Pixel Scroll 7/9/17 Silver Threads And Golden Pixels Cannot Mend This Scroll of Mine

(1) WHAT I READ. Mary Robinette Kowal sent several tweets prodding reviewers to do better assessments:

When seeking reviews to link here, I’ve been surprised at how very many people start off with brilliantly written story summaries — then the review promptly ends, with very little having been said about what the writer accomplished or what the story adds to the genre.

(2) TOO MANY WORDS. But those reviews we’re complaining about above look like gems beside the work of The Literate Programmer at A Literate Programmer’s Blog who posted his “Hugo Awards – Best Novella” rankings with a confession –

…With the voting deadline for the Hugos coming up on the 15th, I decided that I wouldn’t have the time to read all the books in their entirety, and would instead just read far enough to get a feel for the style….

So I began once again working my way up to the novels, this time reading the novellas….

This Census-Taker by China Miéville was the first of the novellas I dug into. …However, the story definitely has a strange and slow start, so it was easy to move on….

A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson sets up a nice inversion right from the beginning…. I didn’t finish it yet, but I expect it to take a rather darker turn eventually, tough not entirely too dark….

Then I picked up Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire and didn’t put it back down until I was done. …

Victor LaValle wrote the other novella I finished in its entirety, The Ballad of Black Tom

The Dream-Quest of Vellit Boe is another take on Lovecraft… Definitely something I will finish, as I want to know what happens to Vellit….

Last but not least comes Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold. I like what I’ve read so far and it’s entertaining …

Someone else might have spent the time it took to write this post on, oh, I don’t know, reading the rest of these novellas before voting?

(3) BOOK JENGA. Walter Jon Williams describes the “Tower of Dreams”.

So the other night I dreamed I was in the Tower of Definitive Editions, a giant structure literally built from the definitive editions of every book ever written.  There was some kind of mechanism that would pluck the book that you wanted from the structure without either damaging the book or destabilizing the tower.  (Maybe it stuffed the hole with John Grisham novels or something.)

(4) DON’T LET THE DOOR BANG YOUR BUTT. Tony B. Kim at Crazy4ComiCon does not sympathize with what he calls “Mile High Comics breakup letter to San Diego Comic-Con” by owner Chuck Rozanski. Kim devotes several paragraphs mocking him as a “dinosaur” in “Comic-Con has changed and it sucks…”.

I cringe whenever I hear someone say that ‘the show has changed’ in a negative context. The show hasn’t just changed, the world has changed and certainly no one has felt it more than the publishing industry. We all know change is hard but writing letters and blaming everyone else for your business woes sounds like an entitled kid that wants to take his ball and go home. Chuck had 4 1/2 decades of pursuing what he loved and built one of the most noteable shops in history- hashtag #FirstNerdWorldProblems. I want good men and companies like Chuck and Mile High to win and get the respect they deserve. No doubt he has paid his dues and has committed his life to providing comics to a legion of adoring fans. My hope is that he and his business continues to grow each year without relying on Comic-Con business. However, after his letter, I won’t shed a tear for him and I hope Comic-Con International doesn’t either. Chuck, just go to the island, Chris Pratt will be along shortly to welcome you.

(5) JUST A LITTLE SMACK. Will this work? “Nasa to send asteroid away from Earth by firing a bullet at it in attempt to save the Earth from future strikes”.

The agency has laid out the plans for its DART mission – where it will send a space capsule the size of a fridge towards an asteroid to shoot it off course. For now, the mission is just a test, but in the future it could be used to save Earth from what scientists say is an underappreciated threat from asteroids.

The mission has now been approved by Nasa and will move into the preliminary design phase, getting ready for testing in a few years.

“DART would be NASA’s first mission to demonstrate what’s known as the kinetic impactor technique – striking the asteroid to shift its orbit – to defend against a potential future asteroid impact,” said Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This approval step advances the project toward an historic test with a non-threatening small asteroid.”

DART’s target is an asteroid that will pass by Earth in 2022, and come back two years later. More specifically, it’s actually two asteroids: a binary system called Didymos B made up of a larger and a smaller rock.

It’s the smaller one that Nasa will try and knock off course. But by using a binary system, scientists will be able to check with more accuracy how well their test has worked.

(6) KEEPING THE STEAM IN SELF-ESTEEM. Jon Del Arroz says 80% of the people responding to his survey recommended he not join SFWA. So our genre’s leading concern troll has worked up a list of what needs to be fixed. With SFWA, that is.

(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

The Twilight Zone episode, “A Penny for your Thoughts,” written by George Clayton Johnson was shopped around as a series where each episode would have a different cast experiencing the ability to read minds.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 9, 1982 TRON premiered on this day.

(9) CLASSIC ROCHE. Next year’s Worldcon chair Kevin Roche makes a fashion statement in this (public) photo on Facebook.

(10) SOLO ACT. ScreenRant evaluates Ron Howard’s latest news-free tweet.

While Howard’s tweet is amusing, it’s realistic to think that at some point Star Wars fans will grow tired of non-news “news” from the Han Solo set. Since Howard is relatively new to the project, perhaps he doesn’t feel comfortable sharing anything from a film that he hasn’t really taken ownership of yet, his presumably strict NDA aside. Hopefully, that time will come once he not only completes principal photography but the five weeks of reshoots which were previously budgeted into production. Only then will Howard be able to help shape the tone and vision that Han Solo co-writer Lawrence Kasdan originally intended.

(11) DRAGON QUEEN. TIME Magazine’s Daniel D’Addario, in “Emilia Clarke on Why Dragons Are Daenerys’ True Love on Game of Thrones”, has a lengthy interview with Emilia Clarke where she says “I’m five-foot nothing, I’m a little girl” and adds that she thought she would be sacked from Game of Thrones because it was her first job out of drama school and she felt insecure.

(12) FIGHTING WORDS. Jonathan Cook, in “Wonder Woman is a hero only the military-industrial complex could create” on Mondoweiss, says the heroine is “carefully purposed propaganda designed to force-feed aggressive Western military intervention, dressed up as humanitarianism, to unsuspecting audiences.”

My reticence to review the film has lifted after reading the latest investigations of Tom Secker and Matthew Alford into the manifold ways the U.S. military and security services interfere in Hollywood, based on a release of 4,000 pages of documents under Freedom of Information requests.

In their new book “National Security Cinema,” the pair argue that the Pentagon, CIA and National Security Agency have meddled in the production of at least 800 major Hollywood movies and 1,000 TV titles. That is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg, as they concede:

“It is impossible to know exactly how widespread this military censorship of entertainment is because many files are still being withheld.”

(13) BIG PACIFIER THEORY. Baby’s first quantum-mechanics book: “Something New For Baby To Chew On: Rocket Science And Quantum Physics”.

The books introduce subjects like rocket science, quantum physics and general relativity — with bright colors, simple shapes and thick board pages perfect for teething toddlers. The books make up the Baby University series — and each one begins with the same sentence and picture — This is a ball — and then expands on the titular concept.

In the case of general relativity: This ball has mass.

But some of the topics Ferrie covers are tough for even grown-ups to comprehend. (I mean, quantum physics? Come on.)

(14) SLOW DEATH. A Ghost Story may be too slow for some: “Grief Hangs Around At Home In ‘A Ghost Story'”.

I should mention that the film is virtually without plot, so it requires some patience. Major stars and that title notwithstanding, A Ghost Story is not a Saturday-night date movie. More a provocative art film in the European sense. Though barely 87 minutes, it unfolds in long, static shots, most of them without faces to hang onto. It’s almost a film without genre, and by the end it’s become a story untethered from time itself.

(15) A SERIOUS HARRY HABIT. The 100,000 UKP Potter habit: “Harry Potter fan from Cardiff spends £100K on memorabilia”.

Her collection features posters, scarves in the house colours, broomsticks and the official Harry Potter magazines – with the memorabilia costing more than £40,000.

The rest has been spent travelling to Orlando in Florida to the film studios and more recently to Harry Potter World in both London and America.

(16) AVAST ME HEARTIES. Davidoff of Geneva is sold out of the pen and letter opener set shown here, but they have plenty of other golden loot they would love to sell you.

(17) ANOTHER AMAZON PRODUCT. Brazil gets into horror: “The Blair Witches of Brazil”.

Their titles practically shriek at you: Night of the Chupacabras, When I Was Alive, The Necropolis Symphony. Right away you can guess that these are films you might need to watch through your fingers, tales of horror to quicken the heart. But you might not know where they’re from. Step aside Carmen Miranda and The Girl from Ipanema, these frightfests are from Brazil.

(18) NOT GOING APE OVER THIS ONE. The BBC is disappointed by War for the Planet of the Apes.

The first point to make about War for the Planet of the Apes is that it isn’t actually about a war. There are a couple of Skirmishes for the Planet of the Apes and one brief Battle for the Planet of the Apes, but the all-out humans-v-hairies conflict that the title promises is nowhere to be seen. And that’s one reason why the film, for all of its technical wizardry and daring solemnity, is a let-down.

(19) GOOD NIGHT. Next year’s CONvergence GoH Elizabeth Bear signs off from this year’s con:

(20) LAST WORD. John Hertz is never impressed when I use idioms as I please.

(21) DARTH HOMER. Here’s a selection of YouTube videos in which Darth Vader is voiced variously by Clint Eastwood, Nicholas Cage and Arnold Schwarzenegger. John King Tarpinian declares the Homer Simpson version to be the funniest.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

142 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/9/17 Silver Threads And Golden Pixels Cannot Mend This Scroll of Mine

  1. @Johan P: I can find descriptions of books all over the place (including the jacket copy). If someone starts a review with a brief synopsis, that’s groovy. But if someone just has a book description and labels it a review, without actually saying anything about the book, that’s at least wildly innacurate labelling and a little frustrating. That said: It can be helpful to have more than one book summary, versus the same summary copied/pasted on 500 sites. But if I’m reading a review, I’d like a review.

    I usually don’t care for super-long reviews (short attention span). That said, sometimes I enjoy reading longer reviews of books I’ve enjoyed, to get someone else’s take on it after the fact (or just because I don’t want spoilers beforehand – not always the case). Or sometimes the reviewer pulled me in and I enjoy a mid-to-long review. It varies.

    @DMS: Short and no plot summary – sounds like my kind of review. 🙂

    @Joe H.: ROFL at your review – great!

    @robinareid: “I’m assigning this article in my dystopias class this fall to talk about the goals for their projects. . . .” – I had a brief flash of the project assignment being to design and implement a dystopia. 😉 I definitely need sleep.

    @kathodus: “I’ve abandoned half-written reactions to/reviews of books in the middle of writing them because I realize my take is much less nuanced, in depth, and interesting.” – Oh yeah, I’ve been there. (Hell, same sometimes with writing comments here.)

  2. Ignoring Prince Harry and even William’s service

    And Queen Elizabeth’s service when she was a princess. And Prince Charles’ service. And Prince Andrew’s service.

  3. @JJ: I haven’t read any Norman Spinrad in a very long time, but the two that stuck with me are Bug Jack Barron, a story about Jack Barron, a very popular and influential TV investigative reporter who ends up digging into the disappearance of some children, only to discover that it’s tied to an unsavory method of immortality and political influence. It’s probably somewhat dated by now, and some of the stuff going on in the book is definitely straight out of the 70s, but I’d still be willing to go back and read it again.

    The second one is The Mind Game, a novel clearly based on Scientology. It’s about a guy in Hollywood who gets sucked into a Scientology clone “Transformationalism”, I think, and while it doesn’t take for him, his wife falls for it hook, line and sinker, and he ends up needing to get involved into the religion in order to get his wife out of it. I have no actual experience with Scientology, so I don’t know whether Spinrad was right on or not, but I suspect he got a lot right. However, I recommend that you don’t get the Kindle edition. From what I can tell, Spinrad heard from other SF authors that a quick way to get self-published version of one’s books out there is to grab a darknet version, copyedit it and release your own copy at Amazon, etc. Unfortunately, Spinrad skipped the copyediting step, so the Kindle copy lacks formatting of things like italics, and pages with a lot of short dialog lost their paragraph breaks, so sometimes you literally could not tell in the Kindle edition which character said each line, even though it was correctly formatted in the paperback edition I have. It’s possible that in the 4-5 years since I picked up The Mind Game at Amazon (fortunately for me, free at the time) that Spinrad has gone back and fixed the Kindle edition, but the last time I downloaded it, several years ago, it was still bad.

    (6) It seems to me that if JdA wants to know whether SFWA is for him, he should be polling members of SFWA rather than asking a bunch of followers who didn’t even know what SFWA stands for. Of course, if the clueless listens to the clueless here, SFWA dodges a bullet.

  4. Greg Hullander:

    Authors are generally cool with it as long as you don’t make it personal. They’ve got tough skins from all the rejections they have to deal with.

    At least they should. Probably thats the reason why puppies, who have a hard time accepting criticisms (or other opinions for that matter) are so into self-publishing/indy-publishing.

  5. August:

    “Really? I feel like it’s probably the most famous comic con in the world. The press releases and leaks that come out of there get world-wide press. Many of my friends take trips from other countries to go, and I’ve got friends as far away as Poland and Indonesia who follow and talk about what goes on there.”

    I’m not sure that “the most famous comic con” really says anything. Is it more famous than Comiket? It is smaller anyhow. And with regards to friends taking trips from other countries, it sounds like Worldcon. Nothing to make a pop culture capital of the world by itself.

  6. Aaron on July 10, 2017 at 9:54 pm said:
    Ignoring Prince Harry and even William’s service

    And Queen Elizabeth’s service when she was a princess. And Prince Charles’ service. And Prince Andrew’s service.

    Harry and Andrew in particular served in active conflicts.

  7. Is it more famous than Comiket?

    Yes, and probably by a lot (inside Japan being the likely exception).

    In addition to being the preferred launch site for news and previews of major international entertainment franchises across a variety of media (if you’ve ever seen leaked footage or trailers from a Hollywood genre film, it probably came from there), it’s also been used as a plot point, either major or minor, repeatedly in films and television series that receive international broadcast (including being featured or mentioned in many episodes of a crappy sitcom that just happens to be the second most popular scripted television series in North America for like ten years running).

    If you haven’t heard of it until recently… I really don’t know what to say. It’s like saying “I’m a huge fan of blues music… but who is this B.B. King dude I hear people talking about?” Even if his style of blues is not your scene, it’s still an unusual thing to hear from a blues lover. (I’m not a big con guy at all… I’ve been to three, all in Toronto and in the last ten years, but still, SDCC has been on my radar for close to 30 years. I’m pretty sure I remember reading about it in Wizard as a teen in the ’90s, and my local comic shop guys in rural northern Canada wishing they had the money to go.)

  8. Nah, it is like saying “I am a huge fan of heavy metal, but why should I care about american metal festivals when we have our own. I’ll see the artists that will come here.”. Swedes will know about Sweden Rock. And they will know about Wacken. What festivals exist in US? No idea.

    So SDCC might be a big thing for you. Here not so much.

  9. Speaking of heavy metal, this year’s Balticon took place on the same weekend as Maryland Deathfest (which is said to be the largest extreme metal event in North America). I ran into two Deathfest goers outside of the Balticon hotel and they were thrilled that both events were happening at the same time. They were making plans to hit the con as I headed to lunch.

  10. @Hampus – unless you’re a metalhead from the US, where metal has never recovered from the mid-90s crash, in which case you would know the US festivals and several European festivals, as well.

    MDF is probably the only Euro-style fest in the US right now (not sure about that, though – Destroying Texas seems to be rapidly growing). I have several friends who disappear off to Europe during the festival season.

    Despite the US’s shortcomings when it comes to fests, I usually see a lot of Europeans at the more interesting ones – MDF, CDF, Sacrifice of the Nazarene child (RiP), Rites of Darkness (RiP)…

  11. @Hampus: I’m not American, so it’s not my country’s con either. But I also know about European music festivals and bands and all the rest of it, too (Raut Oak!). Like, my European friends all know about Coachella, you know? We have our own stuff here in Canada (in fact, Toronto Comic Con has a bigger venue than SDCC and roughly similar attendance), but that doesn’t mean I haven’t heard about the big shows other places, or that they don’t impact what’s going on here–or that I don’t know the relative global cultural punching weight of what’s happening elsewhere versus what’s happening here.

  12. Dear Mr Glyer,
    I have heard great things about your blog and was happy to see you on the list of Hugo nominees for this year’s Best Fan Writer. After reading through the selection provided in the Hugo packet I stumbled across this post of yours and I have to admit I’m very disappointed. I’ll try to explain why.
    As a community, I’ve always felt the writerly one to be very inclusive, and I’d say you are also part of it. And yet you seem to think it appropriate to pick on a random person’s pastime like it is any of your business. (See (2) above.)
    I understand that it can be frustrating to scroll through rows of “bad” reviews to find good ones (as indicated by “JJ” in the comments) but why would you condemn the posts of a novice blogger with such harsh words? Your blog is known and well-read, you have a fairly big number of active commenters; it seems you’re misjudging your position. Your words have weight and you just used them to pick on somebody significantly smaller than you. The Literate Programmer is not a professional reviewer; they write in their “about” page that the blog is their hobby/about their hobbies. Why would you go on and judge their writing as you would a review in a big newspaper?
    Some of your commenters have accused them of writing for attention or revenue. I have not found a single piece of (paid) advertising by skimming through the other posts. Others called it, similar to what you did, a waste of time or even “worse than useless”. What do you think they’ll feel like when they see this?
    Sure, maybe they shouldn’t vote on things they haven’t read in their entirety, that’s a fair point to make but does not seem to be your goal. What is more, they even point that out at the beginning of the post you link to: “That’s risky, as a plot twist near the end might well improve my view of a story greatly, but at the same time, it really should grab me from the beginning and not take hundreds of pages to draw me in.”
    This hatred towards people who aren’t doing reviews the way they ought to be, however, is very far from the writer community I’ve come to love and feel comfortable around. There’s nothing to be said against constructive criticism but this particular piece of yours is exactly what it criticises: a really bad review. Not least of all because the Literate Programmer did at no point in that post advertise their writing as a review. To me, it reads more like a dairy entry. It’s short, yes, but even their short paragraph on This Census-Taker* tells me more than your condescending lines about their blog.
    *I’ll quote it here in full because you omitted the best parts:

    This Census-Taker by China Miéville was the first of the novellas I dug into. I really enjoyed Miéville’s writing style in UnLunDun, Kraken and Railsea, and I enjoyed it here too, as I did the cryptic hints about the dangers of the census-taker’s job and the secrecy and cryptography he has to employ. The parts about his childhood are sad and fascinating at the same time. However, the story definitely has a strange and slow start, so it was easy to move on.

    I do hope that this is but a slip in your otherwise good reputation and am looking forward to reading more thoughtful and sympathetic pieces of yours in the future and not this elitist snobbery that might well help dividing this great community of ours.
    Yours sincerely,
    A fellow (novice) writer

    P.S. Please excuse me for posting this anonymously but I do not feel comfortable anymore revealing my name here.

  13. August –

    An author once wrote me a really, really nasty email over a (mostly positive!) mixed review, and then said that she would sue me for copyright infringement if I ever published the email.

    Fun thing with game reviews is that many people are working on it so you might get heat from multiple folks and/or the PR people who provide the copy. More likely the latter than the former though it’s a weird relationship between the lead editor and and the PR people is one where information is needed from the PR folks to generate content and get review codes and for the PR people to try and control the message being said about their game. So while it’s better all around to remain professional there’s a tension over negative reviews that occasionally blow up.

    While typically the head editor will act as a buffer a couple times developers have sent feedback to me directly, most were great conversations. One was so hostile and completely nuts to any attempts at conversation that after a while we stopped talking and instead I bought and sent them a ‘How to Develop a Game for Windows for Dummies’ book. Which is not a mature response but I still enjoyed it.

    Don’t like to review books though. After a while of reviewing games it’s difficult to turn off the inner critic and just get lost into it. I’ll do it now and then but I don’t want to get to a spot where I start looking at all media through a critical filter every time.

    Having a negative vocabulary larger than a positive one was mentioned before, and while it’s easier to point out what doesn’t work than the skill involved in how an author made something work, personally the hardest things to review weren’t the awesome things or the horrible, it was the just ok. Hard to get excited to write about middle of the road fare that is fine on a technical level but also doesn’t do anything to be worth the time invested either.

  14. An author once wrote me a really, really nasty email over a (mostly positive!) mixed review, and then said that she would sue me for copyright infringement if I ever published the email.

    As I recall, Palladium Games used to view pretty much any mention of their works by unsanctioned third parties as violations of their IP. In that context, Wizards of the Coast’s belief that if they asked Palladium for permission to include a Palladium section in The Primal order and got no answer, that meant they had permission was quite remarkable.

  15. Kathodus:

    We meet quite a lot of people from different countries at Sweden Rock. Mostly people from Europe, but I have met some from Brazil and Japan too. I think that is a bit standard for festivals. This year we had some peole from Ireland in the tent next to ours, it seems like they come every year.

    August:

    Thing is, Canada is still North American. I mean, you refererred to Wizard. I think I have bought that magazine once in my life, but found out that it covered such a small subset of comics that it wasn’t interesting. I doubt many people here have read it. While growing up, I read as much comics from France, Belgium, UK and Argentine as I did from US. Angoulême International Comics Festival has always been the big festival fo me.

    I do think the change is bigger then you think when a country hasn’t got english as their main language. While internet has changed things, most of pop culture news is published and read in swedish which has a totally different slant to it than the american. If a studio releases a new trailer, that is what is reported. Not where it was released. I mean, that is not really interesting, is it? Trailers have always been released.

    But for someone closer and with the same language, it might be more interesting.

  16. Novice Writer: A Literate Programmer attracted these lightning bolts because they announced they were voting in a Hugo category without having read those works. What else does a Hugo voter have to offer than their informed opinion? It is also unhelpful for you to dramatize my reaction by calling it “hatred.” If you found The Literate Programmer’s reviews helpful why not go leave a comment telling them so? (And by the way, there seems to be a second “The Literate Programmer” site that looks unrelated, and about which I have no complaints, so b e sure to get the right one.)

  17. I think there are times when it is legitimate to vote in a Hugo category without having completely read the works, primarily when you’ve consciously stopped reading one of the finalists because of various reasons like you hate the writing style, the message, or you just don’t care about the characters. However to write a survey review of a category where the review of particular works admit that reviewer apparently didn’t finish the works because they ran out of time, is just a poor review.

    I’m still debating what to do about the best novel category, because I have opinions about the 4 books I’ve read, and the two that I haven’t read, each is part of a series where I haven’t read the predecessor novels. Should I just leave them off my ballot?

  18. Bruce A on July 11, 2017 at 10:29 am said:
    If it’s for novel and not series, at least try reading the other two.

  19. @Bruce A – I’m still debating what to do about the best novel category, because I have opinions about the 4 books I’ve read, and the two that I haven’t read, each is part of a series where I haven’t read the predecessor novels. Should I just leave them off my ballot?

    I don’t know which two you mean, but I was advised that I didn’t need to read the middle book in order to understand Death’s End, so I didn’t, and I don’t think it mattered (and the less Cixin Liu the better, so far as I’m concerned). I think the Jemisin books are too interdependent and you’d have to read both, but the Chambers book doesn’t actually require any knowledge of her previous book, so long as you know a disruptive event occurred previously.

    That said, if you can’t read the missing two novels, I’d just leave them off the ballot. Hugo voting is a responsibility, but it doesn’t come with a moral imperative.

    Also, @NoviceWriter, your post gave me an acute case of eye rolling. Not for the histrionics and hyperbole, although I’m not a fan (hatred? Really?), but because I don’t believe a word of it. It’s like the sockiest of sock puppets composed it, doing a best guess at how a naif would write.

  20. Although I make a point of finishing everything I review, I’d agree that for SFF, it’s not unreasonable to give a story one or two stars after reading a few chapters. That’s enough to determine whether a) the writing is subpar and b) you can’t suspend disbelief for the what-if of the story. If either a or b is true, it’s not going to be much fun reading the rest of it.

    For short fiction, it’s not really asking a lot to finish a 5,000-word short story. A 40,000-word novella, on the other hand, can be so painful that by the time I’m done, I’m apt to write a really cruel review if I don’t set it aside for a couple of days.

    But to finish reading a bad novel? That really is asking a lot. And yet it’s valuable information that the reviewer dumped it after three chapters.

  21. @Novice Writer: WTF? Did you have a point in all that blathering? All those histrionics? I’m with Cheryl S — it was textbook sock puppetry.

    I don’t do podcasts about anything, so I don’t take note of the podcast category. I’m sure some of them are swell, but it’s not a format that works with my brain. Even if there are helpful links in the packet, I don’t listen because I literally am unable to pay attention. I recognize many of the names and would be delighted if they WROTE DOWN their remarks — but I can’t do podcast/radio/audio books.

    @Bruce A: You don’t need to have read the previous one for the Chambers book. The situation is summed up early on, and the setting and characters are new.

    @Hampus: perhaps Sweden or yourself is atypical? As I said, the Japanese like “Kommekucon” and they don’t call it manga. Even though they have tons of huge manga conventions, they still like SDCC for worldwide news.

  22. Dear Mr Glyer,
    Thank you for your quick response and your clarification. The point that you say you were trying to make and that got picked up by others is one I can understand (as mentioned above). It is not one I thought was made very clear, though. And, from my point of view, neither did (some of) the commenters. They called the blogger attention seeking, their written opinions “worse than useless” and a waste of time – even though their post lead with what you called a confession, i.e., the readers wouldn’t have to waste their time reading the opinions/reviews after that.

    I have a confession myself here: I was upset. Probably upset enough to use slightly stronger words than I would have otherwise. Definitely upset enough to comment at all. What upset me, and still does, is the harshness and condescension towards a random stranger, somebody seemingly only writing whenever they feel like it and definitely not professionally. Maybe hatred is not the perfect word to describe all this but in my opinion it definitely is a breeding ground for it.

    Finally, I’d like to point out that it doesn’t seem like the Programmer hasn’t read the pieces. They specifically write they’ve read at least two of them completely (Every Heart a Doorway and The Ballad of Black Tom – I checked the post again to be sure) and the rest partially. At which percentage one is able to have an informed opinion you, they and I might well disagree on and I respect that.

    @Cheryl S., @lurkertype: I have been writing for and by myself off and on for a while now. I do what I think is right. I do not need your belief. Nor your textbooks.

  23. NoviceWriter: The point that you say you were trying to make and that got picked up by others is one I can understand (as mentioned above). It is not one I thought was made very clear, though.

    I thought he made the point pretty clearly. But if English is not someone’s first language, I can see why they might not have understood it. (Although there are several people who’ve commented in this thread for whom English is not their first language — I count at least 6 — and they seem to have understood the point just fine.)

  24. NoviceWriter: Finally, I’d like to point out that it doesn’t seem like the Programmer hasn’t read the pieces. They specifically write they’ve read at least two of them completely (Every Heart a Doorway and The Ballad of Black Tom – I checked the post again to be sure) and the rest partially. At which percentage one is able to have an informed opinion you, they and I might well disagree on and I respect that.

    I would say someone only has to read 20% of a story to be able to offer the opinion: “I think that this is badly written, and here’s why.”

    But to offer any other opinion, the reviewer really needs to have read the whole story. I have read novels and novellas which are fantastic right up to the end, and then totally muff the landing. I have read stories which start out merely okay and end up being fantastic by the end. I have read stories which are in themselves beautiful prose or great ideas but have wooden characters or extremely poor plotting. But the thing is, you don’t know which category they fall into unless you’ve read the whole thing.

    No one is saying that this person can’t just partially read all the Hugo nominated works. They can even vote on and rank them without having read them all — I personally think to do so is a bit shabby; a voter can just leave works they haven’t read off the ballot.

    But for someone to read only 2 of the 6 works, and read only small parts of the rest — yes, that amounts to “not reading them”. And then to rank them based on only having read small parts? I mean, seriously? The criticism of that is well-justified.

    And as already been discussed at great length in this thread, readers can certainly post what they think of books online. But anyone who posts anything publicly (and, oh look, then promotes that post on Twitter) has to be aware that they are inviting people to read it — and to critique it.

    I mean seriously, who promotes their blog post on Twitter and tags it #HugoAwards if they’re not trying to get attention???

  25. NoviceWriter:

    You know, Mike is not responsible for what other commenters here write. It is possible to interact with people directly if you disagree with them. You don’t have to go through Mike to do that.

    lurkertype:

    Sure, Sweden might be atypical. Or I might be. But one thing I have noticed is that americans have a tendency to attatch “world famous” to things no one has heard of outside of the US. Calling something “pop culture capital of the world” because they have a convention that lasts four days where stuff made in other places are on display, well, that is really an exaggeration. Not to say not true at all.

    One thing there is a lot of writing about in Sweden is E3.

  26. Hampus Eckerman: NoviceWriter: You know, Mike is not responsible for what other commenters here write. It is possible to interact with people directly if you disagree with them. You don’t have to go through Mike to do that

    Perhaps NoviceWriter is focused on my responsibility for whether content stays or goes. In fact, it wasn’t long ago that an up and coming writer, whose book was part of Jon Del Arroz’ bundle for OdysseyCon, chastised me in private emails about my failure to excise people’s comments about him.

  27. Mike Glyer: it wasn’t long ago that an up and coming writer, whose book was part of Jon Del Arroz’ bundle for OdysseyCon, chastised me in private emails about my failure to excise people’s comments about him.

    I’m pretty sure I know which author that would be. It’s nice to know that he considers himself such a special snowflake. 🙄

  28. Guys, if we can’t agree on anything else, can we at least agree THAT I’M NOT A %$&*ING AMERICAN? It may seem a small distinction to our esteemed colleague from Denmark, but it’s something we Canadians tend to be kind of touchy about.

  29. @August:

    If you’re not an American, why do you go by the name of an American month? 😀

    (tongue FIRMLY in cheek!)

  30. My accent is very Fargo-esque, actually, to the point that my gf (a southern urbanite) teases me about it. I’m originally from a very small town in Ontario north of Bemidji.

  31. @August, fine, you say you aren’t an American, but can you prove it? How do you pronounce pasta?

  32. August:

    “Guys, if we can’t agree on anything else, can we at least agree THAT I’M NOT A %$&*ING AMERICAN? It may seem a small distinction to our esteemed colleague from Denmark, but it’s something we Canadians tend to be kind of touchy about.”

    Has anyone called you an american? Apart from North American that is.

  33. August:

    “My accent is very Fargo-esque, actually, to the point that my gf (a southern urbanite) teases me about it. “

    Well, then your swedish accent goes well with your swedish name. 😉

  34. I’m either from Baja Canada or North Mexico. (We could go back to our old name: Alta California.)

  35. I’m not North American (or any sort of American) and have been aware of San Diego Comic Con since my prime US comic reading days in the 1990s. But I’m fairly uncommon in that regard and I’ve met e.g. exchange students heading to San Diego who were utterly unaware of it.

    In the past few years, I’ve occasionally seen some footage of costumed crowds and maybe some celebrities or a snippets from newly released trailers on gossip and pop culture news programs, though they normally don’t name the con and just report that celebrity X has presented new movie Z. Interestingly, I’ve also seen footage from New York Comic Con and even Dragon Con (which I for one had never heard of until approx. three years ago, because that is much more of an American thing) in gossip and pop culture news programs.

    Regarding music festivals, I’m well aware of the big German ones like Wacken, Scheeßel Hurricane (both of which are within easy driving distance of where I live), the gothic wave festival of Leipzig, Rock am Ring, etc…, all of which get mainstream news coverage and sometimes even live TV coverage. And of course, I also know about the big classical and opera festivals in Germany and Austria, such as Bayreuth, Salzburg, Bregenz, Mörbisch, Bad Ischl etc…, which again get mainstream news coverage and a lot of extensive coverage in cultural TV programs. However, the only American festival I know about is Burning Man. Until very recently, I got Coachella mixed up with YouTube star Zoella and I’ve never heard about any classical and opera festivals in the US at all. I presume the US has them, I just haven’t heard of them.

    On the other hand, I’m often shocked how many Americans, even those who claim to be film fans, have never heard of the Berlin film festival, which is after all one of the big three film festivals in the world together with Cannes and Venice. Meanwhile, Americans are much more aware of the Sundance Festival (which gets very little attention in Europe, less than smaller European festivals like Locarno, Karlovy Vary, Deauville or Oberhausen) or the Toronto film festival.

  36. @Greg Hullender: it’s not unreasonable to give a story one or two stars after reading a few chapters. Which is a lot more generous than Wilhelm’s infamous red line….

  37. @rob_matic:

    And Queen Elizabeth’s service when she was a princess. And Prince Charles’ service. And Prince Andrew’s service.

    Harry and Andrew in particular served in active conflicts.

    I think you could argue that Elizabeth served in an active conflict as well, considering she worked as a driver and mechanic for the Auxiliary Territorial Service during WWII. Granted, the Blitz had been over for a few years at that point, so London wasn’t exactly the front lines anymore.

    @James Davis Nicoll:
    Didn’t Palladium once threaten to sue Challenge Magazine because somebody submitted an adventure using Palladium rules to it? Yeah, they were absolutely infamous for making TSR look sane on the lawsuit front.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *