Pixel Scroll 5/24/20 He Was A Bug-Eyed, Lizard-Gorn, Filing Purple Pixel Scroller

(1) VIRTUAL BALTICON IN-PROGRESS REPORT. The Sunday Edition of the Virtual Balticon 54 Newsletter Rocketmail, which can be downloaded here, says the total unique attendance on Zoom for all of Friday was 1,343 and on Saturday 2,787 people. This does not count the fans participating on other platforms. The newsletter also contains Masquerade participant info, and fundraising totals.

Balticon runs through tomorrow, and you can access it in a variety of ways. Dale S. Arnold explains:

You can of course continue/start enjoying the Virtual Balticon 54 by going to WWW.balticon.org and choosing links off the schedule and or links on the platform page. You can ghost by just watching the YouTube and Twitch feeds which stream the items each hour that the most people signed up for participating on that item in zoom if you prefer not to register on zoom as well…. Programs continue all the way through Monday…

However, they are running a GoFundMe to pay the virtual freight.

For the record as of 5:20 AM on 5/24/20 the total GoFundMe donations are at $11,065.00 gifted by the generous fans that are making Virtual Balticon 54 possible. An additional $495.00 has come into the BSFS paypal account during the GoFundMe campaign by folks who did not want to use GoFundMe using the http://www.bsfs.org/donate.htm link. The BSFS treasurer reports that “almost” $2,000.00 has also been received as checks and or people donating their B45 memberships instead of taking a refund.

(2) FANFIC DISPUTE GOES TO COURT. There’s a lawsuit in progress over reuse of fanfic tropes in commercial genre fic. It could have repercussions well beyond hyper-niche erotica. The New York Times devotes a long article to the litigation: “A Feud in Wolf-Kink Erotica Raises a Deep Legal Question”.

…Then, in 2018, Ms. Cain heard about an up-and-coming fantasy writer with the pen name Zoey Ellis, who had published an erotic fantasy series with a premise that sounded awfully familiar. It featured an Alpha and Omega couple, and lots of lupine sex.

…Ms. Cain urged Blushing Books to do something. The publisher sent copyright violation notices to more than half a dozen online retailers, alleging that Ms. Ellis’s story was “a copy” with scenes that were “almost identical to Addison Cain’s book.” 

… “You have to make sure you use the tropes of Omegaverse in order to be recognized by fans of the genre,” Ms. Ellis said. “Crave to Conquer” and its sequel, “Crave to Capture,” were published in early 2018 by Quill Ink Books, a London company she founded. Readers gave the series glowing reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, calling it “sensational new Omegaverse!” and the “best Omega yet.”

In late April 2018, Ms. Ellis got an email from a reader who had ordered one of her books from Barnes & Noble, then learned that it wasn’t available anymore. She soon discovered that all of her Omegaverse books had disappeared from major stores, all because of a claim of copyright infringement from Ms. Cain and her publisher. Ms. Ellis found it bewildering.

“I couldn’t see how a story I had written using recognized tropes from a shared universe, to tell a story that was quite different than anything else out there commercially, could be targeted in that way,” Ms. Ellis said. “There are moments and scenarios that seem almost identical, but it’s a trope that can be found in hundreds of stories.”

A lawyer for Ms. Ellis and Quill filed counter-notices to websites that had removed her books. Some took weeks to restore the titles; others took months. There was no way to recover the lost sales. “As a new author, I was building momentum, and that momentum was lost,” Ms. Ellis said. And she worried that the “plagiarist” label would permanently mar her reputation.

Ms. Ellis decided to sue. “Everything would have been in question, my integrity would have been questioned, my ability to write and tell stories — all of that would have been under threat if I didn’t challenge these claims,” she said.

In the fall of 2018, Quill Ink filed against Blushing Books and Ms. Cain in federal court in Oklahoma, where Ms. Ellis’s digital distributor is based, seeking $1.25 million in damages for defamation, interfering with Ms. Ellis’s career, and for filing false copyright infringement notices. In the suit, Quill’s lawyers argued that “no one owns the ‘omegaverse’ or the various tropes that define ‘omegaverse.’”

Ms. Ellis’s lawyers thought they had a strong position. But they struggled to find a prior case that addressed whether fan fiction tropes could be protected by copyright….

The biggest development in the case so far is that Blushing Books has left Ms. Cain to contest the matter alone. Last year, the publisher conceded that no plagiarism or copyright infringement had occurred, and a judgment was entered against the company, which paid undisclosed monetary damages to Quill and Ms. Ellis. (Ms. Cain is now self-publishing.)

Ms. Ellis and her publishing company filed a new civil suit against Ms. Cain in her home state of Virginia, arguing that she maliciously directed her publisher to send false copyright infringement notices to retailers. Ms. Cain’s lawyers have denied the claims, and have lined up authors, bloggers and readers as witnesses.

If the judge, or a jury, finds Ms. Cain in the wrong, the case would send a message to overzealous genre writers that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is not to be abused. By the same token, authors of genuinely original stories might find they have one fewer legal lever to protect their work. And a victory by Ms. Cain could encourage a free-for-all, emboldening authors to knock back competitors and formally assert their ownership of swaths of the fan fiction universe and common tropes in genre fiction.

Discovery is ongoing, and a pretrial conference before a judge is scheduled for June. In the meantime, the Omegaverse continues to thrive. This year, more than 200 new books from the genre have been published on Amazon.

The latest batch draws on virtually every genre and trope imaginable: paranormal shifter romances, paranormal Mpreg romances, reverse harem romances, sci-fi alien warrior romances. There are fantastical Alpha-Omega stories featuring witches, unicorns, dragons, vampires, wolf-shifters, bear-shifters, and wolf-shifters versus bear-shifters. There are comparatively pedestrian Omegaverse romances about celebrity chefs, dentists, frat boys, bakers, bodyguards and billionaires. In a teeming multiverse of stories, the tropes are still evolving, inexhaustible.

(3) MEXICANX INITIATIVE REMEMBERED. This San Antonio Current story shows John Picacio, winner of SFWA’s 2020 Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award, is also a hometown hero: “San Antonio Science Fiction Artist John Picacio Wins Award for Opening Door to Mexicanx Talent”.

… “Many of the folks I selected were rising stars such as David Bowles, Julia Rios and Marcela Davison Aviles,” Picacio said. “The Initiative enhanced their networks, but the vast majority of my picks were much newer talents to the field. The industry badly needs their cultural perspective and their voice right now.”

(4) AFRICAN SFF AT STORYBUNDLE. The “African Speculative Fiction Bundle curated by Ivor W. Hartmann” is available from StoryBundle. Same deal as always – “Support awesome authors by paying however much you think their work is worth!”

This is the most comprehensive collection of African speculative fiction authors ever assembled. With the complete bundle containing nearly 100 authors and over 145 works it stands both as an excellent introduction to the rapidly evolving canon of African SF and a unique one-time collection of their works. From established stars you might know such as Nnedi Okorafor, Tade Thompson, and Sarah Lotz, to upcomers like Wole Talabi, Chinelo Onwualu, Nerine Dorman, Dilman Dila, and so many more.

The road to this bundle has been paved by the work of countless African writers, editors, publishers, and most importantly readers. For too long was the African experience, imagination, and insight, held captive and until relatively recently only glimpsed through the thick lens of other cultures and their inherent biases. In a big way this is what the new wave of African Speculative Fiction is about: telling our own stories, revealing our vibrant cultures from within, sharing our unique perspectives, and writing ourselves into futures that for so long seemed to spell our doom by virtue of our absence.

(5) CLASSIC RETURNING. “Battlestar Galactica Reboot Producer Sam Esmail Teases the New Series” at Comicbook.com.

[Sam] Esmail says he never planned to helm the series himself. “I’m a huge fan of Ronald Moore’s Battlestar, but I don’t know if I’m great at hard sci-fi like that,” he says. “I love it. I’m a fan of it. But I knew early on that we were going to have to bring somebody in to run the room and to write the scripts.”

He went to explain why the job went to Lesslie, who is best known for the miniseries The Little Drummer Girl. “He’s just a fantastic writer,” Esmail says. “I loved his series, Little Drummer Girl, and the one thing that really struck me about him and his take for Battlestar, one of the reasons I even wanted to do Battlestar, was that the way Ron Moore, what he did with his remake in the early 2000s where it was this sort of hard sci-fi series with lots of action set pieces and really this exciting sci-fi adventure but purely grounded in an allegory of what was going on at the time, which was post-9/11. And it wasn’t that subtle, the links, I would say. But because he was also attuned to the sci-fi nature of the show, you didn’t feel it.

“When I was approached to do Battlestar now, it has to have that same sort of dynamic. It can’t be just a retread of what he already did so masterfully back then. What are we saying about today’s world? And Mike just had this great take, and I’m not going to go into it because obviously, I don’t want to spoil it for fans, but you kind of see it a little bit in Little Drummer Girl where politics plays a big part in it but without compromising the entertainment value, because in my opinion, you’ve got to have that….” 

(6) SUPER RESOURCE. There’s always a ton of news at the Superman Supersite about the iconic Kryptonian and those who keep the legend going. It’s where I found out about this new series: “’Superman & Lois’ Detailed Synopsis and Premiere Announced”.

The CW Network has announced that “Superman & Lois” will officially premiere in January, 2021 when the network launches its new season.

…In “Superman & Lois”, after years of facing megalomaniacal supervillains, monsters wreaking havoc on Metropolis, and alien invaders intent on wiping out the human race, the world’s most famous superhero, The Man of Steel aka Clark Kent (Tyler Hoechlin, “Teen Wolf”) and comic books’ most famous journalist, Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch, “Grimm”), come face to face with one of their greatest challenges ever – dealing with all the stress, pressures and complexities that come with being working parents in today’s society. Complicating the already daunting job of raising two boys, Clark and Lois must also concern themselves with whether or not their sons Jonathan (Jordan Elsass, “Little Fires Everywhere”) and Jordan (Alexander Garfin, “The Peanuts Movie”) could inherit their father’s Kryptonian superpowers as they grow older.

Returning to Smallville to handle some Kent family business, Clark and Lois are reacquainted with Lana Lang (Emmanuelle Chriqui, “Entourage”), a local loan officer who also happens to be Clark’s first love, and her Fire Chief husband Kyle Cushing (Erik Valdez, “Graceland”). The adults aren’t the only ones rediscovering old friendships in Smallville as the Kent sons are reacquainted with Lana and Kyle’s rebellious daughter, Sarah (Inde Navarrette, “Wander Darkly”). Of course, there’s never a dull moment in the life of a superhero, especially with Lois’ father, General Samuel Lane (Dylan Walsh, “Nip/Tuck”) looking for Superman to vanquish a villain or save the day at a moment’s notice. Meanwhile, Superman and Lois’ return to idyllic Smallville is set to be upended when a mysterious stranger (Wolé Parks, “All American”) enters their lives.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 24, 1957 Quatermass 2 premiered In the U.K. It was produced by Anthony Hinds, and directed by Val Guest. It’s a sequel to The Quatermass Xperiment. Screenplay was by Nigel Kneale and Val Guest.  It stars Brian Donlevy, John Longden, Sid James, Bryan Forbes, Vera Day, and William Franklyn. Like the first film, some critics thought it was a lot of fun, some were less than impressed. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a respectable sixty percent rating. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz!]

  • Born 24 May 1794 – Rev. Dr. William Whewell.  Pronounced “hew-ell”.  Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, 1841-1866. Crater on the Moon named after him.  Mathematician, Anglican priest, historian of science.  Coined the words scientistphysicistlinguisticsosmosisionastigmatism.  Royal Medal for organizing thousands of volunteers internationally to study ocean tides.  Clifton Fadiman put him here by anthologizing in Fantasia Mathematica this poem.  (Died 1866) [JH]
  • Born May 24, 1917 – Irving Cox.  Five dozen stories in AmazingAstoundingCosmosFantasticFutureIfImaginationOrbitRocket StoriesSaturnSF AdventuresSF QuarterlySF StoriesUniverse – and that’s just some of the prozines we’ve had – translated into French, German, Italian.  You can read ten of his stories from 1953-1960 here.  (Died 2001) [JH]
  • Born May 24, 1925 Carmine Infantino. Comics artist and editor, mostly for DC Comics, during the late 1950s known as the Silver Age of Comics. He created the Silver Age version of the Flash (with writer Robert Kanigher), Deadman with writer Arnold Drake and the Elongated Man (with John Broome). He also introduced Barbara Gordon as a new version of Batgirl. Infantino wrote or contributed to two books about his life and career: The Amazing World of Carmine Infantino (Vanguard Productions and Carmine Infantino: Penciler, Publisher, Provocateur. (Died 2013.) (CE)
  • Born May 24, 1928 – William Trevor.  Whitbread Prize for The Children of Dynmouth, reviewed by Elaine Cochrane in SF Commentary 60/61, p. 26 [PDF]; two more Whitbreads; Hawthornden Prize; Saoi; four O. Henry Awards (not limited to U.S. authors since 2002).  (Died 2016) [JH]
  • Born 24 May 1930 – Terri Pinckard.  Stories in Fantasy BookVertex; wrote the Introduction to Womanthology (F. Ackerman & P. Keesey eds. 2003).  Told the L.A. Times (3 Jun 99) that when we landed on the Moon “I cried.  Science fiction writers were the ones who dreamed it.”  With husband Tom hosted the Pinckard Salon; Big Heart Award to both, 1984; the Salon drew Ackerman, Bloch, Bradbury, Daugherty, George Clayton Johnson, C.L. Moore, Niven, Pournelle, Roddenberry, Spinrad, and like that.  Dian Girard dedicated Tetragravitron (as by J.D. Crayne) to “Members of the Pinckard Salon”.  (Died 2005) [JH]
  • Born May 24, 1935 W. P. Kinsella. Best I’d say known for his novel Shoeless Joe which was adapted into the movie Field of Dreams, one of the few films that Kevin Costner is a decent actor in, ironic as the other is Bull Durham. Kinsella’s other genre novel is The Iowa Baseball Confederacy and it’s rather less well-known than Shoeless Joe is but it’s excellent. He also edited Baseball Fantastic, an anthology of just what the title says they are. Given that he’s got eighteen collections of short stories listed on his wiki page, I’m reasonably sure his ISFDB page doesn’t come close to listing all his short stories. (Died 2016.) (CE)
  • Born May 24, 1945 Graham Williams. He produced three seasons of Doctor Who during Tom Baker’s era as the Fourth Doctor. He’d write a novelization of his story, The Nightmare Fair, developed as a Sixth Doctor story but never filmed when Colin Baker’s contract was terminated. He would die at home of an accident gunshot wound. (Died 1990) (CE)
  • Born May 24, 1949 Barry Windsor-Smith, 71. Illustrator and painter, mostly for Marvel Comics. Oh, his work on Conan the Barbarian in the early Seventies was amazing, truly amazing! And then there was the original Weapon X story arc involving Wolverine which still ranks among the best stories told largely because of his artwork. And let’s not forget that he and writer Roy Thomas created Red Sonja as partially based on Howard’s characters Red Sonya of Rogatino and Dark Agnes de Chastillon. (CE)
  • Born May 24, 1960 Michael Chabon, 60. Author of the single best fantasy novel about baseball, Summerland which won a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. His other two genre novels, Gentlemen of the Road and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, winner of Best Novel at Denvention 3, are stellar works in themselves. He was Showrunner for the first season of Picard but will be Executive Producer for the upcoming season. (CE)
  • Born May 24, 1960 Doug Jones, 60. I first saw him as Abe Sapien on Hellboy, an amazing role indeed. To pick a few of my favorite roles by him, he’s  in Pan’s Labyrinth as The Faun and The Pale Man (creepy film), a clown in Batman Returns, the Lead Gentleman in the “Hush” episode of Buffy and Commander Saru on Discovery
  • Born May 24, 1965 – Shinichirô Watanabe.  Co-directed Macross Plus; directed Cowboy Bebop, alternative-history Samurai ChamplooSpace DandyCarole & Tuesday.  Blade Runner – Black Lotus is in the works.  Don’t ask me why my host’s daughter at the Yokohama Worldcon was rehearsing The Magic Flute but I don’t know any of my fellow gaijin rehearsing Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees.  [JH]
  • Born May 24, 1985 – Isabelle Melançon.  Drawings in Oziana and The Baum Bugle.  Oz found its way into the Webcomic that Isa co-authors, Namesake – or vice versa.  Here’s a sketch for Quibbling and even one for Hamilton – will this man write The Federalist?  [JH]

(9) SUPERERO GENESIS. In the Washington Post, African-American author Tre Johnson discusses how he is using the language and ideas of superheroes to enable him to cope with the pandemic. “The coronavirus has made the waking world into a dreamscape”.

A more perfect origin story would’ve had a superheroic tinge. Maybe I’d be sitting in my apartment, on the couch, contemplating how to move safely about Philadelphia when a clatter of glass would erupt and a ball of coronavirus — the size of a grapefruit with the spiny ridge of a porcupine — would bound through my window, roll to my feet and pulse with exhaustion. I’d stare at it and think Yes, father, that is what I will do, I will become an anti-virus. And that would be the reason to don the mask that I now wear daily when I walk my neighborhood.

(10) BAKE ME A CAKE AS FAST AS YOUR CAN. And mark it with a “C” – for corona. “Pandemic-Baking Britain Has an ‘Obscene’ Need for Flour” – the New York Times has a full accounting.

A week before Britain came to a standstill in mid-March, the Wessex Mill found itself fielding nearly 600 calls a day requesting one of the country’s hottest commodities: flour.

The mill in Oxfordshire has produced nearly 13,000 small bags of flour each day during the coronavirus pandemic, a fourfold increase. Demand led Emily Munsey, a flour miller who runs the business with her father, to hire more staff and add afternoon and night shifts to keep the mill running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the first time in its 125-year history.

“It’s been very challenging as a company. The amount of work we’ve all had to do has increased a huge amount,” said Ms. Munsey, who has since scaled back to five days a week, though still around the clock, to give employees a weekend break. “Demand remains consistently obscene.”

Commercial mills produce nearly four million tons of flour each year in Britain, according to the National Association of British and Irish Flour Millers. With much of the country stuck at home, baking has surged, and retail-size flour bags have become scarce on grocery shelves.

The coronavirus outbreak has flooded social media with #coronavirusbaking and #quarantine cookies. Yeast is in short supply, and butter sales have soared. In April, Google searches for cake, bread and flour skyrocketed….

(12) CURTAIN CALL. [Item by JJ.] Anthropomorphic phone — I’m calling it genre.

(13) READING IN THE NEW CAPTAIN. Ted Anthony, in the Associated Press story “Kirk 2.0:  Capt. Pike of the New ‘Star Trek’ A Welcome New Icon” says he welcomes Christopher Pike as the captain of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds because he sees James T. Kirk as “an interstellar Don Draper–brooding, arrogant, a top-down manager who earned his privilege but often presumed it” and thinks Pike will be a more responsible captain.

…It’s not accidental that Pike is the son of a father who taught science AND comparative religion — an embodiment of the empiricism-faith equation that “Star Trek” and its captains have always espoused. In many ways, in fact — even more so than Chris Pine in the movie reboots — Pike functions as James T. Kirk 2.0.

(14) COSMIC CREEPOUT. “Every ‘I Have A Bad Feeling About This’ In Star Wars Movies”: ScreenRant tries to round up every time someone said they had a bad feeling about something.

…However, George Lucas’ wonderful world of science fiction space opera has also provided the world with a series of timeless movie quotes. “May the Force be with you” has taken on a life of its own and “I am your father” is now a staple of Father’s Day greetings cards. In more recent years, less prominent quotes have come to the fore thanks to the onset of meme culture, “it’s a trap!” being the most famous. Now The Mandalorian is getting in on the act with “this is the way” and “I have spoken.

But undoubtedly one of the most famous utterances in the Star Wars universe is “I have a bad feeling about this,” …

(15) A WHOLE NEW BALL GAME. As reported last month (item 13), Lou Antontelli is running for Congress in Texas. But this week the district’s Republican incumbent John Ratcliffe resigned his seat to accept appointment as director of National Intelligence. With no incumbent to run against, shit just got real! And at least one Texas paper (besides the one owned by the candidate himself) thinks it’s terrific that Lou Antonelli is running: “Libertarians field viable candidate for District 4 seat”. The question is how well these pearls of wisdom will play with the locals:

… Antonelli said his goal running as a third party candidate is to inject original ideas into the discussion, and push for the Libertarian Party to become the second party in the district, displacing the Democrats.

“Can you imagine how much better our political system would be if the two major parties were the Republicans and Libertarians, instead of the Republicans and Democrats?” Antonelli asked. “Libertarians are the loyal opposition, as opposed to the Democrats, who are the disloyal opposition.”

Antonelli said Libertarians stand for hacking away strangling bureaucracy at all levels of government, and returning as much authority as possible to individuals.

“Thanks to the Covid pandemic, we have all gotten a free trial of socialism,” he said. “How do you like it?”

(16) ON YOUR MARK: “Nasa SpaceX launch: Astronauts complete rehearsal for historic mission”

Nasa astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have completed their dress rehearsal for Wednesday’s flight to the International Space Station.

The mission, the first crewed outing from American soil in nine years, will see the pair ride to orbit in a SpaceX Falcon rocket and Crew Dragon capsule.

It’s a demonstration of the new “taxi” service the US space agency will be buying from the Californian firm.

Lift-off on Wednesday is timed for 16:33 EDT (20:33 GMT / 21:33 BST).

The weather around the Kennedy Space Center in Florida may have other ideas, however.

A forecast released on Saturday by the US Space Force 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron predicted just a 40% chance of favourable conditions come launch time.

There is a strong possibility the Kennedy complex could see thick cloud, rain and even thunder.

If controllers are forced to scrub, everyone will come back on Saturday for a second try.

Hurley and Behnken are now all but done with their preparations.

The weekend “Dry Dress” rehearsal saw the pair don their made-to-measure spacesuits, walk out to a Tesla, and then make a 6km drive down to Kennedy’s famous Launch Complex 39A.

(17) GET SET: “Nasa SpaceX launch: Who are the astronauts?”

On 27 May, two US astronauts will achieve a world first when they launch to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a spacecraft built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Here, BBC News profiles the astronauts who will make the historic journey.

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are about to break a nine-year hiatus for Nasa, becoming the first astronauts to launch from US soil since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.

…”It’s well past time to be launching an American rocket from the Florida coast to the International Space Station and I am certainly honoured to be a part of it,” Hurley, 53, said earlier this month.

Behnken, 49, added: “On my first flight… I didn’t have a son, so I’m really excited to share the mission with him.”

Nasa has chosen two of its most experienced astronauts to help California-based SpaceX ready the Crew Dragon for launch. The two are also longstanding friends.

“Being lucky enough to fly with your best friend… I think there’s a lot of people who wish they could do that,” says Hurley.

When they blast off atop a Falcon 9 rocket, their spouses will know exactly what they are going through. That’s because they’re astronauts too.

(18) GO: “Nasa SpaceX launch: What’s the mission plan?”

On Wednesday, the California company SpaceX will launch a mission to the International Space Station (ISS). It’s something the firm has done many times before, taking cargo to the sky-high laboratory. But on this occasion, the firm will be transporting people.

It’s one of those seminal moments in the history of spaceflight.

When Nasa astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken lift off atop their Falcon-9 rocket, inside their Crew Dragon capsule, it will mark the first time humans have left US territory to reach low-Earth orbit in almost nine years.

But more than that, it sees a shift to the commercialisation of human space transportation – of companies selling “taxi” rides to government and anyone else who wants to purchase the service.

This page details the key phases in the mission sequence.

Launch will occur from the Kennedy Space Center’s Complex 39A. This is the famous Florida pad from where the Apollo 11 moonwalkers and the very first shuttle, Columbia, also began their missions.

(19) CLASSIC OR STINKER? In the Yahoo! Entertainment story “The ‘Lost’ finale at 10: Why viewers loved and hated ‘The End'”, Ethan Alter says even though it was 10 years since Lost ended, controversy continues over whether the ending of the show was brilliant or stupid. UH, SPOILERS, I GUESS?

…What the duo decided to do was to design a finale that emphasizes character over mystery. “The End” plays out in two realities: the mysterious island where mystical forces and weird science live side-by-side, as well as the “Flash sideways” timeline where Jack and the rest of the castaways were back in the real world, albeit leading different lives than what we saw in the flashback sequences that were a major part of previous seasons. The island-based sequences are explicitly devoted to tying up some, though not all of the loose ends: Jack has a final confrontation with the Man in Black, currently housed in the body of John Locke (Terry O’Quinn); Hurley (Jorge Garcia) becomes the new protector of the island, with Ben Linus (Michael Emerson) as his sidekick; and pilot Frank Lapidus (Jeff Fahey) gets everyone else — including Kate (Lilly), Sawyer (Holloway) and Claire (Emilie de Ravin) — the heck out of dodge. As the plane soars away from the island, a mortally wounded Jack watches it depart from his final resting place as his eyes close, a direct nod to the first shot of the first episode….  

(20) WHO SAW IT COMING? Usually we’re filling in this blank with Philip K. Dick’s name. See how bad things have gotten, that PKD isn’t the answer! “2020 Is One Great Big George Saunders Story” says InsideHook.

…But there is one author who predicted these dumb and absurd times: George Saunders. 

The MacArthur “Genius” and Booker Prize-winning Saunders has been publishing darkly hilarious visions of America since the early 1990s. Zadie Smith has said “not since Twain has America produced a satirist this funny” while The New York Times noted “no one writes more powerfully than George Saunders about the lost, the unlucky, the disenfranchised.” Perhaps the archetypal Saunders story is “Sea Oak,” which follows a trod-upon worker at an aviation-themed male strip club called Joysticks: “Guests rank us as Knockout, Honeypie, Adequate, or Stinker. Not that I’m complaining. At least I’m working.” At home, his family lives in a dangerous neighborhood and anesthetizes themselves with reality TV shows like How My Child Died Violently while fantasizing about the American dream, summarized by one character as “you start out in a dangerous craphole and work hard so you can someday move up to a somewhat less dangerous craphole. And finally maybe you get a mansion.”

(21) JANELLE MONÁE. On Late Night with Seth Meyers Janelle Monáe talks about David Byrne using one of her songs in his musical American Utopia, a musical she wrote as a child and her efforts to help communities during the pandemic.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, StephenfromOttawa, Chip Hitchcock, John A Arkansawyer, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

53 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/24/20 He Was A Bug-Eyed, Lizard-Gorn, Filing Purple Pixel Scroller

  1. @Paul Weimer: isn’t it nice to see him showing his true colors? And just think — he could make Ratcliffe look good, which nobody else could manage.

  2. (2) I have novels in the were genre that go back to 2010. It isn’t all that new. And fanfic has older ones, I’m sure (I haven’t looked).

  3. (1) Enjoying Balticon from a distance at the moment. Hope next year gets less virtual.

  4. (15) There’s so much wrong with what he’s saying that I don’t even know where to begin. And I don’t want to clutter up Mike’s page with what would undoubtedly turn into a Ranty McRant Rant. 🤬

    So, instead…I’m in the middle of reading Gideon the Ninth. It’s okay, but I’m not swooning over it the way so many other people are. Tamsyn Muir has a peculiar opaque writing style that makes it hard for me to get to know or really care about her characters. Right now, I’m liking Harrowhark and Dulcinea more than the supposed protagonist.

  5. 20) Surprised the article didn’t mention George Saunders’ recent New Yorker story, “Love Letter”, which I listened to on the NY’s “Writer’s Voice” podcast. It’s an impressive and chilling piece set sometime in the next few years and springing directly from the last few years.

  6. (15) Just to be clear, there’s no chance that Antonelli will win. The county Republican party will choose a replacement candidate, and he’ll win.

  7. Born May 24, 1960 — Michael Chabon, 60. Author of the single best fantasy novel about baseball, Summerland which won a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. His other two genre novels, Gentlemen of the Road and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, winner of Best Novel at Denvention 3, are stellar works in themselves.

    Yay, Michael Chabon! I love his writing. I gotta also give shoutouts to his books The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay — which, since it’s all about a fictionalized version of the Golden Age of comics should at least be genre-adjacent (and it happened to win the Pulitzer) — and Manhood for Amateurs, which has nothing to do with genre but is a delight to listen to in audio (Chabon narrates).

  8. Dan: Aw go on, spoil our fun.

    Yes, of course a district with a Republican incumbent isn’t going to flip out and elect a third party candidate.

  9. Dan: Just to be clear, there’s no chance that Antonelli will win. The county Republican party will choose a replacement candidate, and he’ll win.

    And it will be a slam dunk for the replacement Republican candidate, because their opponent has left an extremely-visible, easily-findable trail of harassment and abuse all over the internet.

  10. Bonnie McDaniel: I’m in the middle of reading Gideon the Ninth. It’s okay, but I’m not swooning over it the way so many other people are. Tamsyn Muir has a peculiar opaque writing style that makes it hard for me to get to know or really care about her characters. Right now, I’m liking Harrowhark and Dulcinea more than the supposed protagonist.

    I haven’t been able to force myself to pick it up yet, because the synopsis and pretty much everything everyone’s said about it (even when they thought they were being positive) has me thinking that I’m really not going to enjoy it. I’ve been reading Cherryh’s Foreigner series and some Hugo nominees and finalists which have been sitting on Mount Tsundoku for awhile.

  11. @JJ and @Bonnie —

    I thought Gideon was tons of fun, but it won’t be any higher than possibly third on my ballot, maybe fourth. And I think you have to be someone who likes wild-and-crazy rides to really appreciate it.

    btw — speaking of books that not everyone appreciates — I finished Planetfall yesterday or the day before, and I’m about 2/3 of the way through After Atlas right now. And I read Before Mars a year or so ago. I really like these books — can’t understand why they don’t have higher ratings on GR. Newman’s writing is great, though I’ll admit she seems to have some difficulty in writing satisfying endings. Anyone else have opinions about this series?

  12. JJ: has left an extremely-visible, easily-findable trail of harassment and abuse all over the internet.

    Oh, yeah, that too!

  13. Gideon the Ninth wasn’t what I expected. It is written in a very magical manner but the story is a Christie style weekend at the manor mystery. The magic is mostly there to provide an extra layer of smoke and mirrors to distract the reader from the clues. Until the very end- once the mystery is solved then the magic becomes relevant.
    I haven’t decided how to rank this yet. I’m not a big fan of teenage angst which this is full off. But it’s definitely intriguing the way the book is put together.

  14. (8) Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000) is perhaps genre adjacent, dealing as it does with the early comic book industry in a slightly alternate universe. I shelve it adjacent to two books by Tom De Haven, Funny Papers (1985) and Derby Dugan’s Depression Funnies (1996), set in an alternate world of newspaper comic strips.

  15. Re: Hugo reading – I haven’t gotten to Gideon yet. I finished all of the Planetfall books and I thought the strongest one was the first, although I liked all of them. I haven’t had a problem with the endings, but they definitely fall into the movie director Peter Weir type of ending where it’s clear life (and the story) continues on.

    I just finished Sam Hawke’s City of Lies and loved it. All of this year’s Astounding finalists are really good. ISTM that it’s one of the strongest ballots in recent years. How common is it that 4 of the finalists are not only novelists, but published 2 books in their respective series in the two eligibility years?

  16. 5) I’ll be interested to see this. My wife twisted my arm to watch the first reboot, and I was hooked. And I did really enjoy the adaptation of The Little Drummer Girl. John Le Carre, the original author, should probably take some credit for the show’s quality, I think.

    This pretty much sums up our Battlestar Galactica experience:

  17. bookworm1398: I’m not a big fan of teenage angst which this is full off.

    Yeah, the angsty teenage angst is what is making this book (and a number of others) a total non-starter for me. 😐

    I know that there are a lot of people who enjoy the angsty teenage angst — otherwise, so many books which are full of it would not get published and sell well. But ugh, apart from slasher novels, there’s not much that is less appealing for me than that. I want to see adults dealing with stuff in an adult way, not self-absorbed whining and stupid self-destructiveness being presented as if it’s heroics.

  18. @Contrarius: I enjoyed most of Planetfall but was very disappointed with the ending. I felt like there were a lot of loose ends left dangling, and it felt unsatisfying. I haven’t read After Atlas or Before Mars, though.

  19. @JJ:

    And it will be a slam dunk for the replacement Republican candidate, because their opponent has left an extremely-visible, easily-findable trail of harassment and abuse all over the internet.

    How much of that will count against rather than for him in a district that elects a hard-righter (even by Republican standards) like Ratcliffe, and how much will be taken as showing him to be a Trumpesquely fearless speaker-of-unPC-truths? How many will cheerfully vote for someone who tried to SWAT a gay man? I can see him going down if he actually espouses the sometime-libertarian position of reducing the military, but he could savage a non-hardright Republican candidate. @Dan may be correct on the numbers given recent election results in which Libertarian candidates didn’t make much of an impression, but I don’t see CUL’s online record costing him votes.

    @Contrarius: My brief note on Planetfall noted the HALish narrator-stuck-with-secrets (way clichéd by now), the many other people acting stupidly, and a panspermian vaguely-Clarkean (Childhood’s End) ~transcendence, all of which grated. After Atlas was better (I noted with amusement that the Boston library filed it under Mystery even though it’s clearly SF, possibly because it’s so thoroughly a procedural), but (as you noted) blows the ending — both too miraculous and too implausible (fpvragvfgf naq frys-fngvfsvrq cbjreshy ohlvat vagb nagv-grpu yvsrfglyr). I think I looked at After Mars and decided it wasn’t worth the time.

    @OGH: Yes, of course a district with a Republican incumbent isn’t going to flip out and elect a third party candidate. That sounds like you have a counterexample, but I can’t think of one; instance? (Note also the fact that there is no incumbent, which gives the Republicans more room to trip themselves.)

    @12: Bonham Carter in full Bellatrix LeStrange mode — fun!

    @8:

    Michael Chabon, 60. Author of the single best fantasy novel about baseball, Summerland which won a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature.

    Only if Brittle Innings is partitioned as science fiction; I can see arguments on either side, but I didn’t think much of that particular one of Chabon’s works. In addition to K&C (as noted by @Contrarius) I’d point to The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. Oh well — EHtG.

  20. @Nina —

    @Contrarius: I enjoyed most of Planetfall but was very disappointed with the ending. I felt like there were a lot of loose ends left dangling, and it felt unsatisfying. I haven’t read After Atlas or Before Mars, though.

    I agree in part, but….

    A large part of the story was really about letting go of all the dross — whether that meant nyy gur zngrevny fghss gur ZP unq ubneqrq bire gur lrnef, or the secret about gur Cngusvaqre’f qrngu, or the related secret about gur snxrq-hc eryvtvba naq gur npghny pbagragf bs Tbq Pvgl. So in that sense, I thought the ending was perfect — she was not only yrggvat tb bs ure obql naq nyy gur bgure zngrevny fghss, ohg nyfb ure irel zrzorefuvc va ure pbzzhavgl naq ure nggnpuzragf gb gur vaqvivqhnyf va vg. Guhf gubfr qebccrq guernqf — gur shgherf bs nyy gubfr bgure crbcyr — orpnzr veeryrinag.

    OTOH, it was jarring and seemed unnecessarily abrupt. So I’m waffling.

  21. Chip Hitchcock: @OGH: Yes, of course a district with a Republican incumbent isn’t going to flip out and elect a third party candidate. That sounds like you have a counterexample, but I can’t think of one; instance? (Note also the fact that there is no incumbent, which gives the Republicans more room to trip themselves.)

    What to you qualifies as a counter example?

    In Texas, a successful Libertarian candidate is one that pulls a percentage of votes that is greater than the major party winner’s margin of victory — between 2 and 4 percent of the total vote (see this Houston Chronicle article for a table of close races (some for Congress, and others).

  22. (18) I hope this is a great success.

    @JJ–I keep hearing how wonderful Gideon the Ninth is, and everything everyone has said to illustrate that wonderfulness has left me wanting to be sure I never read it. Like Seinfeld in that respect, though probably not any others.

    @Chip–I loved both Brittle Innings and Summerland. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, on the other hand, I admired the quality of without ever really even liking it, never mind loving it.

    @OGH–I would like to know if you’re aware of any previously solidly Republican districts that actually flipped and elected a third party candidate. Flipped, not had really close results. Because that would be really interesting. Note that I’m not saying CUL can’t do it, especially in light of the other points made. But I’m not aware of cases where it has happened.

  23. “I keep hearing how wonderful Gideon the Ninth is, and everything everyone has said to illustrate that wonderfulness has left me wanting to be sure I never read it. Like Seinfeld in that respect, though probably not any others.”

    I read it. It was OK, but I wouldn’t put it higher than fourth on my Hugo ballot (and I’ve only read four of the nominees so far). I’m not sure where she wanted to go with this book, but I don’t think it got there.

  24. LisCarey asks I would like to know if you’re aware of any previously solidly Republican districts that actually flipped and elected a third party candidate. Flipped, not had really close results. Because that would be really interesting. Note that I’m not saying CUL can’t do it, especially in light of the other points made. But I’m not aware of cases where it has happened.

    No, it hasn’t happened, though apparently solidly Red seats have increasingly gone Blue over the past several decades. Of the hundreds of Libertarian candidates who’ve run for a US House seat, none has done better than a quarter of the vote with the average pulling well under ten percent.

    It takes money, organisation, and, to a certain extent, name recognition. None of which he has. (Well we know him…) I’m guessing he’ll hew close to to usual five percent such fringe candidates do,

  25. Lis Carey: So far as I’m aware, it hasn’t come anywhere near happening. The link I gave, for instance, shows that Libertarian “successes” are in attracting a small percentage of the vote — a percentage that might make a difference whether the Republican or Democrat contender gets elected, only.

  26. Mike says So far as I’m aware, it hasn’t come anywhere near happening. The link I gave, for instance, shows that Libertarian “successes” are in attracting a small percentage of the vote — a percentage that might make a difference whether the Republican or Democrat contender gets elected, only.

    Even that’s fairly rare. Most of the Libertarian candidates were running in Red districts so solidly so that even twenty of the vote going their way made no difference in effecting the race. Ironically they tend not to run in competitive races for some reason — maybe they’re afraid that they’ll actually stand a chance of winning.

  27. Thanks for a post to brighten a dull day. I have to admit, I’d never heard of this particular ‘alternate universe’ and when I looked it up and read the description, it turns out there’s a very good reason for that. Definitely
    not one I have any interest in exploring. The description of the alpha female made me choke on my drink.
    All that aside, I’m not sure why this is dragging on like it is. If neither one actually created this Omegaverse, then wouldn’t it be open to all?

    8). I’ve never been able to get into Chabon’s work. After reading his article https://www.gq.com/story/my-son-the-prince-of-fashion , which I enjoyed,
    I tried again and just couldn’t make it work.

    So, if I understand it correctly, they’re not actually rebooting BG; they’re just telling stories in that universe. Sort of like “Fear the Walking Dead”. Why not just say they’re expanding it?

  28. Contrarius: I finished Planetfall yesterday or the day before, and I’m about 2/3 of the way through After Atlas right now. And I read Before Mars a year or so ago. I really like these books — can’t understand why they don’t have higher ratings on GR. Newman’s writing is great, though I’ll admit she seems to have some difficulty in writing satisfying endings. Anyone else have opinions about this series?

    I was one of those who nominated it for Best Series. While I agree that the ending of the first novel was a little abrupt, I also found it appropriate to the story — which is the story of the narrator, and the story of the other people in the book is something that is still out there to be explored (or not) at some point. I like Before Mars the best of the four novels, but was surprised at how good I thought Atlas Alone is, given that I wouldn’t have expected that based on the synopsis.

  29. Cat Eldridge: I haven’t figured out why people are so determined to crush out of existence this admittedly remote possibility. Was it a mistake for me to make an item about it? Because everyone really is so literal minded it is no longer possible to exhibit a sense of humor in social media?

  30. Mike asks Mike Glyer on May 25, 2020 at 3:13 pm said:
    Cat Eldridge: I haven’t figured out why people are so determined to crush out of existence this admittedly remote possibility. Was it a mistake for me to make an item about it? Because everyone really is so literal minded it is no longer possible to exhibit a sense of humor in social media?

    For me, I’d say it’s because I really, really don’t like him. He’s been abusive towards people I know and like which means he gets absolutely no sympathy what-so-ever. So no, I see nothing the least humorous in him deciding, I think seriously, to make a run for Congress as a Libertarian.

    Add in that I’m found that most Libertarians are hypocrites. Almost all of them are perfectly willing to restrict a women’s right to control her reproductive health, and have no problem gutting social welfare programs while increasing business welfare spending. They’re not small l libertarians. They’re Republicans with a different label. Still monsters, still unpleasant.

  31. (15) Regarding CUL, there’s his attempted carbon-monoxide poisoning of the guy who had the temerity to not like one of his stories. As this is apolitical, and the man had put CUL up in his house for the duration — and Texans being famously proud of their reputation for hospitality — that ain’t gonna help. Pretty much every human society frowns on poisoning your host and his children.

    Even Ron and Rand Paul had to run as Republicans.

    @Cat Eldridge: It’s long been said “Libertarians are just Republicans who want to do drugs”.

  32. lurkertype notes “It’s long been said “Libertarians are just Republicans who want to do drugs”.

    I’ve dealt with a lot of fringe political sorts down the decades. The hardcore political libertarians are by far the most unpleasant of them. Eric Hoffer true believers with no true charm and all the brains of a snapping turtle most of the time. Give me an honest hashish dealer any day.

  33. @JJ and also @Chip —

    I was one of those who nominated it for Best Series. While I agree that the ending of the first novel was a little abrupt, I also found it appropriate to the story — which is the story of the narrator, and the story of the other people in the book is something that is still out there to be explored (or not) at some point.

    Yes, I thought it mostly fit into the story — except that vg jnf uneq sbe zr gb oryvrir gung gur Cngusvaqre jbhyq unir orra gung rnfvyl zvfyrq ol svaqvat n obql, be jbhyq unir tvira hc gung rnfvyl. Naq lrf, V xabj gung cneg bs gur ernfba jnf gung fur unqa’g gnxra bss ure fhvg, fb fur jnfa’g qverpgyl va gbhpu jvgu Tbq Pvgl’f raivebazrag (jura gur ZP gnxrf bss ure fhvg, vg jnf nabgure boivbhf ryrzrag bs ure nonaqbavat nyy gur “fghss” va ure yvsr, juvggyvat urefrys qbja gb ure rffrapr, naq gur Cngusvaqre qvqa’g rire qb gung) — ohg Fhu (Fhr? fc?) unq orra fb qevira naq fb qrgrezvarq naq vaqrsngvtnoyr guebhtu gur ragver cebprff gung V unq gebhoyr oryvrivat fur jbhyq whfg tvir hc yvxr gung.

    Also, I finished After Atlas earlier today, and I wasn’t bothered by its ending. The plot was always going to expand from tight focus to bigger issues, so I wasn’t surprised when it did just that — and if a person is reading it as part of the series rather than as a standalone, the direction it went shouldn’t be a surprise. And Chip, when the commune got started it wasn’t crbcyrq jvgu gur “frys-fngvfsvrqyl cbjreshy”, nf lbh chg vg. Gur cbjreshy jrera’g rire n cneg bs gur npghny pbzzhar/phyg, naq gurl pregnvayl jrera’g nagv-grpu — gurl jrer fvzcyl gnxvat nqinagntr bs vgf eryvtvbhf genccvatf.

    I like Before Mars the best of the four novels, but was surprised at how good I thought Atlas Alone is

    I liked Before Mars very much when I read it before, except that I felt very let down by its ending. I’m going to read it again now that I’ve been through the first two books, and see if my opinion changes. But that’ll be a day or two — I’m taking a break right now with Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, which so far is an interesting take on a Harry Potter-ish universe with a few twists. As people sometimes say, “in conversation with” Potter tropes.

  34. 2) None of these ideas are even remotely new. Patricia Briggs even has a series called Alpha and Omega that started back in 2008. And the “knotting” thing is hardly new either and showed up in some erotic paranormal romances (Lora Leigh’s I think, though I’m not sure) more than ten years ago. The fanfiction origins might go back even further.

    Regarding Gideon the Ninth, I’m glad I’m not the only one who was put off by the description of the novel. Actually, if someone had mentioned that its basically a classic country house mystery in a gonzo space setting before, I would have been more interested in reading it.

  35. OK, all the electoral questions got me thinking so I looked up election results.

    AFAIK there have only been two independents elected to the House of Representatives since 1950: Frazier Reams of Ohio in the 1950s and Bernie Sanders. Sen. Sanders did not have a Democratic opponent when he last ran for re-election in 2018.

    There have only been three senators in the past 50 years who were independents who beat the Republican and the Democrat: James Buckley in 1970, Joseph Lieberman in 2006, and Angus King in 2012 and 2018. I think Buckley was the only one who beat an incumbent; Lieberman lost the Democratic primary and then won as an independent, and King won an open seat (and was a former governor).

    This is probably more than you want to know.

  36. @Contrarius: I did not observe that ?subtlety? when I read the book; I may have missed it.

  37. @OGH (;et ‘x’ represent a bullet):
    x @Lis Carey’s example was what I was asking about.
    x The Houston article leaves out a key question: who won? ISTM that a Libertarian getting more than the margin of victory in a contest a Republican wins is not relevant, because (as I see it) Libertarian positions largely fall on the right end of the spectrum, rather than circling around or triangulating as I’ve seen some political writers argue small-l libertarianism does.
    x wrt Was it a mistake for me to make an item about it? Because everyone really is so literal minded it is no longer possible to exhibit a sense of humor in social media?: different people perceive different things as funny — and there’s plenty of difference among Filers, despite the occasional claims to the contrary.

  38. @Cat Eldridge: Ironically they tend not to run in competitive races for some reason — maybe they’re afraid that they’ll actually stand a chance of winning. Or of dividing the vote in a way that lets the Democrat win, in an inversion of what has IIRC happened in Maine (e.g. with both of LePage’s “victories”). I don’t know how many states call a runoff if there’s a multiway split rather than simply giving the prize to the holder of the plurality, and how many take some intermediate position (e.g., 40% is enough to win if it’s the top count).
    I wonder how many people run under the Libertarian label while taking an anti-choice position? I have no patience with their failure to understand that their personal successes aren’t theirs alone, but being anti-choice seems such an obvious breach of their principles (which the few I’ve known held to — or maybe those were just small-l libertarians…).

  39. Chip Hitchcock: ISTM that a Libertarian getting more than the margin of victory in a contest a Republican wins is not relevant, because (as I see it) Libertarian positions largely fall on the right end of the spectrum…

    Apparently it’s not relevant to the point that interests you, however, your thought that the LP views are closer to Republican views lends itself to the possibility that LPs are carving off a slice of the Republican vote, which if done in sufficient numbers could flip a district, just not to the Libertarian Party.

  40. According to Fanlore, the constellation of tropes roughly encapsulated by A/B/O (or Omegaverse) in fanfic goes back to 2010, and knotting specifically goes back at least as far as the mid-90s.

    There’s some really interesting uses of the A/B/O alternate universe out there, which use it to facilitate complex world building and to examine gender and prejudice, same as the D/s universe. Not that there’s anything wrong with using it for romance and erotica, either.

    @Mike Glyer

    I thought your intro was funny/obviously tongue in cheek and the interview excerpt, uh, less so. Always forget how different Antonelli’s perception of reality is from mine, quite discombobulating… I suspect after his prior performances a lot of people just skip straight to annoyed or angry when he’s the topic.

  41. Meredith: I suspect after his prior performances a lot of people just skip straight to annoyed or angry when he’s the topic.

    I am always disgusted by the complete lack of self-awareness, ethics, morals, or conscience demonstrated by CUL. Nevertheless, I prefer to have his despicable activities subjected to scrutiny under sunlight where everyone can see what he’s doing — and take action, if necessary — rather than allowing him to engage in his appalling sociopathic behavior under the radar.

  42. JJ says I am always disgusted by the complete lack of self-awareness, ethics, morals, or conscience demonstrated by CUL. Nevertheless, I prefer to have his despicable activities subjected to scrutiny under sunlight where everyone can see what he’s doing — and take action, if necessary — rather than allowing him to engage in his appalling sociopathic behavior under the radar.

    CUL is a reminder that politics is always personal. When Angus King won as an Independent for a Senate seat here, it was after being an amazingly popular Governor. (Republicans still dispute that and continue to call him a carpetbagger as he moved here from NJ — fifty years ago.) a random politician running for that seat as an
    Independent wouldn’t have stood a chance of winning.

    CUL is a sociopath who’s going to get ground into raw, bleeding meat by the politics of a Texas campaign provided that he actually wages one which I kinda of doubt.

  43. One of the better turnouts for a Libertarian candidate was that of Kennita Watson (a member of Westercon 74 Tonopah and BASFA) when she ran as a Libertarian for the California State Board of Equalization. As I recall, she got around 20% of the vote running against an incumbent with no opposition from the other major party. Not too bad for someone whose platform called for the abolition of the agency for whose governing body she was standing.

    (There are people in the city where I live who repeatedly and loudly claim that incorporating Fernley was a bad idea and the city should dis-incorporate, apparently because they mistakenly think doing so will allow the city to walk away from any debts it has incurred, especially a very large long-term debt — the payments are a very significant proportion of my annual property tax bill — to rebuild the municipal water system. I keep telling them that they should run for city council on such a platform and see if their fellow citizens think it’s that good an idea. So far, I’ve yet to see any of them do so. Kennita had the courage of her convictions, which I respected even though I didn’t necessarily agree with her.)

  44. Lurkertype:

    It’s long been said “Libertarians are just Republicans who want to do drugs”.

    Shrugs. Another one is a racist with a college degree.

  45. Somewhere I still have the underground paper from Madison with the greatest political ad ever:

    Tim Wong
    for Register of Deeds
    Abolish Private Property!

    Great use of white space, as I recall. I’m not sure if it was Register or Registrar.

  46. I am reminded of the following official gubernatorial candidate statement from page 54 of our June 2018 voter guide:

    Johnny Wattenburg | No Party Preference
    Why not!

    He got all of 4,973 votes.

  47. Chiming in late on the Gideon the Ninth reactions: It’s a book that clearly strikes a very particular chord for some readers. I started it when it was the book-of-the-month for the Sword and Laser book club — and because I happened to have a hard copy (courtesy of the Sirens Conference fundraising auction) which meant I could slot it into a different reading context than the other things I was working on. And…I just couldn’t get into it. The protagonist’s personal brand of snarky nihilism left me cold, and the worldbuilding was all atmosphere and no logic. I appreciate that there are readers who love it for those same things, but it was DNF for me.

    I also got this sense that … hmm, how to put this … it’s an “anointed book”. A book that someone somewhere has decided will be a designated popular sensation. And it’s gotten a lot of structural support (both formally from the publisher, and informally from the reading community) in support of this designation. (For example: tor-dot-com doing an official “re-read” of the book at a point when the paperback wasn’t even out yet.) And that bothers me because that kind of anointing can become self-perpetuating by sheer strength of numbers. Pump a book up, get large numbers of people to give it a try purely on the basis that it’s “the cool thing to be reading” and you’ll end up with a significantly larger chunk of people who genuinely did enjoy it than you would have it if had needed to achieve those eyeballs by ordinary word-of-mouth.

    And this isn’t meant to be a knock on Gideon itself. Because there are people who genuinely do love the book for all of its snark and its nonsensical Goths-in-space worldbuilding. There are plenty of books that simply Aren’t For Me and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But because I rely a lot on community word-of-mouth to point me to books I might enjoy, I’m wary of practices that distort the effectiveness of the informal rec network.

  48. I really enjoyed Gideon the Ninth. It typified the sort of fun Grimdark work that really scratches my itch. It’s currently at the top of my leader board.

    I read Planet Fall a couple of years back and was whelmed by it. I’m not big on religion in SF and this had too much of that. Also….[ROT13 to avoid spoilers]

    Gur uhznaf jrera’g uhzna. Nsgre neevivat, gurl jrera’g vagrerfgrq va rkcybevat naq yrneavat. Gurl whfg fng va bar fcbg znxvat neg juvyr jnvgvat sbe gurve cebcurg gb nccrne. Uhznaf ner phevbhf. Gur punenpgref va gur obbx jrer vaphevbhf. Ernq Rzzn’f “Gur Fcyvg Jbeyq” frevrf vs lbh jnag gb ernq ure ng ure irel orfg. Vs V jnf vapyvarq gb jnaqre vagb ibgvat sbe frevrf, V’z abg fher guvf bar jbhyq trg nobir Abnu.

    Which leads to my criticism of The City in the Middle of the Night.

    Gur uhznaf jrera’g uhzna. Orvat fghpx ba na vaubfcvgnoyr cynarg, ohg nyfb xabjvat gung gurer ner erfbheprf ninvynoyr, gur uhznaf qba’g ybbx sbe jnlf gb npprff gubfr erfbheprf. Vafgrnq gurl fvg va gur zhq naq fybjyl qribyir. Gurer jnf gbb zhpu gvzr fghpx vafvqr gur punenpgre’f urnqf juvpu V svaq obevat. Zber “fubjvat” naq yrff “gryyvat” cyrnfr.

    Gung bcrarq hc gur avgcvpxvat cneg bs zl oenva naq vg jnf nyy qbjauvyy sebz gurer. Gur jbeyq ohvyqvat gung znxrf ab fpvragvsvp frafr. Vs gur cynarg fvqr va pbafgnag fha jnf fb ubg gung zngrevnyf jbhyq nhgb pbzohfg, gura gurer vf ab punapr sbe uhzna pensg gb trg gb gur cynarg jvgubhg xvyyvat gur bpphcnagf. Nyfb, gur grzcrengher qvssreragvny jbhyq unir orra snagnfgvp sbe perngvat yvzvgyrff, purnc cbjre. Lrg gur uhznaf whfg fvg va gur zhq naq qribyir.

    Gur pbapyhfvba vf gung sbe gur uhznaf gb cebterff, gurl unir gb nonaqba gung juvpu znxrf gurz uhzna. Gur rpub bs gur Arj Fbivrg Zna jnf gbb fgebat. Guvf vf cebonoyl tbvat orybj Abnu.

    Regards,
    Dann
    In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. – Thomas Jefferson

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