Pixel Scroll 2/26/16 The Prisoner of Shadowban

(1) SHORTLIST TRUTHS. At The Hysterical Hamster Ian Mond asks “What Are Award Shortlists For? No… really… please tell me… I want to know….”

What are award shortlists for?

Obviously their main purpose is to recognize and celebrate the best works published in a specific timeframe and a given context.  That celebratory aspect, in particular, is reflected in my Facebook and Twitter feeds moments after a shortlist is announced as friends, rightly, congratulate the nominees.

But once people have provided virtual pats on the back to the finalists, once the glow of platitude and praise has dimmed, what purpose does an award shortlist serve?  Is it there to be read?  Is it there to spark conversation?  Is it there to further the debate – what there is of it – about the genre?

I ask because this week the Kitschies, one of my favorite awards, announced its list of nominees.  When I reported this on my blog earlier in the week I applauded the diversity on the list – both in terms of gender and race – and the fact that there was a distinct lack of multi-series books present (a particular peccadillo of mine).  I also made the throwaway remark that given the winners are announced on March 7 I wouldn’t have the time to read the nominees

(2) THE LATEST AND EARLIEST NEWS ABOUT ELLISON. Mary Reinholz’ interview in the Pasadena Weekly covers “‘Fire-bringing’ Harlan Ellison, one of America’s greatest short story writers, on protecting his work, L. Ron Hubbard, Octavia Butler, and why he will never stop writing.”

“Since the stroke, my right side is still paralyzed, but I can still type with two fingers,” he says during a recent call to his hillside home off Mulholland Drive. “I still get around. I get up and get into the wheelchair. I went to a [science fiction] convention in St. Louis and they all seemed to take it well. No one stoned me, even though I have this reputation of being a tough old bagel that’s hard to chew. A couple of times, I’ve done (spoken word) recordings. But mostly I lie in bed and watch the ceiling.”

…Ellison also remains deeply wedded to his work. December saw the hardcover publication of “Can & Can’tankerous,” which includes previously uncollected short stories and a tribute to Ray Bradbury, and in September the ninth edition of “Ellison Wonderland” was released; the collection was first published 52 years ago.

A third Ellison biography is expected to be published next year. It’s an authorized one written by Nat Segaloff, who has penned several books about Hollywood royalty, the latest on director John Huston. In “Dreams with Sharp Teeth,” a 2008 documentary directed by Erik Nelson, there are interviews with Ellison who admits he once sent a dead gopher to a publisher in the mail and others with his deceased crony Robin Williams, who committed suicide in 2014.

…Ellison, whom the Washington Post has called “one of America’s greatest living short story writers,” joined the bloody 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He was a friend and mentor of the late African-American novelist Octavia E. Butler, the first black woman to achieve international prominence within the largely white male bastion of science fiction writing. She grew up in a racially mixed neighborhood of Pasadena. Ellison was one of three people to whom Butler dedicated her 1994 book “Mind of My Mind.”

Butler, who died in 2006 at 58, was an unknown young writer when she first met Ellison at a workshop. “She was one of my students and came to me as part of a (program) the Writers Guild had decided to put together to bring in Latino and black female outsiders,” he recalls. “She came to me with a story. I took a look at it and knew how good it was. We talked about it and workshopped it and it went on from there. I was just one step on her way up. She did it all herself. She was a stalwart woman.”

(3) FREDRICKSON OBIT. Star Trek scenic and graphic artist Anthony Richard Fredrickson died February 15 of a heart attack. Doug Drexler paid tribute to him on Facebook.

So Anthony and I would go to school together, run science fiction stores together, edit sci fi magazines together, live through car crashes and earthquakes together, do makeup effects together, make movie monsters together, help redefine science fiction graphic design together, create spaceships for Star Trek together, and win an Academy Award together. We conquered Hollywood together. And we should never forget that it all began with baby mice dipped in honey.

(4) FIGHTING IN YEARS TO COME. Learn more about the “Narrative of the future developed at Science Fiction Futures workshop” hosted February 3 by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab (MCWF) and the Atlantic Council’s Art of Future Warfare Project and taught by Max Brooks, August Cole and Charles E. Gannon. The article is posted at Marine Corps Base Quantico.

The Marine Corps of 2035 will fight in megacities in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, deploying from an arid United States that has retreated to a defensive posture and directs little funding to the military.

The enemies of the future will be internal terrorists from both the extreme right and left, international mega-corporations that control the desalination of water, the Chinese mafia, and other established states with stable governments protecting their interests.

The weapons and equipment of the future will be autonomous robots, miniature electromagnetic pulse weapons, powered exosuits, and a proliferation of area denial weapons that limit access to trade routes.

But while the future Marines will be fighting in a different place, against a different enemy, and with different technology than they do now, they’ll still have a “boots on the ground” element and will still have to be flexible and think outside the box. And even in 2035, they’ll probably still be using masks from 2022.

(5) SFWA-SUPPORTED KICKSTARTER. “Star Project 3” at the SFWA Blog tells about the latest non-member Kickstarter project the organization is helping.

Projects are selected by the Self Publishing Committee, coordinated by volunteer Rob Balder. Selections are based on the project’s resonance with SFWA’s exempt purposes, and special preference will be given to book-publishing projects in the appropriate genres.

SFWA is delighted to announce support for our latest Star Project: The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror #6. We hope you will consider funding it as well.

From the project’s Kickstarter campaign:

The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror is over 150,000 words of the best fantasy and horror fiction written by Australians (and New Zealanders) and published all over the world in 2015. We’ve already done this five times for the years 2010-2014, and we’d like to do it again.

In addition to the reprinted fiction, The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror series features an extensive introductory essay on the annual state of the genre, obituaries, a recommended reading list, and a list of Australian and New Zealand award recipients.

It is the only volume of its kind being published in Australia at present.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 26, 1920 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari premieres in Berlin.
  • February 26, 1963 — NASA announced that Venus is about 800 degrees F

(7) GUARDIANS ADDS FRAKES. Jonathan Frakes joins Guardians of the Galaxy animated seriesBleeding Cool has the story.

Marvel has tapped Star Trek’s own Will RikerJonathan Frakes… to voice J’Son, King of the Spartax in the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series. USA Today is reporting bringing the veteran actor on board to play the father of Peter Quill (Will Friedle). Frakes has spent more time behind the camera than in front over the last few years becoming a highly respected television director.

J’Son is Star-Lord’s father in the comics as well as in the animated series, but the live-action movie is going a different direction according to director James Gunn and it is believed that Kurt Russell will be playing that version of Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father.

(8) RABID SLATE. Vox Day has announced his slate for – “Rabid Puppies: Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form”.

The preliminary list of recommendations for the Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form category:

  • Grimm, Season 4 Episode 21, “Headache”
  • Tales from the Borderlands Episode 5, “The Vault of the Traveller”
  • Life is Strange, Episode 1
  • My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic, Season 5, Episodes 1-2, “The Cutie Map”
  • A Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 8, “Hardhome”

(9) MYTHING HORSE REPORT. “Runaway Unicorn Leads Highway Patrol on Wild Chase” at Time.

A white pony dressed as a unicorn ran through the streets of Madera County, Calif., for over three hours on Wednesday night before she was caught by police. The costumed pony, named Juliet, first escaped from a child’s birthday party at about 2:30 p.m., but was soon recaptured. However, she got loose again around 5:30 p.m. and proceeded to lead California Highway Patrol on a long chase as she wove in and out of traffic. “We got a call of a unicorn running in the roadway on 12th avenue near Road 32,” Officer Justin Perry told KTUL. “I’ve been doing this for 14 years and this is my first call for a unicorn.”

(10) PIN POEM. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little broke out in verse when she received her Hugo voting PIN…

On the evergreen topic of MAC II, and in honor of the completely unprompted email I got from Hugo Administration yesterday morning (I’m not patient, I’m just lazy and never got around to emailing them), I give you…

Pup’s in the Manger (TtTO)

My PIN arrived just the other day
With a letter saying “Friend, come and have your say:
Did you read a thing that just blew you away?
Are your socks now orbiting the Milky Way?”

Well I said, hooray! time to nominate–
We don’t want to have no slates, friends,
My vote’s not about those slates

And the pup’s in the manger with a bad review
And little boy Larry wants a rocket to the moon
Are we all gonna go to K. C., then?
We’ll get together then, friends, You know we’ll have a good time then

[Thanks to Will R., JJ, Andrew Porter, David K.M. Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

107 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/26/16 The Prisoner of Shadowban

  1. @Heather Rose Jones: With you on the shortlists. For some awards *COUGH*the Booker prize*COUGH* I almost always find 1 or 2 or 3 books in the shortlist (or even the longlist!) far more worth reading than the novel that eventually wins. Sometimes for some prizes *COUGH*the Booker Prize*COUGH* I feel like “winner” means “least objectionable to the most judges on the panel that year”.

  2. @ Lis Carey…. somewhere in the fog of my brain, I see to recall being told something about an Audible audio-only program, where works would be commissioned straight to audio, bypassing a print edition altogether (or maybe postponing it). So perhaps Magic & Manners is part of that sort of program. In any case, I love audiobooks, and the reading sounded quite good in the sample I listened to, so not problem.

  3. The Puppy/Gamergater/etc. fondness for that My Little Pony episode rankles only because they seem to think the kind of society represented therein is the inevitable result of any policies to the left of their preferred ones. And not only inevitable, but in fact secretly desired by people on the left.

  4. @Laura isn’t that basically what happened with MRK’s Lady Astronaut of Mars? And caused some non canine kerfuffle by getting knocked off the shortlist because of Hugo Admins having trouble with the format.

  5. TooManyJens on February 27, 2016 at 9:52 am said:

    The Puppy/Gamergater/etc. fondness for that My Little Pony episode rankles only because they seem to think the kind of society represented therein is the inevitable result of any policies to the left of their preferred ones. And not only inevitable, but in fact secretly desired by people on the left.

    Ah but now we know why they were all so upset about Milo Brietbartroll losing his ‘verification’ tick on Twitter. The tick was actually his cutie-mark and without it he might lose his magic.

  6. Ahh, “Harrison Bergeron”. Part of the triple-punch my English teacher used in my first year of high school to convert me to SF.

    (The other two were “There Will Come Soft Rains” and The Chrysalids.)

  7. (3) FREDRICKSON OBIT

    Could someone perhaps quote more of this?

    Facebook wants me to give it my (nonexistent) login to let me see any of it.

  8. @Laura Resnick

    @ Lis Carey…. somewhere in the fog of my brain, I see to recall being told something about an Audible audio-only program, where works would be commissioned straight to audio, bypassing a print edition altogether (or maybe postponing it).

    Scalzi perhaps? I believe he’s mentioned a deal or two with Audible where the audiobook released first, later ebook, and possibly paper copies. Post was vague on the actual details. It was unclear to me if he was vague because details hadn’t been sorted yet or he couldn’t talk or he was leaving the entire thing in Audibles hands and the details were unimportant to him. But contacts had been signed was my understanding of his post.

    This was discussed shortly after his posts I’ve signed all the various contracts for the $3.4 million deal with TOR with pictures .

  9. 1) I’ve used short lists from past years as recomended reading when wondering about the history of the genre.
    Also, I think they help to inform people what kind of stuff this award likes. One book, the winner doesn’t tell you much, but you can look at characteristics all the shortlist have in common

  10. According to C. E. Murphy’s website, the print version of Magic & Manners will be released in March.

    Ninja’d . 🙂

  11. Apparently Puppies have been latching onto it as demonstrating the horrors of SJWness or something. If I follow the recap of the plot–someone tries to force ponies to all be alike, ponies end up seeing the beauty of diversity?–that doesn’t sound like an anti-SJW polemic. But perhaps I am missing something.

    You and I see an episode about embracing your unique talents as celebrating diversity. Puppies see it confirming their special position in the universe, because of course they’re more special than anyone else and the rest of us are just trying to keep them down.

    But while that’s a nice story for kids, it – along with this whole season – lacks the dual-level appeal of references that worked for both kids and adults that made me a fan in the first few seasons. I’d watched it and then completely forgotten it until now; a Hugo nominee should be more memorable than that.

    Speaking of children’s cartoons, how’s about that Steven Universe? I’m planning to nominate a couple of the episodes for short-form.

    I’m nominating The Return/Jailbreak together as a two-part episode. The 3-part Gravity Falls finale is already shortlisted for next year.

  12. (6) February 26, 1963 — NASA announced that Venus is about 800 degrees F: “I felt a great disturbance in the genre, as if millions of SF writers suddenly cried out in anguish, and were suddenly reduced to grumbling.”

    As far as short dramatic presentation goes, personally I’m going to nominate “Sworn to the Sword” from Steven Universe. There’s also at least one Rick and Morty- the dog one maybe.

  13. @ Peace is My Middle Name

    To be fair, some nominations really are prestigious.

    Absolutely! There are some awards where simply knowing that at least one person (not related to me) thought my work was worthy to be considered for it means more to me than winning certain other awards would mean. But I tend to be very picky about what I feel proud about, and even pickier about what I’d brag about publicly. It’s hard to find prestige in something that’s essentially “we have received your submission” receipt. I don’t brag about those.

  14. I read a ton of Ellison stories as a young man when Berkley did their paperback reprint series, including all the mimetic ones in Love Ain’t Nothing But Sex Misspelled and Gentleman Junkie. And I can’t say the Suck Fairy has revisited them, but that’s because I haven’t had any impulse to revisit his work for a long time. In those years I was also reading a lot of short fiction, in and out of the genre, by Tiptree and Delany and Paul Theroux and William Boyd. Today I don’t think Ellison really stands up next to any of them, let alone Borges, whom I began reading a few years later.

  15. @ Cat
    I think Steve Wright is right. IIRC, only a virgin could bridle a unicorn, usually using her/his hair. Better read people, jump in to correct if needed.
    Lis is right. Juliette’s adventures show that, no matter how great she looks in her costume, acting is not for her. Thanks also for tip on Magic and Manners.

  16. 2) “But mostly I lie in bed and watch the ceiling”.

    Having been in a situation where I did a great deal of that for several weeks, that sentence ripped out my heart. That the man saying it is the primary reason I read SFF makes it hurt all the more.

    *SIGH*

  17. re: books appearing in audio first:

    The METAtropolis anthology originally came out in audio-only in 2008. Received enough buzz a print edition followed in 2010.

    The follow-ups, METAtropolis: Cascadia and METAtropolis:Green Space seem to still be available only in audio versions.

  18. I think of shortlists as part “here are other things you might like” and part a way to honor the nominees. With a juried award, it may also reduce stress for the jurors: a juror can accept that they won’t convince the rest of the jury of their choice, but at least it gets some attention. Or be more comfortable with choosing between two things that are both good, in somewhat different ways.

    It’s been a dozen years since I was a Tiptree Award juror, and I don’t remember the details of the discussion, but we spent a lot of time thinking as well as discussing, because we had several good options. In the end, we were all satisfied, but I think it helped that we could say something along the lines of “we recommend these things, especially this one.” (Edited to expand slightly.)

  19. Tasha Turner says ‘Scalzi perhaps? I believe he’s mentioned a deal or two with Audible where the audiobook released first, later ebook, and possibly paper copies.’

    Scalzi has had at least one collection of stories he edited, METAtropolis Cascadia, which exists only as an Audible edition. The first METAtropolis existed as a print book and an audiobook, the third and last to date which did not involve him was also an Audible only edition.

  20. [ticky]

    Heh. One of the comments to Matt Pierce’s Twitter report about the “Unicorn on the Loose”–“must be with the Bernie Sanders campaign.”

    David Brin has made his story from Old Venus, “The Tumbledowns of Cleopatra Abyss,” available here. I’m not sure if it’ll go on my longlist, but it’s worth reading.

  21. @Zil

    I’m planning on nominating a couple of Steven Universe episodes. Likely the combo of The Return/Jailbreak and Alone Together, although I also want to shove Sworn to the Sword in there somewhere, but I think that one is only so good if you watch the whole series leading up to it, whereas the others can sort of stand alone and still recognize how awesome they are. Plus, their sci-fi/fantasy elements are front and center. And now, I think I have to go re-listen to “Do It For Her” and “Stronger Than You“.

  22. Kimberly K: I’m planning on nominating a couple of Steven Universe episodes. Likely the combo of The Return/Jailbreak and Alone Together, although I also want to shove Sworn to the Sword in there somewhere
    I agree that Steven Universe should be nominated. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cartoon so perfectly balanced between adventure and slice-of-life. I might also suggest the episode “Back to the Barn” for its robot olympics and Steven’s meta-scifi line, “Stop! Giant robots shouldn’t fight!”

  23. @WestCoastCanada

    Steven Universe is one of my favorite things on tv. That and Hannibal(was). Season 3 was amazing and I wish I could nominate it, but despite the dream-like imagery, I don’t think it’d even technically count as spec-fic. I wonder what that says about my psychology that I’d put those two together at #1?

    If the seasons were better aligned I’d nominate SU’s season 2 for long-form, but the way CN puts them out is so haphazard that it doesn’t really makes sense. I think we’re still in Season 2? I can’t tell what with the random Steven Bombs and all. I do know that I’m already likely to nominate The Answer next year. The art direction, especially, was so pretty.

    That robot line did make me laugh, but BttB didn’t affect me as much as the others I’m contemplating.

  24. @James Moar:

    My boyfriend and I just binged season 2 of Rick and Morty. I find some of the fourth-wall breaking stuff a little obnoxious, but it’s visually mindblowing and one of the darkest things I’ve laughed out loud at in a really long time.

    My fave of season 2 is probably “A Rickle in Time”, which snuck some incredibly poignant character stuff amongst playing merry hell with multiverses. The ending of “Total Rickall” literally shocked a laugh out of me. And I adored the subplot of “The Ricks Must Be Crazy” (‘Keep Summer safe.”).

    Somehow in mainlining season 1, we skipped “Meeseeks and Destroy” and got the pleasure of catching it in a TV marathon. I loved everything about Morty’s Quest. There was a moment where I actually wondered if Zbegl jnf tbvat gb trg encrq ol n tvnag wryylorna va n qvatl gnirea onguebbz.

    Quite the ride. The bewildering, horrific, hilarious ride.

  25. I have yet to watch Rick and Morty, although I’ve been meaning to. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.

  26. The thing that really frosts the cake that is Rick and Morty is how it burrows into SF tropes and comes out the other side with their beating hearts in its teeth. Show me another cake that does that!

    The episode where they kept breaking Time (and the screen became multiples of the scene, playing out with slight differences), or the episode where the house became overpopulated by apparent continuing characters (one of whom is still in the opening title sequence) may be my favorites. As I’ve said, the explorations of the various family members and their relationships are exceptional.

    The capsule description for the S2 finale was basically, “The family goes to a wedding and everybody makes mistakes.” I’d say more, but I just keep shaking my head in wonderment instead.

  27. Huge Steven Universe fan here. Also thinking about nominating The Return/Jailbreak because I can’t think of a better gut-punch/heart-healing sequence ever in all of that wonderfulness. There may be better choices for stand-alone episodes, but I can’t think of one that has the same emotional effect.

    There was one from the most recent Steven Bomb that blew me away – its finale, Log Date 7 15 2. I was LOLing every other line, but at the same time as being funny it was such a gorgeously handled portrayal of a character’s changing emotional stance. Also the shout-outs to fandom and to fanfic-writers was heartwarming. Everything about that episode was wow. May have to keep it in mind for next year’s nominations.

    Mike, I feel very honored that you promoted my little PIN-having ditty to the front page! So glad you liked it! While we’re on that subject, though, I have got to tip my cap to bloodstone75’s response that blew my small effort out of the water – anyone who hasn’t seen it (and doesn’t mind having the earworm well and truly burrowed in) should click the link. Every verse is recognizably there, with its own unique scansion and everything. It’s an amazing filk.

  28. @MSB

    Actually as I understand it, unicorns were *hunted*. A man wishing to hunt a unicorn would have a virgin (woman) sit in the forest; the unicorn would come and lay its head in her lap and go to sleep. Then the hunter would approach and kill the unicorn, although in some versions the virgin “tames” the unicorn–I think these may be later variants. I don’t recall anything about bridling it with her *hair* though. (Or putting a halter on it, which is what is shown in the picture, and which differs from a bridle in that it doesn’t have a bit or (usually) reins.)

    So Juliette strikes me as not being terribly unicorn like in the first place, as far as behavior goes. Probably for the best.

  29. This whole last Steven Bomb was awesome. Peridot’s confrontation with Yellow Diamond was amazing. Never was there a more satisfying “CLOD!” Haha.

    The Answer was still my fave of the group. Probably because I just love Garnet, and thus Sapphire and Ruby.

  30. If anyone wants to watch Steven Universe and they have Hulu(in the US, I don’t know about elsewhere), the entire 1st season is up, although the last several are not in intended watch order(check wikipedia). Cartoon Network’s website has some of the most recent ones and some random eps. I also do know that there is a blog in existence that has all episodes available, and might not be strictly legal, but is good for catching up if you have no other access

    Everything from “Warp Tour” to “Too Far” is from 2015, for nominating purposes.

    @Nate Harada

    Gravity Falls is another one I haven’t gotten around to watching. Now that it’s over, I might have to go and marathon it.

  31. Kimberly K., the only place I could find Steven Universe in Canada (aside from the whimsical scheduling of the Cartoon Network) was on iTunes.

  32. (8) I don’t like Bronies who are in it just to perv, but regular Bronies are ok, and MLP’s cute. Don’t think it’s Hugo-worthy, but at least it’s well-written — which is more than you can say for last year’s Pup nominees (Bravo to Camestros and all for the pony puns).
    And picking a GoT episode is the safest thing ever, of course it’s going to get nominated. Xanad’oh continues.
    I hope the committee realizes playing even part of a video game takes longer than 90 minutes. Wouldn’t that disqualify it? Even a speedrun by an expert is going to take longer, and watching a video of a speedrun is hardly the true way of experiencing a video game — it’d be like only watching the trailer for a movie, or only reading a recap of a TV show. Not respecting the art form.

    (9) The cops did a good job with a good sense of humor. Adorbs. Though that officer is going to get a lot of virgin jokes. The local news story said that the unicorn had been rented for the party to pose for pictures; evidently pony don’t play that.

    (10) Nicole’s was great, but don’t miss bloodstone75’s reply that was also great, encompassing the whole song. I had bits of it stuck in my head earlier.

  33. @lurkertype: “I don’t like Bronies who are in it just to perv”

    Pardon my ignorance, but what’s that even mean? Perv on what? The ponies?! I’m not super-familiar with MLP, so clearly I’m missing something.

    (I saw a guy in a really cute Bronie getup at AnimeUSA a few years ago, though. Yes, I lead a very sheltered life for that to still stick in my memory.)

  34. Pardon my ignorance, but what’s that even mean? Perv on what?

    Rule 34. I’m not going to google it – I’ll stick to the brony sites that are all about “ooh, did you spot all the cool Looney Tunes references”, thanks 🙂

  35. @Kendall

    Apparently it includes sexuilzed versions of cute ponies some anthropomorphic, some not. Or at least that is what showed up the last time a board I visit got bombed with pony porn. So if you ever want to see a pony in bondage gear now you know what to look for.

    That actually lead to a pretty funny thread about what actual pony porn (i.e. porn made by the ponies) would look like. I mean what would be the pony equivalent of ponygirl bondage?

  36. I have also heard tell (possibly seen on Regretsy?) of *ahem* “custom” plushies…

  37. I have to observe that there appears to be no subject so esoteric or odd that filers cannot come forward to explicate it to us.
    So, okay, custom Little Pony erotic plushies.
    Who knew?

    I love this place.

  38. Unlikely to be of much use, and really not genre, but the rather excellent British writer John Finnemore recently had a series of two handed comedy plays on Radio 4. They will eventually turn up on either audible or Radio 4 Extra and therefore iPlayer.
    One in the middle (he says finally getting to the point) ‘English for pony lovers’ does hinge on a German mother worrying about her daughter’s MLP slash.

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