Pixel Scroll 7/23

Six stories, a French rant and a video adorn today’s Scroll.

(1) “Cap’n, it’s a Class M planet.”

“Any lifeform readings?”

Described in media reports as an “earthlike planet” is the Kepler space mission’s first discovery of a world smaller than Neptune in the middle of its star’s habitable zone.

Also called the Goldilocks zone, the habitable zone is the region around a star where a planet’s surface is not too hot and not too cold for liquid water—and thus life as we know it—to exist.

(2) Atlas Obscura has posted its “Obsessively Detailed Map of American Literature’s Most Epic Road Trips”. I’ll bet there are some fan fund reports crying out for the same treatment.

The above map is the result of a painstaking and admittedly quixotic effort to catalog the country as it has been described in the American road-tripping literature. It includes every place-name reference in 12 books about cross-country travel, from Mark Twain’s Roughing It (1872) to Cheryl Strayed’s Wild (2012), and maps the authors’ routes on top of one another. You can track an individual writer’s descriptions of the landscape as they traveled across it, or you can zoom in to see how different authors have written about the same place at different times.

(3) Thunderbirds fans are very enthusiastic about the plan to combine old-fashioned “Supermarionation” with audio lifted from three original 21-minute mini-albums released in the 1960s (each was a 7″ single, but played at 33-1/3 rpm). The Kickstarter appeal to fund production, with a goal of $115,789, has already gathered $206,325 in pledges from over 2,000 contributors. The original goal would have paid for one – the current total should pay for all three.

[Director] Stephen La Rivière says: “We have shot new sequences with the puppets using the old-fashioned techniques. Whilst many of the methods used seem a little archaic and time-consuming by today’s standards, we thought that it would be very special to do a one-off project bringing Thunderbirds back to life 1960s style. Sadly, many of the original voice cast have passed away since 1965. However, thanks to the original audio footage we’ve rediscovered, we have new, authentic stories that have never been adapted for screen.”

 

(4) Being a critic is a higher calling for Jonathan McCalmont than most sf bloggers who spend a lot of energy churning other people’s advertising in return for pageviews. (Pay no attention to the man behind the file…) McCalmont inquires “What Price, Your Critical Agency?” on Ruthless Culture.

These days, few cultural ecosystems operate independently of commercial interests. The ability to artificially engineer an interest bubble means that commercial interests will always have some control over the agenda of an enthusiast press. Reviewers will request DVD screeners and ARCs of books they have been encouraged to look forward to and editors will always be happy to slipstream a wave of hype by providing content that satisfies the readership’s artificially-engineered interest in a particular subject. Money and effort devoted to creating buzz translates into traffic and so anyone who is interested in getting more traffic will always go out of their way to chase the hype.

While traffic is a significant carrot to offer in return for collaborating with commercial interests, review copies are another great way of controlling the agenda. At an institutional level, it is difficult to run a reviews department without review copies you can pass on to your reviewers and so the output of a reviews department will always be dependent upon the nature of the screeners and ARCs provided. At an individual level, a commitment to operate any kind of reviews platform means an open-ended commitment to media consumption and while you may very well be willing to pay for the media you choose to consume, the volume of reviews required to build an audience realistically means deep pockets, a relationship with publicists, or a willingness to obtain review materials for free by either borrowing or stealing.

One of my favourite recent discoveries has been S.C. Flynn’s Scy-Fy, a blog that features no fewer than 100 different interviews with book bloggers, magazine editors, podcasters and something he somewhat alarmingly refers to as ‘booktubers’. One thing that struck me about these interviews is that despite many of them warning about the dangers of writing only about new books and how setting your own critical agenda is the best way to stay productive and stave off burnout, most of the interviewees operate platforms that lavish their attention on new releases. In other words, they know that allowing commercial forces to influence their critical output is dangerous and yet they continue to let it happen.

(5) But at the very tip of the cultural pyramid is the blogosphere’s most highly evolved parasite, with an enviable track record of breaking stories before the studios’ own PR staffs ever hear about them. Alex Pappademas on Grantland tells how El Mayimbe creates those leaks.

El Mayimbe’s real name is Umberto Gonzalez, born 41 years ago in Queens, New York, of Dominican and Colombian descent, and as a self-proclaimed “fanboy journalist” and “ace scooper,” he lives for moments like these. If a studio’s measuring an actor for an iconic leotard or cowl or enchanted helm or loincloth, if a director signs up to reboot a trilogy based on an action figure, Gonzalez wants to be the first to know, and the first to trumpet that information on the Internet, via a fistful of social-media accounts and a new website called Heroic Hollywood, which went live in June. In an era when the movie business sometimes appears to be rebooting itself as a machine that cranks out nothing but superhero movies, Gonzalez is far from the only reporter whose beat includes stories like these, but no one follows it as closely or as aggressively. Gonzalez broke that Brandon Routh would play Superman, that Heath Ledger would play the Joker. He knew that Bradley Cooper would be supplying the voice of Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy, he says, before Cooper’s own publicist did.

(7) You don’t need to know French to catch the drift of this Telerama article about the Puppies, titled “Hugo Awards : le plus grand prix de SF menacé par des groupes d’extrême droite.”

Fervent défenseur des armes à feu

Cette année, le débat est autre. Un groupe de fans extrêmement conservateurs, les sad puppies (« chiots tristes »), dirigés par un fervent défenseur des armes à feu, Larry Correia, s’était déjà fait attaquer pour ses choix. En 2014, il avait mis de l’eau dans son vin, proposant aussi sur ses listes des auteurs progressistes. Trop, au goût de certains de ses membres, qui ont formé un groupe dissident, les rabid puppies (« chiots enragés »), l’ont débordé sur sa droite et ont réussi, en faisant voter en masse leurs soutiens, à faire inclure dans toutes les listes de nominés la plupart de leurs candidats. Démarche parfaitement en accord avec les règles du prix. Mais les livres ainsi proposés deviennent les fers de lance d’une percée idéologique forte. Et le prix est aujourd’hui au bord de l’implosion.

[Thanks to Steve Green and John King Tarpinian for some of these links.]

213 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/23

  1. @Eric

    It and every other vote counting proposal I’ve seen put forth ignores the primary reason why the SP/RP efforts were so successful this year.

    No, it hits it pretty much on the head. A small percentage of voters who nominate in a lockstep fashion has the ability to dominate nominations against a much larger percentage of voters who vote individually and in good faith. If you’re going to attempt to argue that it was a silent majority of people who agreed with their position that made it successful, the nomination results clearly refute that.

  2. EPH isn’t a bad proposal. It and every other vote counting proposal I’ve seen put forth ignores the primary reason why the SP/RP efforts were so successful this year.

    The reason slate voting was so successful was because that strategy enabled a concentrated minority of nominating voters to get almost all of their nominees a place on the Hugo ballot. EPH is explicitly designed to reduce the effectiveness of such a tactic without making any significant changes to current voting procedures or trying to police such voting tactics. This isn’t about political ideology or fannish feuds as much as it’s about a reform of the way nominations counted to ensure that all fans who participate in the process have their preferences counted fairly.

  3. Eric: Unless he buys more than Kowal and Co. bought, is that really an issue?

    You are making the erroneous assumption that 1) all of the Supporting Memberships which were provided went to non-Puppies 2) who will vote against slate entries.

    Anyone could request one of the free memberships. There were no qualifications on whether or not the requester was a Puppy, or how the requester would vote — and Kowal had no way of knowing who was or was not a Puppy.

    In fact, the giveaway was widely publicized across a number of platforms — and not just on liberal blogs and Facebook profiles. What’s more, I saw a number of Puppies posting that they were going to request those memberships.

    Besides which, the 100 free memberships given away are a drop in the bucket to the 3,600 Supporting Memberships sold since March 31st.

  4. @Kyra

    I agree with Declare for Powers, but I suspect there will be others proposed. Powers is the sort of author where everyone has a different favourite.

    Lovecraft is trickier. If you want a representative work that isn’t just a short I’d go for At The Mountains Of Madness, which I think is a novella. His lack of a contemporary representative collection is a problem.

    Also: great work on the SF bracket!

  5. Jon, I was unaware that Butcher had a new book (series?) coming out. Thanks for the heads-up.

  6. Mark: Another collision between “favorite” and “best.” I would probably rather reread Tim Powers’ Expiration Date, but I would be more likely to recommend Declare.

  7. Actually, Lovecraft is in great collection shape at the moment, thanks in very large part to S.T. Joshi’s efforts. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories has pretty much all the Lovecraft stories worth bothering with other than At The Mountains of Madness, “The Shadow Out of Time”, and the Dreamlands stories: “The Statement of Randolph Carter” (the best short way to get the feel of Lovecraft’s application of Poe’s dicta about short stories), “The Outsider”, “The Rats in the Walls”, “Cool Air”, “The Call of Cthulhu”, “The Colour Out of Space”, “The Whisperer in Darkness”, and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”. That’s from Penguin.

  8. @Mike

    Precisely. I’ve read Last Call the most and would rank it next to Declare, but objectively it’s not as good.

    Horrible thought: Powers vs Lovecraft in a bracket. The humanity!

  9. @Bruce Baugh

    I was thinking modern collections shouldn’t count, having as they do the advantage of hindsight. I may be entirely wrong though, in which case the collection you mention is a good showcase (although I think Mountains is an unfortunate omission).

  10. Left Hand of Darkness.

    Because, like Doctor Science said, scenes and lines from that book frequently replay in my head…

    …. I was going to start pointing out which ones, and then realized it would go on forever. So I won’t.

  11. Submitted my online ballot for the Hugo Awards (I am opposed to slates, so a number of categories have “No Award” in them), and filled out the paper ballot for the site selection (snail mail! egad!)–ready to send off the next time I’m in town.

    And our central air unit died–luckily our wonder air conditioning expert has arrived. (It’s an OLD unit–we replaced the indoor part last year after the tornado, and knew we’d have to replace the outside unit–hoping to get through this summer though since it’s been an expensive year).

  12. Hmmm we are having the EPH discussion Brian wanted after all it seems 🙂
    Spoiler: Juvyr V jbhyqa’g fnl ur vf ylvat uvf nethzrag vf abg frys-pbafvfgrag naq ur vf fhccbegvat n cbfvgvba juvpu orunirf zhpu jbefr ntnvafg gur bowrpgvbaf ur vf envfrq gb gur cbvag gung vg vf uneq gb ertneq uvf nethzragf nf fvaprer.

    So, Brian Z has raised a number of objections to EPH:
    1. a social response is better i.e. get lots of people involved to swamp the slates
    2. EPH effectively institutionalizes slates i.e. by limiting the damage and allowing some slated candidates a chance to get on the final ballot
    3. EPH treats the nomination process like a party political election
    4. EPH if applied to past results might create asterisk nominees i.e. people who were nominated under the old system might not have been nominated under the new system
    5. something something weird scary something confusing something
    6. by making a radical rule change in response to slates this may be seen as an aggressive move by puppy sympathizers who are fans and they may feel alienated wibble
    7. his vote gets diluted by the EPH process
    8. people will adopt tactical nomination methods that will be bad somehow
    9 it should be about the love of books etc

    Instead Brian Z has suggested a two-stage nomination process. In the first stage people just nominate and in the second a long list of nominations is published and people then pick their top 5 from that.

    I mentioned a two stage process in a much, much earlier discussion about voting systems to show how the Single Transferable Vote voting system works. With a long list you could (and should) use STV as the means to pick 5 nominees so that people can order the 15 longlist nominees by preference.

    Comparing a 15 longlist proposal against Brian’s objections it becomes clear that it performs worse against Brian’s objections than EPH. A rational or sincere Brian should object MORE to the longlist proposal than he should to EPH.
    1. a longlist does not aid a social response to slating. Rather it makes the nomination process more complex for the end user and hence discourages participation at least a little bit.
    2 & 8 a longlist severely institutionalizes slates. In a a year with a dominant 5 work slate in a category (like this year) a de-facto 10 work anti-slate (or two competing anti-slates). If we had this syetm for 2015 there would have been a substantial discussion among non-puppies on which works stood the best chance against the puppies. That really establishes counter-slating as norm to a slate, as well as tactical nominating and discussion of work on tactical basis rather than quality/love basis.
    3. A longlist approach will have a feel of a US style party political primary process. It is a VERY party political approach (see previous point) and would incite mid-vote campaigning (particularly if there is a slate)
    4. Although we can only run the longlist approach up to the first stage with past votes, it still would suggest that people may have voted differently if they could have up-voted a nominee that was less than fifth in the first stage nomination process. A longlist encourages the same kind of ‘if we had this system X would have won in 198Z instead of Y’
    5. exactly cthululu miemetic brain virus cats living with dogs etc
    6. a longlist is still a radical rule change in response to the puppy campaign
    7. in EPH a work you nominated might get eliminated at an early stage, in the longlist a work you nominated might get eliminated at the firststage.
    8. discussed already. A longlist encourages its own tactical responses and then some.
    9. discussed across the board. The two stage process encourages a focus at the second stage on what will win against other known choices, which may be political (in the horse-trading sense) or ideological.

    Now a longlist has some nice qualities and some of the above might just not happen because people might just choose to not do things that we don’t want to happen. However the nice qualities of a longlist is that allows people to risk nominating less popular work without fear of inadvertently helping a slate and it gives more popular non-slated works a boost when in competition with slated works.

    But EPH does both of those things AS WELL, but the side-effects are much, much less. For the user (i.e. the nominating voter) they just nominate works they like as they would normally. No preferencing, no multi-stage voting – they just wirte down a bunch of stuff they love. It gives no opportunity for mid-vote politicking or campaigning. It doesn’t exclude anybody, it treats fans who vote for slates in the same way as fans who don’t vote for slates. It is *JUST* in this sense (although because there are winners and losers and some losers may deserve to be winners it is arguably not *FAIR* but life isn’t fair etc – it is at least as fair as any proposed or existing alternative).

    Apologies for the lack of limericks and the wall-of-text and I know everybody had worked all that out already. I’d just kind of saved it all up.

  13. Mark on July 24, 2015 at 12:52 pm said:

    I agree with Declare for Powers, but I suspect there will be others proposed. Powers is the sort of author where everyone has a different favourite.

    Lovecraft is trickier. If you want a representative work that isn’t just a short I’d go for At The Mountains Of Madness, which I think is a novella. His lack of a contemporary representative collection is a problem.

    Haven’t read Declare but I think Powers and Lovecraft have a similar issue as Bradbury and Dick in the previous bracket. Influential authors, with a great track record but not going to win in a battle of distinct books.

  14. Typos, missing words etc are once again magical wards against VD whom we know is repulsed by people pointing out that they didn’t mean to mispell the things they mispelled.

  15. To introduce even more delineation, Anubis Gates is what I use to introduce people to Tim Powers, the Fault Lines books are my favorite, and I think Declare is his best.

  16. Aaron:

    And it shouldn’t. If there are two hundred people voting for something as opposed to sixty-four people voting for something else, whether we like the choice of the 200 or not, the votes of the 200 should have some impact.

    The sixty-four are voting in accordance with their own preferences. The two hundred are voting because someone has told them to do so, to achieve an external end. Some of them may not even have read the works. Those who have may not actually prefer them to anything else they have read. Slates are problematic because they mean that the ballot does not actually represent the freely arrived at choices of voters. This has nothing to do with the actual quality of the work nominated. If two hundred voters had actually decided for themselves that each of these works was the best, then their being nominated was the fairest result. But that’s not the actual situation.

    It may be that there is nothing we can do about this. There is no way of excluding slates entirely without excluding genuinely free convergences of voters as well. Perhaps the most we can do is stop them taking over the whole ballot. But if so, if slates will always get some places on the ballot, and often several places in a category, the awards have suffered severe damage. They have only completely taken over five categories this year. The categories in which they have all but one or two places are still severely damaged. Even last year’s ballot, in which they didn’t get more than two in any one category, was significantly damaged; it wasn’t a fair representation of what people thought was the best in the genre. If that’s the situation we are in we have to go on thinking of ways to cope with it.

  17. With Powers, I’d be tempted to go with On Stranger Tides as an intro. It isn’t like his other works, but oh what a ride!

  18. @Camestros Felapton ,
    That’s a good summary. It’s not like we didn’t know EPH was never a silver bullet. FAQ#16 clearly says:

    16. What happens when there are a lot of nominees with no obvious favorites and nomination slates are introduced?
    Simulations of this scenario showed that slate nominees did receive a larger proportion of nomination slots than they did otherwise. This is a fair and valid result: If there were no overall favorite, then members really had no collective preference. Even in this scenario, simulations showed that non-slate nominees were not completely shut out of the final ballot.”

    The other point being EPH improves the outcomes without changing the nominating culture of the Hugos. There hasn’t been any other proposed rule change that is this simple, minimal, effective, and practical/enforceable.

    Not to mention that rule changes & cultural solutions are not mutually exclusive. I support EPH and am putting up by signing my name to it. Brian, how about you do likewise and go talk to the Puppies. I look forward to reading your progress reports.

    Re: Tim Powers & “Declare”. For me it can’t be “Declare” because the Americanisms in a British story jarred me too much. It’s got to be “The Anubis Gates”, no, “Last Call”…

  19. Soon Lee on July 24, 2015 at 2:29 pm said:

    That’s a good summary. It’s not like we didn’t know EPH was never a silver bullet.

    [Fewer typo version of wall-o-text here]

    Indeed – if a slate has lots and lots of support then slated works will sweep the nominations. This is important: SLATES ARE NOT AGAINST THE RULES and there really isn’t a way of making them against the rules and enforcing that without doing severe damage to the awards. People should be free to nominate what they like and unfortunately that allows for the possibility of people trying to abuse that freedom to push unpopular stuff onto the ballot. Which seems a wholly redundant thing to say because everybody had that discussion already multiple times 🙂

    What is worth re-iterating is why slates are a systemic flaw and not just an ethical failing on the part of people who push slates. A slate pushes unpopular nominees onto the ballot. The nomination process is a positive one – people nominate what they like. The net effect should be that works that are popular with eligible voters appear on the ballot. Because fewer people nominate than vote and because nominations are inherently more diverse, then it is possible for a group of people to vote together and put works which are UNpopular with the eligible voting population, onto the ballot. That is a definite bug. But rather like four-operation arithmetic comes with an unavoidable divide-by-zero bug the basic solution is to ‘don’t do that then‘ – and that is why slates are unethical on multiple counts. Again nothing I just said is new or even new to 2015 or even new to this century! :O

    Aside from all that EPH is the best IMHO because it is the most SF of the responses.

  20. It’s interesting that Brian is so dead set on lots of simulations of EPH to show us what we’re going to get, even if he can’t manage to describe them accurately when he gets them…

    …and completely uninterested in any simulations or tests of the “just talk nice to the rabid little fellows” plan he favors, asserting that it’s a better plan without any data to indicate that it is. Perhaps he thinks that all he needs to do is propose it, and the crack team of scientists at HugoLabs Inc. will swing into action to test his hypotheses.

    One thing’s for sure: He’s not going to test it himself.

  21. Camestros:

    Instead Brian Z has suggested a two-stage nomination process. In the first stage people just nominate and in the second a long list of nominations is published and people then pick their top 5 from that.

    Are you sure? The last comment of his I can trace on the subject says that he does not support the longlist proposal.

    The longlist proposal was made by someone who supports EPH. They just think it needs supplementing.

    Also, if I understand the longlist proposal correctly, the idea is not that people pick their top five from the longlist. The longlist is purely advisory. It shows what works are in front, thus aiding people who might want to concentrate their votes.

    (I think it won’t work, for all sorts of reasons. But that’s what it is, for what it’s worth.)

  22. Andrew M

    Trying to ascertain what Brian Z thinks is an exercise in futility; the one thing you can be sure of is that you will waste a great deal of your time without any measurable benefit. Devoting that time to reading and discussing books is far more rewarding…

  23. Andrew M on July 24, 2015 at 3:00 pm said:

    Are you sure? The last comment of his I can trace on the subject says that he does not support the longlist proposal.

    No, I’m not sure. That was the impression I got earlier but we aren’t dealing with case of over-clarity of argument here. If Brian ins’t supporting a long list then apologies to Brian and my wall-o-text can be read as why a long list is a bad idea using Brian’s objections to EPH as a starting point.

  24. Andrew M on July 24, 2015 at 3:00 pm said:

    Also, if I understand the longlist proposal correctly, the idea is not that people pick their top five from the longlist. The longlist is purely advisory. It shows what works are in front, thus aiding people who might want to concentrate their votes.

    Then I have misunderstood completely 🙂 So the long list would just help those who hadn’t nominated yet see how everyone else had nominated? I don’t get it – perhaps why I misunderstood – as that is an appallingly bad idea for any kind of voting.

    I may have to resort to the actually-I-was-talking-about-pies defense.

  25. Beth in MA on July 24, 2015 at 8:18 am said:
    Slightly off topic from EPH: One week to go for Hugo voting!!

    Oh dear Ghu, I still have to drag myself through the Related Works…

  26. @Kurt:

    Perhaps he thinks that all he needs to do is propose it, and the crack team of scientists at HugoLabs Inc. will swing into action to test his hypotheses.

    In the satirical Reddit forum, Buttcoin, the catch phrase is, “Someone – not me, I’m an ideas guy – should…”

  27. Kestrel-Hill

    Look on the bright side! I found a number of good stories in the magazines in the Hugo packet which compensated for the total absence of good stories in the shorter fiction categories; I have even been moved to express my appreciation to writers.

    Admittedly, the related works are dire, but I recommend reward reading; choose a favourite thing to reread for every dreadful related work, and it makes it a great deal easier. We’re in ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ territory, though I must confess that on the story front the stuff about there really being a Santa Claus might have broken even my spirit; I should like to thank the deity responsible for ensuring that the administrators eliminated that one…

  28. KestrelHill on July 24, 2015 at 3:32 pm said:

    Oh dear Ghu, I still have to drag myself through the Related Works…

    You may have missed it on the news but there was a mass meeting of the world’s spiritual leaders, great thinkers, ethicist and television pundits. After a short discussion they announced a universal consensus that nobody has to put themselves through the utter hell that is the Related Works section of the Hugo packet and that anybody can vote ‘No Award’ in that section without reading the works because nobody should have to read all the dreck in the there. Or at least that should have happened 🙂

  29. Andrew M: The longlist proposal was made by someone who supports EPH. They just think it needs supplementing.

    A weak supporter: their first proposal was the longlist.

  30. I regard “Oh, Lord, I cannot rouse the enthusiasm to read any of this, given everything I’ve seen quoted from it and given the author’s own ‘defense’ of it” as sufficient reason to decline to read further, and to decline to vote for a thing.

  31. Bruce Baugh on July 24, 2015 at 4:20 pm said:

    I regard “Oh, Lord, I cannot rouse the enthusiasm to read any of this, given everything I’ve seen quoted from it and given the author’s own ‘defense’ of it” as sufficient reason to decline to read further, and to decline to vote for a thing.

    I can’t recall if it was Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica or Saint Augustine in City of God who said: “Dude, you do NOT have to read that sh*t, man”

  32. Camestro

    To Hell with the pies defence; Brian Z devotes his life to being incomprehensible, hence my observations to Andrew above.

    Having given the matter considerable thought I now rely on my experience as a mother; small children who want everyone’s attention will carry on doing things which they know will get them attention, and the only thing to make any difference is refusing to give them that attention, no matter how much they want it.

    Brian Z seems not to realise that he is no longer four, but as long as he behaves like a four year I will treat him like one…

  33. KestrelHill on July 24, 2015 at 3:32 pm said:
    Oh dear Ghu, I still have to drag myself through the Related Works…

    Kestrel, I found it easier to go in and enter the votes when I was done with the fiction and art and save the ballot, and then go in later when I finished evaluating the other categories. That way, if I *didn’t* get to everything, at least most of my ballot was already in there.

    (although, as a first time Hugo voter, I probably shouldn’t be giving any kind of advice!)

  34. FYI, I’m planning on ending the voting on The Final Bracket in about an hour.

  35. I am very sure Pope Benedict, on his recent Latin American trip, stated that nobody had to read the Best Related Work nominees.

  36. If there hasn’t been papal dispensation for reading that category there should be. I read the Related Works way back in May and I still twitch when I see them mentioned. Trainwreck is much too polite a term for that offering of half-baked pomposity.

  37. Before final voting is closed, I will note that in this round there has been:

    1 vote for Mother London
    1 vote for Always Coming Home
    1 vote for The Word for World is Forest
    2 votes for The Dispossessed
    2 votes that Shelley and LeGuin should marry, and produce lots of Shelley-LeGuinlings
    1 vote that Shelly and LeGuin should engage in fusion, so we can have a giant, four-armed, four-eyed author, most likely with a magical pen as a weapon

  38. A conversation I remember vividly.

    I don’t remember the exact age I was, but I know from the circumstances I had to be 12 years old or younger. I was talking about books with a friend of the family who was, I think, in her twenties. The talk turned to Ursula K. Le Guin.

    I had discovered Le Guin, as I suspect many did, through the EarthSea books. I had gone on to read a great deal more. By that point, Three Hainish Novels. The Lathe of Heaven. The Compass Rose. The Wind’s Twelve Quarters. The Dispossessed. And The Left Hand of Darkness.

    But, I confessed during this conversation, I didn’t think I had really understood The Left Hand of Darkness. I didn’t get it. Something in it was opaque to me.

    “Well,” the friend of the family asked me, “Have you ever been in love?”

    “What?” I said. “I, um, well. I don’t think so. No.”

    “Read it again after you fall in love,” she advised.

    So, some years later, I did.

    Oh.

    WINNER: Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness – 31 votes
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein – 15 votes

    The winner of the Brackett bracket is The Left Hand of Darkness. The book is awarded this lovely pair of brackets: [ ], suitable for framing or using in its text. The decision was made by the most reliable metric currently known – 31 people on the internet.

    (And in my opinion, they have chosen well.)

  39. Kyra: Fantastic story plus BRACKETS!

    And now clearly since my chosen candidate did not win, I must lead a revolution against the um…..31 people who did win!

    Ah, hell, it’s too hot.

    I actually was thinking I should reread LHofD today because it would be cooling (heat pump has died, temps outside were 99, and inside 86, bleh).

    But Frankenstein also has a journey over ice…..hmmmm……leads to the question of how many novels are set in cold/arctic temps.

    The first one that comes to my mind (which I adore) is the Petaybee (PTB, Powers that be) series series by Elizabeth Scarborough and Anne McCaffrey

  40. Ancillary Justice has a journey over ice, but that’s confusing as hell because it’s science fiction not fantasy and –

    Ah, good times. Good times.

  41. It’s not Pope Benedict that granted the dispensation not to read the Related Works. Benedict is retired, and devoting his time to that other internet obsession–cats. Pope *Francis* recently took a spin through Latin America and granted the dispensation regarding Related Works.

  42. @Lis Carey: Dammit, you’re right. I think we can’t say for sure how Benedict would have ruled on the Puppies. While he was conservative in doctrine, he was not devoid of mercy.

  43. Brian Z’s EPH yammering reminds me of the phrase “Like playing chess with a pigeon.”

    It knocks over the pieces, craps on everything, then struts about like it won.

  44. Jim Henley: Ancillary Justice has a journey over ice, but that’s confusing as hell because it’s science fiction not fantasy and – Ah, good times. Good times.

    And a tavern! You forgot the tavern!

    That is going to be one unintentional joke that I remember for a very, very long time. I don’t think that was the “claim to fame” that Kate Paulk was going for — but it’s what she got, at least with me.

  45. Ice crossings, ummm:

    The Empire Strikes Back by Donald F. Glut

    Whaddaya mean no novelizations?!?

    😛

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