Pixel Scroll 3/7/21 You’ve Got Tribbles! Right Here In Riverworld City!

(1) WHEN WILL YOU MAKE AN END? Unlike other recent kerfuffles, John Scalzi has a good deal to say about the copyright controversy in “Two Tweet Threads About Copyright” at Whatever.

Background: Writer Matthew Yglesias, who should have known better but I guess needed the clicks, offered up the opinion that the term of copyright should be shortened to 30 years (currently in the US it’s Life+70 years). This naturally outraged other writers, because copyrights let them make money. This caused a writer by the name of Tim Lee to wonder why people were annoyed by Yglesias’ thought exercise, since he thought 30 years was more than enough time for people to benefit from their books (NB: Lee has not written a book himself), and anyway, as he said in a follow up tweet: “Nobody writes a book so that the royalties will support them in retirement decades later. They’re mostly thinking about the money they’ll make in the next few years.”

This is where I come in….

6. The moral/ethical case is ironically the easiest to make: think of the public good! And indeed the public domain is a vital good, which should be celebrated and protected — no copyright should run forever. It should be tied to the benefit of the creator, then to the public.

7. Where you run into trouble is arguing to a creator that *their* copyright should be *less* than the term of their life (plus a little bit for family). It’s difficult enough to make money as a creator; arguing that tap should be stoppered in old age, is, well. *Unconvincing.*

8. Likewise, limiting that term limits a creator’s ability to earn from their work in less effable ways. If there’s a 30-year term of copyright and my work is at year 25, selling a movie/tv option is likely harder, not only because production takes a long time (trust me)…

9. …but also because after a certain point, it would make sense to just wait out the copyright and exclude the originator entirely. A too-short copyright term has an even *shorter* economic shelf-life than the term, basically. Why on earth would creators agree to that?

The comments at Whatever include this one by Kurt Busiek distinguishing patent and copyright protections:

“I’m not sure I understand why copyright and patent terms are such different lengths. My father is an electronic engineer who designed an extremely successful glassbreak sensor (e.g. for home security systems). Guess how long a patent term is at max? Twenty years from date of filing. It’s a far cry from 120 years or life+70 for copyright.”

Because patents and copyrights cover different kinds of things.

On the one hand, patents are often more crucial — if we had to wait 120 years for penicillin to go into the public domain, that hampers researchers and harms the public much more than if we had to wait that long for James Bond. The public domain needs that stuff sooner.
If you patent a process that allows solar radiation to be collected and stored by a chip, then anyone who wants to do that has to license the process from you, even if they came up with it independently. You’ve got a monopoly on the whole thing.

But if you write a book about hobbits on a quest to dunk some dangerous mystic bling in lava, well, people can’t reprint your book or make a movie out of it without securing permission. But they can still write a book about halflings out to feed some dangerous mystic bling to the ice gnoles — what’s protected by copyright is that particular story, not the underlying plot structure. Tolkien gets a monopoly on his particular specific expression of those ideas, not on piece of science that can be used a zillion different ways.

I’m sure there are other reasons, but those two illustrate the basic idea, I hope.

(2) RIGHTS MAKE MIGHT. Elizabeth Bear’s contribution to the dialog about copyrights is pointing her Throwanotherbearinthecanoe newsletter audience at three installments of NPR’s Planet Money podcast that follows the process of gaining rights to a superhero. At the link you can hear the audio or read a transcript.

Here’s an excerpt from the third podcast:

…SMITH: The daughter of the original artist who created Micro-Face, Al Ulmer. Maybe we should have our lawyers here just in case it gets a little litigious. After the break.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MALONE: You want to start by just telling us your name and who you are?

LOUCKS: Hi. Yes. I’m Peggy Loucks (ph), and I’m 83 years old. And I’m a retired librarian. And I’m the daughter of Allen Ulmer – U-L-M-E-R.

SMITH: When we found out that Al Ulmer’s daughter, Peggy, was still alive, I was thinking, yes. I have so many questions for her.

MALONE: I, on the other hand, was nervous because, look; we don’t need Peggy’s permission to do anything with her father’s character, Micro-Face, since he is in the public domain. But like, look; if she hates this project, I mean…

SMITH: Yeah, it would be a jerk move to be like, tough luck, lady; we’re taking your father’s idea and completely changing it and making a fortune off of it. So we started off with some easy questions for Peggy.

MALONE: Do you know what he thought about drawing superheroes? Did he enjoy doing superheroes in particular, creating them?

LOUCKS: Oh, yes. You know, the – especially some of these characters, they were always in tights with capes and, you know, some kind of headgear or masks.

SMITH: So what was your father like as a person?

LOUCKS: You know, he would’ve been really someone you would like to have known and been in their company. You know, he was a gourmet cook. His beef Wellington was to die for. We always waited for that….

(3) STAY TUNED TO THIS STATION. Amazon dropped a trailer for The Underground Railroad, based on Colson Whitehead’s alternate history novel. All episodes begin streaming on Amazon Prime Video on May 14.

From Academy Award® winner Barry Jenkins and based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Colson Whitehead, “The Underground Railroad” chronicles Cora Randall’s desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. After escaping a Georgia plantation for the rumored Underground Railroad, Cora discovers no mere metaphor, but an actual railroad beneath the Southern soil.

(4) AURORA AWARDS. The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association has announced an updated Aurora Awards calendar.

Nominations will now open on March 27th, 2021. Nominations will now close on April 24th, 2021. The ballot will now be announced on May 8th, 2021.

The Voter’s Package will now be available on May 29th, 2021.

After that date, the calendar will be back on track.

Voting will open July 31st, 2021. Voting will close September 4th, 2021.

The Aurora Awards will be announced at Can*Con in Ottawa, held October 16-18. 

(5) PAYING IT FORWARD. In this video Cat Rambo reads aloud her contribution to the collection Pocket Workshop: Essays on Living as a Writer.

One of the great traditions in fantasy and science fiction writing is that of the mentor/mentee relationship. We’re told of many of the earlier writers mentoring newer ones offering advice passing along opportunities and sometimes collaborating…

(6) IT GETS VERSE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In Isaac Asimov’s autobiography In Joy Still Felt, he reprints part of a poem called “Rejection Slips” where he discusses being rejected by Galaxy editor H.L. Gold.

Dear Ike, I was prepared
(And boy, I really cared)
To swallow almost everything you wrote.
But Ike, you’re just plain shot,
Your writing’s gone to pot,
There’s nothing left but hack and mental bloat.
Take past this piece of junk,
It smelled; it reeked, it stunk;
Just glancing through it once was deadly rough.
But Ike, boy, by and by,
Just try another try
I need some yarns and kid, I love your stuff.

(7) BURIED IN CASH. “How Dr. Seuss became the second highest-paid dead celebrity” at the Boston Globe – where you may run into a paywall, which somehow seems appropriate.

…In fact, according to Forbes.com’s annual inventory of the highest-paid dead celebrities, the guy who grew up Theodor Geisel in Springfield ranks No. 2 — behind only Michael Jackson — with earnings last year of $33 million. In other words, the Vipper of Vipp, Flummox, and Fox in Sox generated more dough in 2020 than the songs of Elvis Presley or Prince, or the panels of “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz.

And Dr. Seuss stands to make even more money now. That’s because the announcement that six of his 60 or so books will no longer be published has sent people scurrying to buy his back catalog. On Thursday, nine of the top 10 spots on Amazon’s best-sellers list were occupied by Dr. Seuss, including classics “The Cat in the Hat,” “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

A fortune’s a fortune, no matter how small, but $33 million is a mountain that’s tall. So how does Dr. Seuss continue to accumulate such wealth? It turns out Geisel, who died in 1991 at the age of 87, doesn’t deserve the credit. His wife does. Two years after the author died, Seuss’s spouse, Audrey Geisel, founded Dr. Seuss Enterprises to handle licensing and film deals for her husband’s work….

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • March 7, 1980 — On this day in 1980, the Brave New World film premiered on NBC. (It would show on BBC as well.) It was adapted from the novel by Aldous Huxley by Robert E. Thompson and Doran William Cannon, and was directed by Burt Brinckerhoff. It starred Kristoffer Tabori, Julie Cobb and Budd Cort. It has a forty-six percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. You can watch it here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 7, 1944 Stanley Schmidt, 77. Between 1978 and 2012 he served as editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine, an amazing feat by any standard! He was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor every year from 1980 through 2006 (its final year), and for the Hugo Award for Best Editor Short Form every year from 2007 (its first year) through 2013 with him winning in 2013.  He’s also an accomplished author. (CE) 
  • Born March 7, 1945 Elizabeth Moon, 76. I’ll let JJ have the say on her: “I’ve got all of the Serrano books waiting for when I’m ready to read them.   But I have read all of the Kylara Vatta books — the first quintology which are Vatta’s War, and the two that have been published so far in Vatta’s Peace. I absolutely loved them — enough that I might be willing to break my ‘no re-reads’ rule to do the first 5 again at some point. Vatta is a competent but flawed character, with smarts and courage and integrity, and Moon has built a large, complex universe to hold her adventures. The stories also feature a secondary character who is an older woman; age-wise she is ‘elderly,’ but in terms of intelligence and capability, she is extremely smart and competent — and such characters are pretty rare in science fiction, and much to be appreciated.” (CE)
  • Born March 7, 1959 Nick Searcy, 62. He was Nathan Ramsey in Seven Days which I personally think is the best damn time travel series ever done. And he was in 11.22.63 as Deke Simmons, based off the Stephen King novel. He was in Intelligence, a show I never knew existed, for one episode as General Greg Carter, and in The Shape of Water film, he played yet another General, this one named Frank Hoyt. And finally, I’d be remiss to overlook his run in horror as he was in American Gothic as Deputy Ben Healy. (CE)
  • Born March 7, 1966 Jonathan Del Arco, 55. He played Hugh the Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation and in Star Trek: Picard. That is way cool. He also showed up as on Star Trek: Voyager as Fantôme in “The Void” episode. (CE)
  • Born March 7, 1970 Rachel Weisz, 51. Though better known for The Mummy films which I really, really love (well the first two with her), her first genre film was Death Machine, a British-Japanese cyberpunk horror film which score a rather well fifty one percent among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. I’ve also got her in Chain Reaction and The Lobster. (CE) 
  • Born March 7, 1974 Tobias Menzies, 47. First off is he’s got Doctor Who creds by being Lieutenant Stepashin in the Eleventh Doctor story, “Cold War”. He was also on the Game of Thrones where he played Edmure Tully. He is probably best known for his dual role as Frank Randall and Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall in Outlander. He was in Finding Neverland as a Theatre Patron, in Casino Royale as Villierse who was M’s assistant, showed  up in The Genius of Christopher Marlowe as the demon Mephistophilis, voiced Captain English in the all puppet Jackboots on Whitehall film and played Marius in Underworld: Blood Wars. (CE)
  • Born March 7, 1903 – Bernarda Bryson.  Painter, lithographer; outside our field, illustrations for the Resettlement Administration, like this.  Here is Gilgamesh.  Here is The Twenty Miracles of St. Nicholas.  Here is Bright Hunter of the Skies.  Here is The Death of Lady Mondegreen (hello, Seanan McGuire).  (Died 2004) [JH] 
  • Born March 7, 1934 – Gray Morrow.  Two hundred fifty covers, fifty of them for Perry Rhodan; four hundred interiors.  Also Classics Illustrated; Bobbs-Merrill Childhoods of Famous Americans e.g. Crispus Attucks, Teddy Roosevelt, Abner Doubleday; DC Comics, Marvel; Rip KirbyTarzan; Aardwolf, Dark Horse.  Oklahoma Cartoonists Associates Hall of Fame.  Here is Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.  Here is the NyCon 3 (25th Worldcon) Program & Memory Book.  Here is The Languages of Pao.  Here is The Best of Judith Merrill.  Here is Norstrilia.  Here is a page from “The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth” in GM’s Illustrated Roger Zelazny.  (Died 2001) [JH] 
  • Born March 7, 1952 – John Lorentz, age 69.  Active, reliable in the excruciating, exhilarating, alas too often thankless work of putting on our SF conventions, e.g. chaired Westercon 43 & 48, SMOFcon 8 (Secret Masters Of Fandom, as Bruce Pelz said a joke-nonjoke-joke; a con annually hoping to learn from experience); administered Hugo Awards, sometimes with others, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2015; finance head, Renovation (69th Worldcon).  Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon 53, Norwescon XXI (with wife Ruth Sachter).  [JH]
  • Born March 7, 1954 – Elayne Pelz, age 67.  Another indispensable fan.  Currently Treasurer and Corresponding Secretary of the Southern Cal. Inst. for Fan Interests (yes, that’s what the initials spell; pronounced skiffy), which has produced Westercons, Worldcons, and a NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas).  Widow of B. Pelz; I danced at their wedding; E chaired Westercon 55 upon B’s death.  Twice given LASFS’ Evans-Freehafer Award (service; L.A. Science Fantasy Soc., unrelated to SCIFI but with some directors in common).  Fan Guest of Honor at Leprecon 9, Loscon 13 (with B), Westercon 48, Baycon 2004.  Several terms as LASFS Treasurer, proverbially reporting Yes, we have money; no, you can’t spend it.  [JH]
  • Born March 7, 1967 – Donato Giancola, age 54.  Gifted with, or achieving, accessibility, productivity, early; Jack Gaughan Award, three Hugos, twenty Chesleys, two Spectrum Gold Awards and Grandmaster.  Two hundred seventy covers, four hundred forty interiors.  Here is Otherness.  Here is The Ringworld Engineers.  Here is his artbook Visit My Alien Worlds (with Marc Gave).  Here is the Sep 06 Asimov’s.  Here is the May 15 Analog.  Two Middle-Earth books, Visions of a Modern Myth and Journeys in Myth and Legend.  [JH]
  • Born March 7, 1977 – Brent Weeks, age 44.  Nine novels, a couple of shorter stories.  The Way of Shadows and sequels each NY Times Best-Sellers; four million copies of his books in print.  Cites Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Yeats, Tolkien.  “I do laugh at my own jokes…. scowl, change the word order to see if it makes it funnier, scowl again … try three more times…. occasionally cackle….  This is why I can’t write in coffee shops.”  [JH]

(10) LIADEN. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have issued Liaden Universe® InfoDump Number 127 with info about the availability of a new Adventures in the Liaden Universe® chapbook. Also:

LEE AND MILLER PANELISTS AT MARSCON
Sharon and Steve will attending the virtual MarsCon, to be held March 12-14 (that’s this weekend!) Here’s the convention link.

DISCON III
Steve and Sharon hope to attend DisCon III virtually. We have no plans to attend in-person, as much as we’d been looking forward to doing so.

ALBACON 2021
Sharon and Steve will be Writer Guests of Honor at the virtual AlbaCon, September 17-18, 2021.  Here’s the link to the convention site

UPCOMING PUBLICATIONS
The Trader’s Leap audiobook, narrated by Eileen Stevens, is tentatively scheduled for April 11, 2021

(11) PROPS TO THE CHEF. Ben Bird Person shared “My last commission with food illustrator Itadaki Yasu. It’s an illustration of the prop food featured in the original star trek episode ‘The Conscience of the King’ (1966).”

(12) THE BURNING DECK. Your good cat news of the day, from the Washington Post. “Thai navy saves four cats stranded on capsized boat in Andaman sea”. (The article does not say whether the boat’s color was a “beautiful pea green.”)

The four small cats trapped on a sinking boat needed a miracle. The abandoned ship, near the Thai island of Koh Adang, was on fire — sending plumes of thick black smoke into the air as the waters of the Andaman sea rose around them. The ship was not just burning: It was sinking. And it would not be long until it disappeared beneath the surface.Wide-eyed and panicked, the felines huddled together. When the help they so desperately needed arrived, it came in the form of a 23-year-old sailor and his team of Thai navy officials….

(13) GOOD DOG. In the Washington Post, Steven Wright says video game developers are making an effort to have animals in the games that you can pet and interact with but that it takes up a lot of additional pixels since the designers are trying to make the games realistic and are using tons of pixels having characters run and blast foes. “The ‘Can You Pet The Dog’ Twitter account is having a big impact”.

… Tristan Cooper, who owns the Twitter account “Can You Pet the Dog?,” never set out to create a social media juggernaut. Rather, he was just trying to point out what he felt was a common quirk of many high-profile games: While many featured dogs, wolves and other furry creatures as hostile foes of the protagonist, those that did feature cuddly animal friends rarely let you pet them. Cooper says the account was particularly inspired by his early experience with online shooter “The Division 2.”

… However, as the account quickly began to grow in popularity, Cooper and others began to notice a subtle increase in the number of games that featured animals with which players can interact. To be clear, Cooper doesn’t wish to take any credit for the proliferation of the concept, despite the obvious popularity of the account. (“Video games had pettable dogs long before I logged onto Twitter, after all,” he wrote. “That’s the whole reason I created the account.”)

However, he and the account’s fans do sometimes note the timing of these additions, particularly when it comes to certain massive games. For example, he notes that battle royale phenomenon “Fortnite” patched in pettable dogs only a few weeks after the account tweeted about the game. And “The Division 2” finally let you nuzzle the city’s wandering canines in its “Warlords of New York” expansion, which came out in March 2020 — around the same time Cooper was celebrating the year anniversary of the Can You Pet The Dog? account….

(14) WHAT’S THE VISION FOR NASA? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport says that the increasing rise of private spacecraft with a wide range of astronauts  as well as cost overruns in its rocket development programs is leading the agency to do a lot of thinking about what its role in manned spaceflight should be.  Davenport reports a future SpaceX mission will include billionaire Jared Isaacman and will be in part a gigantic fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital (a St. Jude’s physician assistant will be an astronaut as will the winner of a raffle for another seat). “NASA doesn’t pick the astronauts in a commercialized space future”.

… And it comes as NASA confronts some of the largest changes it has faced since it was founded in 1958 when the United States’ world standing was challenged by the Soviet Union’s surprise launch of the first Sputnik into orbit. Now it is NASA’s unrivaled primacy in human spaceflight that is under challenge.

… In an interview, Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s acting administrator, said the agency is well aware of how its identity and role are changing, and he likened the agency’s role to how the U.S. government fostered the commercial aviation industry in the early 20th century.

NASA’s predecessor, NACA, or the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, “did research, technology development to initially support defense … but also later on supporting a burgeoning commercial aircraft industry and aviation industry,” he said. “So that may be how we evolve, moving forward on the space side. We’re going to do the research and the technology development and be the enablers for continuing to support the commercial space sector.”

… But NASA officials are concerned that much of the future workforce is going to be attracted to a growing number of commercial companies doing amazing things. There is Planet, for example, which is putting up constellations of small satellites that take an image of Earth every day. Or Relativity Space, which is 3-D printing entire rockets. Or Axiom Space, which is building a commercial space station. Or Astrobotic, which intends to land a spacecraft on the moon later this year.

The question NASA faces, then, is an urgent one: “How do you maintain that NASA technical expertise?” Jurczyk said.

The agency does not know….

(15) YOU COULD BE SWINGING ON A STAR. OR — Ursula Vernon could no longer maintain what critics call “a willing suspension of disbelief.”

Commenters on her thread had doubts, too. One asked: “Were any special herbs or fungi involved before this message was received?”

As for the possibility of putting this phenomenon to a local test —

 [Thanks to Andrew Porter, John Hertz, Ben Bird Person, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

96 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/7/21 You’ve Got Tribbles! Right Here In Riverworld City!

  1. With a capital ‘T’ and that rhymes with ‘P’ and that stands for Pixel!

  2. (9) Rachel Weisz was in her then-partner Darren Aronofsky’s very-definitely-genre film The Fountain.

  3. The first US copyright law in 1790 gave a 14 year term with an option to renew for another 14 years. In 1909 it was extended to 28 years with another 28 on renewal.
    Since then it has been extended and extended, with each extension popularly believed to have been made law to ensure that Disney’s copyrights would never expire.
    Most recently, in 1998 it was extended to 95/120 years or life plus 70 years.
    So there’s plenty of precedent for shorter terms.

  4. For the benefit of those who do not write, have never written, make their living at something else, but are sure they know how it ought to be: this is how it works.

    You write a book. It sells for an advance, say $10,000. If you are lucky, it earns back its advance and continues to make a little more as long as it is in print.

    You sell another book, advance a little more, say $15,000. Now you have that 15, plus the little that the previous book is bringing in.

    If you are fast, each of those books may have taken you only a year to write. If you are slow, maybe five or six years.

    Your third book has trouble finding a publisher, so you are still living on the diminishing income from the previous two.

    As the years go by the books go out of print, but because you still own the copyrights you can sell them to reprint markets, at a diminished figure. But still, If you write a lot, and steadily, by the time you are in your 50s you may, by selling new books and reselling old books, and counting in the royalties from things still in print, be making the same salary as somebody in lower business management running a Wendy’s.

    If you are Stephen King, you are not part of this picture. If you are Ralph Ellis, you are not part of this picture.

    This is what I think of as the Middle Class of writing. What was once called the Mid List. We write for a living, just as those people who want to take away our copyrights tally numbers for insurance companies or sell advertising space on the sides of buses.

    As we usually have our books published by differing publishers, we don’t get a pension plan.

    For them to feel qualified to decide how we make a living is like old males in congress deciding the details of reproductive rights for women. They have never walked in these shoes. Let them stick to their own over-priced sneakers and stop coming over here to kick us.

  5. @Jon DeCles
    I suspect the people who want to shorten copyright terms to less than life (or at least 50 years) have exaggerated ideas of how much most authors make, and how easy/quickly they can write books.

  6. 1) The difference between corporate and personal copyright is one that I think gets overlooked a lot in these discussions. I’m honestly good with giving corporations a shorter copyright term than individual authors. Disney shouldn’t get to weaponize it the way they do, but Disney weaponizing it is a different thing from individual authors making a living and I think you could legislate that difference perfectly well.

    12) That’s adorable.

    14) This article is making me think of Deception Point, which I know is Dan Brown and all and most of the plot of that book was ridiculous (as we’ve established, there’s no need to privatize NASA to have wealthy spaceflight companies), but the questions about “What is the role of NASA in a world with privatized spaceflight?” are actually worth asking.

  7. (15)–If someone is getting telepathic messages from the Mule, I’d start worrying about the state of the Galaxy, and then start looking for cracks in the Foundation!

  8. In France, if an author dies for the country, they get 5 extra years of copyright protection (which is, in the end, not much of a consolation for the copyright holders, as most authors who died for the motherland probably would have lived decades longer otherwise, extending the copyright that way.)

    Personally, I think copyright probably should extend farther after death, because only works of which someone is going to (try to) make money of will be republished after 70 years of the author’s death… That said, the copyright protection that authors enjoy is better than the situation of let’s say painters and sculptors: After they sell their work, they don’t get a dime out of it afterwards, even if others make millions reselling it.

    Yet most authors of course get relatively little out of their work, which falls into obscurity very soon. I recall a couple of years ago authors in the US, whose main source of income was writing, on average made about $18k, and overall those who published through commercial publishers, made less than $6k per year.

  9. Life plus 50 has always seemed perfectly adequate to me. The American system if mainly a new a far as I can see because there are the 28+28 works and the 95 years after publication works. The justification for 70 seems thin, the need for longer even less. If I were to write a blockbuster then if want my child to be fed during her infancy, not be assured that her grandchildren need never work.

  10. @Jon DeCles For them to feel qualified to decide how we make a living is like old males in congress deciding the details of reproductive rights for women.

    I’m sorry, but it really isn’t. Please find a better analogy.

  11. 15) I’m pretty sure my cat is telepathic. Every morning after I put out her breakfast I go and do my ablutions and then sit at my desk to start work. After a while I feel compelled to look up and around at the door to our balcony. Sure enough, there she is, sitting silently by the door, her eyes boring into me. And I get up and open the door for her, exactly as instructed.

  12. rcade says If you still like Nick Searcy stay away from his Twitter feed.

    You know that now I’m going to have to look, don’t you? Oh my, that’s repugnant. Sigh..

  13. “Personally, I think copyright probably should extend farther after death, because only works of which someone is going to (try to) make money of will be republished after 70 years of the author’s death… “

    Someone has not heard of Project Gutenberg.

  14. I found it funny that we are discusing the copiriteproblem with novels, because they seem to me the last problematic stuff to have it.
    Re Elisabeth Moon: I have read Chance of Command by her recently, was interesting, but more okay than great.

  15. @Jeanne (Sourdough) Jackson: Just what I was thinking. If your mule wants to be known as Magnifico, you’re in real trouble.

  16. Elizabeth Moon is one of my favorite authors. My personal favorite is Remnant Population, about an old woman left behind when a colony is evacuated. I’m currently listening to the audio book versions of the Paladin’s Legacy series.

  17. A question for the Hugo experts here: other than The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, have there been any other radio programs nominated for Hugos?

  18. Just a small point about the book of Elizabeth (I am sorry for mistyping her name earlier) Moon, the german backcover was very bad.
    No Change of Command is not Romeo and Juliet in Space where the maincharacters are on the run from the fleets of their parents.
    German discriptions of books, where you ask yourself, if the marketing guy has ever read the book, would be a topic like bookcovers.

    Re Cat: If the retros count yes, last year Donovan’s Brain and 1939 War of the Worlds, just tipp of the Iceberg

  19. 9) I keep meaning to go back to Elizabeth Moon’s Paksennarion books (and continuing on to the new ones in the series). One of these years …

  20. Meredith Moment: The ebook version of Heinlein’s The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is now available for $2.99 at the usual digital suspects. This is my favorite Heinlein novel (and if you pay careful attention, it’s not as libertarian as you might think).

  21. StefanB says If the retros count yes, last year Donovan’s Brain and 1939 War of the Worlds, just tipp of the Iceberg

    I tend to treat Retros separately, so I’d say they don’t count. Anyone else know of any actual Hugo nominations?

  22. @Rob:

    (and if you pay careful attention, it’s not as libertarian as you might think)

    Absolutely. The quasilibertarian society exists on the moon because it is imposed by “The Authority” (hmm) and as soon as this constraint is removed, the people of the Moon create a government for themselves, with much the structure of any other.

  23. (7) Can we please have a moratorium on articles about Seuss trying to use Seussian couplets? It’s getting tired, and nobody does it well.

  24. Cat: I looked at the wikipediapage, there are a few concept-albums and other stuff,
    Unusual Stuff in the nominations re Dramatic presentation Long and short:
    News coverage of Apollo 11 (Winner 1970)
    Blows Against the Empire (Album 1971)
    Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers (dito)
    I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus (album 1972)
    The Capture (something that has a writer and an artist 1976)
    METAtropolis (audiobookcollection LF 2009)
    Gollum’s Acceptance Speech at the 2003 MTV Movie Awards* (spech SF Winner 2004)
    Prix Victor Hugo Awards Ceremony (something SF 2006)
    Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury (Musicvidio could make work for Mike SF 2011)
    The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech (speech SF 2012)
    Splendor & Misery (album SF 2017)
    “The Deep” (album SF 2018)

    Others are as far as I know all movies or TVshows/episodes.
    Best related is the other catagory were somethink could be hidden…
    Sorry, that does probably not help but was fun.
    Short the answer is I believe no, but some of them are simmilar. (The albums) Since I don’t know why you are asking, perhaps they are in your interest?

  25. There were a series of commercials (!) that were nominated for the Hugos in the 1960s I think, but they were probably tv commercials. Details when I have the chance to search.

  26. @Jon DeCles – I have had this exact same conversation with multiple people on Twitter, who usually either come to “Well, I didn’t know those were the kind of authors you meant” (presumably they were think of Rowling and King) or “Writers need UBI, not copyright.” To which I generally say “Get me UBI and then come for my pittance and I may have a different opinion.”

    Sigh. It’s been a long few days in copyright Discourseland.

  27. Thanks for the link to the 1980 Brave New World. Bud Cort was so perfectly cast as Bernard Marx that I’ve long wanted to re-watch this, imperfect as it was.

  28. (9) It’s Rik Mayall’s birthday. Some of The Young Ones episodes had genre elements. Also to connect with our recent obsession with Dr. Seuss, Mayall narrated The Dr. Seuss Collection audio book.

    (15) She’s moved onto a manual from a Union Army mule skinner*. Wouldn’t it be easier to read Foundation again?

    Artistic license applied because I wanted to say “mule skinner.”

    I’ve got a pixel and its name is Belle
    Thirty scrollers on the Glyer channel

  29. (1) @Scalzi

    8. Likewise, limiting that term limits a creator’s ability to earn from their work in less effable ways. If there’s a 30-year term of copyright and my work is at year 25, selling a movie/tv option is likely harder, not only because production takes a long time (trust me)…

    9. …but also because after a certain point, it would make sense to just wait out the copyright and exclude the originator entirely.

    I don’t think Mr. Scalzi is necessarily correct here.

    The Great Gatsby went into the public domain in 2021. It was adapted into a ballet in 2010 and a movie in 2013.

    The song “Rhapsody in Blue” went into the public domain in 2020. It was used in the soundtrack of Trainwreck in 2015, and an episode of Watchmen in 2019.

    The song “Sweet Georgia Brown” went into public domain in 2021. It was released commercially on numerous albums in 2020.

    Imminent arrival of public domain status does not mean that royalties go away.

  30. @Jack Lint

    (9) It’s Rik Mayall’s birthday.

    And his film Drop Dead Fred is definitely fantasy.

  31. @Jack Lint – I’ll commit a minor heresy and say that I’d rather read every scrap of writing ever commissioned by the military on the subject of mules than try to read Foundation again. I know some people love that series, but whoof, did not work for me at all.

    On the bright side, I have now learned about spavin, glanders, and ringbone. Someday, this knowledge will be useful.

  32. bill says The song “Sweet Georgia Brown” went into public domain in 2021. It was released commercially on numerous albums in 2020.

    Imminent arrival of public domain status does not mean that royalties go away.

    Just because it was released commercially doesn’t mean that royalties were paid. Lots of public domain, royalty free music is published commercially, often on recordings alongside tunes and songs that are still under copyright. And a particular song say June Tabor’s “Cruel Sister” which uses a Child Ballad for its words can have lyrics that are long out of copyright but have an arrangement that is copyrighted as Tabor composed it, thereby making the entire song copyrighted.

  33. I just checked. The original 1925 copyrighted version of “Sweet Georgia Brown” entered the public domain on the first day of this year as did The Great Gatsby, so it is indeed now royalty free. That does not mean that arranged versions of are not under copyright protection still as that is entirely different matter with multiple versions being so.

  34. @Cat — note that I posted that these copyrighted works were commercially exploited the year before they went into public domain — something that Scalzi said wouldn’t happen, because the exploiters would just wait a year when they could do it for free.

  35. A good article on the Seuss discussion by a librarian (former librarian here, so I quite agree.
    Translation: EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) RA (Readers’ Advisory)

  36. @bill: I think there are a few questionable logical leaps there.

    First, the case of The Great Gatsby isn’t extremely analogous to what Scalzi is talking about. First, the author wasn’t living, and the work had been adapted many times; the creators of the ballet and the film were unlikely to see negotiating for the rights as a serious obstacle. Second, Scalzi didn’t say that “the exploiters would just wait a year” instead of buying the rights; he gave an example of the expiration being five years out, said that that would make things harder for a creator trying to sell the rights, and then said “at a certain point” they might prefer to just wait it out. To me it seemed clear that he meant a later point, and that before that point they would still be able to use the upcoming expiration as leverage to persuade the creator to sell the rights on less favorable terms. In your examples, the expiration was 11-13 years out plus however long it took to produce the ballet and the film— and, we have no way of knowing whether the producers in fact did use “we can just wait till it’s in the public domain” as a way to pressure the Fitzgerald estate to lower its price.

    Scalzi isn’t saying that this would be a new thing that could never happen now, he’s saying that it increases the likelihood of this thing happening to authors more often and sooner. I don’t see your examples as disproving that.

    Your music examples seem even less relevant to Scalzi’s point. If a producer doesn’t feel like paying for the rights to a song for a movie/TV soundtrack, they can just use some other song instead; they’re not going to wait several years before making the movie or TV show, just so that one song will enter the public domain. And recording jazz standards is such a standard thing in that entire field of music that it’s unrealistic to think producers are going to say “No, we’ll only publish albums with songs from before 1925.” But there again (even though the analogy between music and a prose author selling adaptation rights is very tenuous no matter what), Scalzi is talking about a question of degree; the shorter the term of copyright, the more likely it is that a producer might in fact decide that it’s worthwhile to only use works from earlier than year X, if X is not so far in the past as to exclude vast amounts of popular things.

  37. re: RedWombat

    To which I generally say “Get me UBI and then come for my pittance and I may have a different opinion.”

    I think we need an official name (assuming there isn’t one already) for the argumentation fallacy that runs “I will decline to support any action with mitigates an immediate harm/injustice because I have a principled objection to the system that perpetuates it in the first place, even though there’s no chance at all of dismantling that sytem.” This is a bit more specific and more pernicious than a simple “making the best the enemy of the good” because it’s more like “making my lofty principles the enemy of your good.”

    (I first felt the need to define and be disgruntled about this argumentation fallacy during the marriage equality debates when dealing with people who refused to support same-sex marriage on the principle that the government shouldn’t be regulating anybody’s personal relationships in the first place.)

  38. @Heather Rose Jones: I had a similar reaction to the recent Guardian op-ed from Bhaskar Sunkara, “What if liberal anti-racists aren’t advancing the cause of equality?”, where Sunkara (the publisher of Jacobin magazine, and, possibly not coincidentally, someone who has never held a job where he wasn’t his own employer) literally argued that trying to improve how businesses treat minority employees was pointless because that only helps the subset of people who have jobs, and not enough people have jobs, therefore diversity and inclusion efforts are inherently anti-socialist.

  39. @me:

    There were a series of commercials (!) that were nominated for the Hugos in the 1960s I think, but they were probably tv commercials. Details when I have the chance to search.

    Magazine advertisements, it turns out https://www.tor.com/2010/12/19/hugo-nominees-1962/comment-page-1/#comment-150199

    “Hoffman Electronics, a firm that contracted for the Defense Department,
    commissioned six short-short stories by various well-known SF authors.
    These stories appeared throughout 1962 as part of advertisements for
    Hoffman which originally appeared in the pages of Scientific American […]”

    Authors: van Vogt, Asimov (2), Leiber, Riley, Heinlein.

    It’s a shame that “X Minus One” was never nominated – I’ve been listening to some CDs of those stories that my wife bought me for Valentines’ Day.

  40. @Eli: “Bhaskar Sunkara literally argued” something that bears no resemblance to the description that followed, thus taking the word “literally” in vain.

    You clearly aren’t chiming in with Heather Rose Jones’ reasonable disgust with people offering “no chance at all of dismantling that system”, because Sunkara described the political steps that led to previous advances, describes a current struggle in which gains and losses are being made even now, and outlines a plan for the future.

  41. Seen on Twitter:
    “everyone be nice to your librarian today, the racist uncles are calling to yell at them every five minutes about dr seuss”

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