Pixel Scroll 8/11/18 Pixel of Steel, Scroll of Kleenex

(1) BOURDAIN IN NARNIA. The New Yorker Recommends’ Helen Rosner links to “‘No Reservations: Narnia,’ a Triumph of Anthony Bourdain Fan Fiction”.

Of all the billions of pages that make up the Internet, one of my very favorites contains “No Reservations: Narnia,” a work of fan fiction, from 2010, by Edonohana, a pseudonym of the young-adult and fantasy author Rachel Manija Brown. The story is exactly what it sounds like: a pastiche of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” and C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. Channelling the casual charisma of Bourdain’s first-person writing, Brown finds him visiting the stick-wattled burrow of sentient moles, where he dines on pavender (a saltwater fish of Lewis’s invention) and is drunk under the table by a talking mouse. He slurps down eel stew and contemplates the void with mud-dwelling depressives. Later, he bails on an appointment at Cair Paravel, the royal seat of Narnia, to bloody his teeth at a secretive werewolf feast.

“No Reservations: Narnia” (2010) begins —

I’m crammed into a burrow so small that my knees are up around my ears and the boom mike keeps slamming into my head, inhaling the potent scent of toffee-apple brandy and trying to drink a talking mouse under the table. But is it really the boom mike that’s making my head pound? I know for sure that my camera man doesn’t usually have two heads. I have to face facts. The mouse is winning.

Yesterday, I thought I knew what to expect from Narnia: good solid English cooking spiced up with the odd unusual ingredient, and good solid English people spiced up with the odd faun. And centaur. And talking animal. I’d longed to visit Narnia when I was a kid, but every time the notoriously capricious entry requirements, such as the bizarre and arbitrary lifetime limit on visits, relaxed the slightest bit, it would get invaded, get conquered, get re-conquered by the original rulers, or get hit by some natural disaster….

Cat Eldridge sent the links with a note: “Weirdly enough Rachel Manija Brown was once a reviewer for Green Man Review.

(2) TUNE IN THE HUGOS. Kevin Standlee outlined the “2018 Hugo Ceremony Coverage Plans” on the award’s official website.

The 2018 Hugo Awards Ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, August 19, 2018 at 8:00 PM North American Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7) in the McEnery Convention Center Grand Ballroom in San Jose, California. The ceremony is open to all attending members of Worldcon 76, with additional seating available in “Callahan’s Place” in the convention center Exhibit Hall.

The Hugo Awards web site will once again offer text-based coverage of the Hugo Awards ceremony via CoverItLive, suitable for people with bandwidth restrictions. For those with the bandwidth for it, Worldcon 76 San Jose plans to offer live video streaming of the Hugo Awards ceremony. Details of the live-streaming coverage will be available at the 2018 Worldcon web site.

The Hugo Awards web site coverage team of Kevin Standlee, Susan de Guardiola, and Cheryl Morgan plan to be “on the air” approximately fifteen minutes before the ceremony. You can sign up at the CoverItLive event site for an e-mail notification before the event starts. Remember that the CoverItLive text coverage is text-only, and is likely to not be in synch with the video streaming. Also, the CoverItLive team here at TheHugoAwards.org is not responsible for the video streaming coverage and cannot answer any questions about it.

(3) VISA PROBLEMS. Another example of security screening that interferes with cultural exchanges. The Guardian reports some authors are having exceptional difficulty getting visas to attend a book festival in Scotland: “Home Office refuses visas for authors invited to Edinburgh book festival”.

According to Barley, the dozen authors were asked to provide three years’ worth of bank statements to demonstrate financial independence, despite being paid to participate in the Edinburgh book festival, and having publishers and the festival guaranteeing to cover their costs while in the UK. Barley said any deposits that could not be easily explained were used as grounds to deny the authors’ visas; one had to reapply three times due to her bank statements.

“It is Kafkaesque. One was told he had too much money and it looked suspicious for a short trip. Another was told she didn’t have enough, so she transferred £500 into the account – and then was told that £500 looked suspicious. It shouldn’t be the case that thousands of pounds should be spent to fulfil a legitimate visa request. I believe this is happening to many arts organisations around the country, and we need to find a way around it.”

Barley called the situation humiliating, adding: “One author had to give his birth certificate, marriage certificate, his daughter’s birth certificate and then go for biometric testing. He wanted to back out at that point because he couldn’t bear it, but we asked him to continue. Our relationship with authors is being damaged because the system is completely unfit for purpose. They’ve jumped through hoops – to have their applications refused.”

The Scottish first minister called on the government to fix the problem: “Authors’ visa struggles undermine book festival, says Sturgeon”

Nicola Sturgeon has accused the UK government of undermining the Edinburgh international book festival by failing to resolve authors’ difficulties in obtaining visas.

The festival’s director, Nick Barley, has said some of the invited writers have been “humiliated” by the process they had to endure to get into the UK.

Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, who will take part in the event, tweeted on Thursday that the difficulties were “not acceptable” and the government “needs to get it sorted”.

Barley said about a dozen people had gone through an extremely difficult process to obtain a visa this year and several applications remained outstanding. The festival starts on Saturday and will feature appearances by 900 authors and illustrators from 55 countries.

Festival organisers provide assistance with visa applications and they have reported an increase in refusals over the past few years. Barley said one author had to supply his birth certificate, marriage certificate and his daughter’s birth certificate and go for biometric testing in order to get his visa.

He said the UK’s reputation as a global arts venue could be seriously hindered if problems in obtaining visas worsened after Brexit.

(4) DISCRIMINATION. David Farland (pseudonym of Dave Wolverton, currently the Coordinating Judge, Editor and First Reader for the Writers of the Future Contest), blogged about his view of “Discrimination in the Writing World”.

A few days ago, I saw a Facebook post from a woman who complained that she didn’t want to see panels by “boring, old, white, cisgender men” at the upcoming World Science Fiction Convention. Now, I’ve always fought against discrimination based on age, race, sexual orientation, and gender, so I was kind of surprised that this person managed to offend me at every single level. I can’t help it if I was born sixty years ago, male, white, and cisgender.

There is a concerted effort by some special interest groups to push certain agendas. More than twenty years ago, just before the Nebula awards, I remember hearing a woman talking to others, pointing out that if they all voted for a certain story by a woman, then she’d certainly win. Apparently the ethics of judging stories based upon the gender of the author eluded her, but it worked. The story written by the woman won.

With the Hugos, white men in particular are not even getting on the ballots, much less winning.

The question is, if you’re a writer, what do you do? What if you write a book, and you don’t fit in the neat little category that publishers want?

For example, what if you’re male and you want to write a romance novel? What are your chances of getting published? How well will you be welcomed into the writing community? Isn’t a good story a good story no matter who wrote it?

Apparently not. I had a friend recently who created a bundle of romance novels and put them up for sale. She had ten novels, nine by women and one by a man, and it sold terribly. Why? Because the nine female romance writers refused to even tell their fans about the bundle because there was a male author in the bundle. So instead of selling tens of thousands of bundles, as she expected, she sold only a few hundred.

Of course, discrimination is pretty well institutionalized in the publishing industry. By saying that it is institutionalized, what I mean is that in certain genres, your chances of getting published are based upon your gender.

(5) NICHOLS HAS DEMENTIA. Hope Schreiber, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story “Nichelle Nichols, actress who portrayed the iconic Lieutenant Uhura in ‘Star Trek,’ diagnosed with dementia”,  cites a TMZ report that Nichols is under the care of a conservator.

Nichelle Nichols, the actress who brought Lieutenant Uhura in Star Trek to life, has been diagnosed with dementia, according to conservatorship documents obtained by TMZ. She is 85 years old.

TMZ says that Dr. Meena Makhijani, a specialist in osteopathic medicine, has been treating Nichols for the last two to three years. According to Makhijani, the disease has progressed. Nichols has significant impairment of her short-term memory and “moderate impairment of understanding abstract concepts, sense of time, place, and immediate recall,” according to TMZ.

However, the actress’s long-term memory does not seem to be affected at this time, nor are her body orientation, concentration, verbal communication, comprehension, recognition of familiar people, or ability to plan and to reason logically.


  • Born August 11 – Ian McDiarmid, 74. Star Wars film franchise including an uncredited appearance in The Empire Strikes Back, other genre appearances in DragonslayerThe Awakening (a mummies horror film with Charlton Heston), The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles series and reprising his SW role in the animated Star Wars Rebels series.
  • Born August 11 – Brian Azzarello, 56. Comic book writer. First known crime series 100 Bullets, published by Vertigo. Writer of DC’s relaunched Wonder Woman series several years back. One of the writers in the Before Watchmen limited series. Co-writer with Frank Miller of the sequel to The Dark Knight Returns,  The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
  • Born August 11 – Viola Davis, 53. Amanda ‘The Wall’ Waller in the first Suicide Squad film; also appeared in The Andromeda Strain, Threshold and Century City series, and the Solaris film.
  • Born August 11 – Jim Lee, 44. Korean American comic-book artist, writer, editor, and publisher.  Co-founder of Images Comics, now senior management at DC though he started at Marvel. Known for work on Uncanny X-Men, Punisher, Batman, Superman and WildC.A.T.s.
  • Born August 11 – Will Friedle, 44. Largely known as w actor with extensive genre work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the Future, Peter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go!, and Thundercats! to name but a few of his roles.
  • Born August 11 – Chris Hemsworth, 35. Thor in the MCU film franchise, George Kirk in the current Trek film franchise, and King Arthur in the Guinevere Jones series;  also roles in Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, Snow White and the Huntsman and its sequel The Huntsman: Winter’s War,


(8) SAWYER’S SCHEDULE. Robert J. Sawyer clarified on Facebook his plans for Worldcon 76 in San Jose next week:

I’ll be there. However, many months ago I made a decision not to apply to be on programming. I don’t have a new book this year, and I figured there are lots of younger/newer/diverse writers who could use the panel slots I would have taken up.

This was meant to be a quiet, private choice, but since then, there’s been a big blowup about this year’s Worldcon programming (see http://file770.com/worldcon-76-program-troubles/), with people withdrawing from the program or complaining about not being put on it in the first place. My situation is neither of those (and the Worldcon programming has been redone to most people’s satisfaction now).

However, I will be making two public and one private appearances at the Worldcon, for those who want to see me or get books signed:

* On Friday, August 17, at noon, in room 210E at the Convention Center, I will be attending the unveiling of the new batch of Walter Day’s Science Fiction Historical Trading Cards, introducing the new authors being added to the set (I’m already on a card, as you can see); Walter Day will be giving away some of these collectible cards (including my own) to those who attend.

* Also on Friday, August 17, at 4:00 p.m., in the Dealers’ Room in the Convention Center, I will be autographing at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) table.

* And on Saturday, August 18, at 2:00 p.m., I’ll be hosting a meet-and-greet for my Patreon patrons; you can become a patron here, and get other cool perks, too: https://www.patreon.com/robertjsawyer

(9) AUSTRALIAN FANZINE ARCHIVE. Kim Huett reports, “The National Library of Australia not only has a significant fanzine collection, some of the librarians take an active interest in the fanzines in their care. Take for example this recent post which talks from an outsiders perspective about all sorts of Australian fanzines, some of which are actually about science fiction: “Fanzines For fans, by Fans”.

Fans of the TV shows, Star Trek and Doctor Who, have perhaps the best known examples of fandom in the mainstream but this isn’t where fanzines start. The fanzine Futurian observer was talking about a well-established Australian science fiction fan community back in 1940.

In a year in which the inescapable realities of war were everywhere, this little publication denounced ‘the threatening ban on magazines’, reported on Government ‘restrictions on pulp imports’ and referenced meetings in which quizzes and scientific discussions were star attractions.

One of the first lines in Issue #1 is a dire warning that Australian fans needed to be more engaged. In contrast, issue #35 talks about a parody newsletter from a convention that never happened and the author ‘hibernating’ from the ‘Sydney scene’ to avoid the ‘fighting, scratching and squabbling’.

You can read digitised copies of Futurian observer here.

Fanzines are a fascinating insight into the volatility of fan communities and how they operated at the time of publication.

(10) DOCTOR STRANGEMIND. Huett also sent a link to his own site with this introduction: “Anybody who is a fan of David Langford’s ‘As Others See Us’ segment in Ansible is going to really enjoy the latest installment of Doctor Strangemind. Have you ever wondered what the official Soviet line was in regards to science fiction? Well now you can read ‘The World Of Nightmare Fantasies’ and wonder no more: ’To Pervert & Stultify’. Really, I spoil you people,”

…I’ve reproduced the entire condensed version of The World Of Nightmare Fantasies here so you might enjoy the authors attempt to crush various butterflies of fiction with their rhetorical sledgehammer….

…The American Raymond F. Jones, experienced writer of “scientific” fantasies, attempts to lift the curtain of the future for the reader. He uses all his flaming imagination in describing a machine which analyses the inclinations , talents, character and other potentialities of a new-born infant. If it finds the child normal, it returns it to the arms of the waiting mother. If it finds a future “superman,” the mother will never see him again; he will be sent to a world “parallel” to ours where he will be raised without the help of parents. But woe to the baby the machine finds defective – it will be immediately destroyed. According to the “scientific” forecast of author Jones, a network of such machines will cover the world of the future.

This tale, monstrous in its openly fascistic tendency, appears in the American magazine Astounding, under the optimistic title of Renaissance. Jones’ fascist revelations are not an isolated instance in American science fiction literature. There are numerous such examples under the brightly colourful covers which enterprising publishers throw on the market in millions of copies. From their pages glares a fearful world, apparently conceived in the sick mind of an insane, a world of nightmare fantasies. Miasma, mental decay, fear of to-day and horror of the future: all these innumerable ills of capitalism are clearly reflected.

(11) WOTF. Past winner J.W. Alden says in his experience the Writers of the Future Contest was a tool of the Church of Scientology, no matter the public relations effort to portray them as separate: “Going Clearwater: The Illusory ‘Firewall’ of the Writers of the Future Contest”.

In 2016, I won Writers of the Future. At the time, I counted it as one of my proudest moments. A story I’d written, The Sun Falls Apart, took first place in a contest judged by some of the biggest names in the genre. I’m still proud of that part. Unfortunately, that sense of accomplishment was undermined by a negative experience which forced me to confront the actual nature of the contest: Writers of the Future is a Church of Scientology endeavor. I now believe its primary purpose is not to help emerging writers, but to further the aims of the church, primarily by promoting the name of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. I make no judgments on any individual’s religious beliefs, but since I won the contest, I have come to believe it exploits writers in pursuit of this goal….

The Firewall, many claim, exists to prevent the contest from becoming a platform for the church and to ensure there’s no proselytizing of winners–though one of the first things you learn when you go asking about the Firewall, is that it seems to mean different things to different people. It’s the Firewall that keeps the contest’s panel of judges onboard. The judges of this contest include big names in the genre–names like Brandon Sanderson, Orson Scott Card, Robert J. Sawyer, Larry Niven, and many more. Hence, it’s the Firewall that ultimately lends the contest legitimacy. In my opinion, the Firewall does not exist. Or at the very least, it doesn’t exist for everyone.

It didn’t exist for me.

After winning the contest he was asked to come to Clearwater, Florida and do a signing. Clearwater is home to the church’s Flag Service Organization.

And so, I’m not that surprised one afternoon when I receive a text message from Kate*, one of the employees of Author Services Inc., the (Church of Scientology-owned) organization that runs the contest. They ask if I’d be willing to take part in an event they describe as a “massive Barnes & Noble book signing” in Clearwater, FL in a few days. The last minute nature of this invitation seems odd, but not out of step with the general disorganization that winners grow used to when dealing with ASI. At first, I turn down this request. At the time, I live in the West Palm Beach area, and I’m not willing to drive across the state on such short notice. They respond by offering to fly me out and put me up in a hotel. At that point, I say, “Sure. Why not?” I mean, it’s just Barnes & Noble, right? Book signings are fun.

However, Alden says this is what really happened:

…After that, it’s finally time for the book signing . . . which is not taking place at a Barnes & Noble. It turns out the “Barnes & Noble signing event” is actually taking place here at the Fort Harrison Hotel, during a Scientology ceremony called “Flag Graduation.” Scientologists who underwent training at the Flag Building are having some kind of graduation ceremony. Part of the ceremonies will involve announcing my presence, then directing the congregation to my signing table for an autograph. After the day I’ve had, I am not shocked by this revelation. My belief in the Firewall has long since abandoned me. I am not happy about the bait and switch. But I’m not surprised, either.

I’m led into a huge conference room with a stage and hundreds of chairs. By the time we get there, it’s already packed full of Scientologists finding their seats. Tori leads me straight to the front row. At this point, I become genuinely worried about the possible public repercussions of this little trip. Just like in L.A., there are photographers and videographers everywhere. The thought of photos and video of me at an actual Church of Scientology event floating around somewhere is (at the time) concerning. What happens next tempers this concern somewhat, if only because it grants me the conviction that this is not the first Scientology event I’ve been photographed at. Before their graduation ceremony, they play a video of the Writers of the Future gala. A Church of Scientology official talks it up beforehand, citing it as part of L. Ron Hubbard’s legacy, with the underlying message that it’s one of the many Good Things the CoS is doing in the world. In other words, Writers of the Future (and not just the name–the video of the gala, the anthology, the words and likenesses of the winners) is used as internal propaganda at an official Church of Scientology event. That’s certainly how I interpreted it, anyway….

I first started telling the story above in private circles within the SFF writing community. Over the past two years, I’ve told it to fellow WotF winners, to friends at conventions, and in private online discussion groups. Most recently, I posted about it on Codex after Nick Mamatas and Keffy R.M. Kehrli spurred the aforementioned conversation on social media about the questionable aspects of the contest back in April. I also posted a couple of twitter threads around that time, in which I voiced frustrations about the contest and rage-faced over the revelation that unattributed quotations from Dianetics were included in Writers of the Future workshop materials. Since the tweetstorm, I’ve also been in discussion with former winners and even a few contest judges who reached out to me about it.

Since all of that started happening, I’ve also had run-ins with supporters of the contest who have accused me (and others) of trying to destroy it. Let me make one thing clear: I’m not trying to destroy Writers of the Future. For one, I don’t believe that is within my (or anyone’s) power, so even if that were my goal, I wouldn’t waste the effort. My goal is merely to inform emerging writers about the troublesome aspects of this contest, because I don’t think they’re talked about enough. That includes relating my own experience that bizarre weekend in Clearwater. If anyone sees that as an effort to delegitimize or destroy the contest, all I can say is this: if spreading the truth about something delegitimizes it, was it really legitimate in the first place? …

(12) MAIN AND OTHER STREAMS. Penguin Random House would be happy to sell you these “21 Books You’ve Been Meaning To Read”, a list with a surprising amount of sff. Not this first title, though. This one has been picked for its clever misspelling —

War and Peace

A legendary masterpiece, this book is synonymous with difficult reading, so why not challenge yourshelf.

(13) WRECK-IT RALPH RETURNS. Ralph Breaks the Internet – sneak peek.The movie comes to theaters November 21.

“Ralph Breaks the Internet” leaves Litwak’s video arcade behind, venturing into the uncharted, expansive and thrilling world of the internet—which may or may not survive Ralph’s wrecking. Video game bad guy Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and fellow misfit Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) must risk it all by traveling to the world wide web in search of a replacement part to save Vanellope’s video game, Sugar Rush. In way over their heads, Ralph and Vanellope rely on the citizens of the internet—the Netizens—to help navigate their way, including Yesss (voice of Taraji P. Henson), who is the head algorithm and the heart and soul of the trend-making site “BuzzzTube,” and Shank (voice of Gal Gadot), a tough-as-nails driver from a gritty online auto-racing game called Slaughter Race.


[Thanks to John Hertz, Jumana Aumir, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

103 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/11/18 Pixel of Steel, Scroll of Kleenex

  1. BTW in the vein of @StephenfromOttawa’s comment:

    My better half enjoyed Farland’s “Runelords” series a lot, over the years, though I believe his interest waned over times (it was like 9 books!). Huh, it looks like he’s jumpstarting the series again with new stories, set 800 years later earlier. I’ll have to tell my spouse, though it’s not clear when the actual book is coming out (but two stories are available).

    [ETA: And after all this time, I have no idea whether my spouse will still be interested.]

  2. Martin Wooster:

    The link to that Soviet rant against sf was interesting, particularly that very weird illustration, which is I guess supposed to convey how awful sf is?

    Well, my impression is it was all part of the Zhdanovschina, which involved severe criticism of artists showing Western influences and thoroughgoing attacks on non-socialist elements in Western culture. Of course, it fit in with earlier attacks like Gorky’s dismissal of jazz as “the dance music of the fat bourgeoisie,” I think it was, but that sort of thing was really ramped up after WWII.

    Interestingly, the magazine that occurred in is still around:


  3. 10: I haven’t read that Raymond Jones story but the Soviet author has a point with lines like “The wolf-pack laws, the so-called American Way Of Life, are represented as inevitable for all people on Earth, now and in the future.” (and I can’t find the exact quote, but le Guin had something about ‘the end of the world is easier to imagine than the end of capitalism’).

    Also compare “Capitalism, which enslaves and exploits men, would much prefer that its factories were worked by uncomplaining automatons.” in the light of the last 40 years of efficiency gains and stagnating wages.

    “The American science-fantasy, in its unbridled racial propaganda, reaches heights which might have made Goebbels envious.” is maybe a little bit strong of a statement, but let’s be real, things were by and large racist as heck back then, and even not so back then.

  4. I have to agree that War and Peace is actually a terrific, absorbing read in my experience. I picked up a copy of the Signet Classics paperback (trans. Ann Dunnigan) for 25 cents at a university bookstore sale in 1980. When I started it, it quickly took over my life. I did nothing else but read it over a long holiday weekend that March. I reread it with equal pleasure a few years later.

  5. @Todd: I had forgotten that Wolverton wrote CoPL, god what a terrible book. The System Mastery podcast has been doing chapter-by-chapter discussions of old Star Wars books: https://systemmasterypodcast.com/category/expounded-universe/ and are doing that one right now, I haven’t been able to make myself listen because I already inflicted that book on myself once.

    But they’ve done a couple previous SW books, and in both of them Leia gets written as completely unsympathetic, so maybe that was coming direct from LucasArts.

  6. Martin Wooster:

    The link to that Soviet rant against sf was interesting, particularly that very weird illustration, which is I guess supposed to convey how awful sf is?

    My reply seems to have disappeared, so I shall valiantly try once more. My impression is that that denunciation of American SF (not all SF, as there was already a decent body of Soviet SF by that time) was all part of the Zhdanovschina after WWII, when the Soviet authorities heavily criticized artists who showed Western tendencies and attacked non-socialist elements in Western culture. There were earlier tendencies to denounce Western art works for non-socialist tendencies (I remember especially Gorky’s dismissal of jazz as “dance music of the fat bourgeoisie” in I think the mid-1930s), but that sort of thing greatly increased after WWII until at least Stalin’s death in 1953.

  7. @Steve Mollmann: Thanks for the info/link! (I forgot to include this in my previous comments, whoops.)

  8. @ John A: All I hear in your scolding of JJ is the sound of your ox being gored. Which actually reinforces the point she’s making — that loss of former privilege is not the same thing as oppression, and can’t be spun that way if you want people to take you seriously. Also, whining loudly because the special-privilege machine isn’t working for you the way it used to is not something that’s going to be seen with a lot of sympathy by those who have been on the short end of that stick for decades.

    @ Kendall: The Hugos are, to a considerable extent, a popularity contest. When a very popular author has a book on the ballot, their fans will tend to vote for it because they like the book; this shouldn’t surprise anyone. And if a whole bunch of their fans vote for it, then it stands a good chance of winning, depending on what else is up against it. I don’t understand why so many people seem to find this difficult to grasp and call it “rigging”. Well… unless they themselves can’t imagine voting for a story just because they like it, and so assume that everyone else casts votes only for political reasons.

  9. My immediate reaction colony-rebellion SF story was A Gift From Earth. Not read it in years. Might now be embarrassing.

  10. @Steve: thanks for the correction, I think I must have gotten wires crossed along the way.

  11. Ferret Bueller: Askimet, my antispam service, flung your first comment into spam for reasons I know not. I have approved it, since it has links you didn’t get to use in the repost.

  12. @Jake – No problem! As the page indicates, it’s a quotation with a confusing provenance (which I happen to have researched before), and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone’s attributed it to Le Guin before. Certainly her works serve as a rebuttal to that kind of sf.

  13. Huh, a war of independence story…*muses* I rather enjoyed Anne McCaffery’s Powers That Be although like a lot of hers, they ran to multiple volumes and I stopped caring very much. (She was better at hooks than at endings!)

    It’s New Weird, not SF, but I’d say my favorite was The Scar. The floating city of Armada isn’t a colony, per se, but it fights off multiple waves of the major world powers to keep from being conquered. And there’s a very nice plot line that subverts the magical mcguffin/primitive religious idol trope.

  14. @Lee: If by “my ox being gored” you mean that I agree with old white guys who complain about old white guys having a hard time getting jobs, but only so far as the “old” part is concerned, and that I find the idea that being a white guy is somehow holding me back in my career is ludicrous, then I guess you have a point.

    Seriously, you may be right. I do see discrimination that affects me: Age discrimination. I don’t see the discrimination that does affect me, the discrimination against white guys, I thought because it doesn’t exist. But maybe I should be more sympathetic to the white guys who claim discrimination against white guys. Is this your point?

  15. Wreck It Ralph 2 is blowing up a part of tumblr due to the cameos by ALL the Disney Princesses (and one Queen). Best part is they are all voiced by the actors who voiced them in their original movies (except Snow White, due to … uh, well, death)
    Merida goes off on a rant about something in her strong accent, Vanellope goes “Huh?” and Anna say, “Yeah we can’t understand her either – she’s from the other studio.”
    And the modern outfits while they are all lounging around has everyone going wild, especially Mulan’s look. Although the matching flannel shirts on Merida and Anna has made everyone immediately pair them off.

    Rebellion stories: Heinlein wrote three (not going to go wiki it) Moon, Red Planet and Between Planets. I think I like all of them, but that last one is terrific and has way too many foreshadowings for comfort today. (The IBI disappearing people, frex)

  16. @NickPheas: My immediate reaction colony-rebellion SF story was A Gift From Earth. Not read it in years. Might now be embarrassing.

    I read that sometime in the mid-80s, I think. Let’s just say that it ended my interest in Niven’s fiction.

  17. @Techgrrl72:

    I was mildly mortified to discover that I actually understood most of Merida’s rant in this Scroll’s clip. Not that it’s world-shattering or anything; she’s talking about what a conceptual mess her adventure in Brave was. Give Mom a cake, she turns into a bear, which her family tries to kill… put it like that, and yeah, it’s a pretty insane situation. I don’t blame her for being ranty about it.

    I did see one of the photos (from EW?) of the princess loungewear. Oy, so many Easter eggs… I take it Tumblr has already acquired, analyzed, and catalogued all of them for easy listicle-making?

  18. @Ferret Bueller

    Thanks for digging that up. Much appreciated. Regardless of the motivation for the anti-SF essay, there are certainly some teeth in the critique. For me the key line was a commentary on Malcom Jameson’s “Lilies for Life,” which the Russian translates as:

    “With the disgusting cynicism of the slaveholder, he writes: “The natives of Venus are lazy, disingenuous and unscrupulous. A native is a congenital liar and a thief, unrestrained by language and dishonest in deeds. He does not like to work, he is indifferent to physical pain, completely incapable of thinking. ” In fact, this is exactly what the whole American press preaches about the colonial peoples of the Earth.”

    That, in itself, is some pretty serious anti-Colonial commentary.

    However, the passage from “Lilies of Life” is available on the Internet Archive for Astounding V. 34 N. 6 (Feb 1945), where the quoted passage is:

    “For all Earthmen, whatever their faith, agreed on one point — the Tombov in the raw was a lazy, lascivious, irresponsible rascal. The wild native was a chronic liar, a congenital thief, and what displeased him he was prone to kill out of hand, and his means of doing it were rarely nice. He saw no point in working, for natural food was on every hand. He was tough; therefore physical punishment meant nothing. His philosophy was virtually nil, so he was deaf to abstract appeal. In short, to be useful, he had to be Christianized.”

    Ouch. The original is actually worse in it’s criticism of natives than the paraphrased version found in the Russian opinion piece.

  19. Rev. Bob on August 12, 2018 at 12:32 pm said:

    I was mildly mortified to discover that I actually understood most of Merida’s rant in this Scroll’s clip. Not that it’s world-shattering or anything; she’s talking about what a conceptual mess her adventure in Brave was. Give Mom a cake, she turns into a bear, which her family tries to kill… put it like that, and yeah, it’s a pretty insane situation. I don’t blame her for being ranty about it.

    I did see one of the photos (from EW?) of the princess loungewear. Oy, so many Easter eggs… I take it Tumblr has already acquired, analyzed, and catalogued all of them for easy listicle-making?

    Seanann McQuire had a post with explanations:

    Sounds perfectly understandable to me.
    “She gie’d her mammy a cake, she turnt intae a big bear, and her old yin tried tae dae her in. If that’s no pure mess, I don’t know wut is.” Simples.


    It’s no Gaelic, it is however Scots 🙂

    “Big Yin” is a common Glasgow term, and this is important, cause Billy Connolly who voiced her Da, is from Glasgow. It’s also the name was known by during his rise to fame, and is still affectionately known as “The Big Yin”.

    It basically means “the big man” (note: a person does not need to be tall or large in stature to be called the big man, sometimes it can mean something else like “boss” or “strong personality”). So yea. Was a nice wee addition to her dialogue, though they’ve made her more Weegie for sure.”

    So Disney did The Thing.

    As far as listicle making, not really. Just a lot of speculation, photo manips, fanart, and fanfiction. In other words, typical tumblr reaction. SQUEEEE to the max.

  20. @Techgrrl72:

    Yeah, the “big yin” phrase was where I stumbled. Cultural unfamiliarity.

    As for the listicles… they’re coming. Of course they are. The only question is how many minutes will pass between the end of the first showing and their appearance.

  21. Lee, it’s obviously my day to be mansplained to. What a pity it is for a certain demographic, that some of us who used to have to just shut up and put up with lectures from our “betters” no longer feel forced to do so. 🎻 😀

  22. @Ferrit Bueller: thanks for the further CCCP info, interesting.

    Merida’s accent (in the movie, not this clip) is as nothing to purest Glaswegian. Even other Scots-speakers claim they can’t understand it. Real Highlanders, in English, often sound a bit Irish. In Gaelic, they sound like they’re speaking a completely foreign language because they are. You won’t understand a word of it unless there’s one that happens to be directly imported from English in modern times, like “telebhisean” (pronounced “television”). I understand a few words and can essay simple sentences like “Hello, my name is”, “I am tired/hungry/thirsty” and “More whisky, please”.

    The only award I know of that’s rigged is the Dragons, since they say right in their rules that the administrators are allowed to move things around, add or delete nominees, and even determine the final winners all without caring what the voters wanted. And of course, one person can vote as many times as they have email addresses. The white guys are doing fine there, too.

    I’m sure, f’rex just from this year’s, that Scalzi, Robinson, and Sanderson would be very surprised that they weren’t white men according to David. Stan’s 66, which I guess even makes him legally an old white man. Yet somehow he’s managed 2 Hugo nominations and a Nebula award in the past 5 years.

  23. For those tempted to mansplain that they aren’t mansplaining, maybe just don’t, hmmm?

    When I was going through the app looking at WorldCon programming, I intentionally passed on a few items that included solely white men. Unfair and discriminatory? Maybe, but that wasn’t the intent. The intent was to find things that interested me and included diverse voices. That’s going to provide the higher likelihood of a richer experience for me.

    But, hey, an officially old white guy was at the top of my ballot for Novel, so there’s hope if you prove you aren’t boring.

  24. So true: “Second, forget about awards. So many of them are rigged nowadays that they don’t mean much.” Hugos & Nebulas once had real economic clout. Now they don’t correlate with sales at all. I’ve had a long successful career and not won an award in decades since 1980s. But I’ve made millions.

    It’s a bummer to see you treat the Hugos like they are only about book sales.

    When you won the Nebula for Timescape in 1980, did it bother you that better-selling authors like Robert Silverberg (Lord Valentine’s Castle) and Larry Niven (Ringworld) didn’t win?

    Awards are an attempt to recognize excellence. Nobody needs a special award to recognize sales. The reward for that is lots of money.

  25. @rcade: nitpicking to be polite – “Ringworld Engineer” was in 1980.

    I liked “The Berlin Project” quite a bit, but when I look for a panel to attend, I’m inclined to look for people (and combinations of people) that I haven’t heard before (there have been times when I swear I’ve heard the panelists’ comments and byplay all before – and that can be boring).

  26. techgirl: “Heinlein wrote three (not going to go wiki it) Moon, Red Planet and Between Planets. ”

    At least two more: Beyond This Horizon and “If This Goes On–“.

  27. I find it interesting that two of Heinlein’s rebellion novels had a physical reason for rebellion (clueless administrators who would cause disasters) and three have political motives.

  28. rcade:
    Hugos & Nebulas seldom correlate with quality in my judgment–& I see as a JWC judge everything.
    Longevity for a writer comes from sales. Outta print = outta mind. So TIMESCAPE has made me over a million $ because it keeps selling– 38 years later.
    Hugos & Nebulas once did mean quality. No more — too easily gamed. Started so long ago.
    Andrew : So come to the SAdieways award event Sunday 10 AM. Much talk about alt history & it’s gathering impl;ications, a new way to look at history as it was lived. I’m old enough to know how that plays out.

  29. @Peer

    What is your favorite book about a rebellion/fight for independence on a moon or planet and why?

    I remember being highly entertained by David Brin’s The Uplift War, but it’s a long time since I read it. I seem to recall that the humorless aliens were a major attraction.

  30. @Gregory Benford–Yes, we saw how “easily gamed” the Hugos are, just a few years ago. Not that hard to get a bunch of appallingly bad stuff into the ballot, when people were mostly taken by surprise by the organized exploitation of a weakness that, until then, shame if nothing else had kept harmless. But then nevertheless cheap for No Awarded, and the loophole for fixed, making it much harder to game the ballot.

    And if you disagree with that description of what happened, please, by all means, tell us which of the Puppy-nominated works you consider to belong in the same company as Timescape.

  31. @Gregory Benford

    Hugos & Nebulas seldom correlate with quality in my judgment

    Maybe you no longer feel that the Hugos and Nebulas correlate with quality, but plenty of Hugo and Nebula voters and readers obviously disagree with you. Tastes differ and they also change with time. And I for one am much happier with the average contemporary Hugo winner than with the average Hugo winner of ten or twenty years ago.

    As for gaming the Hugos, the only people who did that were the Scientologists and the puppies and we all know how that went.

  32. Several links–let’s see if this goes through.


    Thanks for digging that up. Much appreciated. Regardless of the motivation for the anti-SF essay, there are certainly some teeth in the critique.

    Yes, the racism in American society at the time caused a number of grave diplomatic embarrassments for the US, such that both Eisenhower and Kennedy as well as mayors and corporate leaders had to apologize to African diplomats for their being refused service in commercial establishments in Maryland (on the route between New York and Washington). It was, among more serious things like violations of human rights and dignity, a serious ideological problem for the US that the Soviet Union of course exploited to the full in its propaganda; it was also one of the factors that spurred the federal government to take what measures it could to support civil rights. (And one of the more interesting pop culture images regarding that is this picture including Charlton Heston at a civil rights march.)

    The original is actually worse in it’s criticism of natives than the paraphrased version found in the Russian opinion piece.

    More precisely, the original states that “all” Earthmen held such a view of the natives. I read the story and quite liked it, and not just for the science problem in it, but then I’m a fan of Jameson’s Bullard of the Patrol stories (which I realized I should reread; haven’t read any for a decade or so). In any case, I have to say that the similarities to the actual evils of colonialism are so on the nose and forthrightly stated that I suspect they were intentional and highly critical: The missionaries despise the natives and round them up for slave labor, the natives soon die when they have converted and become “civilized” (reminiscent of how the Tarahumaras revolted against Spanish rule and waged war on them in the 1600s when the system of centralization and resettlement around missions was imposed on them, because that allowed diseases to spread among them, and the missionaries stated that that didn’t matter, really, so long as the Tarahumaras were baptized before they died–being forced to work in the mines didn’t make them any more favorably disposed to the Spanish either), and so on. Quoting the character Parks, “They know by now how selfish the Earthman is, and how ruthlessly and wastefully he exploits.” (p. 45). Indeed, you could even argue that the view of the Tambov character attributed to Earthmen is the usual misinterpretation of mentalities any colonizer comes up with when the people he colonizes simply offer what resistance they can. Saying that Jameson liked this, as the translated abridgement implies, was probably the rankest, lowest sort of libel.

    You could argue more subtly that the story just automatically assumes that colonialism will unavoidably result when a technologically more advanced culture and thus reflects the fundamental ideas of the imperialist enemies of the Soviet system, but besides the fact that I don’t think Jameson tacitly accepted that at all, that’s not the level of subtlety Anonymous Sovieticus cared to dabble in.

  33. @Gregory Benford

    Hugos & Nebulas seldom correlate with quality in my judgment–& I see as a JWC judge everything.

    Wait up, you were complaining about them not correlating with sales before, now it’s an argument about quality? Could you pick one and stick with it?

    If you don’t think those awards fit your opinion of “best” then that’s fair enough – but how does your sole opinion support your claims that they are “rigged”?

    Longevity for a writer comes from sales. Outta print = outta mind. So TIMESCAPE has made me over a million $ because it keeps selling– 38 years later.

    You keep mentioning your sales – congratulations again, we’re all very happy for you.

    Hugos & Nebulas once did mean quality. No more — too easily gamed. Started so long ago.

    So, you’re not prepared to back up your claim that they are “rigged” or “gamed” then? When were they rigged, how were they gamed, who did it and how do you know?

  34. @Greg Benford
    Hugos & Nebulas once did mean quality. No more — too easily gamed. Started so long ago.

    I appreciate that not all winners are to your taste, not all are to my taste. But on the whole I think the quality is at least the same (for best novel) over the past decade as it has been for any other decade. As you have said this have been going on for a while how about pulling out a few books from the period 2008-2013 you feel were gamed on to the Hugo finalists, which were not examples of quality?

    To give you a head-start there in one winner that I felt shouldn’t even have made the finalists list – Blackout/All-Clear. It was unconvincing in so many levels – full of factual errors, does not even try to capture English thought/speech patterns, and more. Was it gamed on to the finalists list? No, absolutely not. However there was a very distinct mismatch between what Americans thought of the work and what British people thought of the work.

  35. @Nancy: “Beyond this Horizon” is an interesting outlier case – in this one the rebellion is defeated by the heroes.

  36. @Nancy Lebovitz (agreeing with @Andrew): I see that the query did not specify successful (or at even plausible) rebellions — but in Beyond This Horizon the rebels were a bunch of ~racist patzers who IIRC were allowed to strike so they could be identified/exposed.

    @Cora Buhlert:

    As for gaming the Hugos, the only people who did that were the Scientologists and the puppies and we all know how that went.

    There were two other (probable?) cases in the 1980’s, although neither was as public as these two.

    @Gregory Benford: Weren’t you a scientist at one point? What happened to looking at the evidence and working stepwise to a supported conclusion? I can understand someone with no background in numbers asserting that the Hugo “goes to everyone’s second-favorite choice” (as a writer said to me in casual conversation some years ago), but the only evidence of gaming the Hugos after the 1980’s is by people who agree with your prejudices.

  37. Hugos & Nebulas once did mean quality. No more — too easily gamed. Started so long ago.

    I’ve been voting in the Hugos for a decade and following the awards for many years before that. Except for the Puppies, I never saw any evidence of an attempt to manipulate the awards. Some people make that accusation, but when challenged to produce evidence they never do. What’s your proof?

    I have good memories of the Hugo award winners in the 1980s and 1990s, but I think the current era has been rewarding excellent works and writers. I also like the much-increased diversity of the nominees. It was long overdue for female and minority writers to have a realistic opportunity to win a rocket.

  38. @ferret bueller

    Thanks again for your thoughtful comments. I do agree with you. Jameson’s intent was no doubt to tweak the nose of the colonialist attitudes that go unchecked in society.

    (Noting uncomfortable parallels with today’s unchecked attitudes: like the rancor unleashed when it is implied that there is an inherent bias behind selection of WorldCon panel participants, or Hugo nominees.)

    Still, the actual language that Jameson used was cringe-worthy. Esp. for me (as a Buddhist) when it comes to the idea of “Christianizing” the natives. Again, this could be so easily “agreeable” with today’s alt-right crowd, who wouldn’t snap to the satire.

    Looking forward to more of your discoveries in the Russian fantastika archives!

  39. mlex: Still, the actual language that Jameson used was cringe-worthy. Esp. for me (as a Buddhist) when it comes to the idea of “Christianizing” the natives. Again, this could be so easily “agreeable” with today’s alt-right crowd, who wouldn’t snap to the satire.

    True, but if you cringe at everything that humorless, unimaginative, single-minded, and in most cases probably only semi-readerly (I don’t mean “literate,” but reading widely, having catholic tastes, and being able to read below the surface) people might think about a story, it’s kind of like giving them a heckler’s veto over your own tastes, or at least you do their heckling for them. I don’t mean to say you should ignore the ills of your own time, but don’t go out of your way to anticipate every little thing they (they being, basically, your mental image of an alt-right audience, which might be as small as it is vocal and repugnant) might say and then react to it. Sufficient unto the day and all that.

  40. Gregory Benford: Hugos & Nebulas seldom correlate with quality in my judgment – & I see as a JWC judge everything.

    I find this a really interesting comment, given that my opinion of the books recognized by the John W. Campbell Memorial Award each year is pretty much the same as my opinion of the Hugo and Nebula finalists: there’s generally an equal measure of “totally awesome!” and “WTF?”

    Considering that the JWC usually recognizes from 12 to 16 works, that’s an awful lot of “WTF” on that final list. And two or three of them usually seem to be books which bear only the slightest resemblance, in my opinion, to science fiction.

    Isn’t it wonderful that we’re not all required to enjoy the same types of works, and that there are numerous different awards which recognize different sorts of things?

  41. Thanks for everyone who answered my question! The discussion started with Heinleins Moon and the hard matress and we wondered if this topic was falling out of favour somewhat…
    McCaffreys Powers that be: I enjoyed the first book, but it didnt need a sequel, let alone…three? Two? I didnt even finish the first sequel…
    I didnt thought of The Scar as a rebellion novel, but I guess it is. Lots of going on in that one (We thought of the Iron Council though)
    Cant remember if I reD A gift from Earth, iven was always yhit and miss with me.
    Loved The Uplift books, cant quite remember how they ended though…
    Have to check the Heinleins, which I have read, but Heinlein often hasnt aged well…

  42. Nancy Lebovitz on August 12, 2018 at 6:20 pm said:
    techgirl: “Heinlein wrote three (not going to go wiki it) Moon, Red Planet and Between Planets. ”

    At least two more: Beyond This Horizon and “If This Goes On–“.

    You are correct. But in my mind, the frame was ‘moons and planets’ and my aged mind autofilled with ‘other planets’ and so skipped right over the ones that took place on earth.

    “If This Goes On–” is very uncomfortable in today’s world, just like “Between Planets”

  43. @andyl

    To give you a head-start there in one winner that I felt shouldn’t even have made the finalists list – Blackout/All-Clear. It was unconvincing in so many levels – full of factual errors, does not even try to capture English thought/speech patterns, and more. Was it gamed on to the finalists list? No, absolutely not. However there was a very distinct mismatch between what Americans thought of the work and what British people thought of the work.

    It’s not just British people. Sufficient Americans (and WorldCon was in the US that year) seemed to like Blackout/All Clear enough to nominate it and even award it a Hugo, even though it was the IMO worst book on the best novel shortlist that year (not a huge fan of Feed by Mira Grant either, but it’s still better than this one). However, every European fan I’ve ever talked to, whether Brits, Germans, Dutch people, French people, Russians, etc…, hated the duology with a passion. The fact that Connie Willis made some supremely clueless remarks about “the great romantic adventure of bombing nights” or something like that didn’t help either.

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