Pixel Scroll 10/12/18 Good Pixels Make Good Scrolls

(1) MARVEL FIRES CHUCK WENDIG FROM STAR WARS PROJECTS. Chuck Wendig is off the Shadow of Vader comic books team announced just a week ago at New York Comic Con, and off an as-yet-unannounced Star Wars book. This is the reason he was given —

Today I got the call. I’m fired. Because of the negativity and vulgarity that my tweets bring. Seriously, that’s what Mark, the editor said. It was too much politics, too much vulgarity, too much negativity on my part.

The thread starts here.


The text of his Twitter thread also appears in a post on his blog, “In Which I Am Fired From Marvel”.

I know it hands Comicsgate a big win. It will embolden them. But they won — I’m out of Marvel and, I guess for now, at least, out of any kind of Star Wars. Do your victory lap, I guess. (Just please leave me out of it.) (All that being said, a lot of wonderful people still work inside those institutions and storyworlds, and I hope you’ll continue to support them and the stories they’re telling.) To conclude: this is really quite chilling. And it breaks my heart. I am very sad, and worried for the country I live in, and the world, and for creative people all around. Courage to you all. I have a dire fear this is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

P.S. Vote in November like your life depends on it. Because it just might.

A site that publicizes Vox Day and Jon Del Arroz projects, Bounding Into Comics, cited a half-dozen recent examples from Wendig’s social media they thought supported Wendig’s firing and concluded —

…Wendig can claim that he’s a victim all he wants. It’s simply not true.

One thing appears to be clear. Disney might ignore the behavior of a number of Marvel Comics professionals, but Star Wars is a whole other beast. It appears Disney doesn’t want their multi-billion dollar investment to be harmed by a novelist and comic book writer.

There also appears to be a line that Disney will draw when it comes to who they employ. We’ve recently seen them fire James Gunn for his Tweets about pedophiles and child rape, and now Chuck Wendig has been fired after calling for calling Disney consumers white supremacists, racists, and rapists. Not to mention he called for violence against Trump supporters…

At the other end of the response spectrum is Kate Gardner’s post for The Mary Sue:

…It does hand Comicsgate a big win. It hands people who want to see their media homogenized and reduced down to the same white cishet male stories a massive win. Worse, it sends a message that if you want to work for a big title, keep your mouth shut and don’t talk about politics, even though at this point in the game silence is nearly complicity.

All art is political, and apparently people being angry that politics in certain works are progressive matters more than artists actually standing up for what’s right.

This is frightening. I won’t call it censorship, but it’s pretty close. It’s a big message saying keep your mouth shut and take the abuse, because apparently defending yourself (and others around you) is as bad as being a troll. It’s “vulgar.” It’s not “civil.” Marvel has known about Wendig’s politics since 2015 at the very earliest, but suddenly there’s a problem with him being his usual self and using his platform for good?

(2) ON BROADWAY. Peter Marks in the Washington Post has a profile (“A Perfect Pitch To Land Gig For Beetlejuice”) of Australian composer Eddie Perfect (his real name!) who wrote the score for the musical adaptation of Beetlejuice opening in Washington next month and who also wrote the songs for the forthcoming Broadway version of King Kong.

Perfect has been a popular recording artist and comic songwriter in Australia. He ventured into musical comedy a decade ago with his satirical bio-musical “Shane Warne: The Musical,” based on a onetime Australian star cricketer. Though he has been eager to break into theater here, a musical about a former captain of the Australian national team playing something called “limited overs cricket” was never a safe bet to get him noticed. When he learned that “Beetlejuice” was on a wide search for a composer, he saw his opening.

(3) THE RIGHT NUMBER. Bill contributed this magic square:

203, 184, 178, 205
172, 211, 197, 190
207, 180, 182, 201
188, 195, 213, 174

Each column and row adds to 770. Each diagonal. The center 4 squares. Each corner of 4 squares. The blocks of 4 squares on the center of the top and bottom, and on the center of left and right sides. There are 52 ways to get to the magic sum.

(4) STAFFORD OBIT. Greg Stafford of Runequest and Call of Cthulhu fame died October 11 reports Michael O’Brien on the Chaosium Inc. blog. (For more detail about Stafford’s career, see his Wikipedia entry.)

The shock and grief the Chaosium family felt at the news of the passing of our beloved and revered company founder, Greg Stafford, cannot be measured. Greg died yesterday in his sweat lodge at his home in Arcata, CA. Mercifully, his passing was painless and quick. He died as he lived, on a spiritual quest of enlightenment.

As one of the greatest game designers of all time; winner of too many awards to count; and a friend, mentor, guide, and inspiration to generations of gamers, “the Grand Shaman of Gaming” influenced the universe of tabletop gaming beyond measure.

Greg founded The Chaosium in 1975, and from the outset (to quote his own words) “was never content to imitate, but instead published games that were original in their style of play, content and design”. Under his leadership, the company quickly became renowned for its originality and creativity, and was responsible for introducing numerous things to the hobby that are standards today.

… For now, we leave you with the words of the Myth maker himself, speaking at the 2018 ENnies Awards ceremony, his last public engagement….



[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 12, 1875 — Aleister Crowley. Genre writer? You decide. But I’ve no doubt that he had a great influence upon the genre as I’m betting many of you can note works in which  he figures. One of the earliest such cases is Land of Mist, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1926.
  • Born October 12, 1916 – Lock Martin. He’s had three genre roles but only one’s a doozy — the seven-foot tall Gort in The Day in The Earth Stood Still. The others are in The Invaders from Mars (1953) and The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) in which apparently he only appears in deleted scenes.
  • Born October 12, 1904 – Lester Dent. Pulp writer who is best known as the creator and main author of the Doc Savage series. The 159 novels written over 16 years were credited to the house name Kenneth Robeson used by Street & Smith as the author of this character and later The Avenger.
  • Born October 12 – Storm Constantine, 56. Writer with her longest running series being the Wraeththu Universe which has at least four separate series within all of which are known for their themes of alternative sexuality and gender. She has also written a number of non-fiction (I think) works such as Sekhem Heka: A Natural Healing and Self Development System and The Grimoire of Deharan Magick: Kaimana.
  • Born October 12 – Hugh Jackman, 50. Though much, much better known for his work in Wolverine in the X-Men film franchise, I’m more fond of him for his voice work as Bunny in the Rise of the Guardians film which is based on the William Joyce Guardians series. He’s also appeared in Van Helsing, The Prestige and Pan.


  • You should mosey around John Atkinson’s “Writers’ Block” at Wrong Hands.
  • This celebrity couple in Off the Mark probably won’t make it to a second date.

(7) THE BAR’S MY DESTINATION. Elon Musk has confirmed “Teslaquilla” is a thing reports TechCrunch.

Elon Musk confirmed Friday in a tweet that the Tesla-branded tequila called “Teslaquilla”—the bottle of liquor that co-starred in his April Fool’s Day joke about the automaker filing for bankruptcy — is “coming soon.”

Musk’s tweet was a response to a CNBC article that reported Tesla had filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark “Teslaquila.”

(8) FIRST MAN. In The New Yorker, Richard Brody analyzes the culture wars influencing a film director’s choices: “‘First Man,’ Reviewed: Damien Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong Bio-Pic Is an Accidental Right-Wing Fetish Object”.

The one scene that embodies the sixties onscreen is, to my mind, among the most contemptible scenes in recent movies. It takes place midway through the action, when Congress begins to question the value of the space program. Neil is dispatched to represent NASA in a meeting at the White House, where senators fret about “taxpayer dollars,” and while there he is summoned to the phone and informed of the deaths of three astronauts in an Apollo test. The point is clear: that the astronauts are risking their lives while Congress is counting beans and playing politics.

But Chazelle takes that notion even further a few minutes later in the film, when, racked with unspeakable grief over the deaths of his colleagues, Neil drives off to be alone. “Half the country” may oppose the moon mission, but here Chazelle offers a peculiar, tendentious, and self-revealing cinematic interpretation of that phrase in the form of a montage. It shows Kurt Vonnegut, appearing in a black-and-white television clip, saying that the government would do better to spend the money on such things as making New York City “habitable.” There’s an archival clip of chanting protesters, featuring, prominently, a sign saying “¡Ayuda al Pueblo!” and footage, staged for the movie, of Leon Bridges performing Gil Scott-Heron’s 1970 song “Whitey on the Moon.”

With this sequence, Chazelle openly mocks people who thought that the moon money was spent foolishly—those pesky intellectuals, blacks, and Hispanics who go on TV or into the street demanding “gimme” while the likes of Neil and his exclusively white, male colleagues uncomplainingly put their lives on the line to accomplish historic things in the interest of “mankind.” In its explicit content, and by artful omission, “First Man” subscribes to the misbegotten political premise that America used to be greater—and that the liberating and equalizing activism of the sixties ignored, dismissed, and even undermined that greatness.

(9) DOWNHILL ALL THE WAY. It arrived on Earth without the assistance of astronauts — “For Sale! Certified Lunar Meteorite — Weight 12 Pounds — Mileage 250,000”.

A Boston-based online auction house began accepting bids Thursday on a rare lunar meteorite at $50,000. But the firm estimates it could go for $500,000 or more when bidding closes on Oct. 18, according to the item’s posting.

There are a few reasons why this meteorite might command such a large price.

First, at about 12 pounds, the lunar rock is very large….

BBC was first with the story here, but NPR notes how we know it’s a moon rock rather than a random meteorite:

Bidders should be aware the specimen is considered a lunar feldspathic breccia in geological terms and contains absolutely no cheese.

(10) RESCUE ROBOT. In a BBC video, “Humanoid ‘rescue robot’ learns parkour”. Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a note, “Video. obnoxious music, and bizarre comments at the end, but the first several seconds are stunning.” You’ve been warned.

Atlas, the robot developed by tech firm Boston Dynamics, has learned the art of parkour.

The humanoid has been taught several skills during its development, including how to run, jump over objects and perform backflips.

The latest development shows the robot leap up on to 40cm (15.7in) high blocks without slowing down.

The company has suggested Atlas may one day be used in search and rescue operations, although critics fear it will be used for other purposes by the military.

(11) WHO’S HUMAN? Admit it.  You lay awake at night wondering about the ending of The Thing.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA, Eric Franklin, Trey Palmer, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day StephenfromOttawa.]

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52 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/12/18 Good Pixels Make Good Scrolls

  1. Second.

    R.I.P Greg Stafford, game designer and world-builder extraordinaire. He gave me permission to use a Gloranthan name in World of Warcraft gratis, expressing pleasure that I had asked permission. A good guy.

  2. (2) Shane Warne the Musical was quite funny but I don’t remember any of the songs (unlike Keating! the Musical which had some excellent tunes but the plot required a better grasp of 80s/90s Australian politics than I had)

  3. @3: that’s impressive, but the listed ways only add up to 19; can you give us a clue about some of the other 33?

    @8: so the film’s getting it from both sides. Does Brody think it would have been better not to acknowledge what was going on then? BTW, does anyone know who Brody is? Does he have form for … reaching?

    edit: Fifth!

  4. @Lis
    Did you at least get to see the screen while they were doing it? (I thought it was kind of fun watching my own heart beating, when I got one. But I’m in 7389.)

  5. 7) A one-l Teslaquila is an ironic drink.
    A two-l Teslaquilla’s a typo, I think.
    (And I will pause in my recital
    To chuckle at the item title.)

  6. RIP Greg Stafford. I put a similar post on a wargaming site.

    His return to Chaosium helped put it back onto much sounder financial footing.

    Runequest has had a major relaunch lately. They had a big presence at Origins for Runequest.

  7. @P J–Sadly, no. The screen was where I couldn’t see it. It’s only 3083, here.

    When the tech (radiologist?) told me not to breathe, Dora voiced a quiet, but firm, protest. In subsequent iterations, that instruction was rephrased to “hold it.” Dora has no objection to the Human Vets telling me to hold things. She knows humans can do that safely.

  8. Kip W: The question is, how many Ls did the original April Fool’s Day joke have? Maybe they wanted to move away from the idea of “Tesla Killer” when they thought of marketing some kind of Tequila or Mezcal.

  9. Greg Stafford was one of the greats of the rpg hobby, one of the first to make a game setting with a cohesive, believable cosmology and mythology, backed by one of the first universal rule sets. Like M. A. R. Barker with Tekumel, he brought both an anthropological and mythopoetical sensibility to his work.

    He was fortunate enough to see his setting brought back from senescence to be enjoyed by a new generation of fans. The game hobby was richer for his work, and it is poorer for losing him.

  10. @Chip:
    The corner squares (1); semi-diagonals (for example: 203 + 190 + 182 + 195 and reflections/rotations) (4); spread squares (203 + 178 +207 + 182 and ref/rot) (4); opposite center edges (184 + 178 + 195 + 213 and 172 + 207 + 190 + 201) (2); broken diagonals (178 + 190 + 207 + 195 and ref/rot) (2); split squares (203 + 172 + 205 + 190 and ref/rot) (4); trapezoids (184 + 178 + 207 + 201 and ref/rot and 211 + 197 + 188 + 174 and ref/rot) (8); spread pairs (203 + 172 + 182 + 213 and ref/rot) (8).
    There may be other sets of 4 elements that randomly happen to add to 770, but they will not necessarily have rotational/reflective symmetry, and as such generally aren’t considered “magic”.

  11. Andrew: (1): “Chuck Vader”? Possibly a typo.

    Yeah, that was one of my more effin’ brilliant mistakes!

  12. Since I consider it at least genre adjacent, I’ll note that Emily Wilson’s recent translation of the Odyssey Is reduced to 98p on Amazon UK. That’s a reduction of £17


    The only weird thing about this for me is the timing. Wendig has been abrasive on Twitter for years (which I’m fine with as he gets a lot of nonsense coming the other way) and I can see how that can be problematic for the corporate overlords, but they should have known this before hiring him.

  14. rob_matic on October 13, 2018 at 1:41 am said:

    The only weird thing about this for me is the timing. Wendig has been abrasive on Twitter for years (which I’m fine with as he gets a lot of nonsense coming the other way) and I can see how that can be problematic for the corporate overlords, but they should have known this before hiring him.

    People are pointing at recent line editor change: Jordan D. White was promoted to managing X-Men, and Star Wars (with some other stuff) was given to Mark Paniccia. And I’m hearing that Paniccia has some kind of bad reputation in the field (but no specifics).

  15. (1) Sadly, Marvel (and the whole of Disney given Marc Gunn) has now showed that they are a soft target. Even if Lucasfilm has shown they are supportive of the people being harassed by the neofascists (or as they like to call themselves, the alt-right), their support structures around them are being whittled off.

    Also, every public “win” like this emboldens the neofascists. It’s a vicious circle.

    (8) I had heard some good things of the movie, but that’s really offputting, and the form of cultural propaganda that’s really hard to shield yourself against.

    @Chip Hitchcock: I think what Brody reacted against was not the inclusion of the debate of the worth of the moon program in the 60s, or that Neil Armstrong grieved his fellow astronauts, but how those two things were framed and connected with each other.

  16. I’ve been going through a bunch of this year’s novellas with an eye to possibly doing another Novellapalooza, and am finding some of them to be really disappointing.

    I’m seriously considering DNFing Binti: The Night Masquerade, because it’s very clearly part 3 of a novel rather than a novella, and since it’s been a year and a half since I read part 2 (which had a weak plot to begin with), pretty much incomprehensible to me without going back for a re-read. Which I really kind of resent, and which puts it completely out of Hugo running for me.

    And while the first in the series, Killing Gravity, was at least readable, the second, Void Black Shadow, just reads like the transcript of someone’s videogame where there’s almost no character development and the MPC, who is ridiculously overpowered, spends the entire time just trying various attacks — many of them really stupid — and committing massive slaughters of thousands of people, instead of thinking and planning, and actually, you know, having a real plot.

    Stone Mad contains everything that annoyed me about Karen Memory — a bunch of lovesick whining and a really annoying “uneddicated” patois — and almost none of what I liked about that book.

    The Flowers of Vashnoi is a enjoyable side story, but not what I’d call remarkable, and it sort of drops the ball on what might have been a good commentary on the practice of well-off majority people stealing the children of minority poor people to give them what is perceived to be a better life.

    Taste of Wrath is an excellent wrap-up to the Sin du Jour series (which is definitely on my Best Series longlist), but does not stand at all on its own.

    On the flip side, The Expert System’s Brother was a really pleasant surprise, Phoresis was a really interesting thought experiment, and as posted previously, I loved The Freeze-Frame Revolution.

  17. Reading: I just finished Ari Marmell’s latest, The Iron Devils, which starts as a kind of dystopian post-apocalyptic humans-enslaved-by-the-machines thing, but then takes an interesting twist, and picked up (for the first time in probably 30 years) Kirby McCauley’s all-original horror anthology Dark Forces, which has some great stories in it (including, but not limited to, the first appearance of Stephen King’s The Mist; but also pieces by Gene Wolfe, T.E.D. Klein, Joyce Carol Oates, Karl Edward Wagner, Richard & Richard Christian Matheson, and many others). If you want to get a sense of what horror fiction looked like circa 1980, right before the boom but during Peak King, this is probably the anthology for you.

  18. @JJ

    I hope you do do another Novellapalooza, they’re really great.

    I’ve not bothered with either Binti 3,Killing Gravity 2 or the Sin de Jour series as they’re all clearly Not For Me. With Binti I can see it’s good but since the oddness of the plotting in the first one I can’t get into it, whereas I don’t think Killing Gravity was very good full stop. I loved the first Sin de Jour but for some reason the later ones have lost me.
    Flowers of Vashnoi is a nice enough treat for die hard fans but is far too entrenched in the details of the series to work for a casual reader. (And I’m with you on how the casual exercise of wealth and privilege to solve the problem needed examining).
    I’m afraid I quite liked Stone Mad – but it’s not up to the first installment.

    My current likely list is Time Was, Tea Master and The Detective, The Expert System’s Brother, and I think my frontrunner is The Black God’s Drums.

    In other news, finished the latest KB Wagers and it’s definitely up to scratch.

  19. @JJ: I hope you do, too that was great. And yeah, The Freeze-Frame Revolution is brilliant.

  20. Meredith Moment: R.A. MacAvoy’s Book of Kells is currently $1.99!

    EDIT: And N.K. Jemisin’s Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is currently $2.99.

    Also, and unrelatedly, last night I watched Bad Ronald, the 1974 made-for-TV adaptation of the book by Jack Vance. It was … OK. And reminded me that I really do need to read more of Vance’s mysteries.

  21. My fave novellas this year have been:
    Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
    Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
    Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
    The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard
    Night Flights by Philip Reeve

    I was less impressed by:
    The Flowers of Vashnoi by Lois McMaster Bujold
    Stone Mad by Elizabeth Bear
    Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

  22. @Kyra

    I hadn’t heard of Night Flights – Amazon claims it’s a collection of three short stories, am I missing something?

  23. @Mike Glyer
    Andrew: (1):

    “Chuck Vader”? Possibly a typo.

    Yeah, that was one of my more effin’ brilliant mistakes!

    Col Chuck Vader was the pilot of the Bell X-1, the first tie fighter to break the speed of sound.

  24. I’ve managed to read 13 books that would qualify as Novellas this year (including Binti 3, which may or may not qualify) and found some really good stuff.

    The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooks Bolander is my easy favorite, but Stone Mad by Elizabeth Bear, The Descent of Monsters by JY Yang, The Black God’s Drums by P Djeli Clark, In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard and the entire Murderbot series are also highlights.

  25. (5) Birthdays. Add to the list former Utah senator Jake Garn (1932), who parlayed his congressional seat into the greatest taxpayer-funded junket of all time: he was a payload specialist on the shuttle Discovery in 1985 (a few months later, Florida congressman Bill Nelson did likewise). “Jake Garn, he has made a mark in the Astronaut Corps because he represents the maximum level of space sickness that anyone can ever attain, and so the mark of being totally sick and totally incompetent is one Garn. Most guys will get maybe to a tenth Garn, if that high. And within the Astronaut Corps, he forever will be remembered by that”. He later co-wrote a novel informed by his experiences.

  26. garik16: Binti 3, which may or may not qualify

    The Night Masquerade is 47,885 words, but as of Worldcon this August, the top threshold for the Novella category is 48,000 words (40,000 +/- 20%).

    garik16: The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander

    is actually a novelette of 16,825 words, and while that is within the lower threshold for the Novella category, my recommendation is that it would have a better chance as a Novelette, given that the nominations in that category tend to be lower and spread out more.

  27. On novellas: I’m at 17 read from this year, plus maybe 3 that are the right length from CREATURES, the new collection from Abyddon Press looking at the Frankenstein myth (great collection as a whole, but nothing from it is troubling this list).

    The only definite nominee I have at the moment is THE DESCENT OF MONSTERS by JY Yang, although YMMV on the extent to which it holds up independently of the first two. It’s definitely more comprehensible than BINTI: THE NIGHT MASQUERADE without a reread, but I suspect it would be difficult to get the full effect without reading the whole series.

    Then I’ve got a “great but not perfect” shortlist under that:

    THE EXPERT SYSTEM’S BROTHER had some fantastic worldbuilding and cemented Adrian Tchaikovksy’s position on my favourite authors list.
    ACCELERANTS by Lena Wilson is a brilliant, angry, timely story with a somewhat YA angle.
    GODS, MONSTERS AND THE LUCKY PEACH by Kelly Robson really grabbed me when I read it, although a few months later I’m struggling to remember what I liked best? I think it was a combination of worldbuilding and the interesting dual narrative structure.
    BENEATH THE SUGAR SKY by Seanan McGuire is my favourite of the Wayward Children books so far, though I have personal bias at play. Likewise for A GLIMMER OF SILVER by Juliet Kemp, which captured my imagination and has an interesting, nuanced quest.
    THE BLACK GOD’S DRUMS by P. Djeli Clark, also on the back of strong worldbuilding as well as an enjoyable main character.
    Inevitably at least one of the Murderbot novellas will end up here as well: at the moment my favourite is ROGUE PROTOCOL, but I haven’t got my hands on EXIT STRATEGY yet.

    There’s nothing I’ve been super disappointed with from this year, although there are series/authors that I’ve stopped reading (like Caitlin R. Kiernan’s Black Helicopters – couldn’t get on with Agents of Dreamland) and others that I haven’t got around to yet (The Flowers of Vashnoi – honestly, I just finished Gentleman Jole a few weeks ago and found that Hard Work, so I’m giving Vorkosigans a rest for now and maybe forever).

    I think this is about the position I was in last year too – I’ve got four more novellas on the reading list (Exit Strategy, Every River Runs to Salt by Rachael K. Jones, In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard and JY Yang’s new release from the Book Smugglers, whose name I forget), after which I’ll have plenty more to think about…

  28. I hadn’t heard of Night Flights – Amazon claims it’s a collection of three short stories, am I missing something?

    The short stories are connected by a frame tale, so it’s plausible to view the whole thing as a novella. It probably would fit more easily into being considered as three novelettes, though, it is true.

    (In terms of quality, I quite liked it, but I’d probably only recommend it to people who were acquainted with the Mortal Engines books already; not sure how well it does as a stand-alone.)

  29. @JJ and others —

    Thanks for the novella recs, folks! I’m trying to read more of them this year.

    I’m seriously considering DNFing Binti: The Night Masquerade

    I thought it was kind of a mess. Would have benefitted from just making the whole thing a novel, as you noted, and expanding on all the kitchen-sink elements being thrown in. As it stands, there wasn’t nearly enough time to deal with everything that got dumped into the pile.

    The Flowers of Vashnoi is a enjoyable side story

    I thought it leaned too heavily on the themes of The Mountains of Mourning. And what in the world were all those skulls about? Fher, gur xvqf qvrq, ohg jul va gur jbeyq jbhyq nalbar qrpncvgngr gurz orsber ohevny??

    the Sin du Jour series

    Somehow, the couple of stories I’ve read in this series have left me a bit cold. But I do plan on trying another one.

    On the up side, I liked Beneath the Sugar Sky better than the previous stories in the series. I still don’t think they’re brilliant, but I enjoyed it more. It probably helped that they finally got a really good narrator for this one in the audio version.

    As for my favorite overall so far — Exit Strategy all the way, baby! ;-D My only distress is that Wells is going to be competing against herself this year, with all three Murderbots being worthy stories.

  30. @Kyra

    Thanks. I haven’t read the main sequence so I probably won’t try that one.


    GLIMMER OF SILVER by Juliet Kemp – I liked but didn’t love, mainly because I felt like it ended prematurely – I wanted to see them return and try to finish solving the problem.

    GODS, MONSTERS AND THE LUCKY PEACH by Kelly Robson – I think I’ve cooled on this a bit. I came away loving the ideas, but the story was a bit of a mess and came to an abrupt halt.

  31. Murderbot: Great. Only reason I havent read the fourth one is, that Ill having a very long train trip soon and plan to read it then.
    Beneath sugar sky: Imho the best in the series, its the first that fully delivers on the idea behind it.
    Sin du jour: Ive read two and they were a nice read. Pleasant. Ill read another one, if I come across it in a bundle or something, but I dont feel the need to seek it out.

  32. My novella Hugo list at this point is:

    The Freeze-Frame Revolution (really brilliant!)
    Beneath the Sugar Sky
    The Expert System’s Brother
    The Exit Strategy

    But the last two position can still be replaced if something better comes around.

  33. @Arifel: Really? I thought Agents of Dreamland was brilliant. YMMV, obviously. I really hope Kiernan manages to write the next one, The Tindalos Asset.

  34. @Karl-Johan Norén: given the temperature of the remarks, I wonder whether Brody was seeing links that didn’t actually exist; I find the insistence that the film supports the MAGA argument contentious, considering that the most obvious meme-pushing moment (planting the US flag) was omitted. I’ll probably see it (I’m not getting to many movies these days) and make up my own mind.

    @Andrew: an interesting article full of good points, although I was glad to see the word “may” in

    A man who has quit expanding his personal library may have reached the point where he thinks he knows all he needs to and that what he doesn’t know can’t hurt him. He has no desire to keep growing intellectually.

    as some of us no longer buying books are leaning on libraries in order to deal with space issues (including having to move to more accommodating quarters).

    I have not been reading many novellas, but I did pick up and was also underimpressed by “Stone Memory”; in addition to the whinging-about-relationship noted above, I found the insertion of outright fantasy into ~steampunk somewhat jarring.

  35. (1) They just NOW realized Chuck cusses and has opinions? Comic books already have a low enough reputation for being only for overgrown cis white fanboys; this isn’t going to help. But remember Perlmutter, a supremo of Marvel, is a big GOP donor.

    @Paul King: I cannot stress enough that everyone should buy and read that version of the Odyssey. I’ve tried to read it for decades, and that one I tore through in 3 days.


    EXIT STRATEGY. Numero uno, all the way, I’d even stop watching my shows to read it. Go Murderbot. It gave me All The Feels.

    BINTI: None of these are a complete story. And I kinda hate the main character.

    TEA MASTER & DETECTIVE: Also swell. Holmes and Watson, if they lived in outer space in the future and had Vietnamese culture and weren’t male, and Watson was a living starship.

    GODS/MONSTERS/PEACH had some lovely worldbuilding and then not only failed to stick the ending, it didn’t have an ending. It just quit. I literally turned the page, then turned back to see if I’d missed anything, and checked to see if I had a bad download. Nope. It just stopped. And the stopping place sucked.

    STONE MAD I liked but it wasn’t as good as the previous novel.

    ONLY HARMLESS GREAT THING: Really, really good. Quite moving, handled two different time periods so well. Can’t believe it’s only a novelette, but I’ll nominate it there.

    SUGAR SKY: I thought it was better than the others, and that’s literally all I remember.

    FLOWERS/VASHNOI: A pleasant diversion, but does NOT stand alone.

  36. Pleased to see I got title credit.

    Today I read “Grace’s Family” by James Patrick Kelly, an sf novelette published this past May at Tor.com, and thought it was excellent.

  37. My novellas so far:

    The Freeze-Frame Revolution. Peter Watts is just a cranky, evil genius.

    Exit Strategy, Martha Wells. Please, nominators, don’t split the vote and get none of the 3 Murderbots this year on the ballot. Please settle on this one; it’s every bit as good as the first.

    The Only Harmless Great Thing, Brooke Bolander. If this will do better in Novelette, that’s where I’ll put it. The ending is a tragic, beautiful punch in the gut.

    The Black God’s Drums, P. Djeli Clark. This has definitely grown on me. I’d also love to get the story of General Harriet Tubman, mentioned in a throwaway line.

    I liked Beneath the Sugar Sky, but not as much as Down Among the Sticks and Bones. It’s an edge case at best.

    I also liked Elizabeth Bear’s Stone Mad, but it worked better as a romance and a character study than SFF.

  38. One of the Murderbot novellas will definitely be on my nominating ballot. Other than that, I liked Tea Master and the Detective and The Freeze-Frame Revolution. I also liked Beneath the Sugar Sky better than Down Among the Sticks and Bones (I’m so tired of vampires) but since I’ve got several novellas still to read (The Black God’s Drums, The Expert System’s Brother, Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach and The Descent of Monsters) it may not stay up toward the top of the list.

    The Flowers of Vashnoi was enjoyable but it’s hovering further down on the list. I did not like the Binti novella and the Sin du Jour series isn’t for me. First I’ve heard of Phoresis though. I’ll have to look into it.

  39. @Bonnie McDaniel: The Freeze-Frame Revolution. Peter Watts is just a cranky, evil genius.
    He’s not that cranky.

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