Pixel Scroll 7/11/16 The Coal Equations

(1) OH, PUH-LEEZE. Hoping to prove his superiority to his critics, Simon Pegg resorts to the Quantum Defense as he justifies a gay Sulu, in “A Word About Canon”

The main thrust for those who aren’t keen on our LGBT Sulu, seems to come down to two things. Firstly, why Sulu? It’s a good point, I mean it could have been anybody: Kirk is a pansexual fun seeker; who knows why Bones got divorced? Nobody said Spock and Uhura were exclusive; Chekov is just permanently horny and let’s face it, there’s more to Scotty and Keenser than meets the eye. The fact is, we chose Sulu because of George, there was something sweet and poetic about it. Introducing a new gay character had its own set of problems, as I mentioned before, the sexuality of that character would have to be addressed immediately and pointedly and the new characters in Star Trek Beyond have enough on their plate, without stopping to give us the intimate details of their personal lives. We were concerned it might seem clumsy, tokenistic or worse, too little too late, raising and exasperated, “finally!” from those who’ve been waiting for representation for the last 50 years.

So why persist when George Takei wasn’t keen? The thinking behind embracing an existing character was that it felt as though it retroactively put right something that had long been wrong. By the time, we mentioned it to GT, the idea had taken shape, it felt good, interesting and worthy of thought and conversation. We were disappointed that George didn’t see it that way but, truth be told, Sulu Prime seemed to be missing a very important point. With galaxies of respect to the great man, this is not his Sulu. John Cho does not play a young George Takei, nor does he play the same character George Takei played in the original series. He is a different Sulu. This brings me to the second point of contention, Canon.

With the Kelvin timeline, we are not entirely beholden to existing canon, this is an alternate reality and, as such is full of new and alternate possibilities. “BUT WAIT!” I hear you brilliant and beautiful super Trekkies cry, “Canon tells us, Hikaru Sulu was born before the Kelvin incident, so how could his fundamental humanity be altered? Well, the explanation comes down to something very Star Treky; theoretical, quantum physics and the less than simple fact that time is not linear…..

Wouldn’t he have done better to skip that part and go right to his closing argument?

…I know in my heart, that Gene Roddenberry would be proud of us for keeping his ideals alive. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations, this was his dream, that is our dream, it should be everybody’s.Ultimately, if we love Star Trek, we are all on the same page, we all want Gene’s idea of a tolerant inclusive, diplomatic and loving Universe to become a reality.

(2) BIG BOOK LANDS TOMORROW. Jeff and Ann VanderMeer’s Big Book of Science Fiction will be released July 12, 750,000 words and 1,216 pages.

(3) THE PACE OF FEAR. At the Horror Writers Association blog, Mac Childs begins his series “And the Clock Strikes Midnight: Time and Timing in Terror, Part I” with this advice —

Whether it’s the beeping of an alarm clock marking a night over too soon, a school buzzer announcing the start of a test period, or the chime of a grandfather clock in an old house declaring the start of the witching hour, there are lots of ways that time can provoke dread. So, when writers look no further than flashbacks and verb tenses, they miss out on timely tension opportunities.

With a little attention towards the timing of the horrors in your story—pacing as well as narratively—you can save yourself time in revisions, time better spent dreaming up new nightmares to implant in the fertile minds of your young readers.

First, you’ve got to figure out the best times for your horrors to strike. For this, you need to keep two axes (plural of axis, not axe) in mind: the external, physical timeline of pages experienced by the reader between scares, and the in-story time passage experienced by the characters. While it’s great when these two lines meet and overlap (e.g. during a tense scene when the protagonist experiences time in slow motion, with a reader savoring the moment), too much intersection becomes narratively unsustainable easily, or for some audiences unfeasible, because of the need to maintain the suspension of disbelief.

(4) IT COULD BE VERSE. Bertie MacAvoy discusses ”Poetry and Song”.

I don’t think that, prior to the wide use of the printing press, there was any distinction between poetry and song. It was only when a person could buy an edition of someone’s poems, and read them – not knowing at all how the writer had meant them to sound aloud – that a branch of poetry that consisted of interesting mind pictures could exist.

And that explains my preference over the poetry of Yeats to that of Eliot….

(5) ERRATA. Lee Gold sent me a link to Jack Bennett’s poem “Ben Ali the Egyptian” which appeared in 1893 in St. Nicholas Magazine, having just learned the authorship was misattributed to Randall Garrett in the collection Takeoff Too, which was assembled when his medical condition did not allow him to be consulted. I see the Internet Science Fiction Database already captured that information. Though as long as I had the link I took a look at the poem and now I understand its fannish appeal.

(6) DEFINING ACTIVISM. John Scalzi answers another writer’s question in “Activism, and Whether I Do It”.

My answer to her was no, I don’t really consider myself an activist. The reason I gave her was pretty straightforward: I’m too lazy. Which is to say that while I have my beliefs and principles and largely follow them (sometimes imperfectly), and will happily tell others what those beliefs and principles are, the sort of committed action that to me defines activism — and the continued proselytization for a belief that activism often requires, including the desire to inspire others to take moral action — is not something I usually undertake.

There are other reasons for this besides laziness, including work and the desire to have other interests in my life, but laziness really is a large part of it. Activism is work. I’m glad other people do it, and admire their effort. But it’s not something I put much effort in.

But you write here all the time on political and social topics! Yes I do. But this is not a blog for activism, it’s a blog for whatever I feel like writing — or, when I’m writing a book as I am now, what I have time for writing. The blog is like me; all over the place and a bit pixelated….

Good Lord, it’s contagious!

(7) GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA PEOPLES. National Geographic reports on the unique discovery of a Philistine cemetery at the site of ancient Ashkelon in Israel.

An unrivaled discovery on the southern coast of Israel may enable archaeologists to finally unravel the origins of one of the most notorious and enigmatic peoples of the Hebrew Bible: the Philistines.

The discovery of a large cemetery outside the walls of ancient Ashkelon, a major city of the Philistines between the 12th and 7th centuries B.C., is the first of its kind in the history of archaeological investigation in the region. (Read more about ancient Ashkelon.)

While more than a century of scholarship has identified the five major cities of the Philistines and artifacts distinctive to their culture, only a handful of burials have been tentatively identified.

Simply put, archaeologists have found plenty of pots, but very few people.

(8) LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR POLISH WRITER. Piotrek celebrates “Andrzej Sapkowski with World Fantasy Award” at Re-enchantment of the World.

Andrzej Sapkowski is a big guy in Polish fantasy. The big one. Was big long before The Witcher games. Well, some young people might disagree. There are some more popular authors now. But he is… GRRM of our fantasy? Terrible movie/tv series adaptation of Witcher being as good Game of Thrones as our tv is capable of delivering … At a first glance a bit of Tolkien in him as well, adapting folklore for his stories. But if you read it – definitely a post-tolkienite.


  • July 11, 1913 – Cordwainer Smith

(10) OH YES JOHN RINGO. Ringo told his Facebook followers —

It got announced at closing ceremonies that I’m to be the LibertyCon guest of Honor for LibertyCon 30. (I was in a meeting at the time so couldn’t make it to closing) They are calling it XXX. I hope there is no connection implied.

Here is the link to LibertyCon.

(11) 2016 LIBERTYCON REPORT. Jeb Kinnison has a gallery of photos to go with his account of attending his first LibertyCon.

…One obvious difference at LibertyCon — it’s a Red Tribe con, meaning most attendees are in the liberty-loving, military-respecting, rural-BBQ-and gun-loving population typical of the US away from the coastal urban enclaves. Since I grew up with those people and understand them well, I’m not frightened by guns, blades, military uniforms, seared meat, or the occasional less-than-sensitive remark….

(12) EATING THE FANTASTIC, DONUT EDITION. Scott Edelman found it was easy to get more than a dozen authors at Readercon to participate in his podcast, with an assist from Dunkin’ Donuts.

I planted myself in the lobby (as captured in the photo below by Ellen Kushner), where I offered free donuts to the first 12 random passersby willing to give brief interviews about their favorite Readercon memories.

I had no idea who might wander over, but knew that something entertaining would surely come out of this sugary experiment. And it did! I ended up with 15 guests digging into those 12 donuts—the differential being because there were three who eschewed—in a “lightning round” 13th episode I’ve decided to call the Readercon Donut Spectacular. Surprise visitors included Greer Gilman, Maria Dahvana Headley, Rajan Khanna, plus a dozen more.

Guests—some of whom had attended nearly every Readercon, and some for whom this was their first—shared their peak Readercon moments, many of which revolved around Samuel R. Delany.


(13) BUSIEK PRAISED. At Black Gate, Nick Ozment pays tribute to Kurt Busiek’s Astro City. Also Joyce, Hemingway, Faulkner, and a tangent on Modernism”.

Kurt Busiek’s Astro City is one of my favorite superhero comics. It consistently delivers brilliant, funny, poignant, human stories in a colorful, wonderfully idiosyncratic comic-book world. It is Busiek’s magnum opus — like Bendis’s Powers, it towers above his other work for the big publishers using their branded characters. He brings the sensibilities he honed in the groundbreaking Marvel miniseries Marvels to his own universe and, beneath all the ZAP! BANG! POW!, weaves tales you will never forget.

What Marvels did that was so fresh in 1994 is it “lowered the camera” from the god-like supers knocking each other through buildings and focused in on the ordinary humans down here at street level, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, watching it happen. What impact did the existence of such powers have on their day-to-day lives?

(14) TOIL, TEARS, AND SWEAT NOT ON OFFER. “Finally, you can buy Richard Garriott’s blood” reports Ars Technica.

Richard Garriott selling vials of his blood for thousands of dollars is one of those stunts.

Yes, Lord British himself, the 55-year-old creator of the Ultima series and noted space tourist, is auctioning off samples of his actual blood to raise money for his new fantasy RPG, Shroud of the Avatar. The six reliquaries—which we’ll note again are full of Richard Garriott’s actual blood—are being marketed as limited-run art pieces, “made of bakelite, copper, nails, glass, and mirrored glass that can be hung on your wall.”

…Bidding for the vials starts at $5,000.

The items originally were offered on eBay, then were removed, speculates Ars Technica “ quite possibly because it’s a violation of eBay’s policy against selling human remains and body parts.”

The listings have been moved to Shroud of the Avatar‘s own Make a Difference store, where two reliquaries have already sold for $6,000 and $8,000 each, and another is still available for $11,000.

(15) ACCEPTING FOR. While researching the Geffen Award, I came across these humorous tweets from a 2015 accepter –

(16) MAGIC MAKEOVER. The Sun interviewed a family that’s redone its dining room Harry Potter-style. (I was charmed all to heck by the replica of Dobby, looking like a mummy that’s seen better days…)

Charlotte, 31, her husband Andrew, 39, and kids Eleni, three, Max, four and Kiri, six, are all massive fans of the magical movies.

After visiting Warner Bros. Studios: The Making of Harry Potter, the family decided to splash out on some renovations to their home.

It wasn’t a quick turnaround though – the family spent 18 months perfecting the room, which now boasts a sorting hat, props from the films, wooden panelling and a large table…..

“We have a lot of replica props and two original props from the films.

“We have one of the letters thrown through the fire place which we bought from a dealer, which cost us about £200.

“We also have a witch in a jar which was from Professor Lupin’s office in the third film. That cost £350.”

One of the most exciting items are the ‘moving pictures’ – which show the kids riding broomsticks and were cunningly created using an iPad.

In all, the Harry Potter dining room has cost the family a whopping £13,004.72.

(17) TOY DEPARTMENT. On sale soon, Game of Thrones stuffed direwolves:

With this year’s Comic-Con right around the corner, details are spilling out as to what goodies you’ll find down in San Diego this year. Factory Entertainment has just revealed some of their OMG products for this year’s line-up, and our favorite product is by far the collection of direvolves. ALL SIX OF THEM! FOR ALL SIX STARK CHILDREN!

The Stark direwolves come in three sets, priced depending on how many direwolves you’re getting for your dollar. The first set is $30, and includes Shaggydog, Summer, and Lady. Set two is $40 and now includes GHOST! The last set, and the best set, has all six dogs for a steal at $55. You’ll get Rickon’s Shaggydog, Bran’s Summer, Sansa’s Lady, and now also Arya’s Nymeria, Robb’s Grey Wind, and of course, Jon’s Ghost.


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Scott Edelman, Cat Eldridge, and DMS for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.] 

125 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/11/16 The Coal Equations

  1. Chris S: What’s so great about drying meat out so much you have to slather it in some noxious vinegar based affront to gastronomy so you can eat it?

    I’ve met all kinds of people here — you’re the first anti-BBQ evangelist, though.

  2. Dawn Incognito said:

    Pegg: “We’re making Sulu gay as a tribute to George Takei.”
    Takei: “I disagreed with the decision for these reasons.”

    I thought I was past caring what goes on with the rebooted timeline, but yeah, that.

  3. rob_matic said:

    LibertyCon is the home of the people who started a boycott of Tor Books due to an employee’s Facebook comment, right?

    It depends what “people” you mean. Peter Grant, who originally called for the boycott IIRC, does live in Tennessee. If you mean the Puppies collectively, two of the three SP leaders live in Utah. There’s a community of Baen fans, that overlaps somewhat with Puppy supporters, of whom some like to go to Libertycon, but there’s a much bigger gathering of the same community at Dragon*Con.

  4. (11)

    Whereas in the blue tribe, we respect those in uniform so much we don’t want them to die for a lie, or the dreams of glory of some suit who’s never heard a shot fired and anger. And we hate liberty so much we don’t insist that everyone straitjacket themselves into a set of gender roles based on biology that dates from the time of leaches and bleeding.

    Also, isn’t LibertyCon basically the Young Earth Creationist sci-fi con? Or am I confusing it with DeepSouthCon?

    (7) That’s quite fascinating – the 12th Century B.C.E. collapse and all things related to it are always interesting, and our sources are limited. The great thing of the last few decades of archeology is the tendency to dig deeper into the archeological, literary, and other sources that we have for stuff that may have been missed.

  5. (7) (and @TYP in particular)
    Do people know the BBC Radio 4 Series ‘In Our Time’? Melvyn Bragg talks to three academics about a subject for the best part of an hour, on arts, history, science, literature, religion, anything that takes his fancy.
    There was one a few weeks ago on the Bronze Age Collapse in the Eastern Med circa 1200BCE

    It’s queued on my iPod, so not yet listened to it, but they’re ususally reliably excellent.

  6. NickPheas:

    “you have an error in the URL linked by your posts – it’s missing an i.”

    Thanks, I’d not noticed that. Should be fixed now for future posts.

  7. A note from Dave Langford prompted me to run a search for the “Anne Leckie” spelling error. I found it in four posts, now fixed. Two were news stories about British awards from 2014 — usually I just cut and paste the text from a source, but obviously I didn’t recognize there was a mistake at the time.

    Being the amazing copyeditor that I am, I also verified this morning that I have never misspelled her name “Amme Leckie”.

  8. Liking today’s scroll title, but it occurs that The Scroll Equations would have worked too.

  9. Just wanted to wave hello to the community. A change of jobs and the UK deciding to shoot itself in a hurty place and incidentally disenfranchising me meant that I drifted away, and the new job is much busier than the old one so I won’t be around much… but I miss you all!

    Also and randomly, in ObSFR, today as I was splashing through the puddles while the glorious British Summer was pissing down on me and I was mulling on the front page of the Sun, I wondered why I moved the this country in the first place.

    Ah yes, the science fiction.

    No, wait a minute Anna: you mean the famously dystopian and depressing British brand of SF? and now you’re all surprised you end up living in a Ballard novel?

    OK OK, not so fast with the generalisations – after all British SF also has Iain Banks (who’s dead) and Pratchett… and…

    Shakes fists at sky.

  10. Chris S: What’s so great about drying meat out so much you have to slather it in some noxious vinegar based affront to gastronomy so you can eat it?

    OGH: I’ve met all kinds of people here — you’re the first anti-BBQ evangelist, though.

    Downright anti-American. I’d block his ass, if it weren’t undoubtedly skinny.

    And remember–just because you can spell USA without BBQ doesn’t mean you should!

  11. The New York Daily News is reporting that Pokémon Go players are annoying the caretakers in the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.

    I’m at work, and I can’t link directly to the article…

  12. Oh, anybody multilingual has a whole BUNCH of these. (And for Russian-speakers, most of ’em are dirty, too!)

    Canada gets a lot of those on the English-French boundary, which can be amusing given how much of the ‘higher’ English vocabulary was originally French to start with.

    Some of them are actually official names, like the chain sporting goods store around here called Si Vous Play.

    Though I always liked the story about the old Frenchman in Vietnam (previously known as French Indo-China) looking at the badly-done buzz cut of the newly arrived U.S. Marine and complaining about the ‘tête offensive’. (I think I first heard that one from Mitch Marmel, actually.)

  13. Chris S: What’s so great about drying meat out so much you have to slather it in some noxious vinegar based affront to gastronomy so you can eat it?

    OGH: I’ve met all kinds of people here — you’re the first anti-BBQ evangelist, though.

    John A: Downright anti-American. I’d block his ass, if it weren’t undoubtedly skinny.

    John A: And remember–just because you can spell USA without BBQ doesn’t mean you should!

    I was trying to start a holy war between the sweet and vinegar based BBQ people 😉

    I wouldn’t go as far as evangelist, I’m more deeply disappointed – may be due to the first night after I moved to America, I went to Kansas City BBQ in San Diego (sadly, subsequently rebuilt after it burnt down) (yes, the one in Top Gun) and it has the distinction of being the worst meal I’ve ever had in the US. In my defense, this was pre-yelp.

    Sadly, my skinny ass days are far far behind me.

  14. Robert Whitaker Sirignano on July 12, 2016 at 9:28 am said:

    Here’s one version for you:

    I understand they’re using a database from ‘Ingress’ which included recognizable locations like churches (and which hasn’t been updated in the last couple of years). Which is why there’s a Pokemon gym at Westboro Baptist. I’ve heard that there’s an informal agreement among players to leave that gym in place.

  15. 7) It will be interesting to see if we can gather any evidence for the long-held suspicion that the Philistines had Mycenaean Greek connections.

  16. I understand they’re using a database from ‘Ingress’ which included recognizable locations like churches (and which hasn’t been updated in the last couple of years).

    All in all, I think the game has “recipe for disaster” written all over it.

  17. “There’s a maniac over there, and he hates these Pokemons!“

    Should I be happy or sad that it took me only around 5 seconds to get the reference?

  18. The only thing worse than a bad scroll with a pixel, is a good scroll with a pixel!

  19. @NickPheas

    Thank you for that; there was much downloading.

    @Jon Edelstein

    The general level of interconnectedness in the Eastern Mediterranean at the time doesn’t get it’s due. There’s been the tendency to turn the Greeks into a group of pristine and uninfluenced supermen; they invent all good thing by their lonesomes, they turn the Romans civilized, and we’d all be on our way to Alpha Centauri and parts beyond if events hadn’t gotten in their way.

    But in reality, the greeks themselves thought that they had masonry from the Egyptians; the classical city state’s hoplite fought for their city state using gear that were, to a significant extent, Assyrian and Phoenician knock-offs, and not only might the Mycenaeans have been the Philistines, but the Mycenaeans themselves were buying up Egyptian luxury goods by the ton. It was an interconnected world, and no-one stayed in their lanes.

  20. @JJ.

    The point I was making is that they have a limit, period.

    If you believe you are growing, or even just believe you are capable of growing, qualifications usually accompany mentions of the size limitations, along with promotional type statements designed to encourage that growth.

    This leaves us with two and really only two possibilities: the con limits attendance because their program/facilities have hard and fast limits, OR, they have tried to grow, haven’t, and have decided to put the spin on things to elide those facts.

    if they were committed to growth, we’d see discussions of things likethepresent facilities becoming unmanageable. plans to change, etc.

    My conclusion is, therefore, that they have developed their market almost to the saturation point with growth rates slower than even traditional fan conventions, and, given the general attitude, are unlikely to experience any significant change in numbers or influence for the foreseeable future, which is a positive imo.

  21. Still thinking about (1), and I have a larger problem with Pegg’s defense.

    Spock’s incursion from the Prime Universe created a multidimensional reality shift. The rift in space/time created an entirely new reality in all directions, top to bottom, from the Big Bang to the end of everything. As such this reality was, is and always will be subtly different from the Prime Universe.

    So even though is an entirely new reality in all directions, all of the Enterprise crew were not only born, and named the same, but all followed the same career paths in order to end up Captain and crew of the same ship at the same time as in the TOS universe? With mostly the same traits, except that Sulu is now gay? (No longer heterosexual, but still a swashbuckler.) I find that…highly unlikely, to say the least.

    Though at least this explains how Khan Noonien Singh is white.

  22. Dawn Incognito on July 12, 2016 at 11:13 am said

    In short, he’s admitting it’s an alternate universe that *just* *happens* to have people with the same names and positions as in the original.
    I wish he could come up with either better explanations or new characters.

  23. Even in red states, the cities are generally very blue. It’s one of the reasons why secession isn’t really possible.

  24. In short, he’s admitting it’s an alternate universe that *just* *happens* to have people with the same names and positions as in the original.
    I wish he could come up with either better explanations or new characters.

    My take on the whole “new universe” thing was that they wanted the commercial value of the original characters without the messy necessity of actually having some imagined limits on storylines (whatever that would have been. I just recall seeing some rationale that this ‘opened up’ possiblities.)

  25. Coast or non-coast, dividing up the nation into “the liberty-loving, military-respecting, rural-BBQ-and gun-loving population typical of the US” and “enclaves” who are posited to oppose all of the above is rhetorically totally skeezy.
    The commonly found BBQ-, liberty-, military-, and gun- loving propensities of people not identifying as “Red” is, of course, one giant oversight, as other people have mentioned.
    But there is also the problem of characterizing the majority of the population – look at vote totals, not the gerrymandered monster that is Congress – as only contained in “coastal urban enclaves” where they presumably practice questionable rituals of inclusion, weird food habits, and civil speech, while more “typical Americans” roam free in all of the rest of the land.
    Basically delusional.

    It’s the Hugo vote phenomenon again.
    When the majority actually turns up, it doesn’t look like what this guy thinks it should.
    The right wants so desperately to be a Silent Majority when it is actually only a very vocal minority.
    And the constant drumming on the notion of TWO sides, and theirs is bigger, gets really old.
    There are dozens of “sides:” BBQ-ing lesbians, tofu-eating vets, vegan nazis… whatever [small w].
    So far as I can tell, the main purpose of continually framing the discussion as if there were, indeed, only two non-overlapping opposing sides is to so polarize the situation that it becomes the case.

    So, some people have come up with A Convention of Their Own, done their own way, for them that wants it.
    Let a thousand flowers bloom – or is it a thousand points of light? – and all that.
    We can agree that tastes differ.
    (A good thing too, or I’d never get into hear the panels I want.)
    But don’t go claiming that your one special flower represents the typical American just doesn’t cut it.
    There’s no such person.
    You got a niche, I got a niche, all god’s children…

  26. Here’s an interesting opinion piece on the Sulu argument:

    Suffice to say, including a gay character in your story for whom gayness is nothing more than a boring and rarely mentioned biographical detail might not be the greatest of achievements. In fact, it might suggest that you’re not really superinterested in including queerness in your story-world after all but, rather, are looking to check a (now relatively safe) box on the good progressive representation worksheet. In fact, it might suggest that you are enacting the very “tokenism” you say you want to avoid.

    And later:

    Elsewhere in his response to Takei, Pegg spoke of the “magic ingredient [that] determines our sexuality” varying between timelines for Sulu, adding, “I like this idea because it suggests that in a hypothetical multiverse, across an infinite matrix of alternate realities, we are all LGBT somewhere.” There are many ways one could describe this statement, but I will settle on misguided. LGBT-ness is not some kind of transdimensional force that graces certain lucky individuals at random points within the multiverse. It’s a peculiar and incredibly specific construct that seems more or less useful for finding community and advancing activism in a moment when “rights” may only be afforded to well-defined groups. But it’s also often dangerous for those forced to adopt it in the pursuit of social legibility, it’s hardly descriptive of the range of sexual and gender diversity human beings are capable of, and it’s certainly not where I think we want to end up on the quest for freedom of human expression.

  27. Did Kinnison just functionally say, that he doesn’t mind less than sensitive remarks as long as they aren’t about something he does mind? (Tor boycott)
    Wow, I have to admit that often I dislike Iess than sensitive remarks about other groups of people and not just myself. Guess that makes me a whiney blue-triber in his world.

  28. Re: (11) 2016 LIBERTYCON REPORT.

    I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was eight years old when the courts forced the local amusement park, Lake Winnepesaukah, to admit black people. I remember, in particular, that the owners of the park (who lived just down the street from our house) filled in the pool with concrete because “white people won’t swim in a pool after black kids have been in it.” Every year when I go home for Christmas, I read at least one editorial in the paper that argues that gay people are subhuman and are a danger to everyone else. (Actually, just this past year, they gave us a pass and went after Muslims instead, but it’s too soon to call it a trend.)

    Don’t get me wrong–things have changed for the better over the past 50 years–but I still don’t think “liberty-loving” is really the right way to describe the place. The reason for the disconnect, of course, is that their idea of “liberty” is the “right to discriminate.”

  29. Today’s read — Sub Rosa, by Amber Dawn

    Fantasy. A woman becomes a prostitute on the magical street Sub Rosa. Somewhere between magical realism, stark realism, and allegory, the depiction of prostitution as something that is sometimes awful and sometimes fulfilling in some ways and sometimes simply banal reminds me a lot of Michelle Tea’s writing, in a good way (and I notice she is thanked in the acknowledgements.) The ending felt a little abrupt, but I wouldn’t call this a short book so maybe it’s more fair to say it ended when it had said what it needed to say. I’m still mulling this one over in some ways, but I’ll give it a Thumbs Up. It’s good when books have you still thinking about them after you put them down.

  30. “But Hampus Eckerman, is it real BBQ?”


  31. Back after vacation…

    @Steve Davidson: “I find the most curious thing about Libertycon to be its attendance limit: is it because they want a small and intimate crowd (from the pronouncements of Liberty-leaning fans, one would think not) or is it because they can’t get more, or are afraid they can’t get more?”

    I can speak to this with some authority, subject to the caveat that, as with all data not gained from firsthand observation, there’s always some “truth or pravda?” calculation to be made. All I can do is tell the truth to the best of my ability and limits of my knowledge. The information below comes from what I’ve observed at board meetings (I was not a board member, but they were open meetings) and learned through discussions with board members and other staffers. Keep in mind as well that the last board meeting I attended was in June 2015, shortly before last year’s convention.

    The short, objective answer is that the con’s charter specifies a limit of 750 paid memberships, a number which cannot be easily changed. The bylaws can set a lower limit (the “soft cap”), but 750 is a hard cap. It’s been that way, as far as I know, since the con was founded. In fact, the membership has been steadily rising in recent years; the old soft cap was 500, but I saw that get pushed up over time as more people wanted in.

    The longer answer, which is where some judgment starts to factor in, gets into why that limit is there. I have no reason to doubt the answer I was first given: that beyond that size, you begin to face certain logistical challenges that the organization simply isn’t interested in taking on. You need more staff, a bigger consuite, a larger hotel or an overflow hotel, and so forth. They’ve said several times that they’d rather keep it small than deal with those headaches.

    In addition, I am given to understand that changing the charter is harder than it sounds and could affect their tax status as a nonprofit organization. At the very least, there is apparently scary IRS paperwork involved – another reason not to bother.

    That said, when I first joined their staff, 750 was a “yeah, right, as if” pie-in-the-sky number that nobody ever expected to reach. Now that they’ve actually hit it two years running – at the con last year and before it this year – some of the factors above could get re-examined. I don’t know and am loath to speculate.

    As I recall, LibertyCon 25 was when the numbers really started to take off. It was a Big Event with a double slate of guests for the anniversary, and the board expected to see a one-time membership uptick that would be followed by a return to more typical numbers. That did not happen; it behaved more like a kick-start to a permanent increase. It is possible that the emergence of the Puppy phenomenon also played a role, but there again, we get into theory and speculation.

    Finally, it is always possible that the board and the membership want different things. I’m sure, for instance, that the average Barfly or Puppy would love to see LibertyCon grow to a thousand-plus membership event… but it’s not a democracy. The board rules, and if the board doesn’t want that, it won’t happen.

  32. More post-vacation catch-up, now in bite-size chunks! 😀

    @JJ: “Maybe we can talk PNH into arranging an e-book discount week?”

    Owing to my spending last week away from here while on vacation, I don’t know if it’s been mentioned. So, just in case…

    Smashwords is having an “opt-in” sale for the entire month of July. Authors are invited to participate to the extent they wish – some or all books included, with discounts of 25, 50, 75, or 100% (yes, free). You can browse the selection here and use the three rows of buttons underneath the header to narrow it down. (Pro tip: Pick a genre first, then use the buttons, otherwise they’ll reset.)

    I know you were looking for a Tor ebook sale, but I wanted to show the indies some love, too. (And yes, my favorite smut peddler’s participating. Both short stories are free, and the box set’s 25% off.)

    @TYP: “Also, isn’t LibertyCon basically the Young Earth Creationist sci-fi con? Or am I confusing it with DeepSouthCon?”

    I do not know LibertyCon to be aligned with YEC, but they do come down pretty solidly in the climate change denial camp. As I’ve said in the past, that depresses me; their science programming had an excellent reputation in the recent past, and I wish that political position had not besmirched it.

    @Steve Davidson: “This leaves us with two and really only two possibilities: the con limits attendance because their program/facilities have hard and fast limits, OR, they have tried to grow, haven’t, and have decided to put the spin on things to elide those facts.”

    I believe I have amply demonstrated that not only is there a third possibility which eluded you, but that it is the correct option.

    @Greg Hullender: “Don’t get me wrong–things have changed for the better over the past 50 years–but I still don’t think “liberty-loving” is really the right way to describe the place. The reason for the disconnect, of course, is that their idea of “liberty” is the “right to discriminate.””

    Yeah, I’ll go along with that… depressing as it is. My mother’s in the process of helping plan her 50-year high school reunion, of the final all-white class to graduate from that institution. Change is a long time coming, but it is getting better. (At least we’re not Rhea County!)

  33. the box set’s 25% off
    Along with “Detective Strongoak” – a little more off the TBB list.

  34. Try as I might, I have been unable to find a recipe for barbecued lutefisk on the Internet. The closest was a mention of a local BBQ joint that offers “adventurous” BBQ varieties for short periods of time, including BBQ lutefisk once.

  35. Rev. Bob on July 12, 2016 at 3:09 pm said:

    Smashwords is having an “opt-in” sale for the entire month of July. Authors are invited to participate to the extent they wish – some or all books included, with discounts of 25, 50, 75, or 100% (yes, free).

    In that case, I’d like to announce a 1 billion percent discount on There Will Be Walrus.

  36. Hampus Eckerman on July 12, 2016 at 4:00 pm said:

    Lutefish BBQ, recipe in swedish:


    Recipe in short: You rinse fish over night, then wrap it in tinfoil with herbs, parmesan cheese or whatnot and bake it on the BBQ.

    I have seldom been so happy to be unable to read Swedish.

  37. FYI, Christopher Eccleston was interviewed on “Fresh Air” yesterday. I don’t think he talked about Doctor Who—I only caught the last part of the interview—but it was still pretty moving, especially when he talked about his relationship with his father and dementia. Worth listening to.

    I hope this link works. You might have to do a copy and paste:


    If not, you can go to the Fresh Air website and look for the show on Monday, July 11.

    (In a former job for an art magazine, the New Art Examiner, everyone around me knew I was listening to Fresh Air whenever it was on.)

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