Pixel Scroll 9/18 Brackets and Black Dice

(1) Some of these antics would be perfectly at home in the U.S.

While China’s vice president is meeting with the respectable author of Three-Body Problem, other officials are occupied cracking down on fake aliens and zombies says the New York Times.

Science fiction and fantasy tales have been growing in popularity in China, where some creative efforts have earned official endorsement. Vice President Li Yuanchao met this week with authors — including Liu Cixin, who wrote the Hugo Award-winning novel “The Three-Body Problem” — and called on them to inspire young people’s interest in science and encourage “faith in realizing the Chinese Dream,” the state news agency Xinhua reported.

But even as the Chinese leadership offered praise for the writers, the police have been less tolerant of social media users’ flexing their creativity. Several people have been punished in the past few years for relaying tales of the walking undead and extraterrestrial invaders for fear of touching off public panic….

In 2013, a farmer in Shandong Province claimed to have encountered five extraterrestrial creatures, one of whom was killed by an electric fence. The farmer’s story, and photos of the purported alien corpse he kept in a freezer, drew widespread attention online. The local authorities investigated and held a news conference to announce that the dead alien was actually made of rubber, Southern Metropolis Daily reported. The farmer was sentenced to five days of detention for disturbing public order, Xinhua reported.

I guess if Orson Welles had pulled his “War of the Worlds” stunt in China, they’d have made him the star of 20,000 Years in Sing Sing instead of Citizen Kane….

(2) Your 2015 Ig Nobel Prize winners include these scientific advancements —

PHYSICS PRIZE — Patricia Yang [USA and TAIWAN], David Hu [USA and TAIWAN], and Jonathan Pham, Jerome Choo [USA], for testing the biological principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds).

REFERENCE: “Duration of Urination Does Not Change With Body Size,” Patricia J. Yang, Jonathan Pham, Jerome Choo, and David L. Hu, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014: 201402289.

LITERATURE PRIZE — Mark Dingemanse [THE NETHERLANDS, USA], Francisco Torreira [THE NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM, USA], and Nick J. Enfield [AUSTRALIA, THE NETHERLANDS], for discovering that the word “huh?” (or its equivalent) seems to exist in every human language — and for not being quite sure why.

REFERENCE: “Is ‘Huh?’ a universal word? Conversational infrastructure and the convergent evolution of linguistic items,” Mark Dingemanse, Francisco Torreira, and Nick J. Enfield, PLOS ONE, 2013.

(3) “How did George R.R. Martin end up at Janis Ian’s wedding in Toronto?” asks CBC Radio in its post “Janis Ian’s Toronto wedding, where Game of Thrones’ creator was a best man”.

That’s a question we had after reading this Sunday’s New York Times. The newspaper featured a story on the well-known musician’s relationship with Patricia Snyder. It turns out they were the first same-sex couple to be featured in the newspaper’s ‘Vows’ section. You can read more here.

But, it was a photograph published farther down the article that also caught our attention. A short caption reads as follows:

“In 2003, before same-sex marriage was legal in the United States, the couple wed at Toronto’s City Hall. Author of the ‘Game of Thrones’ series George R.R. Martin was best man.”

 

janis-ian-wedding-with-george-r-r-martin

Seated: David Axler, Mike Resnick, Parris McBride, George R.R. Martin. The couple: Janis Ian and Patricia Snyder. The minister is Malcolm St. Clair. Photo by Steve Payne.

This turned out to be a simple why-was-this-celebrity-at-another-celebrity’s-wedding post, not a sly juxtaposition of real life Martin attending a wedding with a reference to the Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones. That is left as an exercise for cheesy fan bloggers. Oops.

To make up for it, this fan blogger can name all the people in the photo, which the CBC incompletely captions, “In 2003, before same-sex marriage was legal in the United States, the couple wed at Toronto’s City Hall. Author of the ‘Game of Thrones’ series George R. R. Martin, fourth from the left, was a best man. (Steve Payne)”

They are, in order, David Axler, Mike Resnick, Parris McBride, George R.R. Martin. The minister is Malcolm St. Clair.

(4) Lunar rocks brought back by Apollo astronauts have a tendency to change characteristics once scientists start handling them notes a Space.com article “Some Apollo Moon Samples ‘Crumbling to Dust’”

Between 1969 and 1972, Apollo astronauts brought 842 lbs. (382 kilograms) of lunar rocks and dirt back to Earth. Eighty-three percent of that material remains unexamined in nitrogen storage at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Cooper told Space.com via email. The other 17 percent has been allocated to researchers for study in a number of different laboratories….

The most likely explanation for the degradation is damage caused by water vapor, the scientists say.

“Leaching by water vapor causes the specific surface area of a lunar soil sample to multiply, and a system of pores develops,” they wrote in the study, which was published online last week in the journal Nature Geoscience. “These structural changes may be attributed to the opening of existing, but previously unavailable, pore structure or the creation of new surfaces through fracturing of cement or dissolution of amorphous particles.”

The new results suggest that the Apollo soil samples being studied by scientists are not pristine, Cooper said.

“People should not assume that the Apollo lunar soil samples remain representative of soils found in the natural environment of the moon, especially if they have been exposed to air,” she told Space.com via email. “In addition to particle size distribution, other geotechnical properties (such as strength and cohesion) must also have changed. Also, for example, water found in the sample might be taken to be lunar in origin when in fact it is the result of contamination.”

(5) Yesterday I linked to Kameron Hurley’s commentary, from the viewpoint of someone with ascending sales. Today at Mad Genius Club, Pam Uphoff, who hasn’t had the success yet (“my sales had flat-lined”), talks about the jump start she got from the site’s Labor Day Sale.

Umm, how about the book that had just crept past 200 sales in almost three years selling over a hundred in a week? Call me gob smacked. It briefly broke into the top fifty in its sub category. Call me impressed. And that was before the KU pages counts skyrocketed.

(6) Here are more positive numbers about another market segment — “Nielsen Summit Shows the Data Behind the Children’s Book Boom” – from Publisher Weekly.

The book team at Nielsen held its second-annual Children’s Book Summit at Convene in downtown NYC on September 15, to discuss trends found in their data for publishers to make use of, in an effort to better reach consumers. The days’ panels touched on many aspects of the industry, including adult readers of YA, suburban teens, and multicultural consumers.

Jonathan Nowell, president of Nielsen Book, began the day with plenty of figures: for the time period between January 2014 to September 2015, children’s book sales are up 12.6% in the U.S., 28% in Brazil, and 10% in China, with 11 of the 20 bestselling books in the U.S. being children’s titles. The proliferation of tablets has brought the age kids start reading e-books down from seven to five. And board books have seen 20% compound growth over the last three years.

(7) Naturally, the Neil Gaiman Humble Bundle is selling great guns. It went live on September 9 and was raising huge amounts in no time at all.

It’s broken all the previous Humble Bundle records for Books.  As I type this, about 7000 people have already bought the  Bundle. It’s raised $133,000.

The bundle is on sale for four more days.

Gaiman isn’t the only author in it, and the others aren’t necessarily donating their proceeds to charity like he is –

I’m giving my entire portion of Humble Bundle creator-money directly back to the Gaiman Foundation. (My agent Merrilee has donated her fee, too, so 100% of what comes in to me goes to the Foundation.) There are, obviously, other authors and artists and publishers involved. Some have asked for their money to go to charities, and some are, perfectly sensibly, paying the rent and buying food with it.

But no doubt the Gaiman rarities in the bundle are driving sales.

Books that were long out of print, stories and such that collectors would pay hundreds of dollars for, obscure and uncollected comics and pamphlets and magazine articles. Even the things I am still vaguely embarrassed by (like the Duran Duran biography, a hardcover copy of which, as I said, can set you back thousands of dollars these days, if you can find one).

Books which have been out of print for 30 years, like GHASTLY BEYOND BELIEF, a collection of quotations from the strangest SF and Fantasy books and movies that Kim Newman and I made when we were 23 and 24 respectively. Things that were absolutely private and never before sold, like LOVE FISHIE, a book of poems and letters from my daughter Maddy (aged 8) to me, and from me back to Maddy, that was made into a book (with help from my assistant the Fabulous Lorraine) as a gift for my 42nd birthday.

Two long out-of-print books from Knockabout Comics: OUTRAGEOUS TALES FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT and SEVEN DEADLY SINS, with stories written and or drawn by me, Alan Moore, Hunt Emerson, Dave Gibbons, Dave McKean and a host of others.

Rare out-of-print comics stories by me and Bryan Talbot, by me and Mark Buckingham, even by me and Bryan Talbot and Mark Buckingham.

There would be small-press short story & suchlike collections like ANGELS AND VISITATIONS and the LITTLE GOLD BOOK OF GHASTLY STUFF containing stories that went on to win awards and be collected in the more big, official collections (Smoke and Mirrors, etc), and stories no-one has seen since, not to mention non-fiction articles, like the one about the effects of alcohol on a writer, or the one where I stayed out for 24 hours on the streets of Soho, that are now only whispered in rumours.

There would even be a short story of mine, “Manuscript Found in a Milk Bottle”, published in 1985, that is so bad I’ve never let it be reprinted. Not even to give young writers hope that if I was that awful once, there is hope for all of them.

Han Solo mini fridge(8) I need hardly tell you what the Han Solo mini-fridge is a reference to, although this post on Yahoo! Games drops a heavy hint —

 The refrigerator’s design references, of course, the state that the hero is left in at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. Wal-Mart notes that your hibernating Solo fridge is an “official” Star Wars product, and can hold up to six cans of soda.

That silly thing could wind up on my Christmas list….

(9) Rocket Stack Rank (RSR) aims to help casual SF fans efficiently identify, obtain, and discuss great original short fiction to nominate for the annual Hugo Awards.

“My husband and I have created a new website to make it easy for people to find good SF short stories and figure out how to read them online,” explains Gregory Hullender. “Lots of people are setting up sites to recommend stories, but I think we’re the only ones to put a lot of work into helping people find online copies once they’ve decided they wanted to read a particular story.”

Here’s what they’re planning to do.

After witnessing the problems with this year’s Hugo Awards, we decided to create a website to encourage readers of science fiction and fantasy to read and nominate more short fiction. Lots of other people are doing this too, but we specifically wanted to tackle the problem of helping people get copies of short stories, novelettes, and novellas once they decided they wanted to read them.

The three big professional magazines, Analog, Asimov’s, and F&SF are all available online by subscription, but they don’t make it easy to get back-issues online. Our 2015 Magazines page covers just about every possible way to do this, and there are good strategies for people with tablets and smartphones, people with eReaders like Kindles and Kobos, people who want to read everything on their desktop or laptop, and even people who want to stick with print.

Our rating system, on a scale from one to five stars, aims to produce a small “bucket” of five-star stories by the end of the year. These are the stories we think are award-worthy, and there should be few enough of them that a person with limited time could read just that subset and find things worth nominating. Since we’re trying to apply fixed standards rather than hit a particular target, we’re not sure how many there will be in each category, but it won’t be more than a dozen or so.

(10) You can tell Fred Kiesche is Paul Weimer’s friend.

(11) This Screaming Marmot loop needs an caption from File 770 readers. (Via Boing Boing.)

[Thanks to Daniel Monson, Will R., Susan de Guardiola, Gary Farber, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Shambles.]

195 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/18 Brackets and Black Dice

  1. @RickK
    I think The Family Tree is Great deal of fun, but I can’t deny that there is massively unsubtle environmental messaging going on there. If that bugs you, you won’t enjoy it.

  2. I just finished Seveneves myself, so I can finally read through all the rot13’d material. To me, this is a clear Hugo novel nominee at this point, despite its flaws (I also just finished The End of All Things, and while I liked it, that one probably does not quite make the nomination grade for me).

    Gb zr, cerfvqrag Whyvn ernqf n ovg zber yvxr Cnyva guna Pyvagba—gur cnenabvq fglyr va gur qrzntbthrel va cnegvphyne. Ubjrire, Fgrcurafba jnf pnershy va svyvat gur frevny ahzoref bss.

    Vg’f vapbzcerurafvoyr gb zr jul fbzr chccvrf jbhyq abg yvxr guvf abiry. Vg unf Znayl Zra (gz) yvxr Ehshf Znpdhnevr (n irel glcvpny Fgrcurafbavna ureb) naq Znexhf Yrhxre (nf n Fjvff irgrena, V’z synggrerq ng gur cbegenlny bs n sryybj pvgvmra, nygubhtu Fgrcurafba snyyf cerl gb bhe angvbany cebcntnaqn: Abobql jub unf frra Fjvff nezl bssvpref hc pybfr jbhyq pbashfr gurz jvgu fzneg naq vafcvevat yrnqref). Vg unf nyy gur enpvny qrgrezvavfz Ibk Qnl pbhyq rire jnag. Vg unf fcnnnnnpr, vg unf tvmzbf, vg unf pbzong.

    Fgehpghenyyl, V guvax gur guveq cneg qbrf gur abiry ab snibef: Fher, vg znxrf frafr gb fubj gung uhznavgl erpbirerq, ohg pbzcnerq gb gur qenzn bs gur frpbaq cneg, gur fgnxrf va guvf cneg ner ybj, naq gur enpvny pnevpngherf trg gverfbzr. V nyfb guvax gung gur erirny gung gur Qvttref naq Cvatref fheivirq haqrezvarf gur qenzn bs gur svefg gjb cnegf: Hygvzngryl, vg’f fubja gung fcnpr jnf n uvtu pbfg, ybj fhpprff fgengrtl va cerfreivat uhznavgl (na nffrffzrag jvgu juvpu V nterr, va erny yvsr, ohg juvpu haqrephgf gur aneengvir bs gur abiry).

    N svany zlfgrel vf jung unccrarq gb gur Znef zvffvba. Nsgre dhvgr n ovg bs n ohvyqhc, gurl ner fbba zvffvat, cerfhzrq qrnq. V’z jbaqrevat jurgure gurl’yy znxr n tenaq er-rzretrapr va n frdhry.

  3. @JJ

    jayn, I’d just like to say how much I appreciate the way you’ve articulated what I felt to be so many of the problems with Seveneves. A lot of this stuff was kind of percolating in my mind, without me necessarily being able to put a definitive finger on a lot of it.

    Thanks! I was thinking I’d revive my dormant blog just to put all my bloviations about the many things that bugged me about this book (much more than I’ve written here). Thing is, the beginning was so powerful that I could have truly LOVED this book, but the many ways the execution fell short made my disappointment all the keener. And now the only strong emotion I feel for it is obsessed annoyance.

    Still, the fact that I still feel it and am thinking about this book to this extent days afterward shows that it’s still a powerful book, even as it is.

  4. @Camestros

    I forgot about this:

    “V sryg gur fnzr vavgvnyyl ohg nf jr frr yngre gur ceboyrz jvgu haqretebhaq ohaxref vf gurer vf yvzvgrq pncnpvgl gb rkcnaq. Zvavat bhg arj nernf trarengrf n terngre ibyhzr bs jnfgr guna lbh tnva hayrff lbh unir fbzr jnl bs zbivat gur jnfgr zngrevny bhg bagb gur fhesnpr.”
    Gurl pbhyq’ir fbyirq gung gur fnzr jnl Qvanu’f snzvyl fbyirq vg; qvt naq oynfg n uhtr vavgvny ibyhzr sbe n eryngviryl fznyy ahzore bs crbcyr gb bpphcl, gura cyna sbe fgevpg cbchyngvba pbageby tbvat sbejneq, hagvy gur gvzr fubhyq or evtug gb pbzr bhg ntnva. Vg’f n ybg fvzcyre gb qvt 10 be 15 zvyrf bs ghaary sbe 100 crbcyr guna gb obbfg n gval nex sbe 5 crbcyr bhg bs n tenivgl jryy – naq obgu tebhcf jbhyq unir gb novqr ol fgevpg cbchyngvba pbageby gb fheivir, naljnl. Gur cebf bs qbvat “ghaary” vafgrnq bs “fcnpr” vf yvgrenyyl: vg nva’g ebpxrg fpvrapr (naq gunax Tbq). Vs bar rppragevp ovyyvbanver pbhyq znantr fheiviny va n zvar, lbh jbhyq guvax gur pbzovarq erfbheprf bs tbireazrag fpvragvfgf naq zbarl pbhyq qb gur fnzr. (Gur nhgube frrzf vabeqvangryl sbaq bs uvf rppragevp ovyyvbanverf.)

    “(cnegvphyneyl nf sebz n cbyvpl crefcrpgvir vg jnf zber bs n ‘yrgf xrrc ohfl hagvy jr nyy qvr’ bcgvba engure guna n cyna gung gur yrnqref gubhtug jbhyq jbex.)”

    Frr, gung’f nabgure cbvag gung obguref zr va gur obbx: Gur vqrn gung gur tbireazragny Cbjref Gung Or pbafvqrerq gur jubyr Nex cebtenz nf n obbaqbttyr vagraqrq gb fbbgur uhznavgl jvgu n cerggl fgbel bs ubj fbzr bs gurve puvyqera jbhyq fheivir va fcnpr – nyy juvyr oryvrivat vg jbhyq arire jbex naq rirelbar va fcnpr naq rireljurer ryfr jnf qbbzrq. Gur gebhoyr jvgu gung vqrn vf gung vg erdhverf NYY jbeyq yrnqref (rkprcg anfgl Qrfvtangrq Ivyynva Whyvn) gb npprcg gurve bja vzzvarag qrngu naq gubfr bs gurve ybirq barf jvgu Fbpengvp cuvybfbcuvpny erfvtangvba – naq pnyzyl qb abguvat gb gel gb nibvq qbbz sbe gurzfryirf be gurve puvyqera. Vf guvf gehr gb uhzna angher? VZB, ab.

    Nyfb, vg qbrfa’g znxr frafr gung Whyvn (nzbat gubfr jbeyq yrnqref), univat gur cerpbaprcgvba gung Vmml vf n tbare, pubbfrf gb syrr gb gung Qbbzrq Fhcreobbaqbttyr va Fcnpr gung GCGO guvax jba’g fheivir. Urer’f na vqrn – jul qvqa’g Whyvn syrr gb gur Frnyno gung Vil’f aniny oblsevraq syrq gb? Fur haqbhogrqyl xabjf nobhg vg – ur’f va gur Anil, naq ur nafjrerq gb ure beqref gb gur raq (vapyhqvat gung ahpyrne fgevxr). Vg’f cerggl pyrneyl na Nzrevpna zvyvgnel cebwrpg. Tbvat gurer jbhyq abg erdhver ure gb tb guebhtu n fcnpr ynhapu fur unfa’g orra genvarq sbe, be ivbyngr n Pengre Ynxr nppbeq. Nyy fur jbhyq unir gb qb vf beqre n fhoznevar gb gnxr ure nobneq, nf gurve Pbzznaqre Va Puvrs.
    Naq nabgure guvat – bxnl, fur qvqa’g tb gb Frnyno. Znlor n ynhapu iruvpyr jnf pybfre guna n fhoznevar. Ohg univat tbar gb Vmml – jul qvqa’g fur rire gryy gurz nobhg Frnyno? Jul qvq fur gnxr gung frperg gb ure yhane tenir? Jvgu gur fxrgpuvyl vapbzcyrgr jnl Whyvn’f punenpgre vf qenja, gur bayl pbapyhfvba V pna pbzr gb vf gung fur vf n Qrfvtangrq Onq Thl jub gurersber qbrf Onq Guvatf. Univat qrfvtangrq ure nf n Onq Thl, gur nhgube yvorengrf uvzfrys sebz gur arrq sbe gubfr Onq Guvatf gb npghnyyl znxr nal frafr ba Whyvn’f bja grezf. Fur’f abg jevggra nf n pbzcyrgr uhzna orvat jvgu ure bja ernfbaf sbe qbvat jung fur qbrf – fur’f whfg n fghzoyvat-oybpx sbe Fgrcurafba gb chg va sebag bs uvf urebrf fb gurl pna urebvpnyyl birepbzr ure, naq fb ur unf ab arrq gb haqrefgnaq ure nal zber guna ur srryf uvf ernqref arrq gb. Ohg qbvat gung znxrf ure n pneqobneq ivyynva, juvpu vf fbzrguvat gur orfg jevgref hfhnyyl gel gb nibvq.

    But obviously Stephenson IS a very good writer – otherwise I wouldn’t be obsessing so much over the howlers I see in his book.

  5. Camestros Felapton on September 19, 2015 at 4:59 pm said:

    I did find a short list of words that transform into other words under Rot13. I can’t assemble them into a meaningful message. The best I can manage is:
    Noon. Try pyrex ABBA or green ink. Abjurer envy. Be gnat.

    I am enchanted by the word “gnat” in this context. I’ll now have to write some code to see whether I can find any other words that have the same interesting property.

  6. @jayn —

    Thanks for your thoughtful (and considerately rot13-ed) comments on Seveneves.

    But obviously Stephenson IS a very good writer – otherwise I wouldn’t be obsessing so much over the howlers I see in his book.

    Stephenson’s throwaways are better than many authors’ main thrusts. One of my favorite parts of Cryptonomicon is the account of the dentist pulling the wisdom teeth. Does it advance the story? No. Should he have removed it to tighten the book? Hell no!

    Gabaldon is similar in that regard. Her books are full of brilliant sections that don’t move the story along but cast light on the characters, or are just wonderful vignettes. There is a scene in one of the books set in North Carolina where Claire gets lost in the snow and finds a skull from another time traveller (I’ll leave out other details). It’s beautifully written and completely superfluous wrt the plot. Yet it’s what I remember most vividly.

    This gives her writing weight (literally!). Although I love these sections, they also make her books more of a long-term commitment than I can sometimes handle. Kind of like the Baroque Cycle.

  7. McJulie on September 20, 2015 at 6:27 am said:
    Regrettably, there is precious little otter-themed SFF.

    Clearly there needs to be a themed anthology.

    Surely you mean there otter be one.
    (… and now I’ll stop calling you Shirley.)

  8. Here in the PNW, we are fortunate to see otters periodically. IIRC I have only seen sea otters in the Seattle and Vancouver BC aquariums. I have seen plenty of river otters in the wild, including in salt water. Silly otters, don’t they know their name?

    If Mike will allow these non-SFF links, here are some pics of otters in Port Townsend, WA.

    Otter sculpture

    Otters on a pier

    Why did the otters cross the road?

    @Simon Bisson, I didn’t remember otters in Spellsinger but that is due to conscious repression. The first book was great, the second was decent, but the series became perfunctory quickly. Foster’s heart probably wasn’t in it anymore.

    Just like my heart isn’t in the work I’m avoiding doing right now. Procrastinators: the Leaders of Tomorrow.

  9. I’m surprised that anyone would consider Seveneves for a Hugo. The science is terrible (the geneticist whipping up complete custom human somatic cells from scratch just to start), the characters are barely even caricatures, the pacing and plot skips are bizarre, the plotting requires essentially everyone to be stupid to head-injury levels. Yes, the framing concept could have been interesting, but might-have-been does not a Hugo make.

  10. Seveneves seems to be a marmite book. People either love it, or get really frustrated with its flaws.

  11. @Tavella

    the plotting requires essentially everyone to be stupid to head-injury levels

    There have been a number of criticisms that the collective action of governments as portrayed in this novel was unrealistically ineffective. It would seem to me that if anything, Seveneves portrays governments as unrealistically effective. If the world really were to face a disaster striking within 24 months, odds are the US would spend the first 23 months in a government shutdown to force de-funding the EPA and Plannned Parenthood.

  12. Microtherion: [Seveneves spoilers]

    V nyfb guvax gung gur erirny gung gur Qvttref naq Cvatref fheivirq haqrezvarf gur qenzn bs gur svefg gjb cnegf: Hygvzngryl, vg’f fubja gung fcnpr jnf n uvtu pbfg, ybj fhpprff fgengrtl va cerfreivat uhznavgl (na nffrffzrag jvgu juvpu V nterr, va erny yvsr, ohg juvpu haqrephgf gur aneengvir bs gur abiry).

    Uneqyl; jvgubhg gur fcnpref, gurer jbhyq unir orra ab oerngunoyr ngzbfcurer abe nal cynagf be navznyf be frn pevggref ba gur cynarg. Gur qvttref jrer ortvaavat gb eha bhg bs erfbheprf nf vg jnf; gurl’q or qrnq va cebonoyl n gubhfnaq lrnef be yrff. Gur cvatref cebonoyl pbhyq unir uryq bhg ybatre, nf gurl unq zber fcnpr naq zber novyvgl gb “zvar” sbe erfbheprf, ohg fgvyy, fvapr gur frnf cer-frrqvat qvqa’g fubj nal fvta bs erpbirevat, gung zrnaf gung jungrire sbbqfgbpx gurl unq orra rngvat jnf rvgure vapncnoyr be varssvpvrag ng erfrrqvat gur bprnaf naq perngvat oerngunoyr nve. Fbzrguvat juvpu V xrcg rkcrpgvat gur Oyhr fcnpref gb cbvag bhg gb gur Qvttref va erfcbafr gb gurve pynvz bs nyy gur ynaq, ohg gurl arire qvq.

  13. @Meredith

    Seveneves seems to be a marmite book. People either love it, or get really frustrated with its flaws.

    I like both marmite and Seveneves, so there may be something to your theory.

    To me, The Three-Body Problem had very serious flaws (I put it third on my list). Does anybody want to argue that Seveneves is MORE flawed than 3BP?

  14. @Cally

    Uneqyl; jvgubhg gur fcnpref, gurer jbhyq unir orra ab oerngunoyr ngzbfcurer abe nal cynagf be navznyf be frn pevggref ba gur cynarg.

    Gur fcnpref pregnvayl nppryrengrq gung cebprff znffviryl (rfcrpvnyyl gur pbbyvat, naq fgbccvat gur vzcnpgf), ohg V’z abg pbaivaprq vg jbhyqa’g unir riraghnyyl unccrarq naljnl.

    Gur qvttref jrer ortvaavat gb eha bhg bs erfbheprf nf vg jnf; gurl’q or qrnq va cebonoyl n gubhfnaq lrnef be yrff.

    Jbhyq gurl? Vg nccrnef gurl fheivirq jvgubhg bhgfvqr uryc sbe ng yrnfg 4000 lrnef. Vf gurer nal rivqrapr va gur abiry gung gurl pbhyqa’g unir uryq bhg sbe nabgure 4000?

    Gur cvatref cebonoyl pbhyq unir uryq bhg ybatre, nf gurl unq zber fcnpr naq zber novyvgl gb “zvar” sbe erfbheprf, ohg fgvyy, fvapr gur frnf cer-frrqvat qvqa’g fubj nal fvta bs erpbirevat, gung zrnaf gung jungrire sbbqfgbpx gurl unq orra rngvat jnf rvgure vapncnoyr be varssvpvrag ng erfrrqvat gur bprnaf naq perngvat oerngunoyr nve.

    Ntnva, vf gurer nal rivqrapr gung gurl jbhyqa’g unir znqr vg guebhtu n srj gubhfnaq rkgen lrnef?

    Gur abiry nyfb cynprf n engure urnil guhzo ba gur aneengvir fpnyr. Jr tb sebz frira qrfcrengr fheivibef pyvatvat gb gur obggbz bs n pnalba gb n gevhzcunag fcnpr pvivyvmngvba. Jbhyqa’g ernyvfgvpnyyl gur rnegu onfrq tebhcf unir n zhpu orggre punapr bs rzcyblvat erfbheprf gurl fgnfurq njnl?

  15. The Family Tree was going to be my contribution to the Otters in SF discussion as well; also it neatly links into the theme in another Pixel Scroll thread about SF In Which Genocide Is Presented As Regrettably The Only Solution.

    Honestly, I’m surprised Tepper doesn’t come up more in that latter discussion. The amount of her SF plots that seem to boil down to “And then supernatural/divine/alien intelligences wiped out most of the human race, allowing the very intelligent survivors (who coincidentally agree with all of the author’s political points) to get on with saving the planet/society/the future after a (very) brief period of mourning followed by acknowledging that, in the end, it really was for the best” is kinda disturbing.

    I keep rereading her novels, though. (The otters really are delightful.)

  16. @snowcrash

    Unless my rot13 script is broken in a very specific way, you’re safe to translate that one. 😉

  17. @Microtherion:

    “V nyfb guvax gung gur erirny gung gur Qvttref naq Cvatref fheivirq haqrezvarf gur qenzn bs gur svefg gjb cnegf: Hygvzngryl, vg’f fubja gung fcnpr jnf n uvtu pbfg, ybj fhpprff fgengrtl va cerfreivat uhznavgl (na nffrffzrag jvgu juvpu V nterr, va erny yvsr, ohg juvpu haqrephgf gur aneengvir bs gur abiry).”

    GUVF. Fb zhpu guvf. Sbe n senpgvba bs gur pbfg va erfbheprf, nyy Vmml naq gur Nexf’ ynof naq erfbheprf pbhyq unir orra qhcyvpngrq ba Rnegu va haqretebhaq ohaxref naq nppbzbqngrq znal zber fheivibef, sbe gur fvzcyr ernfba gung gurl jbhyq abg unir arrqrq gb rkcraq vafnar rssbeg naq erfbheprf gb ohvyq ebpxrgf naq unhy rirelguvat hc va eryngviryl gval dhnagvgvrf vagb beovg.
    VZB, gur qrpvfvba ng gur ortvaavat bs gur abiry sbe gur tbireazragf gb chg nyzbfg nyy rssbeg vagb znxvat Nexf va fcnpr znxrf ab frafr jura vg vf fubja gung vg vf cbffvoyr (rira rnfvre) sbe Nexf gb fheivir ba Rnegu. V guvax gur bayl ernfba gung Fgrcurafba pubfr gb jevgr vg guvf jnl jnf gung ur jnf whfg gbb zhpu va ybir jvgu nyy uvf pbby ebobgf naq pbzrg-gnzvat naq beovgvat fhcrefgehpgher guvatvrf gb ybbx ng gurz bowrpgviryl.

    Stephenson certainly lavished far more love and care on his descriptions of robots and robot chains and whips and rotating flying Manhattans and diagrams of space tinkertoys (all of which I skimmed hastily past, mea culpa) than he did in drawing his human characters – ANY of his human characters, even his Good Guys. Which is why, to me, Seveneves doesn’t deserve a Hugo.

    Frrzf gb zr gung ur znqr guvf grpuabybtvpny snvelynaq naq sryy va ybir jvgu vg, naq vairagrq uvf Tbbq Thlf ba gur onfvf bs vzntvavat fpvragvfg punenpgref jub jbhyq guvax gung snvelynaq jnf gur Zbfg Njrfbzr Guvat rire naq oraq rirel rssbeg gbjneq npuvrivat vg. Uvf Onq Thlf bsgra frrzrq gb or crbcyr jub qbhogrq gur Tbbq Thlf’ zvffvba onfrq ba penff pbafvqrengvbaf yvxr, fnl, n qrfver sbe gurve zrer harqhpngrq fheiviny. (V znl or orvat hasnve, ohg gung’f ubj vg fbzrgvzrf ernq gb zr).

    “N svany zlfgrel vf jung unccrarq gb gur Znef zvffvba. Nsgre dhvgr n ovg bs n ohvyqhc, gurl ner fbba zvffvat, cerfhzrq qrnq. V’z jbaqrevat jurgure gurl’yy znxr n tenaq er-rzretrapr va n frdhry.”

    Vg jbhyq or uvynevbhf vs gurl qvq fheivir naq cebfcre ba Znef. Vg jbhyq or zber cebbs gung Whyvn – cflpubgvp, cnenabvq, cbjre-znq Whyvn – JNF n orggre pubvpr sbe gur Nexvrf gb sbyybj guna gur Vmml fpvragvfgf. V qbhog gung gur nhgube rfcbhfrf fhpu n erivfvbavfg ivrjcbvag, ubjrire.

  18. Microtherion: [Seveneves spoilers]

    Gur cvatref cebonoyl pbhyq unir uryq bhg ybatre, nf gurl unq zber fcnpr naq zber novyvgl gb “zvar” sbe erfbheprf, ohg fgvyy, fvapr gur frnf cer-frrqvat qvqa’g fubj nal fvta bs erpbirevat, gung zrnaf gung jungrire sbbqfgbpx gurl unq orra rngvat jnf rvgure vapncnoyr be varssvpvrag ng erfrrqvat gur bprnaf naq perngvat oerngunoyr nve.

    Ntnva, vf gurer nal rivqrapr gung gurl jbhyqa’g unir znqr vg guebhtu n srj gubhfnaq rkgen lrnef?

    V frrz gb erzrzore gung gur qvttref jrer ehaavat bhg bs ghatfgra. Naq arvgure gur qvttref abe gur cvatref frrz gb unir unq zntvp “perngr cynagf naq navznyf sebz fpengpu” grpu yvxr gur fcnpref qvq.
    Jr qba’g xabj vs gur cvatref jbhyq unir riraghnyyl unir tbggra gur bprna yvsr tbvat ntnva, ohg gur fvzcyr snpg gung gur fcnpref unqa’g sbhaq nal rivqrapr bs cynaxgba be fvzvyne guvatf va gur bprnaf hagvy gurl, gurzfryirf frrqrq gurz, naq gura frrqrq cynaxgba rngref, fher vzcyvrf fgebatyl gung gur bprnaf jrer abg erpbirevat ol gurzfryirf. Abg gb zragvba gur snpg gung gur fcnpref unq er-perngrq zbfg bs gur bprnaf ol nqqvat infg nzbhagf bs jngre.
    Znlor, znlor vs gur cvatref jrer noyr gb ubyq bhg sbe nabgure gra be gjragl gubhfnaq lrnef gurer’q unir orra n oerngunoyr ngzbfcurer naq n irel yvzvgrq ovbfcurer ba Rnegu. Ohg gung jbhyq unir orra sne gbb ybat sbe gur qvttref.

  19. Late to add this, but I feel obligated to mention Mary Lowd’s Otters in Space. (I suspect if there’s ever a themed anthology, she’ll be prepared.)

  20. @jayn
    [Seveneves spoilers]

    Vg jbhyq or uvynevbhf vs gurl qvq fheivir naq cebfcre ba Znef.

    Abj guvf vf jurer Wbua Fpnymv jbhyq cebqhpr guerr frdhryf gb Frirarirf, jevgvat gur fgbel sebz gur CBI bs gur Qvttref, gur Cvatref, naq gur Znegvnaf.

  21. @Cally [Seveneves spoilers]

    V frrz gb erzrzore gung gur qvttref jrer ehaavat bhg bs ghatfgra.

    Nu lrf! V xrrc sbetrggvat gung univat yvtug fbheprf ninvynoyr jnf abg whfg n znggre bs ernqvat gur nyznanpx ng avtug, ohg arrqrq sbe gurve sbbq tebjvat, fb ghatfgra jbhyq unir orra vzcbegnag (gubhtu gurl unq cyragl bs cncref, fb gurl zvtug unir orra noyr gb hfr pneoba svynzrag ohyof).

  22. Yep, Tepper’s work is totally feminist/environmentalist wish-fulfillment fantasy. (When I mentioned this criticism to my husband he replied, “What do they want, wish-denial stories? I think that’s called Peter Watts.”)

    One of the reasons I love The Family Tree is that it’s entirely unfilmable.

  23. @Nicole –
    Agreed. Tepper does have this awful knack for making me willing to shrug off vast numbers of deaths… She’s just so compulsively readable! I think she’s remerkably skilled at the whole statistics vs tragedy thing. There’s a reason I warn people before recommending her books, for the most part.

    Lexica, that’s brilliant. The wish-denial stories bit, I mean. And yeah, you can’t film The Family Tree without ruining a huge plot element…

  24. Vaqz ib svqwvast. Xsin fivw shibv! Zquifn frty sqamianft.

    (Not actually Rot-13, I was just feeling left out.)

  25. The Demon Breed by James H. Schmitz. Originally in Analog in 1968

    My brain is saying that in Analog it was ‘The Tuvela Theory’, and one of the otters (mutated giant sea otters) is named Biff. I have the book around somewhere….

  26. Microtherion: Abj guvf vf jurer Wbua Fpnymv jbhyq cebqhpr guerr frdhryf gb Frirarirf, jevgvat gur fgbel sebz gur CBI bs gur Qvttref, gur Cvatref, naq gur Znegvnaf.

    That is so true! You made me laugh out loud. I wonder if he’s read it yet, and would get the joke.

  27. Re: Seveneves

    The structure actually works if you go a bit meta and consider the whole narrative as n svpgvbanyvfrq uvfgbevpny nppbhag be n qbph-qenzn sebz gur CbI bs gur beovgny crbcyrf bs 5000 lrnef yngre. Gurer jnf n jrnygu bs zngrevny sebz VFF orpnhfr vg jnf ohttrq, zhpu yrff nobhg jung unccrarq va gur Pybhq Nex orpnhfr fb srj fheivirq gb erwbva gur bguref, naq gura gur ovt ~5000 lrne tnc qhevat jura xrrcvat pbzcyrgr erpbeqf jnf n ybg yrff vzcbegnag guna fheiviny.

    And that’s part of why I think it’s Hugo-worthy.

  28. Soon Lee on September 20, 2015 at 8:55 pm said:

    Re: Seveneves

    The structure actually works if you go a bit meta and consider the whole narrative as n svpgvbanyvfrq uvfgbevpny nppbhag be n qbph-qenzn sebz gur CbI bs gur beovgny crbcyrf bs 5000 lrnef yngre. Gurer jnf n jrnygu bs zngrevny sebz VFF orpnhfr vg jnf ohttrq, zhpu yrff nobhg jung unccrarq va gur Pybhq Nex orpnhfr fb srj fheivirq gb erwbva gur bguref, naq gura gur ovt ~5000 lrne tnc qhevat jura xrrcvat pbzcyrgr erpbeqf jnf n ybg yrff vzcbegnag guna fheiviny.

    And that’s part of why I think it’s Hugo-worthy.

    I agree. I put more thoughts here https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/surviving-seveneves/

  29. @Soon Lee:
    “Gur fgehpgher npghnyyl jbexf vs lbh tb n ovg zrgn naq pbafvqre gur jubyr aneengvir n svpgvbanyvfrq uvfgbevpny nppbhag be n qbph-qenzn sebz gur CbI bs gur beovgny crbcyrf bs 5000 lrnef yngre. Gurer jnf n jrnygu bs zngrevny sebz VFF orpnhfr vg jnf ohttrq, zhpu yrff nobhg jung unccrarq va gur Pybhq Nex orpnhfr fb srj fheivirq gb erwbva gur bguref, naq gura gur ovt ~5000 lrne tnc qhevat jura xrrcvat pbzcyrgr erpbeqf jnf n ybg yrff vzcbegnag guna fheiviny.”

    V gubhtug sbe n zvahgr gung Fgrcurafba jnf uvagvat ng gung jura ur fnvq gung nsgre gur Rirf n gubhfnaq lrnef jrer erpbeqrq bayl va “beny uvfgbel.”

    V gubhtug vg zrnag gung gur Rirf qvqa’g ERNYYL qb nalguvat fb vafnar nf gb frg hc n pnfgr flfgrz sbe gurve qrfpraqnagf gb sbyybj naq qvfpevzvangr ntnvafg rnpu bgure onfrq ba gurve tehqtrf bire byq pevzrf yvxr zheqre naq fnlvat fbzrguvat gung pbhyq or pbafgehrq ng onqzbhguvat lbhe oblsevraq vs lbh fdhvag.

    V gubhtug znlor gur qrfpraqnagf bs Rir QVQ vavgvnyyl vagreoerrq nf lbh’q rkcrpg n pbzzhavgl gb qb jura gurl’er bayl va gur qbhoyr qvtvgf, pbasvarq gb n gval fcnpr sbe praghevrf naq sbeprq gb chyy gbtrgure sbe gurve zhghny fheiviny, naq gung bayl znal trarengvbaf yngre qvq crbcyr va cbjre sbe ernfbaf bs gurve bja frg hc n pnfgr flfgrz fnlvat gung GURFR snzvyvrf ner tbbq, GURFR snzvyvrf ner nangurzn, whfgvsl vg ol ersreevat gb n cnfg gung unq erprqrq gb zlgubybtl, naq gura nygre gur beny uvfgbel fb gung vg frrzrq gung vg unq NYJNLF orra gung jnl.

    V’q oryvrir vg vs gur vasbezngvba nobhg jung unccrarq nsgre gur Rirf jrer cerfragrq va gur sbez bs n senzvat qrivpr ol gur nhgube: yvxr, fnl, na rkprecg sebz n uvfgbevna’f jbex nobhg jung unccrarq nsgre gur Rirf gb znxr fbpvrgl gur jnl vg vf, be rira bar bs gur punenpgre’f zhfvatf nobhg jung gurl erzrzore sebz uvfgbel pynff. Gung jnl, V pbhyq npprcg gung jr’er trggvat vasbezngvba gung znl abg or gehr sebz n aneengbe jub znl abg or eryvnoyr, naq gung gur gehgu znl or Fbzrguvat Ryfr Ragveryl.

    Ohg VVEP, gur rkcynangvba gung fbpvrgl fcyvg hc orpnhfr abobql gehfgrq Nvqn be Whyvn naq Qvanu tbg cvffrq ng Pnzv orpnhfr fur gubhtug fur vafvahngrq fbzrguvat anfgl nobhg ure oblsevraq jnf pbairlrq gb gur ernqre ol gur nhgube nf bzavfpvrag aneengbe…juvpu gb zr, vzcyvrf gung jr’er fhccbfrq gb gnxr vg nf gur gehgu. Sbe uvz gb onpxgenpx nsgrejneqf naq fnl “Ab, vg jnfa’g gehr, V jnfa’g orvat gur bzavfpvrag aneengbe, V jnf whfg gelvat gb zrff jvgu lbhe urnq,” frrzf gb zr yvxr n purng.

  30. Not actually Rot-13, I was just feeling left out.

    Me too. I was describing this thread to my husband last night as “file770 is having a discussion in rot13”. He thought that was pretty cool.

  31. First time I read comments here I was momentarily flummoxed.
    It was all so lovely, and then fhqqrayl jung gur uryy.

  32. @jayn,

    [Seveneves goes meta]

    Gur svefg gvzr V rkcrevraprq na Haeryvnoyr Aneengbe V sryg purngrq, orpnhfr gurer vf na vzcyvpvg gehfg orgjrra gur fgbelgryyre & gur ernqre juvpu na Haeryvnoyr Aneengbe oernxf. Vg’f rira jbefr vs gur aneengbe vf hfvat bzavfpvrag CbI.

    Ohg gura gurer’f nyfb gung fnlvat gung “jevgref ner crbcyr jub gryy yvrf sbe n yvivat”. Gurer ner pregnva jevgref jub qb gur Haeryvnoyr Aneengbe guvat fb V’ir pbzr gb or jnel naq nccebnpu gurve fgbevrf qvssreragyl nf n ernqre. Cneg bs gur cnlbss vf jbexvat vg bhg naq V tbg gung jura V ernpurq gur ynfg guveq bs gur obbx.

  33. I should probably dig out my rot13 explanation thingy again to put in threads with lots of spoiler discussion, shouldn’t I…

  34. @Soon Lee:
    Seveneves goes Postmodern!

    Fb jnf gurer n cbvag gung V zvffrq va gur obbx jurer Fgrcurafba gbyq be oebnqyl uvagrq gb gur ernqre gung gur hayvxryl naq inthryl erchyfvir uvfgbel bs ubj gur Rirf qvivqrq uhznavgl vagb zhghnyyl nagntbavfgvp enpvny pnfgrf jnf npghnyyl hagehr, nsgre gryyvat gur ernqre gung vg JNF gehr? Be vf vg whfg gur snpg gung vg VF fb hayvxryl naq erchyfvir, nybat jvgu gur zragvba bs “beny uvfgbel”, gung gvygrq lbh gbjneq gur vqrn gung gur GEHR fgbel bs jung unccrarq 5000 lrnef ntb vf dhvgr qvssrerag sebz gur fgbel bcrayl gbyq?

    Myself, I kind of like Unreliable Narrators when done well…that is, when the writer plays fair with the reader, giving hints that all is not as it seems. The reader may or may not be sharp enough to put the clues together (I’m usually not). Regardless, IMO, the moment of truth when the narration slaps one across the face with its revelation about how one has been misled and what the truth REALLY is can be a reader’s thrill like no other. It’s like the revelation at the end of Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. You’re stunned…but Christie played fair…the clues were there all along.

    But that book didn’t have an omniscient narrator. I agree that having an omniscient narrator who lies to the reader does break the reader’s trust, because what the narrator tells the reader is ALL the reader can know about the story’s universe. So the narrator kind of has the reader at his mercy, and IMO throwing outright lies at the reader without giving the reader any means to see that that’s what’s happening is sloppy, abusive storytelling. In what book did you read the lying omniscient narrator that disappointed you so?

    VZB, vs Fgrcurafba qbrf yngre jevgr “Gheaf bhg gung trargvp nanylfvf/guvf arjyl erirnyrq erpbeq/Fbzr Bgure Fhqqra Eriryngvba fubjf gur jubyr fgbel bs gur Rirf qvivqvat gur enprf onfrq ba gurve tehqtrf jnf hagehr; abar bs gur crbcyr jub pnyy gurzfryirf Vilaf be Pnzvgrf be jungrire ner npghnyyl cheryl be rira zbfgyl qrfpraqrq sebz gur sbhaqvat zbguref gurl guvax, naq jr’ir orra ubyqvat ba gb gurfr snyfr fgrerbglcrf naq cerwhqvprf naq pnyyvat gurz “Qrfgval” sbe ab tbbq ernfba,” V’q svaq vg zber cnyngnoyr guna gur fgbel ur qvq gryy. V’q fgvyy unir gb pnyy vg n purng, gubhtu.

    Jvgubhg pnershy sberfunqbjvat naq uvagf gung ur jnf ylvat jura ur gbyq gur bevtvany fgbel, gurer’f ab fxvyyshy cybggvat vaibyirq va punatvat gur fgbel, naq vg jbhyq or ab qvssrerag sebz gur jevgre qrpvqvat gung gur fgbel ur bevtvanyyl gbyq jnf n onq vqrn naq ergpbaavat vg bhg bs rkvfgrapr va obbx 2 jvgu n gbgnyyl qvssrerag fgbel. “Jung V gbyq lbh orsber? Sbetrg nyy gung. GUVF vf jung ernyyl unccrarq.” Fybccl fgbelgryyvat, VZB.

    Hayrff, bs pbhefr, V zvffrq n jubyr ybg bs pyrire, fhogyr sberfunqbjvat. Juvpu vf nyfb cresrpgyl cbffvoyr.

  35. @jayn,

    “In what book did you read the lying omniscient narrator that disappointed you so?”

    None that I recall. With Seveneves, the buzz was already out there about the unusual structure of the book way before I began reading it, so I guess I was already pre-disposed to wonder about the reason(s) behind the structure. An innate skepticism (“All storytellers lie”), the idea of post-modernity, and “History is written by the winners”, all made me a reader more able to enjoy the book, some aspects of which were I think, quite literary.

    Mind you some aspects were cause for much side-eye, I mean, the whole bit about epigenetic shifts? Really?

  36. Mind you some aspects were cause for much side-eye, I mean, the whole bit about epigenetic shifts? Really?

    I know, right? Jr’er fhccbfrq gb oryvrir gung gur znfgre trargvpvfg svkrf ure bssfcevat fb gung jvgu nal ovt fgerff fur jvyy pbyyncfr sbe qnlf, arrq gbgny pner, naq ybfr erfvfgnapr gb vasrpgvba? Guvf vf n tbbq vqrn va n gval yhane onfr jura rirelbar vf yvxryl gb or arrqrq ng n zbzrag’f abgvpr gb jbex be qrny jvgu qnatre? Naq gur nqinagntr vf gung fur’yy riraghnyyl jnxr hc jvgu n pbzcyrgryl qvssrerag crefbanyvgl gb nqncg gb gur fgerffbe – ertneqyrff bs jurgure gur fgerffbe vf yvxryl gb ercrng vgfrys be abg? Naq fbzrubj GUVF vf n fheiviny genvg? Wrrm.

  37. Thanks for the recommendations!

    I’ve read a couple of them since seeing them here. I’ve got twenty more emails saved to look through in more detail later.

    (I will never, ever read anything else by the author of Midshipmen’s Mope. I put too much time into that series, until I realized that I was hoping someone would kill him.)

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