Pixel Scroll 10/23 Gilligan’s File

(1) A sweet new image for science fiction loving dogs!

Cool Corgi Dresses Up As All 13 Doctors From ‘Doctor Who’ —

(2) What brand of cigarettes did Godzilla smoke? I never wondered before. See behind-the-scenes photos from the Japanese movie productions, including the fellow who wore the monster suit taking a smoke break. At Dangerous Minds.

Actor Haruo Nakajima (pictured above) spent nearly 25 years inside the rubber Godzilla suit that he gleefully trampled over mini-Tokyo in for various Godzilla or monster-themed films from the early 50s through the 1970s.

(3) James Lileks’ satire for National Review, “The Twitterverse Strikes Back against the Phantom Menace of Anti-Star Wars Racists!”, begins –

According to my Twitter feed, gullible people are complaining –

I should just stop right there and wrap it up, right? After breaking news like that, where could I possibly go?

…Anyway. If Luke comes out in the new film wearing the Leia slave bikini; if Chewie marries Groot; if Han makes a big speech about how the end of the Empire means they can rebuild the galaxy along the lines of, say, Denmark; if the main villain is named Ben-Ghazi — then you might complain that you’re being Force-fed some political drivel. Even then it wouldn’t matter.

(4) A pretty fancy bookmark. A map of Middle-Earth annotated by J.R.R. Tolkien for illustrator Pauline Baynes is being sold by Blackwell’s for 60,000 reports the Guardian.

A recently discovered map of Middle-earth annotated by JRR Tolkien reveals The Lord of the Rings author’s observation that Hobbiton is on the same latitude as Oxford, and implies that the Italian city of Ravenna could be the inspiration behind the fictional city of Minas Tirith.

The map was found loose in a copy of the acclaimed illustrator Pauline Baynes’ copy of The Lord of the Rings. Baynes had removed the map from another edition of the novel as she began work on her own colour Map of Middle-earth for Tolkien, which would go on to be published by Allen & Unwin in 1970. Tolkien himself had then copiously annotated it in green ink and pencil, with Baynes adding her own notes to the document while she worked.

Blackwell’s, which is currently exhibiting the map in Oxford and selling it for £60,000, called it “an important document, and perhaps the finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge in the last 20 years at least”.

It shows what Blackwell’s called “the exacting nature” of Tolkien’s creative vision: he corrects place names, provides extra ones, and gives Baynes a host of suggestions about the map’s various flora and fauna. Hobbiton, he notes, “ is assumed to be approx at latitude of Oxford”; Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University.

David Doering argues, “I feel that such artifacts need to be in public, not private, hands. This is a critical piece of our cultural history and is of immense value. It should not allowed to disappear into private hands.”

(Fifth 4) John C. Wright explains how “My Elves are Different; Or, Erlkoenig and Appendix N”.

When calculating how to portray the elves in my current writing project (tentatively titled Moths and Cobwebs) I was thinking about Erlkoenig and Appendix N, and (of course!) about GK Chesterton. There is a connected train of thought here, but it meanders through some ox-bows and digressions, so I hope the patient reader enjoys the scenic route of thought.

First, Erlkoenig. I had noticed for some time that there was many a younger reader whose mental picture of the elves (those inhabitants of the Perilous Realm, the Otherworld, whose ways are not our ways) was formed entirely by JRR Tolkien and his imitators. They are basically prelapsarian men: like us in stature and passions, but nobler, older, and not suffering our post-Edenic divorce from the natural world. This is not alien to the older themes and material on which Tolkien drew, but there is alongside this an older and darker version.

(5) Nancy Fulda outlines “What To Expect When You Start An Internet Kerfuffle” for the SFWA Blog.

And so you write a blog post.

It is the most difficult and most magnificent thing you’ve ever written, pure words of truth sucked directly out of your soul. You feel triumphant. Liberated. (Terrified, too, but that doesn’t matter now.) You have said the Thing That Must Be Said, and you have done so with courage and clarity. You click a button, and send your words winging toward humanity.

And then, of course, the internet does what the internet does best.

It starts kerfluffling….

Day 2: Negative feedback.

Your post has reached people with opposing viewpoints. Many of them. Blog posts pop up across the internet, criticizing and often misrepresenting your stance. Angry comments multiply like weeds. Email conversations ensue. You become embroiled in a number of difficult and confrontational exchanges, often with people who seem incapable of understanding what you’re trying to say.

You may get hate mail. Depending on what you’ve said and who you’ve said it to, the content of those emails may be very, very ugly indeed. Your hands are trembling by the time you click the delete button.

By the end of the day, you’re afraid to check your email. Comments are still rolling in, and somehow, even the positive messages only make you more aware of the bad ones. You wonder whether this was all a mistake. At the same time, you can’t stop refreshing your screen. The rest of your life has ground to a screeching halt; deadlines missed, meals skipped, loved ones neglected. Even when you’re not online, your thoughts are spiraling around what’s happened there.

And people are still retweeting your post.

(6) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • October 23, 1942 – Michael Crichton

(7) Last weekend the Iron Hill brewery chain in Pennsylvania offered Harry Potter-themed fare reports Philly.com.

The pub will serve Dumbledore’s Dubbel, a sweet Belgian ale; and Voldermort’s Wrath, a West-Coast style IPA with an intense bitter hop flavor. In addition to the limited brews, a Harry Potter-themed menu will be served for those hungry wizards. Items include:

  • Aunt Petunia’s Mulligatawny Soup
  • Slytherin Smoky Pumpkin Salad
  • Ron’s Corned Beef Toasts
  • Hogwart’s Express Pumpkin Pastry
  • Dumbledore’s Cauldron Beef Stew
  • Butterbeer-Braised Pork Loin
  • Pan-Seared Chinese Fireball (salmon)
  • Mrs. Weasley’s English Toffee Crumble

For the non-beer drinker: Butterbeer and autumn-themed mixed drinks will be available.

(9) Details about J.K. Rowling’s new Harry Potter play are online. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will pick up 19 years after the seventh book, and it will focus on Harry and his youngest son, Albus. Here’s a brief about the plot play’s website:

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

(10) Here’s some artwork from the forthcoming production.

(11) The pilot and second episode of Amazon’s original series The Man In The High Castle can be viewed for no-charge here through  11:59 PM PST on Sunday, October 25 in the U.S. and UK.

The season launch of all episodes will be November 20.

(12) Andrew Liptak recalls the history of science fiction in Playboy magazine at Kirkus Reviews.

(13) Alastair Reynolds covers his trip to Russia on Approaching Pavonis Mons.

My wife and I are big on art, and we’d long wanted to visit the Hermitage. I can safely say that it was everything we’d hoped it would be, times about ten, and although we went back for a second day, you could cheerfully spend a month in the place and not see enough.

(14) Zombie George R.R. Martin will soon be on the air:

For all you Z NATION fans out there, and those who aren’t (yet) too, my long-anticipated guest starring role as a rotting corpse is scheduled for the October 30 episode, “The Collector.”

(15) At Teleread Chris Meadows pays tribute to prolific Amazon reviewer Harriet Klausner, who was an important part of the growth of online book sales via Amazon.

Harriet Klausner, at one time one of the most recognizable names on Amazon, passed away on October 15, at the age of 63. Klausner was a speed-reader who was one of the most prolific customer reviewers on Amazon, with over 31,000 reviews to her credit at the time of her death. According to a 2006 Time profile of her, she read an average of 4 to 6 books per day. Although the details of her death were not disclosed, it must have happened fairly quickly—the last review on her Amazon.com reviewer page is dated October 12.

(16) Jonathan R. Eller speaks about Fahrenheit 451 at Wisconsin Lutheran College on October 26.

Eller at wisc luth coll

(17) The wisdom of the Fred!

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Robotech Master, Phil Nichols, Steven H Silver, David Doering, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day the indefatigable Will R.]

423 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/23 Gilligan’s File

  1. If he actually thinks Ancillary Justice and The Left Hand of Darkness are doing the same things with gender, I wonder whether he has read either.

    He’s stated he hasn’t read Ancillary Justice. I suspect he hasn’t read Left Hand of Darkness, but that’s just based on his general cluelessness about it.

  2. @Greg: Thanks a lot for that review of Penric’s Demon. I previously haven’t been able to understand why people like that novella so much, but you’ve convinced me to take another look at it.

  3. Vicki Rosenzweig:

    Well, in Le Guin’s book, gender pronouns didn’t matter because everyone had biological characteristics of both sexes so it was a bit pointless to classify them by gender. In Leckie, as I read it, in a high tech future, a society could evolve where the mechanics of having children could be handled any number of ways, depending on people’s individual wishes, so the cultural norm was who cares about gender, it isn’t even worth paying attention to.

    JCW specified the link was “sexlessness in thought and speech” which may be an odd way to put it but you can see what he is getting at and why it is common ground shared by the two books.

    BTW I’m sort of surprised nobody has mentioned KSR’s approach to gender in 2312 which was quite inventive.

  4. As for scary elves, remember Dark Galadriel in Jackson’ s LOTR?

    I know he got flack for that, but I thought that was appropriate. She isn’t human and is supposed to be able to be terrifying. The Sorceress of the Golden Wood doesn’t have retainers that sing “Tra-la-la-lally” .

  5. For a book in which Faerie is beautiful, perilous, and downright horrific, I strongly recommend a hard to find book, Singer of Souls by Adam Stemple. It’s really, really good. I have just gotten a hold of the sequel, which I need to read, but it’s on my File770 Mount. I’m very sad that the book didn’t do well, it is beautiful and fae, but very, very dark. Stemple, by the way, is Jane Yolen’s son, and a gifted musician as well.

    For that matter, Faerie in Seanan McGuire’s Toby Daye books are far from the Tolkien mold, and many of them are very much not nice people. Some are malicious, some merely careless, and some very alien indeed.

  6. @Tintinaus
    In Labyrinth, Bowie was The Goblin King, not The Elf King (though I agree he LOOKED pretty elven.)

  7. I’m having problems here, what with all this time travelling, not to mention the handbag/purse purchasing, but I could have sworn that LeGuin wrote The Left Hand of Darkness in the twentieth century…

  8. @IanP:

    @Peter J

    No surprise there. I often bounce off the older books on my own shelves.

    TBR pile collapse?

    No, that’s the books bouncing off me.

  9. @Brian Z
    I get the impression that the technological advances that render physical sex irrelevant evolved from a Radch culture that deemphasized gender, not the other way round. I mean, a culture would not promote the developememt of artificial wombs if it deemed them unnatural or blasphemous.

  10. @Brian Z He criticized Leckie’s fans for proclaiming her first book the greatest SF novel of the 21st century without bothering to read Left Hand of Darkness or Vacuum Flowers.

    <blink> But neither of those were written in the 21st century. And what makes him think that Leckie fans haven’t read them? Or was he saying that HE hadn’t bothered to read either (just as, apparently, he’s not bothered to read Leckie)?

  11. time travelling… but I could have sworn that LeGuin wrote The Left Hand of Darkness in the twentieth century

    AJ was acclaimed as the greatest SF novel of the 21st century, which came after the 20th for many of us.

    Saying that many of the ideas in AJ were derivative is perfectly true. That’s how the SF game is played. Did Leckie add something truly memorable to the SF conversation on gender? Not for me, and I thought KSR had a more interesting take the previous year. You can disagree, but at least let’s discuss the novel’s ideas in the context of the larger genre conversation. Isn’t that what JCW’s saying?

  12. CassyB

    Oh good; I glad it’s not only me baffled by this mucking around with the space-time continuum. The solution would appear to be that JCW and/or Brian Z doesn’t realise that we are now in the century of the fruit bat, sorry, we’re in the 21st century, and thus are confusing themselves, and us, still further.

    After all, if Ancillary Justice was published in the 20th century Tor would owe a lot of royalties to Anne…

  13. I get the impression that the technological advances that render physical sex irrelevant evolved from a Radch culture that deemphasized gender, not the other way round.

    That’s a great point and maybe should have been explored more. I disagree, though. I think technology drives culture as well. Like how minor science fiction squabbles have gone nuclear.

  14. He criticized Leckie’s fans for proclaiming her first book the greatest SF novel of the 21st century without bothering to read Left Hand of Darkness or Vacuum Flowers.

    Except, you know, many of Leckie’s fans (such as myself) have read both. And have read numerous other science fiction novels that JCW seems to have missed.

  15. Jim Henley on October 24, 2015 at 7:53 am said:

    Wait, so if I click through the JCW piece I will find that elves are a reason to shit on Ann Leckie one more time? That’s…obsession.

    My jaw kinda dropped on that one. Actually, wait, no. I probably would have been MORE surprised if he wrote a whole article that was just him being more or less right about Tolkien’s elves, as opposed to one where he completely undoes the effect of being more or less right about something by being spectacularly wrong about something else.

    For example, ANCILLARY JUSTICE by Ann Leckie won a sickening degree of applause for two ideas, one of which (the unit of a mass mind rebelling against itself) I used in a book a decade prior and Michael Swanwick in a decade before I had it, and the other of which (sexlessness in thought and speech) was a rehash of an idea used much more adroitly from Ursula K LeGuin and David Lindsay. The startling conclusion is that the audience simply did not know who these old authors were, nor from whom the green authors were stealing ideas.

    “Stealing ideas?” For real? That’s just…

    For one thing, what makes him think Ann Leckie even KNOWS his prior work exists? I certainly didn’t. You can only “steal” an idea from its source — otherwise we call that “independent invention” and it happens all the time. And for another thing, since he credits Swanwick with the same idea ten years earlier, is HE copping to having “stolen” it? And for another thing, if the group minds in Leckie’s universe are “stolen” from anything, they’re stolen from the Borg on Star Trek. (I mean, am I the ONLY person who gets kind of a Seven of Nine vibe from Justice of Torren One Esk?)

    If science fiction never played around with ideas that had been played around with before, most of it wouldn’t exist.

  16. I think JCW’s point is that we shouldn’t really be calling any of the products of this decadent age great when they so signally fail to stand comparison with 20th century titans like LeGuin and, er, Swanwick. That’s the logical corollary of No Awarding nominees which don’t match up to the standards of the winners of former years which made the Hugos the prestigious institution they are today, and we all remember how eloquently he argued for those No Awards, don’t we?
    Or is my memory playing tricks on me again?

  17. What gets me is that he seems to think that the whole “The Radch don’t have gendered pronouns so call everyone ‘she’ in languages that do” and “it can be hard to read physical gender cues for cultures not your own, especially when genetic engineering happened in the past” is the central point of the book. It’s a worldbuilding detail. Admittedly, an important worldbuilding detail, but I would hardly call it central to the whole book.

  18. Cassy B: If one is indulging in stereotypical thinking, ala JCW, one ought to assume Leckie fans are the most likely to be reading Le Guin, too.

  19. He criticized Leckie’s fans for proclaiming her first book the greatest SF novel of the 21st century without bothering to read Left Hand of Darkness or Vacuum Flowers.
    Isn’t that what ‘fans’ do?
    Although, I don’t recall seeing it called the greatest SFnovel of the 21st century. Seems kind of presumptuous seeing as how we’re only part way through it.
    Besides, didn’t Heinlein talk about taking old ideas and filing the serial numbers off?

  20. I’m finding it hard to sort out why it’s ok for JCW to steal ideas from elsewhere, but it’s corrupt for Leckie to do so. And I cannot for the life of me understand how he gets from “people really liked Leckie” to “people who like Leckie haven’t read other standouts in the field.” I am yet another person who very much liked The Left Hand of Darkness, and also Ancillary Justice.

    Honestly, that man weirds me out.

  21. shapeshifting starship-captains with an affinity for fine cheeses and a hedgehog fetish

    Is there a novelist’s version of Rule 34? Surely by the mere invoking of such a protagonist, the story must have blinked into existence in some time-stream.

  22. @ Greg Hullender re: Penric’s Demon

    I’d be interested in hearing what it was about the story that impressed you. These days I hear a lot of books/stories described as mind-blowing, blowing-one-away, emotionally devastating, etc. etc. and I often have a hard time correlating that with my own experiences. Too often a book that a lot of my friends find mind-blowing, strikes me as “merely good”.

    Penric’s Demon struck me that way. A pleasant enough and well-written story with an interesting twist on the folklore motif of “the casual kindness that gains an ally” and a bit of gender-swapping of conventional folk tale furniture. (I review the story on my blog here.) But I can’t identify anything that would raise it above “merely good” for me.

    ETA: missed the fact that you had a link to further thoughts. Will check out.

  23. File 770 voted it greatest of the 21st century. (In fairness, Filers have mostly read the Le Guin too.)

    But JCW raises a good point. SF’s lifeblood is stealing ideas. That’s what it’s about and that’s why it works. If you don’t read what came before, it stops working.

  24. Even Jim Butcher has “scary elves”! You know, that hugely popular author currently being undeservedly denied Hugos by evil cabal of thrice-named people.

  25. @McJulie

    Peter F Hamilton’s Void trilogy had a minor character that was a Multiple. Single consciousness sharing multiple bodies, enabled by an ultra tech Internet equivalent and cloning. A major character ends up also going multiple.

    But yes, very borgy apart from being voluntary in this case.

    ETA And the setting includes elves too, the Silfen…

  26. @Greg Hullender
    re: Penric’s Demon

    Several of us have read it and reviews are mixed. A few of us it on our Hugo lists, others consider it ‘dull and uninteresting’ to paraphrase a couple of remarks. Taste, it varies. ;^}

  27. ETA And the setting includes elves too, the Silfen…

    Silfaen. And those elves are definitely different.

  28. He criticized Leckie’s fans for proclaiming her first book the greatest SF novel of the 21st century without bothering to read Left Hand of Darkness or Vacuum Flowers.

    In fairness to JCW, this is Brian Z’s summary, and with all due respect to Brian Z, reporting on other people’s ideas has not always been his forte. I’m not going to read the JCW piece myself but I will be interested in other people’s take on his arguments.

  29. Well, as Mike rightly notes, if we are only buying and voting for Anne Leckie’s novels because she is a woman then we would inevitably be familiar with Ursula LeGuin’s work, since she is one of the giants upon whose shoulders Anne stands.

    JCW has made numerous claims to the effect that nobody likes the books really; in his very circumscribed world we simply don’t exist, since his world view cannot accept that there may be anywhere beyond the borders of the US. Delighted as I am that Anne can now describe herself as a New York Times bestseller, she built her reputation initially by word of mouth buzz in the UK; people who have really enjoyed a book like to tell other people about that book, and they did.

    Great reviews may help to sell the book, but all the reviews in the world won’t get you very far if there’s nothing at the heart. For that matter, stuffing the ballot with garbage won’t magically turn that garbage into something worth spending one’s time on; all it does is make it obvious that it really is garbage…

  30. @Junego Yes, taste definitely varies. It’s not a thriller, that’s for sure. I’m surprised at the number of people who complained that they thought the story stopped just when it was getting interesting. It makes me think they never realized what the story was really about. It’s a relationship story, not a story about a boy becoming a powerful sorcerer and blowing things up.

  31. Russell Letson: And in the Anatomy of Puck, Katherine Briggs traced back Shakespeare’s sources, some of which are also literary.

    Lydy Nickerson: Singer of Souls has the single most astoundingly horrifying pyrrhic victory I have encountered. That is praise, mostly, by the way, it’s excellent. The sequel undoes some of the power of the ending, though. (I also quibble with the way he describes music; at least I assume most amateur musicians and non-musicians are like me and just don’t find named chords to be terribly evocative of how the sound hits them.)

    Augh. JCW does indicate he is aware of the new fae in YA; but he and the person who comments on them, tellingly, call them “girls’ books”. He also theorizes that women are more spiritual, thus their retention of that side of elvish tradition. (Which … Tithe? Tithe is sensual, and tactile, not spiritual.) I was squicked enough to duck away fast, so I may be getting details wrong. But it isn’t a lack of awareness of those books that kept him from noting them, it seems.

  32. Perhaps somebody should point out gently to JCW that Le Guin came to repent having chosen to call all Gethenians “he”, and I am pretty sure Leckie was aware of her reflections on it when she chose to use “she” in her novel. Of course they were facing very different problems: Le Guin was describing a specie that is asexual except for a brief period of heat when they have a sexual identity and it is either male or female; Leckie is describing a society in which people are consistently male or female but this is not an important fact.

    Years later Le Guin wrote another Gethen story, The King in Winter, and decided to use both feminine and masculine pronouns and nouns alternatively. This is the solution chosen by the Italian translator of Leckie, and is make for very hard reading.

    Leckie chose to use the feminine pronoun because if she had used the masculine nobody would have realised that there was something unusual going on in her society. She wasn’t trying to suggest a matriarchal society (as, I suspect, JCW thinks): she wanted to achieve what Le Guin also wanted but failed to achieve: describing characters whose gender the reader cannot know and should not imagine.
    It seems to me that Leckie’s novels are not a rehash, a theft or a repetition of something done before, they are actually engaged in a dialogue with the story of the field.

    I’m not saying that Leckie is better than Le Guin; they are writing vastly different stories. (The Left Hand of Darkness, for those who haven’t read it, is a story of first contact, a philosophical novel, a novel about a loving friendship, a travel story, and much much more – but definitely not space opera and not milSF.) And Leckie’s solution would not have worked for Le Guin because the only reason it works for Leckie is that she does say explicitly that Radchaai have gender: she just doesn’t tell us what it is. If Le Guin had chosen to call all Gethenians “she” she would have left her readers with the impression that they are more feminine than masculine, which is not true.

  33. I’m surprised that people make such a big thing out of the genderless language in the Imperial Radch series. I thought it was one of the least important things about the books. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it was something that detracted from them, slightly, because it periodically jolts you out of the story. An interesting but failed experiment.

    There are hints that the author thought that too. There’s a scene in “Ancillary Mercy” when Breq switches into the local language for no apparent purpose other than to clue the readers into the fact that one of the minor characters is male.

    I’ll probably nominate it for the Hugos anyway, though. One or two flaws don’t ruin a good work.

  34. @ Stevie and Anna
    well said!

    And more scary elves (and gods): Peter Beagle’s The Folk of the Air.

  35. @MSB: Ah, I love Folk of the Air. I think it is flawed, as a novel. There’s something about the structure that is unbalanced. But he captures the things that I loved about the SCA when I first encountered them, and he captures other things about the numinous that are seldom seen elsewhere. I love Beagle so very much, although I think he was never as good as in his first two novels. On the other hand, life must be very strange when you write A Fine and Private Place at 19, and follow it up with The Last Unicorn. Unique books, and a very weird way to start a career.

  36. Greg Hullender on October 24, 2015 at 12:20 pm said:
    I’m surprised that people make such a big thing out of the genderless language in the Imperial Radch series. I thought it was one of the least important things about the books. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it was something that detracted from them, slightly, because it periodically jolts you out of the story. An interesting but failed experiment.

    I very strongly disagree. For me, it was what turned Ancillary Justice from a grippingly good novel to a groundbreakingly great one.

  37. Also, if JCW thinks the Radch is “sexless” he has not paid attent… All right, let’s say he’s wrong.

  38. I had forgotten Singer of Souls.

    I should note that, whilst I described Antonia Honeywell’s The Ship as a dystopia so grim that even the protagonist is dire, it’s not that depressing by comparison.

    It’s important because the book is very well written, and the author is a Campbell candidate; I would not wish to put people off the book by painting it darker than it is…

  39. @Greg Hullender
    re: Penric

    I read your review. I had missed, at least consciously, the courtship emphasis. As soon as your review mentioned that point, an already good story got better. Thank you.

    A few days ago Laura Resnick mentioned that criticizing a bad story can be relatively straightforward, but when a writer has enough control of their craft to tuck away the seams and patches, it can get much more difficult to discern why one story is just ok and another is really good (allowing for differing tastes, of course ;). One of the great things about File770 is learning to figure out why I really like a story.

  40. > “Is there a novelist’s version of Rule 34? Surely by the mere invoking of such a protagonist, the story must have blinked into existence in some time-stream.”

    I once complained that too many playwriting contests had narrowly specific guidelines about subject matter, and said that soon they would be requesting only plays that featured evil clowns who hung out in saloons.

    Soon this happened:


    I believe that’s one of Adam’s most popular plays now.

  41. Anna, so you agree with the Tor.com reviewer’s Hugo-season claim that AJ was a breakthrough in non-binary SF?


    I agree that may have been the intent, but I didn’t find it was particularly successful. The question of whether Le Guin should have used he, she or a mixture of the two is almost fifty years old, and as you mentioned she already revisited it herself long ago.

    I thought KSR’s treatment was cutting edge in comparison.

    Here are the comments from the same reviewer, half a year after reviewing Leckie.


  42. JCW is an authoritarian with an axiom set that presumes a universally correct set of answers. (Indeed, JCW praises the axiom set for this property of guaranteed universal correctness.) A universally correct set of answers about which JCW claims comprehensive knowledge.

    Were you to immerse yourself in Tolkien criticism, you could find discussions of places where Tolkien changed the story to make it conform to doctrine, because the doctrine must be correct. JCW is of a proselytizing character and wants other authors to change their stories to conform to doctrine.

    There isn’t any actual reason to it, and it’s not so much a disdain for facts as an assertion that facts cannot matter, the axioms are already correct. One of those axioms has binary gender as an essential property of the universe, so of course JCW has to misunderstand Leckie’s text to engage with it at all.

    There really isn’t any there, there; it’s all unpleasant flavour variations on the essential cowardice of authoritarianism, turned up to eleven to claim that the entire (created) universe exists to insist JCW is right.

    This is not a person of the sort of character it is necessary to countenance.

  43. Also, if JCW thinks the Radch is “sexless” he has not paid attent… All right, let’s say he’s wrong.

    No he said they didn’t take sex into account when thinking and speaking about people.

  44. @Harold Osler: To be fair, AJ did win the File 770 21st-Century SF bracket, didn’t it? And surely no greater prize exists.

    Still, the whole “sickening degree” phrasing seems unbalanced. Like I said about Torgersen, all of these guys seem like they used to have a lot more fun.

  45. It feels obligatory that I attempt this:

    Just scroll right down and you’ll hear a tale,
    a tale of a fateful trip,
    that started from this vile hive,
    aboard this tiny ship.

    The Esk were mighty pixeled fen,
    the Blogger brave and sure,
    the Filers ticked the box that day,
    for a three hour tour,
    a three hour tour.

    Discussion started getting rough,
    the tiny ship was tossed.
    If not for the filking of the fearless crew
    the comments would be lost.
    The comments would be lost.

    The ship’s now lodged for good inside this
    Highly trafficked file,
    with Gilligan,
    the Blogger too,
    The reverend and the SMOFs,
    the wombat red,
    the dissenters and the grinning fan,
    here in Gilligan’s File.

    (Ending verse)
    So this is the tale of our castaways,
    they’ll be here for a long, long time.
    They’ll have to make the best of things,
    it’s an uphill climb.

    The first Esk and the Blogger too
    will do their very best,
    to make the others comfortable
    With their sordid rhetoric.

    No threads, no lights, no time travel,
    not a single luxury.
    They’ll have to see what they can grow,
    like NASA’s Mark Watney.

    So join us here each day my friends,
    you’re sure to get a smile,
    from countless dumbstruck Trufen brave…
    here in Gilligan’s File!

  46. @Will R: That’s… ok, I hate the show Giligan’s Island with a passion, and I bitterly resent the fact that your filk reminded me that I do, in fact, know the entire ditty, and that the tune is occupying space in my brain. But it’s a lovely, lovely filk. Thank you.

  47. Cassy B: If one is indulging in stereotypical thinking, ala JCW, one ought to assume Leckie fans are the most likely to be reading Le Guin, too.

    Nah, this one is easy to explain. One of the most cherished Puppy Myths is that SJWs/anti-slaters/Leckie fans (which to them are all the same thing) either haven’t read the classics or have read them but hate them for SJW reasons and will therefore dismiss anything of worth that was within them. The two are used interchangeably. That Myth takes precedence over the Myth that assumes people like to read books by SJW-approved author types (like women).

Comments are closed.