Pixel Scroll 6/10/17 The Scrollish Pixelman’s Union

(1) FISHING FOR COMPLIMENTS. Share a grilled snook to die for with Elizabeth Hand in Episode 40 of Scott Edelman’s podcast Eating the Fantastic.

Elizabeth Hand

We discussed why she probably won’t take LSD on her deathbed, what made her a fan of Marvel rather than DC when she was a kid, her unusual fee for writing term papers back in college, the true meaning of Man’s Search for Meaning, the unfortunate occupational hazard of book reviewing, who was the best science fiction writer of all time (and why), plus more.

(2) MAD PLASTIC DISEASE. Cedar Sanderson raises the spectre of hostile Nature in “Take two aspirin”:

Toni Weisskopf shared a photo on Facebook of a computer module absolutely infested with an ant nest, seething with eggs, and her comment was that she’d like to see more stories like that in science fiction. It’s an excellent point. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read ( and written) where the tech performs flawlessly. Which does happen. There are also stories where it doesn’t, but how many can you think of where the characters have to deal with an infestation? How would we prevent that, control it, and what kind of adaptations will we see?

I’d run across an article recently about bacteria which will break down plastics that were formerly thought invulnerable. Then there was another one speculating about why less plastic (by an order of magnitude) is found in the ocean than projected, and the discovery of novel bacteria on that plastic. The concern was focused on reducing pollution, but what happens when bacteria evolve to eat stuff we want to stay intact and functional? The stories about nanotech making gray goo aren’t that far off from what bacteria are already capable of — only fortunately they are not so fast to act.

(3) STINKS ON DRY ICE. Entertainment Weekly has the roundup: “‘The Mummy’ reboot slammed as ‘worst Tom Cruise movie ever’ by critics”.

Universal’s first foray into the depths of its Dark Universe probably would have benefitted from a brighter guiding light.

After spending over three decades dazzling audiences across large-scale action-adventures on the big screen, Tom Cruise’s latest genre spectacle, The Mummy, is set to unravel in theaters this Friday. Movie critics, however, got a peek under wraps this week, as movie reviews for the blockbuster project debuted online Wednesday morning. The consensus? According to a vast majority of them, perhaps this romp should’ve remained buried.

(4) 451 CASTING. Probably fortunate, then, that this bit of promotion came out before The Mummy opened: “HBO’s Fahrenheit 451 casting heats up as The Mummy’s Sofia Boutella boards”

If you were already fired up for HBO’s upcoming movie adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s classic novel Fahrenheit 451, then prepare to throw a couple more books on the barbie, cause this cast is starting to cook.

Just ahead of her titular turn in this weekend’s The Mummy, Sofia Boutella has signed on to join Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle, Creed, Fantastic Four) and Michael Shannon (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, 99 Homes) as the core players in the film from writer/director Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes).

According to THR, Boutella will play the female lead Clarisse, “an informant caught between” Jordan’s Montag — a fireman whose job it is to burn books, but who ends up rebelling against such a scorching notion after meeting free-spirited Clarisse — and Shannon’s Fire Chief Beatty, Montag’s mentor.

(5) ROSARIUM OPENS ANTHOLOGY. Rosarium Publications invites submissions of science fiction, fantasy, horror, interstitial, and unclassifiable works to Trouble the Waters: Tales from the Deep Blue, edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Pan Morigan, and Troy L. Wiggins.

TROUBLE THE WATERS: Tales from the Deep Blue will be a new anthology of water-themed speculative short stories that explore all kinds of water lore and deities, ancient and new as well as unimagined tales. We want stories with memorable, engaging characters, great and small, epic tales and quieter stories of personal and communal growth. Science fiction, fantasy, horror, interstitial, and unclassifiable works are welcome. We are seeking original stories in English (2500 — 7000 words; pays 5-6 cents per word) from writers of all walks of life from this beautiful planet and will accept some select reprints (pays 2-3 cents per word). Deadline: November 1, 2017. Projected publication: November 2018, Rosarium Publishing, www.rosariumpublishing.com. Please send submissions as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf file in standard mss formatting with your name, title, and word count to: TroubletheWaters2018@gmail.com

Complete submission guidelines can be found here.

(6) DYSTOPIAS. The Financial Times’ Nilanjana Roy, in “Future Shocks”, reviews Jeff VanderMeer’s Borne and Hao Jingfang’s “Folding Beijing” to see if our love of dystopias as something to do with the continued decline in urban life around the world.

The nightmare near-future city that a writer like Prayaag Akbar, by contrast, summons in his first novel, Leila (2017), rests on a distinctly South Asian set of fears. About a mother’s search for the daughter she was separated from, it is set in a frightening world where cities are segregated into zones of Purity, citizens sorted by their community, surnames, castes and religion.

This background came out of his discomfort with the way Indian cities have developed. “They are segmented, self-enclosing,€ he told me recently. “We practise a kind of blindness — you teach yourself not to see the tragedies that unfold in public spaces.”

These concerns — about cities splitting into walled enclaves, residents separated from each other’s lives by fears of pollution, contamination, or a striving after purity — find startling expression in Hao Jingfang’s Hugo award-winning “Folding Beijing”….

(7) BRADBURY. BookRiot’s Andy Browers is your guide to “A Friend In High And Low Places: Finding Ray Bradbury Where You May Not Expect Him”.

While I hate to ruin surprises, here are four places you might find yourself in his presence, sometimes peripherally, sometimes looking him right in the bespectacled eye.

Star Trek (aka “Star Track”, as my grandma called it)

Too obvious? Maybe. He and Gene Roddenberry, the fella who dreamed the franchise up, were pals who sat at the same midcentury science fiction table in the cafeteria. Bradbury famously loved all things space and rocket related, and it is fitting that he gets a couple of nods as the namesake of a Federation star ship. In the saucily-named episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation “Menage a Troi”, for instance, which ship is bestowed the great honor of relieving the pain of fandom everywhere by arriving to whisk away Wesley Crusher to Starfleet Academy? The U.S.S. Bradbury, the first of its class.

Wesley missed the space bus by saving the day in that episode, much to the chagrin of a large swath of viewers at home who were sick of having a kid on the Bridge. (Wil Wheaton, I was cheering for you. Please know that.) (Mostly because I kept hoping Wesley would scream TRAAAAIIIIIN in slow motion, which as far I know never happened.)

(8) ORPHAN BLACK. Carl Slaughter advises, “If you haven’t watched Tatiana Maslany portray as many as 14 cones in Orphan Black, you’re missing a treat.”

View Entertainment Weekly’s photo gallery, “‘Orphan Black’ A to Z: Dive Into the Show’s DNA Before Its Final Season”.

(9) STREET MEMORIAL. Here’s Pat Evans’ photo of the mementos being left today on Adam West’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. West died on Friday from leukemia.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 10, 1692 — Bridget Bishop was the first person to be hanged at the Salem Witch trials.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY CREATORS

  • Born June 10, 1928 Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak.
  • Born June 10, 1952 — Kage Baker

(12) FAMOUS BOOKSTORE HAS A BACKUP PLAN. The original Books of Wonder, inspiration for the bookstore owned by Meg Ryan’s character in the 1998 comedy You’ve Got Mail, is opening a second location as a contingency plan in case it can’t afford the coming rent hike — “Books of Wonder to Open Upper West Side Location”.

Books of Wonder, the renowned children’s bookstore on 18th Street in New York City, announced Thursday that it would open a second location, on West 84th Street, sometime this summer.

According to the store’s founder and owner, Peter Glassman, the 18th Street store’s lease will expire at the end of 2019. “Given the rise in retail rents along 18th Street, I am not optimistic about our ability to renew the lease,” he said. Though he said he planned to seek a new location in that area, the impending uncertainty was part of his decision to open another branch on the Upper West Side.

“I wanted to make sure we had another location open and well established before the current store’s lease expires, so if we have difficulty finding a new location and have to close for a few months we would have another location to serve our customers, not be out of business for any period of time, and not have to lay off my wonderful staff,” he said.

Andrew Porter adds,

When they opened, originally on Hudson Street in the lower Village, they were primarily an SF/fantasy-oriented store. They took out full-page ads in my Algol/Starship, then in SF Chronicle. The store regularly has readings and signings by SF/F YA and children’s authors, for example, with Sarah Beth Durst. It has also published numerous books by and about L. Frank Baum.

 

Peter Glassman. Photo by Andrew Porter:

Sarah Beth Durst and Bruce Coville at her signing in 2015. Photo by Andrew Porter.

(13) TOMBSTONE TERRITORY. This just in from the Australian National Convention.

(14) DEADPOOL’S NEXT RAMPAGE. Marvel pulls back the shroud, er, curtain.

If you’re Deadpool and you kill the entire Marvel Universe, why not eat some chimichangas…and then kill all over again? Proving there’s nothing like revenge, the superstar team of Cullen Bunn (X-Men Blue, Venomverse) and Dalibor Talajic (Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe, Redwolf) reunite to bring you Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe Again, and the Merc with the Mouth has never been more ready to return to that katana.

“This is not a sequel to the original story,” warns series writer Cullen Bunn. “This is an all new murderous rampage. The Marvel Universe has changed a great deal since the first series. So, of course, Deadpool had to up his game and change his tactics.”

 

(15) WONDER MOTHER. Marguerite Bowling, in a Daily Signal piece called “Wonder Woman Can Get the Job Done Pregnant, So Can You” says that Gal Gadot’s reshooting fight scenes while five months pregnant should be an inspiration to women. (The Daily Signal is a news website run by the Heritage Foundation.)

But here’s another fun fact that shows you can proudly be pro-mom and pro-career woman: Israeli actress Gal Gadot was five months pregnant with her second child when she did reshoot scenes for the movie that included a climactic battle scene.

To get around her then-visible baby bump, costumers cut an ample triangle on her iconic suit and replaced it with a bright green cloth that allowed the movie’s special effects team to change her figure post-production.

Given the prevailing negative news that shows women facing all sorts of career challenges by wanting to have a baby, it’s refreshing to see a successful woman embrace her pregnancy and still do an exceptional job.

(16) MIL-SF. Jeffrey C. Wells says “I Can’t Believe it’s not Baen: Rick Shelley’s Lieutenant Colonel” — and throws in a funny bingo card as a bonus.

If you didn’t figure it out from the title, or the cover, Lieutenant Colonel is Military Sci-Fi (Mil-SF for short), a genre devoted to chronicling how and why people are gonna shoot at each other in the future. And, also unsurprisingly, Lieutenant Colonel is the fifth book in Shelley’s “DMC” series, with each earlier book having sequential titles like Lieutenant, then Major, then Captain, and so on. Not exactly creative, but what can you do.

In any case, this series centers around a dude named Lon Nolan as he works his way up through the ranks in the Dirigent Mercenary Corps (from which we get the “DMC” acronym). Lon is your typical officer– professional, honorable, and — kind of boring. Dude makes Honor Harrington seem like Hamlet. Wait, no, that’s not a good analogy, ‘cause Harrington gets shit done. But I digress.

…Thankfully, Lieutenant Colonel doesn’t delve into super preachiness. Though it did inspire me to create MIL-SF BINGO! Just print this off next time you read about space-soldiers shooting space-lasers at space-commies, and check off the boxes as you go along!

(17) WIDER SPECTRUM. An Adweek story tells how “Equinox Extends LGBTQA from A to Z With a New Alphabet for Pride Month”.

It’s Pride Month! And every year, around this time, a certain kind of pundit hops on a soapbox to complain about how the term “LGBTQA” just keeps getting longer, and isn’t that just ludicrous?

Actually, it isn’t. In fact, it’s not nearly long enough. And a campaign from Wieden + Kennedy New York highlights why.

For Equinox and the LGBTQA Community Center, the agency has produced “The LGBTQAlphabet,” whose chill and choreographed film goes down the list of not six letters but 26. The goal is to show that a handful of labels isn’t remotely sufficient to encompass the complex identities of the world’s 7 billion people.

(18) SHARKES KEEP NIBBLING. Here are more recent reviews from the Shadow Clarke jury, and a guest post by the actual Clarke Award director.

This is the future we were promised. This is what all those science fiction novels from way back told us to expect: silver-finned rocket ships taking us out to the frontier towns of Mars and beyond; clanking metal robots wanting to be human; people transformed into something monstrous by whatever is out there.

And Tidhar, whose work has always displayed an over-fond preference for intertextual references to other science fictions, makes absolutely certain we recognise that these are other writers’ futures. The digital vampire is called a Shambleau, a pointed reference to the first of C.L. Moore’s Northwest Smith adventures. There are repeated references to someone called Glimmung on Mars, which of course recalls Philip K. Dick’s children’s novel, Nick and the Glimmung, which is, of course, set on Mars. And the presiding spirit that dominates the whole novel is probably Cordwainer Smith, with the way space is repeatedly described as the “Up and Out”, as well as casual references to C’Mell and Mother Hitton. There are more, some less familiar than others; I’m pretty sure that there are references to Edward Whittemore’s little-known but brilliant Jerusalem Quartet scattered throughout this novel. Someday, I suspect, someone might produce a concordance for Central Station, teasing out all of the echoes of and references to other works of science fiction. It will be a thick volume.

Of course, no one has gone broke by playing to the geeky self-regard of the science fiction fan. In recent years, self-referential science fiction books, novels like Among Others by Jo Walton that deliberately draw attention to other science fiction works, have proved especially popular.

If not for my commitment to the Sharke process I wouldn’t have chosen to write about Occupy Me; it’s unlikely that I would have finished reading it at all. My immediate response was akin to a toddler presented with something green and fresh and healthy: stampy feet; scowly face; a protesting shriek of ‘I don’t like it!’. I bounced off the book hard and repeatedly, and continued to do so despite dosing myself with Gareth’s blazingly positive review and Nina and Paul’s balanced perspectives at the midway point. Whatever the book’s thematic qualities, whatever its madcap quirks — and often because of them — I couldn’t stomach it. I find it impossible to see or be fair to the better parts of the novel because I’m painfully fixated on the fundamental ways in which it fails for me. Under usual circumstances I would think it ill-advised to throw a hat into the critical ring when I have so little critical perspective to share but I will try to explain.

While the Clarke Award can never guarantee having every potentially eligible book submitted, we are able to offer a reasonably comprehensive ‘state of the nation’ snap shot via our lists, not only of the books themselves but also for deeper analysis into the numbers of submitting publishers, the demographic breakdowns of authors and similar should people want to take those numbers and run with them.

More immediately, after my first couple of spins in the director’s chair I was starting to learn all of the ongoing debates, criticisms and wishes that surrounded the award’s announcements every year.

The award was, in no particular order, overly predictable, willfully unpredictable as a tactic to generate PR controversy, trying too hard to be the Booker, ignoring the heartlands of SF, full of wrongheads (a lovely fannish term that one), and so on and so on — Business as usual for a book award in other words.

(19) DRINK IT OR ELSE. Atlas Obscura recalls a series of 1950s commercials for Wilkins Coffee that featured violent Muppets prototypes.

In the ads, Wilkins — who bears a striking resemblance to Kermit the Frog — tries to convince another proto-Muppet, Wontkins to drink Wilkins Coffee. Wontkins almost always refuses. In retaliation, Wilkins shoots him, stabs him, or otherwise inflicts physical harm upon him.

 

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mark-kitteh, JJ, John King Tarpinian and Lace for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr, with a little help from his friends.]

Mark Twain Pixel Scroll 4/30/16 Never Mind The Scrollocks, Here’s The Sex Pixels

One hundred percent pure Scroll.

(1) NOT QUITE FAILURE TO LAUNCH. “Nail-biting start for Russia’s new Vostochny space centre” – BBC has the story.

“Oh please, darling, fly!”

A technician standing behind me was really nervous during the launch countdown at Vostochny, a new space centre in Russia’s Far East.

It was the second launch attempt – a day after the previous one had been aborted at the last minute.

I noticed that some of the technician’s colleagues also had pale faces and had crossed their fingers.

It emerged later that a cable malfunction had led to the postponement of Wednesday’s launch.

This time there was relief for Russia’s federal space agency, Roscosmos, as the Soyuz rocket, carrying three satellites, blasted off and the booster stage separated.

President Vladimir Putin had travelled 5,500km (3,500 miles) to watch the launch and was in a black mood after Wednesday’s cancellation, berating Vostochny’s managers for the financial scandals that have blighted this prestige project.

(2) DEAD TO RIGHTS. For a collision between the real world and fantasy, see “Gucci warns Hong Kong shops on paper fakes for funerals”. Gucci is trying to prevent people from selling paper mockups (of their products) to be burned in placate-ones-ancestors ceremonies.

Italian luxury goods maker Gucci has sent warning letters to Hong Kong shops selling paper versions of its products as offerings to the dead.

Paper replicas of items like mansions, cars, iPads and luxury bags are burnt in the belief that deceased relatives can use them in the afterlife.

Demand for these products is highest during the Qingming “tomb-sweeping” festival, which happened last month.

The shops were sent letters but there was no suggestion of legal action.

(3) NEAL STEPHENSON CONNECTION. Kevin Kelly writes “The Untold Story of Magic Leap, the World’s Most Secretive Startup” in the May issue of Wired, about mega-mysterious virtual reality company Magic Leap.

Among the first people (CEO Rony) Abovitz hired at Magic Leap was Neal Stephenson, author of the other seminal VR anticipation, Snow Crash.  He wanted Stephenson to be Magic Leap’s chief futurist because ‘he has an engineer’s mind fused with that of a great writer.’  Abovitz wanted him to lead a small team developing new forms of narrative.  Again, the myth maker would be making the myths real.

The hero in Snow Crash wielded a sword in the virtual world.  To woo Stephenson, four emissaries from Magic Leap showed up at Stephenson’s home with Orcrist–the ‘Goblin-cleaver’ sword from The Hobbit trilogy.  It was a reproduction of the prop handcrafted by a master wordsmith.  That is, it was a false version of the real thing used in the unreal film world–a clever bit of recursiveness custom-made for mixed reality.  Stephenson was intrigued.  ‘It’s not every day that someone turns up at your house bearing a mythic sword, and so I did what anyone who has read a lot of fantasy novels would:  I let them in and gave them beer,’ he wrote on Magic Leap’s blog.  ‘True to form, hey invited me on a quest and invited me to sign a contract (well, an NDA actually).’ Stephenson accepted the job.  ‘We’ve maxed out what we can do on 2-D screens, he says.  ‘Now it’s time to unleash what is possible in 3-D, and that means redefining the medium from the ground up.  We can’t do that in small steps.’  He compared the challenge of VR to crossing a treacherous valley to reach new heights.  He admires Abovitz because he is willing to ‘slog through that valley.'”

Magic Leap has also hired Ernest Cline as a consultant.

(4) REYNOLDS RAP. The Traveler at Galactic Journey has kind words for a prozine in “[April 30, 1961] Travel Stories (June 1961 Galaxy)”.

My nephew, David, has been on an Israeli Kibbutz for a month now.  We get letters from him every few days, mostly about the hard work, the monotony of the diet, and the isolation from the world.  The other day, he sent a letter to my brother, Lou, who read it to me over the phone.  Apparently, David went into the big port-town of Haifa and bought copies of Life, Time, and Newsweek.  He was not impressed with the literary quality of any of them, but he did find Time particularly useful.

You see, Israeli bathrooms generally don’t stock toilet paper…

Which segues nicely into the first fiction review of the month.  I’m happy to report I have absolutely nothing against the June 1961 Galaxy – including my backside.  In fact, this magazine is quite good, at least so far.  As usual, since this is a double-sized magazine, I’ll review it in two parts.

First up is Mack Reynolds’ unique novelette, Farmer.  Set thirty years from now in the replanted forests of the Western Sahara, it’s an interesting tale of intrigue and politics the likes of which I’ve not seen before.  Reynolds has got a good grasp of the international scene, as evidenced by his spate of recent stories of the future Cold War.  If this story has a failing, it is its somewhat smug and one-sided tone.  Geopolitics should be a bit more ambiguous.  It’s also too good a setting for such a short story.  Three stars.

(5) POHL PIONEERED. In a piece on The Atlantic by Michael Lapointe, ”Chernobyl’s Literary Legacy, Thirty Years Later”, the author credits Fred Pohl with writing the first novel about Chernobyl and says that Pohl’s 1987 Chernobyl “is done on an epic scale.”

(6) INDIE NOVELTY. Cedar Sanderson tells how she self-published a coloring book in “Non-Traditional Books” at Mad Genius Club.

So why am I telling you about this? Well, it’s different. Someone reading this may be a terrific artist (I’m not, by the way. I doodle really well) and this might be a great way for them to get a product on the market. I figure you can learn along with me, or from my mistakes, so you don’t have to make the ones I did.

Ingredients for a Coloring Book: 

  • Pens, pencils, and paper
  • A thematic idea (mine was adorable dragons and flowers)
  • Line-Art (this from the pen and paper, or you could create it digitally, which would be even better)
  • A good scanner
  • Graphics software: Gimp will work, Photoshop is actually better for this
  • Wordprocessing software: I laid the book out in Microsoft Word. You could use InDesign if you have it and are comfortable with it.
  • Patience

Cost? Well, not counting the cost of pens, ink, paper (I had all of those at the beginning, although I did invest some in upgrades) I spent about $12 on Inktail’s final production stages. That was $10 for a Createspace ISBN and $2 for stock art elements to put on the cover. Time? Well, now, that’s a horse of a different color.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

Born April 30, 1938 — Larry Niven.

(8) TO THE LITTLE SCREEN. ScreenRant reports “Wheel of Time Book Series to Become TV Show”.

Fans of the best-selling American fantasy novel series Wheel of Time, created by Vietnam War veteran and prolific genre fiction writer Robert Jordan, are no doubt well familiar with the epic, fourteen-novel long series for its many well-detailed narrative elements and Hugo award-winning reputation. Drawing from European and Asian mythology, Jordan (who was born James Oliver Rigney Jr.) saw fit to create a fantasy realm and spiritual mythos that borrows elements from Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity. The resulting overarching narrative accordingly featured an overarching thematic concern with the forces of light and dark, mirroring the metaphysical concepts of balance and duality in kind.

As an answer to British novelist and former Oxford University professor J.R.R. Tolkien’s likeminded The Lord of the Rings, Jordan made a name for himself until the time of his death in 2007 as the chief successor to the throne of bestselling imaginative fantasy. The legacy that Wheel of Time has since left in the wake of its author’s death still holds a certain reverence for his grandly orchestrated fiction – and now that special place the series holds in the hearts of many fans looks to be fit for future production as a major network TV series.

Posting to the official Google+ account for the Wheel of Time franchise and intellectual property, Jordan’s widow, Harriet McDougal, was pleased to let fans of the series know that a late legal dispute with Red Eagle Entertainment has been resolved, meaning that the production of an official TV series based on her late husband’s masterwork will soon be announced. Speaking on behalf of Jordan’s estate, McDougal posted the following:

“Wanted to share with you exciting news about The Wheel of Time. Legal issues have been resolved. The Wheel of Time will become a cutting edge TV series! I couldn’t be more pleased. Look for the official announcement coming soon from a major studio.”

(9) MONSTERPALOOZA. Lisa Napoli explains that “Halloween is a $7.5 billion year-round industry”.

Here among the crowds of freakily dressed people at Monsterpalooza at the Pasadena Convention Center, Yvonne Solomon stands out. Not because of the red dress she’s wearing, with a plunging neckline. It’s the large old-fashioned baby carriage she’s pushing. In it are four distinctive creatures:  “These are my were-pups,” she said. “They’re silicone, handmade little pieces of art.”

Were-pups.  Baby were-wolves. Solomon paid an artist $650 a piece for these creepy-looking critters. At this gathering of fellow monster fans, she’s assured a sympathetic reception for her investment. Horror fests like Wizard World and Shuddercon take place every weekend, all around the country. People happily fork over pricey admission fees for the chance to mingle with like-minded mutants and monsters.

“You’re in a big hall with a bunch of people you don’t have to explain yourself to,” Keith Rainville said, who is here selling vintage Mexican and Japanese horror tchotchkes. “We’re all from the same mothership that dropped us off in this weird world.”

Rainville is one of 200 vendors here, selling one-of-a-kind pieces, like what Paul Lazo brought from his little shop of collectibles in New York: “He is a severed head with a bloody pan and he’s damn handsome.”

(10) INKSTAINED WRETCHES ON DISPLAY. Shelf Awareness catches a vision of the American Writers Museum.

The American Writers Museum, the first in the United States to focus exclusively on American writers, “past and present,” will open in March 2017 in downtown Chicago, Ill. Located at 180 North Michigan Avenue, the museum expects to draw up to 120,000 visitors each year and is working with more than 50 authors’ homes and museums around the country to build its exhibitions. Among the planned attractions are re-creations of writers’ homes and fictional locales (including Tara, Cannery Row and the House of Seven Gables), interactive exhibits about writers’ lives and methodologies (including “travels” with Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck, for example), and ample space for film screenings, talks, readings and presentations. The museum aims to hold exhibitions on a range of subjects. Roberta Rubin, the former longtime owner of the Book Stall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka, Ill., is co-chairman of the museum’s board of directors.

(11) VIRTUOSO. Hear the Star Trek: Voyager (Theme) “Metal cover” done by YouTube guitarist Captain Meatshield.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Will R., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Pixel Scroll 1/9/16 To Flail Beyond the Sunset

(1) USE THE FARCE. Entertainment.ie says this Twitter spat between Emo Kylo Ren and Very Lonely Luke is what the internet was made for. Here are the first two tweets in the exchange —

(2) BEWARE FAUX SPOILERS. Will R., who says Hobotopia is a long-running web comic, and one of the nicest things in all of the Internet, draws attention to its ostentatious Spoiler Alert for what turns out to be a pretty obscure The Force Awakens spoiler.

(3) ACTION FIGURES. Here are your prototype action figures for the Ghostbusters reboot. There wasn’t much chance Mattel would repeat the mistake Hasbro made with The Force Awakens of leaving out the female characters, was there?

Amanda Kooser at CNET already has play suggestions.

The action figures come from toy company Mattel and will be 6 inches (about 15 centimeters) in height. That’s a pretty standard size for action figures, so you should be able to fold them into imaginative play along with your Star Wars and Star Trek collection. The crossover possibilities are endless. I can’t wait to see what a proton pack does against Kylo Ren.

(4) STABBY WINNERS. Reddit’s r/Fantasy group has chosen the winners of the 2015 Stabby Awards. Here are the top vote-getters in 3 of the 15 categories:

Stabby Award

Stabby Award

  • BEST NOVEL OF 2015 Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
  • BEST SELF-PUBLISHED / INDEPENDENT NOVEL OF 2015 The Labyrinth of Flame by Courtney Schafer
  • BEST DEBUT NOVEL OF 2015 The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

Click on the link to see the rest.

(5) MEAN STREETS. Tobias Carroll at Literary Hub introduces a review by reminding everyone of the time Raymond Chandler mocked science fiction.

In a 1953 letter to his agent H.N. Swanson, Chandler indulges in a brilliantly entertaining, paragraph-long parody of sci-fi writing, which hits every trope and cliché of the genre. Oh, and he namedrops Google some 45 years before Larry and Sergey registered the domain.

Did you ever read what they call Science Fiction? It’s a scream. It is written like this: “I checked out with K19 on Adabaran III, and stepped out through the crummaliote hatch on my 22 Model Sirus Hardtop. I cocked the timejector in secondary and waded through the bright blue manda grass. My breath froze into pink pretzels. I flicked on the heat bars and the Bryllis ran swiftly on five legs using their other two to send out crylon vibrations. The pressure was almost unbearable, but I caught the range on my wrist computer through the transparent cysicites. I pressed the trigger. The thin violet glow was ice-cold against the rust-colored mountains. The Bryllis shrank to half an inch long and I worked fast stepping on them with the poltex. But it wasn’t enough. The sudden brightness swung me around and the Fourth Moon had already risen. I had exactly four seconds to hot up the disintegrator and Google had told me it wasn’t enough. He was right.”

They pay brisk money for this crap?

In the case of Adam Christopher, Chandler’s rivalry with science fiction gave rise to literary inspiration. In the acknowledgements to his new novel Made to Kill, Christopher writes that “what I really wished did exist was Raymond Chandler’s long-lost science fiction epic.” He describes himself as “amused” by “the way Chandler hated science fiction.” There are a handful of nods to Chandler’s infamous riff on the genre peppered throughout Christopher’s novel, including as its epigraph. Made to Kill can be read as a science fiction-laced detective story and as a way of using the detective story template to investigate more archetypally science fictional themes of memory and identity.

The setting of Made to Kill is an altered 1965: John F. Kennedy is president, the Cold War rages on, and American society has had an unsuccessful dalliance with incorporating robots into everyday life. The last survivor of this program, narrator Ray Electromatic, is the detective at the center of this novel, drawn into a conspiracy involving Hollywood stars, radioactive material, and Soviet spies. Ray makes for an interesting protagonist in a number of ways: as robots go, he has an unexpected moral compass, and the fact that his memory only lasts for a day does a good job of establishing him as a less-than-reliable narrator from the outset.

(6) YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. David Gerrold says he’s learned from (bad) experience to avoid feuds, as he explains on Facebook.

Here are 5 of his 10 points:

4) “Forgive and forget” does not apply here. Everyone in a feud, no matter what side they’re on, has already succumbed to self-righteousness, simply by being in the feud. Self-righteousness is terminal.

5) A really spectacular feud, if it goes on long enough, if it gets loud enough, if it gets ferocious enough, will not only destroy the participants, it will destroy the community in which the feud occurs. (I have seen this happen multiple times, where whole forums evaporated because the toxicity reached armpit level.)

6) Sociopaths and attention whores enjoy feuds. People who have not yet learned a modicum of restraint or self-awareness are the biggest victims.

7) Screechweasels and harangutans will outlast everyone and declare the victory of getting the last word. It’s a hollow victory, because most of the other participants will have walked away in disgust.

8) Reconciliation of any kind is almost always impossible — because there is always at least one person who needs to recap the past in one last attempt to prove the other side wrong.

(7) CALL FOR PAPERS. “Reframing Science Fiction”, a one-day conference on the art of science fiction, will be held in Canterbury (UK) on March 21. Keynote speakers: Dr. Jeannette Baxter (Anglia Ruskin University) and Dr. Paul March-Russell (University of Kent).

From William Blake and John Martin to Glenn Brown and The Otolith Group, artists have been producing works of art that are science fiction. And artists and their works have been incorporated into many works of sf.

Meanwhile, on countless book covers and in magazine illustrations, a visual language of science fiction has evolved: bug-eyed monsters; spaceships; robots and so on.

Art in the comic strip and the graphic novel has been the means of telling stories in visual form – whilst artists such as Roy Lichtenstein have made comic panels into art.

The call for papers (which opened some time ago) has a January 15 deadline.

We invite 300 word proposals for twenty minute papers on the intersection of art and sf across the media – painting, sculpture, drawing, collage, photography, film, performance, prose, dance, architecture and so on…

(8) ONE ISLAND’S OPINION. Colleen Gillard’s article “Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories” in The Atlantic is high-brow click-bait.

The small island of Great Britain is an undisputed powerhouse of children’s bestsellers: The Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie-the-Pooh, Peter Pan, The Hobbit, James and the Giant Peach, Harry Potter, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Significantly, all are fantasies. Meanwhile, the United States, also a major player in the field of children’s classics, deals much less in magic. Stories like Little House in the Big Woods, The Call of the Wild, Charlotte’s Web, The Yearling, Little Women, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer are more notable for their realistic portraits of day-to-day life in the towns and farmlands on the growing frontier. If British children gathered in the glow of the kitchen hearth to hear stories about magic swords and talking bears, American children sat at their mother’s knee listening to tales larded with moral messages about a world where life was hard, obedience emphasized, and Christian morality valued. Each style has its virtues, but the British approach undoubtedly yields the kinds of stories that appeal to the furthest reaches of children’s imagination.

And it works – people are coming unglued in the comments.

(9) FX. Doctor Science formulates a TV production axiom in “How special effects eat characterization”. The Doctor’s last paragraph says it best, but you should read it there. Here is the first paragraph:

I don’t think this trend is mostly an artistic or marketing choice, even though that’s what people in Hollywood usually say. I think “more explodey” is driven by the need to justify budgets, and by the individual interests of the people who have to do it.

(10) UNEMPLOYED KAIJU. They won’t be needing any special effects for Pacific Rim 2 — it’s dead, Jim.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the follow-up to director Guillermo Del Toro’s monsters-versus-robots epic is “off the table indefinitely” – and in its place, del Toro has entered talks with 20th Century Fox to helm a rather different sci-fi spectacular.

Del Toro is reportedly gearing up to take the helm on ‘Fantastic Voyage,’ a remake of the 1966 sci-fi classic which starred Raquel Welch and Donald Pleasance as members of a team who are miniaturized in a submarine and injected into the body of a dying scientist in order to save his life.

(11) CLASS. The Doctor Who spinoff Class will air on BBC America in 2016. It was already on BBC Three’s schedule in the UK.

The eight-part series is from young-adult author Patrick Ness, who is known for writing the “A Monster Calls” books. The series is exec produced by “Doctor Who’s” Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin and is a co-production between BBC America and BBC Cymru Wales. It is filmed in Cardiff in the U.K.

“I’m astounded and thrilled to be entering the Doctor Who universe, which is as vast as time and space itself,” said Ness. “I can’t wait for people to meet the heroes of ‘Class,’ to meet the all-new villains and aliens, to remember that the horrors of the darkest corners of existence are just about on par with having to pass your exams,” he joked.

(12) BESTSELLER SNARK. Diana Gabaldon zinged George R.R. Martin – The Hollywood Reporter has the quote:

When asked by a reporter whether her work on the Starz drama [Outlander] — she penned a season two episode — would interfere with her meeting the deadline for the ninth installment in her saga — in light of Game of Thrones’ George R. R. Martin’s recent announcement that, of course, his next book will be delayed — Gabaldon didn’t miss a beat. “No. Unlike George, I write no matter where I am or what else I’m doing,” she said, adding: “He admits it himself that he likes to travel and he can’t write when he travels. That’s just the way he works. Everybody’s got their own writing mechanism. When I began writing, I had two full-time jobs and three small children.”

(13) TENTACLE TIME. Matthew Dockrey, designer of Sasquan’s Hugo base, made news with his new piece of public art in Vancouver (WA).

A newly installed tentacle sculpture is seen on Main Street in Vancouver Wednesday January 6, 2016. (Natalie Behring/The Columbian)

A newly installed tentacle sculpture is seen on Main Street in Vancouver Wednesday January 6, 2016. (Natalie Behring/The Columbian)

A giant steel tentacle bristling with saucer-sized suckers is slithering from the sewer in Uptown Village at Main and West 23rd streets.

Does it belong to an enormous octopus? A sea monster? Is it the tail of a dragon?

The imagination reels with possibilities.

The sculpture, created by Seattle metal artist Matthew Dockrey, is Vancouver’s newest piece of public art. Called “The Visitor,” the 5-foot-tall appendage cradling a genuine city manhole cover was installed Saturday. It will be dedicated at a celebration at noon Friday by the Uptown Village Association, Arts of Clark County, Vancouver’s Downtown Association and the city.

Karen Madsen, chairwoman of the nonprofit Arts of Clark County, said the artwork selection committee had sought a piece that was whimsical and interactive and that would endure over time. The sculpture, which Dockrey specifically created for the site in front of the old Mission Theatre, fits within the Steampunk art movement, she said.

(14) THE FRONT. Cedar Sanderson has pulled together the Mad Genius Club’s considerable wisdom about cover creation for self-published books into one post.

First and most important: before you start designing a cover, creating art intended for book covers, or even thinking about a book cover, you need to look at book covers. A lot of them. Specific book covers to your genre is even better, as there are subtle cues you need to know and recognize, even if you aren’t doing your own covers. So first, before anything else, go to Amazon and search for your sub-genre (space opera, paranormal romance, werewolf stories, historical military fiction, whatever it is) and look at the top 100 selling books. Not the freebies (unless you are looking at what not to do). Make notes of elements you like, things you hate, and the consistent notes that many of the covers have in common. When you’re done with this, you are ready to begin.

(15) HUGO PREP WORK. Shaun Duke has posted a crowdsourced list – “The 2016 Hugo Awards Reading/Watching List (or, My Next Few Months)”.

Last month, I asked for recommendations for my annual Hugo Awards reading bonanza.  A bunch of you responded with books, movies, TV shows, cookbooks, and so on.  The form will remain open for the next month or so, so if you haven’t submitted anything or want to submit some more stuff, go for it!

So, without further delay, here is the big massive monster list of stuff I’ll be reading or watching for the next few months…

(15) IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR. Doris V. Sutherland resumes her analysis of the comparative quality of Puppy and non-Puppy Hugo nominees in the past two races in “2014 Hugos Versus 2015 Sad Puppies: Novelettes” at Women Write About Comics.

Breaking down the above ten works, we have two stories from the 2014 Sad Puppies slate, four from the 2015 Sad Puppies slate, one from the Rabid Puppies and three that were not Puppy picks. In terms of numbers, this is a strong showing from the Puppies. In terms of quality, well…

Before I go on, I should—in the interests of balance—remind my readers that I generally liked the Puppy choices for Best Short Story; some had their flaws, but I felt that the only out-and-out dud was the Rabid slate’s “Turncoat.” Looking at the Puppy novelettes, on the other hand, I find myself decidedly unimpressed.

(16) ROCK ENROLL. NASA’s new Planetary Defense Coordination Office will coordinate asteroid detection and hazard mitigation.

NASA has formalized its ongoing program for detecting and tracking near-Earth objects (NEOs) as the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO). The office remains within NASA’s Planetary Science Division, in the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The office will be responsible for supervision of all NASA-funded projects to find and characterize asteroids and comets that pass near Earth’s orbit around the sun. It will also take a leading role in coordinating interagency and intergovernmental efforts in response to any potential impact threats….

NASA’s long-term planetary defense goals include developing technology and techniques for deflecting or redirecting objects that are determined to be on an impact course with Earth. NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission concept would demonstrate the effectiveness of the gravity tractor method of planetary defense, using the mass of another object to pull an asteroid slightly from its original orbital path. The joint NASA-European Space Agency Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission concept, if pursued, would demonstrate an impact deflection method of planetary defense.

Even if intervention is not possible, NASA would provide expert input to FEMA about impact timing, location and effects to inform emergency response operations. In turn, FEMA would handle the preparations and response planning related to the consequences of atmospheric entry or impact to U.S. communities.

(17) AFRICAN SF. There are six African authors on BSFA Awards Longlist.

Sarah Lotz has been nominated in the Best Novel category for Day Four, the follow-up on her bestseller The Three.

Chinelo Onwualu of Nigeria has been nominated in the Best Non-fiction category for her essay “Race, Speculative Fiction And Afro SF”, published by the New Left Project.

The Best Short Fiction category features four other African nominations:

Unfortunately Samatar’s story won’t be eligible for the award as she announced hers is a reprint of a 2012 story.

(18) ANIMAL FARM. The extended trailer for Disney live-action movie The Jungle Book looks pretty good.

(19) WUV. Matthew Johnson contributed these instant classic parody lyrics in a comment.

Star Base… LOVE.”

Love, at Warp Factor Two

Beam aboard, we’re expecting you

Love, it’s a captain’s reward

Make it so, it warps back to you

 

The Love Base

Soon we’ll be plotting a different course

The Love Base

You’ll learn a new way to use the Force

Love

Won’t stun anyone

It’s fruity drinks ‘neath the double suns

It’s the Love

It’s the Love

It’s the Love

It’s the Love Base

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Brian Z., Will R., Standback, and Alan Baumler for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 11/11 Let it scroll on, full flood, inexorable

(1) On Veterans Day: “Ten Science-Fiction and Fantasy Authors Who Served in the US Armed Forces” from Suvudu.

9) Elizabeth Ann Scarborough Elizabeth Ann Scarborough was an Army nurse during the Vietnam war, an experience she has drawn upon in her fiction on occasion. She is the author of several series, including Acorna and Petaybee, but her modern fantasy novel The Healer’s War is perhaps the most autobiographical. Interviews with Scarborough aren’t easy to find online, but here’s one in which she mentions her nursing experience.

10) Gene Wolfe After serving in the Army during the Korean war, Gene Wolfe returned home and became an engineer. Writing was a hobby that he pursued in his off-hours, but his talent was apparent from the very beginning. He is the author of numerous books, but his The Books of the New Sun series revolutionized fantasy and is a classic of the Dying Earth genre. If you have a literary bucket list then this series belongs at the top. Wolfe spoke about the effect the war had on his fiction during an interview with MIT’s 12 Tomorrows: “It’s a real wake-up call. What military service does is rub off a lot of the pretense and self-deception from a person. You have to keep going, knowing that there are people over there who are trying to kill you. You’re right: they are.”

(2) N. K. Jemisin reacts to dropping the Lovecraft statuette from the World Fantasy Award in “Whew”.

That’s a sigh of relief. One less thing to feel conflicted about. One more thing I can celebrate freely, easily, and without reservation.

I’m talking about the World Fantasy Award, which will now no longer be represented by the head of H. P. Lovecraft. My feeling re the whole thing is a) ’bout time, and b) whew. Because while I have no idea if I’ll ever win a WFA myself — I’ve been nominated twice and that’s awesome — I have watched other anti-racist friends and fellow writers of color win the award. It’s impossible not to feel that visceral clench of empathy when they speak of the awkwardness of Lovecraft, of all people, as the representation of their honor. I’ve heard a number of winners talk about the ways they plan to hide or disguise or otherwise disrespect their own award so that they can reach a place of comfort with it. I’ve contemplated what I would do if I won, myself. (Was planning to put it on full display atop my cat’s litterbox.) I never show off my nomination pins, because I don’t feel like explaining when people ask, “Who’s that supposed to be?”

(3) Rocket Books is running a series of sf author trading cards. Here are the four most recent sf all-stars.

(4) Entertainment Weekly had Harrison Ford recreate his classic pose as one of four new covers for their upcoming Star Wars special issue.

Ford cover poses

(5) Worldcon organizer Ben Yalow is quoted in the New York Times story “F.C.C. Sides With Hot Spots, and Hospitality Industry Feels a Chill”:

…Since many convention centers outsource functions like their network management, it can be harder for planners to haggle down the price of Internet access, but the arrangement spares the center from having to finance technological upgrades and might provide it with a commission as well….

 “Basically, you’re looking at six figures or more to wire up the place, and every couple of years you’ll probably want to do another low six-figure upgrade,” said Ben Yalow, a recently retired information technology professional with experience setting up and configuring networks in hotels and convention centers….

Hospitality industry experts predicted that the F.C.C.’s recent actions would force event facilities to become more competitive in their pricing, so as not to lose out entirely on the Internet revenue stream….

 “I think the long-term solution is going to be that convention centers and hotels drop their prices down to someplace reasonable,” Mr. Yalow said. “They’re not going to make money off this the way they used to.”

(6) “A member of Britain’s Parliament feuds with store over ‘Star Wars’ shoes”.

A member of Britain’s Parliament has been nicknamed “Shoebacca” after using House of Commons letterhead to complain about missing out on Star Wars shoes.

Angela Rayner, 35, a Labor party member who represents Ashton-under-Lyne, used notepaper with House of Commons letterhead to write a letter of complaint to the Irregular Choice shop after the store sold out of Dan Sullivan-designed Star Wars shoes that featured R2-D2 figures as the high heels.

 

(7) David Gerrold responded to the latest news about accessibility and harassment policies on Facebook. This excerpt is what he said about accessibility.

For the past two or three years, when I have been invited to conventions, I have requested that panels be made up of qualified individuals of all genders. While sometimes it happens that a panel ends up as all-male or all-female (as a function of subject matter), con programmers should make every effort to be inclusive.

In the future, I will be expanding that request to include ramps and other appropriate accessibility requirements for disabled participants. Larger conventions should consider having a sign-language interpreter for deaf attendees.

I have to make it a request, not a requirement — because some conventions might not have the resources. A convention survives on its attendance. Small cons can’t always afford these things. The rule of thumb is to spend the money where it will serve the most people….

A convention is supposed to be a gathering of the community, a place where we share our love of the genre and go home inspired. We don’t want our friends in fandom going home unhappy. The unwritten rule in fandom has always been that everybody is welcome, everybody is included — but it’s not enough to have that as an ideal, we have to demonstrate it by accessibility and inclusion.

(8) On Veterans Day, Cedar Sanderson recommended reading Tom Kratman’s columns for EveryJoe.com based on Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.

Here are the links to Kratman’s “Service Guarantees Citizenship (Part I)” and “Service Guarantees Citizenship (Part II)”.

We’ve been discussing the system put forth in naval officer and science fiction author Robert Heinlein’s book, Starship Troopers. For some background see last week’s column. For more background, read the book and spurn the wretched movie.

*****

So why are we – those of us who are in favor – even concerned with radically changing the system that has, and for the most part well enough, seen us through over two centuries? It’s simple: We think that system’s time has run, that we are not the people we were and that our ruling class is no longer worthy. Indeed, it’s not even trustworthy, let alone generally worthy. We observe that our political and economic fate has fallen into the hands of the denationalized rich, who frankly don’t care a fig for us. We see that where once we were an “ask what you can do for your country” people, we are increasingly indistinguishable from the worst third-world kleptocratic and nepotistic hellholes. We see the PC fascisti replacing us with unassimilable foreigners, often enough from cultures that are not just incompatible, but which actively hate us. We see that we are fracturing in ways that are arguably worse than anything we’ve ever seen before, worse even than before and during the Civil War. Yankees and Rebs used to, at least, mostly speak the same language. Our language today, as spoken by left and right from north and south, may sound the same but the words and concepts have changed meanings.

In short, we think that we either, in Brecht’s words, elect a new people, as our denationalized and corrupt rulers seem to be trying to do via immigration, or we fall hard – so hard we’ll never stand again.

(9) Adam-Troy Castro quizzed his Facebook readers:

Unanswered question, from a thread: what if the World Military Fiction Award were a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest? Would you consider a black novelist childish for questioning the appropriateness of that choice, or the award committee too PC for considering that maybe he had a point?

(10) Today In History

(11) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born November 11, 1922 — Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut

(12) David Kilman at Amazing Stories devotes the November installment of Scide Splitters to “1941 Retro Hugo Eligible Novellas”.

Two of the three novellas I will be exploring today are ones that I read at an early age, albeit in modified form as they were incorporated into The Incomplete Enchanter. My reviews here, however, are of the stories as they appeared in their original form published in Unknown Fantasy Fiction. Even though all three were advertised as novels when first published, I have confirmed that all three are of novella length (17,500 to 40,000 words).

(13) Litigation Comics  from The Line it is Drawn #265 – “One Moment Later” on Famous Comic Book Covers at Comic Book Resources.

Litigation Comics

(14) Nerds of a Feather hosted a roundtable discussion on Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni Rising between Joe Sherry, Rob Bedford, Paul Weimer, Jonah Sutton-Morse and Fred Kiesche. Here’s a sample:

Joe Sherry: Two things stand out for me. One: How quickly Kurtz gets into the action of the story and how tight the timeline is here. Everything that happens is so immediate,  but it feels appropriate with the political risk of Kelson being able to hold on to a crown he is barely prepared to accept because he is only about to hit his legal majority all the while he is about to face a challenge from an external threat with an internal agent. I’m not sure that stuff really gets old when it’s written so smoothly. Two: This may be colored by how I feel about some of the later novels, but what I like is the minutiae, the details of how things work behind the scenes – the Council sessions, the rituals of the church, the tidbits on Deryni history.

(15) Larry Correia, in “The 2015 Still Not a Real Writer Book Tour Recap” at Monster Hunter Nation, shows how to make the jump from Sad Puppy to Bestselling Underdog.

One stop was at Powell’s in Beaverton. It is a great store, and I had a great time with a good crowd. But I saw later on Twitter somebody had apparently seen me there, and taken to Twitter to talk about my pathetic showing, and how nobody was there at the lamest book signing ever, and hashtag something about how I was the saddest puppy of all.

That struck me as odd, since we had over forty people show up, which by most author’s reckonings is great, and we filled the signing area to the side. But then I realized what he’d probably seen (mistakenly thinking that a Puppy Kicker was honest and not just lying about me on Twitter, silly me). I’d gotten there almost an hour early, and had killed time just hanging out in the audience with the seven or eight people who’d shown up really early too. I figured that was what he’d seen, because by seven o’clock we had filled the chairs, and more people kept coming in the whole time.  So being my usual diplomatic self, I responded and told him that the “big hand goes on the seven, doofus”. Luckily, some of the fans had taken pictures of the crowd too, and since you guys are so super helpful, you posted the photographic evidence to the dude.

Now, a smart person would say, whoops, my bad. But not a Puppy Kicker. They have that whole narrative about how anybody who disagrees with TRUFAN is irreparably damaging their career, so of course he doubled down. Oh no. He was there at 7:05! And he saw my 40! And that was still horrible garbage failure of suck, because that bookstore ROUTINELY gets 500(!) people at a book signing…

This of course came as a surprise to the people who work there, and my more famous author friends who sell ten times as many books as I do, who only got around 200 there. Basically, you can count the number of mega superstar authors who routinely get five hundred people at a book signing on your hands, and have fingers left over. Puppy kickers are harsh, man. I think the average book signing in America is like five to seven people.

But I don’t make the rules. Five hundred it is! Anything less is shameful garbage.

(16) Max Florschutz tells his own strategy for “Dealing with Detractors” at Unusual Things.

You ignore them.

For the most part. But seriously, this is usually the best solution. Because if you try to do battle with them, be they trolls or individuals/groups in power, you’re basically throwing gas on a flame. It’ll ignite, and sometimes that can catch you on fire as well. If nothing else, a detractor will try their hardest to make sure that if they’re going down, they’re going to take you with them, any way you can.

Now, some detractors can take things to the point where you need to confront them in some way or another. But you know what?

Let them ruin themselves.

You see, the thing about these detractors is that they’re toxic individuals to one degree or another. And one way or another, unless they change, they’ll end up poisoning whatever atmosphere they’re involved in. Eventually, people catch on. It might take years, but eventually, one way or another, time has a way of catching up with those who’ve made their hobby tearing down everyone else and eating away at their own pyramid. And as long as you haven’t let them catch you in their claws, they probably won’t take you with them when they fall. Ignore them, work with those critics and individuals who are concerned with making your work the best it can be, and detractors will remove themselves from the creative pool; exercising a form of social Darwinism.

(17) Mike McMahan has written an ST:TNG parody, Warped: An Engaging Guide to the Never-Aired 8th Season.

The official parody guide to the unaired eighth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, based on the popular @TNG_S8 Twitter account from creator Mike McMahan!In the basement of the Star Trek archives, behind shelves of U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D models, bags of wigs, and bins of plastic phasers, sits a dusty cardboard box. Inside is a pile of VHS tapes that contain never-before-seen episodes and behind-the-scenes footage for something truly amazing. The world thinks there are only seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but there’s one more. A secret season.

 

(18) Marvel’s Jessica Jones – Official Trailer #2, coming on Netflix. Suvudu gives a detailed rundown.

[Thanks to Ryan H., JJ, Daniel Dern, The G., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 11/7 The Manliness of MEH

(1) “The Empire Strikes Thomas Kinkade” points to Jeff Bennett’s satirical improvements on “The Artist of Light.”

(2) American wizards have a completely different word for “Muggle” reveals Entertainment Weekly.

Next year’s Harry Potter prequel film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set in 1926 New York, where the wizarding community uses another term entirely for people without magical powers.

In shifting the franchise away from the U.K., author J.K. Rowling — who also wrote the movie’s screenplay — is poised to introduce several new words into the Potterverse lexicon, and the most significant might be what Stateside wizards say instead of Muggle: “No-Maj” (pronounced “no madge,” as in “no magic”).

(3) And here’s a gallery of images from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

In Entertainment Weekly’s new issue, we go on the set and deep inside the chamber of secrets of J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Here’s your first look at Katherine Waterston as Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein, Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, Alison Sudol and Queenie Goldstein, and Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski.

(4) More alleged secrets are spilled by the host of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert:

J.K. Rowling can’t stop revealing “Harry Potter” secrets, even though the last book came out over 8 years ago. It’s time for Stephen to take spoilers into his own hands.

 

(5) Adam Whitehead, in “A History of Epic Fantasy – Part 25“, courts controversy by asking about the Harry Potter series:

But is it really an epic fantasy?

That question has been asked many times before and has proven slightly controversial. The more obvious answer may be no: the books are set in the “real” world, with some of the action taking place in real locations such as London. Much of the story is set in and around a single location, Hogwarts, whilst epic fantasy is often based around a long journey or series of journeys across a fantastical landscape. Epic fantasy also usually features a large and diverse number of nonhuman races, whilst Harry Potter only has a small number of them, and all of the primary protagonists are human. Epic fantasy also relies on characters with diverse skillsets, whilst in Potter pretty much everyone of note is a wizard.

But there are strong arguments to the counter. The books may touch on the real world but most of the action takes place in original, fantastical locations such as Hogwarts. Also, the books make much of the idea of the world being similar to ours, but one where magic is real (if mostly secret) and the impact that has on government and society, making it arguably an alt-history.

(6) At World Fantasy Con 2015:

(7) Also allegedly sighted at WFC by Adam Christopher. No context!

(8) Ethan Mills continues his celebration of Stoic Week at Examined Worlds.

Friday: Relationships with Other People and Society Stoics, Vulcans, Buddhists, and artificial intelligences alike are often accused of being emotionless and not caring about other people.  In all four cases, this is a mistake (although in the case of AIs, it may depend on which AI you’re talking about).  See my philosophical tribute to Leonard Nimoy for more on this point. As any sufficiently nerdy Star Trek fan knows, Vulcans actually have emotions, but, in many of the same ways as Stoics, they train themselves to move beyond being controlled by negative emotions and they cultivate positive emotions like compassion.  Vulcans like Spock do care about their friends.  The deep friendship that Spock feels for his crew mates, especially Kirk and McCoy, is unmistakable, as illustrated most poignantly near the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (whether Spock is a utilitarian or virtue ethicist is hard to say.)

Marcus Aurelius realized that cultivating compassion for everyone is often hard, especially when other people are obnoxious (as they so often are, even more so now that we have internet trolls).

(9) In “Guillermo del Toro’s Guide to Gothic Romance” at Rookie the director lists the Gothic romances that influenced him.

Do you ever wonder what goes on in the wondrous mind of director, producer, and screenwriter Guillermo del Toro? Yes? Same. Well, to chime with the recent release of his creepy, goth thriller Crimson Peak, Guillermo has curated a syllabus of the Gothic and Gothic romance novels, short stories, and engravings that influenced the making of the film. He sent us these recommendations with the following words: “I hope you enjoy some of these as fall or winter reads by the fireplace.” Before you post up beside an actual fire, here’s what Guillermo del Toro has to say about these Gothic essentials.

First on the list –

Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan Le Fanu This book defines the link between fairy tales and gothic romance. Uncle Silas is a convoluted, highly perverse mystery-thriller about innocence in danger, written by the master of ghost stories, J. Sheridan Le Fanu. It’s a dense but rewarding read, and it was crucial to Crimson Peak.

(10) Superman will make a (blurry) appearance on the next episode of Supergirl.

Consequently, Josh Wilding at We Got This Covered is a little bit crabby.

While it makes some sense that Superman would come and save the inexperienced Supergirl, the series really needs to find a way to take him off the board so he’s not continuously used as a plot device in future. If that’s not going to happen, then he should make an actual appearance instead of all these endless teases.

(11) Cedar Sanderson, “The Slow, Dark Eclipse of the Soul”, at Mad Genius Club.

It’s been a discouraging week, overall. First there was the article about SF writers coming into the genre without reading the classics of the genre. Then, when I started working on a list of classics available free (or very cheap) online to suggest to potential readers, I got a comment to the effect of ‘classics suck, they should die in a fire, and why should anyone read them?’

In the aftermath of that, which left me wondering why I was trying to make this list… I don’t make the lists to force anyone to read anything. I can’t – who am I? I’m not the teacher, or the… anything. I’m just someone who likes to create these lists of recommendations with input from others, and then they generate even more suggestions in the comments. I make lists to be beginnings, not endings. The hope is that someone will see a title they had never read, or had forgotten, and that strikes mental sparks in folks who have favorites they want to share, and so on. It’s about building up the genre, not tearing it down. I’d never say ‘you must read these books, and only these books, all others are anathema.’

As I was saying, I was still mentally mulling the whole ‘classics suck!’ thing over in my head, when a minor controversy erupted over writing book reviews. When, if ever, is it ok to be critical in a review? Should we put ourselves in a position where we say ‘well, that author is on my side, ergo I must never say a bad word about his work?’ Well, no, I don’t think so. Nor do I think that the occasional critical review is a bad thing – as long as the review is analyzing the work, not the author, and leavened with the good along with the bad. That’s how I do it. But it’s discouraging to be told that we can’t present a critical view of a work, simply because of who the author is.

(12) Fans are so smitten by the idea of an illuminated toy lightsaber that’s sturdy enough to bash around that they have fully funded Calimacil’s Kickstarter and then some – raising $46,889, well beyond the $38,259 goal.

The challenge was to build a lightsaber made of foam for safe play. To integrate light, we had to enhance the foam formula we normally use to build our products. Moreover, we had to develop a new technology into the handle to enable both light and sound. Thus our journey began, and we successfully achieved the creation of a fully immersive foam LEDsaber!….

The LEDsaber can communicate with a smartphone through Bluetooth. With that communication enabled, you will be able to customize the light effects of the blade. Multiple choices of colors are available: red, blue, green, orange and more. Even more, you can create various visual plasma effects on the blade….

Calimacil has no intention to commercialize the product using any kind of trademark associated to Disney. For the purpose of the kickstarter campaign we use the term LEDsaber.

 

(13) A lot of people post about their pets passing away, and I empathize with their sadness and loss.

It’s rare that someone can communicate what it was like to be in relationship with that animal, as John Scalzi has in “Lopsided Cat, 2000-2015”.

(14) And I therefore place next a BBC video in which an “Astronaut plays bagpipes on International Space Station”

A US astronaut has played a set of Scottish-made bagpipes on the International Space Station to pay tribute to a colleague who died.

Kjell Lindgren played Amazing Grace on the pipes after recording a message about research scientist Victor Hurst, who was involved in astronaut training.

It is thought to be the first time that bagpipes have been played in space.

(15) Internet English – the language in which “honest” means “brutal”!

The Force is awakening soon – and we have an honest look at the trailer for the movie that everyone’s already going to see anyway.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 10/3 The Red Scroll of Westmarch

(1) Harry Potter fans taking the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London have been trying to “free” Dobby the house elf by leaving socks beside his display case.

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Lucious Malfoy is tricked into freeing Dobby by handing him a sock. (A house elf can only be freed from its service if its master gives it a gift of clothing.)

(2) James H. Burns recounts a memory of 1973, about the Mets clinching the pennant, and his 6th grade teacher, in the Long Island Press.

(3) Joel Achenbach in the Washington Post says, “Don’t worry. Matt Damon won’t get stuck on Mars. NASA can’t get him there”. He explains why it’s highly unlikely that NASA will lead an expedition to Mars in the next 25 years. Two key points: we don’t have a rocket, and NASA has no plans to develop a Martian lander.

(4) A collection of Vince Clarke’s fanwriting, assembled by David Langford, is a free download on the TAFF Ebooks page. More details and the list of contents here.

Vince Clarke Treasury cover

Mike Moorcock approves: “Glad the Vince Clarke book’s out. I mention Vince quite a lot in The Woods of Arcady. Sequel to W.Swarm … As I say in the book, Vince was something of a mentor to me and really helped me. Great bloke.”

(5) Patrick May reviews Dark Orbit:

“Dark Orbit” by Carolyn Ives Gilman tells the story of Saraswati “Sara” Callicot, a researcher who spends her life traveling via lightbeam, and Thora Lassiter, a member of an elite caste who was involved in an uprising of the women on the planet Orem against a male-dominated, Sharia-like government.

(6) Cedar Sanderson’s “A List of Books for Big Girls” at Mad Genius Club, while recommending characters, is also a built-in set of book and story recommendations.

Character! That’s what we want. And inspiring heroes, and damsels who can’t be bothered to be distressed, and the men who respect them… You’ll find all that and more in the list of books below.

I want to thank everyone who helped with suggestions for the lists. I’m not including all of the titles that were given to me, some because I wasn’t looking for YA, and some because I was emphasizing character rather than other features. You will find that I’m listing the books by character name, rather than individual books, as many of these are series. Some of the comments in the list are from the people who gave the recommendations to me (I’ve anonymized the lists since they were collected in private groups). 

(7) I’m always a sucker for those internet list posts and get hooked into clicking through a whole series of pages by sites trying to maximize their ad exposure. I rarely post those here.

An exception I can recommend in the Scroll is complete on one page: “My Favorite Movie Endings of All Time”.

(8) I bet she’s right —

(9) Can’t get it out of my mind. Iphinome’s lyrical comment on File 770.

We built this concom, we built this concom on pixel scroll.

Say you don’t scroll me, or pixelize my face,
Say you can’t lose Hugos with any grace.
Knee deep in the hoopla, sinking in your fight,
Too many puppies, yapping in the night.

Glyer posts a roundup, givin’ us the pixel scroll
Don’t you remember?
We built this concom
We built this concom on pixel scroll.

(10) Larry Correia explains in the beginning of his “Fisking the New York Times’ Modern Man”

See, I have two sons. As a father, it is my duty to point out really stupid shit, so they can avoid becoming goony hipster douche balloons. So boys, this Fisk was written for you.

His target is Brian Lombardi’s “27 Ways to Be a Modern Man”, which is sort of wryly serious and so lends itself to Correia’s mockery.

SELF-HELP

Even the header is wrong. This article is the opposite of self-help. This is like the instruction guide for how to live life as a sex-free eunuch.  …

  1. The modern man has hardwood flooring. His children can detect his mood from the stamp of his Kenneth Cole oxfords.

Most real men have whatever flooring their wife wanted when they built their house, because we don’t care, because we’re working all day so don’t get to stand on it much. Or they have whatever flooring came with the house when they moved in, and eventually when they can afford to they’ll put in whatever flooring their wife wants, because they don’t care. Some men do care, and they can put in whatever floor they feel like. Good for them. All of those men think this reporter is a douche.

I don’t even know what a Kenneth Cole is. I’m not sure what an oxford is, but from the context I believe it is a type of shoe. As a man who usually wears size 15 Danner boots, this is my Not Impressed Face.

(11) This Day in Non-Science-Fictional History

Debuted on this date in 1961, the first successful TV-show-within-a-TV-show, “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” When Carl Reiner created and starred in the pilot that preceded the hit show, it was not a success. Casting Dick was the one major change that propelled the show into a five-season successful run on CBS.

Also –

In 1955, the children’s TV show Captain Kangaroo with Bob Keeshan in the title role was broadcast for the first time.

(12) Marc Zicree delivers a quick tour of the Science Fiction Exhibit at the LA County Fair — complete with Rod Serling, Jurassic Park, the Back to the Future DeLorean and HAL 9000.

[Thanks to Will R., Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 9/12 Vouching Tiger

(1) The Register is running a poll for the worst Doctor Who of all.

Was Colin Baker, dressed in his multi-coloured dreamcoat, simply taking a wrong turn on his way to a rehearsal for an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical – falling instead into some weird space-time continuum from which no audience member could escape?

Or maybe, just maybe, it was William Hartnell who ruined it for everyone with his curmudgeonly adventures on the TARDIS.

Although Peter Capaldi is not leading, he should be worried about his job security.

(2) I don’t think anyone is genuinely confused, however, Andrew Porter has worked out a scenario to show why people ought to be confused by the reappearance of a well-known pen name.

At Drop Dead Perfect we read,

“Idris Seabright is one demented dame. A 1950’s Florida gargoyle with a penchant for painting still lifes, no matter how her subjects must be stilled, she’s as handy with a hachet as a brush and as rich as she is ruthless. ‘Drop Dead Perfect,’ written by Erasmus Fenn and directed by Joe Brancato, finds Idris torn between her ingenuous ward who has artistic aspirations, a well-endowed Cuban ex-con who may be her nephew, and her pill-pushing lawyer. Idris and ‘Drop Dead Perfect’ are back after last year’s sold-out run for a strictly limited eight week engagement.”

Also, at Vanishing New York,

“Everett Quinton, former lead actor and artistic director of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, is famous for his cross-dressing performances, and he’s currently starring in one of the juiciest of his career with Drop Dead Perfect at the Theatre of St. Clements in Hell’s Kitchen. As Idris Seabright, a 1950s Key West housewife with artistic aspirations…”

“Drop Dead Perfect”  is playing now through October 11 at Theater at St. Clements, 423 West 46th Street, NYC.  Porter continues —

Except we know that “Iris Seabright” was a pseudonym used by science fiction author Margaret St. Clair, who died in 1995. Is it coincidence that St. Clair was from Maine, and this character is from the opposite place on the East Coast? I called the theater, and they were totally unaware of the previous use of the name.

For more about Margaret St. Clair see her Wikipedia entry.

(3) George R.R. Martin will make an appearance on Zombie Nation reports Entertainment Weekly.

zombie george COMP

Nothing is going to stop George R.R. Martin from finishing his Game of Thrones novels!

The bestselling author will have a cameo during the second season of Syfy’s post-apocalyptic thriller Z Nation playing himself as a zombie, EW has exclusively learned.

And as you can see from the photo above and the two others below, Martin is quite undead while signing his own books (and even tries to munch on one brainy copy). The title of Zombie Martin’s book is a fun tease — “A Promise of Spring,” which plays off A Dream of Spring — the expected title of his eventual seventh (and presumably conclusive) novel in his epic A Song of Ice and Fire saga. Currently Martin is working on Book 6, The Winds of Winter.

Declared Martin: “I just want to prove to my fans that even in the Zombie Apocalypse, the Song of Ice and Fire books will still come out!”

Martin will appear in the eighth epsiode of this year’s Z Nation, which returns to Syfy on Friday at 10 p.m. In the show, Martin has been imprisoned by a character called the Collector, who captures celebrity zombies and keeps George chained to a desk for his own nefarious purposes.

(4) DB in a comment on “One Alfie, Two Hugos” at Not A Blog

I have a theory, or maybe a hypothesis, as to why there was no Best Novel Hugo in 1957. The International Fantasy Award, which was a juried award that was also shaped like a rocketship, was being presented at a banquet elsewhere in London the day after the Worldcon. It was an invitational event, not officially part of the Worldcon, but many Worldcon members attended.

My theory is that the Worldcon committee, knowing this, didn’t feel that a Best Novel Hugo was necessary. That would be an odd decision today, but remember that at that time the Hugos were not firmly established, they had much less prestige than the IFA, and awards were few and the overlap and duplication we’re used to today were unknown.

The book that received the IFA that year? Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

(5) Pip R. Lagenta invites you to come see a snippet of LASFS history on his website while you still can. He says Comcast is getting rid of personal webpages (like his) in October.

De Profundis is the club newsletter of The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society.   Around about May of 1988 the De Profundis newsletter contained its first, last and only Photo Supplement.   This four page supplement is now, here, being republished for the first time (in any form) since the May, 1988, newsletter distribution.

I’m in there a couple of times. Which is either an incentive or a warning.

(6) Cedar Sanderson in “A Dog’s Breakfast” at Mad Genius Club.

When you confront your reader with, in the first paragraphs, sentences that don’t make sense, you are doing the worst thing to readers an author can do. Mislectorism. Betrayal. You’re showing your readers you hate them, and they will respond to it. “This particular ship has seen action: plasma scarring across the wings and tail fins; a crumpled dent in the front end as if it was kicked by an Imperial walker.” Look at that sentence. Consider that it is not alone. I don’t think I have ever seen as many colons in one passage in all the thirty-some years I have been reading. Nor have I seen this many sentence fragments in once place. I shudder to think of how many dashes and hyphens met their ends here. If I had to name this style I’d call it post-Modern chop suey, because everything is minced and mixed together until it resembles a dog’s breakfast.

Snowcrash in a comment on “A Dog’s Breakfast” at Mad Genius Club.

I think the issue may be somewhat overstated – the Amazon reviews broadly break down into 4 areas – people unhappy that an ebook is priced at so high (USD 17?); people sad to have lost the Expanded Universe; people taking umbrage at the existence of a gay protagonist; and people who take issue with the writing. Down-rating the book for the first 3 seems a bit immature to me, but hey, whatever they want in the cut-throat world of Amazon…

Personally, given it’s sales figures, it seems to be doing fine so far. Let’s see if it has legs though.

Amanda S. Green in a comment on “A Dog’s Breakfast” at Mad Genius Club.

Very broadly break down into that. I’ve taken the time to read the reviews not only on Amazon but on B&N as well. Let’s look at the B&N reviews to start. There are 17 reviews there for a 3.5 star cumulative review. 6 of those 17 reviews are 5 stars. However, and this is a big however, of those 6 reviews 4 are one line back and forth comments between reviewers that have nothing to do with the book. Another has no comment at all. So let’s toss them out. The final five star review is a true review by someone who liked the book. The rest of the reviews deal with the plot or writing style. One review, one of the more supportive ones, does say that the inclusion of a gay character felt forced. Over all, the complaint, even among those giving good reviews, was that the writing was not at the level it should be and that Wendig did not appear to love the universe he was writing in.

If you look closely at the Amazon reviews, you see much the same thing. Yes, there are those upset with the fact the EU was tossed out. But most of the reviews concern the writing style or the story structure. Sure, there are a few who object to having a gay lead character, there always will be someone who doesn’t approve of something. But the overall message is that the book is poorly written.

The key thing here is to look at the author’s behavior and how he is alienating a fan base. He has basically called all those who don’t like his work homophobes simply because they don’t like his work. That is not a way to win friends or influence people, at least not in a good way.

As for the sales figures, eh. We haven’t seen the returns yet and we probably never will. As for his Amazon rankings, those don’t always equate into huge sales. The best sellers lists such as the NYT one are based on pre-orders and then continued orders. As you said, we will have to see if it has legs and, judging from the reviews, I’m not sure it will.

(7) Teresa Nielsen Hayden now denies the episode happened. Brust says that’s not what he was asking about, but that’s irrelevant for purposes of this history.

(8) He said it, not me…

(9) Oops. Somebody poked a hibernating bear. Part of “Today’s Twitter Rant, 9/12/15” which goes on at length on Whatever.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Pip R. Lagenta, both Marks, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Chapter Five Esk 8/29 Ancillary Doghouse

(1) Laura J. Mixon’s Hugo speech and a great deal more commentary at – “Acceptance Speech Online! And Other Post-Hugo Neepery”

Tonight, I honor Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Tricia Sullivan, Athena Andreadis, Rachel Manija Brown, Kari Sperring, Liz Williams, Hesychasm, Cindy Pon, and the many others targeted for abuse, whose experiences I documented in my report last fall. They’re great writers and bloggers—read their works!

Thanks go to those who stood up for them: Tade Thompson, Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Pat Cadigan, Sherwood Smith, and Nalo Hopkinson. Read their works too!

Thanks also to those who helped me with my research behind the scenes. You know who you are, and we wouldn’t be here with you, either. Thanks to George RR Martin, who boosted me for this award, and to all who voted for me.

I wrote my report out of love for this community. Out of a rejection of abusive behavior and the language of hate. There’s room for all of us here. But there is no middle ground between “we belong here” and “no you don’t,” which is what I hear when people disrespect members of our community. I believe we must find non-toxic ways to discuss our conflicting points of view. I plan to keep working toward that, in ways true to my own values and lived experiences. And I hope you all will, too. Science fiction and fantasy literature is our common bond and our common legacy. It belongs to all of us. Those who deny that do great harm.

I see our conflict as a reflection of a much larger societal struggle, as Robert Silverberg referred to, and I stand with people from marginalized groups who seek simply to be seen as fully human. Black lives matter. Thank you.

(2) Melina on Subversive Reader – “A Letter To ‘Old’ Hugo Voters from a ‘New’ Hugo Voter”

  1. We don’t necessarily bring the same schema to our voting as you do

Part of being part of a community for a while means you start knowing the players. You know that Joanne Bloggs edits for that publisher, and Jane Smith worked with those people who love her. As a new voter, you don’t necessarily know that – it’s possible that the new voter is dipping their toes into the inner circle of knowledge for the very first time.

This is where the packet is a brilliant idea – all the information a new voter needs to fairly judge a person or piece of writing against others. Except, in 2015, there were times when the packet just sucked (and I’m not just talking about the writing). Several of the awards ask us to judge a person’s output over a year – best editors, best fan writer, the art awards etc. And while some categories did this well (the art categories) others provided little or no example of what the nominees were achieving.

This is especially clear in the editing categories. I’ve heard a number of commentators complaining that these categories shouldn’t have been No Awarded without any of them acknowledging that the packets were either thin on quality work or pretty much non existent. Additionally, there weren’t a lot of credible commentators advocating that we vote for one editor or another. So how is a new voter supposed to know that we should vote for a certain editor without evidence or advocacy?

 

  1. No Award is not a tragedy or unethical

The option to use No Award is brilliant. It allows us to consider the works that are nominated, judge them according to our own criteria and say ‘nope’ when we think the work doesn’t reach the level a Hugo winner should reach. It’s like the perfect anti bell-curve mechanism.

So, when a No Award is awarded, it’s not a tragedy. It’s the voters, as a group, saying yeah, no, none of the nominated work was good enough. We’re not going to lower our standards just because that’s what was nominated. Try again next year.

Standards are fabulous. It makes sure that we’re celebrating the very best. It shows that we really value excellence in the winners.

Yes there were a lot of No Awards in 2015. That’s because the work nominated was not of a high enough quality to win or got on the ballot in a way we do not agree with as a community. Our standards are high and we should be proud of that.

(3) It’s a theory —

(4) CBC Radio’s news program As It Happens did an interview with Mary Robinette Kowal about the Puppies on August 28, so I’m told. I haven’t listened to it myself. The link to the program is here. Kowal reportedly begins at 16:40.

Hugo Awards flap

A group of angry reactionaries tries to hijack the biggest awards in science fiction and fantasy — but it turns out there’s no space for their opinions.

(5) Elizabeth Bear on Charlie’s Diary – “How I learned to stop worrying and love the concept of punitive slating…”

The Rabid Puppies, though, are self-declared reavers out to wreck the Hugos for everybody. I think their organizer Vox Day has made himself a laughingstock, personally—he’s been pitching ill-thought-out tantrums in SFF since before 2004, and all he ever brings is noise. But he and his partisans seem to be too ego-invested to admit they’re making fools of themselves, so they’ll never quit.

So it’s totally possible that the Rabid Puppy organizers and voters, in the spirit of burning it all down, would nominate a slate consisting of the sort of vocal anti-slate partisans who could conceivably swing legitimate Hugo nominations on fan support, having a track record of the same.

I’m talking about people such as our good host Charlie Stross, John Scalzi, George R.R. Martin, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and myself. Or just, you know, people they hate—the categories overlap. The goal here would be to then attempt to either force us to withdraw or refuse nominations to prove our lack of hypocrisy, or for fandom to again No Award the whole process. This is the Human Shield option, which—in a slightly different application—is what led to the inclusion on the Rabid Puppy slate of uninvolved parties such as Marko Kloos, Annie Bellet, Black Gate, Jim Minz, and so on in 2015.

This possibility concerns me a bit more, but honestly, I think it’s pretty easy to manage. First of all, I’m going to state up front that I will never willingly participate in a slate. If I learn that I have been included on a slate, I will ask to be removed, and I will bring as much force to bear on that issue as I legally can.

Additionally, I’m going to rely on the discretion of readers and fans of goodwill, who I think are pretty smart people. If you see my name on a slate, please assume that it’s being done by ruiners to punish me, and that whoever put it there has ignored my requests to remove it. I have nothing but contempt for that kind of behavior, and I’m frankly not going to do anything to please them at all.

(6) Ann Leckie – “On Slates”

First off, I deplore slates. In the context of the Hugos, they are an asshole move. Just don’t slate.

Second off, I am saying unequivocally that I do not agree to be on anyone’s slate, do not approve of my inclusion in any slate, and anyone who slates a work of mine is thereby demonstrating their extra-strong motivation to be seen as an asshole.

Now, there’s some concern that assholes making up a slate for next year would deliberately include the work of people they hate, in order to force those people to withdraw any nominations they might get. This might be a genuine concern for some writers. It is not one of mine.

(7) John Scalzi on Whatever – “Final(ish) Notes on Hugos and Puppies, (2015 Edition)” 

[From the second of ten points.]

The going line in those quarters at the moment is that the blanket “No Award” just proves the Hugo Awards are corrupt. Well, no, that’s stupid. What the blanket “No Award” judgment shows is that the large mass of Hugo voters don’t like people trying to game the system for their own reasons that are largely independent of actual quality of work. In the Sad Puppy case the reasons were to vent anger and frustration at having not been given awards before, and for Brad Torgersen to try to boost his own profile as a tastemaker by nominating his pals (with a few human shields thrown in). In the Rabid Puppy case it was because Vox Day is an asshole who likes being an asshole to other people. And in both cases there was a thin candy shell of “Fuck the SJWs” surrounding the whole affair.

The shorter version of the above: You can’t game the system and then complain that people counteracting your gaming of the system goes to show the system is gamed. Or you can, but no one is obliged to take you seriously when you do.

(8) David Gerrold on Facebook

Given all those different belief systems, any attempt to discuss healing and recovery is likely to be doomed — because it’s no longer about “I’m right and you’re wrong” as much as it is about, “my story about all this is the only story.” That’s not just a difference of degree, it’s an attempt to control the paradigm in which all this is occurring.

Which brings me to the inescapable conclusion — if one person pees in the pool, we’re probably not going to notice it. But if we’re all peeing in the pool, it’s going to start stinking pretty bad.

There is a larger narrative — one that we seem to have forgotten. We are all fans because we are all enthralled by the sense of wonder that occurs when we read a good science fiction story or fantasy. Perhaps we came to this genre looking for escape, but ultimately what makes this genre special is that it’s about all the different possibilities. It’s about who we really want to be — it’s about the question, “What does it mean to be a human being?” Are we slans? Are we transhumans? Are we starship troopers?

As Tananarive said, “There are no final frontiers. There’s only the next one.”

That’s what SF is about — it’s about exploration, discovery, and stepping into the next possibility. Our awards are about excellence, innovation, and merit.

There is room in this community for everyone who brings their enthusiasm. We have steampunk and heroic engineers and fantasy fans and gothic horror and gender-punk and space opera and cyberpunk and deco-punk and alternate histories and utopias and dystopias and zombies and vampires and all the other different niches that make up this vast ecology of wonder.

None of us have the right to define SF — we each define it by what we read and what we write. None of us have the authority to demand or control the behavior of others. The best that any of us can do is recommend and invite. And yes, this is another narrative — a narrative of inclusion that stands in opposition to the narratives of division.

That’s the narrative I choose to live in.

(9) Jeffrey A. Carver on Pushing A Snake Up A Hill “Sad Sad Puppies Affair – Sasquan Roundup, Part 2”

While I stand firmly with the rejection of the gaming effort of the SPs, I feel for those writers and editors who were hurt by the whole affair. Some innocent writers and editors were unwillingly associated with the puppies slate, because the SPs happened to like their work. Other worthy individuals were kept off the final ballot because of the stuffing. Still, the winning novel, The Three Body Problem, by Cixin Liu (translated by Ken Liu), got its place on the ballot because another author withdrew his work after receiving support from the stuffers. Some say that the Hugo Awards as an institution were strengthened by the voters’ repudiation of the attempt to game the system, and I hope that turns out to be true. But it’s hard to say that there were winners in the affected categories. Those writers who were shut out may get another chance, another year, and then again they may not. Either way, it has to hurt.

(10) Adam-Troy Castro – “These Are Not Reasons to Vote For Me For a Hugo”

Please don’t nominate me for a Hugo because you’re my friend on Facebook.

Please don’t nominate me for a Hugo because you’re my friend in real life.

Please don’t nominate me for a Hugo because we shared a great time at a convention.

Please don’t nominate me for a Hugo because I’m politically liberal and you like what I stand for.

Please don’t nominate me for a Hugo because my strongest opposition is politically conservative and you wish to oppose what they stand for.

Please don’t nominate me for a Hugo because it’s “my turn.”

(11) Adam-Troy Castro – “While I’m At It”

“I am among the finest writers working today.”

That, my friends, is the kind of statement that immediately casts doubt on itself.

(12) Sarah A. Hoyt on According To Hoyt – “I’ve Been To The Desert On A Horse With No Name”

Which brings me to: congratulations.  You probably achieved at least half of your objective — to drive out the people who don’t think/act like you and aren’t part of your groups.  It is heartily to be hoped you won’t live to regret it, but don’t bet on it.

So, the show over, and once I’d gotten over being both mad and sad but mostly sad, we started discussing (Kate and Amanda and I) operational details for next year.  Stuff like how many noms, where do we get recommends, do all three of us have to read something before we recommend it, and oh, yeah, logo? patches? t-shirts?  Incredibly threatening stuff like that, you know?  Since Kate, Amanda and I routinely PM and send each other scads of emails everyday (otherwise known as being ‘thick as thieves’) including on all important topics such as “that cute thing the cat did yesterday”, it barely rose above the ambient noise.

So imagine our surprise when Kate got hacked on facebook, not once, not twice but three times in a 24 hour period and her account started spamming sunglass adds.  Coincidence?  I don’t know guys.  One time, maybe.  But three times, when Kate has pretty d*mn good security?  Bah.

(13) Cedar Sanderson on Cedar Writes – “Muzzled Redux”

I still wholeheartedly support the idea of reclaiming the Hugo Awards for excellence above ‘connections’ and even more, the idea of making the Hugo Awards back into a ‘Best of’ rather than a tiny super-minority. I do support the idea of a diverse nomination pool. A really diverse one, where you don’t have to be ‘approved’ by the right people to be included. So it’s not that I was shut out.

Rather, due to full-time (plus some) school and family obligations that need my attention, I cannot afford the time to be slandered right now in public, and this is what will happen. Yes, I have to fear that from the people who are running the show right now. Doubt what I say? One of the people in the front lines, a Latina woman, was accused by a milk-white woman, of using an ethnic slur. Which confused the accused woman, since English is not her first language, maybe it meant something she didn’t know? No… it’s a standard identifier that had been used extensively in the military since the 1950s. The accuser was making up mud to fling and try to make it stick. You can see the inherent hypocrisy, and the reason I have to avoid the poo-flinging monkeys.   The Sad Puppy movement supports me, knows what is happening in my life, but the other side? They wouldn’t care, and would no doubt use it as a tool to try and destroy me.

Pat Patterson in a comment on Cedar Writes

You know the scene in Henry V about the feast of St Crispan? I like the kenneth Branagh version, personally.
Well, on every instance of the Hugo awards, however long they last,
you will be able to strip your sleeve and show your scars and say “These wounds I had as a nominee for the Best Fan Writer Hugo,”
Old dogs forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But you’ll remember, with advantages,
What words you wrote this year. Then shall the names,
Familiar in your mouth as household words-

(14) Steven Brust on The Dream Café – “Who Really Runs the Hugo Awards?”

In a surprising development, the dispute among “Trufans” “SMOFS” “Sad Puppies” and “Rabid Puppies” has produced a result: We now know exactly who runs the Hugo Awards. It turns out to be Mrs. Gladys Knipperdowling, of Grand Rapids, Iowa.

Mrs. Knipperdowling, 81, came forward yesterday to reveal that she has personally chosen all Hugo winners and nominees since 1971 when her aunt Betty “got too old and cranky,” as she put it in an exclusive interview. “I wouldn’t have said anything about it,” she added, “but then I heard there was all of this trouble.”

Asked about the people usually accused of picking the Hugo winners, Mrs. Knipperdowling became confused. She claimed never to have heard of the Nielsen Haydens at all, and when John Scalzi was mentioned, she asked, “Is he the nice young man in the bow tie?”

(15) Dysfunctional Literacy – “I Am No Award!”

alien

I’ve never heard of anybody named No Award, and I’ve never read anything by No Award, but No Award must be awesome.

No Award won so many honors because Hugo voters are in a big argument over stuff that non-Hugo voters don’t care about.  Science fiction fans have always liked to argue about stuff that other people don’t care about.  Before I was born, it was Jules Verne vs. H.G. Wells or Flash Gordon vs. Buck Rogers.  When I was a kid, it was Star Wars vs. Star Trek or Marvel vs. DC.  Today, science fiction fans are divided between social justice warriors and sad puppies.

[Thanks to Mark Dennehy, another Mark, Danny Sichel, and John King Tarpinian for some of these links. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

A Whippet of Earthflea 6/18

aka “The Brand and Bark Concerto”

In today’s roundup are Larry Correia, Cedar Sanderson, solarbird, Jim C. Hines, Stefan Raets, Patri Friedman, Allan Thomas, Steven Saus, Amanda S. Green, Sarah A. Hoyt, L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright, Mike Flynn, Tim Atkinson, Lis Carey, Melina D, and Joe Sherry. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day JJ and RedWombat, and Anna Nimmhaus.)

Larry Correia on Monster Hunter Nation

“Sad Puppies are not calling for any boycotts” – June 18

I’m seeing this narrative pop up that Sad Puppies is calling for a boycott of Tor, but that is simply not true. Speaking as the guy who started the Sad Puppies campaign, I’m not calling for a boycott of anything. I’m not asking anyone to do anything. As far as I’m concerned this mess is between Tor and its customers. I’ve said very little about it so far, but I’ve been clear about that much.

The Sad Puppies Campaign is NOT calling for any boycotts.

[Continues with a discussion of recent history, and outlines Peter Grant’s background.]

After being a soldier, Peter hung up his guns and became a man of God. SJWs are saying that he’s a homophobe because he agreed with Sad Puppies, while in real life he volunteered at a colony for homosexuals who had been forsaken by African society, dying of AIDS. When I first met him, Peter was a prison chaplain, trying to help the fallen and broken, and victims of things you can’t even imagine. Basically, he’s an honorable man who puts his money where his mouth is, and now he’s offended.

Peter asked for a retraction from the Tor editor who flippantly dismissed thousands of fans as unrepentant racist neo-nazis. I don’t believe he’s calling for anything beyond that.

Again, this is between Tor and its readers who feel insulted, not the Sad Puppies campaign or the people who ran it. Yes, those Venn diagrams overlap, but sorry, you can’t blame this one on me. Many normal fans agreed with what Sad Puppies was trying to do, and shockingly enough, they eventually got sick and tired of employees of one of their favorite publishing houses calling them names. I’m not calling for anything, though I can certainly understand why some people are.

If any individual who felt insulted is satisfied with Tom Doherty’s statement saying that his employees don’t speak for his company, good for you. If any individual is unsatisfied and demands further action, that’s also up to you. I’m not going to tell anybody what to think.

For the other side who are saying that Gallo is the real victim here, and she was only speaking truth to power… Yeah, you guys run with that. Anybody with two brain cells to rub together can see she her comments were nonsense. The only thing she is a victim of is arrogance.

To the SJWs saying Tom Doherty is a hateful misogynist because he isn’t letting his employees libel people on the clock anymore? Double down. There might be some people left out there who haven’t realized I was right about you yet.

To the Tor authors I’m seeing post about this, the Sad Puppies campaign is not calling for a boycott. If you are upset why people are angry take it up with your art director about why she’s insulting your customers.

To the Sad Puppies supporters, do what you think is right. All I’m asking is that whatever you do, try to be as civil as possible in your disagreements. Stick with the facts. We’ve got the moral high ground, and the great moderate middle of this debate has seen we’ve been telling the truth all along.

 

Cedar Sanderson in a comment on Monster Hunter Nation – June 17

I have blogged extensively on this, in part because Peter Grant, who I am honored to call a friend, asked me to weigh in as a businesswoman. I have not been calling for a boycott or even a dismissal of Irene Gallo. It is simply a horrible example of unprofessional behavior, and an opportunity for Tor to show that they do respect their customers and vendors even though there is a lot of evidence that certain personnel do not.

 

solarbird on crime and the forces of evil

“this is just pathetic: puppy boycott, ahoy” – June 18

Anyway, the demands are ludicrous, but to summarise:

  • Tor must publicly apologize for writings by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Moshe Feder, Irene Gallo, and John Scalzi that “demonize, denigrate, slander and lie about the ‘Puppies’ campaigns”
  • Tor must “publicly reprimand those individuals for stepping over the line”
  • Tor must “publicly indicate that it is putting in place policies to prevent any recurrence of such issues.”

See, this is exactly what you get when you hang one of your own out to dry for making personal comments on their own Facebook page like Tor did. You get escalation. So I’m honestly having a hard time feeling sorry for Tor Books here; it was as predictable a piece of politics as one can imagine. And I’m not just saying that in retrospect; I said so at the time.

Now mind you, this “boycott” is pretty must sad-trumpet amateur hour for several reasons, not the least is probable inability to make visible economic impact. As Vox himself admitted, he hasn’t bought anything from Tor in years, and I doubt all that many of the others who are going to sign on to this thing have either. A few, sure, absolutely – with the hilarious side-effect that means the writers they might be able to hurt are the ones on their side.

 

 

 

Patri Friedman

[Seasteader, son of David, grandson of Milton…]

“Being intolerant of people you don’t like because they’re intolerant” – June 18

So, there is some kerfluffle about Tor books, because one of their employees (Irene Gallo) said on her personal Facebook page that the sad puppies (conservatives fighting a culture war to make SF less SJW-influenced) were racist, homophobic, neo-nazis. Sad puppy supporters like SF author Peter Grant, who has literally exchanged gunfire with neo-nazis in South Africa were understandably outraged at this characterization. And (not so understandably, to me) calling for firing/resignation/public abasement of these employees. Which is where I have a problem. This sounds a lot like:

“Your business must publicly apologize for the hateful speech of your employee which has offended a small minority of listeners by publicly abasing yourselves, and promising not to do it again. This will show the world that hate cannot be tolerated; the strong cannot abuse the weak; and (incidentally) that our tribe is powerful and can grind your tribe under our boot if you dare offend us.”

Which is what anti-SJWers complain about the left doing. Sorry guys, but it’s bad when SJWs do it; and it’s bad when anti-SJWs do it, because, well, it’s bad. As I’ve previously posted, ideological diversity is important, and ideological intolerance is the enemy of ideological diversity and the progress that comes from having many opinions and beliefs working in parallel. Making people suffer professionally for their personal political opinions is stellar example of harmful ideological intolerance.

 

Allan Thomas on LewRockwell.com

“The High Church of Science Fiction and Tor” – June 19

I had heard, from several reliable sources, that it was next to impossible for a libertarian science fiction writer to break into the field.  I absolutely refused to pretend to be non-libertarian just to get published, and so I followed Larry Correia’s Sad Puppies campaign with interest.  Brad Torgerson and Vox Day were able to gather a core following of 360 voters and completely sweep the Hugo award nominations.  Yes, it only took 360 science fiction fans to completely overwhelm the existing system.

The fallout from that event still has not settled, and the awards won’t even be announced until August.  But the reaction makes it obvious that there is a sizable percentage of science fiction fandom that is “not satisfied with the products and services being offered.” Entrepreneurs have a name for this situation–”market opportunity.”

However, to date, it appears that only Castallia House is focused on providing science fiction for this segment of the market; they have even signed a new deal with legendary writer Jerry Pournelle.

For their part, Tor Books seems content to continue to ignore this dissatisfied segment of science fiction fandom.  And, in fact, Tor employees are content to insult them.

 

Steven Saus on ideatrash

“The Topical Changes In Science Fiction And Fantasy Has Nothing To Do WIth Sad Or Rabid Puppies” – June 18

The change in science fiction and fantasy over the last sixty years little to do with politics, and a lot more to do (ironically) with technology.

The current state of sf (science fiction) and f (fantasy) has a small vocal portion of its readership bemoaning the loss of “traditional” science fiction and fantasy. An oft-repeated quote is paraphrased as “Back in the day, when you bought a book with an astronaut on the cover, you knew what you were getting.”

The historical accuracy of this impression, like much nostalgia, is debatable. But more importantly, it is irrelevant.

To understand why, we must look to the Ferris Wheel….

 

Amanda S. Green on Nocturnal Lives

“Time to take a deep breath, stop and think” – June 18

… I’m going to part with one last comment. When I was growing up, I loved SF/F because there was a place for everyone, at least that is the way it seemed. Looking at it now, it feels like a house divided where those on the inside are doing their best to bar the door to everyone else, including a large faction of the reading public. That has got to stop and now.

 

L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright interviews Mike Flynn on Superversive SF

”Interview with Hugo Nominated Author: Mike Flynn!” – June 18

7) How did you come up with the idea for your current nominated story?

A supporting character in Up Jim River had a backstory in which he had journeyed across the face of his home world before making contact with an interstellar trade ship. That gave me the notion of telling his story. The idea is that as he travels east he encounters progressively more technologically advanced cultures. “In the Stone House” was the second of these stories and was originally was the first half of a longer story the second half of which (“Against the Green”) appeared in the succeeding issue of ANALOG.

 

Sarah A. Hoyt on According To Hoyt

“Of Pigs, Fights and Life” – June 18

When I said that I couldn’t mention the letters “H-u-g- and o” in the same paragraph without getting linked, I was right.  Or I might not mention the Hugos at all, or only in passing on the last paragraph.  But if the post supports the narrative the puppy-kickers are building, sure as shooting it will get linked.  Like my post about a new Golden Age, which got linked because in their blinkered little minds we’re calling for pulp.  (Sometimes one wonders about the minds that build this narrative.  You are aware someone who grew up on pulp would be 100, right?  You are aware that Heinlein not only wasn’t pulp, but was in many ways the anti-pulp.  I mean, I read Burroughs, but mostly Tarzan, and it wasn’t my favorite.  I read him because grandad had him, so I read him by 5 or 6.  Books were expensive and we had those. But his technique was outdated by then.)

But it supported the narrative, so it got linked.  The same way that its subsequent “Oh, for the love of frack, no one wants pulp” follow up wasn’t.  The same way my friend Sanford’s post over at Otherwhere Gazette, exploding their nonsense wasn’t.  The same way my post pointing out that I felt they were linking me to homophobia and how stupid this was wasn’t.

Oh, it’s very carefully done.  There is an image being built, and he links to those posts that support it.  Then when caught it’s not his fault and he can’t control his commenters, and he can’t see everything.

And, as I said, I have been conversant with these techniques since dealing with the cobbler’s son next door, while growing up.  (Weirdly he didn’t become a communist politician, and has instead racked up several jail terms.)

So Mike Glyer is smarter than the average bear, and much better at Alinsky techniques, and I’m an idiot to fall for them and come out swinging, which meant I had a spanking coming.

 

Tim Atkinson on Magpie Moth

“Kevin J Anderson’s The Dark Between The Stars: control, not mastery” – June 18

I also hadn’t realised – according to Wikipedia – that KJA has written more than 50 best-sellers. It’s easy to be sniffy about writers who tend to work in already established universes, but you don’t keep getting those gigs unless you are good at what you do.

So, before I talk you through The Dark Between The Stars, it’s hats off to an author doing very well for himself at the commercial end of the market.

Dark is more of what Anderson does – space opera on an epic scale – only in a sandbox of his own devising to play in. And what an elaborate, detailed, techno-baroque sandbox it is too, taking in psychic empires, gas giant mining, insectoid robot, gestalt forests, plague collectors and colours from out of spaaaaaaaaaace.

This world-bling – to borrow a phrase from China Mieville – is one of two main admirable qualities the novel has, the other being the plotting. Anderson juggles a huge cast and multiple plot-lines without breaking a sweat, like the hugely experienced pro he is.

But I’m essentially praising Dark as a feat of literary engineering rather than as a novel. These are virtues of control rather than mastery. The array of characters I found unengaging and rather one-dimensional, the action curiously flat. And the sheer size of the book and number of stories spreads Anderson too thinly, so that no single thread truly breathes in its own right.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“The Deaths of Tao (The Lives of Tao #2), by Wesley Chu” – June 18

Wesley Chu is a nominee for the 2015 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

…All in all, I nearly bounced off this book.

And then, thirty or forty pages in, the characters started to matter to me, and their problems became interesting, and a bit further in, I stopped caring that this is a story type I normally find really dumb and annoying. What can you do? I kept reading. Best New Writer? That seems a fair conclusion, even with the slates this year having possibly kept other good candidates off the ballot….

 

Melina D on Subversive Reader

“Hugos 2015 Reading: Novellas” – June 18

[Reviews all five nominated novellas.]

So today I got the Hugo Packet and decided I would start to read some of the fiction. I haven’t completely decided how I’m going to arrange my votes around the slate, but I was curious about why certain fiction was chosen to be part of the Sad/Rabid Puppy slate. I gave myself permission to give up on short fiction after at least 6 pages if I wanted to. But when I began reading the novellas, I started to get angry. Really bloody angry. So, of course, I decided to blog about them.

The novella category is one of those which was completely stacked by the puppies. I was expecting fiction which wasn’t my usual cup of tea, but still well written examples of fiction I might not usually choose to read. But, honestly, the writing was shit. I’m going to go into more detail on each of the novellas, but 4 out of the 5 of them shouldn’t have been published with such low quality of writing. The 5th was competent – which was a relief – but nowhere near award nomination quality….

 

Joe Sherry on Adventures In Reading

“Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Novelette” – June 18

The best of the bunch here is Rajnar Vajra’s “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”, though I’m really not sure what the “Golden Age” part of it is all about. Is it a suggestion that the story harkens back to the golden age of science fiction or is it part of a larger Golden Age milieu that Vajra is working in. If the second, I can’t find any other Golden Age tales. Regardless, “The Triple Sun” is a story with some space exploration, adventure, sass, and all in all good fun.

My Vote

1. The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale
2. Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium
3. Championship B’Tok
4. The Day the World Turned Upside Down
5. No Award
6. The Journeyman: In the Stone House

A Heinlein Roundup

Stories of news and history about Robert A. Heinlein.

(1) Keith G. Kato, President of The Heinlein Society, tells the future of the Heinlein bust destined to be installed in the Hall of Famous Missourians.

I was going to send you the news that THS has met its fundraising goal on the Heinlein statuary, thanks to super-donor Jeb Kinnison and the matching grant from the Heinlein Prize Trust, when I see you have already posted the story!

Let me add a followup that THS will attempt to get the Heinlein exhibit on loan to the 2016 MidAmeriCon 2 Worldcon for display; we are examining transportation and insurance costs, and need some understanding from the concom about security arrangements.  We are also considering sequencing the timing of the sculpture etc. so that we can do the Worldcon exhibit first, then trek the 160 miles from Kansas City to Jefferson City for the official Induction Ceremony after Big Mac 2.  That would allow more Heinleiners to attend the Ceremony.

This went a lot faster than I thought, and Kinnison cited File 770 as his primary source of information.  Thanks to you for your help and support.

Jeb Kinnison adds:

Let no one say that nothing good came of the Puppy War. 🙂

Heinlein Society logo(2) The Heinlein Society has also called for help in wording the plaque that will be part of the installation.

Remembering that you have to count the spaces and punctuation marks as well, what you get from looking at [Mark] Twain’s is 965 total characters, We’ve been advised that probably 1,100 total characters is the practical limit.

So, we are hereby soliciting “Heinlein’s Children” for the suggested wording to be used on Robert’s plaque. We won’t pay you (except with “Thanks!”), we reserve the right to mix and match bits and pieces from several contributions, and to the degree we can remember we will acknowledge who we took bits and pieces from on our website once we settle on the final wording.

Which parts of Robert’s career would you choose to highlight?

…Please submit all suggested wordings (remember, 1,100 total characters tops, including all spaces and punctuation marks) to secretary@heinleinsociety.org.

The deadline is August 1.

(3) Photos of Robert and Leslyn Heinlein in the early 1940s housed at GeneralSemantics.org.

(4) Photos of all three of Heinlein’s wives here, from Spider Robinson’s website.

(4) Earlier this month two bloggers defended Heinlein against accusations of misogyny.

Cedar Sanderson – “Gold Plated Misogynist”

Clearly those who are still  flinging mud have slipped dreamlessly into a delusion so deep they might never be able to get back out again. When the woman who had first made the titular accusation was questioned by multiple voices in startlement, she finally admitted that she knew it to be so, because she had read it in Asimov’s biography. Wait a minute, was my reply, you mean that man that Eric Leif Davin in his recent book Partners in Wonder wrote this about? ” Isaac Asimov is on record for stating that male fans didn’t want females invading their space.  According to the letter columns of the time, it seems that the only fan who held that opinion was… Isaac Asimov.  A number of males fans welcomed their female counterparts.  As did the editors, something Davin goes to great lengths to document.” (You can read more on the women that other women ignore here at Keith West’s blog) So this woman has taken a known misogynist’s claim that another man is a misogynist without questioning and swallowed it whole.

Sarah A. Hoyt – “Glamor and Fairy Gold” – June 2

My friend Cedar, today, posted about one of those lies that “everybody knows” and that are absolutely not true. Not only not true, but risible on their face. The lie is that Heinlein was a misogynist, which is not only a lie but a whole construct, an artifact of lies. And one that humans, nonetheless seem to buy wholesale…..

I run into this again and again. In a panel, once, questioning accusations of misogyny directed at Heinlein I got back “Well, obviously he was. His women wear aprons.” I then got really cold and explained that in Portugal, growing up, when clothes were expensive (how expensive. People stole the wash from the line. Imagine that happening here. People stealing clothes. Just clothes. Not designers, not leather, just clothes, including much-washed-and-mended pajamas.) we always wore aprons in the kitchen. And Heinlein was writing when clothes were way more expensive, relatively. (I buy my clothes at thrift stores. So unless it’s a favorite pair of jeans or something, I don’t wear aprons.) The difference is not “putting women in their place.” The difference is the cost of clothes.

And this is why I don’t get put on the “Heinlein, threat or menace” panels any more.

But 90% of the women who make the accusation that Heinlein hated women or couldn’t write women have never read him. They’ve just heard it repeated by people with “authority.” The cool kids. And so they can’t be reasoned out of this assumption, because it’s not an assumption. It’s glamor. (The other ten percent, usually, were primed to think he was a misogynist and read the beginning of a book and didn’t “get” some inside joke. Like, you know, the getting married after a tango. Which was pure fan fodder. They wouldn’t have thought anything of it if they hadn’t been primed. But they’d been primed. They were under a glamor to see what wasn’t there.)