Pixel Scroll 9/7/17 As I Was Scrolling Down The Stair, I Met A Pixel Who Wasn’t There

(1) REDRUM. James Davis Nicoll continues to chart the core: “Twenty Core Cyberpunk Works Every True SF Fan Should Have on Their Shelves”. He says the image at the post is of Uwaterloo’s famous Red Room. Here are three of his cyberpunk picks:

  • Synners by Pat Cadigan
  • The Fortunate Fall by Raphael Carter
  • When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger

(2) BATTENING DOWN TATOOINE. Is this anything like a silver lining? “Due to the hurricane, Disney World has removed some construction walls — which means we can see Star Wars Land”. Photos at the link.

First and foremost, there is a Category 5 hurricane, Hurricane Irma, hurtling towards Florida at a rapid pace and we hope everyone in the Sunshine State is staying as safe as possible, evacuating if that’s been ordered, and has plenty of water.

While Irma’s path across Florida is still unclear (it’s not expected to make landfall till the weekend), Disney World has already started making preparing for torrential rain and high winds. Things that can be bolted down have been bolted down, and things that are apt to blow away in the gusts of wind — like say, a fence and a tarp — have been removed. This means that many of the construction walls around Star Wars Land have come down. And this means, we can see the outskirts of Star Wars Land, and yes please.

(3) STAY FROSTY. The Society of Illustrators in New York is displaying a selection of work from Greg Manchess’ Above the Timberline from September 5 through October 28 in the Third Floor Hall of Fame Gallery.

The Society is pleased to present a selection of work from Greg Manchess’ latest stunning masterpiece Above the Timberline. This lavishly painted novel tells the story of the son of a famed explorer searching for his stranded father, and a lost city buried under the snows of a future frozen Earth.

When it started to snow, it didn’t stop for 1,500 years. The Pole Shift that ancient climatologists talked about finally came, the topography was ripped apart and the weather of the world was changed—forever. Now the Earth is covered in snow, and to unknown depths in some places. In this world, Wes Singleton leaves the academy in search of his father, the famed explorer Galen Singleton, who was searching for a lost city until Galen’s expedition was cut short after being sabotaged. But Wes believes his father is still alive somewhere above the timberline. Fully illustrated with over 120 pieces of full-page artwork throughout, Above the Timberline is a stunning and cinematic combination of art and novel.

Opening Reception on Thursday, September 28th, 6:30 pm. Open to the public. Cash bar. $10 suggested donation will benefit arts programming and exhibitions.

(4) ASKING FOR DONATIONS. Australian writer Lezli Robyn needs help paying for a procedure that will keep her eyesight from deteriorating further. Her employer has set up a GoFundMe. George R.R. Martin is one of many encouraging people to give.

Many of you know Lesley Robyn Glover (and I would like to introduce you to her if you don’t). She writes sf/fantasy as Lezli Robyn and works as my Assistant Publisher for Arc Manor…. What many of you who already know her may not realize is that due to a rare eye disorder, which is progressively getting worse, she is now considered legally blind without correction. When Lezli was 23 she was diagnosed with an unusual condition, Keratoconus, which is characterised by a progressive conical protusion of the cornea that results in her eyesight being distorted, to the point where she sees multiple images on top of each other and are no longer clear….

Since I pay Lezli Robyn I know what she earns–and it is not enough to be able to easily afford to pay for the treatment without which her eyeseight will continue to get worse.  I am also aware of financial and medical difficulties her parents are undergoing and it is almost impossible for them to fund the treatment. Currently a minimum of $2500 for each eye is required just for the basic procedure (not including specialist tests. medications, etc.) in Australia and it’s not covered by Lezli’s Australian medicare (see Optometry Australia’s article about it here ). The cost in the US, of course, can be significantly greater (up to $4000 per eye!) so it may actually be cheaper for her to fly to Australia to get the procudure rather than have it done in the US.

So I am asking our friends to join me in raising money for Lezli to be able to get this procedure done as soon as possible–before her eyesight gets worse. Keratoconus does eventually slow down in its progression but there is no specific timeframe, and in Lezli’s case the progession has consistantly continued unabated.

(5) NEXT YEAR’S HUGOS. The Hugo Award Book Club has updated their list of award-worthy 2017 works: “What’s worth considering for the ballot in 2018?”  For example:

Short Story

A Passing Sickness — Paolo Bacigalupi

Sanctuary — Allen Steele

Paradox — Naomi Kritzer

The Secret Life Of Bots — Suzanne Palmer

(6) RUN AWAY. Dominic Patten at Deadline joins the growing number of critics who’ve turned thumbs down: “‘The Orville’ Review: Seth MacFarlane’s Fox Sci-Fi Drama Is Lost In Space”.

Honestly, if your need for sci-fi is gnawing at you, hold your powder a couple more weeks and wait for Star Trek: Discovery, which premieres September 24. Even with the highly skilled likes of Norm Macdonald, Transparent’s Jeffery Tambor, Holland Taylor, 24 vet Penny Johnson Jerald and Victor Garber making appearances alongside the Family Guy guy and the Friday Night Lights alum, The Orville’s aspirations to find a new path to the final frontier in this age of Peak TV goes nowhere frat-boy fast.

In fact, with its urination gags and heavy-handedness on such topics as gender identity and racism, the only purpose of the lost-in-space The Orville seems to be to as a way for Fox to continue its lucrative relationship with MacFarlane and keep him happy.

(7) NOT ALL WIGHT MEN. Actor Nicolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jamie Lannister in Game of Thrones, in this interview discusses the possibility of main characters becoming Wights.

(8) MARS: ONE SCOOP OR TWO? The Planetary Society has notified members:

On August 28th, NASA’s Associate Administrator of Science announced that the space agency intends to accelerate planning for a sample return mission to Mars to launch no earlier than 2026. A new Mars telecommunications orbiter would take a backseat to an increased focus on building a fetch rover and a “Mars ascent vehicle” to launch samples into orbit.

Never before has NASA had approval from the budget masters at the White House to pursue such a mission. So, take it from me: this is a very positive step. There are a lot of details yet to be announced, and we will now look forward to the 2019 budget proposal currently being drafted by NASA and the White House to see how serious these plans are.

We have been working hard to help the Mars program, and thousands of Planetary Society members helped by sending messages to Congress and the White House. Congress has already signaled its support by proposing over $60 million in new funding for Mars next year in support of a future mission. Now, NASA has said it intends to bring Mars home to Earth. Thank you to all who took action. There are exciting times ahead.

(9) TODAY’S DAY

Buy A Book Day

The History of Buy a Book Day: Buy a Book Day was created in 2012 to educate people to the importance of books to our culture and civilisation as a whole. It is inarguable that books have been one of the greatest contributors to the advancement of the human race, by moving the hearts of many over the ages, stimulating their imaginations and helping them see the world in an entirely different light. Books have also served the simple but vital purpose of passing knowledge down from generation to generation. The creators of Buy a Book Day want nothing more than for people take a moment to truly appreciate books and their numerous roles in the human experience.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 7, 1958Queen of Outer Space premiered.
  • September 7, 1974 – The (animated) Partridge Family 2200 A.D. first aired on TV
  • September 7, 1984 — The Brother from Another Planet first screened in theatres.

(11) QUICK CALL. Almost makes the tricorder look like steampunk technology: “‘Pen’ identifies cancer in 10 seconds”.

How it works

The pen is touched on to a suspected cancer and releases a tiny droplet of water.

Chemicals inside the living cells move into the droplet, which is then sucked back up the pen for analysis.

The pen is plugged into a mass spectrometer – a piece of kit that can measure the mass of thousands of chemicals every second.

It produces a chemical fingerprint that tells doctors whether they are looking at healthy tissue or cancer.

(12) TALE OF THE SHARKE. Jonathan McCalmont’s “Lessons of Sharke” comments on his purposes in serving on the Shadow Clarke jury.

I was happy to get involved in the Shadow Clarke project because I wanted to a) help challenge the presumed supremacy of genre publishing by broadening the discourse to include science fiction novels from outside that cultural sphere and b) show that it was possible for regular readers to engage with the literature of science fiction in public using not only the full range of their emotions but also their own ideas about what constitutes good writing and good science fiction.

Regardless of whether you want to provoke change in existing social structures or create new social spaces embodying different principles, you need to be able to show what you’re about… if only to prove that alternatives to the status quo can exist. The Shadow Clarke project was by no means a flawless undertaking but I think it was successful not only in broadening the scope of genre discourse but also in demonstrating that ordinary readers can contribute more than simply hitting retweet and dutifully nominating their faves.

I expected both hostility and opposition because the Shadow Clarke project embodies a very different set of ideas about how we ought to engage with science fiction on the internet. Some might argue that those ideas and methods have always been present in genre culture but times change and cases must always be made anew. Looking back over the months I spent as a Sharke, I am proud of the writing we produced as a group; I think we championed books that would otherwise have been completely overlooked in genre circles and I think we provided dozens of articles that interrogate science fiction from a variety of nuanced and personal positions.

(13) BALLAD OF THE MTA. And our fate is still unlearned….

(14) THEY BITE. Camestros Felapton tells why “The Alt-Right View of ‘Free Speech’ isn’t Even Simplistic”, and illustrates his point with an example of how the Alt-Right turned on Vox Day.

The slow coalescence of various species of online misogyny and trolling into the modern crypto-fascist ‘Alt-Right’ has been entangled with a more general appeal for ‘free speech’ in odd circumstances. These kinds of appeals were often directed at internet comments sections and forums as arguments against community guidelines or in defence of those arguing for active discrimination or even violence against various groups. As appeals went, their purpose was primarily aimed at trying to fool liberals and conservatives into not taking action against people who were actively trying to disrupt online communities, harass vulnerable people or shout down opposing views – indeed actions that themselves were inimical to free speech.

(15) A SPARKLING BEVERAGE? From the Brooklyn Eagle comes this item: “No Bad Blood Over Unicorn Coffee”.

A multicolored beverage named after a mythical horse doesn’t sound like something that could cause controversy, but after a couple cafes went head to head in the legal realm, a settlement cleared the air. The End, a cafe in Williamsburg argued that Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino was a rip off of its Unicorn Latte. After the two companies went up against each other in court, Brooklyn Federal Judge Arthur Spatt authorized a “mutually agreeable settlement,” according to The End’s lawyer. A Starbucks representative also said the terms, which are confidential, were mutual and the global chain no longer serves the colorful drink at its stores. (via the Daily News)

(16) BOOK RESEARCH. Sarah Gailey went right to the source and asked the (river) horse:

(17) SAY CHEESE. StarShip Sofa’s Jeremy Szal posted a suite of “Worldcon 75 Photos”. Lots of good ones. Here’s the last one in the set:

View post on imgur.com

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day C.A. Collins.]

84 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/7/17 As I Was Scrolling Down The Stair, I Met A Pixel Who Wasn’t There

  1. Johan P: I think all those people wying for first comment are silly.

    Camestros Felapton: indeed but they help make it easier to get the coveted Fifth.

    *snort*

    Well-played, you two. Well-played. 😀

  2. Pre-fifth.

    (5) I really liked Naomi Alderman’s The Power, and would appreciate hearing others’ views. Can anybody point me to reviews other than those in The Guardian?

    (14) Hoist on his own petard? Darn.

  3. 1) I’d add Walter Jon Williams’ Hardwired to that list, still prefer it to Neuromancer

    The Fifth Appertainment of the Scrollopalypse

  4. (8) I wish them luck!

    (12) Some interesting points here, and I agree with him on the issue of fatigue from the many essays and that another form could have been better. But I’d have liked his views on exactly what kind of pushback he thinks the Shadow Clarke project got. And I can’t agree on his observation that the aesthetic ambitions of published sf is lower today than it was five (or ten or fifteen) years ago.

    First I think that we have a group of authors who are extremely ambitious today – aesthetically and otherwise, like NK Jemisin, Catherine Valente, and Rachel Swirsky comes to mind, but are far from alone. Second, while you can go back fifteen years and point to a set of works that profoundly impacted the genre, like Perdido Street Station or “Hell Is the Absence of God”, we are too close to the genre landscape today to say which books will have genre-changing impact, be it aesthetic or otherwise. It would be easier to claim that today is more aesthetically ambitious than the genre was five or fifteen years ago (not that I necessarily would agree with such a claim). Third, I have a feeling that McCalmont has something specific in mind with “aesthetically ambitious”, but it’s not clearly articulated to me.

    (13) While I like that underlying message, there is another issue with the “see something, say something” meme. Apart from possibly contributing to a culture of fear and surveillance, it only focuses on stronger reactions to the things people see. It fails to expand what people see. Thus we get stronger reactions to what people see as threats or exceptions, but we still miss everyday racism, misogyny, or homophobia, or things done by highly-privileged groups.

    (A third issue is proportionate response. I’ve heard friends in the US who are leary of calling police about minor disturbances from black people, since they are afraid the police will overreact.)

    (14) Say it, man. Free speech is a swell principle and was a strong step towards responsible governments and democracy. But it’s only one of several important and valid principles for a just and healthy society.

  5. (5) NEXT YEAR’S HUGOS

    They list “The Space Between the Stars” by Anne Corlett, which wasn’t previously on my radar. Anyone read it?

  6. (12) TALE OF THE SHARKE.

    I agree with his point that an essay per reviewer per book was a bit much. The discussion might be more focused with some other pattern, although I’m not sure what.

    However:

    This period of aesthetic retrenchment has coincided with a catastrophic collapse in the range of tolerated discourse with regards to genre literature. Ten years ago, genre culture was home to a thriving blogosphere that encouraged a broad range of attitudes towards science fiction literature. Since then, that blogosphere has largely collapsed and a fan-centric ethic of honest self-expression has been replaced with an industry-centric ethic of enforced positivity.

    This is certainly consistent with his previous comments. I wouldn’t like to say that book fandom is immune to criticism or that improvements can’t be had, but I’ve yet to see him actually pull out some evidence for this view.
    Online fandom has certainly changed in this period, and barriers to entry for expressing your opinion where lots of people may see it are now down to “have a twitter account” which may well have shifted the balance of what sort of opinions are being expressed – in the sense of simple reactions versus complex analysis – but I don’t think that means complex analysis is being shut out.
    If you wish to improve the state of fannish discourse then starting by saying it’s Doing It All Wrong might not be the best tactic.

  7. Mark-kitteh: They list “The Space Between the Stars” by Anne Corlett, which wasn’t previously on my radar. Anyone read it?

    Well, I am now next in line for the first available copy at my library, so I will let you know what I think.

  8. 3) Ah, now this looks intriguing.

    10) I remember the Brady Kids cartoon…but i don’t remember the Partridge Family cartoon…

  9. JJ on September 8, 2017 at 1:26 am said:
    The (animated) Partridge Family 2200 A.D. first aired on TV.
    Wut.
    I don’t even.

    Was that before or after the Gilligan’s Planet cartoon started up?

  10. (1) Boosting the signal for Hardwired, plus any cyberpunk list that is missing Snow Crash is no list of mine.

    PS: it’s lacking Bruce Sterling’s Mirrorshades, too.

    Point of order: not sure about sneaking a movie onto the list, either.

  11. I am perversely curious about the proportions and materials used to construct Beale’s petard….does it posses the necessary characteristics for hoisting? Is it sufficiently abrasive?

    Are there any engineers in the audience?

  12. 1) I’ve read six. That’s a pretty shabby result for me; I’ll have to get right on that…

    12) I expected both hostility and opposition because the Shadow Clarke project embodies a very different set of ideas about how we ought to engage with science fiction on the internet. Um, my personal perception is, that’s not the reason the Shadows got pushback. They got pushback for telling fans they were wrongfans having wrongfun reading wrongfiction. At least, that’s what it looked like from here in the cheap seats. Here on File770 we manage to have spirited discussions between people who like and hate the same book without actually devolving into ad hominems or asserting that people don’t like what they actually do like…

  13. (1) There is a rule that an item may not appear in a core list if it has already appeared in a previous core list. I can find previous Nicoll core lists for “SF Books”, “Space Operas”, and “Dystopias”. Are there are any others?

  14. Great; now I’ve been earwormed with the Partridge Family 2200AD theme song (fortunately the Gilligan’s Planet and the Brady Kids’ themes weren’t that catchy).

  15. @Andrew No Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space? No The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang?*

    *The whole premise of which was that they had the File770 time machine which has dumped me in 2017 again, uhg, it’s like 2016 but worse.

  16. 2) Ah, now here’s a list that should be more my speed… I read 31 cyberpunk books *last year alone*. And yet somehow I only hit 7 on this list. A few of them (like the Ford) are things I’ve been unable to find, and a few are books I’d definitely argue against being “core” books of the subgenre, and a few I need to add to my list, because I’ve never heard of them. So, things to agree with, new things to find, and things to argue with. All the ingredients of a good list post. (And I’m glad to see the Melissa Scott book on the list; I found her to be a much better writer than Cadigan, but Cadigan seems to get more recommendations than most of the other early women in cyberpunk put together.) I’d also have Maureen F. McHugh’s China Mountain Zhang on there somewhere. And of course at least one of John Shirley’s Eclipse books, more relevant now than they ever were… Oh, and Storming the Reality Studio was fantastic…

    This one is never going to end for me.

    9) Is that not… every day?

    12) Haven’t had time to read this in detail yet, but for years I’ve been hearing UK-based critics (particularly Martin Petto) decry that the expansion of the enthusiast press online has come at the expense of the critical press, rather than the two of them expanding alongside each other. I don’t know whether it’s true, but I do know that it’s something several professional critics in the UK have been claiming and commenting on for quite some time. (Enthusiast press stuff is great, and I have a lot of fun with it, it’s just neither criticism nor journalism, though it is very, very frequently conflated with both online, and not just in genre spheres; almost all mainstream literary coverage in Canada is enthusiast press stuff, and people who refuse to act like professional cheerleaders or who won’t behave like adjuncts to the publishing industry’s marketing teams will *sometimes* get shut out.)

  17. @August:

    And of course at least one of John Shirley’s Eclipse books, more relevant now than they ever were

    Yes, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Eclipse books lately – I read them back in the 1980s when they were new.

  18. Mark on September 8, 2017 at 1:32 am said:

    (5) NEXT YEAR’S HUGOS

    They list “The Space Between the Stars” by Anne Corlett, which wasn’t previously on my radar. Anyone read it?

    It’s the next one the Edmonton HBC folk and me are planning to write a review of. I think it has to be described as Earth Abides by way of Firefly. It’s not as high-concept as some of the other books this year, but it’s probably the best-written.

  19. @Ivan Bromke

    Interesting, thank you, I may check it out.

    @August

    Enthusiast v critical is interesting terminology. I get what “enthusiast” is trying to convey although people are probably as likely to blast a book (or at least pick out some flaws) as enthuse about it.
    There’s no reason that it should be a zero sum game although I can see the argument that noisy enthusiasm might drown out more considered opinions to some extent.
    My current suspicion is that it’s more to do with structural changes in where people get their book-thoughts online and the reactions of those losing out in that change rather than some grand drop in people’s ability to think about books though.

  20. Cadigan seems to get more recommendations than most of the other early women in cyberpunk put together.

    Deliberately or not, the Sterling-centric group of cyberpunk authors gave the impression of being extremely bloke-centric (in part because their strategy for making themselves look special was to denigrate or ignore earlier works of note, and since a big chunk of the cool stuff in the 1970s was by women, the women had to go). Any cyberpunk collection or essay from one of Sterling’s group will likely be very short on works by women. Cadigan was the one woman whose existence they deigned to acknowledge.

  21. @Mark
    At Rocket Stack Rank, we do get occasional complaints that we give negative reviews as well as positive ones. Someone from SFWA asked me about that at WorldCon. Only giving positive reviews would make life easier since there’d be no need to finish bad stories. (And you can usually identify a bad story just a few paragraphs in.)

    I told him the problem with that would be that we’d be unable to give bad reviews to slated stories. You can’t just have a policy that you quietly ignore bad stories by people you like but make a big deal out of bad stories from people you don’t like. He agreed that that was a strong argument, although he still hoped we’d someday get to a point of not giving negative reviews to anyone.

    I also had a few people–including one author–encourage me to keep writing a full spectrum of reviews, saying we don’t have enough people doing that. Naturally this is the only group we’re going to listen to. 🙂

    So I’d agree that there’s pressure for reviewers to follow a policy of “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

  22. Greg Hullender: we do get occasional complaints that we give negative reviews as well as positive ones. Someone from SFWA asked me about that at WorldCon… he still hoped we’d someday get to a point of not giving negative reviews to anyone.

    I’m rather shocked that a writer would have the nerve to make such a request of you. It seems to me that, just as with film reviewers, it’s vitally important that fiction reviewers be able to give an honest opinion of a work — even if that opinion is a negative one.

    While a nice side effect of what you do with RSR is to give signal-boost to authors and their works, it’s my belief that the primary function of your work as a reviewer is to provide readers with analytical perspectives of stories, not to pat authors on the back. That’s what their writing groups, and mentors, and family members, and friends are for.

    I often use a selection of reviews to help me 1) decide whether I wish to read a work, and 2) analyze it afterward and gain additional perspectives on it. I’d be madder than hell at being led astray by a less-than-honest review because the reviewer felt obligated to be kind rather than honest.

  23. When I was a reviewer (for music and books in local newspapers), I very rarely gave a negative review. What I don’t like is not a very interesting subject even to me, and I had no shortage of wonderful things to write about. Negatives were reserved for Big Names who did something really bad or bands at a show I’d committed to review.

    So while I want honest reviews for something I plan to consume, I get more value from an honest positive review than an honest negative review. What other people don’t like isn’t interesting, either. But if it’s a phenomenon I don’t consume–most movies and TV–or something I know really well, then I read all about it.

  24. @Mark: it’s not my terminology, I’m just borrowing it. The “enthusiast press” (the term “press” being used as a collective noun sort of the same way as “the media”) refers specifically to outlets that cover things from the perspective of enthusiasts who wish to promote the love/enjoyment of a thing as part of their coverage. Frank or in-depth analysis *can* happen in the enthusiast press, but it’s not the point; sharing in the love of the thing and promoting community around it is the point. The enthusiast press can be both amateur and professional, but are weighted toward amateur. The critical press can be both amateur and professional, but is weighted toward professionals; they are also enthusiasts for what they are writing about, but sharing the love of thing and promoting community around it isn’t the point; frank, in-depth, and informed/studied analysis of all its pros and cons, including the uncomfortable or unpopular ones, is the point. (Journalism is neither; reporters with a particular beat will hopefully be enthusiasts personally, but their coverage is meant to be dispassionate, facts without analysis or promotion, or at least as close to that ideal as is actually possible.)

    One of the big problems is access; major venues can do critical press work without losing access for saying negative things, but that’s not always true for niche venues, and major venues have been dramatically cutting back on critical work for budget reasons, while enthusiasts tend to be, well, enthusiastic, and are often very prolific, even if their only reward is access, or just the sense of community. (That was me for a long time; now I mostly get paid.)

    in part because their strategy for making themselves look special was to denigrate or ignore earlier works of note, and since a big chunk of the cool stuff in the 1970s was by women, the women had to go

    Reading interviews and critical stuff from that period (I’ve read at least three collections this year and some last year) this seems to have been much more true of Sterling than many of the others (read Gibson’s interviews from that period, for instance, and half of them is him talking about writers he likes, both old and new). His work promoting the Movement probably eclipsed everybody else’s put together. (I’ve also seen differing opinions on this; some folks have said that the writers themselves were very welcoming to women who wanted to work in cyberpunk, but that publishers/readers were less on board, and some have said that the writers themselves were reluctant to be welcoming.)

  25. @Greg Hullender: Once a writer threatened to sue me over a mixed review, and there’s a small-press publisher who I’m told I need to avoid at parties because he may want to punch me in the face for a (mild) negative review of one of his authors. There are a *lot* of people who get extremely angry if you respond negatively to something they like, even if you love the field/genre/form and just want to be honest about what you see and how you feel about it, rather than having to be “rah rah rah, go team!” all the time.

  26. @August, @Greg: A number of the more *dramatic* cases of author-overreactions to reviews have occurred in response to reviews that were only mildly negative; in some cases, the reviews were mixed enough that I had some mild interest in reading the book (before the author’s over-reaction killed that interest). I suppose that some authors expect nothing less than the proverbial “500 words of closely reasoned praise.”

  27. What I don’t like is not a very interesting subject even to me

    Whereas I think there are seriously flawed works that are flawed in interesting or illustrative ways. For example, if it’s a mystery and the only time women appear in it is when they are brutally raped and murdered, that’s significant. Or, on a similar note, when someone in adapting a work from prose to graphic novel greatly expands the time devoted to a sexual assault and reduces the time devoted to the victim’s response, that can be of use to note.

    Watching an author try not to repeat themselves as they desperately try to avoid having a stock 1980s-style mystery plot derailed by post-1990s ubiquitous cell phones otoh is hilarious.

  28. @Greg

    Keep doing what you’re doing. I like your policy of 3 stars being the average and I wish that 3 stars on Amazon or GR hadn’t somehow become a bad score.

    I can see the point of reviews that pick out what they liked best in an issue and not really focus on the poor – the point is to find good recommendations for other people so the poor are irrelevant in that sense – but when you’re attempting to survey the field then you’ve got to judge everything. There’s room for both.

    (Not that I will necessarily agree with your scores, but that’s what the comments are for!)

    What’s interesting is that personally I often find it easier to identify bits I didn’t like than focus I what I did, so I feel like I end up saying “oh, this was great…apart from X & Y [in great detail]” when I write about something.

    @August

    Sorry, I was aware it wasn’t your term and was just reacting to it as replied to you.

    Access is an interesting point. There’s clearly a marketing tactic of getting ARCs into the hands of enthusiastic “ordinary readers” nowadays (netgalley etc) to build buzz etc. I can see why that might get identified as sort of “access for enthusiasm” deal?

  29. Just had an annoying afternoon, fitter arrived with the carefully selected replacement induction hob for the kitchen. The old one have met its doom after a bottle of olive oil slipped from my hand and landed at an angle on its edge knocking a chip out which has subsequently cracked diagonally across to the adjacent side. Can’t risk water ingress into the electrics so replacement required.

    Same brand, but higher spec and the installation instructions for both quote exactly the same niche size and tolerance. Result, too deep by about a millimeter. The worktop is not something that can easily be cut in situ either so now I’m left wondering whether any of the quoted sizes can be trusted. sigh…

  30. Im thinking a lot lately about the value of negative reviews. I think in general positive reviews are much more important, since its (for me) much more about finding good stuff, than learn about bad stuff. I generally would prefer a guide over a judge.
    There are exceptions: If its something like slated work (or otherwise considered “Impotant”) its of course helpfull if someone stirrs you away and shows you better alternatives.
    Also sometimes you can learn from mistakes. Or you set up a discussion. But both is not the norm Id say.

    Re: Shadow Clarke: As I said before: I generally enjoyed reading them, but I couldnt be bothered of reading several reviews of the same book. It would have been much better to publish one review per book and probably a discussion if there is a disagreement.
    And I could have done without snarkiness as well. As I said before: I want to be steered towards good work, I dont need to be lectured why something is not to be liked. Its always tempting to use a review as a vanity platform, but it should be avoided.

  31. The (animated) Partridge Family 2200 A.D. first aired on TV.

    Wut.

    I don’t even.

    I had no idea this existed. What else have I missed? Is there a Brady Bunch that lives under the sea? Is there a My Three Sons that solves crimes?

  32. 1) I figured that I wouldn’t have read even one of these because cyber-punk is a style/genre/sub-genre? that I just have not been able to enjoy or tolerate. But then, there’s Melissa Scott’s “Trouble” and someone mentioned “China Mountain Zhang” both of which I enjoyed and CMZ is on the list of “books I would keep if I had to really really downsize to one bookcase” scenario. But then I don’t think of them as cyberpunk.

    5)I can see “New York 2140” being on the list even though I didn’t finish it. It’s got that sweeping feel. “Collapsing Empire’ was fun. I personally think “Amberlough”; “Winter’s Tide” and “Passing Strange” are deserving. Along with “River of Teeth” which is probably a novella. I enjoyed it but was surprised at how small the book was when I got it.

    For what it’s worth, I enjoyed “The Space Between the Stars” by Anne Corlett. It’s a twist on the people trying to find their community after everyone dies apocalypse meme but well done. Doesn’t quite make it to Hugo for me though.
    (12) I’ve decided the Shadow Clarke people don’t even hear how they come across. That first paragraph did it for me. I kept hearing it in the voice of a parody of William F Buckley.

  33. @Greg Hullender & etc.

    A review is a review. You’ve got the reviewer’s reception (subjective) and then the reader’s reception of the review (subjective).

    Greg offers far more analysis than “this sucks”, so the reader has some way of gaging the response against their own tastes.

    (Best advice I ever got regarding movie reviews was: find a reviewer who shares your tastes, then read them.)

    Authors are cautioned to not read reviews and, if they can’t help themselves (and none can), to not engage with the review as no matter what they say, it can go bad for them.

    I was once taken to task by an event promoter regarding a review I wrote of her event. She’d complained to the editor that I’d “trashed” the event (no. in fact, one line read “there were three minor hiccups” and then detailed them), but to her eye, those were the only paragraphs in an extensive review.

    She confronted me and I responded that first, the positives by word count, paragraph count or any other measure she’d care to use, far out-weighed the negatives and second, that no one trusts (a product) review that is nothing but superlatives; further, that the mention of the few minor issues in contrast with the positives made the positives stand out even more.

    She was still not happy, so, tongue in cheek, I offered to review her event the following year and write nothing but positives. That satisfied her.
    The following years review was, from opening to conclusion, an exercise in damnation with faint praise; I spent several hundred words describing the rest room facilities in loving detail….

  34. @1: 11 — IIRC my 2nd-highest. OTOH, some of them left so little impression I had to check my have-been-read shelves; is that cheating?

    @2: wise move. I saw 5 stories of improperly-secured tarped scaffolding go over in an ordinary January gust; I can imagine pieces of tarped fence winding up in Atlanta.

    @12: I have trouble seeing any of the Sharkes as “regular readers”. Some interesting points (and much less attitude than the previous link), but the Shadow Clarke project embodies a very different set of ideas about how we ought to engage with science fiction on the internet makes me wonder if he sprained his shoulder patting himself on the back. I do not expect the internet ever to be a pinky-up discussion of the very finest work (whatever that is…), but I think he’s discarding a lot of intelligent commentary (e.g., as often linked from here) along with the pileons promoted by Goodreads, Amazon, etc.; maybe he’s forgotten Sturgeon’s Law? (@August discusses this more coherently.)

    @13: but the MTA was in Boston!?! Cute subversion, although I can’t get all of them large enough to read — any hint for a non-Twitterer?

    @Bloodstone75 (re missing Mirrorshades) I read @JDN’s use of “work” as excluding anthologies, but I don’t know that he does. OTOH, I agree that a movie is debatable.

    @IanP: trust measurements? The first question is what they’re measuring; I made the mistake of of ordering an allegedly 9″x13″ pan (standard size for US recipes) instead of shopping, and found the 13″ included the handles on the ends. But being just 1mm off might be fixable; do you know anyone with a Dremel Multi-Max? I used one repeatedly this summer to shave bits off for fit, including a stove alcove, as it fits almost anywhere; OTOH, your worktop might be too tough for it.

    re positive vs mixed reviews: I can’t trust an all-positive site reviewer unless they explicitly state they don’t review a significant fraction of their reading; praising everything just adds to the noise. And (like @JDN) I appreciate knowing about works that have both good and bad.

  35. Just had a thought – here’s a connected list of SF works (movies and books), using no words not in the titles (I reserve the right to leave out or include articles, like “a,” “an,” and “the” and to match on partial words). This one has 8 titles; let’s see if anyone can do a longer one:

    The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy Quest for Fire Upon the Deep-ness in the Sky So Big and Black Alice in Wonderland

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