Pixel Scroll 10/16/20 Hey! HAL! I’m Not Just Sitting Here On The Dock Of The Pod Door Bay For My Health! Open The $^%&$! Door, HAL!

(1) A TAIL OF SPACE. A new Star Trek: Discovery trailer. Complete with a certain feline. 

(2) PARIS CALLING. Halfway through the Constelación Magazine Kickstarter, they are announcing their second special event – “Translation Station” with Aliette de Bodard and Cristina Jurado. Takes place October 23 at 7 p.m. Paris time (10 a.m. Pacific / 1 p.m. Eastern)  Register here.

Our very own Cristina Jurado is hosting a chat with multi-award-winning author Aliette de Bodard. They’ll have a fascinating conversation about translations and languages, and whever else happens to come up.

To date the Kickstarter has raised $10,048 of their $18,000 goal.

(3) ONCE MORE INTO THE BREACH. In “Barnes & Noble Cyberattack” Locus Online signal boosts a warning to B&N customers:

Barnes & Noble CEO Darren Guccione warned customers to be “on high alert” following an October 10 data breach. The company notified customers via email.

While we do not know if any personal information was exposed as a result of the attack, we do retain in the impacted systems your billing and shipping addresses, your email address and your telephone number if you have supplied these… It is possible that your email address was exposed and, as a result, you may receive unsolicited emails… We currently have no evidence of the exposure of any of this data, but we cannot at this stage rule out the possibility….

(4) TOP 100 FANTASY LIST. TIME Magazine has anointed “The 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time”

… To develop our list, we began in 2019 by recruiting a panel of leading fantasy authors—Tomi Adeyemi, Cassandra Clare, Diana Gabaldon, Neil Gaiman, Marlon James, N.K. Jemisin, George R.R. Martin and Sabaa Tahir—to join TIME staff in nominating the top books of the genre (panelists did not nominate their own works). The group then rated 250 nominees on a scale, and using their responses, TIME created a ranking. Finally, TIME editors considered each finalist based on key factors, including originality, ambition, artistry, critical and popular reception, and influence on the fantasy genre and literature more broadly.

The result is a list that underscores the imaginative breadth of fantasy fiction—from early roots in the oral storytelling tradition that brought about works like The Arabian Nights, to modern classics like A Wrinkle in Time and groundbreaking recent novels like Black Leopard, Red WolfThe Poppy War and Elatsoe. Together, these titles help us trace our history and understand our reality….

I’ve read 24 of these, which is a disgraceful score – fortunately a few more of them are on my TBR pile.

Rich Horton regaled Facebook readers about the list’s deficiencies:

… Chew on that for a bit. This list doesn’t include Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. It doesn’t include Little, Big. I could make a case that those are the two BEST fantasies of the past half-century. But they don’t make this list?…

He also noted that a third of the listed books came out in the past 6 years. Is this a Golden Age of fantasy, or is that another problem?

TIME also ran an article by N.K. Jemisin about the “Timeless Power of Fantasy”

… These are fraught times—but there have always been fraught times for someone in the world, somewhere. And there have always been those whose mastery of the art of storytelling has helped us understand how powerfully stories shape the world. C.S. Lewis sought to comfort children with faith. Philip Pullman disturbed them with warnings of encroaching fascism. There is a preponderance of stories aimed at children on this list, possibly because we’re still openly hungry for stories in the years of our childhood, and thus the stories we absorb then have a lasting effect. Our hunger for stories doesn’t really change when we grow up, however; the need is still there, acknowledged or not—especially if the stories we’ve been given up to that point don’t accurately encapsulate reality. Thus it’s fitting that some of the most powerful storytellers on this list, such as Victor LaValle, engage with adult concerns like parenthood instead of myth.

Is it comforting to see how many of the stories on this list wrestle with the need to reform institutions and change the leadership of society? It could be. Yet the newer storytellers on the list, many of whom hail from colonized cultures and thus have vastly different background stories from those of “classic” fantasy authors, also warn us of the realities of societal strife. The good guys don’t always win, the bad guys don’t always lose, and either way, the ones who suffer most will be the people who were already struggling to get by….

(5) FORGOTTEN DOCTORS. Artist Paul Hanley posted his conceptions for the Doctor Who TARDIS console rooms of “forgotten doctors” or those seen briefly in the Fourth Doctor serial “The Brain of Morbius”. Thread starts here. The first two:

(6) POPULAR FEAR. “Little Bursts of Fright: The Horror Anthology Is Having a Heyday” reports the New York Times.

When Mary Laws set out to create “Monsterland,” her new socially conscious horror anthology series on Hulu, she drew inspiration from the concise, unnerving fables of the British playwright Caryl Churchill.

“She knows how to tell a scary story,” said Laws, who has a playwriting background. “She refuses to give the audience a break.”

But Laws also looked within.

“As a woman, part of why I’m interested in horror is that I’ve been put in horrific situations and have experienced something like real terror,” she said. “My womanness has led me into those action-packed two minutes of tense terror that you feel when you’re facing some kind of dreaded situation. That’s the way that I think horror has to work.”

Accelerated terror in a fleeting time frame: that’s the revved-up engine that drives “Monsterland” and other new horror anthologies out this spooky season. Hulu’s “Books of Blood” assembles three tales inspired by Clive Barker’s short stories. “The Mortuary Collection,” on Shudder, is a compilation of darkly antic narratives. Quibi’s blood-and-guts series “50 States of Fright” recently released several new episodes, each set in a different state.

Sam Raimi, an executive producer of “50 States of Fright,” said the best short-form horror is “designed like a great campfire tale.”

“It’s something you can really get goose bumps from in a brief amount of time,” said Raimi, known to horror fans as the director of the “Evil Dead” movies. “I like the precision that it takes for a filmmaker to hold the audience in its grip.”

(7) IMAGINARY PAPERS. ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination has published the 4th issue of Imaginary Papers, their quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination. The new issue features writing from SF critic Alvaro Zinos-Amaro and Katherine Buse, a scholar of digital media and the environmental humanities.

Buse’s Forgotten Futures segment discusses —

SimEarth (1990)

I like to say that my favorite video game is SimEarth (1990). But this is a joke: as far as I know, SimEarth has never been anyone’s favorite. Attempting to embody the paradox of “fun climate model,” it’s borderline unplayable: it’s baffling, slow, and lacking in what McKenzie Wark calls “satisfying win conditions.” It was created by Will Wright in consultation with James Lovelock as a software implementation of the Gaia Hypothesis, a theory of life at the planetary scale which Lovelock began to develop while working at NASA on astrobiology….

(8) NEUKOM WINNERS PANEL. Neukom Institute Director Dan Rockmore invites you to an “Online Event with 2020 Speculative Fiction Literary Arts Awards Winners” on Wednesday, October 21 at 2 p.m. Eastern.

The panel discussion includes Neukom Award winners for Speculative Fiction (Debut) Cadwell Turnbull, author of The Lesson, Speculative Fiction (Open Category) Ted Chiang, whose stories are collected in Exhalation, and award judge Sam J. Miller.

Use the link below to join the online event:
https://dartmouth.zoom.u/j/93780993554?pwd=am5xQU0xTURIYmVHenhhNm0zdUZYZz09

Passcode: 789407

(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

1990 — Thirty years ago at ConFiction, the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, would go to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Released the previous year by  Lucasfilm, it was, of course, directed by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay by Jeffrey Boam which in turn was based off the story by George Lucas and Menno Meyjes. Need we note that George Lucas created the characters? Runners-up were The Adventures of Baron MunchausenBatmanField of Dreams and The Abyss. It holds a rather spectacular ninety-four percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 16, 1924 David Armstrong. He never had a major role but he was in myriad gene shows. In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. alone he appeared in twenty-two episodes in twenty-two different minor roles, he was a henchman twice on Batman and had two uncredited appearances on Trek as well. He showed up on Mission ImpossibleGet Smart!The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. and even The Invaders. (Died 2016.) (CE) 
  • Born October 16, 1925 Dame Angela Brigid Lansbury, 95. She first shows up in a genre work as Sibyl Vane in The Picture of Dorian Gray. A few years later, she’s Queen Anne of France in The Three Musketeers. Somewhat later, she’s Miss Eglantine Price in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. She voices Mommy Fortuna in The Last Unicorn, and is Granny in A Company of Wolves which won the BSFA Award for Best Film and is based off Angela Carter’s A Company of Wolves. And yes, she’s in Mary Poppins Returns as The Balloon Lady. (CE) 
  • Born October 16, 1947 Guy Siner, 73. Apparently he’s one of only ten actors to appear in both the Trek and Who franchises. He appeared in the “Genesis of the Daleks”, a Fourth Doctor story, and on Enterprise in the “Silent Enemy” episode. Interestingly he shows up on Babylon 5 as well in “Rumors, Bargains and Lies”.  And that might place him in very select acting company indeed. (CE) 
  • Born October 16, 1958 Tim Robbins, 62. I think his finest role was as Nuke LaLoosh in Bull Durham, but his first genre role was Phil Blumburtt in Howard the Duck. He played Erik in Erik the Viking, and is in The Shawshank Redemption as Andy Dufresne. He’s Woodrow “Woody” Blake in Mission to Mars. He was Harlan Ogilvy in the truly awful War of the Worlds followed by being Senator Robert Hammond in the even worse Green Lantern. (CE)
  • Born October 16, 1965 Joseph Mallozzi, 55. He is most noted for his work on the Stargate series. He joined the Stargate production team at the start of Stargate SG-1’s fourth season in 2000. He was a writer and executive producer for all three Stargate series. He also co-created the Dark Matter comic book series with Paul Mullie that became a Syfy series. (CE)
  • Born October 16, 1973 Eva Röse, 47. Most likely best known for her role as the android Niska in Season 1 of the Swedish Real Humans upon which AMC’s Humans was based. She also was one of the voice cast for the animated Creepschool series, and was Jasmie on The Befallen, a supernatural series that lasted one season there. (CE) 
  • Born October 16, 1827 – Arnold Böcklin.  Symbolist painter.  Here is Self Portrait with Death Playing the Fiddle.  Here is Silence of the Forest.  Here is St. Anthony Preaching to the Fish.  Here is Faun Whistling to a Blackbird.  Most famous for five versions of The Isle of the Dead – here is one – which inspired Mahler, Rachmaninoff, and Zelazny: this Dean Ellis cover is an homage.  (Died 1901) [JH]
  • Born October 16, 1891 – Frances Comstock.  Illustrator, painter, sculptor.  Here is her cover for Dewey’s Star People.  Here is her frontispiece and an interior for Fairy Frolics.  Here is her cover for La Mothe – Fouqué’s Undine and here is an interior.  Here is an illustration for Crothers’ Ignominy of Being Grown-Up.  (Died 1922) [JH]
  • Born October 16, 1926 – Ed Valigursky.  Two hundred covers, six dozen interiors.  Here is the Nov 51 Fantastic.  Here is The Stars Are Ours!, hello Publius – note the really wonderful foreground faces.  Here is The Pawns of Null-A.  Here is City.  Here is The Currents of Space.  Here is an interior illustrating “The Black Tide”.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born October 16, 1947 – Laura Brodian Kelly-Freas Beraha, D.M.E., 73.  Doctorate in Music Education (I heard her play piano two-hands with Somtow Sucharitkul), then San Francisco Bay area fandom.  Moved to L.A., exchanged coats by mistake with Kelly Freas at a party, married him, won a Chesley with him, survived him, married a local teacher whose name means blessed.  No one else outranks me as a Kelly Freas fan.  [JH]
  • Born October 16, 1951 – Patrice Kindl, 69.  Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, Children’s Fiction, for Owl in Love.  Six more novels.  She and husband (son works in Manhattan) have 1 dog, 1 parrot, 1 cat; have raised monkeys, have housed hawks.  “All my characters are made up….  This isn’t an easy profession….  Read a lot and write a lot.”  Do I have to wait until I’m grown up? “No.  You should be reading and writing now.”  Does spelling matter? “Yes.  Yes, yes, yes!”  Grammar isn’t important, is it? “YES!  YES!  YES!”  Hmmmm.  This sounds like work.  “Yes.”  [JH]
  • Born October 16, 1973 – Christian Cantrell, 47.  Three novels, half a dozen shorter stories, despite or because of being Director of Design Prototyping at Adobe.  Hulu, TriStar, Fox 21, Random House projects in the works. “You can,” he says, “plant paphiopedilums [Venus’ slippers] in lava rock”, and he shows us.  [JH]

(11) END OF THE LINE. If you have the stomach for it, you can learn a lot about “The Last Days of Stan Lee” on the AARP site. Tagline: “A heartbreaking tragedy about the (alleged) abuse of the Marvel Comics creator by those who swear they loved him.”

…As we approach the second anniversary of Lee’s death, a half-dozen civil suits are pending and a criminal elder-abuse prosecution by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office remains mired in pretrial maneuverings. The courts have yet to shed light on many of the details and the veracity of the elder-abuse charges against several people. Elder-abuse cases are difficult to bring to trial, tough to litigate and hard to win. Was Stan Lee, like 1 in 10 Americans over age 60, a true victim of elder abuse, which can include physical violence, emotional torment, financial exploitation and willful deprivation? Plenty of evidence and testimony suggests that may be true.

But uncomfortable questions will arise along the way: Is it possible that our real-life hero, like many others in his situation, was complicit in his own abuse? And who will be the villain in this story? There will be plenty of suspects to choose from, but in the end, you will be shocked but not surprised.

(12) CAMEO COLLECTION. Last night’s Jeopardy hearkened back to Stan’s brighter days – unknown to the contestants, evidently. Andrew Porter took notes:

Final Jeopardy: Movie Appearances

Not an actor, this man who died in 2018 appeared briefly in some 40 mainly action films with a combined $30 billion worldwide gross,

Wrong question: Who is ?

Correct question: Who is Stan Lee?

(13) THE TWENTIES ARE NOT ROARING. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Here are a few news stories about the pandemic woes of the British and global cinema industry, mostly from the Guardian

Months after the initial Covid-19 restrictions closed all cinemas, Australian moviegoers are beginning to return for socially distanced screenings across most of the country.

But with most major international releases delayed, the large chains that rely on blockbusters face an uncertain future. And for independent operators, more accustomed to showing reruns of classics and local titles, the outlook is not much clearer….

…But the immediate future for Bollywood in the UK now looks particularly bleak, given that Cineworld venues host more than half of all Bollywood screenings in the UK, presenting between 40 and 50 different films a year. The prospect of reduced takings in the UK is being felt in Mumbai, where the industry relies on the territory for a sizeable chunk of its overseas revenue.

…“But for me the really big success is the BFI restoration of La Haine,” said Wood. “We’ve played it now for four weeks and it’s sold out every single performance.” Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder has also been hugely popular.

“Many of the successes have been foreign language, a number are directed by women, some directed by people of colour,” Wood said.

UK cinema admissions are set to hit their lowest level since records began almost a century ago, with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic wiping almost £1bn from box office sales.

…Do you need the same number of cinemas if they’re only showing blockbusters? For some time, many of them have been artificially sustained anyway, the real estate empty for much of the day. There’s also the problem that this is a sector that’s historically been very conservative and reluctant to innovate. I remember when there was a great controversy about the introduction of cup-holders.

…I love the cinema – it truly brings me joy. “Escapism” sells the experience short; I feel alive and engaged when lost in a narrative that is not my own. I used to see about three films a week, but I think I’ve seen about three films since March because watching them at home just doesn’t come close and I haven’t been back since the cinemas reopened as it doesn’t feel like the responsible thing to do. Covid is meant to spread best in an enclosed environment and I’d feel proper shit if I caught it and ended up giving it to my parents and they then died because I just had to see Tenet.

…One of my routes on my morning runs each week takes me past a small independent high-end movie theater, privately owned. It has a full restaurant, a beautiful bar, a space that can be rented for civic events, and six small theaters with extremely comfortable chairs.

In the Before times, as one reporter likes to call everything pre-Covid, the theater had a wait-staff that would take your orders while you sank into those seats to watch your favorite blockbuster. Every Democratic Presidential candidate held an event in that theater in the run-up to February’s caucus. Not a week went by when I didn’t see or get an invitation to a special event held there.

In March, when quarantine set in, the theater’s owners put up huge sheets of plywood over the display windows on all three stories of the building and made the lovely balcony inaccessible should someone get the bright idea to climb up there.

No one has painted the plywood, unlike so many other plywood coverings in the Arts District here. So the high-end theater now looks like an abandoned building. A group of homeless men slept against the plywood until someone moved them out. Occasionally, one of the totally stoned people from the high-end marijuana dispensary across the street will sit on a bench near the plywood, swaying to music only they can hear….

(14) BUTLER DID IT. Having seen the trailer, JJ calls Greenland “like a bad mashup of Deep Impact, Armagedddon, and 2012: We Were Warned.

A family fights for survival as a planet-killing comet races to Earth. John Garrity (Gerard Butler), his estranged wife Allison (Morena Baccarin), and young son Nathan make a perilous journey to their only hope for sanctuary. Amid terrifying news accounts of cities around the world being leveled by the comet’s fragments, the Garrity’s experience the best and worst in humanity while they battle the increasing panic and lawlessness surrounding them. As the countdown to global apocalypse approaches zero, their incredible trek culminates in a desperate and last-minute flight to a possible safe haven.

(15) DRAMATIC TRACKS. “Prehistoric footprints of woman carrying toddler while dodging sabre-toothed cats unearthed” – let Yahoo! News tell you the story.

Prehistoric footprints of a woman carrying a toddler while dodging sabre-toothed cats and giant sloths are the longest set of fossilised human prints ever found, scientists have said.  

The prints, which stretch for almost a mile and were discovered in the White Sands National Park in New Mexico, USA, date back 13,000 years.

…Locally known as “ghost tracks” because they can only be seen under certain weather conditions, the adult tracks were first discovered in 2017, followed by the child’s.

The prints tell the remarkable story of a woman and a small child as they made their way across the mudflats with large predators crossing their path.

An analysis found the woman was moving at a rapid pace, intermittently carrying and putting down the child.

On the outward journey, her prints show that she was slipping, suggesting conditions were wet and treacherous. But on her return, following the same path almost exactly, she was alone and no slipping marks were detected.

During the trips, other tracks show a giant sloth, mammoths and sabre-tooth cats crossed their path, and the sloth was startled by their scent.

“As the animal approached the trackway, it appears to have reared up on its hind legs to catch the scent, pausing by turning and trampling the human tracks before dropping to all fours and making off,” Prof Bennett said….

(16) HOT ON THE TRAILER. Amazon Prime introduces Invincible. The series will be online in 2021.

INVINCIBLE is an adult animated superhero series that revolves around 17-year-old Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun), who’s just like every other guy his age — except his father is the most powerful superhero on the planet, Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons). But as Mark develops powers of his own, he discovers his father’s legacy may not be as heroic as it seems.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, Joey Eschrich, Ben Bird Person, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “I Can Improve On The Classics” Dern.]

72 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/16/20 Hey! HAL! I’m Not Just Sitting Here On The Dock Of The Pod Door Bay For My Health! Open The $^%&$! Door, HAL!

  1. (4) I’ve read 40, for sure, possibly a few others.

    It’s only a bit past 8:30pm, and it feels very dark and very late. Not feeling wonderful.

  2. (4) 43/100. The problem of the list’s recency bias is exacerbated by the bit where the panelists that helped make the list have a tendency to be on it. (This may very well be the TIME editors’ fault.) There’s plenty of good fantasy coming out these days but there is also a lot of stuff that came out in the second half of the twentieth century that I like too!

    My other issue is that there are a lot of multiple hits from the same series, which lessens the list’s utility for recommendations. I don’t think you’re reading Children of Virtue and Vengeance if you didn’t enjoy Children of Blood and Bone, for instance.

  3. (7) I remember trying to get the “Earth face” to smile.

    (4) About 30, I think.

  4. (4) About 35, and another half dozen on Mt TBR. That’s counting separate volumes of a series, when it should be the whole series.

    (I’m not sure that the “Broken Earth” trilogy is fantasy.)

  5. PJ Evans: I wouldn’t classify Dragonflight as fantasy either. The series started in Analog!

  6. OGH notes I wouldn’t classify Dragonflight as fantasy either. The series started in Analog!

    It’s been a very long time since I read the first half dozen or so novels in that series but I remember that they were clearly framed as SF, not fantasy complete with colonisation from Earth. Dragons, yes, but not fantasy ones.

    Now playing: Richard Thompson’s “Jerusalem on the Jukebox”

  7. @OGH: If I’m not mistaken, the original Analog publication included the foreword that explained before any of the story happened that Pern was a colony, that dragons were genetically engineered, and that Threadfall had to do with orbital positions of the Red “Star.” – so SF from the very first words.

  8. IIRC, they weren’t obvious SF in the early stories – that came in later, with expanding backstory. But they weren’t framed as fantasy, so… (Yes, I read them in Analog. Way back when. The dragons in the illos weren’t anything like the ones on the book covers.)

  9. 4) 34, tending towards the older books, or the ones that were Hugo nominees.

    And Dragonflight is only slightly less fantasy than Star Wars is. In the first segment, Weyr Search, Lessa’s psychic powers are particularly fuzzy.

  10. 4) 35 for me. It seems to me that a list of the 100 best books in this genre has to be even more arbitrary than such lists usually are. There are so many literary works that include elements of the fantastic; how do you say which are genre fantasy and which aren’t? I’ll look at the list more closely for books that may interest me. I’m afraid a lot of the ones I have read are the ones that everyone has read. I do agree with the criticism that there should have been fewer cases of multiple books in the same series being listed. Presumably they displace other good books that might have been included.

  11. 34 read. Out of those I would choose 4 for my personal best of list. Having Wee Free Men rather than Night Watch or Small Gods or several others is especially puzzling.

  12. Andrew (not Werdna) says If I’m not mistaken, the original Analog publication included the foreword that explained before any of the story happened that Pern was a colony, that dragons were genetically engineered, and that Threadfall had to do with orbital positions of the Red “Star.” – so SF from the very first words.

    I just checked my copy of Dragon Rider. It indeed has the preface I remember that clearly sets this up as a colony of Earth, so it’s SF, not fantasy as you remembered.

  13. @P J Evans–

    IIRC, they weren’t obvious SF in the early stories – that came in later, with expanding backstory. But they weren’t framed as fantasy, so… (Yes, I read them in Analog. Way back when. The dragons in the illos weren’t anything like the ones on the book covers.)

    The “backstory” making it clear that this was a sfnal world, not a fantasy world, was the prelude in the very first story, “Weyr Search,” on its first publication in Analog.

    @David Shallcross–

    And Dragonflight is only slightly less fantasy than Star Wars is. In the first segment, Weyr Search, Lessa’s psychic powers are particularly fuzzy.

    It appeared in Analog, in October 1967, when John W. Campbell was still alive and editing it. At that time, to a large degree because of Campbell, psychic powers in science fiction were treated as having a plausible scientific basis. That we roll our eyes at it now doesn’t change that fact. “Weyr Search” was published as science fiction, not fantasy, in a magazine noted for focusing on “hard science fiction,” and the prelude is quite clear about the space colonization origin of the civilization on Pern, and the genetic engineering origin of the dragons.

  14. Hey, it was a long time ago, and I don’t remember the introductions. (The illos, yes – I’m an audio-visual person: reading is seeing.)

  15. David Shallcross says And Dragonflight is only slightly less fantasy than Star Wars is. In the first segment, Weyr Search, Lessa’s psychic powers are particularly fuzzy.

    Excerpt the Star Wars universe is clearly as being an SF one, not a fantasy one. That there are fantasy elements such as psychic powers doesn’t make a fantasy story as the framing is SF. Even Dune has clear fantasy elements but it’s SF too.

  16. 4) Somewhere in the 40s. And I also wish they’d limited themselves to one book per author, or at least one book per series — I love Tolkien unreservedly, but they REALLY didn’t need to take up three whole slots for Fellowship, Two Towers and Return of the King. (Which, yes, are really three parts of a single large novel, which only serves to emphasize my point.)

  17. 51/100. Agreed on giving Tolkien and Lewis one slot each instead of however many. They could have used the extra space for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, for Little, Big, and for The Dragon Waiting — three absolute masterpieces each worth all the Harry Potters put together, many times over.

  18. 43/100 for me. It looks like the list is largely divided between acknowledged classics, childhood favourites and recent works, with little room for anything else, no matter how deserving.

  19. (4) TOP 100 FANTASY LIST.

    I quit trying to count after I saw at least 4 books on that list that I thought were absolute crap, plus a bunch of author duplicates which have no legitimate reason for being there (Tolkien’s LoTR should have been one entry). I DNF’ed Jonathan Strange twice, so I’m also skeptical of claims that it unquestionably belongs on the list.

    As I have found with all such lists, this one is of dubious utility — other than as a source of suggestions which people can explore or discard, based on whether the synopses are relevant to their personal interests.

  20. Psychic powers were considered scientifically plausible by a lot of people, including scientists, up through the whole Uri Gellar/Amazing Randi event, which happened in the late eighties, if I’m not mistaken. Before that, psi and the paranormal was the subject of some surprisingly respectable research by surprisingly respectable institutions. Both the US and Soviet governments had programs–The Men Who Stare at Goats is more of a comedy than a documentary, but it is at least somewhat based on real facts

    A lot of scientists (and a lot of SF writers and SF fans) would probably prefer that you forget just how gullible they were not so long ago, but…gullible they were!

    (Me, I’ll go ahead and admit it. I tried to stay reasonably skeptical, but I was impressed by the research until the trickery was uncovered and the whole thing fell apart, and Randi’s million dollar prize became a thing.)

  21. 4) 54 which was about what I was expecting.

    I will say in it’s defence, at least that the list makes different mistakes than most of the lists that have come before. Usually the issue is that lists spend so much space trying to make sure no “old masters” are missed off there’s then no space left for the last 10-15 years. Going the other way means we get to complain about different books which are completely underserving making it on. That said, I think it’s fair to say that no matter how much you enjoyed it, a book published on the 25th August 2020 could probably cope with waiting a bit before it makes any all time lists.

    And yes, echoing everyone else in that you solve a lot of the problems if you get rid of the 12/13 direct sequels which really don’t need to be there.

  22. 4) To me, the list is heavily influenced by the “anti-canon” controversy. That’s why there are only the bare minimum of “classic” works and a few “recognizable” authors to keep the trolls satisfied, while the rest of the slots are filled with current authors who are Black, LGBTIQ+, and non-Western (and are naturally the highlight of this list). The list’s “modern works by white people” category is generic at best and not really up to snuff in my mind.

    If you want to read my message as “where is my Elric, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, and Conan” feel free. 🙂 But I do think we should value genre history, which is not all about white males. For example, Patricia McKillip, Tanith Lee, and R. A. MacAvoy are nowhere to be seen on this list. and they deserve to be on there.

    In my world, we should be able to cross the width and breath of fantasy in 100 books while respecting the diversity and the history of the genre. This list focuses on one aspect of this task at the expense of others.

  23. 4) I don’t believe half the great fantasy books were written in the last twenty years.

    I count twelve I’ve read, of which I’m ready to say two don’t belong on this list and seven which I might put there myself.

    Having an odd-numbered Harry Potter book got my attention (since the even ones are the best), so I’d also like to understand how they picked individual items from series. Also because how exactly do you leave off The Hobbit but put in all three volumes of Lord of the Rings? Are all ninety-seven of the other books better? Seriously?

    Honestly, I’d really like to know why they chose not to treat a series as a single work. I get that they didn’t want a list of a hundred fantasy authors, which is kind of what you get when you limit people to one work each, but that would’ve freed up around fifteen slots for pre-twenty-first century works.

    P.S. Is there a sexy or erotic story anywhere in that list? I was starting to make a joke P.S. about authors we didn’t see on there, and that thought took my mind.

  24. @4
    For me, the whole point of grand lists is inducing people to buy books. I’d think sharing the love among as many writers as possible would be part of the appeal of the list. Also, fantasy is a yuge tent, and thousands of books appear every year. A fair list is going to be diverse.

    I mean, “best.”. You can’t seriously claim to know what that means, so list cool stuff people haven’t read yet.

    I do appreciate the focus on newer work. Living writers collect royalties. It’s pandemic time.

    This list is a fail by my criteria for ideal book lists. It has good company, though.

  25. Granted it’s been quite a while since I’ve read it, but Little, Big seems like it should be on the list. Patricia K McKillip seems like a miss as well for the Riddle-Master of Hed series.

    On my personal list I would add Patrica C Wrede because I loved the light hearted fun of the Speaking to Dragons series, others by her as well. Lois McMaster Bujold for Curse of Chalion or Paladin of Souls. For my own best of, I’d add Megan Whalen Turner — hard to pick one from a series but I’d consider Queen of Atollia, King of Atollia, or Thick as Thieves. But I’m really talking about personal preference here.

    And, yes, I wonder what Dragonflight is doing on their list.

  26. 51 for me. But I’m counting a few I did not finish. All such lists are subjective (like JJ, I did not enjoy Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, although unlike her I did finish it) and by their nature incomplete, so I’m not particularly offended by the obvious omissions. (Although I am sad that Patricia McKillip got no nods at all; her work is prose poetry….)

    As we all saw with Kyra’s SF and fantasy brackets, people can be very outspoken and opinionated about their favorites…. (Godstalk!)

  27. Brown Robin@4: “For me, the whole point of grand lists is inducing people to buy books.”

    Which is helped in the case of this list by not trying to pick the best books and instead picking the most marketable books which clear the bar of readability.

    I’d’ve rather read more about the fifty percent of the twenty-first century books as “The Fifty Best Fantasy Books of the New Millennium (So Far)”. Double the length of the blurbs, or have two people each write a blurb. Or double the length of the list and maybe not miss some of the obvious omissions.

    How do you compare The Arabian Nights with American Gods, anyway?

  28. Rob Thornton says If you want to read my message as “where is my Elric, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, and Conan” feel free. ? But I do think we should value genre history, which is not all about white males. For example, Patricia McKillip, Tanith Lee, and R. A. MacAvoy are nowhere to be seen on this list. and they deserve to be on there.

    I’ve absolutely no problem with is lost as it’s simply the list that group of fans with the assistance of Jemisen choose as their list. Would it be my list? Well no, but that doesn’t matter as there’s no absolute list of this sort. Like the non-existent perfect canon, it’s just a list. Good for provoking conversation but by no means nothing more than a list stitched together by a group of readers.

    I’d btw wouldn’t have chosen The Last Unicorn but said instead A Fine and Private Place which is a better book. And I think that Neverwhere is a better fantasy than American Gods is. But those are my personal choices.

  29. 4) I’ve read about a quarter of these, and I think they cast their net too wide. Children’s books & work for grown-ups; genre & literary; Anglo-American writers & global/colonial lit; foundational classics & the contemporary scene: all it needs are a few random comics/graphic novels.*

    I’m not clear on their organizing principles either. Why Rushdie but not Marquez, and why his kids’ novel rather than Midnight’s Children or The Satanic Verses? I love the The Bloody Chamber (the sexiest book on the list!) but it helps to know Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Or the flip that argument: do we need both Malory’s & T.H. White’s versions of Camelot?

    I guess what I’m asking is, who is this list for?

    In the haphazard spirit of the list, I’ll propose EC’s Tales from the Crypt, Ditko/Lee’s Dr. Strange, the manga Death Note, and G. Willow Wilson’s Air.

  30. @Aaron G
    White’s Camelot is nothing like Malory’s. Both are fantasy, but for different audiences in different times. (I’ve read both, as well as some of the older Welsh tales of Arthur, which are yet another version.)

  31. Thanks, @PJ Evans, that’s a good point; I’d say it also holds for Grimms’ fairy tales vs. Carter’s short stories. But once made, it begs other questions, like why include Miller’s The Song of Achilles & Circe over a second writer’s take on Homeric myth? To me, the contradictions suggest a haphazard process that results in a mishmash rather than a genre with global scope, long history, & vigorous present.

  32. 4) 32 for me. I agree that it would have been better to limit to one book per series and make room for some other works. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Lud-in-the-Mist, and Perdido Street Station should all be on there, IMO.

    @Aaron G.: If graphic novels were being included, Sandman would be my first choice. Death Note is a solid choice for manga, and I would probably add Fullmetal Alchemist.

  33. The Time list exhibits most of the bad traits of numerically-limited best-ever lists, particularly the tendency to over-emphasize the relatively recent. But then, bare lists that claim to somehow define the “best” are always going to have some kind of serious limitation, often the result of the panelists’ spotty command of the whole range (historical, categorical, cultural) of the genre in question. (Then there’s the whole issue of implicit or explicit “oughts,” which is another way of talking about “canon.”)

    I would say that a genuinely useful recommended-reading list requires some commentary or annotation and an introductory overview that outlines the criteria. But then it wouldn’t be a list, would it. But then, I find the discussion–the rationales, the attempts to define genre-boundary limits, the influence-tracing–to be more interesting than the bare list. (Just as what makes reviews interesting is less the thumbs-up/down or star ratings than the conversations the books conduct with us and among themselves.)

  34. 4) Read: 65/100
    Read and get why they’re on the list, even if I wish they’d left off all the sequels to make room for other stuff: 36/100
    Read and … really? That one? I mean, it was a perfectly decent book, but … best of all time?: 24/100
    Read and frankly hated: 5/100

  35. 4) 41 for me, and I think it would’ve been a better list if it had stuck to one entry per author, or at least one entry per series – three spots for “The Lord of the Rings” just seems perverse. Some of the ones I’ve read certainly wouldn’t figure on any “best of” list I was putting together, but that’s life, opinions differ.

  36. (13) demonstrates with a single industry a wider point about the economic impact of the pandemic. I’ve seen repeated by people in many countries that various measures have to be relaxed to get the ‘the economy back’. It’s not as simple as that as the cinemas in Australia are showing — we’ve been able to go to the cinema for some time now in New South Wales but the only things on are classic movies and…I really don’t want to go to a shopping mall for any length of time nor sit in an enclosed space with strangers for a couple of hours.
    There’s no quick return to normality.

  37. People have already pointed to books and authors I’d have expected to be on the list, so I will just add Graham Joyce as someone who should have been represented. But I’d have to consult my bookshelf to pick just one work. (I read 28 of the things listed, some of which were in a single “series” like the Tolkien trilogy.)

    Should filers construct our own list?

  38. I’ve read 39 of those completely, plus dnfed another 2 or 3 or 4. A lot of the books listed are kids’ books that came along after my time.

    The list is bogus. A good clue is the inclusion of all the “judges” on the list.

    As for Pern, it’s fantasy pretending to be sf pretending to be fantasy.

    Sure, it’s got rocketships. Big whoop. It’s also got flying behemoths in roughly Earth-normal gravity, psychic powers, magic teleportation, AND magic time travel. It’s fantasy, folks.

  39. @P J Evans: Sorry about the inadvertent pile-on regarding the Dragonflight preface.

  40. @ Jerry Kaufman

    Should filers construct our own list?

    I think that is an interesting idea.

  41. Speaking of flying behemoths:

    The largest pterosaurs had wingspans of 30 feet and weighed about 500 pounds (about two to three human people). Compare that to our Pern dragons, and you’ll see how fantastical they are.

  42. @Jerry Kaufman

    Graham Joyce is a good idea. Of those I’ve read I’d choose Some Kind of Fairytale or maybe The Tooth Fairy. (I have a soft spot for Dreamside but I think the other two are superior).

    But there are a lot of good works that have been neglected by that list (one I’d consider is Robert Irwin’s The Arabian Nightmare – but leaving out The Dragon Waiting, when it has finally come back into print is the big shame).

  43. I am reminded of high school when we were assigned to read a book and someone in class would ask “Do we have to read the preface?” or “Do we have to read the forward?” I pity the people who skipped the preface explaining that Gandalf is a robot, it changes the whole story!

  44. 1) A Wizard must not harm a Child of Eru Ilúvatar, or through inaction allow Middle Earth to fall under the shadow of the Dark Lord
    2) A Wizard must ride an awesome horse, unless this conflicts with the First Law
    3) A Wizard must protect his own life, unless this conflicts with the First or Second Law.

    Saruman is a bad Wizard…

  45. Contrarius: It’s fantasy, folks.

    Oh, stop harshing my squee.

    All science fiction is a subset of fantasy. Indeed, and I know you HAVE been paying attention sf in recent years, a good deal of what gets published as sf is just myths or coming-of-age stories under an assumed name. Even nearly all “hard” science fiction is based on unsound science. And yet there must be some distinction, because on these best-of lists I’ve always read twice as many sf books as fantasy books.

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