Pixel Scroll 10/11/16 When An Unscrollable Pixel Meets An Irretickable File

(1) THE PAST THROUGH YESTERDAY. Dave Langford recalls his experiences at the Milford (UK) writers workshop three decades ago in “Mr Langford’s Milfords”

My Milford attendance record was nothing to write home about, let alone pad out to a six-volume fantasy trilogy.  All “my” Milfords were in the early though not the earliest days at the Compton Hotel, Milford-on-Sea. The Langford era ran from 1977 to 1984, skipping 1979 because that year’s UK Worldcon led to Milford being cancelled, and missing the 1983 event as a personal decision after long and painful study of my credit card statement.

Dave also heartily recommends Christopher Priest’s July post, “The Prequels”:

The misbehaviour of those middle-aged writers at Milford was in fact more or less as described, although I did leave out the bit where one of the most famous writers stormed out in a rage, where two others went for a midnight swim but afterwards couldn’t remember where they’d left their clothes … and when someone suddenly appeared at dinner dressed only in a black plastic bin-liner. No, that was another year.

(2) TYPO IN BRONZE. The Heinlein Society reports a typo was discovered on the dedication plaque of Robert Heinlein’s bust in the Hall of Famous Missourians, and a corrected plaque has now been installed.

(3) CONVERGENCE. Pukeko tries to relate his notions about political reality to Stross’ creation the Laundry Files, and Stross’ own politics, in “The turning is progressing as expected” at Dark Brightness.

The Laundry, on one level, is a horror urban fantasy. On another level, a spy story, And on the third, it has become a satire of the pretensions of the British Civil Service. The British Civil Service still is a good reason to move to than Antipodes.

But there is a tide in the seasons of man, and his neo-liberal political model — which he hates — is becoming one with the Soviet and Tyre. The Luddites he despises are on the flood. And the organisations he writes about, supports, and have his loyalty are converging, which means they are becoming unreliable, without utility, and forked….

Stross and I are of an age. Our youth was the time of Thatcher, Gorbachev, Clinton and brush wars in failing states. Our leaders became neo conservatives, including the converged leftist ones, and broke the social contract of the welfare state. We remember the welfare state. And we remember the Christmas strikes.

But that world has gone, along with the rules that made our society decent, functional, and allowed us to align with those who did not have the same religion, politics or lifestyle. The current social justice cadre instead demand we all double down and quackspeak.

My fear is that Stross will do this. I would much rather he pull the plot off, as he did when he introduced vampirism into the world. He moved too far into the uncanny valley with the last book. I want his cynical, but believable, Bob back. He is too good a writer to quack. And he does not deserve to go down with this death dealing elite.

(4) KEEP THAT RED NOSE UNDER COVER. McDonald’s downplays Ronald McDonald while ‘creepy clown’ sightings spread, reports the Los Angeles Times.

(5) SPACE TOURISM. Carl Slaughter points out —

Hidden Universe Travel Guides: Star Trek: Vulcan
by Star Trek novelist Dayton Ward

Plan your next trip to the planet Vulcan! Find restaurants that serve the best fried sandworms and Vulcan port. Take a trip to the Fire Plains or experience spring break at the Voroth Sea. Learn all about the native Vulcan people and their unusual customs. Discover how to correctly perform the traditional Vulcan salutation (you really don’t want to get this wrong). Learn key Vulcan phrases such as Nam-tor puyan-tvi-shal wilat: “Where is your restroom?” Find out what to do if you suddenly find yourself host to a katra—a Vulcan’s living spirit—at an inconvenient moment. All this and more can be found within the pages of this essential travel guide to one of the most popular—and logical—destinations in the known universe.

This Hidden Universe travel guide draws on 50 years of Star Trek TV shows, films, and novels to present a comprehensive guide to Spock’s iconic home world. Modeled after real-world travel guides, the book will explore every significant region on Vulcan with fascinating historical, geographical, and cultural insights that bring the planet to life like never before. Also featuring a dynamic mixture of classic Star Trek imagery and original illustrations created exclusively for the book, Hidden Universe Travel Guide: Star Trek: Vulcan is the perfect way to celebrate 50 years of Star Trek and will thrill pop culture fans and hardcore Star Trek fans alike.

(6) HOLD ON TO THE LIGHT. Cat Rambo has posted her contribution to the HoldOnToTheLight campaign, “Nattering Social Justice Cook: Be Kind to Yourself”.

I’ve found that writers excel at angst and guilt, at worrying at 2 am over whether or not they stuck their foot in their mouth (human nature being what it is, the answer is sometimes yes), at being anxious and projecting futures far out of proportion to actuality in their horror.

They’re also tough on themselves, holding themselves to sometimes impossible standards. It involves being willing to forgive yourself and the illness you live with, to not just know yourself but be comfortable with yourself.

(7) IN THE BEGINNING. EverydayFangirl interviewed Lois McMaster Bujold on her early fannish life:

When do you realize you were a Fangirl?

LMB:

Before the term “fangirl” was invented. I started reading science fiction for grownups at about age nine, because my father, an engineering professor, used to buy the magazines and books to read on the plane when he went on consulting trips, and they fell to me. Got my first subscription to Analog Magazine at age 13. So when Star Trek came along in 1966, when I was in high school, the seed fell on already-fertile ground; it was an addition, not a revelation. At last, SF on TV that was almost as good as what I was reading, a miracle! I would have just called myself a fan then, or a reader, ungendered terms I note.

In my entire high school of 1,800 students, there was only one other genre reader I knew of (later we expanded to 4 or 6), my best friend Lillian, and she only because we traded interests; I got history from her, she got F&SF from me. So there was no one to be fans with, for the first while.

(8) GHOST OF HALLOWEENS PAST. The Los Angeles Times invites readers to “See what’s killing haunted houses and other independent Halloween attractions”

For every success like Carbone’s, there are several mom-and-pop haunted attractions that have been killed off by mounting insurance and other expenses, as well as extensive government regulations…

“It’s getting so expensive that unless you have $100,000 to put into it and $30,000 into the marketing, you are not going to make it,” said Jeff Schiefelbein, chief executive of Sinister Pointe Productions, and Orange County company that builds haunted attractions for theme parks and individual entrepreneurs.

(9) KAIJU IN THEATERS THIS WEEK. Shin Godzilla, the latest addition to the mythos, is having a limited theatrical run with subtitles right now in the US and Canada.

Make way for the ultimate homage to one of the most enduring legends of the big screen—Godzilla! The King of the Monsters is back in Tokyo for a city-crushing crusade that speaks to the very roots of the world-renowned franchise.

It’s a peaceful day in Japan when a strange fountain of water erupts in the bay, causing panic to spread among government officials. At first, they suspect only volcanic activity, but one young executive dares to wonder if it may be something different… something alive. His worst nightmare comes to life when a massive, gilled monster emerges from the deep and begins tearing through the city, leaving nothing but destruction in its wake. As the government scrambles to save the citizens, a rag-tag team of volunteers cuts through a web of red tape to uncover the monster’s weakness and its mysterious ties to a foreign superpower. But time is not on their side—the greatest catastrophe to ever befall the world is about to evolve right before their very eyes.

(10) UNDERRATING INDIES. Amanda S. Green gives a Passive Voice columnist a stern talking to about his short-selling indie authors in “Oh my, are they protesting too much” at Mad Genius Club.

Yesterday, when I started looking for something to blog about, I made my way over to The Passive Voice. TPV is an excellent source of information for every author out there, traditionally published or indie. One post in particular caught my eye. It asks the question we have heard asked so many times over the last few years: Are self-published books inferior to professionally published books?

Now, without even reading the article, I knew I wasn’t going to like the post TPV had linked to. The title of the article itself shows a bias, not by TPV but by the author of the article TPV linked to. It assumes that self-published books, what we call indies, aren’t professionally published. Take that one step further. By phrasing the headline the way it did, the author of the article signals from the beginning that indies aren’t as professional or as good as traditionally published books. Otherwise, why not rephrase the title of the article as “are self-published books inferior to traditionally published books?”

So, without even reading the underlying article, my back is up. I can’t speak for anyone except myself but I am a professional writer. I make money from writing, enough to pay my bills. I simply chose not to take the traditional publishing route. That does not make me any less of a professional than any other writer who has chosen to try to find an agent, get a contract and publish with one of the Big 5 publishers.

(11) ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTING. Jim C. Hines adds his observations about the Weingart/Worldcon 75 controversy.

The Beale Effect: I’m bemused at how effectively Theodore Beale managed to unite Worldcon and Weingart, both of whom came together as if to say, “Oh hell no. F**k that guy.” As soon as Beale jumped in, Weingart pulled his posts, Worldcon called Weingart to apologize, then posted their public apology. It pretty much ended the public dispute right there.

Tuesday-Afternoon Quarterbacking: I wasn’t there, and I wasn’t part of the decision-making process. But as I understand it, Weingart notified the staff from the beginning that the other individual had set boundaries about not wanting to interact or work with him. Bringing Weingart on but restricting his interactions seems like a solution destined to cause problems. If this other individual was already working for the con, my hindsight solution would be to simply not bring Weingart on staff. Yeah, it might mean losing a good volunteer in Weingart, but it would have more effectively respected the other individual’s boundaries, and would have avoided the mess that eventually followed.

(12) PLUTO’S NEW PAL ISN’T GOOFY. The discovery-by-software of another dwarf planet: “A Friend For Pluto: Astronomers Find New Dwarf Planet In Our Solar System”.

Scientists in Michigan have found a new dwarf planet in our solar system.

It’s about 330 miles across and some 8.5 billion miles from the sun. It takes 1,100 years to complete one orbit.

But one of the most interesting things about the new object, known for the time being as 2014 UZ224, is the way astronomers found it.

David Gerdes of the University of Michigan led the team that found the new dwarf planet. Gerdes describes himself as “an adult-onset astronomer,” having started his scientific career as a particle physicist.

He helped develop a special camera called the Dark Energy Camera that the U.S. Department of Energy commissioned to make a map of distant galaxies.

A few years ago, Gerdes had some undergraduates visiting him for the summer. He decided to give them a project: He asked them if they could find some solar system objects lurking in the galaxy map.

Chip Hitchcock joked, “Clyde Tombaugh is spinning in his grave and grumbling ‘You punks don’t know how easy you have it these days!’”

(13) X MARKS THE SPOTS. “Why Are There X’s In The Desert?” In the first place, you probably never knew there were. But for the high-tech answer, you need to search back to the Cold War.

We step out in the searing heat and into a desolate landscape — just cactus and tumbleweed.

“Middle of nowhere,” Penson says.

We walk toward the base of a small mountain range, and that’s when we see it: four 25-foot slabs of concrete inlaid in the desert floor that form a giant “X.”

Penson kneels down to brush off the sand covering a tarnished brass plate at the very center. The engraving reads: “$250 fine or imprisonment for disturbing this marker — Corps of Engineers – U.S. Army.”

That’s who Penson and Owen contacted to get their answer.

These X’s were once part of a top-secret government program called CORONA — the nation’s first reconnaissance satellite program.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Cat Rambo, John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh and Petréa Mitchell for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Heather Rose Jones.]

63 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/11/16 When An Unscrollable Pixel Meets An Irretickable File

  1. (4) KEEP THAT RED NOSE UNDER COVER. – So what is this whole “creepy clown” thing? Slenderman-style meme that escaped into the wild? Juggalos making themselves seen and heard? Just plain ol’ mass hysteria urban legend???

    (11) ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTING. – RE: The Beale Effect – Say what you will, Day has a…clarifying effect on some situations.

    In my personally defined version of reality, Fifth!

  2. Chris S: 3 – wut?

    I know, I got a hearty laugh out of that one. It reads as if the author has been taking writing lessons from JCW.

    I think that author should demand their money back.

  3. 8) there’s a typo in the link display; “independent” is missing an e.

    10) It seems odd to me to get outraged by clickbait, before one has even followed the link. We all know that headlines, and clickbait, mislead.

  4. 3. This post makes very little sense. All I was able to deduce is that the author is disappointed that Charles Stross is opposed to Brexit (He only notices this now? Stross has always made his political positions very clear). Then he descends into rightwing fantasies of the end of progressive liberalism. Or something.

    10. The article Amanda Green is responding to was only linked at The Passive Voice, not posted there. The Passive Voice is mainly an aggregator blog. The article in question caused a lot of uproar in self-publishing circles, so I’m not surprised to see the MGC take on it. And yes, the original article was total clickbait.

  5. #1: fascinating. Having met Judy Blish, I’m not surprised by Priest’s description. It sounds like the Blishes believed that they had to ritualistically reproduce their specific view of Milford — which isn’t the view I got from the founder (Knight) ‘s descriptions in A Pocketful of Stars.

    #3: (revised) I see several other people were puzzled by this while I was trying to describe it; I can’t tell whether he thinks the Laundry has gone too Left or insufficiently Left, but I’m massively unimpressed by his (or anyone else’s) attempt to rigidly categorize sections of recent history. And what’s an apparent VD quote doing in the middle of the discussion?

  6. Chip: I skimmed the blog post, but it seems pretty clear to me that “too left” is the right answer. This croggles me a bit, as Charlie has never made any bones about his politics.

  7. Count me among the mystified that anyone would be surprised the Charlie Stross remains politically left.

    Oh, and I suppose we should be glad Beale managed to do something useful for a change–predictably, unintentionally.

    If there are any more types or autocorrects I haven’t found, don’t tell me.

  8. @David Goldfarb: ““too left” is the right answer”

    LOL.

    (10) UNDERRATING INDIES. The first comment boils down to “self-pub varies in quality but OMG I don’t like trad pub’d The Fifth Season,” as if his dislike of a popular book means something. Le sigh.

  9. (1) What I got from that was the umpteenth time of thinking “That Christopher Priest really is an egotistical prat, isn’t he?” Have never read anything that makes me think otherwise.

    (3) Wut? Anyone with half a brain cell knows Stross is a lefty, politically. He’s not going to become suddenly right-wing.

    (10) Kind a lot of them are, yes. Your trad pub types at least run spell-check, even if they don’t copy edit. And they rarely skip pages, and while their cover art may be bad, it’s rarely completely incompetent (a certain trad publisher is excepted from my caveats here, being worse than so many indies).

    But we can’t expect reasoned discourse from someone who doesn’t know the difference between a blog and a link aggregator.

  10. lurkertype: (1) What I got from that was the umpteenth time of thinking “That Christopher Priest really is an egotistical prat, isn’t he?” Have never read anything that makes me think otherwise.

    I remember reading somewhere that it’s believed that by 1972, Lawrence was, out of necessity, already ghostwriting the Bantam Star Trek episode novelizations for Blish without editor Fred Pohl being aware of it. That would certainly explain some of the behavior on both their parts.

    The exigencies of trying to run a 3-day manuscript critiquing workshop with one copy each of 15 large manuscripts, each needing to be read by 15 people, in the days before electronic copies and personal computing devices, explains some of it as well.

    And yes, my perceptions echo yours.

  11. (3) CONVERGENCE

    Wut?

    Once he quotes VD with approval partway through the article it’s pretty clear the intro about Stross was just a good run up for clearance over the shark.

    (7) IN THE BEGINNING

    In the article there’s a photo of LMB from ’68 with a home-made Spock poster on the wall. Now that’s dedication.

  12. UNDERRATING INDIES

    Philosophically, I’m all in favour of indie and self-publishing and have no affection for the traditional publishing monoliths, but… there is so much genre fiction out there and so much of it is poor quality. I know that if I take a chance on a traditionally published writer, there has at least been some sort of quality filter applied. However, with indie authors there is sadly no guarantee that the product is ‘professional’, let alone decent.

    After trying too many indie authors on a whim and being disappointed, I now need a recommendation from a trustworthy source (not Amazon reviews!) before I’ll take a chance on a new indie writer.

    The quality of the covers is an issue as well. Even with ebooks, I’m much less likely to purchase a book with a shoddy cover.

  13. “KEEP THAT RED NOSE UNDER COVER. – So what is this whole “creepy clown” thing? Slenderman-style meme that escaped into the wild? Juggalos making themselves seen and heard? Just plain ol’ mass hysteria urban legend???”

    I think there has been around 100 sightings in total and many of those are most likely false reporting. Some Q & A:s here.

  14. I have had way too little caffeine to grok 3). Except that once you start quoting Beale, that tells more about you than anything else.

  15. Today’s read — Alanya to Alanya, by L. Timmel Duchamp

    Science fiction; in a time when most of earth has degenerated into authoritarian societies and feminism is considered a joke if it’s considered at all, powerful aliens come to say, “quit it”.

    I have mixed feelings about this book, and I think my net takeaway is that it has good points and bad points. It has a starkly realistic depiction of a chillingly possible way that society could go, and how people within that society would be likely to behave. The plotting is unusual, being far more about people’s reactions to what is going on and personal decisions in the face of it than it is about any conventional “will person x succeed at preventing y” scenario. But on the other hand, the dialogue is clunky to the point of being irritating, and characters or events that seemed to be given major importance by the text sometimes just fizzled away without notice. Bad dialogue is a major pet peeve of mine so I’m on the fence about picking up the sequels, but if you’re a fan of depictions of dystopian societies this is a very good one.

  16. This boxset looks quite nice:

    Penguin Galaxy Series

    The Once and Future King by T. H. White
    Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
    Dune by Frank Herbert
    2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
    The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
    Neuromancer by William Gibson

    It’s also $225, so a bit too far out of my usual price range.

    I also still have a hankering after The Folio Society edition of Dune which takes precedence.

  17. 10. Two potentially good ways to find indie authors who may deliver general overall quality is: look for those who are “hybrid” (originally and/or still traditionally published and also doing their own thing) and those who have/will become SFWA members as they have passed some kind of bar.

    This “argument” is also completely Sturgeon: back in the fifties, what many are (still) saying about individual indie authors could have been said about much of the glut of digest magazines; lousy covers acquired on the cheap, little to no thought given to layout, poor to awful squibs of stories that wore their SF like a veneer of wet paint acquired while accidentally brushing against a wall; or the glut of multi-media slicks that appeared on the stands in the late 70s. a covering featuring a movie still and contents that wouldn’t even get you through a single throne session.

  18. One night, or evening, around 1970 or 1971, I was just getting set to go hang out at a neighbor’s shed when my phone rang. It was Dave Mattingly, and without preamble, he asked me if I’d been listening to KCOL. I hadn’t. “Well,” he said, “They’ve been getting a bunch of calls about a UFO over Horsetooth Reservoir.” That interested me, and I wanted to go to the window and look, and then he said, “Guess who’s been makin’ ’em.”

    A small light bulb went off for me. I said, “Oh.” “So, listen,” he said, “I don’t want all the calls to come from me.” A good point, as he had a distinctive enough voice.

    “What does it look like?” “Well, it’s kind of a blue-green color, and it’s cigar-shaped, and it blinks on and off.” “Blinks on and off,” I echoed. “Yeah, it has to blink on and off, because every time they go outside the station to look, it’s not there.”

    I canceled my nebulous plans for the evening and turned on the radio. I made a call or two. I ran for my little tape recorder when I heard Dave’s voice coming over. “Yeah,” he was saying, in his impression of a rural drawl, “I was just checking the boats (neither of us has ever figured out what he meant by that, and they didn’t ask), and there it was.” The announcer asked his name, and Dave gave a name he saw on the same page as the radio station’s number, mispronouncing it slightly.

    I don’t remember any of my calls. They may be on the tape with what I caught of that one. At the end of the evening, the announcer said they’d had some number of calls that was more than the ones Dave and I made. I suspected for a long time that other people had called in, either believing they saw something or perhaps wanting to throw in some chaff of their own. Maybe he called some other friends, though.

    It was our own little War of the Worlds. We did our best to put one over. Whether anyone, including the announcer, believed any of it, I no longer can guess. I was reminded of it by the mention of how many clown sightings had been reported. As deceptions go, ours was pretty flimsy, but I have (counts regrets carefully) no regrets.

  19. There’s been a few reported instances of the clown craze in the UK, including one who has been fined for a public order offence,

  20. This whole clown thing…I know some folks have a pathological fear of “clowns”, but the only ones I’m afraid of wear suits and call themselves politicians….

    Look: they can’t run fast with those giant floppy feet; they can’t see well past those giant red noses, their fright wigs frequently slip and those gloves they wear make it really hard for them to get a grip on anything.

    Just stay three plus feet away from all sewer grates and you’ll be just fine.

  21. Having grown up on Godzilla vs. Megalon, anyone taking Godzilla seriously back in the 1970s probably deserved ridicule.

  22. steve davidson on October 12, 2016 at 5:03 am said:
    10. Two potentially good ways to find indie authors who may deliver general overall quality is: look for those who are “hybrid” (originally and/or still traditionally published and also doing their own thing) and those who have/will become SFWA members as they have passed some kind of bar.

    Good advice.

    Also, although this is kind of cheating, some traditionally published authors self-publish their backlist. Walter Jon Williams has a great body of work which he has regained the rights to and re-issued himself, and Lois McMaster Bujold’s (quality guaranteed) work is self-published in the UK.

  23. That old term “Vanity Press” used to be the term used for self published books. This was in the 1960’s (for me) and a bit later I have seen a few and tried to read a few and found them impossible.

    I’ve tended to avoid a number of them in the SF area, Because of the sheer volume.

    And a number of the vanity books I saw were by Flying Saucer contactees, which (shakes head slowly).

  24. @Darren: fascinating — the Chinese went for one huge cheaply-done ~glyph, while the US scattered heavy engineering over a few hundred square miles. The US approach might have been useful if perfecting satellite cameras had taken decades instead of years, but now seems overdone; I wonder how much the work (including the logistics) cost.

  25. @Kyra I enjoyed Alanya to Alanya but gave up on the sequel halfway. The premise was really interesting to me and I wanted to stay the course for her worldbuilding project but Book 2 devolved into literally everyone being soap opera style awful to one another all the time and failing to communicate so I decided for better or worse that these were not the characters I wanted to follow into anarchist feminist utopia. Some things are scarily plausible though – it’s the offhand details about the (blue, chemical smelling, deliberately undrinkable) water that stuck with me most.

  26. I’m now a third of the way through Jerusalem by Alan Moore and have yet to discover anything resembling a plot. Though there are some good things about the book, and I persevere in hope.

  27. A couple of self-published books I’ve been very impressed by:

    THE DIRTY PARTS OF THE BIBLE by Sam Torode. A picaresque bildungsroman set in Hobo America of the 1930’s, with some fantastic elements inspired by the “Jacob and the Angel” Bible story. Great narrative voice. This was my favorite book of my 2013 reading.

    THROUGH THE BAMBOO by Mack Green. A Vietnam novel, with ghosts and spirits thrown into the mix. The supernatural elements are more in a magic realism vein rather than straight fantasy. The writing is intense and vivid; I felt immersed in the environment of Vietnam, the heat, humidity, exhaustion, fear and constant tension of being in a hostile country where your own fellow soldiers can be as big a threat as the NVA and Viet Cong. The only minor quibble I had with this book was that the Epilogue, following a surviving American soldier after his return to the US, felt unnecessary. I felt Mack Green was trying to show that veterans returning from Vietnam are haunted by the ghosts of their own former selves, but that was implicit from the Vietnam-set chapters. What I considered the “real” ending, that last chapter in Vietnam, is somewhat surreal and open to multiple interpretations; fantasy, metaphor, hallucination, reality, or an actual return of the Vietnamese ghosts seen in the opening chapters? Pretty sure this will be my favorite book of my 2016 reading.

    The only author info given about “Mack Green” is that he lives in Colorado and served two tours in Vietnam. I would be astonished if he wasn’t someone who works with words and writing professionally in his regular life; he’s that good.

  28. 10: She appears to conflate “professionally written” (“I am a professional writer.”) with “professionally published”. One does not guarantee the other, and vice versa.
    Speaking as a publishing professional.

  29. I’m looking at HE’s link summarizing the clown sightings, and the use of the word “town” to describe Greenville, SC stuck me as sounding a little odd (as a local) so out of curiosity I head over to Wikipedia (the original, not the VD spin-off, IckyPedia–accept no substitutes) to check the population (around 65,000–smaller than I expected.) Then I noticed something that I have never seen before, or possibly seen and just didn’t have the modern mental context for it–Greenville’s seal is the asterisk!

  30. Darren Garrison on October 12, 2016 at 12:54 pm said:

    I’m looking at HE’s link summarizing the clown sightings, and the use of the word “town” to describe Greenville, SC stuck me as sounding a little odd (as a local) so out of curiosity I head over to Wikipedia (the original, not the VD spin-off, IckyPedia–accept no substitutes) to check the population (around 65,000–smaller than I expected.) Then I noticed something that I have never seen before, or possibly seen and just didn’t have the modern mental context for it–Greenville’s seal is the asterisk!

    Eight legs I note – is it an asterisk or is what you see just before you are caught and eaten by a giant octopus? I vote the latter.

  31. LMB Interview: Me too!

    Before the term “fangirl” was invented. I started reading science fiction for grownups at about age nine, because my father, an engineering professor, used to buy the magazines and books to read on the plane when he went on consulting trips, and they fell to me.

    I don’t remember what age I started reading my Dad’s (geology professor) sf magazines and books…….I had my own “sf and f for children” bought for me from an early age by said Dad” (Space Cat, Joan Aiken, Oz, etc.). And yeah, there was NOBODY in my much smaller high school/town except Dad (my best friend loved Oz, but no other genre books). I was a fan, but didn’t get into fandom until I moved to Bellingham, WA in the late 1970s and found a start-up Star Trek group!

    THat didn’t stop me talking though: I ran into several people at my 40th high school reunion who said they read LOTR because I wouldn’t stop talking about it……..

  32. I ran into several people at my 40th high school reunion who said they read LOTR because I wouldn’t stop talking about it

    Heh. I started getting into Bradbury at age 11 (having already been reading Tolkein and Herbert) because a classmate of mine insisted that I needed to read Something Wicked This Way Comes.

  33. UNDERRATING INDIES

    The first red alert for me is not the contents, it’s how the covers, front and back, are designed. I’d say at least nine out of every ten such designs I see use horrid fonts, really bad art or both. Many have quotes that use the dread … to link together two blurbs that might or not be accurate. As most of such pull quotes have no institutional affiliation, I suspect that they are friends or family of the writer.

  34. I wish F770 wouldn’t link to stuff just to sneer at it. I can get hate at almost any other website. I come here for reasonable discourse.

    (3) – “tries to relate his notions about political reality” – sneer spit sneer. How about, “Pukeko relates his political thoughts about…”? the same information is conveyed without the clearly implied curl of the lip.

    (10) – “stern talking to” – again, why the condescending word choice? Can’t we Filers come to our own conclusion without the sarcastic phrasing? It seems deliberately written to make AG come off as a tightass schoolmarm.

  35. latest reading: David Hutchinson’s Europe in Autumn and Europe at Midnight. Setting is a very near future in which the Continent has broken into several hundred polities ranging from pieces of cities to the right-of-way of a transcontinental railroad. (Somehow England hasn’t broken up further after the dissolution of the UK.) Viewpoint character in the first book is an Estonian cook who gets sucked into couriering, and then into increasingly strange circumstances; Hutchinson holds our interest by repeatedly zooming out to show us that the part does not represent the whole, without cheating on what he’s previously told us. Gur ovttrfg chyyonpx va obbx 1 vf gur erirny gung na Rppragevp unf znccrq n cnenyyry jbeyq vagb orvat; obbx 2 fyvqrf hf vagb \nabgure/ bs uvf cebqhpgf, ohg bcraf pbaarpgvbaf (cerivbhfyl uvqqra) orgjrra jbeyqf. Vg jvyy or vagrerfgvat gb frr jung ur qbrf va obbx 3 (bs 3), pbzvat arkg zbagu; ur znl chyy n Fgebff Zrepunagf’ unpx, qebccvat va nqqvgvbany jbeyqf, ohg ur’yy unir guernqf gb cvpx hc nf gur raq bs obbx 2 vf 15 lrnef nsgre gur fgneg.

  36. Chip Hitchcock: latest reading: David Hutchinson’s Europe in Autumn and Europe at Midnight

    I really enjoyed those books, too — not quite enough for them to make my top 5 for Hugo nominations, but they were certainly on my longlist. I’m looking forward to reading Europe in Winter and seeing where he goes with it.

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