Pixel Scroll 9/4/18 One Singularity Sensation

(1) WORKING MAGIC. In The Guardian, Philip Pullman says there are reasons “Why we believe in magic”.

But rationalism doesn’t make the magical universe go away. Possibly because I earn my living as a writer of fiction, and possibly because it’s just the sensible thing to do, I like to pay attention to everything I come across, including things that evoke the uncanny or the mysterious. Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto (I am human, I consider nothing human alien to me). My attitude to magical things is very much like that attributed to the great physicist Niels Bohr. Asked about the horseshoe that used to hang over the door to his laboratory, he’s claimed to have said that he didn’t believe it worked but he’d been told that it worked whether he believed in it or not. When it comes to belief in lucky charms, or rings engraved with the names of angels, or talismans with magic squares, it’s impossible to defend it and absurd to attack it on rational grounds because it’s not the kind of material on which reason operates. Reason is the wrong tool. Trying to understand superstition rationally is like trying to pick up something made of wood by using a magnet.

(2) COMPANIONS. Here’s a BBC teaser – a shot of the Thirteenth Doctor’s companions, Ryan (Tosin Cole) and Yaz (Mandip Gill).

(3) THE NEXT TAFF RACE. Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund administrators John Purcell and Johan Anglemark say they will soon be taking nominations for the North America-to-Europe round – on Facebook.

Word up to all scientifictional fans out there: new European TAFF Administrator Johan Anglemark and I are very close to announcing the opening of nominations for the 2019 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund race to send a North American fan to the Dublin, Ireland World Science Fiction Convention next August. If anybody is considering standing for this, you might want to start lining up potential nominators. You will need two European and three North American fans known to the Administrators this time around.

Get involved and be prepared for taking a trip that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Stay tuned for more details Real Soon Now.

(4) AUDIOFILE PODCAST. Each weekday hear AudioFile editors Robin Whitten, Michele Cobb, Emily Connelly, and Jonathan Smith giving insider tidbits and highlighting their favorite clips with show host Jo Reed in the new podcast “Behind the Mic with AudioFile Magazine”. Download at iTunes.

Editors and reviewers from AudioFile Magazine give their recommendations for the best audiobook listening Monday thru Friday. Find your next great audiobook. Plus bonus episodes of in-depth conversations with the best voices in the audiobook world.

(5) VOYAGE OF REDiSCOVERY. James Davis Nicoll leads a tour through the winners of the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award in  “Who Are the Forgotten Greats of Science Fiction?” at Tor.com.

Time is nobody’s friend. Authors in particular can fall afoul of time—all it takes is a few years out of the limelight. Publishers will let their books fall out of print; readers will forget about them. Replace “years” with “decades” and authors can become very obscure indeed.

The Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award was founded in 2001 to draw attention to unjustly forgotten SF authors. It is a juried award; the founding judges were Gardner Dozois, Robert Silverberg, Scott Edelman, and John Clute. The current judges are Elizabeth Hand, Barry N. Malzberg, Mike Resnick, and Robert J. Sawyer1.

I wish the award were more widely known, that it had, perhaps, its own anthology. If it did, it might look a bit like this.

(6) ANIMANIACS. The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles will host a Animaniacs Live! on September 6. Ticket info at the link.

The most zany, animany and totally insany Animaniacs are back! Animaniacs LIVE! in concert is coming to the GRAMMY Museum’s Clive Davis Theater on September 6th. Fans of the beloved Warner Bros. animated series are in for a treat as they get up close and personal with their favorite characters as songs from the pop-culture hit cartoon series are performed live on stage in the all-new Animaniacs LIVE! Randy Rogel, Emmy-winning composer of the original 1992-1998 show, teams up with Emmy-winner (1998, Pinky and the Brain) Rob Paulsen (Yakko Warner) to sing an evening of songs from the hit show. Clips from the series, and anecdotes from Rogel and Paulsen will run in between songs such as “Yakko’s World” and “Variety Speak.” If you are a fan who has been aching for something new pertaining to Animaniacs, this is your time! And whether you love live music, animation, or the original show, Animaniacs LIVE! is an experience you don’t want to miss.

(7) KGB READING SERIES. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Patrick McGrath & Siobhan Carroll on Wednesday, September 19, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

Patrick McGrath

Patrick McGrath is the author of nine novels, including Asylum, an international bestseller, and Spider, which David Cronenberg filmed from McGrath’s script. He has also published three collections of short fiction, including most recently Writing Madness. He teaches a writing workshop at The New School and is currently at work on a novel about the Spanish Civil War. His most recent novel is The Wardrobe Mistress.

Siobhan Carroll

Siobhan Carroll is a Canadian author whose short stories have appeared in venues like Lightspeed and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. A scholar as well as a writer of speculative fiction, she typically uses the fantastic to explore dark histories of empire, science, and the environment. In 2018, she has short stories out in Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Ellen Datlow’s The Devil and the Deep anthology, and forthcoming in The Best of the Best Horror of the Year.

KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.), New York, NY.

(8) BYUNICORNS. It’s a unicorn incubator – get it?

This 2018 BYU commercial spot celebrates BYU as a business incubator and the university’s ranking as a top school for producing business “unicorns.” In business, a unicorn is a private company worth a billion dollars or more. Hosted by comic actor Jon Heder (a graduate of BYU’s animation program), the original spot was created by BYU animation faculty, led by director Kelly Loosli, and talented students from BYU’s award-winning Center for Animation

 

(9) FORGOTTEN INFLUENCER. In “Night Vision” in The New Republic, Nicholson Baker discusses J.W. Dunne’s An Experiment in Time, published in 1927, which is “one big, clock-melting, brain squishing chimichanga of pseudoscientific parapsychology” that influenced, among others, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert A. Heinlein, and Jorge Luis Borges.

Dunne’s book, published in 1927, was called An Experiment With Time, and it went into several editions. “I find it a fantastically interesting book,” wrote H.G. Wells in a huge article in The New York Times. Yeats, Joyce, and Walter de la Mare brooded over its implications, and T.S. Eliot’s publishing firm, Faber, brought the book out in paperback in 1934, right about the time when Eliot was writing “Burnt Norton,” all about how time present is contained in time past and time future, and vice versa.

(10) MARQUEZ OBIT. Vanessa Marquez (1968-2018): US actress, died August 30, aged 49. Appeared in the horror movie Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1993) and played one of the rebel pilots in Trey Stokes’ Star Wars spoof short Return of Pink Five (2006).

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 4, 1975 Space:1999 premiered on TV.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 4, 1905. Mary Renault. English born, South African resident writer of historical fiction still considered the gold standard for her depictions of Alexander the Great though her reliance on the work of Robert Graves in other Of her fiction is less appreciated. Also wrote Lion in the Gateway: The Heroic Battles of the Greeks and Persians at Marathon, Salamis, and Thermopylae.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • You’d be surprised what “everybody knows” – PvP Online.

(14) TOTO, WE’RE HOME — HOME. A pair of red sequined “ruby” slippers from The Wizard of Oz, stolen over a decade ago from a museum, have been recovered by the FBI. NBC News (Dorothy’s stolen ruby slippers from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ found by FBI after 13 years) reports:

There’s no place like home.

A pair of Dorothy’s ruby slippers stolen from the Judy Garland Museum 13 years ago will soon make their way back to their rightful owner after the FBI announced on Tuesday it had located the sequined shoes that followed the yellow brick road in “The Wizard of Oz” nearly 80 years ago.

…Several pairs are known to still exists, including a pair housed in the Smithsonian. But in August 2005, a pair vanished after a break-in at the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota […]

A CNN report (Dorothy’s stolen ruby red slippers found 13 years later) adds:

On Tuesday afternoon, authorities intend to reveal details of the shoes’ recovery at the FBI Minneapolis headquarters. It’s unclear if anyone will be charged or where they could end up next.

…A 2017 tip to Detective Brian Mattson led to “connections outside of Minnesota,” the Grand Rapids Police Department said, explaining why the FBI took the lead in the probe.

The shoes were recovered in Minneapolis earlier this summer, Sgt. Robert Stein said in a statement, declining to provide details because the investigation remains active.

(15) THERE’S A HOLE IN THE BOTTOM OF THE SOYUZ. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A 2mm hole in a Russian spacecraft that caused an air leak from the International Space Station may have been there from before the launch, reports The Verge (“Russia is trying to figure out how a tiny hole showed up in its Soyuz spacecraft”). The Soyuz had been docked at the ISS since 8 June, but the leak wasn’t noticed (by ground personnel monitoring onboard pressure) until 29 August. This led to an initial assumption that the hole was caused by a micrometeorite. Once found and documented, the hole was sealed with epoxy and the ISS air pressure has since been confirmed to be stable.

A photo of the hole, posed on Twitter by NASASpaceFlight.com, though, appears to show evidence of a wandering drill bit and a hole that looks manmade.

Unofficial speculation is that either the insulation that was covering that part of the Soyuz interior or some accidentally introduced material blocked the leak until it became dislodged somehow. Alternately, a pre-flight repair could have been made that degraded with time and exposure to vacuum and eventually “popped out.” The Verge reports:

“We are considering all the theories,” said Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos state space corporation, according to TASS. “The one about a meteorite impact has been rejected because the spaceship’s hull was evidently impacted from inside. However it is too early to say definitely what happened.” Rogozin goes on to say that it looks like the hole was a “technological error” made by a specialist with a “faltering hand.” “There are traces of a drill sliding along the surface,” he said.

Roscosmos has since convened a State Commission to investigate the cause of the hole. Rogozin noted that understanding its origin was “a matter of honor” and that the investigators would figure out if the hole was the result of a defect or if it was made on purpose. “Now it is essential to see the reason, to learn the name of the one responsible for that. And we will find out, without fail,” he said, according to TASS. NASA declined to go into detail about the investigation. “NASA will support the commission’s work as appropriate,” the space agency said in a statement to The Verge.

In an AFP article (“Russia says space station leak could be deliberate sabotage”), speculation was even reported that this could have been sabotage once the craft was in space:

“There were several attempts at drilling,” Rogozin said late Monday in televised comments.

He added that the drill appeared to have been held by a “wavering hand.”

“What is this: a production defect or some premeditated actions?” he asked.

“We are checking the Earth version. But there is another version that we do not rule out: deliberate interference in space.”

Columnist Mike Wehner reports “That hole in the International Space Station was caused by a drill, not a meteorite, and the search is on for the culprit” at Yahoo!

Multiple unnamed sources have spoken with Russian media outlet RIA Novosti and hinted that an internal investigation at the corporation that builds the spacecraft, Energia, has already yielded results. According to those sources, the person has been identified and apparently explained that the hole was drilled by accident and not with malicious intent. A fabric seal was placed over the hole to hide the mistake, and it lasted a couple of months before eventually breaking open in space.

(16) FLAG FOOTBALL. The Hollywood hype machine grinds on: “Buzz Aldrin Makes His Stance Clear on First Man American Flag Controversy”.

More than a month before it’s officially released in theaters, Damien Chazelle’s moon landing drama First Man is already embroiled in political controversy. Its genesis? The fact that there is no scene in the movie explicitly showing our enterprising Americans firmly planting the stars and stripes into the gray lunar surface—though the flag is apparently included in several shots. Right-wing Twitter has feverishly renounced the film for its disgusting lack of patriotism, with Florida Senator Marco Rubio calling the omission “total lunacy” (get it?) after it was first reported by The Telegraph. And now, one of the guys who was actually there has offered his two cents.

Buzz Aldrin, the second human being ever to set foot on the moon, tweeted a pair of pictures on Saturday night…

(17) CITIUS, ALTIUS, FORTIUS, GLUTEUS. Not only are “Esports ‘too violent’ to be included in Olympics” – why would sitting on your ass playing a computer game be classified as a “sport” anyway?

The President of the International Olympic Committee says esports are too violent to be part of the Olympics.

Thomas Bach said the “so-called killer games” which promote violence or discrimination cannot be accepted into the Games.

“If you have egames where it’s about killing somebody, this cannot be brought into line with our Olympic values,” he said at the Asian Games.

(18) PANDA POWER. BBC visits “China’s giant solar farms”.

Fly over “Datong County”, a region in northern China, and you’ll see two giant pandas. One is waving at you. They are made of thousands of solar panels.

Together, and with the other adjacent panels included, they form a 100-megawatt farm covering 248 acres. It’s actually a relatively small solar park by China’s standards – but it is certainly patriotic.

“It is designed and built as the image of the Chinese national treasure – the giant panda,” explains a document from Panda Green Energy, the company that constructed the farm.

(19) IRISH BREW NEWS. Easing tourism: “Ireland passes craft brewery legislation”. Chip Hitchcock says, “Advantage for fans: breweries can now sell their own products to visitors without having to buy out a publican’s license — a big win for small craft breweries. And this one isn’t across salt water from the 2019 Worldcon.”

The Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Act 2018, enables craft breweries and distilleries to sell alcohol on their premises.

It means tourists being shown how beer and spirits are made can then buy them at the end of the tour.

There are craft breweries in every county in Ireland, whiskey distilleries in 22 counties and gin distilleries in 14.

(20) WHAT CONSTITUTES EXPERIENCE. “Author Neil Gaiman backs Ironheart writer Eve Ewing” — in response to complaints about her lack of experience, he points out that he’d written just 3 short stories when DC took a chance on him.

Author Neil Gaiman has come to the defence of a comic-book writer after some on social media questioned her experience.

Eve Ewing has been chosen to pen Marvel’s new Ironheart comic-book series but the writer is perhaps better known as an award winning poet and academic.

In response to a Twitter user who questioned how many stories Ewing had written, Gaiman replied: “I’d only published three short stories before I started writing comics. I wrote comics once and the poetry I’d written was more useful than the fiction.”

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, JJ, David Doering, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Steve Green, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

47 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/4/18 One Singularity Sensation

  1. Paul Weimer on September 4, 2018 at 6:25 pm said:

    Now I’m earwormed…

    Heh. Nought be ginger-lembas left!

  2. (14) As my husband is a huge Oz fan (thewizardofoz.info is his website) this is HUGE news in my house and in our fannish circles. They’ve been talking about the theft for years and now it’s solved. The happy is thick enough to be cut with a knife.

  3. @3: so what will the TAFF winner do in 2020? They used to alternate between US Worldcons and European Worldcons, British Eastercons, Eurocon, or equivalent major; will they skip the alternation, since there’s no major to go to in North America (ISTM NASFIC doesn’t count, only partially because it doesn’t exist most years), or do a tour?

    @15: that’s … ugly, even if it was carelessness rather than sabotage.

    @17: [snortle] at the title.

    edit: fifth!

  4. (13)
    Everybody knows that ring was Sauron’s
    Everybody knows never trust an elf
    If you try to pass the thing to Elrond
    It’s off to Doom you go yourself
    Everybody knows even with a wizard
    You can’t cross Redhorn in a blizzard
    That’s how it goes
    Everybody knows.

  5. 1) There are a lot of things that I file under the umbrella of, “Well, it can’t hurt.” Like Jewish chicken soup. 🙂

    13) “Faithful servant yet master’s bane / Lightfoot’s foal, swift Snowmane.”
    Similar will-never-not-be-a-grump: that J.J. Abrams didn’t know what NCC stands for in the Enterprise’s ship designation, and had to make shit up when a reporter asked him about it in an interview.

  6. I always get that NCC confused with NGC, the New General Catalog (of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars).

  7. @ David: I don’t necessarily demand that level of knowledge of the fan in the street, but it does seem to me that if you’re directing a Star Trek movie, you ought to be at a minimum conversant with anything that can be found in the series bible.

    There’s something in Childhood’s End where somebody drops a reference to (IIRC) NCnnnn and it turns out to be a Clue to where the Overlords come from, and I made the same mistake you did and interpreted it as NGCnnnn, but in that case it turns out to be right — Clarke was just projecting forward to an updated edition and it really was a stellar designator.

  8. (20) The best part about this story is the number of CGers who insisted they knew Neil’s writing history better than he did, even after multiple attempts at gentle correction on his part.

  9. 17) I think I remember (from fifty years ago) the local paper putting chess problems in the sports pages and thinking it was odd.
    On the other hand, Esports have to have at least as much cardio as darts.

  10. Meredith mornings:

    If you subscribe to the newsletter at , you get offers for $1.99 ebooks every morning.

    Okay, I apparently don’t understand how to use the link button. It’s at earlybirdbooks.com.

  11. 20) I have to note that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had little comic experience when they started. I think the same goes for Chris Clairmont. In fact, i was compiling a list of classic comic creators who started at the big companies, when I thought, “Why bother even playing their game? It’s just a scam to support Vox Day and company.”

  12. I just signed up for the Earlybirdbooks.com newsletter – after entering my email address and selecting my preferred categories of books, I was surprised to find that pages now had a “My Account” link at the top. I clicked into it and found an option to “change password”, despite never having set a password. Curious, I clicked that link, and discovered that in order to change my password I would have to enter my existing password. But I have no existing password. Are they going to send me a password? I am slightly confused, but hopeful.

  13. 9) I came across any number of references to An Experiment with Time in writing by Wells and other contemporaries, so when I found a copy in a second-hand bookshop in Oxford, I snapped it up.

    It’s, um. Interesting. For certain values of “interesting”. That don’t include scientific rigor. Or readability. One to consider for its historical significance, perhaps. Very much perhaps.

  14. 1) What a wonderful piece! Thanks for posting this. I’ve rolled my eyes so hard at people claiming The Varieties of Religious Experience is a work of science. This is the rejoinder I’ve been looking for. I’m going to take it home, file off its serial numbers, love it, squeeze it, and call it George.

    I’m anxious to see what Pullman says about An Experiment in Time. I doubt I’m the only young person who takes Heinlein too seriously who avidly looked up Twain’s essays on telepathy and tried to make them work. The delusional fun I had with pseudo-science, all thanks to the exemplary hard SF writer of of certain fans’ imagination.

  15. 5) There are a good handful of writers who ought to have large Nesfa like volumes of their collected short fiction, such as Daniel Galouye, or Harry Bates…or someone neVer collected in any form (Amyone recalling Vance Aandhal?).

  16. 1) I remember someone somewhere saying that a great counter to people claiming they didn’t believe in anything spiritual, was to ask to buy their souls. Many people instinctively refused, even if it would have been hetting money for giving aways something they didn’t even believe existed.

    As an atheist myself, that is also my line where I prefer superstition. Just as I have my rituals before rolling important dices in RPGs.

  17. @Robert Whitaker Sirignano: the first requirement for a specifically NESFA Press book is somebody willing to put in the work. (Nobody gets paid, and somebody has to do the substantial work of digging up and putting together the stories.) I doubt that’s different for any other book in the line of reprinting-the-old-good-stuff. These days, the second requirement is convincing people it will sell; doorstops cost a lot of money to print. With ebooks that’s less of an issue, but the question is how many interested people will buy an ebook; I look at the queues for e- and physical copies of library books and think there’s a serious age skew, such that a lot of ebook readers wouldn’t be interested in something their grandparents might have read if their grandparents weren’t mundanes. Another obstacle is convincing estates to accept reasonable royalties instead of a large advance; some Nth-level executors seem to have paid more attention to those back-of-the-magazine make-oodles-in-your-spare-time ads than to the quiet realities of publishing. (And sometimes they even find a would-be editor with similar beliefs and enough money to get started.)

    Hampus Eckerman: refusing to sell one’s soul could simply be the “Bernie the Faust” effect. (There are probably a lot of names for being wary of an offer you may not have enough knowledge about — another involves Sky Masterson, the jack of spades, and cider — but the above is one of my favorites.) I have a degree of sympathy with

    In this way of seeing things, the world is full of tenuous filaments of meaning, and the very worst way of trying to see these shadowy existences is to shine a light on them.

    — but only a degree, and I don’t see much space between

    reason is (and should be) the slave of the passions, not their governor.

    and Puppies/alt-right/….

  18. Well the Ring is gone
    And the havens are grey
    And I’m waiting for the ship
    To come and take me away
    And I’m crazy for elves
    Oh look here comes Elrond
    It’s just I got stabbed by a wraith one fine day
    Hanging with Aragorn.

  19. 16) What a stupid thing to get angry over. Has anybody seen the real planting? It took like 10 minutes and didnt look very heroic. Maybe thats why its nit there, maybe the movie ends with Armstrongs famous words. Nobody yet knows. I guess these are the people eho normaly dont want to politize everything.

    This scroll is breaking in front of me and i have no choice, cause I aint gonna tick that box anymore.

  20. @Chip Hitchcock:

    I don’t see much space between
    reason is (and should be) the slave of the passions, not their governor.
    and Puppies/alt-right/….

    Sometimes an adjacency is just a cigar.

  21. @Hampus: I suspect there are a lot of people who would agree with “I don’t believe we have non-physical souls” but not with “I am entirely sure we don’t have non-physical souls.”

    The distinction between agnostic and atheist is often fuzzy, and “I am fairly sure there are no gods, so I’m not going to follow a religion” is significantly different from “I am so sure that souls don’t exist that I will accept the very slight possibility of eternal damnation for less than the price of a cup of coffee.”

    I took an overview course in Japanese religion in college, which included a bit about Pure Land Buddhism. That sect believes that anyone who recites a single prayer to Amida Buddha, once in their life, will be saved from hell, whether they were sincere or not. I very much doubt that they’re correct, because I don’t think hell exists–but it took only a few seconds of my life to say “Namu Amida Buddha.” Every other religion or spiritual practice I’m aware of requires significantly more time and/or sincerity, which changes the cost/benefit analysis.

  22. If someone offered to buy my soul for a dollar, my response would be to ask for $1,000. Not because I believe in it, but because they obviously do, so they need to put their money where their mouth is. If they’re not willing to pony up, then they clearly don’t have as much faith as all that in the existence of the soul, now do they?

    (FTR, that’s my reaction to the “gotcha” nature of the proposed transaction, not so much my personal belief. Act like an asshole to me, and I’ll treat you like one.)

  23. Dammit, I did it again. Sorry, Mike, I still haven’t gotten it thru my head that the A-word needs to be munged here.

  24. I was hoping that some of the filers here were experienced beta-readers and could help me with a problem.
    I agreed to trade reads with someone, but I have hit a Dorthy Parker moment: (…not a novel to be tossed aside lightly…)
    My manuscript may be equally distasteful to the other person, I don’t know. Does anyone have a tactful way of suggesting calling the swap off?

  25. @Vicki Rosenzweig: Side Note: and that belief is from a failure to read the relevant Pure Land Sutras.

  26. C.A.Collins on September 5, 2018 at 1:39 pm said:
    I was hoping that some of the filers here were experienced beta-readers and could help me with a problem.
    I agreed to trade reads with someone, but I have hit a Dorthy Parker moment: (…not a novel to be tossed aside lightly…)
    My manuscript may be equally distasteful to the other person, I don’t know. Does anyone have a tactful way of suggesting calling the swap off?

    I’ve done beta reading for some acquaintances. I guess it depends on how well you know this person. It would seem to me that honesty is the best policy. Sit down and gently explain that you had a much different idea of where the work was going, but now you realize that your mindset and approach makes it hard to do the work justice. And that you won’t expect them to do the beta read for your work, as that would be unfair.

    I have to ask though, did you go into this with no knowledge of their writing style or the work itself at all?

  27. I’ve done beta reading including for some work that was virulently amateur (and where the writer’s rewrites made it clear he was not learning, just rote-copying some of the more concrete suggestions) and some that was not amateur but decidedly not to my taste. I have generally tried to give the writer something they could take with them to the next reader or next rewrite, even if I only looked at a couple of chapters, but I have stopped early.

    I have had people cancel on me due to life happening (including my own husband!), or simply flake out. Depending on their reasons, including de gustibus, I have generally not held it against them.

    I would send an honest message about how far you didn’t get, and why you think it needs to stop there. Be very clear how much is technical issues, if any, versus personal tastes with the story.

  28. @Darren Garrison–No, since we don’t have, and don’t appear to be about to have, a “Lodestar scandal.” We have putatively one person, anonymous, using a word that Pence’s speechwriter likes. And not using it in a way that associates it with scandal, at least not more so than any other nouns this person used in that op-ed.

    I think you’d need something to happen in conjunction with the Lodestar Award that actually related to the steaming pile of scandal that is the Trump administration, not someone using the word.

    In Massachusetts, there were, during the Watergate scandal, bumper stickers that said, “Millers hate Watergates.” It was political commentary on the scandal, rooted in the historical hostility of millers to watergates, and the fact that one of the state’s nicknames is, “the Mill State.”

    But note that the scandal didn’t become the “Watergate scandal” because of the historical hostility of millers to watergates. It became the Watergate scandal because the burglary that triggered the unraveling of the Nixon administration happened at the Watergate Hotel.

    I’m thinking the likelihood of any mundane-world political scandal intersecting with the WSFS YA/middle grade fiction award, is pretty low, and not something anyone is going to worry about.

  29. @Lis
    And how many mundanes have even heard about the award, especially by a name that only became official less than three weeks ago?
    I doubt that that editorial has anything to do with either the award or the current vice president.

    Currently a third of the way through being nuked for medical reasons. I gather the effects don’t hit for another few days. I am still disappointed that I won’t glow in the dark afterward.

  30. @ C.A. Collins re: beta-reading

    I have a fairly complicated formula for determining whether to offer to beta-read for someone for exactly this sort of reason. (The formula involves how familiar I am with the person’s style, the genre, the length, my personal relationship with the author, my perception of the author’s receptiveness to critique, and assorted other factors.) I think some of those factors go into calculating how to respond in your case. I see several general options: 1. Tell the author honestly that you didn’t like the work enough to be able to give it a useful critique and that you feel it best to cancel the exchange. 2. Grit your teeth and give it as honest a critique as you’re willing to spend the time on. (This can include framing it like, “I’d like to provide some big-picture feedback to start with because I’m not sure that the work is yet at the point for more detailed commentary.”) 3. Take a small initial section and give it a full-on critique and ask if it’s the sort of feedback the author was looking for. 4. Prevaricate and say that your schedule has suddenly filled up and you want to let them know that you won’t have time and that, of course, you don’t expect them to do the exchange-critique of your work under the circumstances.

    A certain amount depends on what sort of relationship you want to have with the other author going forward. On the few occasions when I’d agreed to beta a short piece for someone I don’t have an established relationship with, I’ve gone into it the same way I graded term papers as a TA: I want to help them improve the work, but there’s nothing to be gained by anything but honesty. But mostly I don’t make the offer unless I have a good idea what I’m getting into.

  31. P J Evans: Currently a third of the way through being nuked for medical reasons. I gather the effects don’t hit for another few days. I am still disappointed that I won’t glow in the dark afterward.

    Well, it seems like that’s the least you should be able to expect in exchange for having it done, doesn’t it?

    Sending you good thoughts for a successful outcome with minimal side-effects — and at least some sort of superpower. That would be a fair tradeoff. 😀

  32. PJ Evans, I agree with JJ; if you’re not gonna glow, I think you’re owed a superpower. It doesn’t have to be a gaudy, flashy superpower; for example, one of my friends ALWAYS finds a good parking spot right by the door of wherever she’s going…

  33. I have good Google-fu; I used it a lot at work to Find Stuff, via street view. (Success rate about 95%, for what I was looking for.) Not sure that counts, though….

    Actually, my 50-year high-school reunion is coming up; I still don’t know if I’ll make it, but glowing in the dark goes with the area: I grew up in Livermore, and the usual reaction to that seems to be the expectation that either we glow in the dark or we yell “Nuke the unborn gay whales!”, not that anyone I know ever did either. (The school system did, and probably still does, turn out a surprising number of musicians. And teachers.)

  34. @all who replied: Thank you very much for your suggestions. Yes, I was stupidly optimistic and agreed to a full manuscript blind exchange. Next time I’ll know better.
    There are some technical issues, filtering, an excess of description, etc. but my Dorothy Parker moment involved sexual politics, i.e. this is rape culture. It’s possible the author knows what they are doing, and the “hero” is going to get his comeuppance, but right now, to me, it looks like authorial approval.

  35. @C.A.Collins: I may not be a beta-reader, but Im a tester of boardgame prototypes and honesty is the best way (unless the other person is a jerk). In this case, you have a very precise point of criticism and that is the best outcome. You can explain why you dont want to continue reading and you can offer some points on the rest (best if you underline the positives). But you can safely say that this type of sexual politics is a no for you.
    Either the other person is taking the hint or he sees otherwise, not your problem. Maybe this was the part he wanted to „test“ anyway…

  36. @ C.A. Collins

    Given that specific problem, I’d say give a partial feedback on what you’ve read. Emphasize why you’ve hit a snag. And indicate that either the author is handling the topic badly (if it’s meant to be a “comeuppance” story) or that it’s a message that you are unwilling to support with further critique.

    I’ll offer my own experience that sometimes an author is trying to be “clever” in subverting a problematic trope, but only succeeds in reinforcing it because of how it’s presented. I’ve had beta readers point that sort of thing out in my own work and I was immensely grateful and completely revised how I approached the topic. (Not rape, in my case, but other problematic tropes.) So it’s possible that a solid “Whoa! This isn’t working!” with explanation will do good. And if it doesn’t, then at least you haven’t been the bystander who stands silent.

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