Pixel Scroll 3/3/21 The Pixels Are Due On Scroll Street

(1) TERRY AND THE WIZARD. [Item by rcade.] Twitter user Edgar Allen Doe shares the tale of the day he went to Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma, California, and met the fantasy author Terry Prachett, who met a wizard. Thread starts here.

Doe writes, “I really cannot overstate the ‘full wizard regalia’ element of this person.”

Prepare to take a journey spanning six tweets that does not go the way you think it will, you jaded cynic.

One of the people who saw the tweets also witnessed the meeting, which based on a Petaluma Argus-Courier news search I did likely occurred on Oct. 15, 2006.

(2) THE HORROR. James Davis Nicoll chronicles “Five Fascinating Twists on Cosmic Horror” at Tor.com.

…Now in its seventh edition, Call of Cthulhu is the second most popular roleplaying game on Roll20. It reportedly dominates the roleplaying market in Japan. That’s interesting, because unlike most RPGs, Call of Cthulhu (or CoC for short) is set in a universe where humans are not top dog, where there are vast, incomprehensible entities who refrain from snuffing us out mainly because they’ve never noticed us, where First Contact is often Last Contact. Characters in CoC generally spend the adventure or campaign coming to grips with how out of their depth they are—before going mad. If they are very lucky, they’re eaten first….

What more do you need to cheer yourself up?

(3) THE UNKNOWN PAST. “Doctor Who’s The Timeless Children – Morbius Doctors confirmed”Radio Times knows this is a big deal and makes sure you don’t miss it.

Doctor Who’s series 12 finale The Timeless Children dropped a number of huge reveals – but one of these twists was actually first telegraphed by the show back in 1976.

The episode revealed that the Doctor is not a native Gallifreyan, but the latest incarnation of a mysterious being called the Timeless Child, from parts unknown.

The Child or ‘Foundling’ – the first being to ever regenerate – had many different incarnations, many of which were wiped from their mind by the Time Lords (specifically by a sect of Gallifreyans called The Division).

This means that there were in fact an unknown number of incarnations of the being we now know as the Doctor before the ‘first’ (as played by William Hartnell from 1963-66).

Huge reveal, right? But this twist is not without precedent – as RadioTimes.com previously predicted, The Timeless Children has links to the 1976 Doctor Who story The Brain of Morbius, starring Tom Baker as the Doctor.

And the article goes on to glean details of the 1976 episode.

(4) WHO, RAY? “Who Is R. A. Lafferty? And Is He the Best Sci-Fi Writer Ever?” WIRED reviewer Jason Kehe does all he can to provoke us into reading The Best of R. A. Lafferty, “which Tor published earlier this year to nonexistent fanfare.”

…OK, SO A select few actually have read Lafferty, a secret society of loonies whose names you probably do recognize. Neil Gaiman. Ursula Le Guin. Samuel Delany. Other sci-fi writers, in other words. R. A. Lafferty has always been, then, a sci-fi writer’s sci-fi writer—a blurry, far-out position to find oneself in. When comedians hang out, they famously have to commit acts of borderline criminality, usually involving nudity and great heights, to get each other to bust up. So just think what absurdities a sci-fi writer has to conjure forth to gobsmack his fellow sci-fi writers—sci-fi writers who actually are, by much wider consensus, some of the best in the world.

The descriptor they tend to resort to, as if by no other choice, is sui generis, dusty old Latin for “one of a kind.” It’s probably the most common phrase associated with Lafferty (incidentally a self-taught student of Latin), and it appears not once but twice in The Best of R. A. Lafferty, which Tor published earlier this year to nonexistent fanfare and which, in keeping with the man’s self-aggrandizing sense of humor, should’ve been called The Best (of the Best) of R. A. Lafferty. Each of the 22 short stories is introduced by a writer often far more famous than Lafferty, including Gaiman and Delany, and also John Scalzi, Jeff VanderMeer, Connie Willis, and Harlan Ellison (who’s dead; his piece was originally published in 1967). Ellison—whose fellow Ellison, Ralph, wrote Invisible Man—says this of Lafferty: “He is the invisible man.” Nice….

(5) CAVEAT EMPTOR. Mad Genius Club’s Sarah A. Hoyt, in “Time has come to talk of many things”, says a fashion style in sff book covers will rebound on publishers when readers find the books don’t deliver what’s on their jackets.

I want to talk about a new trend I’ve observed in covers, and how it applies to much of the greater world out there. I.e. how the new trend in covers is just a new way that traditional publishing has come up with to screw itself and the entire field of writing over.

… If you have been alive a long time, or even if you “just” read books for a long time, you’re probably aware that there are trends in covers, as there are in everything else. In covers, though, particularly in the era of mega-chain bookstores, that “look” not only tended/tends to be more uniform, but it changes completely….

And then…. I kept running into more of these covers from other houses. Covers that explicitly try to look like they’re at the latest in the 50s.

Look, as a marketing strategy it’s brilliant. And stupid as heck.

Why?

Well, because now people are getting used to looking at Amazon for books that they remember reading/used to read/etc. they will be drawn to covers that are what they remember when they fell in love with a genre.

The problem is this: for most of the mainstream publishing, the contents won’t match the cover.

And yes, I can see them totally preening and going “if we get the rubes to look at our much superior product, they’ll love it.”

Because, you know, in the industry, it’s never about publishing what people want to read. It’s about “educating” the public. Which has taken them from 100K plus printruns for midlist to 10k printruns for high list….

(6) DR. SEUSS’ WWII POLITICAL CARTOONS. At “Dr. Seuss Went to War”, UC San Diego hosts a searchable gallery of his editorial cartoons from before and during WWII. Having discussed just yesterday the criticisms levied against his imagery of nonwhites, it’s interesting to see that some of these 1940s cartoons go after America’s leading racists of the time such as Gerald L.K. Smith.

Because of the fame of his children’s books (and because we often misunderstand these books) and because his political cartoons have remained largely unknown, we do not think of Dr. Seuss as a political cartoonist. But for two years, 1941-1943, he was the chief editorial cartoonist for the New York newspaper PM (1940-1948), and for that journal he drew over 400 editorial cartoons.

The Dr. Seuss Collection in the Mandeville Special Collections Library at the University of California, San Diego, contains the original drawings and/or newspaper clippings of all of these cartoons. This website makes these cartoons available to all internet users. The cartoons have been scanned from the original newspaper clippings in the UCSD collection.

Dr. Seuss Goes to War by historian Richard H. Minear (The New Press, 1999) reproduced some two hundred of the PM cartoons. That means that two hundred of the cartoons available here have received no airing or study since their original appearance in PM. The cartoons Dr. Seuss published in other journals are even less known; there is no mention of them in Dr. Seuss Goes to War. Dr. Seuss also drew a set of war bonds “cartoons” which appeared in many newspapers as well as in PM

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAYS.

[Double feature!]

  • March 3, 1965 — On this day in 1965, The Human Duplicators premiered. It was produced and directed by Hugo Grimaldi and Arthur C. Pierce (without a credit for the latter as director). The film stars George Nader, Barbara Nichols, George Macready and Dolores Faith. It was the color feature on a double bill with the black-and-white Mutiny in Outer Space. It wasn’t well received by critics, and Mystery Science Theater 3000 gave it their usual treatment. It currently holds a zero percent audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see it here. (CE)
  • March 3, 1965 — On this day in 1965, Mutiny in Space premiered. It was, produced, directed and written by Hugo Grimaldi and Arthur C. Pierce (although the latter was not credited as directing). It starred William Leslie, Dolores Faith, Pamela Curran and Richard Garland. The word “meh” would best sum up the reaction critics at the time had to this film. It has no rating at Rotten Tomatoes so you’ll need to watch it here and see what you think of it. (CE)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 3, 1863 Arthur Machen. His novella “The Great God Pan” published in 1890 has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror, with Stephen King describing it as “Maybe the best horror story in the English language.” His The Three Impostors; or, The Transmutations 1895 novel is considered a precursor to Lovecraft and was reprinted in paperback by Ballantine Books in the Seventies. (Died 1947.) (CE) 
  • Born March 3, 1920 James Doohan. Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on Trek of course. His first genre appearance was in Outer Limits as Police Lt. Branch followed by being a SDI Agent at Gas Station in The Satan Bug film before getting the Trek gig. He filmed a Man from U.N.C.L.E.film, One of Our Spies Is Missing, in which he played Phillip Bainbridge.  Doohan did nothing that I can find of a genre nature post-Trek. ISFDB notes that he did three Scotty novels co-written with S.M. Stirling. (Died 2005.) (CE) 
  • Born March 3, 1923 – Erik Blegvad.  Illustrated more than a hundred children’s books; as ever, opinions will differ on which we can count.  Apprenticed in a machine shop, left it when the Nazis took Denmark, imprisoned for distributing Danish Resistance literature, eventually translated for the British.  Self-Portrait 1979.  Three of Sharp’s Miss Bianca books (Miss B is a mouse); Bed-Knob and Broomstick – his cover, one of his interiors; his own translation of Hans Andersen. Washington Post appreciation here. (Died 2014) [JH]
  • Born March 3, 1924 Catherine Downs. She’s in four Fifties grade B SF films: The Phantom from 10,000 LeaguesThe She CreatureThe Amazing Colossal Man and Missile to the Moon. All but the first film werewas the subject of a MST3K show. (Died 1976.) (CE) 
  • Born March 3, 1928 – Paul Callé.  (“KAL-lee”.)  Known for NASA work, see this bookhere is an Apollo XI drawing; see more of his Space art here.  It is of course open to the rejoinder Not fiction.  Here is The Legion of Space.  Here is The Star Seekers.  Here is an interior from the Jul 50 Super Science Stories.  He did much with the American West (i.e. U.S. and Canada); see how each person is portrayed here.  His pencil book here.  (Died 2010) [JH]
  • Born March 3, 1936 Donald E. Morse, 85. Author of the single best book done on Holdstock, The Mythic Fantasy of Robert Holdstock: Critical Essays on the Fiction which he co-wrote according to ISFDB with Kalman Matolcsy. I see he also did two books on Kurt Vonnegut and the Anatomy of Science Fiction on the intersection between SF and society at large which sounds fascinating. (CE) 
  • Born March 3, 1938 – Patricia MacLachlan, age 83.  A novel and four shorter stories for us; thirty other books, one winning a Newbery Medal, one about Matisse; still writing, most recently published last June.  [JH]
  • Born March 3, 1945 George Miller, 76. Best known for his Mad Max franchise, The Road Warrior,  Mad Max 2Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome andFury Road.  He also directed The Nightmare at 20,000 Feet segment of the Twilight Zone film, The Witches of EastwickBabe and 40,000 Years of Dreaming. (CE) 
  • Born March 3, 1955 – Greg Feeley, age 66.  Two novels, thirty shorter stories for us.  I keep heaing he’s turned in Hamlet the Magician, but not when we may expect it.  Here is a note on Robinson, Le Guin, Clute, Egan.  Here is a note on Thurber’s “Catbird Seat”.  Here is “Why I Love Laurence Sterne Scholarship”.  Four dozen reviews in FoundationSF Age, and like that.  Interviewed Waldrop for Interzone.  Himself interviewed in Lightspeed.  [JH]
  • Born March 3, 1970 – John Carter Cash, age 51.  Indeed the son of that Cash and that Carter.  While mostly in music outside our field, he’s given us one book.  Website.  [JH]
  • Born March 3, 1982 Jessica Biel, 49. A number of interesting genre films including The Texas Chainsaw MassacreBlade: TrinityStealthThe Illusionist, the remake of Total Recall which I confess I’ve not seen, and theanimatedSpark: A Space Tail. (CE) 
  • Born March 3, 1981 – Kiersten Fay, age 40.  Ten novels, one shorter story, of paranormal romance with demons and vampires.  She’s a USA Today best-selling author.  [JH]

(9) SINCE YOU ASKED. On Drew Barrymore’s show “Stephen King Confesses He Didn’t Like The Shining Movie”. He gives his opinion at about the 1-minute mark.

(10) A CLOSE SHAVE. Amazon’s new icon got an immediate re-iteration because the old “new” made people think of Hitler’s toothbrush mustache. CNN has the story — “Amazon quietly changed its app icon after some unfavorable comparisons”.

… “We designed the new icon to spark anticipation, excitement, and joy when customers start their shopping journey on their phone, just as they do when they see our boxes on their door step,” an Amazon spokesperson said. The app icon was tweaked based on user feedback.

Only iOS users in the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Netherlands saw the Hitler-esque logo over the past few weeks. The updated logo rolled out worldwide for iOS users last week. Android users will see the new logo beginning this week.

(11) NAVIGATING LONELINESS. [Item by Michael Toman.] Best Wishes From a Guy Lashed to the Mast of Loneliness, Listening for So Far Silent Sirens — “Kristen Radtke Writes, and Draws, Our Loneliness” at Publishers Weekly.

When Kristen Radtke started writing about loneliness in 2016, she had no idea of what was to come. Writers are famously prescient, but who could have imagined the global pandemic of Covid-19 and the isolation it would generate? Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness (Pantheon, July), Radtke’s latest graphic nonfiction book, is a marvelous deep dive into that universal emotion, blending science, memoir, journalism, research, philosophy, and pop culture to explore isolation and our desire to be close to one another….

(12) HOPING TO PREDICT SOLAR WEATHER. “Origin of the Sun’s solar storms discovered in scientific breakthrough” reports Yahoo!

…In 1859, a large solar storm called the Carrington Event caused widespread issues with telegraph systems across Europe and the United States.

A repeat storm of such magnitude today could be far more devastating.

But now researchers at University College London (UCL) and George Mason University in the US believe they have located where on the Sun these particles come from, in a bid to better predict when they might strike again.

Their findings, published in Science Advances journal, indicate that the particles have the same “fingerprint” as plasma located low in the Sun’s corona, close to the middle region of the it’s atmosphere.

“In our study we have observed for the first time exactly where solar energetic particles come from on the Sun,” said co-author Dr Stephanie Yardley, from UCL….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Kill Your Idioms” on Vimeo, Grant Kolton takes aim at well-worn cliches.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Dave Doering, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]

82 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/3/21 The Pixels Are Due On Scroll Street

  1. Only Second, but Scroll title Credit!

    In re Biel: Not a fan of the second Total Recall movie. Wasted talent, IMO. I did like her in The Illusionist, though

  2. (1) A beautiful story

    (8) Doohan had a very minor role in a Twilight Zone episode (“Valley of the Shadow”), as one of the citizens of a quiet little town (Cue music). Post-Trek, he was in “Jason of Star Command” and “Homeboys from Outer Space”, as I recall.

  3. Paul Weimer says In re Biel: Not a fan of the second Total Recall movie. Wasted talent, IMO. I did like her in The Illusionist, though

    It’s not a very popular film garnering only a thirty one approval rating over at Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers, but the original film gets an eighty two percent rating there. I think I’ve seen the first film at least a dozen times down the years and always enjoyed it. I admit I’ve never seen the reboot.

    Now listening to Arkady Martine’s A Desolation Called Peace and enjoying it immensely.

  4. (5) Have the covers to books ever given the buyer a reasonable preview of what they can expect to find inside? Most of the time the cover artwork is writing a check that their novel can’t cover.

    (8) I totally missed that Doohan’s ashes were smuggled up to the ISS. Probably because it seems the story broke between Christmas and the New Year.

    (10) When I first saw the blue bit on the Amazon icon on my iPad, I thought it was a glitch and I wondered if I had managed to download malware. In any event, it wasn’t a good decision on Amazon’s part.

    And All The Scrolls are Full of Pix

  5. Jack Lint says Have the covers to books ever given the buyer a reasonable preview of what they can expect to find inside? Most of the time the cover artwork is writing a check that their novel can’t cover.

    Oh I think they can be reasonably accurate to the story inside. I just got in the post today from Jane Yolen a signed copy of The Wild Hunt novel she did twenty five years ago. You can see that image here. Yolen had a hand in picking the artwork as the novel is illustrated inside as well by Francisco Mora who did the cover.

  6. 4) Uhm, I know who R.A., Lafferty is, though I’m afraid what I’ve read by him never quite worked for me.

    5) Retro style covers are nothing new and have been around for a while now (Hard Case Crime, king of the retro style covers, was founded in 2004). Most self-published writers don’t do retro covers, partly because they’re not easy to do without expensive custom art (though it is doable) and partly because many self-published writers insist on having covers that look exactly like those of other self-published writers in the same genre. I have several retro style covers to match retro style stories, some of them with fake creases and aging, but then I tend to ignore conventional indie author wisdom.

    The rest of the post is of course the usual complaint that you can’t tell the contents of a book by the cover anymore, ignoring that this was never possible not even during the pulp era. Eric John Stark is not white and Margaret Brundage’s depictions of Conan don’t really match the image most people have of the character, though they do fit the respective stories.

  7. Cora Buhlert: I could say why I like various of R.A. Lafferty’s stories (“Slow Tuesday Night” is a particular favorite), however, I’m not about to sign onto his side in the science fictional counterpart of “Is Brady or Jordan the G.O.A.T.?”

  8. Mike Glyer says I could say why I like various of R.A. Lafferty’s stories (“Slow Tuesday Night” is a particular favorite), however, I’m not about to sign onto his side in the science fictional counterpart of “Is Brady or Jordan the G.O.A.T.?”

    Nah, the great G.O.A.T. of all time is Wayne Gretzky. Though Bruins fans will argue that it’s Bobby Orr.

  9. 5) She’s wrong about the whole “educating the public” bit but she’s not wrong about the idea that covers should accurately represent the contents of the book. She just seems to be assuming malice over incompetence– “covers are misrepresenting the book” is a longstanding problem, not some eeeeeeeeeeevil plot by the Publishing Cabal.

    10) …okay then. I don’t personally see it, but apparently enough people did that changing it made sense.

  10. Kit Harding: If this logo had been launched before WWII people would have said it reminded them of Charlie Chaplin or Oliver Hardy and nobody would have given a hoot, but the cat is out of the bag now.

  11. Lis Carey says That’s because it is Bobby Orr. No question!

    Grin. Certainly you can make a very, very good argument for him being so.

    I once saw the Canadiens plays the Bruins at the Forum in Montreal some forty years ago. It was an amazing experience.

  12. 8) The only Lafferty I know I’ve read is his short story “Been a Long, Long Time”, which I found in Brian Aldiss’ Galactic Empires anthology; but it was a pretty great story indeed.

  13. On the birthdays: Don Morse can be many places at once (as longtime hotel/catering wrangler for ICFA he was often omnipresent), but even he would have a hard time dying in 1976 and being 85 today.

  14. Then I’ll vote for the version where he’s 85. Let’s appertain to his health!

  15. 5) does anyone even see covers anymore? I certainly don’t when reserving library books, kindles, etc? Haven’t they gone the way of phonograph record sleeves, relegated to postage stamp sized facsimiles of their former glory?

    Thanks for others falling on the pixels to confirm the rest of the commentary is more crunchy nugget whinging.

    Also Fury Road was a great movie and I won’t hear anything different. Of course it was kind of missing a plot, but omg the visuals and stunt work…

  16. I’ve enjoyed Lafferty’s works from way back when he was still alive and actively writing. I’ve been picking up the Centipede Press volumes of Lafferty’s short stories as they’re published.

    Several of the short stories I’ve written have been attempts to write in a Laffertyesque style. This is, for the record, both damn hard and a lot of fun. One (“In the Days of Mister Cuddles”) was published in a small press anthology several years ago. The other is still trying to find a home.

  17. I think Neil Gaiman did an R. A. Lafferty pastiche once – it’s the one about the exclusive club who arrange to eat a firebird. Can’t remember which collection it’s in at the moment, though.

    Now listening to Arkady Martine’s A Desolation Called Peace and enjoying it immensely.

    OMG IS IT OUT?! Runs off to see It’s out it’s out it’s out!

    YOINK

    Of course I’m going to have to reread A Memory Called Empire just to get back up to speed. WHAT A HORRIBLE TERRIBLE CHORE THAT WILL BE. Is up until dawn, probably

  18. I think my first exposure to R.A. Lafferty was his novel Arrive at Easterwine, though I’ve read quite a few of the short stories since…. I think he’s good (though I’m not going to argue that he’s “the best”, whatever that might mean), but I can see that his rather offbeat style isn’t going to appeal to everyone.

  19. That Doctor Who story is a year old (March 1 2020).

    I am not at all sure what Hoyt is talking about. I haven’t noticed a rash of retro covers. I tried looking at recommended new releases on Amazon and saw exactly one. For a Stephen King novel – from Hard Case Crime (see Cora Buhlert’s post above).

  20. Hoyt is such a bitter troll. She can’t even -imagine- that anyone who isn’t part of her political mindset could ever be acting in good faith, let alone that there are people in the publishing industry who are there because they love books and they love what they do.

  21. Way back around 1970, in the third issue of my fanpubbing career, I ran a short story by R.A. Lafferty. It was a great honor that I tried to be worthy of and completely screwed up. I was still using a ditto machine — getting a mimeograph machine between the third and fourth issues. So as to not publish a story by a pro writer on ditto (we got the story because we were also running an article by a fan about meeting him, and a complete-at-the-time bibliography), I decided to run those pages on offset and got a bunch of illustrations for the story from Grant Canfield. Then a fan with access to typesetting offered to typeset the story for me. In fact, he typeset the story, laid out the pages with the illustrations, and printed it for me. I then took his pages and added them into the fanzine during collating.

    It was maybe ten days to two weeks later when I really looked at the pages. The text of the story was all out of order, and sections of it were missing. What a miserable realization.

    The readers all liked the story, and no one complained it didn’t make sense.

  22. Nah, the great G.O.A.T. of all time is Wayne Gretzky. Though Bruins fans will argue that it’s Bobby Orr.

    Absolutely Orr. If you’d ever seen him take the puck at the start of a penalty kill, proceed to skate all over the rink with the entire other team chasing him, only to score a short handed goal with 10 seconds left on the power play, you’d know.

  23. Gregory Feeley has written some of my favorite stories. His novel the Oxygen Barons is like a bonsai made of words, Arabian Wine is an intoxicating historical fiction and Neptune’s Reach is an exercise in hard sf koan. Always interesting.

    Lafferty. I loved his work as an adolescent, but when I read him now it feels like he’s trying too hard. It’s probably just me.

    @12
    The only thing about the sun more frightening than how little we understand it is how little most people seem to be concerned by how little we understand it. This development is good news, if true.

    @5
    I’d bet the reason print runs are smaller has more to do with ebooks and the number of books published every year than with the contents of those books.

    Also, wasn’t there an awful lot of waste with the old returns system? What was the sell-through on those 100k copy print runs?

  24. An intersection of the two threads of my last comment. Modern Dr Who novelisations have the same look as those I remember from the early‘70s. It’s quite distinctive, but still not really what Hoyt was talking about.

  25. My hockey knowledge is so thin that I first heard of Bobby Orr when I read Stephen Popkes’ “The Ice” (which features him prominently).

  26. Being from NYC, there are a couple of “silo spectra” of sports fans, if you follow sports.

    It usually goes:

    Giants-Yankees-Rangers-Knicks
    or
    Jets-Mets-Islanders-Nets

    It was rare for me to find, say, someone who followed the Giants and the Mets, or the Islanders and the Knicks.

    I am on the GYRK spectrum, but I have not watched much hockey (in terms of watching sports, much more football and baseball than hockey or basketball)

  27. Because, you know, in the industry, it’s never about publishing what people want to read. It’s about “educating” the public. Which has taken them from 100K plus printruns for midlist to 10k printruns for high list….

    Really? I hope she’s not talking about genre fiction as most genre fiction never existed in those numbers. A 10k print run would’ve been an amazing total in hardcover for a lot of authors I know.

  28. Which has taken them from 100K plus printruns for midlist to 10k printruns for high list….

    In the early 1950s, I Love Lucy, the most watched show, pulled in Nielsen ratings of over 60. In the last decade, the most watched non-sports and non-reality-show programming, Big Bang Theory and NCIS, only pulled in around 12. Clearly it’s because TV Execs don’t want to show people the programming they want. If they did, they would get rid of today’s shows and bring back I Love Lucy. I am very smart.

  29. Just got an email from Subterranean Press. They have almost run out of preorders for The Varigated Alphabet, a collection of six alphabets from Caitlin R. Kiernan (a la Ellison’s The Chocolate Alphabet). The price is “really expensive,” of course but I really love this sort of thing.

  30. Andrew (not Werdna): The Ice is my favorite story about cloning. Damn fine piece of fiction.

  31. (5) What covers is she talking about? Most major SFF houses have a variety of cover art styles. I’m assuming she’s not talking about the Gideon the Ninth cover because…

    Is this a case of some hypothetical reader picking up a book with a robot or a spaceship or sword on the cover and then being upset because it turns out to have queer people, too? Or societies that don’t mirror their own? Isn’t that what SFF books tend to do? That’s a them problem and and not a problem with the publisher.

    She forgets about the hypothetical readers who pick up a new SFF book published in this decade, only to be disappointed when it trots out ideas from 1950 or 1970 (both tired plots and attitudes that could have come from long long ago).

  32. Meredith moment – Mark Lawrence’s “Impossible Times” trilogy is on sale in the US. The Kindle edition is $0.99 per book. Great individual books. Even better as a series.

    6) The museum has sorted and categorized the political cartoons. This section on racism was interesting.

    Regards,
    Dann
    The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. – Isaac Asimov

  33. @Andrew that tracks for you.

    I admit that my family and I saw one Mets game at Shea in 1986…and then went back to Yankee fandom.

  34. @Cat Eldridge Really? I hope she’s not talking about genre fiction as most genre fiction never existed in those numbers. A 10k print run would’ve been an amazing total in hardcover for a lot of authors I know.

    Cat, that was my take as well–only I’d include mass market paperbacks as well as hardbacks. Even at 70s-era prices, a 10K print run (much less 100K) would have moved one out of the midlist level and into some higher advances, I’d think.

    That said, I could be wrong as I’m loosely dependent on vague memories of writer friends in that era talking about sales and print runs. But it still seems to me that for genre, a 10K print run back then was big for the era.

  35. Silly people, everyone knows Ralph Sampson was the GOAT.

    Wait, are we not talking about University of Virginia college basketball players?

  36. @Chris S.: Oh great, it’s time for a “ha ha, as if anyone ____ any more” post by someone who assumes everyone does things the same way they do. I’ve been hearing this kind of thing from people who like e-books, and either believe or pretend to believe that paper books are a vanishing curiosity that no one reads, for at least 15 years. Needless to say this isn’t borne out by market statistics.

  37. Re: Jessica Biel:

    She’s born 3 years after me, and yet she’s 49? Please tell me I didn’t reach 52 without knowing it!

  38. Weirdest thing about the retro covers thing is the assumption that anyone would think a significant part of the market fell in love with the genre in the 50s.

  39. @Eli–

    @Chris S.: Oh great, it’s time for a “ha ha, as if anyone ____ any more” post by someone who assumes everyone does things the same way they do. I’ve been hearing this kind of thing from people who like e-books, and either believe or pretend to believe that paper books are a vanishing curiosity that no one reads, for at least 15 years. Needless to say this isn’t borne out by market statistics.

    In fact, what market statistics say is that it’s us creaky old Boomers who favor ebooks, and the ability to adjust font size plays a large part in that, with being easier on arthritic hands following behind.

    It’s the Millennials, with young eyes and no arthritis, who have the greatest preference for print books. And this makes total sense to me. I fondly remember being able to fully enjoy print books, but ebooks are more accessible to me now.

    Fun fact: Even with ebooks, I see the cover.

  40. Have the covers to books ever given the buyer a reasonable preview of what they can expect to find inside? Most of the time the cover artwork is writing a check that their novel can’t cover.

    Terry Pratchett had a riff on that in one of his early books.

    “Now, there is a tendency at a point like this to look over one’s shoulder at the cover artist and start going on at length about leather, tightboots and naked blades. Words like ‘full’, ‘round’ and even ‘pert’ creep into the narrative, until the writer has to go and have a cold shower and a lie down. Which is all rather silly, because any woman setting out to make a living by the sword isn’t about to go around looking like something off the cover of the more advanced kind of lingerie catalogue for the specialized buyer.

    Oh well, all right. The point that must be made is that although Herrena the Henna-Haired Harridan would look quite stunning after a good bath, a heavy-duty manicure, and the pick of the leather racks in Woo Hun Ling’s Oriental Exotica and Martial Aids on Heroes Street, she was currently quite sensibly dressed in light chain mail, soft boots, and a short sword.

    All right, maybe the boots were leather. But not black.”

  41. For this Gen Xer, I favor ebooks because I can obtain instant access in a world of packages, carry all of the books in one device, and take advantage of Meredith Moments.

  42. Joyce Reynolds-Ward says

    Cat, that was my take as well–only I’d include mass market paperbacks as well as hardbacks. Even at 70s-era prices, a 10K print run (much less 100K) would have moved one out of the midlist level and into some higher advances, I’d think.

    That said, I could be wrong as I’m loosely dependent on vague memories of writer friends in that era talking about sales and print runs. But it still seems to me that for genre, a 10K print run back then was big for the era.

    Some of de Lint’s books were printed in the three thousand hardcover range with the trade paper edition expected to be the big sales maker. His last book on Tor, The Mystery of Grace, sold poorly enough in hardcover that it cost him his contract with them.

    Some writers never appeared in hardcover and were solely in trade paper, James Hetley I think had three trade paper novels on Ace fifteen years back before they dropped him. He’s on Bookcafe these days.

  43. @Cat Eldridge–

    Some of de Lint’s books were printed in the three thousand hardcover range with the trade paper edition expected to be the big sales maker. His last book on Tor, The Mystery of Grace, sold poorly enough in hardcover that it cost him his contract with them.

    But…but… I loved The Mystery of Grace…!

  44. To be clear, I like ebooks OK. I have a fair number of them, usually either things that I thought of as more disposable impulse purchases, or things I wanted to be able to search easily in. The only kind of thing I absolutely can’t stand to read on a screen is comics. I don’t have any interest in starting an ebook debate – was just taking issue with the incorrect idea that people aren’t reading print books any more.

  45. Rob Thornton says Four this Gen Xer, I favor ebooks because I can obtain instant access in a world of packages, carry all of the books in one device, and take advantage of Meredith Moments.

    I confess that I split my fiction experience between audiobooks and ebooks these days with very little of it being actual paper these days. The rare latter reading is something like the signed copy of Yolen’s The Wild Hunt but I’ve long ago read that and that is happening just because she offered it up.

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