Pixel Scroll 6/6/19 Scroll Me Some Pixels And File Hacks, I Don’t Care If I Never Get Back

(1) F&SF COVER. Gordon Van Gelder, publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, shares a preview of their July/Aug. 2019 cover. The cover art is by Mondolithic Studios.

(2) RANKING SPACE OPERA. The readers of Discover Sci-Fi voted these as “The Top 10 Space Opera books or series of all time”. Coming in first place —

1. Honor Harrington series by David Weber

And the number one, all time best space opera as selected by DiscoverSciFi readers is the Honor Harrington series! Otherwise known as The Honorverse, most of the more than 20 novels and anthology collections cover events between 4000 and 4022 AD. Much of the series’ political drama follows that of Europe’s political scene from the 1500’s to 2000’s.

(3) PRIDE MONTH. Tor.com invites readers to celebrate with free novellas: “Happy Pride Month! Download These 4 Free LGBTQ+ Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novellas Before June 8!”

Download In Our Own Worlds now, featuring:

  • The Lamb Will Slaughter The Lion by Margaret Killjoy
  • Passing Strange by Ellen Klages
  • A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson
  • The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang

(4) SUPER JOB. LAist interview Mark Waid about “How To Become A Comic Book Writer In LA: From A Legendary Superman Writer”.

STEP 2: BUILD A NETWORK

Waid attributes getting the chance to write comics to dumb luck. But there was also a lot of hard work. He started his career at Fantagraphics in Thousand Oaks, doing editing, layout, and other production on comic book fan magazine Amazing Heroes.

He also had the chance to write for the magazine, doing interviews that he described as puff pieces — but discovered that he was inadvertently networking, since he was now in touch with every editor and creator in comics.

When an editorial position opened up at DC Comics in 1987, he was known there for his work in those fan magazines.

“Was I interested in coming in for an interview? Well, yes. Jesus, yes,” Waid said.

(5) DRAINING THE SWAMP. At this DC they really did it — “‘Swamp Thing’ Canceled Less Than a Week After DC Universe Debut” in The Hollywood Reporter.

Just six days after its debut on DC Universe, Swamp Thing has been canceled.

Only one episode of the series has aired on DC Universe. The remainder of the show’s 10-episode run will play out on the streaming platform, but it won’t return after that. 

(6) IF YOU WILL. In “The Race to Venus”, Nature reviews the initiatives to explore Venus.

After decades of neglect, the world’s space agencies can no longer resist the pull of Earth’s evil twin.

…Venus is Earth’s double. Recent research has even suggested that it might have looked like Earth for three billion years, with vast oceans that could have been friendly to life. “That’s what sets my imagination

on fire,” says Darby Dyar, a planetary scientist at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. “If that’s the case, there was plenty of time for evolution to kick into action.” That could mean that Venus was (somewhat surprisingly) the first habitable planet in the Solar System — a place where life was just as likely to arise as it was on Earth. That alone is a reason to return to the former ocean world.

(7) LEAVING MEATSPACE. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] Nature this week reviews an SF novel in a substantive way – we perhaps get a full page SF novel a review once a year or twice if we are lucky.  Up this time is Neil Stephenson’s new novel Fall. “A digital god: Neal Stephenson rides again”

Neal Stephenson likes to blow things up. In Seveneves (2015), for instance, the prolific science-fiction writer detonated the Moon, then played out how humanity tried to save itself from extinction. In his new tome, Fall, the metaphorical explosion kills just one man.  But this is an individual sitting on a few billion dollars, and longing to escape the shackles of mortality. The aftermath of the blast is thus just as powerful, and changes the fate of humanity just as profoundly.

(8) NASA COLLECTIBLES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] This Orion appears to be a spacecraft, rather than the boom-boom drive discussed in a recent scroll; submitted here for the souvenir-turtles (1) aspect: “Orion Collectibles”.

(1) If you don’t recognize the Heinlein reference, you won’t be gathering moss. Or syng pngf, aka Zamboni’d credentials.

(9) BEGIN AGAIN. The American Scholar’s George Musser weighs in on the future of the space program: “Our Fate Is in the Stars”.

…In space, no one can hear your echo chamber. Those who worked on Apollo were not immune to human foibles, such as being a little too fond of their own reasoning, but the mission came first. Fishman recalls disputes over the mission plan. Engineers in Huntsville wanted to fly directly from Earth orbit to the lunar surface. Engineers in Houston wanted to use lunar orbit as a way station. The meetings got heated. NASA commissioned two studies, with the twist that each team had to flesh out the other’s plan. Making the engineers step into each other’s shoes unstuck the debate, and Huntsville came around to Houston’s approach. That one decision ended up saving billions of dollars.

But as much as the Apollo program inspires, it also taunts. The unity of purpose, the technological virtuosity, and the exploratory achievements seem beyond us today—not just in space, but in every domain. I almost wish we didn’t remember Apollo, because the remembrances fill a void. The space program still does amazing things, but nothing like Apollo. The world has made itself a safer and healthier place, but some problems demand direction from the top, and we don’t get much of that.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 6, 1853 Charles Howard Hinton. British mathematician and writer of SF works titled Scientific Romances. He’s largely known now for coining the word “tesseract” which would get used by writers as diverse as Charles  Leadbeater, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Heinlein and  Madeleine L’Engle. He and his, errr, unique family would in turn figure into the fiction of Alan Moore, Carlos Atanes, Aleister Crowley, John Dewy and Jorge Luis Borges. (Died 1907.)
  • Born June 6, 1915 Tom Godwin. He published three novels and twenty-seven short stories in total. SFWA selected his story, “The Cold Equations”, as one of the best SF short stories published before 1965, and it is therefore included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929–1964. (Died 1980.)
  • Born June 6, 1947 Robert Englund, 72. I think his best performance was as Blackie on the very short-lived Nightmare Cafe. Of course, most will remember him playing Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. He actually appeared in a couple of now forgotten horror films, Dead & Buried  and Galaxy of Terror, before landing that role. And he’s continued to do myriad horror films down to the years ranging from CHUD to Strippers vs Werewolves. Versatile man, our Robert.  
  • Born June 6, 1951 Geraldine McCaughrean, 68. Fifteen years ago, she wrote Peter Pan in Scarlet, the official sequel to Peter Pan commissioned by Great Ormond Street Hospital, the holder of Peter Pan’s copyright which J.M. Barrie granted them. So has anyone here read it? 
  • Born June 6, 1959 Amanda Pays, 60. I first encountered her as Thero Jones on Max Headroom, a series I think could be considered the best SF series ever made. She also had a guest role as Phoebe Green in the episode “Fire” of The X-Files, and and as Christina “Tina” McGee in The Flash. She appeared as Dawn in the Spacejacked film. 
  • Born June 6, 1961 Lisabeth Shatner, 58. Uncredited as child along with her sister Melanie in “Miri” episode. Also appeared uncredited on TekWar entitled “Betrayal” which she wrote. The latter also guest-starred her sister, and was directed by their father.  Co-wrote with father, Captain’s Log: William Shatner’s Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V the Final Frontier.
  • Born June 6, 1963 Jason Isaacs, 56. Captain Gabriel Lorca, the commanding officer of the USS Discovery in the first season of Discovery and also provided the voice of The Inquisitor, Sentinel, in Star Wars Rebels, and Admiral Zhao in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Oh, and the role of playing Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter film franchise.
  • Born June 6, 1964 Jay Lake. Another one who died far too young. If you read nothing else by him, read his brilliant Mainspring Universe series. Though his Green Universe is also entertaining and I see Wiki claims an entire Sunspin Universe series is forthcoming from him. Anyone know about these novels? (Died 2014.)

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Love of books features in Grant Snider’s Incidental Comics:

(12) WW84. On Twitter, Patty Jenkins posted a photo of Gal Gadot’s snappy new costume for Wonder Woman 1984.

(13) GO WITH THE FLOW. Tor.com shows Sparth’s cover for the third book in the series — ”Revealing John Scalzi’s The Last Emperox. (Coming in April 2020.)

The collapse of The Flow, the interstellar pathway between the planets of the Interdependency, has accelerated. Entire star systems—and billions of people—are becoming cut off from the rest of human civilization. This collapse was foretold through scientific prediction… and yet, even as the evidence is obvious and insurmountable, many still try to rationalize, delay and profit from, these final days of one of the greatest empires humanity has ever known.

(14) CAT TUBE. Science Direct has an article on “The use of animal-borne cameras to video-track the behaviour of domestic cats”.

…Free roaming domestic animals can have a profound effect on wildlife. To better understand and mitigate any impact, it is important to understand the behaviour patterns of the domestic animals, and how other variables might influence their behaviour. Direct observation is not always feasible and bears the potential risk of observer effects. The use of animal-borne small video-cameras provides the opportunity to study behaviour from the animal’s point of view….

A nontechnical article about the study in the Washington Post makes it sound like their effect isn’t as profound as advertised: “Catcam videos reveal cats don’t sleep all day. (Just some of it.)”

Indoors, Huck said, most cats’ No. 1 activity would almost certainly be sleeping. But these cats’ lives were recorded when they were outdoors, and they had a higher priority: Their top activity was “resting” — not sleeping, but not exactly up and at ’em. Another preferred pastime was “exploring,” which Huck said amounts to “sniffing at plants or things.”

Although “cats are famous for being lazy,” Huck said, even their alfresco resting was active, if subtly so. The cat’s-eye-view videos revealed many instances of felines sitting for some time in one spot, but “constantly scanning the area,” as evidenced by faint shifts in the camera angle — left to right, up and down.

“They are really very patiently watching the environment, not wasting energy,” Huck said.

(15) THE SOON TO BE LATE AUTHOR. You’ll need to hurry. In LA, it’s opening weekend for “The Assassination of Edgar Allan Poe” at the Downtown Repertory Theater. Tickets for Poe on June 7th, 7:30pm are $25 (discount)

(16) RETRO REVIEWS. Steve J. Wright has completed his Retro Hugo Novelette finalist reviews.

Novelette

(17) DRACULA’S BALLS. You didn’t know he lost them? Well, strictly speaking, “Dracula the Impaler’s 15th century cannonballs unearthed in Bulgaria”SYFY Wire’s has the story.

According to a report in Archaeology in Bulgaria, the balls were “most likely” used by Count Vlad in the winter of 1461-1462 during his “siege and conquest” of the Zishtova Fortress being held by the Ottoman Turks. The balls were used for culverins, an early, primitive form of the cannon.  

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

65 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/6/19 Scroll Me Some Pixels And File Hacks, I Don’t Care If I Never Get Back

  1. Off to bed now in hopes that tomorrow will bring no fresh surprises at all as I’m all surprised out.

    Now listening to: Tanya Huff’s The Privilege of Peace, Peacekeeper Number 3

  2. (2) RANKING SPACE OPERA.

    a) Dune is not Space Opera.
    b) Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War is way better Space Opera than Honor Harrington, due to having 100% less political proselytizing and missile counts. Its omission from this list is egregious.
    c) Who TF is Jay Allan, and who and how much did he pay to get on this list?

  3. (11) I can’t fault the choice of Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends. I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment out of it, as I have from almost everything else Silverstein has done, with the exception of a rather ugly cartoon in one oversize collection I have that has kept me from finishing the book.

  4. 2) Wow, they even managed to include one whole woman on that list. I’m also surprised that the Jay Allan books are not only included, but that they rank so highly. Based on the one I’ve read, they’re fairly unremarkable space opera/military SF hybrids of the type that can be found all over the Amazon Kindle store

    7) You’ve got the link mixed up, cause this one goes to the Venus article as well.

    10) Robert Englund I will always associate with Willy, the nice alien in V, because I saw V before I saw Nightmare on Elm Street.

    Amanda Pays was Iris West in the 1990 Flash series starring John Wesley Shipp. Both of them later popped up in the current The Flash series.

    As far as I recall (I occasionally commented on his blog), Jay Lake was working on the Sunspin series and managed to finish the first draft of book one, before he became too ill to write. I doubt it’s forthcoming anytime soon, so that’s probably old Wikipedia information, unless Jay’s family got someone else to finish it. It was a space opera series and probably would have been very good.

  5. JJ rightfully asks Who TF is Jay Allan, and who and how much did he pay to get on this list?

    ISFDB says he’s self-published a number of series that are available on Amazon. Since I don’t know who the readers of Discover as Sci-Fi are, it’s hard to say how he made this list. It’s worth noting that he’s written fifty five novels in the past seven years according to ISFDB! I smell a scam.

    Yes I was off to bed but I changed my mind…

  6. @JJ
    I’d say that Leckie’s Ancillary series is better space opera than Honorverse stuff. (I’ve read some of Weber’s Honorverse books. It’s not space opera, it’s military sf.)
    IMO, the later Dune novels are more space opera than the first two. They certainly aren’t in the same universe.

  7. @JJ
    Jay Allan is a self-published author of space opera/military SF who’s very popular with the Kindle Unlimited crowd. He also had a few traditionally published books. I read one of them and tried another, but found them unremarkable, typical “grizzled space captain” macho stuff. But then, most KU space opera doesn’t do it for me anyway.

    I totally agree with you about the omission of Vatta’s War. Though there are plenty of series I could name that are better than the ones they did list. And calling Dune a space opera is a stretch.

    @Cat Eldridge
    I just read about your blood clot problems on the other thread. Get better soon.

  8. @2: considering what the list came up with for #’s 1 and 4, the fact that I haven’t read #2 on the list did not make me interested in trying it even before reading the comments here. Sounds like Discover is another organization whose lists I can ignore.

    @3: those may be a good antidote to the RWNJs trying to hold a Straight Pride parade here. (Second example of idiocy (first being the idea that it’s necessary): they applied for a permit on the weekend when ~90% of rentals turn over and a large fraction of dorm moveins happen.)

    @14: I knew it — they’re playing Cat Chess!

    @Cat Eldridge: Off to bed now in hopes that tomorrow will bring no fresh surprises at all as I’m all surprised out. A surprise every now and then can be fun. Surprises in torrents, OTOH….

  9. Cat Eldridge: It’s worth noting that he’s written fifty five novels in the past seven years according to ISFDB! I smell a scam.

    Nah, no scam, just one of the disciples of the “plot-by-numbers” minimum viable product school, like the 20BooksTo50K folks.

    Ah… a little look around the website, and all becomes clear: Discover Sci-Fi isn’t a fan site, it’s a self-published authors’ collective / marketing platform. They publish “blog posts” which have the veneer of legitimacy by name-dropping a bunch of well-known authors, books, and series, while slipping in a reference to a book or series by one of their authors as if it belongs in that august company. This post has been published 3 times in the last 2 weeks: desperation, much?

    Their “blog posts” are hilarious; they make a great game of “One of These Things is Not Like the Others”.

  10. JJ on June 6, 2019 at 8:50 pm said:

    Ah… a little look around the website, and all becomes clear: Discover Sci-Fi isn’t a fan site, it’s a self-published authors’ collective / marketing platform.

    Yes, Jay Allen is listed as one of their 12 authors if you click on the “DSF Authors” menu at the top.

    And yes, he has been published in a Craig Martelle anthology as well.

    //This post has been published 3 times in the last 2 weeks: desperation, much?//

    Those are the poll posts where readers nominated then voted, I think. Interestingly Jay Allen doesn’t appear on the first poll.

  11. @Cat, @JJ
    Jay Allan is definitely a member of the 20Booksto50K group and has appeared at their conferences.

    And yes, good catch on what Discover Sci-Fi is. And the list of Discover Sci-Fi authors includes – drumroll – Jay Allan as well as a bunch of other folks associated with the 20Booksto50K write to market approach. Supposedly they’re some of today’s top-selling science fiction authors – if you never look beyond the Kindle store, that is.

    Though you have to give them credit for managing to make a whole list of the top ten time travel novels/series of all time without including a single incongruous self-published author. Probably because time travel isn’t a hot niche for the write to market crowd.

  12. @Camestros
    Jay Allan’s series is included on the longlist, though it’s fairly far down. I also count at least five other Discover Sci-Fi authors, maybe more.

    Even the longlist is strange, though. No Imperial Radch and no Vatta’s War, but plenty of self-published KU space opera (not that surprising, given the provenance) as well as comparatively obscure traditionally published space opera such as Linnea Sinclair’s Dock 5 series, which I enjoyed quite a bit, but which isn’t very well known among SF fans, because it was marketed as romance.

  13. 10) — I see Jason Isaacs is also going to be doing voice work in the upcoming Dark Crystal prequel series on Netflix (please let it be good).

  14. Cora Buhlert on June 6, 2019 at 9:17 pm said:

    @Camestros
    Jay Allan’s series is included on the longlist, though it’s fairly far down. I also count at least five other Discover Sci-Fi authors, maybe more.

    Ah, I missed it.

    Sort of weird they even bother doing a poll but I guess they have their reasons.

  15. I was asked about Wuxia/Xianxia-recommendations some days ago, and am very happy to say that I have one!

    Way of Choices: Youths We Were, Schoolmates, by Mao Ni

    This book was written for the web and has a total of 1251 chapters, only around 900 which have been translated to english (not sure if all are available right now). It has also been turned into a comic and at least two TV series, one animated and one with real actors.

    I had absolutely no idea about this when I started to read it. For me it seemed like one of those kind of amateurish books that abound when searching for Kindle books and the book cover with its anime figures and “translation by Hypersheep325” did not help. So I expected the usual learning martial arts, defeat the nemesis, gain power and so on.

    Instead I got a book that more reminded me of The Goblin Emperor or perhaps a story of some Buddha to be. The main character is a scholar who has spent all his youth reading books. He is very non-confrontational. Has a hard time understanding political intrigues around him and how people interpret his actions into their web of manipulation and power plays. Isn’t really good with people at all, but try to remain calm and polite all the time. Doesn’t solve any conflict with violence himself. In truth, he is weaker than everyone else. His true power is knowledge.

    From his perspective, the story is simple. He has a disease that is tied to his fate. This fate tells him that he will not live longer than to twenty, he is 14 when the real story starts, so his goal is to change his fate. Something only a handful of people in the whole history has managed. But this simple goal which his entire being is focused on is complicated by other peoples intrigues and how they interpret his actions.

    There is a “Journey to the West” feel in the language, it is flowery and sometimes poetic in its descriptions. Both women and men are players in the court games, all with their own reasons and agendas.

    It was very much a suprise as this wasn’t the book I was looking for, but it was a pleasant surprise. Moving on to the second part now.

  16. Lis Carey says Of course cats are watching, observing very closely.

    As I write this laying on my bed, I have a cat to my left sleeping and a cat to my right doing likewise. Observing isn’t high on their list right now. That’ll happen when I open the windows later and the birds attract their attention.

  17. 14: CatCam was covered by the BBC in some Horizon episodes, “The Secret Life of the Cat” and “Little Cat Diaries” the following week, with a less research focussed episode “Cat Watch 2014” a couple of years later. None of the programmes are currently available on iPlayer but a look at your search provider of choice will reveal other potential sources.

  18. 2) This makes me think of the vanity publishing house in Foucault’s Pendulum, with their self-contained world of review mills and awards. Though to be fair, people are actually reading the Kindle Unlimited authors. I guess what they actually are is the latest incarnation of pulp?

    3) I can recommend The Lamb Will Slaughter The Lion for characters convincingly drawn from the anarchist and activist scene. In fact, if it has a flaw it’s that the characters feel more solid than the supernatural stuff.

    16) I’m very fond of Leigh Brackett but I wouldn’t say either of those stories were her best work. For me, the choice is probably between Mimsy Were the Borogoves (good concept in an adequate story) and Thieves’ House (a familiar story well told), though I should probably re-read the other two.

  19. #2 — I love the Honorverse (after book 8 I learned to skip the infodumps on weapons specs) but I thought for a moment that list was in reverse order. No way is Weber’s series better than the 9 ranked behind it.
    Bujold, Banks, and Doc Smith are definitely better.

  20. 10) Jason Isaacs also played Hap in The OA. I found this series fascinating. Any other fans here?

  21. Huh. My Gravatar changed. BRB.
    Edit: That’s better. Viking longshore raider FTW. At least until I can find those SF hazard emblems again.
    And positive non-fannish news. Bought the house we were renting and got transferred and promoted at work. Figured it’s a good thing to share good news.

  22. Anthony says CatCam was covered by the BBC in some Horizon episodes, “The Secret Life of the Cat” and “Little Cat Diaries” the following week, with a less research focussed episode “Cat Watch 2014” a couple of years later. None of the programmes are currently available on iPlayer but a look at your search provider of choice will reveal other potential sources.

    If “The Secret Life of the Cat is roughly an hour long, it’s on YiuTube in multiple copies as it seems the Beeb sharecropped it out to National Geographic. It certainly looks charming.

    Once in a while, my autonomic nervous system disorder decides not sleeping is not in order. Last night was one of those nights. So OGH got most of the Birthdays around three am, the time rumoured to be when, according to Simon R. Green, the most folk die and the most babies are born. Or so so he says in his Secret History series repeatedly.

  23. RE: Space Opera.

    I saw JJ’s comment above about Space Opera and wonder just how much space is required to make a Space Opera a Space Opera, as opposed to being something more akin to Planetary Romance. We do get intrigue and the like on a variety of planets, we get a Crossing, and off-planet concerns. But Dune (as opposed to its sequels) is much more bound and Dune itself is tied to the planet Arrakis in a way that, say, a chunk of the Vorkosigan verse is not. Or Harrington. Or The Expanse.

    Velocity Weapon (which I reviewed today and also have podcasted with the author about) takes place on a planet, but also a space ship, and has scenes on a different alien planet. But those planets feel much less “place” than Arrakis does for Dune/

  24. @ John Winkelman

    Dr. John the Night Tripper passed away yesterday. I don’t know if he was ever involved in any specifically genre works – other than being a genre unto himself – but he was the inspiration for Dr. Teeth (of Electric Mayhem fame)

    Mac Rebennack (the man behind the persona) originally made Dr. John a vodoun priest, so the first few Dr. John albums definitely have genre aspects. “I Walk on Guilded Splinters,” off of his first album gris-gris, is a great example:

    “I roll out my coffin
    Drink poison in my chalice
    Pride begins to fade
    And you all feel my malice

    Put gris-gris on your doorstep
    And soon you be in the gutter
    Melt your heart like butter
    And I can make you stutter”

  25. I seem to remember that Jay Lake had handed Sunspin over to another writer just before his death. Not wanting to name names in case complications have happened, but as someone who was a local friend, I know that provisions had been at least semi-arranged. I’d sure like to see it as the premise was pretty darn fascinating.

  26. @BravoLimaPoppa – congratulations on both the house and the job front!

    Probably missed the Good Omens thread, I am enjoying it. Got to be 25 or so years since I read the book, so am not having “they did WHAT!!” issues with the adaptation. I think the best thing about it is David Tenant’s demon, love the way he moves, although the angel is growing on me a bit. Only up to episode 3 I think.

  27. @Cliff: Yeah, my wife and I liked The OA a lot. We haven’t gotten to season 2 yet, have you? It received great reviews.

  28. Am I alone in getting a strong sense of deja vu when I look at that F&SF cover?

  29. @PhilRM – yep, blazed right through it. It’s a little different in tone, and even more wacky. I loved it.

    If you’re interested, Batmanglij and Marling also made a movie called Sound Of My Voice. Similar in vibe. It concerns a woman who has come back to the present day from the future. Or has she?

  30. 16) This might be a good place to ask a question about Brackett’s “The Halfling” that’s haunted me for decades. The protagonist is presented as ordinary Terran human, but at one point he is attacked by a huge alien tiger equivalent, and dealt with this thusly: he “faded”, he says, “just enough that his claws raked me without gutting me.” (quoted from memory).
    He what? Is it being implied that the protagonist has a superpower and is therefore NOT human (like his own carnival employees)? Or is it some mundane variatiion of the word ‘fade’ meaning ‘dodge”? Years of consulting dictionaries and doing internet searches about this story has never settled it for me.

  31. I had the pleasure of reading a draft of Jay Lake’s Sunspin Universe series. We met at a con before he died and he emailed me all he had finished at the time. Basically, book 1 of 4 was done, 2 and 3 were close, and 4 was just an outline and a treatment. What was there was great.

    I also know that he was in talks to find somebody to finish that series. I don’t know who or if the talk became actuality.

  32. @Cat: Once upon a time, WGBH used to rebadge Horizons as episodes of Nova and the BBC did the reverse. Both just replaced the narrator with the relevant local accent. That’s probably where NatGeo comes in thse days…

  33. Today I got an ARC of Alix Harrow’s The Ten Thousand Doors of January!

    This is a book I had the fantastic luck to beta read (this was before Witch’s Guide to Escape had been published!), and it was such a remarkable delight. It’s been amazing (and kind if dizzying) seeing this book go from random-beta-request-on-Twitter, to agented to sold to getting fantastic attention and interest.

    So getting the ARC is one heck of a moment… and I’m really looking forward to seeing the final result, and how the book has evolved from its (exceedingly excellent) earlier version.

  34. @Jayn:

    He what? Is it being implied that the protagonist has a superpower and is therefore NOT human (like his own carnival employees)? Or is it some mundane variatiion of the word ‘fade’ meaning ‘dodge”? Years of consulting dictionaries and doing internet searches about this story has never settled it for me.

    I would guess that “faded” means “leaned away” (so that the attack which would have killed him if he had not moved only wounded him slightly). Heinlein had a character nicknamed “Fader” who managed to leave the area unobtrusively just before trouble started – a similar use of “fade” I think.

  35. @Cliff: Oh yeah, I thought The Sound of My Voice was very good, and the film she did with Mike Cahill, Another Earth, is even better.

  36. @Cat Eldridge: obviously your two were building up energy for an intense session of observation later.

  37. Chip Hitchcock says obviously your two were building up energy for an intense session of observation later.

    Right now given that the windows are open I’m my flat and it’s both sunny & warm, they’ll be bird watching right now. Well and squirrel watching as well.

  38. Barnes & Noble has just been purchased by a hedge fund. Although my instant reaction to the headline was that this signaled “Let the looting begin!”, it appears that this may in fact turn out to be a Good Thing: the same hedge fund owns Waterstones in the UK, and the chief executive of Waterstones, James Daunt, who is widely credited in the publishing industry for having rescued Waterstones (and whose entire career has been as a bookseller), will act as the CEO of both. Certainly anything has to be an improvement over B&N’s previous CEO.

  39. @Jayn, @Andrew: “fade” is a boxing term meaning you lean back just enough to avoid the punch, or at least to soften it. So in a fight scene I’d assume that’s what was meant. (I took boxing classes for a while and this is the first time I’ve used that information)

  40. @BravoLimaPoppa
    Congrats on the new house and the job

    @Paul

    I saw JJ’s comment above about Space Opera and wonder just how much space is required to make a Space Opera a Space Opera, as opposed to being something more akin to Planetary Romance. We do get intrigue and the like on a variety of planets, we get a Crossing, and off-planet concerns. But Dune (as opposed to its sequels) is much more bound and Dune itself is tied to the planet Arrakis in a way that, say, a chunk of the Vorkosigan verse is not. Or Harrington. Or The Expanse.

    Velocity Weapon (which I reviewed today and also have podcasted with the author about) takes place on a planet, but also a space ship, and has scenes on a different alien planet. But those planets feel much less “place” than Arrakis does for Dune/

    I’d classify Dune as planetary romance rather than space opera, too. But the term “planetary romance” seems to have fallen out of favour in the past twenty years or so. No idea why, because it’s a useful term. However, we are now seeing classic planetary romances like Dune or the Barsoom books reclassified as space opera. You also have genuine hybrid cases where a series might be space opera set in a space opera universe overall, but individual books are set on single planets and are closer to planetary romance. Though like Paul, I feel that if a story focusses more on a single world and its environment, whether there is or isn’t a larger universe beyond that world, it’s planetary romance rather than space opera.

    An added complication is that Amazon and the other online booksellers don’t have a planetary romance category. So planetary romance is either classified as space opera or adventure science fiction (which is a category description I don’t get, because any SF subgenre can and often does feature adventures). And after a while, this starts to stick, especially with more people coming into the genre as fans and writers who have never encountered the term planetary romance.

    @Sophie Jane

    2) This makes me think of the vanity publishing house in Foucault’s Pendulum, with their self-contained world of review mills and awards. Though to be fair, people are actually reading the Kindle Unlimited authors. I guess what they actually are is the latest incarnation of pulp?

    There seems to be a sizeable number of voracious Kindle Unlimited users who gobble up military leaning space opera by the barrel, so “the latest incarnation of pulp” is not wrong. And because Amazon treats a KU borrow the same as a sale, the written to market KU books like those by the 20Booksto50K folks often dominate the category bestseller lists in the Kindle store. Some of these authors also pour a lot of money (in the four or even five figure range per month) into advertising, so these books seem even more ubiquitous.

    A while back I chanced to surf Amazon with my ad blocker turned off (yes, most of the time I don’t even see those ads those folks are pouring their heart, soul and wallet into) and saw ads for the typical KU “exploding spaceships in space” military SF/space operas under books by Ann Leckie, Martha Wells or Becky Chambers. Now I don’t think there is much of an overlap between the readership of Ann Lecki, Martha Wells or Becky Chambers and the KU “exploding spaceships in space” books, even though both are space opera. But because the ads are algorithm and keyword driven, they show up there.

    16) I’m very fond of Leigh Brackett but I wouldn’t say either of those stories were her best work. For me, the choice is probably between Mimsy Were the Borogoves (good concept in an adequate story) and Thieves’ House (a familiar story well told), though I should probably re-read the other two.

    “The Halfling” feels old-fashioned, very much like an old black and white noir film. Picture Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in the lead roles. It’s a fine story, but very much of its time.

    “Citadel of Lost Ships” surprised me. The writing is comparatively rough – Leigh Brackett can do and did much better. In some ways, it feels like a precursor to the later Eric John Stark stories.

    But the story itself is fascinating. Here we have a story with a black protagonist who teams up with a group of literal social justice warriors to help indigenous people about to be displaced by capitalist mining interests. The story is also critical of colonialism and imperialism. In short, it’s a story that will make puppies cry, written in 1943 by an author who wasn’t exactly known as progessive.

    That said, I find retro novelette extremely hard to rate this year (like present day novelette), because “Thieves’ House”, “Mimsy Were the Borogroves” and the two Bracketts are all very good. Though I suspect I will go with “Thieves’ House” in first place, if only because I love the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories so much and this is a very good one.

    @Standback

    (1) had me at “G.V. Anderson”

    (although to be fair, it also had.me.at F&SF)

    G.V. Anderson always writes excellent stories. And I think it was you who pointed her out to me, so thank you.

    I’m also glad to hear that we may eventually get to see Jay Lake’s Sunspin after all.

  41. @PhilRM – Definitely looks to be a better outlook with the new CEO. Letting stores cater to their local market more sounds like a good idea.

    On a side note, I wanted to pick up the Good Omens TV companion and would rather buy from B&N than Amazon (I have coupons). But, not a single store in AZ carries it on their shelves, and it is priced online just slightly less than retail at $40, while Amazon has it for $25. I imagine this may have more to do with the show being an Amazon Prime co-production, but it is hard to justify paying more to B&N, even with the discount coupon.

    As another related side note, I did get the UK signed edition of the Good Omens script book from Waterstones, and that transaction went well (aside from the book appearing to spend a few extra days in the L.A. area than the USPS anticipated).

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