Pixel Scroll 3/1/16 If You Like To Pixel, I Tell You I’m Your Scroll

(1) NO BUCKS, NO BUCK ROGERS. “Can you make a living writing short fiction?” is the question. Joe Vasicek’s in-depth answer, filled with back-of-the-envelope calculations, is as carefully assembled as any classic hard sf tale.

First of all, it’s worth pointing out that short stories are not like longer books. In my experience (and I am not a master of the short form by any stretch), short stories do not sell as well in ebook form as longer books. That’s been corroborated anecdotally by virtually every indie writer I’ve spoken with.

At the same time, they aren’t like longer form books in the traditional sense either. I have three deal breakers when it comes to traditional publishing: no non-compete clauses, no ambiguous rights reversion, and no payments based on net. Short story markets typically only buy first publication rights with a 6-12 month exclusivity period, and pay by the word. That means that there’s no reason (unless you want to self-publish immediately) not to sell your short stories to a traditional market first.

(2) PAT SAYS IT’S PERFECT. Patrick St-Denis, who reviews at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist,  just awarded a novel a rare (for him) 10/10 score.

People have often criticized me for being too demanding when I review a novel. They often complain about the fact that very few books ever get a score higher than my infamous 7.5/10. But the fact is that year in and year out, there are always a number of works ending up with an 8/10 or more.

When I announced on the Hotlist’s Facebook page last week that Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Avatar would get a 10/10, some people were shocked. I received a couple of messages asking me if it was the first book to get a perfect score from me. I knew there were a few, but I actually had to go through my reviews to find out exactly how many of them had wowed me to perfection. Interestingly enough, in the eleven years I’ve been reviewing books, Carey’s Kushiel’s Avatar will be the 11th novel to garner a perfect score. The 13th, if you throw the Mötley Crüe biography and GRRM’s The World of Ice and Fire into the mix.

(3) GOLDEN SOUNDS. Trisha Lynn on “Road to the Hugo Awards: Fight the Future for Best Fancast” at Geeking Out About….

What Works

There are many podcasts out there which are dedicated to reviewing books and movies from a critics’ perspective. However, I believe this is one of the first podcasts I’ve heard of which reviews the actual worlds in which the books or movies take place. Of all the episodes I’ve heard, there are very few instances in which I feel that either Dan or Paul or their guests know or care too much about the current science fiction/fantasy literary blogosphere’s opinions of the works, its creators, its production team, or the actors portraying the characters. They are just there to discuss the work and only the work. When they do bring in references to other works or the greater outside world, they do it either near the beginning or near the end so that the discussion of most of the episode is focused on just the world inside the movie or book. It’s both fan discussion and literary criticism in its purest form, where the only clues you have are the work itself, the world you currently inhabit, your personal experiences, and that’s it.

(4) A BRIDGE JOKE TOO FAR? The Guardian asks “Could Cthulhu trump the other Super Tuesday contenders?”

“Many humans are under the impression that the Cthulhu for America movement is a joke candidacy, like Vermin Supreme – a way for people disgusted by a political system that has long since perished to voice a vote for a greater evil to end the status quo and the world,” says [campaign manager] Eminence Waite, sighing in a way that makes you think she’s been asked this question many times before. “They have never been so wrong, yet so right. Cthulhu is no joke.”

(5) HOW MUCH IS YOUR HARRY WORTH? Old editions of Harry Potter books may be worth up to $55,000.

First up, hardcover first editions of the original Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone could fetch anywhere from $40,000 to $55,000. Only 500 were published, and 300 went to libraries, so if you have one, go ahead and treat yourself to a nice dinner. You can afford it.

This edition has a print line that reads “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1” and credits of “Joanne Rowling” rather than JK.

(6) BUD WEBSTER MEMORIAL. There will be a Memorial for Bud Webster on March 12, from noon til 5 p.m., at the Courtyard by Marriott Williamsburg, 470 Mclaws Cir, Williamsburg, VA 23185.

Hotel Rooms: $89.00 – Please ask for the Bud Webster Memorial Rate – Also mention Mary Horton or Butch Allen if there is some confusion while trying to book the room. We are not catering anything. Sodas and snacks are available at registration

(7) DON’T GET STUCK IN THE MIDDLE. Kameron Hurley (according to her blog, an “intellectual badass”), reveals how to “Finish your Sh*t: Secrets of an Evolving Writing Process”.

People often ask how I’m able to do all that work on top of having a day job, and the answer is, most days, I just don’t know. But one thing I have learned in the last three months is that I have a lot easier time completing a draft that has me stuck in the mucky middle if I just skip ahead and write the ending.

I tend to spend a lot of time on the openings of my novels and stories, and it shows. My latest short story for Patreon, “The Plague Givers,” is a good example of this. There’s a very polished beginning, as far as the prose goes, and then it veers off into simplier language for much of the middle, and returns a bit toward the end to the more polished language. I will most likely go back and polish out the other half of the story before finding a home for it elsewhere, but watching how I completed that story reminded me of how I’ve hacked my process the last few months to try and get work out the door just a little faster.

I’m a discovery writer, which means I like to be surprised by events that happen in a book just as a reader would be.

(8) LURKER QUEST ACHIEVED. In the February 8 Scroll (item 10) a lurker described a story and asked for help identifying it.

The answer is Kent Patterson’s “Barely Decent”, published in Analog in 1991. The literary estate holder was located with an assist from Kevin J Anderson, who had anthologized another Patterson story, and from Jerry Oltion. The rights holder has authorized a link to a free download of the PDF for the story.

(9) THE POWER OF LOVE. Barbara Barrett shows how mighty love is in the worlds of Robert E. Howard: “Discovering Robert E. Howard: ‘My Very Dear Beans, Cornbread and Onions’ (Valentine’s Day—Robert E. Howard Style)” at Black Gate. But this otherwise serious roundup begins with a leetle joke —

For those of you who searched for the right way to describe your feelings for that certain special someone on February 14, Robert E. Howard might have been be a good source. After all, he was a wizard with words. And he did have a novel approach when it came to romance. As Bob Howard explains to Novalyne Price Ellis in her book One Who Walked Alone:

[M]en made a terrible mistake when they called their best girls their rose or violet or names like that, because a man ought to call his girl something that was near his heart. What, he asked, was nearer a man’s heart than his stomach? Therefore he considered it to be an indication of his deep felt love and esteem to call me his cherished little bunch of onion tops, and judging from past experience, both of us had a highest regard for onions. (106)

(10) OSCARS. At the Academy Awards on Sunday night, sf favorites The Martian and Star Wars: The Force Awakens won nothing, but Mad Max: Fury Road, so often praised here in comments, won six Oscars (Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Make-up and Hair, Best Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing), more than any other film.

Other sf/fantasy winners — Best Animated Feature Film: Inside Out and Best Visual Effects: Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington, and Sara Bennett for Ex Machina.

(11) FAST OUT OF THE GATE. R. S. Belcher, fresh from his GoH-ship at MystiCon, is ready to impart “Lessons Learned at a Writing Workshop”.

Lead strong, hook ’em, and keep ’em hooked: This advice given to several of the workshop participants made an amazing difference between draft one and draft two. The sooner you get the reader’s attention and begin to unwind the reason for your tale, the stronger the likelihood, your reader will keep reading to learn more. Novels can afford a little more leisurely pace…but only a little, and for short fiction, a strong, powerful hook is needed right out of the gate. You may only have a few sentences of an editor’s attention before they decide to keep reading or toss the Manuscript—make them count.

(12) MESSAGE FIRST. SFF World’s “Robert J. Sawyer Interview” offers this self-revelation.

What came first – the story or the characters?

Neither. I’m a thematically driven writer; I figure out what I want to say first and then devise a storyline and a cast of characters that will let me most effectively say it. For Quantum Night, the high-level concept is this: most human beings have no inner life, and the majority of those who do have no conscience. And the theme is: the most pernicious lie humanity has ever told itself is that you can’t change human nature. Once I had those tent poles in place, the rest was easy.

(13) A LITTLE LIST. David Brin asks, “Trumpopulists: what will be the priorities?” at Contrary Brin.

There is often a logic, beneath shrill jeremiads. For example, Ted Cruz has proclaimed that even one more liberal or moderate justice appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court might shift the reading of the Second Amendment (2A) — does it give private individuals an unlimited right to own guns, or reserve that right only to members of a militia?  (Go read the amendment and come back. In Heller v. D.C. the court went with Red America’s wishes by one vote, one interpretative vote. Moreover, let me shudder and add that Cruz is probably right about this one thing. The swing between those two interpretations is very likely to teeter for our lifetimes and more. But in railing about the near-term, he and his followers ignore the long term implication — …

that the Second Amendment, as currently worded, is by far the weakest in the entire Bill of Rights.  If this court or the next one does not reverse Heller, then it will inevitably happen when some huge national tragedy strikes. That’s called the “Ratchet Effect” (see The Transparent Society), and you are behooved to plan, during good times, for what you’ll do at some future crisis, when the public is scared.

If today’s political rightwing were rational, it would be working right now to gather consensus for a new Constitutional Amendment that might protect weapon rights far more firmly than the ambiguous and inherently frail Second. I have elsewhere described just such an amendment, which could actually pass! Because it offers some needed compromises to liberals and moderates – some positive-sum win-wins – while protecting a core of gun rights more firmly than 2A.

(14) JUDGING LOVECRAFT AND OTHERS. Frequent readers of Jim C. Hines will find his Uncanny Magazine essay “Men of Their Times” not only deals with its topic in a significant way, it also outlines the analytical process he applies to history.

…This argument comes up so quickly and reliably in these conversations that it might as well be a Pavlovian response. Any mention of the word “racism” in association with names like Tolkien or Burroughs or Campbell or Lovecraft is a bell whose chimes will trigger an immediate response of “But historical context!”

Context does matter. Unfortunately, as with so many arguments, it all tends to get oversimplified into a false binary. On one side are the self–righteous haters who get off on tearing down the giants of our field with zero consideration of the time and culture in which they lived. On the other are those who sweep any and all sins, no matter how egregious, under the rug of “Historical Context.”

….In an ideal world, I think most of us would like to believe humanity is growing wiser and more compassionate as a species. (Whether or not that’s true is a debate best left for another article.) If we assume that to be true, we have to expect a greater amount of ignorance and intolerance from the past. We also have to recognize that humanity is not homogenous, and every time period has a wide range of opinion and belief.

When we talk about historical context, we have to look both deeper and broader. Were Lovecraft’s views truly typical of the time, or was his bigotry extreme even for the early 20th century? Did those views change over time, or did he double–down on his prejudices?

Recognizing that someone was a product of their time is one piece of understanding their attitudes and prejudices. It’s not carte blanche to ignore them.

(15) STORIES OF WHAT-IF. At Carribean Beat, Philip Sander talks to Nalo Hopkinson, Tobias Buckell, Karen Lord, and R.S.A. Garcia.

Caribbean Beat: How do you define speculative fiction?

Nalo Hopkinson: I generally only use the term “speculative fiction” in academic circles. Science fiction and fantasy are literatures that challenge the complacency of our received wisdoms about power, culture, experience, language, existence, social systems, systems of knowledge, and frameworks of understanding. They make us reconsider whose stories deserve to be told, whose narratives shape the future and our beliefs, and who has the “right” to make and remake the world.

Is there a distinctively Caribbean kind of spec-fic?

A bunch of Caribbean SF/F [science fiction/fantasy] writers will be gathering to discuss this in March at the University of California, Riverside, as part of a year of programming I’m co-organising on alternative futurisms. I suspect one of the things we’ll end up talking about is Caribbean relationships to the experience of resistance — how it’s shaped our histories and imaginations, and so how it must shape our imaginative narratives. For instance, when I watch The Lord of the Rings, I wonder what the orcs do to rebel against their forced existence as beings created to be foot soldiers and cannon fodder.

We’ll probably also talk about the unique impact of place and space on the Caribbean psyche. I recently wrote a short story for Drowned Worlds, a fiction anthology on the theme of the effects of rising sea levels worldwide. For me, coming from island nations whose economies are often dependent on bringing tourists to our beaches, and which are the guardians of so much of the world’s precious biodiversity, it was particularly painful and personal to write a story about what will become of our lands. The resulting piece is angry and spooky, and combines science with duppy conqueror in ways that are uniquely Caribbean.

On the panel, we might also talk about language. The multiple consciousness that Caribbean history gives us is reflected in our code-switching, code-sliding, code-tripping dancehall-rapso-dubwise approach to signifying simultaneously on multiple levels. Science fiction reaches for that in its use of neologisms. Caribbean people, like so many hybridised peoples the world over, live it. We are wordsmiths par excellence.

(16) PUPPY COLLATION. Kate Paulk shut off comments at Sad Puppies IV and says “I’ll be going through them and collating the results over the next 2 weeks”. The Hugo nominating deadline is March 31.

(17) TALKING TO THE CUSTOMERS. The Video Shop presents “400 Fourth Wall Breaking Films Supercut”. (Most of you already know that when somebody on stage acknowledges the audience, that’s called breaking the fourth wall.) (Via io9.)

Since you’re reading this let me give you a bit of background and a couple of provisos.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of fourth wall breaking films. There are shitloads. Definitely more than 400. But 400 seemed a tidy number to end on. It’s not an academic study and there’s no rhyme or reason behind the grouping of the clips other than what seemed to work. So while yes, there are highbrow French new wave films in there I’ve also had to include The Silence of the Hams and Rocky and Bullwinkle. But then I kind of like that.

And because it’s mine I give more screen time to my favourite serial offenders, just because I can. Take a bow John Landis, Woody Allen and Mike Myers.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Rob Thornton for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mart.]

295 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/1/16 If You Like To Pixel, I Tell You I’m Your Scroll

  1. *shakes fist at Doctor Science* And your microbes would be nowhere without my mosquitoes to puncture the skins of hosts and transmit them and provide a comfy snuggy insect innard to live in in the meantime!

    …okay, this is getting a little weird. Ahem. I am not actually a big fan of mosquitoes, for the record. I just want them to get the respect they deserve.

    …microbe lover.

  2. @Mosquito & Microbe Folks: I recommend the Nothing But Nets U.N. Foundation campaign/charity to you. They “fight malaria, a leading cause of death among children in Africa.” They purchase long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed nets, distribute them, and educated communities on their use. It’s my second-favorite charity.

    I hope it’s okay to mention it, given folks are talking about all the horrible deaths from government, I mean, mosquitos, I mean, microbes, I mean, mosquitos.

  3. @ Vasha

    Thanks, I’ll check out your ideas at the link. My tastes in fiction (of any length) tend to run to non-horror fantasy centering around female characters. Strong preference for female authors, but mostly because that correlates with stories I like. Queer characters a plus. Beyond that, I like beautiful language, solid world-building, and interesting complex characters…but don’t we all?

    I was greatly helped in drawing up my lists by all the various eligibility posts, especially the aggregated ones. For stuff that I’ve reviewed, I can just pull up my own blog entries, but I don’t always review short fiction, and the person-based categories require a bit more brainstorming.

  4. @Kendall, okay, I guess Apex was not professional in 2014? So Chikodili Emelumadu still doesn’t qualify for a Campbell Award although she’s published 4 really superior stories. Here’s to her having a professional sale soon.

  5. @Vasha: It’s frustrating that the Campbell has different criteria, well, okay, everything has different criteria. Keep in mind BTW that I’m not an expert here – just pointing out the two questions are different. Sorry to harsh your groove!

  6. When the time is right

    A week before the deadline? Does it count as not knowing what hit us if nothing’s hit us less than a month in advance? Let’s face it, there’s no way SP4 is going to have even 5 in each category unless she acts just like boy Puppies and throws stuff that nobody expressed any opinion about onto the slate at her own whim.

    @Heather: there’s the big Google Spreadsheet O’Doom that lists every category, with plenty of options for all. I don’t dare edit it b/c I have no idea how those things work, but reading through it reminded me of the titles of stuff I read/watched and liked. There’s no ranking; eligible stuff is just listed in alphabetical order. You still have time to watch short films or a few episodes of things (May I suggest “Person of Interest” episode “If-Then-Else”? Artificial intelligence AND lesbians!)

    http://bit.ly/hugoaward2016

  7. @Heather, if you haven’t read “Our Lady of the Open Road” (novelette) you oughtta; queer female narrator who’s a punk musician, great narrative voice, disillusioned but still clinging to carrying out her ideals, very atmospheric. SF not fantasy though.

    And “Saltwater Railroad” (novelette) is fantasy; I found the writing style very interestingly original. Historical, centered on social outcasts hiding on a small island, another memorable main character. Grim in parts (slavery, rape, etc.) but not horror and has a happy ending.

    I don’t know if you have read much Charlotte Ashley but I bet you might like her; she writes stories with fairies in them, all different, inventive and often surprising. My favorite was “La Héron” in the March/April edition of Fantasy & Science Fiction but others were online: “Eleusinian Mysteries” (stars a woman printer in old Amsterdam) and “Sigrid Under the Mountain” for example.

    “Quarter Days” (novella) by Iona Sharma: set in post-world-war-I London; magic is a licensed profession. A group of practicioners tries to make a living while around them social change accelerates. They are a marginalized lot; the main character is a black woman, another member of the group is widely distrusted because of frequently changing between male and female and is struggling to stay licensed while providing abortions for poor women. The story works remarkably well.

  8. I’ve partially filled out my Hugo ballot, with a good deal more to do.

    Spent the day and some of the night reading From Grace to Grief, by Jeannie Ewing. Celebrate for me, folks: a paid proofreading assignment. Good book, too, though explicitly Catholic in its viewpoint, meaning that’s not a general recommendation. She’s writing for people who share her religious beliefs, and it will be of the most use to people who are Roman Catholic or Roman Catholic-adjacent in their theological viewpoint.

  9. @Lis Carey: Huzzah! May you accrue secular money and maybe a little divine blessing. 😉

    @Vasha: While “Our Lady of…” is a good story, I don’t think it’s Hugo-worthy, simply because it is only very slightly SFnal. Most of the stuff the characters struggle with/against/for has been happening for a while, and the story could be set today, or five years ago and not change appreciably. “Saltwater Railroad” and “Quarter Days” were swell, though, esp. the latter.

    The problem with the Campbell is that it’s Not A Hugo. Sure, the same people vote for it along with the Hugos, but it doesn’t follow the Hugo rules since it’s not under WSFS auspices, but that of the sponsoring company. Thus our annual confusion.

  10. @Vasha

    I totally forgot An Evolutionary Myth, which is probably my favourite of their translated stories. I think the stories in the poll tend towards “fun”, which is probably a reasonable criteria for a readers poll; the Liu Cixin story probably falls into that category as it has a memorable central image, but otherwise not much meat on its bones.

  11. Frustratingly, I still have 29 empty slots (across 10 categories, ca. 1/3 of the total available slots), mostly in areas where I just haven’t had much exposure.

    Wouldn’t struggling to fill nearly every slot by any means necessary suggest that you are engaged in a political project?

    Fans on all “sides” are so riled up that they might go “Damn! I’ve got a week and a half left and only two novelettes! Quick, somebody help me find at least three more!”

    That’s not against the rules, but neither was what happened in 2015.

  12. Of course, making a last minute drive to read more stuff is commendable – and we’re all doing it.

    But if voters feel a need to fill as much of the ballot as humanly possible, by definition that will change the character of the award, because it has never been the case before.

  13. Brian Z on March 3, 2016 at 12:27 am said:

    But if voters feel a need to fill as much of the ballot as humanly possible, by definition that will change the character of the award, because it has never been the case before.

    Yes, slating definitely was a jerk move, wasn't it, Brian?

  14. Kendall on March 2, 2016 at 10:06 pm said:

    @Camestros Felapton: The funny thing is, SFWA – since being “taken over” by “evil SJWs” – seems to be doing more and more author promotion stuff. They have some new initiatives that were announced recently, in fact.

    Sure, in this universe but in the universe the puppies escape from the SFWA are evil pawns of big publishing. Also: airships.

  15. I did a quick scan and as far as I can see most of the criticisms of _The Better Angels of Our Nature_ are based on the author being a humanist, with a few side issues of “author did not subscribe to my flavor of economics” (the book had a chapter on how commerce appears to reduce violence between groups engaged in it) and “author paid insufficient attention to colonialism” (I seem to recall the violence of conquest and enslavement being treated in the book, but perhaps not sufficiently?) and a recurring strain (mostly among people with one of the other two side issues) of “it’s total number of deaths by violence that matters, not percent of people who die by violence.”

    I just don’t understand that last; it seems to be arguing that if five people in a population die by violence, life is equally violent, whether your population is ten (50% die by violence) or ten million (less than 1 in a million die by violence.) Let us say I don’t buy it and move on.

    The objection that the book doesn’t appeal to supernatural forces in the course of its arguments is unanswerable. It’s true; it doesn’t. That strikes me as a feature, not a bug, but YMMV.

    I’m not well equipped to know which competing economic theory is correct. I am willing to accept for the sake of argument that he may be underreporting the violence associated with colonialism. That would be a couple of century blip in a millennia-long progression, but since it encompasses the later three processes he claims are reducing violence it would, if correct, and if large enough to offset the other gains, be a more serious disputation of the book’s general thesis.

  16. I always have a problem with only counting deaths by direct violence. You should also count dying of diseases, starvation, bad water and more that are caused by the violence. Look at the Gulf-war. Ony 200 000 dies of the war, but one million died of the sanctions and the destruction of infrastructure like facilities for water purification.

  17. There are some truly gorgeous weapons that have to be seen to be believed. The Victoria and Albert has an awe-inspiring array of them; collector’s items with scrollwork and representational art on the stocks of well-preserved muzzle loaders and others. Somebody knew they were working for the rich people when they made them.

    Dad made a muzzle-loader or two, as well as a muzzle-loading pistol. They weren’t works of art, but they were appealing to look at. I used to enjoy being with him and helping to melt lead (I learned to pick up tire weights from beside the road) and mold it into balls and slugs, and reloading cartridges. I never weighed out powder: that was a job he’d only do himself. We also made arrows, cutting and varnishing dowels, nocking, fletching, and putting on a point. I still have arrows tipped with .38 shells, which were for shooting at hay bales in the back yard (we had 2 acres). With the shells, they didn’t keep going and going after they went through.

    I learned that there are many totally harmless gun nuts out there who are nice people who would never hurt anyone on purpose, and who religiously followed the NRA’s intelligent safety rules. Hunting was recreation for Dad (he’s too old to do it now), but it also put food on the table. We ate what he brought home, and a deer would last so long that the meat would turn a little, even in the freezer, after which Mom would puree it in the blender and add it to the dog’s dry food.

    That was all important, considering how little Dad made as a professional musician, even with teaching (private and college), church, weddings, funerals, dinner theater, and his annual gig of accompanying the Larimer County Rodeo on a theater organ up in the stands.

  18. @lurkertype – The Google Spreadsheet O Doom was already one of my mainstay memory-prompters.

    @ Vasha – Bookmarked for consideration.

    @ Brian Z – Fuck off.

  19. I’m just going to say that my time of not taking reddit links seriously as criticisms of established works is coming to a middle.

  20. Sure, in this universe but in the universe the puppies escape from the SFWA are evil pawns of big publishing. Also: airships.

    For some reason, The New Yorker has been pushing a recent article about airships recently on twitter. (The idea is that airships could bring supplies to areas without an adequate system of roads. I remember that topic coming up about 40 years ago in high school debate.) So maybe we’ve side-stepped into an alternative universe?

  21. Lexica:

    Haw! I’ve been playing that game a bit recently thanks to it being in the latest Humble Bundle. I’d been eyeing it since they started the project since there was a while when I was obsessively into Fallen London, their browser-based game, and immediately leaped on it when I saw it in the bundle. I suck at Sunless Sea so far, but it’s still fun. The Failbetter gang knows how to write and create atmosphere.

    Games are eligible in Dramatic Presentation, at least by my reading of the rules, but you’re right. Getting people to buy and play the game (I’ve sunk about ten hours into it myself) would be difficult. Also, I don’t recall when the game…wait, they just celebrated their first year at the beginning of the month, right? Yeah. I might put it on just because I didn’t see many movies last year and it is that lovely mix of steampunk and Lovecraftian horror that falls within the Hugo bailiwick.

    Also, hey, somebody to squee about that game. I love it so much.

    (Hi everybody, long time lurker, occasional caller.)

  22. @Jack Lint:

    The idea is that airships could bring supplies to areas without an adequate system of roads.

    Alaska does just that with ordinary aircraft. What’s the advantage of airships?

  23. Alaska does just that with ordinary aircraft. What’s the advantage of airships?

    The advantages are usually given as larger carrying capacity, lower fuel cost per pound carried and less need for a long clear space for landing and taking off. (Well, that depends on the length of the airship.) Airships have their own problems like need for ballast and problems with stability in bad weather. (The Los Angeles doing a nosestand always comes to mind.) No Hindenburg explosions because they’re no longer using hydrogen for the lifting gas.

  24. @Heather Rose Jones

    I take it before the Sasquan and Loncon deadlines you also said dammit, I’ve made 56 nominations so far but the theoretical maximum is 85, I’m still 29 short!

    If that’s the case, more power to you, but it’s true of hardly anyone.

  25. I would say a lot of the area with problems of supply due to minimal roads are also places with bad weather, in particular a lot of cold. How are airships about -20 conditions? (Take your pick of Celsius or Faranheit)

    And does it account for the cost of building airships? Airplanes are expensive but the manufacturing facilities and standards are already extant. Mass-producing new cold-hardy airships might be cheaper than airplanes once those facilities exist but first you need the building and material supply chains established, standards (for consistency, safety, and inspection) drawn up, etc etc …

  26. Brian Z: I have about half the slots on my ballot filled out. I’ve been talking here about picking up new graphic novels and a few options for other categories. I’m also doing a lot of online reading of short fiction.

    Sometimes I prioritize by (Gasp!) looking at the recommendations of others.

    I still will never have all my slots filled in, even on March 31st. That’s not the point, for me or anyone else still looking at options. The point, which flew so ably over your thick skull, is to be as broadly certain that what I did read that goes on my ballot really is worthy, that the slots I leave empty in categories where I have some picks are left empty because Nothing else i encountered was worthy, not because I encountered nothing else.

    (Eg. In graphic story, I have read at least five possible nominees, probably more if I look more carefully at my webcomic reading. I have five graphic novel collections sitting right beside me right now which I have finished or am working on, and a matching five awaiting me at the library. I have ONE slot filled out, and all that reading has changed it to two.* Asking for recommendations guarantees nothing as long as I continue to vote my tastes.

    And by the way, I haven’t nominated anything since Torcon 3. But I seem to recall that was a very thin ballot with lots of emptiness and no great care to hunt out more. So everything I vote for is a change to Hugo voting. Blame the Puppies for mobilizing me.

    THe FUD you are throwing out now is stupid, and wrong, and confused.

    * Descender: Tin Stars is my second win, after finally, and also in the last week, gulping far enough into Stand Still Stay Silent to say that it would have to take a wild left turn into space spiders** not to get on. I think Moonshot might be, but it’s an anthology and I’ve only read some of the stories yet.

    **As reportedly happens to David Wingrove’s Chung Kuo series, of which 7 of the original 8 books are among hubby’s favourite SF, but book 8 is very much NOT.

  27. Re: Pinker: Rifkin touches on declines in violence in The Empathic Civilization as well. Well worth the read.

  28. Sometimes I prioritize by (Gasp!) looking at the recommendations of others.

    I used to crib from Abigail Nussbaum’s ballot when looking for extra things to read. The Locus list, obviously. (Not lists that were restricted access only. But those on the open internet I definitely checked out.)

    I instantly rushed to read, and instantly paid for a copy of the magazine it appeared in (if it wasn’t free online and I wasn’t already a subscriber), any story plastered with Lois Tilton’s “Recommended.”

    I’ve done those sorts of things this year and I’m still nowhere near five per category.

    If the postman would just bring all the major magazines to one’s door like they’re supposed to, one might not have to do that. In this environment, one does.

    My comment was on whether trying to get as close to 85 nominations as humanly possible might be a sort of a political project.

  29. Tasha – I am sorry; I projected my own experience over yours and became just one more person not listening to you. Please forgive me. Also, my doctor is at a large teaching hospital; do you mind if I share your story about choosing to sit on the floor as an example of how disabilities are not accommodated?

  30. The figure the airship proponents give is that two-thirds of the world is not connected by a paved road. So it’s not just the cold climates. (When I first encountered it in high school debate, it was given as a means of getting food to Africa.) The problem that airships have with weather isn’t so much cold, but how they handle in wind. Airship disasters in the past often involved the frame breaking under sudden unexpected winds. Modern materials/design might have dealt with that.

    At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be a market for airships as a means of delivery. It’s one of those things that surfaces every decade or so. I recall it coming up in the 90s as a means of moving lumber in Russia. There was a Zeppelin that did aerial tours of San Francisco around 2008-2012. However, the airship evangelicals do keep trying to make them a thing.

  31. @LunagrG
    No offense was taken. Each of us is an individual and there is no way to know what someone has or hasn’t tried. Several of my doctors find whatever residents are around/visiting when I’m in for checkups to show all sorts of things. From why what you learned in medical school is wrong for x% of population to how people with various disabilities need creative accommodations or why doctors need to split reading and typing from listening and talking or check this out its rare to see this isn’t it cool.

    Feel free to share any comments I make here about medical care you think will help. Redesigning rooms so doctors faced patients when working at their computers would be a good starting point. I prefer tablets as doctors can face the patient but they don’t tap into many legacy systems. Sometimes I move my chair right next to the doctor and computer. Some days I’m too tired to do that or in too much pain to sit in the chair.

  32. Tasha Turner said:

    Redesigning rooms so doctors faced patients when working at their computers would be a good starting point.

    An alternative solution which has been adopted at some facilities is the medical scribe, who takes care of the computer work while the doctor talks to the patient.

  33. Brian Z:

    My comment was on whether trying to get as close to 85 nominations as humanly possible might be a sort of a political project.

    Sure it is. The political project in question is “maximize the number of legitimate votes” where “legitimate” = things that particular voter genuinely thinks are award worthy and “illegitimate” = slated without reading. (NB: nothing there about liberal, conservative, SJW, or libertarian, decent person or raging asshat.)

    How is it a bad thing?

  34. Brian Z, since none of your questions to me regarding my post about nominations have in any way followed logically from what I actually posted, my only response to you remains: fuck off.

  35. There are so many pretty guns, with nice construction, flowing lines, neat engineering. Since you’re going to be spending much more time looking at and maintaining them than using them in a barrage against the [whatever] hordes, why not get attractive ones that show off mechanical art? But the gun nuts (different from sensible gun owners) buy the big ugly all-black ones. No aesthetics.

    My grandpa was quite the hunter. Went out every fall till he was 80 (and only stopped then b/c grandma begged) and gave venison to everyone. He had beautiful rifles, smooth wooden stocks with great curves. My BIL fed his family with a rifle when he was underemployed (small rural town) and there were kids to raise. We gave him shotgun shells and rifle ammo for birthdays and Christmas so he could hunt and practice. Because you wanna be really good around elk, those suckers are big and fast.

    So I’m not “destroy all guns”. But we need to find a balance between that and “everyone gets as many guns as they want, with no limits on how fast they can fire or who can buy them or if they’re trained”. Yes, automatic weapons are ridiculously fun to shoot (my favorite moment on the range) but do you need them to protect your house and family from burglars? You’ve only got two hands, how many handguns do you need? Practice gun safety, keep them away from kids and people with previous violent tendencies, and don’t think you need a whole damn arsenal just because the current POTUS has a little more melanin.

  36. @katster: I say, nominate what you love. This sounds like a really neat SFF kind of game and I’d probably watch someone play it. Maybe someday, incrementally, by people like you nominating, a game will actually make the ballot and maybe win. Or there’ll be enough momentum for a separate category to happen.

    @Aaron: I’m just going to say that my time of not taking reddit links seriously as criticisms of established works is coming to a middle.

    FTFY. 🙂

    Airships are cool, no doubt about it, but still prohibitively expensive. Cold temperatures and high winds are things they don’t like, and a lot of the remote areas posited to be visited by them have those. I don’t fancy the chances of airships over Siberia in winter, or in Tornado Alley in the summer. And what about when we run out of helium?

    @HRJ: you do have a way with words.

  37. @Heather Rose Jones: “My tastes in fiction (of any length) tend to run to non-horror fantasy centering around female characters. Strong preference for female authors, but mostly because that correlates with stories I like. Queer characters a plus. Beyond that, I like beautiful language, solid world-building, and interesting complex characters…but don’t we all?”

    If those tastes also include erotica, I’m obliged to point you at J.B. Rogers, who’s been doing some fun stuff with gender. I just finished marking up the last edits to The Freshman’s Curse: Book Two this morning, which puts us on track to set up preorders over the weekend. Release date looks like March 22, assuming I get the edited chapters back before Monday. (TFC is a transgender/gender-flip romance that plays with the “straight guy becomes a hot woman and instantly craves sex with men” trope by turning a sex-addicted woman into an awkward man. Includes BDSM elements, explicit sex, and clerical magic involving the Roman gods, but no alphas or billionaires. Lots of SFnal references, though.)

    In addition, a short story and a novelette that are tangential to that plot will be free-with-coupon on Smashwords next week as part of their annual sitewide “Read an Ebook Week” promotion. No magical elements in those, but TFC Book One will also be discounted-with-coupon at the same time. Yay free/cheap reads!

  38. I’m just going to say that my time of not taking reddit links seriously as criticisms of established works is coming to a middle.

    /Askhistorians and /Badhistory are both pretty good resources, but I certainly understand skepticism there. Instead, I’d ask what you mean by established work. Because it’s certainly true that Diamond is popular. It’s certainly true he sells well. It’s certainly true he gets good reviews. But it’s also true that his work is not well regarded among professional historians and anthropologists (and I have a raft of references to academic journals if you’re so inclined). Which isn’t to say no one should read it, just that it needs to be read with an awareness of its problems. Ideally, you read it, find something that sounds interesting/weird/whatever and go on to read a more narrowly focused work.

  39. Will R. Invective for being illogical…wait, which blog comments am I reading?

    Live long and prosper.

  40. Lurkertype :

    There are so many pretty guns, with nice construction, flowing lines, neat engineering. Since you’re going to be spending much more time looking at and maintaining them than using them in a barrage against the [whatever] hordes, why not get attractive ones that show off mechanical art?

    “The weapon, like anything else, could only finally be judged by the effect it had on others, by the consequences it produced in some outside context, by its place in the rest of the universe. By this measure the love, or just the appreciation, of weapons was a kind of tragedy.” – Iain Banks, _Excession_.

  41. And everyone’s favorite, the June 1929 (?) issue of Zeppelin Stories with “Gorilla of the Gasbags” by Gil Brewer.

  42. @ Rev. Bob

    Erotica is tricky. In general, purely as a matter of personal taste, attempts to mix erotica and literary merit rarely succeed for me. I think I’ll leave it at that.

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