Pixel Scroll 4/17/16 Hives of Light

(1) TIE-IN BOOKS. “The Secret Life of Novelizations”, an 11 minute segment on WYNC.

Write a great book and you’re a genius. Turn a book into a great film and you’re a visionary. Turn a great film into a book…that’s another story.

Novelizations of films are regular best-sellers with cult followings — some are even more beloved than the films that spawned them — but respected they are not. Instead, they’re assumed to be the literary equivalent of merchandise: a way for the movie studios to make a few extra bucks, and a job for writers who aren’t good enough to do anything else. But the people who write them beg to differ.

OTM producer Jesse Brenneman goes inside the world of novelizations, featuring authors Max Allan CollinsAlan Dean FosterElizabeth Hand, and Lee Goldberg.

(2) SPOCK DOC. Lance Ulanoff reviews For the Love of Spock at Mashable — “’For the Love of Spock’ is a moving love letter to an icon and a father”.

For the Love of Spock is three stories woven together into a solid, emotionally charged strand. There is the story of a gifted actor — a renaissance man, as he is described in the film — and his journey from bit player to fame, fortune and permanent pop-culture icon status.

It’s also the story of a character who sprang from the mind of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, but became flesh and blood — and Vulcan salutes — in the hands of Nimoy. And finally, it’s the story of a father and son and their decades-long journey toward love and mutual acceptance.

There’s no way to fit 83 years into a rather fast-paced 100 minutes. As a consequence, huge swaths of Nimoy’s life and career are mentioned all-too-briefly (his directing career) or not at all (Star Trek V and VI, and much of his latter TV career).

(3) MORE FREQUENT DARK. SF Site News says editor Sean Wallace has announced his magazine is stepping up its schedule.

Sean Wallace has announced the the dark fantasy magazine The Dark will shift to a monthly schedule beginning with the May 2016 issue.

(4) ADAMANT. J.C. Carlton says he is really, really right about that book he still hasn’t read – “Why Generation Ships Will NOT ‘Sink’ A Failure To Communicate” at The Arts Mechanical.

As an engineer, I think that Mr. Robinson is clearly wrong.  Or at least, he doesn’t understand the basic rules for setting mission parameters and designing to meet those parameters.  Mr. Robison’s vessel failed because he wanted it to fail.  But to extend that to saying that ALL such proposals would fail is more than a little egotistical. And wrong, really wrong.

Now I haven’t as yet read the book.(Somehow this sticks in the craw of the people over at File 770….

Real pioneers don’t screw up  because failure is not an option and incompetence is something that can’t be tolerated. Yes the environment and the unknowns get the pioneers, think the Donner Party, but the typical pioneers don’t go down without a fight.  They do the work that needs to get done because they are working to make a better place for the next generation, not themselves.  We as a culture have suppressed the pioneer spirit in the last few years and maybe that’s a mistake.  Because pioneers desire and understand liberty and the alternative is tyranny.

Here’s a bunch of links to get the pioneer spirit started.  Sorry, Mr. Robinson, our carracks to the stars will not fail because the pioneer spirits in them, will not let them fail.  Look if my ancestors can cross the North Atlantic in a tiny leaky little boat, can I say anything less?

(5) HOWDY NEIGHBOR. “Never Before Seen Galaxy Spotted Orbiting the Milky Way”: New Scientist has the story.

The galaxy’s empire has a new colony. Astronomers have detected a dwarf galaxy orbiting the Milky Way whose span stretches farther than nearly all other Milky Way satellites. It may belong to a small group of galaxies that is falling into our own.

Giant galaxies like the Milky Way grew large when smaller galaxies merged, according to simulations. The simulations also suggest that whole groups of galaxies can fall into a single giant at the same time. The best examples in our cosmic neighbourhood are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, the Milky Way’s two brightest satellites, which probably orbit each other.

Orbiting galaxies

About four dozen known galaxies orbit our own. The largest in terms of breadth is the Sagittarius dwarf, discovered in 1994 – but it’s big only because our galaxy’s gravity is ripping it apart. The next two largest are the Magellanic Clouds.

(6) BATMAN V SUPERMAN V ABIGAIL. This is the kind of post that has inspired me to write Abigail Nussbaum’s name on my Hugo ballot from time to time. In the paragraphs following the excerpt, she deconstructs a scene from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and gives us a wonderful premise for understanding what shaped Superman’s psyche in the Snyder and non-Snyder movie versions.

Nor am I here to talk about how Batman v Superman fundamentally betrays its two title characters–and betrays, along the way, the fact that Snyder and writers David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio fundamentally do not understand what either of those characters are about.  Because the truth is, I don’t really care.  I’m not a comic book reader, but I’ve been watching Batman movies for twenty years, and good or bad they all depict the character as, at best, someone who is working out their mommy-and-daddy issues by beating up poor criminals, and at worst, an outright fascist.  I’m perfectly willing to believe that there is more to the character, and that the comics (and the animated series) have captured that, but I think at this stage it’s a mug’s game to go to a Batman movie expecting to find more than what they’ve been known to give us.  As for Superman, if I want stories about a character who is all-powerful yet fundamentally good, and still interesting for all that, I’ve got the MCU’s Captain America, not to mention Supergirl, so that fact that Batman v Superman depicts Superman as someone who seems genuinely to dislike people, and to be carrying out acts of heroism (when he deigns to do so) out of a sense of aggrieved obligation, doesn’t really feel worth getting worked up over.  On the contrary, I was more upset by those scenes in Batman v Superman in which characters insisted–despite all available evidence–that its Superman was a figure of hope and inspiration, because they made it clear just how badly the people making the movie had misjudged its effect.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 17, 1810 Lewis M. Norton patented a vat for forming pineapple-shaped cheese. (Even John King Tarpinian doesn’t know why he sent me this link.)
  • April 17, 1970 — With the world anxiously watching on television, Apollo 13, a U.S. lunar spacecraft that suffered a severe malfunction on its journey to the moon, safely returned to Earth.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY DUCK.

  • April 17, 1937 – Daffy Duck.

From the CBS News Almanac: …That day saw the premiere of a Warner Brothers cartoon titled “Porky’s Duck Hunt.”

The cartoon followed Porky Pig as he attempted to bag a most unusual duck … a duck quite unwilling to follow the rules:

Porky: “Hey, that wasn’t in the script!” Daffy: “Don’t let that worry you, Skipper! I’m just a darn fool crazy duck!”

Actually, make that DAFFY Duck, in his very first film role — his first, but by no means his last.

(9) ACCOUNTING FOR TASTES. Fynbospress, in “Preorders” at Mad Genius Club, sorts out how that sales tool affects traditional and indie publishers differently.

Several years ago, indie publishers put up quite a hue and cry about not having preorders available to them on Amazon, unlike their trad pub competitors. Amazon listened, and made preorders available, with a few caveats to ensure that indie pub would indeed have the product ready on ship date, and not leave Amazon holding the bag while angry customers yelled at them.

With glee, indie pub rushed out to put things on preorder…. and promptly found it wasn’t all that and a bag of chips. It’s a useful tool, but it isn’t nearly as important to them as it’s made out to be.

The critical differences:

  1. Amazon counts a preorder toward the item’s sales rank the day the order is placed.

This makes logical sense in the non-publishing world, as the “sale” happens the day a contract to sell is agreed upon, not the ship date, not the date money changes hands, nor the date the customer receives the item. This is pretty standard whether ordering a run of shoes manufactured in China, selling wheat futures in Chicago, or a racehorse in Kentucky.

(10) QUIDDITCH ON TV. “Quidditch, the sport of wizards” was a segment on today’s CBS Sunday Morning. There’s a video report and a text article at the link.

Quidditch, anyone? No idle question in Columbia, South Carolina, where a big championship match is underway this weekend. Anna Werner attended last year’s contest, where she saw an author’s imaginary game come to life:

It’s been nearly 20 years since the first Harry Potter book came out and proceeded to cast a spell over fans around the world. J.K. Rowling’s creation became the most popular book series in publishing history, with over 450 million copies sold — and one of the biggest movie franchises in film history, with nearly $8 billion in ticket sales.

And now Potter-mania has spawned another craze, one based on the high-flying fantasy game played by Harry and his friends called Quidditch, which has now jumped from the world of wizards to the playing fields of Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Yes, real-world Quidditch, complete with players “riding” broomsticks.

“Quidditch has exploded into the college scene and the high school scene all over the world,” said one girl. “It’s absolutely amazing!”

It’s even been the subject of a documentary called “Mudbloods” (a Harry Potter reference, of course).

“People get passionate about it because they grew up with Harry Potter,” said one fan.

The documentary introduces Alex Benepe, one of the founders of Quidditch. He’s been playing since 2005, when a classmate at Middlebury College turned to him with an idea: “‘This weekend, we’re gonna try and play real-life Quidditch,'” Benepe recalled. “We were freshman. And I just thought to myself, ‘There’s no way this is gonna work. This is gonna be so dumb!'”

(11) PLAYING QUIDDITCH. CBS Sunday Morning also provides “A how-to guide to Quidditch”.

The Balls

A volleyball doubles as a Quaffle, which players use to score points, either by throwing it or kicking it through a hoop.

Bludgers are dodgeball-weapons used against opposing players; hit someone with a bludger, and they are temporarily out. They must drop whatever ball they possess, head to the sidelines, and touch a goalpost before returning back to the field.

In the J.K. Rowling books, a Snitch (or a Golden Snitch) is a winged ball that tried to avoid capture. Since magical equipment is harder to come by in real life, Snitches are instead played by people dressed in yellow, who run onto the field at the 18-minute mark and must evade players who try to steal their “tail.”

If a Snitch loses his tail (actually a tennis ball in a sock), the game is over, but in the event of a tie score, play goes into overtime.

(12) RUNNING LOGAN’S MOVIE. Once upon a time there was a Jeopardy! answer…

Jeopardy Logans Run

John King Tarpinian says “In the book middle age would be ten.”

And while we’re on the topic, John recommends Reading The Movie Episode 3: Logan’s Run, a 2011 video.

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

188 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/17/16 Hives of Light

  1. robinareid: I cannot remember it (Lady Vorpatril talking about lack of technology.

    Pretty sure it’s in Memory, when Miles first finds out about Gregor and Laisa’s romance, and Miles tells Lady Alys that she shouldn’t have tried to parade any Vor beauties past Gregor because of his fears about genetic instability and producing children with a woman too close to him biologically. Not to discourage your research or anything . . . after all, you really should read the conversation in context, anyway!

    Come to think, that conversation might mark something of a technological turning point in the series. Fears of genetic problems should be eased by replicator technology, and I think it’s just before, in Mirror Dance, that Cordelia talked about the Old Vor not understanding what’s about to hit them re: the uterine replicator. So, maybe what’s happening is that the Vor are beginning to understand intellectually what the new medical technology can do, but not really feel it or internalize it on an emotional level? Besides, for Gregor to have a child with a male lover would be unprecedented–people wouldn’t expect it, would be surprised by it–and he (of all people) can’t surprise people or risk undermining the monarchy, at best. And that . . . he doesn’t want to do. For personal reasons, of course, but also cultural ones, I suspect. (Mind you, I do think that A Revolution is Coming to Barrayar, but I think it’s going to take a while, at least another generation–partly because people are terrified of political unrest at the moment. I think we’ve had this conversation before? Anyway, different issue.)

  2. @IanP: Oh, yes, that dying computer speech got it on my Hugo ballot.

    @Nicole: See, I was thinking of quidditch on roller skates as being much more like flying. Cover the whole field/surface instead of just around in circles like roller derby, have some balls to throw, have the snitch be either a really fast skater or maybe a tiny drone flown by someone impartial on the sides. Then we’re talking.

    Considering how much in culture says “two dudes sexing is wrong and icky; two chicks sexing is HAWT”, I don’t mind that Bujold doesn’t show a lot of lesbians.

    Old-time Barrayar, with women for housework and bearing children, and men for everything else, like war, politics, and education, should have been overrun with m/m, all out there in the wilds with other men doing manly things in a manly way. Yes, they might have kept it on the d/l, but c’mon: when the only people you can have a conversation with and do “important” things with are the same gender, heteroflexibility is happening (Don’t forget the Greek influence on Barrayar! Alexander the Great, philosophers of Athens, Sacred Band of Thebes).

    Some of the left-behind housewives might have consoled each other and found common ground with people who weren’t all about war, etc. but out there in the boonies there wasn’t much time for tender relationships, when you’ve gotta pop out a kid every year, look after them all, and do all the cleaning and feeding of people. Vor ladies might have let their servants do the work while they hung out with their “very good friend” Lady Vorwhatever, while the Vor men were off conquering things. Oh, no, m’lord, the Mrs. hasn’t been around ANY men while you were gone, it’s all been ladies, quite proper, no worries, lots of visiting between her and the neighbor.

  3. lurkertype: Old-time Barrayar, with women for housework and bearing children, and men for everything else, like war, politics, and education, should have been overrun with m/m, all out there in the wilds with other men doing manly things in a manly way.

    Actually, I think Aral’s backstory intimates that there is a quiet acceptance of m/m sex, particularly among young men in military service who are isolated from young women (except in terms of marriage possibilities). And yes, I’ll bet you’re right that there are “unspoken” f/f relationships among the women, possibly even “Boston marriages,” equally quietly accepted so long as you don’t talk about it and Do Your Duty to Barrayar (bear children, beget children–babies!). But I think you are maybe kind of underestimating part of Barrayar’s traumatic history. Remember, women’s work in this culture is more than bearing and raising children. It’s also acting as judge and executioner for your own children, the children in your family and community. Women have to have babies–repeatedly, even to the risk of their own lives, because the planet emphatically needs babies–but they also have to kill the babies that don’t come out perfect. And there is no hint that men have even a look-see into that decision. Protecting the genome is “women’s work” (Miles, in A Civil Campaign) and it’s the midwife who “missed her stroke with that one” (somewhere in Vor Game, in the “Weatherman” section). That’s got to impact the way women relate to each other–and gender separation in general on Barrayar has got to be a strange and fraught thing.

    robinareid: If the essay on queerness in Bujold ever gets published, could you let us know where? Because I’d like to read it–particularly if you are spending any time on Ethan of Athos. I read that one early, when it first came out, and there was one thing that always bugged me, namely: why does Ethan find Elli Quinn so automatically attractive? He’s never even seen a woman before, but when he first sees Elli he immediately calls her possibly “a particularly elegant boy,” and later in the book “curses her attractiveness” (paraphrasing because I don’t have that good a memory). Okay, so Elli’s got that “beautiful purchased face” going for her at this point, but it’s a face purchased for Galactic standards of beauty, not Athosian–and wouldn’t they be different?

    It’s likely just an unimportant throwaway, probably because the book was so early and Bujold was still hitting her stride, and I’m actually usually pretty good at dismissing that sort of thng when it comes to Bujold (I’m pretty good in general at figuring out head canons that let me read on without being thrown out of the universe/plot, if I say so myself), but still. That one always struck me as . . . disturbing? interesting? something, anyway. So I’d love to read what you have to say about it.

  4. One of the things I just FREAKING LOVE about this site is that people will have conversations about Betan uterine replicators and cite chapter and verse. While I also enjoy the conversations about tea and wombats and gardening and sleeper ships, I really love the Vorkosigan books. Just reading the thread makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I may need to get out more….

  5. @ lurkertype

    Considering how much in culture says “two dudes sexing is wrong and icky; two chicks sexing is HAWT”, I don’t mind that Bujold doesn’t show a lot of lesbians.

    Given that Bujold doesn’t get particularly explicit with on-page sexual activity for anyone else, yes, it would be off-putting if she only mentioned lesbians in the context of “two chicks sexing is HAWT”. But why in the world would one assume that that would be the only context in which a same-sex female attraction would come up in the books? As opposed to all the other overt and implied relationships that get mentioned?

  6. @PhilRM

    If you sent a cell phone back to a group of natural philosophers in the 17th century, they are going to be utterly perplexed. Send it to a group of physicists in, say, the 1940s, and they’ll figure out what the components are doing

    What components? The (very early) electron microscopes of the time couldn’t even see the circuitry of our current fabrication processes. Have you looked at a recent iPhone teardown? The entire ‘phone’ is a slim stick of gum wrapped around a battery. Even the gross physical components like the camera would be made from processes that would be impossible to detect using any means available to them. And these days everything is end-to-end encrypted and handshakes. There is not a single bit of information they could glean without a working understanding of modern cryptography.

    Hell, they couldn’t even charge the thing. iPhones do a USB handshake before drawing any power. Our perspective scientists could spend years applying every conceivable voltage to the contacts and never get a chirp. Even if they disassembled the phone, I doubt they could get the battery to charge, as a single modern lithium ‘battery’ has (and requires) as much digital circuitry as probably existed in the world in the 1940s.

    They would learn more about metallurgy by melting down the components than they would about phones by studying them.

    And give it another couple years. We are moving more and more towards short-range wireless signals with end-to-end encryption.

  7. Vasha: Sounds like you may have a surfeit by now, but I had some Bounty coverage here, too (first post was — http://file770.com/?p=10707), because crewman Doug Faunt is a longtime fan. And Gary Farber, who was living in Faunt’s Northern California home, kept the news coming. If you search “Faunt” you’ll get them all.

  8. lurkertype:

    @Nicole: See, I was thinking of quidditch on roller skates as being much more like flying. Cover the whole field/surface instead of just around in circles like roller derby, have some balls to throw, have the snitch be either a really fast skater or maybe a tiny drone flown by someone impartial on the sides. Then we’re talking.

    That’s starting to sound like roller hockey from here, only with throw-and-catch instead of puck-and-stick. Although the sticks sure fill out a parallel with the bludgers, don’t they?

  9. With regard to media tie-in novelizations, I remember (having seen the movie before reading the book) being stunned at just how much depth and detail were added to The Wrath of Khan by Vonda N. McIntyre’s novelization.

    But I was pretty young at the time, and had not had a huge amount of available SFF of any kind at that point; mostly L’Engle, Heinlein, Bradbury, Asimov, and Clarke, and Star Trek.

    My other encounters with novelizations were mostly not impressive, and I stopped buying and reading them very early on (which is not the same as saying that I did not read the novels and stories which were later turned into movies) in favor of original SFF novels.

    (I saw Logan’s Run before reading the book, and remember thinking that the book was much better.)

  10. @Vasha Definitely adding those links to my reading list, as you sound like an aficionado. The first shuttle disaster is another one that sucks me in from time to time, and I’m always prone to mountaineering stories (Into Thin Air being one of the best and most heartbreaking–another Outside article initially, incidentally). It’s hard to say what’s so intriguing about them. Maybe it’s that all the detail makes you aware of what we’re probably overlooking right now (combined of course with the fascination of wondering if we’d been able to change it). On the theme, there’s also a fun book out there about the biggest mistakes in history (Maginot Line, e.g.), though it lacks the narrative element that makes these moment-by-moment stories so engrossing.

    And @Mike, should have known that no truly interesting event is without its scifi connections! Will be looking at those too.

  11. Will R.: Into Thin Air

    Gah. I have thoughts about that man, but I will decline to post them. 😐

  12. @JJ

    Yes, the Wrath of Khan novelization was anther one I read and thought added greatly to my enjoyment of the film. Though maybe not Kahn’s cold blooded torture of the remaining scientists on Regulus I…

  13. @JJ It’s hard to imagine anyone being harder on him than he’s been on himself. But part of what’s fascinating about it is that it really should have put an end to the casual Everest-bagging industry but hasn’t, to sadly deadly effect in the intervening years.

  14. Does Aurora have any of that sort of appeal (i.e., the should-have-known-better)?

  15. Re: media tie-in novelizations. The first one I remember reading was Piers Anthony’s TOTAL RECALL. It was terrible in that resolutely, positively took steps to end any of the ambiguity of whether or not it was a Rekall vacation or reality (reality, naturally). He even goes out of his way to explain Melina had acted as a model/template for Rekall on the side, which is why you see her face when he’s getting into the chair in Rekall and he’s being asked to pick his fantasy woman.

  16. ETA: Harder on him about the events of Into Thin Air. I should say I haven’t really followed his non-mountaineering efforts.

  17. lurkertype on April 17, 2016 at 8:20 pm said:

    (4) Why is he so peeved about us dissing him for not reading the book? I mean, we did him the courtesy of reading his drivel before dismissing it.

    To be fair, I didn’t, and I was more than willing to admit that,

  18. IanP on April 18, 2016 at 10:54 am said:
    1) Tie In Books

    Ditto on @NickPheas mention of The Abyss. Really added to my enjoyment of the film in a way that only Clarke’s 2001 could match and it isn’t really a novelization.

    I also read Foster’s Star Wars, along with the Alien and Aliens ones. All well done and I’ve always had a liking for his original works based on those.

    I was somewhat bemused by the removal of all swearing from the Aliens novelisation, to the point that Ripley straps into the power loader, and returns to the docking bay for her final confrontation with the alien queen and says “Get away from her, you!”

  19. @Ryan H: Fair point – my off-the-cuff choice of the 1940s was based on the knowledge of atomic physics at the time, not on an investigation of the state of the art of electron microscopy in the 1940s.

    So turn it around – suppose we drop a smart phone from a century into the future* into the hands of today’s physicists. They will be able to study all of the components at the sub-atomic level. And while there will certainly be things that will remain opaque to them**, there won’t be anything in the device’s physics that will be incomprehensible.

    *Assuming that the smart phone of 100 years from now isn’t a hollow wooden tube that you yell through.

    *Especially because they still won’t be able to charge it, because the handshaking protocols will have changed 37 times between now and then, because Reasons.

  20. @Hullender: Oliver does experience change, I wouldn’t call it growth. I would call his career side-step growth rather than mere change; he finds intellectual capacity he had no idea he had.

    The Chandler was my first reaction to robinareid’s assertion; I remember reading it in Fantastic (1968) but couldn’t find it in ISFDB — glad others had more -fu. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, as I recall it being not very good even for Chandler, who I’ve mostly found rather formulaic; completists might read it to see how far Bujold moved standards in ~2 decades.

  21. @ Mary Frances: robinareid: If the essay on queerness in Bujold ever gets published, could you let us know where? Because I’d like to read it–particularly if you are spending any time on Ethan of Athos. I read that one early, when it first came out, and there was one thing that always bugged me, namely: why does Ethan find Elli Quinn so automatically attractive? He’s never even seen a woman before, but when he first sees Elli he immediately calls her possibly “a particularly elegant boy,” and later in the book “curses her attractiveness” (paraphrasing because I don’t have that good a memory).

    This will probably be the first of several replies because so much lovely stuff in your post above.

    I will be glad to keep the group updated–although alas a lot of my stuff gets published in stupidly expensive academic publications (while i am subversively willing to email stuff to people for individual use, but it still pisses me off).

    The project I mentioned that I’m currently working on is focused on the Chalion series, growing from a presentation at a conference a couple of years back: “Biology and Manners” at Anglia Ruskin University, a fantastic experience (a whole day to talk of nothing but Bujold, in Oxford!) Right now, the collection is in early stages–the two editors will be preparing a proposal for Liverpool University Press.

    Here’s the abstract I sent them based on my conference paper:

    The Holy Family: Divine Queerness in Bujold’s Chalion Series

    While published scholarship on Lois McMaster Bujold’s science fiction and fantasy is growing, especially with the publication of a 2013 collection (Croft), the majority of work focuses on her science fiction rather than her fantasy. A significant proportion of the scholarship is by women, focusing on feminist and disability issues with little consideration of sexuality. This project argues that the narrative construction of The Holy Family in Bujold’s Chalion series is queer, in the sense of Alexander Doty’s definition #6: “textual coding that seem[s] to establish spaces not described by, or contained within, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual or transgendered understandings and categorization of gender and sexuality.” In this definition, the word “resist[s] easy categorization, but . . . definitely escape[s] or def[ies] the heteronormative” (7).

    I argue that the Holy Family’s divine queerness is textual and overt and that its breaking of the heteronormative nuclear family structure impacts other elements of the series. This queerness is not primarily situated in canonical homosexual and bisexual characters but in two other narrative elements. The first is the nature of visions heterosexual male characters have of the gods which are linked to the theme of celebrating the beauty and messiness and “density” of matter, including the human body, and the relative powerlessness of the gods to act in the material world. The second is how the how the heroic heterosexual male body is broken and penetrated in order to experience the visions. The result is a deconstruction of heroic masculinity generically associated with medieval literature and neo-medieval fantasy in the wake of Tolkien. Thus the divine queerness is not related to the characters’ relationships or sexuality (both protagonists are attracted to and marry female characters), but on their bodies which, although originating as generic noble and heroic males, have been tortured and controlled in ways that no hard bodied hero would experience.

    My analysis focuses on Cazaril and Ingrey as examples of Bujold’s ongoing testing nearly to destruction of the heroic male body, a pattern in the Vorkosigan series which has been documented by Virginia Bemis, Linda Wright, Shannan Palma, Sylvia Kelso, Anne Haehl, and Martha Bartter. Most of the existing scholarship on Bujold’s treatment of male heroes focuses on ways in which those characters are narratively “femininized.” While I agree with the scholars who note the feminine coding of male protagonists, I am beginning to find aspects of that problematic: my problems are with the gendered discourses available to us, not with Bujold or the works themselves. Marking the male body as feminine requires binding it to physical disabilities in her SF, and to torture in the fantasy with the addition of spiritual rape/enforced pregnancy.

    Many women enjoy seeing men who are feminized occupying a narrative position which deconstructs the hegemonic masculine ideal as shown by the existence of the genres of male/male slash and hurt/comfort fan fiction. While Bujold, who is open about the impact of her fan experiences on her as a writer, is not writing fan fiction, or hurt/comfort or slash, I am beginning to think that the way she writes about her protagonists’ male bodies resonates with some of the ways in which women write hurt/comfort in fandom.

    Ethan: the lovely discussion here leaves me thinking I really want to write an analysis of single-gender male SFF (there’s a fair amount of work on lesbian separatist utopias by women, but *as far as I know* none on the opposite outside Larbalestier, though I’ll have to check MLA bibliography to see). I’ll just toss out that I’ve asked about other male only stories in academic contexts, and never got the Chandler and other stories mentioned here at File 770!

    I do have a lot of essay ideas I want to pursue (too many; I keep having “oh shiny, let me play with that for a while” moments and wandering off in search of new funz), so no promises. But yes, definitely thinking about it. I don’t find any essay on Ethan of Athos in the MLA bibliography which is nifty (can be fun to be the first one publishing on X topic–and very easy in sff because there is SO much sff and so few academics doing this sort of work–even after forty or fifty years, it’s still rather stigmatized in a lot of places).

    I’m wondering if Athos can in fact be read as queer (keeping in mind the Doty list, which is my major source for the multiple definitions used in queer studies and the fact that a lot of academic debates circle around conflicting definitions)….in some ways, the reason I love it is that it’s so normative–remembering Joanna Russ’ about the 1950s suburbia–but in other ways, it completely overturns that trope.

  22. I think real-world quidditch is charming and fannish and an interesting bleed-through of the fictional world into the real one. The only drawback is, on non-flying brooms, it looks like a cross between dodgeball and masturbation.

  23. @Mary Frances: Protecting the genome is “women’s work” (Miles, in A Civil Campaign) and it’s the midwife who “missed her stroke with that one” (somewhere in Vor Game, in the “Weatherman” section). That’s got to impact the way women relate to each other–and gender separation in general on Barrayar has got to be a strange and fraught thing.

    This. A huge unexplored gap in Bujold’s novels though I gather things began changing in some areas—urban, elite after Time of Isolation. Miles’ travel into the backcountry to investigate an infanticide makes that difference very clear. Ekaterin also thinks about the past—her impassioned speech to the terrorist group about what they are condemning so many on Barrayar to makes that clear. Certainly that knowledge must have made puberty and the movement into adulthood a terrifying passage for girls on Barrayar (although now that you’ve brought it up, I cannot help wondering at how placing that duty in women’s hands, as opposed to the father/patriarch having the responsibility which as far as I know–and my knowledge is limited in this area–was historically always assigned to men on Earth).

    Eeps, I forgot to talk about Ethan and Elli: I hadn’t actually noticed/remembered Ethan’s first reaction to her, and you’re right, it’s interesting. I do remember that when he looked at a picture of authors of one of the papers in his journal—which was limited in how many Athosians could read it—he was shocked when seeing the picture of the authors (one of them named Elizabeth Naismith)—in part at least because he didn’t feel the SIN he had been taught was attached to women!

  24. Robinareid : (although now that you’ve brought it up, I cannot help wondering at how placing that duty in women’s hands, as opposed to the father/patriarch having the responsibility which as far as I know–and my knowledge is limited in this area–was historically always assigned to men on Earth).

    Mmm? Wasn’t there a sorta folk tradition that the medieval midwife might “accidentally” forget to swat the youngster or clear its breathing passages if it was too deformed at birth?

  25. RDF. Re medieval traditions. Not that I have heard of but am not medievalist. And lots of inaccuracies float around as medieval factoids. Even if true it is nowhere near the Barrayaran mandate.

  26. RDF: Mmm? Wasn’t there a sorta folk tradition that the medieval midwife might “accidentally” forget to swat the youngster or clear its breathing passages if it was too deformed at birth?

    Medievalist here, and I’d say No, Not Really. For one thing, I’ve never head of it and I’d look with a certain amount of suspicion at any claim that this was a regular practice among midwives of any era. Medieval midwives in particular were trained to dip their fingers in holy water and mutter the words of the baptismal rite during a difficult delivery, just in case the baby came out dead. An infant had to live long enough to be baptized, and after that, killing it or letting it die was murder. The tradition of “exposing” or abandoning infants, as practiced in classical antiquity, was not unknown in the Middle Ages (and there is apparently evidence that it was done by both women and men, and not only on male authority in some parts of the world, though I don’t really know much about that), but the Church definitely tried to pretend it didn’t happen–and by the High Middle Ages (which can run anywhere from the 12th to the 15th centuries, depending on where you are in Europe and what the scholar cares about), abandoning unwanted children at church doors to be raised in orphanages was apparently far more common.

    In any case, a medieval midwife who was accused of letting a baby die could be in Serious Trouble, no matter how damaged the infant was. Since midwifery was a precarious enough profession anyway, I’d say that “accidentally on purpose” forgetting to do something like clear the infant’s breathing passages definitely wouldn’t have been within the sane midwife’s purview.

  27. Nicole: Quidditch always sounded hockey-ish to me anyway. The throwing and catching would distinguish it. As would the putative drone snitch. Stuff would be off the ground, is what I’m saying, and therefore more quidditch-y. Plus roller hockey gear and existing kinds of balls would be easy to get and use. Figure out some advantage in equipment or movement for a people-snitch.

    The broom-straddling is just so dumb and comical, as Amoxtli said.

  28. Mary Frances on April 18, 2016 at 8:39 pm said:

    He’s (Dr. Ethan Uquhart) never even seen a woman before, but when he first sees Elli he immediately calls her possibly “a particularly elegant boy,” and later in the book “curses her attractiveness” (paraphrasing because I don’t have that good a memory). Okay, so Elli’s got that “beautiful purchased face” going for her at this point, but it’s a face purchased for Galactic standards of beauty, not Athosian–and wouldn’t they be different?

    I just happen to have all the Vorkosigan books in Word Documents (thank you Calibre) which makes searching and copying easy.

    The crisp gray-and-white uniform was unfamiliar to Ethan, but obviously military even without the clue of the sidearm on the hip. Only a legal stunner, but it looked well-cared-for and not at all new. The slim young soldier looked up at Ethan’s step, inventoried him, he felt, with one glance, and smiled politely.
    “Pardon me, sir,” Ethan began, and halted uncertainly. Hips too wide for the wiry figure, eyes too large and far apart above a small chiseled nose, jaw thin-boned and small, beardless skin fine as an infant’s—it might have been a particularly elegant boy, but . . .

    Her laughter pealed like a bell, entirely too loud for the reddening Ethan. “You must be the Athosian,” she chuckled.

    Later, as Quinn’s old friend Dom is enthusing about her new face:

    Ethan, who found his (Dom’s) enthusiasm over the woman’s facial aesthetics a trifle baffling, had no trouble sympathizing with this; any plasma burn was horrendous—this one must have come close to killing her. He eyed the face with a new medical interest.

    I can’t find references to Urquhart finding Quinn attractive, though he certainly notices that other men fixate on her face. He does find Terrance Cee attractive.

  29. Since the topic of novelizations was raised, I’ve decided it’s high time I re-read Lois & Clark: A Superman Novel by now-grandmaster C. J. Cherryh. I read it when I bought it, almost exactly twenty years ago, and have vague memories that it was fairly decent, but not much beyond that.

    I was never a huge fan of the show, though I freely admit I watched it on occasion. This is definitely one I bought entirely because of the author. At the time, I think my opinions of the book may have been influenced by the show, though. Today, I can’t really remember the show well enough for that to be a factor, so I’ll be judging the book on its own merits.

  30. ULTRAGOTHA: I can’t find references to Urquhart finding Quinn attractive

    If I’m remembering correctly, the line about Ethan specifically finding Elli attractive is much later, when he and Elli are both (sort of; Elli more consciously than Ethan) trying to convince Terrance to come with them back to their respective points of origin–I think it’s when Terrance is doing his mind-reading thing, to figure out if they can be trusted? And it isn’t so much that Ethan is exactly attracted to Elli himself as that he perceives her as attractive–something about “damning the Galactic woman’s attractiveness,” presumably her attractiveness to Terrance (though Terrance hasn’t so much flickered an eyelash in Elli’s direction at this point), or something like that. Which, as Ethan also indicates somewhere that he’s personally a sucker for blondes, anyway, was kind of puzzling to me.

    However. I might well be mis-interpreting a couple of decades old memory, and I don’t have the book with me to check. Maybe I was just primed for confusion because . . . well, I did remember the passage you quote, too, and why on earth would anyone think for an instant that an adult woman might be an “elegant” boy? Wouldn’t someone who has never seen a young woman (the photos in the earlier-referenced medical journal are pretty clearly “older” women) fixate rather on the physical differences that Ethan does notice as, oh, grotesque, or peculiar, at least? Rather than elegant? But that’s a lot of weight to put on a single, possibly ill-chosen word–and, as I said, I don’t have the book with me to check the later passage. Ethan does certainly dream of having sons who will look like Elli, with “mirror bright eyes.” Doesn’t he? I think?

    Sorry. It’s one of the things I like about Bujold–I’ve got this tendency to accidentally memorize specific lines from her books. Which is a testament to her writing skill, but also gives the (false) impression that I know her works verbatim when I really don’t.

  31. I’ve been quite tempted by the Dr Who (Pertwee era) tie-in novel by Alastair Reynolds, Harvest of Time.

  32. Mary Frances on April 19, 2016 at 9:51 pm said:

    If I’m remembering correctly, the line about Ethan specifically finding Elli attractive is much later, when he and Elli are both (sort of; Elli more consciously than Ethan) trying to convince Terrance to come with them back to their respective points of origin

    This might be it. Quinn has been listening via a bug to Terrance Cee tell Urquhart all about him and his wife and what he did with the ovarian cultures Athos ordered from Bharaputra Labs, and she’s just knocked on the door to announce her presence.

    Ethan’s lip curled, but until she took her booted foot off the door groove the safety seals would refuse to close. He stepped aside with what grace he could choke up.

    Terrence Cee’s right hand smoothed his jacket, tensely. “Is she a friend?”

    “No,” said Ethan curtly.

    “Yes.” Commander Quinn nodded vigorously, turning her best smile on the new target.

    Cee, Ethan noted irritably, showed the same silly startlement that all galactic males displayed upon their first encounter with Commander Quinn; but to Ethan’s relief he seemed to recover far more quickly, his eyes jumping from her face to her holster to her boots and other likely weapons check-points. Quinn’s eyes mapped Cee’s inventory of her against Cee himself, and crinkled smugly in the knowledge of where to look for his weapons. Ethan sighed. Was the mercenary woman always destined to be one step ahead of them?

    Then a bit later, this:

    She didn’t even bother to be sarcastic. “Yes, there you are,” she said quickly. “If it’s Millisor you fear, what better place to find protection than in the middle of an army?”

    Furthermore, Ethan thought, Commander Quinn was unfairly good-looking when she was flushed with excitement. . . . He peeked fearfully at Cee, and was relieved to find him looking cold and unmoved. If that pitch had been aimed with such passion at him, he might be ready to run out and sign up himself. Did the Dendarii need ship’s surgeons?
    “I presume,” Cee said dryly, “they would wish to debrief me first.”

  33. ULTRAGOTHA: Yeah, that sounds like it. Right scene, at least, I think, though it may develop a bit more later. Or maybe not. As I’ve said, it just always kind of puzzled me–struck a very slight false note or something. In any case, since the relationship that develops between Ethan and Elli (and which I think is in part due to the essential decency of both characters) is one of the things I really LIKE about the book, I’ve remembered it.

  34. robinareid: I will be glad to keep the group updated–although alas a lot of my stuff gets published in stupidly expensive academic publications (while i am subversively willing to email stuff to people for individual use, but it still pisses me off).

    Don’t sweat the subversion, in my case–as an academic myself, I have library access to the major databases, and I.L.L. can always get me what isn’t available that way. (I love JSTOR. It would have made my life so much easier, twenty or thirty years ago. One of these days, I’m even going to buy a t-shirt, out of sheer gratitude.)

    I also love what you are doing with Chalion. I’d say that both Arhys and Ilvin in Paladin also fit the pattern that you’re postulating–certainly metaphorically, in that scene where Ista “connects” Arhys to his God, and then Arhys is essentially pulled through to safety. At that point, Arhys is essentially a walking dead body, being “fed” by Ilvin and Cattilara and linked to Ista by the Father’s tie. It’s his triumphant final death that restores him to the ranks of heroes, isn’t it? while his reward is being subsumed through Ista into paradise . . .

    No one has written about Ethan yet? Or at least not much? That surprises me, and I can certainly see the temptation!

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