Pixel Scroll 5/31/16 Every Bark a Doorway

(1) ATTACKING CREATORS. Devin Faraci at Birth. Movies. Death. lit up the internet with the claim “Fandom Is Broken”.

… Last week the AV Club ran an excellent piece about the nature of modern fan entitlement, and I think it’s fairly even-handed. The piece covers both the reaction to an all-female Ghostbusters reboot but also the hashtag that trended trying to get Elsa a girlfriend in Frozen 2. The author of that piece, Jesse Hasenger, draws a line between the two fan campaigns, rightly saying that whether driven by hate (Ghostbusters) or a desire for inclusion (Frozen 2) both campaigns show the entitlement of modern fan culture. It’s all about demanding what you want out of the story, believing that the story should be tailored to your individual needs, not the expression of the creators….

The old fan entitlement has been soldered onto the ‘customer is always right’ mindset that seems to motivate the people who make Yelp so shitty. I’m spending a dollar here, which makes me the lord and master of all, is the reasoning (I don’t even want to speculate about whether or not modern fans spend their dollars on licensed, legal products – that’s an essay for another weary day). It’s what makes people act like assholes to servers, and somehow it’s become the way ever-growing segments of fans are behaving towards creators. It’s been interesting watching so many people bring up Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in the Captain America fracas; one of part of it is that their Jewishness allows angry, petulant fans to throw down a social justice bomb but it also speaks to how modern fans see many modern creators. They’re nobody compared to the ones who invented this stuff. The modern creator is the server, and they should be going back into the kitchen and bringing back a Captain America cooked to their exact specifications, and without any sort of complications or surprises. This is what fans have always wanted, but the idea of being consumers – people who are offering money for services rendered – only reinforces the entitlement.

And so we have these three elements – one old as fandom itself, one rooted in technological advances and one impacted by the corporatization of storytelling – coming together in such a way to truly break fandom. I wish this was the part of the essay where I come to you with a hopeful pep talk about how we can all be better, but I just don’t see a positive solution. If anything, I see things getting worse – creators walling themselves off from fans while corporate masters happily throw vision and storytelling under the bus to appease the people who can get hashtags trending. “You can’t always get what you want” is a sentiment that belongs to another era when it comes to mass storytelling. I recently read Glen Weldon’s excellent The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture and the arc of fandom it sketches out is a profoundly disheartening one, with Batfans morphing from monkish annotators of the character’s fictional history into crusaders harrassing anyone on the internet who sees Batman differently than they do….

(2) THE RISING OF THE DOUGH. More details about the Sons of Anarchy cast payment problems at a Houston convention this past weekend from Official Ava Jade Cosplay: “Space City Comic (Con) – Thousands Swindled, Contracts Broken and Many Still Looking for Answers”:

The previously included statement about the rooms not being paid for has been retracted-  A representative from the staff contacted me and informed me that I was misinformed about the exact situation. There was a mishap regarding the hotel check in. The credit card for the room was for the reservations and not for incidentals. Upon checking in, some cast members had to pay cash for the incidentals, instead of putting their own credit card up, and risking being charged upon checking out.  The cast was NOT charged for their room.  I was informed during the interview, that there was a problem checking in the hotel due to the credit card not being accepted, it later was realized that we should clarify to what extent.   When Mr. Hunnam took his check to the bank to cash it, he found out that the check that was given to him was written from an account that had been CLOSED. This happened to the entire cast. Many of the actors went to the promoters office to demand payment, where the promoter ended up calling the cops because he was “being held hostage”. The cast was in no way held him hostage, but wanted answers and payment.  The panel schedule was completely jacked up, the cast was not given the correct times for photo ops and for panels. The Friday panel was canceled due to the AVI team refusing to allow anyone onstage until they were paid. They were promised payment upfront, instead they weren’t paid and pulled the plug on the event. The cast was all there, waiting to go on. It seems that the event promoter broke the contract not once, but TWICE.

Bleeding Cool wrote a story of its own based on the Official Ava Jade post with the dramatic headline, “Police Called On Cast Of Sons Of Anarchy After They Demanded Space City Comic Con Pay Up”. Houston police were helpful in protecting the convention staff from an irate customer —

Comments from volunteers included this, from Shelley Montrose,

This will be the last Saturday/Sunday that I volunteer at any Comic Convention. I was shouted at more in the 6 hours that I volunteered on Saturday than I was in the entire year last year. Friday was amazing and Saturday in my LAST 2 MINUTES there HPD had to intervene as a grown man came into my face and threatened to “choke me to death, rape me, and burn me like on YouTube.” I decided not to come to my scheduled 8 hour volunteer shift on Sunday. I thought my life was in danger. One of Charlie’s bodyguards ran over to help me before the guy got to me. Honestly, I thought the guy was gonna to hit me. After reading this article I think I understand what happened a little bit better. I can’t even explain how horrible it was the tell people who traveled all the way from England, China, Australia,etc., that the $800-$3000 that they spent on a prepaid ticket will not be honored at the desk at the majority of the sons of anarchy autograph sessions , and that they would have to go to the ATMs on the inside of the convention ( because all the ATMs on the outside of the entrances were broken ) in order to get money to pay cash for any autographs or photo ops they wanted with the celebrities.I personally ended up going to the ATM to help people pay for the prepaid tickets that they purchased for autographs with the celebrities. I won’t even go into how much that puts me back on my budget, including but not limited to my rent, utilities, and food.I was with Charlie Hunnam for almost four hours, and He pulled it together for all of his fans. Anyone that was there saw me standing beside Charlie Hunnam, I was taking pictures of them with him, knows that he was very giving to fans as well as professional. I feel like I did a good job of keeping the fans calm, entertained, and happy until they got to Charlie Hunnam .Ron Perlman was also professional as well. When I left he was still excepting those bogus tickets that people had pre-purchased.

(3) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Speaking of grand theft – Swedish astronomers theorize Planet 9 is a stolen exoplanet.

New research suggests the mysterious and controversial “Planet 9” isn’t an original member of our solar system. According to a new computer simulation developed by astronomers at Lund University in Sweden, the ninth planet is an exoplanet — stolen by the sun from its original host star.

“It is almost ironic that while astronomers often find exoplanets hundreds of light years away in other solar systems, there’s probably one hiding in our own backyard,” researcher Alexander Mustill said in a news release….

 

(4) EXCELLENCE IN FILKING. SF Site News reported that nominations have opened for the 2016 Pegasus Awards, given by the Ohio Valley Filk Festival.

pegasus logo

Any member of the worldwide filk community is eligible to win. Past Nominees have hailed from the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Australia, and Singapore as well as the United States.

The nomination and ballot procedure is similar to that of the Hugo, except that one does not need to be a paid member of the convention to nominate or vote. Anyone with an interest in Filking or Filk music can place a nomination and/or vote.

The results are tabulated, the winners determined, and the award is presented at the Pegasus Awards Banquet...

There are currently six Pegasus award categories, including two floating categories that are different each year.

Fans suggested nominees and songs through the Brainstorming Poll, and the results can be seen on these pages:

Ballots must be received by 12:01AM PDT, August 1, 2016, whether cast online or by mail.

(5) BEWARE GAME OF THRONES SPOILER. Here’s something George R.R. Martin revealed at Balticon 50:

According to Vanity Fair, Martin appeared at a convention in Baltimore called Balticon to read aloud to those in attendance a new chapter from his forthcoming book The Winds of Winter. During his time in front of the crowd, the author announced that Brienne of Tarth is the descendant of Ser Duncan the Tall.

For those who don’t know, Ser Duncan the Tall is one of Westeros’ most famous knights, making this connection with Brienne particularly noteworthy, especially when considering he’s one of Martin’s favorite characters.

(6) MORE SHOOTING. ScienceFiction.com says “’Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ Gets Planned Reshoots After Disney’s Rumored Unhappiness”.

Many films that are destined for the big screen get re-shoots or planned production times after an initial cut of the film has been done where the crews can go back and shoot additional or replacement footage for certain scenes.  It’s a fairly common practice, although the re-shot and re-edited scenes are usually minimal in nature, comparative to the overall plot of the film.  Rumor has it, however, that the upcoming Star Wars spinoff, ‘Rogue One,’ has heavy reshoots planned by parent company Disney, who is unhappy with how the film has fared so far with test audiences.

There has only been one trailer released so far for the film, which was actually met with great enthusiasm from the fans.  However, a cool-looking trailer does not directly equate to a successful and well-received film — look no further than this very franchise’s ‘Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace’ for evidence of such.

(7) WHO BLABBED? Cora Buhlert shares Cap’s secret with us:

(8) SFWA YA JURORS. “Andre Norton Award Jury Announced” at the SFWA Blog.  

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America announce the members of the jury for the 2016 Andre Norton Award. Throughout the coming year, the jury will be compiling its list of picks for the Norton Award. This year for the first time, SFWA will release a Norton Honor list of the top 15-20 books compiled from member votes and jury picks.

Chair Ellen Klages says, “Speculative fiction is a literature about exploration, possibilities, and dreams. The Andre Norton Award honors the best SF/F works written for the people who will create the future — children and young adults. What they read today will influence them — and the world — for decades to come.”

The jury members are: Ellen Klages (jury chair), E.C. Myers, Fran Wilde, Leah Bobet, and Jei D. Marcade. Read their bios at the linked post.

(9) SFWA SFWA. Cat Rambo notes anyone can watch the SFWA Chat Hour, 1st edition, on YouTube, “complete with annoying echo that we will fix next time.”

Come hear Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) officials and staff Cat Rambo, M.C.A. Hogarth, and Kate Baker talk about the recent Nebula conference weekend, current SFWA efforts, and what’s coming in 2016 in the first episode of the biweekly SFWA Chat Hour.

 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born May 31, 1961 — Lea Thompson, known to the world for other things but to fans for Howard the Duck and Back to the Future.

(11) BUTLER CONFERENCE. UC San Diego will be the site of “Shaping Change: Remembering Octavia E. Butler Through Archives, Art, and Worldmaking”, a conference from June 3-5 that is open to the public.

Shaping change

50 years from now, how have we shaped change (through art, activism, and archives) in the world? What have we left behind that that we can draw from our presents and pasts? What lessons in Butler’s life and writing will help forestall what seems like the inevitable collapse of human civilization?

Organized by Shelley Streeby (UC San Diego) and Ayana Jamieson (founder, Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network), the event will feature talks from: Adrienne Maree Brown, Aimee Bahng, Alexis Lothian, M. Asli Dukan, Ayana Jamieson, Krista Franklin, Lisa Bolekaja, Melanie West, Moya Bailey, Nisi Shawl, Ola Ronke, Rasheedah Phillips, Shelley Streeby, Sophia Echavarria, Ted Chiang, and Walidah Imarisha.

(12) MEETING ABOUT MEDUSA. Steven Baxter and Alastair Reynolds will speak at Foyles Bookshop in Charing Cross Road (tickets required) on June 4.

Foyles talk

Join us for a conversation with two leading figures in science fiction, Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter, as they discuss their new collaboration The Medusa Chronicles. Inspired by the classic Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s short story ‘A Meeting with Medusa’, The Medusa Chronicles continues the story of Commander Howard Falcon over centuries of space-exploration. One of the most compelling novels of either author’s career, it combines moments of incredible action with an intricately-realised depiction of an expansive universe.

Stephen Baxter is the author of more than forty novels, including the Sunday Times bestselling Long Earth series, co-authored with Sir Terry Pratchett, and the acclaimed Time’s Eye trilogy, co-authored with Sir Arthur C. Clarke. He has won major awards in the UK, US, Germany, and Japan. Born in 1957 he has degrees from Cambridge and Southampton.

Alastair Reynolds was born in Barry, South Wales, in 1966. He studied at Newcastle and St Andrews universities, has a Ph.D. in astronomy and worked as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency before becoming a full-time writer. An award-winning as well as bestselling writer, with more than thirteen published novels to his name, Locus described him as ‘the most exciting space opera writer working today’.

Together, Reynolds and Baxter will talk about Clarke’s influence on their own writing, the themes that underpin his work, and how they were inspired to continue his story, as well as their bodies of work as a whole. This will be followed by an opportunity for the audience to ask their own questions and a book signing.

This event is in association with The Arthur C. Clarke Award and SFX.

(13) BYO LIFE ON MARS. SpaceReview.com sifts its favorite ideas from the many conferences about human expeditions to the red planet, in “A Year on Mars”.

How many humans on Mars conferences do we need in a year? That thought came to mind during the recent Humans to Mars (H2M) Summit in Washington, DC. There are a lot of them, especially in Washington. There were at least six humans-to-Mars related public events in Washington in 2015, not counting the NASA-sponsored human Mars landing site selection workshop in Houston. Now 2016 is shaping up the same way. Last Tuesday following the H2M conference, the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning DC-based think-tank, held a talk “Beyond the Moon: What will it take to get astronauts on Mars?” The Mars Society was in Washington last August and will be back in September, and there will probably be at least one or two other Mars-related meetings or lectures that will happen later this year. And not everything is happening in Washington: the same week as the H2M conference there were a series of talks on Mars at the International Space Development Conference in Puerto Rico.

Some, but not all, of this attention to the humans to Mars subject is due to the success of the movie The Martian and the book that inspired it. But the subject is also culturally bigger than that: witness the attention that Mars One got last year, both positive and negative, and NASA pushing the theme hard as well (every time somebody uses the hashtag #JourneyToMars an angel gets its wings.) Human missions to Mars, or at least talking about humans on Mars, is all the rage these days, and H2M has made a pretty impressive effort at taking the lead.

H2M seems to have upped its game recently. Their website is slick, featuring computer animations and links to video recordings of most of the presentations at their conference, much of which was live-streamed….

(14) ATTENTION ANN LECKIE. “Tea in space” might be a highly scientific idea. Scientists say it could be used to create useful materials for astronauts visiting Mars.

Former Prime Minister William Gladstone said: ‘If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; If you are depressed, it will cheer you; If you are excited, it will calm you.’

It may also one day help astronauts on Mars.

The humble cup of tea holds the key to new ‘wonder materials’, new research suggests.

The bacteria found in tea could lead to breakthroughs in water filtration and technology.

(15) THIS IS STRANGE. An sf novel hidden in Reddit posts? The BBC interviewed the anonymous author.

The plot ranges across the CIA, hallucinogenic drugs, humpback whales, Nazis and the death of Michael Jackson. But just as mysterious and intriguing is the way in which what is being dubbed ‘The Interface Series’ is emerging into the world.

If you watched the TV-series Lost, you’ll probably be familiar with that feeling of confused anticipation as you hope for several threads of narrative to tie together. Over the course of this month, a new kind of mystery, for a new kind of audience, has been unfolding on Reddit – the online bulletin board where people post articles and comments on threads about a bewildering range of subjects….

The posts appeared in threads about a bizarre range of seemingly unconnected topics including: a debate about whether pirates really did have parrots, the responses to somebody seeking advice about how to help a relative with a drugs problem and the comments under a video of a cat sliding down stairs.

But these weren’t just random nonsensical rants. There is a theme that ties them all together; ‘The Flesh Interfaces’ which seem to be “portals of some kind, made of thousands of dead bodies, which transport biological matter to some unknown place and returns it inside a fleshy sack, heavily dosed with LSD.”

(16) DAILY TRIVIA. George R.R. Martin, wrote 14 episodes of the Beauty and the Beast TV series, which ran from 1987-90.

(17) JOHNSON TRIBUTE VIDEO. See part one of the George Clayton Johnson Memorial held at the Egyptian on February 26.

[Thanks to Wendy Gale, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Will R., Cat Rambo, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Arifel.]

155 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/31/16 Every Bark a Doorway

  1. @ Chip Hitchcock

    * the Ryetown (“Escher Memorial”) Hilton, sometime Lunacon hotel where floors 4 and 7 are connected by the Transdimensional Passageway;
    * the former Sheraton Park in DC (the site of many Disclaves, until it was rebuilt and became too upscale; it’s now the Marriott Wardman Park), where one step took you from the basement (aka function level) to the 6th floor of the “motor inn” (AFAICT replaced by the Cleveland House Apartments).
    (stamps cane, waves foot)

    You kids! When I did my graduate work, the department was located in the infamous Dwinelle Hall at Berkeley, the building that has ground-level entrances on four different levels, and where half the building has 4 stories and the other half 7 stories, only one pair of which connect without a vertical disjunction. (The building even comes with its own folklore providing spurious reasons for the design.)

  2. But BOY is this an emotionally charged topic with everyone looking for representation.

    It is. I’ve been a fan of Faraci for almost a decade (discovered him while he was working at CHUD.com and followed him over to the creation of BadAss Digest/Birth. Movies. Death.) and follow him on twitter. He’s been sharing the commentary on his piece in a series of tweets.

    https://twitter.com/devincf/status/738035715921973248

  3. Using the mail internet took time effort and you had to sound polished and write without too many typos\ if you wanted people to even consider your suggestions.

    Complaints that get listened to in this era need to arrive in tsunami waves.

  4. In the most recent Ansible, Thog’s Masterclass has a “Department of Anticipating Chuck Tingle.”

  5. Ah, con hotels. I helped run the first Eastercon in the Radisson Non-Euclidian at Heathrow…

  6. Actually I bet complaints where people took the time to write a real paper letter would get a lot of attention nowadays. That is certainly the impression I get from my Congresscritters.

  7. Surely if you were going to talk about the ne plus ultra of fan complaining as regards DC, you’d go to Green Lantern. There was a whole group calling themselves, what was it, Friends Of Hal Know Everybody Respects Sinestro or something like that.

  8. Too many people. Too few elevators. Almost normal.

    Ahhh, that reminds me of the Adam’s Mark in Philadelphia…

  9. I didn’t read the Glen Weldon book but there was an excerpt of it on Slate about Batman’s gay subtext and it seemed really weird. Like, he was citing the 1950s moral panic over comics as supporting evidence as if Wertham’s paranoid conspiracy theory was correct, and he presented it like the idea of Golden Age Batman having gay subtext with an underage Robin would be a shining inspiration for gay people as opposed to a horribly inappropriate situation and a damaging stereotype that gay men were trying to debunk.

  10. Well, the Adam’s Mark in Philadelphia was the hotel for Anthrocon for several years, as well as Philcon before that. For the former, people going around in full costume often end up with limited peripheral vision, so will sometimes have ‘handlers’ that need to be on the elevator with them, as well as taking up more space in the elevator by themselves. When the elevators started breaking down (four of them in close proximity facing each other, and often there would be only two running), it clogged everything up. Believe me, there were times when it was faster to walk up the 15 floors or whatever it was to the top floor con suite rather than wait for the elevators.

    I’ve been told that threats of pulling the con out and going elsewhere got them to completely strip out and reinstall one of the elevators sometime in 2004. There was much rejoicing. Then the hotel got sold and torn down in 2005 before they could fix anything else.

  11. Just idle wondering, but does anyone know if there is an connection between the multi volume MilSF series by Jack Campbell called “The Lost Fleet” and the multi colume MilSF series by Raymond L. Weil called “The Lost Fleet”?

    None whatsoever. I’ve just bailed on the first of the Weil books halfway through, style is too reminiscent of the Kevin J Anderson thing from last year.

  12. I helped run the first Eastercon in the Radisson Non-Euclidian at Heathrow…

    That hotel makes a cameo appearance in Diana Wynne Jones’ wonderful Deep Secret. (Anyone who has been there for a con will recognise it fairly easily.)

  13. @David Brain

    I’ve never been to that convention but I think I remember the cameo in Jones’ book. Sounds like a memorable place.

    I worked in a medical school for a while where a lot of the buildings were connected to each other by sky tunnels (think corridor but several stories up, sometimes with windows to the outside, sometimes not.) Since the buildings were dotted over a hill, this gave something of the same effect. You could start on the third floor and end up on the sixth without ever seeing a stair or an elevator.

  14. @Cat: “sky tunnels”

    At Dragon Con, we call those the Habitrails, and they have much the same effect. One night I got one of the passages doing the River Kwai tune.. 🙂

  15. @Bruce Baugh

    Having watched the US Presidential campaign closely, particularly the Democratic party’s nomination race, I’m well aware it’s not just fandom. The internet is the troll’s native habitat, their home country, their port of call; the rest of us are just visiting. And when you look at the internet, the internet looks into you, tempting you to start saying it’s really about ethics…

  16. Doris V. Sutherland writes about the Hugo comics nominations:

    http://womenwriteaboutcomics.com/2016/06/01/comics-controversy-2016-hugo-awards/

    Still plugging along at Aeronaut’s Windlass. I really don’t care about the airships, which is causing some investment difficulties in general. I’m curious about the planet’s surface, and about the etherists, and about the cats, but am only getting drips and drabs. Not giving up yet though.

    Worst elevator wait ever was to get down the CN Tower after a charity stair climb. There weren’t well-defined lines, and the one I was in turned out to go nowhere. That triggered a panic attack, and some very kind strangers summoned security who got me back to the ground more quickly. Too bad, because the climb itself was fantastic.

  17. I just finished book 2 of the Kencyrath series. I’d like to move on to 3, but it’s time to get going on the two books I haven’t read for best novel, one of which – Seveneves – I’m worried I will bounce off.

    So I’m just barely into The Aeronaut’s Windlass and I’m not minding it, so far. I’m getting some of the elements I associate with Butcher, but it’s interesting to read something that isn’t Dresden Files-related. Like Dawn Incognito, I have very little interest in the airships, but I’m hoping that won’t matter. I also have very little interest in banking, but absolutely loved The Dagger and the Coin (so far, haven’t read book five yet); and, now that I think about it, I have very little interest in steam boats, but loved Fevre Dream.

  18. Kathodus, if you’re just barely into The Aeronaut’s Windlass, you might be interested in the discussion happening over at Compuserve. We’ve just started chapters 1-3, with three new chapters scheduled every two days….

  19. Couple of days back, people were talking about recipes in comics and other books. These recipes aren’t exactly practical, but they are interesting.

  20. @Cassy B – I tried to go there a few days ago and create an account, but it says there’s already a kathodus, which makes me wonder if I’d already signed up (I think I may have last year when people here were talking about the Compuserve forums). When I try resetting my password, I get a message saying AOL is unable to do so at this time. Gar! I don’t want to set up another account if I already set one up once. I’ve basically been paralyzed with indecision since then and haven’t retried.

    Hmm… I don’t see any messages at all about Compuserve in my email. I’ll try setting up an account.

  21. Okay, this fellow looks kind of science-fictiony (or dragony.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=artCx3rSU3Y

    Wish I could have seen it (from a safe distance.) Biggest one I’ve seen in the wild was probably in the 10-12 feet range. (I always wish I had had a camera with a good zoom with me at the time–I was closer than the golfers were to that gator, but not good enough to get a good shot with a fixed-focus camera.)

  22. There’s always the work-around of “kathodus1”, etc. Love to have you join in. I’ve heard other complaints about “reset password”; I don’t know if it works properly.

  23. Aright, I signed up. We’ll see if you can figure out who I am 😉

    ETA: Three chapters a day seems like a good pace – it will encourage me to read at least that much, but isn’t so much that I’m likely to fall behind.

  24. @kathodus

    Seveneves had some very sad bits and some very grim bits but I really enjoyed the stuff after “then five thousand years pass.” Other people couldn’t stand that stuff, so it’s obviously a very individual thing.

    I tried The Library At Mount Char but had to give it up. Horror of the “people being horrible to each other” variety, which makes me too upset to sleep. It’s a pity because the bits that weren’t horror were really interesting. I deleted it off the Kindle unfinished.

    Currently reading Mirabile which is rather light and fluffy but a lot of fun. I think I’m going to get Hellspark also.

  25. I’m almost 200 pages into The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin, and loving it, so far.

    It has yet to make me want to change my wanting Naomi Novik’s Uprooted to take home the Best Novel Hugo. But that opinion might change when I finish it, of course. 😉

  26. Just finished Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh. Liked it quite a lot.

    The idea is that there’s suddenly appeared a lot of different coloured spheres on earth. If you use to spheres and press them to your head, you will augment yourself in different ways. One colour gives you better ability to sing, another to hold your breath, another more strength and so on. The better effect, the higher rarity of the spheres.

    There is a class perspective to it, in that rare spheres is sold for large amounts which means that poorer people will prefer to sell them instead of using them. This mean that those who can afford them can buy themselves advantages such as higher intelligence, speed reading or photographic memory.

    It is a Young Adult book, but not in a way that gets irritating more than during a few occasions. Nice characters, a bit uneven pacing, but overall I was very happy with it.

  27. Kathodus, it’s 3 chapters per two days. We’ll finish mid-July, a few weeks before the Hugo voting deadline. (We can speed up the reading rate if the participants agree.)

  28. @Cat – given my history with Stephenson, I have no idea what I’ll think. I’ve waffled severely reading Filers’ varying assessments.

    I understand your reaction to The Library At Mount Char. I didn’t have as much trouble with the ultra-violence, mostly because it flipped over into cartoonish horror territory for me. The amount of distrust amongst the characters though, and the reasons for that – if that’s what you meant by people being horrible to people, I had a hard time with that, too.

    I bought The Collected Kagan thinking I’d decide whether to grab the rest based on it, but whatever, it’s cheap enough – I just picked up Mirabile and Hellspark. When a bunch of Filers get excited about a newly-available older book, it’s generally a safe purchase.

    @Chad Saxelid – I did some in-case-of-lightning-strike voting today, and put The Fifth Season ahead of Uprooted, but I suspect I’ll be flipping them back and forth a lot in the next couple months.

  29. Heather: Not to mention Dwinelle’s numbering system also being completely different in the two halves, though that’s one of the less egregious things about that place.

    (I did my linguistics undergrad there in the mid-90s, during which I think the department moved from one part of Dwinelle to another part. This Did Not Help.)

  30. There’s a nice little article at Ars Technica where they talk about the Radium Age of Science Fiction, ie, 1904-1933:

    . . . the early 20th century was an even weirder and more fantastic time for science fiction, when the genre was still in flux and the atomic bomb hadn’t yet transformed our ideas about the future forever. Sci-fi historian and editor Joshua Glenn has just finished a multi-year project to bring what he calls the Radium Age back into the public eye. He has brought ten Radium Age classics back into print through his indie press HiLo Books, and he has written a number of fascinating guides to the great books of that era. Now, with his definitive list of the 100 best stories and novels of the Radium Age (1904-33), he’s bringing the project to a close.

    I could carp about some of Glenn’s decisions, but any list that puts G. K. Chesterton, Rudyard Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson alongside H. G. Wells and Jules Verne is at least interesting. I was surprised to find that I’ve read about half.

    The article, the list, and Glenn’s site are all interesting.

  31. @Heather Rose Jones: Dwinelle sounds like it was copied from the theater building at the former Marymount College in Tarrytown NY; the ground-level lobby was ~6 floors above the stage door.

  32. Weird. MACII does accept Hugo ballots electronically, but believes there are too many issues to allow site selection during the same means? No way I will ever vote using snail mail.

  33. I have been reading too many spoilers; started typing in this site’s URL and my brain translated it to “svyr”.

  34. @Cat and @kathodus:

    The garish ultra-violence in Library at Mount Char is an example of the horror I generally don’t enjoy. The horrific abuse and psychological ramifications thereof seems to be an example of the type of horror that I do enjoy. I thought it was a great book but I totally understand why anyone would find it unreadable.

    (I dislike slasher films that make gruesome murder funny. I dislike gunporn that delights in the death of “bad guys”. But turns out I enjoy things that show ultra-efficient killers suffering from PTSD or the like. As long as I have sufficient time to process and decompress because oof.)

  35. @soon lee: maybe I’ve just worked on too much Hindemith and Copland, but North’s version sounded derivative as well as overdone — there was way too much dramatic music underneath the quiet parts of the opening scenes.

    @Hampus Eckerman: have you ever worked site selection? It’s a more public process than the Hugos, because each bidding committee can nominate a random member to participate in the count, and because the names and addresses of all the voters need to be passed on to the winner; it’s also complicated by the fact that everyone has to buy a membership (in the upcoming convention) as part of the process. Add to this the fact that mail-in ballots have been a small fraction of the total for some time, and I’m not surprised it hasn’t been worth anyone’s time to get an online system working.
    What are your issues with mail-in, given that you have 2 months before the ballot is due, and can buy the membership online if you don’t want to send credit card info through snail mail?

  36. @kathodus

    I was also wondering about Seveneves, given that so many filers seemed to hold strong but conflicting opinions. Figuring it would sting less if I hadn’t shelled out my own money I put it on reserve at the library. It turned out that I liked it (though I don’t recommend reading the first half too soon before bedtime.)

    I think I meant *both* those things when I talked about people treating each other horribly in Library at Mount Char. Generally I just don’t like horror and have spent no effort hunting for types of horror that would be okay, so I can’t say much more than that.

    Moving right along; the Mirabile stories (Mirabile is a book but it is actually a series of sequential short stories about the same characters on the same planet). They are sort of wacky biological mysteries, I guess you would say. The biology is pretty improbable but kept vague enough that it doesn’t get up my nose (I have a Ph.D in molecular biology.) The main character is a “Jason” which in this context means a professional biology trouble-shooter; someone who can sequence genomes, who has a fair working knowledge of ecology, and who frequently ends up investigating weird wildlife, sometimes up close and personal. There is actually very little shooting so far, and I’m getting quite fond of the POV character.

    I probably should download the Hugo packet soon.

  37. CONvergence runs elevators quite well. 8 people at a time, someone stands outside the elevators counting off the line to make sure only eight people get on and someone stands inside the elevators making sure the right floor buttons get pressed. On at floor one, off at floor two, the line moves smoothly and quickly, and everyone is…if not happy, at least not too unhappy.

  38. @John Seavey:
    Yes, I’ve known other cons that have taken to providing con staff at the main elevator access on the function floors to help direct people around and keep lines moving. Past a certain size limit it does become almost necessary.

  39. @Chip Hitchcock

    I can’t speak for Hampus, but I know my problem with Site Selection’s lack of online ballot is I hate mailing things internationally and I’m not from the USA.

  40. @Meredith: why do you hate mailing things internationally? I know it’s not cheap, but are there cumbersome regulations even for letters now?

  41. I read “Uprooted” a couple of weeks ago and liked it; it currently sits 3rd on my ballot behind “Ancillary Mercy” and “Seveneves”, the 2 finalists I nominated. I will give a 2nd chance to “The Fifth Season”, which I abandoned early on, and will try to be receptive given the quality of some of the praise it has received. I’ll also read “Aeronaut’s Windlass” though with lower expectations.

    Today I reread “Four Ghosts in Hamlet “, a Fritz Leiber story I love, as I make my way through his “Selected Stories”. Also a story from the April/May Asimov’s, “The Days of Hamelin” by Robert Reed, which I thought an interesting treatment of a difficult subject (death of children.)

  42. Looking at the Faraci article, I think he’s missing a key facet:

    “… I use that word ownership in a very specific sense – these people see themselves as consumers as much as they see themselves as fans. This is what the “Retake Mass Effect” movement was foreshadowing. They see these stories as products….

    He’s missing that the readers/viewers/listeners are consumers.

    The kinds of works that the “fans” are concerned over are not one-shots: novels, short stories, unconnected videos, etc., but stories that are part of a series that have been created and marketed by corporate entertainment groups to provide a continuing revenue stream to those corporations.

    It *is* a matter of “the customer is right,” in that if the customers are unsatisifed they will go elsewhere. ANd if they do go elsewhere that revenue stream stops.

    Sometimes the corporations miss the train and stop one of those streams early: if the studio didn’t think they would make money (or at least get enough of a creative tax loss to enable favorable bottom line changes) projects like ST:TOS would never have been revived, or the various Battlestar Galactica rebirths (for good or ill). Doyle was told by his publishers to bring Holmes back, Burroughs kept Tarzan in the jungle long after he should have let Jungle Crud(tm) consume the carcass.

    However, Faranci is also missing the train here: he is forgetting that the seeming overwhelming number of outraged tweeters, Redditters, bloggers and FaceBookers are tiny when compared to the actual fanbase, just magnified in aspect through the lens of looking huge through online presence, even without the technological lense of sock-puppets and twitterbots.

  43. @John A Arkansawyer:

    I’m not familiar with Unbearable Cruelty, and Google is only giving me animal rights stuff and the Coen Bros. Intolerable Cruelty. (Which I vaguely recall not liking because of sudden tone shifts.)

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