Pixel Scroll 7/12/17 All The King’s Centaurs

(1) TOP COMICS. NPR asked followers the name their favorite comics and graphic novels. Here are the results: “Let’s Get Graphic: 100 Favorite Comics And Graphic Novels”.

We assembled an amazing team of critics and creators to help winnow down more than 7,000 nominations to this final list of 100 great comics for all ages and tastes, from early readers to adults-only.

This isn’t meant as a comprehensive list of the “best” or “most important” or “most influential” comics, of course. It’s a lot more personal and idiosyncratic than that, because we asked folks to name the comics they loved. That means you’ll find enormously popular mainstays like Maus and Fun Home jostling for space alongside newer work that’s awaiting a wider audience (Check Please, anyone?).

Lots of good stuff on this list. Here’s an absolutely chosen-at-random example:

Astro City

by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson

At once a sprawling adventure anthology and a witty metariff on the long, whimsical history of the superhero genre, Astro City offers a bracingly bright rejoinder to “grim-and-gritty” superhero storytelling. Writer Kurt Busiek and artist Brent Anderson — with Alex Ross supplying character designs and painted covers — don’t merely people their fictional metropolis with analogues of notable heroes, though there are plenty of those on hand. The universe they’ve created pays loving homage to familiar characters and storylines even as it digs deep to continually invent new stories and feature new perspectives. Astro City is a hopeful place that dares to believe in heroes, sincerely and unabashedly; reading it, you will too.

(2) LAST YEAR’S HARDEST SF SHORT FICTION. Rocket Stack Rank has a new post surveying “Hard SF in 2016”.

Greg Hullender explains, “We’d have done this earlier in the year, but we were experimenting with new features like place and time, and we ended up gradually going back through all 814 stories annotating them. Still, I think the result is of interest.

It has been eighteen months since we explored the Health of Hard Science Fiction in 2015 (Short Fiction), so we’re overdue to take a look at 2016. This report divides into three sections:

(3) TZ REBOOT. Can this writer bring The Twilight Zone back to life? “Christine Lavaf to Pen ‘The Twilight Zone’ Reboot”.

Screenwriter Christine Lavaf is working on a reboot of The Twilight Zone.

Warner Bros has been trying to develop the new movie version of the hit horror since 2009 and a number of directors were lined up to helm the production, but each left the project before shooting could begin.

However, Warner Bros has now announced Christine will be working on the script despite a director having not yet been found to oversee the production, according to Variety.

The original plan for the movie was for it to be inspired by the 1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie horror, which was produced by Steven Spielberg and John Landis and had four segments each with a different director. But the new movie will reportedly follow just one story, which will include elements of The Twilight Zone universe.

(4) DRAWING A BLANK. Australian artist Nick Stathopoulos told his Facebook readers “No Archibald joy this year.”

Last year his painting of Deng Adut was a runner-up for the Archibald Prize for portraits — awarded annually to the best portrait, “preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia” – and the winner of the Archibald Prize People’s Choice award.

Stathopoulos is a long-time fan, 10-time winner of the Australian NatCon’s Ditmar Award, and a past Hugo and Chesley Award nominee. He is frequently in contention for the annual Archibald awards.

(5) ARTISTS AT WORK. The Meow Wolf “art collective” in Santa Fe got their start with a $3.5 million investment from George R.R. Martin, and many of their “immersive installations” are sf related. Natalie Eggert’s article “This 140-Person Art Collective Is Pursuing An Alternative Model For Artists to Make A Living” for Artsy talks about how Meow Wolf has created 140 jobs with income coming from people who pay $20 to look at their “immersive installations.”

Since the Santa Fe-based art collective Meow Wolf opened its permanent installation, the House of Eternal Return, in March 2016, the project has been an unmitigated success in terms of viewership and profits. Housed in a 20,000-square-foot former bowling alley, the sprawling interactive artwork welcomed 400,000 visitors in its first year—nearly four times as many as expected—and brought in $6 million in revenue for the collective’s more than 100 members.

One of the most popular attractions in Santa Fe, the House of Eternal Return invites visitors into an elaborate Victorian house that is experiencing rifts in space-time. Open up the refrigerator or a closet door and get swept away into a new environment, each one designed by different artists of the Meow Wolf collective. There is no set route to follow and you can climb on, crawl through, and touch everything in sight. Tickets to enter the fun-house-like installation cost $20 for adults (on par with admission to a New York museum), with discounted rates available for New Mexico residents, children, senior citizens, and the military.

The installation’s sci-fi narrative, lawless abandon, and production quality have captured the imaginations of viewers, while its success has caught the art world’s attention. Could this be a sustainable, alternative avenue for artists to collaborate and make a living outside of traditional art world models?

(6) SENDAK BOOK MS. REDISCOVERED. Atlas Obscura reports: “Found: An Unpublished Manuscript by Maurice Sendak”.

Since the beloved children’s author Maurice Sendak died in 2012, the foundation set up in his name has been working to collect and sort through his artwork and the records of his life. While working through some old files, Lynn Caponera, the president of the foundation, found the typewritten manuscript for a book. When she looked more closely at it, she realized it was story she didn’t remember, reports Publishers Weekly.

What she had found was the story for Presto and Zesto in Limboland, a work that Sendak and collaborator Arthur Yorinks had worked on in the 1990s and never published. “In all honesty, we just forgot it,” Yorinks told Publishers Weekly.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 12, 2013  — Pacific Rim debuted.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born July 12, 1912 — Artist Joseph Mungaini, who illustrated the 1962 Oscar-nominated film Icarus Montgolfier Wright based on Ray Bradbury’s story.

(9) LUCY LIU. Rebecca Rubin in Variety says that Lucy Liu will direct the first episode of season 2 of Luke Cage coming in 2018.  She previously directed four episodes of Elementary.

(10) STAND BY FOR A NEW THEORY. NPR’s Glen Weldon says new Spider-Man wins because we see learning rather than origin: “Origin-al Sin: What Hollywood Must Learn From ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming'”.

Spider-Man: Homecoming dispenses with his origin story completely, which is, at this point, a wise move. Given Spidey’s status as Marvel’s flagship character and his concurrent cultural saturation, it’s perhaps even inevitable, because: We know.

We get it. Spider-bite, spider powers, great responsibility. We’ve, all of us, been there.

And yet! Even without seeing precisely how and why Peter Parker gets from the here of normal life to the there of fantastic, thwippy powers, Tom Holland is eminently, achingly relatable. His Peter is someone in whom we easily see ourselves at our most excited and anxious. Which is the whole secret.

(11) THIS SUCKS. Using ROVs to scoop up invasive species: “Can a robot help solve the Atlantic’s lionfish problem?”. There’s a video report at the link.

Robots in Service of the Environment has designed an underwater robot to combat a growing problem in the Atlantic Ocean: the invasive lionfish.

(12) MAJOR DEVELOPMENT. A league of their own? Overwatch starts city-based videogaming league: “Overwatch: Bigger than the Premier League?”

Its developer Activision Blizzard has just announced the first seven team owners for a forthcoming league. It believes, in time, the tournament could prove more lucrative than the UK’s Premier League – football’s highest-earning competition.

Several of the successful bidders have made their mark with traditional sports teams, and the buy-in price has not been cheap.

The BBC understands the rights cost $20m (£15.5m) per squad. For that, owners get the promise of a 50% revenue split with the Overwatch League itself for future earnings.

The fast-paced cartoon-like shooter was designed to appeal to both players and spectators. It’s low on gore and features a racial mix of male and female heroes, including a gay character – a relative rarity in gaming.

(13) THEY’RE PINK. Adweek covers a parody of female-targeted products: “‘Cards Against Humanity for Her’ Is the Same Game, but the Box Is Pink and It Costs $5 More”.

In a savage parody of women-targeted products like Bic for Her pens, and Cosmo and Seat’s car for women, Cards Against Humanity has released Cards Against Humanity for Her. It’s the exact same game as the original, but comes in a pink box and costs $5 more.

The press release is a gold mine of hilarity.

“We crunched the numbers, and to our surprise, we found that women buy more than 50 percent of games,” said Cards Against Humanity community director Jenn Bane. “We decided that hey, it’s 2017, it’s time for women to have a spot at the table, and nevertheless, she persisted. That’s why we made Cards Against Humanity for Her. It’s trendy, stylish, and easy to understand. And it’s pink.”

Bane added: “Women love the color pink.”

The game is available for $30 on CardsAgainstHumanityForHer.com, which has all sorts of ridiculous photos and GIFs. The limited-edition version “is expected to sell out,” the brand said.

From the FAQ (where it’s in pink text).

When I inevitably purchase this without reading carefully and then find out it’s the same cards as the original Cards Against Humanity, can I return it and get my money back? That color looks great on you! No.

(14) SHARKE REPELLENT. Mark-kitteh sent these links (and the headline) to the latest posts by the Shadow Clarke jury. He adds, “Only two of these, but the Becky Chambers roundtable is likely to provide enough rises in blood-pressure on its own.”

The inclusion of A Closed and Common Orbit on this year’s Clarke shortlist follows hard on the heels of Chambers’s 2016 shortlisting for her debut novel, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. In a very short time, Chambers’s books have proven extraordinarily popular and drawn an enthusiastic fan response. Unsurprisingly, ACACO has also been shortlisted for the 2017 Hugo. The novel has also drawn praise from reviewers, such as Adam Roberts in the Guardian. However, despite the shadow Clarke jury being split fifty-fifty between those who found ACACO to be a compulsive read and those who struggled to find any interest in it whatsoever, this is also the novel that has come closest to unifying what is often a more diverse body of opinion than it might appear from the outside. We are unanimous in thinking that ACACO is not one of the six best SF novels of the year and, in contrast to the other five works on the list, there is nobody among us who would make any kind of case for its inclusion on the Clarke shortlist.

I am possibly not the right audience for this novel. I have read a number of stories by Yoon Ha Lee before this without being particularly impressed by any of them. The novel, Ninefox Gambit crystallized some of those discontents. In no particular order:

1: Yoon Ha Lee has read too much Iain M. Banks. The influence is everywhere and inescapable: the grotesque deaths, the over-elaborate weapons (including one I couldn’t help identifying as the Lazy Gun from Against a Dark Background), and, of course, the central conceit in which the mind of an ancient general is implanted in a younger person on a suicide mission is a straight lift from Look to Windward. But Banks’s humanity is missing. With Banks you always knew where the author stood, ethically and emotionally; not so with Lee, this is a cold book.

(15) FROM PERKY TO UNBEATABLE. Lesley Goldberg of The Hollywood Reporter, in “Marvel’s New Warriors Sets Its Cast–Including Squirrel Girl”, says that the cast of this ten-episode series on Freeform has been set, and Milana Vayntrub, best known as the Perky Salesperson in 5,271,009 AT&T commercials, has been cast as Squirrel Girl.

Milana Vayntrub (This Is Us) has landed the breakout role of Squirrel Girl, while Baby Daddy grad Derek Theler will stay in business with Freeform after landing the role of Mister Immortal in Marvel’s first live-action scripted comedy.

The duo lead the ensemble cast in the 10-episode series about six young people learning to cope with their abilities in a world where bad guys can be as terrifying as bad dates. Joining Vayntrub and Theler are Jeremy Tardy as Night Thrasher, Calum Worthy as Speedball, Matthew Moy as Microbe and Kate Comer as Debrii.

(16) ETCHED IN STONE. It’s been awhile since I checked in on Declan Finn, and I found one of his posts on Superversive SF that could lead to lively discussion.

In “Pius Rules for Writers”, Declan Finn’s advice comes from his viewpoint as a reader.

I was recently asked what rules, as I reader, I wish writers would follow. I came up with a few.

Rule #1: Don’t preach at me. Tell the damn story…

I think this is self explanatory. Heck, even Star Trek IV, which is straight up “save the whales,” did a fairly good job of this. It was mostly a character driven comedy: let’s take all of our characters as fish and through them so far out of the water they’re in a different planet, and watch the fun start. Even the whales that must be saved for the sake of all of Earth are little more than MacGuffin devices, there for the story to happen.

But 2012? Or The Day After Tomorrow? Or Avatar? Kill me now.

Serious, I went out of my way to make A Pius Man: A Holy Thriller about the history of a Church, complete with philosophy, and it somehow still managed to be less preachy than any of these “climate change” films.

(17) NEWMAN’S NEXT. Joel Cunningham of the B&N Sci-FI & Fantasy Blog has great news for Planetfall fans (and a cover reveal) in “Return to Emma Newman’s Planetfall Universe in Before Mars.

I still remember the feeling of closing the cover on a early, bound manuscript copy of Emma Newman’s Planetfall in 2015, sure I had read one of the finest science fiction novels of the year—even though it was only April (I wasn’t wrong).

Considering it’s a complete work, I was surprised—and very pleased—at the arrival of After Atlas, a standalone companion novel set in the same world—another book that, incidentally, turned out to rank with the best of its year (but don’t just take our word for it).

I just can quit being fascinated by this setting—a near future in which 3D printing technology has made resources plentiful, but post-scarcity living has not been evenly distributed, where missions to the stars only expose the dark secrets within the human heart—and it seems Newman can’t quite break away from it either: she’s writing at least two more books in the Planetfall series, and today,we’re showing off the cover of the third, Before Mars, arriving in April 2018 from Ace Books….

(18) NOT YOUR TYPICAL POLICE SHOOTING. Consenting cosplayers suffered a tragic interruption: “Police Shoot People Dressed As The Joker And Harley Quinn”.

Australian police shot a man and a woman dressed as comic book characters while they performed a sexual act at a nightclub early Saturday morning, news.com.au reported. The man and the woman were dressed as the Joker and Harley Quinn.

Dale Ewins, 35, was shot in the stomach by police. Authorities said they shot him because he pointed his toy gun at them and they believed it was a real weapon. However, club security said Ewins did not aim the gun at them.

Zita Sukys, 37, was shot in the leg. Both were attending the Saints & Sinners Ball, described as a party “for Australian swingers and those who are just curious.” Promotions for the party also said it has “a well-earned reputation as Australia’s, if not the world’s, raunchiest party.”

(19) FAN FASHION. The Dublin in 2019 bidders think you would look great in their logo shirt. Half-off sale!

(20 TOON FASHION. Why Cartoon Characters Wear Gloves is a video from Vox which goes back to 1900 to answer this question.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Greg Hullender, Chip Hitchcock, and Mark-kitteh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

187 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/12/17 All The King’s Centaurs

  1. @JJ: Based on things they’ve said, I do not doubt it a bit. They’ve already made it quite clear that they consider themselves arbiters of what constitutes “great SF”.

    I don’t agree; I think they’ve made reasonably clear what constitutes award-worthy SF for them – except for when they disagree completely among themselves (e.g., Sinisalo’s The Core of the Sun, which one of them thought was brilliant and two of them deemed a complete failure).

  2. @Standback

    Start with this: What different readers appreciate as uniquely SF-nal varies tremendously from reader to reader. Some love the sense of “what might be scientifically possible”, others are looking to be immersed in an alien point of view; others feel it puts real-world issues at a manageable remove that makes them all the more poignant and vivid; others delight in logical loopholes in the Rules of Robotics.

    I don’t think that breaks my argument, though. In every case, the author has had to do something special to engage those readers–something a mainstream author wouldn’t have had to do.

    Otherwise, you need to accept that you’re never going to be comparing apples to apples; different stories are brilliant in different ways, and different SF stories epitomize SF in different ways.

    Oh you’re never comparing apples to apples, but, again, the Olympics manage it. Nor am I arguing that we need something as regimented as what the Olympics do in practice. I think it’s an internal calculation that most readers make without thinking about it. I’ll check out that Valente article, though. 🙂

    a story is excellent if you can explain what it does well, and justify that explanation. If that thing is something that isn’t a “typical” strength of SF? If that thing is something no other SF story has ever done? I don’t see any problem with that. No, sir.

    How would your definition exclude “To Kill a Mockingbird?” It takes place in Macomb County, Alabama, which is a fictional location. By my definition, that’s such a tiny speculation that it counts as zero difficulty. (Or even negative difficulty, since it spared the author the effort of doing any kind of research on a real location.) I don’t see how your definition lets you exclude it at all.

  3. @Charon D.:

    Maybe it’s a warm book for warm people, and the cold people despise it accordingly, and are reacting with coldness because that’s what they do.

    That’s rather … general; maybe there are genuinely warm people who dislike its artificial/manipulated warmth it as they dislike that of (e.g.) Lassie? (I’d have said The Waltons, but that came after I got pushed off TV.)

    @gottacook: I noticed the watermelon in Buckaroo Banzai, but I never noticed that bit — and as a Knight fan I should have, even if I never saw the TZ episode. Fascinating!

    @JJ: thanks for the video. The successor video I got, on weird state borders, was also interesting, but the narrator really should learn how to pronounce Potomac. (The accent is not on the final syllable.)

    @Karl-Johan Norén, @Cora, @Aaron: NPR’s remit is the US; they asked their listeners, rather than trying to get a worldwide poll. (Their international news coverage isn’t bad, but I spend more time on the BBC website.) Just getting their audience to look at recent and/or below-the-horizon work is a big step. And do we really need to speak of Tintin or Asterix (or other major transAtlantic titles)? Both were available in the US, in (British?) English, generations ago, and have been made into movies; they’re unlikely to be news. (Comment retractable if you find matching examples from US comics; I haven’t read the entire list, but it seemed to be looking at work that was either revolutionary and not that old (Watchmen, Maus) or recent.)

    @JJ: I wouldn’t recommend recent Priest (such as you list reading) to anyone starting; I gave up partway through the first of them. But I’m surprised that you dismiss The Prestige (movie) as a cheat; bar pbawhere’f Ovt Gevpx qrcraqf ba orvat vqragvpny gjvaf, ohg uvf eviny trgf n znggre genafzvggre sebz Avpbyn Grfyn. It was darker than the book, but I thought it held together; what did you see as cheating? (I’ve heard Priest wasn’t happy, but some of his “Fondly Fahrenheit”-style narration shuffles would have been difficult to convey in film — and the film added a gut-punch that was either muted (due to not being pictured) or absent in the book.)

  4. But why compare at all?

    You mean why bring up the Puppy comparison that Lloyd brought up?

    If Im not mistaken the Nebula award was founded on the same feeling – that the Hugos are to mainstream.

    Sure, and if you want to go to the trouble of starting up an award because you think that an existing award isn’t recognizing the books you think should be recognized, that’s one thing. Complaining that a popular award voted upon by a self-selecting group of people is “doing it wrong” because they don’t reflect your tastes is an entirely different thing.

  5. Okay, this is probably the dumbest of all questions and likely not the right place to ask, but… I’ve been reading and commenting here for a little while now and still don’t know: just what exactly is encoding the spoilers in the comments as gibberish, and how do I decode them?

  6. @Greg: I definitely agree SF does a whole lot of special things — that’s why I love it so 🙂

    The problem is when you try to narrow it down to a definition, to a litmus test of yes SF / no SF. It would be circular to say “An SF story needs to provide something that a non-SF story wouldn’t,” but any attempt to list what “extra value” constitutes SF is inevitably going to exclude some cases we’d rather include, and vice versa.

    A speculative element is definitely a hallmark of SF. But I’ve seen too many exceptions to say “yes, that’s the defining line.” There’s no one single axis to it.

    All that being said, we’re much in agreement. SF is sufficiently distinct to have its own adherents, its own awards, and its own community. I just wouldn’t characterize it as “unfairness” — it’s a certain clustering, a certain congruity, which is very real even if it’s difficult to define. 🙂

  7. @August:

    …The two things that are consistent throughout are 1) an anxiety about the genre’s boundaries and qualities, who gets to belong and who doesn’t, where it becomes painfully obvious that at literally no point in the history of SF have those boundaries or qualities ever been anything other than fuzzy and smudged and nebulous, and 2) a constant, grating argument between people who are happy that the boundaries are vague and shifting and can mesh with styles and techniques and values from other kinds of writing and those who desperately want them to become hard and clear. The utter contempt displayed by each side for the other that has gone on for basically a solid century was pretty eye-opening for me, especially because the legendary vituperation of the “literary” folks is 100% matched in both the quality and quantity of their venom by the clear-boundary hardliners literally right from day one. It’s so fucking depressing, and I too am so, so tired of it. I honestly just don’t care.

    Q. F. T. (Bolding mine.) Among all the us-versus-them, ingroup-outgroup stuff, this is very frequently elided.

  8. @Greg
    For me, SF and Fantasy seem to tend toward the “I know when I see it” variety of definition.

    Even as broad a definition as “What if…” would, as noted above, lead to To Kill a Mockingbird to be classified as SF

  9. @Paul Weimer

    For me, SF and Fantasy seem to tend toward the “I know when I see it” variety of definition.

    That’s why I go for a reductive approach. I read and review a lot of stories, and I ponder what it is that makes me think “This is/isn’t (hard) SFF.”

    Very few stories are really on the boundary. Rough-and-ready rules work pretty well for 90+% of the stories that I see. The fun of making the rules is that they make you think about stories and what was important about them.

  10. While I don’t have the time for full-throated engagement, I did want to offer my thanks to those that defend demurring from recent nominees based on the content of the works.

    More later as time and circumstances permit.

    VBR,
    Dann

  11. My rot13 spiel from 2015:

    For a translation, use http://www.rot13.com/index.php and paste in the gobbledegook above. Rev. Bob has also shared a javascript shortcut here: http://file770.com/?p=22898&cpage=7#comment-274860 (if the file suppressed bit doesn’t work for you, click on the Raw button). If you’re using Safari on an iPad, you’ll probably need to save a bookmark first and then go into that bookmark and alter the destination afterwards.

    If you’re using an iPad or iPhone, text can be copied and pasted by touching the text and holding until options pop up. The amount of text copied can be adjusted by touching and holding the little balls at either end.

  12. @Standback

    I just wouldn’t characterize it as “unfairness” — it’s a certain clustering, a certain congruity, which is very real even if it’s difficult to define. ?

    Yep. Most people who work on real-world clustering problems soon enough realize that it’s a lot harder to find the boundaries than the centers. (In enough dimensions, even the centers are problematic!) So just because their boundaries are hard to define crisply doesn’t mean clusters aren’t real or important.

    Instead of “unfairness” I’m liking “degree of difficulty.” If you’re going to give awards for speculative fiction, it seems quite reasonable to factor in the degree of difficulty of the speculation. A story with a really weak speculation needs to be exceptional in other ways to deserve an award. A story that manages to pull off an audacious speculation can be forgiven some lapses.

    Now I’m thinking I ought to track degree of difficulty of new stories I review. Not publicly–just track them in the database and see if there are any interesting patterns.

  13. @Peer: it was more subtle than that. Don’t forget that when the Nebulas were created, they were created by people who were very close to fandom, were fans, got their start in fandom, not in writing, etc.

    I think the idea was more along the lines of “we want an award chosen by the professionals only”, as opposed to one chosen by the fans and the pros collectively.

    And remember: in the past, there was not the same kind of divide between pros and fans; there was not the same kind of divide between fans. Look at all the other awards that are given out at this con, that con and the other con, many in conjunction with events/other awards that might not seem to be a good fit these days.

    Fandom (including SFWA) was a monolith of individuals. You wanted a new award – well, go do it – was about the only opposition one would reeive.

    Today, the divide we are seeing is largely one of “SF oriented people” with no interest in, nor experience of fandom (including authors who see the divide as a cynical marketing opportunity) vs “SF oriented people” who do the courteous thing and at least try to understand a culture they might want to be a part of before criticizing it.

  14. As someone who accused the Sharkes of pretentiousness earlier, I wanted to clarify for Lloyd (if he’s still reading this thread) that it isn’t their taste that has bothered me about their reviews I’ve read, but rather their attitude (not all of them, not all the time, but it’s definitely there). Pretty much anything else I could say about this Ann Leckie said better and with an obviously deeper knowledge of the subject.

  15. P J Evans:

    And software tends to want to index her under “G”. (Looking at you, Kobo. You did that with Le Carre, too.)

    For what it’s worth: You should glare at the publisher, not your ebook reader. That’s almost certainly due to poorly defined metadata in your ebook files.

    Both the epub and the mobi formats have support for declaring how metadata should be treated for sorting. If the “file-as”-property for author is not set, or is set as “Carre, John Le”, software can not be expected to know that the correct sort value for John Le Carre is “Le Carre, John”.

    My Kindle sorts books without file-as information by the literal name, and does not attempt to guess where the last name starts – i.e. John Le Carre is sorted under J. If your Kobo consistently sorts by last name, but does it wrong for Le Guin and Le Carre, it’s most likely because file-as is not set but Kobo guesses.

    The same mechanism exists for title, to declare for example that “The Fellowship …” should be sorted as “Fellowship …, The”.

  16. Johan P on July 13, 2017 at 10:59 am said:
    I am glaring at the publisher. Bought through Kobo: they’re responsible. (I’ve fixed the metadata on the jailbroken copies, though.)

    I wonder how many other authors’ names they’ve gotten wrong.

  17. Meredith moment:
    The Forge of God (Greg Bear) – $1.99
    Tales of Old Earth (Michael Swanwick, short stories) – $1.99

    Both excellent examples of true and/or false SFF.

    Oh! And Tor’s free book of the month is Kushiel’s Dart (Jaqueline Carey).

  18. Well, a casual comment from me about epic fantasies beyond Martin’s stalled(?) series has turned into a couple of dozen tweet thread from me with reccs.

    Oops.

  19. @Greg Hullender: I agree that calling Lloyd the mirror image of a Puppy was a bit strong. OTOH, he flounced just as well….

    @Greg re 10:41 comment Hullender: I can see a panel of judges holding up d-o-d cards. (It would have to be a panel — there’s so much more variation than in (e.g.) diving, gymnastics, ….)

  20. I find the idea of interrogating books as to their science fictional qualities in order to determine degree of difficulty an interesting concept, but one that lacks merit. It codes personal opinion as objective assessment and then runs with it with no useful goal in sight.

    @Charon D. – Maybe it’s a warm book for warm people, and the cold people despise it accordingly, and are reacting with coldness because that’s what they do.

    I’ve been thinking about this for hours and while I don’t think people divide neatly into warm and cold categories, I think you’re on to something about warm and cold books and authors. I also suspect many of us mistakenly assign greater literary weight to coolness, in the same way we mistakenly assign greater weight to grimness (when comedy is actually more difficult).

    In the realm of great literature, how much of it is written with warmth? All the examples that first leap into my mind (Shakespeare, Cervantes, Steinbeck, Dickinson) appear to be on the warm side. When I think of chilliness, I’m left with some philosophers. That’s just my mental furniture though, and I’m sure counter examples are readily available to others.

  21. @Chip Hitchcock

    I agree that calling Lloyd the mirror image of a Puppy was a bit strong. OTOH, he flounced just as well….

    He was new to File770. He attempted to join the discussion, politely offering his opinion on a purely literary question. Someone attacked him, calling him an asshole. He left, probably won’t be coming back.

    I agree that that reflects badly on someone, but not on him.

  22. Someone attacked him, calling him an asshole.

    He didn’t get called an asshole until after he announced his flounce.

  23. @Peer: About the Nebulas, and this is strictly second- or maybe third-hand (though I very much trust the source), they were organised as a way to raise money for SFWA. The idea was for the SFWA to release a yearly anthology of short fiction, and the Nebula was their way of selecting those stories.

    (AFAIK, that idea didn’t work out too well, but the Nebulas stuck.)

    (1) & @Chip Hitchcock: Yes, it’s true that NPR is an American channel. That didn’t stop them from including an entire section of Japanese comics, or web comics like Stand Still, Stay Silent (IIRC made by a Swedish-speaking Finn). Given that they used a two-stage process where their listeners contributed 7,000 works, I really think they should have been able to find some European comics, and if they had comics experts to do the final selection, I really hope they would be familiar with European comics, just as I hope European comics experts are familiar with American comics.

    Remember that their list includes plenty of 80s era stuff, even older things like MAD, Elfquest (which started in the 70s), Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County, or Peanuts. These are the American peers to Asterix, Tintin, or Lucky Luke.

    My contribution of work that really should have been on the list: Bryan Talbot’s The Tale of One Bad Rat.

  24. He was new to File770. He attempted to join the discussion, politely offering his opinion on a purely literary question. Someone attacked him, calling him an asshole. He left, probably won’t be coming back.

    Your timeline is wrong.

    Lloyd flounced because the Sharkes were called pretentious assholes, and his argument was called the mirror image of the Puppies.

    Literally, these were the statements that triggered his flounce:

    “You have mistaken pretentious assholery for real literary criticism.”

    “The Pups whined about how the Hugos were wrong because they were too literary. You are now here complaining that the Hugos are wrong because they aren’t literary enough. You’re more like them than you think, just in mirror-image form.”

    He showed up, got a variety of responses, and was so offended by one of them that used language he himself had already used that he left.

    I don’t have much patience for the argument over the literary/genre divide (I like both, lean a little literary, but find myself instinctively disagreement with anyone who tries to argue for a divide), but if he’s that thin-skinned, he’s probably not going to do well in an environment where he’s mortally offended by being told his argument mirrors that of the Puppies but thinks it’s okay for him to tell others their arguments are “easy and glib.”

    Now, there’s nothing terribly wrong with saying someone else’s argument is easy or glib, but there’s also nothing terribly wrong with the argument that wanting the Hugos to be more literary can be seen as a mirror of the Puppy argument.

    Both of those statements can be disagreed with, too, but Lloyd didn’t seem to want disagreement, at least not directed at him. He seemed perfectly prepared to belittle and dismiss the arguments (and tastes) of others, but when his were challenged with about the same level of assertion he used, well, this was no longer a place for gentlemen.

    And then after he flounced, he was called a pretentious asshole. I wouldn’t agree with that characterization, myself, but I can see where it came from. There was a fair amount of Sharke discussion going on — he could have engaged with any of it, but instead his response was to dismiss one piece of disagreement, postulate why JJ thinks the way she does, disagree with his imagined-for-JJ position, suggest that maybe Americans just don’t get Priest but we should at least have been impressed by a movie, and then stalk off in a huff because he wasn’t taken as seriously as he felt appropriate by Aaron.

    I would think a yardstick that included that in the polite opinion category, simply because it doesn’t have any direct insults in it, would also include Aaron’s response, since it didn’t either, aside from toward the Sharkes, for whom pretentious-asshole-or-not was the subject at hand.

    It’s always nice to have polite and considerate discussion, but Lloyd wasn’t attacked, he was disagreed with.

  25. @kathodus: As someone who accused the Sharkes of pretentiousness earlier, I wanted to clarify for Lloyd (if he’s still reading this thread) that it isn’t their taste that has bothered me about their reviews I’ve read, but rather their attitude

    But calling someone a joyless, pretentious asshole, which is a not-even-veiled assertion that they don’t actually like the books they claim to enjoy (with bonus gratuitous insult), for having the temerity to think that a book you love is not award-worthy – why, that doesn’t carry any attitude at all.

    @Greg Hullender: you took the words right out of my mouth.

  26. All right, I’m adding my two cents worth here regarding ACaCO. I haven’t read the Filers comments yet, so forgive me if I’m repeating here what others may already have said. The Sharkes seem to feel that the resolution of the novel is in the portion of the plot revolving Owl. While that was satisfying to me, that wasn’t it. The resolution of the novel is how Sidra comes to terms with her own existence and her choice on how she goes forward.
    I felt that one of the major themes of the novel is that other people, no matter how well-meaning, can’t actually know what someone else needs to live their best life, and we have to make these hard choices even at the risk of alienating them.
    I think they are mistaken in their opinions that this is a lightweight novel with nothing to offer but easy escapism. I found myself thinking about the end for days afterward.

  27. Yes, it’s true that NPR is an American channel. That didn’t stop them from including an entire section of Japanese comics, or web comics like Stand Still, Stay Silent (IIRC made by a Swedish-speaking Finn).

    Japanese comics have had pretty effective penetration into the US market for the last few decades.

    I’m impressed they included STAND STILL, STAY SILENT, since it’s not easy to get in print in the US (not impossible, but not easy). But then, web publication in English is easier to connect to.

    Given that they used a two-stage process where their listeners contributed 7,000 works, I really think they should have been able to find some European comics, and if they had comics experts to do the final selection, I really hope they would be familiar with European comics, just as I hope European comics experts are familiar with American comics.

    If we’re counting DAYTRIPPER and WATCHMEN as American comics because they were initially published in the US but by non-North American creators, then PERSEPOLIS, THE INCAL and BLACKSAD, all published initially in France, are European comics.

    In any case, whether they could have found some European comics other than those that they did — I doubt they were trying to be historically or geographically inclusive, any more than they were trying for a list of “best” or “most important.”

    It feels kinda like an argument that TINTIN and ASTERIX deserve to be on a list of favorites because they’re significant and great, even though those weren’t the criteria. Mind you, ASTERIX, TINTIN (and POGO) were my road into comics, and they’d be on my list of favorites. But well, much as the Hugos don’t award everything we’d personally choose, so it is with other lists. That’s the joy of lists; get another bunch of people to make one and it’ll be a different list, with other stuff to agree with, disagree with or discover.

    But I can assure you, Maggie Thompson and Glen Weldon are familiar with European comics. I don’t know the other three of the panel all that well, but they’ve all got a wide range of knowledge. [And hey, isn’t it nice that no one needs to argue that the judging panel shouldn’t have been made up of all (or mostly) white men, for a change? This group looks like one of James Nicoll’s core lists!]

    And yeah, ONE BAD RAT is superb. My list would also have included HICKSVILLE, IT’S A GOOD LIFE IF YOU DON’T WEAKEN, TERRY AND THE PIRATES, GASOLINE ALLEY, KAMANDI, BOYS’ RANCH and a mess of others (SHE’S JOSIE!), along with ASTERIX and TINTIN, but I bet a lot of my favorites would have fallen by the wayside, too.

  28. (14) SHARKE REPELLENT

    Slightly late to the party and in danger of repeating what others have said, but: I don’t think the Shadow Clarke knows what it wants to be, in a positive sense. It knows what it doesn’t want to be – it doesn’t want to support those books which meet their sincerely-held but ill-defined dislikes – and it very much knows what it doesn’t want the real Clarke Award to be – it doesn’t want the Clarke to shortlist those books either – but it’s yet to put forward a coherent argument for what it does like other than making individual points about individual books. Case in point, they can rip into ACACO with real gusto, and condemn commercialism and cosiness, but they can’t define a direction that e.g. links their support for the bestselling Underground Railroad to the rest of their shortlist.

    Perhaps more worryingly, they’ve yet to make a case for why the Clarke ought to bend in the direction they desire, and indeed have been dancing a tightrope of trying to say they’re not criticising the Clarke while, well, criticising the Clarke.
    There are some hints that they have a specific direction they wish it to go in, by suggesting its shortlist ought to have a definable theme, and that it should be on a different part of the spectrum to e.g. the Hugo. Both of those are valid arguments, but they’ve yet to make a coherent case for why those are desirable either in general, or specifically for the Clarke.

    When they announced this Shadow Jury, my first reaction was to ask why this project was to be constituted as a response to the Clarke, rather than simply being a group of like-minded critics producing their own award. I’ve yet to see a compelling answer.

  29. @PhilRM

    But calling someone a joyless, pretentious asshole, which is a not-even-veiled assertion that they don’t actually like the books they claim to enjoy (with bonus gratuitous insult), for having the temerity to think that a book you love is not award-worthy – why, that doesn’t carry any attitude at all.

    I disagree with that statement. Vehemently, even. I think calling someone a joyless, pretentious asshole does in fact carry quite a bit of attitude.

    I did call them pretentious, but I didn’t call them joyless. I disagree that calling them joyless, pretentious, and/or assholes implies they don’t actually like the books they claim. I have no idea where you get that. My impression is that they do enjoy what they claim to enjoy.

  30. My links almost always go wrong (I think extra characters might get added that I can’t see, because dyslexia), but this is an NPR column by Glen Weldon giving a shout out to some of the comics that were missed, including Tintin and Terry and the Pirates.

    eta: Well, that’s different. Usually at least a broken link posts. http://www.npr.org/2017/07/13/536827295/the-old-school-classic-strips-that-continue-to-shape-comics“>

    And if that doesn’t work, it’s in npr.org today.

  31. @ PhilRM
    As Kathodus didn’t say what you object to, and tried to communicate courteously with Lloyd, you seem to be barking up the wrong tree.

  32. Lionfish aren’t that tasty. The best use seems to be in Lionfish derbies where there is competition to see how many you can spearfish in a day. The robot seems a bit…slow compared to the spearfishing people – though obviously it can go a lot deeper.

  33. Kurt Busiek: But I can assure you, Maggie Thompson and Glen Weldon are familiar with European comics.

    Your mentioning Maggie Thompson sparked a tangential thought. While I might have found my way into club fandom anyhow, she’s responsible for the route I did take even though I never met her. She told Bob Gale about LASFS before he came out to LA to attend USC, and I ended up going with him to a LASFS Banquet in 1970 where Harlan Ellison was the guest speaker.

  34. @kathodus: I disagree with that statement. Vehemently, even. I think calling someone a joyless, pretentious asshole does in fact carry quite a bit of attitude.

    As do I. (Was that not obvious?) My point was that if you think the Sharkes are displaying attitude, they’re hardly alone in that. (And I’m not sure what’s ambiguous about ‘joyless’).

    However, since you were not the source of the remark, it was a bit unfair of me to aim in your direction, so I apologize for that.

  35. @PhilRM – I was being sarcastic, there, because I hadn’t made any claims about people here not having attitude or being nice, though you seemed to be saying I had.

    Used in this context, I take joyless to be more about their attitude, rather than a claim that they enjoy nothing.

    It seems apparent, reading through the Sharkes’ essays, that they are trying to get the reactions we’re seeing here. So much open contempt for anything popular, for anything genre, for basically anything that isn’t experimental. They wouldn’t need to express that contempt so clearly to write about what they like, or to criticize the shortcomings in eg. ACaCO (or CACAO as they call it). I agree they don’t argue like Puppies – whereas Puppies posit we’re a bunch of snotty literary types who award things because we think it makes us look smart or open-minded, the Sharkes think we’re a bunch of spoon-fed, semi-literate drones who award the things we’re told to like by marketing teams.

  36. Chip Hitchcock: the film [The Prestige] added a gut-punch that was either muted (due to not being pictured) or absent in the book.

    What was a gut-punch ending for you was an “oh, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” ending for me. I thought it was a cheat on the part of the author or scriptwriter: “I’ve written myself into a box, but I’ve run out of time, so here’s how I’ll resolve it and wrap up the story.”

    I probably would have been willing to accept — would have been quite happy with — that ending from a film which was openly a fantasy, or at least from one not pretending to be SF. But it was a film pretending to be science fiction, that at the end said, “SURPRISE! I’m really a fantasy!” which I thought was a cheap trick. I get that other people thought it was clever and great, but I just didn’t.

  37. kathodus: the Sharkes think we’re a bunch of spoon-fed, semi-literate drones who award the things we’re told to like by marketing teams

    And this is my main issue with the Sharkes. It’s not enough (though it should be) for them to discuss the books they’ve read and talk about what they think worked well and what didn’t, they have to take a bunch of cheap shots at works they didn’t like, and at the people who do like those works.

    In addition, they showed themselves to be incredibly hypocritical, because some of the same criticisms they made of those works apply equally to works that they loved — which makes me think that those criticisms are merely a pretext they came up with for why they hated them, rather than the actual reasons.

  38. @kathodus: It seems apparent, reading through the Sharkes’ essays, that they are trying to get the reactions we’re seeing here. So much open contempt for anything popular, for anything genre, for basically anything that isn’t experimental. They wouldn’t need to express that contempt so clearly to write about what they like, or to criticize the shortcomings in eg. ACaCO (or CACAO as they call it). I agree they don’t argue like Puppies – whereas Puppies posit we’re a bunch of snotty literary types who award things because we think it makes us look smart or open-minded, the Sharkes think we’re a bunch of spoon-fed, semi-literate drones who award the things we’re told to like by marketing teams.

    We’re just going to have to agree to disagree, because I don’t get that at all**. To take their roundtable on ACaCO as an example, half of them described the book as compulsively readable. I don’t find it at all surprising that they think that a juried award like the Clarke (and by the way, Paul Kincaid was one of the founders of the Clarke Award and his latest book is a study of the fiction of Iain Banks, so I don’t think you can fairly accuse him of contempt for genre) should be especially willing to make a distinction between “enjoyable” and “award-worthy”, if the jurors don’t think a book offers anything new.

    **Okay, on that very last point, maybe one of them.

  39. I am 50 pages into Infomacracy and I’m flirting pretty seriously with the Eight Deadly Words. Is it worth pursuing, knowing I still have to read whatever else she put into the packet, the Le Guin, and at least glance at the artist categories and Best Editor Long (perhaps concluding that I have No Opinion)?

    @JJ – …some of the same criticisms they made of those works apply equally to works that they loved — which makes me think that those criticisms are merely a pretext they came up with for why they hated them, rather than the actual reasons.

    Eye rolling ensues when I try to take the Sharkes seriously, which is admittedly my response to that sort of criticism anyway, but part of it is seeing very little foundation in their appraisals. Personal and subjective opinion is great (more, please, because I can engage with that as a reader), but dressing that up as assessment irritates the crap out of me. It’s even worse when my brain snags on something and says, hey, wait, didn’t you argue something entirely different on a different day? Inconsistency is fine, but in this context it’s mildly obnoxious.

  40. @Cheryl S: I really enjoyed Infomocracy, which I thought was a very good first novel. It is a little slow out of the gate – I would give it another fifty pages. If it hasn’t grabbed your interest by then, I suspect it’s just not your kind of thing. (I actually enjoy reading about electoral systems. Weird, I know.)

  41. I don’t doubt that the Sharke writers have been doing their thing in good faith. I’ve really enjoyed some of the essays. To me the general tone is of earnest engagement with the work.

  42. I also liked Infomacracy, but the what-if can be pretty hard to swallow. But, like PhilRM, i was fascinated enough by the electoral system that I may have given it a pass on lack of action up front. (There’s something nice about reading works I don’t have to write reviews for!)

  43. (16) I thought it was Kofi Annan? And even the most SJW people possible hate “The Day After Tomorrow” b/c it sucks. Things Do Not Work That Way.

    @Steve Wright had a good point. The Sharkes were so busy being dismissive of ACaCO that they completely missed the big questions embedded in the story. Isn’t “What is a person?” one of the main concepts and reasons for fiction to exist in the first place? And they, supposedly proper literary critics, completely missed that point. Simply because the characters are nice to each other? That’s what threw them all off and made them unable to carry out basic literary analysis?

    And I don’t see a book where one character was raised in a hellish junkyard and another is under the threat of constant death every moment simply for existing — while having body identity issues the likes none of us can conceive of — as sweetness and light. It’s a great deal less cheery than TLWtaSAP.

    I believe the books they rate higher are things they genuinely enjoy, even if they aren’t my taste (Also a big, welcome difference from Puppies). They wouldn’t do all this in-depth analysis if they didn’t really believe in the quality of their favorites. Nobody’s accusing them of that. It’s their holier than thou attitude that grates. You can be pretentious about things you truly love.

    @Karl-Johan’s “endless updates and overwrought complaining” describes them perfectly.

    They don’t get personal, political, or stupid like Puppies did, but in one way they are the mirror of Puppies. They’d rather complain and blog about a literary award, attaching their name to it for attention, than do their own thing.And if we liked ACaCO, we shouldn’t b/c it’s a wrongbook. Their taste is the only worthy taste. It’s a terrible attitude coming from anyone. And doubly silly for a juried award — are they implying that the Clarke jury (six individual, named people) doesn’t know what good SF is? What makes their taste superior? And why come up with a cutesy name for a book they hated? That’s up there with Puppy acronyms.

    (Nina Allan has to recuse herself from Chris Priest books, being married or equivalent to him — but she’s popular enough to get a legit Hugo nomination, for work published by a US company. Priest is the guy who objected to a previous Clarke nominee as being unworthy to exist b/c it had talking horses. Uh, Chris, that’s called fantasy.)

    @Ann Leckie: (A Proper SF Author) said it best. Stop worrying so much. It yam what it yam.

    Don’t be pretentious and inconsistent.

    (1) Please note that it is National Public Radio, entirely paid for and listened to by the nation of the USA. Not Japanese or European Public Radio. I wouldn’t expect NHK to come up with a list that included Squirrel Girl or Lumberjanes.

    @Cheryl S: Infomacracy picks up pretty soon. But do read the Le Guin first!

  44. Cheryl S. I am 50 pages into Infomacracy and I’m flirting pretty seriously with the Eight Deadly Words. Is it worth pursuing…?

    I thought it was fairly interesting and somewhat well done, but like you, I felt pretty emotionally detached from the characters. The political system kind of defies believability (but at least not as badly as that of Too Like The Lightning), which doesn’t help.

    The sequel, Null States, comes out in September, but I suspect it’s going to go on the “I Didn’t Enjoy The First One Enough To Feel Compelled To Read The Sequel” list with The Three Body Problem, Persona, and Too Like The Lightning.

  45. I don’t think anyone said nobody should like the Chambers book, just that it shouldn’t be on the Clarke shortlist.

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