of the blame.

    (4) Ron Howard now confirmed to take over. At this point, it’s a good move — get an old pro who can whip it into shape quickly.

    (9) Yes. Why I have it at #1.

    (11) Breaking news: Facebook sucks, (prematurely) old man yells at clouds, sky is blue, water wet, film at 11.

    (16) Only the Brits would have such a category.

    (17) Kind of a lot of them, if the ads I see for paranormal romance are any indication.

    @Beth in MA: Ooh, jealousy over your Pacific Overtures.

    @Rev Bob: I remember one faaannish house party when there was some early Mars rover roving about. Jordin had access, of course, and kindly snarfed photos for us that hadn’t yet made their way to the news media. Mars, almost live, at our BBQ! And that was even before the mosquito lasering.

    I hope more writers can take ACaCO to heart and realize that optimism allows just as much room for exploration of the human (alien, AI) condition, as well as action and neat skiffy stuff. Even “Long Way…” had that what, in what many dismissed as just fluff. Nope — Dr. Chef’s past and the navigator’s future were srs bzness. I doubt it’ll win, but I’m eager to see where it finishes. I was just happily surprised to see it on the ballot; if not for the irregularities of the first book’s publishing date, I bet it might have too.

  28. On the Han Solo spinoff–as lurkertype mentions, Ron Howard has been confirmed now. But I still recommend checking out this amusing speculative piece from tor.com on how several possible directors might (have) work(ed) out. 🙂

  29. I had Ninefox in my TBR stack for months before finally getting around to read it. I love this book!!!

  30. @Jamoche: I hate to nitpick (oh, who am I kidding? I love to nitpick) but that’s sapient pearwood.

  31. @Jamoche — I’ve often wished for the Luggage, but it’s just a tad expensive….

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