Pixel Scroll 4/5/19 We Can Scroll It For You Wholesale

(1) GAME OF LUNCH. Ethnic cuisine of Westeros? Gothamist tells you how to order it in “Shake Shack Offering ‘Secret’ Game Of Thrones Items For Valyrian Speakers ONLY”.

Below, you’ll find a little guide explaining what you need to say in order to actually purchase these items. It’s more “bend the tongue” than “bend the knee,” but you get the drift

(2) BLOCKING TECHNIQUE. Foz Meadows takes stock of social media as various platforms enter their teenage years: “Cancel Culture: The Internet Eating Itself”.

…I’m tired of cancel culture, just as I was dully tired of everything that preceded it and will doubtless grow tired of everything that comes after it in turn, until our fundamental sense of what the internet is and how it should be managed finally changes. Like it or not, the internet both is and is of the world, and that is too much for any one person to sensibly try and curate at an individual level. Where nothing is moderated for us, everything must be moderated by us; and wherever people form communities, those communities will grow cultures, which will develop rules and customs that spill over into neighbouring communities, both digitally and offline, with mixed and ever-changing results. Cancel culture is particularly tricky in this regard, as the ease with which we block someone online can seldom be replicated offline, which makes it all the more intoxicating a power to wield when possible: we can’t do anything about the awful coworker who rants at us in the breakroom, but by God, we can block every person who reminds us of them on Twitter.

(3) A WARRIOR HANGS UP HIS SHIELD. Fulk Beauxarmes’ protests against the growing influence of white supremacists in the Society for Creative Anachronism, and use of their symbols in its heraldry, inspired me to nominate him for Best Fanwriter. In a new post he decries the continued inaction of the Society’s leadership and also announces that he’s “Leaving the SCA”.

On February 15th a post that Ronan Blackmoor had recently made was brought to my attention. He’d apparently posted to his Facebook page a triumphant announcement that he and Balder had been “completely cleared” of all accusations of wrongdoing and that there would be “consequences” for all the “leftists”, “SJWs” and “SCAntifa” who had brought “fake charges” against him.

…That was the last straw for me….

(4) AIRBNB ISSUE. Do you need to check your reservations?

(5) SURVIVAL REQUIREMENT. James Wallace Harris does a good job of describing the problem and of identifying a solution. If only he sounded more enthusiastic about it! “Subscribe to SF Magazines – Become a Patron of an Art” at Worlds Without End.

…I’ve come to realize that I have to pay if I want certain things in this world to exist, even if I don’t use them.

I subscribe to four SF magazines that I seldom read. I read when I can, or when I see a story recommended, or when a friend tells me about a story. I subscribe because I want them to exist. I subscribe because I want a place for new SF writers to get published. I subscribe because one day if I can ever get back into writing fiction I’ll have a place to submit my stories.

We have to realize that free content on the internet isn’t free. We’ve got to come up with revenue systems that work. I think the internet needs to remain free, so we can always have instant access to content, but we need to find ways to pay publishers who present free content on the web.

(6) THE KISS OF SOMETHING. Chuck Tingle mingles praise and profitmaking in his response to Archive of Our Own’s Hugo nomination.

(7) GHOST OF A MACHINE. In “A Crime Novel for Future Urban Planners” on CrimeReads, Benjamin Samuel interviews Seth Fried, author of The Municipalists, a near future novel in which detective Henry Thompson solves a cyberattack with the aid of OWEN, “an experimental, highly intelligent hologram…who’s developed his own protocol for day drinking.”

Despite being a holographic projection of a supercomputer, OWEN can sometimes feel more human than Henry—or at least OWEN seems to enjoy life a little more. But ultimately, there are limitations to what he can do. What were some of challenges of having an AI character?

OWEN was a lot of fun to write. Since he’s a shape-shifting light projection, he’s essentially a superhero who can’t physically interact with anyone. So anything he wants to accomplish has to come through trickery or convincing Henry to give some life-threatening strategem the old college try. 

(8) FRENCH ADDRESSING. Some authors had fun responding to this idea – Seanan McGuire and John Chu among them – but one took offense (see the thread).


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 5, 1900 Spencer Tracy. Yes, he did some genre, to wit he was in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde where he played Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr Edward Hyde! The film even featured Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner. (Died 1967.)
  • Born April 5, 1908 Bette Davis. She’s in Burnt Offerings, am Eighties horror film that did well with the audience and not so well with the critics; I also see she’s in Madame Sin which I think is SF given the premise. (Died 1989.)
  • Born April 5, 1909 Albert Broccoli. He’s mostly known as the producer of many of the James Bond films, and his heirs continue to produce new Bond films. With Harry Saltzman, he produced the first eight Bond films including From Russia with Love which is still my favorite Bond film though You Only Live Twice with a screenplay by Roald Dahl comes close. (Died 1996.)
  • Born April 5, 1917 Robert Bloch. His Wiki page says he’s best known as the writer of Psycho, but I’ll guarantee that only film geeks and many of y’all know that. I know him best as the writer of the Trek “Wolf in the Fold” episode. His Night of the Ripper novel is highly recommend. And I know that “That Hellbound Train” which won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story is the piece of fiction by him I’ve read the most. (Died 1994.)
  • Born April 5, 1926 Roger Corman, 93. Ahhhh, popcorn films! (See popcorn literature for what I mean.) Monster from the Ocean Floor in the early Fifties was his film and Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf on Syfy just a few years back was another such film. He’s a man who even produced such a film called, errr, Munchies. A Worldcon guest of honor in 1996.
  • Born April 5, 1920 A.C. Crispin. She wrote several Trek and Star Wars novelizations and created her series called Starbridge which was heavily influenced by Trek. She also co-wrote several Witch World novels, Gryphon’s Eyrie and Songsmith, with Andre Norton.  Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom was her last novel prior to her death from bladder cancer while in hospice care. (Died 2013.)
  • Born April 5, 1965 Deborah Harkness, 54. She’s the author of the All Souls Trilogy, which consists of A Discovery of Witches and its sequels Shadow of Night and The Book of Life. I listened to the Jennifer Ikeda-narrated audiobooks which was an amazing experience. Highly recommended as Harkness tells a remarkable story here. I’m not even fond ’tall of vampires in any form and hers actually are both appealing and make sense.
  • Born April 5, 1982Hayley Atwell, 37. Agent Carter with her as Peggy Carter I’ll freely admit has been the only series or film in the MCU repertoire that I’ve flat enjoyed so far. Even the misogyny of the males though irritating in that setting made sense. Oh, and I’m interested to see her in Christopher Robin as Evelyn Robin.

(10) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman calls on everyone to “bond over bing bread” with Malka Older in Episode 92 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Malka Older

This turns out to be a perfectly timed episode of Eating the Fantastic, though I didn’t plan it that way, and had no idea while recording such would be the case. The reason for my feeling of serendipity is because my guest is Malka Older, author of the novels InfomocracyNull States, and State Tectonics — which comprise the Centenal Cycle — and which just a few days ago was announced as having made the final Hugo Awards ballot in the category of Best Series….

She joined me for lunch at Momofuku CCDC, a restaurant which will be familiar to regular listeners of this podcast, because Rosemary Claire Smith joined me there a little more than two years ago in Episode 32. I try not to be a repeat customer at any of the spots I visit — at least not while recording for the podcast — but a lot has changed since that visit. David Chang installed a new executive chef, Tae Strain, and gave him orders to “destroy” the menu (according to an article in the Washingtonian), which meant ditching the ramen and pork buns for which Momofuku is so famous. But hey, where else am I going to get a chance to try kimchee potato salad?

We discussed why democracy is a radical concept which scares people (and what marriage has to say about the dramatic potential of democracy), the pachinko parlor which helped give birth to her science fictional universe, how what was intended to be a standalone novel turned into a trilogy, her secrets (and role models) when it comes to writing action scenes, which of her characters moves more merchandise, how (and why) editor Carl Engle-Laird helped her add 20,000 words to her first novel, what she learned about herself from the collaborative Serialbox project, the one thing about her background I was embarrassed to admit I’d never realized, and much more.

(11) OVERFLOWING JOY. Alasdair Stuart’s latest issue of Full Lid includes piece on Mac Rogers’ movie The Horror at Gallery Kay, a look at Us, a detailed look at Project Blue Book (Stuart says “Turns out you can take the boy out of ufology but the man keeps watching tv shows about it”) and some Hugos joy.

Project Blue Book was a real thing, the USAF’s probably whitewashed investigation into the UFO phenomena. Doctor J. Allen Hynek was a real person and remains one of the vanishingly small amount of actual scientists to look into UFOlogy as a field and not a snake oil vending machine. His son Joel is a prolific special effects technician who designed the camouflage effect for the Predator by the way. The cases the episodes are based on are real too, the first two episodes dealing with the Gorman (renamed Fuller) Dogfight and the The Flatwoods Monster. In the first, a pilot engaged a UFO in something approximating combat. In the second, a family were first terrified by what they were sure was a downed UFO and second by the enraged townsfolk who refused to believe them.

(12) FUTURE PLAY. “Books that would make great video games” were considered by Quirk Books. First on their list –

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

This sci-fi novel features space battles, espionage, and cute talking robots. Obviously, we see this book being turned into a space opera-esque RPG ala Mass Effect, with a touch of shoot ‘em style space battles. Think Galaga but with interdimensional space politics and dueling. 10/10 would play for days.

(13) MORE APRIL FOOLISHNESS. Space.com finds this joke had multiple layers — “Behind the Scent: Lockheed Martin Bottles Astronaut’s Smell of Space”.

Lockheed Martin’s April Fools’ Day joke passed the smell test.

The aerospace company on Monday (April 1) kicked off its prank by announcing a launch, but rather than it being of a rocket or a spacecraft, it was Vector, “the first ever fragrance to capture the aroma of space.” And no sooner did the liftoff occur, than thousands of people came to Lockheed Martin’s website to request a sample.

One might expect that to be the gag, but the company went a step further, not only creating a spot-on ad for the bottled essence of space, but also producing the scent for real, as in actual vials of the unisex (if not also universal) eau de (zero-g) toilette

(14) MONETIZING. “Rare Harry Potter first edition with typos sells for $90,074” – UPI has the news.

Auction house Bonhams said the first-edition copy of Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone — known in the United States as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — attracted a high bid of $90,074.

The specific edition is famed in the Potter fandom for containing a handful of typos, including misspelling the word “Philosopher” and the repetition of “1 wand” on the list of items the boy wizard needs to obtain for school.

Think of all the rare typos I make here – I wonder how much Bonhams could get for my blog?

(15) FAILURE TO LAUNCH. SHAZAM! Never Takes Off” for Leonard Maltin.

Shazam! wants to be slick and smartassy except when it suddenly chooses to be warm and sincere—like a TV commercial for some medication or life insurance. You can’t have it both ways but this film repeatedly tries to do so. I’ve always loved the character who originated as Captain Marvel in 1940s comic books (and lost that name to Marvel in a famous lawsuit). He was essentially a rip-off of Superman but he had his own style and flavor. This movie, however, is a muddle.

(16) SLAG HEAPER. Vox Day sneers at this year’s Hugo-nominated novels in “From pulp to Puppies” [Internet Archive link] at Vox Popoli.

Total nonentities. All six of these novels together won’t sell as many copies as a single Galaxy’s Edge novel. Novik would have been considered a C-level talent at best in the 1980s. And people could be forgiven for thinking that the Rabid Puppies were still dictating the nominees with titles such as “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” on the short list.

(17) FURTHER VIEWS. Ian Mond remarked on Facebook:

Congrats to all the Hugo nominees. I won’t whinge that the best novel category doesn’t, for the most part, reflect my tastes. Nor will I set up a movement of like minded people to ensure it does so in the future….

Jonathan Strahan responded in a comment:

For about 20 seconds I considered trying to put together an Alternate Hugos Best Novel list, and then I realised (1) there are a lot of those and (2) you can’t have an Alternate Hugo list really. These are the books that fans who nominated *liked* the most. That’s fine and pretty cool.

(18) WHERE IS IT? Adri Joy begins this review with many questions: “Microreview [Book]: Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman” at Nerds of a Feather.

I thought I knew what to expect, going in to Terra Nullius. I’d seen the book recommended on speculative sites, I’d read enough about it to know that its take on colonisation and extermination of indigineous people was almost but not quite based on the experience of Australia’s indigenous communities following the British invasion in 1788. And yet, by a hundred pages in, I was starting to doubt what everyone and everything (including the book’s own blurb) was telling me. Was I missing clues to a larger mystery? Were there adjectives that I was misreading or apparently historical references that I was misinterpreting? Where, to be blunt, was all the science fiction?

Of course, if you’re paying attention, that’s an intentional feature of Claire G. Coleman’s brilliant debut novel, which offers a perspective on the invasion of Australia which is very much a speculative novel, and yet still inexctricably and uncomfortably intertwined with the real historical treatment of Aboriginal Australians over centuries of white rule. Coleman herself is Noongar, a community from the south coast of what is now Western Australia, and Terra Nullius is the product of a black&write! indigenous writers fellowship. Despite being a first novel, this is a book that’s utterly confident both in its content and its narrative structure, and for very good reason….

(19) CHICXULUB SNAPSHOT. Douglas Preston tells about the discovery of fossils laid down on “The Day the Dinosaurs Died”.

He began shovelling off the layers of soil above where he’d found the fish. This “overburden” is typically material that was deposited long after the specimen lived; there’s little in it to interest a paleontologist, and it is usually discarded. But as soon as DePalma started digging he noticed grayish-white specks in the layers which looked like grains of sand but which, under a hand lens, proved to be tiny spheres and elongated ­droplets. “I think, Holy shit, these look like microtektites!” DePalma recalled. Micro­tektites are the blobs of glass that form when molten rock is blasted into the air by an asteroid impact and falls back to Earth in a solidifying drizzle. The site appeared to contain micro­tektites by the million.

As DePalma carefully excavated the upper layers, he began uncovering an extraordinary array of fossils, exceedingly delicate but marvellously well preserved. “There’s amazing plant material in there, all interlaced and interlocked,” he recalled. “There are logjams of wood, fish pressed against cypress-­tree root bundles, tree trunks smeared with amber.” Most fossils end up being squashed flat by the pressure of the overlying stone, but here everything was three-dimensional, including the fish, having been encased in sediment all at once, which acted as a support. “You see skin, you see dorsal fins literally sticking straight up in the sediments, species new to science,” he said. As he dug, the momentousness of what he had come across slowly dawned on him. If the site was what he hoped, he had made the most important paleontological discovery of the new century.

(20) HIGH LIFE REVIEW. NPR’s Andrew Lapin concluded: “In The Art-House Sci-Fi Film ‘High Life,’ No Aliens — Just Alienation”.

The spaceship hurtling away from Earth is staffed with men and women sprung from death row to aid in a mysterious science experiment. The once-condemned crew believe they’ve been given a chance to redeem themselves and do one final good deed for humanity. Only later, as their signals to Earth begin to go unanswered and their true mission comes into focus, do they realize they have in fact been condemned twice.

High Life is strange and wondrous, less a traditional sci-fi film than it is a seductive journey into the long, black night of death. For many Americans it will also be a wormhole into the work of French director Claire Denis, who’s been active in cinephile circles for three decades but has never before helmed a movie entirely in English. Of course, having the hipness cred of A24 and Robert Pattinson providing the rocket fuel doesn’t hurt.

A prologue that wouldn’t be out of place in a Tarkovsky film shows Pattinson’s human guinea pig Monte in the aftermath of something horrible, wandering alone on the deck of this rocket to nowhere, with only a mysterious baby keeping him company. It’s a great hook — what the hell happened here? — shot at Denis’ familiar meandering pace, proving that even lightspeed won’t rush her story. It’s also a mission statement. As he hurtles toward oblivion, Monte’s acts of paternal care exist in a kind of vacuum. Maybe life and love are possible within a universe of infinite cruelty, and it’s up to the individual to determine their worth.

(21) ON TRACK. When they write the book it should be titled The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Moby Dick“Fossil of ancient four-legged whale found in Peru”.

The fossil of a 43-million-year-old whale with four legs, webbed feet and hooves has been discovered in Peru.

Palaeontologists believe the marine mammal’s four-metre-long (13 ft) body was adapted to swim and walk on land.

With four limbs capable of carrying its weight and a powerful tail, the semi-aquatic whale has been compared to an otter or a beaver.

Researchers believe the discovery could shed light on the evolution of the whale and how it spread.

“This is the most complete specimen ever found for a four-legged whale outside of India and Pakistan,” Dr Olivier Lambert, a scientist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and co-author of the study, said.

(22) SJWCS ARE JUST IGNORING YOU. NPR reports: “Cats Don’t Fetch, But Know Their Names As Well As Dogs, Researchers Say”.

Call a dog by his name, and his tail wags, he starts panting happily, and he showers you with love and affection.

Call a cat by his name, and… well, cats are a bit harder to read. Does the cat even know what his name is?

So researchers in Japan set out to answer the question: Can a cat understand the difference between its name and any other random word that sounds like it?

Research on cats is slim compared to research on dogs. That may be because cats can’t be bothered to participate in the experiments. But in a study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, the Japanese researchers devised a way to get results whether or not the cats cared to cooperate.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Greg Hullender, Michael Toman, ULTRAGOTHA, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

110 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/5/19 We Can Scroll It For You Wholesale

  1. I watched Return to Witch Mountain so many times as a kid. Though not as many as Escape to Witch Mountain. I also read the Alexander Key novel, like, a lot. I really wanted to be an orphan with magical powers.

    (16) Maybe it’s just my dormant punk self making herself known again, but Day’s (and others) continual harping on sales figures as a marker for….quality? relevance? anything? quite aggravating. Write space war science fiction because you like space war science fiction. Don’t write it because you think it’ll sell or that it’ll teach someone like me a lesson. Isn’t science fiction big enough for all of us to write/read what we love without making it a competition? I know Day has been trying to make the science fiction community a battle ground for years now, but you’d think at some point he’d realize it’s way more relaxing and fun to just read and publish what you love, and not worry about me over here reading and writing my SJW sci fi.

  2. Joe H.says My first encounter with Robert Bloch (although I didn’t know it at the time) would have been the story “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper”, which I encountered in an Alfred Hitchcock Presents anthology book at the public library, and which I also found pretty darned scary at the time.

    I remember that story! A most excellent take off of the Ripper myth. Has anyonr collected Bloch’s Ripper stories together into one place? Mind you I’m not sure just how many many seperate pieces he did.

  3. @Greg – that’s Facebook’s justification for making people use what it considers to be “real” names.

    The websites that use Facebook commenting get some of the nastiest behavior I’ve seen – and that’s just on sites like “funny things that happened at work”, not any sort of topic that would attract nastiness; I wouldn’t go near a FB commenting section for those. I’ve got a *plonk* list with lots of names of real people that I will never even come close to in real life, and I’m sure they do not care.

  4. @PJ Evans
    There is certainly a cost to eliminating anonymity, although I did not suggest eliminating it in all contexts. In the case you mention, I think there would be a lot fewer threats if the people making the threats weren’t able to do it anonymously.

    Your experience has been different from mine. Facebook has a very effective system to let you block uncivil people, and the requirement that people use real names is what makes that blocking mechanism work. Anyway, what I see on Facebook–even from strangers–is far better than the behavior I see on any unmoderated (or lightly moderated) web page.

    In a universal system, I suspect an Anna Karenina principle would apply; uncivil people would end up isolated, because they’d be blocked by both civil and uncivil people. Civil people would be blocked by uncivil ones but not by each other. There would be a lot of details involved in building such a system, of course. (e.g. should blocking be for a period of time). But it can’t be done at all if blocked people can simply create a new id with zero effort.

  5. Facebook has a multi-step “do you really want to do this? Really? Does it fit into one of our limited sets of ‘bad behavior’ options? You haven’t tried to talk to them or anything?” process.

    Disqus has a popup menu option.

    The only thing the “real name” requirement does is make it just a bit harder for a plonked person to come back with a different name.

  6. @JJ – thanks for the further insight, I find we’re usually pretty well aligned. I’ll give everything a try, but was a bit light on newly published books this year – I’m on restriction on physical book buying so a lot is library for me!

    @becca on 16 – but you’re doing it wrong!!11!!! that’s what upsets vd, you’re not producing stuff he likes, so you are his problem. I think that’s the “logic”.

  7. @Greg Hullendar: What I take away from Foz Meadows’ diagnosis is there’ss no cure at this time, because the disease is still changing, like The Andromeda Strain.

  8. I am unsurprised by all of the WGHSFA’s claims about Rockland (and vaccines in general); I’m mildly amused that he found a stupider way to flame about vaccines than I’ve seen previously (not that I’ve been tracking the anti-vaxxers — I wouldn’t be surprised if he weren’t even original).

    I started reading mostly current stuff a few years back, so I’ve already read all but one of this year’s nominees. My personal reactions were that Trail of Lightning was oversold (a veneer of First-People lore over a very ordinary piece of violence porn) and Space Opera was overdone even for Valente (who I admit to finding readable mostly at short lengths). The Chambers is on my TBR pile but is likely to go away (circumstances have stuck me with a Great Cull) as I found her first two books obnoxiously manipulative (the second less so than the first only because there were fewer characters’ asses to pull new quirks out of), although I’d probably read it if I were voting — I’m not quite at the stage with her that I was with Sawyer, whose first Neanderthaloid book so appalled me that I put his next nominee in the series below NA without reading it. I like all three of the others, and disagree with @JJ’s dislike of the end of Spinning Silver — ISTM that the character redeemed himself — but what do I know?

  9. (21) I am having some difficulty picturing what exactly is on the end of the creature’s legs if it has both hooves and webbed feet. The artist’s impression appears to just show webbed feet.

  10. @Stuart Hall
    I’ve been wondering myself. The impression I have from the reports is that they’re sure about the hooves, but not about the webbed feet. Unfortunately, the reports I’ve seen don’t have pics of the fossilized foot bones, so it’s a guess what they might have looked like.

  11. Chip, Catherynne Valente’s absolutely best work is the The Orphan’s Tales with each of the volumes, In the Night Garden and In the Cities of Coin and Spice being some of the best storytelling I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.

    Her Fairyland series is a more traditional approach to storytelling but is quite fun.

  12. Jamoche on April 6, 2019 at 9:51 am said:

    The only thing the “real name” requirement does is make it just a bit harder for a plonked person to come back with a different name.

    Even that isn’t much of an obstacle. People have multiple accounts (eg a back-up ‘while I’m suspended on my main account’ account) and the ‘real name’ rule is effectively ‘Have a name that looks real’. I can imagine there’s less drive-by abuse than there would be otherwise but the deep toxicity is just as prevalent.

    Closed groups means that extremist and/or slanderous material is easily passed around and disseminated quickly without complaint because the people who would complain don’t get to see it.

  13. Hooves are a shape of fingernails/toenails. Can you imagine humans with webbed fingers/toes? Same thing. (Or any modern animal that has both webbing and nails–ducks, beavers, platypusii, etc.) The problem is you are limiting your imagining of hooves to horses and cows. But just imagine camel toes (oh, wait–better make that tapir toes) except longer.

  14. @Contrarius
    You can make a decent estimate of sales from ranks using https://amzscout.net/sales-estimator . Be sure to specify the Kindle Store.

    It estimates the two Correia books at 114 and 125 sales per month, respectively, while the Jemisin books are 832, 728, and 498, respectively.

    Ratios are more likely to be accurate than the absolute sales numbers, so it’s fair to say that Jemisin’s books outsell Correia’s by a factor of 4 to 7.

  15. @Camestros Felapton

    Even that isn’t much of an obstacle. People have multiple accounts (eg a back-up ‘while I’m suspended on my main account’ account) and the ‘real name’ rule is effectively ‘Have a name that looks real’. I can imagine there’s less drive-by abuse than there would be otherwise but the deep toxicity is just as prevalent.

    Note that we’re talking about what might fix the problems we see–not just what exists today. Facebook’s real-name policy is weaker than it could be for a variety of reasons. Even so, I claim it has a positive effect.

    It would be a lot harder to change a real “verified id,” particularly if it were the Federal Government that did the verifying. I’ve seen some clever ideas to create such things without direct regulation, depending on things like linking an id to your monthly power bill. It’s not an insuperable problem, but we don’t have it today.

    Note that I’m not proposing that all sites require all users use government verified ids. But the fact that it’s not even an option makes it hard to have civilized discussion about hard problems because there’s no way to host a forum that can hold people accountable for uncivil behavior.

    For comparison, in the old days, newspapers wouldn’t print letters to the editor if the letters didn’t have verifiable contact info. They didn’t print that info with the letter, of course, but they did require it. Compare the quality of those letters to the utter trash that appears in the comments sections of most online papers–even with heavy moderation.

    Anonymity has it’s place, but requiring anonymity everywhere all the time has (I claim) seriously cheapened the quality of online discourse.

  16. Greg Hullender says Ratios are more likely to be accurate than the absolute sales numbers, so it’s fair to say that Jemisin’s books outsell Correia’s by a factor of 4 to 7.

    Pretty much the results that I expected. The comments over on Vox’s blog would have you believe that no SJW ever sells books and Correia is Daddy Warbucks himself.

    If they were as anywhere as rational as they claim to be, they’d know that the audience for Correia’s books is limited severely by not having the distribution reach of her publisher, and her books just more widely appealing than his.

  17. Anonymity has it’s place, but requiring anonymity everywhere all the time has (I claim) seriously cheapened the quality of online discourse.

    Greg, no one is requiring anonymity – but a lot of people are hurt by requiring real names. You might not see it, being male and close-enough-to-white, but you really ought to Pay. Attention. To. Women. And. Minority. Users. They’ve run into plenty of abuse even without using real names.

  18. I had Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbinders in Suspense with “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper.” I think it was the only one of those big Alfred Hitchcock books I had. (We’ve discussed the Three Investigators books perviously.) I think it also included Roald Dahl’s “Man from the South.”

    “Yours Truly” was also adapted for Boris Karloff’s Thriller TV series. Stumbled upon that a few years ago and it reminded me of the story and the Alfred Hitchcock book.

  19. I took a look at the sales figures for the Galaxy’s Edge books in the Amazon.com paid Kindle store. Mind you, these books are in Kindle Unlimited, which distorts rankings, because a borrow is treated like a sale. And in my experience, books like these often make most of their money via KU borrows rather than sales.

    Legionnaire (Galaxy’s Edge. book 1): #4,614
    Galactic Outlaws (Galaxy’s Edge, book 2): #12,810
    Kill Team (Galaxy’s Edge, book 3): #14,835
    Attack of Shadows (Galaxy’s Edge, book 4): #11,556
    Sword of the Legion (Galaxy’s Edge, book 5): #12,763
    Prisoners of Darkness (Galaxy’s Edge, book 6): #13,505
    Turning Point (Galaxy’s Edge, book 7): #12,488
    Message for the Dead (Galaxy’s Edge, book 8): #18,710
    Retribution (Galaxy’s Edge, book 9): #15,777

    So respectable rankings, but nowhere near N.K. Jemisin or most of the Hugo finalists, especially if you factor in that Galaxy’s Edge is Amazon exclusive. They’re well ahead of Correia, though.

    BTW, it’s very telling that the example VD picked was not a Castalia House book nor a Superversive Press book nor one of Correia’s books, but Galaxy’s Edge, the closest a puppy author (well, Cole is a puppy. I’m not sure about Anspach) ever came to actual success, because the Galaxy’s Edge books caught the fancy of the voracious KU military SF audience and so went beyond the puppy audience.

    Regarding “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper”, it’s a Retro Hugo finalist this year and a very deserving one.

  20. @Greg —

    You can make a decent estimate of sales from ranks using https://amzscout.net/sales-estimator .

    Yeah, there’s at least a coupla sites that do this. But: 1. I’m too lazy; and 2. every time you introduce an estimation you get further and further from the reliability of the primary data, so I’d rather keep the ranks than distance myself from what I *know* to be true.

    Oh, and for those who still say that the pups don’t actually believe their claims that Correia et al sell more than “SJW message fic” (meaning anything that Nebula or Hugo readers might nominate), just take a gander at the comment section under the post Mike linked to. (There are similar comments under the most recent two or three posts on Lela Buis’s blog, but those are long comment threads and therefore may be too annoying to be worth scrolling through.)

    @Cora —

    Yeah, I never bother with KU books, since they’re actually free and not paid for most people.

  21. @Jack Lint — Thanks! I looked it up on Goodreads and there’s a nonzero chance that the book you mentioned (Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbinders in Suspense) is the one that I got from the public library, although the Bloch story is the only one that seems to have actually stuck with me.

  22. Cora Buhlert says Regarding “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper”, it’s a Retro Hugo finalist this year and a very deserving one.

    Indeed it does. Did you know Joe Lansdsle with Kevin Colden illustrating adspted it as a graphic story? Amazon only shows the first part of it and IDW doesn’t list it at all.

  23. Jack Lint: There was also a decent adaptation of “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” in one of Marvel’s brief horror comics of the 70s, with good Gil Kane art (and somehow picturing Ralph Reese as the inker, but that might be delusional).

    Darren Garrison: I can’t find your message, and it may be locked in a spam folder at spectrum webmail, which forwards to my GMail. I say “may be” because it’s possible I’ll never be able to get at my spectrum webmail for the rest of my life. I’m debating now whether getting on with online help will keep me for the next three hours and make me miss CAPTAIN MARVEL. Not in a happy place right now.

  24. Question for the team:

    Regarding Charles Stross’ The Laundry Files. Should they be read in order? I’m planning to get them from the library, but sometimes the books come out of order and then need to be returned before I get to the previous one in the series.

    Thank you in advance!

    FYI, Minnie, the credential in the picture, has had her yearly appointment and is healthy, aside from her weight. YAY!

  25. (4) AIRBNB ISSUE.
    Ulp. I have booked an AirBnb.
    Reading the article didn’t really clarify the issue to me, though. What is it I should be checking, and with whom?

  26. Beth in MA on April 6, 2019 at 2:01 pm said:

    Question for the team:

    Regarding Charles Stross’ The Laundry Files. Should they be read in order? I’m planning to get them from the library, but sometimes the books come out of order and then need to be returned before I get to the previous one in the series.

    Each one is a stand-alone story but they also add characters who become protagonists in later novels. Also, Bob’s reluctant climb up the corporate ladder is part of the series plot.

  27. @Beth in MA

    Reading them out of order may be less bad than in some other tighter series, but they broadly tell an ongoing story so you will probably get spoilered and/or confused.
    Also, it’s probably fair to say that in the earlier books Stross was Trying Things Out, and the tone of the series takes a little while to settle.

  28. Camestros Felapton says of The Laundry Files that Each one is a stand-alone story but they also add characters who become protagonists in later novels. Also, Bob’s reluctant climb up the corporate ladder is part of the series plot.

    They really, really need to be read in order as there’s far too much story that’s told off what comes from what happened previously. And characters who become important later are oft times introduced as minor characters in earlier novels.

    Like most modern series, it’s given that you’ve read everything that’s gone before when you pick up the new novel in The Laundry Files. Think of them as being like Farscape or Babylon 5 where dipping into a random episode wouldn’t a lot of sense.

    Speaking of series, what do y’all think ofbAndromeda?

  29. Beth: some of the novellas can be read in any order, if you’ve the first few books to get an idea of the setting and Bob’s character. But as others have said, the novels ought be read in order

  30. @ Cat Eldridge

    I loved Andromeda’s concept, but I don’t know if the show was fully capable of embracing the idea and really making it work. They needed someone like Ronald D. Moore to make it happen (and who did with the Galactica reboot.)

  31. I may be the only people here who actually liked Space Opera. I was getting a laugh something like every ten pages, which is much better than most humorous sf. I’ll grant that the prose got too giddy some of the time, but not enough to drive me out of the book.

    As for anonymity, there are people who need it desperately, and restricting anonymity to support groups means they wouldn’t be able to have much of an online social life.

    Excuse me if this has already been addressed, but if AO3 gets a Hugo, who would get the physical award?

  32. Nancy Lebovitz: Excuse me if this has already been addressed, but if AO3 gets a Hugo, who would get the physical award?

    I don’t know the answer specifically, however, the rules require the Hugo Administrator to contact a prospective finalist and give them a chance to decline, so I would guess whoever made that call for AO3 will also be deciding what to do about accepting any award.

    And there are provisions for giving more than one rocket in some cases (although not tens of thousands of rockets….)

  33. Thanks everyone! The first four are on their way to me–thank you public library system! I think I can read fast enough that if needed, I won’t have to go out of order. And I can always renew.

    Nancy: I really liked Space Opera as well, and look forward to re-reading it! It had the kind of funny that hits me right, so of course it may not work for everyone. I also like Cat Valente’s work in general, so I’m probably the audience for this book.

    Hopefully one of the originators of OTW/AO3 will be able to attend and accept, should acceptance be needed.

  34. The Invasion
    On that momentous night, tens of thousands of rockets descended on the planet Aooo, intent on retribution!

  35. I really enjoyed Space Opera, too. And yes, the humor is of a kind that would, for many people, either not be particularly funny, or even not noticeable at all. My mom was, routinely, kind of appalled by what my father and I found funny.

  36. OGH say And there are provisions for giving more than one rocket in some cases (although not tens of thousands of rockets….)

    Tiny chocolate rockets… hey, I just had chocolate ice cream from the Unit freezer and I was quite good! It’ll no doubt make my blood sugars spike which means I’ll get extra insulin later but it was worth it.

  37. And there are provisions for giving more than one rocket in some cases (although not tens of thousands of rockets….)

    Release the rocket-shaped confetti!

  38. @Nancy and @Lis —

    I laughed my *** off at Space Opera. It did not go on my Hugo ballot, though.

    I’m still rooting for Spinning Silver over here. 🙂

  39. Kip: I’ll agree with your memory of Reese inks on the “Yours Truly” adaptation (He and Kane were always great together!) and I’ll raise you with my recall that Ron Goulart did the script.

  40. I liked Space Opera, though I thought it was lighter and fluffier than other Valente stuff I’ve read – still, lightness and fluffiness aren’t necessarily negatives.

    Valente is a bit of a Marmite sort of writer, though – her (ahem) exuberant style isn’t to everyone’s taste. (I must admit, though, I think it’s pretty much perfect for a story about Eurovision in space.) Personally, I like Valente’s style, though I wouldn’t dare imitate it, and I think Space Opera is a good book and deserves a chance at a Hugo. I’m not sure where I’ll put it on my final ballot, though (I still have two novel finalists to read, darn it.)

  41. Greg Hullender: There is certainly a cost to eliminating anonymity, although I did not suggest eliminating it in all contexts. In the case you mention, I think there would be a lot fewer threats if the people making the threats weren’t able to do it anonymously.

    There’s a massive fallacy to your argument.

    If everyone were required to use real names in their online posts, it might, or might not, make a lot of people politer online.

    But all it would do would be to enable real-life threats and harassment, especially of women, POC, and other targeted demographics, by people who would do that harassment not on the internet site under their real identity, but anonymously via phone, e-mail, snail mail, and in-person.

    Until you can solve the problem of sociopaths (and good luck achieving that), all that requiring people to use their real names online would accomplish would be a Great Silencing of women, POC, and other marginalized people.

  42. So, as a woman with an obviously feminine name* who argues with people in public threads on Facebook, the idea that Facebook-style real names is in any way, shape or form a deterrant to people being awful is kind of hilarious. I’ve seen the most disgusting stuff, both in general and aimed specifically at me, including threats. The only stuff that gets reliably removed is stuff with specific epithets (avttre and snt (rot-13’d) usually), and blocking is a poor solution when you’re on threads with hundreds or thousands of participants, most of whom you’re unlikely to see again. Barn door, horse bolted, etc.

    What reduces poor behaviour is persistent (not necessarily real name or legal) identity in a community setting. Basically: The likelihood of consequences you care about. They don’t have to be face-to-face consequences.

    For example, regulars here are a mix of real name and pseudonym, but getting banned or put on permanant moderation would have the same impact regardless — that’s a bad hit to reputation and ability to participate in a valued social setting.

    In World of Warcraft, everyone’s pseudonymous but widespread bad behaviour wasn’t really a thing until server-based (community) reputations weren’t as important (incidentally, Blizzard briefly tried to make real names compulsory on their forums — there was a massive backlash and they ended up not doing it). Weaken those community bonds? Behaviour immediately got worse, to the point where the game’s code was changed to prevent some avenues for being awful to other players.

    The chans have something like community, but no persistent identity (which, aside from making reputation impossible, seems to have some interesting knock-on effects to do with pessimism/negativity — but that’s besides the point) — and they’re pretty much a cesspool. It’s also arguable about whether a community can truly form when everyone is no-one…

    On Facebook, people mainly use their real names but feel completely free to behave terribly because for the most part, there’s little community. Who cares if a dozen commenters out of hundreds on one of The Times’ comment threads are mad at you? What’s the likelihood you’ll “meet” any of them again, and would you even remember? There’s no cost to it. Few of the pages moderate at all, Facebook only barely moderates and only the things which match their list of keywords, and there’s no social consequences.

    Persistent identity is important but doesn’t work by itself. Community is important but relies on persistent identity. You need both. A government ID wouldn’t do much, in my opinion.

    *I use my full name, due to having friends who call me by both my first and middle names. My first name is at least moderately gender neutral (originally masculine, although leaning feminine these days), my middle name really isn’t.

  43. Jamoche on April 6, 2019 at 3:31 pm said:

    Release the rocket-shaped confetti!

    Jon Del Arrowz may still have some of his…

  44. Steve Leavell
    Aha! It’s good I stopped with the inker, because I might have gone with Roy Thomas as a guess on the scripter. Ron Goulart… a name I have not heard since… (breathe, breathe) …the other night, when I was looking through Max Shulman’s Illustrated Guide to Campus Humor and noticing that Goulart’s name appears several times. (The book’s available at Archive.org, as a timed loan [*cough*calibre*cough*], and if I have the title slightly wrong, it’s only because every window takes like a whole minute to open tonight, and I still have stuff to do tonight.)

    There’s a broken heart for every pixel on the internet.

  45. @Greg Hullender There is certainly a cost to eliminating anonymity, although I did not suggest eliminating it in all contexts.

    Other people have made the basic case against this already, but you might want to consider that the risks of being outed when you’re a target of harassment have historically included creeps turning up at your home or workplace, SWATing attempts, campaigns to get you fired from your job, and organised attempts to drive you to suicide. (Kiwifarms claims credit for at least two suicides, and while it’s true the victims were already at risk before they got doxxed it’s also hard to argue their campaigns had no effect.)

  46. @Mark

    Also, it’s probably fair to say that in the earlier books Stross was Trying Things Out, and the tone of the series takes a little while to settle.

    Part of that may be that Stross was writing the early books as pastiches:

    According to Stross, while the first three books in the series were written in the style of Len Deighton, Ian Fleming and Anthony Price, respectively, the fourth installment is written in the style of a Peter O’Donnell (Modesty Blaise) novel. For future installments, Stross feels that “the series has acquired an identity and feel of its own”, and does not intend to continue the pastiche motif.

    But I think it’s also due to his developing and maturing voice. His early novels were already wildly inventive, but the writing could be a bit inconsistent.

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