Pixel Scroll 1/5/19 Mr. Gorn, Tear Down This Suit

(1) NOVIK SPEAKS OUT FOR FANFIC. In “Freed From Copyright, These Classic Works Are Yours To Adapt”, NPR discusses works newly entering public domain, and the writerly impulse to appropriate or retell stories.

A large body of films, music, and books from that year entered the public domain on Jan. 1, the first time that’s happened in 20 years. And that means they can be used according to the will of new creators who wish to adopt or adapt them.

…Those lengthy copyrights can be a barrier to the creation of new art. “Copyright has been overextended so many times, largely at the behest of major copyright holders,” says author Naomi Novik. “Even though what that actually does is inhibit people from creating new works and sharing these older works.” Novik is a founding member of the Organization for Transformative Works, a nonprofit that focuses on preserving fan fiction and art — that is, work created by fans, based on characters and worlds from their favorite written works, film, and TV, which can occasionally come into conflict with copyright law.

… Novik says that the impulse to re-imagine art is innate. “That kind of process of imagination is just something that our brains do. It doesn’t matter what law you put around it, our brains are still going to do it,” she says.

Inevitably, the spring of adaptations will bring about bad versions of these classic works. As Blake Hazard, great-granddaughter of F. Scott Fitzgerald, told The New York Times, “I hope people maybe will be energized to do something original with the work, but of course the fear is that there will be some degradation of the text.”

Miller, who adapted Homer, does worry about the possibility of betraying the texts. But as she was working on Circe, she says, “I came to the understanding that I can’t hurt Homer. He’s fine. Whatever I do, that’s just my response to him. But the original text will be just fine.”

(2) DEAMERICANIZING THE HUGOS. Australian writer T.R. Napper wants to broaden the meaning of diversity: “The Hugos: Putting the World into WorldCon”.

It’s time to put the world into WorldCon. Time to include geography and national culture in the definition of diversity. Past time.

This here is just a discussion in good faith. Remember those? There’s no outrage; no political side. All I’m saying is this: historically, the winner of the Hugo for best novel has been from the US, 82% of the time. If we take just the past five years (2014 – 2018) Americans have been nominated 90% of the time (27/30) and won 90% (the latter number comes from Ken Liu (as translator) sharing the award with Cixin Liu for The Three-Body Problem). For the Nebulas – while not related to WorldCon directly, still reflective of what is happening in the genre – the picture is worse: US writers have been nominated 91% of the time (30/34) and won 100%….

Of course, right in the sweet spot of Napper’s 5-year sample are three years deeply affected by Sad/Rabid Puppy slate voting. Diversity of all kinds suffered in those years. What happens if I go back and pick my own sample – say, the year 2010? The Worldcon was in Australia, and the five Best Novel nominees included two Canadians and a Brit – 60% — leaving Americans at only 40%. Or 2009 when it was in Montreal – the five nominees included two Brits – 40% — and Americans were 60%.

And are people really expected to stop thinking that diversity looks like N.K. Jemisin’s three-year run, an unmatched achievement, and dismiss it as just another bunch of Hugos predictably won by an American writer?

The remainder of Napper’s post is a suggested reading list of international novels, a positive contribution, and always in order.

Unfortunately, the next part of being constructive is putting up a list of potential novels and short stories to read. This is why outrage is so much easier than informed discussion: it doesn’t come with so much fucking homework.

But I’ve done my homework. I’ve talked to editors and writers from Australia, Zimbabwe, the UK, New Zealand, Singapore, and – yes – the United States. And I’ve come up with a list. It’s not a comprehensive one. I don’t have that sort of time, and I wouldn’t want it to be. A comprehensive list would be so eye-rollingly long the reader would have no idea where to start. And any such claim to completeness would be immediately debunked. I’m not aiming for perfection or quantity.

Also note that none of these are my nominations (yet). I will add my own to the list over the next few weeks as I get my reading done. I have two I’d like to include from my reading as Aurealis judge, though unfortunately I cannot divulge those until the awards are announced.

All these caveats aside, I present to you a flawed and partial list of stories that entirely reasonable humans from all across the world have recommended. Which is about as good as it gets…

(3) EX NIHILIS. Popular Science explains “Zero is just 1,500 years old. Before it, there was nothing.”

Accounting is an ancient profession. Sumer, the earliest known Mesopotamian civilization, had a positional numbering system, so there was no need for placeholders. A subsequent empire, Babylon, had different demands, so its number-crunching class used two empty wedges to represent a sum like 507. Across the world, the Mayan civilization came up with its own solution to a similar problem, placing a shell where modern mathematicians might place a 0. Some experts argue these wedges are ground zero, to borrow a phrase, but most academics attribute the invention of zero as a number—not as a warm body but a symbol in its own right, one that can be used in equations—to India.

(4) GENTLEMEN, BE SEATED. Now that Camestros Felapton has excused himself from the Hugo race, he knows it’s safe to resume writing hilarious stuff like “Other Revised Canon Aspects of Poo”, which would have increased his risks of winning one. Where are we going with this? Well, here’s the premise, with his second example

The other day J.K.Rowling’s Pottermore revealed that Hogwarts was originally built without toilets because wizards just pooped anyway and then magicked it away. Below are other poo related details about other franchises that you might not know….

Star Wars: there are no bathrooms in Star Wars but there are small toilet robots who follow you around waiting for you to do your business and clean it up. That’s what those little boxy droids are.

(5) EINSTEIN OBIT. The actor known as Super Dave Osborne died January 2. Mark Evanier paid tribute in “Bob Einstein, R.I.P.”

[His work included a] long run as the self-immolating daredevil Super Dave Osborne. You never knew what daring feat Super Dave would attempt; only that at the end of it, he would meet some fate previously met by Wile E. Coyote.

GIMBEL OBIT. Lyricist Norman Gimbel died December 19. His Washington Post obit, “Norman Gimbel, Oscar-winning lyricist of ‘Happy Days’ theme and ‘Girl From Ipanema,’ dies at 91”, notes that “The Girl from Ipanema” was written for a science fiction musical in Brazil, to answer the musical question “Why is an alien hanging around in Brazil?” Gimbel also wrote the lyrics for the 1970s Wonder Woman theme.  


  • January 5, 1950The Flying Saucer opened in theaters.
  • January 5, 1951Two Lost Worlds premiered…with dinosaurs in Australia.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 5, 1914 George Reeves. Best known for his role as the title role in The Adventures of Superman and several associated films. I remember the show fondly from much later syndication and thought that both the acting and stories were well done. He also played the lead role in The Adventures of Sir Galahad and was Mike Patton in The Jungle Goddess. He was in a fair number of series as well but I can’t determine if any of them were genre.  (Died 1959.)
  • Born January 5, 1929Russ Manning. An artist  who created and drew the Gold Key comic book character Magnus: Robot Fighter; who drew the Tarzan comic book from 1965 – 1969 and the Tarzan newspaper comic strip from 1967 – 1972; and the Star Wars newspaper strip from 1979 – 1980. (Credit to Bill here at File 770 for this Birthday.) (Died 1981.)
  • Born January 5, 1941 Hayao Miyazaki, 78. A masterful storyteller who chose animation as his medium. He co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 and has directed some of the best loved films of all time. His films include the Oscar winning film Spirited Away, My Neighbor Tortoro, and adapting the classic novel Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones for the big screen. (Thanks to Matt Russell for this Birthday.)
  • Born January 5, 1959Clancy Brown, 60. I first encountered him as the voice of Lex Luthor In the DC animated universe. All of his voice roles are far too extensive to list here, but I’ll single out his work as Savage Opress, Count Dooku’s new apprentice and Darth Maul’s brother, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  Very selected live roles include Rawhide in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The Kurgan In Highlander, Sheriff Gus Gilbert in Pet Sematary Two, Captain Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, Sgt. Charles Zim In Starship Troopers and, one of favorite weird series, Brother Justin Crowe in Carnivàle.
  • Born January 5, 1978 January Jones, 41. Emma Frost In X-Men: First Class is her only film role to dates but earlier when searching the net I did find her in The Last Man on Earth which is, and I quote, “an American post-apocalyptic comedy television series.”  Anyone seen this? 
  • Born January 5, 1978 Seanan McGuire, 41. Ahhhh one of my favorite writers. I just finished listening to The Girl in the Green Silk Gown which was quite excellent and earlier I’d read her Chaos Choreography, both of her Indexing books which are beyond amazing and, God what else?, the Wayward Children series which I’ve mixed feelings about. I did read at a few of the first October Daye novels but they didn’t tickle my fancy. I’ve not read her Mira Grant work so do advise on how it is. 


(9) BORG LICENSE REVOKED. A Canadian Star Trek fan is going to court after the government insurance company revoked his “ASIMIL8” license plate, that he got because he likes the Borg, and had a frame that added the tag “Resistance is Futile.” The term was considered insulting to First Nations people, who have often been asked to assimilate to settler culture. The Edmonton Journal has the story — “’Obviously inappropriate:’ Insurer says ASIMIL8 plate shouldn’t have been issued”.

In a recently filed legal brief, Troller explained that he drove around with the plate for nearly two years and no one complained. He renewed it with MPI in 2016 without issue.

An Ontario woman posted a photo of the licence plate on Facebook on April 22, 2017. Court filings show a transcript of a call she made to MPI in which she said the plate was offensive because of the history of government assimilation policies.

Not all plate requests go sailing through:

The documents include a 47-page list of licence plates that were denied by MPI. They include BITE ME, VINO, MMMBEER, SKODEN, HYZNBRG, HOLYCOW, PWALKER and 50 GREY.

A man in Nova Scotia has also gone to court over a personalized licence plate. Lorne Grabher has been trying to reinstate his “GRABHER” plate since it was revoked in 2016 by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles following an anonymous complaint.

(10) DOWNWIND FROM HOLLYWOOD. Just became aware of this fine blog entry published last year by Kip W: “Classical Gas”. Examples at the link.

The Disney corporation, ever sensitive to the winds of change, and (since at least the 1950s) ever willing to recut their old products up for present-day sensibilities, determined to get out on the cutting edge of kid appeal by folding flatulence humor into their classic releases. Leaked memo from 2008 reveals some of the specific ideas explored…

(11) IT’S A STING. Jalopnik: “You Can Buy All Four Bumblebee Camaros From Transformers, but They’re Not Street Legal”.

Perhaps you’ve seen a Transformers movie, or two, or six, in the past 11 years. (Google says there are six now.) Perhaps you’ve liked them, even, to the point that you’ve dreamed of one day owning the sporty, automatic stunt cars that turn into robots on the big screen. Now’s your chance to own four.

There’s one big catch, though: All four of the vehicles will come with a scrap title and none of them will be street legal. There go your carpool plans for the next Transformers movie premiere. Darn.

Barrett-Jackson is auctioning off four Transformers movie cars as a package deal in Scottsdale, Arizona later this month—all four of them black-and-yellow Chevrolet Camaros representing the robot character Bumblebee, who (which?) recently starred in an unnecessarily sexy movie of his (its?) namesake. Money from the Camaros’ auction will go to charity, and the person who wins will get a 2010 model from the first and second movies, a 2010 model from the third movie, a 2013 model from the fourth movie and a 2016 one from the fifth movie

(12) IS THIS WHAT SCIENCE IS FOR? Here’s another thing that’s coming – “Buttered Popcorn Oreos Are in the Works, and TBH, I Don’t Know What to Feel”.

We’re less than a week into the new year, and we already have a handful of new Oreo flavors to fuel us through 2019. As if the news of flavors like Carrot Cake and Dark Chocolate haven’t been enough to pique your interest, perhaps the rumors of Oreo’s latest out-of-the-box offering, Buttered Popcorn, will do the trick.

(13) HOW’S THEIR SFF SECTION? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The National Geographic website seems pretty certain that, “This is the world’s most beautiful bookstore.” Given that it was converted from a rather splendid theater, the Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore certainly had a leg up in achieving that appellation.

On a bustling commercial street in the fashionable Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos AiresArgentina, you can visit a serene temple of books. The lighting is soft, with accents that showcase the best in early 20th-century craftsmanship. Conversations are hushed, as if in a grand library, yet the space is so warm and welcoming that the raised café at the back of the cavernous room is filled with patrons reading and sipping cappuccinos and chocolate submarinos.

You’ve entered the Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore, which blogs and guidebooks often dub “the world’s most beautiful bookstore.” They may not be wrong. The sprawling shop is housed in a beautifully preserved antique theater. Only instead of tango dancers and singers, the stars are now the printed word.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Onion knows many claim success using other ways — but this really works: “Increase Your Cognitive Ability By Reading A Fucking Book For Once”.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Joel Zakem, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

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51 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/5/19 Mr. Gorn, Tear Down This Suit

  1. RE (7) January Jones: The Last Man on Earth was, during its 4-season run, one of my “must see” TV shows. It took place after a plague had wiped out almost all of humanity (and other animals of any significant size). The titular character, played by Will Forte, thought for a good bit of the first season that he was indeed the last surviving human, though he also left signs (panted on billboards) trying to make contact with any other survivors.

    Yeah, it was a dark comedy, and each of the characters (as they trickled into the small group that formed) were significantly flawed in various ways. Nonetheless they formed a family of sorts… even the ones who didn’t last for various reasons. (The cannibal/convict who seemed to want to reform—but couldn’t—comes to mind as one who, shall we say, left the group in spectacular fashion.)

    Clearly Last Man wouldn’t appeal to everyone, but if the concept intrigues you at all I recommend you try.

  2. 7)–I’d forgotten about “Magnus: Robot Fighter”. It was one of my ‘gotta get it’ purchases back in the day

    12) Where will it end? Salsa? Asparagus? I tried their “Birthday Cake” ones and ended up throwing the package away after the first bite. And the Red Velvet was just wrong.

    Also 7)–I enjoy Seanan’s ‘Mira Grant’ Newsfeed works. For what it’s worth, they went from “checked out at the library” to “bought them and re-arranged some shelves to accommodate the new guys”.


    There are people who, when they talk about “Putting the ‘World’ in Worldcon”, mean making Worldcon the sort of convention which appeals to fans from all over the world, one where the panels cover works and issues and cultures from all over the world.

    I think that’s a really worthy goal, and one which deserves thought and action from all of us who are Worldcon members.

    Then there are the people who, when they say “We need to put the ‘World’ in Worldcon”, what they really mean is “We need to get a bunch of non-Americans who don’t give a shit about Worldcon to participate in the Hugo Awards”.

    Based on what he says here, Napper appears to be one of those — and while I appreciate that, unlike a lot of the people who say this, he has at least put together a list of suggested international works for people to check out — I have to say that I am not terribly sympathetic to his argument.

    In this piece he wrote about the Hugo Awards in 2016, he mentions Worldcon exactly one time:
    “WorldCon will remain a forum devoted to US domestic politics, and those writers at the margins will stay there.”
    The rest of his post is about how the Hugo Awards need to be wrested away from Worldcon fans, so that the nominees can be made more international.

    He sees Worldcon and the Hugo Awards as being about the writers. This is a mentality little different from that of the Puppies, who got themselves cheated onto the Hugo ballot and then complained loudly about how Worldcon didn’t have any interviews or other promotional activities set up to help them further their careers, who were shocked and disappointed to discover that having Hugo nominations doesn’t create fans, but rather having Worldcon fans creates Hugo nominations.

    He doesn’t understand that Worldcon is about the fans who organize, attend, and support it — and that the Hugo Awards are what Worldcon members use to recognize the works that they love.

    That entire post of his, and everything in this one with the exception of the recommendations, is about how to overcome “American hegemony” of the Hugo Awards, rather than how to turn Worldcon into a convention which is truly international in scope. He’s completely missed the point.

    I’ve been through the last 8 Worldcons’ membership lists, and apart from Dublin’s list, Mr. Napper’s name does not appear anywhere in them, not even as a Supporting member. (Of course, it’s possible that he opted not to have his name on the lists — but what aspiring author passes up every possible chance to have their name out there?)

    Well, he’s bought a membership for Dublin now, so that’s a start.

    Mr. Napper, I encourage you to, instead of adopting the Puppy Mentality that the Hugo Awards Are Something To Be Stolen From The Members Of Worldcon, not just to buy a membership, but actually become a member of Worldcon. Even if you can’t attend every year, write the committee well in advance of the convention each year, and ask how you can help to make it a more international, more inclusive convention. Actually do some work to make the membership and the content of Worldcon truly international, rather than thinking of the Hugo Awards as something to be taken away from Worldcon members.

    Do that, and the internationality of the works which appear on the Hugo Awards ballot will follow.

  4. 12) I special ordered the Cherry Cola Oreos. They were appalling. Pop rocks on the inside. Medicinal/chemical flavour. I can’t imagine worse Oreos.

  5. I can’t imagine worse Oreos.

    At a campfire discussion about “worst possible ice cream flavors” the winners were Pine Tar, and Creosote.

    I’m sure a bunch of SF fans can do better than that.

  6. @cmm

    Chuck Wendig is doing that thing again: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1081625196187000832.html

    Thanks for this link. It’s hilarious and also matches how I feel about Mari Kondo and this whole decluttering movement.

    2) I sort of understand where he’s coming from. Because to people outside the US, US minorities are still Americans. So when N.K. Jemisin and Rebecca Roanhorse win Hugos as a black woman and an indigenous woman respectively (which is great), they’re still Americans to someone outside the US, especially someone who might not be aware how many hurdles African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, etc… still face in the US. Just as I once got angry when German SF writer Wolfgang Jeschke was just classified as a white man in a survey of the Locus recommended reading list (I think), because while Wolfgang Jeschke is definitely a white man, he still faces hurdles that an American or British white man would not face.

    There is more than one kind of diversity. Seeing more racial diversity in the Hugos and other genre awards is great, as is seeing more finalists from beyond the US and the anglosphere. And this is where T.S. Napper is mistaken, because we have seen more international writers nominated for Hugos or Nebula Awards in recent years. We’ve had the three translated works of translated fiction (by Liu Cixin, Hao Jinfang and Thomas Olde Heuvelt) win Hugos ever in recent years and we’ve had finalists from France, China, Singapore, India, Australia, Canada, the Philippines, Thailand, Japan, Finland, the Netherlands and other places I’ve forgotten. Not to mention the children of immigrants like Nnedi Okorafor and Ken Liu winning Hugos. So the Hugos are already getting more international than they’ve been in the past.

    As for putting the “world” in WorldCon, the WorldCon memberrship is already pretty international. At WorldCon 75 there were a lot of folks, probably the majority, who were not Brits or Americans. I personally talked to Finns, Swedes, Norwegians, Russians, Poles, Germans, Estonians, Israelis, Italians, Australians, Irish and Chinese fans and I suspect there were many more.

    It would be good to get more of those international fans involved in the Hugos, since many of them didn’t participate, because – quote – “I don’t know those books and those people, so I have no idea what to vote for or whom to nominate”. I’m not sure how to solve this problem either, since the Hugo voter packet was available to all members, including international members and there was plenty of information telling WorldCon members exactly how they could get involved.

  7. I’m late to the party but finally caught up with Netflix’s Bandersnatch. Highly recommended—for myself at least; I can easily imagine people not being into it, but it was the right kind of weird for me, and must have been extremely interesting for them to put together. More here (no spoilers).

  8. @Tom Becker

    At a campfire discussion about “worst possible ice cream flavors” the winners were Pine Tar, and Creosote.

    I’m sure a bunch of SF fans can do better than that.

    I’ve personally had strawberry basil, green pepper, chocolate chili and beer soda ice cream. I coud have done without beer soda, but the rest tested pretty good. I’ve also had woodruff ice cream, including ice cream made with real woodruff rather than the fake aroma which never tastes right, but woodruff is only exotic outside Germany. As for pine, I’m not particularly keen on trying pine tar ice cream, but I’ve had pine flavoured liqueur and pine flavoured sorbet, made from fresh pine spruces, and it was fine.

  9. FWIW, some of the plethora of new Oreo experiments have been very good indeed. OTOH, I can’t help feeling, while eating them, that they just aren’t Oreos. “That’s an excellent cookie which is not in any real way an Oreo!” I think to myself, reaching for yet another.

  10. I am quite content with the original Oreos, and don’t know if I’ve even tried any other variety. I imagine that if someone has ever offered me one I would have eaten it, but I don’t remember that happening.

  11. 2) When it comes to reading material, he is starting at the wrong end. It shouldn’t start with nomination to Hugo’s. It should start with translation of works from languages that aren’t english. I don’t know how it is with other languages, but there has been a sharp decrease in the swedish works that are picked up by foreign markets. Much fewer works are translated than there used to be.

    Discussions are ongoing with regards to if this is an effect of increased nationalism of economic anxiety. But I can’t expect he graphical diversity if foreign works aren’t available for the readers.

    I guess the same goes for movies, graphic novels and TV shows.

  12. Hampus — There have been a lot of Scandinavian mysteries translated into English over the last few years. Is that still going strong, or has that dropped as well?

  13. If I understand correctly, fewer mysteries are translated too. But the biggest difference is on the childrens market. Goes in the other direction too, much fewer books are translated to swedish.

    There is a very lively market for swedish fantasy litterature, but have not heard of anything being translated to English.

  14. (1) I’m happy to see Novik’s defense of transformative works getting wider distribution.

  15. cmm says gross. Quit making stupid weird flavors and just bring back the vanilla cookie/chocolate filling version. It’s not that damn difficult.

    One of the food pantries I staff, the one later today, gets much of its food donated from Shaw’s. For reasons not at all clear to us, they stock Oreo’s in very weird flavors and one week, I think it was the week after Halloween, we got Pumpkin (predictible) and Red Hot Chili (not so predictible) from them. Both were eagerly snatched up..

  16. @Hampus

    If I understand correctly, fewer mysteries are translated too. But the biggest difference is on the childrens market. Goes in the other direction too, much fewer books are translated to swedish.

    There is a very lively market for swedish fantasy litterature, but have not heard of anything being translated to English.

    There used to be and still is quite a bit of translated Swedish fiction available in Germany. Lots of crime fiction, but also literary fiction, women’s fiction, etc…. But it’s quite possible that fewer mysteries are translated these days, because some of the most popular authors, Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson, Per Wahlöö, are dead by now. And newer authors are less frequently translated than old standbys.

    We also have a bunch of faux Swedish authors, German authors writing under Swedish pen names. Inga Lindström, who writes romances and women’s fiction, is probably the best known Until I googled her right now, I had no idea that she wasn’t actually Swedish.

    As for Swedish children’s and YA books, it’s mostly Astrid Lindgren and the like, the same books that I read as a kid and my parents before me. They’re still very good books, but we don’t see more recent books. I don’t recall ever seeing any Swedish SFF in a German bookstore, unless it was classic children’s fantasy.

    And yes, you’re definitely right that we need more translated SFF before we will see more international Hugo winners.

  17. @Cora: Speaking of children’s literature in translation, is “Emil and the Detectives” (“Emil und die Detektive”) still popular in Germany? I read it (in English) when I was a lad, and it probably influenced my decision to take German in high school and college.

  18. Mike G, thanks a bunch for the plug! This might be the year someone reads my blog. I’ll also commend the tag “Toon River,” which leads to installments (each independent) of my Toon River Anthology, which is self-spoken epitaphs for comics characters, mostly of the newspaper variety.

    (12) I keep wishing they’d bring back Penguins, which I haven’t seen since the 70s. They were like you’d get if you took fudge-filled Oreos and dipped them in fudge. Probably too sweet for me to eat a lot of now, but I’d sure like to have them again. I’ve seen something rather similar imported from the UK, with rectangular cookies, but I think the filling is less firm and more intrusive.

    Per discussion on (12): For a while, Lays had wasabi ginger flavored kettle chips, and they were wonderful. The vending machine at the YMCA had them for a while, and I was content until the machine wasn’t restocked with them and went in search, only to find that they were pretty much gone. There were two intervals in which I could find them at one supermarket chain in town, but now nobody has them, and the company says they’re discontinued.

    Cora: Around 1982, a friend in southeast Georgia told us the horrific story of being in a party of four staying in a remote cabin for a weekend only to realize that nobody had brought intoxicants of any sort. After a cinematic montage of fevered rooting through all the cupboards, someone came up with a bottle labeled “pine wine.” It smelt of turpentine, and, as my friend said… [putting a flashlight under my chin and adopting a low voice full of doom] …over the weekend, they consumed it all.

  19. 2) I think I agree with most everyone here AND with Napper, even though it appears that Napper and Filers are approaching the issue from different directions. Encouraging more non-US-author reading in prep for Hugo noms is a Good Thing, IMHO. And I personally need to do a lot more of it myself.

    Speaking of Hugos —

    US-author current reading: I just finished The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller yesterday. I had no idea what it would be like, and I found it unexpectedly sweet. For those unfamiliar, it’s a fantasy alternate history taking place in the US during the years of WWI, the “alternate” part being the widespread practice of magic (the denizens of the book would say it isn’t magic, it’s “empirical philosophy”). And since women almost always have much more ability in empirical philosophy than men do, gender dynamics are more complex than in our version of reality.

    I loved the details the author worked out about the practice and consequences of his magic system, and the not-quite-entirely-serious narrative voice was endearing. I thought the gender issues were hammered a little too hard occasionally, but that’s a very minor quibble. I’m a little worried about sequels, which are pretty obviously intended to follow, because although the tone of this book is optimistic overall, there are multiple hints throughout that the future may not be bright for these guys; I’ll definitely have to read the next books to find out!

    As a first novel, this may be a good candidate for Campbell nominations. And interesting author trivia: Miller has both an MD and an MFA, and has worked as both an ER doc and as a college English instructor. A Renaissance man!

    Oh, and in audio this was narrated by Gibson Frazier. He hasn’t done a whole lot of books before this, but I thought he did a fine job. No complaints.

    Other recent reading: I finished Circe by Madeline Miller a few days ago. Beautiful prose, I thought, and an intriguing story about gods and humans with feet of clay and about how consequences like death and pain and loss make life worth living. Beautifully narrated by Perdita Weeks.

    Oh, and P.S. — I found myself unable to resist buying and starting the latest two Spellslinger books by Sebastien de Castell, Charmcaster and Soulbinder. I usually don’t care much for YA, but these really are a lot of fun. If you liked the Greatcoats books at all, and if you can stand a teenage MC who sometimes acts and thinks like a teenager, I highly recommend them.

  20. @7: I remember the very few bits of Reeves I saw in reruns as appallingly wooden — but that may have been the way the Big Blue Schoolboy(*) was written then; it was not a time for making superheroes believable-as-people in general, and Superman was the most … imposing? … of that lot.
    (*)Green Arrow’s slam from I-don’t-remember-who’s Batman-is-old short series.

    @7 ctd: I don’t like the Mira Grant work; partly my taste not running to gory horror and partly that I don’t believe her mutation of the political structure. (As @Harold Osler’s comment shows, YMMV.) Oddly, a friend who claims to like McGuire really likes only the Mira Grant work. And the perennial question for those who say they don’t like Daye: which ones did you read? She was still learning in the first ones, but IMO #’s 4ff are good. There’s also her short work, which got 3 Hugo nominations in one year and to my mind packs even more of a punch than her novels. And the Incryptid series, which started as relatively lightweight all-the-monsters-in-the-world-are-real-but-most-aren’t-really-monsters and has recently gotten more substantial (modulo the Aeslin mice, which are just plain fun).

    @7 ctd2: weird Miyazaki fact: the English dub of Castle in the Sky (aka Laputa) includes one of my favorite singer-actors, Mandy Patinkin, in a bit part as a thug. I have no idea how they got him for this — it’s recent enough that I doubt he needed the money, and it’s very out of character (which may be why he did it).

    @4: [snortle}

    @11: that’s disappointing.

    @12: that sounds horrible — especially because I intensely dislike artificial butter flavor and it makes my partner nauseous. OTOH, as long as the packaging is solid we won’t hear “Cleanup on the cookie aisle!” on the PA.

    @14: amusing, but out of date; recent work (as described in the mundane press — I haven’t read the original papers) reports that most of the improve-your-brain gimmicks (particularly the ones to hold off senility) aren’t actively harmful but don’t help.

    @Cora Buhlert: and then there are those of us who don’t have a choice about decluttering….

    @Cora Buhlert (re flavors): an ice-cream shop near a former job had a number of great flavors in rotation, but the avocado sorbet was not a hit even though it was made with real avocados rather than synthesized/extracted flavor.

    @Cat Eldridge: Shaw’s may be affected by tie-ins, or even placement fees; IIUC these are not uncommon in getting foods on shelves (at least for trials).

    wrt mystery translations: I’ve picked up a couple of Swedish apparently-series at the library, but have been more caught by Norwegian Annie Holt’s work. Unfortunately it looks like she’s wrapped up this series.

    @Contrarius: looks interesting; added to the mountain. (I have this flash of scraps of a collector or intense reader filking “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”….)

  21. @Andrew
    I read that book in my HS German class (3rd year, I think). IIRC, there were two of us who’d come in from other districts and didn’t need the lesson the teacher gave on reading fraktur (black-letter, AKA Gothic, print) – we’d done our first year classes with it. (It’s like another language, because some of the letters are so different.)

  22. @Tom Becker: re new Oreo flavors

    I’m sure a bunch of SF fans can do better than that.

    “Xenomorph Acid Oreos! For the esophageal-challenged!”

  23. 2) I am puzzled by the argument that the Nebulas being 100% won by American writers indicates a flaw in the genre, rather than the fact that they are awarded by the Science Fiction Writers of _America_. In other shocking news, the Clarke award tends to go to British writers….

  24. @Chip —

    @7: I remember the very few bits of Reeves I saw in reruns as appallingly wooden —

    Reeves was sweet! The original cleft chin. I watched a lot of these in reruns back in the day.

    And the perennial question for those who say they don’t like Daye: which ones did you read?

    I’ve read the first 8 or 9 of em. Obviously I didn’t hate them. Nonetheless, there’s something about them that doesn’t quite do it for me. For one thing, I dislike the way McGuire does the romance. But I can’t put my finger on my main complaint. I find all of her novels/vellas/etc. that I’ve read (Toby Daye, InCryptid, Wayward Children) just slightly miss for me somehow. Oddly, though, I’ve never read any of her Mira Grant work.

  25. (2) I’ll agree with JJ on this one. It never ceases to amaze me how many people keep wanting to make the awards be about the authors, not the stories. That’s a tendency that needs to be resisted fiercely whenever it comes up.

  26. I think JJ has it right: Worldcon has always been an expression of SF fandom, and SF fandom has always been a subset–and not necessarily a very large one–of general SF readership. That’s certainly the way it was when I first encountered fandom and conventions in the 1960s. So if the Hugos are rooted in con-going* fandom (and they are), then they are always going to be statistically unrepresentative of the readership-at-large. And even among the r-a-l, the proportion of SF-in-translation is going to be rather small, thanks to marketplace issues such as the limited availability or marketing muscle of translated SF. Even UK/Australian books suffer from a publication lag or no US editions at all. Add it up and you get an awards field biased in favor of US-published work.

    It used to be worse than it is now: I recall the efforts (forty years ago) of Harry Harrison, Brian Aldiss, Fred Pohl, and some others to raise the profile of international SF by starting the World SF organization, which withered. I also recall publishers reporting that SF-in-translation did not sell well. Things seem to be changing on both the marketing and reader-acceptance ends, but I suspect that it’s a slow process. (And not all translations are equally readable. I name no names, but at least one I received for review a while back I found unreadable.)

    There’s a certain irony in an Australian complaining about this–the US-Aussie con-going fandom connection goes back quite a way (e.g., DUFF), and Australian writers do manage to penetrate our thick Yank sensibilities with some frequency–though, to be sure, not with the full range of the very lively Australian SF scene. (I was reading Bruce Gillespie’s SF Commentary back when he got several Hugo nominations.)

    * Or at least con-aware fandom, since non-attending/voting memberships have been part of the culture for decades. And of course there have been attempts to put the “world” in Worldcon for decades, even if that has meant, until recently, mostly anglophone countries. And Americans are notoriously monolingual–including readers with advanced degrees. (Raises own hand. Schoolboy French isn’t up to serious novel-reading.)

  27. (2) @ ambyr

    I was just about to say something similar. While there’s certainly no bar to non-American works being nominated for/winning the Nebulas, the nature of the organization makes it unsurprising that US-published works are more of a focus.

    Nebulas are nominated and voted on by SFWA members. SFWA membership requires publication in a US context. (My 3rd pro short story sale was to an anthology that came out first in the UK, so I couldn’t use it for my membership application. Had to wait for a 3rd US sale.)

    That doesn’t mean: A) that non-US citizens can’t make US sales and apply for SFWA membership; or B) that SFWA members don’t appreciate and enthusiastically recommend non-US publications; or C) that the work of SFWA in the field doesn’t also benefit non-US authors and industry dynamics simply by providing a benchmark and model. But the bias is built in to the organization by design.

    And it’s great that there are also lots of other regional SFF awards to make sure that talented people are recognized all around the globe. (Many of which do have more narrow formal requirements regarding authorship or publication for the nominated works, unlike SFWA.)

    So, all in all, not a useful example for the unfairness of SFF awards distribution.

  28. I’m holding out for Bitter Plum Oreos. If they make them, I will actually try one.

  29. Just to note that SFWA membership qualifying publications must be works in the English language and are not restricted to works published “in a US context.” This has been the case since 1999.

  30. Re (4), I dimly recall that some 3 to 4 decades ago in Scottish fandom, the chorus of a popular filk (sung to the tune of Botany Bay) began with the words “There are nae kludgies in the Enterprise . . . .

  31. @Andrew @PJ Evans
    Erich Kästner’s children’s books are venerable classics of German literature, though no longer quite as popular as they once were among the target audience, considering “Emil and the Detectives” is turning 90 this year and even postwar books like “Das Doppelte Lottchen” (Lottie and Lisa) and “Die Konferenz fer Tiere” (The Conference of Animals) are 70 years old by now and respectively dated.

    Though there are stage adaptations and there are also new film versions coming out every couple of years.

  32. @Cora:

    Thanks. I’d forgotten that Kästner also wrote the book that became “The Parent Trap.”

  33. @Cora
    Some of his are available in English translations. Most are not. (I can’t say that I remember much from reading it – that was all of 50 years ago!)

  34. (5) Gimbel obit:

    “The Girl from Ipanema” was written for a science fiction musical in Brazil

    Large, amorphous, greenish translucent
    The blob from Eta Carinae goes oozing
    And when it passes
    Each one it gobbles goes “Aaaaaaaargh”

  35. Horrible ice cream flavours? Easy… Himalayan pink salt, honey, and surströmming. Pretty much every flavour clashes with all the others. And the cadaverine and putrescine should be a good way of making eating it a memorable experience.

  36. #13: Five years ago, I posted a photo of the Ateneo Bookstore on my FB page. One commenter, who knew my interests, said that they actually had a pretty darn good section of science fiction!

  37. In Delaware a plate was issued for “phuque”, which lasted on the road for a few weeks.

  38. Freeze dried Durian doesn’t smell.

    And in Delaware a plate with “PHUQUE” on it went “unnoticed” for a few weeks.

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