134 thoughts on “For The Love of Comments 8/28

  1. Morning, all! Thanks for earlier threads letting me know that “Necessity” is out.
    *rushes off to get it, shouting, “keep on getting better, Mike Glyer!”*

  2. @msb: Oooh, was “Necessity” discussed? I haven’t seen that thread – where is it?

    I have opinions.

    (Also: Possibly first fifth? Definitely ticky.)

  3. @ Standback
    I think on the threads for the previous two days. And when I say “it’s out”, that means the nice US hardback. Does anybody know when the UK paperbakc (I like the covers much better) will be available?

  4. This comment is probably 5th in some Modulo arithmetic, but I don’t have enough caffeine yet to figure it out. 🙂

  5. In case anyone who stopped by Lieutenant Awn Elming Memorial Park and played Cards Against Significant Species wanted access to the deck themselves:


    Or even if you didn’t play, or didn’t stop by–you, too, can play, online or in physical space! There are links there for playing online, and for downloading a pdf of the deck you can print and cut out.

  6. Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly present Jack Vance on ukulele, to be ably accompanied on the kazoo by…Jack Vance.

  7. Not to be beating a dead horse, but just a clarification: I should have put scare quotes or something in my paragraph about Californians originally from the Midwest to distance myself from the attitudes I was describing. Myself, I have no beef with the Midwest. I do have a beef with the American political system that relatively disenfranchises me–but honestly, it absolutely disenfranchises a lot of people based on other social divisions, and that’s more urgent.

  8. Just noting that as a longstanding Californian, I know plenty of midwest transplants and have always thought they make good transplants as compared to people from places with a lot of regional arrogance, like Texas or NY. California has overwhelming amounts of regional arrogance … deservedly, some of us might say … and sometimes it clashes with other regional loyalties.

    As someone who has always lived close to the Pacific Ocean, I grew up listening to chip-on-their-shoulder tourists telling me I live in a place where people are superficial and don’t really work hard, where we don’t have real seasons or real houses or real food. Often they would say these things while wearing socks with their sandals.

    Kind of similar to the earlier semantic discussions we were having about GLBT (I’ll frequently catch myself using “nonstr8” as a catchall term), it only takes a little bit of vocal emphasis to turn a teasing-rivalry word into an insult.

  9. It’s always Fifth somewhere!

    My beef, as a Coloradoan, was the insistence that states located squarely in the middle of the Eastern portion of the country (divided by the Mississippi, which is even east of the middle) are called “midwestern.” This is like calling Ohio “the Southwest.”

    Come on, get it together, people. You’re embarrassing us.

  10. Something I did not work out until after my grandfather was dead: he and Jack Vance used the same marina. I wonder if they knew each other?

    It’s hard to imagine them as friends, both because their politics were diametrically opposed and because Vance was a sail guy whereas Grandfather Scott worked on steam engines. I noticed the sail people tended to get tense any time an engine ran dirty and emitted a dense cloud of black smoke.

    (also, the SFFD would show up in force if that happened)

  11. For Mike’s use as may be:

    For Love of Comment-Not
    The Comment-Aiym Krang

  12. Oh, yeah Kip!

    As a 3rd generation Coloradoan, I do bump into people who think that Colorado is in the Midwest. Which grates on my nerves big time. We are a solidly Western state, nothing Midwest about us. I confess to a bit of provincial pride on this point.

    I had the misfortune to live near Kansas City for a few years of my childhood. They are Midwest. We aren’t. I wouldn’t want to be.

    I think a lot of this regional provincialism comes from when the West was getting settled, and how quickly (or not) regional centers got “civilization”. Distances are far here, especially when you were getting there by horse or wagon or train, and so different areas sprang up with sort of determined pride to also matter, and we have long regional memories of people from the coasts thinking we have no culture.

    And if we want to talk about perceptions – some people not from here think if you live in Colorado you love to hike and ski. Not necessarily. Or have this notion that the whole state is in the mountains. Which it is not. The one I have never quite gotten is the idea that Coloradoans are friendly to strangers. We are laid back, for sure. But I think there are other parts of the country that are far friendlier and welcoming.

    And most recently, that we’re all a bunch of potheads getting high. Nobody I associate with has any interest in pot. On the other hand who am I to stop others if that is their thing and nobody is hurt by it?

  13. On the subject of how we name our regions–as a small child I was a devotee of Hopalong Cassidy, who was a TV cowboy. I told my big brother “When I grow up, I’m going to go out West.”

    My brother, bemused, answered, “If you go much further west you’re going to end up in the ocean.”

    I did get what he was saying, but it took me aback. If we were farther west than the West, what were we? This moment I am having a sudden revelation that this was my first–of several–identity crisis.

  14. @Christian Bunschen – thanks for the link to that comic. I used to read it regularly, back when I had an RSS reader I opened up first thing in the morning.

    Currently reading:
    California Bones – Greg van Eekhout
    Not a new book, recently recommended to me by some folk with trustworthy taste. I’m taking a hopefully short break from Hodgell before starting To Ride a Rathorn. I’m enjoying the alt history elements and the basic concept of osteomancy is interesting. Eekhout also seems to have a pretty solid knowledge of the LA area. The story wavers somewhat between dark and just fun, with a heavier tendency toward dark.

    The Dream-Quest of Vellit Boa – Kij Johnson
    Recommended by a filer. Reading this one on my phone when I have no Kindle available. Just barely into it and I’m having fun so far.

    I think after this, despite wanting to resume the adventures of Jorin the ounce and her amiable companion Jame, I’ll re-read that epic, virtue-signalling anti-petroleum opus about climate change *snark snark*, The Fifth Season before starting The Obelisk Gate. I’m looking forward to going into the book already knowing the story, so I can sit back and enjoy the ride.

  15. The Comment Masters?
    Comments of the Purple File?

    yeah I got nothin’

    Dad goes home tomorrow which on the one hand yay and on the other hand new, different stressors!

    I’m gonna try to wrangle words about City of Blades later, but I found it a very good meditation on what it means to be a soldier.

  16. Today’s read — Fellside, by M. R. Carey

    Fantasy with a tinge of horror set primarily in the maximum security wing of a women’s prison. Loads of violence, sometimes fairly graphic. I enjoyed this, and it was certainly worth reading, but I found that without the innovative genre-bending and particularly riveting characters of “The Girl With All The Gifts”, Carey’s style sometimes starts to grate a bit, especially when it leans a little too heavily on telling rather than showing. So while I’d still recommend it for people who think they might enjoy a supernatural prison tale with a generous helping of the old ultra-violence, I’m not sure I’d recommend it to a more general audience the way I would for the other book.

  17. It’s also Jack Kirby’s 99th birthday. If you wanted to get someone to draw Jack Vance playing the ukulele and the kazoo, Kirby might be your guy.

  18. Good afternoon!

    I’m a proud New Englander. I’ve never understood why anyone would not be proud of their state or region, or why they need to denigrate mine to feel so. Yet I’d say it’s a toss-up whether New York or New England is the more popular target of denigration nationally.

    Most commonly on the grounds that we’re rude.

    While we’re bending over backwards to give good local directions and make good sightseeing and dining suggestions to visitors from Elsewhere.

    I worry much, much less about needing local directions or guidance in our Great Rival, New York City, than in any of the places I’ve been that pride themselves on their hospitality and Niceness, but who seem to consider it suspicious that an out-of-stater would ask whats,a good place for breakfast.

    Of course, I also found Parisians polite, friendly, and helpful, even though my spoken French is execrable.

  19. @Bruce, trying to Foster a reply…

    The Mother Of All Comments
    Ultra Low Tar
    Ice Ice Baby

  20. @kathodus,

    The artist who writes & draws Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, Zach Weinersmith, also arranges BAHFest – the Festival of Bad Ad-Hoc Hypotheses, which is exactly what it sounds like: people submit papers that … well, here’s what they say they are looking for:

    What are we looking for in specific?
    We need short (3-5 minute) funny original presentations in which the speaker gives a fake scientific lecture. The lecture can be on any scientific topic, but it must either propose a hypothesis, suggest a big idea for a scientific project, or describe an experiment. See the video above for an example of a winning talk. If you’ve seen earlier shows, you’ll know we formerly provided a theme for each show. This time we’re trying an “open theme” format. In case that’s daunting, here are some writing prompts:
    * New theories of evolution, human psychology, or animal behavior.
    * Ways to solve major problems (real or imagined) facing humanity
    * Ways to use science to improve human life
    * Proposals for large scale social science experiments
    * Proposals for “big science” projects, like space missions or the LHC
    The speakers will then be asked to “defend” their theories before a panel of judges for 1-3 minutes.
    For your submission packet, a one-page document describing your theory would be best.

    You can also watch recordings of past BAHFest events on YouTube, such as this delightful and SF-relevant presentation from BAHFest London last year (which I had the pleasure of watching in person!) by Louie Terrill, titled Halting Terrestrial Rotation: The Benefits:

  21. One more Dragon Awards bit. I got a sponsored post on facebook from Dave Freer promoting the Dragon Awards, pushing Larry C and asking for people to vote for him in YA and not Pratchett because Pratchett’s dead. Here’s the text:

    Last call for sf / Fantasy readers – I am prodding everyone: If you haven’t voted in the Dragon awards yet… here’s the link. registration closes tonight 11:59PM (EDT) I’m not asking for anyone to vote with anything but their conscience – mere participation is also great. Go and consider the books, please. http://awards.dragoncon.org/
    For the record I’m backing Larry Correia in the Best Fantasy novel, and myself in YA. I’m not a patch on Pratchett – but I’m not dead (yet)
    and a boost could help me write more books.

  22. @Mike: Live to serve, sir. 🙂

    @ BGrandrath: I’d like to say you should be ashamed, but to quote Poo-Bah, “But nobody does and why should you?”

  23. [ticky]

    Just finished The Obelisk Gate. Socks still in orbit.

    In some ways, this is a quieter book than The Fifth Season, because now that the basic situation has been established, Jemisin can take a deeper dive into her world and characters–and indeed she does. This is not to say that nothing happens; a helluva lot happens, most of it grim (this is just as dark, if not darker, than the first book). To me, though, it did not suffer from Middle-Book Syndrome, just because so much was revealed–and Jemisin is setting things up for what looks to be a slam-bang third book.

    In any event, this went straight to the top of my longlist. I think I liked it better than Ninefox Gambit.

  24. Lee Whiteside: What the ..?

    I initially read that as ‘don’t [vote for Pratchett because Pratchett’s dead]’, which would be a defensible point, and fit with ‘consider the books’. But no, he really means ‘[don’t vote for Pratchett] because Pratchett’s dead’, which is – uh, I honestly can’t say what it it is. I suppose it fits the ‘people not works’ attitude often seen in people linked with the Puppy movement – the point of an award is to help the recipient, obviously, so why give it to the dead?

  25. I’m backing Larry Correia in the Best Fantasy novel, and myself in YA. I’m not a patch on Pratchett – but I’m not dead (yet) and a boost could help me write more books.

    I can understand the argument “Give me an award to help my career,” but I don’t much respect it.

    I figure the books win the audience, and the audience keeps us going. The awards, to the extent that they add to the audience, are secondary. They’re the audience saying “Job well done, thanks!” But buying and reading is what sustains the career.

  26. I wrote this book report up before Worldcon, but don’t seem to have posted it. Let me know if you’ve seen it before …

    I finished “Necessity”, so now I’m dipping into Crooked Timber’s seminar on Jo Walton’s series — which they did based on the first two books only, for no reason I understand. I mean, why not wait for the conclusion?

    As for the series as a whole: it’s a thought experiment about a thought experiment, taking on Plato and Sokrates in the cheekiest manner possible. I don’t exactly *believe* in it, because the experiment is far too successful, and a number of things are *much* easier than they’d be in reality. The first thing that struck me is that both Plato and Walton underestimate the energy, time, and dangers of human reproduction. Without spoilers, I’ll say that the unconsidered trouble with the Festivals of Hera is that they won’t *work*: only about 1/4 of the eligible women will be fertile at any given time, and the chance of conception in a single fertile period is at best 25% (humans are actually very infertile, compared to other mammals). And then, with the technology described at least 1 out of a hundred births would kill the mother, while the infant death rate would be at best 1 out of 10. All this in a society with a very imperfect grasp of the germ theory of disease, as witness Sokrates and Crocus’ discussion of the importance (or otherwise) of plumbing repair.

    The problem “Necessity” has, as a book and a series finale, is that a lot of it has to be about Gods, and my suspension of disbelief gets a really hard workout. This is partly due to the fact that the personalities of the Gods don’t match my takes on them: I think Apollo is actually more of a Divine Nerd Boy, not to mention that–like his sister– he’s Mostly Gay. And I think of Athena as less distant toward humans in general, not just to her crushes. But the idea of Mrhf npghnyyl orvat gur rphzravpny Fhcerzr Orvat — no, I just can’t do it.

    Anyway, I have many more Thoughts about the trilogy, which I should probably write up at some point. I’m not sure I’ll nominate it for a Hugo next year, but I’m not sure I won’t, either.

  27. Doctor Science: I’m fairly sure I have seen that before.

    Wouldn’t the relative unlikelihood of reproduction actually be to the advantage of the system? In the series they start worrying because too many babies are being born, so fewer would be good. (How this relates to the original Republic is hard to say, because Plato’s description of what is supposed to happen is so vague.)

    Oh, by the way, the Crooked Timber seminar is presumably eligible in BRW.

  28. For those who aren’t familiar with the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic, please note that the author usually hides an extra follow-up joke underneath the big red button below the comic on the right.

    As a Californian, I’ve always been bemused by the fact that most of “western” culture lies to the east of me. I like to joke about Chicago being the middle-east, while Paris and London are the far east. And China? That’s where western movies are set! 😀

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