Pixel Scroll 7/22/18 Insert Self-Referential Pixel Scroll Title Here

(1) THE BARD OF MARS. Tickets are on sale for “MARTIANS – An Evening With Ray Bradbury”, to be staged at the Whitefire Theater in Sherman Oaks, CA beginning September 7.

Ray Bradbury speaks directly to the audience weaving Martians stories both humorous and harrowing, bringing his characters to life on stage right before your eyes. Characters like Bob and Carrie, a young couple struggling to turn the cold, dead Mars into an Earthly garden. Theres Beck and Craig, two soliders of fortune searching for the legendary Blue Bottle of Mars! Father Nivens religious faith traps a shapeshifting Martian in the form of Christ! Emil Barton is the alst man on Mars with only recordings of his younger self to keep him company, or drive him mad!

As Ray creates his stories we come to know the mind and heart of the great writer who believes that humanity can only survive by carrying our culture out into the Universe!

Most of the text is taken from Rays own words, from interviews and books hes written on the art of writing, as well as adaptations of his Martian stories The Strawberry Window, The Blue Bottle, The Messiah and Night Call, Collect.

Ray Bradbury is played by co-creater Charlie Mount who played him in a production of The October Country and produced Rays Irish play Falling Upward with Pat Harrington, Jr, both staged at Theatre West in association with Rays Pandemonium Theatre Company…

(2) STEAMPOSIUM UP IN SMOKE. There will be no Alaska Steamposium this year. Its chair, Tess, announced on Facebook what the future holds:

We attempted to adapt, to go with the flow, and pull off a hail Mary. And I think our track record of hail Marys is pretty good. (Anyone remember the year we had more vendors and staff than attendees?) But the honest truth is, we don’t want to half ass it. We like to whole ass all of our endeavors.

There were many reasons we chose this as the best path, and a good portion of that was how to keep our booth spaces and ticket prices affordable for everyone. If anyone has paid money, it is being refunded as I type.

We’re going to take a year and reorganize, and restructure, and in general change the way we do things. We completely understand if we loose some of you to anger and frustration. But we hope with all our hearts that you stick with us. We have even greater hope that some of you will join our Staff. We have far too few people to run an event of this size. Dedicated, (A small portion of the reason for our postponement for a year)

Many, many of you have concerns, comments, and suggestions moving forward. Please post them here. As with all difficult decisions, the responsibility stops with me. I wear the big bustle. My staff has worked hard, tirelessly, and even spent their own money in an attempt to make this year possible. If you need somewhere to place blame or vent anger, you direct to toward me, and me alone….

(3) NOVIK PRAISED. Constance Grady reviews the new book for Vox: “With Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik cements her status as one of the great YA fantasy authors”.

Spinning Silver is a spiritual successor to Novik’s 2015 novel Uprooted, for which she won the Nebula for best science fiction and fantasy novel. While the books don’t take place in the same universe, they’re both set in fantasy lands with Eastern European influences, and they both play with fairy-tale tropes without becoming literal retellings. (Novik got her start in fanfiction, which means she comes by her ability to deconstruct tropes honestly.)

The novels also both revolve around the same romance trope, in which a feisty young girl is kidnapped by an immensely powerful older man whom she must change for the better. The power dynamics here are questionable, to say the least, but the way Novik insists on her heroine’s agency makes the story palatable, and the conclusion is undeniably satisfying. What makes the trope more or less work in the end is that Novik’s girls are not just heroines. They are also monsters, even if they have their reasons for what they do.

(4) LOOKING THROUGH THE LENDING WINDOW. John Scalzi, a flagship author at Tor, weighs in on “That Tor Library eBook Lending Thing”.

  1. Tor says that it is noting a general impact on ebook sales because of library lending (its initial statement was more adamant about it, it appears, than some followups). I haven’t seen anyone’s sales numbers but mine, but I do know Tor’s data game is pretty strong — we use it to maximize my own sales and we’ve done a pretty good job there. Its data-mining history has some credibility for me.
  2. Tor has not been a troglodyte either in how it proceeds with ebook tech (remember that it was one of the first major publishers to offer ebooks DRM-free) or in sales/marketing. It’s taken risks and done things other publishers didn’t/wouldn’t do, sometimes just to see what would happen. I have my own example of this: Tor’s ebook-first serialization publication of The Human Division and The End of All Things helped provide Tor with much of the data it used to build its successful Tor.com novella line.

So with all that noted, let’s go back to my first blush statement. I don’t think having day-and-date ebook library lending has had a detrimental effect on my own sales situation. I’m also aware I’m not in the same situation as most authors with regard to sales and attention. Tor has a financial and fiduciary duty to sell books, for itself and for its authors. If Tor wants to try a pilot program to window ebook library lending to find out what impact it has on its sales in general, as much as I don’t think it makes sense for me or my books, I also recognize I don’t see all the data Tor sees across its entire line. I’m also willing to believe, based on previous experience, that Tor is neither stupid, excessively greedy, nor unwilling to make changes if the data tells it something different than what it expects.

(5) ALDRIN FAMILY VALUES. Buzz Aldrin told Florida Today (“Buzz Aldrin explains why he was a no-show at Apollo gala”) why he stayed away from a gala at Kennedy Space Center “kicking off a yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, even though the event is an important fundraiser for his foundation and he typically is the star attraction.” It was due to a legal fight within his family and disagreements over the direction of Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation. His son, Dr. Andrew Aldrin, serves as the President of the Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation.

“I will not be attending the Gala tonight. While initially looking forward to it, due to the present course of events related to my space initiative, also current legal matters linked to the ShareSpace Foundation, I have decided not to attend at this time…

…the Foundation is, in my view, now being used to promote quite different objectives. I was recently advised by way of a letter from an attorney for my son, Andrew Aldrin, that I was not to hold myself as being part of the Foundation.”

The Orlando Sentinel reported on the suit when it was filed in June: “Buzz Aldrin sues 2 of his children, claiming slander over dementia”.

Aldrin’s lawsuit filed earlier this month in a Florida state court came a week after his children, Andrew and Janice, filed a petition claiming their father was suffering from memory loss, delusions, paranoia and confusion. They asked for the court to name them his legal guardians

KVEO’s article “Gala opens countdown to 50th anniversary of 1st moon landing” adds:

Andrew and Jan Aldrin, as well as business manager Christina Korp, are on the foundation’s board and attended the gala. Aldrin’s oldest son, James, isn’t involved in the legal fight.

Andrew Aldrin acknowledged his father’s absence during the gala.

“We’re sorry dad can’t be here, I know some of you are disappointed,” Aldrin said. “Ultimately, what we’re about is creating the first generation of Martians.”

(6) STARTING YOUNG. Kayla Randall has a profile in the Washington City Paper of Rebecca F. Kuang, whose first novel, The Poppy War, is out from Harper Voyager.  Kuang just graduated from Georgetown University this year. “How a Georgetown Student Published Her Epic Fantasy Debut—Before She Turned 22”

Kuang began writing the book when she was 19 and managed to start, finish, and publish the book all before turning 22. She graduated from Georgetown this spring and will enter Cambridge’s modern Chinese studies program in the fall.

“I never really thought about age being a barrier,” she says. She had read Eragon by Christopher Paolini, who started writing that book at the age of 15 and published it when he was 19. “It always seemed possible that you could write fantasy and get published at a ridiculously young age,” Kuang says.

A gap year between her sophomore and junior years allowed her to finish the book. She lived in Beijing and taught debate to high school students. Before she moved to China, she’d had very little contact with her grandparents but when she returned, she had long conversations with them and learned her family’s history in China. “I was steeped in that family legacy and decided I wanted to do something with it,” she says. The “something” evolved into the plot of The Poppy War, with some supplemental fantasy elements.

(7) FORTNITE ADDICTS. In the Washington Post, Sam Fortier says that many professional coaches are worried that athletes are spending so much time playing Fortnite that they’re not getting enough sleep and are doing a poor job at game time — “Are pro athletes playing too much Fortnite? Some teams are worried.”

The fear of the Capitals is that games such as Fortnite could erode a foundational practice of their developmental system: eight to 10 hours of sleep per night. Before last season, the Capitals instructed Olie Kolzig, the former Capitals goalie who is now a coach with their minor league affiliate in Hershey, Pa., to monitor players’ cellphone usage. The organization knew some junior-hockey players had “a problem” because looking at screens less than an hour before bed affected their sleep. This coming season, management trusts Kolzig’s players will know the same concern applies to Fortnite.

Yet Kolzig finds himself in the same predicament any parent faces because video games are integral to his players’ culture. So he will ask they discipline themselves to about an hour a day and not to play before bed.

“It’s a big issue, and it could affect performance,” Kolzig said. “But they’re grown men. .?.?. You can’t hold their hand and force-feed them [advice]….”

(8) BRAND MALFUNCTION. Inverse says “Stan Lee Did a Legitimate Cameo in a DC Movie”.

…Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance in pretty much every single Marvel movie, and for good reason, since the co-creator of Spider-Man, the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and more is in many ways Marvel’s public face. He never did any work for rival DC Comics, though, which explains why Lee has never made a cameo in a DC movie… until now.

Lee makes his DC debut in Teen Titans Go! to the Movies, which opens on July 27. The long-running Cartoon Network series’ first big-screen adventure is chock-full of meta-humor that puts Deadpool to shame, as it’s all about making a blockbuster superhero movie and skewering the entire industry/genre in the process….

(9) WENDEL OBIT. 3rd Rock from the Sun actress Elmarie Wendel has died. Syfy Wire posted a career retrospective.

Her other genre roles included: Fallout 4 (Video Game, 2015), The Lorax (2012), Rumpelstiltskin (1995), Weird Science (1994, 1 episode), Knight Rider (1982, 1 episode).


  • Non Sequitur shows that, like Westworld, nothing can go wrong during a chat with Alexa….

(11) SIDESHOW. Gizmodo’s io9 takes you to the winner of the Franchise Wars at SDCC (“Taco Bell’s Demolition Man Restaurant Gave Us Nacho Fries, Happy Feelings, and Seashell Butts”). The pop-up “Taco Bell 2032” was something between a restaurant and an art installation set up near Comic-Con, though non-attendees were welcomed too. (One has a hard time imagining why any non attendee would have wanted to wait in the hours-long line.) The io9 writer was impressed with the effort put into the look and feel of the place, much evoking the Taco Bell featured in Demolition Man (Sylvester Stallone, Sandra Bullock, Wesley Snipe). The food? Well, it certainly looks fancy and was said to taste pretty good, but it is a Taco Bell.

So, were the three seashells in the restroom? Yeah, looks like they were… but carefully sealed in a clear box with a scrolling electronic sign that seemed to read “out of order.” What people would have done with them had they been accessible does not bear close thought.

(12) DRAX DEFENDS JAMES GUNN. One of his actors spoke out in his defense: “Dave Bautista, Others Defend James Gunn: ‘I Am NOT OK With What’s Happening’” at Yahoo! Entertainment.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” actor Dave Bautista came out strongly in defense of James Gunn Friday after Disney fired him from his role as director of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.”

“I will have more to say but for right now I will say this,” Bautista, who plays Drax in both “Guardians” movies and in “Avengers: Infinity War,” wrote on Twitter. “James Gunn is one of the most loving, caring, good natured people I have ever met. He’s gentle and kind and cares deeply for people and animals. He’s made mistakes. We all have. I’m NOT ok with what’s happening to him.”

(13) PETITION TO BRING BACK GUNN. A Change.org petition calling for Marvel to Re-Hire James Gunn already has over 106,000 signatures. The petition’s author says —

I’m smart enough to know this most likely won’t change anything but hopefully, this could get Disney to realize the mistake they made and not do it again in the future.

I agree on the point that if people say a bunch of stupid shit while working for a studio, the studio has full right to fire him over the possible controversy. This situation is very different though as he made these jokes years before he was working for Disney and also the fact that they were jokes. I agree with most, including Gunn himself that the jokes were shitty and un-funny but they were still jokes, it wasn’t an opinion or a statement, it was just a bad attempt at being funny.

(14) WHAT WAS SO BAD? Not everyone has read examples of Gunn’s tasteless jokes? Bill linked to numerous samples in this comment – and be warned, a lot of it is quite foul.

(15) NO COMING BACK. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna analyzes why “For James Gunn, there’s no return to being a major mainstream filmmaker”.

On Thursday, Gunn apologized in a series of tweets to his nearly half-million Twitter followers, trying to explain that he attempted such social-media “jokes” back when he viewed himself as “a provocateur” whose humor and horror movies alike were “outrageous and taboo.”

Joking in a taboo manner about such subjects as rape and pedophilia didn’t hurt Gunn’s filmmaking career back when he was a lesser-known indie director releasing such low-budget, industry-admired movies as “Slither.” But now that he is mainstream, there is, of course, no way a major studio creating all-ages entertainment can keep even a beloved franchise director in a leadership role.

Walt Disney chairman Alan Horn said Friday in a statement: “The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him.”

The irony here, of course, is that Disney simply had to know about Gunn’s history of offensive online remarks when they hired him for 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” – the first film in a franchise powered largely by Gunn’s bent sense of humor and love of classic rock songs.

(16) CERNOVICH. SFGate invites readers to “Meet Mike Cernovich, the Right-Wing Provocateur Who Got James Gunn Fired”.

Right-wing provocateur Mike Cernovich claimed another scalp online Friday when Disney fired James Gunn from its “Guardians of the Galaxy” series because of old tweets that Cernovich helped publicize.

(17) SKRUTSKIE NOVEL REVIEWED. NPR’s Caitlyn Paxson sees “Muscle And Bone Meet Machinery In ‘Hullmetal Girls'”:

Hullmetal Girls embraces teen angst in the form of bionic mech suits and the girls who meld with them to save humanity.

Aisha Un-Haad has been working hard as a janitor to take care of her two younger siblings, but when one of them falls ill with a deadly fever that’s sweeping through all the ships that make up the Fleet, she makes the decision to become Scela, a bionic super-soldier created to protect and serve the Fleet’s rulers. There’s no going back once her body is sliced and diced to make room for the mechanical parts that make up her new artificially intelligent “exo,” and her mind is welded permanently to its will and those of the other Scela in her squad. But it will all be worth it if she can advance far enough in the ranks to earn a salary that will keep her siblings safe….

(18) ONE WORD. NPR’s Korva Kolman looks at “Beowulf In The Suburbs? ‘The Mere Wife’ Is An Epic Retelling”:

There’s a vitally important word in the epic tale of Beowulf and, according to Maria Dahvana Headley, it’s been translated incorrectly for a very long time. The word is aglæca/æglæca — no one’s entirely sure how to pronounce it – and, as Headley explains, that same word is used to describe Beowulf and his three antagonists: Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon.

“In the early English translations it was translated for Beowulf as ‘hero’ and for Grendel as ‘monster,’ and for Grendel’s mother as ‘wretch of a woman’ or ‘hag,’ ” Headley says. “But it’s the same word.”

(19) ROBO FETCH. They’re going from viral video to market: “Boston Dynamics Is Gearing Up to Produce Thousands of Robot Dogs”.

Boston Dynamics, maker of uncannily agile robots, is poised to bring its first commercial product to market — a small, dog-like robot called the SpotMini.

The launch was announced in May, and founder Marc Raibert recently said that by July of next year, Boston Dynamics will be producing the SpotMini at the rate of around 1,000 units per year.

The broader goal, as reported by Inverse, is to create a flexible platform for a variety of applications. According to Raibert, SpotMini is currently being tested for use in construction, delivery, security, and home assistance applications.

The SpotMini moves with the same weirdly smooth confidence as previous experimental Boston Dynamics robots with names like Cheetah, BigDog, and Spot.

(20) BIG CONSTRUCTION. BBC covers “The mega-machines helping China link the world”. Includes an ordinary diagram, and animations of two extraordinary track layers.

China is creating a network of ambitious land- and sea-based transport links to connect its booming economy with those of Europe and Africa. And it’s wasting no time – designing incredible bespoke construction machines to get the job done fast.

President Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013, aims to connect two-thirds of the world’s population across 70 countries through a network of land links (the “belt”) and sea routes (the “road”).

Officials talk about lifetime investments worth trillions of dollars, sourced from banks, participating countries and the Chinese government.

The scheme is not without controversy. Critics point out that it burdens poor countries with billions of dollars of Chinese debt, and dismiss it as a projection of Chinese foreign policy…

(21) THE ORVILLE AT COMIC-CON. The Season 2 Trailer for The Orville debuted at Comic-Con.

The Orville: Follows the crew of the not-so-functional exploratory ship in the Earth’s interstellar fleet, 400 years in the future.


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

118 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/22/18 Insert Self-Referential Pixel Scroll Title Here

  1. 4) I’m with Scalzi. Tor isn’t being unreasonable here. A four month window (even if it sticks which is may not) is not the end of the world.

  2. rochrist; I’m with Scalzi. Tor isn’t being unreasonable here. A four month window (even if it sticks which is may not) is not the end of the world.

    Yes, it’s disappointing, but since I’m always on the Wait List for several dozen books (ebook and paper) at my library, I’m sure I’ll find something else to read. I’ve been putting myself on the wait list for both media if my library shows that they are ordered and then releasing the one which doesn’t arrive first, so I’ll get fairly quick access to the paper books, anyway.

    I am sorry on behalf of people who use their library but can only do e-book for whatever reason. I hope that they are able to find other worthy things to read in that format while they wait. It may be that Tor will discover very little change in their sales patterns and thus rescind the policy in a year.

  3. @4: I wonder whether this is a Tor decision at all, or a decision of their owner.

    @5: “We’re sorry dad can’t be here…”, Aldrin said. This must be some new use of the word “sorry” that I haven’t previously been acquainted with.

    @6: So is The Poppy War another Eragon, or is it readable? (No, I haven’t read Paolini; the reviews by people who did suggested there were many better life choices.)

    @15: I am unimpressed by Cavna’s minimally-supported assertion that Disney had to know what went on several years before Gunn was hired for the first GotG movie; I don’t think they scrutinize people the way appeals-court judges are scrutinized by the opposition.

    @21: remarkable railbuilding tech isn’t new — I’ve seen a clip of a machine moving railroad tracks sideways so the digging equipment that rolled on the tracks could take another slice off the bank of what would be the Panama Canal — but these seem impressively fast.

    edit: Fifth!

  4. @Chip: Haven’t read Eragon, but The Poppy War is fantastic. It is incredibly brutal though (the setting is in large part a fantasy version of the Sino-Japanese wars, complete with all the atrocities those entail – such as the Rape of Nanking) so if reading about those things is a deal breaker for you, then it may not be for you. If they’re not, it is well worth your time.

  5. Reset the sign!
    It’s been ZERO days since Worldcon’s ConCom messed up:
    Hugo nominee Bogi Takács tweeted

    I would very much appreciate a public apology from @worldcon2018 for rewriting my bio to change my name and my gender.

    Further detail, including a screencap of the bio, at the link.

  6. Lis Riba on July 22, 2018 at 8:03 pm said:
    Reset the sign!
    It’s been ZERO days since Worldcon’s ConCom messed up:
    Hugo nominee Bogi Takács tweeted

    The ConCom needs to fix this ASAP and apologise

  7. Re: title–As soon as I saw that I figured it’d grace the next Scroll.

    James Gunn: It seems to me that ANY up-and-coming director, actor, et cetera, should have the sense to go through their social media feeds and delete all those so-called “jokes” (or lock the feeds down). They should know that now in the age of #MeToo that shit isn’t going to pass muster.

    Having said that, this was a right-wing hit job by Mike Cernovich, whose tweets are just as offensive, if not more so, than Gunn’s.

  8. Worldcon’s response: “We didn’t write the bio.” Nothing said about fixing it.

  9. (1) He looks like Ray, but does he sound like him? Ray had a mesmerizing voice.

    (2) Wait, someone who’s honest, refunds the money, takes responsibility, and doesn’t throw the con in a condemned department store? I can’t handle the decency.

    (3) I was hoping this one wouldn’t have creepy gender dynamics. Sigh. It goes farther down Mt. TBR, then.

    (4) It’s not like they’re gonna forbid ebooks, nor that there isn’t more to read than anyone possibly could. Wait lists at libraries have always existed.

    But — it is a tough thing for those who are on limited income, chronically ill, or old enough that ebooks are a necessity because of arthritis and vision problems. Who are the folks getting screwed even more than usual nowadays. And 4 months is pretty long, why not one or two?

    I don’t think it’s really going to help their sales. People who are dependent on libraries and signing up to be on wait lists aren’t liable to buy the book even if they have to wait. And with all the thousands of books published, four months is a long time to forget about a book entirely, so won’t bother to read/buy the ebook at any time.

    (5) I saw Buzz speak about a year and a half ago, and while I was thrilled, it was obvious that his mind isn’t what it used to be. I’ve seen it happen in a lot of older people, and it just looked sadly, scarily familiar. Now, his kids still may be incredible assholes, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong about the dementia. (IANAdoctor)

  10. Lee: Worldcon’s response: “We didn’t write the bio.” Nothing said about fixing it.

    Well, someone changed it, because Bogi certainly didn’t write it that way. Maybe it came from someone who suggested em as a panelist.

    That still doesn’t explain why the bio wasn’t included for review in Worldcon 76’s e-mail to Bogi confirming that e would be on programming.

  11. (4) My sense of it is that most of people reading the library ebook weren’t planning on buying the book anyway, but there might be some people who will make an exception if they can’t get the book by a favorite author for at least 6 months or more. I have a TBR pile that will probably outlast me, so I don’t care. If anyone at Tor is paying attention, I’d just like to point out that if you delay the library ebook by 4 months, and put the ebook on sale for $2.99 or less for a day or more during that period, I’d probably consider buying it. Full price at $12+, meh.

  12. Worldcon 76 on Facebook:

    From the Chair: We are are profoundly sorry for the misgendered biography for Bogi Takács that was released in today’s early program information.

    It was an dreadful mistake and I apologize on behalf of all my staff.

    I am trying to find out exactly where our proofreading process failed, to ensure it does not happen again

  13. I left a comment on Scalzi’s site, but one suggestion I have for Tor:
    Open up a Free Library like Baen’s. Data compiled by Eric Flint showed that sales went up for their backlist, especially for their b-list authors. While they’re doing that, make their backlist available to Public Libraries at a nominal fee of $1 per book, maybe with no limit on check outs.
    Let’s face it, they aren’t getting many sales for those books and authors anyway. Why not make them available? Then offer discounts on more recent books.
    So while people are waiting out the embargo period, they might be motivated to give a try to an author they wouldn’t otherwise have tried out.

  14. Re: Worldcon bios, I may be able to help triangulate on the failure mode based on my own experience.

    1. The bio they have for me is clearly taken directly from the programming questionnaire field asking “tell us about yourself and your programming interests.” I filled in that field in the first person, including an informal and candid discussion of what topics I was and was not interested in participating in. (I have sent in a request that the substitute a more professional-sounding bio which I have provided to them.)
    2. I received no correspondence about programming between filling in the interests questionnaire and today receiving my programming assignments.
    3. I was never asked to provide a bio for the website or program book. As noted above, they took one of the questionnaire fields, changed the first person pronouns to third person, and that’s it. (The bio also has wonky line breaks, presumably also from being taken from the questionnaire as a source.) In my case, they correctly guessed that I use female pronouns (although one of them is typoed “he” among the “she”s).

    Based on this, I would guess (and this is purely a guess) that Bogi’s incorrect bio was based on one originally written in the first person that had been converted to third person using an erroneous assumption of gender/pronouns. This does not make the outcome any more acceptable, but it may provide context for how it happened.

    The deeper failure mode appears to have been failure to request participant-provided bios at all, resulting in an awkward scramble to put something together without direct input from the program participants. (Note to future programming staff: it’s easy to ask people to provide a bio when you ask them to fill out the programming interests questionnaire. And then you’ll have it ready without needing another round of correspondence.)

  15. If Christine Doyle is accurate about the cause of the error, Worldcon should be identifying the source of the bio for Bogi Takács so it can be corrected there, too.

  16. He never did any work for rival DC Comics, though

    Not true.

    Stuff Stan wrote for DC:

    “The Sleeping Giant” in 9-11 – The World’s Finest Comic Book Writers & Artists Tell Stories to Remember.

    “The Phantom Quarterback” in DC Comics Presents: Superman #1, part of the tribute series to Julie Schwartz.

    The 12-issue “Just Imagine Stan Lee Creating the DC Universe” series.

    Plus a few text pieces here and there.

  17. (4) Scalzi exudes reasonableness, as always, but I still don’t think Tor’s position is reasonable. When ebooks started to become popular, publishers did not make them available to libraries, or only after a long delay. Even now, libraries have to pay super high prices for ebooks, and use cumbersome DRM systems that make borrowing ebooks more difficult than buying them. The marketing whizzes at Tor should be thinking about how to increase their sales to libraries, instead of the opposite.

    The whole thing is driven by wishful thinking that if you have more control over a market you can make more money in it. It seems logical, but like many control-freak ideas, it doesn’t work. Therefore, I’d like to make a modest proposal that publishers divide the market into 100 billion Electronic Reading Regions (or ERR for short). Enough to assign a unique ERR to each individual person and even to specific reading devices. This way the publishers can create innovative marketing programs to maximize their revenue by achieving the ultimate precision in not selling books to customers.

  18. Heather Rose Jones on July 22, 2018 at 10:33 pm said:
    Re: Worldcon bios, I may be able to help triangulate on the failure mode based on my own experience

    I got that questionnaire but didn’t fill it in because I can’t attend – it didn’t have a “Sorry, I’m not coming” option.

  19. Reading Takács biography, I know that I might have been one of the persons erranously changing eir gender, if I hadn’t heard of em before (I still have no idea if I’m using the pronouns correctly, they are kind of confusing). I’ve never heard of anyone before Takács using those pronouns and they were totally unknown before em.

    If I had read a biography saying “E is a writer”,I might have assumed it to be a spelling error” and changed it to “he”. I guess that is what happened.

  20. Glad Bogi’s bio has been corrected. The easiest way to avoid errors like this is to ask people to generate their own bio or check one you have drafted with them.

    (3) Nice review of Novik but it has a few problems.
    (a) the title is too long: “With Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik cements her status as a great author” is sufficient.
    (b) the power dynamics between the female protagonists and the male an/protagonists are part of the point, not a problem.
    (c) I don’t find the changes of POV at all confusing; maybe this reviewer should read more SFF?

  21. @Bruce A:

    If Christine Doyle is accurate about the cause of the error

    I know Chris. Being inaccurate is a skill she hasn’t yet mastered. ;->

    (On the upthread matter, I assume innocent error committed by well-intentioned and hard-working convention staff.)

  22. Rick Moen on July 23, 2018 at 12:56 am said:
    @Bruce A:

    If Christine Doyle is accurate about the cause of the error

    I know Chris. Being inaccurate is a skill she hasn’t yet mastered. ;->

    (On the upthread matter, I assume innocent error committed by well-intentioned and hard-working convention staff.)

    I assume it was unintentional but it was still very rude


    I don’t know of a single library that borrows ebooks directly from any publishing house. The ones I’m familiar with use the various services provided by for profit corporations like 3M which owns Cloud Library, or Rakuten OverDrive which does the OverDrive service. Some libraries uses multiple services, some just one. And the cost to the library varies from service to service with some quite costly, and from the type of library as well.

    If Baen provides an ebook service to libraries, I’ve never encountered it. Has anybody actually used a library that does?

  24. @Cat Eldridge–No, Baen doesn’t provide its own ebook lending service directly to libraries.

    The Baen Free Library is a thing they offer on their own system, where selected Baen titles are available as free downloads. These are mostly older, first in series titles. If you get hooked, you can then buy later titles, again directly from them if you choose. They’ve been doing this since the late 1990s, though the details have evolved over time, and it demonstrably boosts the paid sales of their backlist titles. It’s the only thing Baen does that’s just dramatically better than what any other publishers are doing in ebook sales.

    They don’t offer this to libraries. Of course they don’t.

    Libraries pay for every copy of every book, and they generally pay more, not less, than individuals for each copy. There are also additional restrictions on library lending of ebooks that don’t apply to print books, restrictions imposed by the publishers, no matter which ebook lending system(s) your library subscribes to. Generally, that will be one system, unless you are fortunate to live in an area with an exceptionally well-funded library system.

    Other publishers, including Tor, could make their own versions of the Baen Free Library, to boost sales of their own backlist titles. That is what I understood Tom Becker to be suggesting.

  25. Liz Carey says Other publishers, including Tor, could make their own versions of the Baen Free Library, to boost sales of their own backlist titles. That is what I understood Tom Becker to be suggesting.

    Not likely as Baen is a company unto itself whereas Tor, like all major suffer publishers, is embedded within much larger companies that for the most part set the polices that divisions like Tor must adhere to.

    I’m curious as to how Baen handles royalty payments to authors for these transactions. If their library is widely used (and none of us know if it is), then it could be a source of revenue for say the estate of Poul Anderson.

  26. @Cat Eldridge–Yes, Tor’s parent company would have to at least not object, and that’s unlikely to happen. But that just goes to my larger hobbyhorse, about how publishers in general have zero understanding of how to get value from their digital rights, and how being absorbed into the entertainment industry, the industry that tried to block sales of blank video tapes and ban any form of time shifting in how we view their offerings, has not been good for publishing.

  27. Liz Carey says to me that Yes, Tor’s parent company would have to at least not object, and that’s unlikely to happen. But that just goes to my larger hobbyhorse, about how publishers in general have zero understanding of how to get value from their digital rights, and how being absorbed into the entertainment industry, the industry that tried to block sales of blank video tapes and ban any form of time shifting in how we view their offerings, has not been good for publishing.

    I think it’s less about being absorbed into the entertainment business and more to do with being traditional publishing houses. The Marvel Unlimited streaming service comes from a company owner by Disney, and the forthcoming DCU service comes from Warmer, both major entertainment companies.

    The publishing Great Houses tend not to be very innovative in how they think of delivering their product, and that’s why they rarely think of what’s New that might be a better way to deliver content.

    Baen’s a bit player who has a small and fanatically loyal consumer bases that’s frankly a rounding error compared to the profits of any of the major FSF publishers. They can invest in such a service without the complexities that arise when say at or does it, ie does Apple demand a lower price given potential lost sales, or does Amazon ask a favor of rheir own? How does a contract with Scalzi figure into this service? Are the books DRM free, or are they protected from being copied?

  28. @chip hitchock: Disney had to have known about Gunn’s comments because they made headlines in 2012, not long after Gunn was hired for the first GotG film, when The Mary Sue ran across them, and he made a very public apology then, with the support of GLAAD. I understand the impulse not to delete things; I have (clearly) not always been on my best behaviour in public in the past, but I never go back and delete anything: I did what I did, and said what I said, and deleting those things feels more like hiding evidence rather than owning behaviour. That Cernovitch is the one who led the charge on this, a man who has been arrested for rape (2003) and for a while made a career writing pro-sexual assault articles (including one in which he essentially admitted to assault, although that has since been taken down) makes this situation much worse than it needs to be (his Wikipedia page has more info than the article posted above, if you would like to know more). To quote my friend Will: “not trying to let Gunn off the hook – it’s gross and awful – just saying that when the messenger is basically a Nazi, it’s okay to shoot the messenger too.”

  29. I’m not sure whether this happened before or after the public facebook or twitter apologies, but Bogi Takács’ partner Rose Lemberg tweeted last night that someone from the convention had e-mailed them asking for them to pass along an apology to Takács (?!), but also chiding em for speaking about the matter publicly.

    Lemberg says that they are withdrawing from worldcon programming. I’ve also seen tweets expressing this intention from Sarah Gailey, Alexandra Rowland, JY Yang, and Mary Robinette Kowal.

    Grace P. Fong reports that her bio was also copied from a public website and edited, including the addition without permission of a photo from her personal facebook.

  30. And worldcon stepped in it again by emailing Bogi’s spouse to ask them to apologise to Bogi, and tell them that e shouldn’t have gone public with this.


    Misogyny on top of misgendering. It reads to me very much like: “Oh the person we thought was male is upset? Let’s email eir spouse, who we will assume to be eir wife and get the “wife” to do the emotional labour to calm em down”

  31. Worldcon continued fail:

    Yo, @worldcon2018 copied my public bio from my website and CHANGED IT, and then TOOK A PHOTO FROM MY *PERSONAL* FACEBOOK.WITHOUT MY PERMISSION.NOT. COOL. https://t.co/Cf7tG0mxt2— Fictograph | grace p fong @ Worldcon (@fictograph) July 23, 2018



    Worldcon just emailed me asking to apologize to @bogiperson and expressing a wish that e would not have gone public.I have withdrawn from Worldcon programming. I can't in good conscience participate when the con treated so many marginalized finalists with such lack of courtesy.— R. Lemberg, immigrant (@RoseLemberg) July 23, 2018

    .. and following thread.

    What a flustercluck.

  32. re: Worldcon

    I am sadly less unhappy that work did not allow me to go to Worldcon this year. What a clusterflock.

  33. Surely the way to do this is to email everyone who’s on programming to say what and when, ask them to confirm, and ask for a bio etc, and then go live? I mean, scouring the internet for bios that you might get wrong seems like extra work that is easily avoided.

  34. I keep seeing the Baen Free Library referred to as a “service,” with various people asking questions about it which parallel questions one might ask to understand Overdrive or another borrowing service.

    That is incorrect.

    The BFL is a download-to-own collection, targeted at end users. It’s called a “library” because it’s a collection and the books are free to the user, not because it’s a borrowing model. Those who hatched the plan pitched it to the company with the notion that offering free first (and sometimes second) books in a series is a good way to hook new readers, and this has proven to be accurate. Last I heard, participation in the BFL is entirely up to the author and can be granted or revoked at any time.

    As for libraries having access – well, it’s a public website. If the library has internet access, it’s available to them… or, more accurately, to their patrons. What I believe is not permitted is for libraries to download books from the BFL and add them to the libraries’ own collections, but I may be wrong about that. That’s not a subject I’ve ever discussed with them, so I’m deducing based on intent and mission statement.

    Finally, some – maybe all – of the BFL books are also available through usual channels at a standard cost, in “Second Editions” which have an afterword or something tacked on. My understanding is that this was done as part of the negotiations to open up the company’s distribution to Amazon, which understandably neither wanted to carry permafree books nor to be placed in the position of charging money for the same content that was available elsewhere at no charge. Thus, Baen tacks on a little extra something, makes that version nonfree, keeps the old version free, and everyone’s happy.

    tl;dr – It’s not a service. It’s just an assortment of free books. If you want one, go to the public website and download it. It’s yours to keep. No strings.

  35. Mark: I mean, scouring the internet for bios that you might get wrong seems like extra work that is easily avoided.

    I saw somebody on Twitter or Facebook say that the photo posted for Sheila Williams was of someone else with the same name. 🙄

    Why in the world weren’t they asking the panelists for bios and photos? Surely it would have been less effort and time-consuming to c&p those, rather than have to Google for them and re-write them.

  36. P.S.: Somehow, I managed to spend several paragraphs talking about the Baen Free Library without actually linking to it. I would recommend not only reading the “more about” section description, but also the Prime Palaver volume which discusses the establishment of the BFL and early reactions to it.

  37. I do not know about the sales of Baen compared to Tor – but Baen has a couple of authors who sell a ton of books (Ringo, Weber, Correia). In terms of SFF niche, Baen is a pretty big player. In terms of overall publishing, SFF is not very big.

    Rev Bob – Baen’s free library is also linked on amazon for free kindle downloads. The free book is the free book on Amazon as it is on the baen website. For an example see:

    Rev Bob – what you might be thinking of is the release of a hardback copy of a book previously only released in paperback if the series takes off (Freehold) – or in a special leather binding (Monster Hunter International). Baen does not limit things in their free library to Amazon or other distributors. All of the distributers carry the Free Library book for a $0 download price.

    Another thing that Baen does that other SFF publishers do not do is provide copious amounts of free books to the US Military – especially overseas. If you talk with vets who read SFF over the last decade you would find that they built quite a loyal following from vets who first read a Baen author for free during downtime on a deployment.

    Baen also routinely gives away free copies of books at Cons to people who are currently active duty military or police. I don’t see other publishers doing this.

    Two other things Baen does that other publishers do not is:
    1] Sell monthly bundles of ebooks which includes a new book just being released by a major author.
    2] Sell advance copies of ebooks as submitted by the author prior to editing. (eARCs).

    I’ve bought a ton of books through the monthly ebook bundle.
    I’ve never bought an eARC – but I’m willing to bet this post will be following up by lots of snarking about Baen’s editing.

  38. I’m on a concom for a mid-sized regional convention. As a matter of policy, when the guests are chosen and confirmed, our Guest Liaison asks for bios and photos from all the GoHs and all the Usual Suspects (recurring guests). It boggles my mind that Worldcon doesn’t have a Guest Liaison, or someone in a similar position, to make sure those requests go out and the data gets back to the webmaster, the social media person, the person in charge of the program book…

    From those conrunners I’ve spoken to, this seems to be the rule, not the exception, for SF conventions.

    There are a lot of moving parts here, but SF conventions have been doing this sort of thing for decades. (Well, ok, not the social media part, but still….) It’s a known issue with proven solutions. I know Worldcon is a one-off convention with all the coordination problems that implies… but everyone on the concom should be an experienced conrunner. Worldcons are run by SMOFs, not newbies.

    I’m frankly boggled that this should have happened… and that, having happened, the damage control was so badly flubbed.

  39. Why in the world weren’t they asking the panelists for bios and photos? Surely it would have been less effort and time-consuming to c&p those, rather than have to Google for them and re-write them.

    A good program database has clearly labeled form fields for “bio for publication” and “link to photo for publication” that are there from the beginning. It could also have a field for preferred pronoun, which would have helped in this case.

    But if you didn’t ask early, and have to do it as a last-minute special request, it is non-trivial to do a mailing and then it takes a long time for the program participants to respond. If you put some staff on editing information you already have in the database they can get it done faster. But then it is inevitable that mistakes will be made. It would have been better if they’d just skipped it. It’s nice if a Worldcon program has bios and photos, but it’s not essential.

  40. I’ve been invited to be a guest at a few of my nearby regional conventions. Without exception, they ask me for a brief bio and photo — and if I slip on getting those to them, they nudge me about it! I realize that things don’t necessarily scale up from a regional con to something the size of a Worldcon, but I’m with Cassy; this is the sort of thing that should have been in the knowledge files.

  41. It boggles my mind that Worldcon doesn’t have a Guest Liaison

    They do have guest liaisons — they are listed on the committee page. But a Worldcon program typically has over 600 program participants. The guest liaisons are for the guests of honor and special guests only.

  42. To start. Twitter thread combining several things mentioned in this and earlier scrolls.


    Second. An open letter to Worldcon’s concom.

    Hi, It’s me Iphinome. *waves* I am fine. How are you? Not so good you say? Just imagine how other people feel? Doing that? Good. Listen, while I have your attention maybe you’d like to take a minute to double check what you’re doing for accessibility. Have enough wheelchair ramps? Have a plan to deploy them? While you were messing up programming did you double check and makes notes in advance in case any participants need ramps? Good good. Check again just to be sure so you don’t eff up yet again.



  43. @Andy H.

    but also chiding em for speaking about the matter publicly.

    Bogi should have given WorldCon a chance to fix their mistake before going public with a complaint. Cons, like any fan operation, are run by volunteers who are going to make mistakes. When that happens, the rest of us should try to help them–not hold them up to public ridicule. Otherwise, no one will want to volunteer, and we won’t have Cons anymore. Bogi didn’t even give them a chance.

    These huge storms of outrage over honest (or ignorant) mistakes that could have been fixed quietly with a private message really need to stop.

    @Hampus Bogi is okay with “they” as a pronoun, according to their Twitter profile.

  44. @Mark

    Surely the way to do this is to email everyone who’s on programming to say what and when, ask them to confirm, and ask for a bio etc, and then go live? I mean, scouring the internet for bios that you might get wrong seems like extra work that is easily avoided.

    That is what they do. I got a request like that from them months ago and sent them the same phot and bio I sent to the Helsinki folks last year. When people don’t respond, I suspect volunteers look them up online, and that’s where mistakes get made.

    I’m sure @Heather Rose Jones is right that the root cause of the problem with Bogi’s bio was that people often fill out the bio form in first person, creating work for a volunteer to convert it to third person and opening the possibility of making a mistake.

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