Pixel Scroll 6/28/17 Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul, I Really Love That Pixel Scroll

(1) MINIONS GETTING PAID. The Seattle law firm Rekhi & Wolk, P.S. sends word they have settled the class action they were litigating against Emerald City Comicon (See Scroll for 5/18/16, item #13).

Former volunteer Jerry Brooks alleged Emerald City Comicon violated Washington State law by failing to pay people classified as volunteers – which they called “minions” — the minimum wages they were owed under Washington laws for performing services at the 2014 and/or 2015 Emerald City Comicons in Seattle.

The defendant denied the claim, reported Seattlish, emphasizing that “…The volunteers not only willingly enter into an agreement stating that they’ll work for free, but the culture of the convention fosters a competitiveness for the volunteer positions.”

According to the FAQ about the class action settlement, Emerald City Comicon will pay $493,227.84 to resolve all claims, some of which will go to attorneys, the plaintiff, and the settlement administrator, with the remaining approximately $348,397.33 to be distributed to Class Members who submit Claim Forms by July 31. (Click on the FAQ for additional information.)

Remembering this was at bottom a complaint about unpaid wages, it’s only fair that payroll taxes will be levied on the distributions:

One-half (50%) of each award to a Class Member will be treated as wages and subject to normal payroll tax withholdings and payments. The other one-half (50%) of each award to a Class Member will be treated as non-wages on which there will be no tax withholding.

(2) BARNUM. The Verge introduces the new trailer: “Watch the first trailer for Hugh Jackman’s movie musical The Greatest Showman”

The first trailer for 20th Century Fox’s P.T. Barnum biopic and original musical The Greatest Showman is here. Hugh Jackman plays Barnum, a charming, down-on-his-luck guy in a top hat, hanging out in Connecticut in the early 1800s. From what we can see, he’s going to be smooching Michelle Williams, teaming up with Zac Efron, and eventually inventing the circus as we know it. “Every one of us is special, and nobody is like anyone else. That’s the point of my show,” he tells a child. Sure! I’m buying it.


(3) YOUNG KING. Once upon a time Stephen King came to hang out at sf conventions. Someone with a camera was present when he spoke at the 1983 DeepSouthCon. Next best thing to a time machine.

Raw photojournalist footage of a panel discussion from a SF/Horror convention held in Knoxville in 1983. Participants include Stephen King, Peter Straub, Karl Edward Wagner, Charles Grant, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Whitley Streiber, Dennis Etchison, and others.


(4) BROSNAN ZINES SOUGHT. Twenty-two years after his death, John Brosnan has inspired a devoted Australian fan to want to read all his stuff, even his Sixties fanzines. “John Brosnan’s 1960s pre-internet fanzines sought by new fan at National Library”.

The work of an almost forgotten Australian writer has been unearthed and made available to a new audience following the chance discovery of a 1960s fanzine in a comic collection at the National Library of Australia (NLA).

Perth-born John Brosnan (1947-2005) specialised in science-fiction….

His sci-fi fanzine Big Scab was a joint winner of the 1974 UK Nova Award.

NLA cataloguer Alison Carriage became fascinated with Brosnan’s work after stumbling across an issue of his 1960s fanzine Why Bother? in the library’s John Ryan comic collection.

She was struck by the “wonderfully entertaining” way he wrote and the insight the fanzine provided into the pre-internet era.

Brosnan’s accounts of everyday life include getting mugged, looking for a job and being bitten by a tick.

“I kind of compare it to Seinfeld — the episodes were about nothing, but they were nothings you could relate to and therefore you found them really funny,” Ms Carriage said.

“His work’s still relatable and still really important.”

(5) AMAZONIAN LOVE. Hope Nicholson and Karen K. Burrows tell SciFiNow readers “Let’s be Straight: Wonder Woman is into Women”.

Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Mystique, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy are names that even non-comic book fans can identify, thanks to their films.

Aside from being leading ladies of comics (Catwoman, the oldest at 77 years old, our pal Harley Quinn a millennial baby at just 24 years old), each of these characters have another thing in common: they’re bisexual in the pages of (some) of their comics, but not yet identified as such in their movie counterparts.

Despite increased representation in the source comics, more recognizable queer characters rarely cross that barrier to film. Representation matters in every form – but blockbuster films have a greater reach than comics. Confirming in worldwide media that characters who have been part of the popular consciousness for decades can also be queer would be a true step forward!

Let’s take a closer look at the queer history of these characters and think about what might have been – and what still could!

(6) THE FILMING LAMP IS LIT. An update on item #15 from the May 16 Scroll: George R.R. Martin announced progress on the TV adaptation of another of his stories:

The SyFy Channel has just greenlit the pilot for a proposed NIGHTFLYERS series, based on my 1980 Hugo-losing novella, one of my SF/ horror hybrids.

(7) SUPPORT DIVERSE GRANTS. The Speculative Literature Foundation is raising money at Generosity.com to fund their Diverse Worlds & Diverse Writers Grants.

The Speculative Literature Foundation’s Diverse Worlds and Diverse Writers Grants were launched in 2013 after an initial fundraiser covered the grants for three years. Help us keep both grants going for five more years!

The $500 Diverse Writers grant is intended to support new and emerging writers from underrepresented and underprivileged groups, such as writers of color, women, queer writers, disabled writers, working-class writers, etc. — those whose marginalized identities may present additional obstacles in the writing / publishing process.

The $500 Diverse Worlds grant is intended for work that best presents a diverse world, regardless of the writer’s background.

So far they have raised $695 towards the $5,000 goal.

(8) BOND OBIT. Paddington Bear creator Michael Bond died June 27 at the age of 91.

Bond published his first book, A Bear Called Paddington, in 1958.

The character, a marmalade-loving bear from “deepest, darkest Peru” who comes to live in London, went on to inspire a series of books, an animated TV series and a successful 2014 film.

Born in Newbury in 1926, Bond began his career at the BBC and later worked on Blue Peter as a cameraman.

He served with the RAF and the army during World War II and began writing in 1945 while stationed in Cairo.

More than 35 million Paddington books have been sold worldwide. The most recent, Paddington’s Finest Hour, was published in April.

(9) THE FUNDAMENTAL THINGS REMAIN AS TIME GOES BY. The Filer who sent the link said they were surprised that Steven Johnson’s article for the New York Times, “Greetings, E.T. (Please Don’t Murder Us)”, doesn’t mention The Three-Body Problem.

In Nov. 16, 1974, a few hundred astronomers, government officials and other dignitaries gathered in the tropical forests of Puerto Rico’s northwest interior, a four-hour drive from San Juan. The occasion was a rechristening of the Arecibo Observatory, at the time the largest radio telescope in the world. The mammoth structure — an immense concrete-and-aluminum saucer as wide as the Eiffel Tower is tall, planted implausibly inside a limestone sinkhole in the middle of a mountainous jungle — had been upgraded to ensure its ability to survive the volatile hurricane season and to increase its precision tenfold.

To celebrate the reopening, the astronomers who maintained the observatory decided to take the most sensitive device yet constructed for listening to the cosmos and transform it, briefly, into a machine for talking back. After a series of speeches, the assembled crowd sat in silence at the edge of the telescope while the public-address system blasted nearly three minutes of two-tone noise through the muggy afternoon heat. To the listeners, the pattern was indecipherable, but somehow the experience of hearing those two notes oscillating in the air moved many in the crowd to tears.

That 168 seconds of noise, now known as the Arecibo message, was the brainchild of the astronomer Frank Drake, then the director of the organization that oversaw the Arecibo facility. The broadcast marked the first time a human being had intentionally transmitted a message targeting another solar system. The engineers had translated the missive into sound, so that the assembled group would have something to experience during the transmission. But its true medium was the silent, invisible pulse of radio waves, traveling at the speed of light.

It seemed to most of the onlookers to be a hopeful act, if a largely symbolic one: a message in a bottle tossed into the sea of deep space. But within days, the Royal Astronomer of England, Martin Ryle, released a thunderous condemnation of Drake’s stunt. By alerting the cosmos of our existence, Ryle wrote, we were risking catastrophe. Arguing that ‘‘any creatures out there [might be] malevolent or hungry,’’ Ryle demanded that the International Astronomical Union denounce Drake’s message and explicitly forbid any further communications. It was irresponsible, Ryle fumed, to tinker with interstellar outreach when such gestures, however noble their intentions, might lead to the destruction of all life on earth….

But in the 40 years since Drake transmitted the message, just over a dozen intentional messages have been sent to the stars, most of them stunts of one fashion or another, including one broadcast of the Beatles’ ‘‘Across the Universe’’ to commemorate the 40th anniversary of that song’s recording. (We can only hope the aliens, if they exist, receive that message before they find the Hitler footage.)…

Now this taciturn phase may be coming to an end, if a growing multidisciplinary group of scientists and amateur space enthusiasts have their way. A newly formed group known as METI (Messaging Extra Terrestrial Intelligence), led by the former SETI scientist Douglas Vakoch, is planning an ongoing series of messages to begin in 2018. And Milner’s Breakthrough Listen endeavor has also promised to support a ‘‘Breakthrough Message’’ companion project, including an open competition to design the messages that we will transmit to the stars. But as messaging schemes proliferate, they have been met with resistance. The intellectual descendants of Martin Ryle include luminaries like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, and they caution that an assumption of interstellar friendship is the wrong way to approach the question of extraterrestrial life. They argue that an advanced alien civilization might well respond to our interstellar greetings with the same graciousness that Cortés showed the Aztecs, making silence the more prudent option.

If you believe that these broadcasts have a plausible chance of making contact with an alien intelligence, the choice to send them must rank as one of the most important decisions we will ever make as a species. Are we going to be galactic introverts, huddled behind the door and merely listening for signs of life outside? Or are we going to be extroverts, conversation-starters? And if it’s the latter, what should we say?

(10) CARNEGIE MEDAL. Colson Whitehead accepted the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago on June 24. The award was announced in January.

The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction were established in 2012 to recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. the previous year. The winners (one for fiction, one for nonfiction) are announced at an event at the ALA Midwinter Meeting; winning authors receive a $5,000 cash award, and two finalists in each category receive $1,500.

Michael Chabon’s non-sf novel Moonglow was one of the fiction runner-ups.

(11) UNACQUIRED TASTES. Joe Sherry tackles the Hugo-nominated novels at Nerds of a Feather. Too Like the Lightning landed below No Award on his ballot, Death’s End just above. Jemisin’s novel ranks first.

Too Like the Lightning: I tried, folks.  I tried. Except for Death’s End, this was the finalist I was more concerned about reading. Something about the futuristic utopia written with stylistic flourishes harkening back to the 1800’s (despite being set in the 2400’s) just didn’t work for me. I know I gave up on the book too soon, but three chapters / 40 pages seemed to be enough to know that I didn’t care enough to even to the central mystery / conceit / story of Too Like the Lightning. Reading other reviews suggest that there is richness to be found, if only I take the time to push through. Perhaps I will try again in the future (after all, my reading of This-Census Taker changed on a second go-round), especially if this happens to win the Hugo Award. Though, given how other awards have shaken out so far this year, this seems somewhat unlikely. I do subscribe to the idea that sometimes we come to a book at the wrong time to appreciate or enjoy the work and coming to it again at a different time results in a different and stronger appreciation. Hopefully that’ll happen here, otherwise this is just a miss for me.

(12) MÍEVILLE. Camestros Felapton is also posting about his award reading: “Review: This Census Taker – Hugo2017 Novella”

China Miéville’s novella This Census Taker is not a roman à clef although it does feature keys but it has the aesthetics of an unsolvable puzzle. The story points at things as if they are clues but those elements (the deep hole into which things are thrown, the father’s affectless violence, the boy/narrator’s inconsistent recollections) don’t ever come together as a finished puzzle. The novella is like a painting of an unfinished jigsaw puzzle – the edges artfully done but with the looming chasm of the centre incomplete.

(13) DOG YEARS. Felapton has worked up a new diagram tracing how the Puppy movements are playing out, “Rise of the Scrappy Doos”.

In terms of existing movements they are closest to the Superversive movement and the Pulp Revolutions movement. Those two movements* can be seen as offshoots of the Rabid Puppies but this can be misleading. The Rabids had a core of straight Alt-Right griefers willing to do exactly what Vox Day told them to do for the lulz. Superversive began independently of the Rabids but has attached itself to Castalia for promotion and is focused on literary works (although of a right leaning nature). Pulp Revolution arose from the Castalia House blog and hence is more closely connected to Rabid Puppies but again is not the same as the griefing group.

[eta – paragraph went astray] Whereas the Rabids collectively were not particularly interested in the field of SFF, the Scrappy-Doos have more in common with the Sad Puppies in so far as they tend to be actively involved in writing, publishing and books. In this sense they are more like other groupings in fandom. However, where significant voices in Sad Puppies (Correia, Torgersen, Hoyt, Freer) had had some success in trad-publishing (mainly centred around Baen Books), the Scrappy Doos are involved with small publishing groups or self-published.

(14) SPUD ON WHEELS. Marek Baczynski told his YouTube followers:

I made a self driving potato. And then named him “Pontus” and adopted him as a pet. This went well. By popular demand, I wrote a detailed list of parts, you can find it in this reddit comment: https://www.reddit.com/r/shittyrobots…

One commenter summed up the experience:

I’m not quite sure of what I just saw but it was highly emotional to me and I loved it.


(15) TAPPING OUT. The step after psychometric ID? “This man had the chip from his travel card implanted under his skin”.

This Australian can now tap in and out at train stations with a travel card chip implanted in his left hand.

Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow (yes, that’s his legal name) says he had it put under his skin by a professional piercer….

“If someone stole my wallet I could still get home,” he told ABC News.

It’s not the best super power in the world, but it’s better than nothing.

(16) CELEBRATE THE 42ND ANNIVERSARY OF JAWS. “We’re gonna need a bigger beer can,” says Andrew Porter. So popular they’re now on backorder — “Honor the Man Jaws Poster”.

Jaws fans have seen this poster in liquor stores and begged the clerks to buy them… They’ve sent emails and called our contact line in search of this awesome poster too. Maybe you’ve even bargained with us at promotions to no avail… Well, here at Narragansett Beer, we’re all about making dreams come true which is why we’ve printed large 27″x40″ limited edition wall posters just for you!


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Dawn Sabados, Lis Carey, elusis, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to  File 770 contributing editor of the day Charon D.]

84 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/28/17 Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul, I Really Love That Pixel Scroll

  1. And here I was thinking Mr. King never showed up at major cons. Wonder why he hasn’t had any recent showings, or maybe that’s to do with him leaning more towards the “mainstream” side of genre fiction.

    And fingers crossed for NIGHTFLYERS. Strange that HBO didn’t jump in to get it first.

  2. The name Scrappy Doos is the most lovable ever to be assigned to one of the packs that run with the Sad Puppies. I know the namesake is an irritant, but the same could be said of Shaggy and Scooby most of the time and they’re faux-mystery investigatory icons beloved by children from 1 to 92.

    I’m afraid Camestros has managed to do something here that can’t be taken back.

    I can only pray that the irresistibly adorable “puppy power!” does not become their call to legs.

  3. (15) Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow (yes, that’s his legal name) …

    Also, my hat’s off to Charon D for that line drive down the middle.

    (Notice how I don’t say “ticky”? It hasn’t worked for me in weeks. Perhaps months by now. Somehow, my system is uniquely awful!)

    Oh, and Mary Kay Kare has tweeted that surgery went successfully for Jordin at the Cleveland Clinic. Doctors who saw it remarked that his heart valve had been pretty darn bad, so this surgery must have been pretty timely. I’ll see them some time this coming Saturday afternoon as I’m driving through Cleveland. (Don’t worry. I’ll stop the car.)

  4. RE (3) Stephen King at the 1983 DeepSouthCon: Hmm… I was at that convention, having a fairly minor position running the con. I knew King being there was a big deal, but I’m not a particular fan and at this remove in time I don’t recall if I went to any of his events.

  5. Greg Hullender: (1) That surprised me. I wonder if it has anything to do with ECC being a for-profit organization?

    Well, as a settlement, it’s entered as not being a decision in favor of either party. So you’re left to make your best guess about how the parties viewed their risks. In addition to the family members behind ECCC, the other defendants were Reed Elsevier, Inc., and Reed Exhibitions. They might have settled (1) because they thought they would lose, (2) because their case is prejudiced because Reed is perceived as having deep pockets, (3) because they didn’t want to have a ruling in this case become a precedent they’d have to live with, or (4) because the comparative cost of continuing litigation was high enough to make it worth limiting their expenses by ending the case for the stated amount.

  6. Jeremy Szal on June 28, 2017 at 9:02 pm said:
    And here I was thinking Mr. King never showed up at major cons. Wonder why he hasn’t had any recent showings, or maybe that’s to do with him leaning more towards the “mainstream” side of genre fiction.

    I was at World Fantasy when Neil Gaiman was GOH. He couldn’t go anywhere without someone shoving a book at him to sign despite everyone being warned not to do so. So mostly, he hid. I saw him one dark evening skulking in the shadows outside talking to friends. I felt so sorry for him.

    IIRC, not too long after, he said he wasn’t planning on attending cons any more.

    I think if you achieve that kind of fame, cons are not a place to relax and enjoy. I can see King being totally mobbed at a con.

  7. Oooh I scored a scroll title!

    I’m gonna tell my Stephen King live appearance story. I saw him in approximately the late eighties when he gave a talk at the Opera House in San Francisco. The place was packed. He was taking questions at the end, when someone asked him how fame had changed his life, and he said words to the effect that it had its advantages and disadvantages, and gave an example of something like getting a travel perk.

    While he was talking, a nutter seated toward the back stood up and yelled, “You killed John Lennon and I have proof!”

    King paused for a beat, then gave us all a weary look and said, “On the other hand …” and kind of trailed off.

    We applauded him for many seconds while said nutter was escorted out. The nutter proceeded to spend the next few years driving around the Haight Ashbury and similar places in a car decorated with text from his conspiracy theory zines, which were all about King and Lennon and the Illuminati reptile people and blah blah blah.

    I could see how having a few folks like that in your fanbase might have a chilling effect on public appearances.

  8. @Charon D.: Oh wow. I remember seeing that guy’s flyers around Berkeley. He kept trying to organize public rallies aimed at getting local television stations to air his video. (With, so far as I know, no success.) Haven’t thought about him in years!

  9. (1) I still don’t see how they won this.

    (3) I met him the year before at Worldcon. Don’t remember which, if any, programming he was on.

    (5) In the movie, she did tell Steve how men weren’t essential for pleasure. And she really seemed to enjoy telling him that.

    (13) Rut-roh. I believe Cam’s point here is that even people who like Scooby-Doo think Scrappy is worse. And a wannabe.

    @Charon: Oh, THAT guy! He even showed up farther east, in the super-touristy places; I’d swear I saw him in North Beach or Ghirardelli Square once. (Also, great title and earworm)


    I’m in the middle of reading Death’s End, and I’m very conflicted. The good: I’m really interested in the ideas exploring the consequences of the Fermi Paradox and game theory in a dark forest universe as mentioned in (9), and elements like the exploration of new parts of space that I’ve just reached midway through the book have a genuine sensawonder to them, and the ambition of giving us a “future history” sort of story is commendable.
    The bad: oh goodness the writing is dull. Not poor, or wrong, but just…unexciting. The chosen style comes over more like it’s a lightly-dramatised history book, and it steps away from the characters whenever something really big and interesting happens, which seems to me to be exactly the wrong time to do so.
    The ugly: I may be off on this one, but in the first third there’s a situation where (mild spoilers) gur rnegu unf orra cebgrpgrq ol gur npgvbaf bs gur znayl 21fg praghel zra, naq gur wbo trgf unaqrq bire gb n jbzna ol gur irel haznayl crbcyr bs gur shgher, naq vg nyy cebzcgyl tbrf jebat. That whole part didn’t play at all well with me.
    Overall: Great ideas, poor execution, which seems to be roughly where Joe Sherry ended up in (11) as well. I’ve almost DNFed it three times, only to be saved by “ooo, shiny new idea, let’s see what they do with that.” I can see why quite a lot of people obviously liked it a great deal, but I’m really not getting it.

  11. I was at World Fantasy when Neil Gaiman was GOH. He couldn’t go anywhere without someone shoving a book at him to sign despite everyone being warned not to do so. So mostly, he hid.

    Yeah, I’d imagine. I met Brandon Sanderson at a local con (that wasn’t even dedicated to publishing, mind you). He came in late for his programming, since he’d been at Church that Sunday. We were maybe one of the 6 people involved in publishing there, so I spoke with him at the entrance for about thirty seconds before he had folks running up to get him to sign books, right in the mind of our conversation about agents and editors. He took it pretty well.

    I hear King isn’t quite as friendly, though.

  12. 15) Opal card and tapping

    One of the things I found when visiting Australia and New Zealand was the relative primitiveness of American credit cards compared to credit card systems there. American credit cards had to always be swiped or (since I had a chip card) inserted; I always had to sign a receipt. For locals, many places was a “tap and go” sort of ease. If my flattened New York by way of Minnesota accent wasn’t a giveaway of where I was from, my credit card kinda made it clear.

  13. I enjoyed the documentary about cats in Instanbul & the people who love them (Kedi).

    Also, I finished Scalzi’s Collapsing Empire and was left with a resounding “meh.” As usual, he is a solid but unimpressive writer.

  14. (8) I’m kind of sad regarding Paddington. I remember whan I went to London for my first time as a kid (9 years old? 10?) and got a small paddington bear with me home. My brother got one too.

    I had the small books, I watched him on TV. I as also want to make some kind of tribute with regards to his maker, but live in the wrong country.

    The world needs more Paddingtons.

  15. Paul Weimer says One of the things I found when visiting Australia and New Zealand was the relative primitiveness of American credit cards compared to credit card systems there. American credit cards had to always be swiped or (since I had a chip card) inserted; I always had to sign a receipt.

    Having you sign a paper receipt is solely up to descretion of the business and their credit card jobber, but Square is a new credit card system that allows you to sign digitally and get a digital receipt sent to your preferred email address. Here it’s very popular with folks such as vendors in the Farmers Market, and pretty much the only system you see in the newer businesses.

  16. (15) I quite like the top-up contactless cards you can buy in some countries/cities. In Korea it’s T-Money or Cashbee, and you can put X0,000KRW on and use it to pay for transport, at convenience stores, maybe select other places with the setup. It’s a lot more prevalent, I found, in Taipei, where you can use it in a whole bunch of places to pay for stuff. I’m wary of that same tech in my bank cards though.

    Edit: I also can;t imagine sticking it underneath my skin. Where would it go? There’s so much going on in your hand and wrist that it just seems like a really stupid idea to go jamming things in there.

  17. I also can;t imagine sticking it underneath my skin. Where would it go? There’s so much going on in your hand and wrist that it just seems like a really stupid idea to go jamming things in there.

    The guy named himself Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow. He probably isn’t all that concerned with practicality. Or–you know–being “all there.”

  18. Finished all of the Hugo reading I’ll be doing. Overall, I had a enjoyable time reading most everything. As of right now, I think my ranking for novels will be:
    1. A Closed and Common Orbit
    2. The Obelisk Gate
    3. Ninefox Gambit
    4. All the Birds in the Sky
    5. No Award
    6. Too Like the Lightning

    I tried on TLtL, I really did. I got just over 200 pages in and I just. did. not. care. about. anything. At all. The world, the characters, the “plot”, the writing style. I just really was not having fun reading it and I have a hard time understanding the gushing some have for this book. I get the whole unreliable narrator schtick, and I think trying to work through what was going on could have been interesting, but I actually need to care somewhat about the characters and the world to want to engage in any type of conversation about it. So, I just put it down and haven’t regretted it. Still, the cover is absolutely gorgeous, so it wins on that front.

    Closed and Common Orbit was simply phenomenal in every way. Characters I loved, alien aliens, interesting societies, optimism, witty dialog. I really loved this book. While I enjoyed A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, I found Orbit to be a step above. I cannot wait to read more from Chambers.

    Obelisk Gate was every bit as good, in some ways better, than Fifth Season. While I loved the multiple viewpoints from Fifth Season (and the “twist” from that book, which really threw me), I found that just having one primary perspective didn’t harm my enjoyment. I can’t wait to see what happens in book three. I get the whole “middle book” syndrome thing, but that really doesn’t lessen what I feel for this book or its award-worthiness. The characterization, the world-building, the dialogue, the prose, it is all so fantastic. This is one of the few books I picked up and then sat in a chair and barely moved for the weekend I read through it. No other book on this list did that to me.

    Ninefox Gambit was…weird. And challenging. I didn’t find myself really caring about any of the characters, and I found the action difficult to grasp. Still, the concepts, the style, and world were all so intriguing that i never gave up. I don’t know if I’ll read the second book, but I did like this one and thought it’s ideas and writing were worth the award.

    All the Birds in the Sky was good. Overrated in that I don’t think it’s deserved all the awards it’s received. Still though, I liked the two main characters quite a bit, but found the situations and the disasters in the book to be somewhat lackluster. I never really felt like there was this whole apocalyptic scenario going on. I found myself really liking this book and the characters until the end. I really hated the ending. The ending dropped this book probably 2 places on my list.

    I didn’t read Death’s End. I hated, hated 3-Body Problem and refused to read the other two in the trilogy. I read through the plot synopsis on Wikipedia though.

  19. @Oeneros There’s so much going on in your hand and wrist that it just seems like a really stupid idea to go jamming things in there.

    @Darren Garrison He probably isn’t all that concerned with practicality. Or–you know–being “all there.”

    This reminded me that Zoe Quinn wrote about getting implants (a magnet and an NFC chip) back in 2013. She talks about why she did it in a blog post about the magnet – tl;dr is that it’s a way to assert control over her body, which is something I can understand. And she also talks about what kinds of body modification attract criticism and why.

  20. Closed and Common Orbit was simply phenomenal in every way. Characters I loved, alien aliens

    Really? One of my several problems with the Chambers books are just how very superficially alien the aliens are. When I think of alien aliens, I think more along the lines of the Ariekei in Embassytown, or the Predor or Gabbleducks in Neil Asher’s Polity novels, or the Prime in Peter F. Hamilton’s Commonwealth novels, or the heptapods in Story of Your LIfe. Chamber’s aliens are people with a little bit of pink putty stuck to the bridge of their noses.

  21. Meredith Moment: Peter S. Beagle’s In Calabria is currently $1.99. Now I’m trying to figure out if I bought it in a bundle or not …

    Edited to add: As far as Hugo reading, I read & voted on all of the short fiction categories. I only read two of the novels — Ninefox and Birds — both of which I enjoyed. I do plan to read most or all of the remainder (especially Obelisk), but won’t be getting to them prior to the ballot closing — I think I see a lengthy journey through Tad Williams’ Osten Ard in my not-excessively-distant future.

  22. Okay, I need some help again with Hugo voting. What is the difference between voting something below No Award and leaving it off the ballot?


  23. What is the difference between voting something below No Award and leaving it off the ballot?

    There is an extraordinarily marginal difference that almost never has an effect in practice. We can send up the Standlee signal so he can give a comprehensive explanation, but the short version (as I recollection) goes something like this:

    Leaving something off your ballot is the same as voting it below “No Award” for most purposes. Anything you leave off the ballot is you essentially saying “I would prefer No Award win over any of these, but if No Award (or any of the other things I ranked above No Award) does not win, I don’t care which one of these actually does”.

    If you put something on the ballot after “No Award”, it will help determine what order anything voted below “No Award” is ranked. Your vote for any of these finalists won’t be used to determine who does win, but it will sort the order of things that fall after No Award.

  24. @Darren
    I mean, sure, the aliens aren’t like super crazy odd or incomprehensible. And everyone is empathetic and nice, which I like. But I really like how the Aeluons don’t speak and talk through colors; I like Aandrasks and their strange family structure and odd habits; I like how there are all sorts of aliens that aren’t really explained, but are just there and weird. Maybe Chambers’ aliens are more like anthropomorphized animals (in a way), but I like that they are more than humanoids with similar hierarchies and governments and practices to humans, except for a simple tweak here or there. I like how the only “bad” people in the story are the Enhanced, which I think are humans.
    I also like how, generally, everyone is really nice and empathetic and caring. Finally, a galaxy that I’d like to be a part of.

  25. A Hugo Meredith Moment: Ben Aaronovitch’s next novel in the Peter Grant series, The Furthest Station, is due out tomorrow in the US tomorrow and the ebook preorder price is $4.99. I expect that the price will go up to $7.99 or higher to match the rest of the series once it is released. The first book in the series, The Rivers of London, is still 99 cents for the ebook, but I expect that to return to $7.99 by the end of the month.

  26. Bruce A: Ben Aaronovitch’s next novel in the Peter Grant series, The Furthest Station, is due out tomorrow in the US tomorrow and the ebook preorder price is $4.99. I expect that the price will go up to $7.99 or higher to match the rest of the series once it is released.

    The Furthest Station is not the 7th novel in the series, it’s a 144-page novella set in that world, which is why it’s less expensive. The release of the 7th novel, tentatively entitled Lies Sleeping, has not yet been scheduled.

  27. Another Meredith moment:
    Kobo has Octavia Butler’s Earthseed duology for $1.99

  28. @Darren Garrison

    I would say that the very different social structures and cultures raise them above bumpy forehead territory, especially in aCaCO.

  29. I was at World Fantasy when Neil Gaiman was GOH. He couldn’t go anywhere without someone shoving a book at him to sign despite everyone being warned not to do so. So mostly, he hid. I saw him one dark evening skulking in the shadows outside talking to friends. I felt so sorry for him.

    I’ve seen the other side of it. Ruth and I were Fan GOHs at a convention where he was the Guest of Honor (no modifier).

    He was programmed from dawn to dusk (and well past dusk). There were very few minutes of the day that he was allowed to relax. (And, in addition, he wasn’t feeling well that weekend.)

    IIRC, not too long after, he said he wasn’t planning on attending cons any more.

    I’ve spoken with Neil about this. Part of the problem is that every convention he’s at seems to become a “Neil Gaiman event”, rather than a convention that he happens to be attending. It’s no fun for him, and it does strange things to the convention itself.

    I have a photo somewhere from either the first or second Norwescon (I think it was the second–which would make it 1979), where one panel had a large number of participants…and the person on the far right was Stephen King. He could still attend conventions then without it having a major impact on the whole convention.

    I know that he’s been invited to be a GOH at at least one Worldcon, but declined the invitation.

  30. (11) That matches my experience pretty well. I put down TLTL with great gusto. Obelisk Gate is in first place by a registered red ahead of ATBITS.

    Death’s End (my final read in the novel category) is teetering over Noah due to the writing growing dull. But I’m going to keep on with it and see if it improves.


  31. Ita: “I was at World Fantasy when Neil Gaiman was GOH. He couldn’t go anywhere without someone shoving a book at him to sign despite everyone being warned not to do so. So mostly, he hid. I saw him one dark evening skulking in the shadows outside talking to friends. I felt so sorry for him.

    I had a similar reaction at the 1981 World Fantasy Con, which Steven King attended. Even at a con dominated by pros, who might have been expected to be a bit more cool about have a super-bestselling author in their midst, King would frequently be surrounded by autograph seekers when he came out into the convention spaces.

    I had a chance for a very brief conversation with King during that con. He and Tabitha, and the Straubs, were going out for dinner, and I happened to be waiting for the same elevator to the lobby. I think I mentioned something about how trying it must sometimes be to get that kind of attention in public. Pretty sure I got a sigh and a nod in return.

    It was seeing King there that made me decide that, while I wouldn’t mind becoming a successful writer, I never want to be a famous writer.

  32. In regards to King, when he was given the lifetime achievement award at World Fantasy in 2004, he planned to show up for it. However, that was the year he was following the Red Sox and when they got into the World Series, that took priority.

    As for Neil, he really now prefers the “Evening with” type events where he can pre-sign a bunch of books (and he does go through them fast), do his talk, and then hang out with friends local to where the event is taking place (that’s pretty much how it went at his recent Arizona stop).

  33. In regards to 1), having been a volunteer at our local comic con (watching it grow during that time from 5,000 to 80,000), I know what rewards/expenses I got certainly did not cover my time spent working on the event (not to mention travelling to other cons primarily to talk to possible guests). It was rewarding to grow the track and get a lot of praise from the authors, publishers, and fans. But the con itself (single owner for profit) never really seemed to appreciate what I did. When I was dismissed for a “difference in vision”, it really left me with a bad taste for doing any volunteer work. So, I don’t know the circumstances of the volunteers to started the class action suit, but I can certainly see where some of the motivation for doing so would come from.

  34. (12) is pretty much my assessment of This Census-Taker, but more eloquently put. I sort of enjoyed it, but not entirely. It goes into approximately the same category as TLTL, writing-wise – a little too literary-in-a-way-that-you-gotta-work-for-it for my tastes.

  35. I love unreliable narrators and couldn’t finish TLTL.

    My top 3 spots are the same books as k_choll’s, but not the same order. Though the order may also change every freaking day until voting closes.

  36. Oneiros on June 29, 2017 at 2:22 am said:
    This documentary about cats in Istanbul may be of interest to some people here. Review:


    I saw this in an Istanbul cinema earlier this week. They certainly found some interesting characters, both feline and human.

  37. Another Meredith moment: Kobo also has Tea with the Black Dragon for 1.99

    I was thinking that Kobo Has Tea With the Black Dragon would make a great sequel to that movie, but then I realized that the character was Kubo.

  38. DMS: I love unreliable narrators and couldn’t finish TLTL.

    I love both unreliable narrators and SFF mysteries. I finished TLTL, but even now still feel cheated out of that time and energy. I read it early enough that there were lots of raves about it, but before anyone was openly admitting that it’s only half of a book — so hitting the last page, after making all that effort to stick with it in hopes of being rewarded, was really a punch in the face.

    At this point, Too Like the Lightning, All the Birds in the Sky, and Death’s End are all under No Award on my ballot. I absolutely believe that there are people who feel that each of those books is award-worthy, but I don’t. 😐

  39. WRT Too Like the Lightning, I don’t think Mycroft Canner is an unreliable narrator. I think he’s an untrustworthy narrator. It’s a slightly different sort of game, in that the bits he’s unreliable about tend to serve his own narrative agenda, which gives the reader a bit of a clue as to what’s reliable and what’s not. (I tend to think of unreliable narrators more in the Chris Priest or Philip Dick mould, of “I may know how this world works or I may not, I don’t know for sure, and when you come right down to it, who am I anyway?”)

  40. 1) Somehow I don’t think that “voluntarily signing a contract to work for free” trumps Federal labor law. Dragon*Con made that mistake too, and someone finally noticed; I don’t know where that case currently stands.

    @ Michael K: I was at that con too, and (also not being much of a King fan) I’m sure I didn’t go to any of his panels. That con, IIRC, is why there has never been another regional con in Knoxville. The concom made the mistake of selling “tickets” rather than “memberships”, which cost them a shit-ton of money because it meant that they were subject to a rapacious event tax imposed by the city to recover the costs of preparing for the World’s Fair. It bankrupted several of the concom members, and I think it made everyone up there gun-shy of trying again. (All of this is filtered thru “I haven’t thought about that con in over 30 years”, so feel free to correct me if I’ve gotten it wrong.)

    @ Oneiros: Fascinating! I wonder if it will be available on DVD?

    @ Cat: Square isn’t all that new. It’s been around since 2010 — long enough to become the card-acceptance system of choice for most people who sell at craft fairs and such. We use both Square and PayPal Here (which is more recent, having been introduced only a couple of years ago), just to have a backup in case one of them crashes during an event.

    @ Ghostbird: Wow, that’s a fascinating article! IMO, all body mods fall squarely into the category of, “it’s their body, and I don’t get a vote”. And I still remember my father absolutely freaking out when I wanted to get my ears pierced at age 14 (for completely practical reasons — I don’t have enough earlobe to be able to wear clips) because “Only loose women pierce their ears!” (exact quote, and this was in 1970 when pierced earrings had been back in fashion for the better part of a decade). Fortunately, my mother was sane and overruled him. The term “tramp stamp” comes from exactly the same mindset.

    @ Darren: Sure, they’re not as alien as the aliens in Arrival, or even Cherryh’s knnn. But they’re a lot less superficial than your dismissal of them would indicate. Furthermore, if they didn’t think enough like each other, and like humans, to be able to communicate, the Galactic Commons wouldn’t even exist! (I would love to read the back-story on how the Aeluons figured out how to communicate with sound-users…)

    One of the things I like best about the book is the “Lower Decks” aspect; humans aren’t one of the high-status races, and this crops up in interesting ways all thru the story. Chambers even lampshades it at one point (paraphrased): “You’re an Aeluon, all doors open for you. If I show up there, a funny-looking human in working-class clothes, and make that request, how far do you think I’m going to get?”

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