Pixel Scroll 11/30/19 As Godstalk Is My Scrollness, I Thought Pixels Could Teleport

(1) ONE CRITIC’S CHOICE. Adam Roberts anoints the “Best science fiction and fantasy books of 2019” in the Guardian.

My pick for the book of the year, Tim Maughan’s Infinite Detail (MCD x FSG Originals), is a before-and-after tale of near-future social collapse after a coordinated attack takes the internet down. It’s hard to believe it is a debut, so assured and evocative is Maughan’s writing. As a portrait of the fragility of our current status quo it is as thought-provoking as it is terrifying; you won’t ever take your wifi for granted again.

(2) RESERVATIONS OPEN FOR 2020 NASFIC. The Columbus in 2020 NASFiC hotel room block is now open.

Marriott reservation link

Click on the above link to take you to the Hotel page to book your room for The Columbus NASFIC in 2020 at a cost of $129.00 per night. Room Nights will be available at the discounted rate from August 16th thru the 27th.

You can also go to our website http://columbus2020nasfic.org/our-facilities and click on the link to make your reservation.

Dennis Howard sent the link with this advisory:

I tried to book for 5 nights starting the Wednesday before the convention, but the hotel’s system said that there were no rooms available on Wednesday. So I booked for 4 nights starting Thursday and emailed the con about the issue. Within 24 hours they had added Wednesday to my reservation. So I’m happy. I was probably not the only person having issues because they have now added a note about booking problems on their facilities webpage. But they are obviously working on it.

The note on the Columbus website says —

Apparently there are people who are having issues making extended reservations.
If you are having these issues try and make the reservation for just the weekend of the convention. Until we can get this straightened out, Email the confirmation number to [email protected] with the dates you want to add and we’ll get them added.

(3) THESE ARE THE VOYAGES. “Star Trek TOS Captain Kirk Cat Polystone Statue” in shops December 18.

James T. Kirk Cat is the inaugural release in Chronicle Collectibles’ new line of the legendary original Star Trek crew, reimagined as cats. This adorable 1:9 scale James T. Kirk Cat comes with his official command chair so that he can direct the furry crew of the Enterprise. Just the right size for any office desk at 7.5 inches tall, you just know this is going to be the right conversation starter at work that combines your love of Star Trek and cats.

(4) TENTACULAR SPECTACULAR. Ursula Vernon weighed in on a question about Disney love interests. Thread starts here.

(5) NEW WORLDS AND OTHERS. Hannah Nussbaum finds forgotten literary connections in UK speculative fiction: “‘An inward looking outer space’: a brief history of Corridor.

What follows is an abridged excavation of the history of Corridor8, under which hides a dense archive of art and literary material reaching back to the 1960s.

The history of Corridor8 begins with Michael Butterworth, the Manchester-based writer, editor, and artist who originally conceived of a publication called Corridor in the early 1970s. This first issue of Corridor can be understood as one discrete point amid a trail of interrelated literary projects fomenting at the time. Before Corridor there was a broadsheet called Concentrate, and before (and during) Concentrate there was a thriving publication called New Worlds. These iterations were surrounded by a succession of other broadsheets and half-imagined projects consigned to the wastebaskets of avant-garde history. The resultant archive relays a history of experimental writing in the North of England, and leads us by way of papery trail to our present Corridor8 platform.

… With these aims (of creating slippages between reader, writer, and editor), Butterworth published the fourth issue Corridor later in 1972, with renewed commitment to destabilising and hybridising form. The teaser language on the cover of the issue shows the extent to which Corridor had evolved into a magazine dedicated to dissolving edges between text-art, criticism, and fiction. This new issue contained a new Jerry Cornelius story by Moorcock, a ‘word movie’ by John Riley, a long poem by Kevin Dixon-Jackson, ‘acid head fantasy’ by Chris Naylor, a review of William Burroughs written by Jay Jeff Jones, experimental work by Trevor Hoyle’s ‘the constant copywriter’ as well as a healthy smattering of letters to the editor. It was an issue that particularly reflected the post-industrial landscape of Manchester: Kevin Dixon-Jackson’s long poem evoked the strange, derelict geometry of Manchester’s city centre, alongside a photo series, also by Jackson, ringing with a palpable hauntology for lost Northern futures.

(6) THE INVISIBLE WOMAN. “Space ageing: where are the galactic grandmas?” According to Nature’s Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, “The lack of older women in sci-fi novels reflects and reifies ageism and sexism.”

As women get old, they gain a superpower: invisibility. And not only in real life. ‘Young adult’ fantasy and science-fiction hits such as Suzanne Collins’s novel series The Hunger Games and Stephenie Meyers’s Twilight series have been taken to task for doing away with mature women. In fantasy generally, older women mainly occupy supporting roles, such as fairy godmothers, wise crones and evil witches. The best are subversions — George R. R. Martin’s Queen of Thorns in A Song of Ice and Fire, for instance, or Terry Pratchett’s wonderful Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg in the Discworld series. All of them embrace old age with gusto. I expected better from science-fiction novels, where alternative worlds and alien nations explore what it means to be human. In 1976, after all, Ursula K. Le Guin argued in her essay ‘The Space Crone’ that post-menopausal women are best suited to representing the human race to alien species, because they are the most likely to have experienced all the changes of the human condition. And Robert A. Heinlein offers a fantastic galactic grandmother in The Rolling Stones (1952): Hazel Stone, engineer, lunar colonist and expert blackjack player irritated by the everyday misogyny of the Solar System.  

(7) CHANDLER AWARD. Nominations for Australia’s A. Bertram Chandler Award for Outstanding Achievement in Australian Science Fiction will open in December. A jury picks the winner.

Nominations for the A Bertram Chandler Award for Outstanding Achievement in Australian Science Fiction will open in December and close 1 February 2020. The Award was established in recognition of the contribution that science fiction writer A. Bertram Chandler made to Australian Science Fiction and to Australian fandom in general. It is Australia’s premier award for lifetime achievement in science fiction.

You are encouraged to nominate a person who fulfils the criteria on the nomination page here at ASFF.

Please read the guidelines carefully before making a nomination. The winner of the award will be announced at the 2020 Natcon — which is Swancon in Perth — over the Anzac Day weekend 2020.

(8) THAT BITES. Andrew Porter was in front of his TV when another group of Jeopardy! contestants plotzed on a genre answer.

Category: Classic British Novels.

Answer: “The title character of this novel says of his home, ‘The wind breathes cold through the broken battlements and casements.'”

Wrong questions:

“What is The Hunchback of Notre Dame?’

“What is Tristam Shandy?”

Correct question (which no one got): “What is Dracula?”


  • November 30, 1959 – On UK screens, The Man Who Could Cheat Death premiered. Starring Anton Diffring and Christopher Lee, Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films says  the film “suffers from an excess of dialogue and a lack of action.” Not surprisingly, it gets only 37% at Rotten Tomatoes. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 30, 1835 Mark Twain. It’s been decades since I read it but I still know I loved A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court when I read it. His other genre work is The Mysterious Stranger In which Satan might be visiting us went unpublished in his lifetime and it’s only relatively recently with the University of California Press editions of all his completed and uncompleted versions in one volume that a reader can see what he intended. (Died 1910.)
  • Born November 30, 1906 John Dickson Carr. Author of the Gideon Fell detective stories, some of which were decidedly genre adjacent. The Burning Court with Fell is on this list as is his vampire mythos backstoried novels, Three Coffins and He Who Whispers. And I really should note his Sir Henry Merrivale character has at one genre outing in Reader is Warned. (Died 1977.)
  • Born November 30, 1937 Ridley Scott, 82. Alien: Covenant, which did surprisingly well at the box office, is his most recent genre work of note but he’s got a long and distinguished list that includes Blade Runner, Alien, the 1984 Apple advert, Exodus: Gods and Kings , Legend,  Alien: Covenant,  Prometheus and Robin Hood. I’ve watched Blade Runner sans the narration and I’ll say I prefer the original version. 
  • Born November 30, 1945 Billy Drago. Best remembered, I think, as the evil John Bly in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.  He was certainly booked in a lot of genre roles as he has appearances in Cyborg 2,  Sci-Fighters,  Supernatural and X-Files. He also played the demon Barbas in the original Charmed series. He also was in Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, a film I’m sure no one was begging for. He was in the Masters of Horror “Imprint” episode, which Showtime pulled due to “disturbing content” which you can read about here. (Died 2019.)
  • Born November 30, 1950 Chris Claremont, 69. Writer in the comic realm. Best known for his astounding twenty year run on the Uncanny X-Men starting in 1976. During his tenure at Marvel, he co-created at least forty characters. Looking at his bibliography, I see that he did Sovereign Seven as a creator own series with DC publishing it.  And then there’s the matter of Lucas providing the notes for The Chronicles of the Shadow War trilogy to follow the Willow film and then contracting our writer to make them exist.  Anyone ever encountered these?
  • Born November 30, 1955 Andy Robertson. A fan and editor who worked as an assistant editor on Interzone and contributed myriad  reviews and interviews. He published some fiction and edited two anthologies based on the works of William Hope Hodgson’s Night Lands, Volume 1: Eternal Love, featuring tales set in Hodgson’s world, and William Hope Hodgson’s Night Lands Volume 2: Nightmares of the Fall. Alas, they never made into digital editions. (Died 2014.)
  • Born November 30, 1955 Kevin Conroy, 64. Without doubt, best known for voicing Batman on Batman: The Animated Series. Justice League Action which just just had its twofirst seasons on the Carton Network saw him reprise that role with the other characters often noting his stoic personality.  I’ve not seen it, but on  Batwoman, he plays  Bruce Wayne in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” episode. 
  • Born November 30, 1957 Martin Morse Wooster, 62. He discovered fandom in 1974 when he heard about “a big sci-fi con” in downtown Washington where admission was $10 at the door.  He had ten bucks, and so attended Discon II at 16.  A year later, he discovered fanzines through Don Miller, and discovered he liked writing book reviews.  He has been turning them out ever since.  In 1975, he was one of twelve founders of the Potomac River Science Fiction Society, which split from the Washington Science Fiction Association, and regularly attends PRSFS meetings to discuss books.  He has contributed to File 770 since 1978.
  • Born November 30, 1965 Andrew Tiernan, 54. British actor who, yes, did show up on Doctor Who playing Purcell in “Night Calls”, an Eleventh Doctor story. He’s also played Banquo in MacBeth on The Estate, was a Paris vampire in Interview with the Vampire and, skipping several decades worth of performances, is The Manager in Autómata, a neat sounding Spanish-Bulgarian SF film.

(11) TEN BEST. CBR.com celebrates a famous creator in “Osamu Tezuka: 10 Best Works That Aren’t Astro Boy, Ranked”.

Osamu Tezuka is well known for being “the father of manga”, and for good reason. His prolific and pioneering works, and the way he redefined genres has rightfully earned him that title. It was Tezuka who developed and shaped the modern style of manga that we know today. Many considered him the Japanese equivalent of Walt Disney. Tezuka’s most famous work is arguably Astro Boy, which tells the story of an android with human emotions who is created by Umataro Tenma after the death of his son. But what about Tezuka’s other works? They deserve some love, too. So, here’s Osamu Tezuka’s ten best works that aren’t Astro Boy, ranked.

10. Kimba the White Lion

Kimba the White Lion tells the story of a young cub whose family is killed en route to a zoo before being shipwrecked on the Arabian Peninsula. After the stars form the face of his mother, Kimba must journey back to his home in Africa to become his father’s successor.

Kimba was written early in Tezuka’s career and he drew inspiration from post-WW2 Japan and the hardships and struggles they were facing. Kimba’s story is an emotional tale about self discovery and overcoming adversity, serving as a touching metaphor for Japan’s journey toward prosperity following World War II.

(12) ONE LAST LANDING. “The best holiday displays in NYC, mapped” at Curbed New York helps everyone navigate their way to the showiest decorations around town. Some are genre —

3. Bloomingdale’s

Bloomingdale’s is looking to the stars for its holiday windows this year. Inspired by the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, the store pays tribute to space travel with “An Out of This World Holiday Windows.” The first diorama begins the journey with a silver flying saucer beaming up beings dressed in futuristic fashions followed by a series of extraterrestrial holiday scenes….

(13) BACK IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. The LA Times’ Amy Kaufman writes “How befriending Mister Rogers’ widow allowed me to learn the true meaning of his legacy”, her profile of Sarah Joanne Byrd Rogers.

…On the flight home, I became oddly emotional thinking about Fred and Joanne — about how much they’d affected so many simply by expressing genuine care and kindness toward their neighbors. As she told the moviemakers, Fred wasn’t a saint. Since his death, she feels as if he’s been placed on an even higher pedestal. And she doesn’t like it.

“He’s out there now as somebody who’s somehow way above all the rest of us,” she said. “People invariably say, ‘Well, I can’t do that, but I sure do admire him. I would love to do it.’ Well, you can do it. I’m convinced there are lots of Fred Rogerses out there.”

(14) PULP IN NEW JERSEY. Gary Lovisi and Paperback Parade takes a tour of the “Bold Venture” Annual Pulp Fest in Bordentown NJ.

(15) DC PULLS POSTER. “DC Comics Comes Under Fire for Deleting Batman Poster That Sparked Chinese Backlash”Variety has the story.

DC Comics has yanked a poster for a new Batman title from its social media accounts after the image drew criticism from Chinese commenters who said it appeared to support the ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

The artwork depicts Batman throwing a Molotov cocktail against a backdrop of hot-pink words spelling out the new comic book’s tagline, “the future is young.” It was posted on DC Comics’ Twitter and Instagram accounts; both platforms are blocked in mainland China. The poster was meant to promote a forthcoming DC Black Label comic called “Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child,” due to hit shelves Dec. 11. DC Black Label is an imprint that seeks to appeal to an older-skewing readership through reprints and original limited series.

But the poster came under fire from Chinese internet users who contended that it contained coded messages in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. They said that the Molotov cocktail alluded to young Hong Kong protesters’ more violent tactics, that the “dark knight’s” choice of black attire referred to the black-clad Hong Kong protesters, and that the “golden child” of the book’s title was a veiled reference to the color yellow, which was taken up by previous pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong five years ago….

(16) CAN YOU DIG IT. NPR has learned that “A ‘Mole’ Isn’t Digging Mars: NASA Engineers Are Trying To Find Out Why”.

There’s a mole on Mars that’s making NASA engineers tear their hair out.

No, they haven’t discovered a small, insectivorous mammal on the red planet.

The mole vexing engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena is a scientific instrument known as the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, or HP3 — or just “the mole” — carried on NASA’s InSight probe that landed on Mars a year ago.

“The mole is designed to measure heat flow coming out of the interior of Mars,” says Troy Hudson, InSight’s instrument system engineer.

Scientists are interested to know how much heat is still being generated inside the core of the once geologically active Mars. To do that, the mole has to bury itself about 16 feet below the Martian surface so it won’t be affected by daily temperature fluctuations.

The mole is basically a tube about 16 inches long and an inch in diameter. It has a pointy tip and an internal hammer that works like a kind of pile driver to pound the instrument into the ground.

The frustrations began last February when the digging started. Instead of going down to 16 feet, it got stuck after just 14 inches.

Maybe they need to send for the crew from Armageddon?

(17) FROM GO TO GONE. Yonhap reports: “Go master Lee says he quits unable to win over AI Go players”

South Korean Go master Lee Se-dol, who retired from professional Go competition last week after gaining worldwide fame in 2016 as the only human to defeat the artificial intelligence (AI) Go player AlphaGo, said his retirement was primarily motivated by the invincibility of AI Go programs.

“With the debut of AI in Go games, I’ve realized that I’m not at the top even if I become the number one through frantic efforts,” said Lee.

“Even if I become the number one, there is an entity that cannot be defeated,” he said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency in Seoul on Monday.

AlphaGo, built by Google’s DeepMind Technologies, won four of its five matches against Lee in March 2016, but Lee’s sole win in Game 4 remains the only time a human has beaten the AI player.

A documentary about the epic match was released in 2017.

With more board configurations than there are atoms in the universe, the ancient Chinese game of Go has long been considered a grand challenge for artificial intelligence. On March 9, 2016, the worlds of Go and artificial intelligence collided in South Korea for an extraordinary best-of-five-game competition, coined The DeepMind Challenge Match. Hundreds of millions of people around the world watched as a legendary Go master took on an unproven AI challenger for the first time in history.

Directed by Greg Kohs with an original score by Academy Award nominee, Hauschka, AlphaGo chronicles a journey from the halls of Oxford, through the backstreets of Bordeaux, past the coding terminals of Google DeepMind in London, and ultimately, to the seven-day tournament in Seoul. As the drama unfolds, more questions emerge: What can artificial intelligence reveal about a 3000-year-old game? What can it teach us about humanity?

[Thanks to Dennis Howard, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

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41 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/30/19 As Godstalk Is My Scrollness, I Thought Pixels Could Teleport

  1. C J Cherryh’s Foreigner series has a top-notch grandmother character, the Aji-Dowager Ilisidi, although she’s not human. And the Alliance/Union series has several grandmothers running family ships. And, of course, Ariane Emory the elder, in Cyteen is definitely old enough to be a grandmother, though I don’t believe she ever had children.

    And isn’t Chrisjen Avasarala in The Expanse a grandmother, as well as being Secretary General of the United Nations? (And a wonderfully foul-mouthed badass.) She’s certainly in her seventies in any case. And one of the most popular characters, at least in the TV version. With luck, that will inspire more interesting SFnal grandmother characters.

    And while we’re at it, let us not forget Cordelia Naismith-Vorkosigan, who is very definitely a grandmother in one of the three books she stars in. And very definitely still sexually active, which is one of the issues Wrigley was concerned about.

    Likewise, I believe Priscilla Hutchins, the star of the Academy series by Jack McDevitt, is or is about to become a grandmother in the most recent book.

  2. (10) “I’ve watched Blade Runner sans the narration and I’ll say I prefer the original version.”
    Now that enough decades have passed, there’s a pertinent question that i ask of younger SF fans at Cons: “When you first saw Blade Runner, was it with or without Harrison Ford’s narration?” My conjecture is that the Studio Executives who first saw it had trouble following the plot, as did later test audiences. That Scott and Ford were both against adding a voice-over narration is well documented. However, since they had Final Approval, Studio Executives ordered the narration added before a nation-wide release.
    As it turns out, they were right.
    I have consistently found that those who experienced it WITHOUT the narration were more routinely confused about what was going on than those who had the benefit of the voice-over.

    Roy-Stalk! [Deckard is NOT a Replicant]

  3. Yay Bertram ‘Jack’ Chandler!

    You can spit on the mat and call the cat a bastard and whether you do or not I’ll still say he wrote great stuff!

    Just sayin.

  4. (10) I absolutely love Claremont’s “post-Willow” trilogy (Shadow Star, Moon, Dawn.) The first one is a very tough read as it has to essentially introduce a fairly disturbing pseudo-post-apocalyptic setting and combines that with some very, very unlikeable characters, including the older and deeply scarred “Willow” – although he doesn’t use that name for various reasons. But it creates a nicely intricate worldsetting (that is mostly explored rather than via exposition) and sets up what I think is a truly delightful second entry and a genuinely suspenseful and clever final act with some properly subtly-signalled twists.
    But I wouldn’t blame anyone for bailing after the first third of book one. To echo one of my favourite critics, “there’s an awful lot of Shawshank before you get to the Redemption.”

  5. @6: I’d love to see her complete list-of-36, to know whether her mailing list missed some of the many cases Filers have come up with in just a few hours. I’d also like to see something purely statistical on current work (i.e., classifying everything from the last N years rather than relying on positive memories), and on the proportion of older males — and even on the style of stories; adventure stories can require young bodies (cf the author’s complaint that stories concentrate on rejuvenation rather than appreciating the old for what they are), and the genre is still stretched between simpler-minded adventure stories and more-complicated thinking pieces.

    @8: I would have guessed Gormenghast — and I’ve read Dracula, just not recently. (I suppose the latter is more likely simply because the former is too obscure for Jeopardy audiences.)

    @10: as an agnostic (somewhat like Twain), I’d consider The Diary of Adam and The Diary of Eve to also be genre.

    @10bis: I once denounced Claremont’s first prose genre effort, not realizing he was almost next to me. No, I wasn’t abashed; his first novel was … unrigorous …, pulling too many solutions out of its ass. (IIRC, I made an analogy to The Last Starfighter.)

    also also @10: how can Robertson be 64 if he died at 59? (I can’t find him in either Fancyclopedia or SFE to see what’s correct.)

    @15: why am I not surprised?

  6. Meredith Moment(s):

    Burning Chrome, a short fiction collection by William Gibson, is on sale at Amazon US for $1.99.

    The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang is also on sale at Amazon US for $2.99.

  7. @1 has some choices that sound beyond me, but I’d like to hear from any Filers who read the new Anders (City in the Middle of the Night) and didn’t comment in the first flurry — there were a number of praises but a couple that suggested I really wouldn’t like it. I’m also curious what Filers’ responses are to the Publishers Weekly capsule (as found on my library’s page) for The Pursuit of William Abbey; they say

    North unflinchingly describes the ruthlessness of imperialism, but her choice to use a straight white male character to fight back against the exploitation of colonialism muddies her message.

    Leaving aside the question of whether a Brit whose family could afford private-school fees is qualified to write about the exploitation of colonialism, are the characteristics of the narrator that critical — especially when his actions (per the blurb) are the result of being cursed by an African female? I’m aware of the stereotrope[sic] of the white savior fixing non-white problems, but ISTM that doesn’t make SWM opponents-of-wrong inconceivable.
    Also found while poking around this issue: “The Story of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August — interesting in general because someone who has several successful books still had to scramble around a “real job” to fit in writing(), and to me particularly because I didn’t know she was a stage-lighting techie (which I was in the distant past, though never professionally).
    ) No, this is not surprising to people who actually know how being a published author often works — but it’s still instructive and entertaining.

  8. Chip Hitchcock: The Brian Robertson age is an edito…. An error I added in a second pass through the draft when I brightly thought, “Wait, I’ve left out the age here!” even though in the first draft I had entered the year of death.

  9. It’s the beginning of the month and I have a little brain to spare so… Amazon UK sales!

    Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky
    2016 Clarke winner. Humanity’s battle for survival on a newly terraformed planet.

    Sweet Fruit, Sour Land, by Rebecca Ley
    When a wealthy client visits Mathilde’s dressmaking shop, she finds herself drawn into the only surviving circle of luxury left in a barren London.

    Urban Shaman, by C.E. Murphy
    Joanne Walker has three days to learn to use her shamanic powers and save the world from the unleashed Wild Hunt. No worries. No pressure.

    Velocity Weapon, by Megan E. O’Keefe
    The last thing Sanda remembers is her gunship exploding.

    The Gutter Prayer, by Gareth Hanrahan
    The city of Guerdon stands eternal. A refuge from the war that rages beyond its borders. But in the ancient tunnels deep beneath its streets, a malevolent power has begun to stir.

    The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow
    Every story opens a door.

    Interesting Times, by Terry Pratchett
    Rincewind novel.

    Summerland, by Hannu Rajaniemi
    How do you catch a spy who’s already dead?

    Zoe’s Tale, by John Scalzi
    She won’t go down without a fight.

    The Children of Jocasta, by Natalie Haynes
    My siblings and I have grown up in a cursed house, children of cursed parents…

    Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection, by Brandon Sanderson
    Short stories.

    Foundryside, by Robert Jackson Bennett
    In the city of Tevanne, you either have everything, or nothing. (I loved this one.)

    The First Time Lauren Pailing Died, by Alyson Rudd
    Each time she dies, new lives begin for the people who loved her – while Lauren enters a brand new life, too.

    Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers
    Centuries after the last humans left Earth, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, a place many are from but few outsides have seen.

    All the Weyrs of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey
    But the greatest promise AIVAS offered was the chance to rid Pern of Thread forever.

    Dancer’s Lament, by Ian C Esslemont
    As shadows and mistrust swirl and monstrous beasts rampage through Li Heng’s streets, it seems chaos is come – but in chaos, there is opportunity.

    I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
    Science fiction classic.

    Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville
    The metropolis of New Crobuzon sprawls at the centre of its own bewildering world.

    The Curse Keepers, by Denise Grover Swank
    The wall between our world and that of vengeful spirits has protected humanity for more than 400 years. It’s about to come crashing down.

    Sea of Rust, by C. Robert Cargill
    Shortlisted for the Clarke in 2018. Now the world is controlled by OWIs – vast mainframes that have assimilated the minds of millions of robots. But not all robots are willing to cede their individuality.

    Pandora’s Star, by Peter F. Hamilton
    A star over a thousand lightyears away suddenly vanishes.

    Metro 2033, by Dmitry Glukhovsky
    More than 20 years have passed since the last plane took off from the earth.

    The Queen of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen
    Her throne awaits… if she can live long enough to take it.


    As always, recommendations for any of these works are very much appreciated. I can’t exactly read them all before including them, and even for the ones I have extracting short enough descriptions takes up more than enough brain. 🙂

  10. I enjoyed C.E. Murphy’s Urban Shaman enough to inhale the entire series. Not world breakingly amazing, but a good, solid read. I am satisfied to have paid full price for the ebooks.

  11. @Meredith —

    You asked, so:

    Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky

    I’m growing very fond of Tchaikovsky, even though I’ve only read this and Children of Ruin by him. IMHO he has more talent with writing the alien characters and culture than with writing plot. But the way he handles aliens is, to me, tons of fun. (Okay, okay, they’re mostly not exactly aliens, don’t anybody get pedantic with me!)

    Foundryside, by Robert Jackson Bennett

    I wasn’t quite convinced by this one, but it does have lots of imaginative elements and lots of people love it. I prefer the City of Stairs books by him. The end of that trilogy just about killed me.

    Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers

    I admire what Chambers is doing, but I find most of her novel-length works pretty boring. I recommend her vella To Be Taught, If Fortunate instead as an intro to her style. It’s short enough that I never got bored.

    Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville

    Loved it to death. You must love weirdness to appreciate it. Weird and violent and often depressing, and it just lit me up like a torch.

    Sea of Rust, by C. Robert Cargill

    Intriguing but imperfect. A robot Western.

    Pandora’s Star, by Peter F. Hamilton

    I tried three times to read this one. I. Just. Couldn’t. Do. It. Waaaaaay too boring.

  12. @Contrarius: I liked “Children of Time” a lot (in spite of some problems with the human characters); I’ve got Children of Ruin on the To-Read-Stack, waiting for a good opportunity to sit and enjoy it.

  13. @ Meredith. I read Velocity Weapon recently. I like the way the AI was done quite a lot and the setup and plot were interesting, the characters were interesting. The main con is that there were several chapters devoted to a subplot that went nowhere in this book – it was setup for the sequels. Not sure why it was included in this book at all.

  14. I enjoyed Pandora’s Start a lot, along with its immediate sequel the Judas something or other.
    The problem is that it spins off two further trilogies, the second book of the first being so unutterably full that I never finished them despite relatives having recognised that they made a good birthday present.
    The Hamilton book I really do like is Great North Road, which yes, does have more pages than The Life’s of the Rings, and is split over about five time periods woven together, but did everything into one novel without needing to drag the story over multiple books.

  15. Great North Road is incredibly long/complicated but I liked it too – there’s a least one short story in the same universe by the way (Footvote).

  16. (11) The article doesn’t mention that there is a really good anime adaptation of Tezuka’s version of Metropolis directed by Rintaro (director of the Captain Harlock/Capitan Albator series) and written by Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira, Memories).

    Dororo also recently got a new anime adaptation as well (currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime).

  17. Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers

    I enjoyed this, though not as much as the first two books in the series.

    All the Weyrs of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey

    I know that I read it at one point, but that was shortly after it came out and I remember next to nothing about it.

    I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov

    This is a collection of nine of Isaac Asimov’s robot stories from the 1940s, including most of the Powell and Donovan and Susan Calvin stories. Good stuff, though dated. Personally, I prefer the big Asimov collection The Complete Robot, which also has the later stories as well as some 1940s stories that were not included in the earlier collection.

    Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville

    I enjoyed this a lot when I first read it. It’s very weird and back when it came out, there was nothing quite like it.

    Pandora’s Star, by Peter F. Hamilton

    I DNFed this one, I fear, but then I was going through an SF reading slump at the time.

  18. @11/Alexander Case — And that anime adaptation of Tezuka’s Metropolis also has a really outstanding Dixieland soundtrack.

  19. (2) I made a Wed-Mon reservation about a month before the block opened. Then made a second Wed-Mon reservation after the block opened (at a $385 or so discount). I guess I should release that full-price reservation back into the wild. Or see if I can get it moved into the block. Or … something. My brain is not up to ideal speed on making decisions for August right now.

  20. Thanks everyone! It always makes me so happy to see people add recs to sales posts. Crowdsourcing! 😀

  21. @Meredith: I was absolutely blown away by Perdido Street Station; I suspect I would have found flaws if I’d been digging, but the story and setting swept me along (which rarely happens these days). OTOH, that was two decades ago, so I don’t know how it would read now. Velocity Weapon had too many problems (including characters knowing things when the Plot demanded and not knowing them otherwise) to carry over some interesting new ideas (e.g., how do you raise the first AI superintelligence); my notes say not to bother with the sequels (it ends very much in media res) unless I hear raves. My notes also say that it was liked by some unidentified Filer who also liked Tim Pratt (who I also don’t think much of); I think that’s a useful marker.

  22. The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow

    This is on my Hugo longlist for next year. It’s a portal fantasy set in the early 20th century. Our protagonist and narrator, the girl January Scaller, is raised in the mansion of her father’s employer Mr. Locke, her father usually being absent on Mr. Locke’s errands. When her father doesn’t come home from one of said errands, things get interesting. A bit slow at first, but more than worth it by the end.

    Interesting Times, by Terry Pratchett

    Discworld does China, in the “Rincewind as Tourist” mode. I have been loathe to re-read this one out of fear that the Orientalism Fairy has been at it.

    Zoe’s Tale, by John Scalzi

    One of the Old Man’s War sequels. A retelling of the events of The Last Colony from Zoe’s POV, featuring some things that were off-camera in the earlier novel. (It might be interesting to read this without having read that, actually.)

    Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection, by Brandon Sanderson

    A collection of short stories set in Sanderson’s Cosmere universe. If you’re not already invested in that universe, interest varies wildly: while there are some shorts in here that work as stand-alones (“The Emperor’s Soul”, “Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell”, “Sixth of the Dusk”), there’s also quite a lot that are really more bonuses for people familiar with a given Cosmere novel. (And if you are already invested in the Cosmere you probably have this already.)


  23. Well, presumably Arcanum Unbounded is on sale for a low price; I’d say that “The Emperor’s Soul” is worth a few quid all by itself, so anything else is gravy. (It didn’t win the Hugo for no reason.)

  24. Yeah, my comment probably came across as more damning with faint praise than I intended. The standalones are really good! I just wouldn’t try to read the whole anthology straight through without further context.

    Also I just checked my (hardcover) copy and all stories that contain spoilers for other books are clearly marked as such.

  25. I was thinking about Fire, Burn!, which I vaguely recall finding at the MITSFS library, but I’m not convinced it fits as the viewpoint character drops into an existing persona rather than arriving from outside (as, e.g., the Connecticut Yankee); the ending makes possible that it’s all a hallucination.

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