Pixel Scroll 4/14/17 A Long Time Ago, When Pixels Scrolled The Earth, A Filer Was Climbing Mount Tsundoku

(1) SF IN CHINA. At Amazing Stories, Shaoyan Hu highlights the developing science fiction scene in China

Science fiction is a growing phenomenon in China: the various organizations are living evidence of that. It’s not just Star Wars or The Three-Body Problem now, but a substantial foundation quickly coming into shape. Although speculative fiction is still a small portion of the market, the large population in China suggests a considerable potential return for whoever ventures into this new area. As it happens, quite a few principal investors already have eyes on the genre, but this is perhaps a topic for another time. For now, suffice it to say that the unceasing efforts of all the people within the SF community have given the genre a positive outlook in China and a flourishing future is yet to come.

(2) FILLING THE MISS PIGGY BANK. The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, NY has launched a Kickstarter appeal to fund conservation of its Muppet collection reports the Seattle Times.

A museum is asking fans of Jim Henson’s Muppets to help pay for an exhibition featuring original puppets of beloved characters like Elmo, Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog.

The Museum of the Moving Image launched a Kickstarter campaign on Tuesday seeking $40,000 to help preserve the puppets for posterity.

“Jim Henson’s work has meant so much to so many people, myself included,” actor Neil Patrick Harris says in a video on the Kickstarter page. “His humor and inventiveness have inspired people to find their own creative voices.”

The Queens museum owns hundreds of Henson puppets and other objects including costumes and props, all donated by Henson’s family in 2013. Henson died in 1990.

Museum staff members are working to conserve the items along with Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, which was founded by Henson in 1979 and carries on his work, and fine-arts conservators.

The Kickstarter campaign has already raised $66,416, far in excess of its goal, with 26 days remaining.

(3) JEDI CRITIC. USA Today’s Jesse Yomtov took a look at The Last Jedi teaser trailer and decided it was time to speak up: “Why the Jedi were actually the worst and really should ‘end’”.

At the end of the first trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi (aka Episode VIII), Luke Skywalker brings up an important issue.

“I only know one truth,” he says. “It’s time for the Jedi to end.”

That sounds ominous and bad, but Luke is 100% correct. It’s not even up for debate that a group like the Jedi would be the bad guys in any other movie.

The Jedi were nearly brought to extinction at the end of Episode III, and while yeah it was the result of Palpatine’s super-evil scheme, it only got to that point because of their own incompetence and self-destructiveness.

Here are some of the most off-putting things about the Jedi Order:

(contains information/spoilers from The Clone Wars animated show, which ended three years ago so that’s kind of on you)…

(4) FINAL WORD ON CARRIE FISHER’S FUTURE IN STAR WARS. VIII yes, IX nay. That’s the word from Kathleen Kennedy.

Carrie Fisher will not appear in Star Wars: Episode IX, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy said on Friday.

The announcement came during an interview with ABC News and was something of a bombshell, as Todd Fisher, the late actress’ brother, previously said his sister would be in the planned ninth installment of the blockbuster franchise. Kennedy said he was “confused.”

“Sadly, Carrie will not be in nine,” said Kennedy. “But we will see a lot of Carrie in eight.”

(5) FAMILY PORTRAIT. On the first day of the Star Wars Celebration happening in Florida, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford posed with Billie Lourd, Carrie Fisher’s daughter.

(6) ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. Ken Liu was finally able to reveal he is at work on a Star Wars book.

So, the news is out: I’m writing a Star Wars book as part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi project. Working with the team at Lucasfilm Publishing has been such a pleasure — they’re the best.

I can’t tell you much about the book yet, except that it’s called The Legends of Luke Skywalker, it’s going to go on sale on 10/31/2017, and it’s going to be awesome….

I think a writer’s job is to build a strong, welcoming house. Readers then move in and fill the rooms with their individual experience and understanding of the world. And only then, after they’ve settled in and begun to explore, do they discover its little nooks and crannies, its hidden passages and secret staircases, and following these, they find breathtaking vistas of other planets, rogues who prize friendship more than treasure, mystical sages full of wisdom, princesses leading grand armies, and farm boys dreaming of walking among the stars …

The Star Wars universe is grand and beautiful, and it is ever expanding. To be able to build a house in this universe after my fashion, to welcome fellow fans and readers into this house, and to see them get comfortable and discover its secrets … I don’t have the words for my joy.

(7) ZUCCHINIS VS. BEETS. On March 31, Margaret Atwood discussed 10 of her favorite speculative fiction novels at the website Omnivoracious: The Amazon Book Review. But as you might expect, she has a few things to say about defining the term first:

There is still some fuzziness around the terms “speculative fiction” and “science fiction.” Some say that “speculative fiction” includes such things as horror and reality-based dystopias and vampire stories, with “science fiction” being a subset. Others make a distinction between “science fiction” – hard and soft, but involving other planets and universes accessed by devices we do not currently have and cannot realistically expect to have – and “speculative fiction,” located on this earth and containing no devices that we cannot currently foresee. Let’s just say that there is a difference in nature between stories set in a universe far, far away – some call these “science fiction fantasy” — and those set on this planet, in a future we can plausibly describe, though not infallibly predict. (No predictions are infallible.) All fictions both entertain – otherwise nobody turns the pages – and also instruct – because stories will inevitably be given a moral interpretation by readers, language and people being what they are. But the far, far away galaxy kind – let us call them “zucchinis” – will inspire less immediate fear than the other kind – let us call them “beets.”

The list below is a list of “beets.”  There are many more, but these are some of the books I have read and enjoyed. They concern this earth and what is possible on it, given the knowledge available at the time of their writing. They are mostly dystopias – they describe a world we would rather not have. But some are utopias – they point to improvements.”

From the middle of her list –

Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban

A personal favourite. Written in the Future-English of a post-apocalyptic British teenager. The apocalypse has been atomic, as they once were. Young Riddley is on a quest, as his riddle-based first name and his ambulatory last one would suggest. A puppet show featuring Mister Clevver is his day job, insofar as he has one. Beware of Mister Clevver!

(8) TWEETS OF THE DAY. The investigation begins at SFWA.

(9) TAKE-OUT. Episode 34 of Scott Edelman’s Eating the Fantastic podcast takes place in the middle of Brian Keene’s live-streamed fundraising telethon. At first, Keene couldn’t find time in his schedule —

But when it came time for Brian to record the 100th episode of The Horror Show as a live 24-hour-long telethon to raise funds for the Scares That Care charity, he had a brainstorm—that I invade his event with a meal of some sort, and record my own show as part of his livestream.

So that’s what I did—show up at a conference room of a Hunt Valley hotel with a ton of takeout from Andy Nelson’s Barbecue, which has repeatedly been voted best BBQ by Baltimore Magazine—bringing enough to feed Brian, his co-hosts, and some of the live studio audience you’ll hear in this episode, too.

Brian’s published more than 40 novels, including the best-selling The Rising, and he’s the winner of the 2014 World Horror Grand Master Award. He’s also written comics, including the adventures of the Doom Patrol.

We discussed why the ending to The Rising isn’t as bewildering as some seem to think it is, whether new horror writers should try to replicate his career path, how Marvel Comics creator Steve Gerber is responsible for him becoming a writer, the shady way Brian amassed the largest comics collection in the sixth grade, if he’s a Scully who changed into a Mulder as he got older or if he’s been a Mulder all along, and more…

(10) GETTING AROUND HELSINKI. Going to Worldcon 75? Then this info is for you:

The Helsinki Regional Transit Authority (Helsingin Seudun Liikenne) has announced that as of June 19, 2017, tickets will no longer be sold on Helsinki commuter trains, and therefore must be purchased in advance from one of the available outlets: ticket machines (map of ticket machine locations), the HSL mobile phone application, or HSL Travel Cards.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 14, 1912 – The Titanic strikes the iceberg.

(12) A NIGHTMARE TO REMEMBER. As a child, Steve Vertlieb was haunted by the image of the Titanic:

One hundred five years ago tonight, at 11:40 PM, RMS Titanic fulfilled its terrifying date with history as innumerable heroic souls perished beneath the icy waters of The Atlantic. This horrifying remembrance remains among the most profoundly significant of my own 71 years. As a little boy, during the early-to-mid-1950s, I was tormented night after night by nightmares of finding myself upon the deck of a huge ocean liner cruising the darkened waters of the Atlantic. After a time, I’d find myself walking along the brooding ocean floor, enveloped in crushing darkness, when I sensed a horrifying presence behind me. I’d turn slowly each night with fear and encroaching trepidation. As I gazed up into the watery sky, I’d find myself next to the enormous hull of a wrecked and decaying ship. I awoke screaming on each of these nights. I’d never heard of Titanic in my early years, but I was tormented by these crippling dreams, night after suffocating night, for years. To this day, the very sight and sound of the name “Titanic” sends me into cold sweats and an ominous sense of dread, and foreboding. I’ve come to believe that I may have been aboard the doomed ocean liner that awful night, and that I’d been reincarnated three decades later. I fear the ocean still. Suffice to say, it is a chilling remembrance that will forever haunt my dreams. May God rest Her immortal soul, and all those who perished that terrible night.

(13) HOPE FOR THE WORLD. It’s Good Friday, but this is not about that. Rather, James Artimus Owen draws our attention to another epochal breakthrough:

I’m…feeling some very, very strong emotions that I don’t know how to process. I think I knew, somehow, but didn’t realize until just now – Burger King really does have Froot Loops shakes. They exist. And thus give me hope for the whole world. #apexofcivilization

We confirmed this with Fox News. (How often do you get to say that with a straight face?) Froot Loops shakes debut at participating Burger King stores nationwide on April 17, but will only be around for a limited time.

So what, exactly, is in a cereal milkshake?

According to a spokeswoman for Burger King, the drink features “velvety Vanilla-flavored Soft Serve, Froot Loops Cereal pieces and sweet sauce.”

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY SLAYER

  • Born April 14, 1977 – Sarah Michelle Gellar

(15) PUPPIES FOR PRESIDENT. Lou Antonelli ran a poll on his Facebook page asking people to vote for the sf writer they’d most like to see as President of the U.S.

In Antonelli’s case, that doesn’t necessarily mean he was looking for any great departure from the current tenant of the White House – and he certainly didn’t end up with one.

TRUMPETS!

DRUM ROLL!

THROAT CLEARING…

President… Larry Correia!

The clear winner with 18 votes.

It was very close for second place. John Ringo had nine votes and Tom Kratman had eight.

A strong fourth place showing goes to an author who would not be considered right-of-center by any definition, David Brin – which shows there is come diversity of political opinion among my Friends.

Dr. Jerry Pournelle received five votes, and Ursula LeGuin – also certainly not a right-winger – received four.

(16) TAD WILLIAMS. Patrick St-Denis of Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist interviewed Tad Williams about his return to the universe of Osten Ard in The Witchwood Crown.

Stephen R. Donaldson once said that he waited for so long to write The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant because he wasn’t ready and needed to grow as an author before he felt comfortable tackling such a project. Would you say that, at least to a certain extent, this was one of the reasons why it took so long for you to finally decide to write the long-awaited sequel to Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn?

Yes, but not necessarily in the same way as Donaldson’s talking about. I said for years that I wouldn’t write a sequel to anything or even re-visit a world unless I had a story first, a story that cried out to be written. And for years Osten Ard was in that category, although I had thought a bit about the Chronicle project. Then, when I sat down one time to list off for Deborah (my wife and business partner) all the reasons I had no more stories about Simon and Miriamele and Binabik and the rest, I realized that I had left most of the main characters still very much in the bloom of their youth, and that after decades of life and growing responsibility — which I had undergone myself since I wrote it — they must all look at the world very differently. That set me to thinking, and within one night the first rudiments of the story for The Last King of Osten Ard (the title for the whole series) had begun to take real shape. So every moment I was aging, and moving from one country to another, and becoming a parent, and so on, I was actually creating a plot for new Osten Ard books without realizing it.

(17) YOUR SHADOW CLARKE JURY AT WORK. Racing to finish ahead of the shortlist announcement, scant weeks away —

This is the first novel I’ve read from my shortlist that feels like it belongs on the actual Clarke shortlist. Written by a genre outsider, but built definitively upon a classic sci-fi concept, and clearly aware of decades of science fiction fandom and inside jokes, it ticks a few those well-established Clarke-preferred boxes. It’s also quite enjoyable for those same reasons.

It follows the Toula/Tolliver family over four generations of delusions of grandeur beginning with Ottokar Toula: family patriarch, pickle cultivator, and mad scientist of the pre-Atomic Age. His “discovery” of the Lost Time Accidents is overshadowed by the work of “the patent clerk” in Switzerland, dooming the Toula name to forgotten history. That is, until his son, Waldemar, seizes upon Ottokar’s ideas and uses Nazi-era concentration camps to carry out his secret, malevolent time experiments…

We awaken in a contemporary alternate Finland, a country whose path diverged from its realworld twin’s shortly after World War One. We discover that Finland is now a eusistocracy – all for the best in the best of all possible worlds – separated technologically and politically from the ‘hedonistic democracies’ of the rest of Europe and forging its own path to racial purity, social stability and material content. In this new Finland, a systematic program of eugenics has been implemented in order to reinstitute traditional gender roles and relieve the increasing psychological and social tension that has been the inevitable result of female emancipation:

Nowadays, when people talk about science fiction being socially relevant, they often gesture towards Dave Hutchinson’s on-going Fractured Europe series and how the early books seemed to pre-empt not only the break-up of the European Union but also the brutal militarisation of European borders. Though dystopias will always have a role to play in helping us to prepare for unwanted futures, there is also something to be said for books that make a positive case for what it is that we are about to lose. Hutchinson’s books may be about the ugly, regressive, and nationalistic future we are going to get but Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station is about the beautiful, strange, and unapologetically multicultural future we need.

Science fiction is not and never has been about predicting the future. But it is about using satire, extrapolation, exaggeration, distortion and any other tools at its disposal to reflect and comment upon the present. Right now, Europe is in a parlous state. The enterprise of friendship and cooperation that began in the wake of the Second World War is under unprecedented threat from the emergence of just such nationalist movements that it was deliberately conceived to counter. There are currently populist movements whose avowed aims are directly counter to the European ideal active and prominent in the UK, France, Holland, Germany, Italy, Austria, Greece, Hungary, Poland and elsewhere. This is the world we live in. It is not the world we encounter in contemporary science fiction.

The Fractured Europe sequence may not be a perfect way of bringing this modern world into science fiction, but since it is the only way that anyone is currently attempting, it is de facto the best.

The last one is a roundup rather than a review:

…On which note, it seems only fair that I come clean regarding how I, personally, feel about my personal shortlist now that I’ve read it. Did the books I chose turn out to be as worthwhile, not to mention as Clarke-worthy, as I hoped they would be? The short answer, I suppose, would have to be partly, and no. Above a certain level, very few books are ever entirely a waste of reading time, and that certainly holds true here….

(18) BE YOUR OWN RORSCHACH. Who was that masked man? — “How what you wear can help you avoid surveillance”.

Imagine you’re living in a dystopian future. Surveillance cameras scan the streets to recognise and record the faces of passersby – but you’re wearing a HyperFace scarf. Amid a kinetic assortment of grid-like structures printed on the fabric, black squares suggest tiny eyes, noses and mouths. The cameras’ facial recognition algorithms are confused. Your identity is secure; your privacy, protected.

(19) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. On April 19, Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Laura Anne Gilman & Seth Dickinson.

Laura Anne Gilman

Laura Anne Gilman is the author of the best-selling Devil’s West novels (Silver on the Road and The Cold Eye) which NPR described as “a true American myth being found,” the Nebula-nominated Vineart War trilogy, and the story collection Darkly Human. Her writing past encompasses a ten-book urban fantasy series, a quartet of cozy mysteries, three paranormal romances, and a middle-grade Arthurian adventure. A once and future New Yorker, she currently lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Seth Dickinson

Seth Dickinson’s short stories have been published in in ClarkesworldStrange HorizonsLightspeed and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and elsewhere. He also contributed writing to video games, including Destiny: The Taken King. His first novel the epic fantasy The Traitor Baru Cormorant was published in 2015 and he’s working on a sequel.

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017, 7pm at KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)

(20) CONCERN TROLL ON DUTY. Superversive SF’s “sciphi” (which I believe is editor Jason Rennie) is worried about the impact Monica Valentinelli’s decision to quit as Odyssey Con GoH will have on other women authors. Sure he is. — “Why doesn’t Monica Valentinelli want women as Guests of Honour?”

What I am wondering though is, has Monica considered the wider implications of this sort of diva behaviour? If you were organising a Con would you invite her as Guest of Honour? I wouldn’t given this is her idea of professional behaviour. More than that, this will likely cause any rational Con organiser, even if only unconsciously, to be less willing to invite any women as Guest of Honour. Who wants the headache of someone flaking at the last second because they have decided their feelings of “unsafeness” trump any consideration of professional behaviour or the enormous problems it will cause other people? Monica in her betrayal of the trust shown in her has made it harder for women everywhere. What if a guest you have invited and planned for decides to “Pull a Valentinelli” at the last second? I suppose it isn’t fair to generalise this to all female authors, as much as it would be more reasonable to generalise this to any sort of grievance peddling group instead.

The people I feel most sorry for are the Jagi Lamplighters, Sarah Hoyt’s and other female authors of the world who are actual professionals and would never engage in this sort of childish tantrum, but whose prospects are damaged by one ridiculous drama queen and idiots who are enabling her behaviour.

(21) SUPERVERSIVE SF’S RESPECT FOR WOMEN. Immediately preceding that post on the site is a reprint of one of their “more popular Superversive articles,” “The Bosom-Jiggle Factor”, which is indeed about what you were assuming. With illustrations. And the name of the author? Answer: L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright.

“The Needs of Drama vs. The Needs of Culture, as illustrated by the BJF Index:”…

The Needs of Drama—the qualities that make a story dramatic, eye-catching, intriguing. Sex, sizzle, bang, POW! Seduction! Explosions! LOTS OF CAPTIALS AND EXCAMATIONS!!!!!!

The Needs of Culture—the desire to use the story to teach lessons needed to participate in the culture, like an Asops Fable or a morality play. These stories include topics like: How to behave. How to treat friends. How to treat strangers. What is and is not moral. – the message of the work.

It is not my opinion that one of these forces is better than the other. Rather, I believe that there needs to be a harmonious marriage of the two of a work to be really great.

Too much drama leads to meaningless sex and bloodshed. Too much culture leads to boring message fiction….

(22) A WORD FROM THE SPONSOR. Because you don’t watch enough commercials already, click this link to watch Baby Groot and the GEICO gecko trying to sell you insurance.

(23) CIRQUE DU PIZZA. Hampus Eckerman is right – you shouldn’t miss this.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Rob Thornton, Steve Vertlieb, Mark-kitteh, and Hampus Eckerman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ford cover poses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

(10) Today In History

(11) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born November 11, 1922 — Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut

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

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

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

Litigation Comics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You ignore them.

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

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

Let them ruin themselves.

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

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

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

 

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

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

Sasquan Replaces Two Ineligible Nominees on Hugo Ballot

Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon, has made changes to the final Hugo ballot to reflect  eligibility rulings by Hugo administrator John Lorentz.

  • “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” by John C. Wright was previously published on a web site in 2013 prior to its inclusion in The Book of Feasts & Seasons in 2014, so it is not eligible for the 2015 Novelette Hugo.
  • Jon Eno did not publish any qualifying artwork in 2014, so he is not eligible for the 2015 Professional Artist Hugo

Replacing Wright’s novelette on the ballot is “The Day The World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Lightspeed Magazine, April 2014).

Kirk DouPonce has been elevated to take Eno’s place in the Best Professional Artist category.

Lorentz also reviewed the eligibility of two other works and allowed them to stand:

Both Big Boys Don’t Cry (Kratman) and One Bright Star to Guide Them (Wright) were previously published in much shorter versions, and were significantly expanded to novella-length in their 2014 publication.  Following previous precedents, for the purposes of the 2015 Hugos they are designated as new works.

Here is the new final ballot incorporating all these changes:

BEST NOVEL (1827 ballots)

  • Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson (Tor Books)
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)
  • Lines of Departure by Marko Kloos (47North)
  • Skin Game by Jim Butcher (Roc Books)

BEST NOVELLA (1083 ballots)

  • Big Boys Don’t Cry by Tom Kratman (Castalia House)
  • “Flow” by Arlan Andrews, Sr. (Analog, Nov 2014)
  • One Bright Star to Guide Them by John C. Wright (Castalia House)
  • “Pale Realms of Shade” by John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
  • “The Plural of Helen of Troy” by John C. Wright (City Beyond Time: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis, Castalia House)

BEST NOVELETTE (1031 ballots)

  • “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium” by Gray Rinehart (Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, May 2014)
  • “Championship B’tok” by Edward M. Lerner (Analog, Sept 2014)
  • “The Day The World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Lightspeed Magazine, April 2014)
  • “The Journeyman: In the Stone House” by Michael F. Flynn (Analog, June 2014)
  • “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale” by Rajnar Vajra (Analog, Jul/Aug 2014)

SHORT STORY (1174 ballots)

  • “Goodnight Stars” by Annie Bellet (The End is Now (Apocalypse Triptych Book 2), Broad Reach Publishing)
  • “On A Spiritual Plain” by Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, Nov 2014)
  • “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” by John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
  • “Totaled” by Kary English (Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, July 2014)
  • “Turncoat” by Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)

BEST RELATED WORK (1150 ballots)

  • “The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF” by Ken Burnside (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)
  • Letters from Gardner by Lou Antonelli (The Merry Blacksmith Press)
  • Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth by John C. Wright (Castalia House)
  • “Why Science is Never Settled” by Tedd Roberts (Baen.com)
  • Wisdom from My Internet by Michael Z. Williamson (Patriarchy Press)

BEST GRAPHIC STORY (785 ballots)

  • Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt, (Marvel Comics)
  • Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery written by Kurtis J. Weibe, art by Roc Upchurch (Image Comics)
  • Saga Volume 3 written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
  • Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick written by Matt Fraction, art by Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)
  • The Zombie Nation Book #2: Reduce Reuse Reanimate by Carter Reid (The Zombie Nation)

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (LONG FORM) (1285 ballots)

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, concept and story by Ed Brubaker, directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (Marvel Entertainment, Perception, Sony Pictures Imageworks)
  • Edge of Tomorrow screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth, directed by Doug Liman (Village Roadshow, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment; Viz Productions)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, directed by James Gunn (Marvel Studios, Moving Picture Company)
  • Interstellar screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, directed by Christopher Nolan (Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Lynda Obst Productions, Syncopy)
  • The Lego Movie written by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, story by Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, LEGO System A/S, Vertigo Entertainment, Lin Pictures, Warner Bros. Animation (as Warner Animation Group))

DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (SHORT FORM) (938 ballots)

  • Doctor Who: “Listen” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Douglas Mackinnon (BBC Television)
  • The Flash: “Pilot” teleplay by Andrew Kreisberg & Geoff Johns, story by Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg & Geoff Johns, directed by David Nutter (The CW) (Berlanti Productions, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television)
  • Game of Thrones: “The Mountain and the Viper” written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss, directed by Alex Graves ((HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
  • Grimm: “Once We Were Gods” written by Alan DiFiore, directed by Steven DePaul (NBC) (GK Productions, Hazy Mills Productions, Universal TV)
  • Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried written by Graham Manson, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions, Space/BBC America)

BEST EDITOR (SHORT FORM) (870 ballots)

  • Jennifer Brozek
  • Vox Day
  • Mike Resnick
  • Edmund R. Schubert
  • Bryan Thomas Schmidt

BEST EDITOR (LONG FORM) (712 ballots)

  • Vox Day
  • Sheila Gilbert
  • Jim Minz
  • Anne Sowards
  • Toni Weisskopf

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST (753 ballots)

  • Julie Dillon
  • Kirk DouPonce
  • Nick Greenwood
  • Alan Pollack
  • Carter Reid

BEST SEMIPROZINE (660 ballots)

  • Abyss & Apex Wendy Delmater editor and publisher
  • Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine Andromeda Spaceways Publishing Association Incorporated, 2014 editors David Kernot and Sue Bursztynski
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews
  • Lightspeed Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams, Stefan Rudnicki, Rich Horton, Wendy N. Wagner, and Christie Yant
  • Strange Horizons Niall Harrison Editor-in-Chief

BEST FANZINE (576 ballots)

  • Black Gate edited by John O’Neill
  • Elitist Book Reviews edited by Steven Diamond
  • Journey Planet edited by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Alissa McKersie, Colin Harris and Helen Montgomery
  • The Revenge of Hump Day edited by Tim Bolgeo
  • Tangent SF Online edited by Dave Truesdale

BEST FANCAST (668 ballots)

  • Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing Brent Bowen (Executive Producer), Kristi Charish, Timothy C. Ward, Shaun Ferrell & Moses Siregar III (Co-Hosts, Interviewers and Producers)
  • Dungeon Crawlers Radio Daniel Swenson (Producer/Host), Travis Alexander & Scott Tomlin (Hosts), Dale Newton (Host/Tech), Damien Swenson (Audio/Video Tech)
  • Galactic Suburbia Podcast Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
  • The Sci Phi Show Jason Rennie
  • Tea and Jeopardy Emma Newman & Peter Newman

BEST FAN WRITER (777 ballots)

  • Dave Freer
  • Amanda S. Green
  • Jeffro Johnson
  • Laura J. Mixon
  • Cedar Sanderson

BEST FAN ARTIST (296 ballots)

  • Ninni Aalto
  • Brad Foster
  • Elizabeth Leggett
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Steve Stiles

Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2013 or 2014, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).

CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER (851 ballots)

  • Wesley Chu *
  • Jason Cordova
  • Kary English *
  • Rolf Nelson
  • Eric S. Raymond

*Finalists in their 2nd year of eligibility.

Update 04/14/2015: At 4 p.m. PDT. The official Sasquan press release follows the jump.

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The Day After The Book Bomb Dropped

I plunked down $2.99 for Tom Kratman’s novella “Big Boys Don’t Cry” during yesterday’s ”book bomb” pushing novellas on the Sad Puppies slate, because I just can’t stand on the sidewalk when the parade goes by. Sometimes this leads to good things. I bought Redshirts a couple years ago because of the social media campaign and it turned out to be pretty good. Can lightning strike twice?

Maggie, the protagonist of “Big Boys Don’t Cry,” is a Ratha — a sentient armored weapons platform, the human race’s ultimate ground combat unit. Spoiler warning: She’s not a boy. And apparently she can cry.

As a big fan of Keith Laumer’s original Bolo stories, as well as Elizabeth Bear’s 2008 Hugo-winning ”Tideline”, I find Kratman’s variation compelling because he asks important questions about intelligent, self-aware tanks the earlier classics never investigated.

Like: Why do artificial intelligences subject themselves to human command? Why do they sacrifice themselves for human interests?

This is something Iain Banks answered minimally about the Culture’s intelligent ships. His answer seemed to be – well, you just program them to. Kratman feels the question deserves to be addressed in far more horrifying detail.

And the horror of Kratman’s explanation is convincing for as long as you’re reading. (Somewhat the same way I believe in Ann Leckie’s ancillaries til I close the book.) Only afterwards did I wonder about Ratha training – would any culture deliberately choose such a crude process, or is the author being satirical? Quite possibly the latter, for Kratman calls the whole story a “deconstruction of that liberal meme on the easy, certain, and reliable programming of altruism in sentient beings.”

Yes, he’s more than a little contemptuous of these fictional forerunners. Even in choosing his title, “Big Boys Don’t Cry.” Do you remember the first line of Bear’s “Tideline”?

Chalcedony wasn’t built for crying. She didn’t have it in her, not unless her tears were cold tapered-glass droplets annealed by the inferno heat that had crippled her.

Well, Kratman’s Maggie – short for Magnolia – may be fearless but she is not unfeeling, as he shows with a mosaic of combat action scenes that begin with her last mission and, once she’s consigned to salvage, move through progressively earlier memories.

My lone complaint about the story is that after beginning with a splendid action scene, Kratman brings everything to an ass-grinding halt to deliver an Encyclopedia Galactica-type info dump.

Then he does it a second time.

Who started this trope anyway? I know Asimov used it in Foundation. Plenty of pulp writers have done it. But, jeepers, is it hard to tolerate, especially when we don’t need the info Kratman is dumping. Which isn’t to say it was uninteresting, it’s just not doing work, and it interrupts the entertainment something fierce.

Fortunately, he soon abandons that pattern and lets the reader enjoy the things he does best. Describing combat. Illustrating the warrior’s psychology. Casting aspersions on bureaucrats. And proving how dangerous it is to abuse the loyalty of a veteran soldier.