Pixel Scroll 6/10/20 The Galileo Sevateem

(1) INCOME INEQUALITY. In “#PublishingPaidMe and a Day of Action Reveal an Industry Reckoning”, the New York Times does a roundup of Monday’s Twitter exchange, leading with a focus on Jesmyn Ward. Other authors quoted include N.K. Jemisin and John Scalzi.

…Hand-wringing over diversity is nothing new in publishing — its work force is more than three-quarters white, according to a survey released earlier this year by the children’s book publisher Lee & Low Books — but over the weekend, conversations that have been occurring for years took a turn into public protest.

Using a hashtag, #PublishingPaidMe, that quickly began trending on Twitter, authors shared their advances, which is the amount of money they receive for their books before any royalties, typically based on copies sold, start coming in. The young adult author L.L. McKinney, who is black, started the hashtag on Saturday, hoping to highlight the pay inequality between black and nonblack writers.

“These are conversations black authors have been having with each other and trying to get the industry engaged on for a long time,” she said. While she wasn’t surprised by the disparities that were revealed, she was hurt, she said, by “how deep it went.”

Jesmyn Ward, a critically acclaimed novelist, said on Twitter that she “fought and fought” for her first $100,000 advance, even after her book “Salvage the Bones,” for which she said she received around $20,000, won a National Book Award in 2011. After switching publishers, she was able to negotiate a higher advance for “Sing, Unburied, Sing” — for which she won a second National Book Award, in 2017 — but, she said, “it was still barely equal to some of my writer friends’ debut novel advances.”

…A Google spreadsheet that collected the advances of authors also went viral, amassing nearly 1,200 entries by midday Monday. Its contents were self-reported and could not be independently verified, but many entries were detailed with the genre of book, the race, gender and sexual orientation of the author, as well as what the authors were paid. Of the 122 writers who said they earned at least $100,000, 78 of them identified as white, seven as black and two said they were Latin American.

(2) TOP LGBT SF. Rocket Stack Rank has posted their annual list of “Outstanding LGBT Science Fiction & Fantasy short fiction from 2019”. These 30 stories are finalists for major SF/F awards, included in year’s best SF/F anthologies, and recommended by prolific reviewers. Here are some of their observations about the list.

(3) ROWLING CRITIC. At LitHub, “How JK Rowling Betrayed the World She Created. Gabrielle Bellot on Transphobia and Growing Up with the Harry Potter Universe”. One of many pieces responding to Rowling’s tweets of a few days ago.

Time and time again, I’ve become accustomed to having to defend my womanhood when public figures declare that transgender women are not “real” women. Sometimes, I want to quietly sit back, avoiding the stress of having yet another prolonged argument with people who will call me “sir” at best and a rapist who should be euthanized at worst—for all trans women, the argument goes, are just men who want to sneak into women’s locker rooms to do nefarious things. It’s emotionally and spiritually exhausting to debate your identity; sometimes, you just want to log off social media and take a walk or hug someone you love for support, curling up in your own small safe harbor, where, at least for a bit, no one is accusing you of being a freak, a pervert, an abomination who does not belong in the annals of this Earth….

(4) ROWLING REPLIES TO CRITICS. On her website today, “J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues” a 3,600-word explanation of her views that also includes a previously undisclosed personal history of sexual assault.

….But endlessly unpleasant as its constant targeting of me has been, I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it. I stand alongside the brave women and men, gay, straight and trans, who’re standing up for freedom of speech and thought, and for the rights and safety of some of the most vulnerable in our society: young gay kids, fragile teenagers, and women who’re reliant on and wish to retain their single sex spaces. Polls show those women are in the vast majority, and exclude only those privileged or lucky enough never to have come up against male violence or sexual assault, and who’ve never troubled to educate themselves on how prevalent it is….

(5) DOOM PATROL TRAILER. HBO Max dropped a trailer for the second season.

The Doom Patrol isn’t done with the weird just yet! See what the team’s been up to in Season 2, starting with 3 new episodes on June 25.

(6) COLORADO CON CANCELLED. COSine, Colorado Springs’ annual convention, has joined the ranks of the postponed. What’s unusual is – this was a January 2021 event, and it’s being bumped to 2022.

Fortunately, all of our guests have agreed to come in 2022! You can read the official announcement here.

(7) THE GLUE THAT HOLDS IT ALL TOGETHER. Frank Catalano says “It’s weird to cross streams between education conferences and the Nebula Conference, but I did it. With a photo, in EdSurge.” — “Who’s Zoomin’ Who? Remote Education Conference Woes and Wows”. Frank’s wide-ranging review of virtual conference techniques includes these notes of praise for SFWA’s recent Nebula Conference.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America moved its annual Nebula Conference for professional writers in late May online. Yes, it had good moderators, snappy sessions and well-oiled combinations of online tools over its three days. But it also had something that helped replicate the physical experience.

In advance of the event, paid registrants received an unexpected package in the mail containing a four-page color schedule, a printed name badge and a short tumbler glass etched with the name of the event. To make those post-session Zoom happy hours more … happy.

Now that’s an organization looking to the future of virtual conferences.

(8) POD PERSON. Michael Dirda confesses: “All the books in my 300 boxes sparked joy. The lockdown made me rethink why I was keeping them” in the Washington Post. He really did end up giving some of the books away. A few.

… It was clear to my lightning brain — I’m not a Sherlockian for nothing — that I needed to free up space in the storage pod before I could put more boxes into it. There was, I deduced, just one way to accomplish this: I would have to start selling or giving away some of my books right now rather than later. But which ones should go? Obviously, I would keep personal favorites such as James Salter’s “A Sport and a Pastime,” Marilynne Robinson’s “Housekeeping,” Frederick Exley’s “A Fan’s Notes” and John Crowley’s “Little, Big,” as well as books I still hoped to read (Samuel Richardson’s “Clarissa,” Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene,” Cao Xueqin’s “The Story of the Stone”) or reread (Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall,” Boswell’s “The Life of Samuel Johnson,” Stendhal’s nonfiction, Macaulay’s essays, dozens of ghost-story collections, lots of P.G. Wodehouse, Edmund Crispin and Evelyn Waugh). I’d also retain material need for writing projects — mainly that popular fiction in the attic — and, not least, the first or special editions worth more than $100, including signed books by Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison and Hunter Thompson.

So, picture me two weeks ago, as I sat on a white plastic lawn chair inside a gigantic metal oven, picking up book after book and only occasionally feeling a Kondoesque spark of joy amid many spasms of regret. 

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • June 10, 1950  — Dimension X aired “The Green Hills of Earth”. Based on Robert Heinlein’s short story which originally appeared in the Saturday Evening Post on February 8, 1947, the title refers to a song that Heinlein wrote fragments of here and the filk community has filled out the lyrics down the years. It was adapted here by Ernest Kinoy who also did the same task at X Minus One. You can listen to it here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 10, 1918 Barry Morse. He was Prof. Victor Bergman on Space: 1999, and he also appeared on the Twilight ZoneOuter Limits, The InvadersTekWarThe Martian ChroniclesRay Bradbury TheaterSpace Island OneMemory RunThe Shape of Things to Come and The Return of Sherlock Holmes. (Died 2008.) (CE)
  • Born June 10, 1918 – Frank Hamilton.   He didn’t invent the Shadow, or Doc Savage,  but he illustrated them excellently.  We in fandom know about Mipple-Stipple; his stippled style defies us to call it mundane.  Here is an FH Shadow on the cover of Frank Eisgruber’s Gangland’s Doomhere is the FH cover for a Doc Savage tribute; both with lots of interiors.  Here is a note from ThePulp.net with a 1982 FH self-portrait; here is a note from “The Shadow” wiki.  Find, if you can, his Amazing Pulp Heroes (with Link Hullar’s text).  (Died 2008) [JH]
  • Born June 10, 1922 – Judy Garland.  For us this star shines in the MGM Wizard of Oz – winning her only Academy Award.  I love the Oz Frank Baum wrote; in the MGM version much is right; and otherwise, as a law school professor of mine said – of a major figure with whom he disagreed vigorously – There is a sense in which a genius can’t be wrong.  The rest of her career was such a tragedy because there too she earned such glory.  (Died 1969) [JH]
  • Born June 10, 1935 – Yoshiro Tatsumi.  He coined geika for a development of manga he preferred; see here.  I can’t go along with calling it more realistic, or saying that’s better – I had this quarrel with people when Watchmen first appeared – but Tatsumi-san was a genius, and we could stand knowing more about SF and related art of Japan.  Here is the cover for his memoir of 1945-1960 A Drifting Life (English version); here is a Wikipedia article about it; here is an article about geika and mangahere is an article in the Lambiek Comiclopedia with panels showing his work.  (Died 2015) [JH]
  • Born June 10, 1937 Luciana Paluzzi, 73. She is best known for playing SPECTRE assassin Fiona Volpe in Thunderball. She also appeared in Hercules as Iole’s maid, The Green Slime as Doctor Lisa Benson, Captain Nemo and the Underwater City as Mala and The Six Million Dollar Man: The Solid Gold Kidnapping as Contessa DeRojas. (CE)
  • Born June 10, 1942 Jürgen Prochnow, 78. I thought he was a rather good Duke Leto Atreides in Dune. It certainly was the best of the genre films he did around that time as The KeepTerminus and The Seventh Sign were pretty awful horror films.  Much better was Robin Hood where he was  Sir Miles Folcanet. Then there’s Judge Dredd where he’s Judge Griffin… I’ll end his genre with his role as Cdr. Paul Gerald in Wing Commander. (CE)
  • Born June 10, 1951 Charles Vess, 69. If you ever need a crash course in learning about his art, go find a copy of Drawing Down the Moon: The Art of Charles Vess which lavishly covers his career up to a decade ago. I’ve got a personally signed copy here along with lots of his artwork. He’s had interesting career including the Spider-Man: Spirits of the Earth graphic novel that he wrote and illustrated. I strongly recommend the illustrated version of Stardust he did with Gaiman as it’s amazing. (CE)
  • Born June 10, 1952 Kage Baker. I never met her but we had a decade long conversation via email and once in a while via phone. We were supposed to write a Company concordance for Golden Gryphon but she got too ill for it to happen. Harry the Space Raptor is now living with her sister Katheleen. The two of them were also frequent attenders of Ren Faires were they set up a tavern and sold various sales. Kage had a deep fascination with Elizabethan English. (Died 2010.) (CE)
  • Born June 10, 1953 – Don Maitz.  Two hundred thirty covers, a hundred twenty interiors from this luckily prolific artist; two Hugos, one Worldcon committee special award, ten Chesleys; World Fantasy award; Society of Illustrators Silver Medal.  Two art books, First Maitz (he created the image of Captain Sir Henry Morgan 1635-1688 for Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum) and Dreamquests; two sets of Don Maitz Fantasy Art Trading Cards.  Guest of Honor at – among others – Boskone 18, Lunacon 28, Loscon 19, Minicon 49, Balticon 27, and Lonestarcon 2 the 55th Worldcon (1997).  Here is his cover (with his wife Janny Wurts) for The Darkest Road.  Here is his cover for his Worldcon’s Souvenir Book.  [JH]
  • Born June 10, 1962 – Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, M.D., Ph.D.  Author, physician, Professor of Medicine at Tanta University.  Two hundred books in both Egyptian Arabic and Classical Arabic; also in Web-based magazines.  Refaat Ismael of his Beyond Nature series is a retired bachelor doctor with a sarcastic attitude who keeps having paranormal adventures.  In Utopia Egyptians live in a dystopian and utopian (or as I should say cacotopian and eutopian) society separated by walls; translated into English, Finnish, French, German.  Cheryl Morgan interviewed him in Locus 614.  (Died 2018) [JH]
  • Born June 10, 1964 Andrew M. Niccol, 56. Screenwriter / producer / director who wrote and produced one of my favorite genre films, The Truman Show. The film won him a Hugo at Aussiecon Three.  He also was involved in GattacaThe TerminalIn TimeThe HostThe Minutes short videoand Anon. Sort of genre adjacent is that he‘s been announced as the screenwriter for a live version of the Monopoly game but it is still in development.  (CE)
  • Born June 10, 1986 – Amanda Havard.  In The Survivors and two sequels Sadie Matthau searches for answers about her family who survived the Salem witch trials through supernatural abilities; on an Immersedition interactive book application are AH’s original music, and maps, photos, background, commentary; a syndication at Wattpad.com has had 5 million readers.  Independent Publisher‘s Editor’s Choice award, eLit bronze medals for Fantasy – Science Fiction and Young Adult.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) TO PUT A POINT ON IT. James Davis Nicoll curates “Five SFF Works Inspired by RPGs”.

… Herewith, some works with RPG DNA: works that you may not know and may like, featuring the now familiar teams of skilled adventurers—don’t call them murder hobos—using their diverse skill set to solve problems. Usually by stabbing them.

(13) BATWOMAN POST RUBY ROSE. Entertainment Weekly explains that Batwoman is replacing Ruby Rose’s Kate Kane with a new character”.

Just because Batwoman plans on introducing a brand new character to pick up the titular hero’s mantle in the wake of Ruby Rose’s exit doesn’t mean the CW superhero drama will forget about Kate Kane. In fact, Kate’s absence will baked into the show’s second season in the same way that Bruce Wayne’s was in the first season.

[…] “To be honest with you, I did consider the ‘soap opera version’ [of recasting] for a hot minute, because selfishly we already had a couple episodes written, and transition-wise it would be seamless,” [showrunner Caroline Dries] said, according to TVLine. “But upon further reflection — and I think [Arrowverse EP] Greg [Berlanti] helped me make this call — he’s like, ‘I think we should just reboot Batwoman as a different character.’” She went on to explain that this decision allowed them to honor Rose’s work in season 1 while also not forcing the audience to put a new face to a character they’d already spent time getting to know.

(14) IT’S A BIRD…IT’S A PLANE. Well, it’s a very small one. Gizmodo informs us “Google’s Drone Delivery Service Now Dropping Library Books to Kids”.

Book-loving kids in Christiansburg, Va., are about to get a special delivery to ease the boredom of summer quarantine (and months of being stuck at home). Google will soon start dropping books to kids via its drone delivery service, Wing, according to the Washington Post. Now they can get their hands on a copy of The One and Only Bob (if they don’t already own it).

… Google’s book delivery service is an extension of the company’s drone service, which first partnered with FedEx and Walgreens to deliver over-the-counter medicines and other items to Christianburg residents last October. That pilot program has continued throughout the pandemic. Wing also partnered with local restaurants to deliver meals to residents; that service also saw an increase in demand during quarantine. Google has been testing Wing since 2014, when the drones made their first test flights in Queensland, Australia.

(15) STANDING DOWN. NPR reports: “IBM Abandons Facial Recognition Products, Condemns Racially Biased Surveillance”.

IBM will no longer provide facial recognition technology to police departments for mass surveillance and racial profiling, Arvind Krishna, IBM’s chief executive, wrote in a letter to Congress.

Krishna wrote that such technology could be used by police to violate “basic human rights and freedoms,” and that would be out of step with the company’s values.

“We believe now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies,” Krishna said.

The nationwide demonstrations following the police killing of George Floyd already have led to changes to police departments around the country – over use of force policies, police misconduct and police contracts.

The moment of reckoning over the country’s relationship with law enforcement also comes as artificial-intelligence researchers and technology scholars continue to warn about facial recognition software, particularly how some of the data-driven systems have been shown to be racially biased. For instance, the MIT Media Lab has found that the technology is often less successful at identifying the gender of darker-skinned faces, which could lead to misidentifications.

People interviewed by the BBC expressed doubts:

Privacy International’s Eva Blum-Dumontet said the firm had coined the term “smart city”.

“All around the world, they pushed a model or urbanisation which relied on CCTV cameras and sensors processed by police forces, thanks to the smart policing platforms IBM was selling them,” she said.

“This is why is it is very cynical for IBM to now turn around and claim they want a national dialogue about the use of technology in policing.”

She added: “IBM are trying to redeem themselves because they have been instrumental in developing the technical capabilities of the police through the development of so-called smart policing techniques. But let’s not be fooled by their latest move.

“First of all, their announcement was ambiguous. They talk about ending ‘general purpose’ facial recognition, which makes me think it will not be the end of facial recognition for IBM, it will just be customised in the future.”

The Algorithmic Justice League was one of the first activist groups to indicate that there were racial biases in facial recognition data sets.

(16) ANOTHER RWA REFORM. Romance Writers of America, in “Dreamspinner Advocacy”, admits they didn’t adequately pursue the missing author payments from this publisher under the previous regime. They’re gathering statements to work on it now.

As we lay the foundation for RWA 2.0, one of the Board of Directors’ priorities is to strengthen RWA’s professional relations advocacy. To this end, we are reviving our advocacy efforts with respect to Dreamspinner Press and its missing author payments. Previous advocacy on this matter did not properly or fully address the issues, leaving many members unsupported. This is unacceptable and antithetical to our mission, and the Board and staff are committed to doing everything we can to support our members now to the greatest extent possible.

We will be reaching out to Dreamspinner Press to demand payments due to our members on behalf of our members who request that we do so. We also will be working with RWA’s attorney to explore all of our options in this matter. We will keep the membership updated on this process.

We would like to hear from any member who is a Dreamspinner Press author about your situation and what you would ideally like to see from our advocacy efforts. Also, if any members would like to contribute accurate, verifiable statements about their experiences with Dreamspinner Press to be used both in outreach to the publisher and in a potential public statement to better inform both members and non-members about the situation, we are collecting those by June 30, 2020.

(17) A CLOSER LOOK. “Planet’s satellites aim for still sharper view of Earth” — examples, and one picture just for drama.

When SpaceX puts up another batch of its Starlink satellites in the coming days, there’ll be three spacecraft from the Planet company catching the same Falcon rocket ride to orbit.

These companies – SpaceX and Planet – now operate the largest commercial constellations above our heads. SpaceX at over 450 satellites; Planet at more than 150.

SpaceX is targeting broadband communications; Planet is all about Earth observation, and this next launch marks a big milestone in the San Francisco outfit’s plans.

These next three platforms that go up with SpaceX will go into Planet’s SkySat network.

Already this comprises 15 spacecraft. The satellites were lowered in recent months from 500km in altitude to 450km, to increase their resolution. They now see any feature on the Earth’s surface larger than 50cm.

With the addition of the soon-to-launch threesome, and a further three about a month later, Planet will then have 21 of the high-resolution imagers circling the globe. At that point, the SkySats will be able to see any spot on the ground (cloud permitting) on average up seven times a day.

(18) MORE ON THE ANDROID BLIT. “‘How my photo ended up breaking Android phones'”.

Gaurav Agrawal, a scientist and amateur photographer living in San Diego, couldn’t believe it when he suddenly started seeing a photograph he took last summer popping up on the news.

He took it at St Mary Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana, one “magical evening” in August 2019.

He shared the snap on photo platform Flickr and thought no more about it.

However, a glitch meant that when the image was set as wallpaper, it caused some Android phones to fail.

The handsets would switch on and off repeatedly, requiring a factory reset which meant all data on them was wiped.

Last week, a tweet about the bug went viral – and Mr Agrawal contacted me.

…”It was a magical evening,” Mr Agrawal told the BBC of the night he took the photo, in the park with his wife. It was their third trip there, in pursuit of the perfect picture.

“It was gloomy and cloudy, and we thought there wasn’t going to be a great sunset. We were about to leave when things started to change.”

He grabbed the shot on his Nikon camera, and later did a small edit using the editing software Lightroom.

And that’s where the bug crept in.

Lightroom gives three colour-mode options for exporting the finished result – and the one he picked is the one that seems to confuse some Android handsets.

(19) MM-MM-GOOD. “Italian woman prepares olives during brain tumour operation”.

Brain operation patients have been asked to play the violin or the guitar during surgery, but until now there is no record of anyone stuffing olives on the operating table.

A 60-year-old Italian woman did just that during a procedure to remove a tumour from her left temporal lobe.

The neurosurgeon at Ancona’s Riuniti hospital said the two and a half hour procedure “went very well”.

His patient is said to have prepared 90 olives in the space of an hour.

Awake brain surgery, as it is known, is used to treat some neurological conditions such as tumours that affect the areas of the brain responsible for vision, movement or speech. To help the surgeon try to inflict minimal damage on healthy tissue, the patient can be asked questions or engaged in an activity during the operation.

As the left temporal lobe controls speech, memory and movement of the right part of the body, neurosurgeon Roberto Trignani told Ansa news agency the method “allows us to monitor the patient while we work on their brain functions and to calibrate our action”.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Seven of Nine And The Doctor Singing ‘My Darling Clementine'” on YouTube is another clip of Jeri Ryan and Robert Picardo singing from Star Trek: Voyager.

[Thanks to Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Jeanne Jackson, Mike Kennedy, Jeffrey Smith, Michael Toman, Eric Wong, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

66 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/10/20 The Galileo Sevateem

  1. @15, that’s nice, but is IBM really a player in this anymore? (I’m looking at you, Ring Video…)

    First!

  2. (4) “a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators”

    I’m so sorry that JKR doesn’t have a clue what she’s really telling people. (The trans women I’ve met aren’t like that. At all.)

  3. @4) Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Why is this so hard for people to understand? I’m honestly bewildered.

    And trans people are far, far more likely to be the victims of physical and sexual assault than the cis population.

  4. @10: the Boskone Maitz was GoH at was … interesting; I don’t know whether he really had never had Japanese food, but that was where the committee and guests went for the post-con dinner and a number of people “taught” him about Japanese food and drink — at one point a waitress had to take away the sake flasks because (we heard among the fumes) the kitchen had run out.

    @15 typo: “People interviewed by the BBC interviewed by the BBC”.

    @Cassy B: IIRC, somewhere deep in at least one of those stories is an observation that yes, IBM really isn’t much of a player.

  5. (10) I’ve read almost everything Kage Baker wrote – and I wish there was much more.

    P.S. Thanks for the title credit, but didn’t we do this one just a few weeks ago?

    Tomorr-Scroll is YesterScroll

  6. [20] And of course, they are singing “You Are My Sunshine” rather than “Oh My Darling Clementine”.

  7. (10) It was Maurice Sendak’s birthday should anyone want to start a wild rumpus.

    Where The File Things Are
    Pixel Scroll with Rice

  8. @Jack —

    (10) It was Maurice Sendak’s birthday should anyone want to start a wild rumpus.

    Just in case you ever need a bit of cocktail-party trivia — in the book The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, a female major character is first seen at a costume ball dressed up as Max. 🙂

  9. Reading…

    It hasn’t been easy. Everything is going wrong, the world is a bad place, I feel very very sad all the time, and so very tired. So, only two books read.

    A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase. Non-genre, romance. Recced by Contrarius. It was good for what it is. A light period romance, fairly short, a little silly. A bit of candy that you down in one gulp. Took six days to read, see above. Three stars.

    Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. YA Fantasy. Very much on the Y end of YA, some of the absurdities wouldn’t be tolerated in a book targeted to people over the age of 16. I have to remember I’m not the target demographic when my 40+-year-old brain says this is not good. Normally it would be time to back out and find something better, unfortunately this is about the level where my brian is operating right now, it only took two days to read so I think I’ll finish the series if it doesn’t get too frustrating. Two and a half stars graded on a curve.

    My local library’s overdrive catalog is heavy on romance and YA, light on adult-targeted SFF save for my 5 allowed requests every 60 days.

  10. (16) ANOTHER RWA REFORM.

    I notice that this “generous” offer requires former members to rejoin in order to receive the advocacy that they should have gotten at the time. 🙄

  11. @Iphinome —

    It hasn’t been easy. Everything is going wrong, the world is a bad place, I feel very very sad all the time, and so very tired. So, only two books read.

    I am so with you! I’ve been reading (listening to) more romance between my sff than I almost ever do, just because it is so undemanding and restful on the brain cells.

    A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase. Non-genre, romance. Recced by Contrarius. It was good for what it is. A light period romance, fairly short, a little silly. A bit of candy that you down in one gulp. Took six days to read, see above. Three stars.

    I’m glad you didn’t hate it!

    Right now I’m splitting my listening time between two books: 1. Luna: New Moon, which keeps taxing my brain with bazillions of non-English names and the foundations of a Byzantine plot, and which unfortunately uses a male narrator whom I don’t much like; and 2. the books in a romance series by Julia Quinn. Currently near the beginning of book 2, A Night Like This. Book 1, Just Like Heaven, was very cute in some spots and very annoying in others. The series is narrated by the always excellent Rosalyn Landor.

  12. JJ: Sure, people rejoining (if needs be) is a plus for the RWA, however, they don’t want to be in the position of claiming to represent the interests of people who want nothing to do with them.

  13. Mike Glyer: Sure, people rejoining (if needs be) is a plus for the RWA, however, they don’t want to be in the position of claiming to represent the interests of people who want nothing to do with them.

    That’s fine — but it doesn’t preclude them from offering to represent former members without requiring them to rejoin.

  14. I’m not reading any sf at the moment. In fact, I’m only reading one thing, Ann Cleeves mysteries. We watched all the Vera and Shetland tv episodes, based on her books, so I bought her first one, A Bird in the Hand (a mystery involving bird-watchers). Liked it, read another. Liked that, read another. I just started Red Bones, my twelfth in a row, skipping through her four different series. The Shetland books are set on the islands way north of the rest of Scotland, the rest of them in northeast England. I assume I’ll eventually get tired of them, but it hasn’t happened yet.

  15. 4) These are pretty standard transphobic talking points in the UK right now, sadly. There’s an organised push on against reform of the Gender Recognition Act with a view to rolling back trans rights in other areas. Very few actual people buy into this stuff but the focus is on politicians and the media, which gives it visibility and makes it a threat.

  16. bill on June 10, 2020 at 10:58 pm said:

    It turns out you can get CoVid from mustelids.

    Oh. I’ll note that my blog discussed the alternate reality beset by ‘The Weasel Flu Pandemic’ back in 2016. However, in that reality, Jeb Bush won the GOP nomination.

  17. 4)

    I’m probably in a minority round here but I found Rowling’s essay to be reasonable.

  18. @rob_matic

    I’m guessing you don’t know or listen to any trans people, then? I don’t have the energy for debate but I’m happy to answer polite questions about my experience if you have them.

    You might also enjoy these portraits and interviews, for a sense of trans people as something other than an inconvenient abstraction:

    https://www.tosurviveonthisshore.com/interviews

  19. @Sophie Jane

    I spent a lot of time hanging out on the gay scene in Edinburgh before I settled down so I’m aware of my lesbian friends’ opinions on the issue, for example.

  20. rob_matic on June 11, 2020 at 1:41 am said:

    4) I’m probably in a minority round here but I found Rowling’s essay to be reasonable.

    It really wasn’t. Consider. In Rowling’s world what set of gendered toilets should a trans man use? According to her, a trans man should use the women’s toilets but also according to her the presence of a man in a toilet will be very alarming for women.

    When her position essentially disallows a whole group of people from going to the loo then we really can dismiss out of hand as being either incoherent or malicious or both.

  21. (11) I will always remember Barry Morse as Johnny Cyclops in the original tv series of Whoops Apocalypse which was, perhaps, the show that introduced me to the cock-up rather than conspiracy theory of the universe.

  22. Camestros Felapton on June 11, 2020 at 2:46 am said:

    It really wasn’t. Consider. In Rowling’s world what set of gendered toilets should a trans man use? According to her, a trans man should use the women’s toilets but also according to her the presence of a man in a toilet will be very alarming for women.

    When her position essentially disallows a whole group of people from going to the loo then we really can dismiss out of hand as being either incoherent or malicious or both.

    Maybe us men, being sensitive to the needs of women as a class of people at risk from gendered violence, could cope with having trans men and trans women in our toilets.

    Personally I would be concerned about the practical consequences to women belonging to some minority religious groups and their access to public spaces when we have male-bodied people using female-gendered toilets as a right, but their rights are probably trumped by those of middle class white trans women.

  23. rob_matic: Maybe us men, being sensitive to the needs of women as a class of people at risk from gendered violence, could cope with having trans men and trans women in our toilets.

    Personally I would be concerned about the practical consequences to women belonging to some minority religious groups and their access to public spaces when we have male-bodied people using female-gendered toilets as a right, but their rights are probably trumped by those of middle class white trans women.

    I find the implication that women can’t cope with having transgender women sharing public toilets with them absolutely offensive.

    I have been in public toilets in the presence of cis women, lesbians, and transgender women, and you know what? You should see some of the women I encounter, for example in the public toilets at large stadium events such as sports and concerts. The mean women, the aggressive and hostile women, the ones whom I avoid as much as possible while getting in and out as quickly and quietly as possible because they’re clearly a powderkeg just waiting to be lit off, aren’t the transgender women.

    Whereas the perceivably transgender women have never been anything but courteous, unassuming, and inoffensive. And I will point out that a huge number of transgender women do not fall into the category of privileged “middle class white trans women”.

    And as an atheist, I respect peoples’ rights to follow their religious beliefs — right up to the point where their religious beliefs deny someone else their human rights. Then, sorry, no, the human rights take precedence over religious beliefs.

  24. rob_matic on June 11, 2020 at 3:15 am said:

    Maybe us men, being sensitive to the needs of women as a class of people at risk from gendered violence, could cope with having trans men and trans women in our toilets.

    I’m cool with whoever/anybody using men’s toilets but then I’m not proposing policing toilet genders and I don’t think defacto split of toilets into “cis women” v “everybody other than cis women” is a reasonable solution either. Rowling’s position is not just going to present issues for trans women and trans men but also any cis women who just don’t look feminine enough for whichever bigot objects to them. Even within the bounds of her own outlook, her position is both unworkable and a charter for shitty people.

    It’s not reasonable in itself. Maybe, Rowling could come up with some position that was reasonable and somehow based on a tighter relationship between gender and biological sex but the position she has outlined isn’t it. If, as she has claimed, she has done the research and talked to the relevant people and thought about the issue and that’s the best she can come up with, then I doubt she’s going to come up with a better position.

  25. @rob_matic I’m aware of my lesbian friends’ opinions on the issue

    So that’s a no, you don’t know or listen to any trans people then? You surely know the playbook here, though, if you remember Clause 28 and the last desperate pushback against gay rights at the end of the 80s.

    Is there anything you’d like to know about the experience of actual trans people? I can only speak for myself and my friends, of course, but the offer stands.

  26. I haven’t read the Rowling thing because a) the bathroom thing is a red herring–adults are supposed to be able to cope with being around strangers in a bathroom, and those people who say otherwise are the children–and because it would make me sad, and I’m sad enough already this morning.

    I will say something I won’t argue about but will carefully read and study responses to:

    The most accurate and most common predictor in American society of whether someone is getting the dirty end of the stick is being in possession of a vagina, and one of the most coercive and horrid means used to enforce that norm is forcible impregnation.

    Cis women have material interests they should be allowed to organize around, sometimes exclusively, like every other group that gets screwed over.

    Like I say, I won’t argue this point here, but if you leave a comment on my blog asking to talk with me privately, I will respond after deleting that non-comment comment.

  27. The whole “trans-exclusionary radical feminism” thing feels like a backdoor for conservative pushback on gender fluidity. Like “pro-life” fronts as “save the babies!” but is really about controlling women and preserving the patriarchy (ask the average pro-lifer about free child care or the death penalty, for example).

  28. I agree with Cams view, but let me add, that I find it hard to believe, that a man will go to the length of changing his sex, so he can assault a woman in a public bathroom.

    On a different note: Origins Game Fair is cancelled. I tweeted the reasons here, Eliszabeth Hargraves (designer of wingspan) thankfully collected the cancellations in this twitter thread. And ashort article on the subject is here

  29. The fascinating thing here – which I’ve observed elsewhere too – is the way cis people are perfectly capable of having complicated theoretical discussions about the merits and drawbacks of transphobia without ever once referring to the actual lives of trans people. Even when I’m right here in the thread.

  30. peer says I agree with Cams view, but let me add, that I find it hard to believe, that a man will go to the length of changing his sex, so he can assault a woman in a public bathroom.

    This detestable belief has been used by the Right against fuller rights for transgenders for at least a decade now. It, along with the widely held belief the transgendered males will go into female bathrooms to assault female children, show just how sick mentally many on the Right are.

  31. @Jeff Smith: If you’re enjoying mysteries set in Scotland, allow me to comment the Hamish Macbeth series (we’re watching it via Acorn.tv. Only a few episodes involve murders.

  32. Maybe us men, being sensitive to the needs of women as a class of people at risk from gendered violence, could cope with having trans men and trans women in our toilets.

    The thing that gobsmacks me every time this discussion comes around is the degree to which cis men have absolutely. no. idea. about what a woman’s bathroom looks like (gee, didn’t they peek in the girls room like we did the boys? Or ever had to clean one? Wait…). Unless someone is like, you know, actually changing clothes in the public area of the women’s room, you ain’t gonna see the genitalia. And the number of women who do that is actually quite small, even at conventions.

    But I also have to agree with JJ’s comment about the mean women–who are overwhelmingly cis.

    (Then again, the twists of rhetoric used by TERFs to justify their stance make my brain hurt. They know better–or they damn well should. Otherwise they’re just a bunch of hypocrites, in my opinion at least.)

  33. @Joyce
    I’m gobsmacked by the idea that they’re going to do that in HS gyms, or that trans people are even a big problem there. My memory of HS gyms is that we only completely changed when we were swimming, and the rest of the time we had undies on as we got into or out of gym clothes. We also didn’t have a lot of time to change, so there wasn’t a lot of sightseeing. (I would expect this to be true of gyms for adults, also. Maybe guys do it differently.)

  34. Sophie Jane: Bill posted a comment with a number of questions. I don’t know if philosophical, medical, or theoretical are the proper words to modify “questions” in this case. But if you want me to pass them along, I can send his comment to the email you used to register with. Contact me at mikeglyer@cs.com if you want me to do that (and/or to give me another email to use.)

  35. @Jeff —

    I’m not reading any sf at the moment. In fact, I’m only reading one thing, Ann Cleeves mysteries.

    Thanks for that rec. I’ve got a couple of her books in audio lying around — will push them higher on the TBR pile.

    @rob_matic et al —

    The “Oh, no, icky old trans people in my bathroom!” argument somehow reminds me of The Cold Equations. In TCE, a young woman is killed because nobody could be bothered to put a lock on a door. In bathroom arguments, a whole class of people are ostracized because nobody can be bothered to build bathrooms with actual privacy. Both situations are simply stupid.

    EVERYONE deserves privacy in bathrooms — regardless of gender identity or orientation. I have noticed in the last decade or so that more businesses are building bathrooms with truly private stalls (real doors, walls all the way down to the floor), and that trend very much needs to continue. If the stalls are truly private, then nobody has much excuse to care about who might be sitting in the next stall.

  36. @Iphinome: My local library’s overdrive catalog is heavy on romance and YA, light on adult-targeted SFF save for my 5 allowed requests every 60 days. Are the requests guaranteed to be processed (inter-library or purchase?), or are they just suggestions? BPL allows 20 suggestions/month, but has turned down several of mine as not being available through BPL’s standard channels (which IME are rather limited). I’ve also found, to my annoyance, that even if I check frequently for whether an accepted suggestion has been cataloged, somehow the copy has already been borrowed and usually there’s a queue.

    @Contrarius: I liked the Luna trilogy (would have put it on last year’s Hugo recommendations if I’d been thinking) but agree that there’s a lot to take on at the beginning, given the huge cast. (The list at the back would be more useful for readers if it were alphabetized; I guess listeners are SoL unless there’s a crib sheet somewhere, and even that would’t necessarily help.) Note for book 2 (Wolf Moon): watch the dates on the chapters carefully, as what look like they should be parallel narratives aren’t.

  37. @Chip —

    @Contrarius: I liked the Luna trilogy (would have put it on last year’s Hugo recommendations if I’d been thinking) but agree that there’s a lot to take on at the beginning, given the huge cast. (The list at the back would be more useful for readers if it were alphabetized; I guess listeners are SoL unless there’s a crib sheet somewhere, and even that would’t necessarily help.)

    Speaking of which, and apropos of an earlier discussion we had on the same subject — This is one of those audiobooks that DOES include the Cast of Characters section in the audio. In the audio format, the narrator reads it at the BEGINNING of the book rather than the end.

  38. @Chip Hitchcock They’re suggestions (purchase), not guaranteed though I’ve been getting what I ask for. Since I can only (online) request titles available through overdrive there’s no fear of them being unable to get what I request.

  39. A question relevant to Daniel Dern’s comment above but somewhat orthogonal: I read the first Hamish MacBeth novel. I like cozies. I like cozies in unusual settings (think Alexander McCall Smith). I need a new cozy series to read. I absolutely hated that book. Nothing about the mystery engaged me, but mostly I think it was just that the sexual politics haven’t held up well.

    Do they get better? If they do, is there a particular point at which I should consider jumping in?

  40. @Cat Eldridge: “along with the widely held belief the transgendered males will go into female bathrooms to assault female children”

    Every time I’ve seen that illustrated, it’s been a leering caricature of a bald guy with a Snideley Whiplash mustache, only thicker, and usually wearing leather. He’s visually coded as gay, to my eye. The only point I can see to that is to activate the gay->ick path in some peoples’ brains. There’s no actual sense or logic in it.

  41. Boyd Nation on June 11, 2020 at 10:32 am said:

    I like cozies in unusual settings (think Alexander McCall Smith). I need a new cozy series to read

    If only there were one like “Tribble Is My Business,” “Tribble Follows Me,” “FlatCatLand”…
    Here’s some good not-quite-cozies:
    Ross Thomas’ (including the ones he first wrote as Oliver Bleeck). Suggestion: read in the order he wrote them; even where there’s no character/continuity overlap (mostly there isn’t), his style and tone get increasingly intense (in a good way, if ya like it, which I did) over time.

    Mmmm, do you consider Jim Butcher’s HARRY DRESDEN series to be similarly close enough to scratch the itch?

    Do the source books for the Murdoch Mysteries (which I haven’t read) do it?

    Robert L Fish (also writing as Robert L Pike) did a bunch of good ones, back in the (50s/60s) day.

  42. @Boyd. Worth trying are Robert Barnard and Peter Lovesey. (Lovesey’s non-series The False Inspector Dew is a definite favorite of mine, from the moment that a female character decides that, like the heroine of the book she’s reading, she too is unaware of her own great beauty.)

    I don’t know if you’d have any success in finding Bill Crider’s Sheriff Dan Rhodes books — the publisher basically printed enough copies to fulfill its library orders — but these small-town Texas books are very fun to read.

  43. Cozy book recommendations:

    I really liked the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunting Mysteries. By Gigi Pandian. Fun and amusing and likable characters. The love triangle was a bit overdone, but the history was great!

    I tried reading Ann Cleeves books and I didn’t get into them, but I love love love the TV series adaptations. I couldn’t get into the Hamish Macbeth books either, but the TV series, again, was fun.

    I’ve been reading for the first time the Sue Grafton books. I’ve finished G and will start H soon.

    One of my favorite cozy series, though, is Donna Andrews bird-themed books. I love the main character’s crazy family. And it is one of the few cozy series where it kinda makes sense that she keeps getting involved in mysteries. (She has a large extended family and a reputation for solving things. In later books she’s the mayor’s assistant, so even more people come to her for help.) One of the books is set in a media SF convention, too. The Parrots one, I think.

    I found a new-to-me contemporary romance author: Jasmine Guillory. I liked all 4 of the books I could find (and the 5th is on pre-order). My favorite of the bunch is probably #4: Royal Holiday. The hero and heroine are both in their 50s. It was very soothing and amusing.

    The other contemporary romance-ish series I like is by Beverly Jenkins. The first is Bring on the Blessings and it sets up the rest of the series. Recently divorced woman with lots of money rescues a whole small town on the verge of bankruptcy. Heart-warming.

  44. Boyd: Minnesota isn’t too unusual a setting, but Sofie Kelly’s Magical Cats series is a nice cozy series. The librarian’s previously feral cats are brothers – one can walk through walls and the other can turn invisible.

  45. The only cozies I’ve been able to tolerate have been the Hamish Macbeths, mainly, I think, because I can read through the cozy features to enjoy the more astringent side of Chesney’s sensibility. I particularly enjoyed her take on TV adaptations in the entry she must have written in response to the way Macbeth was adapted for telly. And I’m a sucker for animal pals, and Hamish has two (who, fortunately, neither talk nor solve crimes, though they do sometimes look after their human).

    All the same, I’m more comfortable with the (equally unrealistic, but along a different vector) procedural series of Peter Lovesey, Reginald Hill, and Eric Wright, in which the never-change-anything template rules get bent.

  46. I’m not sure if Shirley Rousseau Murphy‘s Joe Grey mysteries with a feline protagonist who can talk is a cozy or not, but I am going to recommend them anyways as the series is highly entertaining. The audiobook version has a narrator who very obviously loves the books.

  47. Well, if we’re really gonna have a pseudo-cozy discussion, you can’t do better than the Inspector Gamache/Three Pines books. They are “cozy” in that they take place mostly in a small village populated by a host of quirky characters; they are not “cozy” in that they aren’t comedic (though they contain humor) and deal with plenty of tragic/thought-provoking happenings, and the main character is a police inspector rather than some random crime-solver. And I absolutely adore the narration of the earlier books, by the marvelous Ralph Cosham, who had the extreme bad sense to die a few years ago.

  48. Offbeat romances, sometimes with mystery elements, very funny: Jennifer Crusie. (Not Cruise, autocorrect, thanks for playing.)

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