Pixel Scroll 8/2/20 Lemonade Stand On Zanzibar

(1) READY FOR MY CLOSE-UP. On the last day of CoNZealand, Jenny Hammond posted to Discord a verse about attending the first virtual Worldcon.

Five days of insanity
Oh the humanity
I click on a room
It refuses to Zoom
I say words of depravity!

(2) CONZEALAND MEMBERSHIP STAT. Interesting revelation.

(3) INSIDE THE HUGO CEREMONY. Erin Underwood, who presented the Best Fan Writer Hugo, told Facebook readers some specifics about the lack of support she received, and offered these general comments —

A few more thoughts, the ConZealand Hugo Awards Ceremony production team owned the production of the event (edited to be clear). It was their show. What we saw was what they created. George owns his words and choices, but they own the decision of using those videos. They produced the show that we saw.

… It is hard to push back against an iconic guest and to provide critical guidance for improved performance, but that was their job. ConZealand owned that Hugo Ceremony from start to finish. As con runners and volunteers, it’s our job to make sure that our speakers and guests are well-prepared and know exactly what’s expected of them, and if they fail, we fail.

Nicholas Whyte, Deputy Hugo Administrator added this comment:

CoNZealand Hugo administrators were as much in the dark about what was going on as you were. Probably more so in that we had no input at all, whereas at least you recorded a video.

Edited to add: practically the first thing we did with finalists was to ask the correct pronunciation of their names.

(4) AVOID FRIENDLY FIRE. Michi Trota is concerned about collateral damage from the social media response to the troubled Hugo Awards ceremony.

(5) ASPIRATION PLUS PERSPIRATION. Cheryl Morgan analyzes some of the challenges of managing Worldcons in “Why Worldcons Go Wrong” and says in conclusion:

…There’s a tendency in certain quarters to sneer when people say that running Worldcon is hard, but it is, and unless you have actually done it you probably don’t understand just how hard it is. Which is not to say that people don’t make terrible mistakes, and should not be called to account for them. I can assure you that I have done that often enough in my time (ask people about TorCon 3 if you don’t believe me). However, I have always tried to do so in the hope that we can learn from our mistakes and make Worldcon better. I hope you can see from the above that fixing things, or creating an alternative, is not simply a matter of vowing to “do better”.

(6) CLOSED CAPSHUNNING. The AI still needs some work.

(7) CHANGE THE CHANNEL. Heroes & Icons tickles your memory about these “15 Forgotten Science-Fiction TV Shows Of The 1980s”.

The Eighties were a golden era for science-fiction. Cineplexes were chockablock with blockbusters like The Empire Strikes BackBack to the FutureAliens and The Terminator. On the small screen, you could get your space fix with Star Trek: The Next Generation. Sitcoms had aliens and androids as their stars in ALF and Small Wonder. Even the cars could talk on Knight Rider.

Of course, not everything was a hit. For every smash, there were scores of knock-offs. Every network attempted to launch its own time travel adventure, it seems. While these shows rarely made it to a second season, they remain cult favorites of those who watched them. They might have thrived today, in our geek culture of a thousand options…

13. THE POWERS OF MATTHEW STAR (1982–83)

Peter Barton starred alongside Lou Gossett, Jr., in this 1982 superhero series. Production began in 1981, though was put on hold after Barton fell onto a pyrotechnics flare, suffering severe third degree burns. Production was shut down, as the actor healed for several months in a hospital. Barton had edged Tom Cruise for the lead role, an alien prince hiding out in high school on earth. Star Trek fans take note: Leonard Nimoy directed an episode, and Walter Koenig wrote one.

(8) YOUR NAME HERE. The New York Times’ John Schwartz has been “Tuckerized” – in fact, he even uses that word in his article “Boldly Writing What I Hadn’t Written Before: Science Fiction”.

I’m a character!

I mean, in a novel. OK, a minor character, more like a cameo, but still — my name is the first that you see in the first chapter of “The Relentless Moon,” the new novel in Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Lady Astronaut” science fiction series. The novels are set in an alternate timeline that has the world, after a devastating meteorite strike and the resulting runaway global warming, greatly accelerating its space program to get humans off the doomed planet.

HALFWAY TO MARS
John Schwartz, Special to the National Times
KANSAS CITY, March 28, 1963 — If all goes as it should — and in space, that is no sure thing — then sometime today, thirteen brave voyagers will cross a Rubicon that no man ever has: the halfway point between our home planet and Mars.

Ms. Kowal, who has won Hugo and Nebula awards and who is president of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, makes her novels something of a group project by relying on the expertise of others for thorny passages: She gets help with orbital mechanics and spacecraft piloting, for example, from actual astronauts. She puts the names of real people into her work, including astronauts.

But she tucks in other names, as well….

(9) DON COMES UP LIKE THUNDER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Last night I heard a 2019 podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Don Hahn.  Hahn began his career at Disney in the mid-1970s, back when an animator who asked to “see a scene” could have an intern go to the storage area where the original cels were stored.  Hahn’s been associated with Disney ever since, surviving the first attempt to revive the animation decision in the early 1980s and the second one when Disney shifted to musicals with The Little Mermaid.  He was the producer of the first versions of Beauty and The Beast and The Lion King, and tells many stories about the era, including how The Lion King was nearly scored by ABBA. He’s also proud of spotting talent early, including seeing the potential in composer Hans Zimmer and director Tim Burton, and says Burton became a success because of “an incredible work ethic.”

Hahn also writes books, including books about animation and an edited version of Walt Disney’s memos about animators.  He paints and published a collection of his art called Hahn Solo.

Hahn also directs documentaries about Disney.  His most recent one is Howard, about Howard Ashman, who revived the American musical with his lyrics for The Little Mermaid  and Beauty and The Beast  but whose career was tragically cut short after he died of AIDS in the early 1990s. Howard is dropping on Disney+ on August 7, 

Hahn was going to come to a movie convention Maltin held last year, and promised he would sign a book any way a customer wanted “as long as it was legal according to the laws of the state of California.”

Hahn’s website is donhahn.com.

(10) IN (LONDON) TIMES TO COME. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Behind a paywall at The (London) Times: “Why the future looks bright for science fiction” by Bryan Appleyard.

John Clute, the co-editor of the six million-word Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, is pleading with me.

“Please don’t use it, it is deeply vulgar and very stupid. It’s really kind of reprehensible . . . I shouldn’t have mentioned it at all, and I didn’t.” But, John, it’s out there, it’s in your book. I really have no choice.

The term he loathes is “cli-fi”. It means climate-change fiction — stories about the world after a climate catastrophe, stories that used to be called science fiction. The purpose cli-fi serves is not noble, it is pure snobbery. It is, as the entry says, a way of “distancing from the perceived downmarket nature or Pulp roots of Genre SF”. “Speculative fiction” is another class-ridden term used by authors who don’t like to be seen slumming it. Even “sci-fi” is not welcome — in TV listings and the like it describes superhero nonsense.

Yet calling it SF will not, for many readers, drag it out of the lower ranks of the literary league table. Jessica Harrison, the editor of the new SF series from Penguin Modern Classics, admits that for her the term at first evoked book or magazine covers with “half-naked girls and purple planets”. Neither is present on the austere white covers of her list…

… Now, and here comes the optimism, SF has gone global, with new waves of Asian and African writers. One Chinese author in particular has to be mentioned, Liu Cixin. I’ve just started reading his book The Three-Body Problem — it is different from anything else and beautifully written. It is also brave, in that it starts with a vivid description of the horrors of Mao’s Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s. Barack Obama loved the book, not least because it made his “day-to-day problems with Congress seem fairly petty”. That, of course, is exactly what SF should do.

SF will survive even as technological progress seems to race ahead of some of its wildest imaginings. It will survive because it is a way of seeing — not aliens, time warps, superluminal travels and so on, but ourselves. Dr Snaut nailed it in the greatest of all SF movies, Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972).

“We don’t want other worlds; we want a mirror. We seek contact and will never achieve it. We are in the foolish position of a man striving for a goal he fears and doesn’t want. Man needs man!”

(11) BRIMLEY OBIT. Actor Wilford Brimley, who appeared in Cocoon and its sequel, died August 1 at the age of 85. He was also in The Thing (1982), the Ewoks: Battle for Endor TV movie, Progeny, and in the genre-adjacent Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985) as the head of C.U.R.E.

(12) BELATED MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • In July 1997, Donnerjack was published by the Easton Press. This was the true first edition as the Avon Books hardcover edition wouldn’t be out for another month. Though it was started by Roger Zelazny, this novel was largely completed by Jane Lindskold. He completed a few hundred pages of the first draft and left detailed notes for its remainder. The outline Zelazny did was entitled ”Donnerjack, of Virtù: A Fable for the Machine Age“. It was to be the first novel in a trilogy but as Zelazny said in his Hugo Award winning “24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by by Hokusai“ novelette, “I know, too, that death is the only god who comes when you call.” (CE)

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 2, 1916 Elizabeth Russell. She’s best remembered as the Cat Woman (though the voice was dubbed by Simone Simon) in The Cat People. And she was Barbara Farren In The Curse of the Cat People — some of the same characters, not a sequel.  She was also Countess Lorenz in The Corpse Vanishes where her co-star was Bela Lugosi. Lastly she was Dean of Women Grace Gunnison in Weird Women which was sort of based off Fritz Leiber’s Conjure Wife. (Died 2002.) (CE)
  • Born August 2, 1920 Theodore Marcuse. He was Korob in “Catspaw”, a second-season Trek episode that aired just before Halloween aptly enough. He had appearances in The Twilight Zone (“The Trade-Ins” and “To Serve Man”), Time TunnelVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaWild, Wild West and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the episodes “The Re-collectors Affair”,  “The Minus-X Affair”,  and “The Pieces of Fate Affair”.  (Died 1967.) (CE)
  • Born August 2, 1942 – Isabel Allende, 78.  Adventures in and beside literature include ten novels for us, a score of shorter stories, translated into Dutch, French, German, Portuguese; many others (one of which, Chip Hitchcock, is Zorro).  Fan of Shakespeare.  Translator of romance novels into Spanish, fired for altering dialogue to show the heroines smarter, plots to show them more independent.  First woman to receive the Gabriela Mistral Order of Merit.  Harvard Litt.D. (Latin, Litterarum Doctor “doctor of letters”, in her case honoris causa “for the sake of the honor” i.e. honorary degree).  Memoir, The Sum of Our Days.  American Academy of Arts & Letters.  Chilean Literature Prize.  Gish Prize.  US Medal of Freedom.  [JH]
  • Born August 2, 1945 Joanna Cassidy, 75. She is known for being the replicant Zhora Salome in Blade Runner and Dolores in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, two of my favorite films. She also did really bad horror films that don’t bear thinking about. I mean really bad horror. (CE)
  • Born August 2, 1948 Robert Holdstock. Another one who died far too young. His Ryhope Wood series is simply amazing with Lavondyss being my favorite volume. And let’s not overlook his Merlin Codex series which is one of the more original takes on that character I’ve read. The Ragthorn, co-written with Garry Kilworth, is interesting as well. (Died 2009.) (CE)
  • Born August 2, 1949 Craig Shaw Gardner, 71. Comic fantasy author whose work is, depending on your viewpoint, very good or very bad. For me, he’s always great.  I adore his Ballad of Wuntvor sequence and highly recommend all three novels, A Difficulty with DwarvesAn Excess of Enchantments  and A Disagreement with Death. Likewise his pun-filled Arabian Nights sequence will either be to your liking or really not. I think it’s worth it just for Scheherazade’s Night Out. (CE)
  • Born August 2, 1949 – Joe Siclari, F.N., 71.  Collector, fanhistorian, active in cons and fanzines.  New Yorker and Floridian.  Chair of MagiCon the 50th Worldcon.  Co-founded SMOFcon (“Secret Master Of Fandom”, as Bruce Pelz said a joke-nonjoke-joke) and FanHistoriCon.  Published The Complete “Quandry” (being Lee Hoffman’s fanzine; note spelling), The Enchantment (Walt Willis), A Wealth of Fable (Harry Warner’s fanhistory of the 1950s); edited a photo-illustrated ed’n of All Our Yesterdays (HW fanhistory of the 1940s).  Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service award).  Chairman of FANAC (fanac has long been short for fan activity; in this case, the Florida Ass’n for Nucleation And Conventions) which sponsored MagiCon and now sponsors Fancyclopedia 3 and the FANAC Fan History Project.  Fan Guest of Honor at MiniCon 31 (with wife Edie Stern), DeepSouthCon 34, Loscon XXVI, Lunacon 51.  DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate (with Stern).  Big Heart (our highest service award; with Stern).  FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement Award) for Best Online Archive or Resource (i.e. the FANAC Fan History Pjt; with Stern).  Named Fan Guest of Honor (with Stern) for Chicon 8 the scheduled 80th Worldcon.  [JH]
  • Born August 2, 1952 – Hope Leibowitz, 68.  Only person to have attended every Ditto (fanziners’ con; named for a brand of copying machine).  Has lived in Toronto longer than New York (38 yrs, 30 yrs).  Contributor to FLAP (Fannish Little Amateur Press, an apa).  Sent a birthday card to Bob Madle (see here and here).  Likes the cover for Mike Resnick’s Paradise – but I forgot to ask if she meant this one (Whelan) or maybe this one (Gauckler).  [JH]
  • Born August 2, 1954 Ken MacLeod, 66. Sometimes I don’t realize until I do a Birthday note just how much I’ve read a certain author. And so it was of MacLeod. I’ve read the entire Fall Revolution series, not quite all of the Engines of Light Trilogy, all of The Fall Revolution, just the first two of the Corporation Wars and every one of his one-off novels save Descent. I should go find his Giant Lizards from Another Star collection as I’ve not read his short fiction. Damn it’s not available digitally! (CE)
  • Born August 2, 1973 – Prapda Yun, 47.  Writer, filmmaker, graphic designer.  S.E.A. Write Award for Probability (short stories); The Sad Part Was, mostly therefrom, seems the first translation of Thai fiction published in the UK.  PY himself has translated Lolita and PninA Clockwork OrangeR.U.R.  Songs and other music for Buahima and the Typhoon Band.  [JH]
  • Born August 2, 1976 – Emma Newman, 44.  Eleven novels, as many shorter stories (one for Wild Cards).  Collection, From Dark Places.  Audiobooks.  “How LARP [Live-Action Role Playing] Changed My Life” here.  Best-Fancast Hugo for Tea and Jeopardy (with husband Peter), see here.  [JH]
  • Born August 2, 1994 – Dawson Vosburg, 16.  Three novels. “I love my imagination.  It’s the one thing I’m thankful for every day.”  Here’s Chapter 2 of Incognito.  [JH]

(14) DAYS OF OUR LIVES. The sand ran out?

(15) WASCALLY FOREVER. John King Tarpinian has received his Bugs Bunny stamps.

(16) UNDER THE LID. Where does Alasdair Stuart find the time? Here’s what he covers this week in The Full Lid for 31st July 2020:  

This week in The Full Lid! With the movie riding high I dig into the second volume of the original Old Guard comic series. Force Multiplied changes the game for the immortals in some big ways and is both a good read and a great basis for the almost certain sequel. 

Elsewhere this issue I take a look at Fredrica and Stefon Bristol’s audacious and smart time travel movie See You Yesterday which is one of those films that will stay with you after viewing. Finally, I take a look at the first issue of Bleed Them Dry, a vampire/cyberpunk/murder mystery from Vault Comics and the team of Hiroshi Kuzumi, Elliot Rahal, Dike Ruan, Tim Daniel and Miquel Muerto. Our interstitials this week are remixes of classic Calvin and Hobbes strips by the Blindspotting team of Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs.

The Full Lid is weekly, free and published every Friday at 5 p.m. BST. You can find an archive and a subscription link at the top of this week’s issue.

(17) ROCKET SCIENCE. Here is how Siobhan Carroll would improve the Retro-Hugos:

 …my suggestions would be to focus on the award’s goal of introducing fans to lesser-known works and teaching us something about SF history. I’d suggest the following format changes:
1) make it a juried award, with the jury consisting of academics and critics who’ve done historical recovery work; 
2) reduce the slate from 12 or so awards to 1 or 2, which would allow for more fan engagement with the work(s) in question; 
3) make its guiding question not, ‘what works might have won in a given year’ but  ‘Which lesser-known SF works from the years of eligibility most speak to the genre and the SF community in 2022?’”

(18) READ FASTER. Review site BookNest.eu will turbocharge the growth of your Mt. TBR with their list of favorites from the 21st century:“Fantasy List: Top 100 Fantasy Books Of Our Century”.

We at BookNest.eu are incredibly excited to announce that we have reached the extraordinary milestone of TWO THOUSAND reviews! That’s an incredible number, considering all of the hours that go into crafting even a single review. We are proud of our reviewers, who have worked for years with passion and dedication to deliver our reviews to the fantasy community in the hopes of increasing awareness of authors and titles we are excited about.

In celebration of this occasion, our reviewers have compiled a list of our picks for the top one hundred fantasy novels that have been published this century. This list is, of course, subjective, so if your favourite book is missing, we apologize in advance. We have not read every book in the world, and the taste of our reviewers may not reflect your own.

(19) PRETTY COLORS. Goobergunch is definitely showing something here. Excuse me a minute while I go learn from the Wikipedia what it is….

(20) THEY MADE IT! “Splashdown! SpaceX And NASA Astronauts Make History”NPR has the story.

Two NASA astronauts are back on Earth after their space capsule splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.

The last time any NASA astronauts came home by splashing down was in 1975—and back then, they were in an Apollo space vehicle. This time, the astronauts were in a white, bell-shaped capsule owned by SpaceX.

The success of their test flight, to the International Space Station and back, is a milestone for SpaceX, the first private company to send people to the outpost.

The company has been taking cargo to and from the station for years. This flight with people on board was the final test for SpaceX’s crew system to be certified by NASA as ‘operational’ for future astronaut missions.

That means the U. S. once again has its own ability to put people in orbit and return them safely. Since retiring its space shuttles in 2011, NASA has had to buy seats for its astronauts on Russian spaceships.

NASA can now rely on an American space taxi that takes off from Florida, and it’s already assigning astronauts to future SpaceX missions–including Megan McArthur, who happens to be married to one of the just-returned astronauts, Bob Behnken.

The BBC also has a movie of the parachute deployment and descent (splashdown at 1:18) and one of the crew checking out of the ISS.

(21) SOCIALLY DISTANCED MAGIC. [Item by N.]

If you wanna watch, it’s live right now on Twitch.

(22) A HORSE, OF COURSE. Adam Thirwell says Bojack Horseman reminds him of everything from Don Quixote to Ibsen in “A Horse’s Remorse” at The New York Review of Books.

…I’m in no way an avid watcher of cartoons but, to risk a sense of disproportion, I began to feel something similar as the animated series BoJack Horseman unfolded on Netflix over six seasons and seventy-seven episodes, beginning in 2014 and ending early this year. “It’s not Ibsen,” went a repeated refrain in the show, which was funny not just because it was a form of immediate self-deprecation about the show itself—a cartoon comedy whose supporting cast includes a news anchor who’s an irascible blue whale and a film studio renamed Warbler Brothers—but also because this show was Ibsen in a way, just an opioid version: a wild investigation of self-deception and failure. Or rather, that’s what I concluded by the end. At first it was simply zany and delightful, this series about a talking horse who’s the washed-up star of a now-forgotten 1990s hit sitcom, Horsin’ Around, a saccharine confection about a horse who adopts three human orphans. But by the time it finished, it had become something much grander and more terrible. Exactly what, however, and exactly how, are conundrums that have preoccupied me….

[Thanks to John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, rcade, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Dann, N., Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

113 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/2/20 Lemonade Stand On Zanzibar

  1. @Cat Eldridge: http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-history/ shows that 1940, 1942, and 1952 have also not been awarded. Maybe by the time 2040 rolls around enough people will have decided that the Retros have too many issues that they’ll remove the infinite extensibility that’s now in the constitution.

    @Sophie Jane:

    As a theory, I think he was publishing his best work at a time when fans were keen to distance themselves from genre fantasy? Though it’s probably enough that he was a difficult, patchy writer in a way that didn’t create mass fannish appeal.

    I doubt the first part, given (e.g.) Harpist in the Wind being nominated in 1980; granted that’s an outlier for the time, but the interest was there for the few instances that weren’t Extruded Fantasy Product or Look At Me Being Grim (no points for guessing which big-noise series those were). (I also note The Many-Colored Land nominated in 1982, but that’s only a little more fantastic than Pern rather than being unambiguous.) I think your 2nd sentence is more the case; I’ve liked some short work I’ve seen but the novels, even one vigorously recommended to me by someone whose judgment I’d trust, left me cold, just like most of Wolfe (another writer with avid fans and no Hugos).

    @Steve Wright: John W. Campbell has won Best Editor in every Retro ballot to date, and even his most dedicated admirers must surely wonder if that complete shut-out is actually justified. [Short answer: no, it isn’t.] One of my arguments on the Retros since all the way back to the very debatable Silverberg & Freas cases (2001) was that the awards should only be given for individual works; the best-practitioner awards require too much reading/viewing/… for periods that many voters don’t know (as they might have some knowledge of best-series nominees from recent reading).

    @18: 27/100 directly; 5 I’ve read at least one followup (repeat Filers’ comments in other threads about the brokenness of always taking the first book in a series even if later books were better). About half I’d never even heard of (or maybe heard of so badly that memory has been merciful); given that the list includes Eragon (which from everything I’ve read proves Mencken’s maxim) and at least one other serious clunker, and given the number of current comments I look at each month, I’m disinclined to take any of this list into my TBR — especially given @John Winkelman’s comment (although I wonder about self-published getting such detailed covers).
    @Rob Thornton: I’m not sure I’d call either Abercrombie or Sanderson classic in style, and they’re both well into this century (the topic of the list). But no McKillip? (8 or 9 books depending on where you put the boundary.) I don’t think they really know even back to the beginning of this century.

    The weekend’s snailmail included a summons for jury duty at the end of October. majury.gov does not say anything about precautions for people sitting in close quarters for several hours a day (which IMO goes beyond loosened regulations in this state, even for people wearing masks); I’ve emailed (since the helpline is currently unsupported) to find out what they think they’re doing.

  2. @Chip —

    I’m disinclined to take any of this list into my TBR

    Many of the listed books are very good; Eragon, OTOH, was truly awful.

  3. Change the Channel: If you share my love of cheesy 1980s SF/F on broadcast TV, you might be interested to learn that NBC has season one of Voyagers for free viewing on its website along with other old shows it categorizes as “Throwbacks.” It’s possible I’m seeing it free because Comcast includes a Peacock subscription, but I can’t tell.

  4. @Steve Wright

    John W. Campbell has won Best Editor in every Retro ballot to date, and even his most dedicated admirers must surely wonder if that complete shut-out is actually justified. [Short answer: no, it isn’t.]

    If you are voting for the best editor, yes it is–just look at where the bulk of the nominated short fiction comes from. If you or others want to vote for other reasons, knock yourself out.
    There may be a challenge from Sam Merwin at Thrilling Wonder Stories or Startling later on in the decade, but there is nothing that is close at the moment (I like McIlwraith’s Weird Tales well enough, and might even concede the extremes of quality are less, but it just isn’t in the same league).

  5. The thought of sitting in front of my computer at weird hours watching stuff at a Worldcon was not something that appealed to me. As a supporting member, I didn’t have the option. Then, when they offered to give me access as a member of the Press, I’d already decided I didn’t want to bother.

    The Worldcon experience is being there, in person, seeing friends, meeting people I’ve known for decades and unexpectedly running into them. Virtual worldcon, like virtual food, has no taste for me.

  6. A nice article about prolific actor James Hong, who has more than few genre credits (he’s so prolific, he has more than a few of everything credits . . . )

  7. @Chip Hitchcock – I have read four or five of the self-published books on that list, and they are as good (in plot, writing, pacing, etc.) as any professionally published fantasy. The Sword of Kaigen, Orconomics and Paternus, in particular, easily stand as some of the best genre fiction I’ve read in the past several years. These writers are not simply enthusiastic amateurs.

    (I tried to make a couple of more detailed earlier posts where I linked directly to the SPFBO site, but apparently they were eaten by a spam filter.)

  8. @John Winkelman

    a lot of those are winners and runners-up of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off.

    IIRC, Booknest is one of the reviewers involved in producing SPFBO. Having a large number of SPFBO finalists in a Booknest “Top 100” list probably should not be a surprise.

    @Chip Hitchcock

    (although I wonder about self-published getting such detailed covers).

    The self-publishing process is evolving. The interwebs make it easier for authors and artists to connect for mutually beneficial purposes.

    Separately, for those with concerns about the quality of self-published works, I find SPFBO to be a useful filter.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Wisdom includes not getting angry unnecessarily. The Law ignores trifles and the wise man does, too. – Job:A Comedy of Justice

  9. (19) Thanks! Just finished doing all the categories. The idea is to visualize how first-place votes are redistributed through the instant-runoff process.

    Could also be done through second, third, fourth place but I have actual Day Job work to do….

  10. Perhaps for the Retro Hugos there is a halfway house solution between the current voter base and a juried award: restrict voting to only those who nominate.

    I agree that making a retro voter packet available would be a big help.

    Another way to avoid controversy would be if a decision was taken to not include those categories where it can be foreseen.

  11. I score 9 out of the list, so I haven’t drifted as far away from reading new genre as I’d thought I had.

    I strongly recommend The Traitor Baru Cormorant to those who haven’t read it. It’s about growing up in a culture destroyed by empire, and then becoming a part of that empire. Magnificent worldbuilding, magnificent characterization, twisty plot.

  12. @Paul Fraser: I respectfully disagree: I thought Dorothy McIlwraith did a darn fine job on Weird Tales in 1944, and a better one than Campbell did on Astounding in the same year, and I voted accordingly.

    I came to Weird Tales full of prejudices picked up from The Early Asimov, where Asimov looks down on it as a creaky old thing – but, once McIlwraith took over, the magazine took on a new vitality and a new direction. She did a damn good job of editing it, and she deserves recognition. Such is my opinion; yours may differ!

  13. @Madame Hardy —

    I strongly recommend The Traitor Baru Cormorant to those who haven’t read it.

    I thought it was extremely unpleasant — but I’ve been wondering about books 2 and 3. Did you read them? What did you think?

  14. 18) I got 14 out of a hundred. And how it doesn’t have the Raksura series, or Craft Sequence on it I don’t know.

  15. @Goobergunch
    Yeah, I’ve seen output from Hugo ballot-counting, and there’s a lot more of it than most people realize. (Think one page for each nominee in a category, plus the runoff, and multiply by the number of categories.)

  16. Ann Leckie on why she withdrew Raven Tower from Hugo consideration:

    https://annleckie.com/2020/08/03/the-hugos-and-the-raven-tower/

    I’ve had a taste of that cookie quite a few times now. It is, let me tell you, one delicious cookie. And when the email came telling me that The Raven Tower was a finalist for the Hugo Award, I thought of the books in that longlist, how often I’d had a bite of this cookie, and how many of the amazing books from 2019 were debuts, and/or were books that, when I’d read them, my first thought was, Oh, this should be on the Hugo ballot. More books than there were spots, for sure. And I realized that I could do something about that, at least in a small way.

    And so I withdrew The Raven Tower from consideration.

  17. That’s a wonderful thing for her to do. IIRC the Foglios did the same for Girl Genius.

  18. (2) I had one friend who attended the con complain that she didn’t see Misty Lackey on any panel all convention – not realizing that all of Lackey’s and Dixon’s panels were on Discord. I hadn’t planned to check out Discord until a panel I was on was moved to Discord (because Lackey was also on it). Yes, it wasn’t as easy to use as Zoom (another panelist and I suddenly dropped off Discord just as the panel started and I only managed to make it back on by the time the question and answer segment started), but followup discussions of panels on Zoom were in programme rooms in Discord. Those were fun. The fan tables were also on Discord.

  19. @Steve Wright

    I respectfully disagree: I thought Dorothy McIlwraith did a darn fine job on Weird Tales in 1944, and a better one than Campbell did on Astounding in the same year, and I voted accordingly.

    I got the impression from your previous comments (about Campbell having won it for several years in a row) that you were going down the Buggins’ Turn path, but I see you are a “quality” voter too. I still think to make your case to others about Weird Tales you’ll need to be able to point to an equally superlative list of stories.

  20. Since Robert Holdstock has come up again, I’ll just point out that the Merlin Codex trilogy ties into the Ryhope (Mythago) Wood books, and another story, Merlin’s Wood.

    The Merlin Codex is closer to conventional fantasy Than the rest of the series and stands alone well enough to serve as a jumping on point, although Mythago Wood would be my preference.

  21. (7) I loved Starman and wished there had been another season of it. Shadowchasers was fun and Hard Time on Planet Earth was… interesting. Voyagers! was also good, while The Phoenix had possibilities. But yeah, The Powers of Matthew Star was good. I hadn’t heard about his injury at the time.

  22. @Contrarius, it’s a very bleak read, I agree. I’m halfway through the second and enjoying it. If you found the first too bleak, though, stop there; it gets darker. We’re definitely in K J Parker territory.

  23. John Hertz replies by carrier pigeon:

    As Mr. Durante said, everybody wants to get into the act.

    I was a Supporting Member of CoNZealand. I have only reports.

    Whether or not stumbling or even bumbling the con committee was heroic.

    But I could not resist this Variation on a Theme by Hammond.

    She:

    Five days of insanity
    Oh the humanity
    I click on a room
    It refuses to Zoom
    I say words of depravity!

    I:

    Five days of insanity.
    Oh, human vanity.
    I click on a room,
    It refuses to Zoom.
    I curse technologic inanity.

    Since we aren’t using a 19th Century print shop I can’t even say the devil made me do it.

  24. @Madame Hardy —

    @Contrarius, it’s a very bleak read, I agree. I’m halfway through the second and enjoying it. If you found the first too bleak, though, stop there; it gets darker. We’re definitely in K J Parker territory.

    Thanks for the report! For me it wasn’t so much the bleakness per se — after all, I’m a big Jemisin fan, and I loved the only Parker that I’ve read (in fact, I put it on my Hugo nominating ballot this year!), not to mention most of Mark Lawrence and Abercrombie — but the main character was an exceedingly unpleasant person who kept doing unpleasant things for unpleasant reasons, and I really wanted her to die in a fire. And I resented being expected to somehow root for her.

    If you finish the trilogy, let me know if she ever manages to get redeemed. I can put up with a whole lot of bleakness if there’s a redemption arc in there somewhere!

  25. @Paul Fraser: off the top of my head, 1944’s Weird Tales included much of Manly Wade Wellman’s “John Thunstone” stories, and two August Derleth tales which took the Cthulhu Mythos in directions Lovecraft never thought of. (Which is why I voted for the Cthulhu Mythos with a reasonably clear conscience – even the term is Derleth’s, not Lovecraft’s, and the Mythos setting was going to develop along lines Lovecraft definitely wouldn’t have approved of. [And also, all the series that I actually wanted to vote for were ineligible under the current rules, but that’s life.])

    Lots of strong individual stories, too, from regulars like Robert Bloch, Seabury Quinn, Frank Belknap Long… also, good stuff from writers new to me, like, well, Allison V. Harding (checks: got it right that time!) Basically, the magazine, under McIlwraith’s direction, had lots of good content that I could point out – and did; everything I’ve mentioned here, I reviewed on my blog during the nominations phase (and Cora was kind enough to link it from her Retro SF Reviews site, which also contains much more, by better reviewers than me.) I may not have much of a voice, but I use what I’ve got.

  26. 18) 34/100. Not the list I would have made, but shrug if I want that list, I’ll make it.

    The sequel to The Traitor Baru Cormorant went in an unexpected direction, becoming much more of a quest/adventure story than the tale of political machinations that at least some readers might have expected. There was less Machiavellian manipulation and much more of a feeling that everyone was flailing around in the dark. I ultimately decided I liked it, although not quite as much as the first book. I’m sure I’ll pick up book 3 when it comes out.

  27. amk said:
    “I figure that talks and panels will show up on YouTube or somewhere before too long, and I can catch up then.”

    Sorry to disappoint you but you only have until August 8 (NZT) to watch panel recordings if you were a CoNZealand member. After that they go away. They only secured limited rights to the recordings from panelists. (Some readings/panels were not recorded at all because some panelists agreed to participate only if they were not recorded.)

  28. 7) A lot of those are things I watched as part of Family TV Time (when I was a kid, we used to watch TV together on Friday evenings). Some of them left more of an impact than others (I still wish Misfits of Science had ever received a proper home video release, but at just 16 episodes and a super-small following, I can understand why it might not be worth the effort for the rightsholders).
    I’m just glad that the list is actually mostly obscure-to-semi-obscure items. And V: the Series. Too many of those lists are just lists of SF TV of the era that have impacted geek culture in strange (and sometimes deep) ways, but that non-geeks have almost certainly never heard of.

  29. (2) I was part of a group of three who were going to travel from Sydney to attend in person. I was the only one who attended virtually, including the use of Discord.

    The second gentleman is a retiree who no longer bothers to keep a working computer. He will be meeting me later this week to have an afternoon where I will use my internet connection to show him a small curated selection of recorded panels that fit his interests, before those recordings are taken down.

    The third has online access both at home and at work. But the home internet connection has bandwidth limitations and his partner’s work-from-home business takes priority over recreation, while his workplace has restrictions on what can be accessed. He expressed interest in attending virtually but regretfully came to the conclusion that he could not make it work.

  30. 8) I was Tuckerized by David Gerrold in Leaping to the Stars; I was a smart kid in a classroom.

    19) I’ve read sixteen. I’ve got two more on my Kobo for when I get around to them. There are at least fifty, maybe even sixty of the remainder that I’ve never head of either author or title….

    (And I don’t know where they got their cover art thumbnails, but my copy of The Goblin Emperor looks nothing like theirs….)

  31. @Mike

    Steve Wright: Cora’s blast at some of the Retro Hugo winners (“I’m not thrilled about the Retro Hugos for Campbell, Cthulhu and Voice of the Imagi-Nation either”) in a blog post set me to thinking about the perfect storm that accounts for Best Fanzine being won by Voice of the Imagi-Nation, edited by Forrest J Ackerman and Myrtle R. Douglas. It was a real “I’ll show THEM” opportunity for those who still revere Forry in spite of everything, and those who recognized that Douglas, who went by the handle Morojo, is the same person who has gained posthumous fame for creating the first costume worn at a Worldcon (by Forry in 1939), and was the only woman nominated in that category.

    I do like Myrtle Douglas/Morojo’s work and she did appear quite high on my Retro Best Fan Writer ballot. But compared to the compeition, I don’t find Voice of the Imagi-Nation particularly good, even if the badly drawn nudes are good for a giggle.

    18)
    I get 15 out of 100, but then that list is very heavily weighed towards a type of fantasy I don’t particularly care for.

  32. @Cassy B
    That’s the current cover on my Kobo version – the older cover is on the one in Calibre.

  33. (13) Rob Holdstock was both a friend and guest of honour at the first of the three Novacons I chaired. A fine fellow — and, as Cat says, taken from us far too early.

  34. (18) READ FASTER.

    I’m shocked to see that I’ve read 14 of them — less shocked that I would say at least 4 of those don’t belong on any “Best” list. But most of the others on the list are books for which I checked the synopses, and decided I wasn’t interested.

    So meh, yet another list/award which is not of much use to me, but chacun à son goût.

  35. @Steve J. Wright, @Paul Fraser
    I also put Dorothy McIlwraith in first place and Wilbur Scott Peacock of Planet Stories in second, because I having read a lot of 1944 SFF, I found that Weird Tales had the most consistent quality with great stories by Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Manly Wade Wellman, Allison V. Harding, Dorothy Quick, Alice-Mary Schnirring and others. And even the lesser stories in Weird Tales were always at the very least entertaining and competently written.

    I was also pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of Planet Stories, which again published a lot of good and solid stories by Leigh Brackett, Ray Bradbury, Frederick Pohl, Edmond Hamilton, Fredric Brown, Carl Jacobi and others. As with Weird Tales, even the lesser stories were always at the very least entertaining. Amazing Stories under editor Raymond Palmer was also a lot better than I had assumed, publishing fine stories by Ray Bradbury and Edmond Hamilton among others. And the Shaver Mystery nonsense was still a year in the future at this point.

    Meanwhile, Astounding was very hit and miss. There were some truly excellent stories published in Astounding such as the City stories or the various Kuttner/Moore stories as well as solid stories like Killdozer, Far Centaurus, the various Fritz Leiber or Isaac Asimov stories. But there was also a lot of crap published in Astounding in 1944 and the forgotten stories were usually forgotten for a very good reason. And let’s not forget that Astounding paid better and more promptly than other magazines of the era, because Campbell had the financial clout of Street and Smith behind him, so many writers submitted to him first. So in short, when Astounding was good, it was very good indeed, but when it was bad, it was truly dire. See dire stories like “Deadline” by Cleve Cartmill or “Trog” by Murray Leinster.

    Furthermore, the reputation of Astounding as the outstanding magazine has also been cemented by various Best of anthologies such as The Great Science Fiction Stories by Asimov and Greenberg or the Robert Silverberg Hall of Fame anthologies Paul Fraser recently reviewed, which anthologise a lot of stories from Astounding, at least partly because Asimov and Silverberg both had their careers fostered by Campbell and wrote the kind of SF Campbell preferred. So they brought their personal bias to selecting stories for those anthologies, which in turn were used by subsequent readers as a guide to the best of the golden age.

    Meanwhile, Weird Tales fandom largely focusses on Lovecraft and Howard, both of whom were long dead by 1944, and tends resents Dorothy McIlwraith for not beign Farnsworth Wright. They also tend to ignore the ghost and gothic horror and proto-urban fantasy stories that were Weird Tales’ bread and butter in favour of sword and sorcery and Lovecraftian horror. Also, the Retro Hugo have a lot of voters who strongly prefer science fiction to fantasy, so Weird Tales is often overlooked.

    So you have a perfect storm of the personal preferences of anthologists and genre historians coalescing into the received wisdom that Astounding was the best magazine of the 1940s, that Weird Tales was a creaky old institution past its prime, that Raymond Palmer was a hack because of the Shaver mystery nonsense, that Planet Stories, Startling Stories and Thrilling Wonder Stories were all lurid covers and juvenlie stories, even though none of that is true.

    Though the many people online reducing John W. Campbell merely to “that fascist” also make me grit my teeth, because Campbell is a more complex figure than that. He held reactionary views that only got worse as he aged and he had narrow ideas of what science fiction should be. However, Campbell also discovered many new writers and fostered their careers, he did initially improve the writing quality over what could be found in other magazines and he was willing to publish stories that don’t match his narrow idea of what science fiction should be, as long as they were good.

    That said, there is too much crap published in Astounding for me to put Campbell on No. 1 as the best editor of 1944.

  36. (7) I was disappointed not to see The Tomorrow People on that list, although possibly it was never intended to be more than a U.S.-centric list. I used to rush home from (elementary) school to catch The Tomorrow People on Nickelodeon during that incongruous hour of Thames Production scheduling they had in the early afternoons. Kids with mutant powers who could teleport around with the help of their intelligent spacecraft named Tim! It was on right after, or right before, The Third Eye, which I’m not sure why I never watched.

    Not long ago–ok, maybe 15 years ago, that’s not long–I rented the DVDs of the show from a phenomenal rental place we have, or used to have, here in Boulder. Wow, the first season was cringey-bad. My rewatch never made it up to the episodes I distinctly remember watching as a kid, though, so maybe it improved as it went along.

  37. @Contrarius: I didn’t say the list is total crap; I’d recommend half or more of the ones I’ve read, and I’m careful about recommendations. But the high proportion of unknowns makes me wonder — if they’re that good how come I don’t see anything about them elsewhere (e.g. here)?
    wrt Baru Cormorant:vg jnf boivbhf gb zr cnegjnl guebhtu gur svefg obbx gung fur unq n zrevgbevbhf tbny naq jnf jbexvat gbjneq vg va n jbeyq gung jnf sne zber qvssvphyg guna (r.t.) Ynhevr Znexf’f Ryrzragnyf dhnegrg. Pbafvqre gur Fghetrba fgbel “Oebja Fubrf” jvgubhg gur zvenpyr.

  38. @OGH:

    A few people probably bought attending memberships as a way to financially support the con

    That was my primary motivation. I’m among the fortunate few who is not terribly worried about my personal financial situation, but I am worried that much of the live culture I’m used to enjoying might disappear due to virus-induced calamities, so I’ve been trying to spread a bit of extra money around causes I enjoy.
    I was hoping to attend some of the panels (I’ve never attended a Worldcon), but ended up too exhausted.

  39. @Nicole – I used to watch The Tomorrow people when I was a kid. I remember I found the title sequence particularly disturbing.

  40. @Cora: Furthermore, the reputation of Astounding as the outstanding magazine has also been cemented by various Best of anthologies such as The Great Science Fiction Stories by Asimov and Greenberg or the Robert Silverberg Hall of Fame anthologies Paul Fraser recently reviewed, which anthologise a lot of stories from Astounding, at least partly because Asimov and Silverberg both had their careers fostered by Campbell and wrote the kind of SF Campbell preferred. So they brought their personal bias to selecting stories for those anthologies, which in turn were used by subsequent readers as a guide to the best of the golden age.

    Silverberg did not select the stories for The Science Fiction Hall of Fame volumes; they were voted on by the members of the SFWA (who, of course, had their own sets of biases).

  41. Whether McIlwraith or Campbell was a better editor in 1944 is such a subjective question that it is almost futile to say anything other than “this is my opinion” about it. If you like the stories in WT better than those in Ast, then anything someone else says about how Campbell is still the better editor is not likely to be convincing. However, I tried to come up with some sort of “objective” measure, and this is the best I could do . . .

    I flipped through the listings in ISFDB of stories in 1944 Weird Tales and 1944 Astounding. It would take quite a while to do the actual tallies, but it is my impression that a random piece of fiction printed in Astounding in 1944 was much more likely to have been reprinted in a book in the following years, than one that had been printed in Weird Tales. And (also, general impression, subject to actual tallies) those works from Ast that have been collected in books have been in print in more editions, and as such are more available, than those from WT.
    If you want to say “fraction of stories that got reprinted later” is not a good proxy for quality of original editorship, I’m sure there are legitimate arguments to support that. But if you make that argument, at least throw me a bone and suggest some other proxy that might be workable.

  42. @Chip —

    But the high proportion of unknowns makes me wonder — if they’re that good how come I don’t see anything about them elsewhere (e.g. here)?

    You do see “anything” about a bunch of the books on that list — in fact, several have been Hugo winners or nominees.

    For others, I think there’s a few reasons. For instance, a relatively high percentage are indies, which often get short shrift in Hugo circles; for another, as I already mentioned, a relatively high percentage are grimdark — which, again, often gets short shrift in Hugo circles.

    As I also already mentioned, I don’t think it’s really a representative list as a “general fantasy” best-of, in part because it’s so heavily weighted toward grimdark. But that doesn’t mean the listed books are bad or even less than very good. They just aren’t what Hugo-voting readers tend to favor overall.

    It looks like I’m the person on 770 with the highest read count for that particular list — 37/100, plus 5 dnfs. But even I haven’t read 58 of the books on the list — more than half. So I can’t report on the quality of that half from personal experience. But I can say that I’ve seen good reports about many of the ones I haven’t read myself, and a good number of them are on Mt. TBR.

    wrt Baru Cormorant:

    I disagree with your interpretation. She thought she had a meritorious goal — but the Bad Guys usually do. You know what they say about good intentions and the road to hell.

    Incidentally, I looked back at my original review of the book, which actually showed a less vehement reaction than I’m presenting now. So if you’re interested, you can go read it here.

  43. @bill

    I think that’s useful to point out, the reprinting.

    I have been thinking about the Retro Hugos over the last days, particularly the argument — which I believe to be true! — that at least some of the nominated editors produced more consistent magazines. I wondered why that was, though, when it seemed to me (and to critics, reprint editors, writers, and fans of the past) that ASTOUNDING also had, on the whole, the most “top” stories in any given year through much of the 40s.

    ISFDB helped to illuminate and underscore the major differences between ASTOUNDING and the other magazines: schedule and page count. If you remove FANTASTIC FAMOUS MYSTERIES from the count (because it was 100% a reprint magazine, not commissioning new fiction, and I just don’t know it that it compares to the others), the other four magazines produced a total of ~2,700 pages, broken up along bimonthly, not-quite-bimonthly, and quarterly schedules in four different venues with 4 different editors.

    Yet ASTOUNDING alone, keeping a monthly schedule, put out ~2,160 pages in that same span of time — 80% of what four other editors did. Palmer edited half as many pages as Campbell. McIlwraith edited 30% as much. Does it seem likely that McIlwraith’s WEIRD TALES could have sustained its consistency if it was a monthly magazine publishing 180 pages a month? I am dubious. There was only so much of a talent pool, producing only so much material, and once you had to be less selective to fill your page count, you’d have to take some that you’d otherwise reject.

    Or to put it another way, if ASTOUNDING had been bimonthly and only produced 632 pages (as WEIRD TALES), would less of the dross have made it in, raising the overall quality and consistency? I suspect so.

    It’s why I find the consistency argument difficult. There’s some structural differences in the magazines that makes it hard to compare that way.

  44. I’m still composing my con report for CNZ (with hopes that I’ll complete it before I lose interest), but my overall conclusion is that it was an enjoyable array of panel discussions, but it wasn’t a “worldcon experience”. As some others have said, the essence of worldcon for me is the social aspect. The chance to have face-time with people you mostly only “see” through a screen. The chance to strike up random conversations that turn into friendships. The opportunity to experience things like the awards ceremony in a group. (Well, ok, I did get that one via a private google room.)

    Group video rooms are the closest that an online convention can come to that social aspect–and I’ll say quite frankly, that there are ways in which small-group video chat is an improvement over trying to edge into a conversation in a high-decibel bar situation. But I found the small-group video opportunities at CNZ to be lacking. And even the zoom party-hopping didn’t work as well for me as…well, I can’t help but compare the experience with the Nebulas, of only because it’s my only other virtual con experience so far. I may try to dissect that difference when I blog about it.

    My perception is that the non-social, non-programming aspects of conventions (e.g., art show, dealers’ room) have yet to be successfully transferred to an online version. The concept of a dealers’ room in particular may need an entirely different paradigm for virtual conventions.

    (Gotta go. Have a dayjob meeting. More later maybe.)

  45. Heather Rose Jones: I’m still composing my con report for CNZ…

    I hope you’ll let us know when it’s done, I’d like to link to it in the Scroll.

  46. Okay, I’ve done the numbers.
    I added up pieces of fiction published in Ast and WT, and then checked to see if they had been subsequently reprinted in an English-language printed book (not ebook). These books included collections and anthologies, as described by the ISFDB editors. I counted serials (which Ast did run, and WT did not) as a single work in the issue that the first part ran in. I did not count non-fiction (editorials, essays, letters, etc.), poems (which WT ran quite a few of), and on my first pass I did not count the short-short “Probability Zero” stories in Ast, none of which were reprinted (but did run the numbers again including them).

    Ast ran 60 pieces of fiction. 49 of them showed up later in books, for a percentage of 82% reprinted.
    If you count the PZ shorts, the numbers are 49/75, for 65%.

    WT ran 54 pieces of fiction, 31 of which showed up later in books: 57%.

    Serials suppressed Ast’s total count, I think — WT would have taken the space a 4-part serial used in Ast and used it to run a dozen short stories.

    Ast ran two stories that went on to be adapted into movies/TV: Arena and Killdozer. There was a movie called “Trog”, but it wasn’t based on the Leinster story that ran in Ast 6/44, which got a Retro Hugo nom. I suspect that nominators were thinking of the movie and voted for the story based on name recognition; there seems to be some contemporary consensus that the Leinster story isn’t very good.

    More Ast stories from 1944 (14) got retro Hugo noms than did WT (0, but two of the Best Series noms included stories from WT: Cthulu and Jules de Grandin).

    I can’t think of a good way to measure it or report it, but it seemed to me that the stories that were reprinted from Ast were reprinted in more editions and stayed in print much longer than the stories from WT that were reprinted.

    So, to the extent that later editors validated Campbell’s and McIlwraith’s choices by selecting works to bring back into print, Campbell seems to have been the better editor. I’m sure other metrics could be come up with, and the numbers might fall a different way if they were so used.

  47. Astounding and Campbell do have a number of structural advantages here. Astounding was the only magazine which continued to come out monthly throughout WWII, whereas every other magazine went bi-monthly or quarterly. Though sadly, WWII paper shortages killed off Astounding’s sister magazine Unknown.

    Another advantages Campbell has is that Astounding was the best paying and most promptly paying magazine on the market during the golden age, whereas Weird Tales was notorious for paying late, which probably contributed to Robert E. Howard’s suicide (though payment simproved under Dorothy McIlwraith to the point that Leigh Brackett writes in her Retro Hugo winning essay that Weird Tales mostly pays on time these days), and magazines like Planet Stories or Thrilling Wonder Stories paid much less. The fact that Astounding paid well and promptly is not so much due to Campbell, but due to the fact that Astounding had the financial clout of Street and Smith behind them, whereas Weird Tales frequently skirted along the edges of bankruptcy. The only markets that paid better were general interest pulps like Argosy and the slicks like the Saturday Evening Post.

    As a result, Campbell pretty much had the first right of refusal for every science fiction story written during his heyday, unless the writer was someone like Edmond Hamilton or Leigh Brackett or Ray Bradbury who wouldn’t submit to Campbell because of bad experiences. So if everybody sends their stories to you first, you will get a chance to pick the best stories. And indeed the obvious Campbell rejects you find in other magazines of the period are quite interesting, espcially since I like some of them more than what Campbell published. Some of my favourite Asimov stories were rejected by Campbell and wound up in places like Super Science Stories instead.

    As for reprints, Astounding and Campbell profited from the fact that the brand of science fiction Campbell favoured was also favoured by anthologists, many of whom came from Campbell’s stable. Meanwhile, Weird Tales and Unknown suffered from the fact that anthologists, readers and fans well into the 1970s and 1980s were more likely to strictly separate between science fiction and fantasy than we are today. Quite often, these readers and fans were also prejudiced against fantasy. And indeed, you still get older longterm fans complaining that the Hugo finalists are too much fantasy these days.

    August Derleth did a lot of good work keeping classic fantasy like the works of Lovecraft, Howard, Leiber, etc… in print in small editions via Arkham House until the fantasy boom of the 1960s, launched by the illegal US paperback editions of Lord of the Rings, suddenly made the Weird Tales and Unknown writers of the 1930s and 1940s hot properties again and brought them back into print.

    So in short, Campbell had the dual structural advantage of editing the magazine that paid the best and that the brand of science fiction he favoured was also favoured by anthologists, readers and fans in the postwar years, which kept more of it in print, whereas unearthing the good stories published elsewhere (and there were many of them) takes a lot more time and effort.

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