Pixel Scroll 1/10/19 We Built this City on Pixel Scroll

(1) A VALID GRIEVANCE. A message from Marko Kloos — “This post brought to you by the Superhero Writers Union.”

I love writing for Wild Cards. It’s an amazingly detailed world that has been expanded by thirty-plus writers over thirty years, and it’s a ton of fun to be a part of that. I mean, I get to make up my own super-powered characters and then let them loose in a playground that has been constantly expanded and improved for three decades. And the Wild Cards consortium is just stacked with super-nice and super-talented people.

That said, there’s one thing that annoys me about being a Wild Cards writer, and that’s entitled Game of Thrones fans.

Every time GRRM posts something on social media about Wild Cards, it takes about five seconds before someone responds with a dismissive one-liner that totally shits on whatever it is he’s trying to promote or announce. And it’s always a variation of the same boring, unoriginal garbage. Finish Winds of Winter. Nobody cares about Wild Cards. WHERE’S THE BOOK, GEORGE? NOT BUYING ANYTHING FROM YOU UNTIL YOU FINISH WINDS OF WINTER. Etcetera, etcetera. Yawn.

GRRM is the editor of Wild Cards (along with Melinda Snodgrass). He edits the books, he doesn’t write them…

(2) CON OR BUST SEEKS NEW DIRECTORS. Kate Nepveu, who started Con or Bust ten years ago, is stepping down from its board, and thus they are seeking up to four new director: “Help shape Con or Bust’s future: join the Board of Directors!”

What does being on the Board involve?

That’s up to the new Board members to decide. In the past, I handled all the day-to-day business, and the rest of the Board reviewed and approved requests for assistance quarterly, and provided advice, suggestions, and approvals regarding policy changes as-needed. The day-to-day business consisted of: the auction, yearly; administering requests for monetary assistance, quarterly; balancing the books, monthly; and general question-answering and email-fielding, weekly-ish.

However, that state of affairs was the result of (1) Con or Bust’s origin as a single-person project and (2) my control-freak tendencies. Since I’m stepping down, the new Board will determine what works best for its members.

Board members are elected for a term of three years.

(3) EXPLAINING THE POPULARITY OF HORROR. An article in the January 4 Financial TImes by Tom Faber contends horror films have become more popular because women are given more roles to play than “victims, sex objects, and she-devils.”

In 2018, however, women in horror were scientist-explorers, dancers, witches, avengers, webcam girls, and mothers both fiercely protective and provocatively ambivalent toward their children.  Meanwhile male characters in the Halloween reboot, (Lucas) Guadagnino’s Suspira and Hereditary were passive and useless.  In one of Suspira’s memorable scenes, witches hypnotise two policemen, laugh at them, and laugh at their genitals.  Could there be a more pointed example of the genre’s gender shift?

As female roles change, the horror audience only grows.  Last year’s Halloween broke the (admittedly specialised) box office record for a film with a female lead over the age of 55.  FrightFest reports more women attending every year.  And more women are getting behind the camera. The Babadook, Raw, and Revenge all offer a thoughtful female perspective  on the genre tropes, exploring motherhood, awakening sexuality and the aftermath of sexual violence without skimping on the gore. This could be a lasting change in the world of horror, even if the genre does end up creeping back into the shadows.

(4) LASSETER BACK IN INDUSTRY. Variety published the explanatory memo: “Skydance CEO Addresses John Lasseter Hire in Memo to Staff: ‘We Have Not Entered Into This Lightly’”

On Wednesday, Skydance announced that it hired Pixar veteran John Lasseter to head its animation division. The decision is bound to come under scrutiny, given the fact that Lasseter was ousted from Pixar in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal. In a memo to staff, CEO David Ellison attempted to explain the decision, and noted that Skydance employed a third-party counsel to investigate the allegations. Read the full memo below.

(5) STAR WARS BLOWS UP PRICES AT DISNEYLAND. At Fatherly, Ryan Britt says “Blame ‘Star Wars’ For Huge Price Increase of Disneyland Parks Tickets”. Disney has increased ticket prices by 25 percent to a minimum of $100/day to pay for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge where you can ride the Millennium Falcon and have a drink at the Mos Eisley cantina. The post includes a Disney video called “Fly Through Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.”

Sadly, there aren’t a lot of hacks to get around this, and the reason for the increase almost certainly has to do with the new Star Wars attraction. Touted as an immersive experience, Galaxy’s Edge will allow visitors to ride the Millennium Falcon and drink real alcohol at a simulacrum of the famous Mos Eisley cantina first glimpsed in the 1977 Star Wars movie, A New Hope. For those of us who remember StarTours from the ’80s and ’90s, this is supposed to be way better than that, though clearly, way more expensive.

(6) GOLDEN AGE SFF ART. Alec Nevala-Lee tells “How Astounding Saw the Future” with an accompanying gallery at the New York Times.

Science fiction has become so central to our culture that it can be easy to take it for granted, but its modern form arose at a specific historical moment. During the genre’s golden age, which is conventionally dated from 1939 to 1950, its ideas were refined by a relative handful of authors, editors and artists — and its most immediate impact came through its illustrations. Out of the pulps emerged an entire visual language that relied on striking painted covers to attract newsstand buyers, and while it took years for the stories inside to live up to readers’ dreams, the pictures were often unforgettable from the beginning.

This evolution is clearly visible in the magazine best known as Astounding Science Fiction, the most influential title in the history of the field, and in its sister publication, Unknown, which played much the same role for fantasy. Most of the art was produced by commercial freelancers in New York who collaborated closely with editors. The interior drawings tended to strictly follow the text, but cover artists could let their imaginations run wild. Thanks in large part to their work, science fiction in the midcentury achieved its enduring sense of wonder, and its images from this period may turn out to be the genre’s most lasting contribution to our collective vision of the future.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • January 10, 1927 — Fritz Lang’s Metropolis had its world premiere in his native Germany.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 10, 1904Ray Bolger. The Scarecrow In The Wizard of Oz, the villainous Barnaby in Babes in Toyland, two appearances on Fantasy Island, and Vector In “Greetings from Earth” on the seventies version of Battlestar Galactica. (Died 1987.)
  • Born January 10, 1937 Elizabeth Anne Hull, 82. She has served as the President of the Science Fiction Research Association and editor of its newsletter. She has been a member of the panel for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best SF novel since 1986. With her husband Frederik Pohl, Hull edited the Tales from the Planet Earth anthology. She is also the editor of the Gateways: Original New Stories Inspired by Frederik Pohl anthology. She has co-authored three short stories with him, “Author Plus”, “The Middle Kingdom” and “Second Best Friend”.
  • Born January 10, 1942 Walter Hill, 77. Film director, screenwriter producer of such genre fare as the Alien franchise, Streets of Fire (it’s genre, it’s it?), several espies odes of the Tales from the Crypt series, Tales from the CryptDemon KnightPerversions of Science, an episode of Deadwood and Prometheus. 
  • Born January 10, 1944 William Sanderson, 75. I remember him best as J. F. Sebastian, the possibly insane genetic designer working for Tyrell in Blade Runner but he’s had a career obviously after that film including appearing as Skeets in The Rocketeer, voicing Dr. Karl Rossum on Batman: The Animated Series, playing the character Deuce on Babylon 5 (a series I’ve watched through at least three times), E. B. Farnum on Deadwood (ok, it’s not genre, but it’s Will and Emma’s favorite show so let’s let it slide) and Sheriff Bud Dearborne on True Blood
  • Born January 10, 1944Jeffrey Catherine Jones. She was an artist providing more than a hundred and fifty covers for many different types of genre books through mid seventies including the Ace paperback editions of the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series. Among her work was also Flash Gordon for Charlton Comics in the Sixties and the  Conan Saga for Marvel Comics in the late Eighties. (Died 2011.)
  • Born January 10, 1947 George Alec Effinger. I’ve read his Marîd Audran series at least twice as it’s an amazing series in both the characters and the setting. I never read the short stories set in this setting until Golden Gryphon Press sent me Budayeen Nights for Green Man to review.  I don’t think I’ve ever encountered any of his other works — was he on presses that would’ve been in general bookstores that carried SF (Died 2002.)

(9) BUDRYS. Yesterday, Rich Horton posted “Birthday Review: Early Short Stories (and one obscure novel) by Algis Budrys”. He says, “I always think Algis Budrys needs to be better remembered, so on what would have been his 88th birthday, I put together a set of reviews of some of his 1950s stories.”

Algis Budrys was just a couple of months older than my father, and he’d have turned 88 today. He was one of my favorite SF writers. His best work, in my opinion, came mostly in the 1960s — the remarkable novel Rogue Moon, the underappreciated novel The Amsirs and the Iron Thorn, and such stories as “For Love”, “Wall of Crystal Eye of Night”, “Be Merry”, and a non-SF story, “The Master of the Hounds”. He also did excellent later work: “The Silent Eyes of Time”, “A Scraping at the Bones”, and the novels Michaelmas and Hard Landing. Late in his life he edited the interesting small press magaine tomorrow (which became one of the first magazines to transition online), before an unfortunate final act working for Writers of the Future.

(10) DC COLLECTIBLES. “Important Toy News: DC’s Hot Properties Village is the best fictional real estate”SYFY News has the story.

…Up for pre-order starting this week, Enesco’s Hot Properties Village follows in line with the well-known Department 56 “Village” brand. Instead of Swiss chalets and winter-themed Americana, Enesco is turning its attention to the major landmarks of the DC Universe. The company has already been putting out Christmas ornaments featuring some DC characters, but this new direction for the license opens up all kinds of possibilities, beginning with Wayne Manor, the Daily Planet, and the Batcave.

All three ceramic replicas include light-up elements, a key feature for display purposes. The scales are a little off between the various buildings, but that helps to keep all the various entries shelf-sized. Still, the Superman flying around the Daily Planet is comically oversized compared to the building, and the same could be said for the Bruce and Alfred that accompany Wayne Manor. At least the Batmobile looks like it could actually fit through the Batcave entrance. Sadly, the ’66 Batman and Robin to go with that cave entrance are sold separately….

(11) NONBREAKING NEWS. John Scalzi takes stock of his detractors in “And Now, the Dickhead Report”.

… Beyond that, it does seem that most of the dickheads who used to rail about me have either moved on or sunk themselves into obscurity or both. The fellow most enthusiastic about being a jackass in my direction over the years has recently fixated on someone else, which is nice for me and apparently harmless enough for the fellow he’s fixed himself upon. The object of his affections doesn’t seem to be suffering any real negative effect from the jackass’ constant need to attach himself, lamprey-like, to someone else’s career in the hope of gobbling up leftover crumbs. He’ll occasionally still snark in my direction, and mutter something to his sockpuppets about my blog visits, which, fine. But I don’t think his heart’s much into it anymore. He’s found a new crush, and I wish him joy.

Outside that dude, there’s a small group of indie writers (and their fans) who have used me as a fetish object in their never-ending war against the SJW-ing of science fiction, but that’s mostly just, like, six dudes reminding each other they’re in the “I Hate Scalzi” club over and over. Again, it’s not done me any harm, so let them have their whine circle if it makes them happy. But they seem to do it less now, as far as I can see. Among the former Sad Puppies, a couple of them will still hitch the strawman version of me to their chariot and drag it around the walls of their compound, to desultory cheers. But honestly, that was soooo long ago now. In the here and now, most of them are busy trying to build (or rebuild, as the case may be) their careers, and that’s probably a better use of their time. Good luck to them….

(12) DEEP BEEP. “Mysterious radio signals from deep space detected” according to the BBC.

Astronomers have revealed details of mysterious signals emanating from a distant galaxy, picked up by a telescope in Canada.

The precise nature and origin of the blasts of radio waves is unknown.

Among the 13 fast radio bursts, known as FRBs, was a very unusual repeating signal, coming from the same source about 1.5 billion light years away.

Such an event has only been reported once before, by a different telescope.

“Knowing that there is another suggests that there could be more out there,” said Ingrid Stairs, an astrophysicist from the University of British Columbia (UBC).

“And with more repeaters and more sources available for study, we may be able to understand these cosmic puzzles – where they’re from and what causes them.”

(13) THE NEXT BIG BUSINESS. The Verge tells how “Fixing broken satellites in space could save companies big money”.

When your satellite breaks in space, as DigitalGlobe’s did on Monday, there isn’t an easy way to repair it. Technology that’s currently on the horizon may change that, however, allowing satellite providers to staunch their financial losses and get more out of their investments.

For DigitalGlobe, the loss was brutal: an Earth-imaging satellite called WorldView-4, which had clients that include Google Maps. A critical instrument needed to stabilize the spacecraft has stopped working properly. Now, the satellite can’t take decent pictures of Earth for DigitalGlobe’s customers, and there seems to be no way to fix the damage. 

WorldView-4 generated $85 million in revenue for Maxar, DigitalGlobe’s parent company, in fiscal year 2018, and the spacecraft is insured for $183 million. (Maxar says it intends to seek all of that money.) But if a servicing company offered a way to repair the satellite in orbit, for tens of millions of dollars, Maxar wouldn’t be facing as big of a financial hole. WorldView-4 just needs a new working gyroscope to get things up and running again.

(14) WINTERPROOF. Wired assures readers that “Snow can’t stop the Edward Scissorhands of Flying Cars”.

Plattsburgh, New York, is a tough place to be outside in early January. The small city sits on the western shore of Lake Champlain, 20 miles south of the Canadian border. I’ve just arrived with Kyle Clark and a few of his colleagues, after a quick flight in a 40-year-old Cessna from Burlington, Vermont, on the other side of the lake. It’s snowing, and as we shuffle across the mostly abandoned former Air Force base toward a secluded hangar, I ask Clark if the weather might ice today’s flight plans.

He looks at me and laughs, opening the hangar door. “Not a chance.”

…Clark will have none of such worries. He bounds into the cavernous building that once housed B-52 bombers and introduces me to the Ava XC. The gleaming white contraption, with stilt-like landing gear and eight propellers jutting out in every direction, looks like what Tony Stark would build if he had an Edward Scissorhands phase.

(15) STAND UP FOR READING. In Illinois there’s a school using giant book murals to encourage reading.

For many students, this week saw the end of the Christmas break and a return to school.

However, one school in Illinois, US, has taken a novel and eye-catching approach to motivating its students in the new year.

Students of Mundelein High returned to find six floor-to-ceiling book covers lining the corridor of the school’s English department.

The vinyl prints, which wrap around sections of wall like the jackets of giant books, flank the doorways of three of the school’s English classrooms.

The school explained in a post on Facebook that a “routine hallway has been transformed into a giant motivational tableau to encourage reading”.

Lockers done over as Harry Potter book covers.

(16) ALLEGED VAMPIRES. Fox’s The Passage kicks off Season 1 on Monday — Preview: There’s No Such Thing As Vampires.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, ULTRAGOTHA, Karl-Johan Norén, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

140 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/10/19 We Built this City on Pixel Scroll

  1. I’ve never read an Effinger novel, but enjoyed his short works very much (“All the Last Wars At Once” for example is terrific).

  2. @ Steve Wright

    My first introduction to George Alec Effinger was through Nightmare Blue, a sci-fi thriller written in collaboration with Gardner Dozois. It’s actually pretty nifty…. It came out in the UK in the comparatively obscure Fontana paperback line (most of my paperbacks from that era are Panther/Granada, Pan, Arrow, Orbit, NEL or Penguins.)

    As a former paperback stock buyer for a bookshop in that era, I would say rather that Fontana was then (1977, Nightmare Blue’s year of UK publication) the second largest and most prestigious paperback imprint in the UK after Penguin, being William Collins’ adult paperback fiction and non-fiction house alongside their Armada children’s books.

    It’s true, however, that Fontana published proportionally less SF&F than other imprints (aside from some guy called Stephen Donaldson who had something of a vogue for a while), which may explain their paucity on your shelves. Collins (who also acquired and expanded the Grafton paperback imprint after buying its parent Granada Publishing in 1983) later merged with some two-bit outfit called Harper & Row to form the little-known HarperCollins in 1990, after which the Fontana name was replaced by HarperCollins, so people under 40 will likely not remember it.

    Effinger also had the 2-volume Nick of Time series published in the UK, by NEL (New English Library) in 1987/8.

  3. @Jon Bromfield: Nothing says “I’m not fixated on Scalzi” like coming here to talk about how you’re so over Scalzi.

  4. Popular author who is good at self-promotion sells well? I am shocked!

    I bought the Buyadeen cycle Kindle omnibus when it was on sale a few weeks ago, and the short story collection before that. I really enjoyed them when I read them the first time; I hope the suck fairy hasn’t been around.

  5. Jon Bromfield is the “astute critic” who gave J— S—– is a Rapist a 5-star rating on Amazon, and he periodically shows up here to remind all of us who buy and read Scalzi’s books just how “badly” Scalzi’s career is going. His whining can be ignored as the death throes of the Puppy movement.

    It’s too bad that your magical thinking isn’t working for you, Jon. Maybe you should stop smugly wasting your time on that and The Secret, and read a real book instead. 🙄

  6. @Joe H

    re: The Expanse

    Since they blitzed through Abaddon’s Gate in about seven episodes, I think they’ve set themselves up to cover one book per season. Also, now that they’re on Amazon, they won’t be straight-jacketed into forty-some minutes per episode.

  7. @Bonnie — Thanks! It had been long enough since I read the books that I didn’t recognize the divisions in the series. Yeah, if they can manage 1 season/book, that should get them through the first couple of trilogies at a reasonable rate, at least.

  8. Chill, boys. Scalzi was publicly wondering why the Puppies were ignoring him. I’m a proud Puppy and know quite a few, so I thought I’d let him know.

    Just trying to help.

  9. @Xtifr: I vaguely recall reading about 2 authors (I think it was Effinger and Ellison) who would verify themselves to each other by coming up with the sort of sports trivia not even most sports fans would know. I do suspect that fans of SF and of professional sports overlap at a lower incidence than random chance would predict, but that’s a guess with no numbers behind it (just my experience of who admitted reading SF at a sports-heavy high school). ISTM that many fans are active (despite the mundane portrayals of them as either obese or attenuated-to-feebleness), but active in personal ways (e.g. rock climbing) rather than as spectators.

  10. >Why do you ask? What are you insinuating? Do you know something I don’t?

    I reviewed The Collapsing Empire and thought it was well-written and entertaining, but as Chris says, fairly pulpish, and without the depth or literary quality that’s generally associated with awards. Why do you suppose Locus and WorldCon thought it stood out?

  11. @ Contrarius

    Here’s real success:
    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
    #1 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Censorship
    #3 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > TV, Movie, Video Game Adaptations
    #3 in Books > Literature & Fiction > United States > Classics
    #5,654 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
    #9 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Classics
    #10 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Movie Tie-Ins
    #17 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Classics > American

  12. I was distinctly underwhelmed by The Collapsing Empire myself, but John Scalzi is a bestselling and hugely popular SF author with lots of fans, i.e. exactly the sort of writer/work the puppies claimed they wanted the Hugos to recognise more. And unlike some other SFF authors who keep harping on how many books they sold and how popular they are and how they hit the NY Times bestseller list once in a slow week, I have no problems finding Scalzi’s books on European bookstore shelves.

  13. @Chip Hitchcock: Times change, and SF is a whole lot more mainstream than it used to be when I and probably you were young. Which means a whole lot more casual fans, many of whom will also be at least casual sports fans.

    Of course, in general, SF fandom skews towards white-collar, while sports fandom skews more blue, but aside from that, I’m not convinced there’s any great split between the two types of fans. Certainly, since at least the ’90s, I’ve observed discussions of our local sports teams have become a far more common topic at local conventions than they were in earlier times.

    And discussions of Star Wars or Game of Thrones are likewise much more common at my local sporting events than they once were. 🙂

  14. One thing that truck me was when Stan Lee died, there were tribute posts from several US sports teams and sports people and even one from the German football team Borussia Dortmund with a photo of the players dressed up as the Avengers. This isn’t something I can imagine seeing ten or twenty years ago.

  15. Jon Bromfield: Chill, boys. Scalzi was publicly wondering why the Puppies were ignoring him. I’m a proud Puppy and know quite a few, so I thought I’d let him know.

    No, he wasn’t. Someone else asked him why, so he offered his thoughts. He wasn’t asking for your or anyone else’s input, nor did he need any help from you. He did just fine answering the other person’s question himself.

    Also, you’re a drive-by troll. Where do you get off telling anyone else to chill?

    Go find a good book to read, instead of continually behaving like an ass. 🙄

  16. @Lela E. Buis
    Fahrenheit 451, though undeniably a classic, is propped up by the fact that it is on the reading list of hundreds of high schools and college courses.

  17. Lela E Buis: Why do you suppose Locus and WorldCon thought it stood out?

    You refer to Locus and Worldcon as if they are each one person, with one opinion — when in fact, each is an entity composed of many people with many opinions.

    Obviously a certain number of the people who contributed to Locus’ Recommended Reading list felt that it was a worthy work, and a significant number of Hugo nominators and Locus Reader Poll voters felt that it was worthy as well. Why would you expect anyone here to justify the opinions of a large number of other people?

    Sure, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 was a successful work. But its Hugo Award eligibility expired decades ago. I don’t know what relevance you feel it has to current SFF works, and why you’re even bothering to bring it up.

    It takes decades for it to become apparent whether something becomes a classic — and there are plenty of works that people in the 1950s thought were destined to be classics, but almost nobody remembers or reads today, or considers a classic. Eric Frank Russell’s Call Him Dead? Mark Phillips’ That Sweet Little Old Lady? And yet there were obviously people at the time who enjoyed them. What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with people thinking that Scalzi’s novels are great fun adventures?

    (These are rhetorical questions. If you genuinely think there’s something wrong with people enjoying the books they enjoy, you probably don’t want to mention that publicly.)

  18. @Lela E. Buis–

    @ Contrarius

    Here’s real success:
    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

    Yes, Fahrenheit 451, a classic of the genre and also considered a classic of American literature generally, to the extent that it’s assigned reading in many school systems across the country, vs. a bestselling popular current author.

    Congratulations. You’ve proved Scalzi’s work has not attained the status of literary classics that are assigned reading in schools. Amazing!

    Can you remind me again who claimed it has?

    Scalzi produces solid, enjoyable, fun books that Hugo voters (not a mythical Worldcon jury, but the subset of ordinary sf readers who join Worldcon and choose to nominate and vote for the Hugos) tend to enjoy.

    As a general rule, they’re not much interested in the standards of a literary academia that even now still tends to look down on the genre and define anything they admit to be really excellent as not part of the genre.

    We vote for what we enjoy. Some of that may satisfy your standards. Some won’t. We’re good with that. Going to persist in voting for what we actually enjoy reading.

    Scalzi wins genre awards, when he does, because we enjoyed what he wrote that year, enough that it beat out other things we also enjoyed.

  19. Makes me chuckle to see Fahrenheit 451 on these rankings:

    #3 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > TV, Movie, Video Game Adaptations
    #10 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Movie Tie-Ins

    Also, this one is actually not that terribly far above what was reported earlier for Consuming Fire:
    #5,654 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
    (I see Fahrenheit at #5,172 and Consuming at #5,468 right now.)

    Apples to oranges anyway. Genre but considered mainstream classic vs. published last year space opera.

  20. (Wow, I murdered the spelling of Fahrenheit in 2 different ways before editing my previous comment — and got the temperature wrong too! Another reason to switch to Celsius — easier to spell. *double-checks the spelling of Celsius before hitting post*)

  21. >Fahrenheit 451, though undeniably a classic, is propped up by the fact that it is on the reading list of hundreds of high schools and college courses.

    @Cora

    Acutally, so is The Handmaid’s Tale. Getting on the list can be hard, though.

  22. >Also, this one is actually not that terribly far above what was reported earlier for Consuming Fire:
    #5,654 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
    (I see Fahrenheit at #5,172 and Consuming at #5,468 right now.)

    @Laura
    Where did Consuming Fire rank in All Books, again? 😉

  23. >We vote for what we enjoy. Some of that may satisfy your standards. Some won’t. We’re good with that. Going to persist in voting for what we actually enjoy reading.

    @Liz

    Are you talking about the Hugos? Are there really no standards except popularity?

  24. Lela E. Buis,

    I reviewed The Collapsing Empire and thought it was well-written and entertaining, but as Chris says, fairly pulpish, and without the depth or literary quality that’s generally associated with awards. Why do you suppose Locus and WorldCon thought it stood out?

    I felt exactly the same way about Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass, but it also did well with fans and, if memory serves, on the awards lists.

    People like what they like. <shrug> Sometimes I agree; sometimes I’m baffled. That’s democracy for you.

  25. “No, he wasn’t. Someone else asked him why, so he offered his thoughts.”

    He offered his thoughts in his blog, not in a private message. That’s public.

    I’ll admit to a certain fascination for Scalzi, not because of any personal animus but because he has and continues to go out of his way to berate and antagonize anyone who disagrees with him on the issues of the day. As that is probably close to half of genre fans, it is an interesting marketing scheme….

    Add to this his ripping off of other authors and his genius for self promotion, he is the Peter Keating of science fiction – and we all know how Pete ended up, right?

  26. @Lela —

    Here’s real success:
    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

    GIGO, Lela, remember?

    First — as others have pointed out already, you’re comparing apples to oranges AND knocking down a huge straw man AND posing a humongous non sequitur, all at the same time. That’s quite efficient of you. 😉

    Second — you’re not even comparing Scalzi’s books with Bradbury’s book within the same category. Comparisons are meaningless if you don’t use the same category for both.

    In this case, here are today’s Kindle sales rankings for a real side-by-side comparison of current sales:

    Collapsing Empire: #10,074
    Consuming Fire: #4,804

    Fahrenheit 451: #4,565

    Yes, Scalzi’s books are currently selling as well as one of the most revered pieces of American literature of all time, one whose sales are propped up by the bazillions of sales to students who are required to read it in school every year. What a shocker. Here’s “real success” for you, as you put it.

    You’re welcome.

  27. Are you talking about the Hugos? Are there really no standards except popularity?

    They’re based on the nominations and votes of Worldcon members (the whole Sad Puppies business may have brought a little attention to that) — what other standards are you looking for?

    (Other awards with different rules are available.)

  28. Add to this his ripping off of other authors and his genius for self promotion, he is the Peter Keating of science fiction – and we all know how Pete ended up, right?

    Perhaps you could point out exactly what he’s ‘ripped off’ and from whom?

  29. Re: Hugo and Locus Awards:

    Given that both the Hugos and the Locus Awards go to the works which garner the most support within the self-selected pools of people who take the time to vote in a given year, they cannot help but be selected based on their popularity.

    I never once voted for anything for either award which I objectively saw had great artistic merit but which I did not like. I voted in the order in which I most liked the works in nomination. They aren’t juried awards-they’re voted on by the fans who choose to take the time and effort to vote.

  30. @Lela

    Seriously. Apples. Oranges. It’s 65 years older. I’m sure the recent movie adaptation also boosted the book’s sales. Why did you pick that particular book? Because it also has to do with fire? It doesn’t say anything about the very real success of The Consuming Fire this past year.

  31. @Lela E. Buis–

    @Liz

    It’s not a hard name, Lela. You could make the minimal effort needed to get it right.

    Are you talking about the Hugos?

    Since I specifically referenced the Hugos, and no other awards, in the comment you’re quoting from, I’m not sure why you feel the need to pretend you need clarification on that point.

    Are there really no standards except popularity?

    Sure there are, but we’re talking about the Hugos, which are entirely determined by what ordinary readers choose to nominate and vote for. You want “other standards,” you look at other awards whose rules and goals express the standards you want. Instead, you referenced the Hugos (entirely popular choice), and Locus (mostly popular choice.)

    And you’re attempting to look down your superior nose at them for not adhering to standards they don’t claim.

    The Puppies claim to want good, solid, popular entertainment that doesn’t suck up to elitist criteria. That’s exactly what Scalzi delivers. And when they pay attention to him, it’s apparently because they feel they haven’t dissed him enough, or that they haven’t put enough effort into remind us just how much they don’t care about him.

    What do you or they think any of this is accomplishing for you?

  32. “Perhaps you could point out exactly what he’s ‘ripped off’ and from whom?”

    Sure.

    Old Man’s War (and its variants) – Heinlein. Even JohnnyCon acknowledges this.
    Fuzzy Nation – H. Beam Piper. Although authorized by the Piper Estate, it is a re-telling of Little Fuzzy and not an original work.
    Red Shirts – Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek). So much a rip-off that the proposed TV adaptation was supposedly shit-canned after the holders of the Star Trek franchise issued a “Cease and Desist” letter.

    His other SF novels, while not technically rip-offs, are uninspired retreads of works by far more talented writers. Does anybody really believe if Scazi’s name wasn’t on the manuscript these would have made it out of the slush pile?

    Head On and it’s sequel and variant – Clearly his weak attempt at a Michael Crichton science thriller.

    Agent to the Stars – A “homage” to similar satirical Golden Age works from Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Asimov and others, with nothing new.

    The Collapsing Empire – “Influences” from Asimov’s great space opera are so obvious it’s referred to by Puppies as “Foundation’s Flow.”

    Scalzi’s initial success was due to his tireless self-promotion, though as shown by the precipitous decline in his blog’s viewer numbers his now desultory efforts are not enough to overcome his increasingly mediocre product.

    Is anybody really breathless waiting for The Last Emporox? in (maybe) 2020?

  33. In other words, you’ve got nothing beyond content free flailing. You might keep in mind that a baseless assertion remains exactly that. Baseless. The only one that’s even remotely in the ballpark is Fuzzy Nation, which is exactly what he said it was.

    Seriously Head On is ‘a weak attempt at a Michael Crichton science thriller? Rip off. I don’t think those words mean what you think they mean.

    This is why everyone laughs at you.

  34. @ Jon

    Can you and the Puppies get over this Scalzi obsession? If we are supposed to blacken the name of anybody who riffed off of Heinlein and Star Trek, we are going to run out of Sharpies pretty damn quick. This character assasination was tiresome back in the day and is even more tiresome now.

    Why don’t you end this useless vituperation and write a pulp masterpiece or something?

  35. Jon Bromfield:

    “I’ll admit to a certain fascination for Scalzi…”

    We know. For more that ten years, you have displayed an unhealthy stalking behaviour with regards to him. Writing longer and longer screeds about how badly his career is going and how little you care about it.

    I’m sure you will continue to not care with the same fanatical fevre for ten years more.

  36. Is anybody really breathless waiting for The Last Emporox? in (maybe) 2020?

    *Raises hand*

    Me, for one, and I would venture a lot of other people.

    Mr. Bromfield, your condescending opinion is just that–your opinion. Nothing more. You certainly are not the final authority on what fans, and Hugo voters, think about Scalzi’s work, especially since The Collapsing Empire came in second in Hugo voting after Jemisin’s The Stone Sky, which I consider to be a modern classic of the genre. Also, I quite liked Head On, and I can’t imagine Michael Crichton coming up with a game like Hilketa.

    though as shown by the precipitous decline in his blog’s viewer numbers

    Bullshit. All blogs are down in viewer numbers, because people have migrated to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Scalzi doesn’t care about that, and neither do I. I follow his blog because he usually has something interesting to say, not because he “self-promotes.”

    Really, I don’t know why you’re here, wasting our time with such ridiculous chatter. We get that you don’t like Scalzi. So? Listen to the sound of my tiny violin playing. Oh that’s right, you can’t, because it’s so tiny as to be non-existent.

  37. Decline in blog views? Blogs in general have declined. Have you heard of Twitter? I don’t think Scalzi’s internet presence is in danger of fading into obscurity anytime soon.

    I wasn’t terribly impressed with The Collapsing Empire, but now that I’ve noticed that people seem to like the sequel better (and obviously a lot of people liked the first one more than I did), I might give it a try, rather waiting to see if it gets a Hugo nomination.

  38. rocrist: I did not call Head On a rip off, just weak. You don’t read carefully before applying fingers to keyboard. That’s why nobody takes you seriously.

    Rob Thornton: It is not an obsession. As I said, I am fascinated that a transparent mediocrity achieved prominence and wealth without extraordinary talent, and how the path he chose appears to be the cause of both his creative and sales decline. It’s much like a Greek tragedy and much can be learned from his story.

    In many ways I admire JohnnyCon. He is a decent writer of clean prose, or was (Old Man’s War) and he certainly holds true to his politics, however silly and stupid they are.

    As Scalzi himself acknowledges (and I submit, laments), if we Puppies were “obsessed” with Scalzi, we’re moved on. I only follow John because I see a real life drama being played out and want to see how it ends.

    I admit this is an unusual interest but not an obsession. I also like to turn over rocks and see what’s squirming underneath.

  39. @Jon Bromfield
    As you’re certainly aware, science fiction is a genre in conversation with itself, where newer writers build on, respond to and expand that which has come before.

    Yes, the Old Man’s War series is a response to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, as are The Forever War, the Paradox trilogy, Edge of Tomorrow/Live, Die, Repeat and many others. In fact, approx. fifty percent of the bestselling military SF in the Kindle store at any given time are blatant Starship Troopers rip-offs with the rest being blatant Lost Fleet rip-offs.

    As for the little fuzzies, they have left their paw prints all over the genre, too, from The Word for World is Forest via the Ewoks to Scalzi’s authorized version. And Star Trek influences, parodies and subversions are everywhere to the point that pretty much every TV show set in space is a reaction to Star Trek of some kind. Last year alone, there were three Star Trek variations on the air, one official show (Discovery) and two unofficial ones (The Orville and the Black Mirror episode “USS Callister”).

    So if you’re going to call out Scalzi for unoriginality, there are plenty of other authors you should call out as well. Unless Scalzi is somehow special, because you don’t like him.

    As for The Collapsing Empire, I don’t find the Foundation influence that strong, but what struck me where the similarities in the Emperox plot (likely unintentional, since both series were written and published at around the same time) to K.B. Wagers’ Hail Bristol series. In fact, that’s probably why I didn’t much care for The Collapsing Empire, because I read it shortly after the Hail Bristol books and those simply did it better.

  40. The reason the Puppies don’t bother with John Scalzi is because he’s boring and irrelevant…
    Sorry, John. The Puppies are just quietly smiling smugly as you fade away.

    I’ll admit to a certain fascination for Scalzi, not because of any personal animus but because he has and continues to go out of his way to berate and antagonize anyone who disagrees with him on the issues of the day.
    —-
    Chill, boys. Scalzi was publicly wondering why the Puppies were ignoring him. I’m a proud Puppy and know quite a few, so I thought I’d let him know.

    *blinks* So that’s what a proud Puppy smugly ignoring John Scalzi looks like.

  41. “Does anybody really believe if Scazi’s name wasn’t on the manuscript these would have made it out of the slush pile?”

    Generally, when an author can sell a book, not by having a manuscript being pulled out of the slush pile, but by merely making a short proposal, we call that author “successful” (or even “hugely successful”).

  42. Cora Buhlart: Finally an intelligent response!

    “So if you’re going to call out Scalzi for unoriginality (sic), there are plenty of other authors you should call out as well. Unless Scalzi is somehow special, because you don’t like him. (emphasis mine)

    Exactly! Exactly! At last somebody gets it! Scalzi’s rise (and, I believe, inevitable fall) is mostly due to his created literary persona, a virulent and potty-mouth Social Justice Warrior, bad enough, but he also decided it a good idea to disparage those with opposing views as not just wrong but immoral and worthy of nothing but his contempt. Add to this his unwillingness to engage in serious debate with anybody who challenged him (the comments section in WHATEVER is the internet’s best example of a Circle Jerk), and a rhetoric of nothing but girlish snark and common vulgarities (with an weird obsession with bodily excretions), and you have quite a repulsive and intolerant package.

    Cora, of course most fiction, whatever the genre, is derivative and unoriginal. That is not my problem with Scalzi; it’s that there is no reason why someone whose talent is so thin should have risen to prominence. He cynically decided maligning conservatives would advance his career. He even publicly said he didn’t want us “Shitbirds” to buy his books. Okay, we didn’t.

    As noted, this is an strange marketing scheme for a writer of popular fiction, but no doubt he figured by doing so he would not only create controversy, always good publicity, but ingratiated himself with the ascendant leftist influence in science fiction fandom.

    It appears to have worked, so far. It will be fun to see what happens now that Scalzi, a cisnormal (assumed) rich white male competes with the new SJW LGBT dominated genre he so cynically promoted.

    Brothers, he asked for it.

  43. “*blinks* So that’s what a proud Puppy smugly ignoring John Scalzi looks like.”

    So it wasn’t obvious to you that I am perhaps the exception? You must do so much blinking your corneas resemble twenty-year old asphalt.

    Sheesh….

  44. Seriously, folks, the stench of sour grapes wafting over from the puppy crowd is just getting stronger and stronger by the second.

    How dare Scalzi continue to sell so many books, when the Gospel of the Depressed Juvenile Canines keeps preaching to us about how awful and worthless they are? Open your eyes and embrace the Holy Writ of Scalzi’s irredeemableness, you poor unwashed wretches!

  45. Jon Bromfield: Is anybody really breathless waiting for The Last Emperox? in (maybe) 2020?

    I’ll be reading that baby the moment it drops. I may or may not feel that it needs a place on my Hugo ballot — it’s not out of the question, if he massively exceeds my expectations and doesn’t just nail the landing but frames it and hangs it on the wall as well — but every damn one of his books I have found to be a great fun read (and often with little bits that make me really think).

    Your decade-long obsession with Scalzi is really so sad and pathetic. Seriously, dude, go find a good book to read. You’re wasting your life as the little ant trying to bite the toe of an SF bestseller giant, you have the logical skills of a 3-year-old, and it’s a really sad thing to have to watch you repeatedly make a fool of yourself. 😐

  46. @JJ —

    it’s a really sad thing to have to watch you repeatedly make a fool of yourself.

    I disagree with this part. I’ve spent the afternoon sorting through music to use for Mom’s memorial service, and for me Jon’s antics are an effective and amusing distraction from real life troubles.

  47. @ Contrarius

    Agreed. They even have a nickname for Scalzi. Really, nothing has changed with the Puppies if Mr. Bromfield is any example. Endless petty sniping over nothing substantial.

  48. @Rob —

    I shouldn’t have said “sour grapes”, though. It’s more like bitter envy, resentment, and desperate frustration that their years of focused hatred have neither advanced their own careers nor harmed Scalzi’s. It has driven them entirely around the bend that they are so consistently inconsequential and impotent in their attempts to harm and/or smear the reputations and sales of successful authors like Scalzi, Jemisin, and so on.

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