Pixel Scroll 11/30/18 And Remember: The Pixel In This Scroll Are Not For Eating

(1) KEEP YOUR HUGO VOTING ELIGIBILITY. The official Hugo Awards site reminds you: “Join Worldcon by December 31, 2018 to be Eligible to Nominate for 2019 Hugo Awards”.

The Hugo Awards are selected by a vote of the members of the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in a two-stage process. The first stage is nominating (which starts in early 2019) and the second stage is the final ballot that includes those works/people that received enough nominations in the first stage (which starts later in 2019). If you want to participate in the nominating stage and are not yet a member of either the 2018 or 2019 Worldcons, take note of the December 31, 2018 deadline for joining Worldcon in order to be eligible to nominate in 2019.

If you want to nominate works/people for the 2019 Hugo Awards, you must be a member of either the 2018 Worldcon (San José) or the 2019 Worldcon (Dublin) by the end of 2018.

(2) HOW MUCH SCIENCE IS IN YOUR FAVORITE SF? Gregory Benford’s quote from Loscon about “If you write sf honey, gotta get the science right” lit off several discussions on Twitter.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia started a list of famous sf that is not scientifically accurate. Thread begins here.

And responding to the report that Benford “also said that PSI powers to control the earth and earthquakes had already been done in the Fifties,” Annalee Flower Horne wrote two Twitter threads. First:

[T]here’s a whole conversation to be had here about how Science Fiction and Fantasy isn’t just one literary canon that everyone has to read before they can write SFF.

Thread starts here.

Second —

[The] notion that ideas and tropes can never be re-used in SF and that anyone trying must be new here would be funny if it weren’t such an insidious tool of exclusion.

Thread starts here.

And N. K. Jemisin had a general response –

(3) ROSE RETURNS ON AUDIO. Fansided reports “Billie Piper’s Doctor Who audio spinoff will finally give Rose Tyler some solo adventures”.

Fan favorite Billie Piper is headed back to the world of Doctor Who once more, but not the way you might think.

No, Rose Tyler won’t be running into Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor any time soon. (SIGH.) But she will be starring in her own new series of Big Finish audio adventures next year, focusing on Rose’s time in an alternate dimension following the heartbreaking and generally ugly cry-inducing events of season 2 finale “Doomsday”.

(4) BOOK OF DOUBT. Aidan Doyle is currently running a Kickstarter for Kickstarter for The Writer’s Book of Doubt . It contains essays and advice for writers on how to deal with self-doubt. It’s illustrated by Hugo and World Fantasy nominated artist Kathleen Jennings and includes a Map of Submissionland.

Why don’t I have any ideas?

Why haven’t I written anything? Why haven’t I written anything good? Why won’t anyone publish my stories? Why won’t anyone pay me for my stories?

The Writer’s Book of Doubt by Aidan Doyle is a book of comfort for writers. An acknowledgement that writing can be a difficult and lonely process. It includes essays and advice from a number of writers and will be illustrated by Hugo and World Fantasy nominated artist, Kathleen Jennings.

… The book includes guest essays from a range of writers giving advice on how to deal with doubt and providing examples of encouragement and hope. The essays are reprints, but many of them are revised and expanded.

Contents include —

  • Delilah S. Dawson – No Word is Ever Wasted
  • Malon Edwards – I am a Big Black Man Who Writes Science Fiction
  • Meg Elison – Revenge is 100 Dresses
  • Kate Elliott – The Space You Make For Your Art
  • Kameron Hurley – 10 Things I Learned From Failure
  • Matthew Kressel – Overcoming Self-Doubt as a Writer
  • R. F. Kuang – The Racial Rubber Stamp
  • Fonda Lee – The Great Green Monster
  • Rose Lemberg – Don’t Self-Reject
  • Likhain – Seeing Yourself in Stories
  • Jeannette Ng – Cultural Appropriation for the Worried Writer
  • A. Merc Rustad – The Necessity of Hope
  • Bogi Takács – How (Not) to Include Trans People as Background Characters
  • E. Catherine Tobler – Writing, Mostly
  • Isabel Yap – Whenever I’m in an Extended Period of Not-Writing I am Always Deeply, Deeply Mystified About How the Hell to Start Again
  • Plus a bonus illustration from
  • Tom Gauld – The Ghost of Future Book Sales

With 12 days to go, the appeal has brought in $2,805 – its original goal was $1,097.

(5) 451 AUCTION. How much did Hugh Hefner’s signed copy of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 go for? Live Auctioneers says —

(6) THE NOVAE OF NOVEMBER: Featured Futures look at the bright spots in this month’s short fiction from the prozines in Summation: November 2018.

The issues of Clarkesworld and F&SF were especially strong and Galaxy’s Edge had a couple of nice tales. I also began belated coverage of the resurrected Amazing‘s August “Fall” issue this November. On the other hand, in general, non-prozine news, Shimmer ceased publication and I noticed that the long-dormant SQ Mag had finally acknowledged its death in September. Speaking of death, this month’s wombat was at least three excellent stories in which the deaths of mothers and a sister played significant parts.

The tally for November was 79 stories of 482K words (plus five October stories of 19K in November’s first review of the weeklies) with thirteen noted and six of those recommended. In more general site news, I’ve decided on Featured Futures‘ 2019 coverage. The link to that is in the “News” section at the end of this post.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 30, 1893 – E. Everett Evans, Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Member of First Fandom who started out with fan writing, but eventually became a published genre author as well. He helped to found the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) and served as its president and editor of its publication. Food for Demons was a chapbook compilation of his fantasy tales, though he was generally not considered to be a good fiction writer. Fandom’s Big Heart Award, which was founded by Forrest J Ackerman in 1959, was named for him for its first 40 years. In 2018, Bob Tucker’s fanzine Le Zombie, of which he had co-edited two issues, won a Retro Hugo Award. (Died 1958.)
  • Born November 30, 1917 – Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Actor of Stage and Screen and Producer. Best known in genre, without doubt, as the voice of Alfred Pennyworth in Batman: The Animated Series and the animated films linked to it – unless you’re a big Babylon 5 fan, in which case you might remember him from four episodes where he played William Edgars. He also played character voices in the 1990s series Spider-Man as Doctor Octopus and Iron Man as Justin Hammer, and had a role in Beyond Witch Mountain. (Died 2014.)
  • Born November 30, 1919 – Dr. Milton A. Rothman, Nuclear Physicist, Writer, Teacher, and Member of First Fandom who co-founded the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, organized the first Philcon science fiction convention in October 1936, and attended the first Worldcon in 1939. He published the fanzines Milty’s Mag and Plenum. An outspoken skeptic, his The Physicist’s Guide to Skepticism applied the laws of physics to paranormal and pseudoscientific claims to show why they are impossible. He chaired the Philadelphia Worldcons in both 1947 and 1953, and was Guest of Honor at the Philadelphia Worldcon in 1976. His complete science fiction works were published posthumously in 2004 in the collection Heavy Planet and Other Science Fiction Stories. (Died 2001.)
  • Born November 30, 1933 – Bill Ellern, 85, Engineer, Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Member of First Fandom who is a 60-year member of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society and has also served on the committees for several Worldcons and other conventions. As an engineer at JPL, he worked on the Ranger moon probe. As an author, he received permission from E.E. Smith to extend the Lensman series of novels. In 2005, he was honored by LASFS for his service with the Evans-Freehafer Award.
  • Born November 30, 1937 – Ridley Scott, 81, Oscar-nominated Director and Producer. The Hugo and Saturn Award-winning The Martian is his most recent genre work of note, but he’s got a long and distinguished list that includes Hugo winners Blade Runner and Alien, Hannibal, the Clio-winning “1984” Apple video advert, Legend, Prometheus, Alien: Covenant, and a superb Robin Hood. Interestingly, he had a poem entitled “Blood Runner” published by the Science Fiction Poetry Association in its Star*Line magazine in 2011.
  • Born November 30, 1949 – Billy Drago, 69, Actor, Writer, and Producer known for playing villains, most especially John Bly, the antagonist in the first and best storyline of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. He also played the demon Barbas in the original Charmed series, and has appeared in many horror films, including True Blood, Vamp, Cyborg 2, Sci-Fighters, Demon Hunter, and The Hills Have Eyes. He also was in Tremors 4: The Legend Begins – a film I’m sure no one was asking for.
  • Born November 30, 1952 – Debra Doyle, 66, Writer, Filker, and Fan. Her novel Knight’s Wyrd, co-written wither her husband and collaborator James D. Macdonald, won a Mythopoeic Award for Children’s Literature. Most of their co-written works are fantasy, but their Mageworlds series also crosses into space opera territory. As filker Malkin Grey, she and Pergyn Wyndryder won a Pegasus Award for Best Historical Song. She is an instructor at the Viable Paradise Writer’s Workshop, and has been Guest of Honor at several conventions.
  • Born November 30, 1952 – Jill Eastlake, 66, IT Manager, Costumer, Conrunner, and Fan who is known for her elaborate and fantastical costume designs; her costume group won “Best in Show” at the 2004 Worldcon.  A member of fandom for more than 50 years, she belonged to her high school’s SF club, then became an early member of NESFA, the Boston-area fan club, and served as its president for 4 years. She has served on the committees for numerous Worldcons and regional conventions, co-chaired a Costume-Con, and chaired two Boskones. She was the Hugo Award ceremony coordinator for the 1992 Worldcon, and has run the Masquerade for numerous conventions. Her extensive contributions were honored when she was named a Fellow of NESFA in 1976, and in 2011 the International Costumer’s Guild presented her with their Lifetime Achievement Award. She and her fan husband Don (who is irrationally fond of running WSFS Business Meetings) were Fan Guests of Honor at Rivercon.
  • Born November 30, 1953 – Mandy Patinkin, 65, Actor and Producer who is well-known to genre fans for his portrayal of Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, which included several memorable and memeable lines, most famously “You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means”. His other genre credits a lead role in the film Alien Nation for which he received a Saturn nomination, Dick Tracy, The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, a main role in the Dead Like Me TV series, a guest part in an episode of Hercules, and voice roles in Castle in the Sky, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Wind Rises, and Smurfs: The Lost Village.
  • Born November 30, 1955 – Kevin Conroy, 63, Actor who is, without doubt, best known for voicing Batman on first Batman: The Animated Series, and then later myriad other Batman-inclusive undertakings. (Note that The New Batman Adventures have been folded into that series when it was released in DVD format and as video.) He reprised the role of an elder Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond. Justice League Action, which just had its first season on the Cartoon Network, saw him again in the Batman role, with the other characters often noting his stoic personality.
  • Born November 30, 1957 – Martin Morse Wooster, 61, Journalist, Writer, Editor, Critic, and Member of First Filedom. He discovered fandom as a high-schooler in 1974, when he heard about “a big sci-fi con” in downtown Washington, and so attended Discon II. A year later, he discovered fanzines, and found that he liked writing book reviews and Letters of Comment (LOCs); he has been turning them out ever since. In 1975, he was one of 12 founders of the Potomac River Science Fiction Society, and still attends PRSFS meetings to discuss books. He has written several non-fiction books, on subjects such as education policy and how to do philanthropy well. He has been a File 770 contributor since 1978, and frequently writes reports of the conventions he attends.
  • Born November 30, 1965 – Ryan Murphy, 53, Writer, Director, and Producer who is responsible for those roles on the various iterations of American Horror Story, which have thus far included Murder House, Asylum, Coven, Freak Show, Hotel, Roanoke, Cult, and Apocalypse, and on the two-year Scream Queens anthology series.
  • Born November 30, 1985 – Kaley Cuoco, 33, Actor and Producer. Reversing my usual method of stating their past credits, I’m going to note that she will be Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel in the forthcoming Harley Quinn series on the DC Universe streaming service. Yes, I’m excited, as the trailer looked great! She appeared as regular cast in the last season of the original Charmed series, and is a main cast member on the homage to geekdom The Big Bang Theory

(8) SCARS BANNED. In what The Sun disdains as a “snowflake campaign,” “Famous movie villains with scarred faces set to be banned by BFI to ‘remove stigma around disfigurement’”.

MOVIE villains with scarred faces have been banned by the British Film Institute in a bid to “remove the stigma around disfigurement”.

Films featuring baddies such as Freddy Krueger and Darth Vader will no longer get financial support from the taxpayer-funded body as part of a campaign called #IAmNotYourVillain.

…Ben Roberts, funding director at the BFI, said: “We are committing to not having negative representations depicted through scars or facial difference in films we fund.

“It’s astonishing to think that films have done this so often and for so long. The time has come for this to stop.

“We fully support Changing Faces’ I Am Not Your Villain campaign and urge the rest of the film industry to do the same.”

A spokesman for Changing Faces said: “Our campaign is calling on those in the film industry to stop using scars, burns or marks as shorthand for villainy.”

(9) HARRY POTTER WEDDING AT COSTCO. After connecting online, they had their first meet at Costco. Things clicked, now they’re married — “‘It was perfect’: This couple had a Harry Potter-themed wedding at Costco”. Today.com has the story.

The bride wore a deep scarlet dress, in honor of Harry Potter’s Gryffindor House colors, and she held a bouquet of paper flowers made with pages from the beloved J.K. Rowling novel. The groom wore a blue and bronze tie for his favored house of Ravenclaw.

(10) TONIGHT ON JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter has the latest sff reference from the game show:

In the category “Books with Animals,” the answer was: “The title characters in ‘Tailchaser’s Song’ is this kind of Animal.”

Wrong question: “What is a Dog?”

(11) ZOMBIE MUSICAL. NPR’s Scott Tobias is iffy when “Teens Sing Their Guts Out In The Scottish Zombie Christmas Musical ‘Anna And The Apocalypse'”.

A normal way for fans to appreciate Edgar Wright’s 2004 zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead is to watch it again and perhaps discover a few grace notes they missed the first or second or third time around. But there’s something to be said for considering it through the prism of slavish imitator like Anna and the Apocalypse, a Scottish genre mash-up that plays like a piece of fan art, only with a musical component added.

(12) LEARNING FROM THE CURSED CHILD. BBC quotes actress “Noma Dumezweni: ‘Hermione has taught me how to be angry'”.

I have learned a lot from playing the character of Hermione on stage in the last few years. Although generally calm and level headed, righteous and empathetic Hermione knows how to use anger effectively when it’s needed.

Hermione’s anger is a beautiful thing – she displays it most through her loyalty and love, especially when she’s in love and trying to understand that. She’s asking those she loves to do better. She holds them up to a high standard because she has faith they can reach that. Fiercely. And she’ll be there when they do.

(13) ROYAL DETECTIVE. The Hollywood Reporter brings word of a series rooted in India that will air on Disney Junior — “Disney Junior Orders Animated Mystery Series Inspired by Indian Cultures and Customs”.

Disney Junior has greenlighted an animated mystery-adventure series for preschoolers that is inspired by the cultures and customs of India.

Mira, Royal Detective will star 15-year-old newcomer Leela Ladnier in the title role, along with the voices of Freida Pinto, Hannah Simone, Kal Penn, Jameela Jamil, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Aasif Mandvi.

Set in the magical Indian-inspired land of Jalpur, the series follows the brave and resourceful Mira, a commoner who is appointed to the role of royal detective after solving a mystery that involves saving the kingdom’s young prince.

(14) SPACE BUD BEATS AIR BUD. Important news comes from FoodAndWine.com that Bud is ratcheting up its efforts to booze up space (“Budweiser Launches Third Space Experiment in Effort to Be the First Beer on Mars”).

In March 2017, when Budweiser proclaimed its intentions to be the first beer on Mars, the announcement could have easily been dismissed as just another marketing stunt, a forward-looking contrast to Bud Light’s medieval-set “Dilly Dilly” campaign, even. But despite the fact that, no, Budweiser will not be arriving on Mars anytime soon, Bud has continued to prove that, though the campaign does have a significant marketing angle, it is not simply a stunt.

This week, the beer brand has announced that it plans to conduct its third experiment on the International Space Station as part of a SpaceX launch scheduled for this coming Tuesday, December 4. Coincidentally enough, on that date exactly one year ago, Budweiser sent its first two Bud on Mars experiments to the ISS, also via a SpaceX launch. Those endeavors looked at how a microgravity environment affected barley seedlings, both in general and with regards to germination. Of course, as any beer expert can tell you, once barley is grown, you have to malt it before it can be used to brew beer, so this latest experiment takes the barley journey one step further.

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

60 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/30/18 And Remember: The Pixel In This Scroll Are Not For Eating

  1. Meredith Moment for UK Filers:

    Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett is among the Kindle Monthly Deal offers this month, for just 99p. This is one of my books of 2018 and definitely worth picking up, especially for fans of the Divine Cities series.

    Things that caught my attention among the rest of the offerings included: Revenger by Alistair Reynolds is in there, Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer, Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, the second book in the Wool trilogy by Hugh Howey, second in Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey…

  2. I strongly +1 Foundryside, one of the highlights of the year for me.

    Seeing Dragonsinger on sale gives me strong nostalgic feelings. It was a real comfort read for me as a teen, much more so than the first Menolly book which was a bit miserable for quite a lot of the story. Based on how my tastes have changed I wonder if I’d find my opinions reversed on a reread.
    I’m not actually sure why I liked it so much, as I can’t sing a note worth a damn….


    As well as being rude, it was just plain silly. Hard SF is at best a subgenre of the whole, very few people write it in its purest form, and it’s just as prone to tropes and handwaving as the rest of SF.
    My interest in golden age SF is either as pulpy good fun – in which case the science is generally terrible – or examinations of how technology and science will affect people, in which case the science needs to be plausible and internally consistent but not necessarily precise, often with implausible starting assumptions (FTL!)
    It’s the latter case that I think the Broken Earth trilogy works brilliantly within, exploring how a society evolved under different conditions in order to cast a light on our current one. (Plus, you know, a great story and characters and so on….)


    Most SF in one way or another is a fantasy as it’s an extrapolation that’s not yet been proven and in some cases is obviously not true science, ie the the bugs in Starship Troopers. The SF that Niven and Poutnelle wrote certainly wasn’t hard science as was hardly almost anything written by Heinlein.

  4. 9) Regarding the book bouquet, this current book art trend continues to take me aback. I keep flashing back to my parents telling me to be careful with the book, not crack the spine and keep it away from food etc. Now we are okay casually destroying them. I’m not against it, it’s just strange.

  5. Meredith Moment:

    Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller is part of the Kindle Monthly Deal at Amazon US for $1.99. There also seem to be a whole lot of series on sale, most of them I have no knowledge of and have not read.

    I also came across a title which looks interesting, but I’ve never read anything by the author, though the name is familiar. It’s Temper by Nicky Drayden and I figured someone here may have read this and/or know the author’s work and give an opinion. Amazon’s excerpt gave me only enough to know that Drayden writes well. The premise is interesting, but I typically like to have read something by an author before buying a novel. The people posting here I suspect will be far more reliable than Amazon reviews all too often turn out to be

  6. @11, If any Filer goes to see Anna and the Apocalypse, I would greatly appreciate a non-spoilery review here. I don’t like horror, but I do make an exception for comedy-horror (Shawn of the Dead, Zombieland). Is it funny? Is it (in your opinion, of course) excessively gorey? Is it campy (I’m looking at you, Pride & Prejudice and Zombies)? (I don’t mind cartoon-violence, as per the above-mentioned films, but I don’t like slasher flicks….) Most important, is it a good film? When a movie with my husband can cost in the neighborhood of $50, going to see films on a whim is no longer an option, but this one looks promising.

  7. @Robert Reynolds I liked Temper a lot, although Nicky Drayden has quite an unusual style of developing plots and worlds which is probably best described as “absolutely flipping redonkulous”. Temper starts off as an intriguing but safe coming-of-age-against-all-odds story in a world with a specific science fictional premise, and by the end it’s escalated so far and in such unexpected directions that even the CHARACTERS take a moment to sit around and go “wow, remember when all we were worried about was school and girls??” If you love SFF for the inventiveness and magic and aren’t liable to get frustrated by WTFery then it’s great fun.

    For those who have read Drayden’s debut, The Prey of Gods, its also generally tighter and better plotted, even with the escalation. The characters in PoG were more likeable though.

  8. Also, Jeannette Ng’s Under the Pendulum Sun is available for $1.99 on US Amazon.

  9. Apparently some people are intolerant of SF/F written by anyone who doesn’t look like then, or is (now) old. I get that. But trying to pick a fight because of it is intolerant. This plays into the hands of those who think the current occupant of the White House is doing just fine.

    I refuse to play their game.

    Let’s also remind ourselves that all the published fiction that people object to was bought by human editors at publishing houses, not because it was written by whites, or men, or old people, but because the editors and publishers thought it would sell when published.

    If people want to blame someone for what was published, don’t blame the writers, who were simply trying to make a living. Blame the publishers and the general public who bought the books.

  10. @Ferret —

    Also, Jeannette Ng’s Under the Pendulum Sun is available for $1.99 on US Amazon.


  11. 8) Trust the British bastion of petty bourgeois odium (the Sun) to offer a misleading headline for an interesting news story about representation in film. They claim that the British Film Institute is ‘banning’ villains with scarred faces, and the actual fact is that the Institute has simply announced that they will no longer offer funding subsidies to such films.

    I’d say it’s an interesting decision, and given the stigma faced by people with disfigurements it’s one that may have some strong merit.

    One might wonder if a nuance might be offered in which we differentiate villains whose disfigurements come from a plot point (I.E. Darth Vader) from those whose disfigurement only exists to serve as a marker of villainy (I.E. Scar from Lion King). Simultaneously, I hope that real-life villains who were disfigured (I.E. Otto Von Scorzany) might be exempt from this decision.

  12. @olavrokne —

    I’d say it’s an interesting decision, and given the stigma faced by people with disfigurements it’s one that may have some strong merit.

    I would think that filmmakers could avoid the whole issue by having scarred heroes in addition to their scarred villains. We all know that “good” does not have to equal “beautiful”!

  13. @arifel:

    Many thanks! That’s more or less what I wanted to know. You just helped Drayden sell a copy of Temper. Thank you for your time and effort.

  14. @Contrarius:

    I would think that filmmakers could avoid the whole issue by having scarred heroes in addition to their scarred villains. We all know that “good” does not have to equal “beautiful”!

    Jonah Hex?

  15. @2 Benford’s remark is obviously silly but it made me wonder… has anyone picked apart the science in Timescape? I could have sworn I remembered seeing Benford say something along the lines of “I had to fudge the physics a bit to get it to work the way it had to for the story” but that may have been someone else talking about the book. I mean, I don’t care at all since I don’t share his narrow view of SF, but I feel like his reputation as a super-hard-science guy rests largely on that novel, and even not so much the actual physics in it as the fact that it seems like a realistic portrayal of scientists.

    (I need to read that book again—I’ve always found it very moving—although I do remember some things that would probably bother me more now than they did earlier.)

  16. I finally got Ursula Le Guin’s last book No Time to Spare from the library on Thursday. Here’s an excerpt from a section called “Readers’ Questions”:

    The want something meaningful. […] What is the Meaning of this book, this event in the book, this story…? Tell me what it Means.

    But that’s not my job, honey. That’s your job.

    I can’t imagine why anyone would treat this use of “honey” as condescending to a particular individual. I think Benford used it in the same way without realizing there was someone in the room primed to be offended by it.

    As for the substance of Benford’s claim about getting the science right, of course authors have been playful about it, and why not? In Heinlein’s juveniles, the starships have several different and conflicting methods for achieving FTL travel, but in each case the method serves the story being told (i.e., approaching light speed over several days for the Traders in Citizen of the Galaxy versus the Mother Thing’s “fold ship” in Have Space Suit).

    Of course Benford’s bias toward hard science is easy to understand. He had a long career as a working scientist and academic, and long ago produced a well-regarded SF proof of principle (Timescape, 1980). Should he have restrained himself from stating this bias while sitting on a convention panel? Should someone have told him to exercise such restraint before the panel started?

  17. I think Heinlein is an example of an author who consciously tried to get the science right, when it needed to conform to known science. For instance, his detailed analysis of orbital mechanics for “Space Cadet” and “Rolling Stones”. Yes, any story that had aliens in it is fudging the science, since the only other planet we know is inhabited is totally inhabited by robots. ( evil grin )

    Someone mentioned “Have Space Suit Will Travel” — how many chapters were spent getting the actual mechanics of a working space suit right? Yeah, the galactic overlords bit was over the top, but …

    ANY science fiction story that has FTL of any sort, is cheating. So what?

    I’m not defending Benford. He was condescending, like so many men. And then they wonder why women stay away from STEM. I’m certain his female colleagues and graduate students spend a lot of money on anti-eye-rolling eye drops.

    So I can’t offer an opinion on what happened, as I was not present. The several eye witness reports seem to indicate that one individual came spoiling for a fight, and Benford was rude while commenting on a Hugo-winning author.


    If we don’t apply a sense of nuance to this sort of thing, we become inured to actual harassment. There’s a reason our justice system has a list of graduated crimes, from misdemeanors all the way up to the worst felonies. Benford didn’t commit a felony, IMHO, based on the eye witness accounts.

    And then, because he’s an entitled old white guy, he doubled down by refusing to actually, you know, apologize, instead offering a justification of why he’s right and everyone else is just blind to the actual situation and victim culture and snowflakes and lah lah lah lah lah…


  18. It’s not a facial disfigurement, but does this mean no BFI support for a movie of Richard III? (And of course not all Richards emphasize the bodily distortions, despite what the text suggests.)

    Suggests a delicate and interesting set of conversations about depiction and representation.

  19. @olavrokne – Just coming to say that! There’s a rather large space between “banning” and “no longer financially subsidizing.” I suspect the Star Wars movies will carry on somehow…

  20. (2) How silly is that? There is a reason there is HardSf… and its often boring, because more often then not it glides over in textbook territory, forgetting its a Fiction first… (I know there are many, many good book, I like Weir and adore Hal Clement to name two)
    Lets see: Three-body-problem: Ok, i guess
    Redshirts: not really scientific (nrs)
    Among others: Havent read (yeah, i know)
    Blackout/all clear: nrs
    City&city: basic premise is nuts (love the book)
    Windup girl: on mount Tsundoku
    Graveyard book: r u kidding me?
    Yiddish pooicemen union: science would be correct, since its our tech status
    Rainbows end : nrs
    Spin: premise is nrs
    Jonathan strange&mr norell: its a book about magic
    2003/2004 Hugos i havent read
    American Gods: A book about Gods.
    Harry Potter: a book about magic
    A deepness to the sky: nrs

    You are free to go down the list (next gard science would 1997) but I made my point i guess.
    So, darling, if you scroll pixels, do your homework and dont be a gatekeeping jerk. Thank you.

  21. @Andrew Porter:

    This would be more convincing if not for numerous reports by writers of being told they should change their books to make the hero/main characters white instead of black, or male instead of female, or straight instead of gay: the editors may have thought (for whatever reason) “books about those people don’t sell,” but you can’t blame readers for only buying books about heterosexuals when that’s all they were offered.

    Conversely, not everything problematic in published book is the editor or publisher’s fault.

    I suspect I disagree with your first paragraph, but since all I can get out of it is “doing $something is playing into the hands of the people we disagree with” I will merely note that I’m not going to let my guesses about my enemies’ tactics determine what I talk about. Especially since facts seem irrelevant to many of them, so if we don’t say whatever “plays into their hands” they may claim we did anyhow.

  22. @Peer

    Among Others is fantasy, not SF (according to the author, who should know). It’s partly about a character loving SF and fantasy, but “the heroine of this book reads a lot of science fiction” doesn’t make the book SF.

    The Hugo Award is for fantasy as well as SF; it has never been an award for “best hard science fiction story” (and in any case, what counts as genre is whatever that year’s voters are pointing at when they say “science fiction” or “fantasy”).

  23. Peer: I would consider “Deepness in the Sky” and “Rainbows End” to be hard SF. On the other hand Benford’s “Sailing Bright Eternity” seemed pretty soft to me (using space-time itself as building blocks for a space that changes like Alice’s Wonderland) (though the earlier books in the serious are hard SF.

  24. The Hugo Award is for fantasy as well as SF; it has never been an award for “best hard science fiction story” (and in any case, what counts as genre is whatever that year’s voters are pointing at when they say “science fiction” or “fantasy”).

    Of course! Someone should tell Benford that. And that this also applies to women of colour.

    (and thanks for the comment re Among others)

    (also: Yay, Title credit)

  25. Fonda Lee’s Jade City Is also In the monthly deal on Amazon UK.

    On a different subject I can’t consider The Three Body Problem truly hard SF because of the Sophons. Yes, a lot of it does qualify, but the Sophons go too far, for me.

  26. Andrew Porter: Apparently some people are intolerant of SF/F written by anyone who doesn’t look like then, or is (now) old.

    Citation required.

  27. Instead of “come after”, which implies an organization attacking somebody, I would be more comfortable with “Serious sexual harassment and rape allegations brought against Neil deGrasse Tyson.” Fox and National Geographic seem to have thought that three separate allegations are well worth investigating.

  28. Let’s also remind ourselves that all the published fiction that people object to was bought by human editors at publishing houses, not because it was written by whites, or men, or old people, but because the editors and publishers thought it would sell when published.

    Don’t you think some of those editors and publishers were more likely to think work by white males would sell better?

    “I have kept writing even though my first novel, The Killing Moon, was initially rejected on the assumption that only black people would ever possibly want to read the work of a black writer.” — N.K. Jemisin from her Hugo best novel acceptance speech this year

  29. Andrew Porter: Apparently some people e.g., Greg Benford? are intolerant of SF/F written by anyone who doesn’t look like the[m]

    @Contrarius: I remember a Japanese historical-setting film that made that point rather bluntly — the honest village leader was ugly and the handsome type was a slimeball whose face cons the young would-be reformers but who loses the ultimate duel — but I haven’t been able to re-find it. (It was playing during a fannish work session, so I wasn’t catching all the details, let alone the credits.)

    @gottacook: difference #1 (matching usage discussion in previous threads): Benford is male. #2: Le Guin was stepping down from a pedestal, not up onto it.

  30. C. Hitchcock: Yes, Benford is male. Is this mode of using “honey,” then, to be allowed only if the user is female? If a female speaker uses “honey” in this way, is she automatically exonerated from any accusation that she is being insensitive? Do we really need some substitute word that both male and female English speakers can use – a word that everyone has agreed in advance will be inoffensive and is not intended to refer to any specific individual? Jeez.

  31. gottacook: Yes, Benford is male. Is this mode of using “honey,” then, to be allowed only if the user is female? If a female speaker uses “honey” in this way, is she automatically exonerated from any accusation that she is being insensitive? Do we really need some substitute word that both male and female English speakers can use – a word that everyone has agreed in advance will be inoffensive and is not intended to refer to any specific individual? Jeez.

    It’s not an appropriate form of address coming from anyone in a convention setting unless they know the person they are addressing as a friend. Benford, a professional academic who has lived in California for years, is well aware of that, and his use of the word was with deliberate intended effect.

  32. @Peer

    Three-body-problem: Ok, i guess

    You mean that counts as hard SF? I have forgotten quite a bit of it; I didn’t enjoy reading it much, but the things they do with and to elementary particles alone surely should disqualify the book from any claim to being close to actual science.

  33. @JAA:
    @Andrew: By the time we get to Sailing Bright Eternity, my mind is sufficiently blown that I’m willing to accept it as indistinguishable from science.


  34. @Andrew: I accept Rainbows End, but the “zoning rules” of the deepness books didnt strike mne as terrible scientific, its essential a “workaround on actual science”.

    @microtherios: I dont know, if it would be considered Hard-SF, It is quite science based, I guess, but its not fresh enough in my memory to really make a call here. Thats why I wrote “OK, I guess” , I guess 😉

  35. @Peer: I agree that the “Zones of Thought” universe is not hard SF, but since “Deepness” is in the “normal science” zone, I consider that one to be fairly hard SF – but people’s mileage will of course vary.

  36. @gottacook: go back to previous threads (e.g., https://file770.com/racism-and-sexism) and read the discussion there on circumstances in which “hon[ey]” is or isn’t acceptable, particularly according to the area in which it is most common. Consider, especially, its use between two people of unequal power.

  37. (2) As for “getting the science right,” I think the key is that deviations from settled science should not break the reader’s suspension of disbelief. That means the reader has to trust that variations from real science are deliberate and not blunders.

    I think this applies to any references to science in hard or soft SF, and (with some limits) to fantasy too. The very worst are ones where the author didn’t need to mention some “fact” at all, but to add to the feel of the story, he/she “explained” that. e.g., you can’t get to Earth from outer space without passing close to Jupiter. (Some writers seem to think these pictures of the solar system are literal.)

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  39. I remember a Japanese historical-setting film that made that point rather bluntly

    Isn’t that Kurosawa’s Sanjuro?

  40. @C. Hitchcock: But the use of “honey” we’re talking about – either by Le Guin (in the quote above), or by Benford while on a panel, or in a newspaper column by Molly Ivins – is always from a position of “power,” in the sense of “I am telling you something I know, which you apparently don’t know and maybe should know, and I’m using ‘honey’ to make clear that I’m telling you this with a degree of affection because I am trying to be gentle while telling you that you have a gap in your knowlege.” You can react to this by thinking of the person saying “honey” as perhaps a bit arrogant, but is this truly offensive language? (This is a separate issue from whether the “something I know that you don’t” is objectively true, such as whether science in SF has to be “correct.” In the present instance, the two issues may be difficult to distinguish from each other.)

  41. gottacook: But the use of “honey” we’re talking about – either by Le Guin (in the quote above), or by Benford while on a panel, or in a newspaper column by Molly Ivins – is always from a position of “power”

    Maybe so — but the two aren’t remotely comparable in this instance, and I’ve been wondering since you drug out the example from Le Guin’s book why you think it’s germane to this particular incident.

    If someone writes a book from a patronizing and condescending point-of-view, I have the option of deciding that they’re an arrogant dick whose book I don’t want to read. But I haven’t been publicly denigrated in front of other people.

    If some refers to me in a patronizing and condescending manner in a public, ostensibly professional setting, as this was, it’s denigrating me publicly in front of others. Not only are they an arrogant dick, but they’ve wielded power over me in a way that a book can not.

    As with Silverberg, Benford is a highly-educated person who has spent a lifetime learning how to use words to do exactly want he wants them to do, and a lifetime in a professional environment where he is well aware of what is, and is not, an acceptable form of address to others, especially to women.

    That he used the term “honey” in the panel, and then again in response to a female Loscon staff member when part of what was being addressed was him using that word, you can be sure that he knows exactly what he is doing and the effect it will achieve.

  42. I would categorize The Three Body Problem as science fantasy–with a reasonable dash of hard science, but still ultimately a fantasy novel.

    But Jemisin’s Broken Earth is much more overtly fantasy, even though it also has more-than-a-few elements of real science in there. I can’t imagine how Benford might have thought it was anything but fantasy. My copy even says “Fantasy” right there on the cover. And criticizing fantasy for containing magic has to be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard of. “Oh no, Tolkien is terrible: that ring was a clear violation of several laws of physics!” 🙂

  43. @JJ: Fine, I give up. Evidently “honey” is now unacceptable under any circumstances when said publicly, as long as it’s a man who says it, even if (as Benford later wrote) he wasn’t referring to anyone in the room.

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