Pixel Scroll 5/8/16 The Pixelshop of Isher

(1) CHINESE NEBULA AWARDS. Regina Kanyu Wang, linking to the Chinese-language announcement, informed Facebook readers about three people who will be guests at the Chinese Nebula Awards this year: Worldcon 75 co-chair Crystal Huff, SFWA President Cat Rambo and Japanese sf writer Taiyo Fuji.

Crystal Huff responded:

I am so very honored and pleased to reveal what I’ve been quietly psyched about for a while now:… I am thrilled to go to China for my first ever visit, and meet new friends in Beijing and Shanghai! So thrilled!

Cat Rambo told File 770 she’s more than excited about the trip:

I am super!! stoked!! about it and have been spending the last month and half trying to pick up a little conversational Mandarin. Post Beijing, another Chinese SF organization is taking me to Chengdu for a similar ceremony involving SFF film awards. This trip is – next to being able to tell Carolyn Cherryh she was a SFWA grandmaster — one of the biggest thrills of being SFWA president I’ve experienced so far, and I’m looking forward to getting to know the Chinese publishing scene a bit better in a way that benefits SFWA and its members.

(2) ANIME EXPO HARASSMENT POLICY. Sean O’Hara reported in a comment, “Anime Expo just went hardcore with a new Youth Protection program that requires all employees, volunteers, vendors and panelists to submit to a criminal background check and take an online courses.”

Read the policy here [PDF file].

SPJA Youth Protection Policy

  1. Purpose and Goals

The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA) recognizes the importance of protecting youth participants in SPJA events and activities, including online activities. SPJA has adopted a zero tolerance policy with regard to actions or behaviors that threaten the safety of young people, including violence, bullying, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other inappropriate or potentially harmful actions or behaviors. SPJA views the safety and security of all participants—especially young people— as a top priority.

All participants at SPJA events and activities (including online activities) are encouraged to report any unsafe or inappropriate behaviors, conditions, or circumstances, including any violation of this Youth Protection Policy or violation of any other policy or rule intended to promote a safe environment….

(3) LIVING HISTORY. Ted White, the Hugo-winning fanwriter, pro, and former editor of Amazing, was interviewed for his local paper, the Falls Church News-Press, on May 6 – “F.C.’s Ted White Reflects on Comics, Sci-Fi and the Little City”. The reporter asked about his interests in sf, jazz, writing, and comics.

N-P: How were you introduced to comic books?

White: They were there. I found them. I mean, I can’t remember what the first comic book I ever saw was but it was probably one that one of the neighborhood kids had and it very likely didn’t even have a cover….We’re talking the war years, the ‘40s, early on [and] comic books just sort of passed from hand-to-hand. It was a long time before I bought my first comic book.

There’s an interesting story involved in all of this….One day, I think it was between the first and second grade, the summer, and…Madison had a swimming program for the summer.

And I would walk over to the school, which was a mile away but it didn’t matter because I used to walk everywhere, at a certain time in the morning and join up with a motley crew of other kids and be taken into Washington, D.C. to 14th and K Streets where there was the Statler Hotel….At the end of that we were brought back to Madison and it was time for me to walk home.

But I didn’t walk directly home. For some strange reason I followed N. Washington Street north…I’m not sure where I was headed to but north of Columbia Street there is a bank that used to be a Safeway, a tiny Safeway…and I’m walking in that direction and I’m almost opposite that Safeway when I meet a friend of mine who is pushing his bicycle up the sidewalk…and in the basket of his bicycle he has several comic books.

And we stopped and we talked and he showed me the comic books and I don’t know how I did it, but I talked him out of them and he gave them to me and one of them was an issue of Wonder Woman.

Now I had never seen Wonder Woman before – this was a brand new comic book to me. And it was strange. The art was strange…it was almost Rococo and the writing was even stranger….I started reading this comic book as I was coming along Columbia Street to Tuckahoe and I’m just sort of very slowly walking, reading intensely. It would be the equivalent of someone obliviously reading their cell phone while walking down a sidewalk….I was about halfway home when I look up and I see my mother rapidly approaching and she does not have a happy look on her face.

I am hours late because I’ve been spending all my time dawdling, reading comic books. And my mother took the comic books out of my hand and took the ratty dozen or so that I already had, most of them coverless, and took them out to our incinerator and burned them all.

This profoundly upset me but it also changed me. I was six or seven then, and I decided two things which I was happy to share with my mother. One of them was that she was never ever going to destroy anything of mine again and she never did….and the other thing it did was make me into a collector…from that point on I became a comic book collector…and by time I was in high school…I was written up in a newspaper called the Washington News as the boy with 10,000 comic books.

(4) SF DRAMEDY. Seth MacFarlane will do an sf comedy/drama series reports Collider.

Between Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show, prolific writer/producer/voice actor Seth MacFarlane has voiced a lot of characters on television and created even more, but now he’s heading into the live-action realm for his next TV series.

Fox announced today that MacFarlane is developing a new, though still untitled comedic drama for the network for which he’ll executive produce and star based off a script he wrote. Here’s what we know: the series will consist of 13 hourlong episodes and takes place 300 years in the future where the crew of the Orville, “a not-so-top-of-the-line exploratory ship in Earth’s interstellar Fleet,” deal with cosmic challenges on their adventures.

(5) MARKET OPENS. Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-speculation edited by Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Wieland, which was funded by a Kickstarter appeal, now is open for submissions.

Submissions for fiction and poetry are open until June 4th. Submissions for line art and coloring pages are open until June 30th.

We want this anthology to reach outside Western and Anglophone traditions of speculative fiction, showcasing the way environment and environmental issues are talked about and perceived in all parts of the world. We encourage and welcome submissions from diverse voices and under-represented populations, including, but not limited to, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, those with disabilities, and the elderly. Authors of all walks of life should feel encouraged to send us stories and poems celebrating these diverse characters and settings all around us.

(6) NO SH!T. Here’s some more good news — the No Sh!t, There I Was – An Anthology of Improbable Tales Kickstarter has funded, reaching its $8,500 goal. The anthology is edited by Rachael Acks.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

(8) SELECTIVE QUOTE. A responsible blogger would have chosen a tweet about the writer’s Amazon sales, his con appearances, or his charitable causes. But noooo…!

(8) YOUR BARTENDER. Marko Kloos shares his recipe for “frontlines: the cocktail”.

Just in time for the upcoming Manticon (where I will be Guest of Honor), I present to you the first Frontlines-themed cocktail: the Shockfrost.

Those of you who have read ANGLES OF ATTACK will know that the Shockfrost is featured in the novel as the specialty of the bars on the ice moon New Svalbard, and that it’s supposed to pack quite a punch. Andrew mentions the look (blue) and the flavors of the drink when he tries one for the first time (notes of licorice, mint, and God-knows-what-else). So I made a trip to the liquor store for ingredients and experimented with the flavors a bit to create a real-world replica….

(9) A SMASHING TIME. The Traveler at Galactic Journey reviews a monster movie: “[May 8, 1961] Imitation is… (Gorgo)”.

…Is it art for the ages?  Absolutely not.  Though there is some morality tacked on, mostly of the “humanity mustn’t think itself the master of nature” sort of thing, it’s an afterthought.  Characterization is similarly abandoned around the halfway mark.  This is no Godzilla — it is knocking over of toy cities for the fun of it.

At that, it succeeds quite well.  Gorgo makes liberal and reasonably facile use of stock footage (though the planes all inexplicably bear United States markings!) The cinematography is well composed, the color bright, the screen wide.  The acting is serviceable, and for anyone who wants to see what London looks like in this modern year of 1961, there are lots of great shots, both pre and post-destruction…

(10) INTERPRETING AN ICON. In “Captain America and Progressive Infantilization” Jeb Kinnison replies to Amanda Marcotte’s widely-read post about Cap.

…In her piece, “Captain America’s a douchey libertarian now: Why did Marvel have to ruin Steve Rogers?”, Marcotte is upset because the Cap didn’t knuckle under to “reasonable, common-sense” restrictions on his freedom to act for good. It’s not worth a detailed fisking — generating clickbait articles for a living doesn’t allow much time for careful writing — but she does reveal the mindset of those who believe every decision should be made by a committee of the select. The “unregulated” and “uncontrolled” are too dangerous to tolerate. Some key bits:

Steve Rogers is an icon of liberal patriotism, and his newest movie turns him into an Ayn Rand acolyte…

Most corporate blockbuster movies would cave into the temptation to make the character some kind of generic, apolitical “patriot,” abandoning the comic tradition that has painted him as a New Deal Democrat standing up consistently for liberal values. Instead, in both the first movie and in “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” we get Steve the liberal: Anti-racist, anti-sexist, valuing transparency in government and his belief that we the people should hold power instead of some unaccountable tyrants who believe might makes right.

Steve is All-American, so he is classically liberal: believing in the rule of law, equality of opportunity, and freedom to do anything that doesn’t step on someone else’s rights and freedoms. Amanda does not believe in individual freedom — she believes in “freedom,” approved by committee, with individual achievement subordinated to identity politics aiming at equality of outcome. No one should be free to judge the morality of a situation and act without lobbying others to achieve a majority and gaining approval of people like her….

(11) AN ORIGINAL MAD MAN. Ben Yakas, an interviewer for Gothamist, spent some time “Hanging With Al Jaffee, MAD Magazine’s 95-Year-Old Journeyman Cartoonist”.

His career took off in earnest in the early 1940s, initially while he was still in the Army. He taught wounded airmen how to do figure drawing at a hospital in Coral Gables, Florida, then was recruited by the Pentagon to create posters, illustrated pamphlets, and exercise pieces for soldiers in hospitals around the country. Once he was discharged, he worked at Timely Comics and Atlas Comics (precursors of Marvel Comics) with his first boss, Stan Lee. “He had been discharged from the military and took over from a substitute editor,” Jaffee said. “He said, ‘Oh, come ahead.’ He even wrote a letter to tell them that I had a job to go to so they favored my release. That’s how my career really got going.”

Jaffee explained his unusual working relationship with Lee, whom he first met when he was just 20 years old: “Usually in the comic book business, someone writes a script, an artist is called in, the artist shows pencils, and if the pencils are approved, the artist is told to finish with ink,” he said. “Each step is edited by the editor who approves of each stage. I didn’t have that with Stan Lee. He and I apparently hit it off so well that he just told me, ‘Go ahead and write it, pencil it, and ink it and bring it in.’ It was never rejected. I was very fortunate because it was so smooth working and we enjoyed each other’s company and he was a very, very bubbling with ideas kind of guy.”

That loose set-up turned out to be the norm for Jaffee throughout his career, even as he left Lee and ventured out into the uncertain world of freelancing: “We were responsible for our own income and upkeep. What you do is you wake up every Monday morning and you say, ‘What am I going to produce now to make a buck?'”

(12) AUDIO TINGLES. Starburst’s The BookWorm Podcast hosted by Ed Fortune enters the Hugos debate. Mostly by laughing: “Enter the Voxman”.

Ed reviews Star Wars Bloodline by Claudia Gray and Ninfa returns to review Victoria Avayard’s The Glass Sword. Extended chatter about the awards season and the usual silliness.

(13) SHORT SF VIDEO. Hampus Eckerman says, “This nice little gem became available on Youtube just a few days ago:”

The Nostalgist A Sci-fi Short Based on a Story From the Author of Robopocalypse

In the futuristic city of Vanille, with properly tuned ImmerSyst Eyes & Ears the world can look and sound like a paradise. But the life of a father and his young son threatens to disintegrate when the father’s device begins to fail. Desperate to avoid facing his traumatic reality, the man must venture outside to find a replacement, into a city where violence and danger lurk beneath a beautiful but fragile veneer…

 

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Sean O’Hara, Paul Weimer, Michael J. Walsh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Doctor Science.]

Pixel Scroll 4/18/16 It’s Better To Pixel Out, Than To Scroll Away

(1) WHILE YOU WERE WAITING. Ann Leckie must be wondering if any of us are paying attention.

Quite frequently someone at a reading will ask me if I’ll ever explain about that icon Breq is carrying. And the answer is, I already have.

(2) JUST SAY THANKS. Joe Vasicek has some intriguing “Thoughts on series and perma-free”.

For the last five years, the conventional wisdom among most indie writers has been to write short books in sequential series and make the first book permanently free. It’s a strategy that works, to a certain extent. It’s what got me from making pizza money on my book sales to making a humble living at this gig. However, I’m starting to question that wisdom….

….Also, when you have a book that’s permanently free, it tends to accumulate a lot of negative reviews. It’s strange, but some people seem to feel more entitled to XYZ when they get it for free, as opposed to paying for it. Or maybe these are the people who try to go through life without actually paying for anything? Who hoard everything, even the stuff that they hate, so long as they can get it for free? I don’t know.

Certainly, that’s not true of everyone who reads free books. But when you have a perma-free book, it tends to accumulate more of the barely-coherent “dis buk sux” kinds of reviews from people who probably weren’t in the target audience to begin with. And over time, that tends to weigh the book’s overall rating down, which unfortunately can be a turn-off for people who are in the book’s audience.

(3) TIPTREE AUCTION. Here’s an advance look at an item in the Tiptree Auction at WisCon.

On Saturday, May 28, fans of the Tiptree Award will have the opportunity to bid on a genuine blaster that was once the sidearm of Space Babe, a legendary feminist superhero. (Blaster is modeled here by a Space Babe impersonator). This rare item will be part of the annual Tiptree Award Auction, to be held at at WisCon in Madison Wisconsin….

 

Blaster-wielding Jeanne Gomoll.

Blaster-wielding Jeanne Gomoll.

(4) MANCUNICON. Starburst brings you Ed Fortune’s 2016 Eastercon report.

Event highlights included interviews with the Guest of Honour John W. Campbell Award-winning novelist Aliette de Bodard, Hugo Award-winning author Ian McDonald, British Fantasy Award-winning creator Sarah Pinborough, and noted astrophysicist David L. Clement. Each drew a huge crowd, and coloured the event in their own unique way. Notably, Clement spearheaded a science-heavy approach to many of the panel items, and many of the talks centred on science and Manchester’s iconic research centre, Jodrell Bank. The iconic building, which has inspired many works of science fiction throughout its history, was thoroughly explored in many talks and lectures.

(5) NUMBER FIVE. Nina Munteanu, at Amazing Stories, continues the series — “The Writer-Editor Relationship, Part 2: Five Things Writers Wish Editors Knew – and Followed”.

  1. Edit to preserve the writer’s voice through open and respectful dialogue

Losing your voice to the “hackings of an editor” is perhaps a beginner writer’s greatest fear. This makes sense, given that a novice writer’s voice is still in its infancy; it is tentative, evolving, and striving for an identity. While a professional editor is not likely to “hack,” the fear may remain well-founded.

A novice’s voice is often tangled and enmeshed in a chaos of poor narrative style, grammatical errors, and a general misunderstanding of the English language. Editors trying to improve a novice writer’s narrative flow without interfering with voice are faced with a challenge. Teasing out the nuances of creative intent amid the turbulent flow of awkward and obscure expression requires finesse—and consideration. Good editors recognize that every writer has a voice, no matter how weak or ill-formed, and that voice is the culmination of a writer’s culture, beliefs, and experiences. Editing to preserve a writer’s voice—particularly when it is weak and not fully formed—needs a “soft touch” that invites more back-and-forth than usual, uses more coaching-style language, and relies on good feedback….

(6) KELLY LINK. Marion Deeds picked the right day to post a review of a Kelly Link story from Get in Trouble at Fantasy Literature.

“The Summer People” by Kelly Link (February 2016, free online at Wall Street Journal, also included in her anthology Get in Trouble)

“The Summer People” is the first story in Kelly Link’s new story collection Get in Trouble. Fran is a teenager living in a rural part of the American southeast. Her mother is gone, and she is neglected by her moonshiner father. While Fran is running a fever of 102 with the flu, her father informs her that he has to go “get right with God.” On his way out the door, he reminds her that one of the summer families is coming up early and she needs to get the house ready. However, that family isn’t the only group of summer people that Fran “does for,” and this is the point of Link’s exquisite, melancholy tale.

(7) HE’S FROM THE FUTURE. While Doctor Who can travel to anyplace and nearly any point in time, he invariably ends up in London. The Traveler at Galactic Journey seems likewise constrained always to arrive at the same opinion of John W. Campbell, although his fellow fans voted Analog a Hugo for this year’s work — “[April 18, 1961] Starting on the wrong foot”.

Gideon Marcus, age 42, lord of Galactic Journey, surveyed the proud column that was his creation.  Three years in the making, it represented the very best that old Terra had to offer.  He knew, with complete unironic sincerity, that the sublimity of his articles did much to keep the lesser writers in check, lest they develop sufficient confidence to challenge Gideon’s primacy.  This man, this noble-visaged, pale-skinned man, possibly Earth’s finest writer, knew without a doubt that this was the way to begin all of his stories…

…if he wants to be published in Analog, anyway.

(8) ON MILITARY SF. SFFWorld interviews Christopher Nuttall.

Christopher Nuttall’s Their Darkest Hour has just been released as part of the Empire at War collection where four British Science Fiction authors have joined forces to show the world that British Military Science Fiction is a force to be reckoned with….

So what is different with British Military SF? Obviously in Their Darkest Hour you have the UK setting that probably will be more familiar to a Europeans than Americans, but do you also think there are other aspects where British authors are able to bring something different and unique to military SF? 

I think that’s a hard question to answer.

There is, if you will, a cultural difference between American MIL-SF (and military in general) and British MIL-SF.  Many American military characters (in, say, John Ringo’s work) are very forward, very blunt … I’d go so far as to say that most of them are thoroughly bombastic.  Think a Drill Instructor screaming in your face.  While a great many British characters are often calm, competent and basically just get the job done.  We’re not as outwardly enthusiastic as the Americans; we’re more gritty endurance, stiff upper lip and just keep going until we win.

To some extent, I think that comes from our differing experiences.  The Americans are staggeringly rich and, even as early as their civil war, had little trouble keeping their troops supplied.  Britain, particularly in the years after 1919, had very real problems making ends meet, let alone keeping the troops supplied.  We operate on a shoestring and know it.  The Falklands was our most successful war in years, yet it was a very close run thing.  We simply cannot afford to be as blatant as the Americans.

I think that is reflected in our SF too.  Independence Day was followed by Invasion: Earth, a six-episode TV series set in Britain.  Independence Day is blatant; the enemy is clearly visible, merely overwhelmingly powerful.  Invasion: Earth has an enemy who hides in the shadows, at least up until the final episode.  They both represent, too, a very different set of fears.

(9) OVER THE EDGE OF HISTORY. Jeff Somers considers “6 Historical Fiction Novels That Are Almost Fantasy” at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

Hild, by Nicola Griffith Set in the so-called “Dark Ages,” after Rome abandoned Britain but before the squabbling kingdoms and tribes were unified under one crown, Griffith’s novel tells the true story of the Christian saint Hild, who would become Saint Hilda of Whitby, patron saint of learning. In 7th century Britain, she is the 6-year old niece of King Edwin of Northumbria, and becomes his seer and mystic upon arrival at his court. The reality of otherworldly forces is taken for granted as real in this brutal, violent land, and Griffith plays with the concept expertly as Hild becomes increasingly masterful at sniffing out plots and advising her uncle in ways that often seem magical. Anyone who has been awed by a brilliant mind’s ability to perceive what most cannot will witness that superpower at work in Hild, one of the most complex and deeply-drawn characters to ever appear in a novel—historical, fantasy, or otherwise.

(10) AN OP-ED. David Dubrow, in “David A Riley and the HWA”, criticizes how Horror Writers of America handled the recent controversy. And he’s announced he’ll be publishing an interview with Riley about it.

At times it’s interesting to get under the hood of the writing business and see how the sausage is made, to mix cliched metaphors. This issue happens to concern horror writers, so it has particular meaning for me at this time.

In short, an English horror author named David A Riley was set to be on the jury for the anthology segment of the upcoming Bram Stoker Awards. As it turns out, Riley was once a member of a far-right, nationalist political party in the UK called the National Front. A Tumblr blog was created to curate some of Riley’s online commentary, titled David Andrew Riley Is a Fascist. Wikipedia’s entry on National Front can be found here.

When outraged members protested Riley’s appointment to the jury, Horror Writers Association President Lisa Morton issued a tepid statement on Facebook that satisfied nobody. As is so often the case, the most arresting thing wasn’t the statement, but the ensuing discussion. Three distinct elements stood out and are worth examination….

Second, the thread has really big buts. The biggest but is, of course, “I believe in free speech, but…” A clever reader always ignores everything before the but in any statement containing a but. Anyone who puts his big but into the free speech discussion is not on the side of free speech, but is actually in favor of criminalizing speech he finds offensive (see what I did there?). As someone who worked at the bleeding edge of First (and Second) Amendment issues in publishing for over thirteen years, I find the big buts disturbing, but they’re there, and they stink like hell….

(11) THE FIRST RULE OF CHICXULUB. According to the BBC, this is “What really happened when the ‘dino killer’ asteroid struck”.

Where armies of trees once stretched skywards, seemingly escaping from the thickets of ferns and shrubs that clawed at their roots, only scorched trunks remain. Instead of the incessant hum of insect chatter blotting out the sound of ponderous giant dinosaurs, only the occasional flurry of wind pierces the silence. Darkness rules: the rich blues and greens, and occasional yellows and reds that danced in the Sun’s rays have all been wiped out.

This is Earth after a six-mile-wide asteroid smashed into it 66 million years ago.

“In the course of minutes to hours it went from this lush, vibrant world to just absolute silence and nothing,” says Daniel Durda, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado. “Especially in the thousands of square miles around the impact site, the slate was just wiped clean.”

Much like putting in all the edge pieces of a jigsaw, scientists have outlined the lasting impacts of the meteor strike. It claimed the lives of more than three-quarters of the animal and plant species on Earth. The most famous casualties were the dinosaurs – although in fact many of them survived in the form of birds….

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born April 18, 1976 — Melissa Joan Hart. She’s not a teenaged witch anymore.

(13) THE STARLOST. Created then disowned by Harlan Ellison, the 1970s series The Starlost can be seen here on YouTube. The link takes you to the entire series for Starlost (16 episodes plus the “sales pitch.”)

Complaining about how the show was dumbed down from the original concept, Ellison took his name off the credits and substituted his Writers Guild alias Cordwainer Bird.

(14) DUTCH TREATS. Wim Crusio reminisces about conversations with writers at the 1990 Worldcon, in “Writing science, writing fiction (I)”.

Synopsis: Whether writing a good novel or a killer scientific article, the process is much the same: What scientists can learn from science fiction authors…

Many years ago, back in 1990, I attended my first Science Fiction Worldcon, called “ConFiction“, in The Hague. An interesting feature that year was the “Dutch Treat”. One could sign up with a group of about 10 people and invite a science fiction writer for lunch and talk with them in that small circle. To me, these “treats” were the highlights of that particular meeting. I did as many of them as I could and have fond memories of speaking with John Brunner, Harry Harrison (a Guest of Honor, accompanied by his charming wife, Joan), Fred Pohl, Brian Aldiss, and Bob Shaw (I think that’s all of them, but I am writing this from memory, so I may have forgotten one). Of course, these conversations spanned many topics and I was not the only participant, but at some point or another I managed to pose the same question to each of them, namely: how do you write a story (be it a short story or a novel in multiple parts). Do you just start, do you write some parts first and only continue when you’re completely done with revising them, or something else entirely?

(15) REJECTION. Editor Sigrid Ellis’ post “On handling publishing rejection” tells things that can’t really be said in rejection letters. Some of them would be encouraging to writers!

Speaking from my work as a short fiction editor, I can 100% genuinely assure you — sometimes your story is fantastic, it’s just not what that venue needs at that time.

I hated writing those rejections. I knew that the writers would take them as a sign that the story wasn’t any good, no matter how much I tried to say “I swear to GOD it’s not you, it’s us! We just need something lighter/darker/fantasy/sf this month I SWEAR!!!”

Of course authors take that hard. Because — and here’s the secret — the generic blow-off letter is very similar to a genuine, personal rejection. That similarity is on PURPOSE. It permits everyone to save face. It allows everyone to walk away, dignity intact. But, then, if you get a personal rejection, you understandably might wonder if this is just the blow-off.

I know. It’s hard, and I know.

But here’s what I always wanted every author to do when they received a rejection, whether standard or personalized…..

(16) STRICTLY ROMANCE. The first romance-only bookstore starts in LA. (Strictly speaking, The Ripped Bodice is in Culver City.)

Romance novels are a billion dollar industry, vastly outselling science fiction, mystery and literary books.

And there’s only one rule for writing a romance – it has to have a happy ending.

Yet the romance genre has long been dismissed as smut or trashy by many in, and out, of the publishing world – a fact that mystifies sisters Bea and Leah Koch, who last month opened the US’s first exclusively romantic fiction bookstore.

Their shop in Los Angeles is called The Ripped Bodice, and the store’s motto is “smart girls read romance”.

(17) DEFINING X. They say it’s the intersection of politics and Marvel comics: “A People’s History of the Marvel Universe, Week 9: The Mutant Metaphor (Part I)” at Lawyers, Guns & Money.

A lot of people have discussed the manifold ways in which the “mutant metaphor” is problematic, but what I’m going to argue in this issue is that a big part of the problem with the “mutant metaphor” is that it wasn’t clearly defined from the outset, in part because it wasn’t anywhere close to the dominant thread of X-Men comics.[i] While always an element of the original run, as much time was spent on fighting giant Kirby robots or stopping the likes of Count Nefaria from encasing Washington D.C in a giant crystal bubble. And this was always problematic, because in the shared Marvel Universe, you need to explain why it is that the X-Men are “feared and hated” and must hide beneath the façade of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in Westchester, whereas the Avengers and the Fantastic Four were treated as celebrities and could live openly on Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue, respectively.

So what did the “mutant” metaphor mean initially?

One of the best ways to understand how the “mutant metaphor” was originally understood is to look at depictions of anti-mutant prejudice. In the early Lee and Kirby run, anti-mutant prejudice is described almost entirely as a mass phenomenon, a collective hysteria that takes hold of large groups of people. You can see this especially in the way that crowds of humans descend into violence in contexts that you wouldn’t normally expect them. Like sports events:…

(18) SKYWALKERED BACK. J. J. Abrams made a little mistake…. CinemaBlend has the story: “Star Wars: J.J. Abrams Backtracks Statement About Rey’s Parents”.

Earlier, J.J. Abrams sat down with Chris Rock at the Tribeca Film Festival to talk about the director’s work in television and film. During the Q&A segment, a young fan asked the identity of Rey’s parents and Abrams said “they aren’t in Episode VII.” This implies that just about every fan theory is wrong, but Entertainment Weekly caught up with Abrams after the show and he was able to clarify his statement:

What I meant was that she doesn’t discover them in Episode VII. Not that they may not already be in her world.

So, Rey’s parents could be somewhere in The Force Awakens as opposed to not being in it at all. That’s a pretty serious backtrack, but it opens the floor back up for fans to come up with theories on the heroine’s lineage. This potentially limits the amount of suspects, but most theories were already focused on Force Awakens characters. There are a few contenders that have risen above the rest, each with there own amount of logic and speculation.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Alan Baumler, Chip Hitchcock, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

Pixel Scroll 12/9 The Flounce On The Doorstep

(1) MST3K+PO. Patton Oswalt has agreed to join Mystery Science Theater 3000 as the Forrester’s newest Evil Henchman, TV’s Son of TV’s Frank. Joel Hodgson explains:

I first became aware of Patton around fourteen years ago, when he was doing “commentary” for the MTV Awards – live in the room during the event! I realized right away he was a kindred spirit, and damn funny too. Since then, obviously, he’s bloomed into this amazing comedy/internet dynamo, and I’ve gotta tell you: I’ve seen a lot of stand-ups over the years, but – no lie – Patton really is one of the best ever. And just as important, he’s a very fun, articulate and witty soul – just the kind of person who we’ve always tried to bring onboard for MST3K.

That’s probably why, when I started putting together my dream roster of special “guest writers” for the next season of MST3K, the idea of Patton kept coming back to me. I knew he was a Mystery Science Theater fan from way back – he even moderated our 20th Anniversary Reunion panel at San Diego Comic-Con)–and I thought he’d be terrific at writing riffs. Then I started to wonder if he might be a good fit on camera, too.

Remember last week, how I said my creative process usually starts with visuals, and then I work backward? Well, in this case, I first imagined Patton dressed up like TV’s Frank. I figured maybe he’d be Frank’s son, or at least a clone. But yeah: the idea of Patton wearing black lab assistant’s garb, with a big mound of silver hair and a spitcurl…? It was just really funny to me, in a visual / cross-referential / meta kind of way.

(2) HIGH CASTLE. Marc Haefele, once the editor for some of Philip K. Dick’s later books from Doubleday, praised Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle on an NPR affiliate’s show “Off-Ramp.” BEWARE MINOR SPOILERS.

Juliana (Alexa Davalos) — Frink’s estranged wife in the book, his girlfriend in the series — was that rarest of Dick characters, a strong, positive, effective woman. She is even more so on the screen. The substitution of various film reels for the original fictional novel McGuffin generally works, albeit there seem to be a few too many abandoned operating 16 mm projectors left around.

And there are some clunkers. Like when the Nazi elevated monorail from which-side-is-he-on Nazi/underground operative Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank) descends bears the label “U-Bahn.” Whoops, that’s a subway folks. The elevated is an “S-Bahn.” Or why is “Mack the Knife,” a song by a Communist  (Bertolt Brecht) and a Jew (Kurt Weill), being  sung at an otherwise terrifyingly well-imagined Aryan Victory Day picnic in occupied Long Island?

(3) BEST STAR WARS MOVIE. Michael J. Martinez marches on: his Star Wars rewatch has reached movie #5 — “Star Wars wayback machine: The Empire Strikes Back”.

In this rewatch, we have the crown jewel of the entire saga: The Empire Strikes Back. Pretty much everything we love about Star Wars is front-and-center here, and this one stands up to the test of time as well as any classic film you can think of. Yes, it’s as good as I remembered.

(4) FICTIONAL HISTORY. Jonathan Nield delivers “A defense of historical fiction” at Pornokitsch.

…Perhaps this introduction may be most fitly concluded by something in the nature of apology for Historical Romance itself. Not only has fault been found with the deficiencies of unskilled authors in that department, but the question has been asked by one or two critics of standing – What right has the Historical Novel to exist at all? More often than not, it is pointed out, the Romancist gives us a mass of inaccuracies, which, while they mislead the ignorant (i.e., the majority?), are an unpardonable offence to the historically-minded reader. Moreover, the writer of such Fiction, though he be a Thackeray or a Scott, cannot surmount barriers which are not merely hard to scale, but absolutely impassable. The spirit of a period is like the selfhood of a human being – something that cannot be handed on; try as we may, it is impossible for us to breathe the atmosphere of a bygone time, since all those thousand-and-one details which went to the building up of both individual and general experience, can never be reproduced….

(5) RIDING HIGH IN APRIL, SHOT DOWN IN MAY. We all have those days.

(6) BURSTEIN IN TRANSLATION. Michael A. Burstein had a short story in a recent issue of the Chinese prozine Science Fiction World.

I am pleased to announce that my short story “The Soldier WIthin” has been translated and published in the November 2015 issue of [Chinese characters]. (In English, the magazine is known as Science Fiction World.) This is my first time having a story translated into Chinese or published in China. I’d like to thank Joe Haldeman for having purchased the story for the anthology Future Weapons of War back in 2007, and the editor of SF World, Dang Xiaoyu (I hope I have that right), for choosing to reprint the story .

In theory, this means the story will be read by approximately 1 million people in China. That would make it the most widely read story of mine.

(7) THE BILLIONS NOBODY WANTED. Remember when no film buyers wanted Star Wars for their theater chains? Me neither. But several swear it happened in “’Star Wars’ Flashback: When No Theater Want to Show the Movie in 1977”, an article from The Hollywood Reporter.

LENIHAN I was 23 and booking country towns in Northern California for United Artists, which also owned the Coronet Theatre in San Francisco. I tease Travis all the time that the only time I ever won was when he picked The Deep for a theater in Redding, Calif., while I picked Star Wars. On opening day at the Coronet, there were lines around the block. It played there until Close Encounters of the Third Kind opened in December, and we were still hitting our holdover numbers.

(8) FAMOUS COSTUMES. The “Star Wars and the Power of Costume” exhibit will be moving to Denver where it will run from November 13, 2016-April 2, 2017.

Included in the show’s 60 costumes, which will be displayed in the museum’s Hamilton Building Anschutz and McCormick galleries, are such classics as Princess Leia’s bikini, Darth Vader’s menacing black uniform, and the royal red gown Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) wore in 1999’s ” Star Wars: Phanton Menace.”

In addition to featuring costumes and conceptual art, the exhibit includes videos with designers, actors and George Lucas talking about the creative process.

(9) UNHEARD OF. New York Magazine discovered it takes less than 90 seconds to repeat all the dialogue spoken by women other than Princess Leia in the entire original Star Wars trilogy.

(10) STAR CHOW. And if that doesn’t give you a case of Star Wars-related indigestion, here’s a couple more things to try.

You’ll need:
Donut holes
12 ounces white candy melts
Black icing
Blue icing
Orange Icing
Lollipop sticks

 

When it comes to setting up a holiday dinner table, why not make it more festive by incorporating Star Wars! Flavored butter can be made to be savory or sweet. Pumpkin Spice and Cranberry orange butters are warm and seasonal and taste great with breads and scones. Garlic Herb and Sriracha Lime have a kick that goes well with crackers and sandwiches made of leftovers.

By shaping them into stormtrooper helmets the butter becomes a unique and fun way to add Star Wars to your traditional holiday meal.

(11) HOLY ANDY WARHOL! Or failing that, an entire line of Campbell’s products in Star Wars-themed cans.

star wars campbell soup cans COMP

(12) HOUSE CALL. Should you need an antidote, try paging through Dining With The Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook by Chris-Rachael Oseland.

Your taste buds are about to take a wibbly wobbly, timey wimey adventure through the 2005 Doctor Who reboot. Megafan and food writer Chris-Rachael Oseland spent a year rewatching all of series one through six and experimenting in her kitchen to bring you a fresh recipe for every single episode. There are recipes in here for every level of cook. If you’re terrified of the kitchen, there are things so simple even Micky the Idiot couldn’t get them wrong. For the experienced chefs, there are advanced fish and beef dishes that wouldn’t be amiss on the Starship Titanic. Along the way, you’ll also find plenty of edible aliens to decorate the table at your next Doctor Who viewing party.

This book is a treat for any Whovian who wants to offer more than a plate of fish fingers and a bowl of custard at your next viewing party. Want to host an elegant dinner party to show off your new Tardis corset? Start the evening with a Two Streams Garden Cocktail followed by Baked Hath, Marble Cucumber Circuits with Vesuvian Fire Dipping Sauce, Professor Yana’s Gluten Neutrino Map Binder, Slitheen Eggs, and some of Kazran’s Night Sky Fog Cups for dessert.

(13) PARODY. Ed Fortune wrote and produced a homage to the world of sci-fi fandom called This Is Not The Actor You Are Looking For, the story of an actor from a popular movie franchise with a confession to make.

(14) THEY MIGHT BE. The BFG official trailer #1. A girl named Sophie encounters the Big Friendly Giant who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kindhearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because unlike his peers refuses to eat boys and girls.

(15) INSTANT CLASSIC. Kyra’s lyrics to “Old Man Zombie”

Old man zombie,
That old man zombie,
He don’t say nothing
But won’t stop moving —
He just keeps shambling
He just keeps shambling along.

It might be fungal,
It might be viral,
We might be trapped in
A downward spiral,
But old man zombie
He just keeps shambling along.

You and me, we sweat and swear,
Body all aching and racked with fear,
Bar that door!
Hide that pit!
I wandered off alone
And I just got bit.

I’m infected
Your brain I’m eyeing,
I’m scared of living
And tired of dying,
I’m old man zombie
And just keep shambling along!

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

50 Ways To Leave Your Rover 6/20

aka “I love the smell of puppy in the morning.”

In today’s roundup, Ed Fortune, David Gerrold, T.C. McCarthy, Daniel Haight, Natalie Luhrs, John C. Wright, Morgan Locke, Mick, Carl Henderson, Vox Day, Tom Knighton, Rolf Nelson, Kevin Standlee, Melina D, Lis Carey, Kurt Busiek, Fred Kiesche, Brad Johnson, and mysterious others. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day John King Tarpinian and Hampus Eckerman.)

Ed Fortune on Starburst

“Book Boycott Backfires” – June 20

An attempted boycott of publisher Tor Books by right-wing online activists has spectacularly backfired as booklovers across the world have responded by purchasing books from Tor to show their support. The activists in question are known as the Sad Puppies, or simply ‘The Puppies’. They recently gained notoriety by block voting in the recent Hugo Award nominations. The demands are in response to recent statements made by editors and authors who are associated with Tor in some way. Military sci-fi author Peter Grant issued a list of demands on behalf of The Puppies in a private letter that he then posted on his blog. The demands are:

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.” Despite original Sad Puppy campaigner Larry Correia stating on his blog “The Sad Puppies Campaign is NOT calling for any boycotts, the letter was later endorsed by prominent members of The Puppies, including Theodor Beale (aka Vox Day) and John C. Wright. The Puppies now seem mostly leaderless, operating in a way similar to other online activists such as Gamer Gate and Anonymous have done in the past.

The response from the greater community has mostly been mockery, and to do their best to support authors by purchasing books from Tor

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – June 20

With the various escalations over perceived hurts, it seems that this is no longer about the Hugos — it looks more like an attempt to ignite a full-scale culture war within the genre.

Certainly, there is a lot of polarization evident in the various blogs and comment threads. But while the online discussions seem to present a picture of equal sides, I think that’s an illusion. It may turn out that the larger body of fandom will not be stampeded by the few who have become addicted to outrage.

Some of the most offensive posts — some of which are being widely circulated — will only serve to further marginalize not only the authors of those posts, but also those who are seen as comrades.

 

 

Daniel Haight on Flotilla Online

“Too Soon? How Should Sci-Fi Authors Deal with Tragedy?” – June 20

I felt compelled to speak up when another author linked to the above post made by the sci-fi author Michael Z. Williamson.  I found that Mr. Williamson’s Facebook is public and I was able to confirm that he did say what he said and that it’s still visible (as of today, 6/20 @ 10:05PDT)

I immediately felt a number of conflicting emotions: shock and revulsion at the tactless joke that was made. Sadness that we have become so inured to senseless violence that people are rushing to be the first one to find a way to joke about it. Confusion at whether I had a right to say anything, knowing I’ve made a few dark jokes from time to time. Uncertainty about whether it was my business to speak up.

And yet … a joke like that … made the same day the Charleston shooting occurred.  I can’t keep my mouth shut about that.  Innocent people died.  Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters … hundreds of lives ripped apart by a senseless act of violence.  That’s not hyperbole, those people’s lives are inexorably altered and potentially ruined. You … you can joke about that?

I can’t.

 

Natalie Luhrs on Pretty Terrible

“Documenting a Wannabe Supervillain” – June 20

I don’t care if you think they’re jokes. And I know full well what kind of context they’re coming from, when your Twitter feed is full of you taunting people who are grieving and angry over an act of terrorism perpetrated against their community and you have pictures of yourself with guns and your Facebook profile pic is pro-waterboarding. I know exactly what kind of asshole you are and you can’t slither out of responsibility for your words because you think they’re jokes. You are a hateful, vile, and pathetic human being, Michael Z. Williamson.

And Williamson’s Hugo-nominated work, “Wisdom from My Internet” is execrable. It should never have made it to the ballot–and it wouldn’t have, if the Puppies hadn’t gamed the system with coordinated slates.

 

John C. Wright

“Moshe Feder Speaks for Himself” – June 20

He has decided publicly to rebuff those customers Mr Feder calls our customers unhappy with the recent unprofessional antics at Tor Books by the charming epithet “idiots”:

As you may have heard, certain scoundrels have declared a boycott of Tor, starting today, to protest the efforts of some Tor employees to defend the Hugo Awards from attack. In response, some of our friends have declared today “Buy A Tor Book Day.”

I wouldn’t have the temerity to ask you to buy a book just because some idiots have declared war on us. But if there _is_ a Tor Book you’ve been meaning to get anyway, buying it today would be a a gesture I’d appreciate.

[As always here on Facebook, I’m speaking for myself and not the company.]

Ah… Well, thank you for your help mollifying our customers, Mr Feder. I am sure that being told they are idiots will make them eager to spend their hard earned book-buying dollars the product you and I are working together to produce for them….

Since I have a conflict of interest, I must remain neutral. Loyalty to my publisher demands I not take sides. Loyalty to my beloved customers demands I not take sides.

Mr Feder has taken sides. Loyalty to his political correctness outweighs, for him, loyalty to publisher. And he just called you, my dear readers and customers, idiots and scoundrels.

This has nothing to do with the Sad Puppies. We are only here for the Hugo Awards.

This particular fight is between, on the one hand, those at Tor Books who think political correctness outweighs all professional and personal loyalties, all standards of decency, all need to be truthful, and who damn their own customers; and, on the other, those who are thankful to the customers and who think the purpose of a business is business.

One side consists of those calling for the resignations that any professional worthy of the name would long ago have proffered for the damage they have done to the company name and public goodwill.

The other side consists of people at Tor who regard Tor as an instrument of social engineering, an arm of the Democrat Party’s press department, or a weapon in the war for social justice.

Without expressing any personal opinion, I can say that there is an easy compromise which our free and robust capitalistic system allows: we can all wish the best to Miss Gallo and Mr Feder when they day comes when they decide to take their interests and obsessions elsewhere, and leave the company in the hands of those of us who merely want to write, publish, and read science fiction told from any and every point of view, political or otherwise, provided the story is well crafted.

 

 

Mick on Mick On Everything

“I Support The Tor Boycott” – June 20

There is plenty of evidence that they’ve been lying to you internally, if in fact they are telling you that those of use who’ve been e-mailing the company are bots as has been rumored.

There is plenty of evidence that they won’t stop, and even though they are now careful to state they don’t speak for Tor, without their positions they wouldn’t have nearly the platform or audience they do. These people are trading on the status the company gave them to trash the customer base, and the authors who actually produce the work.

The originator of the Sad Puppies movement, the International Lord of Hate Larry Correia, has come out and said he does not endorse the boycott. I reiterate – I do. Those of us on the Puppy side have taken enough abuse from the other side, and it’s time we hit them in the wallet.

If someone starts a fight and you don’t fight back, you lose. They started it years ago. Now is time to fight back.

 

Carl Henderson on Offend Everyone

“In Which I Speak of Sad Puppies.” – June 20

I’m a supporter of free speech—which ideally extends beyond the 1st Amendment protections against Government interference or suppression of speech. We as a society and individuals need to cultivate tolerance for opinions we disagree with.

Ms Gallo should not be fired. While her original Facebook remarks were mean-spirited and showed contempt for Tor readers and Tor authors, employers should not purge employees for having unpopular views. They may have a legal right to (depending on state laws and contracts), but they should not because: 1) the organization becomes captive to the loudest and most easily offended of their stakeholders, and 2) free speech is an objective good that writers and publishers should support, even when that speech is unpopular, or even considered hateful.

I think that calls for Tor to fire Gallo to be are wrong. Her remarks on Facebook were hateful and intolerant. But contributing to the culture of demanding punishment whenever anyone says anything offensive is counter to the Sad Puppy goal of more intellectual/political diversity in SF and Fantasy (as well the main goal supporting the primacy of good story over message). If you like a book/writer published by Tor, buy it. If you don’t, don’t buy it. In the long run, the free market will prevail and Tor (like any other company that doesn’t get the government to bail it out) will either change or die.

The justifications I hear from some people involved in Sad Puppies for supporting a Tor boycott or a campaign to have Gallo fired, generally run along these lines of “our opponents use these tactics, so we have to as well”. (I’m oversimplifying. Duh.)

But there’s an important point that those Puppies are missing. People like Gallo are good for your side. The louder and more extreme your opponents get, the better you look. And the better you look, the more support you gain.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Mr. Feder fans the flames” – June 20

It’s worth pointing out that we are not at war with Tor Books. We are merely asking Macmillan to save Tor Books from the observably self-destructive and unprofessional leadership of three of its senior employees, who have abused Tor’s authors and attacked Tor’s customers.

 

Tom Knighton

“Thoughts on the TOR boycott” – June 20

Tor, for some silly reason, is one of many traditional publishers that look at ebooks as a novelty and has them priced in a way to encourage you to buy the print book instead.  I hate that.  There are books I want to read, but I’m not spending more than $10 for a brand new ebook, and I expect that price to drop as time goes on.  Tor’s starting point, so to speak, is so much higher than I want to spend that I don’t really see me buying much of anything anyways.

Honestly, I can’t really boycott someone I don’t buy from in the first place.  I may have yet another reason to not buy Tor books, but it’s not like they’ll notice my lack of spending on their books.  Now, that’s not true for a lot of my Sad Puppy brethren, but it is for me.

Some are screaming that it’s not fair to try and “destroy” someone’s livelihood over comments they made a month earlier on their personal Facebook page.  I’ll buy that when the Left quits trying to destroy the livelihood of everyone who says something they disagree with.

I don’t want Irene Gallo fired necessarily.  I haven’t called for anyone from Tor to be fired.  The only person whose job I called for was the twit who wrote the Entertainment Weekly article, and that wasn’t because of her personal views, it was because she is an embarrassment to journalism.  It’s as simple as that.

That’s not to say that there aren’t a few people from Tor I’d love to see hunting for a job.  There are.  I hear those people get fired, and it’s party central at the Knighton household.  They’ve insulted me and my friends so many times that I really don’t care about how they’ll manage in today’s job market.

 

Wheels Within Wheels

“Boycott in progress” – June 20

I won’t be acquiring any more, though. Tor gives every impression of having a corporate culture that despises anyone who isn’t wholly on board with the left-wing causes of the day, and is more than willing to demonize them. As that applies to me, since they despise me, I’ll not force them to associate with me any longer.

 

Rolf Nelson

“Tor Boycott” – June 19

Gee, I can just feel the love from here. Details at Vox’s blog, Peter Grant’s place, Hoyt’s, and many other places in the SF/F blog-o-sphere. So, if you like SF, keep reading, but but use the library. If you think you just must buy your favorite Tor author, buy used and hit their tip-jar. Or, check out competing publishers like Baen or Castalia House, which don’t treat their authors and fan base like crap.

 

 

Kevin Standlee on Fandom Is My Way Of Life

“E Pluribus Hugo Submitted” – June 20

As presiding officer, I obviously won’t take a stance on the proposal; however, its very complexity requires me to be concerned about how to handle it technically at the Business Meeting. It will probably depend on how much more business gets submitted. It’s proposals like this that lead me to planning for WSFS to hold a Sunday (final day) business meeting for the first time since 1992.

 

 

Melina D on Subversive Reader

“Hugos 2015 Mini Review: The Lego Movie” – June 21

I was watching along enjoying it, but thinking that there wasn’t really anything deeper to the movie, and then it turns around and hits me in the feels.The ‘twist’ at the end was unexpected and definitely added another element to the movie, but it also raises some questions (for me anyway) about the purpose of adult collectors of toys. I come from a family of these (my grandparents actually ran a toy museum when I was a kid) so maybe I think about these things when others don’t, but should toys be played with or preserved?

 

Melina D on Subversive Reader

“Hugos 2015 Reading: Related Works” – June 20 So, the best of this category was better than I expected, but the worst was much worse than expected. I will use No Award in this category, because I don’t think any of the writing was polished or completely engaging enough to win an award as prestigious as the Hugo. However, I’ll list The Hot Equations next, as it was a mostly cohesive piece of writing which showed clear links to SF fiction.

This is where the slate is once again doing themselves a disservice, because it’s possible in another year The Hot Equations might have been in their amongst the top pieces. It’s the kind of thing I was expecting/hoping to find in the nominations – work on topics which aren’t usually my cup of tea (milSF and thermodynamics) which are good enough to engage me and make me think. But because there’s nothing to compare it with, I have to judge it on its own – create my own criteria – which leaves a possibility that I’m being harder on it than it deserves. And there’s such a lot of energy spent on promoting the really bad writing which could be spent on promoting and polishing and presenting more work like this.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Abyss & Apex: Hugo-Nominated Magazine of Speculative Fiction” – June 20

Abyss & Apex is a 2015 Hugo nominee for Best Semiprozine. It’s a web-based zine publishing a mix of poetry and fiction. I was very pleased to see that they have organized and accessible archives that made it easy to look at their issues from 2014. i.e., the relevant ones for this year’s Hugos. Overall, the quality looks high, and the presentation is good. My one objection is that the body text font doesn’t seem to be completely consistent across the site, and for me, that makes it a smidge less reasonable. In total, though, I’m favorably impressed.