Pixel Scroll 4/6/2016 I Saw A Scroll Drinking A Pina Colada At Trader Vic’s, His Pixel Was Perfect

(1) APPRECIATION. At Fantasy Café, Stephanie Burgis thanks the women who blazed the trail into the fantasy genre.

I wanted to write a very important thank you note to the women who first showed me the way into this field…

I imagine the extra emotional hurdles I would have had to jump, if those women hadn’t taken the risk before me of letting the world know their gender when they published their books.

So: thank you, Robin McKinley, Patricia McKillip, Emma Bull, and Judith Tarr. I loved your books then, I love them now, and I’m so grateful that you took that risk for me and every other fantasy-loving girl reader/writer out there.

Thank you.

(2) FEMINIST COMICS. Corrina Lawson at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog recommends “9 Feminist Comics Everyone Should Read”. Apparently this doesn’t literally mean feminist, but anyway —

It’s a good time to be a reader interested in feminist comics. When I say “feminist,” I don’t necessarily mean “a book in which a women fights the patriarchy.” I don’t even require the story to be written by a woman.

What I mean by “feminist comics” is that they offer stories that include three-dimensional female characters. That’s it. I know, it seems like a low bar, but it’s surprising how often it isn’t done. And yes, many of them that do it are written by women—but not all.

In compiling a list of feminist comics I think everyone should read, I looked beyond Marvel and DC Comics, because I wanted to spotlight work being done outside of the “Big Two,”  though I do love and applaud the work being done on Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, A-Force, Black CanaryBatwoman, and Gotham Academy. It is not meant to be an exhaustive list; rather, it’s a glimpse at a handful of the many comics out there with fascinating female characters. Please feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments. (And to those wondering why Lumberjanes isn’t on this list, well, I sang the praises of that book in a previous article.)

First on the list is Monstress, story by Marjorie Liu, art/cover by Sana Takeda (for young adult readers)

(3) MORE CIVIL WARRIORS. SciFiNow breathlessly reveals “Captain America: Civil War adds two interesting last minute cast members”.

The first is the marvellous Jim Rash, best known to many as Dean Pelton from Community. The second is Alfre Woodard, who is particularly interesting seeing as she’s also set to appear in Netflix’s Luke Cage as Mariah Dillard. Does that mean Captain America: Civil War will become the first MCU film to cross over with Netflix’s series of Marvel shows?

Both Woodard and Rash’s involvement in Civil War seem to have been revealed by accident when both their names were included on a Disney list of cast members who will be attending the film’s upcoming premiere. Since the list was issued, sources have claimed that Woodard will play a small but pivotal part in Civil War as the mother of an American citizen who was killed during the Battle of Sokovia in Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

(4) BRADBURY IN MUTTS. James H. Burns says, “One of my favrorite things in the world for many years now has been Patrick McDonnell’s comic strip, Mutts. McDonnell is simply one of the best, of our generation, and really, all time. You should like this installment!”

mutts, bee

 

(5) KINDLE SCOUT. Joan Marie Verba explains “How Kindle Scout Works” at the SFWA Blog.

Kindle Scout is a publishing option sponsored by Amazon.com. Writers can submit an unpublished manuscript of 50,000 words or more in the science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or romance genres. Kindle Scout then will put up a web page with the cover, summary, sample chapter, and author information. Potential readers then review the information, and if they have an Amazon.com account, they can nominate the work. At the end of 30 days, the Kindle Scout team reviews the statistics and the work. If they accept the work for publication, the author gets an advance against royalties and the work is published on Kindle Press….

One site I would highly recommend reading before, and especially during, one’s campaign is kboards—in particular, the “Kindle Scout Experiences, Anyone?” board. This board has authors who are in the midst of a Kindle Scout campaign as well as authors who have completed one (successfully or unsuccessfully). Some on that board assert that there are factors in addition to the number of nominations that Kindle Scout considers in order to make a selection, such as the author’s sales history and number of titles previously published.

(6) MOVIE SPACESHIPS. ScreenRant lists the “14 Most Iconic Ships To Ever Appear In Science Fiction Movies”. It’s true, I made noises while reading this article.

If you’re reading this list, chances are at some point in your life you’ve held a toy spaceship in your hands and steered it gracefully through the air, banking left and right, while making engine noises (“Kschchchch,” “Wrrrrrrreeeeeeeaaaar!”) and laser noises (“Pfew, pfew,” “Tschew!”). That’s because ships in sci-fi movies can be so crazy cool. That’s part of the fun of watching them: seeing which new designs special effects teams have come up with, or what old favorites have been updated.

Most of these ships are spacecraft, but sci-fi ships can also go underwater or even inside the human body. There are malicious, invading alien crafts and benevolent alien ships; massive vessels that hold thousands of people, and little one-seaters. But they’re all awesome in their own way.

Okay trufen – before you peek, guess whether #1 on the list is from Star Wars or Star Trek!

(7) BAEN NEWS. Baen Books will now offer MVMedia ebooks on the Baen Ebooks website. MVMedia is an Atlanta-based publisher known for a wide range of science fiction and fantasy, notably for its Sword and Soul genre anthologies. Sword and Soul is epic fantasy adventure set in a mythological Africa featuring a sword-wielding black hero.

MVMedia at Baen Ebooks launches with The Dark Universe Anthology edited by Milton J. Davis and Gene Peterson, and From Here to Timbuktu, written by Milton J. Davis.

The Dark Universe anthology is a multi-author space opera in the high sense. It portrays the origin story of the Cassad Empire, from its ambitious beginning as a refuge and new home for a persecuted people to its evolution to the first great human Galactic Empire. Authors include Milton Davis, Gene Peterson, Balogun Ojetade, Penelope Flynn, Ronald Jones, Malon Edwards, K. Ceres Wright and DaVaun Sanders….

(8) GUSTAFSSON OBIT. Ahrvid Engholm pays tribute to the late Lars Gufstafsson (1936-2016) at Europa SF.

Lars Gustafsson was just awarded the International Zbigniew Herbert Prize in Poland, and was supposed to collect it May 17th in Warsaw, his 80th birthday.

But death intervened.

Lars Gustafsson, author, poet, philosopher, etc, passed away April 3rd. He was 79.

Lars Gustafsson was a heavyweight in Swedish literature and culture. The biggest swedish morning paper, Dagens Nyheter, had seven (!) pages about Gustafsson’s death.

And he was a big fan of science fiction and fantastic literature! It began when he as a young boy steadily read the then sf pulp magazine Jules Verne Magasinet (1940-47). He even visited our local SF conventions occasionally.

(9) DRAGON AWARDS REACTIONS. Here are samples from the range of reactions to Dragon Con’s new SF awards.

(10) THE WINNER HAS YET TO ENTER THE RING. Lela E. Buis awards a technical knockout to the Dragon Awards simply for being announced, in “Upheaval in the awards system”.

Contrast this attendance figure with WorldCon that gives out the Hugo Awards. Wikipedia lists 4,644 attendees and 10,350 who bought memberships to vote the 2015 Hugo Awards, which was a record for numbers. With DragonCon moving into the awards game, I’m thinking the Hugo’s are officially undermined. The Puppy scandal has not only disrupted the voting system, but it seems to have led to an inspection of the Hugo process where works are winnowed through a narrow review and recommendation system and onto the ballot.

(11) DUKING IT OUT ABOUT PC. Matthew M. Foster and L. Jagi Lamplighter overflowed Facebook with their recent discussion of Political Correctness, each writing a supplemental blog post.

Foster’s post is, “They Took My Job!”

Political Correctness threatens people’s jobs.

OK. How? The example from that other thread is that researchers who disagree with climate change are afraid to speak up due to fear of losing their job. Unfortunately, this isn’t a good example for it brings up an obvious alternative—that is that researches who do not do a good job fear losing their job. Which they should. If 99 researchers do an experiment and get X, and 1 guy does it and gets Y, then the most likely reason is because 1 guy did it poorly. And that’s what we have in climate change research. But lets get past that and make this more general, to take out the notion that the employee is bad at his job while keeping in mind the nearly meaningless nature of the term “PC.”

So, how can someone lose their job due to political correctness?

  1. He could say something that is offensive to other employees or the boss thus damaging productivity.
  2. He could say things that are offensive to the general public
  3. He could say something that indicates his disagreement with the boss.

….Or they can just say whatever they want, and accept the consequences. Because that’s not political correctness. That’s life. I believe the phrase is, freedom isn’t free. Yelling “political correctness” doesn’t get you out of life. It doesn’t excuse you from consequences, and if you think it does, you are an idiot whose views of society would create the totalitarian state you claim to abhor—if you were consistent anyway.

Which all comes down to, no one is losing their job due to political correctness nor should they fear doing so. They are losing their jobs because they are rude and insulting, or because they are inconsiderate by disrupting the company, or because they are causing the company to lose sales, or because they are personally upsetting their boss, or because they won’t follow their boss’s lead, or because they are bad at their jobs. That’s how jobs work. Don’t want to lose your job? Don’t do those things. Political correctness has nothing to do with it.

L. Jagi Lamplighter wrote, “Political Correctness vs. The Search for Happiness”.

I am a strong supporter of the great dialogue that is civilization. Were it up to me, nothing would ever interfere with it.

Political correctness quenches this conversation. Here are some of the reasons I say that:

* It replaces discussion and debate with Puritan-style disapproval.

You don’t explain to someone why you disagree with them. You speak so as to shut them down as quickly as possible.

* It keeps people from sharing politically correct views in a way that might convince.

Because of this, if the person who favors the politically correct position has a good reason for their opinions, the other person will not know, because debate has been silenced.

*It keeps people from sharing any other view.

If the person who does not favor the politically correct position has a good reasons for supporting their position—the person favoring the politically correct reason will never hear it, because he shut down the debate before he had a chance to hear the reasons…..

(12) CARD HOLDS THUMBS DOWN. “Will this election doom America? ‘Ender’s Game’ author holds dim view in light of current politics” reports the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

America has no hope.

That could be the summation of an hour-long talk science fiction writer Orson Scott Card offered last week Wednesday at Ripon College.

Couching his comments in the concept that a good science-fiction writer must understand history, Card explained that history now suggests the United States is not at a crossroads, but already too far down the wrong path to seek a solution.

“There is no winning hand in this election. There is no vote you can now cast that will save us from potential disaster, and that’s never really been true in American history before. Sometimes we’ve elected the worst guy, nevertheless the worst guy was never as bad as the choices we have now,” said Card, who wrote the popular book “Ender’s Game,” and which he turned into a screenplay for a Hollywood movie. “So we can look at empires, we can look at them as I do as a science fiction writer, and try to find how they rise and fall, what rules apply …

“The problem is, we’re all making this situation up together, and we’re all stuck with whatever answers we come up with. And if history’s taught us one thing, it’s all empires fall, and they all fall at inconvenient times.”

(13) POTTER EVENT RESCHEDULED FOR GEEZERS. The City of Perth Library postponed its Harry Potter event, aimed at teens aged 12-18 and their parents, to accommodate adults who complained they felt left out.

Library staff attempted to explain that the event was curated by its Youth Services faculty and the events were specifically targeted at teens….

Despite this explanation, many fans lamented over the idea that they would miss out on their chance to learn about owls or take a “potions class” from local experts so the library decided to postpone the event indefinitely.

“We want to be able to provide a magical experience for all Library patrons,” they wrote on Facebook. “As such the Harry Potter event has been postponed and we are looking at how we can accommodate many more witches, wizards, muggles and their families.”

(14) RIDLEY RAPS. “Daisy Ridley Rapping Is the Greatest ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Bonus Feature Yet!” at YouTube.

(15) WHAT A WRITER NEEDS TO KNOW. Soon Lee’s instant classic started life as a humble comment before being enshrined in the canon of English literature a few minutes later.

The Writer

On a cool Autumn’s eve
At a Worldcon bound for nowhere
I met up with the writer
We were both too tired to sleep

So we took turns a-starin’
Out the window at the darkness
The boredom overtook us,
And she began to speak

She said, “Child, I’ve made a life
Out of writin’ people’s stories
Knowin’ what the plots were
By the way they held their tropes

So if you don’t mind me sayin’
I can see you’re out of ideas
For a taste of your Oolong
I’ll give you some advice”

So I handed her my China
And she drank down my last swallow
Then she bummed a cigarette
And asked me for a light

And the night got deathly quiet
And her face lost all expression
She said, “If you’re gonna play the game, child
You gotta learn to write it right

You’ve got to know when to show ’em
Know when to tell ’em
Know when to passive voice
And to gerund

You never check your wordcount
When you’re typin’ at the keyboard
There’ll be time enough for counting
When the writin’s done

Every writer knows
That the secret to good writin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep

‘Cause every book’s a winner
And every book’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for is to Fail
Better next

And when she finished speakin’
She turned back toward the window
Crushed out her cigarette
And faded off to sleep

And somewhere in the darkness
The writer she dreamt stories
But in her final words
I found advice that I could keep

You’ve got to know when to show ’em
Know when to tell ’em
Know when to passive voice
And to gerund

You never check your wordcount
When you’re typin’ at the keyboard
There’ll be time enough for counting
When the writin’s done

Repeat to fade

(Starring Badass Raadchai Ann Leckie as the writer. With apologies to Kenny Rogers)

[Thanks to Will R., JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

There Will Be War, Volumes II, III and IV Now Available

Three more volumes of Jerry Pournelle’s There Will Be War have been republished for the Amazon Kindle by Castalia House this summer.

TWBWv2_256

There Will Be War, Volume II (originally titled Men of War), edited by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr, has 19 stories, articles, and poems. Notable entries are —

  • Eric Frank Russell’s “Allamagoosa,” winner of the 1955 Best Short Story Hugo.
  • “Superiority,” by Arthur C. Clarke, first published in 1951, depicts an arms race and shows how the side which is more technologically advanced can be defeated. The story once was required reading for an industrial design course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • “Code-Name Feirefitz” by David Drake is a Hammer’s Slammers story.

375 pages, no DRM. Can be purchased from Amazon and Castalia House.

TWBWv3_256

There Will Be War, Volume III (originally titled Blood and Iron), edited by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr, and features 16 stories, articles, and poems. Notable entries are —

  • “The Spectre General” by Theodore Cogswell was voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America as one of the finest novellas prior to the introduction of the Nebula Awards in 1965 and included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two anthology.
  • “The Miracle-Workers” by Jack Vance was a nominee for the 1959 Best Novelette Hugo.
  • Arthur C. Clarke’s oft-reprinted “Hide and Seek” tells the story of a single armed man pitted against a space cruiser, and succeeding.
  • “Silent Leges” by Jerry Pournelle is a Falkenberg’s Legion story.

382 pages, no DRM. It is available at Amazon and Castalia House.

TWBWv4_256

There Will Be War, Volume IV (originally titled Day of the Tyrant), edited by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr, features 21 stories, articles, and poems. Notable entries are —

  • “The Cloak and the Staff” by Gordon R. Dickson, winner of the 1981 Best Novelette Hugo.
  • “No Truce With Kings” by Poul Anderson, winner of the 1964 Best Short Fiction Hugo.
  • “Interim Justice” by William F. Wu.

378 pages, no DRM. It is available at Amazon and Castalia House.

Jerry Pournelle also wrote me a note about working with Castalia House —

I recently read your nice April piece about it nice April piece about [the reprints] and also read the comments which I don’t usually do. There seems to be some question about why Castalia is the publisher. It’s simple, really: they made the best offer. My first inclination for the whole series was to have my agent publish the whole series, but she was reluctant to do the bookkeeping and royalty payments to 20+ contributors per book for ten books; she hasn’t the office staff for that nor the computer skills to automate it.

Neither do I. I haven’t time for all that work and I wouldn’t be reliable or dependable — and it’s the contributors’ money, not mine. I don’t need and can’t do all that work, and I won’t take on the obligation, and no other publisher seemed interested. Then Castalia wanted to publish the 25 year old series, and when I said only if you do the bookkeeping and banking, they said yes; they thought it a prestigious series and they would do that.

When TOR published the original series, I paid the royalties to the contributors, and though John Carr was invaluable help, it was my obligation and I did it; even wrote a computer program to make it easier. Alas, that program is long gone, and if it weren’t I still would not take on the obligation.

Castalia contracted to do all that as publisher. Royalties are coming in, and Castalia is paying them, and I don’t have to do much but collect my share, as it should be.

Baen To Kindle More Sales?

Baen, a pioneer in ebook marketing, is about to relent and begin selling ebooks outside their own store – presumably through Amazon, predicts Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader.

Some of the early clues, says Hoffelder, were the shrinking Baen Free Library, and a request made to one webmaster to stop offering files of Baen books once given away free in CD format because of an imminent “new ebook distribution deal with an ‘unnamed third-party’.”

[Via Andrew Porter and Paul Di Filippo.]

Distributors Feud Over DC Graphic Novels

Paper editions of DC Comics’ graphic novels won’t be sold in Barnes & Noble bookstores while Amazon has exclusive rights to distribute the digital versions reports the LA Times:

DC Comics’ efforts to expand digital distribution of its graphic novels has gotten it caught in a battle between two book-selling giants.

Barnes & Noble said Friday it will not stock physical copies of 100 of DC’s graphic novels that the Warner Bros.-owned unit is making available exclusively on competitor Amazon.com’s Kindle platform, including the upcoming Kindle Fire tablet.

DC agreed to give Amazon exclusive digital distribution rights for the books, which include “Watchmen” and graphic novels featuring Batman and Superman, for four months starting with the launch of the Kindle Fire on Nov. 15.

F&SF on Kindle

Kindle customers who subscribe can receive all of F&SF’s editorial content and one short story at no cost. This includes editor’s recommendations, “Curiosities” (odd books of enduring interest), film reviews, book reviews, cartoons and humor, and “Coming Attractions” (highlights of each issue).

The complete content of each issue is available for $12 a year — with everything in the digest edition plus several additional short stories and novelettes. Individual issues of the extended edition are available for $2.99. F&SF publishes six times a year.

Stephen King, in his capacity as a long-time fan of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, applauded the arrangement: “This is the best fiction magazine in America. Kindle readers are in luck.”

[Thanks to Michael Walsh for the link.]

Cheap E-books, Boon or Bane?

Or both?

Discussing 99-cent e-books here the other day, Michael Walsh concluded YMMV.

Author Jeff Carlson tells readers of the SFWA Blog he is getting high mileage — he has sold 13,000 copies of his novella “The Frozen Sky”. To celebrate he’s giving away freebies of his other short story collections as Mobi or ePub files.  

However, users of the Amazon Kindle are being forced onto 40 miles of bad road warns the Globe and Mail, because there’s “Spam clogging Amazon’s Kindle self-publishing”:

Spam has hit the Kindle, clogging the online bookstore of the top-selling eReader with material that is far from being book worthy and threatening to undermine Amazon.com Inc’s publishing foray.

Thousands of digital books, called ebooks, are being published through Amazon’s self-publishing system each month. Many are not written in the traditional sense.

Instead, they are built using something known as Private Label Rights, or PLR content, which is information that can be bought very cheaply online then reformatted into a digital book.

These ebooks are listed for sale – often at 99 cents – alongside more traditional books on Amazon’s website, forcing readers to plow through many more titles to find what they want.

Casting this as a crisis may be the smart play for the Globe and Mail‘s news editor, but who is really doing any plowing? As a rule people don’t browse Amazon’s zillions of titles at random. Forcing Amazon’s search engine to sort through more titles is not my idea of a public emergency.

Independent Publishing and the Kindle

Nancy Fulda offers interesting and persuasive advice about self-publishing in “Kindle Starter Kit” on the SFWA Blog.

Fulda analyzes the impact of content (yes, quality writing matters – shock!), covers, reviews, the blurb, Amazon’s “Customers Who Bought” algorithim, promotion and pricing.

For example, she makes a provocative argument in favor of setting a low price:

That purchasing urge gets stronger the lower the price goes. Get down into the $0.99 range, and you are in Happy Impulse Purchase Land. People won’t think twice about buying; if the book looks remotely interesting, they’re likely to just toss it in the shopping cart.

Here’s something I didn’t know a month ago: The kindle market is not primarily populated by early adopters and techno-geeks. The Cheap Book Crowd — the customers who never even made it onto most publishers’ radar because they go to libraries and shop in used book stores — has fallen in love with kindle. Buyers have been known to spend up to $200 per month on $0.99 books.

Price matters.

Amazon Invents the Novella

Amazon is bringing another amazing product to market, reports eBookNewser. Hold onto your hats. Amazon now will sell short fiction in digital form – and for less than what it charges for a novel (gee, thanks!)

These new books [Kindle Singles], which are categorized as between 10,000 and 30,000 words –or about 30-90 pages– will have their own section in the Kindle Store and be priced less than a typical eBook.

This is essentially the length of a novella as defined in the Hugo Award rules (between 17,500 and 40,000 words). The science fiction genre has been marketing novellas in electronic form for some time now. So what immediately came to my mind were the Cold War-era jokes about the Soviet Union’s latest announcement that a Russian really had invented some appliance or technology the West credited to Thomas Edison or the like.   

Yet it will be news if Amazon has learned to use its Kindle platform to sell short fiction, having deemed the original Amazon Shorts program too unsuccessful to continue.

[Thanks to John Mansfield for the story.]

Konrath’s Kindle Success

Curious about the sales of self-published books? Wonder about the effectiveness of different ebook marketers? Good luck, because that kind of information is seldom made public. Whenever somebody pulls back the curtain that’s news in its own right.

Thriller author Joe Konrath told readers of his blog that he sold 5,850 ebooks and made over $4200 on Kindle in March 2010. And later this year he expects to be doing a lot better:

In June, Amazon is switching to the agency model, which means ebooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99 will earn the author a 70% royalty, minus a 6 cent delivery fee. Instead of making 70 cents per ebook sale like I’m currently doing, I can make $2.04 per sale.

Konrath also speculates about selling a book to a conventional publisher but holding back the ebook rights.

“This is a very interesting blog post,” says Francis Hamit. “My own results with e-books have not been anywhere near this, but Mr. Konrath obviously has a following.  I will have to think anew on this.  My concern is that a lot of people are going to jump in and expect similar results but miss the fact that he is probably in the levels of what makes a “best seller” in volume sales in this niche.  However his points about keeping the rights and the impact of that on the bottom line are compelling and a real argument in favor of self-publishing.”

[Thanks to Francis Hamit for the story.]