Pixel Scroll 8/2/21 Don’t Talk About Scrolldays! You Kidding Me? Scrolldays? I Just Hope We Can Scroll!

(1) SWEET AND SOUR NOTES. Kameron Hurley shares her answer to a professional challenge: “When Should You Compromise? How to Evaluate Editorial Feedback” at Locus Online.

…There is also a huge variance in the quality of editorial and stakeholder feedback. Some­times you get notes that make it clear that the person making them was reading (or wants to read) an entirely different book than the one you’ve written.

So how do you determine which notes to take to heart, and which to ignore?

For me, it all comes back to understanding my novel and the story I want to tell. The feedback I get that gets me closer to refining and communicating that story is the feedback I take. The notes I get that that are clearly moving off into a direction that takes me away from the story I want to tell are the ones I toss….

(2) TRUE PRO TRUTH. John Scalzi announced “Dispatcher 3: Finished!” Soon after he tweeted —

(3) STAND BY. Vanity Fair says the LOTR for television is coming out in 2022. “Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ Unveils a First Image and Release Date”. Someone – not the Vanity Fair writer — pointed out the September 2 release date coincides with the anniversary of Tolkien’s death in 1973. (Actually, the Vanity Fair article names two different September release dates, but the second presumably is a typo.)

Ever since 2017 when Amazon first announced the massively expensive deal that would send TV audiences back into the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, fans have been eagerly wondering when their journey might begin. The folks behind the as-yet unnamed series have picked a very auspicious date indeed. Break out the Longbottom Leaf and mark your calendars for September 2, 2022 so you can see what Amazon has had cooking over in New Zealand these last few years.

The date announcement comes with a first image of the series to celebrate the wrap of filming in New Zealand, and fans will be sure to eagerly pore over every pixel. We can confirm that the image is from the first episode though sources close to the production are declining to confirm the identity of the figure seen there. This could be an image of a city in Valinor. The trees in the background, at least, are very interesting. …

(3) DREAMS. Read Aaron Starr’s amazing parable “Feathers or Stones” at Black Gate. Today!

Once, long ago, there was a poor writer who lived in the depths of a forest with his wife. He would spend his evenings putting words to page while his wife rested by the fire. As she did so she would read those stories which were complete, and yet not yet ready for market. Using a special red pencil, she would note occasional errors and put to him questions the writing had left unresolved, in order that his next version of the story might be improved.

During the day she would walk out into the forest and spend her time hewing mighty trees, for she was a woodcutter by trade. He, meanwhile, would tend to the small garden, and every few days journey into the nearby town, riding down the river on a mighty raft formed of entire tree trunks she had stripped, all lashed together, and he would walk back home before sundown. Thus they had a modest supply of silver, and the wife was content they be together every evening.

But the writer was not content….

(4) INTERRUPTED DEBUT. Galactic Journey reviews the latest (in 1966) issue of If, including this story by a brand new author: “[August 2, 1966] Mirages (September 1966 IF)”.

The Empty Man, by Gardner Dozois

Jhon Charlton is a weapon created by the Terran Empire. Nearly invulnerable, incredibly strong and fast, he can even summon tremendous energies. Unfortunately for him, for the last three years, he has shared his mind with a sarcastic entity called Moros, which has appointed itself as his conscience. Now, Jhon has been sent to the planet Apollon to help the local rebels overthrow the dictatorial government.

Gardner Dozois is this month’s new author, and this is quite a debut. It’s a long piece for a novice, but he seems up to it. There’s room for some cuts, but not much. The mix of science fiction and almost fantasy elements is interesting and works. The only place I’d say a lack of experience and polish shows it at the very end. The point is a bit facile and could have been delivered a touch more smoothly, but it’s a fine start to a new career. Mr. Dozois has entered the Army, though, so it may be a while before we see anything else from him.

(5) FROM MASHUPS TO SMASHUPS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Reader, Financial Times.] In the July 28 Financial Times, Tom Faber discusses video game crossovers.

Most crossovers are like this:  Brawlers created solely to let fans collide fictional DNA of their favourite characters against each other,  Their storylines are little more than a set dressing,usually involving a convenient tear in the space-time continuum. Kingdom Hearts, a collaboration between Disney and Final Fantasy developer Square-Enix, took narrative more seriously to offer a role-playing game with original characters and complex lore.  Sending plucky anime heroes out adventuring with Donald Duck to learn the true meaning of friendship may sound like a painfully trite exercise, but the games proved a runaway success. Kingdom Hearts developed into a stranger, darker story than anyone expected.

Today we are at peak crossover. There is The Little Prince- in -Sky:  Children of the Light, Assassin’s Creed in Final Fantasy, DC Comics heroes in Mortal Kombat and dozens of franchises distilled into costumes for party game Fall Guys.  Sometimes these make sense:  Yes, ace attorney Phoenix Wright and kindly Professor Layton could plausibly solve crimes together while Pirates of the Caribbean nestles neatly into the nautical fiction of Den of Thieves.  Others are plain wrongheaded: Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing pits the blue hedgehog against other Sega characters in go-karts, blithely ignoring his defining trait–Sonic doesn’t need a vehicle to go anywhere fast. 

(6) MIDSOUTHCON HONORS. Nominations are being taken for the 2022 Darrell Awards through December 1. See complete guidelines at the link.

In order to qualify, the work must either be written by an author who is living in the greater Memphis area (as defined below) when the work is published OR have at least one significant scene set within that area. Broadly defined, the area is west Tennessee, north Mississippi and northeast Arkansas.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1991 – Thirty years ago, Charles de Lint’s The Little Country novel wins a HOMer Award. The HOMer Awards were given by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Forum on CompuServe. Locus notes that the winning authors were active there. (The novel was set in Cornwall though the music in it is influenced by Northumberland bagpiper Billy Pigg as the principal character is smallpiper Janey Little.) It was also nominated for the Aurora, Locus, Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and World Fantasy Awards as well. It’s just been released as an audiobook, and it is available from the usual suspects. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 2, 1917 Wah Chang. Of interest to us are the props he designed for the original Star Trek seriesincluding the tricorder and communicator. He did a number of other things for the series — the Rabbit you see on the “Shore Leave” episode, the Tribbles,  the Vulcan harp first seen in “Charlie X“ and the Romulan Bird of Prey. Other work included building the title object from The Time Machine, and the dinosaurs in Land of the Lost. (Died 2003.)
  • 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.)
  • Born August 2, 1932 Peter O’Toole. I’m tempted to say his first genre role was playing King Henry in A Lion in Winter as it is alternate history. Neat film. Actually before that he’s got an uncredited role in Casino Royale as a Scottish piper. Really he does. His first genre role without dispute is as Zaltar in Supergirl followed by being Dr. Harry Wolverine in Creator. He’s Peter Plunkett in the superb High Spirits, he’s in FairyTale: A True Story as Arthur Conan Doyle, and Stardust as King of Stormhold. Not surprisingly, he played Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Died 2013.)
  • 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. Tor, which has the rights to him in the States, has been slow to bring him to the usual suspects. (Died 2009.)
  • Born August 2, 1949 Wes Craven. Swamp Thing comes to mind first plus of course the Nightmare on Elm Street franchiseof nine films for which he created Freddy Krueger. Let’s not forget The Serpent and the Rainbow. (Died 2015.)
  • Born August 2, 1954 Ken MacLeod, 67. Sometimes I don’t realize until I do a Birthday note just how much I’ve read of a certain author. And so it was of this author. I’ve read the entire Fall Revolution series, not quite all of the Engines of Light Trilogy, just the first two of the Corporation Wars but I’ve got it in my to be finished queue,and every one of his one-off novels save Descent. His Restoration Game is quite chilling. I should go find his Giant Lizards from Another Star collection as I’ve not read his short fiction. Damn it’s not available from the usual suspects!
  • Born August 2, 1955 Caleb Carr, 66. Ok, I’ll admit that this is another author that ISFDB lists as genre that I don’t think of as being as genre. ISFDB list all four of his novels as being genre including The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness which are not even genre adjacent by my reading. So is there something in those novels that I missed? 
  • Born August 2, 1976 Emma Newman, 45. Author of quite a few SF novels and and a collection of short fiction. Of interest to us is that she is co-creator along with her husband Peter, of the Worldcon 75 Hugo Award winning podcast Tea and Jeopardy which centers around her hosting another creator for a nice cup of tea and cake, while her scheming butler Latimer (played by Peter) attempts to send them to their deaths at the end of the episode. Her Planetfall series was nominated for a Hugo at CoNZealand.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off the Mark shows even an animated celebrity’s prosthetics can’t get past TSA.

(10) SOMETIMES THEY DO GROW WEARY. R.H. Lossin revisits “William Morris, Romantic Revolutionary” at the New York Review of Books.

At the end of William Morris’s News from Nowhere, or, An Epoch of Rest (Being Some Chapters from a Utopian Romance), a woman named Ellen explains to the visitor, William Guest, that he cannot stay in this perfect place of clean air, meaningful work, and satisfying leisure. Not because of any fictional science of time travel, nor because he poses a threat to this particular future’s social harmony, but because his very being has been so thoroughly deformed by the social conditions of nineteenth-century industrial capitalism that he is incapable of experiencing the pleasures and desires of a world freed of competition, exploitation, and suffering. “You belong,” explains Ellen, “so entirely to the unhappiness of the past that our happiness even would weary you.”

…Many aspects of News from Nowhere set it apart from other utopian fiction of the time—it is decidedly socialist, conscious of the environmental costs of industrialization, backward-looking rather than futuristic, and free of prescriptiveness about any particular social arrangements—but Ellen’s melancholy observation on the psychic life of the capitalist subject is singularly important. If no other argument for revolutionary change made within the novel seems persuasive, this line, appearing late in the narrative, should give us reason to consider the insufficiency, even the costs, of a pragmatic reformist mindset. At a moment in history when social reform and conservationist policy have appeared on the political horizon, William Morris offers a reminder of the constitutive limits of our imaginations. He urges us to wish harder, not plan better….

(11) INSIDE HIS STRUGGLE. SFF Book Reviews’ “The State of SFF – August 2021” roundup has an excellent lead-in to Scott Lynch’s recently-made-public newsletter update.

…Scott Lynch has always been transparent about his battle with depression and the resulting delay in publishing further books in the Gentleman Bastard series. When The Republic of Thieves came out years after the previous volume, me and the other Locke Lamora fans were happy and excited and hopeful that the series would continue soon. In 2019, Lynch mentioned that the next instalment, The Thorn of Emberlain, was as good as finished. It had a cover and everything. But as of 2021, the book hasn’t been published yet.

Scott has recently posted an update about his struggle with anxiety and his difficulties letting go of his work (handing it in to the publisher, making posts public, etc.). I found the post both brave and educating. I am no stranger to anxiety but it can take so many shapes and forms and not all of them are well-known. Scott is now taking medication to help him and as far as comments on the internet go, I think we all agree that we wish him the best! Whether the next book comes out soon or not isn’t even a point of discussion. We just want Scott to be okay.

(12) WATCH ALONG WITH JMS. J. Michael Straczynski has made public another Synced Straczynski Commentary for Babylon 5 for the “And the Sky, Full of Stars” episode.

Originally created for Patrons of my page at: https://www.patreon.com/syntheticworlds This is an original full-length commentary/reaction for And the Sky, Full of Stars, one of our most important season one episodes. Sync up at the start of the commentary, and hit play.

(13) UNBREAKABLE. SYFY Wire is astonished: “Coulson (Still) Lives?! Marvel Confirms Clark Gregg Is Back For ‘What If…?’ Series”.

Phil Coulson just can’t be killed! Thanks to a production brief for Marvel’s What If…? (debuting next week), we now have it confirmed that Clark Gregg officially recorded dialogue for the animated anthology series. While the document doesn’t go into specifics about the episode Gregg’s featured in, we’d say it’s not too far-fetched to assume that he’ll reprise the role of the Corvette-loving S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who has a rather impressive talent for sticking around the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Coulson, whose MCU tenure can be traced back to the very beginning in 2008’s Iron Man, was a regular recurring character across the movies until he was murdered by Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in 2012’s The Avengers. As Mobius (Owen Wilson) was kind enough to remind us in the season premiere of Loki, the agent’s death was the catalyst for bringing together Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

(14) WHY PROVO IS FANNISH PT. 64. [Item by David Doering.] Here at the Provo City Cemetery is another reason why our city is suitably fannish–even Daleks come here to die… 

A Dalek Named Thomas… kids’ book maybe?

(15) REANIMATION. The Huntington knows our day won’t be complete without a timelapse video of the blooming of one of its famous Corpse Flowers.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The How It Should Have Ended gang takes on Loki in this episode with spoilers. “Villain Pub – Into the Loki-Verse”.

[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, David Doering, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Richard Horton.]

43 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/2/21 Don’t Talk About Scrolldays! You Kidding Me? Scrolldays? I Just Hope We Can Scroll!

  1. I just bailed on Black Sun.

    I realize many people, likely vast numbers of people, disagree with me, but I just cannot. No one is paying me to read books in which I do not care what happens to the characters.

    Note: I do not in any way begrudge the enjoyment other people have quite obviously gotten from it. I’m just not sharing that enjoyment.

  2. 2) The best part of the story was that he noted he was taking the rest of the year off as he has wrapped up all of the writing projects he needed to do. He said he might work on something, but mostly he was going to do absolutely nothing work related the rest of the year. Now that should drive all Good Puppies drooling mad with envy.

  3. (4) I had no idea Dozois started publishing fiction in the mid-60s.

    (8) Wah Chang’s Projects Unlimited company, cofounded with Gene Warren in the 1950s, was the first real special effects company. Among other things, they did all the effects work on every episode of the original Outer Limits, and clearly I should make a note to myself about composing next year’s birthday entry.

  4. PhilRM says Wah Chang’s Projects Unlimited company, cofounded with Gene Warren in the 1950s, was the first real special effects company. Among other things, they did all the effects work on every episode of the original Outer Limits, and clearly I should make a note to myself about composing next year’s birthday entry.

    I’d be delighted to have you do his Birthday. Email me with that Birthday here next year.

  5. Lis Carey: I just bailed on Black Sun.

    I’ve been dreading starting it, because the synopsis does not sound interesting to me, and everything that I’ve seen people say about it – including those who enjoyed it – has made me suspect that my reaction will be the same as yours.

  6. @JJ–

    I’ve been dreading starting it, because the synopsis does not sound interesting to me, and everything that I’ve seen people say about it – including those who enjoyed it – has made me suspect that my reaction will be the same as yours.

    Some people seem to like stories with unlikable viewpoint characters. I don’t know why.

  7. @7 Ah, CompuServe. I was a sysop in SFLIT for many, many years, until they shuttered their doors a few years back (but starting around 1993 or so, so after deLint won the HOMer.) I still miss the weird role-playing community, Polgara’s Tower, that sprung up there. A crossover between the Belgariad and the Pern novels….

  8. Lis Carey: Some people seem to like stories with unlikable viewpoint characters. I don’t know why.

    I don’t necessarily have an issue with unlikable viewpoint characters. But it’s my understanding that the book is all about the worldbuilding (which people say is excellent); that the characters are not well-developed, and that the plot is artificially contrived to go where the author wants it to go. Of worldbuilding, plot and characters, I generally need to have at least 2 of the 3 be strong.

    I welcome comments from people who’ve read it and who have opinions contrary to this.

  9. 8). I don’t know about Casino Royal (only saw it once and hated it), but Peter O’Toole did play a Scottish piper in the Disney version of Kidnapped that starred James McArthur and Peter Finch.

  10. Cassy B. says Ah, CompuServe. I was a sysop in SFLIT for many, many years, until they shuttered their doors a few years back (but starting around 1993 or so, so after deLint won the HOMer.) I still miss the weird role-playing community, Polgara’s Tower, that sprung up there. A crossover between the Belgariad and the Pern novels….

    I’m fascinated by the Awards that I find lurking in the oddest places. The HOMers lasted but a few years and I can’t find much on them so far. I myself never was involved in the CompuServe communities as I was over at the Well.

  11. Troyce says I don’t know about Casino Royal (only saw it once and hated it), but Peter O’Toole did play a Scottish piper in the Disney version of Kidnapped that starred James McArthur and Peter Finch.

    So did he really play the bagpipes in Kidnapped? I find it somewhat interesting that he had two roles in which he was a piper.

  12. Tbh, assuming we’re talking Rebecca Roanhorse’s Black Sun, I haven’t read it yet but (at least with the benefit of long hindsight – maybe I was more positive at the time?! I know I tried really hard to like it more because the world-building was super neat) I thought Trail of Lightning was a fairly run of the mill pulp adventure story with moderately unlikeable characters who didn’t have much depth, but cool and interesting and unusual world-building… Fun enough but world-building aside, basically an enjoy-and-forget read. Roanhorse hasn’t had all that much author development time yet, of course, and I’m confident/hopeful the plotting and character portraits will come in time.

  13. PhilRM says @Cat: Will do!

    Thanks much!

    If you’ve got any other Birthdays in mind, email me please. I’m always open to others contributing their Birthdays.

    Now listening to Charles Stross’ Empire Games

  14. Casino Royale has a special place in my heart as the only 007 movie with enough sense not to take itself seriously. I realize this is a minority view, but where else can you see Peter Sellers, Peter O’Toole, David Niven, Orson Welles, Woody Allen, and Ursula Andress all in the same movie?

    I finished Black Sun and thought it was good but not great. The first chapter is amazing, but it falls off after that. Enough people end up dying that if you don’t like some characters there’s a good chance they will be among them.

    The Dozois story I always remember is “A Special Kind of Morning” which, now that I look it up, was published in 1971. I liked the part about defeating the fortress’ ultra-sophisticated defenses by simply walking in and shooting people.

  15. Jim Janney says Casino Royale has a special place in my heart as the only 007 movie with enough sense not to take itself seriously. I realize this is a minority view, but where else can you see Peter Sellers, Peter O’Toole, David Niven, Orson Welles, Woody Allen, and Ursula Andress all in the same movie?

    Critics really, really didn’t like it. I don’t think it’s a bad film per season but it’s certainly a film one has to take on its merits. It’s not to judged against the other Bond films I’d say.

  16. @Cat: If you’ve got any other Birthdays in mind, email me please.

    I think I already committed myself to a write-up for novelist John Gardner’s birthday next year, also.

  17. @Lis Carey – Re: Black Sun At least I’m not alone on this opinion! It didn’t work for me either. I didn’t care what happened to any of the characters, and since I don’t particularly enjoy high body counts I didn’t find much at all for me in the book.

    But if you want to talk about minority opinions – I think I may be the only one who didn’t really like The Vanished Birds. Everyone seems to love it, but it just never pulled me in.

  18. Black Sun – Not to pile on, but I did bounce off the book after a few chapters. I am going to try again but I am skeptical.

    8) In my mind, Holdstock is one of the genre’s Secret Masters, along with Tanith Lee, Patricia McKillip, Paul Park, R.A. MacAvoy, Karl Schroeder, Lisa Goldstein, and others.

  19. @Rob Thornton, I’ve missed Lisa Goldstein from your list, but she’s in exalted company. What does she write? Where should I start?

  20. In Re Black Sun I found the opening chapter the toughest and a hurdle, enough that I called it out in my review as such.

  21. @ Cassy B.

    I would go with The Dream Years (fantasy set amongst the French surrealists), Strange Devices Of The Sun and Moon (Elizabethan fantasy), and Walking The Labyrinth (modern fantasy). But I like everything I’ve read by her.

  22. Cassy B. asks I’ve missed Lisa Goldstein from your list, but she’s in exalted company. What does she write? Where should I start?

    I’m very fond of The Uncertain Places which won a Mythopoetic Award for Adult Literature.

  23. Black Sun was OK. My daughter and I were fascinated by the world building and concept, but it either needed to end 5-10 chapters before or after where it did. I’m interested enough to get the next one from the library.

  24. Lis Carey: Some people seem to like stories with unlikable viewpoint characters. I don’t know why.

    I like such stories (in moderation) and for me they are either a guilty pleasure or a fascinating exploration of evil, be it epic, tawdry, or juvenile. I read some superb Draco Malfoy POV fanfic on Sugarquill back in the day that surpassed anything JKR ever wrote, IMO. Specifically, The More Is My Unrest by Arabella and Jedi Boadicea.

  25. @Lis Carey

    I’ve been following your many challenges and wish you well in dealing with them.

    RE: Black Sun

    It worked well for me. I put #1 on my ballot.

    I have a hard time when an unlikeable character doesn’t have any redeeming qualities; i.e. Jorg in Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire series. Good examples of a bad character (for me) would be Logan Ninefingers and Sand dan Glokta from Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series. Both characters want to be something better despite the world pushing them in a different direction.

    WRT Black Sun, I find many of the main characters to fall in the same category. Serapio in particular…

    vfa’g ernyyl tvira n pubvpr nobhg orvat oyvaqrq, genvarq, naq ghearq vagb n tbq. Ur trarenyyl gerngf crbcyr jryy vs gurl gerng uvz jryy naq bgurejvfr vf n qrprag crefba. Gung “bgurejvfr” vf whfg pneelvat n ybg bs jrvtug.

    Of course, your perspective is just as good as mine. There are lots of different books for lots of different people for good reason.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Every socialistic type of government… produces bad art, produces social inertia, produces really unhappy people, and it’s more repressive than any other kind of government. – Frank Zappa

  26. I am more engeage if I sympathise with the caracters that is true. (Could be one reason that I don’t love Black Sun) I totally respect it, wouldn’t mind reading book 2, but I don’t love it.
    My one is The City we Became.
    I think it is a testament to Joe Abrecrombie as I writer, that I enjoy the First Lawtrilogy. I hate grim dark, but he works for me somehow. Broken Empire read the first book hated it, haven’t touch a book of this writer again.
    Another example of not enjoying a work is the Puppy War. I think one reason why I don’t want to read the second book is that I stopped caring about Rin (that was her name I think) completly. Great writer, but to hurtful to read.
    I like to chear for characters. Villains who are a few stepp away from beeing heros are something I like also (most Magnetoversions for example). Nice tragedy.

  27. @StefanB

    I hate grim dark, but he works for me somehow. Broken Empire read the first book hated it, haven’t touch a book of this writer again.

    Mark Lawrence is a fantastic writer. I hope you’ll give some of his other works a try. His Impossible Times series is tremendous (made my Hugo nominations list, FWIW). Sci-fi/time-traveling tale that brings back memories of playing Dungeons and Dragons. Among other things. Very upbeat at the end of the day.

    His Book of the Ancestor series is grimdark, but is more in keeping with the First Law series in terms of characters. (again…on my Hugo nominations list) The first book in the follow-up series (Book of Ice) wasn’t my speed. At least, I couldn’t find a character that I cared enough about to pick up the second book in the series.

    Regards,
    Dann
    My blog! Holy schnikes! You’d think I’d promote it more.

  28. Meredith moment of sorts: The Unofficial Simpsons Cookbook was released today. Genre proper given it has been known to frequently include genre subjects, this cookbook has recipes for such delights as Chief Wiggum’s Chili and the Flaming Moe (a.k.a. Flaming Homer) to Super Squishees and Krusty Burgers.

  29. I think you meant “The Poppy War”. The Puppy War is thankfully over.

    And no, I didn’t like “The Poppy War” either and don’t get the intense love for the series.

    As for Black Sun, I like it all right. It will probably rank fairly highly on my Hugo ballot, if only because most of this year’s best novel finalists are not to my taste. There’s one book I enjoyed a lot, three I’m meh about and two I don’t like at all. Black Sun is in the meh group and I haven’t yet decided how to rank them.

  30. I blame that on the debarkle and handcordination. Puppy is more in the mind than Poppy.

  31. StefanB says I blame that on the debarkle and handcordination. Puppy is more in the mind than Poppy.

    But the idea of a Puppy War is so, so cool! I’d pay a dollar to see that.

  32. Meredith moment: Frederick Pohl’s Hugo winning Gateway is available from the usual suspects for a buck ninety nine. It also won a Campbell Memorial, a Locus, a Ditmar and a Nebula as well. Impressive!

  33. I liked Black Sun quite a lot. Here’s what I said about it on Goodreads back when I read it:
    “Roanhorse has crafted a setting with a rich history and multiple factions. The complex world is a good foundation for the themes of the story. The responsibilities of leadership, dealing with historical injustices, and economic divisions are story elements that could come off as either one-dimensional and oversimplified or heavy-handed and preachy in the hands of a less-skilled author. Roanhorse does justice to these themes, and a big part of that is the nuance with which she depicts the world and characters. Characters may find themselves on opposite sides with everyone genuinely believing they’re in the right, or they may grudgingly work together even though they don’t really like each other.

    She also does a great job of presenting small details that make her world feel like a living, breathing culture. Food, games, and clothing may not be as impressive as cities carved into cliffsides or warriors who ride giant crows, but they go a long way toward creating something that feels like a real civilization.”

  34. re: Peter O’Toole–I’m not sure it’s really genre, but The Ruling Class, a comedy where he plays an earl who first thinks he’s Jesus Christ and then Jack the Ripper, is worth watching at least once.

    @Cat (or anyone else): Is the rest of the Heechee saga worth reading? I mostly enjoyed Gateway, albeit with the significant reservation of the main character’s act of domestic violence, but part of the book’s appeal is that so little is known about the Heechee. I worry that they become less mysterious in later volumes.

  35. Shao Ping asks Cat (or anyone else): Is the rest of the Heechee saga worth reading? I mostly enjoyed Gateway, albeit with the significant reservation of the main character’s act of domestic violence, but part of the book’s appeal is that so little is known about the Heechee. I worry that they become less mysterious in later volumes.

    I’m not sure it’s necessary to go beyond Beyond the Blue Event Horizon which is the next novel in the sequence. It’s the perfect follow-up to the first novel whereas the rest of the books are just sort of futzing around by Pohl.

  36. Agree with Cat; Beyond… pulls just enough of the curtain back that we see stuff that makes us go “ooh!” while preserving the sense that there’s still more. Later books turn off the smoke machines and bring up the house lights and let us see the sets are just plywood.

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  38. A belated thought on Black Sun: I found the various cultures to be interesting, but only in an intellectual way. I never really got a feel for how anyone saw the world. Any culture without widespread literacy will have a strong oral tradition: it would have been nice to see some chapters that were simply stories, the way LeGuin did in The Left Hand of Darkness.

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