Pixel Scroll 11/6/17 All Of The True Pixels I Am About To Tell You Are Shameless Scrolls

(1) MORE MAPS. Ursula K. Le Guin shares the Hainish Endpapers from new editions of her books:

  • Gethen Map by UKL Colorization by Donna G. Brown

  • List of Known Hainish Worlds by Donna G. Brown, LoA.

(2) IT’S BEGINNINNG TO LOOK A LOT LIKE ADVENT. Hingston and Olsen have included stories by several sff authors in the 2017 “Short Story Advent Calendar”.

For the third straight year, the Short Story Advent Calendar is here to be the spice in your eggnog, the rum in your fruitcake—another collection of 24 brilliant stories to be opened, one by one, on the mornings leading up to Christmas.

These stories once again come from some of the best and brightest writers across North America, and beyond. Plus, this year featuring more all-new material than ever before!

Contributors to the 2017 calendar include:

  • Kelly Link (Get in TroubleMagic for Beginners)
  • Jim Gavin (Middle Men, AMC’s forthcoming Lodge 49)
  • Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties)
  • Ken Liu (The Paper MenagerieThe Grace of Kings)
  • Maggie Shipstead (Astonish MeSeating Arrangements)
  • and [REDACTED x 19]!

As always, each booklet is sealed, so you won’t know what story you’re getting until the morning you open it.

(3) WSFS PAPERS. Kevin Standlee announced more documentation from the 2017 Worldcon Business Meeting has been posted:

The 2018 WSFS Constitution (including all of the amendments ratified in Helsinki), Standing Rules for the 2018 WSFS Business Meeting, and Business Passed On to the 2018 WSFS Business Meeting are now online at the “WSFS Rules page”.

The Resolutions & Rulings of Continuing Effect are being reviewed by the WSFS Nitpicking & Flyspecking Committee, and I expect them to be online at the same page within a week or so.

Thanks again to Linda Deneroff for pulling this all together and putting up with me futzing around with the documents.

(4) I CHING, YOU CHING. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler has just gotten his hands on PKD’s brand new novel! “[November 6, 1962] The road not taken… (Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle)”.

Philip K. Dick has returned to us after a long hiatus with a novel, The Man in the High Castle.  It is an ambitious book, longer than most science fiction novels.  Castle‘s setting is an alternate history, one in which the Axis powers managed to defeat the Allies…somehow (it is never explained).  Dick explores this universe through five disparate viewpoint protagonists, whose paths intertwine in complex, often surprising ways…

Surprisingly, The Traveler scoffs at the alternate history premise.

There are significant problems with Castle, however.  For one, it suffers from lazy worldbuilding.  The book is an opportunity for Dick to draw a wide cast of characters and depict their complex web of interactions.  But the underpinnings of the world they inhabit are implausible.  First and foremost, it would have been impossible, logistically, for the United States to have fallen to the Axis Powers.  For that matter, I have doubts that the Soviet Union was ever in existential danger.  Certainly the Reich never came close to making The Bomb – their racial theory-tinged science wouldn’t have allowed it.  It is sobering when you realize that the Allies managed to fight two world wars and develop the most expensive and powerful weapon ever known all at the same time.  An Axis victory in World War 2 resulting in the conquest of the United States is simply a nonstarter.

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites everyone to “Sink your teeth into samosa with Karin Tidbeck” in episode 51 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Karin Tidbeck

This time around, you get to listen in on my lunch at Mero-Himal Nepalese Restaurant with Karin Tidbeck during the penultimate day of the con. Tidbeck writes fiction in both Swedish and English, and debuted in 2010 with the Swedish short story collection Vem är Arvid Pekon? Her English debut, the 2012 collection Jagannath, was awarded the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts William L. Crawford Fantasy Award in 2013 and was shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award. Her novel debut, Amatka, was recently released in English.

We discussed the serious nature of Live Action Role-Playing games in Nordic countries, the way pretending to be a 150-year-old vampire changed her life, how discovering Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics made her forget time and space, the most important lesson she learned from the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing Workshop, how she uses improvisational exercises to teach beginning writers, why Amatka grew from a poetry collection into a novel, what made her say, “I’m not here to answer questions, I’m here to ask them,” and more.

(6) CAN YOU EXPLAIN THAT AGAIN? Scholars contend: “Science Fiction Makes You Stupid” in a post at The Patron Saint of Superheroes.

That is a scientifically grounded claim.

Cognitive psychologist Dan Johnson and I make a version of it in our paper “The Genre Effect: A Science Fiction (vs. Realism) Manipulation Decreases Inference Effort, Reading Comprehension, and Perceptions of Literary Merit,” forthcoming from Scientific Study of Literature.

Dan and I are both professors at Washington and Lee University, and our collaboration grew out of my annoyance at another study, “Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind,” published in Science in 2013. Boiled down, the authors claimed reading literary fiction makes you smart. And, who knows, maybe it does, but if so, their study gets no closer to understanding why–or even what anyone means by the term “literary fiction” as opposed to, say, “science fiction.”

Our study defines those terms, creates two texts that differ accordingly, and then studies how readers respond to them. The results surprised us. Readers read science fiction badly. If you’d like all the details why, head over to Scientific Study of Literature.

Arinn Dembo says about the article:

This is an interesting study. It strongly suggests that years of internalized stereotyping might influence the way you read and are *able* to read, in and out of the pulp genres you might favor. I said years ago, in my first published review, “If you don’t read outside the genre… soon you won’t be able to.”

But it might just be that if you listen too long to what arrogant, dismissive people think of your genre, you’ll stop being able to read it intelligently.

(7) VERSE WARRIORS. E. Catherine Tobler (Shimmer editor), Rachael K. Jones (recently nominated for World Fantasy Award for short fiction) and Aidan Doyle have launched a Kickstarter appeal to fund  “Sword and Sonnet” an anthology of genre stories about battle poets.

“Sword and Sonnet” will be an anthology featuring genre stories about women and non-binary battle poets. Lyrical, shimmery sonnet-slingers. Grizzled, gritty poetpunks. Word nerds battling eldritch evil. Haiku-wielding heroines.

We have a wonderful group of writers who have agreed to write stories for us: Alex Acks, C. S. E. Cooney, Malon Edwards, Spencer Ellsworth, Samantha Henderson, S. L. Huang, Cassandra Khaw, Margo Lanagan, Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali, Tony Pi, A. Merc Rustad and A. C. Wise. We’ll also be holding an open submission period.

The cover art is by Vlada Monakhova. The project is live on Kickstarter throughout November. At this writing they have raised $1,982 of their $7,654 goal.

(8) IN PASSING. Here’s a photo of the late Ben Solon, a Chicago fan whose death was reported the other day.

L to R: John D. Berry, Ray Fisher and Ben Solon at a party at late Sixties Worldcon. Photo copyright © Andrew Porter

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Darrah Chavey found the reason for the season in Cul de Sac.
  • John King Tarpinian noted The Argyle Sweater getting its laughs at the pharmacy.

(10) TEMPLE TALK. Kim Huett writes to say he has updated his William F. Temple article with corrected information supplied by Rob Hansen in a comment.

Meantime, Bill Burns says he was “Surprised to see that when you posted Kim’s piece on Bill Temple the other day you didn’t also mention Rob Hansen’s excellent new compilation of Bill’s fan writing, Temple at the Bar – free in promotion of TAFF!”

It’s one of the free ebooks at Dave Langford’s TAFF site.

(11) MOO SIXTY-NINE. NASA’s New Horizons team is looking for help naming their next target — “Help us Nickname a Distant World”.

On January 1, 2019, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will fly past a small, distant, and cold world at the outer frontier of our solar system. The spacecraft is about to set the record for visiting the most remote world ever explored by humankind.

For now, our destination goes by the unexciting name “(486958) 2014 MU69“, or “MU69” for short. We would like to use a more memorable nickname when we talk about our target body.

At this site, we are asking you—the public—to suggest your ideas for the nickname to assign to MU69, and to vote for your favorites. The New Horizons team and NASA will review your best ideas and announce our selection soon—in early January, 2018.

… From here you can:

  • Read about the nicknames we are already considering.
  • Vote for your favorite names on the ballot (so far).
  • Nominate names that you think we should add to the ballot.
  • Check out the top-ranked names on the vote tally.

Would you believe — right now, Mjölnir is leading the poll.

(12) TRAD PIZZA. In “Papa John’s condemns new customers: White supremacists” the alt-right rationale that a business is “failing” – because it didn’t grow as fast as predicted (mind you, it still grew) – sounds like the same criticism recently levied against a sff writer who said his productivity was down.

Papa John’s pizza has a new customer, the alt-right.

In the days following a rant by Papa John’s CEO and Louisville resident John Schnatter where he blamed the NFL and anthem protests for low sales, a white-supremacist publication claimed it as their official pizza.

In a blog post at the Daily Stormer, a photo of pizza with pepperonis arranged in a swastika has a caption that reads “Papa John: Official pizza of the alt-right?”

“This might be the first time ever in modern history that a major institution is going to be completely destroyed explicitly because of public outrage over their anti-White agenda,” Daily Stormer writer Adrian Sol said.

Peter Collins, the senior director of public relations at Papa John’s, said the company was taken off-guard by the endorsement.

“We condemn racism in all forms and any and all hate groups that support it,” Collins told Courier Journal. “We do not want these individuals or groups to buy our pizza.”

Papa John’s released third-quarter sales figures last week that show diminished rates of growth at established North American locations: 1.5 percent this year as opposed to a projected 2- to 4-percent increase. In 2016, North American sales increased 5.5 percent during the same period.

(13) TWO-LEGGED SYLLOGISM OF THE DAY. In a piece mainly devoted to slandering David Gerrold, Dr. Mauser informs the sff community “The Science Fiction is Settled”, indulging in the fallacious logic that if any member of a group wrote sff in the early days of the genre, by that date the field was wide open to writers from that group.

And then, tragedy strikes. Because to Gerrold, Change has an Arrow on it, with a single destination, and it’s pointing to the left. He launches into a paean about Immigrants and diversity and the global village because Diversity is Strength! And then:

So, yes, it is inevitable that science fiction authors will explore that diversity — expanded roles for women, new definitions of gender and sexuality, the contributions of People of Color and other non-white ethnicities. We’ve discovered the overlooked skills of the aged and the disabled, the unusual and extraordinary ratiocinations of people who are neuro-atypical. The next generation of authors are exploring vast new landscapes of possibility — places to explore and discover ways of being human previously unconsidered.

It’s not that SF CAN explore those things, but that SF SHOULD explore those things he seems to think. Forget exploring the stars or asking “What if we’re not alone in the universe?” Nah, we’re alone, so let’s spend all our speculative energies on exploring our own bad selves. He grudgingly admits that while we have probes going past Pluto, “some of our most ambitious authors are turning their attention to a different frontier —exploring the workings of the human soul.” I suppose our navels give us much more instantaneous gratification than the stars. But really, that kind of narcissism is only interesting to the narcissist.

And at this point, we can see where the train leaves the tracks, because he switches from talking about science fiction, to the science fiction community, while trying to carry the same points. He talks about the changes in the SF Community from all these new folks of diverse backgrounds showing up. The only problem with this theory is that they have always been here. There’s a case of DoubleThink going on here when the same folks who like to claim Mary Shelley as one of the first female authors of Science Fiction, and then set it out there as if women are something new, and even more patronizing when they act as if their side’s genuflecting to Feminism is somehow responsible for their appearance. No, this is not a change. Try reading some C.L. Moore and realize that not only have women been in SF all along, they have been awesome.

Likewise with minority writers. The publishing world is, or at least was, the ultimate meritocracy. Since most of the business was conducted by mail, a publisher had no clue about the racial background of an author. Bias was eliminated through the medium of the Manila envelope. It takes very little research to find out that Black authors have been writing science fiction since the turn of the century. No, not this century, the previous one. Likewise for Gay authors, an obvious example being from the previous list, Samuel R. Delany. He was first published in 1962. That’s FIFTY FIVE years ago. This “change” Gerrold is touting really is nothing new.

Do you think there’s much chance that David Gerrold will be stunned to learn a gay author wrote sf in the Sixties?

(14) TURNOVER AT CASTALIA HOUSE BLOG. Jeffro Johnson is leaving the Castalia House blog. Contributor Morgan Holmes will take charge. Culture warrior Johnson said in his farewell post —

I remember when Sad Puppies first came to my attention. Upon reading the most vilified author of the whole crop– Vox Day, of course– I saw a nominated story that’s worst fault could only be that it was explicitly Christian. Looking up the publishing house it was produced at, I found a manifesto stating their goal to restore fantasy and science fiction to more what it was like when it was written by Tolkien and Howard. (And yeah, I had no idea how the person that wrote that could possibly think that a pulp writer like Robert E. Howard could be anywhere on par with J. R. R. Tolkien. And even more ironically, I couldn’t imagine how a “Campbellian Revolution” they claimed to want could be anything other than good.)

…So much is happening in the wider scene today that I can barely keep up with even a portion of it. Along with that, I find that areas of my life outside of gaming and fiction have increasingly laid greater and greater claims to my time. And while I wish I could do all the things that I can think of that could really capitalize on everything that’s developed here… I’m afraid I instead have to admit that I’ve run with all of this about as far as I can.

It’s a tough thing to do, but I think it’s the right thing for me at this time. So I’m handing over editorship of Castalia House blog to Morgan Holmes, who has been writing about classic fantasy and science fiction here almost as long as I have. (Good luck, man!)

(15) ONE THING PEOPLE SEEM TO AGREE ABOUT. On National Review Online, Heather Wilhelm, in “The Surprising Joy of Stranger Things”. praises the show for being “a good, non-angry, non-political TV show.”

The show features “a prelapsarian world of walkie-talkies, landlines, and suburban kids left free to roam wherever they want on their bicycles,” wrote Emily Nussbaum in The New Yorker last year. Or, as Ross Duffer told Rolling Stone: “We were the last generation to have the experience of going out with our friends to the woods or the train tracks and the only way our parents could connect with us was to say, ‘It’s time for dinner.’” That world is largely gone, and with it, many childhood adventures. The image of a freewheeling kid on a bicycle, so integral to iconic films such as E.T. — Matt and Ross Duffer make no secret of drawing inspiration from classic ’80s blockbusters — is also integral to Stranger Things. Tooling around town or in the local woods on a bike is almost diametrically opposed to most widely approved childhood activities today, which tend to involve hyper-organized and ludicrously time-consuming team sports that seem purposely designed to torture kids and parents alike. Tooling around town or in the local woods on a bike is almost diametrically opposed to most widely approved childhood activities today. But given free rein on their bikes in and around the town of Hawkins, the kids of Stranger Things can meet up, explore, barrel through the forest, investigate baffling occurrences, and evade a posse of bad guys from a sinister government agency gone awry. That would be the Hawkins National Laboratory, a hulking structure nestled deep in the midwestern woods, packed to the gills with mysteries. According to the Duffer brothers, it was inspired mostly by “bizarre experiments we had read about taking place in the Cold War.”

(16) HERDING CATS. Camestros Felapton expanded his survey of animals in sff blogs (“Blogstrology”) to include one more —

Rocket Stack Rank www.rocketstackrank.com is interesting because the animals mentioned would be more determined by their incidence in short fiction. Overall low frequencies and RSR has no presence on the otter or goose dimensions. Wolf-Rabbit-Cat blog – “Cat” strongly assisted by reviews of the works of Cat Rambo.

Goat has a presence but is just shy of the top 3.

(17) GLASGOWROK. Apparently he’s a riot pronouncing the word “bairn” — “Jeff Goldblum Answers Scottish Themed Questions About the End of the World Posed by Wee Claire”.

While promoting his new film Thor: Ragnarok, the wonderfully affable Jeff Goldblum sat down with Wee Claire of the BBC Scotland show The Social to answer a few Scottish-themed questions about the end of the world.

 

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Time Travel in Fiction Rundown” on YouTube is a look at how lots of movies and Ender’s Game and Harry Potter and the Prisomer of Azkaban handle the time travel theme.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, James Davis Nicoll, Bill Burns, Kim Huett, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Scott Edelman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 5/16/17 Will No One Pixel Me This Troublesome Scroll?

(1) CLOSE THE GAP. David Dean Bottrell, Producer, Sci-Fest LA, is asking people to help support The Tomorrow Prize, due to be presented this weekend:

Although Sci-Fest LA has been temporarily side-lined our amazing short story competitions continue!! Unfortunately, a grant we were depending on, has fallen through at the last second, and the awards are this coming weekend! We need your help to make up a $500.00 gap IMMEDIATELY needed to award the prizes to our winners!

Donate at:  http://www.lightbringerproject.org/support/

You can make a donation via our new non-profit sponsor, LIGHTBRINGER PROJECT. Please add a note during the payment process for what the donation’s for — You can mention Sci-Fest, Tomorrow Prize or Roswell Award.

(2) INDIGENOUS VOICES. Silvia Moreno-Garcia has posted an update about her efforts to fund and launch an Emerging Indigenous Voices Award. (This would not be an sff award, but was prompted by the Canadian literary controversy reported here last week.)

I’ve gathered $4355 in pledges from people who wish to make this a reality. I’ve also e-mailed Robin Parker, who has also obtained pledges for a similar drive. We could be talking about more than $7,000 if we pool those resources together.

I have sent an e-mail to folks at the UBC Longhouse asking for some guidance.

I feel that if an award does become a reality, it must be managed by an Indigenous organization. I aim merely to help funnel money to them.

It may take some time to sort things out. I am putting together documentation tracking who pledged, how much, etc.

In the meantime, you can fund or support local organizations which represent Indigenous people in your community.

We should not turn to Indigenous and marginalized groups only when bad stuff happens and there are ways to support them that don’t involve donations. Read and review Indigenous literature. Suggest Indigenous artists as guests of honor at conventions. If you have access to a platform, invite them to write op-eds, guest posts, etc….

(3) ESCHEW CHRONOLOGICAL SNOBBERY. L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright raised her voice in defense of Anne McCaffrey at Superversive SF — “When New Is (Not) Best–The Degradation of Grand Master Anne McCaffrey”.

People talk about strong female characters today. Sometimes they mean kickbutt fighters. But when the term first got started, it meant females who held their own, who acted and achieved and accomplished, female characters who were smart.

Lessa was all that. To me, she was the sole female character in SF who really had the qualities I wanted to have. I adored her.

Recently, I was in a store and I picked up a copy of Dragonflight, the original Pern book. I remember thinking, Huh, it probably wasn’t that good. I’ve just glamorized it. Let me see… After all, some of her later books were a bit fluffy. Maybe this early book was just fluff, too, and I had just not noticed. I started flipping through it.

I read an astonishing amount of it before I realized I was standing in a bookstore and embarrassedly put it down.

It was still that good.

(4) THEY KNOW WHEN YOU’RE AWAKE. An author tells about eavesdropping on fan sites in “The Big Idea: Megan Whalen Turner” at Whatever.

As a newbie author, I was self-Googling like mad and just before The King of Attolia was published. I found a livejournal site dedicated to my books. I lurked. I did tell them I was lurking, but I knew right from the start that having authors around is a great, wonderful, exciting thing—right up until they make it impossible to have an honest conversation about their books, so I was careful not too lurk too often. In return, I got to watch these smart, funny people pick through everything I’d written and I became more and more convinced that they didn’t need my input, anyway. Everything in my books that I hoped they’d see, they were pointing out to one another. Watching them, I decided I should probably probably keep my mouth shut and leave readers to figure things out for themselves. That’s why when they got around to sending me a community fan letter, I’m afraid that my answer to most of their questions was, “I’m not telling.” Over the years, it’s hardened into a pretty firm policy.

(5) SPACE OPERA WEEK. Tor.com has declared: It’s Space Opera Week on Tor.com!

Alan Brown has a handle on the history of the term: “Explore the Cosmos in 10 Classic Space Opera Universes”.

During the Golden Age of Science Fiction, there was a lot of concern about the amount of apparent dross being mixed in with the gold. The term “space opera” was originally coined to describe some of the more formulaic stories, a term used in the same derisive manner as “soap opera” or “horse opera.” But, like many other negative terms over the years, the term space opera has gradually taken on more positive qualities. Now, it is used to describe stories that deal with huge cosmic mysteries, grand adventure, the long sweep of history, and giant battles. If stories have a large scope and a boundless sense of wonder, along with setting adventure front and center, they now proudly wear the space opera name.

Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer discusses why she embarked on her Vorkosigan Saga reread series for Tor.com in Space Opera and the Underrated Importance of Ordinary, Everyday Life

The Vorkosigan series is space opera in the really classic style. There are big ships that fight each other with weapons so massive and powerful that they don’t even have to be explained. The most dramatic conflicts take place across huge distances, and involve moving people, ideas, and technology through wormholes that span the Galactic Nexus, and watching how that changes everything. So it’s also about incredibly ordinary things—falling in love, raising children, finding peace, facing death.

And Cheeseman-Meyer’s latest entry “Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Borders of Infinity covers a lot of ground, but I must applaud this comment in particular —

At this point, I suddenly realize how little time we really get to spend with the Dendarii Mercenaries, who have now appeared as a fighting force in only two of the seven books in the reread.

Liz Bourke, in “Sleeps With Monsters: Space Opera and the Politics of Domesticity”, reminds readers that relationships are the web that connect the infinite spaces of this subgenre.

Let’s look at three potential examples of this genre of… let’s call it domestic space opera? Or perhaps intimate space opera is a better term. I’m thinking here of C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series, now up to twenty volumes, which are (in large part) set on a planet shared by the (native) atevi and the (alien, incoming) humans, and which focus on the personal and political relationships of Bren Cameron, who is the link between these very different cultures; of Aliette de Bodard’s pair of novellas in her Xuya continuity, On A Red Station, Drifting and Citadel of Weeping Pearls, which each in their separate ways focus on politics, and relationships, and family, and family relationships; and Becky Chambers’ (slightly) more traditionally shaped The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit, which each concentrate in their own ways on found families, built families, communities, and the importance of compassion, empathy, and respect for other people’s autonomy and choices in moving through the world.

But lest we forget the reason Tor.com exists, Renay Williams plugs the franchise in “A Plethora of Space Operas: Where to Start With the Work of John Scalzi”.

101: Beginner Scalzi

If you’re brand-new to Scalzi’s work, there a few possible starting places. If you want a comedic space opera adventure, you’ll want to start with Old Man’s War and its companion and sequel novels, The Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony. If you’re in the mood for straight up comedy SF, then Agent to the Stars is your entry point. And if you want some comedy but also kind of want to watch a political thriller in your underwear while eating snack food and don’t know what book could possibly meet all those qualifications at once, there’s The Android’s Dream, which is the funniest/darkest book about sheep I’ve ever read.

(6) AMEN CORNER. The celebration also includes a reminder from Judith Tarr: “From Dark to Dark: Yes, Women Have Always Written Space Opera”.

Every year or two, someone writes another article about a genre that women have just now entered, which used to be the province of male writers. Usually it’s some form of science fiction. Lately it’s been fantasy, especially epic fantasy (which strikes me with fierce irony, because I remember when fantasy was pink and squishy and comfy and for girls). And in keeping with this week’s theme, space opera gets its regular turn in the barrel.

Women have always written space opera.

Ever heard of Leigh Brackett? C.L. Moore? Andre Norton, surely?

So why doesn’t everyone remember them?

Because that second X chromosome carries magical powers of invisibility.

And having read that, who would you be looking to for an “Amen!” Would you believe, Jeffro Johnson at the Castalia House Blog? Not from any feminist impulse, but because it fits his own narrative about the Pulp Revolution — “The Truth About Women and Science Fiction”:

…Yes, the “Hard SF” revolution did turn the field into something of a boy’s club. The critical frame that emerged from it has unfairly excluded the work of a great many top tier creators that happened to be female. And much as it pains me to admit it, feminist critics do have a point when they complained about women being arbitrarily excluded.

However… when they treat the Campbellian Revolution as the de facto dawn of science fiction, they are perpetuating and reinforcing the real problem. If you want creators like Leigh Brackett and C. L. Moore to get the sort of attention they deserve, you have to recover not only the true history of fantasy and science fiction. You have to revive and defend the sort of classical virtues that are the root cause of why they have been snubbed in the first place.

(7) TODAY’S DAY

Sea Monkey Day

The history of sea monkeys starts, oddly enough, with ant farms. Milton Levine had popularized the idea of Ant-farm kits in 1956 and, presumably inspired by the success of his idea, Harold von Braunhut invented the aquatic equivalent with brine-shrimp. It was really ingenious looking back on it, and ultimately he had to work with a marine biologist to really bring it all together. With just a small packet of minerals and an aquarium you’d suddenly have a place rich with everything your brine-shrimp needed to survive. So why sea monkeys? Because who was going to buy brine-shrimp? It was all a good bit of marketing, though the name didn’t come about for nearly 5 years. They were originally called “instant life”, referencing their ‘just add water’ nature. But when the resemblance of their tails to monkeys tails was noted by fans, he changed it to ‘Sea-Monkeys’ and so it’s been ever since! The marketing was amazing too! 3.2 million pages of comic book advertising a year, and the money just flowed in the door. So what are Sea Monkeys exactly? They’re clever mad science really. Sea Monkeys don’t (or didn’t) exist in nature before they were created in a lab by hybridization. They’re known as Artemia NYOS (New York Ocean Science) and go through anhydrobiosis, or hibernation when they are dried out. Then, with the right mixture of water and nutrients they can spring right back into life! Amazing!

Wait a minute, that sounds a lot like Trisolarians!

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

(9) COMIC SECTION. Daniel Dern recommends today’s Candorville: “We already knew the creator’s a Star Trek geek, clearly he’s also a (DC) comic book fan…”

(10) DOCTOROW. This is the book Cory Doctorow was promoting at Vromans Bookstore when Tarpinian and I attended his joint appearance with John Scalzi a couple weeks ago. Carl Slaughter prepared a summary:

WALKAWAY
Cory Doctorow
Tor
April 25, 2017

Hubert was too old to be at that Communist party.

But after watching the breakdown of modern society, he really has no where left to be?except amongst the dregs of disaffected youth who party all night and heap scorn on the sheep they see on the morning commute. After falling in with Natalie, an ultra-rich heiress trying to escape the clutches of her repressive father, the two decide to give up fully on formal society?and walk away.

After all, now that anyone can design and print the basic necessities of life?food, clothing, shelter?from a computer, there seems to be little reason to toil within the system.

It’s still a dangerous world out there, the empty lands wrecked by climate change, dead cities hollowed out by industrial flight, shadows hiding predators animal and human alike. Still, when the initial pioneer walkaways flourish, more people join them. Then the walkaways discover the one thing the ultra-rich have never been able to buy: how to beat death. Now it’s war – a war that will turn the world upside down.

Fascinating, moving, and darkly humorous, Walkaway is a multi-generation SF thriller about the wrenching changes of the next hundred years…and the very human people who will live their consequences.

PRAISE FOR WALKAWAY

  • “Thrilling and unexpected….A truly visionary techno-thriller that not only depicts how we might live tomorrow, but asks why we don’t already.” Kirkus
  • “Doctorow has envisioned a fascinating world…This intriguing take on a future that might be right around the corner is bound to please.” ?Library Journal
  • “Memorable and engaging. …Ultimately suffused with hope.” ?Booklist
  • “The darker the hour, the better the moment for a rigorously-imagined utopian fiction. Walkaway is now the best contemporary example I know of, its utopia glimpsed after fascinatingly-extrapolated revolutionary struggle. A wonderful novel: everything we’ve come to expect from Cory Doctorow and more.”?William Gibson
  • “Cory Doctorow is one of our most important science fiction writers, because he’s also a public intellectual in the old style: he brings the news and explains it, making clearer the confusions of our wild current moment. His fiction is always the heart of his work, and this is his best book yet, describing vividly the revolutionary beginnings of a new way of being. In a world full of easy dystopias, he writes the hard utopia, and what do you know, his utopia is both more thought-provoking and more fun.”?Kim Stanley Robinson
  • “Is Doctorow’s fictional utopia bravely idealistic or bitterly ironic? The answer is in our own hands. A dystopian future is in no way inevitable; Walkaway reminds us that the world we choose to build is the one we’ll inhabit. Technology empowers both the powerful and the powerless, and if we want a world with more liberty and less control, we’re going to have to fight for it.”?Edward Snowden

(11) LITFEST PASADENA. In addition to the Roswell Award  and Tomorrow Award readings, this weekend’s LitFest Pasadena includes these items of genre interest:

Saturday

Famed afro-futurist writer Nalo Hopkinson (The Chaos) joins the Shades & Shadows Reading Series for an evening of dark fiction from noir mystery to sci-fi.

Sunday

Popular comic book and TV writer Brandon Easton (Agent Carter), joins fellow comic book writers to discuss “Manga Influences on American Culture.”

(12) SPEAKING PARTS. Pornokitsch shows why someone could argue “Middle Earth Has Fewer Women Than Space”.

This research is from April 2016. The folks at The Pudding analysed thousands of screenplays and did a word count of male and female dialogue.

Unsurprisingly: Hollywood skews heavily in favour of dudes talking.

Naturally, I looked for all the nerdiest films I could find. This was a lot of fun, although the results were… pretty bleak. …..

There follows a whole chart about genre films.

2001 is literally a film about two dudes floating in space, and it has a higher percentage of female dialogue than two of the Lord of the Rings films.

(13) IOU. Jon Del Arroz thinks I should be paying him when I put him in the news. Now there’s an innovative marketing mind at work.

(14) PANTHER UNPLUGGED. Ernie Estrella at Blastr demands — “So why did Marvel pull the plug on Black Panther & The Crew after just two issues?”

How long should a comic book aimed at reaching a more socially aware audience be given latitude before it’s canceled? According to Marvel Comics, just two. Marvel is canceling one of two monthly titles that Ta-Nehisi Coates writes, Black Panther & The Crew. After two issues have underperformed in sales, the title has been abruptly put on notice. Marvel had seen enough and was not satisfied by the early numbers to stick with a title while it finds its audience. Coates told Verge that issue #6 will be the series’ finale, wrapping up the storyline that was introduced in the debut issue, which came out in this past March.

Coates co-writes the series with Yona Harvey, and together they crafted a story starring Black Panther, Storm, Misty Knight and Luke Cage investigating the murder of a civil rights activist who died while in police custody, Ezra Keith. Relevant to America’s current societal problems facing inherent racism, Coates and Harvey’s story also dives into the main four heroes and tries to look deeper at their varied experiences as black people in the Marvel Universe….

(15) NEW GRRM ADAPTATION. George R.R. Martin gives fans the background on developments they’ve been reading about in the Hollywood trade papers — “Here’s the Scoop on NIGHTFLYERS”.

In 1984 I sold the film and television rights to “Nightflyers” to a writer/ producer named Robert Jaffe and his father Herb….

This new NIGHTFLYERS television series — actually, it is just a pilot script at present, still several steps short of going on-air, but I am told that SyFy likes the script a lot — was developed based on the 1987 movie, and the television rights conveyed in that old 1984 contract. Robert Jaffe is one of the producers, I see, but the pilot script is by Jeff Buhler. I haven’t had the chance to meet him yet, but hope to do so in the near future.

Since I have an overall deal that makes me exclusive to HBO, I can’t provide any writing or producing series to NIGHTFLYERS should it go to series… but of course, I wish Jaffe and Buhler and their team the best of luck. “Nightflyers” was one of my best SF stories, I always felt, and I’d love to see it succeed as a TV series (fingers crossed that it looks as good as THE EXPANSE).

[Thanks to Greg Hullender, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar, with an assist from Camestros Felapton.]

Pixel Scroll 2/1/17 We Had Scrolls, We Had Fun, We Had Pixels In The Sun

(1) TRUE GRIT. The director of Arrival has signed on make another adaptation of Dune.

Denis Villeneuve, best known for his directorial work on Arrival, Sicario and the upcoming Blade Runner sequel, is set to tackle the adaptation of Frank Herbert’s celebrated sci-fi epic, Dune.

Villeneuve was first rumored to be in the running for the role in December, but it wasn’t until yesterday the confirmation was announced. Brian Herbert, son of Frank Herbert and a celebrated science-fiction author in his own right, made the announcement on Twitter.

(2) PETER WESTON EULOGY. This month, Ansible has an extra issue — #355-1/2 — with Tom Shippey’s funeral tribute to Peter Weston. Shippey illustrates Peter’s personality with anecdotes about his business.

What powered that success was not government assistance but reason number two, Peter’s complete lack of pretence. The success of Weston Body Hardware was not based on cunning marketing or managerial tricks, it was based on Peter’s 150-page catalogue of door locks, and unlike many managers Peter knew everything about his product. He took every picture in his catalogue himself, and in each one you could tell left-hand from right-hand.

He usually had a screwdriver in his pocket as well, for removing interesting locks from derelict vehicles, and he could tell a Hillman Minx lock from a Ford Capri blindfolded. I recall one occasion in Texas, 1988, when his attention was caught by a beautifully-refurbished sports car in a car-park. He stepped smartly over to it, looked down, shook his head and remarked (to himself, not the yuppie owner who was standing proudly by), ‘How very disappointing! An Austin-Healey 3000, and all they’ve found to put on the boot is a left-over lock from a Singer Vogue!’ It sounded absolutely apocalyptic.

(3) STICKY FINGERS. Bleeding Cool has the rundown on “The New York Comic Con Organiser Barred From Attending New York Comic Con” after he looted another dealer’s display.

Frank Patz, organiser of the neighbouring comic con, Eternalcon in Long Island, New York, attending NYCC as part of Michael Carbonaro‘s Vintage Movie Posters booth, was arrested by NYPD Special Forces on charges of grand larceny and possession of stolen goods….

It is common practice at shows for the trash at the end of the shows to be raided by some vendors to find things that other vendors have left behind. However Eaglemoss representatives told me they were still in the process of breaking down their space, and the items in question were still inside the booth, and not considered trash.

Most of the items were returned after the arrest, and the charges are pending dismissal if Patz keeps a clean record for the next six months.

…However NYCC and the Javitz Center do not seem to hold with the “innocent until proven guilty” thesis. And so while Frank Patz will have no marks on his official police record as a result of this, he and all the individuals named, have been barred from entering the Javits Center, and show organisers Reed POP have barred them for life from attending any of their events, including the New York Comic Con, C2E2, ECCC and more.

(4) NEW PRESCRIPTION. Alasdair Stuart contends “It’s Time for Doctor Who to Change Television History for the Better” at Tor.com.

A Doctor who isn’t a white man is not a destination, it’s the start of a conversation. If the character worked—and it would—that would be an unmistakable turning point in how POC and female characters are portrayed on screen. It would also empower a generation of writers and actors, crew and producers to make their own work, with their own voices—work that, in the wake of a successful Doctor Who run with a woman or a POC in the lead role, would almost certainly find itself in a far more open and welcoming production environment.

That conversation is long and complicated and years overdue. It’s one that has to include bringing more and more women and POC into the fold as scriptwriters and showrunners and directors. It’s also one that needs to be years long in order for the changes it would catalyse to take effect. Most of all, it’s simply one that needs to happen, and there is no better time than now, and no better place to start than with Doctor Who.

(5) YOUR INVITATION TO A CONSPIRACY. John Scalzi shows us the way to make lemonade after he discovers an author has fallen for Vox Day’s insinuations about his bestseller status. (I argued in 2014 that Vox’s gambit was dubious because it equally undermined Larry Correia, then his ally).

I was pointed this morning to a blog post by an author not previously of my acquaintance who was making a bit of noise about the UK cover of The Collapsing Empire; the June 2016 cover reveal of the UK cover featured the strapline “The New York Times Bestselling Series”…

A little further digging revealed that this author almost certainly got this idea from one of my usual suspects (i.e., the same poor wee racist lad whose adorable mancrush on me has gone unabated for a dozen years now), who trumpeted the strapline as evidence that Tor is planning to fake a position for me and TCE on the New York Times bestseller list. As apparently they have done with all my work, because as you know I don’t actually sell books; Tor and Tor UK and Audible and a couple dozen publishers across the planet give me lots of money strictly because I am the world’s best virtue signaller, and therefore worth propping up with byzantine schemes to fake my standing on bestseller lists, because who doesn’t like virtue.

…(P.S.: If you would actually like to see me get on the New York Times bestseller list with The Collapsing Empire — or in the UK, the Times bestseller list (that’s the Times in the UK, that is, these newspapers with the same names are confusing) — then be part of the vast conspiracy of people who pre-order the book, either from your local bookseller, or via your favorite online retailer. Sadly, my publishers don’t actually prop me up. I really do have to sell books for a living. Again: Sooooooooo unfair!)

(6) BALANCING THE BOOKS. Tolkien once was a customer of a shop now closed and auctioning off its business archives: “These boots were made for Tolkien: Ledgers from iconic Oxford shoe shop Duckers go under the hammer”.

Famous names feature in the ledgers of shoemakers Ducker & Son which are about to be offered for sale by Oxford auction house Mallams, writes Richard Lofthouse…

They range from little-known Oxford academics and wealthy undergraduates with a taste in bespoke footwear to local luminaries such Tolkien, Brideshead Revisited author Evelyn Waugh and publisher Sir Basil Blackwell (who insisted his shoes were always rubber-soled).

First World War flying ace Baron von Richthofen, European aristocratic families and several maharajahs also shopped at Duckers. More recent patrons have included Olympic rower Matthew Pinsent, comedian Rowan Atkinson, former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson and Formula One boss Eddie Jordan.

Tolkien’s first order at the start of Michaelmas term 1913 is for a pair of black rugby boots for 14s 6d, a pair of porpoise laces for 8d, and a pair of ordinary laces for 2d. He was then an undergraduate at Exeter College, just up the street from Duckers’. The year had been a landmark one for Tolkien: he had changed his course from the Classics to English literature and, on the turn of his 21st birthday, had proposed to his childhood sweetheart Edith Bratt. Standing (above) in his pale jersey in the middle of the beefy athletes of Exeter College’s Rugby and Boat Clubs in 1914, Tolkien looks rather small; but he said that what he lacked in weight, he made up by extra ferocity.

A later page shows two orders by Tolkien in the 1950s, when he was Merton Professor of English Language and Literature and shoe prices had risen considerably: he bought three pairs for around £6 apiece. Fortunately his professorial income was supplemented by royalties from The Hobbit and, by the time of the last order, The Lord of the Rings, published in 1954–5.

(7) SNAKES, IT HAD TO BE SNAKES! I am told February 1 is Serpent Day. Not sure why that precedes Groundhog Day, but there you have it.

Serpents deserve a day dedicated to them; its presence is somehow necessary, what with all of the fables and stories abound with snake-inspired situations and wise or evil serpents, that have filled our culture for as long as any of our ancestors could remember.

(8) WHO FATIGUE. Are you tired of watching Doctor Who? I’m not, but if you are, CheatSheet offers four reasons that might explain why. (More likely, you’re tired of clickbait articles like this that drag you through multiple ad-saturated screens to see the complete post.)

  1. The Doctor got meaner

Fans familiar with the progression of the Doctor are familiar with the defining personality traits of each modern doctor. Christopher Eccelston was a stripped-down version of a previously flamboyant character, beginning a walk down a decidedly grimmer path for the Doctor’s personality. David Tennant after him was kind yet stern, with sharp features to match. He always carried with him a certain guilt over the burden of being the last of the Time Lords, leading into the reactively younger and more carefree Matt Smith iteration.

Finally, we were left with Peter Capaldi, the more mature and notably older version of the Doctor. It was more than a little jarring to go from the warm, goofy demeanor of Smith to the crotchety and sometimes mean-spirited Capaldi version. This in turn made it hard to adjust for fans, leading many to jump ship mere episodes in to the latest season.

(9) TAKING FLIGHT. Nerds of a Feather rounds out its Hugo recommendations with two more posts:

Best Graphic Story, Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form, Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form

Editor – Short Form, Editor – Long Form, Professional Artist, Fan Artist, Fan Writer.

(10) FURTHER THOUGHTS. Rich Horton ranges widely in his “Hugo Nomination Thoughts: Long Fiction (and some notes on Dramatic Presentation)”. And he compliments one of JJ’s posts, too.

Best Series

Considering this brand new category reminds me of one novel that I have just read, Impersonations, by Walter Jon Williams, a new pendant to his Praxis (or Dread Empire’s Fall) series. It’s a fun story, and I’m glad I read it, but I don’t think it’s Hugo-worthy by itself. I am strongly considering nominating the entire series for a Hugo, however.

And, indeed, that hints at one of my misgivings about the Hugo for Best Series. The most recent entry in a series may not be particularly representative of the series as a whole, nor as good as the rest of the series. The same comment, obviously, applies to Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, represented in 2016 by the rather pedestrian Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. I would say personally that both Bujold’s Vorkosigan series and Williams’ Praxis book are worthy, over all, of a Best Series Hugo, but that the best time to award them that Hugo has passed. (Which, to be sure, is primarily a function of this being a brand new award.)

At any rate, I was wondering what the possible candidates for Best Series, eligible in 2016, might be, and I was delighted to find that JJ, over at File 770, had done the heavy lifting, producing this page with a good long list of potential eligible series: http://file770.com/?p=30940.

(11) TRUE LOVE. With Valentine’s Day on the calendar this month, Seattle’s MoPOP Museum has sent those on its email list a set of Fictional Flames: A Lovesick List of #MoPOPCULTURE Power Couples.

In honor of cupid’s return, here are our picks for the fictional couples who remind us why we love to fall in love.

Uhura + Spock : Star Trek – This futuristic couple showed the world how to love long and prosper.

Clark Kent + Lois Lane: Superman – The most unique story of journalistic love. Ever.

Hermione + Ron: Harry Potter – These longtime friends fell hard with no love potion required.

Buttercup + Westley: The Princess Bride – True love has never been more adventurous.

Elizabeth + Mr. Darcy: Pride and Prejudice – This enduring duo have been charming readers and viewers since 1813!

Kermit + Miss Piggy: The Muppets –  The most sensational, inspirational, celebrational muppet couple.

Gomez + Morticia: The Addams Family – “Till death do us part” takes on a whole new meaning.

Mitch + CamModern Family – These loving family men are the perfect suburban couple.

Rick + Ilsa: Casablanca – This bittersweet, war-torn romance will have you reaching for the tissues.

Willow + Tara: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – The couple that slays together stays together.

Han + Leia: Star Wars – She loves him. He knows. (He loves her too.)

(12) TRIBBLES AT THE UNIVERSITY. “The Trouble With Tribbles” episode of Star Trek will be screened at UCLA in the Billy Wilder Theater on February 5 as part of the “Family Flicks Film Series.” Details about price and schedule are at the link,

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of a classic television episode from a landmark series! Watch as Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) deal with an infestation of cute, fuzzy tribbles aboard the Enterprise. Soothing to the crew and annoying to the Klingons, the furry nuisances nonetheless hold the key to a mystery on board. Trekkie suits and transporters optional!

(13) BRAND ‘EM. Rawle Nyanzi, in “Fear of a Pulp Planet”, calls it a “Pulp Revolution” —

Bloggers Jeffro Johnson — whose Appendix N book I spotlighted here — and Jon Mollison, both of whom I’m acquainted with online, have made much of the “Pulp Revolution,” a nascent literary movement intended to turn modern sci-fi and fantasy away from a perceived focus on deconstruction and embrace its heritage as a literature of the heroic and wondrous. It also seeks to bring the works of long ignored pulp authors back into the limelight.

I find “Pulp Revolution” a more appealing label than Sad Puppies, if anyone wants to know. (Like that’s going to happen….)

(14) RINGS. I still haven’t forgotten the first film in the series. This is the third.

First you watch it. Then you die. Rings hits theatres Friday!

A new chapter in the beloved RING horror franchise. A young woman becomes worried about her boyfriend when he explores a dark subculture surrounding a mysterious videotape said to kill the watcher seven days after he has viewed it. She sacrifices herself to save her boyfriend and in doing so makes a horrifying discovery: there is a “movie within the movie” that no one has ever seen before…

The film is being promoted by a pranks like this —

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Dave Langford for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]

Pixel Scroll 3/22/16 The Scrolls Are Alive With The Sound of Pixels

(1) MEDIA CON INFLATION. Rob Salkowitz at ICv2 says “As The 2016 Con Season Begins, Seams Are Starting To Show”.

Competition for big names is getting crazy. Every show wants the top names to draw fans, but the bidding war for A-list talent is starting to sound unsustainable. I’ve heard reliable reports that the appearance fees for the Wizard World Show in Philadelphia in June, which lists Chris Evans, Chris Helmsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie and the stars of Back to the Future, top $1 million in guaranteed money.

Well sure. Those are all the stars of what seems likely to be 2016’s biggest movie, all in one place.

But this is having a trickle-down effect. Because this is Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, the surviving original cast members and just about everyone associated with all versions of the show, are in unusually high demand. Competition to get these names on the marquee has reportedly led to cancelled contracts, bidding wars, waivers of exclusives, a shift from guaranteed revenues for autograph sales to straight appearance fees, and other cutthroat tactics.

Cons need to make that money back somewhere, and it’s coming from three places: fans, exhibitors and sponsors.

Costs are rising for attendees. Badges for 3- and 4-day events are starting to crack the $100 level, and that’s just the start. More and more events are not only adding VIP packages, which start around $195 and can go as high as $800-900, but are also requiring fans to pre-pay for celebrity photo ops and celebrity autographs in advance. SVCC even experimented with charging a $10 surcharge for admission to the Back to the Future Panel in its big room on Saturday afternoon, only to oversell the event and not have room for prepaid customers.

(2) PATHFINDER. Marion Deeds has an excellent report on FOGCon 2016 at Fantasy Literature.

Is 72 Letters Enough? In Search of the Perfect Language

I consider a panel “good” if I come away with new book titles to track down, or lots of ideas. By those two measurements, this panel was the best panel of the convention. Panelists included Ted Chiang, who took his inspiration from the Umberto Eco book In Search of the Perfect Language (The Making of Europe). The other panelists were Cathy Hindersinn and Steven Schwartz, with Michelle Cox moderating. There was another panelist but I don’t remember her name and it doesn’t appear in the program. Hindersinn studied linguistics before making a lateral move and becoming a computer programmer. Schwartz is part of the FOGCon committee and writes speculative fiction and epic poetry. He loves language and he loves to talk about language. Cox has an MA in Church History and theology and is a technical writer.

Chiang is scary-smart, articulate if a bit abstract at times, and serious, but he has a great wit, which was on display during the panel. This panel was held in the large room and, as near as I could tell, there was one empty chair. Several people were standing. The panelists were opinionated, and in some cases their passion outstripped their knowledge; the audience was the same way. It was brilliant.

Chiang used the Eco book as a jumping off point for a discussion and critique of the conceit of a “perfect” language; one that existed in the past, in humanity’s “golden age;” a language that all humans could speak and understand. There are two parts to that idea: universalism; the idea that there is one language every human on the planet can communicate in, (perhaps as a second language); and then a language that has the smallest possible divide between the signifier and the thing signified.

(3) STRANGE PUBLISHING TREND. The New Republic reports “The Mass-Market Edition of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ Is Dead”.

We may never know what Lee’s will stipulates, but the estate’s first action in the wake of Lee’s death is both bold and somewhat baffling: The New Republic has obtained an email from Hachette Book Group, sent on Friday, March 4 to booksellers across the country, revealing that Lee’s estate will no longer allow publication of the mass-market paperback edition of To Kill a Mockingbird…..

That said, mass-market paperbacks have been on a precipitous decline lately, though TKAM’s success, particularly in the education market, makes it a notable exception. But many publishers are moving away from the format. Pressed for further comment, a HarperCollins spokesperson informed me that “Like many American classics, To Kill A Mockingbird’s primary paperback format will be the trade paperback edition.” That’s an important distinction: The general trend in publishing has been against the mass-market and toward more expensive (and durable) editions—many American classics, including The Great Gatsby and The Grapes of Wrath no longer have mass-market editions.

(4) THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. Murray Leinster’s warning is just waiting for tech to catch up. A Logic Named Joe: The 1946 sci-fi short that nailed modern tech. 70 years later, Murray Leinster’s disaster scenario is the internet you know and love.”

The story goes on to tell how “Joe,” a rogue logic with a slight manufacturing defect, becomes self-aware and resolves to provide his owners and all other “logic” users with whatever information they require. Leinster says of Joe:

Joe ain’t vicious, you understand. He ain’t like one of those ambitious robots you read about that make up their minds the human race is inefficient and has got to be wiped out an’ replaced by thinkin’ machines. Joe’s just got ambition. If you were a machine you’d wanna work right, wouldn’t you? That’s Joe. He wants to work right. And he’s a logic, an’ logics can do a lotta things that ain’t been found out yet.

This, in turn, leads to logics around the city providing tips on everything from poisoning spouses to covering up drinking binges and robbing banks. Only when Joe is taken offline is that information hidden away from humanity and order restored.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born March 22, 1931 – William Shatner. The whole internet is barely big enough to contain everything there is to know about his show biz career. Google revealed to me that Shatner was on the old What’s My Line? game show in January 1965.

He was there to plug the premiere episode of his (then) new lawyer drama series For The People — which fortunately for all concerned failed in time for him to be cast in Star Trek.

(6) TODAY’S OTHER BIRTHDAY BOY

trekkie-recipe-william-shatners-cappuccino-muffins_w654

(7) RECORD STRAIGHTENER. Larry Correia has been unfairly charged with abandoning the battlefield, as he explains in “The Guardian’s Village Idiot Declares Another Career Ruined”.

I wasn’t going to write anything about SP, but it has come to my attention that a new narrative has arisen amongst the mushy headed dope punditry of fandom, because they are always scrambling for something to get their collective panties in a bunch over. This time it is that Brad and I are cowards—and are probably misogynistic women haters too—because we abandoned poor female Kate to their mighty wrath.

Well, you’ll have to forgive Brad’s cowardice, because he has been deployed by the US Army to the Middle East for the last year, supporting missions against terrorists, but that’s nothing compared to the courage it takes to have a good fandom slapfight. (And really? Scared of what? There are only so many ways you guys can send out a press release alleging that somebody is a racist).

And you’ll have to forgive me too, because I thought I had made my point in 2014 that the system was biased, and I was done. Only Brad asked me to come back to help in 2015, so I did, and after the CHORFs proved my point for me far better than I ever could—wooden assholes and No Awarding the most deserving editor in the business—I said at the end of that I was done.

Why am I out? Mostly because it was a giant time suck, and I’ve got stuff to do. Unlike most of my detractors, I actually write books for a living. I wrote a novella worth of posts on SP in public, and another one worth of emails on the topic behind the scenes. Then there is the joy of spending an hour on the phone with reporters, so that they can quote one sentence from you, and then quote paragraphs from some dolt who knows jack about the topic but belongs to the right clique.

Honestly, in the time I spent on Sad Puppies, I probably could have gotten another book out the door. Plus in 2016 I’ve got my European research trip, I have a new business venture I’ve not talked about at all, I bought a big chunk of property, and mountain fortress compounds don’t build themselves. All that’s in addition to the three novels that are coming out this year, the short fiction collection I have to put together, and the MHI anthology I have to edit.

So I could either try to prove again the point that I’ve already proven, or I can get paid more. Hmmm…. Tough call.

(8) A PUPPY SURPRISE. Apparently Jeffro Johnson was the last person on Earth to realize this was the game plan from Day 1. “Comments on Sad Puppies IV and Rabid Puppies II” at Jeffro’s Space Gaming Blog.

You know, I have to say… making the Puppies lists for Best Related Work was a real shock for me. That’s just not something that ever even occurred to me as being a possibility. Maybe it’s a bit ironic, but it’s actually humbling to have even a modest number of people think that well of me. I honestly don’t know what else to say, but “thank you.” So: thank you! 

(9) HONORED. Cheah Kai Wai (Benjamin Cheah) is also pleased to be included. See “Rabid Puppies Recommended”.

I am greatly honoured to accept such praise, and am deeply humbled by the fact that there are people who believe I am worthy of standing beside such luminaries as Stephen King and Andy Weir. Looking at the rest of the Rapid Puppies recommendations, I am fully confident that the recommendations will live up to the Rapid Puppies’ mission of making the Hugos great again.

Further, I am especially pleased by Vox Day’s inclusion of Space Raptor Butt Invasion. Science fiction is the literature of ideas, allowing radical concepts to be explored in great detail. This story is indubitably a masterwork that skilfully portrays interspecies non-heterosexual relations within a vividly-created science fictional universe, and would surely be a shoo-in for the Hugos among certain quarters.

(10) REMOVAL REQUEST. In revolutionary Boston the tea had to be thrown overboard. This time it jumped.

Emma Newman speaks “Regarding Tea and Jeopardy being included on a certain list”.

All I know is that I would like Tea and Jeopardy to be removed from this latest list. I don’t want something that Pete and I spend a hell of a lot of time and energy creating to be associated with anything like this. Our podcast has made it to the nominations shortlist two years in a row on its own merit and if we are lucky enough to be shortlisted for a third time, I want it to be because people listen to the show and are moved to nominate it. Nothing more.

Sadly, it seems that requests to be removed for the Sad Puppies 4 list are being ignored. Whilst part of me agrees that people can put whatever they like into a list on their own website, the part that values courtesy disagrees with the refusal to respect a creator’s requests to remove something from it. I’m sorry if this hurts the feelings of the people involved, but no matter what the intentions are this year, no matter the reasons why our podcast made it onto that list, I personally do not want my work to be associated with it.

(11) SECOND CUP. Peter Newman affirms the request in “Tea and Jeopardy, Hugo nominations and Sad Puppies”.

To be clear, I have never solicited the attention of this group, nor do I endorse it. I was not asked if Tea & Jeopardy could be included and I am told that requests to be taken off the list will be ignored. That said, I’d like Tea & Jeopardy to be taken off the Sad Puppies 4 list.

(12) SCHMIDT ASKS OUT. Bryan Thomas Schmidt tells Facebook readers he’s unhappy to find himself on the Rabid Puppies slate.

So apparently the abominable Vox Day put me on his Hugo list this year. First I heard if it. I have paid NO attention this year to lists, etc. I would demand removal but he clearly cares not what people think and states flat out he will not entertain removal requests. I “No Awarded” him last year and would again. I do not approve of this and see it as his attempt to do me further harm. Just going to ignore.

He’s also got an asterisk next to his name on the Sad Puppies 4 List now, too.

In fact, Schmidt says he would rather not be considered for the Hugo at all.

Although I am flattered when friends say they nominated me for the Hugo, please do not waste votes on me this year. I do not want to participate in this broken, biased process, at least until perhaps people of all creeds and levels can be fairly considered without politics ruling the day. I would decline a nomination if offered, though I highly suspect there will be no need. Instead, please consider MISSION: TOMORROW for the Locus Awards. Thanks.

(13) LIMITING DAMAGE. David D. Levine also got his short story “Damage” asterisked by asking to be removed from the Sad Puppies 4 List in a comment.

(14) SUPPORT FOR KATE PAULK. Amanda S. Green in “Cranky Writer is, well, cranky” said —

As for those who don’t want to be associated with SP4, I suggest you go back and look at what Kate has done throughout the year. The list is not something she pulled out of thin air. This is a list that is based solely on recommendations made by anyone who wanted to take part. By telling Kate you don’t want to be associated with the list, you are basically telling your readers — your fans and the people who buy your work — that you don’t value their support. You are letting fear of what a few in the industry might think of you override what should be important: keeping your fans happy. Unless, of course, you don’t give a flip what your fans think and you like slapping them in the face for daring to support your work and recommend it for what has been one of the most prestigious prizes in the industry.

(15) BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARDSHELL. Alexandra Erin brings back the field’s most insightful reviewer, John Z. Upjohn, USMC (Aspired) – “Sad Puppies Review Books: Yertle the Turtle”.

The villain of the piece is a turtle named Mack who is so dissatisfied with his place in the world that rather than climbing the ladder and making something of himself, he instead blames society for such petty things as the pain in his back and his lack of food. Not content to merely complain, he uses his extraordinary power and privilege to impose his will upon all other turtles. Lacking the gumption and will to raise himself up, he instead only tears down, and will not be satisfied until all other turtles have been brought down to his level.

(16) DELVING. Alexandra Erin’s “Nineteen Puppy Four” contains her opinion of the Sad Puppy worldview and motivations.

Well, so much for the notion that this year’s litter of Sad Puppies were kinder, gentler, or even more moderate than last year’s. Over the past weekend, when the initial reactions to their new list were still more initial, Sarah Hoyt posted a response that was… well, we’ll say “typically hyperbolic”, but also quite telling.

A lot of it follows the “BUT MOM, I’m NOT Touching Him!” school of legalism that sprouts up whenever reactionaries try to argue with or by what they think is progressive logic, but as she goes on, she eventually compares Puppy critics to such nuanced things as German citizens whipped into a frenzy of anti-Semitism by the Nazi party, only “worse” because those who disagree with the Pups are doing it of our own free will. In the same piece, she refers to those who dissent from her party line as being slaves bound in chains.

(17) NOT THE DOG IN THE NIGHT. Paul Cornell can still hear them.

(18) AND NOW ABOUT SOME BOOKS. Book Smugglers Publishing thinks you will be interested in Superheroes in Space.

Broken by Susan Jane Bigelow has earned a Starred Review by Publishers Weekly, a super great review by Foz Meadows over at Hugo Award winner A Dribble of Ink and has sold TV rights. Broken is Book Smugglers Publishing’s first novel and the opening act in The Extrahuman Union Series….

Introducing readers to Susan Jane Bigelow’s sprawling series in which Extrahumans will fight wars, overthrow governments, fall in and out of love, have life-changing adventures and travel the stars in search of a home—and their promised freedom—Broken is out now and is available as a trade paperback and ebook (EPUB & MOBI) from all major retailers online. The print book contains the novel, two illustrations from Kirbi Fagan, and a sneak peek at Sky Ranger, the second book in the series (published this June). The ebook edition also contains a prequel short story, Crimson Cadet, as well as an essay from the author and a Q&A with the artist.

(19) ET TU PENTAWERE? Scanners do not live in vain when it comes to extracting secrets from the mummies of Pharoahs.

The New Kingdom Pharaoh Ramesses III was assassinated by multiple assailants — and given postmortem cosmetic surgery to improve his mummy’s appearance.

Those are some of the new tidbits on ancient Egyptian royalty detailed in a new book by Egyptologist Zahi Hawass and Cairo University radiologist Sahar Saleem, “Scanning the Pharaohs: CT Imaging of the New Kingdom Royal Mummies” (American University in Cairo Press, 2016).

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Darren Garrison, and James H. Burns for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peace Is My Middle Name.]

Pixel Scroll 1/31/16 May the Pixels Be Ever in Your Scroll

richard-gaitet-avait-attaque-en-disant-vouloir-realiser-la-ceremonie-la-plus-courte-de-l-histoire-parce-que-tout-le-monde-a-envie-d-aller-boire-des-coups-et-da(1) A COMIC DISGRACE. A few weeks ago The International Festival of Comics (Angoulême) embarrassed itself by issuing a set of nominees for its awards with zero women among them. Several were added in response to a threatened boycott.

And at the awards ceremony on January 30, what the organization covered itself with was not glory. “Angouleme organizers criticized for presenting fake awards” reports Robot 6.

As if this year’s Angouleme International Comics Festival hadn’t been plagued by enough controversy, the organizers decided to play a practical joke at the closing ceremony that a lot of people didn’t find very funny.

The ceremony began with comedian Richard Gaitet, clad in a neon-blue suit and red bow tie, announcing, “This will be the shortest ceremony in history, because all we want to do is drink and dance.” He proceeded to present nine awards in rapid succession, including the award for best series to Saga, best comic for young people to Aaron Renier’s The Unsinkable Walker Bean, and the Fauve d’Or, the big prize, to Arsène Schrauwen, by Olivier Schrauwen. And then two women appeared and said, “Bravo Richard, for that joke about the false fauves [awards] and the size of the Grand Prix. We laughed a lot, but now we must go.” And then they presented the real awards because that first set? That was fake.

(2) SELF-DOUBT. That first item is just one more of the zillion reasons people identify with Aidan Doyle’s “The Science Fiction Writer’s Hierarchy of Doubt”. Here’s his introduction, and the first few entries on the scale.

Even if you’ve had a successful writing year, there’s always going to be another writer who achieved more. Sure, I had a few short stories published last year, but none of them ended up on recommended reading lists. No matter what level of writer you are, there’s always something to worry about. Take consolation in The Science Fiction Writer’s Hierarchy of Doubt.

Why don’t I have any ideas?

Why haven’t I written anything?

Why haven’t I written anything good?

Why won’t anyone publish my stories?

(3) NEW CAMPBELL REQUIREMENTS. On the other hand, last year’s Campbell Award winner Wesley Chu sounds pretty confident. He just announced the next new writer to win it will have to go through him.

(4) BEFORE DAWN. What if the Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice film was made in 1966 starring Adam West and George Reeves?

The makers also produced a video showing scene-by-scene how they parodied the official Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice trailer.

(5) TIP OF THE DAY. “Things Your Writing Teacher Never Told You: Pro-Tip From Carlos Hernandez” at Black Gate.

A Few Words on Structure, Point of View, and Discovery

I once told Delia Sherman that one of the great pleasures of reading her work is the same pleasure I would have purchasing an antique grandfather clock. Maybe I bought the clock because it is gorgeously carved and imbued with history, but then I am delighted to discover over a period of months that it keeps perfect time.

“Perfect time” in that conceit is structure, the mechanics of storytelling. It is, to my mind, the absolute hardest aspect of writing. I can write a funny line or a mordant or trenchant one, but how many of those may I keep and still preserve the pace and measure of the whole? It’s an impossible question to answer in advance of writing, and maybe just plain impossible.

(6) SHATNER COVERS ALL THE BASES. William Shatner does his usual first-rate narrating job on the Major League Baseball Network’s new documentary, The Colorful Montreal Expos, about the National League team that existed from 1969 to 2004 (before moving to Washington D.C., and becoming The Nationals.) Shatner, of course, was born in Canada….

It debuted this week, and should be repeated frequently. Here’s the trailer.

(7) SOURCES OF LOVECRAFTIAN LANGUAGE. Jeffro Johnson has an exposition on “Lovecraft on Lord Dunsany and the King James Bible” at Castalia House blog whose theme is —

So… Lovecraft doesn’t merely encourage writers to study the King James Bible for its “rich and forceful English.” He points out that that Lord Dunsany was among the best (if not the best) because of assimilation of its style– and that lesser writers suffered from not being familiar with it! Given how his politics and beliefs tend to be portrayed, this is liable to be a surprise.

(8) MORE LOVECRAFT ADVICE. Maria Popova’s “H.P. Lovecraft’s Advice to Aspiring Writers: Timeless Counsel from 1920” was Johnson’s inspiration. There are several more interesting quotes in her post.

Much like Jennifer Egan did nearly a century later, Lovecraft stresses the vital osmosis between reading and writing:

No aspiring author should content himself with a mere acquisition of technical rules. … All attempts at gaining literary polish must begin with judicious reading, and the learner must never cease to hold this phase uppermost. In many cases, the usage of good authors will be found a more effective guide than any amount of precept. A page of Addison or of Irving will teach more of style than a whole manual of rules, whilst a story of Poe’s will impress upon the mind a more vivid notion of powerful and correct description and narration than will ten dry chapters of a bulky textbook.

(9) FINLAY OBIT. SF Site News reports actor Frank Finlay (1926-2016) died January 31.

One of his earliest roles was in the six-episode sf series Target Luna (1960). (He did not appear in the three sequels.)

Fans probably know him best as Porthos in Richard Lester’s The Three Musketeers, The Four Musketeers, and The Return of the Musketeers.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 31, 1936The Green Hornet made its radio debut.
  • January 31, 1961 — NASA launched a rocket carrying Ham the Chimp into space.

(11) ARCHIE ON TV. Jackson McHenry of Vulture spins the announcement of Greg Berlant’s new Riverdale series this way — “The CW Orders an Archie Pilot That Will Finally Answer the Question: What If Everyone in Riverdale Were Really Hot?”

According to Variety, Riverdale will offer a “surprising and subversive take on Archie, Betty, Veronica and their friends, exploring the surrealism of small town life — the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome façade.” Substitute “Riverdale” for “Lumberton” and this is also the plot of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.

(12) A FOURTH HELPING OF DOGS. Jim C. Hines returns to a subject he has studied closely in “Puppies, Redux”, but I’m compelled to ask — if a Middle-Earth blogger wrote, “So far the new ringbearer has been doing a better job,” would you feel reassured?

Predictions:

I don’t know for certain what’s going to happen this year. My personal opinion, for whatever it’s worth, is that there’s been so much hatred and nastiness surrounding Sad Puppies that it’s all but impossible to run a “clean” recommendations list under that brand. That said, SP4 seems to be genuinely trying for openness and to escape last year’s nastiness. Props to the organizers for that, and I hope it continues.

Given everything that went down in 2015, I don’t expect the Sad and Rapid Puppy groups to have as much influence on the final ballot. I imagine they’ll get some nominees from their lists onto the ballot, but it won’t be the same kind of shutout we saw in 2015.

(13) YEP, THAT’S MY PUBLISHER. G. Willow Wilson, the writer of Ms Marvel, talks about the whole Marvel CEO-donating-to-Trump thing that was on yesterday’s scroll.

In an ordinary election cycle, I’d say that when the CEO of an entertainment company supports a conservative candidate while also fostering diverse creative talent within his company, it is a sign of a healthy democracy. Being a Republican is not a crime. However, this is not an ordinary election cycle, and Trump is not an ordinary Republican. The irony that Ms Marvel was launched on Perlmutter’s watch–while Donald Trump would like to prevent Muslims from even entering the United States–was not lost on the mainstream media, nor on me.

(14) NEWS IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR. Let me be the last to report that William Shatner played the role of Mark Twain in an episode of Murdoch Mysteries aired in October 2015 on Canadian television. Here’s the behind-the-scenes preview.

When Twain’s life is threatened after a controversial speaking engagement at the Empire Club of Canada in 1903 Toronto, Detective Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) and his colleagues must protect the esteemed writer.

 

[Thanks to Soon Lee, lurkertype, snowcrash, John King Tarpinian, and James H. Burns for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]

Pixel Scroll 1/3 The Man from P.I.X.E.L.

coverWARP932 Keith Braithwaite

(1) BRAITHWAITE RESTORES CLASSIC ARTWORK. Gracing the cover of Warp #93, the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association clubzine, is this superlative painting —

The Doctor and his Companion, by Claude Monet (oil on canvas, 1875), a painting dating from a most fertile phase of the renowned French Impressionist’s career, was recently discovered in the attic of a house in Argenteuil in which Monet lived in the 1870s. Little is known of the subjects depicted as the artist left no notes as to their identity or relationship to him. No particulars on the gentleman or lady are to be found, either, in the local historical records of the time and the odd structure beside which the gentleman is standing remains a puzzle. Civic records offer no indication that such a structure ever existed, as if this curious blue box simply appeared out of thin air, and then disappeared just as mysteriously. The title of the work gives us our only clue as to the two subjects, suggesting that the gentleman was, perhaps, a medical doctor travelling with a female relative, Fiancée, or mistress. MonSFFA’s own Keith Braithwaite worked on the restoration of the painting.

(2) BLUE PEOPLE BEWARE. Yahoo! Movies reports “’The Force Awakens’ Barreling Toward ‘Avatar’Record”.

The space opera sequel is moving up the all-time domestic box office charts at a record clip and now is poised to overtake those pointy eared blue aliens as the top grossing film in history. Avatar earned $760.5 million during its stateside run and Star Wars: The Force Awakens has generated $740.4 million domestically after picking up $88.3 million over New Year’s weekend. It should take the crown from Avatar early next week.

(3) AXANAR DECONSTRUCTED. (There’s that word again. I hope I know what it means…) John Seavey at Mightygodking has created a FAQ about the Paramount/CBS lawsuit against Axanar Productions:

Q: Then why are they being sued? Paramount allows lots of these things, don’t they?

A: Oh, yeah. “Star Trek Renegades”, “Star Trek: Of Gods and Men”, “Star Trek Continues”…basically, it seems like as long as nobody’s making any money, Paramount turns a blind eye to these fan films.

Q: But this one they wouldn’t? Why?

A: Well, there is the fact that, in an update on Axanar’s Indigogo campaign, they said, “EVERYTHING costs more when you are a professional production and not a fan film. All of this and more is explained, along with our budget of how we spent the money in the Axanar Annual Report.”

And in that latest annual budget report, they said, “First and foremost, it is important to remember that what started out as a glorified fan film is now a fully professional production. That means we do things like a studio would. And of course, that means things cost more. We don’t cut corners. We don’t ask people to work full time for no pay. And the results speak for themselves.”

And:

“Please note that we are a professional production and thus RUN like a professional production. That means our full time employees get paid. Not much honestly, but everyone has bills to pay and if you work full time for Axanar, you get paid.

Also, no other fan film has production insurance like we do. We pay $ 12,000 a year for that. Again, a professional production.”

Also, in their Indiegogo FAQ, they had this little gem:

“Q: What is Axanar Productions?

Axanar is not just an independent Star Trek film; it is the beginning of a whole new way that fans can get the content they want, by funding it themselves. Why dump hundreds or thousands of dollars a year on 400 cable channels, when what you really want is a few good sci-fi shows? Hollywood is changing. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and other providers are redefining content delivery, and Axanar Productions/Ares Studios hopes to be part of that movement.”

Which kind of contradicts the “fan film” statement.

(4) WILL SMITH’S CHARACTER IS LATE. John King Tarpinian imagines the conversation went like this: “You want how much?  Sorry but your character just died.” In a Yahoo! News interview,  “Will Smith Says It Was Terrible When He Found Out His Independence Day Character Died”.

Will Smith found it unpleasant to learn that the fat lady had sung on Steven Hiller, the character he played in 1996’s Independence Day. “It was terrible when I found out my character died,” Smith told Yahoo.

Hiller’s death was revealed on a viral site for Independence Day: Resurgence. “While test piloting the ESD’s first alien hybrid fighter, an unknown malfunction causes the untimely death of Col. Hiller,” the site’s timeline reads. “Hiller’s valor in the War of ’96 made him a beloved global icon whose selfless assault against the alien mothership lead directly to the enemy’s defeat. He is survived by his wife Jasmine and his son Dylan.” You can see an image of Hiller’s fiery death by clicking here.

(5) ALL KNIGHT. Admiring Fred Kiesche’s Damon Knight quote in a comment here, Damien G. Walter tweeted —

(6) HE FIGURES. Camestros Felapton forays into toy design with his new “Hugo” brand “Stage Your Own Kerfuffle”  figures….

(7) JEFFRO MOVES UP. Vox Day is delegating management of the Castalia House blog to “The new sheriff in town”, Jeffro Johnson:

As Castalia House has grown, it has become increasingly difficult to balance my responsibilities as Lead Editor and as the manager of this blog. Because Castalia House shoots for excellence across the board, I have decided that it is time to step back and hand over my responsibilities for this blog to someone else.

And who is better suited to take it over than one of the very best bloggers in science fiction and gaming? I am absolutely delighted to announce that the Castalia House blogger, author of the epic Chapter N series, and 2015 Hugo nominee for Best Fan Writer, Jeffro Johnson, has agreed to accept the position of Blog Editor at Castalia House.

(8) ARISTOTLE. That leaves Vox Day more time to orchestrate his winter offensive. His first target is File 770 commenter Lis Carey.

Even I occasionally forget how fragile these psychologically decrepit specimens are. Anyhow, it’s a good reminder to ALWAYS USE RHETORIC on them. They’re vulnerable to it; they can’t take it. That’s why they resort to it even when it doesn’t make sense in the context of a discussion, because they are trying to make you feel the emotional pain that they feel whenever they are criticized.

Day is developing a Goodreads author page, and Carey mentioned yesterday she had already seen early signs of activity:

Ah, this may explain a recent comment on one of my reviews of last year’s Hugo nominees–and means maybe I can expect more.

The particular comments were on her review of Castalia House’s Riding The Red Horse.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 3, 1841 — Herman Melville ships out on the whaler Acushnet to the South Seas.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 3, 1892 – J.R.R. Tolkien, honored by Emily Asher-Perrin at Tor.com:

But of course, the world remembers Tolkien for changing the fantasy genre forever. By penning The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien set a framework for fantasy literature that countless authors have attempted to recapture over the years. The creation of Middle-earth, from its languages to its poetry to its rich cultural history and varied peoples, was an astounding feat of imagination that no one had managed before with such detail and ardent care.

(11) SEMIPROZINES. Camestros Felapton continues moving through the alphabet in his “Semiprozine Round-Up: Cs and Ds”.

Keeping on going in the Cs and Ds of semiprozines.

  • The Cascadia Subduction Zone
  • The Colored Lens
  • Crossed Genres Magazine
  • Daily Science Fiction
  • The Dark Magazine
  • Diabolical Plots

(12) PARTS NOT TAKEN. “Leonardo DiCaprio Reflects On Turning Down Anakin Skywalker And Two SuperHero Roles” at ScienceFiction.com:

And it’s a philosophy that has led to him turning down parts in some guaranteed smashes and lots of cha-ching.  He recently revealed that he actually met with George Lucas, but ultimately passed on playing Anakin Skywalker in the ‘Star Wars’ prequels.

“I did have a meeting with George Lucas about that, yes.  I just didn’t feel ready to take that dive. At that point.”

Around this time, DiCaprio instead chose to make ‘Gangs of New York’ and ‘Catch Me If You Can’, the latter of which earned him a Golden Globe nomination.

Still he must be kicking himself.  The role instead went to Hayden Christiansen and look at how his career took… oh, ahem.  Nevermind.

(13) REMEMBERING BAEN. While researching another post, I rediscovered David Drake’s 2006 tribute to the late Jim Baen, who had just recently passed. Shortly before Baen’s death the two were on the phone and Baen asked, “You seem to like me. Why?” The answer is rather touching.

And then I thought further and said that when I was sure my career was tanking–

You thought that? When was that?”

In the mid ’90s, I explained, when Military SF was going down the tubes with the downsizing of the military. But when I was at my lowest point, which was very low, I thought, “I can write two books a year. And Jim will pay me $20K apiece for them–”

“I’d have paid a lot more than that!”

And I explained that this wasn’t about reality: this was me in the irrational depths of real depression. And even when I was most depressed and most irrational, I knew in my heart that Jim Baen would pay me enough to keep me alive, because he was that sort of person. He’d done that for Keith Laumer whom he disliked, because Laumer had been an author Jim looked for when he was starting to read SF.

I could not get so crazy and depressed that I didn’t trust Jim Baen to stand by me if I needed him. I don’t know a better statement than that to sum up what was important about Jim, as a man and as a friend.

(14) PEACE IN OUR TIME. In “The Stormbunnies and Crybullies”, John C. Wright devotes over 2,000 words to making his closing offer irresistible in that special way only he knows how.

But I am a forgiving man, jovial and magnanimous. I make the following peace offer: Go your way. Cease to interfere with me and my livelihood, do your work, cease to libel me and meddle with my affairs, withhold your tongue from venom and your works from wickedness, and we shall all get along famously.

Otherwise, it is against my self interest to seek peace with you. Peace is a two sided affair: both parties must agree. So far only Mr. Martin has even expressed a desire for it.

(15) WHAT KEEPS YOU FROM WRITING? Nandini Balial at Pacific Standard helps writers name their fears — “Gremlins and Satyrs of Rejection: A Taxonomy of Writers’ Foes”

THE SATYRS OF MOUNT OUTLET: Like its cousin Olympus, Mount Outlet stretches far beyond human sight into luxurious billowy clouds. The work its satyrs produce is sharp and daring. Vast networks of bloggers, freelancers, and even reporters churn out viral but self-aware listicles, personal essays that make me cry more than they should, and short stories so good I’m inclined to simply put my pen away. On Twitter, their satyrs (editors) trade barbs and witticisms with the speed of a Gatling gun. A poor peasant like me may approach the foot of the mountain, but my tattered, unworthy scrolls and I will soon turn around and head home.

(16) PUBLISHING STINKS. Kristen Lamb, in “The Ugly Truth of Publishing & How BEST to Support Writers”, says don’t bother reviewing her books on Goodreads, because that’s where the trolls are:

Tweet a picture of our book. Put it on Facebook. People in your network ARE noticing. Peer review and approval is paramount in the digital age. And don’t support your favorite author on Goodreads as a first choice (AMAZON reviews are better). The only people hanging out on Goodreads for the most part are other writers and book trolls.

Support us on your regular Facebook page or Instagram or Twitter. Because when you post a great new book you LOVED your regular friends see that. When they get stranded in an Urgent Care or an airport? What will they remember? THAT BOOK. They won’t be on Goodreads. Trust me.

(17) DISSONANCE. After reading Kristen Lamb’s discouraging words, I encountered M. L. Brennan calling for everyone to get up and dance because Generation V earned out and what that means”. That’s not the next post I’d have expected to see, straight from leaving Lamb’s black-crepe-draped explanation of the publishing industry.

One thing to bear in mind, because it’s easy to lose sight of it when you look at that last paragraph — if I hadn’t received an advance, I wouldn’t have made more money on this book. I would still have earned $7615.78 on the series — except earning that first $7500 would have taken me two years, rather than being entirely in my pocket on the day that Generation V hit the bookstores. And that $7500 paid my mortgage, my electric bill, and other bills, which made it substantially easier for me to write. Without that advance, it would’ve taken me longer to write Iron Night, Tainted Blood, and even Dark Ascension, because I would’ve been having to hustle other work elsewhere and spend less time writing.

(18) NONE DARE CALL IT SF. Whether Joshua Adam Anderson styles himself an sf fan I couldn’t say (though he did take a course from Professor James Gunn), but his LA Review of Books article “Toward a New Fantastic: Stop Calling It Science Fiction” is a deep dive into the abyss of genre. His attempt to define (redefine?) science fiction is precisely what fans love.

LAST JULY, Pakistani science fiction writer Usman Malik published a clarion call for his home country. In it, he made the claim that “[e]ncouraging science fiction, fantasy, and horror readership has the potential to alleviate or fix many of Pakistan’s problems.” While it would be difficult to disagree with the idea that science fiction is a positive force in the world, many of Malik’s reasons for championing the genre are problematic. To begin with, Malik — along with just about everyone else — still, for some reason, calls “science fiction” science fiction. His essay actually contains a handful of reasons why we should stop calling it “science fiction,” and it also inadvertently addresses how and why we need to liberate ourselves from genre itself — and how “science fiction” can help us do just that.

(19) PLANNING BEGINS: Paul Johnson’s early word is that the event to honor his father, the late George Clayton Johnson, might be in February at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.

P Johnson snip Egyptian

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

Pixel Scroll 12/15 Mother Pixel’s Littul Scrolls

(1) STAR WARS PREMIERE. Photographer Al Ortega has posted 105 photos taken at last night’s Hollywood premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Facebook.

And Craig Miller has an account of attending the premiere on Facebook too. Both are public.

(2) ON THE CARPET. CNN has Big Media’s coverage of celebrities’ responses to seeing the movie. I didn’t spot any spoilers, but caveat emptor.

Finally, the most hilarious comment comes from Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford. Talking about how much he possibly enjoys red carpet events, he remarked: “I can’t think of anything better to do! I do these in my backyard on Wednesdays.”

(3) WINDING UP THE REWATCH. Michael J. Martinez completed his Star Wars rewatch in the nick of time — Star Wars wayback machine: Return of the Jedi.

I think the Luke/Vader scenes work much better, especially when the Emperor is in the mix. Ian McDiarmid plays Palpatine with relish and Evil and it’s pretty awesome. Luke’s character goes through the wringer, and the performance is pretty damn good. And of course, we see Vader return to the Light. That wasn’t too horribly predictable going into the movie, and it worked. The one thing that the prequels did well (or didn’t mess up) was to show the beginning of Vader’s arc and how he ended up tossing the Emperor down a well and being the good guy he always wanted to be.

Martinez says, “I’ll be seeing the new one Thursday night, and will post a non-spoiler review on Friday. Thanks yet again for having me on File 770!”

(4) TAKE NO CHANCES. Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader claims “This Chrome Extension Will Protect You from Seeing Star Wars Spoilers”.

And that’s why I’m thrilled I found Force Block. This simple Chrome extension saves me from seeing any unwanted spoilers. After it’s installed, any webpage that reveals details about the new Star Wars movie will look like this screenshot from movies.com…

(5) HO HO HO. Reason thinks Star Wars I-VI needs a parody collection of trigger warnings.

(6) MAGNUM OPUS. Whereas The Slipper works for its audience share with a rundown on how the original movies were handled in comics — “Something about that Space Wars thing everyone’s talking about”.

The Slipper knows how to leave them wanting more, as it ends by reproducing a series of Bloom County strips about Star Wars from the late Nineties.

(7) REEPICHEEP’S TAILOR? A Calgary metal artist crafts suits of armor for mice and cats.

Tiny helmets, shields and weapons could (theoretically) protect rodents and felines in battle…

It takes anywhere from 10 to 40 hours for de Boer to complete one suit of mouse armour. Cat armour takes much longer — 50 to 500 hours per piece

The link leads to a photo gallery of his work.

(8) LIVING COLOR. At Harry Bell – Fine Artist you can see glorious work like his oil painting of the London Millennium Bridge.

London Millennium Bridge by Harry Bell

Harry is a past Hugo nominee (1979), Rotsler Award winner (2004), and two-time FAAn Award winner (1977, 2014).

(9) ADDITIONAL NOTES. Deborah J. Ross tells more about “My Love Affair with the Music of The Lord of the Rings” in today’s installment at Book View Café.

Playing

When The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released, I bought the easy piano/voice version of “The Song of the Lonely Mountain,” from the closing credits of the movie. By this time, I was on my own, without my teacher, but the piece was comfortably within my skill level. I knew how to drill fiddly fingering passages and such like. The key as written was a little low for my voice, but manageable. I even figured out how to use paper clips to grab on to so I could turn the pages without breaking the flow of the song.

Of course, I wanted more. The song was so much fun, how I could I not want more? But I also wanted to challenge myself.

(10) MAKING SPACE. John Dodd’s talks about letting go (how un-collector-like!) in “The Great Collection in the Sky” for Amazing Stories.

But, after wiping away the tears, I moved on. Later, my massive collection of comics and graphic novels had to go – sold at rock bottom price to a comics shop. There had been mint first editions in there, I thought, how dare he insult me with that price? But in the end, I relented. The collection was holding me back from moving on (quite literally – the new place wasn’t big enough for all that paper and cardboard).

So, do I regret the letting go? Actually no, I don’t. I made space for some truly amazing new things in my life…less “things” and more “experiences”.

(11) RAIN OBITUARY. Author David Rain, who wrote sf as Tom Arden, died December 15 reports Locus Online.

Arden is best known for the five-book Orokon epic fantasy series, beginning with The Harlequin’s Dance (1997). He also wrote standalone novels Shadow Black (2002) and The Translation of Bastian Test (2005), as well as Doctor Who novella Nightdreamers (2002), and numerous stories, reviews, and critical articles. As David Rains he published The Heat of the Sun (2012)….

(12) 3…2…1…BOOM! On December 15, 1960 The Traveler at Galactic Journey witnessed the nadir of America’s space program, a fourth consecutive disaster — “Booby Prize (Pioneer Atlas Able #4)”.

Today, NASA made a record–just not one it wanted to.

For the first time, a space program has been a complete failure.  Sure, we’ve had explosions and flopniks and rockets that veered too high or too low.  We’ve had capsules that popped their tops and capsules that got lost in the snow.  But never has there been a clean streak of bad missions.

(13) APPENDIX N. Jeffro Johnson closes out his series with “Appendix N Matters”, a summary of his views about fantasy and its readers.

The retiring of Lovecraft’s bust from the World Fantasy Awards is therefore not so much reminiscent of statues of Stalin being pulled down in post-Soviet Russia. It’s more a reflection of the Berlin wall… going up. It used to be that reading centuries old books was almost universally considered to be a very good thing, to the point of being the very definition of an education. Now, looking into works that are merely decades old are increasingly beyond the pale. People with this attitude will even go so far as to object to having to read Ovid at university– and college administrators– far from standing up to this– seem instead to be on the lookout to accommodate this sort of thing.

In the not too distant past, though, the “dangerous visions” of the day could be enjoyed side by side with classic fiction by Lord Dunsany and A. Merritt. Professionals with highly divergent views on politics and religion could coexist within the pages of the same magazines. And people that were keen on challenging every imaginable taboo could get on within the same market where more traditional approaches to science fiction and fantasy were still practiced. People were free then in a way that’s hard to even imagine now. Political correctness and its legions of freelance thought police were only just beginning to gain a foothold, and remnants old ways and attitudes could be taken for granted.

The Appendix N list preserves therefore not just a list of books that are of especial interests to fans of classic Dungeons & Dragons. It’s also a snapshot of what fantasy fandom was into in the seventies. And don’t let anyone tell you different. While the list is not without its idiosyncrasies, it is nevertheless a representative sample of the authors that would have been translated into foreign languages when other countries finally got around to importing the fantasy and science fiction phenomenon for themselves.

(14) ABIGAIL ON ANCILLARY. Abigail Nussbaum’s review Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie” does a lot of what used to be called “praising with faint damns.”

For example:

That Ancillary Justice is as much fun as it is feels all the more remarkable when you consider that it is, essentially, a book-long infodump.

Or:

…By this point, we’ve learned enough about the Radch and its stratified, class-conscious society to view the popularity of these kinds of stories with distrust–their narrative of virtue triumphing over social convention is intended to paper over the real issues of class prejudice that hinder most capable lower class citizens from climbing the social ladder (or the pitfalls that trip them up even once they’ve achieved a higher status, as in the case of Lieutenant Awn).  It’s less clear whether we’re meant to notice that Ancillary Justice is also one of these stories–Breq isn’t just lower class, by the standards of the Radchaai she isn’t even human, and yet by the end of the novel her courage and devotion to Lieutenant Awn have not only gained her the respect of several high-ranking Radch officials, but she has been granted citizenship and the command of her own ship.  All that’s missing is the love story with a high-born Radchaai (and I’m betting rather heavily on that for the sequels).  Is it even possible to question the very idea of empire through what is essentially a Horatio Hornblower story?

(15) CORREIA. Don’t just ask any professional, “Ask Correia #18: Creating ‘Offensive’ Characters” at Monster Hunter Nation.

That whole Bechdel Test thing? Where they ask are there two females in a scene who talk about something other than a man? Okay, first off, you shouldn’t have to “test” your story for anything beyond is it readable and entertaining enough to sell it to somebody, but second WHO CARES? (well, a legion of Twitter feminists and gender studies professors obviously) Right off the bat most of the mega-selling romance genre fails the test, and most of those books are written by female authors for a female audience (and the romance genre makes serious bank compared to the rest of us).

There isn’t some arbitrary test that if you pass you’re good, and if you fail you’re sexist. Because you see what they call me, and I wrote Grimnoir, where the single most important, pivotal, critical, essential dialog scene in the entire trilogy was two young women talking about origami on top of a blimp. Test passed, and I’m the International Lord of Hate.

The real test for every scene should be asking yourself, is this scene good? Is this entertaining? Does this advance the story? Does this scene expand the characters or the universe? But that should be every scene, not just the one with two female characters in it.

(16) EMPATHY. I wonder if Larry knows the subject in the neverbeenmad comic ”2015 Voight Kampff Empathy Test”?

(17) Today In History

Peter Boyle Young Frankenstein

  • December 15, 1974Young Frankenstein was released.
  • December 15, 1978Superman with Christopher Reeve premiered.

(18) BRIN REMEMBERS CLARKE. Coinciding with the Syfy show’s premiere, David Brin has penned a tribute “Childhood’s End and Remembering Arthur C. Clarke”.

And yet, what most intrigues me about Arthur’s work is something else – his ongoing fascination with human destiny – a term seemingly at odds with the scientific worldview.

True, a great many of his stories have focused on problem-solving, in the face of some intractable riddle. His characters, confronted with something mysterious, aren’t daunted. They gather resources, pool knowledge, argue, experiment, and then – often – transform the enigmatic into something that’s wondrously known. This part of the human adventure has always shown us at our best. Peeling away layers. Penetrating darkness. Looking back at the wizard, standing behind the curtain.

(19) WHAT WILL BE IN TWO YEAR’S BEST COLLECTIONS . Through SF Signal I found

“Table of Contents: The Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 1 Edited by Neil Clarke” (31 stories)

and

“Table of Contents: The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016 Edited by Rich Horton” (30 stories).

Somebody with more time than I have just now should see if there is any overlap…

(20) WALK ON THE WILD SIDE. James Bacon took “A Superhero Stroll Around New York City” when he was in town, and wrote it up on Forbidden Planet. Lots of photos too!

Paul Lepelletier is our guide for this superhero walk around New York City, and at two pm he gathers us all outside. This is a friendly group, and soon we all know where everyone is from, four from England, four from Boston, two locals from Manhattan, two from Scotland, two from New Jersey, and four other New Yorkers, it is a decent crowd..

Paul has worked for DC comics; he drew comics at one stage of his varied career, worked in the licensing division, and indeed, is an award winning graphic designer and marketer, but his love of comics, and his appreciation for having been involved with them, is quite clear.

His knowledge is strong, and soon we are hearing about Fleicher’s Rotoscope technique and additions they made to the Superman ouevre, such as the famous Phone Booth as we stand outside their offices.

Soon we are on Park Avenue, looking at a building that housed Will Eisner’s studio, and hearing about the relationship between Will Eisner and Bob Kane, about how Batman was sold, and how Bob Kane’s own career developed and again looking at the building that housed his studio back in the day.

Paul’s knowledge of comic characters and their history, especially on TV and Radio, is new ground to me. As well as Batman, he talks about the rise of marvel in the 1960s, the old movie serials and the germination of TV series.

(21) HWA LA SIGNING. On January 16, 2016 members of the Horror Writers Association LA will sign Winter Horror Days edited by David Lucarelli at a Burbank bookstore.

Winter Horror Days COMP

Join us Sunday January 10th 2-4 pm as members of HWA LA sign Winter Horror Days at Dark Delicacies, 3512 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, James Bacon, Hampus Eckerman, Will R., Brian Z., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jonathan Edelstein.]

Pixel Scroll 10/12 Paladin of Pixels

(1) If today is The Martian’s birthday remember that…

…in nine days Marty McFly arrives from the past

(2) Can you pass HowStuffWorks’ “Real Tech or Star Trek?” quiz?

Confession: I bombed.

(3) Jeffro Johnson has completed his Appendix N survey. Keep reading and he’ll explain what that means —

So it’s all up now.

With this piece on Tolkien going up, I’ve done forty-three posts on Appendix N now. I read every book Gygax mentioned by name, at least the first book of each series, and I picked out one representative work for each of the entries that consisted of an author’s name alone. I also wrote about two thousand words on each book.

(4) A bit more from 2013 on how journalists exploited Gravatar to identify online commenters.

“Crypto weakness in Web comment system exposes hate-mongering politicians”

Investigative journalists have exploited a cryptographic weakness in a third-party website commenting service to expose politicians and other Swedish public figures who left highly offensive remarks on right-wing blogs, according to published reports.

People have been warning of the privacy risk posed by Gravatar, short for Globally Recognized Avatar, since at least 2009. That’s when a blogger showed he was able to crack the cryptographic hashes the behind-the-scenes service uses to uniquely identify its users. The Gravatar hashes, which are typically embedded in any comment left on millions of sites that use the avatar service, are generated by passing a user’s e-mail address through the MD5 cryptographic function. By running guessed e-mail addresses through the same algorithm and waiting for output that matches those found in comments, it’s possible to identify the authors, many of whom believe they are posting anonymously.

“Disqus scrambles after leak fuels Swedish tabloid expose”

Disqus is updating its widely-used comments platform after a Swedish tabloid exposed politicians and other public figures for allegedly making highly offensive comments on right-wing websites.

The Swedish daily Expressen, working with an investigative journalism group, said it uncovered the identity of hundreds of people who left offensive comments at four right-wing websites through their email addresses. It then confronted the authors of the comments, many of whom freely admitted to writing them.

(5) “Dinner and a Movie with Vincent Price featuring Victoria Price” is in Toronto on November 18 and 19. The event at the Gladstone Hotel features a four course meal created by Gladstone Chef Katie Lloyd and inspired by the late actor’s 1965 cookbook, A Treasury of Great Recipes. Tickets are available.

And for nostalgia’s sake, here is a video of Vincent Price guesting on a cooking show with Wolfgang Puck.

(6) Jerry Pournelle reports that the new There Will Be War collection, volume 10, is filling faster than expected:

There are still a few fiction slots open, and we are looking for serious previously published non-fiction on future war; previous publication in a military journal preferred but not a requirement.

Oddly, some of the aspiring contributors don’t seem to understand what the collection is about. Publisher Vox Day warned

PLEASE STOP SUBMITTING straight SF, urban fantasy, SF romance, and anything that is not clearly MILITARY SCIENCE FICTION. A submission will be rejected out of hand as soon as it becomes apparent that it is not mil-SF. We’ve received a startling number of submissions that are not even remotely relevant to one of the most famous anthology series in science fiction.

(7) Mascots meet under the Hugo at Octocon.

(8) Ah, Sweet Marketing!

https://twitter.com/APiusManNovel/status/653544755507372032

(9) Nathan Barnhart’s review of Ancillary Mercy for Speculative Herald is touted as its “first 10 star rating”:

Along the way we get a few surprises. Most noticeable for me is the humor that is present more than at any other point of the series. Breq herself gives us some lighter moments; including padding a report with results of radish growing competitions. But most of the humor comes from the translator to the mysterious Presger (an alien group that once treated humans as their own ant farm but is now confined by a treaty). Zeiat, while acting as a translator between two races provides the humor by some humorous cultural misunderstandings. In lesser hands Zeiat could have been nothing more than a cheap form of comic relief but here she serves a very real purpose within the story.   Beneath the humor of the misunderstandings is the constant reminder that even a culture as expansive as the Radch are at risk. The Presger are held in check only by a treaty they signed; a treaty the Radch still doesn’t completely understand the implications of.

(10) Io9 posted a detailed infographic “Get To Know The Incredible Starships of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Trilogy” a couple of weeks ago, which is even more fun now that I have read the third book.

(11) Screen Rant presents “10 Movie Outtakes That Made It To The Big Screen.”

(12) And here is my Get Out Of Literary Jail Free card, sent by somebody who thinks I will need it, because of the way I phrase Frankenstein stories in the Scroll.

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

Enriching Your Puppy Vocabulary 8/26

(1) Rachel Keslensky has contributed a comic called The Saddest Puppy to Scenes From A Multiverse.

(2) Eric Flint – “Do We Really Have To Keep Feeding Stupid And His Cousin Ignoramus?”

So. Let me establish some Basic Facts:

Fact One. There is no grandiose, over-arching SJW conspiracy to deny right-thinking conservative authors their just due when it comes to awards. It does not exist. It has never existed. It is nothing but the fevered dreams which afflict some puppies in their sleep.

It is preposterous—there is no other word for it—to claim that there is some sort of systematic bias against conservatives in F&SF in the same year (2015) that the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America bestowed the title of Grand Master on Larry Niven and the liberal literary magazine the New Yorker ran a very laudatory article on the author Gene Wolfe.

Fact Two. There is no reflexive reactionary movement to drag F&SF kicking and screaming back into the Dark Ages when all protagonists had to be white and male (and preferably either engineers or military chaps). The very same people who piss and moan about diversity-for-the-sake-of-it litter their own novels with exactly the same kind of diversity they deplore when their opponents do it.

Yeah, I know they’ll deny it. “The story always comes first!” But the fact is that there is no compelling plot function to Ringo’s inclusion of the gay couple in Under a Graveyard Sky. So why did he put them in the novel? The answer is that, like any good writer—and whatever my (many) political disagreements with John, he’s a damn good writer—he tries to embed his stories into the world he created for them. The world of Black Tide Rising is the modern world, and his novels reflect that—as they should.

And I defy anyone with a single honest bone in their body—just one; even a pinkie bone—to read his depiction of that gay couple and tell the world afterward that he’s a homophobe. Which is not to say, mind you, that John and I would agree on any number of issues that come up around the question of LGBT rights. But that’s a separate matter.

There are real disagreements and divisions lying at the heart of the Recent Unpleasantness. But I wish to hell people would dump the stupid stereotypes so we could get on with a serious discussion and debate.

Fact Three. Yes, there is a problem with the Hugo awards, but that problem can be depicted in purely objective terms without requiring anyone to impute any malign motives to anyone else. In a nutshell, the awards have been slowly drifting away from the opinions and tastes of the mass audience, to the point where there is today almost a complete separation between the two. This stands in sharp contrast to the situation several decades ago, when the two overlapped to a great extent. For any number of reasons, this poses problems for the awards themselves. The Hugos are becoming increasingly self-referential, by which I mean they affect and influence no one except the people who participate directly in the process.

That said, however, as I spent a lot of time in my first essay analyzing—see “Some comments on the Hugos and other SF awards”—the causes of the problem are complex and mostly objective in nature. There is no easy fix to the problem. There is certainly no quick fix. Most of all, there is no one to blame—and trying to find culprits and thwart the rascals does nothing except make the problem worse.

(3) More backstory on the Lamplighter/Nielsen Hayden encounter.

(4) John ONeill in a comment to Jeffro Johnson on Black Gate

> Please tell me more about this cost to peoples’ careers and reputations.

> I can see in the context that you think it should be glaringly obvious, but it isn’t clear to me.

Jeffro,

There are multiple aspects to it, obviously, but let me dwell on those that seemed instantly obvious back in April.

First, don’t piss off your audience. As I’ve said many times, the Hugo electorate don’t like to be dictated to. Their response to the Puppy ballot was entirely predictable — they were going to (fairly or unfairly) reject the whole thing out of hand. It didn’t take any great insight to see that, even back in April.

When it happened to us, the temptation was strong to accept the nomination anyway, and then spend the next four months lobbying for a fair shake. But that’s a fool’s game, because almost no one is paying attention… and anyway, most voters made up their mind the instant they heard about the slate. There was just no way we were going to be able to reach the bulk of voters.

Accepting the nomination, and becoming part of the Puppy slate, meant we were going to get spanked, and hard. The Hugo electorate was pissed off, and there was nothing we could say to them that would mitigate that.

Now, plenty of Puppies tried — and tried hard — to make their case in the intervening four months. I paid attention, and I thought several did a great job. So much so that, just as I said in my Sunday article, I began to doubt my initial prediction, and believed that a compelling majority of Hugo voters would give the Puppies a fair shake, and vote on the merits.

Nope. In the end, nothing we nominees said made any difference. The Hugo electorate spanked the Puppies, and hard, for the crime of being a slate, and threatening the integrity of the awards.

So, now that it’s over, how has being a losing Puppy nominee damaged reputations and careers?

The answer is twofold. One, you’re a loser. You lost out to “No Award.” That’s only happened 10 times in Hugo history… and half of them were on Sunday.

Second, rightly or wrongly, the nominees are branded as Puppies, and right now that’s a losing brand. It may not be a losing brand forever, but from the looks of the Hugo voting, it sure ain’t a brand that the majority of Hugo voters look kindly on.

There are things the nominees can do, of course — continue to produce good work. continue to network, and continue to make their case.

But I think the evidence of the past four months is pretty compelling: no one is listening. You were part of a slate that was loudly and very successfully repudiated by fandom, and that’s all they need to know to form a negative opinion.

(5) Vox Day on Vox Popoli

[Warning about insults of GRRM in post title and content]

It’s amusing how the SJWs in science fiction are claiming five awardless categories as a win while simultaneously trying to figure out how to prevent it from happening again next year. And, Martin demonstrates the truth of the observation SJWs Always Lie, as he tells a whopper about Toni Weisskopf when he claims she would “almost certainly have been nominated anyway, even if there had been no slates”. The fact is Toni Weisskopf never even came CLOSE to being nominated prior to Sad Puppies 1. In 2012, she finished in 14th place. In 2011, 10th. In 2010, 11th. She wasn’t even trending in the right direction! Without the Puppies, she would never, ever, have received a nomination and the data shows that the 2015 Long Form nominees would have been virtually identical to the pre-Puppy years, including the aforementioned Liz Gorinsky, Beth Meacham, to say nothing of the Torlock who lobbied for the creation the award so he and his fellow Tor editors could finally win something, Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

(6) Tasha Robinson on NPR – “How The Sad Puppies Won – By Losing”

As The Guardian put it in a triumphant post-awards headline, “Diversity wins as the Sad Puppies lose at the Hugo awards.”

Unfortunately, that isn’t true. The Puppy bloc — estimated as about 19 percent of the overall voters, according to a Chaos Horizon vote analysis — didn’t win any Hugos. But it did win the day. The group successfully prevented a wide variety of other content from making it to the finalist list. Sites like io9 have examined the initial Hugo nominees voting and assembled an alternate ballot, showing the top vote recipients, which would have been finalists in a Puppy-free year. They include strong Short Story candidates like Ursula Vernon’s “Jackalope Wives” and Amal El-Mohtar’s “The Truth About Owls.” A year where No Award beat out eligible, worthy material is hard to count as a victory.

And the Puppies didn’t just dominate the finalist slate, they dominated the conversation for the entire convention. They forced everyone at WorldCon to acknowledge them and their agenda, and to take sides in the conflict or work around them. They turned the 2015 Hugos into an openly cynical referendum not about which works were best, but about whose politics and tactics were best. Any vote-based system can be seen as a popularity contest and a tactical war, but the Puppies made this year’s Hugos about those things and nothing else.

They got their noses rapped at the awards ceremony. But losing an awards statue isn’t the same as losing the conversation.And they did so in the most openly derisive manner possible. Puppy defenders have often made the offensive, judgmental and depressingly self-absorbed argument that voters couldn’t possibly actually like works by or about women, trans people, gay people, writers of color and so forth. Clearly, the argument claims, people could only vote for those works out of a misguided social-justice agenda. Until this year, the best argument that Hugo voters really were voting for their favorite works (and not to push an agenda) was the range of material nominated on the first ballot, reflecting the variety of tastes that creates such a wide and scattered speculative-fiction field.

Now that voters have seen that following their hearts will just get their candidates shut out of consideration, they’re more likely to want to build slates and promote agendas, to prevent another ballot filled with finalists they can’t stomach. Over the weekend, WorldCon organizers approved a series of changes to the Hugo nominee rules to help prevent bloc domination of the ballot. But those changes won’t go into effect until 2017, assuming they’re ratified at the 2016 WorldCon.

Still, the Puppies lost in some ways, beyond the straight question of who got the awards. Their tactics rallied voters who haven’t paid attention to the process in years, and guaranteed their interest and involvement in 2016 and for the immediate future. And by creating a straight-up duel between politically aligned poles, then losing it by a wide margin, they disproved their claims that they were the silent majority, the populists being unfairly ruled by a minority of elitists. They got their noses rapped at the awards ceremony. But losing an awards statue isn’t the same as losing the conversation. And the conversation certainly isn’t over. It — and the Puppies — are just getting started

(7) Abigail Nussbaum on Asking The Wrong Questions – “The 2015 Hugo Awards: Thoughts on the Results”

If the puppies had truly represented “real” fandom, then “real” fandom would have turned up to vote for the nominees they put on the ballot.  Instead, the people who voted were, overwhelmingly, thoroughly pissed off and eager to kick some puppy ass.  The Hugo is a popular vote award, and what that means is that while it can be manipulated, it can’t be stolen.  It belongs to whoever turns up to vote, and in 2015 the people who turned up to vote wanted nothing to do with the puppies’ politics and tactics.  Despite the puppies’ loudest claims to the contrary, 3,000 voters are not a cabal or a clique.  They are the fandom. I’d like to believe that there are enough people among the puppy voters who are capable of seeing this.  There’s been some debate today about what percentage of the Hugo voters actually represent puppies.  This analysis by Chaos Horizon suggests that there were 500 Rabid Puppy voters, and 500 Sad Puppy voters.  That’s a big enough number to suggest that we could be looking at a repeat of this dance next year–another puppy-dominated ballot, another fannish outrage, another puppy shutout at the voting phase.  But to my mind, the real question is: how many of those thousand voters are willing to do that?  How many of them would rather destroy the Hugo than see it go to someone they disapprove of?  How many of them are able to ignore the undeniable proof that they’ve maxed out their support within the community, and that there simply aren’t enough Gamergate trolls to make up the difference?

I’d like to believe that those people are not the majority.  That there are among puppy voters people who can grasp that if you want to win a Hugo, the simplest and easiest way to do it is to play by the same rules as everyone else: write and publicize good, worthwhile work, and do so with a genuine love for the award, not the contempt and resentfulness that characterized the puppies’ behavior this year.

The truth is–and this is something that we’ve all lost sight of this year–no matter how much the puppies like to pretend otherwise, the Hugo is not a progressive, literary, elitist award.  It’s a sentimental, middle-of-the-road, populist one.  I rarely like the shortlists it throws up, and am often frustrated by the excellent work that it ignores.  In fact, looking at this year’s would-have-been nominees, I see some work that I loved–Aliette de Bodard’s “The Breath of War,” Carmen Maria Machado in the Campbell Award category–but on the whole it feels like a very safe, unexciting ballot that I would probably have complained about quite a bit if it had actually come to pass.  And for all the crowing about this year’s winners being a victory for those who love the Hugos, some of them–particularly in the Best Novelette and Best Fan Writer categories–send as message that is, to my mind, far from progressive.  (Full disclosure: this year’s nominating breakdowns reveal that, if it hadn’t been for the puppies, I would have been nominated in the Best Fan Writer category.  I don’t think I would have won, and all things considered I’m glad that I was out of that mess this year, but it’s worth acknowledging.)  It’s not that I’ve never felt the desire to burn the whole edifice down, the way the puppies say they do.  The difference is that I never thought that exasperation could be used to justify actually doing it.

(8) Gregory G. Hullender offers his translation of a French news article about the Puppies on Greg’s Reflections: My Adventures Reading in a Foreign Language.

Part of the fun of reading a foreign language is getting a very different perspective on issues. As a science-fiction fan, I’ve been curious what the Europeans would make of this year’s “Sad Puppy” affair. Sure enough, I found an article about it in Le Monde, the French “newspaper of record.”

(9) Allan Davis on LewRockwell.com “We Had To Burn The Hugos To Save Them”

Over 1200 people voted for Toni Weisskopf.  750 more voted for Sheila Gilbert, and 200 for Anne Sowards, all in the Best Long Form Editor category.  Over two thousand people voted in good faith for the people that they thought deserved that award.  And 2500 members of the High Church of Science Fiction–the ruling faction that believes it gets to determine who is, and who is not, a “true fan” of the genre–declared that those two thousand opinions were not welcome and their votes do not count. The SJW ruling faction of science fiction fandom, who pride themselves on their diversity, tolerance, and inclusiveness, won this year’s battle against the Puppies using their preferred weapons of intolerance and exclusion.

(10) Sharrukin’s Palace

Seriously. What did they expect was going to happen?

I’m not going to pretend that everyone has been behaving well in opposing the Puppies. There’s no denying that two of the prominent Puppies are extremely toxic figures, but the worst thing I can say about most of them is that they’re rather clueless. Folks like Lou Antonelli, Larry Correia, Sarah Hoyt, and Brad Torgersen are due some pretty strong criticism for their actions, but they don’t deserve some of the outright slander that they’ve been getting.

That having been said, did any of these folks really think that a community in which they’ve spent months or years violating long-established social norms, and loudly insulting pretty much everyone, was going to react with praise, respect, and silver rockets?

(11) embrodski on Death Is Bad “Puppies – All Bark, No Bite”

The fact remains that the puppy supporters were excited to vote a slate so they could hijack the Hugos for their self-aggrandizement. And as I predicted in “Why Vandals?” none of them bothered to show up for the actual party. If the party was left just to them, they’d have a nearly empty convention hall and no one to run it. They do not care about the con, or the people who attend it. They didn’t attend the business meeting to try to make things better. They didn’t put forward any bids to host the 2018 WorldCon. That they didn’t try to further mar the convention by ruining things in person isn’t a mark of civility, it’s simply the modus operandi for internet cowards.

It really dawned on me just how worthless the Puppies are when I went to the business meeting, and during the watching of the fan-recognition part of the award ceremony. These are people, later on in their years, who have been SF/F fans for significantly longer than I’ve even been alive. They’ve spent *decades* of work putting together these conventions. They are dedicated, and in love. They aren’t the authors, they don’t get the accolades themselves. They’re just passionate about SF. I really came to realize how much WorldCon is by and for the fans. I was very disappointed that more puppies didn’t come to the con in person. I was very disappointed that ALL the puppies didn’t come to the con in person! They would have seen that joy and passion for themselves. Maybe that is part of the reason why the puppy supporters who did come didn’t boo or shout or try to disrupt anything. They saw the love and the passion for themselves, and couldn’t bring themselves to be assholes any more. The ones who stayed home, safe behind their keyboards – they are the ones who will continue to be dicks. Because they were cowards, and wouldn’t come to see what they were vandalizing in person. Assholery feeds on cowardice, which leads to further assholery, in a neat little circle. It’s fitting.

(12) Aaron Pound on Dreaming of Other Worlds – “Biased Opinion: 2015 Hugo Awards Post-Mortem”

In the Long Form Editor category, Beale instructed his minions to vote for Toni Weisskopf first, and placed himself further down his instructional list. Despite this, 166 voters placed Beale first on their ballots, putting him ahead of Jim Minz, who only got 58 first place nods.

(13) Howard Tayler on Schlock Mercenary – “Sasquan Report”

My heart goes out to those who did not win awards this year, especially those whose work missed being on the ballot because of the hijacked slate. Their work will stand independently of this, however, and needs neither my pity nor the validation of the short-list. As a former Hugo loser, I know that it stings, but I also know that you’ve got to keep making stuff regardless of what happens with awards. I kept making Schlock Mercenary for five years after it started not winning Hugo awards. It still hasn’t won, and I’m still making it today.

Just as awards shouldn’t validate your decision to create art, they shouldn’t have any bearing on how you feel about the art you consume. Reading in particular is a deeply personal, intimate act. An award on a book is like a sticker on a banana: it might help you pick the banana, but if you eat the sticker you’re doing it wrong.

(14) Jennifer Brozek – “About the Hugo Awards in Interview Form”

Q: Now that the Hugos are over, how do you feel?

A: I feel fine.

Q: Really?

A: Yes, really. Yes, of course I’m sad I didn’t win—it was a beautiful award and I worked really hard. I wanted to win, but as I said on twitter, I’m happy people voted the way they felt they needed to. There are other nominations and other Hugos. All voices need to be heard. I don’t want to dwell on anything else. It’s done for me.

Q: What about the numbers?

A: The numbers came out exactly as I thought they would. Without “No Award,” Mike Resnick would’ve won.

Q: What about the nomination numbers, discounting the slates?

A: I saw that I probably would’ve been 6th or 7th nomination place in Best Editor, Short Form. Respectable. More importantly, I saw that CHICKS DIG GAMING got 92 nomination votes in the Best Related Work category—second only to Jo Walton’s WHAT MAKES THIS BOOK SO GREAT. Which meant, incidentally, I lost a second time on Hugo night. I lost an Alfie to Jo. Still, that means I probably would’ve been nominated for a Hugo whether there was a slate or not. So, I’m feeling pretty good about things.

(15) David Gerrold on Facebook

First, the offer to buy him [Lou Antonelli] a beer was made before he wrote his letter to the Spokane police chief. After he wrote that letter, that promise was not one I wanted to keep at Worldcon.

Second, my exact words were: “Lou, I might have forgiven you. That doesn’t mean I want to talk to you.” I am quite certain about what I said. I have forgiven him. I just didn’t know then and don’t know now what I want to say to him.

Which is why I said what I said — not to be rude, but to avoid a situation for which I was unprepared, a situation where I might say something inappropriate, something that might exacerbate an already unfortunate situation.

I did recognize that Lou’s intentions were peaceful, but that moment was neither the time nor the place. There were too many people watching both of us, many of them still upset or concerned. There were too many possibilities for Russian telephone.

It is possible that at some time in the future, Lou and I will be able to sit down and talk together, but it cannot happen while so many people are still feeling raw.

I do ask that everyone drop the subject. I do not want Lou to be the target of anyone’s internet jihad. He made a mistake. He apologized. I accepted his apology. I just didn’t want to get into that situation then. I do not want to rehash it endlessly.

(16) Arthur Chu on Salon – “The scifi fans are alright: I saw the future at the Hugo Awards – and it will never belong to the tox right-wing trolls”

My experience talking about social issues in geeky fandom online is one of constant attacks and sniping and arguing and “controversy”. If you clicked on the #HugoAwards hashtag Saturday night you could see a steady stream of 4chan-style obscenities, slurs and assorted nastiness from people not present.

But in person? To paraphrase the great Bill Hicks, I saw a lot of division among convention attendees about the Sad Puppies “movement”; people who viewed the movement with frustrated rage and people who viewed the movement with bemused pity.

There were, to be sure, plenty of personal beefs and political differences. I met many people I’d argued with online about various topics. Plenty of people had negative things to say about the response to the Sad Puppies, saying that other people had been too harsh or too hostile or too unhelpful in tone.

But defending the Puppies’ actions? Not a single person I met took that stance. The “controversy” didn’t exist outside the Internet. Everyone across the spectrum was united by sheer astonishment at how assholish the move to game the nominations was.

[Thanks to Andrew Trembley, John King Tarpinian and Greg Hullender for some of these links.]

Pixel Scroll 7/27 Riffing on AD&D

A long-eared geezer, eight stories and an embarrassing admission in today’s Scroll.

(1) Today’s birthday boy is… Bugs Bunny. He’s 75 years old.

(2) David Steffen answers “Why Do I Value The Hugos?” on Diabolical Plots.

[Excerpt is the second of seven points.]

I’ve been following the Hugos closely for several years, trying to read and review as many of the nominated works as I can digest between the announcement of the ballot and the final deadline.  I also follow the Nebulas, and I glance at the results from other SF genre awards, but for me the Hugos take up most of my attention come award season.  With this eventful Hugo year, it crossed my mind to wonder why the Hugos specifically, and whether I might perhaps be better off devoting more of my attention to awards that don’t collect controversy the way the Hugo Awards always seem to do, and in escalating fashion these last few years….

  1.  The Hugos Have a Long Reading Period

The Nebulas and the Locus awards have very short reading periods (the period of time between the announcement of the ballot and the voting deadline) of only about a month.  If I want to read as much of the fiction as possible, that’s not nearly enough time–I can’t finish all the short fiction, let alone start the novels.  The Hugo ballot is announced around Easter weekend (usually early April or so) and the voting deadline is at the end of July, so there are nearly four months to try to do all the reading.  The Hugo Packet isn’t released right at the beginning of the reading period, but usually enough of the short fiction was published in online venues so that I can fill my reading time with Hugo material.

https://twitter.com/LisaR_M/status/625448045316943872

(3) Then maybe Lisa would rather hear about – Worldcon site selection?

Spacefaring Kitten thinks it’s only fair that Helsinki win the right to host 2017 because all the other contenders have already had a turn…or seven.

A few facts to consider:

Five last countries that have hosted a Worldcon: United States (2015), United Kingdom (2014), United States (2013), United States (2012), United States (2011). Next year, the Worldcon will be in United States. In case the bid for Washington DC in 2017 (that is sort of a favorite at the moment, I guess) is successful, that’s third United States year in a row, and given the fact that there are only US bids for 2018 at the moment, it’s quite probably going to be four years of back-to-back United States Worldcons and seven United States Worldcons in eight years. That’s a lot of United States in one paragraph.

Competing for the 2017 Worldcon location, there are also bids for Montreal (in Canada) and Shizuoka City (in Japan). After 2000, the Worldcon has been in Canada twice (2009, 2003) and in Japan once (2007). Now, I’m sure that all proposed locations would hold a wonderful convention, but Helsinki would certainly be something new.

worldcon(4) Toymakers have got to protect the brand. Or, “Why Thomas the Tank Engine Doesn’t Kill Anybody in Ant-Man.

“I believe in Edgar [Wright] and Joe Cornish’s original drafts it was a train set,” Reed recalls. “At some point in the process that predated my involvement it became Thomas. As I came on, they had not secured the rights to Thomas. We had to do this whole thing where we did this presentation for the people who own the rights to Thomas. Thank God they agreed and found it funny, but there were definite stipulations. For example, nobody could be tied to the tracks and run over by Thomas. Thomas couldn’t be doing anything that could be perceived by children as evil Thomas. Thomas had to stay neutral in the battle, which was always our intention. Like anybody, they’re protective of their brand. I didn’t know what we were going to do if we didn’t get the rights to that. There are certain things I was going to be devastated about if we couldn’t have them. Thomas was one, because… you could do any kind of toy train, but the personality of that thing and the eyes moving back and forth give it a whole vibe and took it to another level.”

(5) Another Castalia House child prodigy! Jeffro Johnson reports in “First Session Report for my Daughter’s Dungeon Design!”

At the age of nine, my daughter has designed a 15 level dungeon, gotten paid for her work, and received back playtest report. It doesn’t get any better than that…!

It’s true – and entertaining, too.

(6) The Official Tolkien Calendar 2016 featuring artwork by Tove Jansson will be released on July 30. The cost is £9.99.

Jansson, who passed away in 2001, is well-known worldwide as the author and artists behind the popular Moomin series. As an accomplished artist, she provided the artwork for the Swedish editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Hobbit (also later used in Finnish editions). In Boel Westin’s autobiography of Jansson, she is quoted as saying “The figures are banal: dwarves, gnomes, fairies, dark-elves. But the scenery is luring in its macabre cruelty … Haunted woods, pitch-dark rivers, a moon-lit moor with burning wolves.

2016 Tolkien Calendar(7) Ursula K. Le Guin is offering writing advice through an “Online Fiction Workshop” at Book View Cafe. Use the form at the post to submit your question.

I have enough vigor and stamina these days to write poems, for which I am very thankful. It takes quite a lot of vigor and stamina to write a story, and a huge amount to write a novel. I don’t have those any more, and I miss writing fiction.

Reliable vigor and stamina is also required to teach a class or run a workshop, and so I had to give up teaching several years ago. But I miss being in touch with serious prentice writers.

So in in hope of regaining some of the pleasures of teaching and talking about writing fiction with people who do, I’m going to try an experiment: a kind of open consultation or informal ongoing workshop in Fictional Navigation, here on Book View Café.

I hope it will work its own process out as we go along, but here’s how I plan to start:

I invite questions about writing fiction from people who are working seriously at writing fiction.

(8) Explore the author’s earliest novels in Part I of SF Signal’s Interview with Samuel R. Delany.

Q: Your new book, A, B, C: THREE SHORT NOVELS, takes the reader back to the beginning of your career by offering up your first three novels. What is it about these works that impelled you to offer them up again?

Samuel R. Delany: With all these books’ clumsinesses and immaturities, I think—I hope—I was trying for something that is probably harder and harder to see with time’s passing. Indeed, it may never have been there. The only thing that might have thrown some highlighting onto it at the time they were published were slight differences between them and what was then coming out in the genre. Because so many changes have taken place in the background against which individual works now register, however, it’s harder and harder to read the signals.

(9) The Guardian included Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves on its 70 title longlist for the “Not The Booker prize”.

If you want to become part of this noble process, all you have to do is vote for two books from the longlist, from two different publishers, and accompany those votes with a review of at least one of your chosen books in the comments section below. This review should be something over 100 words long, although, as the rules state, we probably won’t be counting all that carefully.

Readers have until August 2 to vote titles onto the shortlist.

(10) After using geometric logic to deduce the wrong writer behind “Ray Blank’s” real-life identity, I was informed by a friend that it’s not even a secret. Eric Priezkalns says it’s him:

Ray Blank is the pen name I use when submitting speculative fiction to publishers.

And just in case I needed more convincing, my friend also ran comparative text samples through IBM Watson Personality Insights. Because science!

Really, though, it’s just not any kind of a secret.

[Thanks to JJ, Mark, Will R., Jonathan Olfert, and John King Tarpinain for some of these stories. Title credit to Soon Lee]