Pixel Scroll 9/23/20 With Credential-Like Tread Upon Our Post We Scroll

(1) SURPRISE ENDING. [Item by PhilRM.] Here’s another very interesting piece by Nina Allan discussing the books on this year’s Clarke Award shortlist: “Clarke Award shortlist 2020 – the reckoning”.

 There’s a bit of irony in that it was written and posted prior to the announcement of the winner, and Nina clearly had no expectation that her favorite book from the shortlist, Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift, would get the award!

…I was hoping to avoid bringing up the whole anxiety-of-American-influence thing because we’ve been there too many times before but this question of the Clarke/Hugo overlap means I cannot escape it. Part of my disappointment with this year’s shortlist lies in the lack of recognition for British talent. The Clarke is a British award, for novels published in Britain. This is one of the valuable and necessary ways it differs from the Hugos. The submissions list reveals a whole battery of British novels – M. T. Hill’s Zero Bomb, Vicki Jarrett’s Always North, Chris Beckett’s Beneath the World, A Sea, Temi Oh’s Do You Dream of Terra-Two, Jane Rogers’s Body Tourists, Ben Smith’s Doggerland, Will Wiles’s Plume, Jeanette Winterson’s Frankissstein – the presence of any one of which would have raised the overall quality of the shortlist by a substantial degree.

Which makes it all the more perplexing that the one British entry that was chosen by the judges is a journeyman work of genre fiction with no pretensions to innovation or radicalism whatsoever….

(2) WHOM THE FAIRIES NOTICE. WIRED Magazine adopts the author’s own metaphor: “The Madness of Susanna Clarke, Fairy Princess”.

…The official story was debilitating mental illness—housebound, couldn’t write—but clearly her fairy patrons had come for her, to reclaim their erstwhile princess. Or else they meant to punish Clarke for her betrayal, for spilling their precious secrets, by enfuzzing her beautiful brain. Something like that. The ways and reasons of the Fae are little known to common folk.

If this strikes you as cutesy, tidy, annoying, even a bit disturbing, a romanticization or fancification of what sounds like a period of immense torture for Clarke and her loved ones, consider their own words. “It was as though she’d been captured into the land of Faerie, as if she had been taken away from us,” Clarke’s editor told New York magazine. Clarke herself, in a rare interview, told The New Yorker, “You really shouldn’t annoy fairies, or write about them—they don’t like it very much.” Given that Clarke has now released a second dispatch from Faerie, called Piranesi, which plunges far deeper than Strange & Norrell ever did into those forbidden fortresses from which the un-mad and mortal among us are forever barred, perhaps there’s no better explanation. Clarke has indeed been there and back again….

(3) HELP MICHAEL HOGAN. Actor Michael Hogan, who appeared in the new Battlestar Galactica, The Man in the High Castle, Fargo, Teen Wolf and many others, suffered a serious brain injury due to an accident in January. He and his family need help and friends have started a GoFundMe: “Michael Hogan Fund”. To date they have raised $232,527 of the $300,000 goal.

In the words of his wife, Susan:  

“You probably know Michael as an actor.  Or maybe you know him as a friend, an acquaintance, a co-worker, a father, a grandfather, or a husband. My husband. I am Susan Hogan and I am married to this extraordinary man. We have been each other’s best friend for decades. 

On Feb. 17, 2020, everything changed drastically in our world.  Michael was in Vancouver participating in a Battlestar Galactica convention, and at dinner following his day’s work, he fell and hit his head. Hard. He went to bed that night not realizing that the impact had caused a massive brain bleed.  He was unable to be woken the next morning and was taken to Vancouver General Hospital and emergency surgery performed. It took 57 staples to close the part of his scull they had to remove in order to reach the damage.
 
The accident left him with complete paralysis on his left side, memory loss, cogntivie impairment and an inability to swallow. … 

(4) SE HABLA. Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Lavie Tidhar say “Spanish-speaking writers are producing ambitious science fiction and fantasy. Let these books be your introduction” in their latest Washington Post column.

Spanish is one of the world’s most-spoken languages, with a long, rich literary history extending all the way back to what many regard as the first modern novel, Miguel de Cervantes’s “Don Quixote.” With authors writing in Spanish from Madrid to Mexico City to Havana, what are we English speakers missing out on? And where do we start exploring?

Lavie: I recently got back from Celsius 232, a science fiction and fantasy festival in Asturias, Spain, which usually attracts hundreds of Spanish genre writers every year. This year, it felt somewhat apocalyptic, with compulsory face masks and authors signing books behind plastic screens while wearing gloves (and disinfecting them after each book). I did get to meet Sofía Rhei, a prolific novelist for both children and adults, who has one collection of stories in English, “Everything Is Made of Letters,” published by Aqueduct Press.

While Spain has a vibrant sci-fi and fantasy scene, it is only in recent years that there has been a push into the English-language market. Two fairly recent anthologies are “Terra Nova” and “Castles in Spain,” both edited by Mariano Villarreal. They showcase some of that talent, including the excellent Elia Barceló and Félix J. Palma, whose books in English translation include the internationally successful “The Map of Time.”…

(5) HE GAVE PEACE A CHANCE. [Item by Olav Rokne.]  In recent years, the DC universe has often had more success with television than with movies. Next year, that is likely to continue with a TV adaptation of Joe Gill’s Silver Age creation Peacemaker. John Cena will play the title character, who was originally written as a pacifist diplomat who uses non-lethal weapons to fight dictators, but eventually became an ultraviolent parody of tough-guy-with-a-gun comics. The Suicide Squad Spinoff Peacemaker, Starring John Cena, Ordered to Series at HBO Max; James Gunn to Write/Direct” at TVLine.

Peacemaker is an opportunity to delve into current world issues through the lens of this superhero/supervillain/and world’s biggest douchebag,” Gunn said in a statement. “I’m excited to expand The Suicide Squad and bring this character from the DC film universe to the full breadth of a series. And of course, to be able to work again with John, Peter, and my friends at Warner Bros. is the icing on the cake.”

(6) VERSUS ROWLING. “Judith Butler on the culture wars, JK Rowling and living in ‘anti-intellectual times’”, a Q&A conducted by Alona Ferber at New Statesman.

Thirty years ago, the philosopher Judith Butler*, now 64, published a book that revolutionised popular attitudes on gender. Gender Trouble, the work she is perhaps best known for, introduced ideas of gender as performance. It asked how we define “the category of women” and, as a consequence, who it is that feminism purports to fight for. Today, it is a foundational text on any gender studies reading list, and its arguments have long crossed over from the academy to popular culture. …

Alona Ferber: In Gender Trouble, you wrote that “contemporary feminist debates over the meanings of gender lead time and again to a certain sense of trouble, as if the indeterminacy of gender might eventually culminate in the failure of feminism”. How far do ideas you explored in that book 30 years ago help explain how the trans rights debate has moved into mainstream culture and politics?

Judith Butler: I want to first question whether trans-exclusionary feminists are really the same as mainstream feminists. If you are right to identify the one with the other, then a feminist position opposing transphobia is a marginal position. I think this may be wrong. My wager is that most feminists support trans rights and oppose all forms of transphobia. So I find it worrisome that suddenly the trans-exclusionary radical feminist position is understood as commonly accepted or even mainstream. I think it is actually a fringe movement that is seeking to speak in the name of the mainstream, and that our responsibility is to refuse to let that happen. 

AF: One example of mainstream public discourse on this issue in the UK is the argument about allowing people to self-identify in terms of their gender. In an open letter she published in June, JK Rowling articulated the concern that this would “throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman”, potentially putting women at risk of violence.

JB: If we look closely at the example that you characterise as “mainstream” we can see that a domain of fantasy is at work, one which reflects more about the feminist who has such a fear than any actually existing situation in trans life. The feminist who holds such a view presumes that the penis does define the person, and that anyone with a penis would identify as a woman for the purposes of entering such changing rooms and posing a threat to the women inside. It assumes that the penis is the threat, or that any person who has a penis who identifies as a woman is engaging in a base, deceitful, and harmful form of disguise. This is a rich fantasy, and one that comes from powerful fears, but it does not describe a social reality. Trans women are often discriminated against in men’s bathrooms, and their modes of self-identification are ways of describing a lived reality, one that cannot be captured or regulated by the fantasies brought to bear upon them. The fact that such fantasies pass as public argument is itself cause for worry.

(7) ANTHOLOGY CROWDFUNDING. A Kickstarter appeal to raise $4,000 to fund publication of “Vital: The Future of Healthcare (2020)” launched September 22.

The anthology, a collection of short stories featuring the future of health and medicine, will include works from notable authors such as Tananarive Due, David Brin, James Patrick Kelly, Paolo Bacigalupi, Seanan McGuire, Annalee Newitz, Caroline Yoachim, Alex Shvartsman, Eric Schwitzgebel, Congyun Gu, and others.

Backers will receive exclusive rewards such as advanced copies and other perks for early support of the project.

Proceeds from the book’s sale will be donated to the United Nations Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO is a global leader coordinating the worldwide pandemic response.  

The idea for “Vital: The Future of Healthcare” was first conceived by RM Ambrose who will serve as editor of the book. He saw a need and opportunity to use fictional stories to address real life challenges during the pandemic and declarations of racism as a public health crisis. “Medical science continues to advance, but for many, healthcare has never been more broken,” says Ambrose.  “This book will use the power of storytelling to explore and inspire solutions to the problems that government and even the tech industry have struggled to fix.” 

The book will be available for purchase or download at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, and independent bookstores.  Kickstarter backers or supporters will receive advance copies of the book, as well as other rewards for supporting the project.

The Kickstarter campaign will last until October 22, 2020. (A previous attempt in 2019 did not fund.)  

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • Twenty years ago, Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Talents which was published by Seven Stories Press won SFWA’s Nebula Award for Best Novel.  (It would also be a finalist for the Clarke Award for Best Novel and would be nominated for the Otherwise Award too.) It was chosen over novels by Ken MacLeod, George R. R. Martin, Maureen F. McHugh, Sean Stewart and Vernor Vinge. It was the second in a series of two, a sequel to Parable of the Sower. She had planned to write a third Parable novel, tentatively titled Parable of the Trickster, but it never happened as instead she wrote her final novel, Fledgling

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born September 23, 1783 – Jane Taylor.  Wrote “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” (1806).  So near and simple can be immortality.  (Died 1824) [JH]
  • Born September 23, 1897 Walter Pidgeon. He’s mostly remembered for being in the classic Forbidden Planet as Dr. Morbius, but he’s done some other genre work being in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea  as Adm. Harriman Nelson, and in The Neptune Factor as Dr. Samuel Andrews. (Died 1984.) (CE) 
  • Born September 23, 1908 Wilmar H. Shiras. Also wrote under the name Jane Howes. Her most famous piece was “In Hiding” (1948), a novella that was included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame anthology. It is widely assumed that it is the inspiration for the Uncanny X-Men that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would shortly release. (Died 1990.) (CE)
  • Born September 23, 1920 – Richard Wilson.  A Futurian not barred from NYCon I the first Worldcon by the “Exclusion Act”.  Fanzines, The AtomEscapeScience Fiction News Letter.  Served in the Army Signal Corps; eventually director of the Syracuse Univ. news bureau.  Two novels, a hundred shorter stories; a Nebula; reviews, essays, in AstonishingLocusSF ReviewSuper Science.  Memoir, Adventures in the Space Trade.  (Died 1987) [JH]
  • Born September 23, 1929 – Balbalis.  Forty interiors for Galaxyhere is one from Aug 53.  Illustrator for John Wiley & Sons.  Freehand sketch of the Shroud of Turin image adopted as the logograph of the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado.  American Institute of Graphic Arts award.  (Died 1991) [JH]
  • Born September 23, 1948 Leslie Kay Swigart, 72. Obsessions can be fascinating and hers was detailing the writings of Harlan Ellison. Between 1975 and 1991, she published Harlan Ellison: A Bibliographical Checklist plus wrote shorter works such as  “Harlan Ellison: An F&SF Checklist“, “Harlan Ellison: A Nonfiction Checklist“ and “Harlan Ellison: A Book and Fiction Checklist”. Her George R. R. Martin: A RRetrospective Fiction Checklist can be found in the Dreamsongs: GRRM: A RRetrospective collection. (CE) 
  • Born September 23, 1956 Peter David, 64. Did you know that his first assignment for the Philadelphia Bulletin was covering Discon II? I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Legions of Fire, Book 1: The Long Night of Centauri Prime but he’s also done a number of comics I’ve read including runs of Captain Marvel , Wolverine and Young Justice. (CE)
  • Born September 23, 1956 – Romas Kukalis, 64.  Two hundred thirty covers.  Some fine-art work.  Here is Wizenbeak.  Here is The Squares of the City.  Here is The White Dragon (Resnick’s, not McCaffrey’s).  [JH]
  • Born September 23, 1959 Elizabeth Peña. Ok, these notes can be depressing to do as I discovered she died of acute alcoholism. Damn it. She was in a number of genre production s including *batteries not includedGhost WhispererThe Outer LimitsThe Invaders and even voiced Mirage in the first Incredibles film. Intriguingly, she voiced a character I don’t recognize, Paran Dul, a Thanagarian warrior, four times in Justice League Unlimited. (Died 2014.) (CE) 
  • Born September 23, 1959 Frank Cottrell-Boyce,  61. Definitely not here for his sequels to Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. (Horrors!) He is here for such writing endeavors as Goodbye Christopher Robin, his Who stories, “In the Forest of the Night” and “Smile”, both Twelfth Doctor affairs, and the animated Captain Star series in which he voiced Captain Jim Star. The series sounds like the absolute antithesis of classic Trek. (CE) 
  • Born September 23, 1960 – Stephanie Osborn, 60.  Retired rocket scientist.  Nat’l Weather Service certified storm spotter.  Two dozen novels for us; nonfiction, A New American Space Plan (with Travis Taylor).  Ranks Delany’s About Writing above Gone With the Wind.  [JH]
  • Born September 23, 1974 – Cindy Lynn Speer, 46.  Five novels (The Key to All Things released in July), a few shorter stories.  Practices 16th Century swordfighting. Ranks Persuasion about the same as Nineteen Eighty-four.  [JH]

(10) SIGN UP FOR HORROR PANEL. “StoryFest 2020: Final Cuts – New Tales of Hollywood Horror and Other Spectacles”

StoryFest concludes with a panel dedicated to the nightmares of the silver screen. Legendary genre editor Ellen Datlow leads the discussion on her anthology, Final Cuts: New Tales of Hollywood Horror and Other Spectacles. She is joined by an all-star lineup of authors included in the anthology.

This is a virtual event. Click here to register and view the event.

Ellen Datlow is joined by a knockout list of panelists: Laird Barron, Christopher Golden, Stephen Graham Jones, John Langan, Josh Malerman, and A.C. Wise. 

(11) WRONG OUT LOUD. Oh, my God! First they pitch canon out the window. Now James Davis Nicoll makes this confession — “On Reading Book Series in the Wrong Order”. Think of the children!

We live in a glorious age when books are a click away. It may now seem incomprehensible that one might be forced to read a series of books out of order. Yet, in a dark age not so long ago, when we (and by we, I mean me) were dependent on the vagaries of book store and library orders, it was very easy to find oneself in a place where the choice was (a) read an intermediate book or (b) read nothing new.

By way of example, here are five F&SF series I began in what most people would say is the wrong place….

(12) ATWOOD. BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week features Margaret Atwood and another poet/author: “Claudia Rankine and Margaret Atwood”.

Claudia Rankine, one of America’s leading literary figures, and the double-Booker Prize winner Margaret Atwood look at the world afresh, challenging conventions – with Kirsty Wark.

In her latest book, Just Us: An American Conversation, Claudia Rankine reflects on what it means to experience, and question, everyday racism. Her poems draw on a series of encounters with friends and strangers, as well as historical record. Her work moves beyond the silence, guilt and violence that often surround discussions about whiteness, and dares all of us to confront the world in which we live.

Margaret Atwood recently won the Booker Prize for a second time with The Testaments, her sequel to the 1985 prize-winner The Handmaid’s Tale. Her story of the fictional Gilead’s dark misogyny has retained its relevance after more than three decades. The world of Gilead was originally sparked by an earlier poem, Spelling, and Atwood explores the importance of poetry in firing the imagination.

(13) FALSE AND FALSE. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] Because it is the topic of the year and relevant to us all (especially SF fans as pandemics are something of a genre trope) a little science with BBC’s statistical programme More or Less and false positives in virus testing (especially in the latter half of the show): “Covid curve queried, false positives, and the Queen’s head”.

A scary government graph this week showed what would happen if coronavirus cases doubled every seven days. But is that what’s happening? There’s much confusion about how many Covid test results are false positives – we explain all. Plus, do coffee and pregnancy mix? And the Queen, Mao, and Gandhi go head to head: who is on the most stamps and coins?

Now, I have been told that my (pre-retired) job (of communicating science to non-scientists (often politicians)) is easy.

Though a little dismissive, actually, I take this as something of a compliment as anyone vaguely professional – be they a plumber, engineer. athlete or writer – tends to make their craft seem effortless. So, having listened to the afore programme, let me expand your horizons even further in just a couple of sentences.

Having considered false positives, what of false negatives? And, having pondered that, how does one balance the two? Welcome to the world of Type I and Type II errors. (That’s the real world which makes Johnson and Trump’s pontifications seem more like bluster. Hope I’m not doing them an injustice)

(14) RING DOWN THE CURTAIN. Looper combed through the movies and books to find “The last words of every fallen Lord of the Rings hero and villain”. Gollum’s, of course, is “Oops!” (Just kidding.)

We wanted to see just how legendary each deceased character’s final moments ended up being, based on the litmus test of what they were talking about when they perished. With that in mind, we decided to round up the last words of every fallen Lord of the Rings hero and villain to do some comparing and contrasting.

(15) THEY’RE DEAD, JIM. “Scientists Determine Explosive New Mass Extinction Event 232 Million Years Ago”SYFY Wire finds another evolutionary memory hole.

Mass extinction events on our planet have only occurred a handful of times in the 540 million years since life began. Most people are familiar with the Cretaceous-tertiary Extinction that occurred some 65 million years ago that led to the demise of the dinosaurs and 50 percent of all plants and animals, as well as the Permian-triassic Extinction 250 million years ago that wiped out 95 percent of all species.

But now scientists have reconsidered the impact of The Carnian Pluvial Episode, a significant climate change event that took place approximately 234 to 232 million years ago (Late Triassic epoch) that led to the age of the dinosaurs…

…Violent volcanic eruptions in the Wrangellia Province of western Canada are the smoking gun and the most likely cause of the devastation and sudden climatic shift, when abundant volumes of hot volcanic basalt were poured out to form much of what is now the western coast of North America.

“The eruptions peaked in the Carnian,” Dr. Dal Corso said. “I was studying the geochemical signature of the eruptions a few years ago and identified some massive effects on the atmosphere worldwide. The eruptions were so huge, they pumped vast amounts of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and there were spikes of global warming.”

These humid warming periods lasting a total of one million years were accompanied by an intense spike in global rainfall, as discovered back in the ’80s by geologists Mike Simms and Alastair Ruffell. This gradual climate alteration is reflected in the major biodiversity loss in the ocean and on land. 

However, following the extinction event, diverse new groups flourished to produce more modern-like ecosystems. These climate changes were beneficial to the sustained growth of plant life, especially the expansion of conifer forests.

“The new floras probably provided slim pickings for the surviving herbivorous reptiles,”explained Professor Benton. “We now know that dinosaurs originated some 20 million years before this event, but they remained quite rare and unimportant until the Carnian Pluvial Episode hit. It was the sudden arid conditions after the humid episode that gave dinosaurs their chance.”

(16) HEAVY ARMOR. “It’s Alive! 25-Ton Gundam Robot Moves for First Time in Yokohama”Yahoo! News is there.

A 25-ton robot, inspired by the popular 1970s anime series Mobile Suit Gundam, has made its first moves in Yokohama, Japan.

Footage tweeted on September 21 shows the giant Gundam robot moving its arms and legs before lunging into an impressive squat at Yamashita Pier.

The robot is set to become the main attraction at Gundam Factory Yokohama, and was supposed to be officially unveiled on October 1, but the event has since been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, SF Concatention’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

45 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/23/20 With Credential-Like Tread Upon Our Post We Scroll

  1. 11) I read the Thomas Covenant series out of order, since volume 1 was checked out, leaving me baffled as to why they were treating him that way.

  2. (9) I read “In Hiding” in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame anthology (a book that has strongly influenced what I think of as important and well-known stories) and loved it. Someday, I’ll read “Children of the Atom” to find out what happens next!

  3. I’m sure I read some of the Dune novels out of order. The first two I read in the proper order but I found the next three sort of randomly. Perhaps that why I gave up on the series…

  4. (3) Too horrible! I hope they’ve talked to lawyers, just to rule out possibilities like bad lighting and uneven floors.

    (11) I love reading books out of order once the author has settled into the characters. If I like what I’m reading I’ll go back and start at the beginning.

  5. Charon Dunn says Too horrible! I hope they’ve talked to lawyers, just to rule out possibilities like bad lighting and uneven floors.

    That’s extremely unlikely if it happened in the Hotel where the convention was taking place as Canada has very strict codes in place. Falls happen as I will know for no reason at all. And head trauma isn’t something that most people think of if they feel fine afterwards.

    I was actually very fortunate that I died from my fall caused head trauma as otherwise they would have not looked to see if I had inter-cranial bleeding which I did. So they drilled into my skull and while I kept dying, drained excess fluid off my brain. By the time I stopped dying ten or so days later, the swelling had gone down.

  6. @Cat. As I was typing that, I was just thinking “damn, I shouldn’t have started the law talking thing, someone’s going to want to argue.” I have considerable litigation-related experience, including helping a truly amazing trial lawyer (now deceased, sigh) write textbooks about (basically) how to find hidden defendants that you didn’t realize were liable. He won awards for that, regularly. I feel Americans, who have a deplorable healthcare system, should always consult a lawyer when they have a sudden catastrophic medical expense, regardless of the circumstances and their personal opinions about causation, not only because the concept of accident recovery is amorphous but also because it often helps a great deal to have representation while navigating the disability system. Haggle over your medical bills too.

  7. Hey there. Stephanie Osborn here. A couple corrections to the short bio.

    I have close to 30 novels in release currently, with an additional 9 titles of shorter-format fiction, ranging from short stories to novellas to anthologies.
    I also have a total of 7 popular science books/ebooks in release, including Space Plan with Travis; one of these is a contribution to a book he co-authored with Bob Boan, the others are entirely mine. There are more of all of these formats/genres on the way.

    As for About Writing versus Gone with the Wind, I don’t know that I’ve ever compared the two. In point of fact, while it’s on my TBR list, I have yet to read About Writing. I have read GWTW but it’s been years and years ago, and I think it was for a class.

  8. Amending that, because I’m pedantic, to “Americans and anyone suffering injury or accident while doing business with any American corporations because American laws often apply to foreign nationals at least at our present stage, although that could change.” Even though this is a Canadian jurisdiction matter, it’s an American IP, and there could be exposure.

  9. (1) Nina Allan: The submissions list reveals a whole battery of British novels… the presence of any one of which would have raised the overall quality of the shortlist by a substantial degree.

    Yeah, no, I read one of those novels, and its presence on the list would have definitely lowered the overall quality.

     
    Nina Allan: The Last Astronaut is a sensationalised and pointless retelling of Rendezvous with Rama.

    Yeah, no, that novel is way better than Rendezvous with Rama, in terms of plot and character development, with all of Rama‘s strange sense of wonder in the worldbuilding.

  10. Charon Dunn says Amending that, because I’m pedantic, to “Americans and anyone suffering injury or accident while doing business with any American corporations because American laws often apply to foreign nationals at least at our present stage, although that could change.” Even though this is a Canadian jurisdiction matter, it’s an American IP, and there could be exposure.

    Doesn’t matter that the series is American IP as the hotel is responsible. If I rent space at a local hotel for an event as I’ve done, the hotel, not me, is responsible for all health and safety matters. Even assuming the Con people are US based, and they may be Canadian as well, unless they did something that breached their contract and crested unsafe conditions, they have no liability here.

  11. @JJ: Which one? I’ve read Jarrett’s Always North and Smith’s Doggerland and thought they were both excellent; Hill’s Zero Bomb is in my TBR pile.

  12. @Charon
    People do fall for all kinds of reasons, including losing their balance for just a second. It doesn’t usually kill them, but sometimes…. (Uncle fell while taking out trash: damp sidewalk. He died that night. Much missed.)

  13. (11) I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I read Second Foundation before the first two books in the series. Can’t think back to why I did that, but it was when I was a teenager (many decades ago). Chalk it up to youth naivety?

  14. @JJ: I can’t remember where now but I read a review of that one that convinced me to give it a miss.

  15. PhilRM, it was mostly about 18-year-olds who had supposedly been raised to be astronauts but who were continually throwing childish tantrums and dramas — with several of them clearly being psychologically-incompetent to do the job they were launched to do. Plus some bonus appallingly-bad astrophysics.

  16. 11)

    I read the 4th of Kage Baker’s Company series “The Graveyard Game” first. Loved the writing and the story intrigued me so much I had to know what happened before & after. I don’t think I would have loved that series nearly as much had I started with the first book as it was quite different in tone.

  17. 3) I first heard about it on FB from a friend whose father had had what looked like a minor fall, but he had the same kind of internal injury that killed him a few days later.

  18. This sounds somewhat like the First Staple War when SPWSSFM fought it out with IAOPUMUMSTFPUSA, Unltd in the pages of fanzines across the land, except this time the acronyms are slightly different: we’ve got the SPRGSOTIO (Society for the Prevention of Reading Genre Series Out Of Their Intended Order) squaring off with the IAOPPPRSFRDTORO(s) (International Allied Organization for the Purpose of Preserving and Protecting the Right of Science Fiction Readers to Determine Their Own Reading Order(s)).

    Folks should be careful. The First Staple War didn’t end well….(though it did engender tremendous advances in the realm of paper-fastening technologies.)

  19. 6) Probably better described as “versus interviewer” – someone on my feed called it a masterclass in how to answer loaded questions. Which is what you get if you try to interview an academic philosopher like that.

    @Andrew

    I loved “In Hiding” too – I first read it in a children’s SF anthology when I was discovering SF. I reread “Children of the Atom” much later and my recollection is that I found it disappointing – just one of the standard SF plots, without much novelty or interest. It was a very long time ago, though, and I may have misremembered… still, I advise caution if it might spoil your enjoyment of the original story.

  20. Jamoche says I first heard about it on FB from a friend whose father had had what looked like a minor fall, but he had the same kind of internal injury that killed him a few days later.

    Yeah it’s the internal injuries to the brain that are the threat in such falls, and these injuries don’t always exhibit themselves at first. The other key is understanding that even if you survive such a brain injury that you never fully recover from it. I’m three years on and still having it do things that it wasn’t doing years ago.

  21. (11) When I first encountered the Discworld books it was during a period when Pratchett was between American publishers so after I exhausted what was available in the Urbana Free Library (the first half dozen or so books) I had to grab whatever I could find at used bookstores.

    Which means I read, for example, Men at Arms before Guards! Guards! and it took forever before I could find a copy of Witches Abroad.

  22. Ok I’ll admit one of the joys of digital books, particularly for novels and series does in the last twenty years, is that it’s possible to actually read a series in the order that it was intended without needing to delve deeply into online bookstores and the library system to get the books in the proper order.

    It’s also made my To Be Read list exponentially larger than my TBR list was when everything existed in paper only. On a brighter note, I sample much more fiction digitally including of course galleys than I ever did when it was a paper only experience.

    Now listening to: Simon R. Green’s Forces from Beyond, the final novel of his Ghost Finders series

  23. I’m currently reading James M. Ward’s Dragonfrigate Wizard Halcyon Blithe out of order, since it’s a sequel. I bought it on a paperback spinrack at a Petro Stopping Center. So far there hasn’t been much confusion about what I missed.

  24. (11) I read ECTubb’s Dumarest series opportunistically as I ran into them. OTOH, give or take an occasional development, it didn’t seem to matter. I haven’t yet read the final volume; I should go re-prowl to see if there’s an e-borrow or otherwise affordable copy. (Meanwhile, I’ve got a box of ~10 of the series in my “sell or otherwise find a good new home for” pile/zone/MountToBeRehomed.)

  25. Robert Holdstock’s Ryhope Wood series actually, according to the author, has no proper reading order. He said in an interview once that you can read them in order as the Story he said has no definitive beginning. (Lavondyss Is my favorite novel in this series.)

  26. Once upon a time, there was a fair amount of discussion of voting and election theory here in connection with Hugo rules changes. For those who remember that, Maine will be using Ranked Choice voting for the presidential election.

  27. BravoLimaPoppa: 16) That’s a lunge, not a squat, darn it.

    But the story says — “before lunging into an impressive squat”. Are they still wrong?

  28. (11) Here’s an unordered series: Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos booker, which can be read in the order he wrote ’em, their chrono order, or however you please.

  29. John Hertz replies by carrier pigeon:

    @Stephanie Osborn

    Thanks for dropping by.

    These birthday notes are hard to do, for me anyway. I welcome corrections.

    I have little expertise with electronic media (and normally don’t use them, hence “carrier pigeon”).

    I found what looked like a Goodreads page for you, which I thought said you had About Writing under “books read” and scored it 4.27, Gone With the Wind scored 4.30; I may have misunderstood.

    My saying “for us” condenses “related to speculative fiction, i.e. science fiction, fantasy, and like that”. I didn’t try to count your other published writings.

    I mentioned you because I found you at all and thought your work interesting to File 770 readers. Thanks for it.

    My paper-mail address, if you care to use it, is public: 236 S Coronado St., No. 409, Los Angeles, CA 90057.

  30. Yeah, as someone who sweats out jumping lunges and/or reverse lunges most days there is a difference.

    What they did was a deep lunge – the knee ‘touched’ the ground. A squat has both feet on the ground and you drop your butt down trying to keep an upright posture. Then, you get back up.

    Lather, rinse, repeat, mop up sweat as necessary.

  31. bill on September 24, 2020 at 9:22 am said:

    Once upon a time, there was a fair amount of discussion of voting and election theory here in connection with Hugo rules changes. For those who remember that, Maine will be using Ranked Choice voting for the presidential election.

    A forward step.

  32. Cat Eldridge on September 24, 2020 at 7:55 am said:

    Robert Holdstock’s Ryhope Wood series actually, according to the author, has no proper reading order. He said in an interview once that you can read them in order as the Story he said has no definitive beginning. (Lavondyss Is my favorite novel in this series.)

    I feel like trying to summaries the plots of some classic SF backwards.
    eg Dune would be: the Emperor is a young psychically powered man with a fanatical following. He concedes the throne of his Empire to an older man and then uses a knife to bring back to life the young nephew of his dire enemy. From there he withdraws the forces of his Fremen supporters from the capital. In a bid to rid himself of psychic powers he falls into a coma and only awakes after spitting out water.
    He splits up with his girlfriend and convinces the Fremen he isn’t their messiah. Eventually, he flees back to the city as Harkonnen and Imperial forces retreat rapidly from him and kindly bring back to life his father.
    His resurrected dad dismantles the Artriedes occupation of Arrakis and then the whole family returns to Caladan.

  33. Daniel Dern says Here’s an unordered series: Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos booker, which can be read in the order he wrote ’em, their chrono order, or however you please.

    Lovely books. Brokedown Palace is the, I think, the only novel not linked to any other storyline in the series. Fantastic read. I was just checking ISFDB to see what Awards he’d won and to my my surprise he’s won none and rarely been nominated H’h.

    Now playing: Modest Mouse’s “Float On”

  34. @Cat Brokedown Palace is indeed wonderful, with very limited links to the rest of the series. One of the stories in it is about an event that appears in the later The Phoenix Guards, and it is worthwhile to compare the two accounts.

    When my reading was from the library, I did read series out of order – Dune Messiah before Dune, The Guns of Avalon before Nine Princes in Amber. And indeed The City of Gold and Lead before The White Mountains. If I recall correctly I read Second Stage Lensman before any of the others in the series.

    The first five entries in Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence are intended to be read in order of publication or chronological order. For convenience the title of each contains a number and that is the chronological order (so the first published, Three Parts Dead is third in chronological order)

  35. 11) Among the various books that I have passed on to me by my grandfather in the 50’s (he was born just after the start of the previous century and got them when he was a boy) was five Edgar Rice Burroughs books: Tarzan of the Apes, The Return of Tarzan, Jungle Tales of Tarzan, Tarzan and the Lost Empire…and The Gods of Mars.

    If you haven’t read the Barsoom books, the first three books are a fairly tight trilogy, A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars and The Warlord of Mars, with each of the first two ending in a cliffhanger.

    As I said this was the 50s–before the ERB books were available in mass-market paperbacks (and disdained by libraries.). So I read this middle book of a trilogy (many times)…years before I could find the first and third book of the series. (It made a lot more sense once I could read the others books.

  36. 10) Peter David has also written a number of Star Trek tie-in novels, mostly for TNG.

    JJ: Yeah, no, that novel is way better than Rendezvous with Rama, in terms of plot and character development, with all of Rama‘s strange sense of wonder in the worldbuilding.
    Not having read Rendezvous with Rama, I can’t say if The Last Astronaut is better, but I did enjoy Last Astronaut quite a bit–enough that it was on my Hugo nominations ballot.

    @bill: One of the ballot questions in my state would introduce ranked-choice voting. I’m intending to vote for it.

  37. Paul King says to me Brokedown Palace is indeed wonderful, with very limited links to the rest of the series. One of the stories in it is about an event that appears in the later The Phoenix Guards, and it is worthwhile to compare the two accounts.

    Brust in interviews about that novel has said that it is largely about the folk process of narrative and how the story changes with who tells it and the context in which it is told. I’d also recommend the novel he and Lindholm wrote, The Gypsy, as it is also about the folk narrative.

    Now watching Storyfest 2020: Final Cuts panel.

  38. Maine is using ranked choice voting for all offices in this election.

    In Massachusetts, we have a ballot question that, if passed, will give us ranked choice voting except for presidential elections. I don’t know why it contains that exception; I intend to vote yes (this is ballot question 2) and encourage you [=Massachusetts-resident Filers] to do the same.

  39. Nina: Not having read Rendezvous with Rama, I can’t say if The Last Astronaut is better, but I did enjoy Last Astronaut quite a bit–enough that it was on my Hugo nominations ballot.

    I liked it a lot, too. It was 6th on my Hugo longlist, almost made my ballot.

    I was quite young when I first read Rama — maybe 11 or 12? — and I remember really enjoying the descriptions of the world inside the cylinder, but wondering when something was actually going to happen (which it never does).

    It was probably my earliest experience with a story which was all description and no real plot or character development. I read it again some years later and found it much less satisfying, because at that point I had actually read enough SFF books to understand just how lacking it was. It’s definitely worth reading for the interesting worldbuilding (which is quite different from that in The Last Astronaut); if you go in knowing what it is, then you’re not set up for disappointment.

  40. Vicki Rosenzweig says Maine is using ranked choice voting for all offices in this election.

    No, not quite. It applies only to primary elections for Congress, governor, state senator, and state representative; and for general elections for Congress. It will cover the Presidential race for the first time this fall.

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