266 thoughts on “Little Comments 8/30

  1. I have no embarrassing teenage reading confessions. None at all.

    (carefully nudges shoggoth with foot, so that it is positioned in front of the pile of Perry Rhodan books [vols. 1 through 22].)

  2. Msb: Am I right in thinking the Foreigner series is a very long one? How independent are the books?

  3. FYI, since I’m not sure if there was any actual mention of the Scott Lynch update posted a couple of weeks ago, here’s a link to it:


    I figured that since his US publisher had not really promised it this year like Gollancz did, that it was likely to slide back some more. But life happens, and in this case, it is definitely good things happening for Scott that have contributed to the additional delay, not health or other issues as he’s had before.

    I did see Scott and Elizabeth briefly at WorldCon, but didn’t have a chance to talk to them at length.

  4. @kathodus

    Ugh, you made me look, and now I know his minions have written another “hilarious” parody, this time of Cat Pictures, Please.

  5. So I met Scott Lynch at WorldCon (he was a really nice guy) and as a thanks for my getting a book signed, I gave him a small souvenir bottle of swedish aquavit. He said he would share it with Elizabeth Bear and now they are getting married!

    Must have been more potent stuff than I thought. o.O

  6. Ugh, you made me look, and now I know his minions have written another “hilarious” parody, this time of Cat Pictures, Please.

    They really don’t understand humor, do they? Or really, much of anything else.

  7. @kathodus – …anybody notice VD just about finished going full neo-fascist in the last few weeks or so?

    No, but I’m not surprised. No matter how he spins it, no matter how many members of the clown car are hurr, hurr, hurring in support, he was largely irrelevant to this year’s Hugo Awards. The only road open to him is to be even more egregiously ridiculous, because with enough noise from his corner most people will overlook his most recent failure.

    @Dawn Incognito, I’m pretty sure I read at least one book from that Eddings series, but I remember nothing.

    My youthful errors mostly center around reading all the Angelique books. No, I have no defense. Also, that large green thing in the corner? I’m pretty sure it’s not a plant. Anyone have snake tongs?

  8. I was just thinking we could combine this entry with the previous entry to get an Elvis Costello song, Little Commentriggers from This Year’s Pixel.

  9. The one thing I remember from reading the (admittedly few) books of Eddings is that this is where I learned the world “vale”. I remember being confused and just assumed they misspelled “valley”. It’s weird the random things you remember from childhood.

  10. @ Andrew M
    Yes, you are; it’s closing in on 20 books at this point. The original novel is a standalone, and the rest go in three-book arcs, but the whole series is one very large story. I personally think you can skip no. 1 if you need to, but it’s hard and confusing to drop into the story later than book 2. I’ve had the advantage of reading along from the start, and eagerly awaiting the next instalment, which is a lot less daunting than facing a two-foot high stack of books in order to catch up. Worth it, though.
    @ Others
    Teenage reading habits I’ve discarded? Anne McCaffrey and MZB’s Darkover books made a huge difference to me at the time, but they fell by the wayside when I found Ursula K. LeGuin, Joanna Russ and CJ Cherryh. So did Conan the Barbarian, who I turned to mainly as a relief from double majoring in English and history. But I still reread Andre Norton, Zenna Henderson and a couple of Heinlein “juveniles”. Despite some damage by the Suck Fairy, Star Beast has a closing joke that remains hugely funny.

  11. Teenage guilty pleasure reading series? It has to be the unbreakable hand-over-wrist grip of the aerialist.

  12. @Mark

    The sequel is Deep State isn’t it, they had a copy of that too. I believe I know the events you allude to.

    Charlie Stross will be pleased he’s not the only one that happens to.

  13. @IanP

    Yes and Yes. And Stross was where I saw that first mentioned, with a “thank goodness it’s not just me” vibe 🙂

  14. No snake tongs, but I have Rikki-tikki-tavi on speed dial.

    Does anyone else want these leftover pickles?

    (Sorry, the only book I’ve read in the last few days is the one I was being paid to proofread.)

  15. Found a couple dirty plates in an idiot check. I’ll wash those.

    Kathodus, wait, don’t turn on the water….




    <finishes tightening p-trap> <emerges from under sink>
    Right. That’s done. Anyone have a hair-dryer…?

  16. FYI, since I’m not sure if there was any actual mention of the Scott Lynch update posted a couple of weeks ago

    Nuts. I’ve been looking forward to that book. Lynch’s style and world building is evolving in all kinds of interesting ways, and I’ve been looking forward to see where this one ends up.

    @kathodus – …anybody notice VD just about finished going full neo-fascist in the last few weeks or so?

    Trump has empowered a lot of the Alt-Right to shake off their dogwhistles and metaphors and come out fully in embracing their fascist and racist beliefs. Like many other ‘internet personalities’ who have made the turn, I’m sure Beale sees it as a constituency that will grant him status and profitability by pandering to fully, especially now that he lacks even marginal status in any of the other communities he dwells in. That’s why I have no real empathy left for any of the authors who are willing to sign and work with him. It’s not like he’s hiding or separating his personal beliefs with his professional life.

  17. As a teenager I read a lot more fantasy than scifi. I was really into The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind, and have fond memories of them…despite the politics of the later books.

    I also read WAY too many “Animorphs”…but that might’ve been junior high when I stopped with those. I think I was on book 35 when I stopped.

  18. Guilty reading — I once read an entire paper bag full (probably, I dunno, between 30 and 50 books) of the “Remo Williams” series.

  19. Remember when we were talking about descriptive names in English? I just heard a local news report about a bank robber named Genuine Truth Banner. (Spelling possibly “creative.”)

  20. Guilty reads? I read the first dozen or so of the “Casca” novels only a few years ago.

    In my defense, they were part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, so I didn’t have to pay to read them.

    (For the record: They were terrible – but that surprises exactly no-one.)

  21. I’d say that I’ll skip rereading the Pern books even though I enjoyed them immensely quite some years ago; despite his politics, I still like a lot of what Heinlein wrote even when it’s sloppily write such as The Number of The Beast was, but To Sail Beyond The Sunset, his last novel, is easily his worst novel.

  22. @StephenfromOttawa: I got stopped reading the Legion of Super Heroes when they told Uncritical Kid to go join the Legion of Substitute Heroes instead. And after he made that laptop nuke inside the Legion clubhouse not go critical, too! He saved a lot of their lives. A pity about the ones near it who were caught in the neutron spray, though.

  23. @Mark: I’m really wondering which “120-year-old public-domain work” was up next … Dracula would surely be too on the nose

    Not if it’s a reverse Grahame-Smith job: a beloved genre novel stuffed full of extraneous non-fantasy elements. So with Dracula the obvious thing to do is make it all about Jonathan Harker’s legal adventures, sorting out all the paperwork related to Dracula’s real-estate holdings, as well as a prenuptial agreement between Mina and himself, while trying to keep up the socially acceptable facade of being some kind of monster-hunter. Kids these days love lawyers.

  24. @IanP and @Mark There is a third novel, following Deep State, called The Fourth Wall. I recommend all three to my friends.

  25. With regard to the Best Series Hugo, I have a deep abiding love for Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Diving Universe series and the Retrieval Artist series. Individual entries may not quite have the Hugo knock-your-socks-off appeal for voters (something I might argue for certain volumes), but wow, do those series make a whole that is seriously greater than the sum of its parts.

  26. Am I right in thinking the Foreigner series is a very long one? How independent are the books?
    They’ve been coming in three-book arcs, so you want to start with the first book in an arc if you can.
    It’s currently 2 books into the 6th arc, and the next (Convergence) is due in May 2017.

  27. Andrew M on August 30, 2016 at 12:41 pm said:

    Msb: Am I right in thinking the Foreigner series is a very long one? How independent are the books?

    Foreigner is a sequence of trilogies. The individual sub-trilogies within the series are moderately independent (you probably don’t need to read the earlier ones). But the books within a given sub-trilogy should probably be read in order.

    Yes, this is confusing enough that you might just want to start at the beginning. But if you bounced off the first book,* but still want to give the series a fair shake, for some reason, I think your next-best entry point might be book 4, aka book 1 of the second trilogy.

    * Nearly happened to me, though I ended up quite a fan of the series in the long run.

    eta: ninja’d by P J Evans. Oh well. 🙂

  28. I read all the Pern books, until I just couldn’t anymore. I read more of her non-Pern fiction than I have any excuse for.

    Only borderline sff (there were a plot lines that pulled it in), but I loved and cherished every single one of the Black Stallion and Island Stallion books until at some point I moved on from them. And then years later, in a nostalgic mood, I picked one up at the library, and started reading…

    Oh. My. God. Bad, bad, bad.

    When Francis Ford Coppola made his Black Stallion movie, it’s clear he did not make the mistake of rereading, but wisely went with his nostalgic memories.

  29. Reading confessions from my youth: As a kid, I adored the incredibly pulpy Lone Wolf choose-your-own-adventure books. I still have both my copies (very tattered from loaning out) and a soft spot for them. The dreadful novelizations may have been my first experience of outraged fanhood.

  30. Xtifr on August 30, 2016 at 3:50 pm said:
    I’ve been reading them from the start, and there are a couple right at hand. (Also, her blog, where she has a gauge for the works in progress.)

  31. Guilty reads? The Origin of the Crabs – by Guy N. Smith. I still feel guilt for having read that entire book.

    The title is a lie, too. The origin of the titular giant, man-eating crabs is never given, explained, or even mentioned. Things just pop out of a Loch and start eating everybody.

    Loch Crabs would have been a far more appropriate title.

  32. @Steve Wright: I read a bunch of the Perry Rhodan books as a teenager, loved them. Recently book a dump of 1-20 from eBay and couldn’t get through the third one. Perry Rhodan is a jerk.

    @Andrew M: I love the Foreigner books, but you have to put up with Cherryh’s very distinctive style, and really she doesn’t bother to reset the stage for each one. Although as @Msb says, they function as a series of trilogies, I think readers would be likely to feel lost if they didn’t start from the beginning. Which makes the prospect very daunting with 20+ books involved.

    @StephenfromOttawa: Yeah, I read the first four Gor books at 10 or 11 and stopped there, apparently before things got too weird. Probably a good thing.

    @k_choll: I LOVED the Animorphs. As an adult. Read them along with my son, in 7th-8th grade. Good bonding experience. Practically wept at the final book.

    @Cassy B: Yeah, I was addicted to all those “Men’s Adventure” books in the 1970s as a teenager—Remo Williams, the Executioner, et al. Reread some of them years ago. Remo is still fairly readable. The others . . . not so much. (Though I have written an urban fantasy novel I’m sending out to publishers using a lot of the trappings of the Executioner. Wish me luck. Or not.)

    @ Standback: Nothing wrong with the Animorphs. At all. Except for that silly TV show, although it did introduce Shawn Ashmore (later in the first X-Men movies).

  33. Re: Teenage reading, I grew up on Mark Brandis. I remember the series quite fondly, should probably try to read it to my son.

    On the other hand, Karl May, which was still very popular among German speaking boys when I was young, has not aged well at all in my esteem.

  34. Guilty reading: just about every word John Grisham ever wrote. Ditto Edgar Rice Burroughs.

  35. I read as much Burroughs as I could get my hands on; I mostly regret John Carter and the Giant of Mars, and any Tarzan books after the early-mid teens.

    Oh, and now that I think about it, I stuck with Tom Clancy much longer than I should’ve.

  36. John A Arkansawyer, sounds like a useful power, better than being susceptible to mediocre adventure fiction that gradually adds weirdish sex, anyway. My fairly brief period as a comics reader did include Adventure Comics and the Legion, the death of Ferro Lad etc. I haven’t been interested in comics since early adolescence, though. I’m basically a prose fiction guy.

  37. If we’re talking non-SFF guilty teenage reading…Sweet Valley High. I must’ve read the first 50 books plus several of the special double-sized books. I feel shame.

  38. My guilty reads: All of the Shatner (and Goulart) TEKWAR novels.
    All of them.

    I regret nothing.

  39. How about reading that was guilty when you were a teenager, but isn’t now? Teenage me kept “After Man: A Zoology of the Future” hidden in my closet, because it was about evolution (we attended a very conservative evangelical church that thought evolution was evil).

  40. Yeah, the kids who read “Hunger Games”, Pierce Brown, Rainbow Rowell, Sarah Maas, their older siblings’ Harry Potter, etc. are really gonna go for books that have words nobody’s used in 100 years, paragraphs that take up whole pages, lengthy stentorian diatribes about how patriarchy/oligarchy is the best, no decent female or PoC characters, no GLBT ones at all, and religious preaching that’s either so obscure as to be opaque (not a lot of kids read Thomas a Kempis) or so obvious as to make Aslan = Jesus a model of utter subtlety (Insert “How do you do, fellow kids?” gif here).

    Although the way he’s structuring it, it might be a tetralogy, right? Or a trilogy? Or a duology? Or a hexalogy? And “elfs” just looks stupid. The kids are going to be all WTF at that. Tumblr will have many LOLs.

    @James Nicoll: Rebecca Solnit, Threat or Menace?

    I also concur that the Lady Trent books would be a great nominee for Best Series.
    @JJ, the Retrieval Artist series finished in 2015, and thus would be sadly ineligible. (thanks for the Scalzi link!)

    Mark-kitteh: I’d have to see the book he turned in. If indeed it was supposed to be all-new words, and was instead an old book with new words jammed in, the publishing bastards should win the case for once.

    Honestly, it is far past time Lynch and Bear got married and lived in the same state.

    Guilty reading: my grandfather’s Perry Mason books.

    I hope the pizza boxes get sent back to some geologic epoch where they’ll rot or disappear thanks to tectonics. Can we do that with the shoggoth? I mean, we can recycle the pizza boxes in the greens/paper with food on bin, but ain’t nobody takes shoggoths.

  41. @Peer: Ah, thats probably the reason the German translator decided to use the word “Elben”, a word that doesnt exist in German. I knew he wanted to avoid that people think of Elves as these flurry things (pixies are also called Elfen, just like elves), but didnt know that Tolkien had uses a non-standard spelling.

    I’d like to quote a discussion (in German, apologies for not translating for any English-speakers who might be interested) on exactly this point by Michael Knorth, who, in his German translation of Nancy Arrowsmith’s Field Guide to the Little People used the form Elben throughout.

    »Von den Elben wird verzaubert mancher Mann…« (Heinrich von Morungen, um 1200)

    »Aus Elben Elfen machen, heißt unserer Sprache Gewalt tun.« (Jacob Grimm, »Deutsche Mythologie«)

    Alb etspricht wie Alp oder Alf dem mittelhochdeutschne wort Elb, das Jacob Grimm in seinem »Deutschen Wörterbuch« von 1862 mit Vehemenz wieder in den deutschen Sprachgebrauch einzuführen suchte, nachdem die entstellte Form Elf bzw. Elfen, seit Wielands Oberon in Mode, durch die deutsche Literatur geisterte: »Elb habe ich statt des unhochdeutschen elf hergestellt, welches man, des eigenen wortes uniengedenk, ohne überlegung, dem englischen elf nachgebildet hatte; elf klingt in unserer sprache so, als wollten wir kalf, half anstatt kalb, halb sagen, zu geschweigen, daß die form elf den zusammenhang mit Elbe und elbisz stört.«

    Trotz Grimms Bemühung um die Wiedereinführung der exakten Bezeichnung lebt »Elfen« bis heute im Volksmund, selbst Volkskundler halten wider besseres Wissen daran fest. Der verfälschte Ausdruck kennzeichnet die verfälschte Sache allerdings recht genau: die putzige Heinzelmännchen- und Mondschen-Elfen-Welt der meisten Schriftsteller des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts in ihren Geistlein-Geschichten für »Kinder zwischen sieben und siebzig«.

    Elb (altnordisch âlfr, angelsächsich älf, gotisch albs, althochdeutsch alp) bezeichnet ursprünglich einen lighten, glänzenden Geist, der im allgemeinen unsichtbar erscheint. In der Form Alp, mit der Bedeutung eines Nachtgeistes, ist der Begriff bis heute lebendig. Und angesichts der Gräßlichkeit einer Begegnung mit einem Nachtmar wird wohl neimand auf die Idee kommen, einen Alp als »Nach-Elflein« zu bezeichnen.

    Margaret Carroux gebührt das Verdienst, durch ihre richtige Übersetzung des Wortes »elves« in Tolkiens »Herrn der Ringe« die Elben seit gut 200 Jahren erstmals wieder als ernste, mächtige Geister einem breiteren deutschen Publikum bekanntgemacht zu haben. Denn aus Elben Elfen machen, heißt ja nicht nur unserer Sprach Gewalt anzutun, sondern unsere Mythologie zu verniedlichen.

    Now, I don’t necessarily agree with Professor Grimm that the form “Elfen” is a barbarity—really, for the form of a word to shift under the influence of a related language is not that rare an event; and I don’t necessarily agree with Herr Knorth that “Elfen” has been fatally cutesified by association with Kate Greenway & co. any more than the English word “fairies” has been. But at any rate, “Elben” once did, and possibly still does, exist as a German word.

  42. Guilty teen reading? I…well…as an extremely book-deprived teen, I – read L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth. The whole thing.

    (avoids everyone’s gaze)

  43. My guilty teen reading involved Ann Rice until a friend intervened and slipped me Harry Harrsion’s Techinicolor Time machine.

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