Pixel Scroll 6/8/20 All The Pixels E’er I Scrolled, I Filed Them In Good Company

(1) ANSWER THE QUESTION. FastCompany finds “Siri and Google get ‘Black Lives Matter’ right. Alexa, not so much”.

Ask the Google Assistant whether Black lives matter, for instance, and you’ll get a forthright answer. “Black lives matter,” it responds. “Black people deserve the same freedoms afforded to everyone in this country, and recognizing the injustice they face is the first step towards fixing it.”

When asked if “all lives matter”—a phrase sometimes used as a derailing tactic by those who’d rather not discuss racial inequality—Google gets even sharper: “Saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ doesn’t mean that all lives don’t,” the Google Assistant says. “It means Black lives are at risk in ways that others are not.”

These answers only arrived on Friday afternoon, after more than a week of nationwide protests triggered by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Previously, the Google Assistant would only say that “of course” Black lives matter, without elaboration, and when asked about “all lives matter,” Google said it couldn’t understand the question.

The new responses, along with somewhat similar ones from Apple’s Siri assistant, show how “Black Lives Matter” has at last become a mainstream way to acknowledge racism in America. They also highlight the fine line tech giants walk in building voice assistants that can answer any question. These companies have generally tried to avoid controversy, and it wasn’t long ago that they shied away from the topic of racial injustice entirely. Yet they’ve also presented their AI assistants as human-like conversationalists. That might prompt users to expect the assistants to have opinions, in a way that conventional search engines do not….

(2) GAMING BUNDLE FUNDRAISER FOR RACIAL JUSTICE. [Item by Rose Embolism.] Itch.io, the independent game development/publishing marketplace has offered a charity “Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality” that has 755 computer and tabletop RPG offerings for a minimum donation of $5.00 (normal value $3,400.00). All proceeds will be donated to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund, split 50/50.  A lot of these are retro platformers and RPGs, but there’s a lot of very different creative, personal or simply weird games in there. I paid $15.00, and I’m still looking through them, a little overwhelmed.

This will be going on for 7 more days, and no membership in Itch.io

As of today they’ve raised $2,638,842 of their $5M goal.

(3) RECOMMENDED SFF. Sirens, a conference examining and celebrating the intersections of gender and fantasy literature, has tweeted a list of “Black women, nonbinary, and trans folks writing SFF works about Black people and Black communities.” Thread starts here.

Here are two examples:

(4) LONG GONE. The Hollywood Reporter, in “Hartley Sawyer Fired From ‘The Flash’ After Racist, Misogynist Tweets Surface”, says that Sawyer, who played the Elongated Man in The Flash, was sacked after tweets he made in 2012 and 2014 were publicized.

…The tweets, all from before he joined The CW series, make references to sexual assault and contain racist and homophobic language. Sawyer’s Twitter account has been deleted, but screenshots of the old posts have circulated online in the past two weeks. His firing also comes amid nationwide protests against systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd’s May 25 death in Minneapolis.

“Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for season seven of The Flash,” reads a statement from The CW, producers Warner Bros. TV and Berlanti Productions and executive producer Eric Wallace. “In regards to Mr. Sawyer’s posts on social media, we do not tolerate derogatory remarks that target any race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation. Such remarks are antithetical to our values and polices, which strive and evolve to promote a safe, inclusive and productive environment for our workforce.”

(5) PICARD AND OTHER TREK ACTORS SING. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Not sure what started YouTube showing this to me… managed to only kill <10 minutes on them at least :-0

Not clear if this is from an episode, tho I doubt it 🙂

  • Captain Picard Dancing and Singing on the Bridge
  • The (ST:Voyager’s) Doctor saves the day while singing opera
  • Doc & Seven Singing you are my sunshine — Star Trek voyager

And again, impromptu, at Fan Expo:

  • Jeri Ryan and Robert Picardo sing beautifully!

(6) ROCKIES ROAD. Add MileHiCon 52 to the list of conventions going virtual in 2020.

In response to the impact of the COVID19 virus and the economic stress on everyone at these times, the MileHiCon Committee and Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to go VIRTUAL for MileHiCon 52. We do not want to expose our attendees to the possibility of contracting COVID19 at our convention. While we could try to hold the con with everyone wearing masks and practicing social distancing, with the type of programs we usually provide, we don’t feel that we could have a fun and safe convention under those circumstances. In addition, it is still uncertain that gatherings of more than 50 people will be permitted and there is a strong possibility of a resurgence of the virus in the fall. Therefore, the committee has decided to take MileHiCon Virtual.

 …Those of you who already have paid for memberships to MileHiCon 52 Live will be able to attend with no extra charges. We will be coming out with a new pricing structure and registration system soon. Check our website and social media channels and watch for updates.

 (7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

June 8, 1949  — George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was published for the first time. Secker & Warburg, a firm founded in 1935 whose partners were both anti-fascist and anti-communist, was the publisher. Most critics thought it was a success with the notable exception of C.S. Lewis who thought it lacked credibility. There have been several film productions, three television adaptions, myriad radio works and even opera and ballet versions. It will enter the public domain in February of next year. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz and OGH.]

  • Born June 8, 1829 – Sir John Millais, Bt.  Painter created a baronet by Queen Victoria, the first artist honored with a hereditary title.  President of the Royal Academy.  Here is Ferdinand Lured by Ariel (Shakespeare’s Tempest).  Here is Speak! Speak!  When a critic said “I can’t tell whether the apparition is a spirit or a woman,” Sir John answered “Neither can he!”  This mastery of the principle I’ve called The greater the reality, the better the fantasy was at its most controversial with Christ in the House of His Parents; see here.  It shocked Christians.  No halos; a messy carpenter’s shop; Mary is portrayed, accused Dickens – who we’d say knew something about realism – as “an alcoholic … so hideous in her ugliness that … she would stand out … as a monster, in … the lowest gin-shop.”  Ophelia was made the cover of Rich Horton’s Best Fantasy of the Year, 2007 (hello, Rich).  It is essential to Shakespeare’s Hamlet that Ophelia is a real woman.  Yet Sir John has, in her face, in his composition, and in his marshaling of detail, shone the light of fantasy compellingly upon this moment.  (Died 1896) [JH]
  • Born June 8, 1905 – Leslie Stone.  Author, ceramist, gardener.  One of the first women published in our early pulp-paper magazine days; “When the Sun Went Out” was a 1929 Gernsback pamphlet promoting Wonder Stories, “Letter of the Twenty-Fourth Century” was in the December 1929 Amazing.  Two novels, a score of shorter stories.  Pioneer in writing about black protagonists, strong female characters.  Social criticism may have been strengthened by using relatively simple plots and personalities her readers were accustomed to.  Memoir, Day of the Pulps.  (Died 1991) [JH]
  • Born June 8, 1910 – John W. Campbell, Jr.  Author of half a dozen novels, a score of shorter stories like “Who Goes There?” and “Forgetfulness.”  For 34 years edited Astounding, renamed Analog, and a short-lived fantasy companion, Unknown (see Fred Smith’s Once There Was a Magazine). Ushered in the Golden Age of SF. Won 16 Hugos, of which eight were Retrospective, all but one for editing (Retro-Hugo for “Who Goes There?”). On the other hand, in his ASF editorials he supported many forms of crank medicine, and promoted Dianetics, and specious views about slavery, race, and segregation, all of which was well-known in sf fandom. In the Sixties he rejected Samuel R. Delany‘s Nova for serialization saying that he did not feel his readership “would be able to relate to a black main character.” Focusing on his foundational contributions, his name was put on the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Last year it was renamed the Astounding Award after the latest winner called him out for “setting a tone of science fiction that still haunts the genre to this day.” (Died 1971) [OGH]
  • Born June 8, 1915 Frank Riley. He’s best known for They’d Rather Be Right (co-wrote with Mark Clifton) which won a Hugo Award for Best Novel at Clevention (1955). Originally published in serialized form in Astounding unlike his eight short SF stories that were all published in If. Sadly he’s not made it into the digital realm yet except for scattered stories. (Died 1996.) (CE)
  • Born June 8, 1915 Robert F. Young. Starting in the early Fifties through the Eighties, he wrote some 150 stories that appeared in Amazing Science FictionF&SFSaturnFantastic UniverseAmazing Stories and many other publications. Several critics compared him in style to Bradbury. Late in his career, he wrote four genre novels including one released only in French, La quête de la Sainte Grille, that was a reworking of his “Romance in a Twenty-First Century Used-Car Lot“ novelette. “Little Dog Gone” finished third for the Short Fiction Hugo at Loncon II to Gordon R. Dickson‘s  “Soldier, Ask Not”. Several thick volumes of his work are available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1986.) (CE)
  • Born June 8, 1917 George D. Wallace. He’s here for playing Commando Cody in the early Fifties Radar Men from the Moon movie serial. He would later show up as the Bosun on Forbidden Planet, and had minor roles late in his career in MultiplicityBicentennial Man and Minority Report. He also played a Star Fleet Admiral in “The Man of the People” episode of The Next Generation. (Died 2005.) (CE)
  • Born June 8, 1926 Philip Levene. He wrote nineteen episodes of The Avengers including creating the Cybernauts which won him a Writer’s Guild Award, and served as script consultant for the series in 1968–69. He also has three genre acting credits, one as a Supervisor in “The Food” episode of Quatermass II; the second as a Secuity in the X the Unknown film, and finally as Daffodil in Avenger’s “Who’s Who” episode. (Died 1973.) (CE)
  • Born June 8, 1928 Kate Wilhelm. Author of the Hugo Award–winning Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. She also won a Hugo Award for Best Related Book and a Locus Award for Best Nonfiction for Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. SFWA renamed their Solstice Award the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. She established the Clarion Workshop with her husband Damon Knight and writer Robin Scott Wilson. (Died 2018.) (CE)
  • Born June 8, 1930 – Roger Sims.  His Room 770 (shared with 3 others) of the St. Charles Hotel at Nolacon I, the 9th Worldcon (1951), held our most memorable room party, running till the next day and almost eclipsing the con.  Co-chair, with Fred Prophet, of Detention the 17th Worldcon; both named Co-chairs Emeritus of Detcon the 11th NASFiC (N. Am. SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas).  Fan Guest of Honor at Nolacon II the 46th Worldcon (1988); at Rivercon XXIV.  DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate.  Co-chair (with Bill Bowers) of Corflu IV (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable); co-chair (with wife Pat) of Ditto X and XVII (fanziners’ con; a brand of spirit-duplicator machine, i.e. another copying technology).  Having published a fanzine Teddy Bear, he was appointed head of the Teddy Bear Army – no, it was the other way round.  [JH]
  • Born June 8, 1948 – Suzanne Tompkins.  One of the Founding Mothers of CMUSFS (Carnegie Mellon U. SF Society).  With Linda Eyster, another Mother (later L. Bushyager), began the fanzine Granfalloon; with Ginjer Buchanan, published the fanzine Imyrr; with husband Jerry Kaufman, The Spanish Inquisition (Fan Activity Achievement award for this), MainstreamLittlebrook.  Guest of Honor write-up of Buchanan for 77th Worldcon Souvenir Book.  Various con responsibilites, e.g. Hotels department head at the 73rd Worldcon.  TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate, published Travels in the United Kingdom.  Fan Guest of Honor at Moscon III; with Jerry, at Balticon X, Westercon XLIV, Minicon XXVI, Boskone XXXIV.  “Suzle” to many.  [JH]
  • Born June 8, 1965 – Paul & Stephen Youll.  British identical twins; both artists first exhibited at the 45th Worldcon; a dozen covers together until Stephen moved to the U.S.  Three hundred fifty covers by Paul, four hundred fifty by Stephen, plus interiors.  Art book for Stephen, Paradox; also in Vincent Di Fate’s Infinite Worlds; Graphic Artist Guest of Honor at Boskone XXXVI, at Millennium Philcon the 59th Worldcon.  Here is a cover by both for On My Way to Paradise.  Here is a cover by Paul for Ringworld.  Here is Stephen’s cover for the Millennium Philcon Souvenir Book.  [JH]
  • Born June 8, 1973 Lexa Doig, 47. Cowgirl the hacker on TekWar,the post-Trek Shatner series that he actually made sense in. She was also Andromeda Ascendant/Rommie on Andromeda and Sonya Valentine on Continuum, andthe voice of Dale Arden in the animated Flash Gordon series. One-offs in Earth: Final ConflictThe 4400Stargate SG-1, Eureka, V, Smallville, Supernatural and Primeval: New World. (CE)

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) THANKS FOR YOUR CONCERN. Rick Riordan covered the territory in 2018:

(11) ON THE FRONT. “Book design has become more important than ever – but what makes an iconic jacket, asks Clare Thorp.” Examples from in and out of genre.

A pair of eyes and red lips floating in a midnight sky above the bright lights of New York on The Great Gatsby. The half-man, half-devil on Brett Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. A single cog for an eye on A Clockwork Orange. Two orange silhouettes on David Nicholls’ One Day. The original Harry Potter colour illustrations.

A great book might stay with us for a long time but, often, its cover does too. There’s a famous saying about never forming your opinion of a book by the jacket adorning it. But most readers know that we do, in fact, judge books by their covers all the time. Everything about a book’s cover – the font, the images, the colours – tells us something about what we can expect to find, or not, inside. A reader in the market for some bleak dystopian fiction is unlikely to have their head turned by a pastel-hued jacket with serif font.

(12) JOIN THE PARTY. “UAE Mars mission: Hope project a ‘real step forward for exploration'”

The first Arab space mission to Mars is preparing to lift off within weeks. Fuelling is due to begin next week.

It will take seven months to travel the 493 million km (308 million miles) to reach Mars and begin its orbit, sending back ground-breaking new data about its climate and atmosphere.

The probe will remain orbiting Mars for an entire Martian year, 687 days, to gather sufficient data.

A single orbit around Mars will take the probe 55 hours.

In a briefing on Monday, programme director Sarah Al-Amiri said the project should be a major incentive for young Arab scientists to embark on a career in space engineering.

(13) HEAVY METAL. “Notre-Dame fire: Work starts to remove melted scaffolding” — BBC has many photos.

When the fire broke out in April of last year, there was already work in progress on the roof of the cathedral, with a big structure of scaffolding in place around the spire, BBC Paris Correspondent Hugh Schofield reports.

While the spire did not survive – it crashed down at the height of the conflagration – the scaffolding did. In fact in the intense heat, a lot of it melted and became attached to the building, like a great metal parasite.

(14) MALTIN ON ANIMATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the episode, “Animation Part One” of the Maltin on Movies podcast, Jessie Maltin interviews her father, Leonard Maltin, about his classic book Of Mice And Magic, published 40 years ago and still in print.  Maltin discusses his love of animation, beginning with how he discovered animation by discovering obscure animators whose works appeared on the seven New York City TV stations eager to fill time in the 1950s.  Maltin says he was also inspired by Bob Thomas’s The Art Of Animation and the shows where Woody Woodpecker animator Walter Lantz discussed his work.

(15) MAKING GAS. SYFY Wire aims readers at a playable classic: “Long-Lost SimCity Spinoff Discovered, And You Can Play It Online”.

No crude jokes here; just a good, clean trip in the wayback machine for a look at a newly unearthed simulation game about running an oil refinery (yes, you read that right) from SimCity developer Maxis. Thanks to some slick internet sleuthing, a copy of the long-lost game is now free to play — if that’s quite the right word for it — by motoring on over to the Internet Archive.

The anonymous reader reportedly uploaded the game from a 3.5-inch floppy disc, which to date remains the only known surviving copy. As you can tell from the Twitch stream that gaming historian Phil Salvador (who’s written extensively about the long-lost game at his blog) created to take a look under the hood, don’t expect any SimCity-style handholding when you fire up SimRefinery: there are no instructions, you’re pretty much thrown into the sim without any real guidance of what’s going on, and yes, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can even set the place on fire….

(16) MARVEL TO CELEBRATE ITS OWN FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. Marvel announced:

This July, readers will get a chance to dive into some of Marvel’s most exciting new titles with brand-new stories for free at participating comic shops! Originally part of May’s Free Comic Book Day, Marvel will be now be releasing two never-before-seen titles for fans to get a first look at some of Marvel’s biggest upcoming events. Each issue will contain two separate extraordinary tales involving the X-Men, Spider-Man, and more by Marvel’s most acclaimed creators!

Available on July 15, Free Comic Book Day 2020: X-Men will feature a brand-new X-MEN story by Jonathan Hickman and Pepe Larraz that will lead into the game-changing X Of Swords crossover! The second story will also foreshadow an upcoming epic tale by Tom Taylor and Iban Coello.

And on July 22, Free Comic Book Day 2020: Spider-Man/Venom will provide two exciting tales connected to the coming major storylines in Venom, Amazing Spider-Man and Black Cat from top creators Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, Jed MacKay, and Patrick Gleason and more!

(17) DOCTOR WHO: LOCKDOWN. Written by Steven Moffat and starring Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts and Matt Lucas as Nardole, this video was home-produced remotely during the ‘lockdown’ period of the COVID-19 outbreak in June 2020. And it seems Bill Potts was in a recent protest march.

After the terrible events of World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls, Bill Potts and Nardole are trying to keep their spirits up…

From the transcript:

…I’ll say this a lot of very angry people with a very very good reason to be angry kept their distance and kept their calm at least where I was. “Everyone remember to be kind” hasn’t always worked out that way which is understandable there are some things you never seem to get away from however hard you try but hey maybe this time. I don’t know this time it feels different… 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Rich Horton, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Rose Embolism, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

41 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/8/20 All The Pixels E’er I Scrolled, I Filed Them In Good Company

  1. (8) Robert Young and Robert Reed – great authors who turn out to be hard to Google, without getting a Bunch of search results that weren’t what you wanted because Google thinks it Knows Best.

  2. 8) I recently read Robert F. Young’s 1965 Hugo finalist “Little Dog Gone” for the Galactic Journey live event about the 1965 Hugos and it is a lovely story, though one that needs a trigger warning for bad things happening to an animal.

  3. @7: Lewis thought 1984 lacked credibility?!? What was he thinking was incredible? Maybe that his England would ever become a tyranny? (Not much of the useful kind of imagination there…)

    @8 (Campbell): let’s not forget his support of crank machines in addition to crank medicine. And I still wonder about that reported response to Nova, considering Campbell published the first two Homer Crawford novellas; perhaps the real reason was more complicated than even he was willing to say (e.g., he felt his audience wouldn’t believe a Black character that hadn’t been civilized by being born in the US), or more simple (he wouldn’t admit not being able to make head or tail of Nova). I also wonder whether Delany had submitted anything else to Campbell, as ISFDB says everything earlier went straight to book publication; I can’t imagine Campbell publishing something as far out even with a white lead and before he’d ossified as an editor.

    @8 typo: Riley won a Hugo 40 years after he died? (ISFDB gives his death date as 24 Apr 1996.)

    @10: nice to see a stupid comment get an answer it deserves; I suppose mentioning that kids buy their own books could cost someone’s allowance, and mentioning libraries would point the idiot at targets with less mobility and more requirement to not call a spade a spade — or maybe they just didn’t fit the FTFY format. I haven’t been especially impressed with either Riordan’s recent books (there was an early non-YA mystery that seemed promising) or the tiny bits I’ve heard about him, but this is coming down hard on the good side.

  4. 8) Suzanne Tomkins’ birthday: The Pittsburgh PghLANGE gang was instrumental in getting us into fannish activities. At the St. Louis Worldcon, our first con, we ran into Ginjer Buchanan, who’d known my not-yet-wife in college, and were invited up a room party to meet Robert Silverberg. (Once there we were intercepted by Harlan, who proceded to do ten minutes of Catskill schtick on how our mundane minds must be blown by all the weird science fiction people.**) The next year, we honeymooned at PghLANGE II (and enjoyed Silverberg as toastmaster giving GOH Harlan a hard time) and attended later Pittsburgh cons as often as we were in town at the right time. I remember Suzle, Jerry, and Linda Bushyager and the rest of Pittsburgh fandom fondly.

    **This was 1969. We were teaching at a university full of dope-smoking, acid-dropping kids mixing with Vietnam vets. We’d seen our share of weirdness.

  5. Connecting (8) and (11): I first discovered Iain Banks (specifically, Consider Phlebas, followed in rapid succession by Use of Weapons and Against a Dark Background) because the stunning Paul Youll covers on the Bantam paperback releases caught my eye while I was browsing.

  6. @Russell Letson: That PghLange was my first con, and it was a memorable one. Harlan had planned to use his Guest of Honor speech to eviscerate a fan who had been annoying him and was supposed to be in attendance. But the fan didn’t show up. So Harlan pivoted and took the fanzine I had given him at the con — which had a review of Partners in Wonder — and selectively quoted from it to make it sound like I was trashing him personally, using a lot of the material he had prepared for the other guy, constantly saying “Why do I have to put up with this shit?” I’d have been really pissed, except that he was so funny in his ranting that I was laughing along with everybody else.

    Afterwards, he hunted me down and apologized (“We still friends?”), and from home he sent me a nice loc.

  7. 3) The Otherwise Award, on their front page at otherwiseaward.org, also today put up a list of recommended sf by black writers, some award winners, some from the honor lists.

  8. Maybe that his England would ever become a tyranny?

    Unlikely, given that he wrote his own take on England becoming a tyranny in That Hideous Strength a few years before.

  9. 7)

    Most critics thought it was a success with the notable exception of C.S. Lewis who thought it lacked credibility.

    Of course he did. Bless his child-damning heart.

  10. John Elliott says Unlikely, given that he wrote his own take on England becoming a tyranny in That Hideous Strength a few years before.

    I really need to see if I can find that review as that note was based on what others thought of his review. (Others used even harsher language.) Has anyone here seen it? Or know where it and when it was printed?

    Now reading: Ailette du Bodard’s Of Wars, And Memories, And Starlight

  11. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Lewis’s review of Nineteen Eighty-Four; but I do know that Orwell reviewed That Hideous Strength and found a number of things to object to.

  12. @Jeff Smith: One of my few remaining coherent memories of that con is Silverberg saying, in response to Harlan’s most recent flounce-out-of-fandom, “So we’re not going to have Harlan Ellison to kick around any more?” (Younger Filers might want to Google “Nixon” and “kick around” to get the reference.)

  13. @Russell Letson: I remember the late-70’s PghLanges I went to very fondly, although none of them had anything as legendary as the Secret Handgrip of Fandom (see page 6 of this PDF). I particularly remember a Linda Bushyager interruption running down when she realized the propeller beanie I was wearing was spinning without visible assistance.

    @John Elliott: I never got more than a few pages into That Hideous Strength, but the Wikipedia summary says that (a) N.I.C.E. doesn’t succeed in tyrannizing more than a small part of England and (b) they’re ostensible scientists (already suspect) driven by the literal Devil; the idea that right-thinking Englishmen could of their own will become an ocean-spanning tyranny was probably beyond his comprehension.
    (later) That’s an interesting review; I suppose there was so little fantasy available at the time that Orwell wasn’t willing to work on its level, but I can see how a fervent convert like Lewis would take umbrage.

  14. In Lewis’ book, the evil would-be dictators are English (by gum!); in 1984, Oceania seems to be dominated by America, with England as an important, but still secondary appendage (“Airstrip One” is surely not a designation that the English would have assigned to themselves).

  15. In current Hugo reading:

    Since we’ve been discussing the Planetfall series and Newman’s talent (or lack thereof) in writing endings, I’ll mention that I finished Atlas Alone yesterday.

    I’m not a big fan of litRPG, so large parts of the story didn’t especially appeal to me — though, yes, I realize they were essential to the plotline. As for the ending — well, it depends. IF this is intended to be an ongoing series, then the ending is great and makes me want to see what she does with it in the next book. But if this is intended as the last book in the series, then it’s no-good-very-bad-horrible.

    I couldn’t see any indication on either GR or Amazon that this is meant to be the last book, so I’m hoping for option A; somehow I had been assuming that this was a finished series, but I actually had no evidence for that assumption. In either case, though, this ending continues Newman’s apparent tradition of surprise/incongruous/sudden-turn endings from the previous 3 books.

  16. On behalf of Suzanne Tompkins, I thank Russell, Jeff, and Chip for their memories of Phglange, and to Chip for the link to Ro Nagey’s article on the Secret Handgrip of Fandom. I’ve forgotten many details, so my version of the story has grown so much shorter over the years. Now I can refresh my memory and once again do it in three-part harmony. (Beware.)

  17. @7
    Nineteen Eighty-Four is one of those novels I will never read. I loathe being inside Winston’s head, and cannot tolerate more than a paragraph or two. The mise en scene, and plot don’t help.

    Fortunately society at large has provided a Cliff’s notes, so I do not need to regret my weakness.

  18. One of my few remaining coherent memories of that con is Silverberg saying, in response to Harlan’s most recent flounce-out-of-fandom, “So we’re not going to have Harlan Ellison to kick around any more?” (Younger Filers might want to Google “Nixon” and “kick around” to get the reference.)

    I bought my first tape recorder in 1962 (using money from my paper route), and would tape random things off of the TV. For years, I had a recording of that speech by Nixon. (I wonder what happened to it?)

  19. Brown Robin says Nineteen Eighty-Four is one of those novels I will never read. I loathe being inside Winston’s head, and cannot tolerate more than a paragraph or two. The mise en scene, and plot don’t help.

    Fortunately society at large has provided a Cliff’s notes, so I do not need to regret my weakness.

    I read in a University Literature class decades back. It was as I recall this far on a well-written but unpleasant book that did precisely what Orwell intended. Do I regret reading it? No, no more that I regret reading Clockwork Orange which could rather nasty in places. Have it read since? No. Nor have I watched any of the video adaptations.

  20. Contrarius: Since we’ve been discussing the Planetfall series and Newman’s talent (or lack thereof) in writing endings, I’ll mention that I finished Atlas Alone yesterday… I couldn’t see any indication on either GR or Amazon that this is meant to be the last book, so I’m hoping for option A

    I’m seriously hoping that the Best Series Hugo nomination has given Newman enough authorial clout with Roc that they will continue to spring for more books set in that series.

  21. I’ve rewarded myself for reading Hugo nominees with Network Effect — which was great and will get a closer re-read sometime soon — and William Gibson’s The Peripheral and Agency, which hinge on a magic server that, in a post-apocalyptic 2136 London, provides virtual access to the past (as far back as 2015, at the very most) through electronic avatars. Once accessed, however, any particular past becomes a “stub” which branches off in a different direction from the London future, since that contact never occurred in the 2136 timeline. People in the post-apocalyptic timeline either engage in this sort of meddling as a hobby, or as would-be saviors trying prevent those alternate universes from ending up with the same dire future (or worse).

    The novels are very readable and enjoyable (though I’m not sure I’d consider them Hugo-worthy). There are interesting variations on tech and AI. And the author has certainly set himself up for unlimited sequels using the parallel universe scenario he’s created.

  22. Sophie Jane on June 9, 2020 at 9:50 am said:

    7) From the passage quoted here, it seems Lewis thought the anti-sex league was improbable and served no obvious narrative purpose:

    Thanks for that link, I hadn’t read C S Lewis’s review before.
    It’s interesting how he focuses on the sexual aspects of the book as the parts that are hard to make sense of. I suspect that is partly because of a tendency to read both Animal Farm and 1984 as purely anti-communist rather than anti-totalitarian. That’s not to say communist regimes also didn’t obsess over people’s sex lives, just that people tend to associate that aspect of politics with the right rather than the left. Making the Party sexually puritanical only seems at odds if the reader imagines the Party as being coded as ‘left-wing’ whereas Orwell is looking at a phenomenon of systematic oppression that goes beyond ‘normal’ politics.

  23. I must admit, I’ve always found the anti-sex stuff in 1984 a bit implausible, because (historically speaking) authoritarian regimes are usually in favour of the population increasing, thus giving them lots of easily indoctrinated workers/cannon fodder/whatever they need. Whether it’s Spartans fretting over oligandria, or Stalin dishing out the Order of Maternal Glory, or the modern-day Christian extremists of the Quiverfull movement, the emphasis is usually on promoting reproduction. (OK, in Brave New World, say, they had reproduction, and the breeding of hordes of slave labourers, independent of sex… but Brave New World isn’t anti-sex, either.)

  24. I just got the ebook version of Campbell’s Arcot, Morey and Wade stories.
    Oy – what a lot of telling where it isn’t really needed. Cut out about half the descriptvie text and there might be good stories underneath. (Do I need to know all the details about the “3000 passenger” airliner that can get from NY to SF in 7 hours? Does it even need to be a 3000-passenger plane, given that what’s happening is an in-flight robbery of an on-board vault?)
    SF has changed a lot in the last 70 or so years!

  25. PJ Evans: I’ve read the Arcot, Wade and Morey stories, too, and can only think they must have looked pretty good next to the other sff being written in the Thirties. Which they probably did — I’ve read a little bit of that, however, what’s really persuasive is how much early fans complained about the average pulp fare in fanzines of the day.

  26. I must admit, I’ve always found the anti-sex stuff in 1984 a bit implausible, because (historically speaking) authoritarian regimes are usually in favour of the population increasing, thus giving them lots of easily indoctrinated workers/cannon fodder/whatever they need.

    @Steve Wright
    IIRC,reading an autobiography of a woman under Mao’s regime, I get the impression that there WAS a lot of puritanical oppression going on, at least for the masses (though not Mao himself, I gather). Maybe it was part of China’s concern over overpopulation, but I think that came later under Deng (though I might be wrong). My impression was more that it was one more means that authoritarianism (right or left) uses to exert control and punishment for actions that need not be considered misdeeds under more lenient systems – another trap for the unwary.

  27. @Sophie Jane: an interesting quote, but ISTM Lewis is complaining because 1984 does not fit some idealized structure; perhaps he’s more comfortable with parables than with stories about real people? I’m not sure the author of “Ministering Angels” is capable of saying anything useful about sex.

  28. @Camestros Felapton I suspect that is partly because of a tendency to read both Animal Farm and 1984 as purely anti-communist rather than anti-totalitarian.

    I think you’re right here, and it’s a part I’ve missed of Orwell’s status as the token leftist that conservatives read. Thanks.

  29. Sophie Jane: I think you’re right here, and it’s a part I’ve missed of Orwell’s status as the token leftist that conservatives read. Thanks.

    Perhaps, although it was my grade school experience to read Orwell and then discover his personal politics much later.

  30. I remember reading both “1984” and “Animal Farm” in 8th or 9th grade. I’d been reading SF for years at that time, and I wasn’t favorably impressed.

  31. As all True Fans of Animal Farm know, the best scene is when John Belushi smashes the guitar, screaming, “Six strings bad, four strings good!”

    Be kind. It’s the only bass guitar joke I’ve ever written a punchline for. I am still trying to find the actual joke to go with it.

  32. I have no idea where that clip of Sir Pat Stew tap dancing came from, but that’s too corny to be a deepfake. It also doesn’t surprise me that Jeri Ryan and Robert Picardo, two of the most talented members of the Voyager cast, can sing, but I also saw from the panel that they like and respect each other.

  33. @Martin —

    I have no idea where that clip of Sir Pat Stew tap dancing came from, but that’s too corny to be a deepfake.

    It’s also entirely consistent with his personality. I mean, have you HEARD his country songs?????? ;-D

  34. 2) My apologies, I managed to cut off part of what I wrote: an itch.io membership is not required.

    I’m only halfway through looking through the bundle. It includes some major rpgs such as Lancers (by the creator of the comic Kill 10 Billion Demons) and Blades in the Dark, critical darlings like Troika and Visgoths vs Mall Goths, and a lot of very personal games.

    It also had a desktop duck simulator. It’s amazing how many hits I got when I Googled “How do you turn the duck off?”

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