Pixel Scroll 4/10/17 The Phantom Scrollbooth

(1) OFF THE HOOK. Remember when she said she didn’t write sf? Now she is sf. Margaret Atwood makes a cameo in the game Zombies Run:

Hampus Eckerman adds, “I do recommend that game as a very good way of activating oneself for jogs or long walks. There is an additional game called Zombies, Run! 5k Training by the same creators for people who aren’t fit enough to jog as yet. It works as a prequel and lets you do basic exercises and gradually increased walk/runs for eight weeks to get fit enough to hit the main game. The main game works as a radio theatre, where your progress is checked by GPS and where (configurable) zombies sometimes attack you, forcing you to increase your pace.”

(2) MAYDAY. On Obscura Day, May 6, Atlas Obscura plans an international self-celebration.

Join us at an event.

We’re hosting over 170 events in 36 states and 25 countries.

A kayak exploration through the largest ship graveyard in the Western Hemisphere. A private tour of the world’s original nuclear power plant. A classical concert in an abandoned hilltop spy station outside Berlin. What discoveries await you?

There are a bunch of events in the LA area, including a walking tour of The Kitschy Culture of Los Feliz Village, not far from Forrest J Ackerman Square.

(3) AN UNORTHODOX MOVE. Michael A. Burstein helped his Facebook readers translate the Four Questions. But not the way you might assume….

Once again, for those of you celebrating Pesach (Passover) as it begins tonight, here are the Four Questions in Klingon:

(4) MORE ABOUT CHINESE SF. Another interview with the author of “Folding Beijing” — “Award-Winning Sci-Fi Writer Hao Jingfang Sets Her Sights Closer to Home”.

When you first posted Folding Beijing for free on a Tsinghua university server, was that also for pleasure?

Yes, when I was in school, I had lots of time.

I am very surprised that studying physics, especially quantum physics, gave you a lot of time?

Perhaps that’s why I didn’t become a scientist! I was a good student, but not one good enough to become a scientist. Probably 95% of the physics students entered other fields after graduation. Only 5% to 10% of the top students became real physicists.

Is sci-fi an effective tool for investigating social issues?

I think science fiction is perhaps the freest genre for me to set my characters and everything else according to my opinion. Because in pure literature, I need to make sure I have the whole background and the reality of the people. You cannot just change the reality, if you do that the readers will be like ‘oh no! Life isn’t like that’. In science fiction you’re free, you can set the stage and tell readers, life is this, and you can form other stories on that stage. In my longer novel, I created one society on Mars and another on Earth, and then I can compare different policies and methods in these two places. The two societies can mirror each other. This is the kind of freedom I cannot find anywhere else.

(5) COODE STREET ADDRESS. The April 2 edition of The Coode Street Podcast promotes “A New Theory of Science Fiction.” The podcast is looking at Robinson’s New York 2140 which Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan claim is more in keeping with the Heinlein thesis that capitalism can fix Big Problems without a change in political and social structures. And they believe it’s also critiquing the controversial usage of info dumps and the belief that they’re particular to SF.

They also cover the history of the Crawford Award, the ICFA and Gary’s new History of Science Fiction.

(6) FIRST ON THE LIST. Popsugar ranks this café as “The 1 Place in Scotland that All Harry Potter Fans Should Visit at Least Once”.

Scotland is a veritable mecca for Harry Potter fans, considering J.K. Rowling herself lives there and wrote a large majority of the series there. Everywhere you turn, you can see Rowling’s inspiration or something that could easily be found in one of the films. While our Harry Potter travel bucket list can take you all over the world, it’s important to make a stop at where it all began: the Elephant House Cafe in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The cafe in the heart of Edinburgh touts itself as the birthplace of Harry Potter, because Rowling spent countless hours in this shop penning Harry Potter. She sat in the back of the restaurant, overlooking Edinburgh Castle and Greyfriars Kirkyard, where a grave for a man named Tom Riddell can be found.

(7) BROWN OBIT. Chelsea Brown (1942-2017), best remembered as a cast member on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In in the Sixties, passed away March 27 at the age of 74. She also had a genre credit — as Rosey Grier’s love interest in The Thing With Two Heads (1972). As the New York Times explains —

In that film, the head of an ailing bigot, played by Ray Milland, is grafted onto the body of a death-row inmate played by Mr. Grier, a former defensive lineman in the N.F.L. Car chases, gunfights and bickering ensue.

Mr. Grier and Mr. Milland eventually reach Ms. Brown. At first undaunted by Mr. Grier’s second head, she moves in for a kiss, then quickly withdraws and deadpans, “Honey, I know you don’t like to answer a lot of questions — but, but, how did that happen?”

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 10, 1981 The Howling was released in theaters.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born April 10 – David Langford

(10) TIME’S A-WASTIN’! There’s less than a week left to vote in the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards and Steve Vertlieb would like people to take a look at his nominated blog.

My blog, BETTER DAYS; BENNER NIGHTS, has been nominated for BEST BLOG OF 2016 in this year’s annual RONDO AWARDS competition. To vote for my series of articles, just send your selection (along with your name and E-Mail address) to David Colton whose voting address is taraco@aol.com prior to Sunday night, April 16th, 2017, at midnight.

Thanks sincerely for your consideration of my work. It’s an affectionate remembrance of the Saturday Matinee and 1950’s television when classic cliffhanger serials thrilled and excited “children of all ages”… when careening spaceships and thundering hooves echoed through the revered imaginations and hallowed corridors of time and memory…and when Buster Crabbe lovingly brought “Flash Gordon,” “Buck Rogers,” and “Captain Gallant Of The Foreign Legion” to life in darkened movie palaces all over the world. Return with us now to “those thrilling days of yesteryear” when Zorro, Hopalong Cassidy, “Space Patrol,” Ming, The Merciless, and Larry “Buster” Crabbe lit the early days of television, and Saturday afternoon motion picture screens, with magical imagery and unforgettable excitement.

(11) LIADEN UNIVERSE. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have posted their appearance calendar for the rest of the year.

We’ve had some queries about upcoming publications, and upcoming appearances, and, and — herewith an attempt to get them all in one place, for you, and for us.  Please note that the list is probably not complete; it’s only as complete as far as we know, as of Right Now.

(12) MAKE SCI-FI COME TRUE. GeekWire claims “NASA funds ideas from science fiction”. Well, if they’re smart they do.

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program, also known as NIAC, has been backing far-out aerospace concepts for almost 20 years. It started out as the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, modeled after the Pentagon’s DARPA think tank.

NIAC’s latest crop of 22 tech projects was announced this week, and they include a few concepts that were virtually ripped from the headlines of science fiction’s pulp magazines. Here are our favorite five:

Flying airships of Mars: The idea of sending airships floating through the Red Planet’s skies dates back to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom novels of the early 20th century.

One big problem: Mars’ actual atmosphere is so thin that an airship would have to maintain a vacuum to become buoyant. That’s exactly what Georgia Tech’s John-Paul Clarke intends to do with an experimental double-shelled, reinforced vacuum airship….

(13) EVEN BETTER. The 2084 anthology of dystopian fiction hit its funding target and now is plowing through its stretch goals.

Stretch goals!

After an opening week like that there’s only one thing we can do… And what better way to make the anthology better than with more stories? We’ve got more great writers lined up – people who will bring a fresh angle to the theme, people whose writing we love – and they’re poised and ready to go, right now. The first target is nice and easy, as well…

£6,000 – we add another story – HIT!

£7,500 – we add a second bonus story – HIT!

£9,000 – we add a third extra story

(14) SOUND OF HUGOS. Camestros Felapton can’t believe his ears. (I really want to make this a Spock reference. I’m sure you do, too.) “Hugo 2017 Review: Splendor & Misery by Clipping”.

Experimental Hip Hop group, Clipping are not a stereotypical Hugo nominee but I’d be hard pressed to name an album that is so tightly linked to the Hugo tradition. Science fiction themes are not new to popular music from David Bowie to Janelle Monae but Splendor & Misery approaches science fiction from a different direction musically. Rather than reaching for the broader aesthetics of SF visuals, Splendor & Misery dives directly into science fiction as both a narrative and as a distinct historical genre.

(15) THOSE TRAD PUB JUNKIES. Claire Ryan (intentionally) revives the Sad Puppies favorite argument in “The Hugo Awards are irrelevant”.

I went to Amazon.com, and I took a look at the current bestsellers for sci-fi and fantasy in Kindle. I found a couple of self-published authors immediately. Let’s not hash out the same tired arguments that the indies are somehow less worthy or less talented, please. Clearly the readers don’t think so. Hugh Howey and Amanda Hocking probably have more readers than all the current Hugo Best Novel finalists put together, and they’ve never even been nominated.

(16) LONDON CALLING. Shhh! Please remember, Jonathan McCalmont abhors attention.

(17) KAEDRIN BLOG. Mark Kaedrin says the novel category of the final Hugo ballot looks pretty good.

The novel ballot looks pretty good and indeed, I’ve already read three of the nominees, all of which were pretty good (and two of which were in my nominations). Ninefox Gambit is the clear front-runner for me, with its intricate worldbuilding and simple, pulpy plot. A Closed and Common Orbit ranks a distant second, but I liked its focus and positive attitude enough to throw it a nomination. All the Birds in the Sky has a great, whimsical tone to it, but of the novels I’ve read, it’s the one that could fall behind some of the things I haven’t read yet. Speaking of which, Cixin Liu returns to the ballot with Death’s End, the conclusion to the story begun in the Hugo-winning Three Body Problem and the one I’m most looking forward to catching up with (even if it requires me to read the second novel, which I never got to last year). Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning has been on my radar for a while, but I never pulled the trigger. It sounds like it has potential for me. N.K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate rounds out the nominees. A sequel to last year’s Hugo-winning The Fifth Season, a book that I have to admit that I did not enjoy at all. Well written and executed, but it felt a little too much like misery-porn for my liking, and thus I’m not particularly enthused about reading the sequel. I realize this puts me in the minority here, but it’s got me seriously considering not actually participating this year. I really don’t want to return to that gloomy world of suffering and despair, as well written as it may be…

He’s able to restrain his enthusiasm about some of the others.

(18) RED, WHITE AND BLUE. But somebody in their comments says they use Russian rockets – “Building on ULA’s Heritage, Setting the Pace for the Future of Space Launch.”

As a new era dawns, ULA continues to set the pace in space launch. Building on a heritage extending to the early days of American space launch, ULA is bringing future innovations to the table to support human launch from American soil and next-generation technology that will create transportation infrastructure to support a permanent human presence in space.

 

[Thanks to JJ, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]

135 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/10/17 The Phantom Scrollbooth

  1. @JJ & Rev Bob: Thank you. Saved me some wordage.

    I will also note that a couple years ago, SFWA opened up membership to indies and some conspicuous people have so far chosen not to take advantage of that opportunity.

    1. A. SF is now more popular than ever so she’s now one of ’em? B: I hope she trips and those zombies gnaw on her for a while.

    Commercial crassness = “not of the body”

  2. @kendall

    So, don’t read it – leave it off your ballot. If you didn’t like the first one, you won’t like the sequel (shrug), so IMHO ignore it.

    I would feel awkward voting against something that I hadn’t read. It just doesn’t seem fair to The Obelisk Gate or N.K. Jemisin… That being said, there are other things that are contributing to this hesitance, though I tend to go through this every year and end up participating anyway, so there is that.

  3. k_choll:

    I did the exact opposite. I read The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic and liked them very much. Continues on until I hit the series of Wyrd Sisters, Pyramids and Guards, Guards and thats where I quit since I found no reason to continue after three books I had no love for.

    So I more or less quit where everyone else started to enjoy themselves. 🙂

  4. (15) THOSE TRAD PUB JUNKIES

    I’d have much more time for this argument if someone – anyone – advancing it could at least point me to some of the indie novels published in 2016 that should be contending for a Hugo.

  5. “I would feel awkward voting against something that I hadn’t read. It just doesn’t seem fair to The Obelisk Gate or N.K. Jemisin… That being said, there are other things that are contributing to this hesitance, though I tend to go through this every year and end up participating anyway, so there is that.”

    This one is the hardest for me, as I admired the writing, but hated the characters so much that I don’t want to hear anything more about them, much less read about them. I actually voted The Fifth Season at top last year (it was saved because I didn’t start to hate the main character until close to the end), but have decided that having to read one chapter more would make me tear the books apart in rage.

    Yes, my feelings are a bit split. 🙂

  6. (3) In the church I go to it’s traditional to read the Bible passage on a particular Sunday out loud in as many languages as possible. A friend of mine reads it in Klingon every year. (He also translated the Beatitudes into C++ and I’ve read that in church too.)

    lurkertype on April 10, 2017 at 11:42 pm said:

    (14) See, that’s what I have against this album. The first Afro-Futurist album nominated should have been Janelle Monae a few years back. Hmph.

    I love Janelle Monae to bits, but Afro-Futurism has been around for a long time. There’s Deltron 3030 from 2000, for example, not to mention George Clinton’s Mothership Connection from the ’70s. I wonder whether any of those got any Hugo attention.

  7. I’d have much more time for this argument if someone – anyone – advancing it could at least point me to some of the indie novels published in 2016 that should be contending for a Hugo.

    It’s amazing how many times someone criticizes the Hugos for selecting the wrong books without telling us why the right books were good. Sometimes we’re not even told what the right books are.

    Claire Ryan doesn’t offer a single word of praise for the books of Hugh Howey or Amanda Hocking, only a mention that they sell really well.

    I can believe the Hugos don’t look hard enough at self-published writers. But if there aren’t people doing what we do for our Hugo nominations and talking up their work on the merits, even for writers who sell a lot of books, it suggests to me we’re not overlooking award-caliber work.

  8. Unfortunately, I have given up on Discworld. I tried a few of the novels and they were fine but it just wasn’t there for me, though the short story “Troll Bridge” was marvelous.

  9. Linda Nagata managed to get onto a Nebula ballot with the self published version of THE RED, but she had had a previous track record (and note, didn’t make the Hugo ballot, alas).

  10. editing and proofreading matter

    The copy of the disco-era Tales of Known Space I own has an odd, recurring error: triple consonants when two are called for. Not every time but enough for even me to notice.

  11. Whether the Elephant House is indeed the birthplace of Harry Potter is a matter of some debate in Edinburgh. It was founded in 1995, the same year in which Philosopher’s Stone was completed. Rowling may have worked there at some point, but she worked in a number of cafes; the one traditionally identified as the main location was Nicholson’s, now sadly closed (though the space it occupied is still a cafe, known as Spoon).

  12. Well, there’s enough shade here for a forest.

    The Obelisk Gate has been sitting at the top of my TBR since the week it came out. I thought its predecessor was extraordinary, but so wrenching that I really don’t have the spoons for that world. I’ll try at least once more before voting closes, but I may just end up leaving it off my ballot.

  13. I’m going to argue this point a little about the indie stuff, because I just assembled a SFWA Storybundle that relied on small and indie press stuff. It includes twelve solid titles, some of them terrific. Putting together the two bundles (this one focuses on SF, the other will feature all fantasy) meant reading maybe 5 or 6 dozen books.

    Indie publishing is the way a large number of authors bring out their backlist. Others experiment with stuff that they’d have trouble selling. And many produce stuff just as entertaining as anything I could find from a trad pub: Lindsay Buroker’s Emperor’s Edge series, Rosemary Kirstein’s The Steerswoman series, anything by Linda Nagata or M.C.A. Hogarth….there’s a lot, and many of them I found through the reading recommendations here.

    I read fast and all over the place, which affects my perspective. I don’t mind reading crap as long as there as interesting aspects to it . (Finishing up another Doc Savage blog post right now.) Is there more crap in indie than trad? It’s relatively easy to winnow out the truly amateurish stuff because the cover and copy will tell you who’s enough on the ball to make sure their stuff is ready for prime (not pun intended) time or time. The number /star ratings of reviews will also tell you something, although I usually read at least a few of the five star and one star ratings to make sure they’re not being affected by someone’s bizarre agenda.

    Speaking of which, my personal philosophy is that I know there’s plenty of bullshit being spoken about me on the Internet, but I manage not to go read it most of the time, which I find keeps me a saner person. The problem with the Internet is that anyone and everyone can be watching and you’ve got no control over what they’re saying. That’s fine; it’s a big world. Maybe I have much less invested in Being Right than I did in my youth.

    Although I am right on everything, as we all know. ;P

  14. Other things:

    a. Is anyone proposing reading three or four books into a series to decide whether they like it? I though that the idea was that you had to read three or four books to decide where to rank it in a preferential poll. I’m not sure that’s true in every case, if the books are relatively independent and the value of the series lies in its characters or world; but I see why you might think that. If this were the Dragons, and we were just voting for our favourite, then sure, after a hundred pages we might say ‘this is unlikely to be my favourite’. (Indeed, I’m feeling that right now about The Expanse.) But it isn’t.

    b. It makes sense for the Campbell to be for traditionally published books (if it is: there seems to be some doubt about how exclusive the rule is), because they reach a wider audience. It allows authors of self-published books which are picked up by a traditional publisher and so become more widely known to qualify; if self-publication itself (always) counted, they would become ineligible before anyone had heard of them.

    c. Am I the only person who actually preferred Chambers’ first book? It’s not exactly a novel – it’s a novel within the meaning of the act, obviously, but not a novel in a traditional sense with a plot – it’s more of a travelogue. But it’s quite a good travelogue; I like the world she creates. While the second book certainly has a plot, but I did not find it a very exciting one. I felt it rather expressed the view of storytelling on which the characters are the main thing, and the plot is a kind of extra which has been laid on top of them; which meant that there was a lack of tension, because you know the author isn’t going to do excessively bad things to her characters for the sake of the plot.

  15. @Andrew M —

    I felt it rather expressed the view of storytelling on which the characters are the main thing, and the plot is a kind of extra which has been laid on top of them; which meant that there was a lack of tension, because you know the author isn’t going to do excessively bad things to her characters for the sake of the plot.

    I much preferred the second, because it explored the theme of both characters gradually gaining autonomy — showing the similarities between the characters and their struggles (again that “closed and common orbit”) even though they were apparently so different (human vs. AI and so on). Which sorta created the message “we’re all in this together” — all essentially trying to achieve the same things. The book was actually *about* something — which IMHO the first book was really not.

  16. And many produce stuff just as entertaining as anything I could find from a trad pub: Lindsay Buroker’s Emperor’s Edge series, Rosemary Kirstein’s The Steerswoman series, anything by Linda Nagata or M.C.A. Hogarth….there’s a lot, and many of them I found through the reading recommendations here.

    I read and enjoyed Lindsey Buroker’s Steampunk western series … the name escapes me and I can’t seem to find it on Amazon … so I’ll definitely try her Emperor’s Edge series. I think I have the first in The Steerswomen series and I have several by Linda Nagata picked in various humble bundles.

    found it … The Flash Gold Chronicles

  17. I will evaluate series according to how they give me value in my ordinary reading. If a book doesn’t make me want to read the rest of the series, then my evaluation will stop there, regardless of it is book one or four. If it makes me want to read more, then I will stop my evaluation at the point where I lost interest or where no more books could be found.

  18. 6) My main worry about the Elephant House is that one day I’ll end up witnessing a gristly accident involving an unwary camera touting tourist forgetting what side of the road we drive on and getting mown down by a bus as they back into the street looking to get the whole building front in.

    Same thing goes for the statue of Grayfriar’s Bobby just up the street, though there it’s my own safety I worry about as large tour groups block the whole pavement taking turns touching its nose while getting their picture taken.

  19. I had a similar experience with Pratchett. I read the first one ages ago and was meh. Then “Going Postal” was on an ebook deal two years or so ago and I loved it. Then bought and read six or eight more and loved all but Pyramid Scheme.

    I really liked the first in the Harry Dresden series. But they significantly improved over the next six books or so.

  20. The Obelisk Gate is worth looking at, at least for the underground village.

    (I like Dune and Dune Messiah. The rest of those books are from some other series with a different setup.)

  21. @clif: “3-second adjustment”

    First of all, artificially-teeny books offend me on the grounds that they force the reader to make adjustments for no good reason. Saying “just adjust your reader” is akin to saying, “so what if the color balance on that DVD you bought is way out of whack – just adjust your TV’s settings! That’s why it’s got the sliders on the adjustment menu!” Never mind that I’ve already got my device set up the way I want it, because heaven forbid my preferences mean anything on my own hardware, right? No, I open a new book, and – oh, look, I have to futz around with settings and hope the book plays nice.

    Because that’s the other part. Some of those books lock everything down with absolute sizes so that no matter what you do to the reader’s settings, the book doesn’t adjust. The publisher is demanding that you read the book at the settings they’ve chosen, your preferences be damned – defeating the whole point of using a flexible markup language.

    So, yeah – I’ll get in there and spend a few minites fixing the book, out of the principle of the damned thing. Why should I have to grit my teeth and endure an ugly book if I don’t have to? Fix it once, and it stays fixed – but use the settings to compensate, and I’ll have to do that every damned time,

    But you go right ahead and poke away. Just be glad you haven’t stumbled across a book that’s not so easily fixed by using the device controls.

    Yet.

  22. It makes sense for the Campbell to be for traditionally published books (if it is: there seems to be some doubt about how exclusive the rule is), because they reach a wider audience.

    I don’t know where the doubt would come from. The eligibility FAQ has precise criteria.

    Looking at that, I see that it allows self-published authors, contrary to what Ryan quoted. Any self-published book that earns the author $3,000 in income in one year makes that person eligible.

  23. and a bit dubious the self-winding android shell would work the way it seems to.

    Yeah, I noticed that. Say what you will about Chamber’s ability to write interesting novels or characters, but that line is evidence her knowledge of actual science falls short of the “perpetual motion machines don’t work” level.

  24. My WTF moment with Chambers came in the first book, when a character was falling the length of the spaceship; s/he was saved by turning off the artificial gravity, at which point s/he stopped falling….

    Nonetheless, I find both books to be sufficiently charming that I can ignore the scientific errors.

  25. @Rev Bob … well as a fellow grumpy old man I can tell you that I can find many many OTHER things to be offended by that are not so easily fixed (either by a 3 second adjustment, my solution; or by hacking the software to MAKE THAT DAMN THING BOW TO MY WISHES, your solution apparently). Don’t get me started on self-checkout at the local grocery store.

  26. A “Top 1,000 Reviewer” on Amazon has given his opinion of Corroding Empire: “A less than average effort. Predictable plotting, shallow characters, and unimaginative future history. The basic idea, an interstellar civilization facing the end of the physical phenomenon that makes interstellar travel feasible, is solid but not developed particularly well. This book has an element of allegory. A civilization facing a major challenge to its nature with powerful forces refusing to admit the possibility of disaster.”

    The book is currently the 32,991st best-selling book on Kindle.

  27. well .. since we are bagging on prominent alt-whatever authors … re my reference to Lindsey Burokar’s self-published Flash Gold Chronicles … I notice that the first book in that series has over 2300 ratings on Goodreads … compared to Dragon Award winning Somewhither‘s 184.

  28. @clif: (self-checkout)

    Them robots done TOOK ERR JERBS! (Sorry, ObSouthPark. Had to be done.)

    Frankly, I’d rather get mildly annoyed about things I can change than be helplessly frustrated by things I can’t. YMMV.

  29. How do you recommend a topic for mike to cover? I dont see a place to put this. I tried finding his email.

    Mike if you see this check out the Isaac Arthur youtube channel. Its completely unique. He has an undergrad degree in physics and he in detail covers various SF topucs from a science perspective. This is purely hard SF. Its very good. This is not like pbs spacetime. This is genre specific. No politics at all. He has been at it for about 2 years and posts weekly videos. They are very good. Its the only site like it I have found.

    I think mike posted once that he accepts auggestions, but I dont know where to aend them.

  30. @clif – I liked Emperor’s Edge more than Flash Gold (which was still a decent read). If you liked that, you might try the Magnificent Devices quartet by Shelley Adina, which is a similar, equally fun read.

  31. Random House and Del Rey are indie publishers? Either I don’t understand some of the nuances of that term, or my reading comprehension skills are almost as bad as Jonathan McCalmon’s. I’m not a critic, so I assume it must be that I don’t get something about indie publishing.

  32. Guess who is back in con-related news?

    OdysseyCon has Jim Frenkel and Richard Russell as guest and hotel liaisons — volunteers whose job is to make the experience more comfortable?

  33. I finished Close and Common Orbit a couple of days ago. I think it was a better novel than #1 but I may have enjoyed it slightly less. That may have been because the structure was tighter but a little bit of the rambling fun of #1 was gone. I still found it highly enjoyable, and once the storylines heated up in the second half it grabbed me hard.
    (For the record I liked the Jane storyline best; I suspect that’s going to be a debate with no consensus!)

  34. I probably won’t vote in Best Series. To me it looks like either a lifetime achievement award to Bujold or else a Hugo to a clever, well-executed light urban fantasy. (I wasn’t too impressed by Leviathan Wakes when I read it a few years ago, and I find I’m resistant to the idea of the Napoleonic Wars with dragons.) I’m a big fan of the “Rivers of London” series but it’s not what I think of as Hugo material. I’ll certainly check out the Gladstone and McGuire series but my impression is that they are also lightish urban fantasy and I don’t expect to like them better than Aaronovitch.

  35. @ StephenfromOttawa:

    I’ll certainly check out the Gladstone and McGuire series but my impression is that they are also lightish urban fantasy and I don’t expect to like them better than Aaronovitch.

    I think you’ll be pleased with the Gladstone novels. The Craft Sequence has got some heft to it–these fantasies evoke the gritty politics in Walter Jon Williams’ Metropolitan and City on Fire. Whether they are up to your standards, I don’t know. But they are more than lightweights.

  36. @rcade Did you notice how fast the puppies went from “It will outsell Scalzi” to “It well outsell Scalzi on Opening day”? *
    because its easy to organize a mass buy for a cheap ebook on one day (when the 53 minions buy it) but much more difficult to sustain constant sales over long periods of time, say, a week?

    * If they use Amazon ranking of an ebook as indicator how well a book sells, thats available in hardcover.

  37. Did you notice how fast the puppies went from “It will outsell Scalzi” to “It well outsell Scalzi on Opening day”?

    I remain flabbergasted that Beale even tried to beat Scalzi in sales for one day. He didn’t achieve that, based on the Amazon sales rank figures I saw. Scalzi is a formidable sales beast who markets his new books really well on tour. Any of us who chooses him as our SF/F nemesis is going to have trouble finding a metric where we can claim a win.

    Maybe Beale is doing good business by using outrage against a designated enemy, but it feels to me like a well that is going to run dry. If I had a small publishing house with a couple hundred fans so loyal that they would buy something presented as a half-assed pastiche with a fake author name, I think I’d use that loyalty for something more ambitious.

    Maybe his fans will only buy a Castalia book if they believe it’s making somebody else mad.

  38. @ lurkertype: @Rev Bob: providing it’s a tradpub house that bothers to proofread. Just so. I read the latest Wen Spencer because of the local connection; now I need a brain scrub, not because the cnxn mostly wasn’t but because of the masses of typos AND the lack of any higher-level editing (as in, lots of conflicts in data (hard data, not perceptions) and a ridiculously messy plot).) It was bad enough that I’d put Toni “everybody edits everything” Weisskopf below No Award if she were on the ballot.

    @Soon Lee: Despite two attempts, I have never made it past fifty pages of John Crowley’s “Little, Big”. Same here. A late friend said it might be the best book ever; I never squared that with him being generally a rigorous ]materialist[.

    @Lis Carey: The first three Discworld books were dire. Later ones, very much not. I’d say the 3rd might have been too English — but the first two were definitely inferior to his prior works, including the non-series Strata. IMO part of the fault is that too much of the first books was attempts to disrespectfully parody what had already gone out of fashion. @k_choll, @clif: AFAICT the only thing lost by ignoring the first two books is a couple of where-did-that-oddity-come-from’s, and you can pick them up from context in later books without losing anything.

    @Ann Leckie:

    Then everyone will say
    As you walk your mystic way
    If that’s not good enough for him which is good enough for me,
    Why, what a very cultivated kind of youth this kind of youth must be!

    — W. S. Gilbert

    StephenfromOttawa: +1 to @Rob Thornton. There are many terms that could be applied to Gladstone; “light urban fantasy” is not one of them. (I would also note that it’s not grimdark-for-the-sake-of-grimdark.)

  39. @Chip —

    There are many terms that could be applied to Gladstone; “light urban fantasy” is not one of them. (I would also note that it’s not grimdark-for-the-sake-of-grimdark.)

    I was actually rather taken aback by how light the tone was in book 1 (I’ve only read one so far). Just from looking at the covers, I expected something much darker. In fact, here’s a paragraph from my original review: “The covers led me to believe that the stories would be dark and gritty and likewise brooding. So I was completely taken aback when I started listening and found that, though some of the plot elements were on the dark side, the narrative voice was relatively light, breezy, and humorous. Huh. I’ve got nothing against breezy and humorous, but it felt like false advertisement.”

  40. I have a dilemma. I was going to get started on Hugo reading, but The Chronicles of Amber, which I requested from the library six months ago just came in. Staying up all night might be called for.

  41. It’s not a bad dilemma to have … I, for one, wouldn’t think any less of you if you stopped reading Amber after the initial five books (which, all together, might be shorter than one or two of the novel contenders).

  42. @bookworm:

    As I recall, the original five Amber books are pretty short. You’ve got this. 😀

  43. @bookworm. Read the first five, and then do some Hugo reading. And then, if you feel up for it, continue with Merlin’s saga (the final five) 🙂

  44. Paul Weimer on April 11, 2017 at 7:19 am said:
    Linda Nagata managed to get onto a Nebula ballot with the self published version of THE RED, but she had had a previous track record (and note, didn’t make the Hugo ballot, alas).

    This is excellent and still indie published in the UK.

    There is definitely some good indie stuff out there, but people like me would maybe hear about it sooner if the indie cheerleader brigade spent more time talking about the work instead of its abstract superiority and the imminent doom of traditional publishing.

    If there is awesome SFF out there, I want to know about it.

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