Pixel Scroll 7/10/20 Definitely Worried I Had Lost The Plot

(1) GET YOUR VIRTUAL SDCC HYPE HERE. The event starts July 23 but today San Diego Comic-Con started its day-by-day unveiling of the five-day schedule: “The Comic-Con@Home 2020 Programming Schedule”. (The Wednesday, July 23 schedule released today is summarized by Variety here.)

We’re two weeks away from the debut of Comic-Con@Home 2020! And even though this is a very different year, we’re happy to announce we’ll be sticking with the Comic-Con tradition of announcing our panel schedule two weeks in advance. Over the next five days, we’ll reveal our daily online programming line-up for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, July 22–26, with complete programming descriptions. The panels themselves will not be available until those dates, but you’ll be able to read all about them and build your own schedule of programs you want to watch during Comic-Con@Home 2020!

Comic-Con@Home 2020 will feature over 350 separate panels spread out over all five days of the event. There will be something for everyone! Here’s how it works:

…All the panels will also be available on the Comic-Con YouTube channel, so you can also access them there. Subscribe to us on YouTube.com at https://www.youtube.com/user/ComicCon

An SDCC executive gave an interview to The Wrap about how it all came together.

“Everybody is committed to trying to make something the fans can enjoy and can interact with and have that community feeling, even though it will be not in person,” Comic-Con International Chief Communications and Strategy Officer David Glanzer told TheWrap. That commitment extended to the con’s studio and network partners, as the likes of AMC, Amazon, FX, Disney, Syfy, Hulu and at least one film studio, Orion Pictures (which is bringing “Bill & Ted Face the Music”), have all jumped on board to bring their panels into viewers’ living rooms.

(2) WORLDBUILDERS FUNDRAISER. The annual Geeks Doing Good Showcase hosted by Worldbuilders, the nonprofit organization founded by Patrick Rothfuss of the Kingkiller Chronicle series, starts on July 13 and goes through July 20, 2020.

This week Worldbuilders will feature multiple live-streamed interviews, discussions, from authors, artists, and more. All of which will take place on the Worldbuilders Twitch Channel.

The first day’s schedule is –

Schedule for Monday, July 13, 2020

Patrick Rothfuss Livestreams Twitch

When: 12pm – 2pm CDT

Patrick will be streaming on his Twitch channel at 12pm. Come hang out with Patrick and chat away!

Meet the new Worldbuilders!

When: 2pm – 3pm CDT

Come join us as we get to know the new members of the Worldbuilders team!  

(3) IMAGINING WITHOUT VISUALS. “‘I have no mind’s eye’: what is it like being an author with aphantasia?” – Mark Lawrence explains his experience to The Guardian.

‘Picture this,” someone says. “A juicy green apple. Can you see it?”

Of course I can’t see it. My head is filled with all things apple; the central concept connects with myriad associated topics: orchards, trees, red apples, rotting apples, cider, blossom, an endless web that spreads along more and more tenuous connections. But of course I can’t see it. I usually say yes, though, because I assume it’s a figure of speech.

But 98% of people actually do see the thing they’re imagining, like a picture in their head. The other 2%, like me, are aphantasic. There’s a line I like in John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars: “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once. I found out I was aphantasic slowly, then all at once. Decades ago, my wife began visualisation for meditation. I couldn’t do it. Not only could I not see an imaginary orange, I couldn’t see a circle or the colour orange. But I understood visualisation to be a special skill that you worked on. Rather like juggling. And I was sure that with practice I could accomplish either one of those….

(4) THE BIG W. Camestros Felapton wraps up his advocacy series with “Hugo Fan Writer: Why you should vote for…Adam Whitehead”.

… If any genre deserves and encourages the spawning of Big Enormous Labour of Love Projects it is epic fantasy and Adam has taken that genre’s appendix-aesthetic into his own History of Epic Fantasy (https://thewertzone.blogspot.com/search/label/history%20of%20epic%20fantasy) and then went onto a major cartographic project mapping out the continents of George RR Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice (https://atlasoficeandfireblog.wordpress.com/). You don’t need to be a fan of either epic fantasy in general or Game of Thrones in particular to appreciate the time and effort put into either of those projects over several years….

(5) IT STINKS. Lili Loofbourow delivered a kind of “state of the internet” message. Thread starts here.

(6) #SFFPLEDGE. The #SFFpledge is circulating – today The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists boosted the signal.

One of the figures named in the pledge, Noah Bradley, wrote this in June:

The other person named, Samuel Flegal, artist and co-founder of the art camp One Fantastic Week, issued an apology on Facebook for unspecified acts against women he had contact with.  The Facebook post is no longer publicly available, but an analysis of his statement has been posted by M M Schill on her Patreon, here, and it contains a screencap of the post.

In public posts on the topic, this one links to the tweeted statement of Eunjoo Han who does not name the harasser being discussed, but he is alleged to be Flegal.

(7) BORDERLANDS FALLOUT CONTINUES. Quite a few writers have responded about the sexual assault charges leveled at Borderland Books owner Alan Beatts, including John Scalzi and Catherynne M. Valente.

… It’s the store I’ve held all my San Francisco events at, basically for as long as I’ve been doing events at all. I’ve supported Borderlands annually as a patron, and I lent the store money to purchase a new building, which it’s currently in the process of moving to.

It actually and genuinely hurt to read these accusations, which I believe. I wrote yesterday on Twitter that I was in shock about it, and I still am. This one stirs up emotions for me in a way I’m not prepared to publicly quantify or express. Suffice to say it hits close to home on a number of levels.

  • Catherynne M. Valente tweeted —

(8) SLC SHIFTS TO 2021. Now it’s official – no FanX convention in Salt Lake City this year: “FanX 2020 Postponement”.

…After discussions with community leaders, health officials, and the surge of COVID-19 cases in Utah the past few weeks, we feel it’s in the best interest of our community to postpone.

During such a difficult and unprecedented time for everyone, we appreciate your support and the outpouring of love which has been shown to us. It’s because of this love and continued support from the FanX community that we’ve been able to bring you 12 events over the past seven years and make Salt Lake City, Utah a premier pop culture event. It’s also the reason we’ve already begun planning FanX 2021 and can take this opportunity to invite you to join us in celebrating together again on September 16-18, 2021!

(9) CURSES, FIELD AGAIN. A theory about a possible chain of influence linked to Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1932 article on “The name ‘Nodens’” published as an appendix to Report on the Excavation of the Prehistoric, Roman, and Post-Roman Site in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire, is a discussion of three inscriptions found at the excavations which he concluded is the name of an unrecorded deity. Did one of those inscriptions reference another ancient find, a gold ring? Thread starts here.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 10, 1981 Time Bandits has its U.K. premiere. It was co-written (with Michael Palin), produced, and directed by Terry Gilliam.  It starred Sean Connery, John Cleese, Shelley Duvall, Ralph Richardson, Kenny Baker, Jack Purvis, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, Peter Vaughan, and David Warner. Gilliam has said that the film was the first in his Trilogy of Imagination, followed by Brazil and ending with The Adventures of Baron MunchausenCriticsloved the film, the box office was excellent, and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 77% rating. 
  • July 10, 1981 John Carpenter’s Escape from New York premiered. (That was how it was shown on-screen.)  Starring Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, this film was written by John Carpenter and Nick Castle. It was directed by John  Carpenter, and produced by  Larry Franco and Debra Hill. Supporting cast was  Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Ernest Borgnine, Isaac Hayes, Adrienne Barbeau, and Harry Dean Stanton. The film received generally positive reviews with Russell in particular finding favor with the critics; it did very well at the box office earning far more than it cost to produce; and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a 76% rating. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 10, 1875 – E.C. Bentley.  Invented the clerihew.

Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Wrote “Exactly As It Happened”.  He
Did not quite manage science fiction.
But he had very good diction.

(Died 1956) [JH]

  • Born July 10, 1903 John Wyndham. His best known works include The Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos, both written in the Fifties. The latter novel was filmed twice as Village of the Damned. Both iBooks and Kindle have an impressive selection of his novels including these titles,  though little of his short fiction is available alas. (Died 1969.) (CE)
  • Born July 10, 1908 – Carl Jacobi.  Ten dozen short stories for us, in AmazingPlanetStartlingThrilling Wonder; also Weird Tales and Doc Savage; farther from our field, Maclean’sRailroadShort StoriesTop-Notch.  Known to have started a novel but if completed it has not appeared.  Translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish. “Mive” (1928) won a U. Minn. contest judged by Margaret Banning; Lovecraft bought it for Weird Tales, saying “I was glad to see at least one story whose weirdness of incident was made convincing by adequate emotional preparation and suitably developed atmosphere.”  Attended Torcon II the 31st Worldcon.  (Died 1997) [JH]
  • Born July 10, 1911 – Jack Coggins.  Thirty book & magazine covers, a few interiors, for us; a thousand paintings; oils mainly on marine subjects; art classes; four dozen books, some reprinted by Dover.  With Fletcher Pratt, Rockets, Jets, Guided Missiles & Space Ships and By Space Ship to the Moon.  Here is an early cover for Galaxy.  Here is one for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Master Pastelist of Pastel Soc. America, Fellow of Am. Soc. Marine Artists.  Int’l Ass’n of Astronomical Artists Hall of Fame.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born July 10, 1917 – Don Herbert.  In World War II, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with three oak-leaf clusters.  Invented and won a Peabody for Watch Mr. Wizard (television 1951-1965, 1971-1972; later Mr. Wizard’s World 1983-1990, re-runs until 2000); he and a boy or girl did science experiments, many seeming impossible at first glance, most such as viewers could re-create.  “Eight hundred thousand viewers per episode….  over five thousand Mr. Wizard Science Clubs … total membership over a hundred thousand,” Science on the Air p. 227 (M. LaFollette, 2008).  A good neighbor.  (Died 2007) [JH]
  • Born July 10, 1931 Julian May. She‘s best known for her Saga of Pliocene Exile (known as the Saga of the Exiles in the UK) and Galactic Milieu series: Jack the BodilessDiamond Mask and Magnificat. She was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame at Sasquan. John has a very nice look at her here. (Died 2017.) (CE)
  • Born July 10, 1941 David Hartwell. Encyclopedia of Science Fiction describes him as “perhaps the single most influential book editor of the past forty years in the American science fiction publishing world”.  I certainly fondly remember The Space Opera Renaissance he co-edited with Kathryn Cramer. Not to mention that his Year’s Best Fantasy and Year’s Best SF anthologies are still quite excellent reading to dip into on whim. (Died 2016.) (CE)
  • Born July 10, 1941 Susan Seddon Boulet. If you’ve read the American edition of Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife (which won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature), you’ve seen her amazing work. Or perhaps you’ve got a copy of Pomegranate‘s edition of Ursula Le Guin’s Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight. If you’re keen on knowing more about this amazing artist, see the Green Man review of Susan Seddon Boulet: A Retrospective. (Died 1997.) (CE) 
  • Born July 10, 1945 Ron Glass. Probably best genre wise as Shepherd Book in the Firefly series and its sequel Serenity. His first genre role was as Jerry Merris in Jerry Merris, a SF horror film and he’d later show up voicing Philo D. Grenman in Strange Frame: Love & Sax (“slated as the world’s first animated lesbian-themed sci-fi film”; look it up as it as an impressive voice cast) and he showed up twice as J. Streiten, MD in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Oh, and he was on Voyager playing a character named Loken in the  “Nightingale” episode. (Died 2016.) (CE)
  • Born July 10, 1953 – Chôhei Kambayashi, 67.  A dozen novels, thirty shorter stories.  In “The Enemy Is the Pirate” a reluctant human hero is forced to co-operate with a wisecracking cat.  “Full of Kindnesses” is set in a Japan so riddled with bureaucracy that even thieves and gangsters must obtain a license.  In the world of “Prism” all human needs are met, but inhabitants are forbidden to ask why.  Eight Seiun Awards, Nihon SF Taishô Award.  [JH]
  • Born July 10, 1970 John Simm, 50. The second of the modern Masters on Doctor Who.  He appeared in the final three episodes of the Time of the Tenth Doctor: “Utopia”, “The Sound of Drums”, and “Last of the Time Lords”. He also played Sam Tyler in Life on Mars. (CE)
  • Born July 10, 1981 – Karen Russell, 38.  One novel, thirty shorter stories.  A short version of Swamplandia! appeared in The New Yorker (“My older sister has entire kingdoms inside her, and some of them are only accessible at certain seasons, in certain kinds of weather”).  Collections, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, two more.  Interview in the May 2013 Lightspeed.  [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • R. E. Parrish finds family talking about their “accomplishments” boring. 

(13) PIPERS AT THE GATES. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.] Filers may remember Miles Vorkosigan being trapped in the Thames Flood Barrier in Brothers in Arms. Now the story could move; the BBC reports “Venice test brings up floodgates for first time”.

For the first time a system of 78 mobile floodgates has been tested in Venice, after years beset by delays and corruption.

The 1.5km (one-mile) Mose system of yellow dams was a “powerful project that has taken years to complete”, said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Venice was hit by the worst floods in half a century in November 2019.

Environmental protesters took to the lagoon on Friday, saying the barriers would damage the area.

Critics argue the sluice-gate system is 10 years too late. Work on the Mose project started in 2003, even though it was designed in the 1980s. It has gone three times over its original budget and resulted in the arrest of dozens of officials, the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville reports from Rome.

(14) WATCHING THE DARK. The Litle Red Reviewer catches us up with “Recent Reads, Watchings, Craftings, Cookings, etc.”.

…Been binge re-watching the Netflix show Dark. The 3rd season just dropped, so hubby and I are rewatching the first two seasons as fast as we can.   this IS the show of the summer!  umm, how to explain?  Think Twin Peaks meets Stranger Things,  plus a metric ton of time travel.  And the soundtrack!  omg, so good!!

DO:  watch the show and take your own notes for a family tree.  Different story lines follow different generations, so you’ll want to keep track of who is married to who,  who is the parent and child of who, etc.

DON’T: use google to learn about this show.   the less you know about the show and the plot going in, the better.  the internet is solid spoilers.

not a spoiler: the first time I saw season one,  I though Jonas was a cool but annoying character. Why is he so quiet? Why doesn’t he seem to react to things? why does he seem so passive?  Yeah, he’s might be quiet, but he is NOT passive. the poor kid is a bundle of nerves and a total mess inside.

(15) HOLD THAT THOUGHT. “TikTok: Amazon says email asking staff to remove app ‘sent in error'”. (BBC’s report of the first email is here: “TikTok: Amazon tells employees to remove app from phones”.)

Amazon has said an email sent to employees asking them to remove the video-sharing app TikTok from any mobile device that can access their company email was sent in error.

An internal memo sent to staff earlier on Friday had said employees should delete the app over “security risks”.

The app, owned by a Chinese company, has come under scrutiny because of fears it could share data with China.

TikTok said it did not understand Amazon’s concerns.

“This morning’s email to some of our employees was sent in error. There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok”, a company spokesperson told the BBC.

But earlier on Friday, a memo sent to staff seen by multiple news outlets stated that the app must be removed from mobile devices.

(16) ONE STEP FORWARD. “Instagram to block LGBT ‘conversion therapy’ services”.

Instagram will block the promotion of “conversion therapy”, which tries to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity, the social media giant has told the BBC.

Campaigners are urging the government to act now on a two-year-old promise to make the practice illegal.

This year, 200,000 people have signed an online petition calling for action.

All major UK therapy professional bodies and the NHS oppose it on logical, ethical and moral grounds.

(17) SUNRISE. The reviewer “finally” gets around to “SOLARIS – Stanislaw Lem (1961)” at Weighing a pig doesn’t fatten it.

At the beginnings of my forays into science fiction, it quickly became clear Solaris was one of the key texts, and so a physical copy of the book has been on my shelves for years. There were two reasons I didn’t take it out sooner. The main thing was me having the wrong idea of what it was about. I’m not sure why, but I thought the story focused on a crew slowly growing mad, and I’d mentally labeled it something like ‘psychological horror in space’, a genre I’m not that interested in. The other reason was Steven Soderbergh’s adaption: I’d seen it in a movie theater when it came out back in 2002, and while I don’t remember any other thing about it, at the time my reaction was lukewarm at best.

It was only after a conversation in the comments to my review of Asimov’s The Gods Themselves that I realized I had the wrong idea about the book. That conversation was with Polish native Ola G, and it turns out she wrote two excellent pointers about Stanislaw Lem, here and here – do click on those if you want an accessible yet fairly thorough overview of Lem. On the strength of Solaris and Ola’s posts, I have added FiascoThe Invincible and The Cyberiad to my TBR….

(18) CROSS-TRAINING. The BBC knows “Why Hollywood needs computer games tech more than ever”.

Kim Libreri, an award-winning visual effects artist based in Northern California, has worked on movies including Artificial Intelligence and War of the Planet of the Apes.

For nine years he has been working with a piece of technology better known for computer games, in particular the smash-hit Fortnite.

The Unreal Engine, owned by Epic Games, provides the building blocks and tools that a computer game developer needs, but is increasingly an attractive technology for TV and film producers.

The latest version of technology, Unreal Engine 5, is coming out next year, and Epic has been heavily trailing its features.

It should allow visual effects artists like Mr Libreri to slot graphics and images straight into a scene, with little fuss.

“With traditional filmmaking, a director and cinematographer might shoot a scene on set -then down the line, hand footage and creative direction off to a team of virtual reality artists and designers, who enhance that material with visual effects and computer-generated imagery in a separate phase of production, says Mr Libreri, who is now chief technology officer at Epic Games.

With Unreal Engine collaboration between the director, cinematographer, production designer and virtual reality teams can occur simultaneously as an interactive process on set.

“Unreal Engine 5 promises to further free the artistic process by making it easier to take virtual worlds developed for feature film and television, and run them in the game engine in real time,” says Mr Libreri.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. This isn’t part of the new Disney+ package despite featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda and another signer of the Declaration. From 2015:

“Button,” Colbert’s (3-minute) counterpoint/companion to Hamilton, about another of the Dec of Ind signers, “Button Gwinnett,” here sung by Lin-Manuel and Stephen.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, Cat Eldridge, David Doering, StephenfromOttawa, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

100 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/10/20 Definitely Worried I Had Lost The Plot

  1. (11) I’m a big fan of Julian May. Let’s here it for the Saga of the Pixelcene XFile

  2. (11) Ron Glass also appeared in the story ‘I of Newton’ in the 1985 reboot of “The Twilight Zone”. The story was adapted from the short story of the same name by Joe Haldeman.

  3. (19) VIDEO OF THE DAY.

    Ah, I remember watching Colbert’s Late Show 150 years ago, when it was taped in the Ed Sullivan Theater. Good times.

  4. @11 (Time Bandits): that’s an interesting poster; I remember one (or perhaps an ad, or …) that was headlined “They didn’t just make history — they stole it!” Does anyone else remember this, or some other movie this line might have been attached to? I’d believe it was used in the US campaign, as it’s flashier but less accurate than this poster. A fascinating movie that I haven’t seen in 32 years; I should remedy this.

  5. @chip I do remember that as a tagline for Time Bandits, in some trailer or another.

  6. (11) the remake of Village of the Damned was based upon the screenplay of the first, which also inspired a sequel, Children of the Damned.

    @ChipHitchcock: Gilliam wanted to make a Time Bandits sequel, but time ran out for several key cast members.

  7. (15) The BBC World Service reports an Amazon statement claiming the memo was sent out in error. Also prepared in error, presumably.

  8. I didn’t know about Mr. Wizard’s service in World War II. Good for him.

    A lot of John Carpenter’s films had his name above the title.

  9. Birthdays: I went to grade school with one of Susan Seddon Boulet’s children. We did a production of Robert Bolt’s The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew and she designed the costumes. When I moved out of my parents’ house I was able to take one of her paintings from them: I still have it, and the eggshell with a dragon painted on it that they gave me one year as a birthday present. (I don’t know whether they commissioned it specially or whether it was something she had made that they — correctly! — thought I would like.)

  10. (19) “Button” was almost my introduction to Hamilton. I think I had heard about Hamilton – hard not to hear about it – but I didn’t know much about the musical or even Miranda before I saw that episode of Colbert.

    Not to be confused with Isaac Asimov’s “Button! Button!” which involves replicating Button Gwinnett’s signature.

    Fun Fact: Both Waffle House and The Harlem Globetrotters are headquartered in Gwinnett County in Georgia.

  11. 11) The Chrysalids by John Wyndham is one of my favorite books. The ending still disturbs me, I don’t know what to think of it.

  12. I note the existence of a new scroll. I’m now going to go hide from all the news,here and elsewhere, until rest has hopefully restored my ability to cope.

    And type. Hopefull none of my typos have escaped my eye.

  13. JJ notes that Ah, I remember watching Colbert’s Late Show 150 years ago, when it was taped in the Ed Sullivan Theater. Good times.

    He’s doing the show from his home these days which renders it a certain charm. The family including Evie, his wife, are his crew. If anything, he’s considerably sharpened his political bite now that it’s just him and no audience to play off of.

    The CBS app makes his shows free of charge on the morning after they’re broadcast, and maybe for a few days afterwards.

  14. 10) Time Bandits‘ time gates were stolen shamelessly borrowed by Ultima II, in subsequent games becoming the series’ iconic moongates. II also came with its version of the map, which I always found not as easy to use as one might wish, what with it not accounting for continental drift and all.

    10bis) Snake Pixel? I thought you’d been scrolled!

    11) I like the Saga of Pliocene Exile so damn much.

    11bis) Glass is also known for Barney Miller – which may have had a time traveller on one episode and certainly had a bona fide mad scientist in another.

    For your earworming pleasure: the first act of Hamilton, with Muppets.

  15. 18) I worked for Kim for a few years at Lucasfilm. He’s an incredibly inspiring leader and hugely creative. Real-time virtual production has been a goal of his for a long time. As well as the films mentioned there, notable works include What Dreams May Come (I believe he invented the painterly effect), the three Matrix movies, and Super 8. Most recently, Epic’s engine has been instrumental in artificial environments for The Mandalorian.

  16. The last Scalzi book I read, the first in the emperox series, had a character that took advantage of the crew in her ship by essentially raping them. The character’s actions were glorified. It read like Scalzi was giving us the wink and the nod. There was certainly no condemnatory message directed at the behavior. Rare is the Scalzi novel that doesn’t have I’ll-balanced sex, orgiastic or otherwise. In short, I don’t think Scalzi, who profits from providing gratuitous and frankly disturbing sex scenes has any weight as a voice now condemning people for doing what he depicts (quite happily it seems) in his $125k advance sci-firotica

  17. Sometimes, in books for grown ups, characters do things that the author doesn’t necessarily approve of.

  18. I read The Collapsing Empire and was, to be honest, underwhelmed by it… but anyone going into it and expecting “sci-firotica” is going to be even more disappointed than I was.

  19. Joseph Hurtgen says Rare is the Scalzi novel that doesn’t have I’ll-balanced sex, orgiastic or otherwise. In short, I don’t think Scalzi, who profits from providing gratuitous and frankly disturbing sex scenes has any weight as a voice now condemning people for doing what he depicts (quite happily it seems) in his $125k advance sci-firotica

    I don’t get it. Why are you reading him? You obviously don’t like the fiction he writes and so shouldn’t be interested in reading itm. You unfortunately sound like a Puppy condemning him for what he does even though you’d be better off ignoring him.

  20. @Joseph Hurtgen–

    The last Scalzi book I read, the first in the emperox series, had a character that took advantage of the crew in her ship by essentially raping them. The character’s actions were glorified. It read like Scalzi was giving us the wink and the nod. There was certainly no condemnatory message directed at the behavior. Rare is the Scalzi novel that doesn’t have I’ll-balanced sex, orgiastic or otherwise. In short, I don’t think Scalzi, who profits from providing gratuitous and frankly disturbing sex scenes has any weight as a voice now condemning people for doing what he depicts (quite happily it seems) in his $125k advance sci-firotica.

    I don’t recognize Scalzi’s books from your description. That includes, specifically, The Collapsing Empire. But if you find his books so disturbing and distasteful, why do you keep reading them?

  21. Steve Wright says
    I read The Collapsing Empire and was, to be honest, underwhelmed by it… but anyone going into it and expecting “sci-firotica” is going to be even more disappointed than I was.

    Yeah I read several of The Old Man’s War series and I must say that they were exactly titillating. And I too was underwhelmed by what I read.

  22. wrt Old Man’s War, I found the idea that the first action a large fraction of old people returned to age ?25? was screwing each other blind to be the opposite of titillating (not to mention implausible — the whole point was that their minds weren’t turned a half-century younger.) Put me off him for years, especially when the next thing I read was his grunge retake on Little Fuzzy. Memory is blanking on which character the drop-in @Joseph Hurtgen was thinking of wrt The Collapsing Empire, but IIRC we are introduced early to a flamboyant villain who could behave as JH describes. Just in case JH is still listening, I will point out that Tor doesn’t randomly set fire to money; I expect they gave Scalzi a contract for a lot of books with substantial advances because they expected the books to do well enough to make back the money. ISTR that one of the Puppy complaints was that Tor et al were publishing fiction nobody wanted to read….

  23. @Joseph Hurtgen
    Like Steve and Cat, I was rather underwhelmed with The Collapsing Empire. And while there is a sex scene early on between the owner/owner’s representative of a space freighter and a crewmember, I don’t recall that scene being non-consensual.

    Of course, it’s perfectly okay, if Scalzi isn’t to your taste. However, calling his work sci-fi erotica shows me that you have no idea what sci-fi erotica is.

    11) One of the biggest flood barrier projects are the Deltawerken in the Netherland, a series of flood barriers to protect the Rhine-Meuse delta and the low-lying Dutch countryside against storm sugres. The plan was drawn up after the devastating North Sea floods of 1953 and 1962 (which also gave us the Thames flood barrier and caused Germany to step up their flood protection plans) and the last barrier was not completed until the 1990s. When the Dutch close the Deltawerken is when you know that a storm is really bad. And yes, it has happened a couple of times.

    In Germany, we have the Ems barrier at Gandersum, which has the double function as a flood barrier against storm surges and to shore up the river Ems to allow the cruise liners built by the Meyer Werft of Papenburg to make the journey to the North Sea.

    Here are some photos of the Ems flood barrier I took a few years ago (with bonus sheep and Dalek washroom)

  24. @Cora —

    And while there is a sex scene early on between the owner/owner’s representative of a space freighter and a crewmember, I don’t recall that scene being non-consensual.

    It was dub con, because her partner was a subordinate. And it was made pretty clear that she knew she was acting at least somewhat coercively.

    But she wasn’t supposed to be a nice person. Funny how little things like character complexity can trip some readers up.

  25. I read The Collapsing Empire and, like the others, I found it rather dull. Scalzi’s works have aged badly with me.

    As time passes, I have decided that John Scalzi is turning out the type of fiction that would appeal to old-time genre fans (much like the Puppies sans right-wing nuttiness). Sometimes I think that the Puppies took on Scalzi precisely because he was competition with Baen. Who knows?

  26. I find Scalzi’s works to be perfectly cromulent SF; It’s neither amazingly good nor is it terrible. I’d categorize it as satisfying beach reading for me.

    I have no objection to satisfying beach reading, even if I don’t intend to nominate it for awards.

    As for the description Joseph Hurtgen gave of The Collapsing Empire, I don’t recall any such scene, but to be fair it’s been a few years since I read it. The book did have villains behaving villainously; perhaps that’s what he’s reacting to…? But if you refuse to read a book because bad guys behave badly, you’re going to find yourself with a shortage of books to read.

    Cassy

  27. Cassy B. says I find Scalzi’s works to be perfectly cromulent SF; It’s neither amazingly good nor is it terrible. I’d categorize it as satisfying beach reading for me.

    You’ve summed up my feelings on his fiction precisely. It’s competent genre fiction that just doesn’t grab me enough to move up his novels in my digital TBR even to a “Well, I might read it someday” status. And I added a dozen novels to that digital TBR just this week, several of them because of recommendations here.

    Instead I’m reading Neal Asher’s latest Polity novel, The Human and enjoying it quite a bit.

    I do however enjoy his blog quite a bit.

  28. Scalzi’s work isn’t to my taste, but he’s no Piers Anthony or Jack Chalker. So this complaint seems rather bizarre.

  29. Chip says Just in case JH is still listening, I will point out that Tor doesn’t randomly set fire to money; I expect they gave Scalzi a contract for a lot of books with substantial advances because they expected the books to do well enough to make back the money. ISTR that one of the Puppy complaints was that Tor et al were publishing fiction nobody wanted to read….

    JS on his blog will occasionally detail just how well his books are selling. Let’s just say that Tor certainly is making more than a bit of money off of his book sales. And that’s fine with me. I like authors to be successful, i.e. I’m rooting for Ailette Du Bodard to get a nice juicy book contract as I love her fiction.

  30. Chip Hitchcock: wrt Old Man’s War, I found the idea that the first action a large fraction of old people returned to age ?25? was screwing each other blind to be the opposite of titillating (not to mention implausible — the whole point was that their minds weren’t turned a half-century younger.)

    It’s not at all implausible. A lot of people don’t lose interest in sex just because they get older. If I had my 25-year-old body again, I’d certainly enjoy it, too.

    And it wasn’t intended to be “titillating”. If that’s what you thought, then you really missed the intent of those scenes.

  31. I’m going to buck the trend here and say that I do like Scalzi. His stuff is definitely on the light-and-frothy side, without a whole lot of depth, but sometimes that’s just what the doctor ordered–at least for me. And yes, at times it can be tricky to maintain my suspension of disbelief, but for a quick, light read, which Scalzi usually is, that doesn’t bother me as much as it might with something more serious/ponderous.

    That said, I’m not big on either Old Man’s War or Fuzzy Nation. Those two are probably my least favorites of his works.

    As for the whole “rape scene” thing–that’s straight out of the Puppies’ playbook. You have to squint really funny and invent a whole bunch of stuff to get that out of what the book actually says, but of course, that’s hardly going to stop them from proclaiming it as indisputable truth. I’m pretty sure the majority of people I’ve seen make that claim haven’t even actually read the book.

  32. Xtifr notes As for the whole “rape scene” thing–that’s straight out of the Puppies’ playbook. You have to squint really funny and invent a whole bunch of stuff to get that out of what the book actually says, but of course, that’s hardly going to stop them from proclaiming it as indisputable truth. I’m pretty sure the majority of people I’ve seen make that claim haven’t even actually read the book.

    I supposed if you squinted just right, you might be able to squeeze a rape scene or or two out of Heinlein in some of his later novels even though there aren’t any. (Even Friday doesn’t have one though it has a distasteful bit of male on female torture.) Like Heinlein, Scalzi’s too middle of the road American to really go that way in my opinion.

  33. I definitely enjoy Scalzi’s books. They’re fast and fun adventure reads, and as Xtifr says, sometimes that’s exactly what I need. I don’t generally think that they hit award level — the number of books which do hit that is very small for me, anyway — but I thought Lock In was particularly well done (though its sequel Head On got way too far down in the competitive sport-professsional betting weeds for me, and was not nearly as good).

    I think I would get weary of only ever reading chewy SFF, good as such books can be. Mixing “fast and fun” with “slow and thinky” keeps my SFF reading interesting and helps prevent it becoming a chore.

  34. JJ notes I think I would get weary of only ever reading chewy SFF, good as such books can be. Mixing “fast and fun” with “slow and thinky” keeps my SFF reading interesting and helps prevent it becoming a chore.

    I do the same thing with the fast and fun novel oft times being something I’ve previously read such as Emma Bull’s Finder. Though there’s so much new fiction out there, that I’m increasingly sampling new works in that slot now.

  35. That scene in Collapsing Empire was very dubcony, and made me a little uncomfortable, but… well, humans don’t always act ethically at all times. That character in particular, not so much with the high standards of ethics. I’m pretty sure Scalzi knew exactly what he was doing.

    I thought TCE was a bit dull, but I enjoyed the sequel considerably more. Lock In is one of my favourites, not least because it’s the only book I’ve ever read that felt in the least bit accurate about disabled characters and disabled communities, but the story’s just plain fun, too, and the worldbuilding is good; Head On didn’t quite match it but the prequel novella Unlocked is very much worth a read (especially if you liked World War Z). Redshirts is a very good book. Old Man’s War the book is, y’know, fine, but Old Man’s War the series is clever, and interesting, and does something new with almost every book. It doesn’t settle for just producing more of the same, which he could’ve, if he’d wanted to. The very second he produces a qualifying work OMW is going on my Best Series nomination ballot.

    But yeah, mostly he writes stuff that’s fun rather than super serious. I’m not all that interested in super serious, most of the time. And fun doesn’t mean it hasn’t also got something to say.

  36. I’ve nothing actually against Scalzi – I just thought Collapsing Empire was, well, OK but nothing special. A matter of personal taste, really – whatever my particular “wow” buttons might be, this one didn’t hit them. Which doesn’t mean there’s anything actively wrong with it.

    (But it sure as heck isn’t erotica.)

  37. @Meredith: Yeah. I kind of think that Scalzi’s point is that none of the aristocrats in this universe are particularly nice people, even the ones that the readers might favor because they are opposing the obvious baddies (I haven’t read the 3rd book yet, because Hugo reading).

    I love the Lock In universe because of the way it deals with disabilities (and Head On introduced some aspects that Lock In hadn’t). I’m hoping for another book in that universe soon.

  38. Yes, I definitely like OMW-the-series better than OMW-the-book.

    As for TCE, I think my biggest complaint was that it was too much setup, and not enough story. Which is not entirely unreasonable for the first book of a planned series, but this seemed like a fairly extreme case. I found the second one a lot more entertaining, but the third hasn’t quite made it to the top of Mt. TBR yet.

    I did just finish Seanan McGuire’s latest InCryptid book, Imaginary Numbers. This is a series which started off pretty light-and-frothy, but has been getting more serious as it goes along, and the trend definitely continues with the latest. But it was enjoyable, and still light enough that I feel ready to tackle something more serious now.

    Next up: The City We Became.

  39. I originally found Scalzi through a link on Jim C Hines’s blog, and while I liked his blog postings and twitter feed, I didn’t actually read any of his books until Lock In, as I’m more a fantasy fan than a sci-fi fan, at least when it comes to books. Since then I’ve consumed quite a bit of his backlist; I enjoyed Agent to the Stars and The Android’s Dream, as well as Dispatcher. Old Man’s War… I quite liked the first book, but each subsequent book failed to entertain, and I stopped the series partway through Zoe’s Tale. I did try (and finish) The Collapsing Empire but didn’t bother picking up the next two, although my husband enjoyed the series. I still enjoy his blog, and will likely pick up any future book that is heavier on comedy or has more of a mystery bent, as with the Lock In novels.

  40. Brief medical update. The vancomycin being delivered via the PICC line has proved thus far ineffective at dealing with this particular staphylococcus infection so they added in an oral antibiotic, Rifampin, as well. It has, let’s just say, less than desirable side-effects, but if it works, that’s all that matters as right now the right leg from the knee down into the lower leg is three times the size it should be. And the less said about the skin color, the better.

    Between the staphylococcus infections and the surgeries, I’ll have spent almost one hundred and twenty days in-hospital since last March.

  41. @bookworm1398: what part of the ending of The Chrysalids disturbs you? Perhaps the bigots could be treated more gently? (I just reskimmed the last few pages, and the Zealander’s lines extending what Kantner set to music could be milder — but consider the provocation.)

    @Rob Thornton: As time passes, I have decided that John Scalzi is turning out the type of fiction that would appeal to old-time genre fans (much like the Puppies sans right-wing nuttiness). Also sans the sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and any number of other social defects common to old-time genre. (ISTM these are separate from RWNJ-ness of (e.g.) Pournelle, although they commonly appear together.) Maybe the hate is not for a Baen rival but for an old-style story that doesn’t otherwise accommodate them?

    @Cat Eldredge: +1 to the hope of de Bodard getting a contract. I don’t know that it’s likely — the Boston library seemed to think she drew so little that it didn’t buy a single hardcopy of the last of the Dominion of the Fallen trilogy — but we can hope.

    @JJ: you’re missing the point. If I had my 25-year-old body back, I’d have my 3-octave range back, my knees, hips, and all 3 joints in my left arm wouldn’t complain, I wouldn’t have the yips when I draw a bow, I might even have the quads to surf, my sense of taste would be up to my experience — there are huge numbers of things people could want to try first, but instead we get the male fantasy of women slavering after the male lead. I don’t care whether or not Scalzi thought it was titillating; to me it was actively deflating.

    I did think The Last Emperox wrapped up the story well — and even satisfyingly — without being unbelievably pat.

    @Cat Eldredge (re medical news): fingers etc. all crossed.

  42. Cora Buhlert says Sorry to hear this, Cat. I hope the next antibiotic works.

    I do hope so. Having it get into bone again is not a scenario worth contemplating as the last time was bad enough. This particular staphylococcus apparently is mostly antibiotic resistant which is why so far there’s been no improvement.

    As I write this note, my evening infusion of Vancomycin is ongoing. And I had my second dosage of Rifampin several hours ago. We should know within a week if this combo is working. If not, they’ll need something much stronger.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.