Pixel Scroll 9/13 Pixellary Justice

(1) Why is Stieg Larsson’s fourth Millennium novel a news item for the scroll? Well, it is a book a lot of us will read, but that’s not the reason. Sweden’s Ahrvid Engholm supplies the connection in his coverage “From the Biggest Book Release of 2015: ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’” on Europa SF.

There were big news and no news at the Stockholm press conference (August 26th) for the fourth Millennium novel, “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” by David Lagercrantz. Big news because of all the speculations and hysteria around this book, in the international bestseller (80+ million copies world-wide) series created and written by Stieg Larsson….

Stieg Larsson was one of Sweden’s top science-fiction fans throughout the 1970’s, as fanzine publisher (titles like Fijagh, SFären, Långfredagsnatt) board member and later chairman of the Scandinavian SF Association (where Yours Truly met him every week for several years), for which he and Eva Gabrielsson also edited the memberzine. He then turned to nonfannish journalism, covering neonazi and racist movements, and became quite well-known, writing books and appearing on TV talking about that field. When he died in a heart attack 2004, the first volumne in the Millennium saga was just about to be published. He never lived to see his huge success.

(2) The SFEditors (Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, Paula Guran, Rich Horton, and Jonathan Strahan) are practically machine-gunning out short fiction recommendations.

(3) io9 lists “11 Science Fiction Books That Are Regularly Taught in College Classes”.

“But where is Fahrenheit 451?” demands John King Tarpinian.

(4) Lock your doors!

(5) Lee Hutchinson’s review of The Martian on Ars Technica focuses on whether it got the science right.

Fortunately, The Martian, is a good blind date. Screenwriter Drew Goddard has translated Andy Weir’s novel into a script that keeps almost all of the science and humor intact, and director Ridley Scott allows the vast emptiness of Mars to speak for itself, while keeping the gimmicks to a minimum.

And, of course, Matt Damon does wonders for the role of Mark Watney—the best botanist on the planet. The planet of Mars.

(6) Tom Knighton reviews Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves and concludes:

Absolutely amazing book.  I now find myself eagerly awaiting the next book.  I only wish Stephenson had a tip jar on his website.  I’d easily kick him whatever his percentage should be, because he easily deserves it.

(7) The oft-interviewed Samuel R. Delany answers questions, this time in The Nation:

CD: What other writers were doing this kind of work in ways that resonated with you?

SD: The first white writer who wrote a black character I personally found believable—and I read lots and lots, both inside and outside science fiction—was Thomas M. Disch, in his 1968 New Wave novel Camp Concentration, first serialized in the British science-fiction magazine New Worlds, whose first installment appeared in its first tabloid-style issue. The presentation of Mordecai is one reason I think it’s such an important book in science fiction’s history. Yes, that book passed my own Turing test in a way that, for me, Faulkner’s black characters did not—as, indeed, many of his white characters failed to do for me as well, though I always found his language exacting, when it wasn’t exhausting. Tom told me later that he’d modeled Mordecai on a black classmate of his in the Midwest. But, boy, did I recognize him from my memories of myself and my black friends on the Harlem streets.

(8) Forry Ackerman wrote a fan letter to Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1931 — and got an answer. Read both on Letters of Note.

(9) Just found out somebody was selling these in 2009. (“See The World Through The Eyes of MST3K”.)

MT3K glasses

And somebody else 3-D printed a version that glows in the dark.

(10) Here’s a random connection. Batman creator Bob Kane is buried at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

Cartoonist. Born in New York City, he was a comic book artist and writer, credited as the creator of the DC Comic’s superhero “Batman” character. He was a trainee animator when he entered the comic book field in 1936. Merging with DC Comics action series in 1938, editors were in a scramble for more heroes such as Superman. It was then when Kane who had influences from film actor action characters, conceived “Batman” as a superhero. Writer Bill Finger joined artist Kane and the “Batman” character debuted in DC’s Detective Comics series in May 1939, and was a breakout hit… (bio by: John “J-Cat” Griffith)

Who is Kane’s nearest neighbor? Stan Laurel.

Burial: Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills)

Los Angeles

Los Angeles County


USA Plot: Court of Liberty, Lot #1310 (behind Stan Laurel).

(11) Jonathan Kay reports how he was sheared at Fan Expo Canada.

On Sunday, I took two of my daughters to the 2015 instalment of Fan Expo Canada, billed as “the largest Comics, Sci-fi, Horror, Anime, and Gaming event in Canada.” More than 100,000 fans show up annually for the four-day exhibition, which now sprawls over both buildings of the massive Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Under one roof, I was able to meet a life-size My Little Pony, compete in a Catan tournament, playtest emerging console video games, commission custom panels from famous cartoonists, pose with life-size Futurama characters, buy a fully functional 3D-chess set, and generally revel in all the various subcultures that the rest of society stigmatizes as dorky and juvenile. My girls and I have been to Fan Expo Canada three years in a row, and we always have a good time….

In fact, the best way to describe Fan Expo’s celebrity protocol is as a sort of Chicago Mercantile Exchange for human beings. Instead of live cattle, lean hogs, skimmed milk powder, cash-settled butter, and softwood pulp, this big board (displayed above) lists prices for Billy Dee Williams, Gillian Anderson, Danny Trejo, Neve Campbell, Norman Reedus, Skeet Ulrich, Zach Galligan, and fifty other stars and quasi-stars. The precision of the numbers suggests a fine-tuned demand-driven adjustment process that any commodities trader would recognize. Williams (Lando Calrissian from Star Wars, but you knew that) was listed at $57. Anderson (X-Files): $91. Danny Trejo (Machete): $74. Neve Campbell (Scream): $97. Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead): $130. Skeet Ulrich (Jericho): $68. Zach Galligan (Gremlins): $63. Just my luck: Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley, Harry Potter’s red-haired sidekick) was listed at $142—highest on the board. I wanted to bail out. But having made the mistake of getting dragged this far, turning back wasn’t going to be a good-dad move.

And it got worse. Fan Expo also sells “Team Ups”: Photo-ops that allow big spenders to pose with multiple cast members from the same show or movie. In the case of Potter fans, $260 gets you the “Weasley family”—featuring not only Grint, but the two actors who play his fictional twin brothers Fred (James Phelps) and George (Oliver Phelps). The twins alone could be had for a mere $102, but my daughters convinced me that the family plan offered “the best value.” A second print: another $10. Digital copy: That was extra, too. With frames and tax, I was in for well over $300….

“Fleeced,” “Rip-off,” “Sucker”—I’ve used some strong language here. But in fact, Fan Expo and the Weasleys were scrupulously honest. They promised me a photo for a printed price. And that’s exactly what they delivered. And it’s a great shot: Everyone’s beaming. We look like fast friends. Perfect for generating social media likes and green-envy emoticons.

(12) You probably haven’t read enough tortured reasoning about the Hugos and Sasquan lately and will be thrilled that a lawyer has been studying the possibilities of suing about the asterisks.

More here.

Asterisking the Hugo Nominations is therefore perfectly legal, UNLESS the presentation was unofficial… which WorldCon can deny at the drop of a formal filing. All three lawyers were convinced that the second WorldCon obtained legal representation, they’d be advised to throw their Hugo Committee Chair (and all of his emails to me) under the biggest bus they could find. While this would essentially invalidate the 2015 Hugos entirely, it was pointed out that the organization’s alternatives would be far more disastrous.


Because WorldCon had complete control of the venue and process, but did nothing to prevent (or even denounce) any illegal use of its trademarks therein. Failure to defend a trademark against known infringement endangers the trademark.

That’s entirely aside from the issue of fraud, which comes in under the heading of deliberate misrepresentation. WorldCon’s Hugo Chair isn’t saying that they are invalidating the Asterisks after the fact… instead, he’s saying the Asterisks were never legitimate to begin with. Yet at the actual event, they were publicly represented as THE official Nominee awards. Rather than treated as jokes, they were lionized by those on stage as representative of SF/F fandom as a whole.

The denial itself is an act of fraud, affecting all 2015 Hugo Voters, but in terms of public record the World Science Fiction Society has given every appearance of endorsing the Asterisk Awards as official. Were I to file action, they’d only need to respond with verification of their existing public position. That would invalidate any claim of damages I could make. Only if they formally back up their Hugo Chair do they risk anything.

As none of the lawyers I spoke to believe they’ll be that stupid, none want to accept the case at this point.

‘Tis clear as is the summer sun.

(13) Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best was published July 7. An anonymous contributor sent me this report on how the 2015 Hugo nominees fared.

But yesterday, I did compare the ballots to Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best Table of Contents and Honorable mention list and came across something I find interesting…

Of all the nominees, both on the final ballot and those who dropped off the ballot, none of the stories made the table of contents and only two authors made the Honorable Mention list.

Given the positive comments about Annie Bellet and Kary English, it would be natural to think they might have made Gardner’s Honorable Mention list, but they didn’t.

The only Hugo nominated story to make Gardner’s honorable mention list was Michael Flynn’s “The Journeyman: In the Stone House,” which many of non-puppies complained was not a complete story since it is a part of a larger work.

The only other Hugo nominated author to make the list, amazingly enough for a non-Hugo related story, was John C. Wright, for “Idle Thoughts.”

(14) John Scalzi would do it this way – “My Almost Certainly Ill-Advised Proposed Award Voting Process”.

  1. How the vote works: There are three voting rounds: Nomination, long list, and finalist.

Nomination: Everyone votes for one and only one work (or person, if it’s that sort of category) in the category. The top ten or twelve vote-getters are sent to the long list stage (ties, etc are fine but the goal would be to get number of long list nominees as close to the ideal long list number as possible).

Long List: Everyone votes for up to three works on the long list, none of which can be the single work they originally nominated. That’s right! You have to choose something else in this stage, and hope enough other people like the work you originally nominated to include it among their own selections!

But what if people choose not to make selections in the stage in the hope that their lack of selection of other work will bump up the chances of their preferred work? Well, I would consider making a rule that says failure to participate in this round counts as a point against your original choice’s score in this round — which is to say if you don’t vote in this round, a point is deducted for your original choice’s score in this round (presuming it made the long list at all). You’re better off voting if you want your original selection to make it to the final round.

In this round, the top five or six vote-getters graduate to the final round. Hope your original choice made it!

Finalist: This vote is done “Australian Rules” style, where each voter ranks the works from first to last choice. “No Award” is an option in this round, so if you hated everything in the long list round, this is where you may register your disapproval. The winner is the one which collects the majority of votes, in either the first or subsequent balloting rounds.

(15) The Sci-Fi Air Show is an incredible bit of imaginative work.

What if instead of using sets, models and special effects, the producers of science fiction films and television shows constructed full sized flying spaceships? That is the premise of the Sci-Fi Air Show.

In a similar story arc to the Batmobile and the Aries 1B miniature from 2001: A Space Odyssey, these ships would have likely been sold off, traded, hidden away in basements and eventually rescued, restored and put on public display.

The images you see here on the site are photographs of practical miniature spaceships digitally blended with actual air show backgrounds. It is a fantasy air show that only exists on line, but appeals to many of us who, at one time, believed that these ships of fantasy really could fly.

(16) If somebody wanted to run real museum like that, they could begin by gathering up this abandoned wooden space shuttle.

Wooden shuttle COMP

While exploring an abandoned corner of the Zhukovsky airfield (Ramenskoye Airport) in Moscow two years ago, aviation photographer Aleksander Markin stumbled onto a forgotten relic of Russia’s Buran Space Program. This decaying wooden spacecraft was used as a wind tunnel model in the 1980s for the VKK Space Orbiter, the largest and most expensive Soviet space exploration program conceived as a response to the United States’ Space Shuttle. Despite its scientific purposes the wooden ship has the appearance of a fantastic children’s playground feature.

According to Urban Ghosts, this 1:3 scale replica was just one of 85 wind tunnel models used to test various aerodynamic properties of the orbiter. The testing would eventually reveal that NASA’s prototype for the Enterprise was ideal for spaceflight and the VKK Space Orbiter would take a similar design as a result.

(17) Huffington Post helped an astronaut take down a tabloid story in “The UFOs Didn’t Come In Peace! Astronaut Sets Record Straight on ET Nuclear War”.

Few people are surprised by the eye-popping headlines in The Mirror. But when the infamous British tabloid quoted astronaut Edgar Mitchell as saying that “UFOs came in peace” to “save America from nuclear war,” it shocked everybody — including Mitchell.

“I don’t know where The Mirror got the story,” Mitchell, 84, said in an email to The Huffington Post, accusing the paper of fabricating his quotes and denying that an interview for this story ever took place.

The sixth man to walk on the moon has been outspoken over the years in his belief that extraterrestrials have visited the Earth and the moon — and that the government is withholding vital information about UFOs. Still, Mitchell insists the Aug. 11 Mirror story has no basis in the truth and disavows the information in it.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Will R., Ed, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

408 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/13 Pixellary Justice

    The Brides of Rollrock Island (AKA Sea Hearts), Margo Lanagan

    Liar, Justine Larbalestier

    The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N. K. Jemisin

    The Alchemy of Stone, Ekaterina Sedia

    Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay


    The Magicians, Lev Grossman

    Rivers of London (AKA Midnight Riot), Ben Aaronovitch

    The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

    Surely I have read more than that? (Yes, actually I abstained on a couple I have read this time.)


    The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

    The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N. K. Jemisin

    -It’s soooooo good! Who doesn’t love the god of being a child?

    Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal

    The Midnight Mayor, Kate Griffin

    -That’s a tough one. Sandman Slim sure is a lot of fun, but I think Matthew Swift and the blue electric angels take it.

    Rivers of London (AKA Midnight Riot), Ben Aaronovitch
    Child of Fire, Harry Connolly

    -Kyra!!!!! This is horrible! How could you do this to us?

    Both? But if I must, Child of Fire, because nobody else read the darn book, and it’s very good.

  4. Bracketry:

    The Brides of Rollrock Island (AKA Sea Hearts), Margo Lanagan
    I read part of The Magicians, then other books intervened. But Sea Hearts is hard to top. Anyone looking for a gorgeous, feminist story that will punch you in the gut and make you come back for more, this would be it.

    (@Cheryl S: I haven’t read Black Juice, do you prefer it over Sea Hearts?)

    Liar, Justine Larbalestier

    A Shadow in Summer, Daniel Abraham
    Evil, evil dice. But A Shadow in Summer is just that good. It, along with the rest of the Long Price Quartet, reconciled me with epic fantasy. Go read it everyone, it’s a finished series made up of four actual books that start and end! No grit for grit’s sake, either.

    Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay

    I’m not voting in this one, because I haven’t read Miserere, but I wanted to join the chorus of parts of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and hating others. It’s still worth a read, despite the (to me) very formulaic romance & angel. I did love the worldbuilding, and all the minor characters, and the Chimera as a whole. I loved Karou (the protag) and her notebook, but…
    The angel (and his world) got better, or more believable in the second book, but the doom and the angst and the can’t you people just talk to each other were all pumped to eleven. Anyone make it to the third and feel like talking about it?

    The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
    Again, for the Circus more than the story. I wanted to love Mechanique, but didn’t. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood, but the writing left me cold. It didn’t help that I’d read TNC recently.

  5. Missed Heat 2 altogether; suffering from not having read enough contenders (though there’s a fair number in my TBR pile). So, voting only for those that really impressed me (enjoyed the books by Beukes and Morgenstern, but not enough to go for them above something I haven’t read:

    The Magicians, Lev Grossman
    Rivers of London (AKA Midnight Riot), Ben Aaronovitch
    Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay

  6. It took me a long time to learn the lesson Anil Dash describes in the essay If your site is full of assholes, it’s your fault. You set the tone for the sites you run by how stringently you police offensive and inappropriate content from day one. Let that stuff slide and you’ll have a troll orgy on your hands that’s impossible to fully eradicate.

    I have been thinking about this on and off for a week, since I met my new friend the Young Italian Sf Fan Who Could Be Anna Twenty Years Ago.

    A long time ago, when men were real men, women were real women and mailing lists were the only way for fans to interact (apart from Usenet), I was for a while the moderator of the Italian SF mailing list. I went from being fairly popular to earning the hatred of everybody in Italian fandom. At one point I had to hand over the moderation to the putative owner of the server because of a family crisis, and he took the opportunity to declare that the list would not be moderated any more.

    I have been in two minds about that lately. I came down hard on two things, off topic discussions and personal insults. There were Big Name Fans who attacked me because I was encroaching on their right to call people names – in this particular case, to call uppity female people names, specifically, which is why I have been left with a bitter taste about it.

    I think now that I could probably have been a lot more tolerant about the off topic discussions. As for the personal insults, well…

    My friend the Young Italian Fan had had a nasty encounter with one of fandom’s spectacular flame wars. It wasn’t even her fault: she had written a review of a book, not even terribly scathing but not positive, and somebody had posted a link to it on a forum on Facebook. Things had degenerated from there and she had been banned – then everybody who spoke up for her ended up banned. The complaint was that she was “aggressive”, “acid”, “insulting”, and so on. I don’t have a lot of time for the tone argument but hell yeah, when it’s a young woman who speaks she’s always acid insulting and maybe even hysterical.

    So… still convinced that insults are not a good thing, but not unsympathetic to the necessity to avoid censorship.

  7. @Susana S. P. said (@Cheryl S: I haven’t read Black Juice, do you prefer it over Sea Hearts?)

    I don’t remember Sea Hearts in the same way. The stories in Black Juice haunt me, which is unusual and only happens with the things that touch me most deeply. I’m not sure that’s a preference so much as an intimate connection that may not translate in the same way for others.

  8. A few quickie reviews for Cassy B and anyone else interested. Will probably put up some more:

    The Cloud Roads, Martha Wells
    Glancing back, Cassy B’s already read this one, but I’ll keep the review here since I already wrote it up, it might give her some indication of my taste, and others might want to see it. The start of a trilogy (and a connected set of short stories). A dazzling, inventive world and an interesting story of the “outsider both turning conventions on their head and trying to find his place” school. A high degree of showing-not-telling narrative focus on the sociology and behavior of creatures that are intelligent but not human reminds me a bit of C. J. Cherryh’s Chanur books in a good way.
    Would I consider it a “read-immediately” book? Yes.

    Plain Kate, Erin Bow
    Hard to believe that this is the author’s first novel. A book which is often dark and sad, and often about prejudice and ill-treatment, but not at all of the “grim and gritty” school; more a melancholy tale of someone with a hard life in difficult circumstances. Wonderful characterization. It’s unlikely to catch up in the voting to Zoo City (a very good book itself), so consider this my Doomed Vote for it.
    Would I consider it a “read-immediately” book? Yes, if you do not mind that parts of it WILL make you sad.

    Liar, Justine Larbalestier
    Do you like unreliable narrators? By the end of this book, you may not be sure of anything. A modern day werewolf tale of sorts, with excellent takes on the psychology of teenagers, troubled families, deceivers, and werewolf mythology.
    Would I consider it a “read-immediately” book? Yes, if you like having your head messed with a bit.

    The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N. K. Jemisin
    Another Cassy B has already read. Will definitely put up some more of these. First book of the Inheritance Trilogy. Also the best one in my opinion, but note that these books work as stand-alones much more than most trilogies do, so it’s not just a “great first third” of a story (and this is not to say that the others are not good by any means, they are). The book is about gods and sweeping events, but for all of that, it is a chamber piece, focusing on a small group of characters and their relationships and interactions, which end up having vast repercussions. And it does this brilliantly.
    Would I consider it a “read-immediately” book? Yes.

  9. So… still convinced that insults are not a good thing, but not unsympathetic to the necessity to avoid censorship.

    Without moderation and without permanent identities, you get 4chan. Without (meaningful) moderation and with permanent identities, you get redditt. Notably, both sites* are hostile to women, PoC, and queer folk.

    *Yes, this varies by subreddit. There are plenty that aren’t. Nonetheless, as a whole, the consequences of reddit’s approach to moderation are clear: the privileged get a voice, the rest get silenced. More and better moderation means that people who don’t want to, for example, deal with sexist bullshit are more comfortable participating in a place where sexist bullshit gets shut down. And so they participate more, as a direct consequence of the censorship of awful people with awful views.

    And now buwaya (or whoever) will come along with a concern troll, but really: there are plenty of places on the internet he can talk about how awful homosexuality is. If a given space in fandom isn’t one of those places, uh, so what?

    What you describe is bad moderation, but bad moderation is not argument against moderation, in much the same way that, I dunno, an incompetent surgeon is not an argument against surgery.

  10. A few more:

    Haven, Joel Shepherd. The fourth book of the “Trial of Blood and Steel” tetrology (or, more accurately in terms of the plot, a stand-alone book followed by a closely connected trilogy.) I’ll go with minireviewing the whole series. A sweeping epic chock full of politics, intrigue, cultural clash, and war, following a young swordswoman who becomes a key player, although not the only important one, in big events. The first book is good, the second through fourth books, about a holy war ginned up against the (sort-of, kind-of) elves, are really really good. Another Doomed Candidate, consider this my vote for a tie in that set.
    Would I consider this series “read-immediately” books: I think taste is going to vary a bit on them. Some people are going to find them very much their cup of tea, though; I did.

    The Midnight Mayor, Kate Griffin
    Kate Griffin is one of the pen names of Catherine Webb; Claire North is another. The Midnight Mayor is the second book of an ongoing series with four books so far, all good, and in my opinion this is one of the two best (the fourth, The Minority Council, being the other.) She also has another loosely connected series set in the same world. Urban fantasy with a great approach to magic, following the adventures of a London sorcerer who’s half-mad and frankly barely human anymore in some ways. A real sense of humor but real dark places in it as well. This is urban fantasy at its urban-est, with London itself practically being another main character in the story.
    Would I consider this series “read-immediately” books: I think they’re great, but some have found the main character difficult to connect with; if this sounds appealing but that worries you, her related “Magicals Anonymous” series has more a more relatable protagonist (and a more humorous approach; they not infrequently verge on being fantasy comedy.)

    Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor
    First book of a trilogy. A beginning fraught with mysteries opens up into a tormented love story at the center of a bitter war. I’m going to agree with everything that’s been said about its flaws. Furthermore, I’m going to say that the third book, which someone asked about, suddenly introduces an important new plot out of practically nowhere that leads to an ending which approaches a Deus Ex Machina. Nonetheless, I’m … well … kind of goth. And this series ending up hitting a lot of my angsty tormented artsy crying-in-the-rain needs.
    Would I consider this series “read-immediately” books: Do you have angsty tormented artsy crying-in-the-rain needs?

  11. A long time ago, when men were real men, women were real women and mailing lists were the only way for fans to interact (apart from Usenet), I was for a while the moderator of the Italian SF mailing list. I went from being fairly popular to earning the hatred of everybody in Italian fandom.

    I’ve been there.

    There’s a Friends episode where Chandler Bing is promoted from employee to supervisor at the soul-sucking company where he works. Overnight he goes from beloved office jokester to widely ridiculed manager and doesn’t understand why his jokes fall flat. He finally figures out that he can’t be a boss and everybody’s buddy all the time.

    I think that’s a lesson for moderators. You can’t get hung up on being popular. The boss needs to be comfortable being the boss.

    More and better moderation means that people who don’t want to, for example, deal with sexist bullshit are more comfortable participating in a place where sexist bullshit gets shut down.

    It also means better self-policing. Online communities figure out the expected standard of behavior and reinforce it, whether it’s controlled and friendly or uncontrolled and hostile.


    What was I reading during this time? Not most of these. 🙁
    Abstaining from most.

    Midnight Blue-Light Special. Seanan McGuire

    Didn’t like Toby Day enough to read more than the first. Love the incryptid series.

    The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N. K. Jemisin

    Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal

    The Cloud Roads, Martha Wells

    Rivers of London (AKA Midnight Riot), Ben Aaronovitch

    Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay
    Redemption in Indigo, Karen Lord

    Argh. This one is weird for me. I read Under Heaven, and then I realized that I really really hate the beautiful woman/courtesan no man can resist trope that Kay has used more than once (What, there are no gay men? No asexuals? No hardened misogynists or miserable shits who hate beauty and want to destroy it?) and have had no desire to ever read Kay again. And Karen Lord is one of my favorites. Best of All Possible Worlds is a thing of beauty, a book I reread over and over again, but I bounced off Redemption in Indigo. I hope that Best of All Possible Worlds makes it into the SF brackets.

    So, Abstain, unless it is close and Karen Lord needs an extra vote. In which case I am happy to change my vote/cheat if you let me. 🙂

  13. A few quick takes before I have to run off for a while …

    The Steel Remains, Richard K. Morgan
    A good book for people who like: Epics of the grim-and-gritty school. Protagonists who aren’t always likable but are still worth rooting for because their enemies are worse. Gay main characters, and the prejudice they face, as an important story element.

    The Brides of Rollrock Island (AKA Sea Hearts), Margo Lanagan
    A good book for people who like: Feminist approaches to fantasy. Stories that jump from one viewpoint to another across years or generations. Stories about selkies.

    The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson
    A good book for people who like: Big, big epics. Lots of characters, lots of locations, lots of things going on, big battles, big stories. Series that are probably not going to be finished for a while yet.

  14. Thanks, Kyra. Your thoughts on the ones I’ve read match my thoughts, so I’m going forthwith to find the ones have have not. Well, maybe not Liar. I have a complicated relationship with unreliable narrators…

  15. Lurkertype: Pournelle backed you into a corner and gave you the “I’ve got a gun in every room in my house except the bathroom” spiel, too? Did he show you his shoulder holster? I wonder, in retrospect, if he thought this was a good way to impress/pick up young (college freshman, in my case) impressionable women? I wonder if it worked?
    Frankly, I’d have been far more impressed if he’d talked about writing.
    It’s interesting that when I talk about Pournelle to guys who met him, they seem fine with him, but when I talk to women who met him there’s a distinct “get this guy away from me” vibe.

  16. A public notice: Larry Niven’s co-author is apparently now a moderation Word Of Power.

    I feel slightly better now, I thought my use of the word “asshat” had been over the line 😀

  17. junego – the only dark memories would be there anyway. They show up at intervals. The good ones show up also.

  18. If I had to guess, I’d say all the idle chatter about Lonely Perjurer’s health was too much for our genial host Grimy Keel to abide. He mentioned they’ve been friends and fellow LASFS members a long time.

    I enjoy being a part of File 770’s commentariat, but sometimes I feel like we lose sight of the fact that we’re talking about real people who aren’t far removed from us, because fandom and the SF/F pro world are small. Speculation and criticism about a person voiced here is a lot closer to that person — and his or her friends — than if we were gabbing about Donald Trump or Miley Cyrus.

    Nerds Ego Charade

  19. Whatever side eye I’ll give some of his works, their politics, Puppy blindness to how message-fic-y they are, and just what that message is, there’s no reason to speculate that the Writer Who Came In From The Cold is not in his right mind because he signed on with VD. There are times people just do things personally inexplicable; all of us can look in mirror and think back to some of our own life choices that may qualify.

  20. Except some of us are not talking about some remote figure; we’re talking about actual interactions we’ve personally had. Trust me, after that experience I never thought of the gentleman in question as some abstract figure like a Donald Trump again; I thought of him as the guy who personally, one-on-one, scared me at Worldcon.

  21. Except some of us are not talking about some remote figure; we’re talking about actual interactions we’ve personally had.

    My comment wasn’t intending to question you relating an experience you had, or the other person who had a similar one. I was talking about the more distanced speculation about his stroke, health, and cognition.

    That experience you related was disturbing. Yelling at a con volunteer — particularly a young one — is not acceptable.

  22. As Cally points out, the yelling may have been accidental. I found out later that he had hearing loss; it’s possible he thought he was just explaining how ill-used he was to me. Forcefully. <wry> Given that he was easily twice my age, and a Big Name Author whose work I idolized (I’d read A Mote In God’s Eye), it was… intimidating. (The two of us, being broke teenagers, were both stretching our convention budget by working staff in the Green Room; there’s a reason our stories are so similar. Apparently the gentleman in question was not having a good convention. We weren’t on the same Green Room shift, however, and I didn’t see a weapon.)

    To be perfectly fair to the man, I doubt that it was his intent to intimidate teenage girls. Looking back from the distance of the intervening 30 years, and having been involved in conrunning to some small degree or another for many of those years, I’ve certainly had worse interactions. But that one was memorable.

  23. I found out later that he had hearing loss; it’s possible he thought he was just explaining how ill-used he was to me.

    Just as a random aside, I once had a rather similar experience with a random customer. It was..disconcerting. (I was also in my teens).

    Later, one of the older hands let me know the fellow was a regular customer and was hard of hearing. It’s both why he yelled, and why he got really close. He couldn’t tell how loud he was and he got so close so he could hear my response.

    That helped in future interactions, but I can recall honestly wishing he’d bite the bullet, admit he needed a hearing aid, and get one. 🙂

  24. The Way of Kings was in my TBR bookshelf when I tried an experiment someone else had used to winnow theirs down and started reading only the first chapters of each book, and using that to decide whether or not to continue.

    I’d read and enjoyed, and recommended, Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy.

    But the Way of Kings did not make the cut. I could already see the Mistborn’s problems cropping up, including and especially spending time lovingly detailing an admittedly unique magic system until one could just about “write” an RPG rulebook* just by excerpting those examples. I considered the prospect of following that sort of thing for 600+ pages and went no.

    I still technically have the book so if it has any strong proponents I’m willing to be persuaded, but right now if I get into another massive epic fantasy I’d rather cope with Sherwood Smith flaws or Kate Elliott flaws than Sanderson ones.

    *my brother designs RPGs and I play in them. Not denigrating the format as a whole.

  25. The difficulty with hearing aids is that, even with the latest technology, it’s still very difficult to hear one person against a background of a lot of people talking.

    In other words, getting a hearing aid doesn’t magically solve the problem of deafness…

  26. Frankly, if we assumed “makes possibly questionable career choice” to indicate failure of mental faculties, we’d have about ten thousand authors on that list, including (I suspect) plenty of us here.

  27. The bit that was a little bit more jarring to me was the whole “has had a stroke” => “not mentally competent” association. It can and does happen, but it’s not by any stretch of the imagination a necessary causal relationship.


    The Steel Remains, Richard K. Morgan

    Morgan’s first (to my knowledge) foray into epic grimdark fantasy was highly enjoyable. And it came out at a time when I was still harboring a lot of anger at the religious lunatics who’d been cavorting maniacally all over our government for nearly a decade, so I enjoyed his continued abuse of zealots. That series took a nose-dive after the first book, though. It started feeling like Morgan was going for a certain (high) word count, and making the story unnecessarily long and convoluted. I’m still trying to work up the energy to start The Dark Defiles. I’ll eventually do it, because I suspect the payoff will be worth it.


    Dammit, wish I’d read the Lanagan. Grossman’s novel was very well done, IMO, but the characters (particularly the main character) were generally repulsive to me. So much grossness, motive-wise, character-wise. The characters remind me of those self-indulgent WASP-ey literary novels I loathed in college.

    So fuck it, I’m voting for:
    Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan

    The bracketed title was in my inner TBR list, but then I completely forgot about it. I’d almost vote for it based on the strength of Tender Morsels, but nah.

    Caine Black Knife, Matthew Woodring Stover

    Alternately fun, grimdark, psychedelic, and bizarre. Good stuff.

    A Shadow in Summer, Daniel Abraham

    The first genuinely hard choice for me. And it reminds me I need to read the next book in the Raksura series. Abraham’s book (and that whole series) was just so interesting, though. I love his world-building, his magic system, and that he makes a fantastical world feel real. And he makes trade interesting! What the?

  29. Half my group for hydrotherapy were there because they were recovering from strokes. I never noticed any mental competence issues among them. I’m sure its possible, but I wouldn’t assume it.

  30. If anything, a re-read of Lucifer’s Hammer, Oath of Fealty, and some of the CoDom books lends a real argument that the author in question’s politics and VDs have shared some similarities for quite some time. No need to deny the author’s agency in his own actions.

  31. the yelling may have been accidental. I found out later that he had hearing loss

    At LASFS, it wouldn’t be unusual to ask if he was there that evening, and be told ‘I haven’t heard him’.

    ETA: admit he needed a hearing aid, and get one

    They don’t always help. They make everything louder.

  32. I’ve seen Pournelle one time, at a panel in Magicon, the 1992 Worldcon in Orlando. The panel’s subject was something to do with the US space programme. One of the panelists was the former astronaut John Young, who was one of the two pilots of the first Space Shuttle flight.

    At the start, the panel was hijacked by Pournelle, who wasn’t even supposed to be on it, as far as I recall. Pournelle started a drunken rant about how terrible NASA was and how spaceflight should just be given over to private enterprise. Neither the moderator nor anyone else said anything to stop him. Young kept staring into the distance, with an expression I would guess said that that was the last science fiction convention he was going to attend. After half an hour I got up and left the room, with Pournelle still going strong.

  33. Teemu Leisti: Neither the moderator nor anyone else said anything to stop him. Young kept staring into the distance, with an expression I would guess said that that was the last science fiction convention he was going to attend.

    Oh, that is just tragic, that such an esteemed and accomplished guest would be treated that way. 🙁


    Low vote scores this round were more indicative of fewer people having had time to read the works than anything else. It reminded me a bit of the early “what are these bracket things?” days when there weren’t a lot of voters – The Left Hand of Darkness won on the first ballot with fewer votes than some of the ones here got. Nonetheless, there were some convincing winners this time around who will be strong contenders. Others are going on, but are likely to run into trouble when they go up against more widely-read works.

    WINNER: The Painted Man (AKA The Warded Man), Peter V. Brett – 11 votes
    The Steel Remains, Richard K. Morgan – 8 votes
    A slim victory, but a definite one. The Painted Man moves on.

    WINNER (seeded) The Magicians, Lev Grossman – 18 votes
    The Brides of Rollrock Island (AKA Sea Hearts), Margo Lanagan – 3 votes
    A much more convincing victory, although bear in mind there were also votes for other Margo Lanagan works — Black Juice and Tender Morsels.

    WINNER: Liar, Justine Larbalestier – 6 votes
    Finch, Jeff VanderMeer – 3 votes
    There are going to be a few like this with not a lot of votes. But Liar may have been read by some who hadn’t read both; we’ll see.

    WINNER (seeded): Rosemary and Rue, Seanan McGuire – 16 votes
    Retribution Falls, Chris Wooding – 6 votes
    A very convincing win for Seanan McGuire; in addition, she also got a vote for Midnight Blue-Light Special.

    WINNER: The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson – 10 votes
    Empire in Black and Gold, Adrian Tchaikovsky – 7 votes
    Another slim, but definite victory. With a few complaints rumbling about Sanderson’s RPG-esque magic, though, he may have trouble facing down a favorite later on.

    WINNER (seeded): The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N. K. Jemisin – 27 votes
    Haven, Joel Shepherd – 1 vote
    Almost a shut-out, and Jemisin emerges as one of the stars of this bracket, bursting ahead of the rest of the field.

    WINNER: Zoo City, Lauren Beukes – 9 votes
    Plain Kate, Erin Bow – 1 votes
    And also one vote for Bow’s book Sorrow’s Know. Beukes is a strong winner here, but with a low overall score that may tell in later rounds.

    WINNER (seeded): Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal – 22 votes
    Caine Black Knife, Matthew Woodring Stover – 2 votes
    Another star of the heat emerges as Kowal, like Jemisin, picks up more than 20 votes. Expect to see a higher combined score when she’s up against more familiar names, although whether or not she wins is up for grabs …

    WINNER: The Midnight Mayor, Kate Griffin – 8 votes
    Sandman Slim, Richard Kadry – 5 votes
    Another slim victory, another low scoring pair. The Midnight Mayor moves on.

    WINNER: The Cloud Roads, Martha Wells – 11 votes
    A Shadow in Summer, Daniel Abraham – 9 votes
    A close match that many had trouble deciding. While the vote totals look low, the combined vote is almost as high as the Kowal/Stover match-up. Make no mistake, this one was closely contested.

    WINNER (seeded): Rivers of London (AKA Midnight Riot), Ben Aaronovitch – 21 votes
    Child of Fire, Harry Connolly – 9 votes
    Out third breakout star of the heat is, unsurprisingly, site favorite Ben Aaronovitch. Nonetheless, Child of Fire had strong support, driving this match to the highest combined vote total of the heat.

    WINNER: The Alchemy of Stone, Ekaterina Sedia – 3 votes
    Blood of Ambrose, James Enge – 2 votes
    A squeaker with scores that probably mean few people had read either book and almost no one read both. This may spell trouble for Sedia’s tale in coming rounds.

    WINNER: The Enchantment Emporium, Tanya Huff – 13 votes
    Shadowbridge, Gregory Frost – 3 votes
    Although many argued this is not Huff’s greatest work, it won handily against the much less famous piece by Frost.

    WINNER: Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay – 13 votes
    Redemption in Indigo, Karen Lord – 8 votes
    This was a close one, again with a relatively high combined score. An early lead for Karen Lord eventually gave way to a solid victory for Guy Gavriel Kay.

    WINNER: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor – 4 votes
    Miserere, Teresa Frohock – 1 vote
    A win where few voted, and with vocal comments already being made about flaws Daughter of Smoke and Bone, it’ll have to pull off an upset to go far.

    WINNER: The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern – 13 votes
    Mechanique, Genevieve Valentine – 5 votes
    People were more willing to forgive The Night Circus’ flaws, though, and with a quite solid victory over Mechanique, it moves to the Big Round.

  35. Evelyn Leeper in her MagiCon Report.

    The Green Room also gave me an opportunity to get travel advice on the Southwest from Fred Lerner, and to have Jerry Pournelle look at me two or three times, finally peer at my badge, and say, “You’re not Connie Willis. I thought you were, and that you were cutting me for some reason.” I suppose I look a little bit like her; we have the same style glasses and similar haircuts. (I told Willis this story; she found it amusing, and signed the book I was having her autograph as “Your clone, Connie Willis.”)

  36. My handful of faves have gone down to early defeat. Perhaps my planned write-ins for Jenna Moran and Felix Gilman will get a little action in the next rounds.

  37. Mike Glyer: Evelyn Leeper in her MagiCon Report…

    Wow, Leeper does look a fair bit like Willis; I can see how someone whose eyeglass prescription isn’t up-to-date could confuse them for each other.

  38. I never had any interest in the solo novels by Niven’s coauthor, the one who also had a column in Hugh Kenner’s computer magazine. But the There Will Be War anthologies I checked out had some terrific stuff in them. Admittedly, what I remember best are a couple of the essays that blew the tropes of standard-issue MilSF clear into As If… territory. (e.g. “Jump troops? As if…and here’s why.”) But those were great essays. I think he wrote one or two himself, and bought the others. The man knew how to put an anthology together.

  39. @Kyra: Don’t spill your drink, and HEY, put down that book – I saw you trying to smuggle it out. . . .

  40. Can someone point me to the browser scripts for Rot13?

    Pretty please ticky box? I’ll send you one of my SJW meezers (the one which is driving me crazy right now).

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