Pixel Scroll 10/24/17 Harry Pixel And The Undeserved Scroll

(1) MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RADCH. Ann Leckie gave away “Provenance Vestiges” on her book tour. See some of them at the link.

For the trilogy, I was giving out pins, which was great fun, but in all honestly were somewhat difficult to travel with. One pin may not weigh much. Several hundred are another matter entirely. And the mass of them tended to make airport security jumpy.

I wanted to do something fun this time, too, but maybe also something that wouldn’t set off every metal detector on my cross-continent trek, and might be more easily mailable once I got home. And the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like what I wanted was some kind of cool vestige! So I contacted Nikki Thayer. Nikki did me my GigaNotoSaurus banner, and it was Nikki who I turned to when I wanted some Emanations. So this time I went to Nikki and asked her to please make me some cool art to go on the back of some postcards.

If you came to one of my signings, you’ll have gotten (or been able to get) a vestige of the occasion with the first image here, but there are two others! And Nikki says y’all can use these for stuff–make things with them if you want! Do please try to credit Nikki if you can, though.

(2) ROLL ‘EM. The Tolkien biopic has started filming in northern England says Den of Geek.

Nicholas Hoult is taking on the title role in the movie, with the cast also featuring Lily Collins and Colm Meaney (Meaney was announced as joining the cast a week or two back). The latter two have been shooting scenes in Cheshire, under the eye of director Dome Karukoski.

(3) WRITE LIKE THE WIND. Mad Genius Club’s Amanda S. Green is incensed:

Last night, I started my usual prowling through the internet, looking for a topic for today’s post. Nothing resonated with me until I came across a discussion about indie authors. Even though the discussion remained civil, the disdain and condemnation was obvious. I’ll admit, I had a knee-jerk reaction where I wanted to go wading into the discussion to give the indie side of the argument. I didn’t because it would have gained nothing. The people taking part in the discussion are so entrenched in their beliefs, they wouldn’t have listened, no matter how convincing my arguments might have been.

You see, like so many who have been traditionally published, this group simply can’t fathom the speed with which a number of indie authors write. More than that, they can’t accept you can write, edit and publish a book in a month or two. They can’t wrap their minds around the fact that the year or more between books most authors experienced by traditionally publishing was an artificial delay in the production line. But, because this is the system they are used to, it is the only one they feel is valid.

Yes, that is a bit of an oversimplification. They understand that authors write at different paces. It is the rest of it that blows their minds. They have a hard time realizing it doesn’t take months to get edits back and have them finalized. They forget that indies don’t have to wait for publication slots to come open for release dates. Even so, when they start saying they fear for our industry, they point to the speed with which indie writers are putting out their product and assume the product must be inferior because it didn’t go through the same process their work did.

Roger Zelazny once wrote a novel in a weekend. I doubt you could tell which of his works it is.

(4) IN HER PRIME. As previously reported, Kit Reed died September 24 of an inoperable brain tumor. Andrew Porter furnished his photo of the author taken at the 1995 Readercon.

Kit Reed 1995 Readercon – Photo copyright © Andrew Porter

(5) PHILOSOPHICALLY SPEAKING. Ethan Mills delves into “The Contingencies of Histories: Ultima by Stephen Baxter” at Examined Worlds.

Aside from some deeper elements of the plot that really only come together at the end (which I will leave spoiler-free), some of the most interesting philosophical content surrounds the contingency of history.  Could human history of the last few thousand years have gone really differently than it did?  How do contingent events of climate and disease shape history?  Do science, technology, and ethics proceed in a linear fashion from one stage to the next, as a lot of science fiction supposes?  (See especially Star Trek, where the historical trajectory of Western Europe sets the standard for all civilizations in the galaxy in the form of Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development).  Could you imagine societies with spaceflight, but without sophisticated computers, even opting for low tech interstellar travel?  Or a society that eliminates hunger but not slavery?  A society that colonizes this and other solar systems but with a deeply traditional view of its past and acceptance of social hierarchies including empires and royalty?

(6) WHO’S COMING. Gallifrey One didn’t get Pearl Mackie after all but they have new guests to announce.

Greetings, Gallifrey One attendees! Our October update is now on our website and includes a lot of updates… first and foremost, we are absolutely thrilled to announce that Gallifrey One 2018 will be the very first *ever* convention appearance of Doctor Who’s amazing music composer, Murray Gold, who will be joining us for a special live performance on Saturday afternoon. We’ll have details about that soon. We’re also pleased to welcome Doctor Who’s current costume designer Hayley Nebauer, and a number of other program guests including Jane Espenson, Blair Shedd and Naren Shankar.

With the good news comes the bad: we can confirm that Pearl Mackie will indeed not be attending in February, due to her recent commitment to the new play The Birthday Party in the West End. As we mentioned on our last update in September, we tried to work out an alternative allowing her to come to L.A. for our weekend, but with the play’s schedule and Ms. Mackie’s burgeoning career, it simply wasn’t meant to be. Rest assured we’re already working on additional guests for February so stay tuned!

(7) LONGUEUIEL OBIT. Persephone Longueuiel was a victim of a house fire in April. Jay Allan Sanford has written a tribute in the San Diego Reader,  “Behind the fire at Mission Hills’ ultimate Halloween house: Letters from Persephone”.

Tall and dark, with long jet-black hair and inclined toward gypsy-gothy clothes, she was a part-time photographer and aspiring author who spent 30 years working on a never-published book about homosexuals in early Hollywood forced to hide their sexuality. She lost her virginity at a San Diego Comic-Con to a famous horror author for whom she spent the rest of her life pining. She once managed the Comic Kingdom store in Hillcrest, and she owned a horror memorabilia collection valued many times the $20,000 fire officials say the contents of the “hoarder” house were worth. She bought one each of all the Stephen King signed hardcovers and other contemporary authors such as Clive Barker, but she also had rarities like a second edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and original editions of HP Lovecraft books such as The Outsider and Others. She had original TV scripts for shows such as The Addams Family, crates of Universal monster toys dating back to the 1940s, and movie posters for lovable turds such as Son of Blob and Attack of the Crab Monsters.

Her pen pals over the years included authors Robert “Psycho” Bloch, Clive Barker (Hellraiser), and comic creators Neil Gaiman (Sandman) and Alan Moore (Watchmen). Persephone and Elizabeth got holiday cards from Ray Bradbury, Robert Crumb, and Isaac Asimov. One of those celebrated figures is the man who claimed her virginity at Comic-Con.

(8) WEITZ OBIT. Skylab rescuer: “Astronaut Paul Weitz Dies At 85; Veteran Of Skylab And Shuttle Missions”.

On his first space flight, he served as pilot on Skylab-2 (SL-2), along with Apollo 12 veteran Charles “Pete” Conrad, Jr., and Joseph Kerwin, also a rookie on SL-2. The mission to fix Skylab, which had suffered significant damage during the space station’s launch, is still considered one of the most difficult and dangerous in the annals of spaceflight.

…”We had to get the temperatures under control if we were going to salvage Skylab at all,” he told NASA in an oral history recorded in 2000.

Years later, Weitz returned to space when he commanded the critical first mission of Challenger, NASA’s second flight-worthy Space Shuttle orbiter, lifting off on April 4, 1983. The successful flight lasted five days.

Photos and more details on BBC.


The Disney chipmunks Chip and Dale are named after Thomas Chippendale, the furniture maker.


(11) GRAPHIC EXAMPLES. PJ Media’s Megan Fox finds “Prominent Conservative Artists Blacklisted Because of Involvement with Alt*Hero Comics Series”. (Although it sounds like Chuck Dixon already hadn’t been that busy for awhile.)

Timothy Lim, a talented freelance professional illustrator and cover artist, has been fired from Mount Olympus comics because he took a job to create the cover for subversive right-wing comic series Alt?Hero. After Alt?Hero creator Vox Day announced Lim’s contribution publicly, Lim received this message from his current employer.

Lim had begun work for Patriotika, Mount Olympus’s answer to SJW comics, because he had heard it would be pro-American and the SJWs who have taken over DC Comics and Marvel would hate it. “I found out about Patriotika from friends who had positive things to say about it,” Lim said. “I contacted the owner to volunteer my services for his next issue, free of charge, just to support a good cause. He decided to hire me for cover work on another title in the same universe, Valkyrie Saviors.”

But the goodwill took a bad turn when it became public that Lim was working with Vox Day. “When he saw the work that I had done for Alt?Hero, he was not enthused. Three days later he messaged me to tell me he would not print the Valkyrie Saviors cover or the Patriotika one which I was going to finalize the following week,” said Lim.

… Chuck Dixon, the Batman writer most known for co-creating the popular villain Bane and the man Bleeding Cool called “the most prolific comic book writer of all time,” has also been attacked for signing on with Alt?Hero. PJ Media spoke to Dixon about it.

… Dixon’s conservative politics have never been a secret. He wrote the graphic novel “Clinton Cash” during the last election, which hammered the Clintons for their dubious money grabbing schemes. Dixon says the blacklisting began in the early 2000s. “I’ve experienced a steep drop in assignments since 2000. Primarily from the two largest comics publishers [Marvel and DC Comics]….

…Dixon explained why he decided to work with Vox Day. “My decision to join with Vox on this project is because he offered me an interesting opportunity; a return to the kind of escapist superhero fantasy I used to be allowed to create at DC Comics and Marvel Comics. I’ve long lamented that the major comics publishers have walked away from their core audience over the past two decades,” he explained. “They  ran from them by creating ham-handed preach-athons that scold the readers rather than entertain them. And just within the last year, the diversity movement in comics has ratcheted up to chase away even the last of the die-hard fans who were holding on to the hope that one day superhero comics would return to their core appeal as wish-fulfillment fantasies.”

Dixon believes that the answer to SJW culture is to carve out a counter-culture in the realm of entertainment….

(12) THEY’LL BE BACK. It shouldn’t come as a surprise: “CBS has renewed Star Trek: Discovery for a second season” reports Andrew Liptak at The Verge,

The USS Discovery will continue to explore the galaxy. CBS announced this morning that it has renewed the latest iteration of the Star Trek franchise for a second season.

CBS noted that the show has been successful at bringing in new subscribers to its streaming service All Access, and has earned acclaim from fans and critics. Following the season’s premiere, CBS announced that sign-ups for the service had reached their highest level to date. CBS did not announce an episode count for season 2, nor when it would begin airing.

Star Trek: Discovery is set roughly a decade before the events of The Original Series. The show follows Michael Burnham, a disgraced Starfleet officer who serves aboard the USS Discovery following the outbreak of war between the Federation and Klingon Empire. Presently, CBS has aired six of the first season’s 15 episodes, and it has split the season into two “chapters.” The first nine episodes are set to premiere on a weekly basis through November, while the second half will premiere in January 2018.

(13) NOT A MEAL. Soylent isn’t people, and now it’s also not for people, at least Canadians: “Soylent Banned in Canada for Not Actually Being a Meal” according to Gizmodo.

In a major blow to Canadians who love bland on-the-go meal replacement goop, The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has blocked all shipments of Soylent into the country.

Soylent first began shipping to Canada in July 2015, announcing the move with a video of people reading fanatical complaints from Canucks requesting Soylent, with “O Canada” playing in the background. It seems Canada’s food regulatory agency is not as enthusiastic about having the quasi-nutritious substance shipped into the Great White North.

According to a statement from Rob Rhinehart, the CEO of Rosa Foods and the former software engineer who created Soylent, CIFA told the company in early October that their “products do not meet a select few of the CFIA requirements for a ‘meal replacement.’”

(14) ARCHEOLOGICAL GIFTS. NPR has the official word: “U.K. Offers Famed Arctic Shipwrecks As ‘Exceptional Gift’ To Canada”.  The Franklin expedition has spawned genre spinoffs ranging from an Alpha Flight take (right after the first corpses were discovered, 30+ years ago) to a Dan Simmons novel.

In an act befitting “our long shared history and the closeness of our current bilateral relationship,” the U.K. has announced it will give Canada the recovered shipwrecks of John Franklin, a British explorer who sought to chart an unnavigated section of the Northwest Passage in the Arctic in the 1840s — and died in the attempt, along with all of his crew.

“This exceptional arrangement will recognise the historical significance of the Franklin expedition to the people of Canada, and will ensure that these wrecks and artefacts are conserved for future generations,” British Defense Minister Michael Fallon said in a statement published Tuesday.

For more than a century and a half, the resting place of the two vessels remained a mystery — until a team of archaeologists finally found and identified the HMS Erebus in 2014. Just two years later, researchers acted on a tip from an Inuit man to find the HMS Terror, the flagship of Franklin’s 1845 expedition, sitting “perfectly preserved” nearby in the waters near King William Island.

(15) A BANG TOO BIG FOR CAMBRIDGE. Not-so-brief History: “Stephen Hawking’s Ph.D. Thesis Crashes Cambridge Site After It’s Posted Online”.

Interest in “Properties of Expanding Universes” is at an all-time high: Stephen Hawking’s doctoral thesis of that name crashed Cambridge University’s open-access repository on the first day the document was posted online.

The Cambridge Library made several PDF files of the thesis available for download from its website, from what it called a high-resolution “72 Mb” file to a digitized version that is less than half that file size. A “reduced” version was offered that was even smaller — but intense interest overwhelmed the servers.

By late Monday local time, the well-known theoretical physicist’s thesis had been viewed more than 60,000 times, says Stuart Roberts, deputy head of research communications at Cambridge. He added, “Other popular theses might have 100 views per month.”

(16) AGE OF DISCOVERY. “Astrolabe: Shipwreck find ‘earliest navigation tool'” — not exactly the Antikythera, but historic tech in its own right.

An artefact excavated from a shipwreck off the coast of Oman has been found to be the oldest known example of a type of navigational tool.

Marine archaeologists say the object is an astrolabe, an instrument once used by mariners to measure the altitude of the Sun during their voyages.

It is believed to date from between 1495 and 1500.

The item was recovered from a Portuguese explorer which sank during a storm in the Indian Ocean in 1503.

The boat was called the Esmeralda and was part of a fleet led by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, the first person to sail directly from Europe to India.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

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84 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/24/17 Harry Pixel And The Undeserved Scroll

  1. I had not heard of Zelazny writing a novel in just a few days, but I do recall the story that, when he decided to plunge into writing SF, he wrote a story a day for an entire month, and all but three were eventually published.

    I believe one of Barry Malzberg’s soft-core porn novels, 60,000 words, was written in one twenty-hour stint at the keyboard. But hey, porn. (Malzberg and Bill Pronzini poked fun at the tales of high-speed pulp writers in PROSE BOWL; I don’t know how quickly that book was written, sorry.)

    Myself, I’ve settled on the concept of “Write what you can, when you can, as best you can.”

  2. Chip Hitchcock: (e.g., w/o “I heard” or “so-and-so said to me” in front) placed so it looks like it buttresses an absurd claim.

    And if you’re guessing a claim is absurd then civility goes out the window? (This is a rhetorical question, I already know the answer is yes.)

  3. Bruce Arthurs: I had not heard of Zelazny writing a novel in just a few days,

    That’s a pity… Did you attend the 1976 Leprecon? I was thinking you could easily have been at the same off-site party.

  4. (11) Wow, the extreme right wing is fracturing. VD is now considered a “cuck” because he doesn’t approve of blatant neo-nazism (I don’t know if that’s extended to the comments section where subtle and not-so-subtle pro-fascist comments and references were not very rare at least a year or so ago). But VD is too much for another far right comic publisher? Is this hilarious or a horrifying shift of the Overton Window, where VD is a centrist, Mt. Olympus the liberals, and RAM and the Red Elephants the conservatives?

  5. I don’t think I’ve read much of Chuck Dixon’s work, but since I started purposely avoiding it after the dreadful Grifter/Midnighter mini that’s not really surprising. I point to that comic is one of the best arguments as to why hiring a known homophobe to write a comic starring a gay character can be a terrible idea. Maybe he still sells well, I don’t know, but at least for that particular comic he was too distracted by making it clear that he (and Grifter) hadn’t caught Midnighter’s gay cooties and making with the offensive stereotypes that he forgot to make the comic, you know, good. Or fun. Or vaguely in-character. It wasn’t really my idea of wish-fulfillment, that’s for sure…

  6. @Martin Wooster

    Cora: I’d like to read your article on German pulps. i

    I just checked and of the articles I wrote for that fanzine, the only two that are still online (in PDF form) were both about movies. I wrote four articles on German pulps for that zine (a general overview and three on specific series), but unfortunately none of them are online. There is also one article (on German romance pulps) which was never published. I should go hunting for my original drafts and/or contributor’s copies and put them together in a collection, so people who are interested can read them.

    I remember enjoying some of Chuck Dixon’s work in the 1990s. He always had a tendency towards grittier fare like war comics, often wartime adventures of (future) superheroes, but he was a good writer. Too bad he seems to have gone off the deep end.

  7. @Xtifer

    What I don’t understand is why “indie” is being conflated with “prolific”. The two seem entirely unrelated to me.

    I wrote this whole thing about this earlier and chopped it as it seemed out of place. So the short version…..

    From what I read from indie authors, their marketing approach leans towards wanting to develop a consistent and engaged customer base. They write a lot of books so that if someone finds one book that they enjoy, then they will have a ton more to choose from right away.

    Sort of a literary version of binge-watching your favorite TV series.

    There’s a bit of a broad brush in that paragraph but seems to reasonably describe the marketing mindset in the indie end of the world.

    Also, I suggested that copy editing should be the easiest sort of editing rather than being the hardest part. I figure if they can’t get the easy part right, then how much effort will they put into the harder parts. Perhaps that is unduly harsh on my part.


    I’ve had too many good/bad experiences with Orbit. For some reason, they have put out a bunch of books by authors that really know how to scratch my itch. But copy editing?? Erg.


    I went looking for Chuck Dixon’s catalog on Amazon. Thought I’d look at these new comics to see if there was anything worth investigating.

    I discovered that he wrote a ton of Nightwing stuff back in the 1990s that I had read and thoroughly enjoyed. I have no idea how good his current work product might be, but he was doing great work back then.


  8. I think Heinlein wrote “Door into Summer” in a few weeks, and while I’m fond of the novel, I think he could have improved it if he had reconsidered some portions of it (the hypnotic potion that a minor con-artist can get access to breaks the world-building a bit (it’s hard to believe if it’s that easy to get in 1970, that a recognizable society would survive by the year 2000). Also, I would have hated it if Tolkien had rushed the Lord of the Rings, leaving us with the version of Strider, called “Trotter” who is actually Bilbo in disguise.

  9. @OGH: and if you take mortal offense because someone questions your anecdote, you decide that “I’d like to see the citation for Zelazny writing a novel in a weekend, including how long it had been gestating before he started typing.” is rude? Is there no limit to the amount of flowery verbiage you want to see wrapped around “I’m not sure I believe that.”?

  10. Chip Hitchcock: I thought Vicki Rosenzweig explained it very well, and you threw it back in her face. It was from that I deduced where you are coming from.

  11. Oh, Chuck Dixon, the stupid, it burns:

    I’ve long lamented that the major comics publishers have walked away from their core audience over the past two decades … They ran from them by creating ham-handed preach-athons that scold the readers rather than entertain them.

    Yeah, because we all know that comics were never “ham-handed preach-athons” before the SJWs showed up. There never was Max Gaines’s Educational Comics or the Catholic Treasure Chest series or the drug issues of Spider-Man or …

  12. The reason many indie writers strive for extreme prolificness is because Amazon’s algorithms (and most of them depend mainly on Amazon) favour recently published books. E-books lose algorithm momentum after 30, 60 and 90 days and then again after six months and a year. In order to counter this, many indies release their work very rapidly, so they’ll always have a book in the charts and the “hot new releases” list for their respective subgenre. Some of them can actually sustain a decent quality at that pace, others cannot. Judging by the top 100 books in many subgenres, large parts of the audience don’t particularly seem to care.

    By the way, I agree that a story needs to rest for a while after it’s finished. External editors/beta readers, etc… need time as well. There is a reason I have a whole bunch of finished but unpublished stories on my harddrive.

    I once took part in an eight hour fiction challenge, where the idea was to write, edit, format, design a cover and publish a short story in eight hours. I actually pulled it off and the story sells pretty well for something I dashed off over a single Sunday. But I write pretty clean drafts and that’s not a pace that’s sustainable indefinitely.

  13. Now that was silly, I forgot I was going to say:

    @JJ: “if yer lucky next year, ya’ll get the 2018 versions of those . . . [etc.!]” – Yes, plz, kthx. 🙂

  14. Dann: Part of my point with copy editing is not editing is … just that. Because the two jobs are done by two different people you could in theory have a well-copyedited badly edited PoS. (Though more often the priority of the company goes the other way and they fix the story but not the typos or the random eye-colour change.)

    I judge a *company* harshly for cutting corners and not doing copy editing. I don’t necessarily judge the *editor* thereby.

  15. (3) Georges Simenon was said to write a novel a week for much of his career (his total output is said to be something like 300+ novels), and most of the ones I’ve read are actually quite good and show little sign of being rushed, but they’re also only about 90 pages. He is far and away the exception.

    Corey Doctorow is less prolific but rumoured to do no revising (i.e., his first draft is his only draft) and IMO it shows; the man’s sentence-by-sentence writing is trash, and he does a lot of amateurish plot-driven backpedaling (by which I mean character X will do a thing wildly inconsistent w/ what the reader knows about them but that is necessary for the plot, only to explain to the reader later that there really was a super good reason for that action, honest, it just had to be a secret for a while for other super good reasons that totally, totally make real and logical sense [insert jennifer lawrence thumbs up gif here]).

    I mean, congrats if you can keep that schedule; most people can’t.

    @Lenora Rose: “Copy editing is not editing.” Yes it is, it’s just not substantive editing, or even line editing (it’s not even proofreading). There is more than one kind of editing, and it’s all editing!

    @Dann: “As it should be the easiest form of editing…” Depends what you mean by “easy”. Burnout is a huge problem for copyeditors, in part because it requires intense focus on complex minutiae for extended periods day after day after day. My brain is generally fried by the end of the week, or at the end of the day if I have a particularly difficult contract/project. I literally start to have difficulty speaking and writing. Copyeditors are also sometimes expected to do basic fact-checking. We get paid more when we do that, but our deadlines don’t get extended.

    The “artificial schedule” argument is also nonsense. I can copyedit a book in about 8 business days, which is more or less all the time anyone is willing to pay for these days. The book will have errors in it, a) because I’m human, and b) because they didn’t pay me enough to spend more time with it to step away, look at something else, and then come back with fresh eyes (also people used to do line edits as well, which is a related but different thing designed to catch other stuff often blamed on the copyeditor, and they seldom do those at all anymore). Bear in mind this is if I only have one project on the go. If I have more than one project it takes significantly longer. Right now I have ten (I’m in-house at a university, and my title is “production editor” because I don’t just do copyediting, I do other things as well for those same ten projects, although copyediting is my primary task), and I have four months to get all ten done, plus whatever random little jobs they throw at me, which are fairly frequent.

    Substantive editors also have other projects on the go; it’s not like they have one person at the publishing house who deals only with you–Stephen King may get that… but probably not even him. Your substantive editor will have anywhere from four to a dozen books on the go. Nor is editing the only, or even primary, job that substantive editors have anymore. Substantive editors, managing editors, and acquisitions editors are often all the same person now, so they will also have project management roles looking at finances, negotiating schedules and logistics, dealing with agents, reviewing contracts, trying to build next year’s list etc. (Some of my friends really do have as many as a dozen in a year, whereas previously it would have been considered insane to take on more than half that number.)

    The whopping five people in the production department could have dozens or even hundreds of titles they’re responsible for. (Seriously, my gf used to work in Random House Canada’s production department, and there were literally only *five of them* to deal with Random House’s *entire list*, and then they also had to sometimes do double-duty as designers, even though that’s a separate department. Smaller press? Potentially just one person.) It’s not one of those things where the staff just sits there and works on that one book until it’s done, which is a luxury indies have.

    There are “windows” of course, and that has a lot to do with what else is on the market and whether or not they think your book will be overshadowed or miss out on an opportunity to ride some kind of wave or similar concerns, and while that can feel “artificial”, it’s exactly the same strategy literally every other kind of media company uses, because most of the time it works. Nobody is enforcing an artificial schedule on you to keep you trapped in some kind of endless cycle of dependence. People are f***ing busy.

  16. Sorry, I get a little carried away. If folks can find success publishing independently, then more power to them, but none of the rest of us are conspiring against them. If nothing else, we don’t have the time. 🙂

  17. August: An excellent run down of things.

    (I am aware copy editing is a kind of editing, really – it’s in the name – but also aware it is a longstanding peeve by several substantive/managing editors that people assume what they do is copy editing. Or even, in some extreme cases, proofreading. And this is borne out by the comments of people-on-the-street about publishing. File 770 is a bit above that cut.)

  18. @OGH: I pointed out that Vicki had omitted (or even misquoted) the context; that’s not “throwing it back in her face”. But if you want to feel outraged over my response to your slur, that’s up to you.

  19. @August

    Thanks for the extensive response. I don’t see where we have any significant disagreement.

    As a point of clarification, I suggested that copyediting was “easiest” of the different editing functions. That isn’t the same thing as saying that it is easy.

    As an analogy, a skydiver jumping at 10000 feet has the lowest jump compared with others jumping at 12100 feet, 12500 feet, etc. But all of them had better have functional parachutes or they may illustrate the problems associated with a sudden stop.

    I’m curious, does the industry use any automation for copyediting? The errors that take me out of a book the quickest are those that would be caught by any of a half dozen spelling/grammar checkers that I use. I would think that a wash through some sort of competent spelling/grammar software would be step one in that part of the process. Automation might be particularly useful given the trend towards fewer employees handling more projects.


  20. Lenora Rose: I am aware… it is a longstanding peeve by several substantive/managing editors that people assume what they do is copy editing.

    I don’t assume that; however, I do have the expectation that a substantive/managing editor is responsible for seeing that copyediting gets done on a book.

  21. JJ on October 26, 2017 at 2:04 pm said:

    I don’t assume that; however, I do have the expectation that a substantive/managing editor is responsible for seeing that copyediting gets done on a book.

    Well, that sort of depends on the company, I would think. And how many resources it’s willing to make available to its editors.

    I mean, I’d like to think that the managing editor ultimately feels responsible, but that’s not necessarily the same thing as being responsible. The managing editor may want to produce as high-quality a product as possible, but the company itself may be more interested in getting units on shelves so people will exchange money for them, and the less money spent up front getting the product on shelves, the better. If a company discovers that poor copyediting doesn’t have a major impact on sales…the poor managing editor may be stuck.

  22. @Dann

    I’ve never done copyediting or much in the way of proofreading*, but I used to write quizzes on science fiction and fantasy books and the spellchecker was rendered utterly useless for a lot of them. Too many made-up words without clear grammatical purpose. I dislike proofreading and it was quite frustrating to have to do it all manually because the dratted book crippled the software. Non-fiction sometimes messed with it, too, if there was much specialised terminology.

    *I have done Britpicking/localising, also for quizzes, because sometimes instead of hiring people to write them they hired us to “translate” ones that were written by the USA branch.

  23. @Meredith

    I appreciate where you are coming from and recognize the difficulties that SFF can pose to spell checking software. The errors that come to my mind are those that would not be significantly influenced by the unique abuse of spelling that takes place in a lot of SFF works.


  24. @Dann

    No – the unique words create too many false positives and makes it nearly impossible to find the ones you’d actually need to change using the software, even the mundane words. It ends up being faster (and less irritating) to do it the old-fashioned way.

  25. Mike Glyer: “Did you attend the 1976 Leprecon? I was thinking you could easily have been at the same off-site party.”

    Was that the one held at Curt Stubbs’ place a few blocks away, after the hotel started being dickish? Yes, I was there, but I guess not within earshot of the Zelazny story. There was a lot going on at that party. (Curt’s poor hat! I don’t think it ever recovered.)

  26. Bruce Arthurs: Was that the one held at Curt Stubbs’ place a few blocks away, after the hotel started being dickish?

    Very likely so.

    I also recall Richard Lester’s Three Musketeers was under discussion. (Whether it was already out or on the way I forget.) Zelazny held forth on fencing for awhile.

  27. @August: Love the rant (my best friend is a production editor at a major NY publisher). 😉

  28. @Dann: Regarding automation, yes and no. The vast majority of copyediting is done without it, but it does get deployed at certain stages (not stage one, though; having an automated process “correct” a false positive is both common and extremely vexing because it’s incredibly hard to spot and fix), more as a supplement. You don’t really “run” the spell check and have it correct things for you so much as you just have it passively flag things and then you look at those things as you work your way through the document on your second or third pass, depending on the specifics of your process. Spelling is probably the smallest part of the job anyway, and despite what most people think, a great many words have more than one correct spelling, depending on context (here in Canada it’s compounded by the fact that we use a blend of US and UK spellings *plus* some of our own, and there are cases where it’s not entirely clear what is and isn’t correct, or even where everything is correct and you have to pick one). Compound words are a real problem, because dictionaries aren’t consistent with how they treat them, and copyeditors need to be. Is compound type X always hyphenated or always split or always joined? Well, your dictionary presents examples of that compound type in all three ways, so spell check will treat them in all three ways, but you need to pick one and stick with it. (Rinse and repeat.) Automated tools can be good for correcting a few granular things, but they are utterly atrocious at consistency, and of the three Cs of copyediting (correctness, consistency, clarity), “correctness” is the least important. And automated grammar checks are basically worthless.

    I don’t think your analogy is quite right. Is project management harder than underwater welding, or is it just hard in a different way? Substantive and copy editing are both difficult, but they are different kinds of difficult, rather than different degrees within the same kind.

    I don’t assume that; however, I do have the expectation that a substantive/managing editor is responsible for seeing that copyediting gets done on a book.

    That is their job, but they are restricted by budgets and deadlines, and so am I. I was once given 8 hours for 302 pages. To do a really, truly good job, you should be able to work at an average pace of about 5 manuscript pages per hour, so clearly 8 hours is unreasonable. I pushed back and they gave me 16 hours–I got it done, but I made it clear that I wasn’t willing to make any guarantees about quality. This isn’t a job you can throw money or manpower at; it just takes time. (Although time does cost money.) [edit for clarity: this was an in-house assignment, not a freelance contract, so refusing the project was not an option]

    @Kendall: Good stuff! My job is probably a little different from theirs, because I primarily work with online course materials, and the production side of my job is very limited (I’m basically a copyeditor who does some HTML/CSS stuff and Access for Ontarians with Disability Act accessibility compliance rather than a traditional production editor).

  29. Re: automated spell-check programs on SFF with invented vocabulary

    As someone who has written several lengthy books involving significant invented vocabulary and names… Spell-check is definitely useful here, but it’s also laborious to use. One of the to-do items towards the end of my manuscript preparation process is to run the entire manuscript through a Word spell-check, which includes verifying all the invented terminology/names in all of its grammatical forms. One output of this process is a book-specific vocabulary list that I can provide to my publisher. (I honestly don’t know whether they make use of it, although I hope it helps keep things from getting “corrected” to something more familiar.) Given that I’m writing a series in a single world, another advantage of this is that I can maintain an ongoing Word dictionary to apply to future projects. But heaven help a copyeditor having to do that on a ms like mine if I hadn’t doing the first pass!

    The time I had to simply give up and turn off Word’s real-time spell-check and abandon any hope of running the manuscript through even a final pass was for my PhD dissertation which contained vast amounts of quoted Medieval Welsh text. Running a spell-check pass could easily have taken me an entire week of hitting “ignore”. And I couldn’t just leave the real-time checker running and review the English text visually because the sheer amount of data crashed it.

  30. (3) I recall that in the one Piers Anthony novel I read, For Love of Evil, he spent a lot of the foreword or afterword bragging about how quickly he was cranking out his novels. It certainly left me with an ample body of other work to not read…

  31. All this talk of spell-checkers reminds me of the fact that George R. R. Martin deliberately uses a word-processor without spell-check http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/05/14/george_r_r_martin_writes_on_dos_based_wordstar_4_0_software_from_the_1980s.html
    “I hate some of these modern systems where you type a lowercase letter and it becomes a capital. I don’t want a capital. If I wanted a capital I would have typed a capital. I know how to work the shift key!”

    Larry Niven used to use typos as sources for alien terms (like “shisp” (which was supposed to be “ships”) and “droud” (supposed to be crowd)); that wouldn’t be a great idea with a system with an automated spell-checker http://www.larryniven.net/stories/words.shtml

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