Pixel Scroll 2/22/21 Sacred Locomotive Files

(1) VARLEY MEDICAL UPDATE. R. Graeme Cameron relayed a report that John Varley’s heart bypass surgery today was successful.

Spider Robinson just dropped quickly in and out of my Monday fannish zoom meet to inform me that “Herb” John Varley’s heart operation went well, no complications, and they’ll be keeping him for five days to monitor recovery, then let him go home. Spider very relieved. Operation successful.

And according to Andrew Porter, “Varley’s partner Lee Emmett reports that he has successfully undergone a quadruple bypass and is in the ICU; he will be in the hospital for the next five days/”

(2) A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS. Mark Lawrence illustrates the limited effectiveness of an endorsement on a bookcover from a bestselling author by showing his own frustrated efforts to get attention from the many people who have already signed up for news about his work: “The Extraordinary Struggle to be Heard”.

…I’m a fairly popular author. People pay MONEY to read my books. Enough so that I can live off the proceeds. You would think this would mean that, when I offer my writing for free, people would jump on it. At least some of them. I’ve sold nearly two million books and must have hundreds of thousands of readers. So how many do you think would try on my recommendation not somebody they’ve never heard of but me: Marky?

On Wattpad I’ve been putting out chapters of a book I started writing called Jacob’s Ladder. I think it’s good. I’ve been alerting the 9,830 people who follow/friend me on Facebook to each chapter as it’s posted. I’ve also been posting about them to the 7,506 members of the Grimdark Fiction Readers & Writers group on Facebook where I’m reasonably popular.

I also have 2,815 followers on Wattpad itself who get alerts when I post the chapters. And I’ve tweeted about each chapter to my 28,600 followers on Twitter. And I’ve blogged on Goodreads about it where I have 48,029 followers.

I posted chapter 5 two days ago and it’s had 21 views (which are not necessarily reads) at least one of which was me.

All of which I throw out there to demonstrate how ridiculously hard it is to be heard and to have that audience act.

Now, new authors, consider how much of an impact the weeks this slow reader spends reading your book will have on your sales when condensed into a line on the cover…

(3) NYRSF READINGS THIS WEEK. Charles Yu will be on The New York Review of Books Readings livestream tomorrow, February 23.

CHARLES YU is the author of four books, including his latest, Interior Chinatown, which won the National Book Award for Fiction and was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. He has been nominated for two Writers Guild of America awards for his work on the HBO series Westworld, and has also written for shows on FX, AMC, Facebook Watch, and Adult Swim. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in a number of publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Wired, and Harper’s. You can find him on Twitter @charles_yu.

The live event *should* be on https://www.facebook.com/groups/NYRSF.Readings and Jim Freund’s timeline, and you *should* (that word again) be able to join on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/c/JimFreund

(4) YU CREATIVE WRITING AWARD. “Charles Yu establishes prize for young Taiwanese American creative writers” reports TaiwaneseAmerican.org. Submissions may be in any literary genre. Prior to his winning a National Book Award for his literary awork Interior Chinatown, Yu also wrote sff, such as How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010), and served as the Guest Editor for the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017.  [Via Locus Online.]

TaiwaneseAmerican.org is pleased to announce the inaugural Betty L. Yu and Jin C. Yu Creative Writing Prizes. Created in collaboration with Taiwanese American author Charles Yu, the Prizes are intended to encourage and recognize creative literary work by Taiwanese American high school and college students, and to foster discussion and community around such work.

Submissions may be in any literary genre including fiction, poetry, personal essays or other creative non-fiction. Submissions must be sent via Google Form and must be received by March 31, 2021 at 11:59PM PT. In order to be eligible, submissions must be from writers of Taiwanese heritage (or writers with other significant connection to Taiwan), or have subject matter otherwise relevant to the Taiwanese or Taiwanese American experience. 

Submissions will be considered in two categories, High School (enrolled in high school as of the deadline) and College (enrolled in community college or as an undergraduate as of the deadline). Winners and finalists will be announced in May 2021. A total of $1500 will be awarded to the winners. In addition, each of the winners and finalists will have their submitted work published online by TaiwaneseAmerican.org and considered for publication in a future edition of Chrysanthemum, and offered the opportunity to participate in an individual mentoring session with one of the judges.

(5) NEBULA CONFERENCE TEASER. The SFWA Blog lists some of the panel program topics being planned for the June event in “2021 Nebula Conference Online Programming Preview”. Two examples are —

Setting Boundaries: A writing career often comes with attention—wanted and unwanted. What kinds of boundaries do you set as an author with your readers, and how do those change throughout your career? Authors across the publishing spectrum discuss how they interact with, acknowledge, and encourage their readers while maintaining personal boundaries.

Writing Speculative Justice:  Many envision a new role and future for the justice system in the United States and across the world—one that is more restorative, more equitable, and more just. As writers build our own worlds, what can and should we be thinking about when it comes to justice? How does our approach to laws, crime, retribution, and restoration impact the rest of our worldbuilding, characters, and plots? How can we craft a more just future?

(6) HOW MUCH ARE THOSE CLICKS IN THE WINDOW? James Pyles (PoweredByRobots) has been doing his darnedest to use the recent kerfuffle to get attention. And he doesn’t much care who that damages.

 …Frankly, the Discon III / Worldcon decision to “uninvite” Weisskopf is looking less and less popular. Of course, I have no idea who Weber, Eggleton, and Gannon are (my understanding of SF/F personalities and their politics is shockingly limited), but on the surface, I can’t see anything awful, horrible, and offensive about their comments (well, maybe some of the language was just a little rough depending on how thin-skinned you are). In fact, they seem pretty reasonable….

Bounding Into Comics, as Doris V. Sutherland observes, belittled Sanford’s coverage, but they couldn’t deny what Jason found in Baen’s Bar.

Mad Genius Club’s Dave Freer’s purported explanation of the controversy rapidly deteriorated into gibberish: “Omnibus?”

…Back in the day you’d left right and center views – depending on where you went. His [Jason Sanford’s] ‘expose’ is drivel, out of context, imaginary and generally trivial — in keeping with how he earns his authorly income – but it is seized on as a reason to 1) expel Toni as a GoH from WorldCon (because you know, in omnibus, must chuck her under it – even though any sane definition of the Bar was 99.9999% innocuous by any interpretation. Omnibus see. Even if she had nothing to do with it, and didn’t know – and investigated once she did. Not good enough, Guilty. She turned Jason Sanford into a newt. And she has got a wart… maybe.) 2) The little friends mysteriously and suddenly attack the hosting service and other business connections to demand deplatforming because Baen is ‘hate speech and inciting violence’….

(7) IT’S THEIR RIGHT. Meanwhile, this unexpected announcement was tweeted today by American Conservative Union CPAC 2021. I don’t know who is being banned, either, it’s just a coincidence that’s remarkably timely.

(8) GAMING A ZINE. The Guardian’s Sarah Maria Griffin reviews Zine Maker in “How a game about making zines helped me recapture my creativity in lockdown”.

…Creation games aren’t new; they go way back to the original SimCity and beyond. But in autumn 2019, during a period of intense, life-altering burnout, I came across Nathalie Lawhead’s Electric Zine Maker and it redefined what I thought I knew about play, creation and the art that can emerge from video game interfaces. Zine Maker is a clever, accessible tool in the disguise of a joyful toy. I had become sick from overwork and had resigned myself to transitioning careers, leaving writing fiction entirely to move into a more practical realm. I was convinced that the connection between the part of my brain that makes art and the part that produces joy was fried forever. But this game sparked it again.

… Electric Zine Maker gives us a playful way to design and create real, print zines once more. The software streamlines the creation of a one-page zine: an A4 page folded into an A8 booklet. The tools are simple: text boxes, image pasting, some paint brushes and filters. A folding guide tells you how to turn it from a flat page into a 3D object once you print it off. It’s all laid out in bright, roaring neon, reminiscent of a CD-Rom from the mid-1990s. It feels like a piece of time travel, a return to childhood tinkering in The Simpsons Cartoon Studio in 1996.

(9) GRR REMEMBERS WANDA JUNE. George R.R. Martin paid tribute to the late Wanda June Alexander, whose daughter is almost his neighbor in Santa Fe: “The Amazing Wanda June”.

…Wanda June was a dear dear friend… but more than that, really.   She and Raya have been part of our family, in one sense or another, for decades.  I do not actually recall when and where I first met Wanda.  It was at a con, no doubt, probably in the late 70s or early 80s.   I knew OF Wanda before I actually knew Wanda, however.  She was an East Coast fan when I first began hearing tales of her, from mutual friends.   Gardner Dozois, Jack Dann, David Axler, Dave Kogelmen, Joe and Gay Haldeman… all of them were friends of mine, and friends of the legendary Wanda June.   She was one of Parris’s oldest, dearest friends, from the 70s on to this very day. …

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1961 — Sixty years ago at Seacon in Seattle, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone series wins the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. It was directed by Wolf Rilla, and written by Stirling Silliphant, Wolf Rilla and Ronald Kinnoch. The other nominated works were the films Village of The Damned and The Time Machine

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 22, 1879 Talbot Mundy. English-born, but based for most of his life in the States, he also wrote under the pseudonym of Walter Galt. Best known as the author of King of the Khyber Rifles which is not quite genre and the Jimgrim series which is genre, much of his work was published in pulp magazines. (Died 1940.) (CE)
  • Born February 22, 1879 – Norman Lindsay.  When a critic said children liked to read about fairies more than about food, NL wrote The Magic Pudding, wherefore we may be grateful.  He was also an artist in watercolour, oils, pencil, etching, bronze, concrete.  A dozen other novels; essays, poetry, memoirs.  Here is a World War I cover for The Bulletin.  Here is Odysseus.  Here is Age of Consent.  Here is Lin Bloomfield’s book about NL’s drawings.  (Died 1969) [JH]
  • Born February 22, 1917 – Reed Crandall.  Early inker for Jack Kirby on Captain America.  Did Blackhawk 1942-1953; Jim Steranko said “where [Chuck] Cuidera made Blackhawk a best-seller, Crandall turned it into a classic, a work of major importance and lasting value”.  Forty interiors and a few covers for us, mostly of E.R. Burroughs.  Here are the Blackhawks fighting a giant robot; here is a more airborne moment.  Here is The Man with a Brain of Gold.  Here is John Carter with the Giant of Mars.  Eisner Hall of Fame.  More here.  (Died 1982) [JH]
  • Born February 22, 1953 – Genny Dazzo, Ph.D., age 68.  Active Los Angeles fan.  Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 31, Loscon 27 (with husband Craig Miller).  Reliable in local, regional, continental, World conventions; for example, Guest of Honor Liaison at L.A.con III the 54th Worldcon, L.A.con IV the 64th.  Collects teapots.  Member of County Fair Table Setting Competition fandom.  Doctorate in Theoretical Chemistry.  [JH]
  • Born February 22, 1955 Paul J. McAuley, 66. Four Hundred Billion Stars, his first novel, won the Philip K. Dick Award, Fairyland which I adore won a Arthur C. Clarke Award and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel. He was Toastmaster along Kim Newman at Interaction. (CE) 
  • Born February 22, 1956 Caroline Thompson, 65. She wrote the screenplays for Tim Burton’s Edward ScissorhandsThe Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride. A stage version of the latter with director and choreographer Matthew Bourne was co-adapted with her this year. She also wrote the screenplay for The Addams Family. (CE) 
  • Born February 22, 1965 – Max Frei, age 56.  That age-statement isn’t quite right, because Max Frei was a composite of Svetlana Martynchik (whose birthday I gave) and her husband Igor Steopin (1967-2018) in writing (in Russian) Sir Max’s adventures in the Labyrinths of Echo; a score are available in English.  More here. [JH]
  • Born February 21, 1974 – Michelle Knudsen, age 47.  Six novels (Evil Librarian won a Fleischman Award – two sequels), one shorter story, for us; twoscore other books.  Library Lion was a NY Times Best-Seller.  Julie Andrews on a podcast reads “Marilyn’s Monster” aloud.  Favorite Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, The Pirates of Penzance; has been in Iolanthe.  Read aloud at the 2007 White House Easter Egg Roll.  Taking boxing lessons.  [JH]
  • Born February 22, 1981 – Ryan James, age 40.  Two novels with his mother Syrie James.  Much else in the games industry.  Only a few decades ago, despite chess, bridge, , it would have been SF for there to be a games industry.  [JH]

(12) SOUNDING OUT A FANCAST. Cora Buhlert visits with tabletop RPG fancast creators in “Fancast Spotlight: Appendix N Book Club”.

… I’m pleased to feature the Appendix N Book Club, a fancast has the mission to read and discuss the books and authors listed in Appendix N of the AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide with varying guests.

Therefore, I’m happy to welcome Jeff Goad and Ngo Vinh-Hoi of the Appendix N Book Club to my blog today:

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

We are a podcast about the literature that inspires our tabletop RPGs. Initially, we only focused on the Appendix N: a list of “inspirational reading” located in the back of the 1979 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide. Starting with episode 101, we are expanding the scope of the show to include ALL fiction that inspires our gaming. The first half of each episode focuses on the text from a literary perspective and the second half of each episode discussed the text from a gaming perspective….

(13) MUPPET CONTENT WARNING. Sonaiya Kelley’s Los Angeles Times story ”Muppet Show’ now has content disclaimer warning on Disney+” reports Disney has put warning labels on 18 Muppet Show episodes (not every episode). And they’ve blocked two episodes including one with Brooke Shields.

Jim Henson’s classic series “The Muppet Show” began streaming on Disney+ on Friday, but now comes prefaced with an offensive content disclaimer.

“This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures,” the warning reads. “These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversations to create a more inclusive future together.”

The show, which ran for five seasons between 1976 and 1981, features the new content warning on 18 episodes, including those guest-hosted by Steve Martin, Peter Sellers, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Debbie Harry and Marty Feldman, among others.

Each episode bears the 12-second disclaimer for a different reason, from Cash’s appearance singing in front of a Confederate flag to negative depictions of Native Americans, Middle Easterners and people from other cultures. Additionally, two episodes from the final season, featuring guest stars Brooke Shields and staff writer Chris Langham, are left out entirely.

(14) PATTY CAKE, PATTY CAKE, BAKER STREET. A new Netflix series “THE IRREGULARS Promises Supernatural Spin on SHERLOCK”.

…In the Sherlock Holmes mythology, the “Baker Street Irregulars” are a group of street urchins in the employ of Holmes. They are his eyes and ears in the seedier parts of Jolly Ol’ Londontown. This version, naturally, will focus on that group. It appears they will have more in the vein of the supernatural to deal with. Various adaptations of Doyle’s stories have included a supernatural tinge, we should note, the original stories were always rooted in Victorian-era science. It’s elementary, really….

(15) YOU ARE, BIG HERO SIX. The DisInsider is my number one source for this story: “Exclusive: Big Hero 6 Characters Coming To The MCU”.

We have exclusively learned that certain characters from Big Hero 6 will be making their live-action debut in the MCU.

We’re not sure on who will be coming but we can at least expect Baymax and Hiro.

Some of the projects we heard about were Secret InvasionAgents of Atlas, and Doctor Strange. However, we couldn’t get confirmation.

There’s also no word on if the actors will reprise their roles in regards to live-action appereances.

Big Hero 6 was loosely based on the comic of the same name. The comic was a three-part miniseries written by Scott Lobdell and artist Gus Vasquez. The series went on to be a very popular title, which spawned the animated film and TV series.

(16) FRANSON AWARD. National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) President George Phillies has picked the recipient of this year’s Franson Award, named for the late Donald Franson, and given as a show of appreciation:

It is my privilege and honor to bestow the Franson Award upon our new Treasurer, Kevin Trainor of Tonopah, Nevada. Being N3F Treasurer is a great responsibility. The Treasurer maintains the club financial records without which we would not know who is a member and who has departed. We spent close to a year during which the former Treasurer made clear he wanted to leave, but no member would volunteer to replace him. Can all be grateful to Kevin for volunteering and taking on the Treasurer’s role.

(17) A BIRD OF A DIFFERENT COLOR. “Wildlife Photographer Captures ‘Never Before Seen’ Yellow Penguin” at PetaPixel. Image at the link.

While unloading some safety equipment and food onto Salisbury Plain, Adams noticed an unusual sight he had never seen before: a penguin with bright yellow plumage.

“I’d never seen or heard of a yellow penguin before,” the photographer tells Kennedy News. “There were 120,000 birds on that beach and this was the only yellow one there.”

… The penguin’s strange coloring is due to a condition called leucism, which results in a loss of pigmentation.

“This is a leucistic penguin,” Adams says. “Its cells don’t create melanin anymore so its black feathers become this yellow and creamy color.”

(18) DOCTOR BUNNY. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] A follow-up to the Pixel Scroll of 10/16/20: Artist Will Quinn did this doodle inspired by Paul Hanley‘s designs for one of the forgotten doctors of Doctor Who (Robert Holmes). Daily bunny no.1309 is of a different time. (Does a bunny timelord run around saying “I’m late! I’m late!”?)

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Transformers Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George explains that Transformers is a “feature-length commercial with sort of a story line, because that’s what movies are these days.”  Also, Megan Fox loves Burger King because, hey, it’s a product placement!”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, James Bacon, Ben Bird Person, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, Michael J. Walsh, Daniel Dern, James Davis Nicoll, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge with an assist from Tom Becker and Paul Weimer.]

93 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/22/21 Sacred Locomotive Files

  1. I can understand it being seen as trivialization, but here’s where I get confused: Which controversy is being trivialized — Benghazi or Baen’s Bar — when both are serious?

    Here’s the subreddit.

  2. I’ll admit I find the reddit nickname funny, but, I appreciate the choice to treat this professionally a lot, so. Thanks for taking things seriously, Mike.

  3. 14) Netflix did Enola Holmes, which I found really wonderful. So, I’m willing to give this a look.

  4. rcade: Now that Baen’s Bar has been offline for a week, it seems like the problem of extremist comments must be a lot bigger than the comments called out by Jason Sanford.

    I just think it’s hilarious that it’s now being bandied about as fact that Sanford submitted a book to Baen and was rejected, and his post is revenge for that.

    The Barflies are really so deeply embubbled that they genuinely don’t understand that Baen Books has a reputation in the larger SFF community for publishing a lot of mediocre plot-by-numbers fiction (a lot of which is also racist and/or sexist), and that the vast majority of authors want nothing to do with Baen Books and would never even consider submitting something there.

  5. (2) On blurbs: In comments on the Tor.com Discworld/Terry Pratchett re-read, at least two readers curse Piers Anthony for delaying their enjoyment of the series. They noped out of reading someone Anthony blurbed as “my kind of author” for years.

    (9) On Twitter, Pyles says he wants to see all the evidence for AND against the allegations. I want to know what kind of “evidence against” he imagines there might be, especially after viewing the screenshots producing evidence for. Evidence against that one poster being a moderator? Evidence against Tank Marmot having an account there? A version of Baen’s Bar/Politics in which the screenshotted posts don’t exist?

    Naomi Kritzer on February 22, 2021 at 9:26 pm said:

    Thank you so much for the lovely birthday wishes, but FYI my birthday is April 23rd! Shared with Shakespeare and Shirley Temple.

    …huh! And me! Pretty cool. In any case: a very merry unbirthday to you!

  6. I just think it’s hilarious that it’s now being bandied about as fact that Sanford submitted a book to Baen and was rejected, and his post is revenge for that.

    Seeing all the Baen authors and fans playing that card is pure cringe. He’s got two Nebula nominations and has published all over the place, including Asimov’s, Analog and Interzone. He also founded storySouth. He quite obviously doesn’t need Baen.

  7. He quite obviously doesn’t need Baen.

    You know that, and I know that, but remember, Weisskopf unironically said of Baen Books “[w]e publish books at the heart of science fiction and fantasy.”

    I have seen many of the comments left by Baen supporters on Discon’s announcement that Weisskopf was being dropped as a guest of honor, and many of those comments make it clear that the commenter believed Baen to be the MOST important publisher in science fiction, and an assumption that Worldcon, without Baen’s participation, would be sorely wounded.

  8. The thing that’s always struck me about Baen, above everything else, is how relentlessly American it is. It’s a rare Baen-published author who escapes that (most obviously, Lois McMaster Bujold), and as someone who is not American the absolute pervasiveness of it really stands out. American cultural ticks, American characters, set in America, even when the story concept — say, for example, an alien occupation — could’ve gone anywhere and involved anyone.

    This might explain why it’s distribution outside the U.S. and Canada is so limited, according to other commentators.

  9. foamy: The thing that’s always struck me about Baen, above everything else, is how relentlessly American it is.

    Yes, but please understand that it’s only a slice of “American”. The stuff you read in Baen books is very much not representative of a lot of people, like me.

    I personally would never have referred to their content as “typically American”, I have always referred to it as “typical American rightwing gun-rights and pro-war propaganda”.

    I resent like hell that these people have come to represent the U.S. in the eyes of the world — but they are so loud and obnoxious that they drown the reasonable people out, and it’s not surprising that they’re considered “typical Americans”. 🙁

  10. There’s an article up at the conservative law blog Legal Insurrection about the Baen’s Bar controversy by law professor William A. Jacobson of Cornell.

    You know how the article’s going to go from the words “conservative law blog,” but Jacobson does something weird in presenting a bunch of long quotes with his own thimble-deep analysis of the situation.

    He comes within a hair’s breadth of the truth:

    Why would someone spend such time going through a comment section? Maybe it was just to effect a change in moderation of comments, not part of a plan as the Monster Hunter Nation article suggested.

    That’s exactly why, professor! That’s what he was doing!

    But I had to keep reading. Jacobson declares “Parler got a bad rap” and warns of a climate where “comment sections can be weaponized,” meaning not the danger of commenters threatening violence but the danger of web forums being held accountable for hosting them.

  11. The thing that’s always struck me about Baen, above everything else, is how relentlessly American it is. It’s a rare Baen-published author who escapes that (most obviously, Lois McMaster Bujold), and as someone who is not American the absolute pervasiveness of it really stands out. American cultural ticks, American characters, set in America, even when the story concept — say, for example, an alien occupation — could’ve gone anywhere and involved anyone.

    This might explain why it’s distribution outside the U.S. and Canada is so limited, according to other commentators.

    Yes, this. And as JJ said, it’s also a very particular view of the US that’s being presented in many Baen Books, one with a strong focus on guns, the military, survivalism, etc…. and which is critical of “big government”, whatever that may be, and where any government employee who is not a cop or member of the military is portrayed negatively. The rest of the world either doesn’t exist or if it does, the books get it egregiously wrong.

    You can also find these tendencies in books from rightwing Baen authors to those of self-identified leftwingers or Socialists like Eric Flint.

  12. @JJ: I didn’t say ‘typical’, and that was for a reason. But it’s still overwhelmingly set in, about, by, and for, Americans — regardless of the exact specifics of where that particular story falls politically or otherwise. And sometimes even when the setting is specifically set up in such a way as to in theory not be about Americans (In Space or otherwise) it still winds up feeling like a weird recapitulation of U.S. bugaboos.

    I think Eric Flint, f’rexample, would explode if you told him he had to write an entire novel exclusively populated by characters from, say, Newfoundland. Let alone anywhere more “exotic”, so-called.

  13. 18) DOCTOR BUNNY. Damn, that Doctor Rabbit looks akin to Sylvester McCoy crossed with a hobbit. And I’m thinking it’d make a truly great animated series.

  14. It happens that I’m reading a book that’s heavily into Americana done in a way I like, and I recommend to anyone who’d like a smart book that has a lot of good feeling in it: Roadway, Landscape With Drums, by Neil Peart, drummer for the rock band Rush from 1974 to his retirement in 2018. He had a remarkable combination of qualities: a genuine love of learning, the drive to understand the world as fully as he could, a fascination with people of all sorts, a keen eye for narrative and descriptive details, a great ease with himself, his strengths, and his weaknesses, and an openness to kindness and shared good cheer.

    As the experience of touring took its toll of tedium, he started hankering for variety. For several years he’d have the band bus let him off a hundred miles from their next stop and bicycle it, seeking out back roads and the sorts of places pretty nobody ever sees unless they lived there. (He’d also seek out the next town’s art museum and other interesting destinations.) After a while of this, he took up motorcycling, and developed the habit of sleeping in the band bus after a show, then getting up early and spending the next day on the road, arriving in time to get a nap before the next show.

    He started writing books about his travel (and has a funny account of all the sorts of things he started writing before discovering he could do this well, from sf to Trollope-style fiction about his rural upbringing), starting with The Masked Rider: Cycling In West Africa, which is what it sounds like. It’s great because he starts by admitting how little he knew at the outset, and all the ways he sought to understand what he saw, coming away fascinated and filled with respect for the people of Cameroon et al.

    His second one really put him on a lot of people’s maps. In 1997, his 19-year-old daughter was killed in a car crash, and ten months later his wife died of cancer. His shut down, hard, with grief. With the full support of his long-time friends in the band, he went off on an extended sabbatical, not returning to music-making until 2021. Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road is about the experience of learning how to find a will to live again, and mending gradually, with a strong emphasis on how being out on the road from Quebec to Belize helped him get out of the mental and emotional ruts grief imposes.

    He did mend, in time, and did get back to his best thing, drumming and writing lyrics. He fell in love and married again. And he kept traveling. He has several more books, including Roadway

    He liked every single part of the US, from Appalachian forests to the industrial Midwest to the southwest deserts (which he appreciates particularly on motorcycle, where you can see more details and there are distinct challenges to safe good driving in the vast open spaces) to the Mountain West and so on across the country. There are people he likes, scenery to appreciate, and all kinds of fascinating details like his love of the city parks in St. Louis and Pittsburgh. He makes the work of staging and performing very engage in ways that don’t require being a fan of Rush’s particular music. He is full of kind appreciation for the challenges confronting people he knows, or just encounters along the way.

    There are about two kinds of people he specifically dislikes: would-be theocrats, and bad drivers (motorcyclists without properly maintained mufflers, people going too slow in the passing lane, etc.). Beyond that, he’s open to learning what’s up.

    This is a book that left me feeling good about my country in the mode of patriotism my parents always favored, celebrating what’s working and ready to help work on what isn’t, heavy on the respect and learning. If you like Americana with decency, I highly recommend Peart’s travel writing.

  15. Aaron: many of those comments make it clear that the commenter believed Baen to be the MOST important publisher in science fiction, and an assumption that Worldcon, without Baen’s participation, would be sorely wounded.

    <snicker>

    Poor dears, they need to get out more in their reading. Baen is a niche publisher which caters to a small subset of the SFF-reading population.

    ISFDB says Baen put out 31 original new novels last year. My annual reading is 5 to 6 times that.

  16. As JJ notes, Baen put out thirty one novels last year. The February Locus issue in their Year in Review write-up says that there was eight hundred and fifty novels in the sf and fantasy genres published in total. That doesn’t include horror which in itself is five times as large as the entire Baen output.

  17. In the discussion of a David Gerrold Facebook post, Candy Madigan Larson comments, “Toni told Bill that what she had done was all she was going to do and all his department heads threatened to quit if she wasn’t disinvited. He was caught between a rock and a hard place.”

    Bill presumably refers to DisCon III chair William Lawhorn.

    In the same discussion, Ginjer Buchanan writes, “My impression is that the sticking point was that she would not apologize and condemn the posts and the posters. From that, some of the committee may have concluded she had no intention of doing anything. I do know that the Con Chair wanted further discussion but his Department Heads threatened to walk if she was not disinvited immediately …”

  18. @Aaron G — I went to Carleton, graduated in ’95, and Helene and I both lived in the Science Fiction themed interest house in 94-95. Prior to that I always lived in Goodhue (except for fall of my junior year, when I was on an off-campus studies program in Nepal). We probably at least had significant social overlap.

  19. (7) That would be Young Pharaoh who got canceled by CPAC. When you’re including your token “conservative” Black people, you probably want to vet them first. This one is a raging anti-semite.

  20. In the light of the last few months in American politics, Legal Insurrection is an unfortunate name for a blog.

  21. (13) The report on the BBC confirms that music rights are the reason for the Shields episode not being available.

  22. foamy writes:

    This might explain why it’s distribution outside the U.S. and Canada is so limited, according to other commentators.

    There are certainly grey-import Baen Books to be found in Sweden, typically in specialist SF stores. I cannot, however, cite a Baen book that has received a Swedish translation.

  23. @Naomi Kritzer – You’re right, our circles probably have plenty of overlap. I graduated in ’96, lived in Burton mostly, & hung out at Nourse Little Theater (that’s where I recall meeting Helene). Anyhow it’s a pleasure to meet you here, 25 years later! I’ll keep an eye out for your work, best of luck.

  24. JJ on February 23, 2021 at 3:25 pm said:

    rcade: Now that Baen’s Bar has been offline for a week, it seems like the problem of extremist comments must be a lot bigger than the comments called out by Jason Sanford.

    I just think it’s hilarious that it’s now being bandied about as fact that Sanford submitted a book to Baen and was rejected, and his post is revenge for that

    I should note, that on the MeWe post I covered in a post [the one where Larry C was looking for evidence of SF people being meany-heads] Correia did de-bunk that claim.

  25. JJ wrote:

    The Barflies are really so deeply embubbled that they genuinely don’t understand that Baen Books has a reputation in the larger SFF community for publishing a lot of mediocre plot-by-numbers fiction (a lot of which is also racist and/or sexist), and that the vast majority of authors want nothing to do with Baen Books and would never even consider submitting something there.

    I did submit a fantasy novel to Baen in the early 1990s (and it was rejected). But it was a very different Baen back then. Especially the fantasy line. They had authors ranging from Josepha Sherman to Doranna Durgin. (The covers were still Baenish.)

    Also, if I revised the novel today, they probably wouldn’t like my changes. Baen editors would loathe most of the novels I wrote after that book. 😉 And i would send them somewhere else (or self-publish).

  26. @Ingvar

    There are certainly grey-import Baen Books to be found in Sweden, typically in specialist SF stores. I cannot, however, cite a Baen book that has received a Swedish translation.

    Lois McMaster Bujold has been translated into German, as have David Weber and, oddly enough, Larry Correia. Correia’s German publisher Bastei-Lübber also gave him some great covers, much better than what Baen foists on innocent books (and even the guilty ones). Here is Monster Hunter International.

    Hilariously, a lot of the Amazon reviews for the German editions of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter books complain about the excessive descriptions of weapons and ammunition.

  27. A quick check shows that Baen did Mercedes Lackey’s Bardic Voices books and a couple others, which tend to run pretty light on the guns, but the last one of those was in 1997. I enjoyed them in a warm fuzzy fantasy way, but it’s been decades. I think all her recent stuff’s been through Penguin.

    I kinda wonder how self-publishing affected Baen—you’d think it would appeal to the driven iconoclast author type, and I’d vaguely expect to see authors leaving Baen and taking their audience with them, but maybe that never took hold there, or maybe the publisher is more of a personal identity for some of them, I dunno.

  28. RedWombat: or maybe the publisher is more of a personal identity for some of them, I dunno.

    There’s a Mad Genius Club columnist who’s a hybrid, with some Baen published books, the rest indie, and what they’ve said makes it sound like they enjoy the imprimatur and getting to be considered a Baen author.

    Personally, I always wanted to be an Analog writer. Unfortunately, when I submitted my stories the feeling wasn’t mutual!

  29. Interestingly enough, some self-published science fiction authors seem to be deliberately going after Baen’s niche in pew pew military SF to the point of imitating Baen’s cover art, which is certainly a choice. Here are a few examples of self-published authors trying to outBaen Baen.

    There also are cooperations between Baen and self-published authors. For example, recently a self-published SFF author cheerfully announced that he had a story in a Larry Correia anthology. I briefly considered warning him to run away fast, but I’m pretty sure he would neither listen nor care.

  30. Oops, my latest comment seems to have landed in moderation due to including too many links to self-published authors trying to imitate Baen covers.

  31. In re the Suck Fairy, I’ll note that Jo misspelled Naomi Libicki’s name, there’s a c in it. In comment #39 of the tor.com article James links to above, Naomi spells her name; and she credits a LiveJournal poster whose handle was Camwyn. camwyn.livejournal.com is deleted, but there is a camwyn.dreamwidth.org that seems likely to be the same person.

  32. @Cora Buhlert – Choices, as they say, were made.

    @Mike Glyer – Well, there’s a lot of reasons to go hybrid (says the hybrid author) like the publisher having an actual marketing department, which presumably Baen does. I think.

  33. RedWombat: I think all [Mercedes Lackey’s] recent stuff’s been through Penguin.

    Her Elemental Masters and Valdemar books are being put out by DAW and Titan.

    Her Serrated Edge books are being put out by Baen. There are 3 of these in the last 4 years, but they’ve been collaborations with other authors, and the 3 books prior to that were in the 90s by another author. So I’m wondering if this is a case where Lackey gets cover billing and royalties for books in a series she started, but the partner authors are the ones actually writing the books.

  34. Late to the party to say:

    @Naomi Kritzer & @Aaron G.: Carleton had a SF-themed interest house?! Gah, if they’d mentioned that during the tour, I’d’ve applied early there instead of where I did. That sounds groovy! 😉 (BTW I started college in 1989.) My university only had a cluster of language-themed houses – nothing so groovy as an SF house.

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