Pixel Scroll 7/14/17 In The Country Of The Pixelated, The First-Fifth Man Is God(stalk)

(1) GAME OF THRONES AND WORLDCON 75 MAKE NEWS. George R.R. Martin mentioned in his blog the other day (“Tick, Tick, Tick”) that Game of Thrones’ David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are coming to Worldcon 75 in Helsinki for the Hugo Awards ceremony.

Chair Jukka Halme confirmed it and the story made it into Finland’s biggest newspaper (Helsingin Sanomat). You can get all the details there…if you read Finnish: “Game of Thrones -sarjan tekijät tulevat vierailulle Suomeen elokuuss”.

(2) TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN. The July 2 New York Times Magazine has an article by Steven Johnson called “Greetings, E.T. (Please Don’t Murder Us)” about the search for extraterrestrial life and the debate about whether we should wait for aliens to contact us (the “SETI” approach) or actively send messages to outer space (a method known as “METI”).  Johnson interviews David Brin, who is fiercely opposed to actively broadcasting messages of our existence to other worlds:

Before Doug Vakoch had even filed the papers to form the METI nonprofit organization in July 2015, a dozen or so science-and-tech luminaries, including SpaceX’s Elon Musk, signed a statement categorically opposing the project, at least without extensive further discussion, on a planetary scale. ‘‘Intentionally signaling other civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy,’’ the statement argued, ‘‘raises concerns from all the people of Earth, about both the message and the consequences of contact. A worldwide scientific, political and humanitarian discussion must occur before any message is sent.’’

One signatory to that statement was the astronomer and science-fiction author David Brin, who has been carrying on a spirited but collegial series of debates with Vakoch over the wisdom of his project. ‘‘I just don’t think anybody should give our children a fait accompli based on blithe assumptions and assertions that have been untested and not subjected to critical peer review,’’ he told me over a Skype call from his home office in Southern California. ‘‘If you are going to do something that is going to change some of the fundamental observable parameters of our solar system, then how about an environmental-impact statement?’’

(3) KAISER. JoAnn Kaiser reopened The Magic Door within a week of the death of her husband, Dwain, reports David Allen in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin “Pomona bookstore’s reopening binds community after owner’s death”.

But Saturday she was revived, buoyed by her family and friends. A 12th anniversary sale that had been set to end July 5 instead continues, with all merchandise 30 percent off. The sale pricing may continue indefinitely.

Her goal is not to keep the store long-term. For one thing, she’s 82. But she wasn’t going to let the tragedy mark the end of Magic Door.

“I could have locked the door. I’m not a door-locker,” JoAnn Kaiser told me firmly. “The plan is to get the books he loved to the people who want them, who need them. He didn’t want his books dumped. He wanted them to go to somebody.”

…The bookstore fit the Arts Colony like a glove. “It was just part of the ambience of downtown Pomona,” customer Bill Martinez told me outside after buying two books. (I recognized “The Best of S.J. Perelman” as one I had sold Dwain Kaiser a few weeks ago.)

“Everybody knew them,” Martinez said of the Kaisers. “They were part of the community, and one of the best parts.”

Mayor Tim Sandoval has visited to offer his condolences and at Monday’s City Council meeting asked for a moment of silence in Dwain Kaiser’s memory.

…Not every customer knew of Dwain Kaiser’s death. Monica Berrocal was saddened when I told her. She liked to bring her children there. Once JoAnn Kaiser gave her son a Thomas the Tank Engine book. “They were always so kind,” she said.

Hino, a Pomona High graduate, greeted customers warmly from Dwain Kaiser’s usual seat and thanked them for coming. A hospital executive, he confided that this was his first retail job. He’ll be there helping out as he can, as will his sister, Kim.

“It’s very different from what I normally do,” Hino told me cheerfully. “I’m enjoying it. It’s nice. And it’s good being back in Pomona.”

…“Pomona’s resilient. I think tonight shows the best of Pomona,” JoAnn Kaiser said.

The store has a lot of books, and there are more in storage that Dwain Kaiser, due to age and mobility issues, had not seen in years. JoAnn Kaiser, with help, hopes to dig them all out, put them on the shelves and get them homes before shutting the doors for good.

“He had a mad love affair with books,” she said of her husband of 32 years.

“The support will fade. I know that. But I’m doing what he would have wanted.”

(4) BEAU GESTE. Deadpool gracefully yielded his place on the box office record lists to Wonder Woman:

(5) FOLLOW THE MONEY. What does John Scalzi have in common with Milo Yiannapoulos? Probably not much, except this one thing – Bookscan doesn’t count all their sales. Scalzi explains in “How to Screw Up a Triumphant Bestselling Debut”.

Here’s the deal: Yiannopoulos has asserted his book’s opening week sales were on the order of 100,000 copies. Contrasting this, Nielsen Bookscan, the service which tracks physical book sales via many (but not all) booksellers, including Amazon, has his first week sales as 18,268 in the US (and — heh — 152 in the UK). As most of us probably know, 18,000 is less than 100,000.

Or is it? Because here’s the thing about Bookscan — it doesn’t in fact track all sales of a book. It doesn’t track eBook sales, for example, nor does it track audiobook sales. Nor does it track sales from some small independent booksellers, who might have not signed up to be Bookscan-reporting retailers. As a result, depending on how much you sell in other formats, and where you sell your books, Bookscan can massively underreport your total sales.

I know this because that’s what Bookscan does with me. A couple of years ago I tracked the sales of the hardcover era of Lock In (which is to say, all the sales reported while the physical book was only available in hardcover). For the time it was in hardcover, Bookscan reported 11,175 hardcover sales in the US. However, overall the book sold about 22,500 copies in hardcover and about 87,500 copies across all formats (hardcover, ebook, audio).

In all, Bookscan recorded roughly 12.7% of my total sales. Which is not a lot! If Yiannopoulos were seeing a similar sort of ratio, based on his physical copy sales, he could indeed have sold something on the order of 100,000 copies of his book in the first week. He might not be lying.

With all that said, on further examination, this is why I very strongly suspect that Yiannopoulos has not, in fact, sold, 100,000 copies of his book in the first week…

(6) WE GET LETTERS. CBR.com tells you about “15 Times Fans Changed Comic Book History”.

15. INVISIBLE WOMAN’S POWERS

Other comics had certainly had an element of fan interaction in them before Marvel Comics, but Stan Lee took things to a whole other level when he began the “Marvel Age of Comics” in the early 1960s. Lee made fan interaction a key element of the success of Marvel. In Fantastic Four #11, Lee and Jack Kirby even worked in actual letters to the series into the comic book, having the characters respond to frequently asked questions.

Infamously, though, that issue also included their attempts to defend the Invisible Girl from all the hate mail she got for being seemingly useless (their “defense” was hilariously conceived – “She inspires them! Like Lincoln’s mother!” but still). They got enough of those complaints that they decided to give her invisible force fields in Fantastic Four #22, eventually leading to her becoming the most powerful member of the team!

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 14, 1999 Muppets From Space screened theatrically

(8) A KEY TO WRITING. Fantasy-Faction’s Aaron Miles gives tips: “On Character Development”.

An understanding of character development techniques can bring many benefits to your writing and help improve your work, so let’s start by establishing what it is. In essence character development is the change in nature of a character brought about by events in the narrative, it can be subtle or pronounced, and it may happen over a long period or reasonably quickly. The difficult part is actually showing it on the page, and just as importantly, showing it’s justified. For a character to change their whole nature for no apparent cause or just because the plot requires it is sloppy writing and obvious to the reader. While the methods and timeframe may very per character, a well-constructed piece of character development will follow a set formula.

Establishment

In order to show change an author must first establish an original nature to change from. When the author introduces the character they must detail their personality, opinions and mannerisms in order to make us view them as a believable and realistic person, particular focus should be given to any traits that might be relevant to later development.

For example, if you’re planning to have a cowardly character show a moment of bravery and save the day at the end of the novel, then you need at least a couple of scenes showing his cowardice in action. It could be crumbling in an argument with a shopkeeper, avoiding a hostile boss, or literally running away from a fight. Before the development even begins the author must cement a character’s nature quickly in the reader’s mind, this can be done with a variety of traditional characterisation methods and tricks and ideally is accomplished as quickly as possible. Without this establishment there is no baseline to measure development against and the change will lack meaning. Think about our introduction to Daenerys in A Game of Thrones as she is appraised and abused by her brother:

“You don’t want to wake the dragon do you?” His fingers twisted her, the pinch cruelly hard through the rough fabric of her tunic. “Do you?” he repeated.

“No,” Dany said meekly.

Without seeing the timid girl she was at the start of the story her later accomplishments and changes would be far less moving for the reader, but after Martin has shown us some early scenes of her life the reader gains a greater perspective to realise how pronounced her development is through several books.

(9) ECLIPSE VIEWING AND ECLIPSE CON. Hopkinsville, Kentucky is reputed to be the “point of greatest eclipse” for the 2017 Solar Eclipse. Just call them Eclipseville.

We’re already planning for your visit; our southern hospitality will make you and your group welcome, and your Solar Eclipse experience memorable.  So, whether you are a bona fide eclipse chaser, or just looking for the best place to experience Mother Nature’s rare eclipse show, we invite you to be with us in Hoptown.  Our community’s big enough to provide everything you’ll need and want for the 2017 Eclipse weekend experience… we’re planning a big Friday-Sunday Eclipse celebration before the sun disappears – for two minutes and forty seconds – at 1:24:41 pm CT on Monday, August 21, 2017.

And that’s where you’ll find Eclipse Con “raising awareness and funds for the Boys & Girls Club” with nationally recognized celebrities and vendors in the genres of cartoons, comics, anime, cosplay, sci-fi and superheroes

August 19-20, 2017

James E. Bruce Convention Center

Currently Confirmed Guests:

  • Samantha Newark, best known for her beloved voice-over work as the speaking voices of “Jem” and “Jerrica” on the wildly popular cartoon series Jem and the Holograms;
  • The Walking Dead’s Santiago Cirilo, who was also a member of the 101st Airborne Infantry and was stationed at Fort Campbell prior to his acting career;
  • and the award winning creator of sci-pulp series, VIC BOONE, Shawn Aldridge.

(10) IT’S DARK OUT. Mental Floss explains “How Eclipse Chasers Are Putting a Small Kentucky Town on the Map”.

Today, James McClean is an eclipse chaser. That’s not the name of some cute weekend hobby. It’s a lifestyle. For the past two decades, McClean, a professional photographer, has given up everything resembling a normal life. He has no permanent home base, opting instead to trot the globe, work odd jobs, and live on tight budgets to see solar eclipses.

Every. Single. One.

McClean has made a living as a cartographer and an aurora borealis tour guide. He’s lived on an island near Sitka, Alaska and taught photography. (When he needed Internet, he’d kayak an hour and a half to the nearest library.) He’s spent summers in Germany doing archaeology and winters in Sweden constructing, and living in, a hotel made of ice. He’s slept in bamboo huts on top of volcanic islands, backpacked through Egypt, and trudged the snows of Svalbard, Norway. One time, in Indonesia, he was invited to sip coffee in a sultan’s palace.

(11) BERNECKER OBIT. The Walking Dead suffered another loss today when stuntman John Bernecker,  seriously injured in a stunt (he reportedly missed the landing mattress while doing a 20-ft. fall), was declared brain-dead. There are many tweets with condolences from industry professionals included in the linked article.

(12) OUT, OUT DARNED SPOT. Nautilus interviews UC Berkeley’s Philip Marcus, a computational physicist and a professor in the mechanical engineering department, about “Why Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Refuses to Die”. Turns out there’s quite a bit of work been done on this.

Why did it start on Jupiter and not somewhere else?

Here on Earth, if you fly over the ocean, you can almost certainly tell when there’s an island below you because there’s a cloud hanging on top—topographic features often pin clouds to themselves. But there’s no solid surface on Jupiter until you get down to a very small core. It’s basically a ball of fluid. You don’t have differential heating between continents and oceans. You don’t have winds interrupted by mountain ranges. You don’t have all that messy stuff, so it’s got a really well organized set of jet streams on it. Once you’ve got jet streams, vortices just form naturally. You’ve got winds going in opposite directions, shearing against one another. Think of a ball bearing between two oppositely moving walls. The walls make the ball bearing spin, and the oppositely moving jet streams on Jupiter make the air between them spin. Vortices between jet streams are resistant to anything smashing into them. If I create a vortex in a bathtub and I smash it, the vortex is generally gone. If I do a simulation of a big Red Spot on Jupiter sitting between zonal winds and I smack it, try and break it in two, it’ll come back together. So I think of jet streams as gardens in which you want to grow vortices.

(13) DO PANIC. Two Travelers from Galactic Journey praise a low-budget Roger Corman production. You know, somebody should make Roger a Worldcon guest of honor someday — “[July 14, 1962] Cause for Alarm (Panic in Year Zero – a surprise summer hit film!)”.

The latest example is a tiny-budgeted film by schlockhouse American Independent Pictures, Panic in Year Zero.  The Young Traveler and I saw Panic at opening night, July 5.  There was a big promotional event headlined by Frankie Avalon, and I understand the picture made back its budget in just the evening L.A. showings!  The film has already generated some positive buzz, and I suspect it’ll be the surprise hit of the summer.

Produced by the master of the independents, Roger Corman, Panic opens with a literal bang: a typical Angelino family out on a drive toward a camping vacation sees a bright flash as their home town of Los Angeles is wiped out by Soviet bombs.  It soon becomes clear that the attack is widespread and civilization is about to deteriorate.  Our viewpoint family must brave its way to safety, securing adequate supplies and a defensible shelter, before the walls of society collapse.

(14) FORK YOU. The January 30 New Yorker article by Raffi Khatchadourian, “The Movie with a Thousand Plotlines”, is about efforts in Hollywood to create films that have alternate endings that viewers can choose among. The article focuses on efforts by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who directed Swiss Army Man, to come up with films that fit this template.  The sf news is that both War Games and The Twilight Zone have had rights sold for interactive television series that are under development.

Treehouse is an intuitive program for a nonintuitive, nonlinear form of storytelling, and Bloch is adept at demonstrating it. In his office, he called up a series of video clips featuring the model Dree Hemingway sitting at a table. Below the clips, in a digital workspace resembling graph paper, he built a flowchart to map the forking narrative—how her story might divide into strands that branch outward, or loop backward, or converge. At first, the flowchart looked like a “Y” turned on its side: a story with just one node. “When you start, it is always ‘To be, or not to be,’ ” he said. The choice here was whether Hemingway would serve herself coffee or tea. Bloch dragged and dropped video clips into the flowchart, then placed buttons for tea and coffee into the frame, and set the amount of time the system would allow viewers to decide. In less than a minute, he was previewing a tiny film: over a soundtrack of music fit for a Philippe Starck lobby, Hemingway smiled and poured the beverage Bloch had selected. He then returned to the graph paper and added a blizzard of hypothetical options: “You can decide that here it will branch again, here it goes into a loop until it knows what to do, and here it becomes a switching node where five things can happen at the same time—and so on.”

As Bloch was getting his company off the ground, a small race was under way among like-minded startups looking for financial backing. In Switzerland, a company called CtrlMovie had developed technology similar to Interlude’s, and was seeking money for a feature-length thriller….

The article also discusses Mr. Payback, a 1995 interactive film about a cyborg – script by Bob Gale! – that was panned by Roger Ebert.

Early experiments in interactive film were likewise marred by shtick. In 1995, a company called Interfilm collaborated with Sony to produce “Mr. Payback,” based on a script by Bob Gale, who had worked on the “Back to the Future” trilogy. In the movie, a cyborg meted out punishment to baddies while the audience, voting with handheld controllers, chose the act of revenge. The film was released in forty-four theatres. Critics hated it. “The basic problem I had with the choices on the screen with ‘Mr. Payback’ is that they didn’t have one called ‘None of the above,’ ” Roger Ebert said, declaring the movie the worst of the year. “We don’t want to interact with a movie. We want it to act on us. That’s why we go, so we can lose ourselves in the experience.”

(16) IN MOLT. Joe Sherry has reached the artist categories on his Hugo ballot: “Watching the Hugos: Professional and Fan Artist” at Nerds of a Feather. Too bad it includes a slam against Steve Stiles, one of the greatest fan artists of all time.

(17) PINCH HITTER. Tor.com’s Emily Asher-Perrin discovered something at the movies: “Star Trek IV Now Exists in the Same Universe As All Marvel Films Thanks to a Special Cameo”.

When nerds make movies, beautiful things can happen. In this case, the fact that MCU producer Kevin Feige happens to be a big fan of Star Trek IV led to a cameo that now places a character from The Voyage Home into Spider-Man: Homecoming.

I won’t spoiler her spoiler – you’ll have to click through.

(18) UNEXPECTED CASTING. The Big Bang Theory’s Melissa Rauch will voice Harley Quinn in the upcoming Bruce Timm animated film Batman And Harley.

CinemaBlend is all in favor:

As far as casting decisions go, Melissa Rauch is a fairly pitch perfect choice for the role of Harley Quinn. Not only does she have a high-pitched voice that’s very reminiscent of Arleen Sorkin and Tara Strong; she also has developed a reputation as an actress through her work in a show predicated on the passion and intensity of geek culture. Something tells us that all of those years on The Big Bang Theory have given her an understanding of how fans will respond to her performance, thus ensuring that she will deliver the best possible Harley Quinn.

 

(19) POETRY CORNER. Johnstick joined the throngs who have been raining limericks in the File 770 comments section.

As prophets of eld have foretold,
and pixels of all hues have scrolled,
Death takes the clever
and redshirts forever,
plus all those whose glister’s not gold!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, and Terhi for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

69 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/14/17 In The Country Of The Pixelated, The First-Fifth Man Is God(stalk)

  1. @14: The story misses a much earlier experiment in interactive cinema: a pavilion at Expo 67 (IIRC Czech), where a relevant actor came out and explained each fork point. Obviously a live actor doesn’t work for Hollywood; a tape might do, but it would still hold up the movie. I disagree with Siskel and Ebert that the idea is silly — I for one tend to think through movies instead of dissolving into them — but I wonder how well audience members would react given the high odds that everyone would see at least one choice go against them; would they be sporting about it or turn against the film?

  2. Aww, poor (15). No story for it.

    (3) KAISER

    I’m glad the store will get a nice little last hurrah. 🙂

    (5) FOLLOW THE MONEY

    The publishing industry’s dedication to being as opaque as possible is very strange.

    My default assumption about Yiannopoulos is that at any given time he’s probably lying about something. Whether it’s book sales, I don’t know.

    (16) IN MOLT

    I really can’t quite figure out why Steve Stiles would come below No Award. Or Ninni Aalto, for that matter. Neither of them are ranked first on my ballot, but they’re perfectly respectable. No accounting for taste, I suppose.

    The Pro Artist nominees were very good this year, he’s right, although I like Julie Dillon a lot more than he does.

  3. I’ve have a confession to make. I’ve looked carefully over all of the Pro Artist and Fan Artist submissions… and I can’t rank them. Honestly, I’d be happy if any of the artists won. (Well, ok, there’s one fan artist I like a little less than the other five, but not enough less that I want to try to rank the others.) So I’m not voting in either category. Does this make me a Bad Hugo Voter?

  4. Cassy B: Does this make me a Bad Hugo Voter?

    Not at all. I agree that with one or two exceptions, ranking them was an extremely difficult decision. 😀

  5. 16)
    There’s a difference between “This is not to my taste” and “This is not Hugo quality.” I can understand, if Ninni Aalto and Steve Stiles are not to everybody’s taste, but that doesn’t mean that their work is low quality.

    Talking of which, I helped my Mom submit her Hugo votes today (I submitted mine a few days ago). Turned out that even though she is only vaguely aware of the whole puppy affair (as “A bunch of rightwingers tried to hijack the award, that’s is why it’s important to nominate and vote) but doesn’t know who specifically was a slate nominee, she nonetheless placed all puppy nominees except Neil Gaiman and China Mieville (and she didn’t much like “This Census Taker” either) under “No Award”. There were also a couple of pointed “What is this shit and what is it doing here?” comments directed at various puppy nominees as well. Cause lack of quality dooms the puppies every time.

  6. Oh, yeah, skipping a category because all the entrants seem reasonably worthy and you don’t have strong feelings about any of them: perfectly reasonable. I used to do it all the time. Especially in the Fan categories, since, despite having been embedded in fandom since childhood, there are whole classes of fanac I never really got involved with. (‘Zines, for example, were never my thing till they started going on-line.)

    This is one extra reason (in addition to the more obvious ones) why I’m hoping the various anti-slating measures prove effective. I’d like to go back to voting in the categories I care about, and leaving the categories I don’t up to the people who do. 🙂

  7. Xtifr:

    This is one extra reason (in addition to the more obvious ones) why I’m hoping the various anti-slating measures prove effective. I’d like to go back to voting in the categories I care about, and leaving the categories I don’t up to the people who do.

    Yes, either that or the finalist stage needs a way to vote ties in the middle. There are some categories where my rankings around 3-5 is almost down to rolling a dice – but since I have a strong opinion on No Award at 6, before the last named finalist, I can’t just leave the finalists I’m somewhat indifferent about out.

    BTW, I really loved that All Along the Watchtower filk yesterday.

  8. 16) Not really seeing a “slam” here, just a “Joe Sherry doesn’t like Steve Stiles’s art”, which is… well, fair enough, really: you like what you like. If it was Sharke-style “This is obviously unworthy of an award” or Puppy-style “This is only on the ballot because of the SJW conspiracy”, that’d be a slam, but Sherry seems firmly positioned in “agree-to-disagree” territory here. (Stiles is going above “No Award” on my ballot, I’ll tell you that for nothing.)

  9. So are the “Fifth Men” in Stapledon’s future history in Last and First Men necessarily the best men to Filers? 🙂

  10. 12) I recall in Heavy Weather (Bruce Sterling) there is a fear that in the supercharged atmosphere of a globally warmed earth, a permanent storm might develop a la the Red Spot.
    I don’t remember the name of the story or the author, but I recall an old SF story where the Red Spot turns out to be a livable space platform. (that story as I recall was what we’d call anti-colonist, a darkly humorous story of Earth trying to colonize the solar system and getting colonized right back).

    @Cassy Not at all. Sometimes ranking is awfully hard. I know in some years past I’ve just not voted in the art categories at all because of having no good way to judge. (this was especially true in the pre-packet era)

    9) In years past, I gave serious thought as to “where am I going to go see the eclipse?” Circumstances (hello, DUFF. Hi, Worldcon in Finland) scotched those plans. While Kentucky is where its going to be the longest period, I was always looking west, for higher probability clear skies.

  11. Ahh I wish I had more time to spend hanging out in pixel scrolls especially around voting crunch time, but I wanted to give a big thanks to everyone who regularly leaves reviews and impressions down here – I have really enjoyed reading all the ones I’ve been able to and it’s clarified my own thoughts about the finalists in some categories.

    My ballot is at a point I am happy with after lots of really tough decisions (artist categories were tricky for me too!) I left out BDP long form and fancast as I didn’t get around to everything and a couple of other categories are a bit cheeky – only read samples of some of the BRWs and my Sarah Gailey sample has turned out to be out of eligibility…

    Biggest reading successes have been in Best Series, where I’ve read something like 20 nominated novels in the voting period. That represents three series I had already part read and wanted to finish, one more (Expanse) where I would have finished if book 6 weren’t still so expensive in ebook, a big chunk of Vorkosigan catch-up and starting October Daye, which went from “why would I read this” to “I have to know everything that happens” in the space of three and a half books. These were all SO hard to rank and I keep wanting to go in and noodle with 3-6 again.

    Still haven’t read any John C. Wright tho 🙂

  12. Arifel: starting October Daye, which went from “why would I read this” to “I have to know everything that happens” in the space of three and a half books.

    It took me 1 book less, but I so echo your experience here. I am NOT a fan of urban fantasy!… and yet, apparently, it turns out that I sometimes am. 😀

    And I will echo the thanks for everyone who has posted their reviews and other thoughts on the Hugo Finalists. Even when I don’t agree, I very much appreciate the additional perspective.

    As far as the Hugo ceremony goes, I won’t be taking home a rocket — but I very much feel like a winner. 🚀

  13. Now I think I see why Jamison Quinn keeps saying the Hugos would be better served by the Majority Judgment method in the final vote rather than the Instant Runoff method currently in use.

    With Majority judgment, instead of ranking the candidates, you give them scores like Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor, and Reject. So you could decide to give Excellent to five candidates and Good to the sixth one, for example. The reasoning is that when judging literary works, people are less likely to be able to make a total ordering than they would be with political candidates.

  14. Hey Mike, after the nominations close tonight, will there be a “How Filers Destroyed The Hugos (By Voting)” scroll? I, for one, would absolutely love to know how others here voted; as a rule I respect Filers’ opinions even when I don’t always agree with them. And even (gasp) when they don’t agree with me! <grin>

    I enjoyed the scroll last year and would very much like it to become an annual tradition, after the ballots close.

  15. Well, now. I read the JCW short story. It’s a nugget of something, that’s for sure. Wow.

  16. (8) A KEY TO WRITING. Fantasy-Faction’s Aaron Miles gives tips: “On Character Development”.

    I love articles like this, but OMG white letters on a black background??? PLEASE oh PLEASE people who have blogs and websites: have pity on those of us with old eyes who can’t deal with that kind of layout.

    Is there anyone who seriously considers that sort of color scheme attractive?

  17. As far as JCW is concerned, I thought the Golden Age novels were good. They had some interesting ideas. But when I tried the Count To A Trillion series, I bounced very hard and he dropped off of my reading list.

  18. @Paul Weimer

    So are the “Fifth Men” in Stapledon’s future history in Last and First Men necessarily the best men to Filers

    As I recall, the Fifth Men were one of the most successful species in the book (though it’s been almost 30 years since I read it).

    P.S.

    “Fifth in Spacewar, Fifth in “The Peace War”, and Fifth in the Scroll of Appertaination”

  19. @kathodus

    I think I have some brain bleach left over from when I read it….

    Its main merit is that it means the alien stripper story isn’t actually the worst thing on the ballot.

  20. This latest example of the best writer writing stood out to me for 1) its reversal of the standard religious inquisitor (the inquisitor, who seems from the description to be a stand-in for the author, is a smug, atheist SJW); 2) the incredible passage where the female character is described in the most prurient way possible, but utilizing a thesaurus steganographically:

    Her face was piquant and elfin, her eyes danced and glittered. Her lips were full, her smile ready. She was pulchritudinous, buxom, callipygous, leggy. Her torso was slender, and her abdominal muscles as well defined as those of a belly dancer, so that her navel was like a period between two cursive brackets. Her hair was lustrous, and tied in a loose knot at the back of her swanlike neck. Hair, eye, and skin color were optional. She was, of course, naked.

  21. @kathodus — My reaction to that excerpt is not unlike one of those computers Kirk keeps busting with unsolvable logic puzzles.

  22. This sounds like an AI tried to write erotica, but unfortunately ran it through the Theasaurus app beforehand.

  23. Bear in mind you don’t have to rank everything. You can put down the name of your favourite candidate and then stop. (Of course, that doesn’t work if you want to include No Award. But there isn’t a slate candidate in every category, and when there is, my feeling is that the slate this year is weak enough that we don’t actually need to use No Award against it.)

  24. Hey, everyone, it’s lovely to read you all again (not so much when you quote the Best Writer, though). Sorry about disappearing, I’ve had a horrible year or two, but I did (just now) manage to vote. So that’s something. Acts of Hugo destruction, yay!

    And my last-minute self-second-guessing brought me back here: If I can’t choose between nominees I did not manage to acquaint myself with (see horrible year, and also, the news), but feel strongly about not wanting one to win, I vote no award and then the skunk’s name, right?

    I want to be able to vote ties, too; like, why is Graphic Novel so damned good?

  25. @kathodus: I’ve read that excerpt in several places over the last couple of months, and it still makes me cross my eyes. The “of course” is the icing on this particular cake, I think. I love how it’s just plopped in there.

    I willingly confess that I use ten-dollar words from time to time, usually for some sort of comedic effect, but this is ridiculous–I don’t use ’em like buckshot. I’ve said before (on either this site or Camestros’s) that even if I were to inclined to agree with Wright’s views, his style would be enough to send me laughing in the opposite direction.

    Regarding the content of that passage, if I were a cynic, I’d be tempted to believe that he’s ashamed to admit that that sort of thing makes his pants feel funny, so he gussies it up in what he thinks is sophisticated language and tries to pass it off as literary.

    If I were a cynic, of course.

  26. Hair, eye, and skin color were optional.

    …does that mean she can change them as she pleases? Does it mean that the sexbot model has various options for hair, eye, and skin colour? But not body because there is of course One Ideal Sexy Body Shape? Why am I using so much brain power trying to parse JCW?

    @Aaron:

    You touched on one of my big problems with Ninefox Gambit; namely the lack of math in a book about a math genius using math to calculate the “exotic effects”. It felt like an RPG where a player doesn’t have the knowledge to roleplay an area of expertise of their character, so they just say “I math the math,” and roll the dice.

    The majority of the book left me totally cold, and I only got invested at the denouement/setup for the remainder of the series.

  27. @Susana – sorry 🙁

    @William R – My take is, he is projecting that gaze onto his “enemies” (the godless SJW inquisitors of the future). From what I’ve seen, his prurient prose is there for the purpose of teaching how we shouldn’t be. I believe Wright is trying to show how humanity’s (err… mankind’s, in his POV?) basest instincts are given free reign in this future, godless dystopia. Not sure, though, since knowing that would involve crawling inside his head, and it’s so voluminous, what with all that word- and ego-storage, that I’d certainly be lost forever if I tried.

    @Dawn – that bit is particularly confusing given the twist at the end.

  28. @Susana,

    If I understand you correctly, you’re asking whether you should vote:

    1) Awesome Work
    2) Really Good Work
    3) No Award
    4) Skunk

    and leave the three works you didn’t have time to read off the ballot entirely.

    The answer is: No, that’s not what you want to do. In the above scenario, the three works you didn’t read and didn’t place on your ballot will be interpreted by the voting system as tied for fifth place, below the skunk.

    Instead, I’d recommend just voting for your top two (or whatever number you’ve read) picks and trusting that enough other voters will vote on the entire category and will place the skunk appropriately low.

    Your other option is to roll a die to determine an order for the unread works and to place them in that order above No Award. Personally, I find that a little skeevy, though.

  29. Susanna, alas, if you vote only
    1) No Award
    2) Skunk
    then the other five works will be ranked BELOW Skunk, since they weren’t named at all. Unnamed works are always last on the ballot.

    Were I you, I’d either leave it blank and trust the other voters, vote for the one or two you’ve read and trust the other voters, or binge-read at least a sample of everything so you can make a good-faith ranking of all five good works, then No Award, then Skunk.

    And I left a few categories blank that I simply wanted to say “You’re All Tied For Awesome!”. I trust more discerning voters to rank them; I’ll be happy with any of the nominated works winning in those categories

  30. @Susana, I hope things improve for you and soon.

    I loved Ninefox Gambit and it’s currently sitting atop my ballot, although I might change that again, because my top three choices are interchangeable. I was content to be lost in the weeds, because Yoon Ha Lee’s writing is sufficiently masterful that I trusted him to bring it all to a reasonable conclusion. I think, reading the comments and reviews of it and This Census-Taker, which I really liked while reading and has grown in my affection after I’ve completely forgotten several others in that category, that I pretty easily tolerate not knowing what’s going on if I feel like the writing is assured and purposeful.

    @kathodus – That excerpt brings back the memory of a truly craptastic JCW story, which I thought I’d decently buried, but apparently not deeply enough. He is a bad writer and a worse thinker and that story gave me far too broad a view into things I don’t want to know about how his mind works. I will give him vivid imagery, because he’s got that going for him, but part of that is how simple-minded his message is.

  31. You can vote ties, but only for last place. Having used a voting system which allows ties for any position, I must say I much prefer that approach.

    @Greg Hullender:

    With Majority judgment, instead of ranking the candidates, you give them scores like Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor, and Reject.

    The problem with that is that I may think two works are excellent, while still preferring one over the other. Contrariwise, I might think that all the candidates are good, none quite rises to excellence, and still have a proper ordering in mind for all of them.

    Allowing ties in the ranking sidesteps all of this quite nicely. It allows the case where I don’t have a preference between two (or more) works, while still allowing me to express an honest preference wherever I might have one.

    I don’t want my ambivalence or my preference to be restricted in any way. 🙂

    Of course, with that particular scheme, I could ignore the names, and simply call my top choice “excellent” whether I honestly thought the term applied or not. But that’s likely to start fandom wars between those who ignore the names and treat the system as a simple ranking, and those who think voting a work as excellent when you wouldn’t actually call it that (or vice versa) is “cheating”.

    Fandom has enough internal warring already; I’d rather avoid adding new reasons to fight.

  32. Mike,

    I’m awaiting your instructions as to how to vote.That’s how it works, isn’t it? Have to say, you’re leaving it late this year…

    Filer #555

  33. @Greg Hullender: Correcting to be polite: that’s “Jameson” with an E.

  34. Chris S: I’m awaiting your instructions as to how to vote.That’s how it works, isn’t it? Have to say, you’re leaving it late this year…

    Put a live chicken in a sack, wave it around your head three times, and listen to what the chicken tells you to vote for. That’s how I’m getting the message out this year.

  35. The chicken made a noise that sounded like “Clarke” so I guess I should shadow that award instead,,,

  36. I think we’re all just supposed to vote for Godstalk every year, aren’t we?

  37. My chicken told me to vote for Buckell, which is odd since he’s not on the ballot. Then it pooped on my head.

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