Pixel Scroll 7/7/19 Just A Small Town Scroll, Living In A Pixel World

(1) PENRIC RETURNS. Lois McMaster Bujold has finished another Penric and Desdemona novella – see “The Orphans of Raspay cover sneak peek” at Goodreads.

When the ship in which they are traveling is captured by Carpagamon island raiders, Temple sorcerer Penric and his resident demon Desdemona find their life complicated by two young orphans, Lencia and Seuka Corva, far from home and searching for their missing father. Pen and Des will need all their combined talents of mind and magic to unravel the mysteries of the sisters and escape from the pirate stronghold.

This novella follows about a year after the events of “The Prisoner of Limnos”.

E-publication before the end of the month, I’m pretty sure; this week or next, maybe. I still have some last polishing and fretting to do on the text file, and then there is the vexing question of a map.

(2) GAINING INSIGHT. Jonathan LaForce advises writers looking to base their stories on lived experience “How to Talk with Veterans” at Mad Genius Club.

Last month, we talked about telling the stories of combat veterans as they really happened. Without whitewashing or varnish. Without embellishment. Without lies.
In the third-to-last paragraph, I make mention of sitting down and talking with veterans. Over the last month I’ve been looking around and realizing nobody has ever explained how to talk with veterans, as a writer looking for technical (and personal) knowledge about the profession of arms. Today, we’re gonna start down that road.

(3) THE OLD EQUATIONS.

Sylvia Spruck Wrigley’s article “Throw Grandma Out the Airlock: Representation of Old Women in Science Fiction” appears in SFRA Review #217, published by the Science Fiction Research Association.

This project started because I was wrong. My initial premise was that speculative fiction relegated women “of a certain age” to very specific roles: the crone, the wise woman, the meddling mother, the friendly innkeep. This seemed such an obvious truth that it was barely even worth stating. We’ve seen these women all our lives, in fairy tales and epic fantasy, and of course in Terry Pratchett’s wonderful parodies of old women in all of their cliched roles.

However, when pressed, I discovered that there was one place where we do not see these women: in science fiction novels. Old women are a rarity in science fiction and when they do exist, they inhabit a very different space. We don’t have innkeeps, we have immortals. We don’t have crazy cat ladies, we have body snatchers. There’s a distinct lack of old ladies who love solving cozy mysteries, but we do have a greater than-normal number of politicians. 

(4) UNREAL ESTATE. What are “The Most Terrifying Buildings in Literature”? Riley Sager has a little list at Crimereads.

Building: The World’s Fair Hotel

Book: The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson

“I was born with the devil in me.” So said H.H. Holmes, one of America’s most notorious serial killers. Holmes began construction of his so-called hotel as Chicago was gearing up for the 1893 World’s Fair. Far from your normal bed and breakfast, the building included soundproofed rooms, maze-like hallways and, in the basement, a crematorium and acid vats. Although the number of people he killed there is unknown, it was more than enough to give the building a different name—“The Murder Castle.” 

(5) WRITERS AT SEA. FastCompany’s Apollo 11 commemoration series revisits “The celebrity cruise to celebrate the end of the Moon landings was a delightful train wreck” – “The voyage set sail powered by the hot air of macho writer Norman Mailer, and it was precisely the 1970s freak show you’d expect.”

…But perhaps the oddest Moon-related cultural experience was one that happened on the occasion of the launch of Apollo 17, in December 1972, the last Apollo mission to the Moon. It was a Caribbean cruise on Holland America’s ship, the S.S. Statendam, and anyone with the money for a ticket could mingle with NBC newsman Hugh Downs, science fiction legends Isaac Asimov and Ben Bova, novelist Katherine Anne Porter, and yes, Norman Mailer himself. This curious collection of luminaries also organized events and panels as part of the ship’s entertainment. The cruise lasted almost as long as the Apollo 17 mission itself: nine days, starting with a seaborne view of Apollo 17’s launch from seven miles off Cape Kennedy….

(6) DECALCOMANIA. The family that cosplays together….

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 7, 1907 Robert Heinlein. So what do you like by him? I’m very fond of The Moon is A Harsh Mistress. And I like Starship Troopers despite the baggage around it. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls is on my occasional re-read list as I find a fun read in a way that Friday isn’t. Time Enough for Love is, errr, self-indulgent in the extreme. Fun though. (Died 1988.)
  • Born July 7, 1919 Jon Pertwee. The Third Doctor and one that I’ll admit I like a lot. He returned to the role of the Doctor in The Five Doctors and the charity special Dimensions in Time for Children in Need. He also portrayed the Doctor in the stage play Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure.  After a four year run here, he was the lead on Worzel Gummidge where he was, errr, a scarecrow. And I must note that one of his fist roles was as The Judge in the film of Toad of Toad Hall by A. A. Milne. (Died 1996.)
  • Born July 7, 1931 David Eddings. Prolific and great, with his wife Leigh, they authored several best-selling epic fantasy novel series, including The Belgariad, The Malloreon and The Dreamers to name but three of their series. They’ve written but one non-sriracha novel, The Redemption of Althalus. (Died 2009.)
  • Born July 7, 1948 Kathy Reichs, 71. Author of the Temperance Brennan series which might be genre adjacent, she’s also the author of Virals, a YA series about a group of a young adults with minor super powers. 
  • Born July 7, 1959 Billy Campbell, 60. There are some films so good in my memory that even the Suck Fairy can’t spoil them and The Rocketeer in which he played stunt pilot Cliff Secord is one of them. BTW,  IDW did a hardcover edition called Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures and Amazon has it for a mere twenty-five bucks! 
  • Born July 7, 1968 Jeff VanderMeer, 51. Ok I’ll admit that I’m ambivalent about the Southern Reach Trilogy and am not sure if it’s brilliant or not. I will say the pirate anthology he and his wife Anne did, Fast Ships, Black Sails, is quite tasty reading. 
  • Born July 7, 1969 Cree Summer, 50. Voice performer in myriad series such as as Spider-Man: The New Animated SeriesJustice League UnlimitedStar Wars: The Clone Wars, and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. She’s playing a number of the cast in the current Young Justice series including Madame Xanadu and Aquagirl.
  • Born July 7, 1987 V. E. Schwab, 32. I’m very pleased with her A Darker Shade of Magic which explores magicians in a parallel universe London. It’s part of her Shades of Magic series. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Free Range is there when an important discovery is made about the dark side of the moon.

(9) FINDING RETRO NOMINEES. Ian Moore advises about “Finding the 1944 Retro Hugo finalists online” at Secret Panda. Lots of archival links.

Soon in Dublin the winners of this year’s Hugo Awards will be revealed, including the winners of the Retro Hugo Awards for science fiction published in 1943. This year unfortunately there is no voters packet for the Retro Hugos. However most of the publications in which the finalists appeared are available on the Internet Archive, where they can be read online or downloaded by Hugo Award voters. See below for links to where the various works can be found. Voting closes at midnight on 31July, so get reading.

(10) NOW IN BLACK AND WHITE. Missed out on this when it first came around in 2015 – a takeoff on “Batman v Superman” courtesy of a “Vulture Remix” of two 1940s serials.

These days, superhero movies are all about bombast — take, for example, the upcoming “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” But there was a simpler time, when superheroes looked terrible and were more charming than scary. We imagine what a Batman/Superman matchup would’ve looked like in the era of the first serial films about the characters from way back in the middle of the century.

(11) POWER OF THE PRESS. Another Superman stalwart is getting an update this month – the New York Times has the story: “Lois Lane Fights for Justice in a New Comic Series”. “Lois Lane stars in a new 12-issue series focusing on her career as a reporter.”

Revoked White House credentials, the mysterious death of a journalist and a conspiracy to profit from the separation of migrant families at the border. This looks like a job for … Lois Lane, the Daily Planet reporter.

The character, who, like Superman and Clark Kent, first appeared in 1939, is starring in a 12-issue comic book series that begins on Wednesday. The story, written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Mike Perkins, focuses on Lois Lane as she tries to find out more about the death of Mariska Voronova, a journalist who had been critical of the Kremlin.

(12) NOTES FROM SPIKECON. David Doering sent a couple of short news items from the NASFiC/Westercon:

Joy Day’s fabulous ASFA award, a vibrant spherical interpretation of a Black Hole, got lost enroute to Layton in the Black Hole of the USPS…

While I hoped for one or more of our locals who were nominated to win, but those that did were very worthy.

Sadly, not one winner was in attendance. We need to elevate the appreciation of art. Cover art and illustrations are often the cause of us picking up a book or magazine in the first place.

I still associate Lord of the Rings with the gum drop tree cover art from 1965…

Then, this morning, Dave was able to check another box on his fannish bucket list:

I earned the dubious honor tonight  of having our room party shutdown  for being too noisy. Who knew that LTUE  and World Fantasy crowd could be so boistrous? 

(13) ALSO SEEN AT SPIKECON. Tanglwyst de Holloway was encouraged by John Hertz to share this photo, as it was the first time John had seen it done:

(14) VASTER THAN EMPIRES. In the July 7 issue of the New York Times Book Review, author Charles Yu reviews Neil Stevenson’s new book:

His latest, “Fall; or, Dodge in Hell,” is another piece of evidence in the anti-Matrix case: a staggering feat of imagination, intelligence and stamina. For long stretches, at least. Between those long stretches, there are sections that, while never uninteresting, are somewhat less successful. To expect any different, especially in a work of this length, would be to hold it to an impossible standard. Somewhere in this 900-page book is a 600-page book. One that has the same story, but weighs less. Without those 300 pages, though, it wouldn’t be Neal Stephenson. It’s not possible to separate the essential from the decorative. Nor would we want that, even if it were. Not only do his fans not mind the extra — it’s what we came for.

Also, New York Times Book Review’s Tina Jordan conducts a brief interview with Neal Stephenson about Fall, which debuted at No. 14 on the paper’s New Fiction list.

“Unlike some of my hard science fiction books, such as ‘Seveneves’—where I sweated the details of orbits, rocket engines, etc.—‘Fall’ is meant to be read as more of a fable,” Stephenson explains. “I’m not making any pretense in the book that the neuroscience and computer science are plausible. My approach was to take a particular way of thinking around brains and the uploading of human consciousness into digital form, and just say, ‘Suppose this is all true; let’s run with it and see where it takes us on a pure storytelling level.’”

(15) BANK EARNS NEW INTEREST. A key player in many older SF novels, “Jodrell Bank gains Unesco World Heritage status”.

Jodrell Bank Observatory has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.

It has been at the forefront of astronomical research since its inception in 1945 and tracked US and Russian craft during the space race.

The site in Cheshire is part of the University of Manchester. It is dominated by the landmark Lovell Telescope.

It joins the ancient Iraqi city of Babylon and other locations that have been added to the prestigious list.

…Scientific research began at Jodrell Bank Observatory in 1945 when the physicist Sir Bernard Lovell came to the University of Manchester.

The site pioneered the then new science of radio astronomy, which used radio waves instead of visible light to understand the universe.

(16) BESIDE THE SEA. SYFY Wire tells how people looking for rarities found one: “Canadian gemstone miners discover prehistoric sea monster skeleton”.

Enchanted Designs Limited miners digging at Alberta’s Bearpaw Formation for rainbow-shaded ammolite gemstones, which are created by the fossilized shells of extinct marine mollusks called ammonites, discovered the nearly complete remains of the “T-rex of the Seas” in soft black-shale mudstone. The impressive specimen measured in at between 20 and 23 feet long.

(16) PITCH MEETINGS. Beware spoilers in ScreenRant’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home Pitch Meeting.”

Marvel Studios wrapped up Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Avengers: Endgame — except wait no, they squeezed another Spider-Man movie in there before closing the curtains. Spider-Man: Far From Home is Tom Holland’s second “solo” outing as Peter Parker, and the character is still heavily influenced by the recently departed Tony Stark AKA Iron Man. Far From Home raises a lot of questions. Like what exactly is Mysterio’s long-term plan? What’s going on with all the other living Avengers? How does Spider-Man get his Peter Tingle back? Why are the mid-credits and post-credits scenes the most memorable parts of this film? To answer all these questions and more, step inside the pitch meeting that led to Spider-Man: Far From Home! It’s super easy, barely an inconvenience!

 [Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Nicholas Whyte, Tanglwyst de Holloway, Alan Baumler, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Rob Thornton, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

86 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/7/19 Just A Small Town Scroll, Living In A Pixel World

  1. Hampus Eckerman of Glory Road that It is Heinlein on bad drugs with the meaningless banter from Number Of The Beast and a hefty bonus of sexism.

    More sexism than The Number Of The Beast? Is that possible? That’s the novel IIRC that starts with a male character starting down the dress of his dance partner to asses the size of her breasts. And has a scene in which another laments her lack of any meaningful breasts. (I read it once and listened to it once just to see if that helped. I didn’t.) it was written decades after Glory Road and suggests that if anything Heinlein was more sexist by that time.

  2. “Are you implying that Glory Road isn’t a parody?”

    If so, an incredibly boring one.

  3. There are two items numbered 16.

    Mike has some little pixels,
    He makes them into files,
    And when we come to read them,
    The comments scroll for miles.
    Oh, pixels pixels pixels….

  4. Heinlein is on my shelves in a place of honor after years of looking for HB copies.
    Is some of his stuff dated–after over 60 years for some of it, well yeah,
    Is it sexist–the novels he wrote for the ‘boy’s’ market would get flak but if he was writing YA today, he would have sussed out what sold and changed for the times. (Imagine “Between Planets” with a lead named Donna Harvey).

    “Glory Road” I recognized as a parody of hero fantasy/men’s magazine writing.

    His later novels are self-indulgent and IMHO had more to do with his wanting to tie up some ideas but that’s more the fault of his publisher/editor.
    I personally wish he’d done more short stories–“We Also Walk Dogs” is a favorite. “The Man Who Traveled in Elephants” is especially meaningful as I age.
    But for a lot of us, he takes us back to a simpler time in our lives, even as we know that whistling Venerians and Martian ‘dragons’ aren’t possible.

  5. @Cat Eldridge & Andrew,

    Thanks, I knew that Empress of Mars was in the Company setting back way back. At the time, I assumed everything Kage Baker published was in the Company setting (given its scope) until shown to be otherwise.

  6. Went to read the Mad Genius articles.
    Context: I am 69 years old and my college years were at the height of the VietNam war and protests for same. Many friends were drafted and served. Some never came back.
    Having said that, I still have friends who were in the military.
    In today’s, non-draft America, the percentage of people who serve is small. A case can be made that many people choose the military because it is a way out of a completely fcked up economy that hasn’t got better alternatives.

    I know this: It is possible to respect those who serve without glorifying ‘warriors’ as some morally superior group. I respect those who serve honorably, and believe that patriotism is a good an necessary thing.

    That said, the picture of those who do not serve in the military in the first article mentioned is flawed. Unlike the caricatures presented, it is possible to resist right wing tropes without being communists. (Oh by the way, pretty sure Cuba, China, and NORTH KOREA are the purest forms of that today, and yet our President has no problem cozying up to NK)

    I really shake my head at black and white thinking. The real world is grey.

  7. Heinlein’s short stories are fine, but have largely blurred together for me. I confess I find his novels run the gamut between unimpressive and execrable. I got through Stranger in a Strange Land and Number of the Beast, got far enough into Podkayne to give up utterly and decided that however groundbreaking they may have been at the time, that ground is now thoroughly broke and has been paved over by writers who could write female characters that don’t make my left eyelid twitch.

    I begrudge no one a nostalgia read, I’ve got plenty (and some I don’t dare revisit out of fear) but I did not personally enjoy my time with his books enough to want to seek out any others,

  8. Re Stephenson: There are many reasons why I enjoy books. Plot is one of them. But not the only one.

    TBS: I found Seveneves too slow as well. But thats two books Go; DODO was very fast, almost light reading, Fall falls between these extremes; apart from a slow (but somewhat necessary) part in the middle Id say about Cryptonomicom level.

  9. Have Space Suit – Will Travel was either my first or second Heinlein and has always been my favorite of his juveniles, and his juveniles – or at least the subset of them that I read when I was 8 – have usually been my favorites of his works. (I did not read Podkayne of Mars, Citizen of the Galaxy, or Time for the Stars then because they were not in the boxed sets I got for Isaac Newton’s birthday that year. I eventually read the latter two of those in my twenties and was somewhat underwhelmed.)

    Heinlein, to me, is much like my grandfather – he had some attitudes that I have severe problems with (a few of them overlapping, now that I think of it) but I still remember him fondly, and for both good and bad he played a part in making me who I am now.

  10. I read Heinlein all out of order – I’m pretty sure I read “Rocket Ship Galileo” first in elementary school, but then read Moon is a Harsh Mistress next (in junior high), and Stranger, Time Enough for Love, I Will Fear No Evil, Tunnel in the Sky and Past through Tomorrow in high school. I wasn’t able to find all of the juveniles until after I got out of college.

  11. Peer: DODO was very fast, almost light reading

    I’m crediting that to Nicole Galland’s influence, unless and until I hear otherwise. I suspect it was a case of “written by her based on notes by him, but put his name on the cover in big font so all his fans will buy it”. It was a decent-enough book despite some plot holes, but when I got to the end and realized that it is intended to be the start of one of those endless shared-universe series like The Mongoliad, I noped out of it.

  12. Bonnie McDaniel: Alastair Reynolds’ new novella “Permafrost” (at 173 pages, I suppose it’s just under Wrigley’s criteria) has an older woman protagonist: Valentina is 71. She’s also had a stroke and walks with a cane, so she’s definitely not immortal or magical. Unfortunately, I was pretty meh about the overall story.

    StephenfromOttawa: I read Reynolds’s “Permafrost” recently myself and thought it was very, very good. A sophisticated time travel story, brilliantly executed.

    I read this novella last night and thought it was excellent, with the exception that I just couldn’t buy the idea that their goal was going to save them — but I guess that truly desperate people will grasp at the slightest chance for hope, if it’s the only chance they’ve got.

    Of the five 2019 novellas I’ve read thus far, it’s the only one that I feel I can wholeheartedly recommend.

  13. My first Heinlein was Starman Jones, which Iliked all right, though even as a teen I found some of the anti-union – pardon, guild – rhetoric grating. I haven’t read all that much by him, because I always preferred Asimov and Heinlein was very hit and miss. My favourite is probably Citizen of the Galaxy.

  14. For folks looking for more books and stories with older characters, we started a booklist on Goodreads of speculative fiction with middle-aged and older female protagonists. It’s up to 135 books currently.

  15. I loved Heinlein’s stuff when I was very young, but as I got older it became harder and harder to like. I was just 13 at the time of the moon landing, and he went on tv and delivered a sort of Darwinian spiel about the human race expanding unstoppably through the galaxy. (As I recall — I never reviewed it and that was 50 years ago, so I may be misremembering.). This was a little hard to take even for 13 year old me. Then “I Will Fear No evil”. I read part of it in Galaxy. Baffling for a kid, as it was all dialogue, nothing happened. I read “Starship Troopers” and “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” many times, but as I got older and worked out my politics, Heinlein’s apparent militarism and libertarianism seemed more and more wrongheaded. The later novels seemed mannered and pointless and eventually I stopped reading the new books altogether.

  16. I’ve read all of Heinlein except Farnham’s Freehold (which I was warned against). In my very early teens, he was my absolute favorite, but even older-teen me was able to start seeing some of the flaws (which I won’t enumerate because they’ve been discussed to death). But I still have a lot of fondness for many of his juveniles (though I think Andre Norton’s are better, for the era), for a bunch of his shorts, like “If This Goes On…” and “All You Zombies”, and even for Stranger….

  17. RedWombat: One likes what one likes, for whatever reasons, and there’s no arguing with that. All the same, the three Heinlein titles that form your sample are not quite representative. Two are notoriously problem books, and Stranger is (to my mind) rather over-rated. The best of the “juveniles” (Citizen of the Galaxy, The Star Beast, Have Spacesuit–Will Travel) and the strongest of the classic novels (Double Star, The Door Into Summer, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress) are what maintained his reputation after the initial burst of magazine writing that made him a star in Astounding (“If This Goes On–,” Methuselah’s Children).

    But then, I literally grew up in SF on Heinlein, starting with Rocket Ship Galileo in 1955 (at age 10) and eventually catching up and following his career in real time. I have revisited significant chunks of his work over the years, first when writing a long essay on Time Enough for Love (at age 31), and again when various retropective or unearthed books or critical/biographical works came my way to review. There’s more to him than the opinions and tropes that we have come to feel uncomfortable around. But I can quite understand how readers decades younger than I am are going to come at him from a different angle.

  18. The character, who, like Superman and Clark Kent, first appeared in 1939

    1938.

    But Batman and Bruce Wayne, they first appeared in 1939…

  19. @Soon Lee & @Mike Glyer: Great Pixel Scroll title! 🙂

    @jayn: Hehehe, I love the “pixels pixels pixels” riff.

    @Andrew: That “Search History . . .” story is utterly charming and amusing! Thanks for linking to it.

    (1) PENRIC RETURNS. Yay!

  20. (7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS. Heinlein – oh, let’s see, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and Methuselah’s Children are a couple of old favorites of mine. Some of his short stories, ditto (many of the ones in the collection The Menace From Earth). Hmm, The Puppet Masters is another old favorite. BTW I’m not saying these have aged perfectly. 😉

    It’s been so long since I’ve read his so-called “juveniles” that I can’t honestly pick one as a favorite. I know I enjoyed several when I was a young’un, though.

    I liked other books of his, but those are ones I liked/loved enough to re-read multiple times and listen to in audiobook. Hmm, I wonder how well The Number of the Beast holds up; I suspect I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as I did originally.

    BTW @Cat Eldridge, Virals stars Temperance Brennan’s niece, so I guess that makes the whole “Bones” series SF?! 😉 Sure, why not!

  21. Harry Connolly’s A Key, An Egg, An Unfortunate Remark has as its protagonist a grandmotherly woman who went from lawyer to monster hunter. She’s brokered and enforces a truce between the Pacific Northwest’s secret supernatural population and the surrounding humanity. She’s great. The book is great. It’s up there with The Goblin Emperor for books to make you feel good about human potential, even with tragic screw-ups along the way.

    And of course there’s the title character of Mary Robinette Kowal’s “The Lady Astronaut of Mars”.

  22. Speaking of All You Zombies, I do like the Ethan Hawke movie Predestination

  23. I got into Heinlein as a teenager, after a diet of mostly Clarke and Asimov. I liked Heinlein’s breezy style much more, and I confess found a lot of it titillating. I really enjoyed Stranger In A Strange Land, Time Enough For Love, I Will Fear No Evil (I know, I know!), The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. I still enjoyed, but started to go off him, with Friday and Number Of The Beast. I don’t think I read any more after that.

    Funny to read the complaints about Stephenson’s infodumps, especially David Goldfarb contrasting his style with Palmer’s. Palmer’s method of introducing terms and expecting readers to wait until an explanation seeps in later is something I used to really enjoy in SF. These days I’m just too old and grumpy. A friend recommended Cryptonomicon and I gave up on it for exactly this reason.

    I’d say, though, that the Southern Reach trilogy is very much an exception here. I loved the air of mystery, especially once I understood that not everything would be explained.

  24. I suspect I might like The Number of the Beast more now, when I know one can talk back to bad books, than I did the first and only yet time I’ve read it in high school.

    (Still possible to enjoy, unlike everything they assigned in English class.)

  25. @JJ Re DODO: Possibly, but I struggled to finish the second Mongoliad and didn’t bother with the third. So: at least he picked a good writer. Although there are elements Id consider typical Stephenson, for example the characters and the „Here are very strict rules….and here is how they broke them“- approach, i like in his other books. Lets see what happens with this one.

    @Cliff: Yes, the Souther Reach Triologys point is, that you cant know everything 🙂

    Re Heinlein: I think I read most of his novels and he was favorite SF writer when I was in my teens and early twenties (my father preferred Asimov and Silverberg, the latter never clicked with me), but while the military angle always was a bit akward but OK, the sex things grew too weird (was it the last book where all characters from the last books had sex with each other including a grandfather with his granddaughter?)
    However, what he was very crafty at was tying sentences together in a way that didnt allow you to stop reading. Hey really knew how to write a pageturner!

  26. @Russell – I do seem to have a weird knack for finding the worst of any given author’s output. It’s happened before, though mostly with other genres. If anybody has a book that should absolutely not be picked up first, I can guarantee that’s the one I’ll grab.

  27. Stephenson is one I don’t expect everyone to like, but I enjoy what he does enough that I only want a little more editing on his works.

    If everyone wrote exactly the same sorts of things, the world would be a much blander, much more boring place. Even if I don’t like many of the things certain people write, I’m glad they’re writing that stuff for the people who want that sort of thing.

    If that makes sense. 🙂

  28. RedWombat: I don’t think you picked up the worst of Heinlein; too many people have praised the books you mention. Had you started with Number of the Beast or Farnham’s Freehold, even I, who have so far read pretty much no Heinlein (The Roads Must Roll is his, right? If so that’s it), would cringe.

    But I did something like that. I started reading Georgette Heyer for myself, found her genuinely funny and interesting, so bought one for my mom; My Lord John, her serious historical frequently cited as her most ponderous and least rewarding work…

  29. @ Lenora Rose
    I remain a Heyer fan, despite some snobbery, etc., but even I had a hard time getting through My Lord John, after a year’s worth of medieval literature in college, too. Which is your favorite? Mine, after a large number of years, remains A Civil Contract, when it’s not The Unknown Ajax.

  30. As noted, the Tonopah in 2021/Westercon 74 Victory Party got one “noise strike,” shortly after 11:30 PM, but inasmuch as we intended to close by Midnight anyway (we had to get some sleep!), that just meant we started the wind-down process a little sooner. We closed the door (taping the latch open so people could come and go) and started taking down signs, so that by Midnight, we were able to say, “Thank you all for coming, but it’s time to go.” I reckon many of them went down to “LobbyCon,” which the hotel liaisons were able to negotiate with the hotel as long as there was no alcohol involved. We found the staff at the Home2 Suites very easy to get along with.

    Dragon Dronet was one of the panelists on the Wednesday edition of Match Game SF, and was a good sport and great fun. I was delighted that we got such a large turnout for the night before the convention officially started. Also, we got compliments for how well the show ran, for which kudos to the SpikeCon tech team. By the time we got there (after having lost many hours due to the Adventure of the Broken Minivan) in the rented U-Haul in which we were carrying the stuff from my Astro that got to spend the weekend in Elko having its water pump changed, we were already running on fumes. Then we got to go on and have a Westercon party on Thursday, another show of Match Game SF on Friday, and a Victory Party on Saturday.

    We were very happy to turn over our leftover supplies to the pre-announcement party for Glasgow 2024 on Sunday, and get to bed early so we could be up for the fannish “Rockets & Rails” tour up to Promontory and the ATK rocket plant the next day.

  31. msb: I was out of town and off the internet for the last several days so sorry for the lack of answer…

    My favourite Heyers so far seem to be Frederica, The Talisman Ring, and Venetia, with a close second tier of the Grand Sophy (usual content warning for some anti-Semitism), Cotillion, and A Civil Contract. There are a lot I haven’t got to, though.

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