Pixel Scroll 9/3/20 This Is Not The Pixel Scroll You Are Looking For

(1) POWERFUL RECOMMENDATION. Innocent Chizaram Ilo writes a guest feature for Sarah Gailey’s series: “Personal Canons: Lesley Nneka Arimah”. “They are the winner of the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize (African Region). …They live in Lagos but dream of vast lives in unimaginable places.”

The Kirkus Review, while reviewing Lesley’s brilliant collection of short stories, described it as one that heralds a new voice with certain staying power. This staying power is something that has continued to resonate within me anytime I read Lesley Nneka Arimah. That she decided to give her characters names like Nneoma, Ogechi, Mama Said, Ogechi, Chidinma, seemingly ordinary names belonging to ordinary people, and fling them into bold and daring futures or reimaginations opened up a world of possibilities for me that speculative fiction can be other things not just…white.

Everything and anything is possible and impossible in the whimsical worlds Lesley Nneka Arimah builds with fiction. This distinctive feature of her work keeps the reader on edge, even while reading her realistic stories, because we are always expecting the weird and wonderful. Lesley Nneka Arimah’s stories are also unapologetically political, from her allusions to Biafra in What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky and War Stories, to reimagining a world where women decide when they want to have children in Who Will Greet You At Home, to interrogating the pressure Igbo tradition places on women to get married in Skinned (which won the 2019 Caine AKO Prize for African Writing).

(2) WHEN DINOSAURS ROAMED THE TOWN. “A new interactive map lets you track where your city or town was located on Earth 750 million years ago”Business Insider has the story. The map is here. You can pick various points in history to compare. For example, 400 million years ago during the Devonian Period my town was underwater and my neighbors included Plesiosaurus and Fresnosaurus.

…Have you ever wondered what the area around your hometown was like during the Cretaceous period, when the Tyrannosaurus rex roamed? How about before then, when Earth had just one supercontinent?

Now you can find out.

An interactive map developed by software engineer Ian Webster lets users track the locations of modern-day landmarks back hundreds of millions of years.

If you type in the name of your hometown or current city, the map can pinpoint its location on the planet in a given era, going back 750 million years (that’s about 150 million years before multicellular life emerged).

New York City, for example, formed part of the Rodinia supercontinent 750 million years ago.

Webster’s map relies on the work of geologist and paleogeographer Christopher Scotese, who created his own chronological map in 1998 that charts how tectonic plates shifted throughout Earth’s history.

(3) LONCON 3 REVISITED. Given that Britain is now bidding for the 2024 Worldcon, SF2 Concatenation’s Mark Bilsborough looks back at the last UK-venued Worldcon in “The 2014 SF Worldcon”.

Glasgow is bidding to host Worldcon in 2024, which would be a welcome British return for the science fiction and fantasy sprawling roadtrip that in recent years has taken in HelsinkiMelbourne and Dublin, as well as Glasgow itself in 2005 and London in 2014.  This year it was meant to be in New Zealand, in Wellington, a great venue for SF folk, but global events kyboshed that one (though it did go ‘virtual’. The world’s first truly ‘world’ con?).  Mostly other years since its inception have been North American affairs (as was last and will be next year’s, and 2022), so a 2024 return to UK shores is most welcome….

(4) ‘TIS THE SEASON FOR CONNIE WILLIS. The November/December Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine will publish a new holiday novella by Connie Willis. The release date for the issue is October 20, 2020. There will also be a signed and limited hardcover edition published by Subterranean Press in November (preorder here.)

About the Book:

Ori’s holidays are an endless series of elaborately awful meals cooked by her one-time stepfather Dave’s latest bride. Attended by a loose assemblage of family, Ori particularly dreads Grandma Elving—grandmother of Dave’s fourth wife—and her rhapsodizing about the Christmas she worked at Woolworth’s in the 1950s. And, of course, she hates being condescended to by beautiful, popular Sloane and her latest handsome pre-med or pre-law boyfriend.

But this Christmas is different. Sloane’s latest catch Lassiter is extremely interested in Grandma Elving’s boringly detailed memories of that seasonal job, seeing in them the hallmarks of a TFBM, or traumatic flashbulb memory. With Ori’s assistance, he begins to use the older woman in an experiment—one she eagerly agrees to. As Ori and Lassiter spend more time together, Ori’s feelings for him grow alongside the elusive mystery of Grandma’s past.

(5) APPRAISING BEOWULF. Filer StephenfromOttawa recommends Ruth Franklin’s “A ‘Beowulf’ for Our Moment in The New Yorker as a long, generally positive discussion of the Headley Beowulf translation.

I’m out of free articles at that site, but you might not be!

(6) THE DOCTOR DOESN’T MAKE HOUSE CALLS, BUT DALEKS DO. Simon Stephenson, author of Set My Heart To Five, tells Whatever readers where he got his Big Idea.

A few years ago, I spent a night in a chain hotel after a long series of international flights.  I arrived after midnight, took a shower and an Ambien, and then discovered that I had forgotten my toothpaste. I called down to reception and ten minutes later, the doorbell on my room rang. I threw on my robe, grabbed a few dollars for a tip, and opened the door to reveal the creature that had perma-stalked my childhood nightmares: a Dalek.

For a moment, my Dalek and I stood in silent contemplation of each other. I had outrun them for decades but now Davros’ mechanical foot soldiers had caught me: alone, tired, drugged, be-robed and with no real weapons to defend myself except a Gideon bible and that thing they leave in hotel rooms that has something to do with shoes….

(7) JAMES BOND. A new trailer for No Time To Die dropped today.

(8) SAUNDERS OBIT. Charles Saunders (1946-2020), author of Imaro and Dossouye and creator of Sword and Soul, died in May of natural causes reported Milton Davis on Facebook. An African-American author and journalist who lived in Canada. Called a pioneer of Black Speculative Fiction, Saunders’ first sff story was published in 1974.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

September 3, 1996  — Burning Zone premiered on UPN. A series where the cast explored the worst kinds of epidemiological outbreaks. Yeah not the best viewing perhaps currently. It ran just one season of nineteen episodes With elements of the supernatural and super science as well. Initially, it was focused on virologist Edward Marcase as played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Dr. Kimberly Shiroma as played by Tamlyn Tomita.  Due to the series’ epic low ratings at that point, they were removed in the middle of the season with Dr. Daniel Cassian as played by Michael Harris became the lead character.  (It didn’t help.) Critical response to the series was overwhelmingly negative with it being compared quite unfavourably to The X-Files. To date, it has not been released to any of the streaming sites. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born September 3, 1930 – Cherry Wilder.  New Zealander living two decades in Australia, two in Germany, then home.  Ten novels, forty shorter stories; some short stories, poetry, under another name outside our field.  Reviews in Foundation (F 54 a special Wilder issue), InterzoneVector.  Collection, Dealers in Light and Darkness.  One Ditmar.  (Died 2002) [JH]
  • Born September 3, 1934 Les Martin, 86. One of those media tie-in writers that I find fascinating. He’s written the vast majority of the X-Files Young Readers series, plus a trio of novels in the X-Files Young Adult series. He’s also written two Indiana Jones YA novels, and novelizations of Blade Runner and The Shadow. (CE) 
  • Born September 3, 1937 – Paul R. Alexander, 83.  A hundred fifty covers, thirty interiors; three novels (with Laurie Bridges).  Here is the 25th Anniversary Best from F&SF.  Here is The Worlds of Frank Herbert.  Here is The Witches of Karres.  Here is The Best of “Trek” 10.  Here is Crown of Empire.  [JH]
  • Born September 3, 1940 Pauline Collins, 80. She played Queen Victoria in the Tenth Doctor story, “Tooth and Claw”, a most excellent tale, but she first showed up on Who over thirty years earlier as Samantha Briggs in “The Faceless Ones”, a Second Doctor story. She’s appears in Tales of the UnexpectedThe Three Musketeers, Julian Fellowes’ From Time to Time film and the Merlin series.(CE)
  • Born September 3, 1943 Mick Farren. Punk musician who was the singer with the proto-punk band the Deviants. He also wrote Hawkwind lyrics.  His most well-known genre work was the The Renquist Quartet about an immortal vampire. His late Eighties novel The Armageddon Crazy was set in a post-Millennium States dominated by fundamentalists who toss the Constitution away.  (CE) 
  • Born September 3, 1943 Valerie Perrine, 77. She has an uncredited role as Shady Tree’s sidekick in Diamonds Are Forever, her first film appearance. Her first credited film role is as Montana Wildhack in Sluaughterhouse-Five. She’s Eve Teschmacher in Superman and Superman II. She showed up as Tins in “The Three Little Pigs” episode of Faerie Tale Theatre, and was April Flowers in “ Who’s Who: Part 3” of Ghostwriters. (CE)
  • Born September 3, 1950 – Faren Miller, Ph.D., 70.  Her book notes in Locus 1981-2018 earn her this place.  A novel too, The Illusionists.  [JH]
  • Born September 3, 1956 – Fred Gambino, 64.  Three hundred seventy covers, thirty interiors.  Here is Ship of Shadows.  Here is The Man in the High Castle.  Here is N-Space.  Here is Foundation.  Here is the Dec 96 Analog and here is the May 18.  Artbooks Ground ZeroDark Shepherd.  [JH]
  • Born September 3, 1959 Merritt Butrick. He played Kirk’s son, David, in The Wrath of Khan and again in The Search for Spock. Note the very young death. He died of AIDS. Well he died of toxoplasmosis, complicated by AIDS to be precise. (Died 1989.) (CE) 
  • Born September 3, 1969 – John Picacio, 51.  A hundred seventy covers, fifty interiors.  Here is Dante’s Equation.  Here is Her Smoke Rose Up Forever.  Here is Mission of Gravity.  Here is the Dec 10 Asimov’s.  Here is When the Devil Drives.  Artbook Cover Story.  Interviewed in ClarkesworldLocusShimmer.  Graphic Artist Guest of Honor at Minicon 41, Boskone 47, Balticon 50, Westercon 68; roused support for bringing fifty folk to the 76th Worldcon (where he was a Guest of Honor) in his Mexicanx Initiative (i.e. including Mexicana, Mexicano).  Three Hugos, seven Chesleys; World Fantasy Award; Solstice.  Has been doing cards for his version of Lotería, e.g. herehere.  [JH]
  • Born September 3, 1974 Clare Kramer, 46. She had the recurring role of Glory, a god from a hell dimension that was the main antagonist of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She’s been a lot of horror films including The Skulls IIIThe GravedancersThe ThirstRoad to HellRoad to Hell, Big Ass Spider! and Tales of Halloween. (CE)
  • Born September 3, 1980 – Jenny Han, 40.  M.F.A. from the New School.  Three novels for us; eight others, three being NY Times Best Sellers and a fourth winning the Young Adult 2015-2016 Asian / Pacific American Award for Literature.  A short story too is ours, “Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me”.  Website here. [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Does anyone remember this Trek episode? The Far Side.
  • Garfield observes a competition.
  • Off the Mark shows what happens when everybody talks and nobody listens if he conversation includes R2-D2.

(12) BOOK THOUGHTS. At Nerds of a Feather, Paul Weimer groks “6 Books with Dan Moren”

5. What’s one book, which you read as a child or a young adult, that has had a lasting influence on your writing?

Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising is one of my all time favorites. I can still remember the boxset that my aunt gave me—for years I was terrified of the cover image, with the Rider on the rearing horse outside of Will Stanton’s house. But once I finally got up the courage to start reading, I was transported into this amazingly atmospheric world, scenes and characters of which stick with me to this day. It’s just this master class in telling a young adult fantasy story that, like the best of them, has these dark and sinister elements. It’s one of the few books that I’d love to do a screenplay adaptation of (as long as we can all agree that the execrable 2007 movie never happened).

(13) PROPRIETY OF SELLING POINTS. Adri Joy questions what’s up with the marketing of a forthcoming 2021 book: “Tor.com Publishing, First Become Ashes, and the pretty pastel packaging of abuse” at Nerds of a Feather.

CW: Discussions of rape, rape apologism, abuse, slavery, racism, explicit BDSM. Spoilers for Docile by K.M. Szpara.

…The thing is, though, the desire to celebrate the transgressive blending of rape and happy endings (pleasure and pain!) plays out rather differently in an unmonetized fandom space than it does when backed up by a significant portion of a Big 5 Publishing imprint’s marketing budget and social media reach. The use of tags in fanfiction can be playful, but they are ultimately there to inform readers of the exact content of a piece of media (however imperfectly), and let them make their own choices. When turned into a marketing tool, the incentives for “tagging” completely change to become about what will sell, and that completely changes what is appropriate and what is trustworthy. Likewise, the choice to pair your dark stories with an unexpected pastel aesthetic is one thing when you’re choosing a Tumblr theme or commissioning an artist to draw your fic, but it has an entirely different weight behind it when you’re printing 75,000 hardbacks to go out to major stores and sit on the shelf alongside all the other pastel aesthetic SFF books which are almost entirely not about rape and BDSM. Once you’ve started writing about the traumatic, abusive cock cages in your book in cutesy handwriting font, it’s possible you’ve lost the plot entirely… but even if there is an audience that would be good for, it’s certainly not all 25,000 Twitter followers of Tor.com Publishing! These are not responsible choices; they deliberately obfuscate and misrepresent the book, and in doing so prevent potential readers – particularly those who aren’t clued in on the past pattern via Twitter – from making fully informed choices about their reading. For other books, that might be annoying, especially at hardback price point; for one with this combination of sensitive topics, it’s frankly dangerous….

(14) RADIO ACTIVITY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4 yesterday broadcast Science Stories which this week concerned possible alien life in meteorites. A notion that goes back over 100 years.  Apparently, Pasteur had an interest and around that time there was a hoax perpetrated (it is thought to discredit those arguing against Pasteur). Filers can listen to it here: “The meteorite and the hidden hoax”

Also yesterday, BBC Radio 4 broadcast Thinking Allowed which this week included mass surveillance.  While this does sort of relate to an SFnal trope, of particular interest is that the exploration of present-day mass surveillance is through the prism of Orwell’s 1984. Filers can listen to it here: “Surveillance”.

(15) CREDENTIALS AHOY. Atlas Obscura invites you aboard “De Poezenboot (The Cat Boat)”.

De Poezenboot is an animal sanctuary floating on a canal in Amsterdam. It was founded by Henriette van Weelde in 1966 as a home for stray, sick, and abandoned felines, and has since grown into an official charity.

The house boat accommodates up to 50 cats at once, 14 of which are permanent residents. Human visitors are welcome on the vessel as well. Many come to choose a cat for adoption, but tourists are also welcome to drop in and scratch a kitty behind the ears. 

(16) NEW ARRANGEMENT. In “Ghostbusters Theme: Medieval Bardcore Version” on YouTube, L’Orchestra Cinematique has a version of the Ghostbusters theme you can play at a SCA banquet.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: The Boys” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies take on the Amazon Prime series where “Superman is a stone-cold psychopath, Wonder Woman is a jaded alcoholic, The Flash is a jaded junkie who’s lost his edge, and Batman is pretty much the same.”  Also featured:  laser babies!

[Thanks to John Hertz, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Lise Andreasen, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, StephenfromOttawa, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, James Davis Nicoll, Catherine Lundoff, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

37 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/3/20 This Is Not The Pixel Scroll You Are Looking For

  1. (12) I’m a big fan of “The Dark is Rising” and the rest of the series. It drew me into other fantasy like the Taran books.

  2. 11) For some reason, I thinking that “The Corbomite Maneuver” has a giant head floating in space in it but I’ve not watched it thirty years at least, so I could be wrong.

  3. There were a couple of aliens who showed up as disembodied heads on the viewscreen – Apollo in “Who Mourns for Adonais?” was one, and I think the Melkotians in “Spectre of the Gun” might have done it as well.

  4. And then there was Space Lincoln in his armchair. Not exactly a disembodied head, but still floating in space for no good reason. (As with Apollo, we later see him in person.)

  5. (13) Wow. I want to say so much about this and adjacent issues that I’ve started this comment over three times.

    In the end, I decided not to say anything, because every path I went down led to confusion, easy misinterpretation and perhaps even unpopular viewpoints. Instead – Tags: “I don’t think that word means what you think it means”; “Bubbles within a Bubble weaken the Bubble”; “Did we learn nothing from Fifty Shades?”; and, “I hope this is as ambiguous as it is intended to be.”|

    (FYI: Free-form tags….)

  6. (13) Adri Joy did touch on one subject that I will address. Tagging (and labeling and nichifying and sub-gernrefying).

    It’s a hoary old thing but, in my day, you got four and ONLY four tags for that new novel appearing in the bookstore: the cover art, who had published it, the name of the author and the back cover blurb. (Later, if you were clued in, you got a fifth tag through reviews – if you bothered to read them.)

    If you encountered something you didn’t like – “never reading that author again! what was the publisher thinking? That artwork didn’t represent anything in the book. Boy did the copy writer stretch that blurb.”

    Tagging and categorizing and listing rankings in a variety of faux sub-genres introduce elements of pre-judgement and influence that pre-judgement through their manner of presentation. (Hmmm, the first ingredient is salt, better not buy that, bad for the BP.)

    Art is not food: you won’t accidentally ingest something that could kill you.

    I do not think that “art” is meant to be previewed. Interpreted, sure, analyzed and explained after reception, yes, but ideally, you want the receiver of the art to be as much of a blank canvas going in as can possibly be arranged.

    All of these activities support commodification, about which, Ursula Le Guin has said –

    “Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximise corporate profit and advertising revenue is not the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship.
    ~~~
    “And I see a lot of us, the producers, who write the books and make the books, accepting this – letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish, what to write.

    Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art….Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words. “

  7. 13) Adri Joy:

    This is a process with both moral and practical imperatives to get right, because unless you’re a deeply unpleasant person who gets off on hurting others, nobody benefits from having their story inflict unwanted pain and the loss of trust and future readership that causes (unless you’re a publisher reaping sales money from an author you’re comfortable with dropping if you don’t think you can sell further books, but even then your reputation is at stake).

    “Sleeper”, by Jo Walton

  8. steve davidson: I do not think that “art” is meant to be previewed. Interpreted, sure, analyzed and explained after reception, yes, but ideally, you want the receiver of the art to be as much of a blank canvas going in as can possibly be arranged.

    Yeah, no. The novelette by that author which made it onto the Hugo ballot needed content warnings. I DNF’ed it, No-Awarded it, and put the author on my “Never, Ever Read” list. If these two novels are anything like that story — anything like what Adri Joy says they are — a lot of people will want and/or need to know ahead of time what it is before picking it up (and especially before dropping a significant chunk of change on it) — and it’s incredibly irresponsible of the publisher not to give them that advance notice.

  9. @OGH:

    Did you pass?

    I learned a little more about how the email software on my phone changed during the last update – how it interacts with the browser changed, which also altered how WordPress works with it.

  10. I can imagine an interface which works like an assistive device for people who have an inability to pleasurably experience certain forms of art and steers them away from it. Tagging has a very high value if used for that purpose, which is at cross-purposes with shoving everything into every possible face.

    It also allows the reader to experience a work without mediation: If it’s too much for a person to bear, they don’t have to bear it; if it isn’t, bring it on.

  11. My favorite of Willis’ holiday stories is “Newsletter,” which is only genre-adjacent, but you’d still be challenged to find anyone better at sfnal holiday stories.

    She has nog for blood, I think.

  12. Re: Corbomite: I remember, when I was young, and before I saw the episode itself, I saw the guy’s head in the end credits of other episodes (the last image you see in fact) and it frightening me.

  13. (3) The writer of the look back at the 2014 Worldcon seems to have erased the 2019 Worldcon in Dublin from their memory at one point (despite having mentioned it at the start), having claimed that “last year’s” Worldcon was in the USA.

  14. @JJ. Please note that what I said in my OP was: “you got four and ONLY four tags for that new novel appearing in the bookstore: the cover art, who had published it, the name of the author and the back cover blurb.”

    Please note that I included “Author” in that list. Knowing some works of the author, as you obviously do, has already allowed you to make an informed decision about your engagement.

  15. @Kevin Standlee: I’m willing to accept that this is a case of the current situation making 2020 feel like 2019 version b, rather than assuming that of course Dublin is part of Massachusetts (after all if you fly from Dublin to Newark, at least, you end up at a domestic terminal).

  16. 11) IIRC, in the TNG episode where an alien species augment Barclay’s intelligence, the alien delegate manifests as a big giant head at the climax of the episode.

    JJ: The novelette by that author which made it onto the Hugo ballot needed content warnings. I DNF’ed it, No-Awarded it, and put the author on my “Never, Ever Read” list.
    I honestly didn’t remember having read anything by Szpara before, so I went and looked back through the list of Hugo nominees from recent years and found both the story (“Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time”, originally published in Uncanny) and the document where I noted my thoughts on the nominees from that year (2018). I originally ranked it last on my ballot, but rereading it, I think I have a better appreciation for the unapologetic, explicit (in multiple senses of that word) way it deals with the experience of the trans protagonist. The MC doesn’t shy away from discussing his sexuality or reproductive anatomy, and his distress over the changes that vampirism makes to his body is clearly meant to be a metaphor for the dysphoria that trans people experience. On top of that, it discusses the prejudice the MC has to deal with from medical professionals on account of both his trans identity and his undead status. I can see why it might be considered transgressive, but I don’t really see that as a problem in a work aimed at adult readers.

  17. 10) Of course it shouldn’t surprise me to learn that Pauline Collins is old, but for some reason it does. I enjoyed her generally good-humored persona in a number of roles over the years.

  18. Nina, none of that changes the fact that the story needed content warnings. I was extremely angry and resentful about being blindsided by it, just as I would be if I were blindsided by one of the novels under discussion.

  19. steve davidson: Please note that I included “Author” in that list. Knowing some works of the author, as you obviously do, has already allowed you to make an informed decision about your engagement.

    No Steve, that”s not good enough, because it requires that people must be blindsided at least once, and then it requires people to remember the author’s name for the future.

  20. (13) an odd critical review. At bottom, if you boil it long enough, what remains in the pot seems to be that the critic didn’t think a pastel color scheme should be used in the cover design of this book. Strangely simplistic, to ask (and in doing so explicitly complain about its failure to live up to their expectation) that a book with dark themes and even darker plot points have a cover design that reflects this in its color palette.

    I’m reminded of a complaint by one of the Puppies – I forget which one, they all blend together – in which they complained that you could no longer reliably judge a book by its cover. By which I mean, you couldn’t be assured that a book with a rocket ship or space battle on the cover wasn’t Heinlein-esque or pulp SF.

  21. 13) I read the blurb for Docile and thought, “Nope, nope, definitely not.” I also read the blurb for the upcoming novel and IMO, it’s not clear from the blurb at all that the book contains heavy BDSM and nonconsensual sex. Because “He endured the cage and the scourge” sounds like imprisonment with corporal punishment, not S&M.

    Regarding the author’s Hugo nominated novelette a few years ago, I placed it in last place on my ballot, but not under No Award. I also recall being surprised at how graphic that story was without any warnings. And it was published in Uncanny, too, whom I would expect to use warnings. But that story didn’t elicit the “Ugh, what the hell is this? I’m not finishing this” reaction that a few other Hugo finalists over the years (one of them this year – the story which started with a graphic and bloody murder) did.

    Also, the main problem with this book and the previous one is that the cover design and marketing is utterly at odds with the contents.There are novels with similarly graphic content – though usually self-published or published by small presses rather than by Tor.com – where the packaging is very different. Though I just checked out a fairly well known example that started out as small press/self-published and has since been picked up by a big publisher and found that the new cover looks like YA fantasy, which that book definitely is not.

    As for tags/content warnings, I sometimes find them overdone, but I don’t mind them either. If I don’t want to check out the content warnings, I can scroll right past them. And they are helpful to many people, though the things which tend to upset me are not common triggers for which there are tags.

    One problem that particularly affects self-publishers and small presses (and might affect major publishers like Tor as well, though I suspect they have more leeway) is that if you use certain words like “rape” or “slut” or “virgin” in the book description/blurb, the book is given extra scrutiny and might end up blocked or classified as erotica, if the vendor thinks it might be offensive to their more conservative customers. I had two books – neither of them even remotely graphic – that always took forever to be approved at Amazon, until I realised that I had used a problem word in the blurb. The context doesn’t matter either, a book about the life of the Virgin Mary might be affected, because it contains the v-word. And let’s not forget how the British retailer W.H. Smith (who have no problem selling erotic fiction and magazines in their physical stores) banned all self-published books from their online store, because some busybodies got their knickers in a twist about a romance with a dog on the cover, thinking it contained bestiality.

    This makes using tags for potentially problematic content an issue, because rather than informing readers, they might get a book blocked or classified as erotica.

  22. (12) I actually read The Dark is Rising for the first time fairly recently. I hadn’t been planning to because, y’know, kids’ books, missed them at the time, too bad, but that’s life. But then there was a copy in my local Little Free Library, so I said what the heck. And yeah, I can definitely see why they’re popular, and I was pleased that they didn’t seem too dated.

    So if anyone has been avoiding re-reading them for fear of what the Suck Fairy might have brought, I suspect you’re probably ok. The story is simple, as you would expect from kids’ books, but still entertaining.

  23. @Xtifr: Thank you. That is useful information for me (who read The Dark is Rising at a time when the series was not yet complete).

    “When the Scroll comes a Filing, the Pixel turn it back,
    First from the circle, Fifth from the track”

  24. Miles Carter says I’m reminded of a complaint by one of the Puppies – I forget which one, they all blend together – in which they complained that you could no longer reliably judge a book by its cover. By which I mean, you couldn’t be assured that a book with a rocket ship or space battle on the cover wasn’t Heinlein-esque or pulp SF.

    It’s become an increasingly common complaint among Puppies that cover art no longer accurately reflects the story. What I think they really mean is that those damn Others are using artwork to deceive potential readers into thinking that they’re getting the Real Stuff when they aren’t. As if that potential reader wasn’t smart enough to look beyond that art.

    Now playing: Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Puff, the Magic Dragon”

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