Pixel Scroll 3/20/17 The Pixelated Empire. Filed, Scrolled And Godstalked Since The Fifth Era

(1) WHAT DID YOU NOMINATE? Arifel compiled the votes reported in “What Did You Nominate for the 2017 Hugos?” and posted the top-level results in comments:

If you want to see the complete tallies with everything that got even one mention, go to this Google drive document.

(2) SECOND STAGE FANSMEN. Rocket Stack Rank is hosting its own compilation of File 770 commenters’ votes in the short fiction categories, which has the advantage of linking to the works online, as well as to RSR’s reviews.

(3) ONE LUMP OR TWO? Congratulations are in order and everyone is invited to “Celebrate 10 Years of the Black Gate Blog!”

There was precisely one comment on that post, a pingback from something called “The Scrolls of Lankhmar.” 8,355 blog posts and 10 years later, the Black Gate blog is stronger than ever, with a staff of 45 volunteers, and two Hugo nominations and a World Fantasy Award under our belt.

Just one thing surprises me – that they are counting Hugo nominations they turned down — withdrawing after the first (though too late to be removed from the ballot), and declining the second. They even got an Alfie for turning down the second.

I admit I was stumped to discover the Science Fiction Awards Database, maintained by Mark R. Kelly of Locus Online, also credits them with two nominations.

I think the final arbiter ought to be the Sasquan and MidAmeriCon II reports of Hugo voting statistics. Black Gate appears in the 2015 report with 489 votes received and the notation “withdrawn after deadline.” In the 2016 report Black Gate is not reported receiving any votes because it was not on the ballot, and in the section counting nominating votes, it is shown above the cutoff but with its name lined out.

So my personal opinion is – Black Gate has one Hugo nomination because it has only appeared on the final ballot one time.

That answer would also square with the way the Science Fiction Awards Database skips over 1996 in its list of File 770’s nominations. I withdrew because I was chair of the Worldcon that year, but the final report shows I still got enough votes to have been a finalist. Since File 770 wasn’t on the ballot, it should not be counted as a 1996 finalist, and isn’t.

(4) A MARTIAN ODYSSEY. WIRED writes about “A Stunning Video of Mars That Took Three Months To Stitch Together – By Hand”.

If you should one day find yourself in a spacecraft circling Mars, don’t count on a good view. The Red Planet’s dusty atmosphere will probably obscure any window-seat vistas of its deep valleys and soaring mesas. “The best way to see the planet’s surface would be to take a digital image and enhance it on your computer,” says planetary geologist Alfred McEwen, principal investigator on NASA’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment. He would know: In the past 12 years, the powerful HiRISE camera has snapped 50,000 spectacular, high-resolution stereo images of the Martian terrain from the planet’s orbit, creating anaglyphs that anyone can view in 3D using special glasses. The highly detailed stereograms depict the planet’s surface in remarkable detail—but 3D glasses aren’t always handy, and still images can only convey so much about Mars’ varied topography.

 

(5) THE WEED OF CRIME. Two of quarterback Tom Brady’s stolen Super Bowl-worn jerseys were recovered from a credentialed member of the international media. A couple of weeks before, Brady had posted a parody suspects list on his Facebook page that includes Gollum and other genre characters.

(6) BEST-OF COMPILATION. At Bookscrolling, “The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2016 (A Year-End List Aggregation)”

“What are the best Science Fiction & Fantasy books of 2016?” We aggregated 32 year-end lists and ranked the 254 unique titles by how many times they appeared in an attempt to answer that very question!

There are thousands of year-end lists released every year and, like we do in our weekly Best Book articles, we wanted to see which books appear on them the most. We used 32 Science Fiction & Fantasy book lists and found 254 unique titles. The top 42 books, all appearing on 3 or more lists, are below with images, summaries, and links for learning more or purchasing. The remaining books, along with the articles we used, can be found at the bottom of the page.

(7) OUT OF STEAM. “Denver Based Steampunk Convention Anomaly Con Callls It Quits” – a former guest, Nerd & Tie’s Trae Dorn, is sorry to see it go.

After seven successful events, Denver, CO based steampunk convention Anomaly Con has called it quits. Organizer Kronda Siebert made a lengthy post to both the con’s official website and Facebook page explaining their reasoning. For the most part it sounds like losing ten of their twelve directors over the years (and not having replacements) was a large part of the decision,

(8) BRESLIN OBIT. Columnist Jimmy Breslin died March 19. While reading about him I followed a link to his 1963 piece “Digging JFK grave was his honor”. It was deeply moving and I thought you might like to see it, too.

(9) TODAY’S DAY

World Storytelling Day

Once upon a time, a long time ago (well, actually, back in 1991 in Sweden), a Storytelling Day was held. The ethos behind this event caught on around the globe, and now we celebrate World Storytelling Day on an international level. The aim of World Storytelling Day is to celebrate the art of oral storytelling, with as many people as possible around the world telling and listening to stories in their own languages on the same day. People taking part can link up with others around the globe who are also contributing – making it a truly international festival that creates new friends and promotes positive understanding of cultures around the world! So, go on, sit down with your friends and loved ones and join the United Nations of storytellers on this day of celebrating cultural folklore and the art of oral storytelling! Why not spin a yarn, and pass down your stories to the next generation?

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY FOWL

  • Born March 20 Sesame Street’s Big Bird  

(11) COOKING CORNER. She deserves her own show on the Food Channel.

(12) THE PEOPLE’S CLARKE. More input from the Shadow Clarke Jury.

As readers of the finished work we, of course, don’t begin with a blank page. We start with the first chapter, a half-page that introduces its text in the broadest of strokes: “I grew up in a world of music, in a time of war,” says Priest’s narrator. “I became an inadvertent traveller in time.” In this short chapter, Priest effectively summarises the entire novel. But this only serves to emphasise that being provided with the scaffolding is not the same as being able to walk around the whole edifice. This reflects a key aspect of The Gradual the extent to which an extraordinary experience can be captured in a linear narrative.

If science fiction doesn’t make us look differently at our world, then science fiction doesn’t have a point.

Let me unpack that. Science fiction makes changes in the world, that is one of the key things that makes it science fiction. But that change must connect in some way with how we understand the here and now. An alien in a story makes it science fiction, yes, and the author may have taken great pains to specify the greenness of the skin or the exact length of the tentacles, but unless the intrusion of the alien reflects upon what it is to be human it is little more than wallpaper. When H.G. Wells wrote about Martians invading Surrey it wasn’t a novel about Martians, but about being human in the face of that invasion, about people used to being colonisers suddenly finding themselves colonised. The way the novel looks out into the world is why The War of the Worlds is still read today.

One of the ways in which genre reviewing differs from mainstream reviewing is that genre reviewers have traditionally been willing to go after books that get their facts wrong and fail to achieve verisimilitude. It is easy to understand why mainstream reviewing tends to frown on this type of approach as questioning an author’s use of style directs discussion back towards the book while questioning an author’s grasp of how space elevators are supposed to work only ever results in people slapping their slide-rules down on the table.

I mention this as while I think there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on in Joanna Kavenna’s fourth novel, my enjoyment of the book was hampered by my initial urge to disagree with every word of it. In fact, the only thing that kept me from throwing the book across the room was a growing suspicion that I did not so much disagree with A Field Guide to Reality as agree with it far too much.

The story begins in thirteenth-century Oxford where the great and the good of medieval philosophy dine on bread and discuss the nature of reality. Rather than portraying this fledgling academic community as a place of potential and great innovation, Kavenna presents it as dark, dank, and treacherous. Outside the colleges, monks get stabbed for the contents of their pockets. Inside the colleges, monks get burned for the contents of their heads.

(13) REGAL SWIMMER. BBC’s video of this 18th-century masterpiece is a public post on Facebook

The Silver Swan, made by James Cox in London in about 1773, is a life-size clockwork automaton that imitates the behaviour of a real swan. The mechanism is clockwork, of great quality. It plays music, moves its head, preens, and eats a fish.

The Wikipedia entry explains further:

The swan, which is life size, is a clockwork driven device that includes a music box. The swan sits in a “stream” that is made of glass rods and is surrounded by silver leaves. Small silver fish can be seen “swimming” in the stream.

When the clockwork is wound the music box plays and the glass rods rotate giving the illusion of flowing water. The swan turns its head from side to side and also preens itself. After a few moments the swan notices the swimming fish and bends down to catch and eat one. The swan’s head then returns to the upright position and the performance, which has lasted about 32 seconds, is over

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

The Cover Story – Plots of Books We Haven’t Read

Joe Zieja taught us the game in “Five Books I Haven’t Read But Want To and Am Going to Summarize Anyway Based on Their Titles and Covers”. Filers took it from there.

Jim Henley http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447403

The Dark Forest

The Dark Forest, by Cixin Liu, translated by Joel Martinsen.

The destiny of humankind changes forever when some kind of weirdass fucking train appears above the Earth. The front of the engine is like if only death-metal fans were into steampunk. In Norway, death-metal fan and wannabe bassist Larch Umber is inspired by the appearance of the alien conveyance to feverishly compose a song cycle he calls “The Dark Forest” because he thinks it sounds cool and, really, all the forests are dark now what with the weirdass fucking alien train blotting out the sun. Larch’s race against time to recruit a band to record his masterpiece reaches a crisis point when his guitarist refuses to play anything in E-flat. Then the aliens alight, and turn out to be fans of an ever-so-slightly different subgenre of metal, and discord reigns throughout the solar system.

Jim Henley http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447409

Station Eleven

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel.

People unclear on the concept decide to be ghosts for Halloween, but the tents they choose to drape themselves in are much too large, and also, you’re not supposed to set them up. They nevertheless make it partway across the field between their village and the one with the Halloween party, albeit slowly, when they hit the wall. And behind that wall, a pile of rocks has been awaiting its chance at revenge…

Jim Henley http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447413

Space Raptor Butt Invasion

Space Raptor Butt Invasion, by Chuck Tingle.

In the post-singularity future, stock photos have gained sentience. Hijinx ensue.

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447427

scalzi-end-things

 

The End of All Things by John Scalzi

In dystopian nanny state, cigarette smokers have been banished to live in giant flying aircraft carriers. In a bizarre twist only they can save humanity from global catastrophe. But can they generate enough secondhand smoke before disaster engulfs the Earth?

Stoic Cynic http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447428

Saturn Run

The UNSS Wolverine returns from the first expedition to the sixth planet. Celebration soon turns to horror though as an extraterrestrial virus escapes quarantine mutating into a human infectious disease causing severe gastrointestinal distress. Doctor Cronos Romano of the International CDC discovers not only a cure but a government conspiracy to use the disease to assume dictatorship of Earth. On the lam he tries to reach the resistance and distribute the formula for the cure to the general populace.

Kathodus http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447466

Rocket Ship Galileo

Rocket Ship Galileo – Robert Heinlein

On a cold winter’s day, in a small village far from the hustle and bustle of the capitol and its bickering courtiers, a group of adventurers meet at their old stomping ground and favorite inn, the Rusty Bearclaw, to discuss what they’ve found about the goings-on of the self-proclaimed High King Lordibadman and his minions. To nobody’s surprise (except Glinliadiel, the morose high elf who would rather be off on an entirely different and golden-glowier continent, to be completely honest, and who’d just basically skulked around town for the past year trying to pick up the local milkmaids by flashing his pointing ears seductively toward them), there are reports throughout the land of ork sightings, and rumors of dragons terrorizing the more remote mountain villages. Dirk “Rocket Ship” Galileo and his brooding, whiny, master necromancer brother, “Doctor” Smith, have come up with a plan to stop Lordibadman, but is it too late?

Arifel http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447474

Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice

Colt McCartney, better known to the galaxy as the Red Baron, has made a name as one of the Company’s best star pilots, turning the tide in countless battles across the Thousand Systems against the nefarious White Tide syndicate. However, when the White Tide score a victory against one of the Company’s core world’s, wiping out an entire city in a single strike, Colt finds himself implicated in a terrible conspiracy which seems to go to the very top.

Disgraced and cast out from the company’s fighter squadron, the Red Baron is finally offered a position in the Company’s mysterious legal support wing. But will completing his assignments lead him to the answers about what really happened on Tavany Snoe, and allow Colt to clear his name for good?

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447479

Dhalgren-bantam-cover

Dhalgren

After finding a genie in a bottle, Bob Biscuit wishes that he wants to ‘paint the town red’. To his horror, his wish comes true and now he and his friend have to paint it back a normal colour before anybody notices. Hilarity ensues.

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447482

Godstalk

God Stalk

She came from the haunted lands to work as a gargoyle repair service operator only to find that eccentric fishermen keep ruining her work.

Mark-kitteh http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447487

uk-uprooted

 

Uprooted

A young person has to leave the city for the countryside, where the only mystery she has to solve is why this small landlocked village needs a lighthouse.

Mark-kitteh http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447489

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

Gentleman Jole and The Red Queen

In this gender-swapped retelling of the Alice stories, Jole demonstrates that all you need to make your way through a psychotropic landscape is good manners

Xtifr http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447495

Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross.

[This plot description has been removed for the sake of any children that might happen to be in the audience.]

Hal Winslow’s Old Buddy http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447496

Stars My Destination

The Stars My Destination Alfred Bester

Gully and Jisbella were young, beautiful, and talented. They dreamed of stardom. But after that fateful night in Tijuana, it all came crashing down for Gully. Jiz woke up with a tasteful crescent moon discreetly placed on one shoulder, but Gully . . . . “I told you to put those damn tats on your back, not your face, Gul,” she insisted. “Now you’ll never be a leading man.” Gully is left without his girl, his looks, and the Hollywood future he’d imagined. Can he reclaim his tattered hopes, or will he be forever relegated to supporting roles? Can he still get that house in the Hollywood Hills, or at least Bel Air? Can he find a laser surgeon willing to take on his case? You’ll be on the edge of your La-Z-Boy, cheering him on!

Mokoto http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447528

Bridge of Birds

Bridge of Birds, Barry Hughart

A daring use of non-standard materials ends in catastrophe for a young architect.

Steve Wright http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=1#comment-447552

Gates of Eden

The Gates of Eden, by Brian Stableford.

She longed to work at the biosphere project. She’d brought her own overalls and everything. But they refused to let her anywhere near the dome until she did something about that rampant athlete’s foot.

Gregory N. Hullender http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447570

Seveneves-cover-novel-by-Neal-Stephenson COMP

Seveneves. In this sequel to The House of the Seven Gables, Phoebe and Holgrave decide to return to the house because it was too bright at night to sleep in the countryside. But the curse is still there, so they only stay a week.

Francesca http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447603

Monster Hunter International

Monster Hunter International by L.Correia

Pensively the hero is trying to decide if he will dare suggest that particular shade of slate nail polish to his love.

Nancy Sauer http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447624

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Hong “Ninefox” Gil-dong had put his life as SpecOps dirtiest dealer behind him and plunged into his dream of being a sushi chef at the most exclusive sushi restaurant on Station Zeta. But when the station is attacked by giant space urchin, he realizes that he must embrace both his old and new skills to triumph over the celestial menace.

Camestros Felapton http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447629

Connie_Willis-Blackout_2010

Blackout/All Clear

In this tour-de-force of magical realism we are taken inside the minds of inanimate objects during WW2. Kurt is the embodied consciousness of a Junkers Ju 88 multirole combat aircraft. Diana is the genius-loci of Saint Pauls cathedral. Each night of the London Blitz they share stories of their lives via a shared psychic connection.

Lurkertype http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447668

44272486-BlackAmazonOfMarsByLeighBrackett-PlanetStoriesmarch1951-600x861

“Black Amazon of Mars”: A beautiful redhead starts a lawn care business on Mars. The Martian foliage may be huge and tough, but she and her trusty axe can take out any killer grass! If only she hadn’t been pressured into hiring her unemployed cousin, who’s botanophobic!

Arifel http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447677

House-of-Shattered-Wings-2

House of Shattered Wings

In a world where humans have always flown, the Feathered Throne of Kes has laid unclaimed for almost a century. Now, the former Kingdom is split between those hoping to restore a monarch to the throne, and those defending the New Way – a fledgling system of representative democracy which has given voice to the furthest reaches of the kingdom for the first time.

As both a Parliamentary Representative and a younger daughter of Hawk House, Lira is no stranger to conflicted loyalties. But when a mysterious accident cripples the leader of her party, she finds herself embroiled in a political conflict which threatens to consume ally and enemy alike…

Hal Winslow’s Old Buddy http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447679

catswings

Catwings: A Catwings Tale by Ursula K. Le Guin

The protagonists become stranded in a tree. But then they realize that they are cats. With wings. And tails, too, but mostly wings. The cats find this vastly amusing; the birds, not so much.

Did I mention that the cats have wings?

Cora Buhlert http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447690

Too like the lightning

Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer:

It’s goose hunting season in the Voztavoz mountains of the planet Makalak, when the hunters in their suborbital ships tackle gigantic flocks of galactic geese during their annual migration to their winter quarters. One of the hunters is Mycroft who finds himself caught in a desperate struggle for survival, after his ship is struck by lightning during one of the feared thunderstorms of Voztavoz. Can Mycroft make it back to the city, alone and on foot. And will he bring home a goose for the non-denominational (cause religion has been banned) winter holiday dinner?

Cora Buhlert http://file770.com/?p=29549&cpage=2#comment-447690

Company Town

Company Town by Madeline Ashby:

The shocking story of what happens when the letters of the neon sign on top of a derelict factory gain sentience and begin rearranging themselves in what appears to be a monstrous game of scrabble. However, one young woman living in the town at the foot of the factory, known only as Company Town, believes that the sentient letters are really sending a dire warning…