Pixel Scroll 8/28/17 This Little Pixel Went To Market

(1) PROFESSOR JOSHI HEARD FROM AGAIN. Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi, who has repeatedly attacked World Fantasy Award board member Ellen Datlow since the board decided to replace the Lovecraft award statuette, recently climbed aboard his hobby horse to complain about Datlow being named a guest of a Lovecraft-themed convention

August 22, 2017 — NecronomiCon, R.I.P.

Once upon a time there was a convention devoted to H. P. Lovecraft named NecronomiCon Providence. It was run by a well-meaning but somewhat weak-willed individual (rather reminiscent of Edward Derby in “The Thing on the Doorstep”) named Niels Hobbs. The initial conventon of 2013 was a wondrous event that left all participants and attendees feeling good about the state of Lovecraft studies and of Lovecraft’s recognition in the wider literary community. The convention of 2015 was generally successful but had some awkward moments.

By the time the 2017 convention was in the planning stages, trouble was brewing. Specifically, it appeared that Mr. Hobbs had been captured (and, indeed, rather willingly) by the forces of political correctness, so that the focus became less on Lovecraft himself and more on those aspects of weird fiction that those horrible dead white males had evilly suppressed. (It is not entirely clear how this suppression occurred, but let that pass.) And it also appeared that Mr. Hobbs had been swayed by various forces hostile to Lovecraft in the initial stages of programming.

Consider the naming of the redoubtable Ellen Datlow as a special guest. Now it is well known—and Mr. Hobbs should certainly have known it—that Ms. Datlow was instrumental in removing the Lovecraft bust as the emblem of the World Fantasy Awards, an act that would strike any fair-minded person as one that denotes a certain animus against the dreamer from Providence….

…There must be something wrong with a Lovecraft convention that has alienated the two figures—Robert M. Price and myself—who, over the past forty years, have done more to promote Lovecraft scholarship than any individuals on the planet. (I hardly need remark that, with the notable exception of Sam Gafford, no member of the NecronomiCon convention committee has made the slightest contribution to Lovecraft studies.)

And today he posted a roundabout defense of Lovecraft’s racism:

August 28, 2017 — Real and Fake Liberalism

I am a far-left liberal. Especially in the wake of the ongoing nightmare of the Trump administration, I have been speaking out loud and clear about the multifarious derelictions of conservatives and Republicans of all stripes…

What I do not do is launch furious attacks on H. P. Lovecraft for his racism. Of course he was a racist; everyone knows that. But I fail to see what good it does to attack him for this admitted failing at this late date. He has been dead for nearly three-quarters of a century; what is more, his views had no influence on the culture of his own time, or even on his small cadre of friends, colleagues, and correspondents. Indeed, it is telling that Frank Belknap Long, who met Lovecraft on an almost daily basis during his years in New York (1924–26) and frequently in later years, has testified that “during all of those talks on long walks through the streets of New York and Providence, I never once heard him utter a derogatory remark about any member of a minority group who passed him on the street or had occasion to engage him in conversation”—an inexplicable circumstance if one believes that Lovecraft was “obsessed” with the issue of race.

It is easy to condemn Lovecraft as a racist; it gives one a momentary feeling of self-righteous virtue and superiority. But it accomplishes nothing. It does nothing to combat the racism that we increasingly see in our midst today. If this is all you can do, you are indulging in fake liberalism…..

You can see the full text of all these posts by clicking the links. (Note: Joshi’s blog does not assign URLs to separate entries, they’re all under “News.”)

(2) DATLOW RESPONDS. Yesterday, Ellen Datlow went on Facebook and posted a rebuttal against Joshi’s effort to blame her for replacing Lovecraft on the award.

I loathe getting involved in mud-slinging so am posting this with some trepidation.

S.T. Joshi is apparently outraged at my being a GOH at Necronomicon and at my editing anthologies of Lovecraftian fiction. This is why -and I quote this from his blog:

“Now it is well known—and Mr. Hobbs should certainly have known it—that Ms. Datlow was instrumental in removing the Lovecraft bust as the emblem of the World Fantasy Awards, an act that would strike any fair-minded person as one that denotes a certain animus against the dreamer from Providence.”

Facts: I am one of the entire board of the World Fantasy Convention who made the decision to change the physical award from the bust of H.P. Lovecraft to a new physical image. The late David Hartwell brought the issue to the board and we unanimously agreed it was time to retire Gahan Wilson’s amazing (in my opinion) piece of art. I was no more instrumental than any other member of the board…..

(3) NOT EMPLOYEES. The class action lawsuit claiming that Magic: The Gathering judges should be classified as employees and retroactively paid was dismissed. “Judge tosses case brought by Magic: the Gathering judge who wants to be paid”Ars Technica has the story.

A federal judge in California has dismissed a proposed class-action labor lawsuit brought in late 2015 by a man who says that he has now worked for more than 20 years as a “judge” in Magic: the Gathering tournaments and demands to be paid.

In the court ruling, which was issued Wednesday, US District Judge Edward Davila sided with the defendant, Wizards of the Coast. The judge noted that, while Paul Yale’s years of experience to master all of the details of the popular card game and to become certified as a tournament arbiter takes time and extensive knowledge, “the complaint makes clear that Defendant’s program is purely voluntary and could be abandoned at any time.”

(4) AMA FOR JEMISIN. N.K. Jemisin will guest on Reddit’s Ask Me Anything feature on August 30.

(5) UNEXPECTED FINDS. These science history documents at Harvard had been lost, then found, and now have been found again: “A team of women is unearthing the forgotten legacy of Harvard’s women ‘computers’”.

Between 1885 and 1927, the observatory employed about 80 women who studied glass plate photographs of the stars, many of whom made major discoveries. They found galaxies and nebulas and created methods to measure distance in space. In the late 1800s, they were famous: newspapers wrote about them and they published scientific papers under their own names, only to be virtually forgotten during the next century. But a recent discovery of thousands of pages of their calculations by a modern group of women working in the very same space has spurred new interest in their legacy.

Surrounded by steel cabinets stuffed with hundreds of thousands of plate glass photographs of the sky, curator Lindsay Smith Zrull shows off the best of the collection.

“I have initials but I have not yet identified whose initials these are,” Smith Zrull says, pointing at a paper-sized glass plate crowded with notes taken in four different colors. “One of these days, I’m going to figure out who M.E.M. is.”

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 28, 1845Scientific American first published.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS & GIRLS

  • Born August 28, 1899 – Cinematographer James Wong Howe. (A long-time friend of Ray Bradbury’s. His wife, Sanora Babb, was an original member of Ray’s writing group.)
  • Born August 28, 1916 – Jack Vance
  • Born August 28, 1917 – Jack Kirby
  • Born August 28, 1948 – Vonda McIntyre
  • Born August 28, 1951 – Barbara Hambly

(8) PIXAR EXHIBIT. The Science Behind Pixar is now open at the Science Museum of Minnesota and TELUS World of Science – Edmonton.

The Science Behind Pixar is a 13,000 square foot exhibition touring two copies — one nationally, and one internationally. It was created by the Museum of Science, Boston, in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios. This website features some of the activities, videos, and images from the exhibition that describe the math, computer science, and science that go into making computer animated films.

 

(9) ILLUMINATING THOUGHT. Io9 contends The Defenders’ Best Storytelling Trick Doesn’t Use Any Words at All”.

There are a handful of ways that The Defenders openly nods to its comic book roots, like pairing up somewhat random characters like Karen and Trish for no reason other than to have scenes featuring them together or having certain people like Misty make uncharacteristic decisions just to drive the plot forward. Of all the comic book-y narrative and aesthetic conventions that are used, the one that stands out most strikingly is the show’s lighting and use of color.

(10) LEEPER FILM REVIEW. At SFCrowsnest, “Anti-Matter (aka Wormholes) (2017) : a film review by Mark R. Leeper”.

CAPSULE: Quantum teleportation may have side effects. This film is like a Whitman Sampler of cutting edge physics ideas packed into a Science Fiction mystery. ‘Anti-Matter’ is very much auteur Science Fiction. Newcomer Keir Burrows writes and directs based on his own story. This is a film that could well earn a cult following. There is little visual flash to the story but it is an accomplished technical mystery. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

(11) FORBIDDING PLANETS. Nerds of a Feather’s Vance K is a great admirer of the film made to capitalize on people’s love of Robby the Robot. His writeup, “Microreview [film]: The Invisible Boy”, includes a satirical reconstruction of the producer’s dialogue with screenwriter Cyril Hume.

PROD: Right. Listen, baby. This Forbidden Planet, it’s a humdinger. It’s doing gangbusters. We need a sequel, ready to shoot, right away.

CH: I told you a science fiction version of Shakespeare’s Tempest would work.

PROD: Whatever, whatever. This Shakespeare guy, friend of yours? If he’s got other ideas, great. But listen, we need another movie with Robby the Robot, right now. Like, yesterday. Something real…science fiction-y. For the, uh, for the geeks and stuff.

CH: Yeah, that’s great. Making a film on such a huge canvas was fantastic. We could explore other worlds…maybe on their way back to Earth…

PROD: You kidding me? No, they’re on Earth. Jesus, that fake planet cost me a fortune. And black-and-white. Color film was a nightmare. I chewed through three pillows in my sleep just from seeing the lab bills.

CH: So…a black-and-white sequel, on Earth, to a Technicolor space tragedy that takes place 300 years in the future?

PROD: On the nose, baby! And present-day. No space cities, or future science, or none of that. Just put the robot in it.

(12) DRONES ALOFT. Jess Miller goes through all the steps: “How to Fly a Drone – The Ultimate Guide”.

Whether it’s amateur racing or professional photography, drones can now do plenty of stuff. They can even move things from place to place.

If you’ve got one and you don’t know how to fly it yet, don’t despair – flying a drone isn’t rocket science.

It’s not exactly a walk in the park, either.

The thing is, with a little bit of determination and practice, you’ll soon get the hang of flying your drone.

We’re here to help you with that.

(13) AMERISPLAINING. Caroline Mersey feels Worldcon suffers in comparison with Nine Worlds: “A Tale of Two Cons: Nine Worlds 2017 and WorldCon 75”.

The panels themselves felt short – 45 minutes compared to the hour, hour and a quarter of Nine Worlds.  This meant they never really got beyond scratching the surface of a topic.  Panellists rarely got to speak more than twice during a discussion.  And some of them felt either poorly organised or poorly moderated – with panellists unsure why they had been selected for a particular panel, or with moderators taking a wildly different interpretation of the brief than appeared in the programme.

That sounds like I’m being harsh, and I guess I am.  But that didn’t stop it being an amazing event and an opportunity to meet and hear from people I don’t normally get to encounter in the UK.  But what really made the event was the awesome crowd of people I met and hung out with over the five days of the event, swapping ideas for panels and badge ribbons.

In two years’ time WorldCon will be in Dublin.  There’s a huge buzz about it already, and I’ve bought my membership.  I can feel in my water that it will be another big event.  Hopefully there will be a bit more sensitivity when it comes to some of the cultural issues (I can’t say I’m looking forward to having Irish history mansplained at me by Americans – I fear there will be some crashing insensitivity displayed, but it will at least highlight the difference between Irishness and the wholly separate identity of being Irish-American).

(14) ROCKET STACK RANK GOES TO THE WORLDCON. Greg Hullender posted his “WorldCon 75 Takeaways”.

Meeting People

Last year, at MidAmeriCon II, we gave away a lot of ribbons, but almost no one had ever heard of us. This year, almost half the people we spoke to at least had a vague idea who we were. A couple of authors told me that they knew who we were because whenever they searched on Google for the title of their stories, RSR’s review came up first, so our SEO strategy seems to be working. Because I had a bad cold the entire time, we didn’t do the Stroll with the Stars events nor did we attend any parties other than a brief appearance at the Hugo Losers’ Party, opting to go home early and sleep. We did attend the File770 events, and enjoyed meeting people we’d only ever seen online.

Greg has solid, more detailed analysis of several business meeting and program items that interested him.

(15) WITH BOOKMONSTER. Selenay tells “What I did on my vacation: Worldcon edition”.

Worldcons aren’t for everyone, but I’ve loved both the ones I’ve been to. Spending several days talking about nerd stuff, seeing other people get excited about the same things I am, is a fantastic experience. I’ve returned with new ideas, new plot bunnies, and new lists of things to read and watch. I got to meet people I’ve only talked to online before. I got to see old friends. It was everything I wanted it to be and that’s really the best anyone can hope for out of a Worldcon.

(16) FIFTY-FIFTY. Theodore Logan and family attended the con together — “Hugo Awards”

At 12:00 I took Calvin and Julian to a kids’ meet-and-greet with American astronaut Kjell Lindgren, who flew on a recent ISS mission. He set up a slide show of pictures of Earth from space, talked about being in space, and answered questions from the kids in the audience. (I was surprised that no one asked about managing human waste in low earth orbit. When Calvin raised his hand I gave it a 50/50 chance that he was going to ask, but he asked something else.) Most of the kids in the audience were Finnish (and some required simultaneous translations from their parents). According to the membership statistics, there were only 19 child memberships from the US (and only 10 kid-in-tow memberships for kids under 6 like Julian). Half of the total child members were from Finland, explaining why they were well represented at the childrens’ programming track.

(17) WORLDCON CHAIRS PHOTO. From Kevin Standlee’s Flickr archive:

Worldcon Chairs 2017 (15)

(18) FANTASY MAPS. Paul Weimer joins the fray in: “Not the Territory: In defense of (Good) SFF Maps”

There have been a slate of articles lately about maps in fantasy. Alex Acks has talked about the terrible geology in Tolkien’s Middle Earth Map and then gone on to tell why they aren’t a fan of fantasy maps in general. Adrian Daub has talked about his love of maps, but the problems of Eurocentric maps. There are others, some of whom have been gathered by Camestros Felapton.

We’re at the point in the cycle where a defense of the form, of countering the arguments put forth, and by gum, as an amateur cartographer in my own right, I am the person to do so. It might be facile to hashtag #notallmaps, but, really, not every map is a geologic mess, not every map is a Eurocentric western ocean oriented map, with an eastern blend into problematic oriental racial types. Not every map has borders which strictly follow natural barriers and does not have the messy irregularity that real world maps and borders have.

(19) POSTER GIRL. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna profiles Roz Chast, who designed the poster for this year’s National Book Festival: “Roz Chast writes — and draws — a love letter to New York”.

In April 1978, at age 23, she dropped off her cartoon portfolio at the New Yorker offices on a whim. “I had no hope of selling a cartoon to them because my stuff didn’t look anything like the stuff they ran, but they used cartoons, so why not?” she recounts. “To my shock, I sold a cartoon to the New Yorker. [Comics editor] Lee Lorenz was extremely supportive and encouraging. I remember he told me that [editor William] Shawn really liked my work. I had no idea who he was talking about, but it sounded like a good thing, so I nodded appreciatively.”

[Thanks to John Hertz, Marc Criley, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Greg Hullender, Martin Morse Wooster, and Stuart Gale for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

49 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/28/17 This Little Pixel Went To Market

  1. Not in the photo at (17) WORLDCON CHAIRS PHOTO is Erle Korshak, who was attending the con. He was one of the Triumvirate that ran Chicon. The first Chicon. In 1940.

  2. (1)Joshi needs to get over himself.

    (11) Of course they had to reuse Robby. The decision not to spend any money or make any sense is perhaps why oo hadn’t heard of this particular reuse, though.

  3. Joshi had already dug himself a huge hole in my estimation, with his big baby temper tantrum after decision to change the WFA trophy. Now he’s jumped in, and pulled all the dirt in on top of himself to boot.

    How sad that a previously-highly esteemed scholar has chosen to turn his legacy into that of a bitter, pathetic child. 😐

  4. (7) Mention of Jack Vance mandates that I (again) link to this YouTube video of Vance (age 96) playing kazoo while accompanying himself on ukulele.

  5. “I have initials but I have not yet identified whose initials these are,” Smith Zrull says, pointing at a paper-sized glass plate crowded with notes taken in four different colors. “One of these days, I’m going to figure out who M.E.M. is.”

    One possibility is Martha Evans Martin, author of The Friendly Stars.

  6. (1) I think ST Joshi is peeved becuase he spent a lifetime trying to give Lovecraft a real standing in academics, and then when academics started to explore Lovecraft, they did squee in the way that academics do, by doing critique.

    (2) Good response! Though I wonder how much ST Joshi singling her out is because Datlow is a woman.

    (13) This is off on a tangent, but I think one issue for Worldcon 75 (and most Worldcons) in putting people into programming has an inherent bias. Due to the amount of panels and of attendees, we mostly place people in the programming based on who volunteers, and that gives us a bias towards Worldcon regulars.

    I know that many Finnish fen didn’t really grok how the programming team worked here. I also know that the music programme suffered, because it seems filkers and fan musicians don’t volunteer for the programme either without being prodded directly.

    The takeaway: if you want greater diversity in Worldcon programming, you can help now by saying you want to be part of it.

    (15) This con report gave me a not inconsiderate amount of egoboo.

  7. “Mention of Jack Vance mandates that I (again) link to this YouTube video of Vance (age 96) playing kazoo while accompanying himself on ukulele.”

    This is very important.

  8. Yay, I’m an item!

    1-2) Sigh. Comparing Dobbs to Edward Derby may sound clever, but just makes Joshi sound even more like an ass, above and beyond his animus with Ms. Datlow.

    As Karl-Johan noted, Joshi “won”, but he didn’t win in the way that he expected to. Academics study Lovecraft, NeoLovecraftian stuff is bigger than ever.
    (Cassandra Khaw’s second Persona Non Grata novella is out today BTW)

    However, critique comes with judgement, reevaluation, and deserved criticism. That’s the package deal.

  9. 1,2) Ellen Datlow appears to be a professional editor (with an emphasis, here, on “professional”) and a Lovecraft enthusiast. This would seem to make her a pretty good choice to edit Lovecraft anthologies.

    How S.T. Joshi appears here… well, let’s just say I’m not impressed.

  10. On another topic, more SFF-related art in Boston-area museums: the MFA currently has at least two shows of genre interest, both Asian.

    In “Conservation in Action: Demons and Demon Quellers,” you can watch the restoration work now being done on a 12-foot-tall Chinese scroll painting from the 16th century that once hung in a Taoist temple, showing the demonic-looking Marshall Xin (pronounced “Sheen”) who, despite his blue skin, wild red hair, and fierce expression, is actually a protector who scares the bad-guy demons away. Other examples of demon quellers and the demons they fight, from China, Korea, and Japan, are hung on the walls of the room where the conservators are working.

    http://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/conservation-in-action-demons-and-demon-quellers

    “Showdown! Kuniyoshi vs. Kunisada” features the two top woodblock print artists specializing in human figures in 19th-century Japan (while Hokusai and Hiroshige were doing their famous landscapes). The genre relevance lies in Kuniyoshi’s specialty, action-packed scenes of warriors and monsters that strongly foreshadow anime; this was his gimmick for competing successfully with the older, already-established Kunisada, who was best known for realistic kabuki actor portraits.

    http://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/showdown-kuniyoshi-vs-kunisada

    The show includes the famous triptych of the looming giant skeleton that is one of the first things to come up when you Google Kuniyoshi, as well as sea monsters, dancing fork-tailed demon cats (you can buy a stuffed one in the gift shop), magical foxes, tengu (legendary bird-men), and lots of ghosts.

  11. “Do not meddle in the affairs of Pixels, because they are subtle and quick to Scroll you”

  12. On a completely unrelated note, I am wondering if there are further adventures of Trigger Snowflake? Such a manly man must surely have had other wholesome adventures?

  13. @5: For a lot more detail on this story, see Dava Sobel’s The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars. There will also be a small-scale dramatization near Boston next April&May; I will be watching for clips but am wondering how will the story will work on stage. The theater has presented other historic technical people, e.g. Feynman, Ramanujan, Franklin (Rosalind), the gaggle of German scientists held in England after Germany surrendered, etc; worth looking into if you’re in the neighborhood.

    @8: I saw this when it was running in Boston; IMO a good balance of gosh-wow and semi-detailed tech, including some examples to play with.

    @13: it will at least highlight the difference between Irishness and the wholly separate identity of being Irish-American. [snortle] but unsurprised — I keep hearing about Irish being appalled at a solemn saint’s day being turned into an excuse for green dye and drunkenness.
    I’ve commented there on a factual error (number of non-NA Worldcons) — and then had to revise as I’d forgotten 2 before my time — but the rest of the story is an interesting non-NA view.

    @HelenS: the curator gets several hits on Google, including LinkedIn; you should contact her with that suggestion.

    @estee: the MFA’s current exhibits also include Inuit art, containing a mix of the mundane and the fantastic. And for those of us who “didn’t live through [it]”, there’s an exhibit of graphics from or influenced by later-1960’s Francisco. (The title references the Summer of Love, but the time covered is broader, e.g. pictures of Signe Anderson, and of the Warlocks before they changed their name).

  14. Here’s a little pixel, one two three.
    Scrolling in her file.
    What does she see?

  15. Hot take from an actual black person: Lovecraft’s racism is unavoidable in his texts and makes it very difficult (not impossible, see Victor Lavalle) to stomach. Attempts to minimize it is a prime example of gaslighting. Besides this particular critic, I have yet meet a person of color who can just ignore what was a subtextual theme in HPL’s work. TL;DR If Lovecraft wanted to avoid being considered a racist, he shouldn’t have put it all over his work.

  16. @Ingvar

    On a completely unrelated note, I am wondering if there are further adventures of Trigger Snowflake? Such a manly man must surely have had other wholesome adventures?

    I don’t think he went to Helsinki. He certainly wasn’t on the program, but I’d be surprised if he’s ever on a WorldCon panel again. The only new Article on Tangent Online since the debacle is an innocuous trip report for a convention in Albany, NY.

  17. Possibly repetitious Meredith Moment?

    Elizabeth Bear’s (really, really excellent) Range of Ghosts is currently $2.99. Ditto her (equally but differently excellent) Karen Memory.

  18. Joshi sounds like a jealous child: I’m playing with Lovecraft, she can’t play with Lovecraft too!

    I don’t know who all else was on the WFA board with Ellen and David, but I DO think it is telling that Joshi has chosen to attack a female member of the board as being solely responsible…can’t attack Hartwell, wouldn’t look good….

  19. 5) Wasn’t there a little animated thing about these women in the more recent version of Cosmos?

    18) I’ve never been deeply invested in the (im)plausibility of fantasy maps (though I also don’t refer to them much), but I will say that NK Jemisin releasing the map from The Fifth Season made be go from “I didn’t really care for her first book, and having looked into her writing since” to “I’m pre-ordering that and reading it the day it comes out.” Tectonic plates!

    I’ve liked the approach that authors like Martha Wells take, where they have a map for personal reference, but there is none in the book.

  20. 5) Delurking to say that the theater in Urbana IL that Mike noted produced “Marjorie Prime” earlier this month has announced that a play about one of the Harvard “computers,” Henrietta Leavitt, called “Silent Sky,” by Lauren Gunderson, is part of their 2017-18 season. “Silent Sky” will be at the Station Theatre in Urbana from February 15 to March 3.

  21. Muccamukk on August 29, 2017 at 8:38 am said:

    I’ve liked the approach that authors like Martha Wells take, where they have a map for personal reference, but there is none in the book.

    As the counter-example to that, Glen Cook’s Black Company series where, in one of the later installments, he had the narrator comment on apparent geographic inconsistencies within some of the earlier books — yes, I said these two locations were 50 leagues apart here and 75 leagues apart there, but maybe I was using two different countries’ standards for “leagues”. And I said the city was east of the mountains here, and west of the [same] mountains there, but, well, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation …

    (n.b. It’s been a while since I read the Black Company, so those aren’t necessarily the actual examples from the text, but it’s the sort of thing he does.)

  22. 18) By far my favorite fantasy maps are in Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series. Twenty-one years after the publication of the first book, Turner finally deigned to include a map in the fifth book–or, actually, two maps. Drawn, according to the accompanying notes, by different characters, who clearly have wildly different purposes and biases . . . because despite theoretically depicting the same region, the two maps show completely irreconcilable geography. It’s entirely in keeping with the theme and tech level of the series (it’s not like they have modern surveying equipment), and it made me laugh and laugh.

  23. @ambyr —

    Turner finally deigned to include a map in the fifth book–or, actually, two maps. Drawn, according to the accompanying notes, by different characters, who clearly have wildly different purposes and biases . . .

    That’s brilliant. I’ve never read any of those books, but knowing that the author’s mind works this way increases the probability that I’ll put them on Mt. TBR.

  24. The Barsoom books are terrible at maps and consistency – Burroughs didn’t even keep track of stuff within a given novel well, never mind between novels.

    The hostile city of Zodanga is maybe 250 hundred miles SE of Helium in “A Princess of Mars”, but by “Swords of Mars” (Book 8 in the series) it is 1900 miles due East.

    In the Disney movie they accounted for this by having the whole city marching around the Barsoomian landscape on legs!

  25. Another favorite example of a terrible map is in the Dragonlance books — the original map was obviously drawn on hex grid paper, and although the version in the books doesn’t actually retain the grid, all of the mountains & coastlines are straight lines making the occasional 60 degree turn.

  26. I’ve seen bits of Joshi’s ego in much of his work, so an attack on HPL for racism or verbosity, becomes an attack on Joshi himself. He’s deeply imbedded in the subject. He should watch out so he does not turn into Lovecraft.

    Which would be a really creepy story.

  27. It occurs to me that Joshi has similarities to the GamerGaters and Puppies, in that when they say they want the work’s they favor taken seriously as legitimate art, they don’t actually mean, “treated as a legitimate work worthy of critique. They really mean “We want it treated respectfully if not worshipfully, with paeons to the creator’s genius. They don’t understand how modern criticism works, that it’s more like putting a frog on a dissecting tray. Of course Lovecraft’s racism is open for critique and am examination of how it affects the themes in his books. This is something even a freshman in a college English program would understand. The fact that Joshi doesnt, makes me wonder about the quality of his scholarship.

    It also makes me wonder what other simulators Joshi has to the Gamergatrrs and Puppies. Such as the misogyny on display.

  28. Joshi is a very good scholar when it comes to the “explaining why a hitherto noncanonical author merits further study if not canonization as well” genre of scholarship. He has rightly convinced Penguin (for example) that Classics editions of HPL and CAS and Dunsany merit publication.

    As noted by previous commentators, though, he, like many people doing rediscovery projects, is overly identified with his projects and unwilling to cede control of their interpretation.

  29. 1. I don’t think you can expect people in general to be better than the times in which they lived, but if you’re going to make statues of them, even wee ones, could they at least be a little better?

  30. On a German YouTube channel, I just found this interview with George R.R. Martin and his German agent/occasional publisher/occasional translator Werner Fuchs at WorldCon 75. The intro is in German, but the interview itself (starts at the 0:45 minute mark) is in English:

  31. Of course he was a racist; everyone knows that. But I fail to see what good it does to attack him for this admitted failing at this late date.

    I don’t understand why it’s supposed to matter that Lovecraft was racist a long time ago. Lovecraft was everything a long time ago. If he’s as worthy of modern attention as Joshi’s writing career tells us he is, then the entire Lovecraft belongs in that assessment. Not just the parts that Joshi wants considered.

  32. …removing the Lovecraft bust as the emblem of the World Fantasy Awards, an act that would strike any fair-minded person as one that denotes a certain animus against the dreamer from Providence…

    Removing that grotesque bust, a hideous parody* of Lovecraft’s appearance, could easily be seen as an act of kindness towards the aforementioned dreamer.

    Furthermore, using Lovecraft image as an emblem of an award created for fantasy because those meanie science fiction fans wouldn’t give awards to fantasy is also a bit insulting to the man who virtually created science-fictional horror–a man who went out of his way to emphasize the plausibility of his horrific aliens. Not demons. Aliens. I’m pretty sure he would rather be recognized as an emblem of science fiction than dismissed as a mere fantasist.

    All that on top of the various other arguments I’m sure you’ve all heard a dozen times. Getting rid of that bust was obviously the right thing to do no matter how much one might love Lovecraft. The fact that Joshi can’t see that truly makes me wonder what’s wrong with his brain.

    * Yes, I know. Gahan Wilson, blah-blah-blah. I love Wilson, like Lovecraft, and can still recognize that the bust was so frackin’ ugly that people were likely to hide it rather than display it with pride.

  33. “Of course he was a racist; everyone knows that. But I fail to see what good it does to attack him for this admitted failing at this late date.”

    From an academic perspective, context is important which Joshi should well know. Lovecraft’s racist attitudes are well-documented and is apparent in his writing. You can’t properly assess his corpus by ignoring that. It would be similar to saying “of course Joanna Russ was a feminist” and then ignoring the feminist elements of her writing.

    Joshi wanting us all to ignore Lovecraft’s racist attitudes (pointing it out is not the same as attacking) is futile anyway. Being a Lovecraft scholar does not give him the authority to police how others interpret Lovecraft & his works.

  34. “No matter how subtle the Pixel, a scroll between the shoulder blades will seriously cramp his style”

  35. I don’t think you can expect people in general to be better than the times in which they lived

    There is also the fact that, for his times, Lovecraft was pretty damn racist.

  36. Xtifr: the bust was so frackin’ ugly that people were likely to hide it rather than display it with pride. For certain values of “hide”; I have a reliable report that Ford hung Groucho glasses on one of his.

  37. I don’t think you can expect people in general to be better than the times in which they lived …

    If people in general were better than the times in which they lived, those times would have been better, making those people average.

  38. Not necessarily. If you can get just one person to be really, really bad, then everyone else can be above average. Like in “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” 🙂

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