Pixel Scroll 2/28/20 Speak To Geeky People, Get Geeky Answers

(1) PLAY IT AGAIN, JEAN-LUC. At Amazing Stories, Kimberly Unger tells how Picard is doing in checking off “The Required Plots of Star Trek”. She has an infographic with 13 of them.

A few years ago, I had the privilege to work on a game being built for Star Trek: Discovery (I will remain salty about the cancellation of this game until the day I die).  While that game ultimately never made it to market, it gave me a chance to do a number of deep dives into one of my favorite properties.  While we were in the early days of building the game design bible to give to the writers, I came up with a list of recurring broad plotlines that seemed to show up in every variation of Star Trek (and many other SF shows including Dr. Who, Stargate, etc.).

Now that Star Trek: Picard is on the air, I’m working my way down the list, watching to see which of these thirteen recurring plots show up. 

(2) CORONAVIRUS AND FANDOM. Chuck Wendig, in “Running A Con, Conference “Or Festival In The Age Of A Burgeoning Pandemic!”, wants upcoming conventions to address five points (see them at the link).

Am I an expert in any of this? Hardly. I just try to keep up to date on what’s up while simultaneously not fall for conspiracy theories or mis/disinformation. (Harder than you’d think in this age, sadly.)

So, now we circle back around to say —

Hey, there are a lot of conventions, conferences and festivals coming up.

For me, these are writing- or book-related, but again, I see a lot on the horizon and some that just recently passed: toys, electronics, food service, etc.

It’s convention season.

And, apparently, coronavirus season.

So, if you’re running just such a conference, lemme give you some advice:

Get ahead of this now.

Do not make us e-mail you to ask you what’s up.

This isn’t about causing panic — it’s about undercutting it. It’s about reassuring us that you have this in your mind, with plans forming….

Regina Kanyu Wang, a council member of World Chinese Science Fiction Association (WCSFA) and who lives in Shanghai, commented today on Facebook about the situation.

Talking about the coronavirus (COVID-19), now the situation in China is OK, with doctors and nurses really fighting in the frontier as well as normal citizens sacrificing their convenience of daily life (Especially those who live in Wuhan and Hubei in general! They’ve endured so much.) I am in Shanghai and my life is as normal, but I have friends and friends’ families living in Hubei, who are really trading their normal life to win more time for the world to take control of the plague. Recently, there have been an increase in numbers of cases in Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran and the US, and also first cases confirmed in more countries.

I realize that local governments may not tell the people how dangerous the virus is because they are afraid of panics and influences on economics. Wuhan and Hubei government did the same, and look what it’s like now….

(3) A PLAGUE OF STORIES. Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Lavie Tidhar suggest “Coronavirus feels like something out of a sci-fi novel. Here’s how writers have imagined similar scenarios” in the Washington Post.

… Pandemic novels, like pandemics, come and go in waves. The 60s had Michael Crichton’s “The Andromeda Strain.” The 70s saw the mega-success of Stephen King’s “The Stand.” Robin Cook gave us “Outbreak” in the 80s. By the 2000s, Max Brooks’s “World War Z” and related “The Zombie Survival Guide” were deemed so plausible for emergency scenarios that Brooks now consults for the military. And in 2014, Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven,” about a deadly plague called the “Georgia Flu,” dominated award lists and won widespread recognition.

With the coronavirus on everyone’s minds, reading books about epidemics can either be a frightening turnoff or a fascinating “what if” thought experiment. For readers in the latter category, let’s talk about books you might dare to consider.

(4) DELANY IN PARIS REVIEW. “Sex in the Theater: Jeremy O. Harris and Samuel Delany in Conversation” in The Paris Review. Not unexpectedly, includes frank conversation about sexual matters.

Though the two had never met before, Delany has been hugely influential on Harris, and served as the basis for a character in the latter’s 2019 Black Exhibition, at the Bushwick Starr. And Delany was very aware of Harris. The superstar playwright made an indelible mark on the culture, and it was fitting that the two should meet on Broadway, in Times Square, Delany’s former epicenter of activity, which he detailed at length in his landmark Times Square Red, Times Square Blue and The Mad Man. …

Over turkey club sandwiches and oysters, Harris and Delany discussed identity, fantasy, kink, and getting turned on in the theater.

HARRIS

Can I ask you about the play? How are you processing it?

DELANY

I was confused in the beginning, but then I realized, Aha! This is therapy. And then, Aha! The therapists are nuts! Then I traveled around having sympathy for all the characters, especially the stupid good-looking guy. He was sweet, I’ve had a lot of those. The character that I identified with most is the one who insists that he’s not white. I used to get that all the time, I mean, the number of times I was told by my friends at Dalton, Well, I would never know that you were black. As if I had asked them.

One of the best things that ever happened to me happened when I was about ten, which was a long time ago. I was born in 1942, so this is 1952, and I’m sitting in Central Park doing my math homework. This kid, he could have been about nineteen or twenty, and I think he was homeless, he walks up to me, and he says to me with his Southern accent, You a n****, ain’t you? I can tell. You ain’t gonna get away with nothin’ with me.

And I looked up at him, I didn’t say anything, and he looked at me and said, That’s all right. You ain’t gonna get away with nothing from me.

And I was so thankful for it. I realized, first of all, he was right. He was being much more honest with me than any of my school friends.

It was also my first exposure to white privilege. There were a lot of white people from the South who felt obliged to walk up and say, You’re black, aren’t you? They thought it was their duty. In case I thought, for a moment, that they didn’t know. This was part of my childhood: people telling me that I was black….

(5) YOUNG PEOPLE. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll introduces the panel to “’Step IV’ by Rosel George Brown”.

Rosel George Brown is a classic SF author of whom I have long been aware without managing to track down much of her work. Step IV was in fact the third Brown piece I ever read, after 1959’s ?“Car Pool”, and Earthblood, her 1966 collaboration with Keith Laumer. In large part this is because her career was cut tragically short. Aged just 41, she died of lymphoma in 1967. Most of her work is very much out of print.

Still, this particular story is available. What did my Young People make of it?

(6) DYSON OBIT. Freeman Dyson, acclaimed physicist whose ideas inspired Larry Niven’s Ringworld, died today: “Physicist And Iconoclastic Thinker Freeman Dyson Dies At 96” at NPR. The New York Times eulogy is here.

…During World War II, he was a civilian scientist with the Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command.

After the war, he came to the U.S. to study physics. Together with physicist Richard Feynman, he was able to reconcile two competing theories of quantum electrodynamics, the study of how sub-atomic particles and light interact. “He was able to show that all these different points of view were one and the same thing,” Dijkgraaf says. “He was a great unifier of physics.”

… Dyson permanently joined the Institute for Advanced Study in 1953. From his perch there, he pursued many other topics of interest. He helped to design an inherently safe nuclear reactor that could be operated “even in the hands of an idiot.” In 1958, he joined Project Orion, a plan to power a spacecraft with controlled nuclear explosions.

The spaceship was never built, but Dyson later described it as “the most exciting and in many ways happiest of my scientific life.” Dijkgraaf says Dyson was probably one of the few people on Earth that felt let down by the 1969 moon landings: “This all looked very disappointing in Freeman’s eyes,” he says. Dyson wanted to go to Saturn with nuclear-fueled rockets. “[He] was kind of envisioning jet planes, and in the end we took a bicycle.”

I heard him speak at the Starship Century Symposium in 2013 — “Freeman Dyson, ‘Noah’s Ark Eggs and Warm-Blooded Plants’”.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • February 28, 1956 — The “A Pail of Air” episode of X-One first aired. A boy narrates tale of a lifeless Earth. The Earth has been pulled away from its orbit by a comet when he was a baby, and his family live in a nest. The script’s by George Lefferts from a story by Fritz Leiber. Two more episodes would be based on stories by him, “Appointment in Tomorrow” and “The Moon is Green”. The cast includes Ronnie Liss, Pamela Hamilton and Joe De Santis. You can hear it here.
  • February 28, 1989 Journey To The Center Of The Earth premiered. It was written by Debra Ricci, Regina Davis, Kitty Chalmers, and Rusty Lemorande, as directed by Lemorande and Albert Pyun. It starred Emo Philips, Paul Carafotes, Jaclyn Bernstein and Kathy Ireland,. It was based on an uncompleted version for a different studio that Lemorande wrote and directed which was much more more faithful to Verne’s text. It was a sort of sequel to the film Alien from L.A. which has been noted here before. Critics usually used one word to describe it — “a mess”. Though it actually has a middling rating among the audiences Rotten Tomatoes at 42%. 
  • February 28, 2011  — Tyrannosaurus Azteca  premiered on Sci-fi. (Also known as Rex Aztec.) It was directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith as written by Richard Manning. It starred Starring: Ian Ziering, Shawn Lathrop, Milan Tresnak, Marc Antonio, Dichen Lachman and Jack McGee. It was made on he cheap, less than a million in total and critics noted that the CGI at times is much less than believable. You can see it here.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 28, 1913 John Coleman Burroughs. Artist known for his illustrations of the works of his father, Edgar Rice Burroughs. At age 23, he was given the chance to illustrate his father’s book, The Oakdale Affair and the Rider which was published in 1937. He went on to illustrate all of his father’s books published during the author’s lifetime — a total of over 125 illustrations.  He also illustrated the John Carter Sunday newspaper strip, a David Innes of Pellucidar comic book feature and myriad Big Little Book covers. I remember the latter books — they were always to be found about the house during my childhood. (Died 1979.)
  • Born February 28, 1928 Walter Tevis. Author of The Man Who Fell to Earth which became the basis of the film of the same name starring David Bowie. There’s apparently a series planned of it. He also two other SF novels, The Steps of The Sun and Mockingbird. All off his work is available from the usual digital sources. (Died 1984.)
  • Born February 28, 1942 Terry Jones. Member of Monty Python who is considered largely responsible for the program’s structure, in which sketches flowed from one to the next without the use of punchlines. He made his directorial debut with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which he co-directed with Gilliam, and also directed Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. He also wrote an early draft of Jim Henson’s 1986 film Labyrinth, though little of that draft remains in the final version. (Died 2020.)
  • Born February 28, 1946 Leanne Frahm, 74. Australian writer whose “Deus Ex Corporus” won the Ditmar Award for best Australian short fiction. She won a Ditmar again in for “Catalyst”. Her story “Borderline” won an Aurealis Award for best science fiction short story. She’s won the Ditmar Award for best fan writer twice.
  • Born February 28, 1947 Stephen Goldin, 73. Author of the Family d’Alembert series which is based on a novella by E.E. “Doc” Smith. I think the novella is “Imperial Stars” but that’s unclear from the way the series is referred to. Has anyone read this series? How does it match up to the source material?
  • Born February 28, 1960 Dorothy Stratten. She played the title role in Galaxina. She also showed up on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as Miss Cosmos in the “Cruise Hip to the Stars” episode. And she was Mickey on the Fantasy Island episode of “The Victim/The Mermaid”. (Died 1980.)
  • Born February 28, 1968 John Barnes, 62. I read and really liked the four novels in his Thousand Cultures series which are a sort of updated Heinleinian take on the spread of humanity across the Galaxy. What else by him do y’all like? He’s decently stocked by the usual digital suspects.
  • Born February 28, 1970 Lemony Snicket, 50. He’s the author of several children’s books, also serving as the narrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Though I’ve not read the books, they’re very popular I’m told at my local bookstore. It has been turned into a film, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, and into a Netflix series as well which is named, oh you guess. 

(9) CONVERSATION WITH DECANDIDO. Scott Edelman says now’s your chance to brunch on biscuits and gravy with Keith R.A. DeCandido in Episode 116 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

My guest this time around was Keith R.A. DeCandido, who has written novels and short stories in so many franchises — more than 30, including Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Doctor Who, Supernatural, Stargate SG-1, Farscape, and on and on — that a decade ago he was named Grandmaster by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

He writes fiction in his own worlds as well, including multiple novels and short stories in the Dragon Precinct series, a police procedural set in a high fantasy universe. He also writes reviews and essays for tor.com, including his popular rewatches of multiple Star Treks, Stargate SG-1, and other series. And those are just a few of his facets, which include music, martial arts, and more.

(10) ORIGIN STORIES. Back from hosting a fan table at Boskone, Daniel Ritter of First Fandom Experience considers the question: “Are Young People Interested in Early Fan History?”.

…Young fans are interesting to us because the audience of people who have been most interested in our work so far is relatively small and skews to an older demographic. We cherish this community of long-time fans with some existing connection to the history we study, but we are also interested in reaching a younger audience who have little to no connection to early fan history.

This begs the question… 

Are Young People Interested in Early Fan History?

This is a question we ask ourselves often..

Although almost none of the First Fans of the 1930s are still with us, we fortunately can learn something of their stories through the people that knew them. This is the core community of collaborators and readers that we have interacted with through the course of this project so far, and is one primary audience for our work. 

But what about, for lack of a better phrase, young people? Do Millennials and Gen Z, born into the chaotic fullness of modern fandom, have any interest in the origin story of the SFF fan community?

(11) BALANCING THE SCALES. James Davis Nicoll is determined justice will be done! “Five SFF Novels Set in the Much-Maligned City of Toronto” at Tor.com.

Above by Leah Bobet

Far below Toronto’s streets, Safe provides a refuge to beings living with marvelous gifts and onerous curses—people who, if caught by the authorities, would be subjected to unpleasant experiments. Some of the refugees have been so subjected before they escaped to Safe.

Matthew is able to pass for a regular human. He can venture above to buy necessary supplies without letting any normal know that Safe exists….

(12) THE DOCTOR. THE MASTER. THE CYBERMEN. “Set course… for Gallifrey” The Doctor Who season 12 finale airs March 1 on BBC One.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Bill, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Chip Hitchcock, assisted by Anna Nimmhaus.]

38 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/28/20 Speak To Geeky People, Get Geeky Answers

  1. (3) I think there was a 1980s mid-burst of pandemic books (I had a college friend who read a bunch of them) – Alan Nourse’s “The Fourth Horseman” (1983) was one of them

    (8) I liked the Thousand Worlds books too, and wish he’d get back to them. His “Century Nextdoor” series is also interesting – very few series have both YA novels (“Orbital Resonance” and “Sky So Big and Black”) with definitely non-YA works (“Kaleidoscope Century”) (I preferred the YA ones, frankly).

    (9) KRAD is remarkably easy to find at a con – you can recognize (and hear) his laugh from across a large room.

  2. I heard Snickett speak at a book festival once, he was really fun. Stayed in character the whole time and did a good job.
    I also saw the Netflix series recently and thought it was very well done- though much darker than I was expecting from a children’s series.

  3. 9) (Stephen Goldin)
    The Family d’Alembert series was pleasant fluff, about as as close to core Doc Smith as Children of the Lens was. I have them all, but it’s been long time since I’ve opened up any of them. (Even before the point where I got so many books that I no longer have the free time re-read any of them.)

  4. (3) The Andromeda Strain doesn’t qualify as a pandemic, because the contamination was confined to one small town.

  5. @The Other Nigel
    may I defenestrate you for that? Or rather, toss you through the looking-glass?

  6. (6) Dyson also appeared as a character in Greg Benford’s novel “The Berlin Project”.

    (8) Dorothy Stratten was also the Playboy model who was murdered by her husband/manager, and was portrayed a few years later by Mariel Hemingway in the movie “Star 80”.

  7. @8 (Barnes): One for the Morning Glory is a strange and frequently amusing piss-take of almost every fantasy trope you can think of — sort of a gonzo Princess Bride.

    @11: I don’t know many Canadians, but I’ve never heard any of them malign Toronto. I wonder whether there’s a bit of if-only-they’d-pay-enough-attention-to-us-to-hate-us?

    A title credit when I was just trying to make a smart remark? I’ll take it, with thanks — especially since I didn’t send in any links on time.

  8. (11) Canadians always have a particular city they hate, a situation exacerbated by hockey and provincial politics.

    (1) Sadly, I’m not enjoying Picard. The corruption of the Federation takes away the best thing about STNG, the hope that, with enough time, science, and contact with others, humanity might become humane. Seriously, if I wanted a grimy dystopia, I could watch, well, practically anything else.

  9. One for the Morning Glory is indeed a delightful little work. I’ve enjoyed several other of Barnes’s books, but that remains the one which sticks with me the most.

    As for Stephen Goldin: I’ve never been able to get into Doc Smith, so I couldn’t compare his version even if I tried, but I did quite like the short series he wrote with Mary Mason, The Rehumanization of Jade Darcy. I know I’ve also read at least one standalone novel of his, but I’m not entirely sure which. I do remember liking it, though.

    (10) Speaking as a former young person in fandom, I was not that interested in the history of fandom. But at the time, a lot more of that history was still living–and yelling at me and my friends to get off their lawn!

    Currently-young fans may have a different reaction, though, now that they don’t have to interact directly with the history. 🙂

  10. 3) I am once again tempted to set up a display at work: Doomsday Book, The Stand, Cities of the Red Night

  11. I’ve read the D’Alembert books – easy-to-read space adventure potboilers; the series.finale annoyed me somewhat (apparently, no one in Goldin’s galaxy has heard of off-site backups) and the seams show where it moves from original Smith material to Goldin. The first book (based on Smith) suggests in several places that this is a universe filled with exotic aliens, like the Lensman books; once Goldin hits his stride, though, it’s made clear that this is a humans-only setting.

    It’s not awful, but it’s not great either.

  12. Kevin Harkness on February 28, 2020 at 9:50 pm said:

    (1) Sadly, I’m not enjoying Picard. The corruption of the Federation takes away the best thing about STNG, the hope that, with enough time, science, and contact with others, humanity might become humane. Seriously, if I wanted a grimy dystopia, I could watch, well, practically anything else

    Captain Picard and the Enterprise were always butting heads with Starfleet when they had to deal with them directly PARTICULARLY on the issue at the heart of Picard: Data and synthetic people.

  13. 1) Back in the 90s I worked on a computer game called Star Trek: New Worlds. It was one the first real-time strategy games in 3D. In the course of development we discovered why 3d was not necessarily the best way to visualize RTS games. I spent a lot of time working on the graphics, particularly the effects, and I came up with a little ditty:

    Lasers and phasers and photon torpedoes;
    Lens flares, explosions and concussion rings:
    These are a few of my favourite things

  14. (8) I read Stephen Goldin’s “The Eternity Brigade” in high school because I got a free copy. I remembered liking it enough that I bought the eBook edition an eon later. But I’m not sure how it will hold up.

    I’ve heard good things about the Jade Darcy books. I think somebody recommended it to me back in my rec.arts.sf days, but I don’t remember why it came up. 🙂

  15. (5) Until now I’ve only heard of Rosel George Brown from her 1959 short story “Hair-Raising Adventure,” in the Pohl-edited Star Science Fiction original SF anthology series produced by Ballantine (and republished by them in the early 1970s).

    (6) Dyson also makes an appearance in Benford’s earlier Timescape.

  16. @Steve Wright: once Goldin hits his stride, though, it’s made clear that this is a humans-only setting. I see descriptions suggesting it’s a completely separate history (Earth has an empire instead of the more open system of the Lensman books), but running away from the outline (and from Smith’s use of aliens as far back as the first Skylark book) seems strange. Maybe Goldin just didn’t feel up to aliens.

    @gottacook: Brown was known enough that her two Sibyl Sue Blue novels were findable in libraries — fifty years ago, when I was vacuuming up the SF parts of the county library due to being unchallenged by a small-town boarding school. Said library having “deaccessioned” all of the anthologies whose forewords I used as references for a term paper, I’m not surprised that she’s less known now — especially since her hardcovers came out from Doubleday, which IME tended not to be the most durable even when published under their own name rather than SFBC.

  17. John Barnes has one of the most comprehensively frightening imaginations I know of. The Meme Wars/Kaleidoscope Century books are a bit allegorical (though also scarily predictive of the power of ideological mind-capture), but the his Daybreak series (starting with Directive 51) really haunted me–the relentlessness of his “imagine losing these materials and technologies” joined to his take on our capacity for evil. His apocalyses are not merely mechanical–the result of this or that infrastructural failure–but full-on confrontations with our collective heart of darkness.

  18. 3) behind the WaPo’s paywall. So, I’m not sure if they included Frank Herbert’s The White Plague. It remains excellent.

    Regards,
    Dann
    TRC eht edisni deppart ma I !pleH

  19. February 28th is a good day for artistic birthdays.

    Along with John Tenniel, who illustrated Lewis Carroll, there’s

    Milton Caniff whose first comic strip was Dickie Dare where Dickie would dream himself into adventures with famous characters.

    Frank Gehry, who was of course Tahani Al-Jamil’s godparent.

    Storm Thorgerson who designed the Dark Side of the Moon album cover for Pink Floyd.

    Mimsy Farmer, former actress now sculptress who has done work for Guardians of the Galaxy, The Golden Compass, Five Children and It, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She also gets her nickname from the Jabberwocky which completes the circle.

    Also Bernadette Peters who was in The Martian Chronicles miniseries and the best forgotten Heartbeeps. Also the voice of Rita of Rita and Runt on Animaniacs.

    (And a surprising number of Leap Year birthdays coming up.)

    Fifth they were and Pixel Scrolled.

  20. @Chip Hitchcock: the setting is absolutely different from the Lensman books (or the Skylark series, come to that) – but the absence of aliens struck me. “Doc” Smith obviously relished coming up with exotic aliens, and there is a hint of this where a couple of people disguise themselves as “Delfians”, who are short and squat and wear all-concealing cloaks and are never in a hurry. But the rest of the series is humans-only – it’s even a plot point in one of the later books. (I have no idea why this is. I’ve read the Jade Darcy books, too, so I know Goldin can do aliens….)

  21. In case anyone missed it, the second season of Altered Carbon is out on Netflix–at least in the US, but since it’s a Netflix show, I suspect it’s available elsewhere as well. Good timing for me, since I just finished season four of The Expanse. (I’m not much of a binger.)

  22. Dann665 asks behind the WaPo’s paywall. So, I’m not sure if they included Frank Herbert’s The White Plague. It remains excellent.

    It is not. The paywall is, errr, easily gotten around on the iPad.

  23. @Andrew: I believe A Far Cry is still on Barnes’s to-do list? Eventually?

    (10) I (born in 1987) heartily agree with the article’s conclusion that a key factor is making information accessible. There’s a lot of good archival information online and I’ve definitely surfed through a lot of Fancyclopedia, fanac.org, etc. (including OGH’s old Worldcon reports) out of curiosity. Compare to, say, The Immortal Storm, which is currently available on Amazon for the low low price of $59. But a large part of it is knowing where to go and where to look, and knowing that a more transformative fandom oriented site such as Fanlore isn’t going to have the same information.

    There is however a definite frame-of-reference issue that can come up whenever running into discussions of fiction from back then as people tend to grow up reading more contemporary SF. (Due to a poorly-phrased recommendation, my first Heinlein was The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, whose ending left me thoroughly lost and resulted in me not reading any more Heinlein until sometime in college.)

  24. @Goobergunch: I hope so. By the way, Barnes’ collection of short works Apostrophes and Apocalypses has some good stuff, including a non-fiction piece about how he developed the Giraut universe.

  25. @Russell Letson: IMO, the Daybreak books are bleaker than plausible; they require practically everybody to behave both selfishly and stupidly and/or to be enslavable by memes. (Being wasted by a Langford ?blit? is OK for a short story; being turned into a robot stretches my credulity a very long way, Barnes’s love for the idea notwithstanding.) IIUC, Barnes, like Norman decades ago, refused to accept editing for later Daybreak books — but hasn’t found another publisher and is doing it himself?

    @Jack Lint: Peters also created the role of the Witch in the original (stage) version of Into the Woods.

  26. Chip, re: Barnes’ Daybreak series–Plausible? Not quite. Nightmarish? Definitely. And nightmares needn’t be plausible to be scary. Much of Barnes work since Mother of Storms has been concerned with social pathologies, and both the Meme Wars and Daybreak books operate via literalized metaphors not unlike the ones that drive a lot of horror fiction, though run by SF enabling devices. I’m not much for horror (in fact, I won’t read it any more), but Barnes’ feel for the craziness of crazy has always grabbed me.

    When I reviewed Directive 51 a decade ago, I wrote that Daybreak was “an expression of vast discontent running on individual nervous systems, each of which sees itself as freely participating in a movement that will take it where it wants to go.” That description applies to much of what I’ve been watching on cable news since then–though I don’t think the mechanisms of implementation, let alone the results, are going to be anything like Barnes’ enabling devices.

  27. Does the Daybreak series have memes, too? They were key to the Century Next Door series, but I didn’t know if they turned up in Daybreak (which seemed too bleak for my taste, so I haven’t read it).

  28. 5) Rosel George Brown, her stuff is amazing! I loved her two related novels Galactic Sybil Sue Blue, and Waters of Centaurus. The first one is better, about a woman police officer and her teenage daughter. The original Berkeley paperback of Sibyl Sue has a Hoot von Zitzewitz cover that will knock your eyes out, and then the Gene Szafran cover of Waters is one of his all time best! If you can find it, the stories in her collection, Handful of Time, are excellent, demonstrating her background in Hellenic studies and her modern sensibilities, Brown needs a revival!

    9). Stephen Goldin also wrote a decent yarn about fugitive telepaths, Mindflight.

  29. Daybreak depends on a meme-like pathological belief system to drive the movement, but it’s distinct from the autonomous memes of the Meme Wars stories. On the other hand, Barnes has been writing about this pathology on and off for much of his career–even the Thousand Cultures series keeps returning to the ways societies can be seized by destructive and delusional belief systems. I’d say it’s inspired by looking back at the 20th century and wondering WTF is wrong with us.

  30. @Russell Letson: Thanks. I remember thinking of the Meme War stories when I read about the effects of being a Youtube content reviewer.

  31. Kobo has a book with three stories by Rosel George Brown, including “Car Pool” and “Step IV”. It’s only $0.99.

  32. (10) it’s the same as any other historical topic: a tiny minority of “young people” will be interested in the past, in historical foundations. The rest won’t care. Some things never change.

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