Pixel Scroll 1/15/22 Pixelpunk Scrollcore

(1) SEND ME IN, COACH. Continuing yesterday’s “squeecore” discussion — John Scalzi is happy to be in the conversation anytime, but that doesn’t mean he agrees with the point he’s being used to illustrate. “Portrait of the Author As a Component of a ‘Punk-Or-Core’ Formulation” at Whatever. (Running the tweet, too, because I love the graphic.)

… My canal, as it turns out, runs across a lot of thematic ground, and does a fair amount of intersecting. Some of that is by design, since I am easily bored, as a human and a writer, and like to splash around in new places. Some of that is just following the lay of the land. At the end of the day, however, it means that depending one’s inclinations and rhetorical needs, and contingent on examples, I can be grouped in with the gun-humping dudes who write military science fiction, or the woke SJW scolds who are currently ruining the Hugos, or pretty much wherever else you need me to go to make your point.

And at least superficially you won’t be wrong. I mean, I did write that story that you’re pointing to, and it does exist in that sphere, and I’m not sorry I wrote that thing, and may write a thing like it again, if I have a mind to. But I suspect on a deeper level — the level that actually makes your point something more than a facile, half-baked thesis to burble out onto a blog post or podcast because content content content — using me as an example is not hugely useful….

(2) HER MILEAGE VARIED. Cora Buhlert also shared her thoughts about Rite Gud’s “squeecore” podcast and Camestros Felapton’s post in response: “Science Fiction Is Never Evenly Distributed”.

… The podcasters are not wrong, cause all of these trends definitely exist in current SFF, though they’re not one unifying trend, but several different trends. Uplifting and upbeat SFF is certainly a trend and it already has a name that is much less derogatory than “squeecore”, namely hopepunk. Reader-insert characters and a video-game/RPG feel is a trend as well and there is a term or rather two for it, namely LitRPG and gamelit.

I agree that there is a strong influence of YA fiction and a tendency to show younger characters gaining skills rather than being already fully developed in contemporary SFF, but that’s the result of the YA SFF boom of the past twenty-five years, which served as a gateway to the genre for countless readers….

As I explained in this postGalactic Journey is very good at showing how different trends as well as older and newer forms of SFF coexist in the same period, because we try to cover everything and not just the cherry-picked examples that later eras choose to remember.

Also, quite often works are shoehorned into a trend, because they vaguely match some characteristics thereof and came out around the same time, even though they don’t really fit. The Expanse novels by James S.A. Corey are a good example. They are often shoehorned into the 2010s space opera revival, even though The Expanse has nothing in common with the likes of the Imperial Radch trilogy, the Paradox trilogy, the Hexarchate series or A Memory Called Empire beyond being set in space. Meanwhile, The Expanse draws heavily on mundane science fiction (a movement that never really got beyond its manifesto), Cyberpunk, golden age science fiction and the 1990s “cast of thousands/everybody and the dog gets a POV” style of SFF epics that never got a name, even though it was very much a thing and still lingers on….

(3) STILL WRESTLING WITH AMAZON. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki told Facebook followers that he heard from Amazon KDP again. And he posted more screencaps of his correspondence with them.

Some more updates on the Amazon KDP fiasco, they called me again yesterday, to explain why I can’t edit my banking details. Must have seen my tweet on it. They said it’s a security issue. And offered some more assistance in replacing it and ensuring I can get the royalties.

On another note, though related, I’m trying to use the account of a friend that was in the US because well, they don’t accept Nigerian bank accounts. I was using Payoneer, a service that mimics US bank accounts and essentially reads as if you are in the US. It’s legit btw, and accepted by Amazon. I’m pointing this out because a number of people latched on to this when I mentioned it, amongst the methods I use to get past through these restrictions. They said oh yes see, it’s your fault. One of those methods you use must have broken the rules.

This is how people enable racism even when they don’t cause it. They look for anything to justify and deny your marginalization. It either doesn’t exist, it didn’t happen, or it’s your own fault. A number of players were on every platform that carried this, saying this. You don’t even know what those methods are. But it must be one of them & this must all be my fault & deserved. The world tries to lock you out, then punishes you viciously for trying to not be locked out. Then people blame you for even trying at all to circumvent those lockouts. Every publishing-payment platform I’ve tried to use to do anything has either banned, blocked me or doesn’t work here or allow payment systems. From Draft2Digital to Smash words to Kickstarter to Paypal to Amazon KDP, to even Gofundme. But it must all be my fault. I must have violated all their rules somehow. Even GoFundMe that’s supposed to be for people in need of help. I wasn’t even qualified to beg for money. I needed an American to beg for me. If I had even tried to insert myself at any point into the arrangement, it’d have crashed….

(4) EXPANDING ON THE EXPANSE? Den of Geek contemplates what could happen to keep the series from really being over: “The Expanse: The Possibility of a Season 7 or Sequel Series”. (Beware spoilers.)

The Possibility of an Expanse Movie

While The Expanse team went into Season 6 knowing it would almost certainly be the show’s last, they chose to tell the story that included a Laconia-set subplot adapted from Expanse novella Strange Dogs. Unlike basically every other the story in Season 6, the Laconia subplot about a girl named Cara and her efforts to save brother Xan with the help some alien creatures was very forward-focused. It also properly introduced Admiral Duarte, a character who becomes incredibly important in the remaining books in the series. The decision to give so much of Season 6’s precious narrative time could have been made as a way to expand the scope of this world, and to pay homage to these future book plots, and/or it could hint that the Expanse production team have not completely ruled out the possibility of a future for this adaptation…

(5) INSIDE THE SHELL. Den of Geek points out “The Expanse Series Finale Easter Eggs: The Sci-Fi Heroes Who Helped” (Beware spoilers.)

As the coalition forces prepare to storm the ring station in The Expanse series finale, the Rocinante crew is running through its systems check, and voices are heard in the background signaling their readiness. “Thrace ready!” we hear, and our ears perk up. How unusual to share the name of one of the most badass space dogfighters ever, Kara “Starbuck” Thrace of Battlestar Galactica. When that’s followed by “Ripley ready!” all doubt is removed. Naming yet another famous spacefarer, Ellen Ripley of Alien, can’t be a coincidence.

Fortunately, fans of Easter eggs like this are provided with a quick glimpse of the roster on Naomi’s screen, and it’s filled with the great heroes of space science fiction in movies and television. It’s fitting that, as The Expanse makes its final bow, the “Great Hunt” of sci-fi culture appears to assist in the battle to end all battles. It’s easy, in fact, to spot the rest of Ripley’s team from Aliens: Hudson, Hicks, and Vasquez. So who else is among the assault team?…

(6) EXPANSIVE ACTING. Forbes’ Rob Salkowitz poses the questions: “Shohreh Aghdashloo On ‘The Expanse’ Series Finale And The Show’s Stellar Legacy”. (Beware spoilers.)

RS: Were there times when you and the cast watched the finished shows where you were surprised by how certain scenes came out, or by the work of your castmates?

SA: Absolutely. Every season, the producers would screen the first two shows for the cast all together in a theatre. There was one moment, maybe from season four or five, where Amos [Wes Chatham] was talking about his mother, and it was so powerful that I just lost it. I had to leave the theatre crying, I couldn’t help myself. The other cast members, my friends, came up to me and asked me what happened and I said I was just overcome seeing that scene. But you know, there were so many scenes and moments that felt so real like that, which made me feel like we did a good job bringing this saga to life.

(7) SPLASH-A-BOOM. An underwater volcano eruption this morning near Tonga caused a small tsunami which hit the west coast of Central, North and South America, and the east coast of Hawai’i. Hawaiian fan Dave Rowe says, “Here it was only one foot high (three feet was expected).” And he passed along a link to an impressive 2-second video compiled from real-time satellite photos of the eruption: “Shockwave By Near-Tonga Eruption Captured From Himawari Satellite” at Space Weather Gallery.

(8) THE BIG TIME. M. John Harrison is one of the 2022 Booker Prize judges.

…He sold his first story in 1965, and in 1969 joined the staff of the UK speculative fiction magazine New Worlds, where he edited the books pages until 1978.

His novels include Climbers, which won the Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature in 1989; Nova Swing, which won the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2007; and The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again, which won the 2020 Goldsmiths Prize for innovation in fiction…. 

(9) I’VE SEEN THAT FACE BEFORE. Jordan D. Smith, who runs The Dark Crusade, a Karl Edward Wagner podcast, lists three examples of Karl Edward Wagner showing up as a character in other people’s fiction: “Three for the Road: Karl Edward Wagner in Fiction”.

… Below are three stories from the past ten years that have contained characters loosely based on, or inspired by, Karl Edward Wagner….

(10) TWO CATS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE. Mark Evanier eulogized voice actor “Leo DeLyon, R.I.P.” at News From ME. DeLyon died September 21 at the age of 96.

…We are especially interested in him because he occasionally did voices for cartoons. In the original Top Cat series in 1961, he did the voices of the characters Spook and Brain. That’s them above with Leo between them. He did other voices now and then for Hanna-Barbera…on The Smurfs and Paw Paws, and on a few specials when they needed voice actors who could sing. He was also the voice of Flunkey the baboon in the Disney version of The Jungle Book

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1995 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-seven years ago on this evening, the very short lived sequel to the Sixties Get Smart series aired on Fox. It too was called Get Smart. And it had Don Adams and Barbara Feldon still playing Maxwell Smart and Agent 99. Edward Platt who played The Chief had died some twenty years earlier. 

The relative success of the reunion movie Get Smart, Again! six years earlier prompted the development of a weekly revival of Get Smart but the ratings were absolutely abysmal, so it was canned after seven episodes. Thirteen years later, the Get Smart film despite critics not particularly liking it was a great success. 

The Variety review was typical of what critics thought of it: “Would you believe there is very little to laugh about in this return of Get Smart, a decidedly unfunny undertaking that could have clearly benefited from some input from Buck Henry or at the very least a phone call from Mel Brooks.” 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 15, 1879 Ernest  Thesiger. He’s here because of his performance as Doctor Septimus Pretorius in James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein. He had a major role in Hitchcock’s not completed and now lost Number 13 (or Mrs. Peabody) which is even genre adjacent. He was also in The Ghoul which was an early Boris Karloff film. And he continued to show up in SFF films such as The Ghosts of Berkeley Square where he was Dr. Cruickshank of Psychical Research Society. (Died 1961.)
  • Born January 15, 1913 Lloyd Bridges. Though I’m reasonably sure Secret Agent X-9, a 1945 serial, isn’t genre, I’m listing it anyways because I’m impressed that it was based on a comic strip by Dashiell Hammett, Leslie Charteris and others. He’s the Pilot Col. Floyd Graham in Rocketship X-M, Dr. Doug Standish In Around the World Under the Sea, Aramis in The Fifth Musketeer, Clifford Sterling in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid and Grandfather in Peter and the Wolf. His television appearances are too many to list here. (Died 1998.)
  • Born January 15, 1928 Joanne Linville. Best remembered I’d say for being the unnamed Romulan Commander Spock get involved with on “The Enterprise Incident”. (Vulcan’s Heart by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz, calls her Liviana Charvanek.)  She also starred in the Twilight Zone‘s “The Passersby” episode, and she starred in “I Kiss Your Shadow” which was the final episode of the Bus Stop series. The episode was based on the short story by Robert Bloch who wrote the script for it. This story is in The Early Fears Collection. (Died 2021.)
  • Born January 15, 1935 Robert Silverberg, 87. I know the first thing I read by him was The Stochastic Man a very long time ago. After that I’ve read all of the Majipoor series which is quite enjoyable, and I know I’ve read a lot of his short fiction down the years. He has three Hugos with the first at NyCon II for Most Promising New Author, the other two being for his novella “Gilgamesh in the Outback” at Conspiracy ’87, and novella “Nightwings” at St. Louiscon. His “Hawksbill Station” novella was nominated at Baycon, and his Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg was nominated at Worldcon 75. He picked up a Retro Hugo at the Millennium Philcon for Best Fan Writer.
  • Born January 15, 1944 Christopher Stasheff. A unique blending I’d say of fantasy and SF with a large if I find sometimes excessive dollop of humor. His best known novels are his Warlock in Spite of Himself series which I’ve read some of years ago. Who here has read his Starship Troupers series? It sounds potentially interesting. (Died 2018.)
  • Born January 15, 1945 Ron Bounds, 77. A fan who was one of the founders of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society in the Sixties. He co-chaired Discon 2, was a member of both the Baltimore in ’67 and Washington in ’77 bid committees.  He chaired Loscon 2.  He published the Quinine, a one-shot APA. He was President of the Great Wall of China SF, Marching & Chop Suey Society which is both a cool name and a great undertaking as well.
  • Born January 15, 1965 James Nesbitt, 57. Best genre role was as Tom Jackman and Hyde in Jekyll which was written by  Steven Moffat. He’s also appeared in Fairy TalesThe Young Indiana Jones ChroniclesStan Lee’s Lucky Man and Outcast. Yes, I know he played Bofur in the Hobbit films. I still consider Jekyll his better by far genre role.

(13) SIGNAL BOOST. Since Hulu’s bad at promoting their films of this type, N. sent along a tweet he saw for I’m Your Man:

(14) MAKING LEMONADE WITHOUT LEMONS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I saw Dear Mr. Watterson, a 2013 documentary by Joel Allen Schroeder on YouTube, which you can watch for free, as long as you are willing to have your film interrupted with ads,  Of course Bill Watterson refuses to be interviewed or even photographed, and has refused to license his characters. How do you make a film about him?

Well, in the first half-hour Schroeder blows it with all sorts of talking heads, many of them comic strip creators, telling how special Calvin and Hobbes was as a strip.  Schroeder even goes back to his boyhood home in Appleton, Wisconsin to see his bedroom where he posted Sunday strips on the wall when he was a kid.  Who cares?

Things pick up when Schroeder goes to Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where Watterson grew up, and goes to the local library to see early illustrations Watterson drew for the local paper and hold an original strip about overdue books that is in the head librarian’s office. He then goes to the Billy Ireland Library at Ohio State, where Watterson’s archive is stored, and I thought that was interesting.  I bet a good documentary could be made about that library.

Then in the final third we get to the real subject of the film which is whether Watterson’s decision to forego all licensing deals was a good idea.  Here Berkeley Breathed, Stephen Pastis, and Jean Schultz had intelligent things to say.  As Pastis notes, there is a difference between licensing a Snoopy stuffed animal a four-year old could hold and having Snoopy sell life insurance through Met Life.  Seth Green also makes an appearance to note that he made bootleg Calvin t-shirts.

But one result of only having Calvin and Hobbes available in books is that these books are in school libraries and six- and seven-year-old kids love reading them.  That might not have happened if their first exposure to Watterson’s characters was through animated cartoons.

Dear Mr. Watterson is worth watching but you might want to fast forward through the first half hour.

(15) TWENTY THOUSAND PENNIES UNTO THE FEE. If you’re in the market for an online course about Jules Verne, The Rosenbach would like to sign you up: “Jules Verne’s Scientific Imagination with Anastasia Klimchynskaya”. Four sessions. Tuition for this course is $200, $180 Delancey Society and Members.

Verne is often cited as one of the fathers of science fiction and a lover of both literature and technology. Verne combined the earlier genres of the extraordinary voyage, travel narrative, and adventure story with unprecedented scientific rigor, creating the scientific romance genre, or roman de la science. This course will explore Verne’s unique mix of science and imagination and how it helped solidify the genre.

(16) UNDERGROUND ECONOMY. Here’s an interesting piece by DM David about just why dungeons full of monsters and treasures are a thing in Dungeons and Dragons and other RPGs: “The Movies and Stories than Inspired Dave Arneson to Invent the Dungeon Crawl”.

Around 1971 Dave Arneson and his circle of Minneapolis gamers invented games where players controlled individual characters who grew with experience and who could try anything because dice and a referee determined the outcomes. The group tried this style of play in various settings, but Dave invented one that proved irresistible: the dungeon.

Dave’s Blackmoor game—the campaign that spawned Dungeons & Dragons—began with a gaming group playing fictional versions of themselves in a fantasy world. The characters became champions in a series of miniature battles featuring armies clashing above ground. Without dungeons, the Blackmoor game might have stayed miniature wargaming rather than becoming D&D and a game nearly as well known as Monopoly. But by creating the dungeon crawl, Dave invented a new activity that transformed the campaign and ultimately made a lasting addition to popular culture…

(17) SHINY. The Daily Beast has a rundown on “The Laser SETI Projects That Might Find Intelligent Alien Civilizations”.

For 62 years, scientists have pointed instruments toward outer space in hopes of finding some sign that we’re not alone in the universe. But those instruments always scanned just a tiny swath of sky for a short span of time, limited mainly to listening for stray radio waves and leaving us largely blind to any visual evidence of extraterrestrials in the darkness of space.

Until now.

As the space age enters its seventh decade, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is getting a lot wider and more deliberate. And that could significantly boost our chances of actually finding something for the first time.

In mid-December, scientists with the SETI Institute in California finished installing a new laser instrument: an expensive lens-camera-computer combo at Haleakala Observatory, situated on a mountaintop on Maui, Hawaii, 10,000 feet above sea level.

The east-facing instrument, when combined with an identical west-facing system at the Robert Ferguson Observatory in Sonoma, California, scans a 150-degree arc of the night sky more than a thousand times a second, filtering the light and looking for the telltale signature of laser light—a possible sign of intelligent life. “We’re trying to cover all the sky all the time,” Eliot Gillum, the principal investigator for the LaserSETI project, told The Daily Beast.

(18) HIBERNATING ALIENS. Why can’t we find them? Isaac Arthur says it might be because they’re taking a kip… (Just like the Norwegian blue.)

One explanation for the Fermi Paradox is that aliens may be undetected because they slumber, quietly hidden away in the galaxy. But how and why might such Extraterrestrial Empires hibernate?

(19) QUITE A STRETCH. Nature says a “Giant hydrogen filament is one of the longest features of its type in the Galaxy and it could give birth to stars” in “A cloud named Maggie”.

A long filament-like cloud of hydrogen atoms lurking on the far side of the Milky Way is among the largest such structures in the Galaxy — and offers a rare glimpse into one of the earliest stages of star formation.

Scientists first reported evidence of the filament, which they nicknamed Maggie, in 2020. Now, some of those scientists, including Jonas Syed at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, along with more astronomers, have conducted a detailed follow-up investigation. It shows that the filament stretches some 1,200 parsecs, roughly 1,000 times the distance from the Sun to its nearest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri.

Theory predicts that, over time, the neutral hydrogen atoms in the filament will pair up, forming dense clouds of hydrogen molecules. Such clouds ultimately give birth to stars.

(20) COMING CATTRACTIONS. Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet may be hated by astronomers, but credentials love it: Gizmodo explains: “If I Fits, I Sits: Starlink’s Self-Heating Internet Satellite Dishes Are Attracting Cats”.

SpaceX’s Starlink has been making steady gains with its fledgling satellite internet service, surpassing 100,000 terminals shipped in 2021 and showing promising improvements in performance after initial speed tests produced lackluster results. However, the company’s run into an unforeseen hiccup with its dishes: Cats love them….

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: The Matrix Resurrections,” the Screen Junkies say that the fourth film asks, “Do you take the blue pill and reboot this with Tom Holland as Neo or do you take the red pill and see how far up its own ass the story will go?” Also, since the film has musical theatre greats Neil Patrick Harris and Jonathan Groff (who was King George in Hamilton, and has also been in Frozen, Frozen II, and “Glee’) when is The Matrix musical coming?

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chris Barkley, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Cora Buhlert, Dave Rowe, N., SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

68 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/15/22 Pixelpunk Scrollcore

  1. (18) David Brin’s very early work “The Crystal Spheres” uses the “aliens are sleeping” idea.

  2. But one result of only having Calvin and Hobbes available in books is that these books are in school libraries and six- and seven-year-old kids love reading them.

    Six and seven seems a little young to be enjoying Calvin and Hobbes, aside from the kids who are reading at a higher level than their peers.

    I’m trying to remember when I began reading comic strips in the 1970s — mostly Peanuts in the newspaper and the skinny paperback books — and I’d say I was nine or 10. I soon graduated into Doonesbury. That was a formative experience for my liberal political beliefs and appreciation for irony.

  3. 14) Our bookstore keeps some Calvin & Hobbes in the kids’ books, where they are pounced on, and some back with the comics and humor, where they are also pounced on. I assure you, they sell a helluva lot better than Cathy or Herman collections.

  4. Lloyd Bridges does get be genre – he was the commander of the moonbase in Airplane II: the Sequel. He did a memorable parody of Kirk in that, where he gets into the elevator, and says, “Bridge” (Sir, we don’t have a bridge….”).

  5. Robert Silverberg actually won 3 Hugos , Five Nebulas, and is an SF Grandmaster. He was also president of SFWA. His extraordinarily long and productive career, which included editing and non-fiction work, got rather short shrift in today’s birthday listings. Please correct the entry.

  6. Michael J. Lowrey says Our bookstore keeps some Calvin & Hobbes in the kids’ books, where they are pounced on, and some back with the comics and humor, where they are also pounced on. I assure you, they sell a helluva lot better than Cathy or Herman collections.

    The last time I saw in my favorite book book store which I admit was before I fractured out my right knee and ended getting three surgeries on it, so well over two years ago, had the collections in three places — in the children’s section, in the humor section and in the graphic novel section as well.

  7. (15) It’s weird, seeing it called “The Rosenbach” all by itself without “Museum & Library”. For a few years in my early 20s I lived across the street at 2015 Delancey Place, until the neighbors (a snooty lot) got the 11 of us kicked out for not being within the zoning laws, because of a huge party with a live band the year before I moved in. (Yes, it was a big enough house — one of the great old Rittenhouse Square-area rowhouse mansions, with 9 bedrooms, although a bit dilapidated by the time I lived there; the speaking tubes didn’t work any longer. Now it’s being used as a single-family home, as it was zoned for.)

    (12) Lloyd Bridges? What about as Mr. Graynamore in Joe vs. the Volcano?

  8. 4) For a show that was on record as ending, The Expanse teased the books’ coming storylines hard. Given the time skip between books 6 and 7, the obvious thing to do is to continue the show a few decades from now so they don’t have to age up the actors…

    Thanks for the credit!

  9. @Camestros thank you very much for the extrapolation. I despise sitting through podcasts and have been looking at squeecore via Twitter reactions. As a writer of SF featuring boy bands and cute feathery dinos I’m tempted to reclaim the term, but I’m probably still going to clash with the kind of folks who think ancient references like -punk/-core are still rad and gnarly.

  10. (13) Definitely noted for future viewing. I’ve probably been watching too much dystopic fiction lately.

  11. Charon Dunn: …but I’m probably still going to clash with the kind of folks who think ancient references like -punk/-core are still rad and gnarly.

    Saying that sort of thing that could get you into trouble — some kind of -Gate!

  12. A thought: Corepunk stories are where there are (large) spaceships whose computers all use core memory.

  13. 12) Birthdays: The entry for Christopher Stasheff should have “(Died 2018)” on it, alas. I enjoyed the early entries in his “Warlock in Spite of Himself” series, and also his “A Wizard in Rhyme”, even though I didn’t keep up with all the entries in either.

  14. Mike Glyer on January 15, 2022 at 10:59 pm said:

    Saying that sort of thing that could get you into trouble — some kind of -Gate!

    There are enough essays on this topic to be their own distinct genre. I declare myself a leading writer in the genre of non-fiction called Squeecoregatewave. Obviously, we stand in opposition to those who still cling to the outdated genre of SeriouslyCanWeTalkAboutSomethingElseNow?Didn’tWeHaveThisDiscussionLastYear

  15. So when is Chuck Tingle weighing in on Squeecore? Naturally his will be the authoritative take.

  16. (1) I skimmed John Scalzi’s blog post, and his characterisation of his career and approach to writing immediately reminded me of David Drake, who also is on record to writing which can be described as commercial, accessible, middlebrow, nostalgic, and humorous (though Drake’s humor tended towards the gallows). I think I’m going to refer to that approach to fiction as greedpunk from now on.

  17. I can’t imagine Chuck Tingle having much time for any “you’re enjoying the Wrong Fiction” takes, which is what the squeecore thing very largely is. (Until Charon wrests it away from them, anyway.)

    @Jan-Erik Zandersson

    No, the graphic is neat, and I’m perfectly willing to descend into hyperbole and claim I will surely die without it to defend Mike’s right to include stuff he likes in the Scroll. Let the man have his joy.

  18. Very excited by the Booker judges. Last year had an excellent line of judges too. Maybe some extra genre-adjacent entrees this year.

  19. (12) My enduring mental image of Lloyd Bridges is of him in SCUBA gear in the old TV show Sea Hunt. (That was certainly what I saw him in first….)

  20. Charon Dunn: I’m probably still going to clash with the kind of folks who think ancient references like -punk/-core are still rad and gnarly.

    Mike Glyer: Saying that sort of thing that could get you into trouble — some kind of -Gate!

    Too late, it’s already been done. 😀

  21. Meredith moment James Blish‘s A Case of Conscience which won a Hugo at Detention is available from the usual suspects for a buck ninety nine.

  22. (2) I don’t say this often enough, but “Go, Cora! Go, Cora!”

    (3) And some will use this an excuse to say, “See? It told you! It all happened because he broke the rules.” Instead of “Those rules are in the way of too many authors who did nothing wrong.”

    I’m not sure if this applies to the squeecore discussion or if it’s unrelated. There has been vitriol sprayed toward “The Cold Calculations.” Is that coming from the squeecore crowd? Yet… Surely that story is not squeecore?!

    https://twitter.com/aimee_ogden/status/1482447923111727105?s=21

  23. @Anne Marble

    IIRC they were obliquelyish snarking about The Cold Calculations during the Raytheon thing and/or the Neon Yang thing. (… one brief search later…) Yup, here and the next tweet in thread. Here also. I think there was some more that was even more subtweety and therefore less susceptible to being found with a keyword search, but I am not reading a month’s worth of her and her pals tweets to find it all.

    Yes, I suspect they’d call it squeecore.

  24. In my defence, I haven’t slept for two days and clearly cannot be trusted to remember a blog post from yesterday (Cora’s mentions it) anywhere near as well as tweets I briefly scanned past about a month ago…

    /facepalm

  25. I feel like there’s some truth to Benedict’s point that Cold Equations and Omelas are powerful stories because they “force us to confront the possibility of good people, including ourselves, being complicit in a cruel, violent system.” I’ve even seen Omelas referenced in a couple of discussions on capitalism and institutional racism. I don’t know if I would agree with her contention that those stories “offend contemporary sci-fi/fantasy writers” for that reason, though. I think the most you could say is that they’re missing the point of the story–focusing on the ship captain in Cold Equations rather than on the society that put him in this situation in the first place. (Because really, how spectacularly stupid is it to only give a ship the bare minimum of fuel needed to get to its destination and blithely assume that nothing will ever go wrong? What does it imply about the society if that’s standard practice and no one’s legal or PR department has ever said, “No, you can’t do that because we’ll get sued into oblivion if something bad happens”? And how bad must the situation on the destination colony be if jettisoning part of the shipment to save the girl would be catastrophic for them?)

  26. I had high hopes of launching GnarlyGate for a moment there. The CharonGate leads to the Dead Zone, and the Dead are one of the few bands whose fans I like more than the music because they are incredibly tolerant of eclectic weirdness which probably comes across as squee if you’re only on your second or third ego death. The GnarlyPunkCoreWaveZone, meanwhile, is probably full of middle-aged dads with goatees and faded tattoos crying in their beer about how punk was supposed to be the death knell of the virtuoso, opening up the rock star career for guys who hate practicing guitar. IMHO a truly -punk novel would have more typos, and a reappropriated cover that someone customized with a Sharpie, plus it would be hand-lettered like Punk Magazine.

  27. @Anne Marble

    (3) And some will use this an excuse to say, “See? It told you! It all happened because he broke the rules.” Instead of “Those rules are in the way of too many authors who did nothing wrong.”

    I won’t say that, but I will say that the rules have a lot more to do with regulating the flow of unaccountable cash (money laundering, funding for terrorists, extracting income taxes, etc.) than they do with The Man keeping Ekpeki down. He (and those like him) are collateral damage.

  28. Ignoring the squeecore term – I refuse to use “squee” as a derogatory – and most of their “criteria” entirely, because, well, I want to, there is a… thing I have noticed, primarily and most plainly in original short fiction of the sort written to answer daily prompts, but to a lesser extent both fanfic and profic, a sort of self-conscious correctness.

    Think (to use the profic examples most here might be familiar with):

    The first two Becky Chambers novels modelling How To Talk Things Out, or The Cold Calculations bringing in a sort of magical realism poof to repair things to what they “should” be, or The Goblin Emperor’s deliberate and thoughtful choosing of kindness (I’m sort of reluctant to lump TGE in since I don’t think there’s anything self-conscious about what its doing, but I do want to use something that I’m known to really like and, well, sleep-deprivation, so I’m short on examples-brain).

    Which sometimes doesn’t work because humans are not generally living inside a how-to-do-the-right-thing manual and it can feel wooden and self-conscious, and sometimes works brilliantly for a lot of people because especially when done well it absolutely can scratch a long-neglected itch and feeds certain narrative kinks, and sometimes is deeply annoying for some readers because (although I’d bet another sleepless night that every single one of them has an exception where it worked for them, whether they admit it or not) they think it’s too easy or unearned somehow – not a model for real life change, or real life exploration, just pure fantasy. Which is for some reason a bad thing, apparently.

    I would enjoy discussions of different trends and their various qualities and downfalls. What a pity this crowd is incapable of having it without, well…

    The mistake lies in then leaping off into wilds of thinking perfectly normal preferences in fiction dictate personal morality, which is the exact same thing they complain about having antis apply to them just turned the other way. I do not consider that a dismantling: I consider it a copying of already toxic tactics and calling it good because now the right people are doing it.

    Which was also more or less the justification from more or less the same crowd for starting a whole new witch burning party starring Neon Yang as revenge for the witch burning party where Isabel Fall was the very special guest. Wasn’t impressed then, either.

    Frankly, they can all go step on plastic ankylosaurs, and I’ll be busy enjoying stories and enjoying gleefully shredding stories into their component parts instead of trying to stack up stories I like into some sort of Look What A Good Person I Am, And What Excellent Taste Manifesto, and the stories I don’t into the matching Look What Bad People They Are, And Such Bad Taste Manifesto.

    (That ended up very long. Sorry.)

  29. @Nina

    The Cold Calculations response story very explicitly shoves the responsibility back onto the society, or at least corporations, if I remember correctly, so I doubt that that’s Bendictetal’s criticism of it or the rest of the modern discussion around Cold Equations. Assuming they’ve read the story, of course, which given their comments on Redshirts I’m not at all inclined to take as guaranteed.

    (If I’m understanding who you were referring to for that bit correctly! It’s occurred to me you might have meant Benedictetc were focusing too much on the captain.)

  30. Meredith wrote:

    IIRC they were obliquelyish snarking about The Cold Calculations during the Raytheon thing and/or the Neon Yang thing. (… one brief search later…) Yup, here and the next tweet in thread. Here also. I think there was some more that was even more subtweety and therefore less susceptible to being found with a keyword search, but I am not reading a month’s worth of her and her pals tweets to find it all.

    I don’t blame you. I backed away when I saw someone using “uwu.”

    I’m also not impressed by their arguments. But that’s another story… (Pun not intended, but it sort of works out…)

    Marshall Ryan Maresca wrote:

    It’s one of the few stories explicitly mentioned in the podcast.

    That’s odd because it doesn’t appear to match the definitions many people have been giving for squeecore. There has been more emphasis in definitions on stories inspired by gaming and Joss Whedon than on a story that would be published in Clarkesworld. Maybe other people are assuming a different definition. (But that’s what happens when you put your definition in a podcast instead of committing yourself to a definition in a blog post, fanzine, prozine, or whatever. (And I say that as someone who loves many podcasts.))

  31. @Anne Marble

    Well, I think the real-and-true definition is “stuff they’ve collectively decided they don’t like” and any criteria is post hoc justification, so I wouldn’t try too hard to make their examples fit.

    If I were to be extremely unkind, I’d suggest that being vague and contradictory with taxonomy in front of fandom – any fandom – is a really great way to get a bunch of people to workshop your concept for free, and then you can steal all the best bits for a follow-up episode and claim you meant that all along.

  32. Nina wrote:

    I feel like there’s some truth to Benedict’s point that Cold Equations and Omelas are powerful stories because they “force us to confront the possibility of good people, including ourselves, being complicit in a cruel, violent system.” I’ve even seen Omelas referenced in a couple of discussions on capitalism and institutional racism. I don’t know if I would agree with her contention that those stories “offend contemporary sci-fi/fantasy writers” for that reason, though. I think the most you could say is that they’re missing the point of the story–focusing on the ship captain in Cold Equations rather than on the society that put him in this situation in the first place…”

    Some of the criticism has been blamed more on the bad engineering that created the situation in the story. But many of those stories focused on the bad engineering aspect rather than asking, “What society would create this crazy situation?”

    Some of the more recent critiques and responses do point the blame at the society. What society would create the situation this pilot finds himself in? Hmm?… (That’s what “The Cold Calculations” does. It would indeed help if the critics of the story had actually read it.)

    Other criticism of the original story has been based on the misogyny many see in it. They interpreted it as a way for nerdy outcast SF fans to have power over the pretty girls who ignored them. That’s a legitimate complaint to have.

    But just because writers (and readers) are critical of a classic SF story, that doesn’t mean they hate it. Or that they hate all classic SF stories. (deep breath “Jesus Christ, people. Stop and think this over for a minute!”) You can love and critique something at the same time. It also doesn’t mean that all writers of a certain nonexistent “movement” hate “The Cold Equations” and Omelas and/or other classic tales. And by extension, apparently hate kittens and rainbows. Or milk and cookies. Or something.

    I read about “The Cold Equations” years before I read it. When I finally read it, I appreciated it as an important milestone in SF — the famous and controversial story that said “Sometimes you can’t just fix it.” I recognized it as a classic. I “enjoyed” it when I read it. (OK, maybe “enjoyed” was the wrong point. But I was appropriately sad for both characters.)

    Yet not long after, I read critiques of it, and I appreciated those viewpoints as well. It’s amazing how it’s possible to appreciate both the original and the criticisms, isn’t it?

    Perhaps some of the critiques may become just as important in their own way over time. Perhaps not. Anyway, there is room for both “The Cold Equations” and “The Cold Calculations” in the SF field.

    Sure, you are also free to criticize both stories. But if your criticism consists of just snark, I’ll walk away from… you.

    Also, people may be talking about “The Cold Equations” without remembering that the author was not trying to make that point. He had a completely different story in mind originally. And then JWC kept requesting major changes. Godwin did not object, so maybe he liked the result better. Godwin certainly wasn’t above putting a lot of horrible obstacles in the way of his characters. (I seem to remember that “The Survivors” had a lot of obstacles. When I described the story to some other writers, they said it sounded as if he was the sort of writer who liked to put overly forced obstacles in his story to make his characters more miserable.)

  33. @bill

    It’s worth considering, though, who gets considered acceptable collateral damage and whose complaints are considered valid by those who make the rules – and their friends. This is what structural racism is, and pretending racism has to be personal and directly intended to count is one way it maintains itself

  34. I’m not sure if this applies to the squeecore discussion or if it’s unrelated. There has been vitriol sprayed toward “The Cold Calculations.” Is that coming from the squeecore crowd? Yet… Surely that story is not squeecore?!

    https://twitter.com/aimee_ogden/status/1482447923111727105?s=21

    In the podcast, they describe the story as “Karen calling the manager of physics”, which tells you all you need to know.

    What I suspect is really going on here is a) Aimee Ogden defended Neon Yang against harrassment and b) “The Cold Calculations” had just come out, these folks read it and didn’t like it.

    Also, the reason why “The Cold Equations” is still rememebered, discussed and rebutted almost 70 years later is not because people have issues with the messages of “the laws of physics are merciless”, “the universe doesn’t care about you” or “sometimes good people die”, because countless SFF stories have made those same points before and since. No, the reason people keep rebutting “The Cold Equations” is because the situation is illogical and badly rigged towards the outcome Campbell desired. The not so-subtle misogyny doesn’t help either. After all, no one rages against “Breaking Strain” by Arthur C. Clarke, which predates “The Cold Equations” by several years and has a similar plot.

    And yes, Campbell is the one who insisted on the ending. Godwin wanted to save Marilyn, but eventually gave in to Campbell, because Astounding was the highest paying mag at the time and he needed the money to feed his family. And I certainly won’t blame him for making that decision, especially since people kept accosting him about that story for the rest of his life.

  35. I’d also like to add that even hating a story, and not just critiquing it, is rarely going to be for a single reason – Benedict posits that people feel forced to confront their complicity in systems by stories like CE (and Omelas) and that’s the reason for offence, but that’s one hell of a leap and reductionist about the wide range of criticism and idiosyncratic quirks of taste that exist. (As well as the leap that offence is relevant at all.)

    (Also? People love Omelas! Le Guin is an absolute darling of the Benedictine Twitterati Nominated Enemies Collective! Witness the MANY Hugo nominations and wins! I don’t get lumping those two in together, or the critical responses thereof. I feel very ??? about it.)

    (I have apparently hit the Can’t Shut The Fuck Up phase! I’m so sorry. I’m sure I’ll fall asleep and leave you all alone soon.)

  36. @Meredith

    “they can all go step on plastic ankylosaurs”

    Best curse ever. May it happen to all your enemies.

    I was just in another discussion about how I had such a bad reaction to Boy And His Dog (because I first encountered it as a 14yo girl) that I never could engage with Ellison’s fiction … but I like and recommend his essays and will still break bread with my friends who adore him. It was one of those stories that hit me like Cold Equations and the last couple Tarentino movies, an extended argument justifying breaking the “don’t hit girls” taboo.

  37. Hadn’t seen “Cold Calculations” until today. Thanks.

    @Joyce Reynolds-Ward: Punkcore is about starship engine cores powered by the Ramones?

  38. Re: Silverberg: I read a lot of his work in my youth: Majipoor, The Stocastic Man, To Live Again, etc., etc. I think the first Silverberg story I read, which took me ages to identify (since I read it before I took any care in paying attention to author names) was “The Sixth Palace” – which has one of those memorable endings (like Sheckley’s “Protection”). My favorite short Silverberg story is probably “To See the Invisible Man.”

  39. @Meredith

    (Also? People love Omelas! Le Guin is an absolute darling of the Benedictine Twitterati Nominated Enemies Collective! Witness the MANY Hugo nominations and wins! I don’t get lumping those two in together, or the critical responses thereof. I feel very ??? about it.)

    Yes, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” is a beloved story and responses to it, at least the ones I’ve seen, are less about saving the child and more about, “How can we dismantle the unjust system that is Omelas?”, which I think is a take that the Rite Gud folks would agree with.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.