Pixel Scroll 2018-01-02 The Scroll Awakens the Last Pixel

By JJ:

(1) INSPIRING THE RIGHT STUFF.  Space.com reports that American Girl’s latest entry in their doll line is an aspiring astronaut created with advice from NASA.

An 11-year-old aspiring astronaut who dreams of being the first person to go to Mars is blasting off as American Girl’s 2018 Girl of the Year.

Described as a champion of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), Luciana Vega is styled with brown eyes, medium skin and dark brown hair with a “distinctive purple streak to show off her creative side.” She comes packaged with a nebula-patterned dress and silver iridescent shoes.

American Girl will also offer a spacesuit outfit modeled after NASA’s Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) used on the International Space Station. Other accessories in the Luciana Vega collection include a blue Space Camp flight suit, a Maker Station and a Mars Habitat “loaded with science and research essentials for hours of pretend play.”

In addition to the doll and accessories, Luciana’s story is explored in a new book series authored by Erin Teagan and published by Scholastic… [and] “Blast Off to Discovery,” an educational program focused on helping third though fifth-grade students explore the wonder of space through Luciana-inspired content, including lesson plans, classroom activities, videos and a game.

(2) RECRUITING THE RIGHT STUFF.  In honor of Nichelle Nichols’ birthday on December 28, NASA engineer Bobak Ferdowsi told a story of a past encounter with her: (click on the tweet’s date/time stamp to read the whole thread)

(3) BOOK SUBMISSIONS OPEN.  Apex has announced that it is currently accepting submissions of Novels and Novellas.

Apex Book Company will be holding open novel and novella submissions from January 1st to January 31st, 2018. Anything sent outside of this time period will be deleted unread.

We will consider novellas in length of 30,000 to 40,000 words and novels in length up to 120,000 words, and are particularly looking for novels that fit within the dark sci-fi category. Dark fantasy and horror submissions are also welcome.

A literary agent is not required for submission. We may take up to three months or more to review your manuscript. Simultaneous submissions are okay. We will only accept one submission per author.

We only accept email submissions to apex.submission@gmail.com.

Additional details on the submission process can be found at the link.

(4) SHORT FICTION SUBMISSIONS OPEN.  Kaleidotrope Magazine has announced that it is currently open to submissions of Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction, and Artwork until April 1, 2018.

Kaleidotrope tends very heavily towards the speculative – towards science fiction, fantasy, and horror – but we like an eclectic mix and are therefore interested to read compelling work that blurs these lines, falls outside of neat genre categories. Man does not live on space ships, elves, and ghostly ax murderers alone, after all. We’d suggest looking through the archives to familiarize yourself with the zine, and/or checking out other work by our past contributors, to get a sense of what we’re looking for and what we like.

In the end, what we want is interesting, sometimes unconventional work, well-written stories and poems that surprise and amuse us, shock and disturb us, that tell us things we didn’t know or reveal old truths in brand new ways. We want strange visions of distant shores, of imaginary countries and ordinary people, and work that doesn’t lose sight of entertainment and the joy of good writing.

We are also interested in publishing diverse writers. Kaleidotrope welcome writers of color and other groups, as well as work that represents the diversity of characters we want to see more of.

(5) SPOILER WARNING.  Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn has Taken a hard-line on spoilers for The Last Jedi:

The following items have been carefully curated to provide interesting non-spoilery information on the movie, but click judiciously if you haven’t seen it yet.

(6) PLUS ÇA CHANGE.  In a piece at Critical Hit, Kate Willaert engages in some cultural archaeology to find out how fans reacted to The Empire Strikes Back in 1980: [WARNING: Spoilers for The Last Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back at the link]

Today the general consensus is that Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie. It has an audience score of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.8/10 on IMDb, compared to A New Hope’s 96% and 8.7/10, respectively. These user scores weren’t generated until decades after the original trilogy was released, but it’s not like fan opinion could have shifted that much, right?

Thankfully, Archive.org has a collection of Starlog, so let’s take a look at issues #39-41. What were the fans saying?

As with The Last Jedi, fan reaction was mixed to say the least. Some felt it was better than the first one, some enjoyed it but had complaints, and some were disappointed. But what’s most interesting is how specific comments or criticisms mirror those of The Last Jedi…

(7) IT’S NOT WHAT YOU WERE EXPECTING.  Star Wars: Aftermath author Chuck Wendig has some thoughts about fan expectations in relation to The Last Jedi. (The below excerpt is non-spoilery, but there are SPOILERS at the linked blog post.)

I fucking loved it.

That’s it. That’s my review. It’s mostly just a series of excitable sounds with the occasional twirling around until I’m dizzy. But I’d rather look past my gibbon-like hoots and my strange, erotic dances and see what lies within. What lurks deeper. What do I see when I enter the DARK SIDE CAVE to have the truth revealed to me?

Your Expectations Will Not Be Met

Fandom is a tricky bear to wrestle. We love a thing so deeply, we entwine ourselves within it. We thread a little bit – sometimes a lot – of our identity into the thing. And we come to believe we own that thing, and further, we join a tribe of fellow owners who all have threaded themselves into it both intellectually and emotionally. We feel excited by what this thing can bring us. We develop pet theories. We craft and conjure the path we would take if we were ever handed the keys to the Thing We Love. We become excited and obsessive, a little bit. Sometimes a lotta bit.

But here’s the thing:

Stories can never be written for the fans.

Fan service isn’t a bad thing, per se, but it is sometimes a fairly lazy thing – it’s a comfortable signal, a soft chair, it’s Norm from Cheers where everybody knows his name. It’s to say, “You’re lost here, but look, here is a familiar friend to help you through. It’s to let you know that despite all the strange flora and the eyes glowing in the dark, you’re still a known quantity in a known land. This is a safe place.” When done overmuch, fan service does more than just introduce a few friendly faces. It burns down the trees. It lights up the dark. It slides a jukebox over and slams the top of it like it’s fucking Fonzie and suddenly, the Greatest Hits begin to play, just as you love them. Maybe in an order you don’t know, but still the songs you know and you adore.

The Last Jedi will not meet your expectations.

Oh, it knows them.

It is well-aware of them, in fact, and is well-aware that you have them. And it willfully… I don’t want to say disregards them, precisely, but in a sense, it has weaponized them against you. It knows you’ve seen all the movies. It knows you know the narrative beats, the tropes, the rhyming couplets of George Lucas, and then it gently puts them all in a magician’s hat, and then it reaches into the hat, and instead of pulling them back out, it pulls out a porg.

And then the movie hits you with the porg.

Whap.

That metaphor may have gotten a little out of hand, but I think you grok me.

The Last Jedi cares very much about your expectations.

It’s just not going to meet them.

(8) IT’S A THEORY.  On Twitter, Amelia Rose explains why she thinks that the much-maligned Star Wars prequels contain a very nuanced story told very, very incompetently. (Click on the tweet’s date/time stamp to read the whole thread; there are no spoilers for The Last Jedi in the main thread, but after the “FIN” there may be some SPOILERS in commenters’ tweets.)

(9) PAYBACKS ARE SWELL.  The Hollywood Reporter says that gross revenues on the new editions of the Star Wars franchise have exceeded $4 Billion, eclipsing Disney’s price to acquire Lucasfilm.

Combined, Disney and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Stars Wars: The Force Awakens have surpassed $4.06 billion in ticket sales at the worldwide box office. While an interesting benchmark, it doesn’t, of course, account for the hundreds of millions spent to produce and market the trio of films, or the fact that Disney splits box-office grosses with theater owners. Conversely, Disney has minted additional money from lucrative ancillary revenue streams, merchandising sales and theme park attractions.

Opening in North America on Dec. 15, The Last Jedi zoomed past the $900 million mark on Thursday, finishing the day with $934.2 million globally, including $464.6 million domestically and $469.6 internationally (it doesn’t land in China until Jan. 5).

(10) EDITORIAL LICENSE.  On Facebook, Amanda Downs Champlin has taken artistic liberties with the newest character in the Star Wars franchise. [WARNING: NO SPOILERS, JUST TERMINAL CUTENESS]

(11) WITHERING HEIGHTS.  The Last Jedi has sparked widely-varying opinions on the appeal of Kylo Ren.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born January 2, 1920 – Isaac Asimov, Author and Damon Knight Grand Master of Science Fiction
  • Born January 2, 1959 – Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Editor (Tor Books)
  • Born January 2, 1973 – Lucy Davis, Actor (Etta Candy in 2017’s Wonder Woman)
  • Born January 2, 1980 – David Gyasi, Actor (Interstellar, Cloud Atlas, and The Dark Knight Rises)

(13) CAUGHT IN THE ACT.  SFF author Jason Sanford reports on a newly-revealed case of genre plagiarism:

Jake Bible, author of the Roak: Galactic Bounty Hunter series, claimed on Facebook and Twitter that Balogun Ojetade plagiarized his writing in Ojetade’s novel Scorpion Wine (Qiq, the Bounty Hunter). Bible released the image above showing extreme similarities between a section of Ojetade’s book (at left) and his own novel.

Bible said on Facebook that Ojetade’s novel “changed character names and the setting, but it is an almost word for word ripoff.”

Bible requested Amazon take down Ojetade’s novel, which it did. However, an entry for Scorpion Wine was still on Amazon as of this writing.

In a personal message Bible told me that because “bounty hunter is such a niche sub-genre that one of my readers found (the plagiarism) right away.” But Bible suggested other authors may want to examine Ojetade’s works for other possible cases of plagiarism.

(14) SHOPPING WHILE INTOXICATED.  SFF author Cherie Priest got a surprise delivery:

(15) TAKE THAT, COMCAST.  Motherboard explains how someone used wet string to get a broadband internet connection:

As the FCC prepares to the destroy the US internet by rolling back net neutrality protections, it’s no surprise that Americans are looking for alternatives to their corporate internet service providers (ISPs). These ISPs own all the cable that routes information through the internet, and trying to replace these networks with community-owned cable is a costly and challenging process.

Fortunately, a UK techie with a sense of humor may have found an alternative to expensive corporate broadband cables: some wet string.

It’s an old joke among network technicians that it’s possible to get a broadband connection with anything, even if it’s just two cans connected with some wet string. As detailed in a blog post by Adrian Kennard, who runs an ISP called Andrews & Arnold in the UK, one of his colleagues took the joke literally and actually established a broadband connection using some wet string…

Usually, broadband connections rely on wires made of a conductive substances like copper. In the case of the Andrews & Arnold technician, however, they used about 6 feet of twine soaked in salt water (better conductivity than fresh water) that was connected to alligator clips to establish the connection.

(16) DON’T LET THE CAT DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT.  Never underestimate the power of an SJW credential, especially if it’s a reader. KRLD reports that a White Settlement, Texas, City Councilman lost his showdown with the library’s beloved cat.

Elzie Clements’ final meeting as a member of the city council was Tuesday night. Clements tried to have Browser, the city’s docile grey tabby library cat, fired this past summer.

Browser got his job at the library when he was just a kitten. He was recruited from a local animal shelter as an inexpensive, effective method of pest control at the library.

In July, a city worker apparently demanded Browser’s removal after the worker was not allowed to bring a puppy to work at City Hall. Two-legged library workers were outraged, and many people who use the library often said that they were unhappy with Bowser’s dismissal.

The White Settlement City Council took up the issue of what to do with Browser, with Clements being the lone vote to get rid of the favorable feline.

Browser got a reprieve following a world-wide backlash, and reports say there were still some hard feelings among council members after the cat fight.

Councilman Clements eventually ran out of his 9-lives after he was defeated in a landslide in November’s election.

(17) NEXT WEEK, SKYNET.  Artificial learning algorithms are developing in unexpected directions:

(18) ARCHIVE THIS.  A digital museum is seeking a DMCA exemption for “abandoned Online games”, to preserve defunct gaming titles from being lost.

Every three years the US Copyright Office reviews and renews the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions at which time it considers exemptions to the law. It is currently looking at a proposal for allowing museums, libraries and archives to circumvent the DRM on abandoned online games such as FIFA World Cup, Nascar and The Sims.

The proposal was initiated by The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (The MADE). The Made is a 501c3 non-profit organization with a physical museum located in Oakland, California. The gallery claims to be “the only all-playable video game museum in the world, [and] houses over 5,300 playable games.”

The Made is concerned that certain multiplayer and single-player games that require a server to run will be lost if exemptions are not made to the DMCA. It is not looking to circumvent current games but instead is looking to preserve titles that have already been shut down by the producer – City of Heroes (and Villains) would be a good example…

Supporters of the proposal had until December 18, 2017, to submit comments or evidence to the US Copyright Office. Opponents to the request now have until February 12, 2018, to present written arguments against it. Supporters will then be allowed a rebuttal period until March 14. The USCO will make its decision soon after the final rebuttals are read.

(19) IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK, REALLY.  SFF author Catherynne M. Valente, explaining the contents of boxes of fannish detritus to her fiance as they unpack in their new home:

(20) DEEP IMPACT.  Geologists from the Birkbeck University of London have discovered mineral forms never before reported on Earth on the Isle of Skye:

Geologists exploring the Isle of Skye got more than they bargained for when examining volcanic rocks on the Scottish site, finding mineral forms from a pre-historic meteorite impact that have never before been found on Earth.

The team, including members of Birkbeck’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Dr Simon Drake, Dr Andy Beard, Professor Hilary Downes and Jergus Baca, discovered evidence of a previously unknown, 60 million-year-old meteorite impact.

They had been examining a thick layer at the base of a 60 million-year-old lava flow, which they at first thought was a volcanic flow deposit called ignimbrite. After putting it under an electron microprobe, they discovered that it, in fact, contained rare minerals from outer-space…

These mineral forms – vanadium-rich and niobium-rich osbornite – have never before been reported on Earth, only collected in space dust on a prior NASA mission.

The Isle of Skye has been well explored by geologists, and the scientists were surprised that the ejecta layer had not been identified before. The first site of discovery, Drake explained, was steep, rough and very boggy, which may have deterred previous researchers from exploring the layer.

(21) QUICK THINKING.  A DungeonMaster recounts a player’s narrow escape on his “yourplayersaidwhat” Tumblr blog:

http://sword-wielding-fallen-angel.tumblr.com/post/169171999771/yourplayersaidwhat-dm-to-our-bard-the-six

(22) HELPFUL RESOURCE.  To assist award nominators, SFF Author A. C. Wise is maintaining an aggregated list of eligibility post links, which is being updated on an ongoing basis.

(23) GALACTIC POSITIONING SYSTEM.  NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has installed a new kinetic sculpture to assist spacefarers in their travels:

[Thanks to Substitute Editor of the Day JJ for pilfering all of these stories from friends, acquaintances, and randos on blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Credit for spelling and grammar goes to Copyeditor of the Day JJ. Blame for spelling and grammar mistakes goes to Scapegoat of the Day Camestros Felapton. Title credit goes to File 770 Contributing Editor of the Day JJ. Any complaints should be directed to – oh, who are we kidding? complaints will be ignored.]

54 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2018-01-02 The Scroll Awakens the Last Pixel

  1. Some editing needed in the first couple lines of (8), with some apparent redundancy.

    On Twitter, Amelia Rose explains why she thinks that the much-maligned Star Wars prequels contain a very nuanced story told very, very incompetently. The Prequels: that they contain a very nuanced story told very, very incompetently.

    I should milk it by separately pointing it out, word by word, and appertain a beverage for each, but I expect a word to the wise is sufficient in this case. Hic.

    It must be pixels, ’cause ink don’t scroll like that!

  2. @11, I don’t think Kylo Ren is “dreamy”. He’s a whiny little child with anger management issues. How is that “dreamy”? (But then, I’ve never gotten the “bad boy” thing….)

  3. Paul Weimer says Holy crap. On Twitter, Worldcon 75 has announced that JDA’s Worldcon membership has been reduced from attending to supporting

    Holy crap indeed. I’m assuming this doesn’t happen all that often, does it? I full agree with their decision to do this, just surprised that’s all.

  4. Cat Eldridge: I’m assuming this doesn’t happen all that often, does it? I full agree with their decision to do this, just surprised that’s all.

    It’s the first ban given before someone has shown up to a con and acted badly, as far as I’m aware.

    But given his repeated horrendous behavior on Twitter and in e-mails for many months now — including bragging repeatedly about how he was going to show up at Worldcon and harass authors — I’ve just been wondering how bad it had to get before Worldcon 76 finally said “Enough”.

  5. JJ notes It’s the first ban given before someone has shown up to a con and acted badly, as far as I’m aware.

    Times are changing, I tthink for the better.

    But given his repeated horrendous behavior on Twitter and in e-mails for many months now — including bragging repeatedly about how he was going to show up at Worldcon and harass authors — I’ve just been wondering how bad it had to get before Worldcon 76 finally said “Enough”.

    I’m assuming that it’s within the legal right of any WorldCon to decide who can attend and who can’t provided there’s a valid reason to bar an individual from attending?

  6. Kip W: Some editing needed in the first couple lines of (8), with some apparent redundancy.

    Thanks, Kip. Mike has now fixed that for me. 🙂

  7. On Twitter, Worldcon 75 has announced that JDA’s Worldcon membership has been reduced from attending to supporting:

    It always amazes me that these people can’t comprehend that their bullshit is on a public forum (the Internet) where ANYBODY CAN READ IT. Did he think no one would notice his “hurr hurr, Imma gonna wear a bodycam into the SFWA suite” schtick?

    Then again, these people are usually “free speech without consequences” types. (I’m sure he’ll next start claiming that it was “all a joke.”)

  8. 5) What about my first amendment right to free speech? Don’t the Jedi have any respect for the constitution?

    15) File770 would load in an hour or so, I assume.

    17) it’s a lot of fun playing with Siri with the right questions. Google Home usually tends to be more serious though.

  9. re: JDA/Worldcon

    And the flamers are already out on Worldcon’s Twitter feed. I hope they’re careful. I’m sure they’ll start getting some kind of threats.

  10. Regarding the JDA ban, this must be a first, but given his behaviour, I’m not surprised that WorldCon 76 acted as they did. Plus, he gets to keep his supporting membership with voting and nominating rights.

    Of course, the usual suspects are already crying foul, but that was only to be expected.

    @Cassy B
    That would make you Anne Bronte in this scenario.

    22) For those interested, yesterday I posted a round-up of all SFF related works and blogposts I published in 2017: http://corabuhlert.com/2018/01/02/a-handy-guide-to-all-sff-related-posts-and-works-of-2017/

  11. (11) I’m with Anne Bronte and Cassy B on Kylo Ren’s supposed dreaminess.

    Think good thoughts for those of us in the northeast US, where we await the attack of a storm we’re told will only be a bomb cyclone, nothing to worry about.

  12. Um, didn’t Sasquan briefly ban Lou whatsisface (sometimes called CUL), before Gerrold asked them not to? Or were they still discussing it publicly when Gerrold spoke up? I remember this going past, but I had my hands a little full with mechanical planning at the time and have gone vague on the details (not to mention not caring to sniff the Puppy poo too closely).

    @23: that is seriously cool. I wonder what duplicating it would cost — I can imagine one outside any good science museum.

    @15: The BBC reported on that a few weeks ago.

    @21: it’s nice when the players can surprise the DM. A player has told me of being held up dangling, upside down, by a demon who was twice their size and didn’t know that the “victim” was a mage specializing in electricity….

  13. Some Meredith Moments for the New Year, and Happy New Year to all! Apologies if my not-caught-up-on-Pixel-Scrolls means some of these were already mentioned (I did check this post and the previous one). BTW sorry, this is a bit drive-by – not caught up yet on Pixel Scrolls and Jixel Jrolls 😉 from my wild “play games + sleep + eat” superfuntime near Boston at friends’ place.

    Needing no introduction, “Tenfox Gambit” – er, I mean, Raven Stratagem (Machineries of Empire #2) – by Yoon Ha Lee is 99 cents from Solaris (uses DRM)! I bought this before posting.

    SF novel Forsaken Skies (The Silence #1) by D. Nolan Clark is 99 cents from Orbit (uses DRM); this may have been on sale at some point in 2017. ETA: Oh, Clark is a pseudonym for horror author David Wellington.

    Fantasy novel Snakewood by Adrian Selby is 99 cents from Orbit (uses DRM); I’m pretty sure this was on sale at some point in 2017.

    Near-future (IIRC) SF novel An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King is $1.99 from Harper Voyager (uses DRM). I’m still thinking about getting the audiobook, so I haven’t picked this up yet.

    Fantasy novel Kojiki (Kojiki #1) by Keith Yatsuhashi is $1.99 from Angry Robot (uses DRM unless you buy direct from Angry Robot, but sales like this aren’t direct).

    YA fantasy novel The Oathbreaker’s Shadow (#1 in the Knots Sequence) by Amy McCulloch is $1.99 from Flux (uses DRM). I’m still very MAYBE on this one, based on some very mixed reviews, but I haven’t removed it from my list yet.

  14. @Hampus:

    You’d think such an item would have some basic safeguards to prevent such things, wouldn’t you?

  15. I feel like I’m the only one who didn’t much like The Last Jedi because it didn’t defy my expectations *enough*.

  16. Today’s UK Meredith Moment.

    America City by Chris Beckett 99p from Corvus. A dystopia probably not something to read if you find the current state of US politics to be depressing.
    Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee is 99p as well.

  17. @Chip: I think there was a formal complaint by Gerrold against Lou Antonelli, but Gerrold withdrew his complaint and everything was returned to the status quo ante.

    Personally, I think that was a big mistake on Sasquan’s part, since Antonelli’s swatting threat would have had an impact on the entire con. Given police behaviour in the US, a swatting threat should be treated as a deadly threat.

    Note: Worldcon 75 had a policy among staff, but not spelled out explicitly in the online documents (it might be in the print programme schedule): if you need to call emergency services, Turva (security volunteers) should be informed immediately.

  18. 8 – That was actually a good thread even if I never wanted to hear midichlorians said in relation to Star wars ever again.

  19. @Kyra: I feel like I’m the only one who didn’t much like The Last Jedi because it didn’t defy my expectations *enough*.
    I didn’t care much for it either: a couple of good scenes, but mostly just a remix of pieces of the original trilogy. I will say that at least I wasn’t bored out of my skull like I was ten minutes into The Force Awakens.

  20. Karl-Johan Norén: here’s what Sasquan said in wrapping up. ISTM that this couldn’t be called SWATting (or even a threat to SWAT, or to personally behave badly at-con), just a much weaker false alarm. It also looks like Cora was technically correct (wrt Worldcon first, and I suspect wrt threats rather than previous bad behavior on-site), as Sasquan doesn’t seem to have gotten as far as refunding Antonelli’s membership before the matter was sorted out.

  21. @Kyra. Definitely not the only one, I’ve heard that reaction from others. I was just relieved that it wasn’t as fan servicey as the first one.
    We had one Star Wars newbie in our group when we went to see that movie. She fell asleep for part of it. Make of that what you will.

  22. Chip Hitchcock: Sasquan doesn’t seem to have gotten as far as refunding Antonelli’s membership before the matter was sorted out.

    You say “the matter was sorted out”, I say “Sasquan unwisely opted to let the victim talk them out of enforcing their decision to ban the harasser from the con for violating their CoC”. 🙄

    3 weeks later, Antonelli recanted his apology, and then went back to abusing Worldcon members on social media.

  23. Today in Books I’m Not Sure I’ll Finish:

    The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter. Mr Dr finished it, found it rather dull. I’m in on p.62, finding the prose more accurate than most set in the period (alt-1920), but not sure if I’ll want to hang with the characters. Also, the big picture of society and its struggles seems to be missing Socialism & Communism, especially odd given that this is a Wells pastiche.

    The Man in the Tree, by Sage Walker. On p.67. Irritated by the fact that no-one seems to have read a mystery story or watched one performed or have heard of police procedure. Mr Dr tells me this will get worse, but he thought it was interesting overall (he is much more stubborn about finishing whatever he starts than I am).

    I’m also flummoxed by the default-whiteness of the characters, and by the apparent choice of “temperate” climates for a generation starship. If you might need to support a lot of humans in a limited space, clearly wet-field rice cultivation is the way to go (nitrogen-fixing algae & bacteria live in the water, so you can double- or triple-crop for hundreds of years). And you’ll get a more stable ecosystem, too.

    Void Star, by Zachary Mason. On p. 57. Very literary in style, reminiscent of early Stephenson in world-building. Will the world-building hold up? Is absolutely everyone going to be straight? The blurbs and acknowledgements suggest he doesn’t think of himself as an SF writer, so I Worry.

    If you finished any of these books, give me your Opinions about whether I’ll want to finish them.

    Also I never realized before that +/- page 60 is where I decide whether I’ll finish a book or not.

  24. @Chip: If you read the Sasquan statement, they explicitly say that in their view, the letter from Antonelli constituted harassment against Gerrold.

    You might not consider a letter to the police authority falsely accusing someone of being “insane and a public danger” swatting. I disagree.

    I also note that Sasquan’s handling of the matter was critiqued, both within and without the committee.

  25. Doctor Science: The Man in the Tree, by Sage Walker. Irritated by the fact that no-one seems to have read a mystery story or watched one performed or have heard of police procedure.

    Not only that, but for at least the first half of the book if not longer, the protagonist spends a huge number of pages mentally commenting about the physical appearance of, and fantasizing at great length what it would be like to have sex with, literally every single female he meets. And rather than trying to investigate impartially, he goes at it from the angle that he needs to figure out how to exonerate the main suspect, because he has the hots for her.

    I nearly threw the book against the wall several times, but it was from the library. The sexual objectivization reduces once he’s finally encountered every female in the book a couple of times.

    It’s just bizarre. The author is an older woman, so I don’t know whether it’s because she actually thinks that way, or because she was trying to appeal to male readers. Several of her beta readers were women. I find it hard to believe that someone didn’t point out to her how much of an asshole her protagonist is (he is clearly intended to be perceived as a good guy). I think I kept reading out of a morbid fascination with what a trainwreck it was.

    The rest of the mystery and story is okay, once the author finally gets on with telling the story — but as a big mystery reader, I would agree that it isn’t a shining exemplar of the genre.

  26. As Chair of the 2015 WSFS Business Meeting, I was contemplating various doom-and-gloom situations, although being SWATted wasn’t exactly one of them.

    There is so much more I’d like to say about the San Jose decision; however, I’m not only a division manager of Worldcon 76, but also a director of the parent non-profit corporation. (And in both roles, I was aware of the decision before it was communicated outside of the committee.) Therefore, since nearly anything I might say could be easily (by some people, willfully) misinterpreted as being an Official Statement of WC76, I’m going to try and restrain myself and not discuss the internal workings of Worldcon 76 in this context.

    OTOH, I do want to make an indirect response to one of the axe-to-grind comments I saw on Twitter that implied that the Hugo Awards were also decided in secret and arbitrarily by a secret cabal. (Yes, I know this isn’t a new accusation and that it will continue to be dredged up repeatedly — probably next time in early April when the Hugo Award finalists are announced.)

    Some things having to do with Worldcon/WSFS/The Hugo Awards are in the hands of the membership: The nominations/finalists/results of the Hugo Awards, the future Worldcon site selection, the rules of WSFS itself. These are all conducted in an open, democratic fashion. (About the only thing that isn’t open is how any individual voted on any secret ballot.) Claiming that these things are being arbitrarily decided in secret is untrue, and anyone claiming otherwise is either badly uninformed or is willfully ignoring the facts for their own partisan reasons.

    Not everything a Worldcon does is up to a public vote of the members. The convention committee runs the convention. No, you don’t get to vote on all of the decisions. And the one here is one of those you don’t get to vote on. The members of WSFS voted to select a committee, and delegated (per WSFS rules) everything not explicitly reserved to WSFS (a la the US Constitution’s 10th Amendment) to the individual Worldcon committee. While it’s possible for people to do things to affect future Worldcons (change the rules, bid to host a Worldcon that will be Run Your Way, support/vote for a future Worldcon bid that promises to Do Things Your Way), the members do not have the right to vote on the individual decisions made by the convention committee.

  27. All the talk about Star Wars and other things just makes me wonder if some folks might’ve watched the movies and somehow admired and were determined to be sithlords and put the h a couple places too soon.

    But 2018 I want to campaign and pay attention to more important issues, like how long Fantasy series desperately need a ‘Previously On’ portion. I mean there’s a lot of great resources for better known ones, and I don’t know where the heck it’d even fit into Oathbreaker’s already spine destroying size.

  28. @Doctor Science: The Man in the Tree is on my “look into it” list. Since I don’t really read/watch mysteries, etc., I won’t drop it off my list yet. 😉 That said . . .

    @JJ: “The sexual objectivization reduces once he’s finally encountered every female in the book a couple of times.” – LOL (at your phrasing) and ::eyeroll:: (at the book).

    (I take mental notes on book comments, so thanks, both of you and Mr Dr.)

  29. Matt Y: All the talk about Star Wars and other things just makes me wonder if some folks might’ve watched the movies and somehow admired and were determined to be sithlords and put the h a couple places too soon.

    SFF Author Mishell Baker had a great post on Twitter about that:
    Look, Certain Subset of Star Wars fans: Star Wars is about the same stuff it was when you were a kid. It’s not the franchise’s fault you grew up to join the Empire.

  30. Kendall: LOL (at your phrasing) and ::eyeroll:: (at the book).

    I’m not kidding you, it’s amazing that I didn’t need eye surgery after reading that book, I was rolling my eyes so hard and so often.

  31. (1) Looking forward to a whole set of Major Matt Mason-like accessories to go along with that. Will they make a Jovian doll with a clear head so you can see her brain?

    (14) The Doom that Came to Cherie

  32. Thinking about the expression “Aw, take a powder!” and wondering its origin. It was speculated that it referred to taking a laxative. The powder that came to my mind from my long-ago immersion in dated culture was Seidlitz Powders, and I looked them up. They were indeed a laxative: two packets which, added to water, produced a liquid full of gas that expanded in the digestive system with explosive (or as it was referred to then, gentle, soothing) power.

    Then I looked at the links at the bottom to see if they had cultural references, and instead I found The Seidlitz Five-Stroke Engine (actually the second page of an article on the Up-The-Pole Quadrobiplane (with accompanying omniscient Editorial comments). This is from the Christmas, 1916, issue of FLIGHT.

    Also mentioning this to Marcus Rowland, in case he feels like linking to it from Forgotten Futures.

    (The Word Press setting I fixed 16 hours ago? It was ‘off’ again, and I fixed it again. Note to self: Check it more often, like when File770 seems to go silent for long periods.)

  33. @Matt Y:

    But 2018 I want to campaign and pay attention to more important issues, like how long Fantasy series desperately need a ‘Previously On’ portion.

    I remember that that Saga of the Pliocene Exile books had (increasingly lengthy) summaries of previous action; that was a good idea, since the books had a lot of characters, and the plotline was more or less continuous from one book to the next. I recently read Silverberg’s “Far Horizons” (an anthology of novellas each by an author in his or her previously established universe); each author wrote an introduction to their literary universe, some short (Silverberg’s introduction to the “Roma Eternal” stories), and some quite long (Simmons summarized all four Hyperion books to set up his story).

  34. @Kip Thinking about the expression “Aw, take a powder!” and wondering its origin.

    Per the OED, the expression was originally “take a run-out powder”. But it doesn’t explain where that came from.

  35. @Karl-Johan Norén: There have always been plenty of false statements to police about the dangerousness of another person. ISTM that the term “SWATting” has appeared due to specific false statements that provoke immediate response by a SWAT team (or equivalent in potential for violence).

    @JJ: Yes, we know what you say about Sasquan’s action — and even what you say about what Filers collectively say about Sasquan’s action. Gerrold showed himself to be a greater human being than Antonelli; I think Sasquan was right in supporting him under the circumstances that they document. I disagree that Antonelli’s later conduct is relevant.

  36. Chip Hitchcock: what you say about what Filers collectively say about Sasquan’s action

    By all means, please enlighten me as to what that is. Don’t forget to include a link. 🙄

     
    Chip Hitchcock: Gerrold showed himself to be a greater human being than Antonelli; I think Sasquan was right in supporting him under the circumstances that they document.

    So you believe that cons should allow victims of harassment to decide whether, and how, their harassers should be punished. I disagree vehemently.

  37. JJ, it’s not about punishment. And Chip, it wasn’t just about Gerrold.

    It’s about the safety of everyone at the convention. As it happens, Antonelli didn’t actually DO anything I am aware of, but he certainly made many people attending the convention feel unsafe. That’s where I think Sasquan failed WSFS.

  38. ULTRAGOTHA: it’s not about punishment

    You’re absolutely right. That was a poor word choice on my part.

    The victims of harassers should not be the ones to decide for the convention how the convention’s Code of Conduct should be enforced.

  39. (14) SHOPPING WHILE INTOXICATED. Heh. 😀

    (17) NEXT WEEK, SKYNET. ::snort:: 🙂

    (21) QUICK THINKING. ROFL! BTW this is the original link. I’m off to read a little more (though probably this is one of the best)!

  40. As it happens, Antonelli didn’t actually DO anything I am aware of

    While I suppose one can debate the severity of what LA did, he certainly didn’t do nothing. The whole incident started when LA proudly stated that he had sent a letter to the Sasquan police “warning” them about Gerrold and telling them they might get trouble from the convention as a result. To show his seriousness, he claimed he attached his business card to it (which he seems to think is a big deal, although the reality is that it probably isn’t). LA definitely had the intent to cause trouble for Gerrold and the convention, and he actually took actions in that direction.

  41. (14) SHOPPING WHILE INTOXICATED. Heh, my opinion of Ms. Priest, which was already pretty high, has just gotten much higher. And not just because cannabis is now legal in my state. 😀

    (21) QUICK THINKING. For some reason, I’m reminded of this very charming FB post which went a bit viral amongst my D&D-playing friends. “The world’s tiniest dragon must defend his hoard, a single gold coin…” It’s well worth checking out, for those who want (or need) an “awww” moment.

  42. @Doctor Science: Void Star, by Zachary Mason. On p. 57. Very literary in style, reminiscent of early Stephenson in world-building. Will the world-building hold up? Is absolutely everyone going to be straight? The blurbs and acknowledgements suggest he doesn’t think of himself as an SF writer, so I Worry.
    I liked this book, but did not love it, which I thought I was going to for about the first half. It’s superbly written throughout, but in the second half it basically turns into a thriller, and although I’m not opposed to thrillers on principle, it’s not a terribly well thought-out thriller, and he undercuts a lot of the things that were great about the first part of the book. I don’t regret the time I spent on it, but it definitely promised more than it delivered. And I take a few points off for Taylor’s idiotic remarks about science fiction.

  43. @JJ: Do your own spadework (seeing as you have access to this system which I don’t) — or try remembering/acknowledging what you said (IIRC without links). In the meantime, don’t try to generalize me; it’s almost as unsanitary as putting words in my mouth. I do not think that the harassed should be expected to participate in the decision on what to do about a harasser; that can be piling at least one more trauma; nor do I think that an apology is commonly sufficient. However, this was not a typical case.

    @ULTRAGOTHA: Why would people feel less safe at Sasquan, given that the police had formally closed the matter? Was Antonelli expected to attack random people? Would banning him have prevented him (or some other Puppy traveler) from SWATting the convention (by the constrained definition I argue above), or encouraged doing so?

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