Pixel Scroll 4/25/21 Files Runs The Pixel Down

(1) FUTURE UNIONS. “Workers of All Worlds Unite,” a public talk about labor unions in science fiction with Olav Rokne, is a free Zoom event happening Thursday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m. Mountain time. Join the Zoom free here. Or you could also support the event by getting tickets here.

Workers Of All Worlds Unite!

Science fiction is filled with depictions of standard capitalist employment relationships, but little thought seems to have been given to how workers in the future will assert their rights. Join Olav Rokne as he explores the troubled history of labour unions in science fiction, and makes an argument as to why this history matters.

(2) ELLISON TRUST VICTORY. Two weeks ago J. Michael Straczynski, Executor of the Harlan and Susan Ellison Trust, updated fans about a successful action to fight off opportunistic banks.

(3) EXTREMELY HONEST. Ian Moore takes the first step in his Hugo finalist Mt. Tsundoku 12-step program by admitting powerlessness:

(4) HE’LL BE IN SCOTLAND AFORE YE. Recorded April 15, Shoreline of Infinity brings you “Ken MacLeod’s Road Trip”.

Ken MacLeod’s Road Trip takes us from Scotland through the north of England and London to the far side of the Earth. Three talkative passengers – Charles Stross, Justina Robson and Tasha Suri – read from their work, and over the car radio Hannah and Sam Bennett play drive-time music live from the wonderful world of tomorrow. Hosted by Shoreline of Infinity – science fiction magazine and publisher based in Scotland for the world to enjoy.

(5) WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE WAR? People have been trying to answer that question about these familiar names for years.“L. Ron Hubbard, Robert Heinlein and the Kamikaze Group Think Tank – Not So ‘Nothing’ After All?” at The McClaughry’s Blog is a 2017 post, but it’s news to me!

… Not that Hubbard was some kind of White Knight or anything, far from it. Even a brief perusal of our work here at the blog would tell you very quickly that we don’t go easy on Mr. Hubbard. But, I don’t think that we need to discredit his actual bad acts by throwing out wrong characterizations and outright lies about him either.

Hubbard has two big holes in his Navy history that none of the so-called ‘experts’ ever noticed that I documented in my post. Either one of which could easily have been this Aleutians business, and I’m guessing it was the second “hole” from November 3 to November 25, 1944.

It actually fits well with then being tasked with Heinlein to deal with anti-Kamikaze tactics. Heinlein details that two assignments came to him from Naval Intelligence, practically back to back. The problem is, people have put wrong times for when these were. Times that don’t fit with KNOWN dates and events.

Heinlein and other science fiction writers were utilized several times for Naval Intelligence projects…

Right on the back of that is when Heinlein formed his Think Tank on Kamikazes with Hubbard etc. which was also called a “crash” project.

In 1944, Heinlein recruited Hubbard, Sturgeon and others for a project: “Op-Nav-23, a brainstorming job on antikamikaze measures.” [46] The Bradbury Chronicles by Sam Weller, p. 12

I had been ordered to round up science fiction writers for this crash project-the wildest brains I could find, so Ted was a welcome recruit. Some of the others were George O. Smith, John W. Campbell Jr., Murray Leinster, L. Ron Hubbard, Sprague de Camp, and Fletcher Pratt…

– Stephen Dedman in May the Armed Forces Be with You

Ok, first question would be when were these kamikaze attacks?

Although there had been spotty “kamikaze” actions by Japanese fighter pilots with engine troubles etc. earlier in WWII, the first inklings of an actual program appears to have been decided upon by August 1944 but not acted upon until Vice-Admiral Takijiro Onishi, took command of the 1st Air Fleet in the Philippines on October 17, 1944. Onishi had initially opposed the idea, but changed his mind when he took command.

Three days later kamikaze attacks – kamikaze means “Divine Wind” – were introduced October 20 of 1944 and on October 25 the first formal (and mass) kamikaze attacks launched in the Phillippines….

(6) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1976 – Forty-five years ago at MidAmeriCon, the Hugo for Best Novella went to Roger Zelazny for “Home Is the Hangman” which was published in Analog, November 1975.  It would also win the Nebula the same year. The other nominated novellas were “The Storms of Windhaven” by George R. R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle [Analog, May 1975] “ARM” by Larry Niven [Epoch, 1975] “The Silent Eyes of Time” by Algis Budrys [F&SF, Nov 1975] and “The Custodians” by Richard Cowper [F&SF, Oct 1975]. It is collected with the other two novellas in this series, “The Eve of RUMOKO“ and “Kjwalll’kje’k’koothaïlll’kje’k“ in My Name in Legion which is available from the usual suspects. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 25, 1897 Fletcher Pratt. He’s best remembered for his fiction written with L. Sprague de Camp, to wit Land of Unreason, The Carnelian Cube and The Complete Compleat Enchanter. I’m rather fond of The Well of the Unicorn and Double Jeopardy. I see that he and Jack Coggins were nominated for International Fantasy Award for their Rockets, Jets, Guided Missiles and Space Ships, a non-fiction work published in 1951. Anyone known about this? (Died 1956.) (CE) 
  • Born April 25, 1915 Mort Weisinger. Comic book editor best known for editing  Superman during in the Silver Age of comic books. He also served as story editor for the Adventures of Superman series,  Before that he was one of the earliest active sf fans, working on fanzines like The Planet (1931) and The Time Traveller (1932) and attending the New York area fan club  known as The Scienceers. (Died 1978.) (CE) 
  • Born April 25, 1915 – Leslie Croutch.  Television & radio repairman.  Half a dozen stories.  Contributor to The AcolyteFuturian War DigestSpacewaysTin TacksVoice of the Imagi-NationLe Zombie.  Various fanzines of his own, notably Light.  See here and Harry Warner’s appreciation here (PDF).  (Died 1969) [JH]
  • Born April 25, 1920 John Mantley. He wrote but one SF novel, The 27th Day,  but it rated a detailed write-up by Bud Webster in The Magazine of F&SF which you can read here. (He wrote the screenplay for the film version of his novel which gets an abysmal score of twenty-five percent among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.) He also produced a number of episodes of The Wild Wild WestBuck Rogers in the 25th Century and MacGyver. (Died 2003.) (CE)
  • Born April 25, 1925 – Margery Gill.  A dozen covers, as many interiors for us; much else.  Here is Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds.  Here is The Saracen Lamp.  Here is Over Sea, Under Stone.  Here is English Fairy Tales.  Here is an interior from A Little Princess.  See this appreciation in the Illustrators Wiki.  (Died 2008) [JH] 
  • Born April 25, 1929 Robert A. Collins. Edited a number of quite interesting publications including the Fantasy Newsletter in the early Eighties, the IAFA Newsletter in the late Eighties and the early Nineties along with the Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review Annual with Rob Latham at the latter time. He also wrote Thomas Burnett Swann: A Brief Critical Biography & Annotated Bibliography. (Died 2009.) (CE) 
  • Born April 25, 1941 – Stella Nemeth, age 80.  Book reviews and occasional drawings in The DiversifierLan’s LanternSF BooklogZeor Forum; seen in Algol.  More recently in Art With a Needle.  [JH]
  • Born April 25, 1957 – Deborah Chester, age 64.  Three dozen novels for us (some under different names); several others.  Has a recipe in Anne McCaffrey’s Serve It Forth.  Professor at Univ. Oklahoma.  [JH]
  • Born April 25, 1961 Gillian Polack, 60. Australian writer and editor. She created the Ceres Universe, a fascinating story setting. And she’s a great short story writer as Datlow demonstrated when she selected “Happy Faces for Happy Families” for her recommended reading section in the ‘04 Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. She’s reasonably stocked at the usual suspects. (CE) 
  • Born April 25, 1975 – Courtney Schafer, age 46.  Three novels, one shorter story.  Electrical engineer, worked in aerospace.  While at Cal Tech (California Inst. of Technology) she also learned rock climbing, skiing, SCUBA diving; later, figure skating.  Favorite series, the Lymond Chronicles; has also read Hidden FiguresThe Little PrinceWatership Down.  [JH]
  • Born April 25, 1979 – Christopher Hopper, age 42.  Half a dozen novels, a score more with co-authors; one shorter story.  Encouraged by his wife he has two million words published; also plays in her band.  He’s breakfasted with Winnie Mandela, kite-surfed in Hawai’i, photographed white rhinos in South Africa, climbed the Great Wall of China.  [JH]
  • Born April 25, 1981 Silvia Moreno-Garcia, 40. Canadian of Mexican descent. She’s the publisher of Innmouths Free Press, an imprint devoted to weird fiction. Not surprisingly, she co-edited with Paula R. Stiles for the press, the Historical Lovecraft and Future Lovecraft anthologies. She won a World Fantasy Award for the She Walks in Shadows anthology, also on Innsmouth Free Press. She was a finalist for the Nebula Award 2019 in the Best Novel category for her Gods of Jade and Shadow novel. And finally with Lavie Tidhar, she edits the Jewish Mexican Literary Review. Not genre, but sort of genre adjacent. (CE) 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro finds something at the window gently tapping.

(9) X-MEN NEWS. Christian Holub, in the Entertainment Weekly story “Marvel reveals the results of X-Men fan election” says Marvel sent out a bunch of mini-comics before deciding whether Banshee, Strong Guy, Boom-Boom, or other rookies got to join the X-Men team. Those Twitter comics are linked at the end of the article.

…Election season is finally over for the X-Men. Back in January, Marvel conducted a public vote for fans to choose a member of the newest X-Men team that is set to debut at the much-anticipated Hellfire Gala in June’s Planet-Sized X-Men #1. As with any election, there can only be one winner, and unfortunately lots of losers. But at least fans get to see how each of the candidates — Banshee, Polaris, Forge, Boom-Boom, Tempo, Cannonball, Sunspot, Strong Guy, Marrow, and Armor — responded to the results in a new series of mini-comics published to Marvel’s social media accounts over the past week.

Written by Zeb Wells (Hellions) and illustrated by a variety of artists (including Rachelle Rosenberg who colored them all), each installment of these Twitter comics featured two candidates each reckoning with their loss. First up was Strong Guy and Forge, illustrated by Mike Henderson. Despite the fact that Forge has used his mutant affinity with technology to develop all kinds of bio-organic resources for the new mutant nation-state on the living island of Krakoa, Strong Guy points out that they’re equal in defeat….

(10) WHY DID YOU DESIGN? There’s a Kickstarter to fund production of “The Prisoner Retro Style Action Figures by Wandering Planet Toys”, with versions of Number 6 as he was attired in different episodes, a boxed pair with Number 6 and his nemesis Number 2, and even a Rover figure.  

In 1967 the cult classic TV series, THE PRISONER, came bursting onto the screen. The series, about an unnamed British intelligence agent who awakes to find himself trapped in an idyllic seaside village, was not only an instant hit with viewers at the time, it went on to be watched and re-watched obsessively by fans, quickly gaining cult status.

While there have been several collectables released over the decades, THE PRISONER has never received a line of OFFICIALLY LICENSED ACTION FIGURES… and Wandering Planet Toys is working with our licensing partners at ITV Studios to bring to life 4-inch RETRO STYLE ACTION FIGURES that celebrate Patrick McGoohan’s brilliant series. 

… Want to get information about these figures? Good, because by hook or by crook you will!

No discussion of THE PRISONER is complete without mention of the Village’s spherical guardian and menace, ROVER. In order to evoke the iconic moment of NUMBER 6 pushed up against the gelatinous side of the guardian, we’ve created a Limited Edition plastic packaging unit depicting our hero in the belly of the beast. This package is a resealable clamshell so the figure can be removed for display, then reinserted.

(11) SENATOR, YOU’RE NO JACK KENNEDY. But he makes a pretty good John Scalzi.

(12) REDRUM. It’s official! “NASA’s first color photo from the Mars Ingenuity helicopter is… red” reports Mashable. Images at the link.

Mars is often referred to as the “Red Planet” because of the rusty, reddish-orange sandscape blanketing the planet. That comes into sharp focus in our first color photo snapped by the Mars Ingenuity helicopter.

That was taken about 17 feet above the ground. You can clearly see the sandy red-orange Martian surface. And if you look at the bottom of the image, you’ll clearly see Ingenuity’s shadow, with two of its spindly legs visibly jutting out from it’s rectangular body.

Those patterns in the ground that look like tracks are in fact… tracks left by the Perseverance rover, the remote-operated research vehicle that carried Ingenuity safely to Mars. Once it deposited its flying robot friend the Perseverance headed off to a new location, first to monitor the helicopter for a month and then to proceed with its other duties.

Here’s a closer look at those tracks….

(13) JOSH FIGHT. There can be only one… Josh! Wikipedia explains yesterday’s “Josh fight”. Which is sounds a little like a Pennsic Wars where all the combatants have the same first name.

On the chosen day, several hundred people, including many named Josh, congregated at Air Park.[4][6] Attendees came from as far as New YorkHouston,[7] and Washington[8] with some dressed in superhero and Star Wars costumes.[9][10] The gathering also included a fundraising element for Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, which raised over $8,000 USD,[3][11] and a food drive that collected over 200 pounds (90 kg) of food for a nearby food bank.[12][13]

Three ‘fights’ were held – one game of rock paper scissors for those named Josh Swain, a second with pool noodles for all attendees named Josh, and a third and final all-in battle for anyone in possession of a pool noodle willing to participate.[14] Only two Josh Swains were in attendance – Josh Swain, the event’s creator, beat a rival Josh Swain from Omaha in the rock paper scissors event.[12] A local four-year-old boy named Josh Vinson Jr., dubbed ‘Little Josh’, who had been treated at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha for seizures when he was two years old, was declared the winner and crowned with a paper crown from Burger King as well as a replica AEW World Championship belt

(14) WHAT IF MY ‘PARTNER’ HAS A JOB AND I DON’T? In “AI ethicist Kate Darling: ‘Robots can be our partners’” – a Guardian interviewer goes for the jugular:

But companies are trying to develop robots to take humans out of the equation – driverless robot cars, package delivery by drone. Doesn’t an animal analogy conceal what, in fact, is a significant threat?

There is a threat to people’s jobs. But that threat is not the robots – it is company decisions that are driven by a broader economic and political system of corporate capitalism. The animal analogy helps illustrate that we have some options. The different ways that we’ve harnessed animals’ skills in the past shows we could choose to design and use this technology as a supplement to human labour, instead of just trying to automate people away.

(15) DOME IMPROVEMENTS. The New Yorker asks “Do Brain Implants Change Your Identity?”

The first thing that Rita Leggett saw when she regained consciousness was a pair of piercing blue eyes peering curiously into hers. “I know you, don’t I?” she said. The man with the blue eyes replied, “Yes, you do.” But he didn’t say anything else, and for a while Leggett just wondered and stared. Then it came to her: “You’re my surgeon!”

It was November, 2010, and Leggett had just undergone neurosurgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. She recalled a surge of loneliness as she waited alone in a hotel room the night before the operation and the fear she felt when she entered the operating room. She’d worried about the surgeon cutting off her waist-length hair. What am I doing in here? she’d thought. But just before the anesthetic took hold, she recalled, she had said to herself, “I deserve this.”

Leggett was forty-nine years old and had suffered from epilepsy since she was born. During the operation, her surgeon, Andrew Morokoff, had placed an experimental device inside her skull, part of a brain-computer interface that, it was hoped, would be able to predict when she was about to have a seizure. The device, developed by a Seattle company called NeuroVista, had entered a trial stage known in medical research as “first in human.” A research team drawn from three prominent epilepsy centers based in Melbourne had selected fifteen patients to test the device. Leggett was Patient 14….

(16) ANIMATION INSPIRATION. “David Letterman Interviews Mel Blanc in 1982” from Late Night.

Even in his 70’s, Mel never lost those little voices. It amazes me how he could go from one to another so quickly and effortlessly.

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

43 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/25/21 Files Runs The Pixel Down

  1. I was lucky enough to have lived near Warner Brothers Studios. A few blocks away was a stuffed animal store, It’s A Zoo, long gone. They had a rack specific to Loony Tunes characters. One day I was there to buy a gift for a friend’s kid’s birthday. The two sisters who owned the store were there along with two mothers and their kids, from stroller age to a toddler.

    Mel Blanc would often visit whenever he was going to the studio. Whether it be a charity event or as a gift he would buy a stuffed animal he had voiced, sign the foot and an instant collectable was created.

    Both owners and I recognized Mel and his son, Noel, but the mothers just saw an older gentleman with a cane entering the store. He went over to the rack of characters, picked up one and then another while doing their voices. The mothers and the kids were as wide eyed as humanly possible.

    The store sold more than a few stuffed animals that day, which Mel was glad to sign for them. I bought a large Bugs Bunny for my eventual daughter, with my eyes welling up as he signed the foot. Forgetting about the birthday gift for my friend’s child.

  2. Reading. I read things, sometimes it’s even things I haven’t read a dozen times before.

    Seven Devils by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May. YA science fantasy.

    I’ve debated with myself about just dumping my notes here and calling it a day then decided that’s too mean so three points.

    1: I was really looking forward to this book, didn’t get what I wanted, and feel disappointed.

    2: It reads like an anime fan’s novelization of the 10 episodes first season of a second-rate sci-fi series. Like I can see the episode breaks every 10% or so.

    3: Some things are super high tech, intergalactic quick FTL on even tiny ships, cloaking tarps, projected disguises that can fool at very close range, like kissy-face range. Some things are absurdly low tech if it’s plot convenient. At one point a recently stolen military starship is disguised by painting a different name on the side. Scales are way off, space is big, ships shouldn’t’ sideswipe each other out in interplanetary space. It’d look nice on-screen buuuuuuut.

    1.5 Stars. Not Recommended.

    The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

    Let’s get this out of the way, I’m a heretic, broken, defective, and wrong. I confess–this book beloved by so many annoyed the hell out of me.

    Linus works for the faceless and very British bureaucracy in charge of a group home for magical children because that’s a thing. I guess no one wants to adopt Harry Potter? He does inspections and he’s too good at his job because he cares and–very British ministry of Pink Floyd’s The Wall

    He gets an assignment to inspect the house filled with the most unusual of magical children, the ones they don’t even bother trying to adopt out and we’re introduced to a garden gnome, a puppy shapeshifter, a wyvern, an amorphous blob, the son of the devil, a couple townsfolk and their caretaker.

    Adorable hope punk–or whatever–happens.

    Mostly I was bored.

    I don’t like the prose style of middle-grade books. This has the prose style of a middle-grade book.

    The dur hur Britishisms of oh gee aren’t those people in other parts of Britain strange and prone to liking something that all us right-thinking other Brits aren’t into. Faceless soul-crushing government bureaucracies for every aspect of life. Character is such a cog in the machine. It gets old.

    Sure everyone’s so nice and the children are fine in a truly bland way for a world so filled with magical beings.

    I gave it three stars because I can see what other people find appealing about it–and they’re not wrong–it just didn’t appeal to me.

    Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

    We’re introduced to Kiem, a minor royal in the Iskat Empire. He’s the overprivileged minor screwup type of character you could see being played by Kirk Cameron in the late 80s. The emperor tells him that she’s arranged a political marriage for him, the widower of the recently deceased Iskarti prince Taam and he reluctantly agrees and the two are married without ever even having a proper conversation.

    What follows is the two men, strangers–who are very much attracted to each other–dancing around each other in an attempt to spare the other’s feelings as they’re shoved into the same quarters and the same public schedules. None of that dancing involves frank open conversations about situations or feelings.
    In between, they have a murder to solve, a looming interstellar crisis, and a metric f-ton of sexual tension.

    Meet cute.

    Oh, these two are the most adorable and awkward, they should both be played by Hugh Grant.

    I can’t wait for them to figure out how much the oth… Wait a minute! This is a romance, I’m reading a romance. I don’t read romances how dare–That’s right, I do read romances and I’m so into this. Do carry on.

    There’s like some worldbuilding and politics and I don’t care, do the kissy-face already, kiss like you two mean it! Figure it out and make it work.

    I should probably give a trigger warning for spousal abuse but it’s so telegraphed that anyone has a long time to bail before you hit that point.

    Four Stars. Recommended.

    Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse.

    Such worldbuilding, in reading I could see it all so vividly, the colors, the feathers, the boats and buildings, the foods. It was amazing.

    The characters: mostly rounded, save one. Flat suited him, his life was planned out with little room for individuality, he was supposed to have a bland surface while I rooted for the others. Good stuff.

    The plot. headdesk While the world and characters could have given me a book to love, the plot ran on rails and I see few points where major character actions caused or changed anything. What happened was going to happen, no POV character’s choices caused or changed it.

    I’d give it two stars for the plot, four stars for the worldbuilding. Three Stars.

  3. 13) I seriously recommend people to use Google Map to watch the scene of the battlefield. Search for “Bowling Lake Park” and select “Legendary Josh Battlefield”. Marvel at photos.

  4. 1) I may try to go to that. As a union member I’m always interested in portraying them, since you don’t see unions much in fiction.

    11) An important lesson to remember! I have occasionally bemoaned to my best friend that I shall never be Seanan McGuire, to which he always tartly responds that I will be very good at being me.

    15) There is not enough research being done on this stuff before putting it into humans– we need to understand the brain a lot better before this. (And especially before we’re widely putting stuff into heads, there needs to be some secondary plan for if the company goes out of business! The company that makes a drug going out of business is bad enough, but when something is implanted!) There’s a documentary on Netflix called The Bleeding Edge that details just how badly regulated medical devices are.

    For me the seminal deep brain stimulation thing was John Elder Robison experiencing marked change in the manifestations of his autism by getting it– that story freaked me the hell out and led me to wind up extremely suspicious of the whole process.

  5. 2) Always designate beneficiaries for all your accounts. It’s one of the simpler things you can do, far easier than making a will, and it can save a lot of trouble later on.

  6. 5) Good to see this piece of research. It does clear up some ambiguities in Patterson’s biography. When I read that bio, it was apparent to me that Patterson was not well-versed in the naval history of the return to the Philippines–I wish I’d been able to steer him toward such standard works as Samuel Eliot Morison’s 15-volume series on US naval operations during WWII. The volume on the Leyte campaign says a great deal about the Kamikaze Corps, where it came from, and in how much of a hurry it was put into operation at first. 1944-10-25 was the date of the first organized Kamikaze attack. Heinlein’s think tank could have been ordered anytime past a few days after that initial attack.

    Patterson was vague about the date the think tank began work; his “early fall” could have meant “anytime prior to the date midway between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice.” In my personal reckoning, as in that of many other people, autumn begins with the autumnal equinox.

    That anyone was using smoke screens prior to the Kamikaze Think Tank’s work is meaningless. Smoke screens were a standard tactic going back to the late 19th century, when smokeless powder (cordite) was introduced (black powder guns produced plenty of smoke just by being fired). The idea was to spoil the enemy’s long-range aim. It wasn’t always effective during WWII; smoke is useless against search and fire control radars. It is useful in spoiling the aim of a surface-to-surface guided missile which has no radar homing device (which is an adequate functional description of a kamikaze), which is why the think tank’s smoke recommendation helped mitigate (but not completely foil) kamikaze attacks later on.

    Heinlein’s work on that think tank was of great service to us. If Hubbard contributed materially, it may have been his most notable contribution to the war effort. I don’t know anything firm about the facts of Hubbard’s war record. The sources I’ve seen portray him all the way from being a junior version of Captain Queeg to being an illustrious war hero who should have won the Navy Cross but didn’t. Both pro-Scientology and anti-Scientology commentators have spread so much smoke over the field that it is difficult to ascertain anything at all about Hubbard apart from his documented bibliography prior to his invention of Dianetics. Unlike tactical smoke screens, this smoke does not blow away easily.

  7. Iphinome: Seven Devils by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May

    If it makes you feel better, I DNFed this one really fast. I’d just read Lam’s Goldilocks (which I gave 3.5 stars), and I was really surprised at how the writing in Seven Devils was totally unlike the other book… and very much not in a good way. Even though it has violence, profanity, and sex in it, I thought it was written at the level of 12-year-olds (and not the 12-year-olds who are winning Science Fairs). And the worldbuilding was very scattershot, as you describe.

    But I can recommend Goldilocks. It’s about five women who steal an FTL ship they’ve helped to build and head for the goldilocks planet in another solar system to escape an Earth which is very badly broken — not just ecologically, but socially. But it’s not actually a story about colonization, it’s a story of relationships, and it’s rather dark, in more than one way. It’s sort of a combination of a daring heist and mystery story with bonus double-crossing betrayals. There are bits which didn’t quite work for me — the worldbuilding setup is rather handwavy, and the ending is very pat, but overall I thought it was a good book.

  8. @JJ

    Noted, thank you. No promises about when I will get to it though.

    What upset me most about Seven Devils was the feeling of being used. Like if the book sold enough copies they’d get their TV show made and it didn’t matter if it didn’t go down well AS A BOOK.

  9. @Iphinome: If it’s any comfort, I’m with you in not being bowled over by The House in the Cerulean Sea. I didn’t mind the prose style, but the story itself was just so manipulative: did the protagonist’s home life have to be so unrelievedly gray and awful, and everything in the House have to be so unrelievedly wonderful and perfect? A little bit more complexity and nuance would have gone a long way.

  10. Here’s a question for the F770 mind collective: Could a single chapter of a novel be nominated for a Hugo or other award if it works as a standalone short story?

    What brought this to mind was Chapter 5, “The Queen of Fog”, in Kate Milford’s THE RACONTEUR’S COMMONPLACE BOOK. The book’s premise is a group of people storm-stranded at an inn (plus the owners, employees, and also-stranded locals) who decide to spend the enforced idleness telling each other stories. The over-arcing narrative deals with the relationships between the characters (and the secrets they conceal), with interludes of the separate stories as they’re told.

    “The Queen of Fog” is one such story. An older woman in the group tries to tell a sweet, sappy, harmless story to amuse a young girl who’s also stranded. The young girl wants none of that cloying crap, and keeps insisting the woman steer the story into darker and darker places. Plus, one of the men listening keeps interrupting to point out inconsistencies and illogicalities in the story being told, to the older woman’s growing irritation. An amusing quote:

    “Well, I don’t personally see them as plot holes, you monstrous old know-it-all, I see them as *editorial choices*, which I’ve often heard you speak of.”

    The told-story (which, yep, ends up pretty dark) was enjoyable, but what I really liked was the metafictional aspect of the chapter, as the narrator responds to audience demands, unwelcome criticisms, and trying to backfill the “editorial choices” previously made. It was like a short course in the travails of fiction writing.

    (Disclosure: Haven’t finished the complete book yet, though my overall impression as been favorable so far.. But thought this stand-out chapter deserved an early mention.)

  11. Random audiobook report!

    Thanks to some late-night Scribd browsing, I wound up listening to C. L. Polk’s Witchmark, which I adored. Both the book and the narration (Samuel Roukin, who reminded me a little of Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, who narrates the Rivers of London series). Very good, would recommend! But for me the kicker was when I got to the end of the book during a bout of insomnia, and rolled right over into book 2, Stormsong, which, having a female POV character, also has a female narrator, AND OMG IT’S MOIRA QUIRK THIS IS AWESOME!!!!

    Weirdly, though, the two different narrators have different pronunciations for the names of 1. the country in which the story takes place, and 2. the queen of said country. These seem like important things to make sure are pronounced consistently over the course of a series and maybe should have been included in a pronunciation guide? Was a little jarring at first, but, meh. I got over it by Chapter 2.

  12. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little: I wound up listening to C. L. Polk’s Witchmark, which I adored… Very good, would recommend! But for me the kicker was when I got to the end of the book during a bout of insomnia, and rolled right over into book 2, Stormsong,

    I really thought both of those books (in printed form) were great. (I found the author’s The Midnight Bargain rather disappointing, in comparison.) I’ve got the the third Kingston Cycle book, Soulstar, waiting here for when I finish my current reading projects.

    Witchmark was a Nebula finalist and a World Fantasy Award winner. I’d really like to see this series get more recognition.

  13. @Bruce Arthurs: one of the Puppy nominations for Novelette was actually a chapter of a longer work – Edward Lerner’s “Championship B’tok” in 2015. Obviously, that’s not exactly a recommendation… but it does suggest that this sort of thing is not actually against the rules. (We all remember that the Puppies did nothing that was technically against the rules….)

  14. Steve Wright: one of the Puppy nominations for Novelette was actually a chapter of a longer work – Edward Lerner’s “Championship B’tok” in 2015. Obviously, that’s not exactly a recommendation… but it does suggest that this sort of thing is not actually against the rules.

    That’s because it was published as a “standalone” novelette in Analog magazine in September 2014. The problem was that it was so very obviously not a standalone; it was incomprehensible, plotwise, on its own.

  15. @Steve Wright: Ain’t no rule saying a dog can’t play basketball.

    Edit: here in 4556 there’s a rule saying only dogs can play basketball

  16. Just finished: Wild Harbour by Ian Macpherson. This counts as science fiction because it’s set in the ten-years-away near future. But the time frame is unusual now: it was written in the mid-1930s and set in the mid-1940s. Europe was getting ready for an unspecified war, and pacifist Hugh was sure he was going to be conscripted. When he got a letter telling him to report in two days, he and his wife Terry packed up everything they could and headed off into the Scottish hills. The first half of the novel has them establishing their new, primitive lives. In the second half they also have to hide from groups of men chasing each other back and forth. That is basically the storyline. There’s a lot of dialogue between Hugh and Terry discussing the morals of what they’re doing, and dealing with Hugh’s sharp temper.

    This is a new reprint, 2019, from the British Library. I was a bit unsure at first, but I ended up liking it quite a bit.

    Thanks, Mike, for using the title. I was afraid it might be too obscure. In fact, my first version was “Files Scrolls the Pixel Down,” but I decided I had to keep “Runs” or it would definitely be incomprehensible. Thanks, ‘As You Know’ Bob, for letting me know you got it!

  17. @Kit Harding: On the bright side, not being Seanan McGuire means you don’t have to sleep with a machete under your bed. 😀

  18. @Bruce Arthurs: Slightly more creditably than the puppy mess, a segment of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was nominated for Best Novel in 1966, based on it being serialised in If. It lost, but the following year the whole work was nominated and won.
    (I have no idea if the rules have been changed to prevent that, it seems kind of odd to allow a nomination for something unfinished, but it happened once.)

  19. NickPheas: I have no idea if the rules have been changed to prevent that, it seems kind of odd to allow a nomination for something unfinished, but it happened once.

    There have been numerous cases of shorter fiction works being Hugo finalists or winners, and later longer versions which included those short fiction works, also being Hugo finalists or winners: Kress’ Beggars In Spain, Wilson’s Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America, Flynn’s Eifelheim, just to name a few.

  20. Courtney Schafer is a friend with whom I have gone hiking on two continents.

  21. Paul Weimer: Courtney Schafer is a friend with whom I have gone hiking on two continents.

    She’s an absolutely brilliant rocket scientist, and CalTech colleague/friend with the absolutely brilliant rocket scientist S.B. Divya. I’ve read Schafer’s Shattered Sigil fantasy series, and it is excellent. If you ever get a chance to hear either of these two women speak, or to converse with either of them, you’ll be blown away.

  22. @JJ I did NOT know she was acquainted with SB Divya. Small World! I’ve only met S.B. virtually, in a DIVE INTO WORLDBUILDING episode, and yeah, she’s wicked smart.

  23. Paul Weimer: I did NOT know she was acquainted with SB Divya.

    Yeah, they’re good friends. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in kaffeeklatsch-type conversations with each of them — and it’s the sort of thing where you’re just sitting there with your jaw dropped, thinking “how am I lucky enough to get to do this?”.

  24. Serious Meridith Moment: All three novels in Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver series are available on one ebook for $2.99 from Amazon and perhaps elsewhere. As you probably know, that’s a lot of pages!

  25. @JJ Lots of works where a thing comes out and is later revealed to be the opening chapter of a larger thing, or a chapter in what becomes a mashup novel or suchlike.

    The MIAHM situation is the only one I can immediately think of where a work is clear up front that it’s just a segment of a serial getting treated as though it was complete.

  26. I would argue that some of the Best Graphic Story Hugo Awards went to serial segments that just happened to be published as single volumes. Maybe I don’t get the details of the distinction between a series and a serial.

  27. Meredith moment: Bruce Sterling’s Schismatrix Plus is available from the usual suspects for a buck ninety nine. This includes all of the short fiction set in Schismatrix’s Shaper/Mechanist universe. And yes, I just grabbed a copy for my TBR pile.

  28. That title is great. Do we get “In A Scrolling Way/It’s About That Pixel” now?

  29. @JJ – ah, I’d forgotten that Lerner’s thing was actually published as an independent item (why he did this is beyond me, since it was very obviously an excerpt… but, then, if they did sensible things, I guess they wouldn’t be Puppies.) Glad that other people have come up with some more respectable examples!

  30. @ Cat Eldridge

    Schismatrix is one of my all-time faves from the 80s and I don’t think it got the respect it deserves. That and Distraction are my faves from Sterling.

  31. To name a few more examples, Weyr Search won a Hugo in 1968 and Dragonrider won a Nebula in 1969. The fixup novel Dragonflight was published in 1968. Also, Blood of the Dragon was published in Asimov’s in 1996 and won a Hugo in 1997; we’re still awaiting completion of that larger work.

    Special rules for dragons, maybe?

  32. Rob Thornton says Schismatrix is one of my all-time faves from the 80s and I don’t think it got the respect it deserves. That and Distraction are my faves from Sterling.

    I’d say that Sterling generally doesn’t get the respect that he deserved.

    My favorite works by him are Islands in The Net and The Difference Engine, the latter co-written with Willian Gibson.

    Now reading: the Multispecies Cities Solarpunk Urban Futures anthology

  33. I, for one, welcome our Supreme Josh overlord.

    Iphinome, thank you for the reviews. Winter’s Orbit sounds fantastic, and I am off to get an electronic version immediately.

  34. Can confirm that the Sterling and the Stephenson deals are also extant on BN.com – and that these Meredith Moments are going to make short work of the gift cards I hoard up specifically for moments like these!

    Have now finished Stormsong. (Used the tiny bit of fatigue and chills that followed my second Pfizer shot as an excuse to lay about in bed and listen to the last handful of chapters.) I’ve now got a library hold on the audiobook of Soulstar. I’m second in line in the waiting list. Argh.

  35. I can’t think of cases where a story within a novel made the shortlist after the novel containing it was published and when the shorter work had not been published elsewhere. There are, as cited already, many cases of shorter works making the ballot and then later going on to become part of a longer work.

    There’s no rule explicitly prohibiting such a thing, so I reckon the only way we’d know for sure would be if enough people nominated such a “short story within a novel” work for it to make the ballot, so the administrator would be forced to make a ruling on its eligibility.

  36. (7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS. Late to the party to say Happy Birthday to Courtney Schafer, a great author! I loved her “Shattered Sigil” trilogy! Also, she’s a kind, friendly person.

  37. @Iphinome: I’m so pleased to see your reading notes once more! 😀

    Winter’s Orbit‘s been on my list and I liked the sample a lot; I need to get around to getting it (and reading or listening to it)!

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