Pixel Scroll 6/15/19 His Scroll Swooned Slowly As He Heard The Pixels Falling Faintly Through The Universe

(1) DUBLIN 2019 DEADLINE. Linda Deneroff, Dublin 2019 WSFS Business Meeting Secretary, broadcast the message that the deadline for submission of new business to this year’s business meeting is fast approaching: July 17. Pass the word to anyone else you believe is considering new business.

(2) TEARS FOR FEARS. The Guardian’s Leo Benedictus has indifferent success getting writers to talk to him about YA “cancel culture” — “Torn apart: the vicious war over young adult books “

Since March, I have been sending discreet messages to authors of young adult fiction. I approached 24 people, in several countries, all writing in English. In total, 15 authors replied, of whom 11 agreed to talk to me, either by email or on the phone. Two subsequently withdrew, in one case following professional advice. Two have received death threats and five would only talk if I concealed their identity. This is not what normally happens when you ask writers for an interview.

… Many of the battles around YA books display the worst features of what is sometimes called “cancel culture”. Tweets condemning anyone who even reads an accused book have been shared widely. I have heard about publishers cancelling or altering books, and asking authors to issue apologies, not because either of them believed they ought to apologise, but because they feared the consequences if they didn’t. Some authors feel that it is risky even to talk in public about this subject. “It’s potentially really serious,” says someone I’ll call Alex. “You could get absolutely mobbed.” So I can’t use your real name? “I would be too nervous to say that with my name to it.” None of the big three UK publishing groups, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins or Hachette, was available for comment.

Another author I will call Chris is white, queer and disabled. Chris has generally found the YA community friendly and supportive during a career spanning several books, but something changed when they announced plans for a novel about a character from another culture. Later, Chris would discover that an angry post about the book had appeared anonymously on Tumblr, directing others to their website. At the time, Chris only knew that their blog and email were being flooded with up to 100 abusive messages a day.

(3) DEFINING MOMENT. Ellen B. Wright reignites a traditional debate, in the process collecting a lot of entertaining answers. Thread stars here.

(4) SHORT FILM Exclusive premiere of “After Her” starring Stranger Things’s Natalia Dyer.

One night, a teenage girl disappears without a trace. Years later, her friend returns home and finds himself being beckoned back into those woods – the last place she was seen alive. An atmospheric sci-fi about the archetypal lost girl.

Director’s Statement: I was interested in making a short that confronts the perversion of the “missing girl story” in both film and in reality. I wanted to create something meditative and personal with a small group of collaborators; I shot most of the film myself, including the VFX, which were hand done in my parents’ basement. I’m from Rhode Island and grew up reading Lovecraft, and was incredibly inspired by his worlds, his characters, and their maddening search for the bigger picture, the great answers. As Callum searches for Haley, the alluring missing girl of his past, his expectations get challenged. His journey spans fertile woods, deep caves, and fallopian tunnels. He grows to realize that he is a passenger, not a pioneer, while she is the leader, not the victim.

(5) REDRUMOR. I don’t think I’m ready to face this at the breakfast table — Funko’s Pennywise cereal with pocket pop.

Thought you had seen it all from Funko? Well think again. Introducing FunkO’s, the new collectible cereal from the pop culture wizards at Funko. Each box comes with a Pocket Pop!

This IT Pennywise box of FunkO’s comes with a Pennywise Pocket Pop!, and the red, multigrain cereal is bound to wow you at breakfast time. That’s if you decide to eat it and not keep it intact with your Funko collection! Grab a box today and make your Saturday mornings fun again.

(6) OGAWA OBIT. Publisher Haikasoru announced the death of a well-known sff translator:

Takashi Ogawa, an English-Japanese translator, editor and educator in translation, who introduced Western SF to Japan since 1980’s. He translated many of Bruce Sterling’s titles including Schismatrix and Islands in the Net.

Ogawa’s translation of Bruce Sterling’s “Taklamakan” won the Foreign Short Story category of Japanese prozine Hayakawa’s S-F Magazine Reader’s Award in 1999.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • June 15, 1955The Beast With A Million Eyes debuted at drive-ins.
  • June 15, 1973The Battle for the Planet of the Apes premiered.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 15, 1939 Brian Jacques. British author who surprisingly is not on the ISFDB list today. Writer of the exceedingly popular Redwall series of novels and also the Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series. And he wrote two collections of Alan Garner style fiction, Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales and The Ribbajack & Other Curious Yarns. Only the Redwall series is available in digital format on either platform. (Died 2011.)
  • Born June 15, 1941 Neal Adams, 78. Comic book artist who worked for both DC and Marvel. Among his achievements was the creation with writer Dennis O’Neil of Ra’s al Ghul. I’m a DC fan so I can’t speak for his work on Marvel but he did amazing work on Deadman, BatmanGreen Lantern and Green Arrow. All of this work is now available on the DC Universe app.  It should be noted he lead the lobbying efforts that resulted in Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster receiving long overdue overdue credit and financial remuneration from DC.
  • Born June 15, 1942 Sondra Marshak, 77. Author of multiple Trek novels including The Price of the Phoenix and The Fate of the Phoenix, both co-written with Myrna Culbreath. She also wrote, again with Myrna Culbreath, Shatner: Where No Man …: The Authorized Biography of William Shatner which of course naturally lists Shatner as the third co-author.
  • Born June 15, 1947 David S Garnett, 72. Not to be confused with the David Garnett without an S. Author of the Bikini Planet novels which should be taken as seriously as the name suggests. Revived with the blessing of Michael Moorcock a new version of New Worlds as an anthology this time. Last work was writing Warhammer novels.
  • Born June 15, 1960 Sabrina Vourvoulias, 59. Thai-born author, an American citizen from birth brought up in Guatemala, but here since her teens. Her novel, Ink, deals with immigrants who are tattooed with biometric implants that are used to keep track of them no matter where they are. I’m assuming that the “Skin in the Game” story which appeared first on Tor.com is set in the future. Fair guess that “The Ways of Walls and Words” which also appeared on Tor.com is also set there. The Readercon 25 panel she was on, “East, West and Everything Between: A Roundtable on Latin@ Speculative Fiction” is available for free on iBooks is is all of her fiction. 
  • Born June 15, 1963 Mark Morris, 55. Horror writer who’s also written a number of Dr. Who works, both novels and audiobooks. I’d single out his Torchwood full-cast audiowork Bay of the Dead as being quite chilling. He also edited Cinema Macabre where folks such as Jo Fletcher and Simon Pegg discuss their favorite films which won the prestigious British Fantasy Award. 
  • Born June 15, 1973 Neil Patrick Harris, 46. His first genre role was not Carl Jenkins in Starships Troopers, but rather Billy Johnson in Purple People Eater, an SF comedy best forgotten, I suspect. Post-Starship Troopers, I’ve got him voicing Barry Allen / The Flash in Justice League: The New Frontier and Dick Grayson / Nightwing in Batman: Under the Red Hood. He also voiced Peter Parker and her superhero alias in Spider-Man: The New Animated Series. Finally, he’s currently Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events which he also produces. 

(9) COMMENTS ON TRANSLATING SFF. In 2014, the SCBWI Japan Translation Group ran this interesting Q&A with Yoshio Kobayashi (who has been to more than one North American Worldcon.)

How did you come to be involved in the project? What approach do you take with the translating and editing of each book?

I’ve translated novels and stories from English for more than thirty years. I’ve also written book reviews of Japanese novels in English, and I frequently discuss SF at World Science Fiction Conventions. I’ve also helped shepherd some stories to be translated into English. I write my blog in English, too. So they asked me to do the job. My experience of book editing was appreciated as well.

…What advice can you give to translators wishing to develop their literary translation skills?

Read. A lot. At the least, you have to read 500 novels to be confident of your reading ability. I used to read ten novels a month before I decided to be a translator. When I started my career, I had read more than 1,000 novels in English from every genre. I teach translation at a translators’ school and I always tell my students to read. When you have read 500 novels you start to understand an author’s style, what euphemism is and how the author uses metaphor. A lot of translators misunderstand that. You have to read contemporary US/UK novels too, in order to understand the modern usage of English and current trends. Then to translate modern Japanese novels, you need to be able to grasp contemporary vocabulary. I still read about ten titles a month, although now it’s a combined number. I have read ten American novels and five Japanese novels a month for twenty years. So read! And trust the authors. You don’t have to orchestrate the work. Authors write everything that is needed to be described. The rest should be given to the reader’s imagination. Reading is an ability that is developed through reading, so it’s better to help our readers expand that ability. You shouldn’t intervene by explaining too much.

(10) A HOLE NEW ARTFORM. Art Daily remarks on a science-meets-art subject in “Art of early man found in the greatest meteor crater on earth.”

Leading South African scientists from the University of the Free State are about to undertake research into the destruction caused by a huge ancient meteorite that could hold clues critical to the history, mechanisms and consequences of meteorite strikes on earth and elsewhere in the Solar System. The results of this work could mean a better understanding of the effects of such impacts and the greater safety of the earth. 

The vast crater is also fascinating for its human interest from early man who used it as a centre of cultural importance and left rock carvings as proof of their presence. The site was of great spiritual significance, comparable to the stone circles of Stonehenge in the UK. The Khoi-San patently understood that the rock remains found on the surface were unique and important. 

(11) UNGIFTED STUDENT. The Verge reviews a new book: “Magic for Liars blends magic school with a murder mystery.” The article’s tagline is, “Sarah Gailey’s full length debut is a unique spin on the genre.”

Magic school clashes with a murder mystery in Magic for Liars, the debut novel from Sarah Gailey, best known for their American Hippo short stories — but with one key twist. 

That’s because while the school and the murder may be magical, Ivy Gamble, the investigator hired to solve the case, is completely ordinary. Unable to sling a spell or cast a charm, she’s a far more relatable character than most other magical detectives that dot the literary landscape.

(12) MINORITY REPORT. USA Today likes a new movie, at least more than a number of reviewers (“’Men in Black: International’ burning questions: Where the heck is Will Smith?”).

Producers didn’t even seek out Smith and Jones for cameo appearances.

“They both loom so large, it didn’t feel right,” MacDonald said. “It seemed like it might be that taste that made you think, ‘Why aren’t they here?’ ” 

However, if you look carefully at Agent High T’s (Liam Neeson) office, there are pictures of both agents in the background.

(13) D&D&TV. Do they have enough hit points? Inverse (“At D&D Live, Wizards of the Coast Rolls the Dice on the Future”) says “Hundreds gathered at the Los Angeles event to celebrate a 45-year-old tabletop game. It’s ground zero for what’s in store for the next four and a half decades.”

Inside an air-conditioned TV studio in Hollywood, a colossal stone castle looms large surrounded by blooming hellfire. Sleek black leather chairs, the kind often found in a Wall Street meeting room, sit behind a long oak table beneath dynamic lights and high-definition cameras on 15-foot cranes. This is hell, and the cameras will go live tomorrow.

Over the next three days, a few hundred people — and a million more tuning in at home — will come in and out to watch celebrities and online personalities play Dungeons & Dragons. This is D&D Live, an annual celebration of the 45-year-old tabletop role-playing game where the newest of new media revere a game still best played with pencils, paper, dice, and friends.

(14) MORE FERTILE THAN WILEY. According to NPR, “Killing Coyotes Is Not As Effective As Once Thought, Researchers Say”.

In a rugged canyon in southern Wyoming, a helicopter drops nets over a pair of coyotes. They’re bound, blindfolded and flown to a landing station. There, University of Wyoming researchers place them on a mat. The animals stay calm and still while technicians figure out their weight, age, sex and other measurements. Graduate student Katey Huggler fits the coyotes with tracking collars.

“What really is most important to us is that GPS data,” says Huggler, who’s the lead on this project. What that data has been showing is, boy, do coyotes roam. Huggler is amazed at one young female that wandered long distances.

“It was like 110 miles as the crow flies, turned around, came back three days later,” she says. “[Coyotes] are moving fast, but they’re also moving really far.”

Huggler says all that roaming changes during the short window when mule deer fawns are born, showing that coyotes are indeed targeting them. Mule deer populations around the West are down — 31% since 1991 — and some people blame coyotes. It stands to reason that killing some coyotes could help improve mule deer numbers, but University of Wyoming wildlife professor Kevin Monteith points out if you wipe out a pack of coyotes, it leaves a hole in the habitat, and nature dislikes a vacuum.

The federal government kills thousands of coyotes every year to keep them from preying on livestock and big game. But some wildlife biologists say killing coyotes isn’t actually the best way to control them.

“The next day you just have an exchange of animals that come right back in and fill that place,” Monteith says.

In fact, some studies show that if you kill off a lot of coyotes, they breed even more.

(15) READING LIST. “As The 50th Anniversary Of Apollo 11 Nears, New Books Highlight The Mission’s Legacy”.

The countdown has begun. It’s T-minus a month or so until the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 — and humanity’s first and famous steps on another world.

In appreciation of that achievement, and the five-decade milestone, a flotilla of books has also been launched exploring Apollo’s story and raising questions about its ultimate legacy. Surveying just a few of these works, it quickly becomes apparent how singular America’s achievement was with Apollo. Even more pressing, however, is how these books show that — half a century later — we’re still grappling to understand its long-term meaning for our nation and the world.

(16) YOUR LUNAR MT. TSUNDOKU. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak precedes his preview of new genre books — “11 new science fiction and fantasy books to check out in late June” – with recommendations for reading about the Moon program.

With the 50th anniversary of the lunar landings coming up next month, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the vast canon of Apollo histories that are out there. There has been of ink spilled in the last five decades exploring every detail of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, and there are more on the way.

A handful of works stand out in the history of spaceflight literature. The first is a pair of books authored by Francis French and Colin Burgess: Into that Silent Sea, about NASA’s work leading up to Apollo, and In the Shadow of the Moon, about the Apollo program up to Apollo 11. They’re part of the University of Nebraska Press’s fantastic Outward Odyssey series, and provide an accessible, in-depth look at how the US reached the moon.

Another essential book is Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo by Nicholas de Monxhau. If you’ve ever wondered what goes into designing a space suit (and if you haven’t watched my colleague Loren Grush’s Space Craft series), it’s an exhaustive history into how a company known for making bras and girdles developed the iconic suits worn on the moon. It explores how the space suits were made and provides a unique look into the history of spaceflight.

(17) COOL. “Bald Eagle Caught Elegantly … Swimming?” (video).

Bald eagles are typically known for their elegant flying, skilled hunting and having such majestic strength and beauty that they became the U.S. national bird. But they also possess a lesser-known talent: swimming.

Yes, bald eagles are really good at swimming, a fact some of us learned this week from a viral video published by New Hampshire TV station WMUR.

(18) WHO’S ON FIRST? Camestros Felapton has more to say about the nominees, and about the rationale for evaluating them in “Hugo 2019 – Looking at Fanwriters Part 2”.

One approach to ranking a set of fanwriters for the Hugo Awards might be to pick the example in the packet for each writer that you thought was the best example of their work and then rank each of those exemplars against each other. I think if I did that, I’d probably put Alasdair Stuart or Foz Meadows highest. But…it doesn’t feel right as a way of evaluating the finalists systematically*.

It fails in a couple of ways:

  • Reviews: longer critical essays or essays with personal insights will on a piece-by-piece comparison win out when judging writing. A good functional review will adopt a more ‘objective’ style of informative writing, which is technically hard to do but whose qualities are less obvious.
  • Broader aspects of fan writing: Elsa Sjunneson-Henry included a link to a Twitter thread in her packet contribution and it is a good example of how fanwriting also includes commentary in formats other than essays. Compiling news, parodies, event comments on other sites are part of the mix.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, Meredith, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cliff.]

82 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/15/19 His Scroll Swooned Slowly As He Heard The Pixels Falling Faintly Through The Universe

  1. I didn’t know bald eagles could swim, but they do it very well, for a flyer.

  2. (8) Neal Adams is still working for DC; indeed, he has a new Batman mini-series out this summer.

  3. (8) I don’t know whether this is true for anyone else here, but I know Neal Adams’ work only from the early years of the National Lampoon.

  4. 8) While I know that I saw Neil Patrick Harris in Starship Troopers (I mean, I must’ve because I went to it in theater (probably a mistake, that)), I really became aware of him when I watched Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. (Which I should probably revisit one of these days.)

  5. (3) Easy question. Grammatically, the main difference between science fiction and fantasy is that fantasy characters are more likely to use archaic modes of speech. Forsooth!

  6. (3) Reminds me that I haven’t classified random things as either Fantasy or SF in a long while.

    Pets
    Dogs – fantasy
    * German shepherds – high fantasy
    * Labradors – high fantasy
    * Terriers or other breeds of smaller dogs – urban fantasy
    * Beagles – low fantasy, no high fantasy, no…wait its wandered off into detective novels
    * Pugs – those heroic fantasy novels where everything is from the point of view of the orcs
    Cats – science fantasy/space opera/horror
    Fish – science fiction
    Hamsters – science fiction
    Guinea pigs – fantasy (which is how you tell the difference between hamsters and guinea pigs)
    Domestic rats – steampunk
    Mice – techno-thrillers or dystopian fiction
    Hermit crabs – science fiction
    Ferrets – low fantasy and or steampunk
    Ponies – high fantasy
    Tarantulas – cyberpunk
    Parrots – you’d think anything with pirates in it but technically hard science fiction
    Budgies – Horror

  7. @Cam —

    Budgies – Horror

    Now you’ve got me imagining the possibilities….

  8. Kip – yes, that page really does have a line in the source html:
    Pixel Scroll 9/16 Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Scrolls of Our Lives | File 770 – ??????app

    Googling their URL shows a few more pages with similar titles like:

    People’s Vote March Features SFF Iconography | File 770 – ???? …

    Captain-Marvel-poster-2 | File 770 – ??????app

    2019 Derringer Awards Finalists | File 770 – ??????app

    There is quite a lot of html in their source lifted straight from File770:

    /*
    Welcome to Custom CSS!

    To learn how this works, see http://wp.me/PEmnE-Bt
    */
    .quicktags-toolbar {
    float: right !important;
    }

    div#commentPreview {
    margin-right: 50px !important;
    }

    File 770
    Mike Glyer’s news of science fiction fandom

  9. “Science Fiction is what science fiction editors buy.” I forget who said that (some SF author), but it’s always been the best definition I’ve come across.

    Although I suppose I could recap my thesis that science fiction is a subset of fantasy, and all other fiction is a subset of science fiction! 🙂

  10. Steve Green says Neal Adams is still working for DC; indeed, he has a new Batman mini-series out this summer.

    Cool. I’ll read it a year from now on DC Universe. The Archives they’ve put up there are so extensive I feel no need to purchase new material at four or more dollars an issue.

  11. (3) Science fiction assumes the rules of science apply. Fantasy assumes the rules of magic apply. This remains true even when the writer whose story assumes the rules of science apply gets those rules wrong; it’s about intent and assumptions.

    Which of course is also true of fantasy, so there you go.

    @Kip Williams– I share your lead/led pet peeve, and it’s tangential to my other pet peeve, that the English irregular verbs that I love are being killed off. Slided rather than slid, etc. And it’s not people just getting it wrong. “regularized” forms of previously irregular verbs are displacing their elders, and I hate it.

  12. (3) For Rocket Stack Rank, I classify about 700 or so stories per year. I mark them as one of five: high fantasy, low fantasy, hard SF, soft SF, or mixed. I find that I use “mixed” less than 1% of the time, and I usually make the fantasy vs. SF decision with little or no effort. (The one that usually needs the most thought is the hard/soft SF split.)

    The basic rule I use is simply whether the reader is led to believe that “there’s a scientific explanation for all this” which grows out of our current understanding of science. That is, there might be new science in the story, but there’s not a complete reimagining of science (e.g. what if we applied the scientific method to real magic?) It doesn’t have to be described in detail; all the story has to do is leave the impression that all the wonders we’re seeing have prosaic explanations.

    Something like Wild Cards gives me a little trouble, since although the superpowers are all supposedly caused by an alien virus, it’s just impossible to believe there’s really a scientific explanation for it all. (I call it Soft SF anyway.)

    Future fantasies, like Star Wars or The Machineries of Empire, either have pure magic (the Force) or alternative science (calendrical physics), so they’re both high fantasy.

    You can always find edge cases here and there, but, as I said, 99% of stories aren’t hard to classify, and I suspect that even readers who haven’t given it a lot of thought can easily classify at least 90% of published SF/F on a case-by-case basis.

  13. The science in science fiction is nearly always so dodgy that one really can’t say those stories follow the rules of science. Even “hard SF” darlings like The Expanse deliberately ignore actual science- or more accurately treat it as magic, in order to move the story along.

    So my definition of science fiction is simple: it’s a subset of fantasy where the trappings of technology and science are used to enhance suspension of disbelief. In short, if it is trying to fool the reader into thinking it could happen, then the work is science fiction.

    In fact, I’ll point out that pretty much any science fiction story can be rewritten as a fantasy, and vice versa. It’s just a matter of trappings.

  14. @camestros: I would have thought Guinea pigs as SF, especially the whacky, crazy scientist stuff, and hamsters as Fantasy, especially the middle East inspired Fantasy (hamsters originate in Syria IIRC)

    @Greg Hullender: Huh, I see Star Wars as Fantasy (Bc of the Force), even if Id argue it would give a false expectation of what to expect. But Machineries of the Empire? I mean, yes, its your definition, so to each its own, but I dont see how it would be useful to classify as such. Yes, the science is far beyond ours, but thats the Point. so is The last part of Deaths end.
    Again, not criticizing your system, just expressing my bewilderment

  15. Peer on June 16, 2019 at 10:59 am said:

    @camestros: I would have thought Guinea pigs as SF, especially the whacky, crazy scientist stuff, and hamsters as Fantasy, especially the middle East inspired Fantasy (hamsters originate in Syria IIRC

    Good point. I may have got them the wrong way round.

  16. 3) Discussed with my family.

    “What’s the difference between science fiction and fantasy?”
    “One of them, you see, is science fiction, and the other is fantasy.”
    “Yes, but which one is which?”
    “…inconclusive data, check back later.”

  17. Brad J: Kind of like the Magic 8-Ball. (Which calls itself “Magic,” but….)

  18. Re: SF vs Fantasy. Zelazny’s Lord of Light – which nicely spans the divide by using fantastic SF tropes to imitate fantasy – manages to include a brief discussion of the issue. Or at least a passage that may be taken as one. The dividing line chosen is that fantasy invokes the unknowable.

    Agree or not, it’s worth a thought.

  19. In fantasy, man oppresses man, while in science fiction it’s the opposite.

    Star Wars seems to be the kind of thing that “science fantasy” was invented to describe.

    Regarding the evolution of English, I find the word “pleaded” to be irritating – it just seems to me that “pled” is the right past tense (though that just might be me).

    I read an interesting article about how English has been regularizing over the centuries

    https://www.nature.com/articles/nature06137?proof=true&draft=journal

    ” Human language is based on grammatical rules. Cultural evolution allows these rules to change over time. Rules compete with each other: as new rules rise to prominence, old ones die away. To quantify the dynamics of language evolution, we studied the regularization of English verbs over the past 1,200 years. Although an elaborate system of productive conjugations existed in English’s proto-Germanic ancestor, Modern English uses the dental suffix, ‘-ed’, to signify past tense6. Here we describe the emergence of this linguistic rule amidst the evolutionary decay of its exceptions, known to us as irregular verbs. We have generated a data set of verbs whose conjugations have been evolving for more than a millennium, tracking inflectional changes to 177 Old-English irregular verbs. Of these irregular verbs, 145 remained irregular in Middle English and 98 are still irregular today. We study how the rate of regularization depends on the frequency of word usage. The half-life of an irregular verb scales as the square root of its usage frequency: a verb that is 100 times less frequent regularizes 10 times as fast. Our study provides a quantitative analysis of the regularization process by which ancestral forms gradually yield to an emerging linguistic rule. ”

    “What will be the next irregular verb to regularize? It is likely to be wed/wed/wed. The frequency of ‘wed’ is only 4.2 uses per million verbs, ranking at the very bottom of the modern irregular verbs. Indeed, it is already being replaced in many contexts by wed/wedded/wedded. Now is your last chance to be a ‘newly wed’. The married couples of the future can only hope for ‘wedded’ bliss. In previous millennia, many rules vied for control of English language conjugation, and fossils of those rules remain to this day. Yet, from this primordial soup of conjugations, the dental suffix ‘-ed’ emerged triumphant. The competing rules are long dead, and unfamiliar even to well-educated native speakers. These rules disappeared because of the gradual erosion of their instances by a process that we call regularization. But regularity is not the default state of a language- a rule is the tombstone of a thousand exceptions.”

  20. @Peer: ISTM that having the way the universe works change according to the calendar, when that calendar is an arbitrary sequence rather than observable changes in the universe, is beyond SF and into fantasy. However, I suspect that the author deliberately adorned the plot with enough SF tropes (particularly the venerable if uncommon one of personality recall/overlay) to make the argument as subjective as parts of the universe portrayed.

  21. @Lis Carey: “Slided rather than slid, etc.”

    ::shudder:: Gak, I’ve never heard that one before! “Slided” sounds like a LOLCATism.

    @Mike Glyer: “Kind of like the Magic 8-Ball. (Which calls itself “Magic,” but….)”

    ::head explodes::

    @Anyone: Has anyone read/heard The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding? I found the audiobook, the description sounded interesting, and I liked the narrator baed on the sample. I was seriously thinking about spending an Audible credit on it – probably moments away from a click – when I noticed it was 30 hours 40 minutes! ZOMG!

    Granted, S. A. Chakraborty’s The Kingdom of Copper is just over 23 hours, but (a) I loved The City of Brass and (b) . . . 30 hours 40 minutes! Feedback welcome, if anyone’s read or listened to The Ember Blade (833 pages in hardback! Hardback!). Thanks.

  22. Paul King on June 16, 2019 at 1:32 pm said:

    Re: SF vs Fantasy. Zelazny’s Lord of Light – which nicely spans the divide by using fantastic SF tropes to imitate fantasy…

    Yes. and there’s also his Creatures of Light and Darkness which is, in some sense, the reverse: using science-fictional fantasy tropes to imitate science fiction.

    Lis Carey on June 16, 2019 at 7:50 am said:

    Science fiction assumes the rules of science apply. Fantasy assumes the rules of magic apply.

    Is that the sufficiently advanced science or the sufficiently advanced magic? And how can you tell? 🙂

    Of course, as Greg Hullender notes, in the overwhelming majority of cases, classification is easy. But that doesn’t mean the distinction is clear-cut. Merely that most writers aren’t aiming at the border line. The ones that do, though, can be ornery suckers, and are likely to try to subvert any definition you care to proffer. 🙂

  23. @Peer

    But Machineries of the Empire?

    @Chip Hitchcock

    ISTM that having the way the universe works change according to the calendar, when that calendar is an arbitrary sequence rather than observable changes in the universe, is beyond SF and into fantasy.

    In fact, in that series, human celebrations (including torture and human sacrifice) on a particular schedule can change the laws of nature.

    What makes future fantasy interesting is that it’s fantasy with the trappings of advanced technology. Most fantasy has medieval trappings. Steampunk is arguably fantasy with Victorian trappings. But there really is such a thing as future fantasy, even though we generally just call it “Space Opera,” whether it has fantastic elements or not.

  24. @Rose Embolism

    In short, if it is trying to fool the reader into thinking it could happen, then the work is science fiction.

    How does that differ from my definition, though? I said

    . . . the reader is led to believe that “there’s a scientific explanation for all this” which grows out of our current understanding of science.

    Can you suggest a work that would be classified differently by your scheme vs. mine?

  25. @Xtifr

    Of course, as Greg Hullender notes, in the overwhelming majority of cases, classification is easy. But that doesn’t mean the distinction is clear-cut. Merely that most writers aren’t aiming at the border line. The ones that do, though, can be ornery suckers, and are likely to try to subvert any definition you care to proffer. ?

    Actually a definition can have a few exceptions and still be quite useful. (Any linguist knows this.) 🙂 So I’d argue that the writers who produce mixed-genre works don’t really subvert anyone’s definitions. They simply produce works that are hard to categorize, and (I suspect) hard to sell too.

  26. @Greg Hullener: Oh yeah, I’m fine with definitions that allow exceptions. It’s the other kind I look askance at.

    As for “hard to sell”, well, it’s probably easier at a time when the challenging the dominant paradigm has become popular, as with Zelazny in the late sixties. But while it may not have been a blockbuster in terms of sales, I think the world would be a much poorer place without Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, to pick just one example.

    I won’t criticize an artist for sticking with the tried-and-true–bills gotta get paid–but it certainly makes me happy when one tries something new and it works!

  27. Greg Hullender: They simply produce works that are hard to categorize, and (I suspect) hard to sell too.

    Oh, nonsense. The Machineries of Empire (physics driven by mass belief in calendrical systems) books are wildly popular, as are Scalzi’s Interdependency (magical FTL transport river), Asaro’s Skolian War Saga (telepathic ruling race), Vinge’s Zones of Thought (magical zones of varying intelligence and technology), Reynolds’ Revelation Space (Lovecraftian elements), Herbert’s Dune (planetary fantasy with psychic powers), and don’t even get me started on the fantasy in Cixin Liu’s Three Body Trilogy. Indie author Jennifer Foehner Wells has a huge following for her Confluence space adventure series (superhuman energy-throwing power).

    Most people don’t have a problem buying into science fiction with fantastical elements, if it’s well done.

  28. (8) Adams also did the art design for the Broadway SF play Warp

    And NP Harris is a talented magician, and is on the Board of Directors for The Magic Castle in Hollywood

  29. @JJ

    Oh, nonsense.

    Obviously you didn’t read what I wrote very carefully. I never said that any of those stories was hard to categorize–I’ve read most of what you listed, and they were all what I’ve been calling “future fantasy” (or just Space Opera, even though that’s less precise).

    Look back over what the rest of what I wrote, and if you still can’t figure it out, I’ll explain it to you.

  30. In fact, in that series, human celebrations (including torture and human sacrifice) on a particular schedule can change the laws of nature.

    Ok, that is a good point (the calendar is different imho, because i always assumed „calendar“ has a different meaning then vs. now, since it has nothing to da with, calendars in our sense)

  31. 3) There ain’t none. That is a hill I am ready to die on.

    5) Nope, nothing wrong here.

  32. @JJ: ISTM that the Scalzi is a variant of the wormhole transport that a number of SF authors played with and/or falls under the one-unknown-thing that used to be cited as the boundary of science fiction. Dune was solidly within SF in its time, as ESP was considered within the domain of science fiction; does everything that depends on shown-to-be-erroneous science become fantasy?

  33. @Kendall —

    @Anyone: Has anyone read/heard The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding?

    Not I! And I don’t know that narrator, either. But the book is sitting in my wish list.

    Granted, S. A. Chakraborty’s The Kingdom of Copper is just over 23 hours, but (a) I loved The City of Brass and (b) . . . 30 hours 40 minutes!

    This one I can gibe a thumbs up. Not as good as City of Brass, but entertaining.

    @Greg and @Chip —

    I disagree that Machineries of Empire is fantasy. I think of them as Third Law sf. It may look like magic to us, but in the context of the story it’s clearly intended to be science.

    It may help to keep in mind that nearly everyone is “enhanced” in some way — wired to whatever computer interface — so personal beliefs can affect computer systems, and the effect can spread from there.

  34. Greg Hullender: Obviously you didn’t read what I wrote very carefully. I never said that any of those stories was hard to categorize–I’ve read most of what you listed, and they were all what I’ve been calling “future fantasy” (or just Space Opera, even though that’s less precise).

    So in other words, you’re characterizing “hard to characterize” works as space fantasy.

    I’d be interested in seeing a list of what you consider “hard to characterize”.

  35. Chip Hitchcock: ISTM that the Scalzi is a variant of the wormhole transport that a number of SF authors played with and/or falls under the one-unknown-thing that used to be cited as the boundary of science fiction. Dune was solidly within SF in its time, as ESP was considered within the domain of science fiction; does everything that depends on shown-to-be-erroneous science become fantasy?

    I’ve always thought that the “one-unknown-thing” was a device used by people to deny that there was any of that icky, icky fantasy in their Science Fiction.

    A great deal of science fiction contains fantastical elements. I’m not allergic to fantasy, nor am I a purist or pedant who will insist on denying that there are fantastical elements in the SF I enjoy, so I don’t see a problem with recognizing that a great deal of what gets called “science fiction” is actually a hybrid of science fiction and fantasy.

    ESP / telepathic powers have never been “solidly science fiction”, any more than FTL travel has been “solidly science fiction”. That was just a claim made by people who didn’t want to admit that there was any of that icky, icky fantasy in their SF story.

  36. Peer: the calendar is different imho, because i always assumed „calendar“ has a different meaning then vs. now, since it has nothing to da with, calendars in our sense

    Except that it’s made really clear in one of the books that they are calendars in our sense, where it’s mentioned that one clan’s version of the calendar has a different number of days in a [week analogue] than another clan’s… as well as calendars in the sense of designated “holy” days, where these are days designated for torture and sacrifices.

  37. @JJ

    So in other words, you’re characterizing “hard to characterize” works as space fantasy.

    No. “Space Fantasy” isn’t a term I use at all, and Space Opera (including what I’m calling “Future Fantasy”) isn’t hard to categorize.

    To give you a better idea of what we’re really talking about, here are the short descriptions I wrote for a few stories I tagged as mixed-genre:

    “Human terraforming has killed off some of the planet’s original gods and diminished or changed the rest. A few of the survivors are plotting a divine revolution, but they may be betrayed at any moment.”

    “James can’t afford to have a commercial service store his crushing loneliness, but he studies the process and decides to try a do-it-yourself system.”

    “Professional Wrestling of the future pits robots vs. fairies.”

    “In her old age, Sigrid doesn’t do as much witchcraft as she used to, but she doesn’t think she really needs the robot assistant her daughter got to help look after her.”

    “When the wizard has a fatal accident, his house AI tries to run things in his absence.”

    “Hengis knows his civilization will collapse when technology fails and magic takes its place, but there’s one last case he wants to solve before the lights go out.”

    “In the future, lottery winners will get their hearts’ desire, whether it’s turning into a bird, going to Mars, or vanishing into thin air.”

    “Shoska’s ex gives her a guitar for her act at the Quiet, and she buys some black-market souls to punch it up. What else can you do on an airless mining colony that’s lost its connection back to civilization?”

    Perhaps that’ll make it a bit clearer.

  38. @JJ

    ESP / telepathic powers have never been “solidly science fiction”, any more than FTL travel has been “solidly science fiction”. That was just a claim made by people who didn’t want to admit that there was any of that icky, icky fantasy in their SF story.

    That’s your opinion. I was citing what I’d seen and read from a time when many readers and writers barely realized (or didn’t realize at all) that fantasy existed and so felt no need to keep its cooties out of their science fiction.

  39. @Greg —

    @Contrarius
    Okay, but human sacrifice? Really?

    It wasn’t the sacrifice itself (in the sense of sacrificing to some god or other) — it was the solidarity of the people **watching** the sacrifices and the experienced pain of the person being sacrificed and so on. Remember, people were expected to watch and meditate all at the same time during these remembrances — it was all about groupthink and conformity.

    I just in the last couple of weeks read (listened to) the whole trilogy again, and I noticed more about how computer-interfaced these guys are. Like when people see the “shadows” of themselves or someone else looking like foxes or moths or whatever, or when Cheris (sp?) sees the reflection of Jedao in her mirror, or when somebody sees somebody else’s “signifier”, that’s really their interfaces showing them these things with bits of virtual reality — it’s not a magic shadow or a magic reflection. Similarly, when Kujen seems to jump bodies near the end, it seems to be “him” (his digitally stored mind, whatever you want to call that common trope) jumping through the networked connections as opposed to him being some sort of magical disembodied ghost. And when Kujen can control bodies, it’s because the victims’ brains are so thoroughly wired to that network. And so on.

  40. @Contrarius: “But the book is sitting in my wish list.”

    Is this a coincidence or am I to blame? 😉 Either way, if you wind up getting it and start it before I decide on (it may sit in my list for quite some time), please post about it here, if you remember.

    “This one I can gibe a thumbs up. Not as good as City of Brass, but entertaining.”

    I did already get – and start! – The Kingdom of Coopper, so I’m glad to hear it’s good, even if not as good. I loved the first book, so it’s a high bar to clear, and she’s definitely got me hooked! I’ve put it aside for some Hugo listening, but it was tough to do so. 😉

    ETA: It’s been a while, but my impression at the time was that Cheris seeing Jedao in the mirror was a sign of his influence on her. Huh.

  41. @Contrarius: “But the book is sitting in my wish list.”

    Is this a coincidence or am I to blame? ?

    No, it’s been there for a while. I was bitter that most of the Ketty Jay books were never released in audio, and somebody on sffworld said that the Ember Blade book was good.

    Either way, if you wind up getting it and start it before I decide on (it may sit in my list for quite some time), please post about it here, if you remember.

    Will do!

    ETA: It’s been a while, but my impression at the time was that Cheris seeing Jedao in the mirror was a sign of his influence on her. Huh.

    It *was* a sign of his influence on her. But it took me a long time to figure out that it wasn’t a hallucination or something magical — it was probably just a virtual reality projection from her implants.

    Third Law sf!

  42. Re: Machineries:
    In my interpretation the books are set inside of a computer and calendar etc. are changing the simulation. Thats why everything depends on math and everything affects the underlying programm, i.e. the “reality” – including the social structures and sacrifices etc.
    Im fully aware that this is not mentionend or even im/explicitly hinted at, but its the way I interpret the story for myself. (I have not read the short stories etc. so I dont know if this is at odds with them)

  43. I mostly go by the furniture, as GRRM says. Spaceships? SF. Spells? Fantasy. The Force? SF if you explain it with microorganisms. Fantasy if you explain it with magic. SF if you don’t explain it, but the setting is SF.

    That someone doesn’t know why something works doesn’t make it fantasy if it isn’t tied to fantasy tropes. People have used a lot of stuff before they could explain how it worked.

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