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


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.” 


[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. Ok, I listened to the entire podcast. I also tried googling “squeecore”. What I get is zero. I agree with some other posters, it sounds like “whatever I don’t like”… and I heard a lot of “literary criticism” phrases thrown around in the podcast, like “deconstructing”, but not in any way that give me any clear idea of what they’re talking about.

    All the Hugo nominees except Helicopter Story were squeecore? Sorry, I don’t see it (and I very much disliked Helicopter Story… but then I grew up seeing pictures, and reading about the War (that’s ‘Nam), and having friends who’d been there, and I don’t want to read about someone who apparently identifies as puff the magic dragon (Vietnam definition).

    They’re saying everything they don’t like is stuff that “makes us feel good”? It sounds, from some of the extended interchanges, as though they’re saying if it’s not depressing, it’s squeecore.That may be the case, given that he talks about really liking grimdark – no, thank you, if I want that, that’s what the news is for.

    They barely touched on the real reasons for some of what gets published, and it’s not clique and brown-nosing. For one, the real major publishers are mostly gone, through mergers and are run by bean counters and MBAs, who want “that sold, give me more of the same product”, which they want to package like laundry detergent. Effectively, the market’s getting smaller.

    Here’s another problem: in the last millenium (that it, the last half of the 20th century), sf&f went through 10 year cycles – for ten, there’d be more sf, and less fantasy, then for the next 10, that would be reversed. That broke around 2000, and it’s been very, very heavily fantasy. In ’15, I was talking to an editor from Tor at Worldcon, and he told me they get about 5 fantasy for 1.5 or 2 military sf, and maybe 1 sf, and it had been going on for years.

    Then there are plenty of online magazines… but very few pay rates that are more than a thank you for content. And they can be quirky – I submitted a ghost story with very serious overtones to one, and among the comments I got in the rejection was, “why was it important that one of these three characters be Black?” Really? Today, and the story’s set in the northeast US? I’ve also had a fantasy or two rejected as “too classical”? What?

    There are a lot of small presses, and they’re putting out a lot of books, with a lot of variety. (ObDisclosure: my first novel was published last year by a small press that’s working to bring out new authors.) Find one who published the kind of story you like, and see what they’re publishing.

    Two final notes: one, I dislike hopepunk as a name. I mean, “punk”, really? That’s so 1980’s, but it’s all I can find for what I’m writing. And last, “squeecore”? Really? Come on folks, get more several steps up in the literary arena, at least as far as, say, Boaty McBoatface.

  2. @Sophie Jane

    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

    Given that different ethnic and racial groups (in general) act differently and are situated differently, I don’t think it is possible for governments to set up rules (such as regulation of financial activities) that does not treat them disparately.

  3. @Charon: You remind me of my experience with Samuel R. Delany: I bought Triton and Dhalgren when I was 10 years old and reading widely in SF with little guidance. It is possible that there exists some 10-year-old out there who can appreciate these books, but it for darn sure wasn’t me. I bounced off them hard, and at a time in my life when I never didn’t finish a book I’d started. It has colored my view of Delany’s fiction ever since, even though I’ve gone on to read and enjoy many other of his works, and even come back to those two as an adult and found them good. I realize it’s unfair but I just can’t do anything about it.

    (Delany’s non-fiction, by contrast, I am happy to say is superb.)

  4. Cora Buhlert wrote:

    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.

    Or in some cases, didn’t read it and attacked it (and the author) anyway.

    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.

    Yes, it certainly falls apart at the seams. Some rage at the criticism. (The introduction by Barry Longyear in the Baen Godwin anthology seems to do so.) But even if that criticism makes you angry, it really does bring up valid points.

    I started rereading the story today, and even before Marilyn showed up, I already had Questions. For example, the story said that they could use these ships to send personnel to the planets. How?! If a single stowaway endangers the entire mission, how come the same type of ship could be used to send people. My first thought was that these were Instant Martians (Just Add Water). Then, I realized maybe they have different sizes of the ships, or maybe if they had to send something heavier, they added enough fuel so that you could send multiple people in the tiny tiny ship. But they must have been really smelly once they reached their destination.

    And of course, they could have simply used better locks. Used far better signage. Educated people about the consequences. But then, no gleeful Campbell…

    Also, I’ve read that Astounding got more letters on that story than on any other story up until that time. Yet as far as I could tell by reading the letters columns in later issues, there were few if any letters published in the magazine in response. So did JWC nix publishing the letters that argued with the setup of the story?

  5. Meredith wrote:

    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.)

    It’s also belongs to the Police Prefect Lincoln Powell school of criticism… “You might say you dislike it because of thing 1. But I can read your mind, and I know you are really lying and that you hate it because the author had an affair with your mother that led to your birth.”


    I know people who have hated a story because the love interest had the same first name as their ex-boyfriend — or worse, their son. Or hated a movie because they had pneumonia when they watched it in the theater. My nephew hated the movie “Dave” because his stepfather liked it, and if his stepfather liked it, then it must be bad.

    (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.)

    Omelas and The Cold Equations go together like coffee and mint.

    I’ve seen different responses to the story and what it meant to some people. (Do we walk away, or do we stay and do something?) But that’s not “hate.”

    (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.)

    Aww. We love your “Can’t Shut The Fuck Up” phase!

  6. @mark
    Frankly, I’ve been screwed over too many times by small presses to trust any of ’em. If I have to do the promotional work, then it’s self-pub for me. Period. Even the so-called “good ones” can go bad if their financing or management is small enough, and it just takes one principal to have an illness, death, or family crisis and poof! Things go sideways.

    Hopepunk works quite nicely for me, especially since I know some of the folks who coined it. It beats the pants of off “noblebright,” which is another keyword I’ve seen used to define that particular subgenre.

  7. Two final notes: one, I dislike hopepunk as a name. I mean, “punk”, really? That’s so 1980’s, but it’s all I can find for what I’m writing. And last, “squeecore”? Really? Come on folks, get more several steps up in the literary arena, at least as far as, say, Boaty McBoatface.

    I hereby dub the current dominant genre (whatever it may be) Punky McPunkcore.

  8. Didn’t Ellen Kushner come up with mannerpunk when she penned her ever so tasteful Swordspoint novel? (I’ve read it at least a half dozen times.) You’ve got to admire any novel where the preferred drink is hot chocolate.

  9. @ bill
    “ Given that different ethnic and racial groups (in general) act differently”
    Differently from what or who? How? Got any factual support for that enormous assumption?
    Sophie Jane didn’t object to different treatment, but to treating the criminal and non criminal (particularly when the latter are members of minority groups) as the same. And thus acting as if unintentional harm to the latter were acceptable.

  10. Mmm, Rocketship X-M, that is one bad mamajama of a movie. I give Bridges credit for being able to pull off sexist love-interest while holding on to a modicum of charm. Man had charisma. Gawd, what a horrible, horrible movie…though it’s still more watchable than the similar Fire Maidens from Outer Space. That one hurts.

    I agree completely on Breaking Strain by Clarke. Not nearly as contrived as the more famous story. I actually quite enjoyed Breaking Strain. I’m going to read it again, dang it.

    Encountering all this analysis of sci-fi makes me glad I gave it up. These days I read what I enjoy and just enjoy it.

  11. “Given that different ethnic and racial groups (in general) act differently and are situated differently, I don’t think it is possible for governments to set up rules (such as regulation of financial activities) that does not treat them disparately.”

    That’s it.

    I’d switched browsers some time ago, finally giving up legacy Firefox for the very latest Quantum version (having finally discovered that Tab Session Manager replicates the functionality of the legacy extension I was relying on), but I still hadn’t installed Stylish.

    That take up there? Using racist assumptions that “ethnic minorities are just different” to justify the racist effects of capitalist systems that disproportionately penalize and scapegoat non-white individuals? As though there were some inherent trait possessed by Black Nigerians that should simply and inevitably lead to such treatment as Ekpeki received at the hands of Amazon, and so, shrug what can you do?

    That’s what’s convinced me to stop the hell what I’m doing and reinstall Stylish (or its spiritual successor, Stylus) and reenact the Plonk Script. Because I have only so much time and energy in a day, and absolutely 0% of it is earmarked for dealing with surface-polite racism apologists.

Comments are closed.