Pixel Scroll 1/16/17 I’m A Boxticker, Jim, Not A Pixel!

(1) DEDICATED TO MEREDITH. It’s ”Appreciate a Dragon Day”.  According to the Donita K. Paul website:

Appreciate a Dragon Day was started in 2004 by Mrs. Paul to celebrate the release of DragonSpell. We encourage you to join us as we celebrate literacy and have some fun!


(2) NEANDERTHALS. Jon Mooallem delivers a thoroughly fascinating account of paleoanthropological research in “Neanderthals Were People, Too” at the New York Times.

For millenniums, some scientists believe, before modern humans poured in from Africa, the climate in Europe was exceptionally unstable. The landscape kept flipping between temperate forest and cold, treeless steppe. The fauna that Neanderthals subsisted on kept migrating away, faster than they could. Though Neanderthals survived this turbulence, they were never able to build up their numbers. (Across all of Eurasia, at any point in history, says John Hawks, an anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “there probably weren’t enough of them to fill an N.F.L. stadium.”) With the demographics so skewed, Stringer went on, even the slightest modern human advantage would be amplified tremendously: a single innovation, something like sewing needles, might protect just enough babies from the elements to lower the infant mortality rate and allow modern humans to conclusively overtake the Neanderthals. And yet Stringer is careful not to conflate innovation with superior intelligence. Innovation, too, can be a function of population size. “We live in an age where information, where good ideas, spread like wildfire, and we build on them,” Stringer told me. “But it wasn’t like that 50,000 years ago.” The more members your species has, the more likely one member will stumble on a useful new technology — and that, once stumbled upon, the innovation will spread; you need sufficient human tinder for those sparks of culture to catch.

I picked that paragraph because it reminds me of Robert Zubrin’s argument about the need for population growth as a prerequisite in developing a starship.

To achieve a 200-times increase over today’s GDP, we will need a population of 54 billion. We will need energy of 2500 terawatts by the year 2200.

Pounding away at the opposite conclusions reached in Paul Ehrlich’s famous book The Population Bomb, Zubrin said, “If humans destroyed more than they made, the earth would be barren already. The real resource is human creativity.” Every mouth comes with a pair of hands and a brain. If we accept Malthusian advice, and act to reduce the world’s population, we will impoverish the future by denying it the contributions the missing people could have made.

(3) THE AI TROPE. Ann Leckie’s “Vericon 2016 GoH Speech” overflows with interesting ideas, just like her fiction.

The very first robot story–the first ever use of the word “robot” in fact–is a robot uprising story. But when Karel ?apek wrote RUR he wasn’t worried about artificial intelligence. The robots of his story aren’t mechanical, they’re made of some sort of synthetic biological material. And the word “robot” which ?apek famously coined, comes from a Czech word for “slave.” It’s a story about the revolt of people made on an assembly line (the first actual assembly line had debuted just ten years earlier). It’s a story about the rebellion of people who were built to be the cheapest, most efficient workers possible, workers you didn’t have to pay, or feed anything in particular, or take any notice or care of. In other words, slaves. And ?apek ‘s story hit a nerve. It didn’t just give us the word for robot, it is the ultimate model for nearly all the robot uprising stories since. So that model–robots as slaves, with all the assumed dangers attendant on enslaving people who outnumber you–is the model we’re using when we think about super smart machines. This has not been lost on any number of science fiction writers, who have used robot and AI stories to comment explicitly on oppression and racism. But just personally–well, I won’t go into my problems with the whole “slaves in my allegory are machines and the masters are human beings” bit, though that’s kind of icky when you think about it, but on top of that I think it’s a dangerous model to use as a basis for actual, serious real world predictions about artificial intelligence.

(4) AUSSIE FANHISTORY. Now available at eFanzines.com, issues of iOTA, a fanzine with news of Leigh Edmonds’ Australian fandom history project.

Here are a pair of excerpts from iOTA #2:

  • The purpose of this little efanzine is to serve as a progress report on my current history project which is to research and write a history of Australian fandom, focusing on the period between 1956 and 1975. It is also a place where I can publish little bits and pieces of the writing and art of Australia’s fan past to help introduce you to the rich vein of material that previous generations of fans have left us.
  • Fanzine Review what you missed in 1939. Our friend Robin Johnson turns up with the most interesting things at times.  Usually it is old airline timetables – and we share an interest it air transport so we can find hours of harmless interest and amusement in airline timetables – but not on this occasion. This time it was a little fanzines with a pink cover produced in the old fashioned way using carbon paper.  (If you are not aware of this form of reproduction, I’m thinking about writing a little series called something like ‘Reproductive Pleasures’ in some future issues.  Some people have never heard of carbon paper, which means that they are young and happy folk.) This little pink and carbon paper produced fanzine is Ultra 1, produced by Eric Russell in Sydney, bearing the date October 1939.  It is probably the fourth fanzine title to be published in Australia after John Devern’s single issue of Science Fiction Review published in February 1939, Australian Fan News, a single issue of which was published by William Veney, Bert Castellari and Eric Russell in May 1939 and three issues of the JSC Bulletin (Junior Science Club) published by Vol Molesworth and Ken Jeffreys in June 1939.  (Thanks to Chris Nelson for his extensive research in this area.)  Of these early titles Ultra was among the early successful Sydney fanzines, seeing fourteen issues published between October 1939 and December 1941 when the commencement of the Pacific War brought an end to most of this kind of frivolity in Australia.

(5) GERONIMO! Neil Clarke has quit his day job and gone into editing full-time.

I’m quite excited—and a little terrified—by the prospect of taking the leap. There are a bunch of uncertainties, like healthcare costs and filling the income gap between Lisa’s new job and my old one, but we’re close enough to give this career switch a try. As some of you know, this has been a major goal of mine since my heart attack four years ago. At age fifty, and after ten years working part-time, I’m finally going to be a full-time editor!

Naturally, my first priority has to be those uncertainties I mentioned: income gap and insurance. As I see it, I have a few things to target:

  1. I’ve altered the Clarkesworld Patreon goals to include direct salary and healthcare expenses. Would be nice if it was that simple, but I figure it’s worth putting out there….

(6) HOW TO MAKE IT TO THE FINISH LINE.  The New York Times tells “Obama’s Secret to Surviving the White House Years: Books”. Some of these titles are of genre interest.

Even books initially picked up as escape reading like the Hugo Award-winning apocalyptic sci-fi epic “The Three-Body Problem” by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin, he said, could unexpectedly put things in perspective: “The scope of it was immense. So that was fun to read, partly because my day-to-day problems with Congress seem fairly petty — not something to worry about. Aliens are about to invade!”

…To this day, reading has remained an essential part of his daily life. He recently gave his daughter Malia a Kindle filled with books he wanted to share with her (including “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” “The Golden Notebook” and “The Woman Warrior”). And most every night in the White House, he would read for an hour or so late at night — reading that was deep and ecumenical, ranging from contemporary literary fiction (the last novel he read was Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad”) to classic novels to groundbreaking works of nonfiction like Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow” and Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Sixth Extinction.”…

(7) CERNAN OBIT. “Gene Cernan, last man to walk on Moon, dies aged 82” reports the BBC.

Captain Cernan was one of only three people to go to the Moon twice and the last man to leave a footprint on the lunar surface in 1972.

The final words he spoke there were: “We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return with peace and hope for all mankind.”

He was the commander of the Apollo 17 mission at the time.

Twelve people have walked on the Moon, and only six of them are still alive today


Neil Armstrong, recalling how it felt to look back at Earth from the surface of the moon: “I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.”


  • Born January 16, 1948 – John Carpenter.

(10) QUOTABLE QUOTE: “In England, I’m a horror movie director. In Germany, I’m a filmmaker. In the US, I’m a bum.” – John Carpenter.

(11) BRANDON EASTON INTERVIEW. From Motherboard, “How Diversity Writing Programs Can Help Sci-Fi Live Up to Its Ideals”.

Motherboard: What do you think is really the problem that people aren’t talking about?

Brandon Easton: A lot of the reason why white writers who are entry level aren’t getting work has nothing to do with diversity programs. It’s because showrunners are hiring their buddies who are also EP’s [executive producers] and co-producer level who have these immense salaries that eat up the budget, so that they can’t hire anybody underneath a story editor level. This is what’s going on. Everyone knows this, yet still you have all these disgruntled writers scapegoating diversity programs instead of talking about the real issue at hand, which is nepotism. If you look at how many people graduate from these programs every year that number is so fucking low, it doesn’t even register as a percentage.

Motherboard: Science fiction has a long history of being open-minded about multiculturalism. Some argue that it’s the most open-minded of the genres. Do you think that’s true?

Brandon Easton: Science fiction as a literary genre, in theory, has open-minded concepts. And the fact is that historically, black writers have not been allowed in because for a while the editors, the people who controlled it, the publishing industry itself, even if someone had a great story – once racial politics were revealed, those people didn’t get to work. Now, if you’re talking about TV and film, there has been some really cool stuff that has progressive undercurrents thematically, but, when it comes to hiring practices we still revert back to straight white men as writers and creators of science fiction. Again, I do believe science fiction in its content itself can be extremely progressive and extremely life affirming, but we’re talking about the content versus the content creators. And I think that’s the issue.

Motherboard: I still think science fiction is special versus the other genres. Not only historically in terms of casting, but because when I read the genre, I don’t care what the race of the writer is. I just want to be blown away. Show me a new way of thinking.

Brandon Easton: I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. What I’m saying is that it helps when people get the opportunity. That’s where the problem is. If you want to be really serious about it, the only genre that’s really helped black people more than anything else has been comedy. Historically, I’m going back to the early 1900s, comedy was the only place where black writers could get a chance to write. Several generations of mainstream black stars came out of comedy: Will Smith, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Jamie Fox, Bill Cosby, Chris Tucker, Eddie Murphy, Steve Harvey, Tyler Perry, Wanda Sykes, Whoopi Goldberg and so many others. Comedy is where African Americans have had a shot, as opposed to science fiction, particularly television, has almost been completely closed to black writers.

(12) PRIZEWORTHY. Jonathan Edelstein’s picks in short fiction – “Another year of awards” at Haibane.

I’ll start with novelettes rather than short stories, because that way I can start with my favorite story of 2016: Polyglossia by Tamara Vardomskaya (GigaNotoSaurus, March 2016). GigaNotoSaurus doesn’t usually get much attention from reviewers and critics, but this is a rich, multi-layered story that is well deserving of an award.

Polyglossia is a story of linguistics, cultural survival, family and resistance to oppression – not necessarily in that order – set in a low-magic fantasy world that suggests the early twentieth century. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of good world-building, and the world of this story is intricately detailed and plausible; more than that, the world-building is integrated into the plot and informs the characters’ actions such that no detail is wasted. The linguistics are also tightly integrated into the plot – the author is a Ph.D. candidate in linguistics with an interest in the philosophy of language, and it shows – and the politics of language and cultural preservation come to play a key part in its resolution. At the same time, the story calls into question what we call family, what duties we owe to our ancestors, and how to balance those duties against the exigencies of politics. Polyglossia is rewarding on several levels – thus far, I’ve never failed to get something new out of it with each rereading – and if I had to pick one story that defined speculative fiction for me in 2016, it would be this one.

(13) STEALING A MARCH. Dan Wolfgang very carefully avoids stepping on Sarah A. Hoyt’s Sad Puppies turf while offering slates for the Dragon Awards and Hugo Awards in “A Very Special Message About Pooka Related Sadness”.


The post is labeled “satire,” but here are typical examples of the names and works populating the slates:

Best Editor, Long Form

Best Semiprozine

Best Fanzine

(14) ROCKET RESOURCE. Greg Hullender sends word that Rocket Stack Rank has posted its page to help people pick artists for the 2017 Best Professional Artist Hugo.

We’ve added some features to make this easier to use, based on our own use (we’ve both already used it ourselves to make our own nominations) but we’ve realized that Eric and I use it very differently, so we’d welcome feedback from others. As with much else involving awards, there’s no one “right” way, so it’s good to support a number of different ways.

Eric is the artistic one (he can actually draw), so he wants to see several pieces by the same artist and makes judgments on that artist’s style overall. When he sees things he likes, he wants to visit that artist’s site, look at their gallery—even read interviews with the artist.

I don’t know art, but I know what I like. I want to quickly flip through all the pictures, extract the ones that I like, and then winnow down the list. (“Extract” means “Press ctrl-click on the author’s name at the top of the lightbox.” That opens a new tab, with that author’s work at the top of it.)

So this year the list contains eligible pictures as well as some that aren’t eligible (either they’re from last year or else they’re from semiprozines). The award is for an artist, not a particular work, after all, and this provides a bit more context on many of the artists. No one is listed who doesn’t have at least one eligible work, though, and those are highlighted.

Since the usual way to use the list is by opening the lightbox and then flipping through the pictures, we inserted an image of the Hugo rocket to separate artists. Eric found that useful, but I discovered that I paid almost no attention to which artist was which until after I’d selected about fifteen pictures I liked.

Winnowing the list wasn’t that hard (for me—Eric’s process was more sophisticated). I looked at all fifteen just at the thumbnail scale, and dropped three or four that I decided weren’t really as good. I dropped a few more because they really only had one picture I’d liked and the rest looked different. (In one case, I went to the artist’s home page to confirm that other pics in his/her gallery really did look like the single picture I was using to judge.) When I had six, I eliminated one because I didn’t like any of that artist’s pictures that were actually qualified for 2016. (So much for the idea that it’s about the artist, not the art.)

To fill out the Hugo Ballot, I copy/paste the author’s name from the web site and for the example of that author’s work, I use a link to that artist’s place on the main Professional Artists’ page. For example, http://www.rocketstackrank.com/2017/01/2017-professional-artists.html#JulieDillon points to Julie Dillon’s work on our page. (It’s what you get when you click on her name in the lightbox.)

We’d love to know how well this works for other filers and what we might do to make it better.

(15) HIDDEN HISTORY. Lauren Sarner, in “Tim Powers Loves Conspiracies” at Inverse, interviews the author of The Anubis Gates, Last Call and Declare about hanging out with Philip K. Dick and the allure of conspiracy.

What was Philip K. Dick like?

Since his death, there has arisen a kind of caricature of him. If you just read casually, you’d get the impression that he was this drug addled, crazy visionary who imagined God spoke to him. Actually he was a very sociable, funny, realistic, generous, gregarious friend. Not at all the William Blake crazy mystique the general impression has become. If you read his last few books, like VALIS and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, you can see that this was a rational, skeptical, humorous person. But it always does annoy me when people say, ‘Didn’t he like live in a cave and wander up and down the street talking to himself?’

(16) YOU CAN TELL A BOOK (COVER) BY ITS COVER. JJ sent this link — “The Cover of Each Max Gladstone Book Has Predicted the Cover of the Next One” from Tor.com — with a recommendation:

Okay, this is not new, but it is too fucking funny (you have to read all the way to the end for the final cover).

I say it lives up to the hype…

(17) RESURRECTED TALENT. IMDB shows some pretty hefty credits for Citizen Vader (2014):

A lonely widower stalks his deserted mansion, gloomily contemplating ending his own life. His last word may hold the key to what has sent him down this dark path.


Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)

Aidan Duffy
George Lucas (characters)
Orson Welles (characters)

Music Department

Bernard Herrmann original score music
John Williams original score music

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Hampus Eckerman, Aziz H.Poonawalla, Cat Rambo, Andrew Porter, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer Sylvester.]

65 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/16/17 I’m A Boxticker, Jim, Not A Pixel!

  1. Recent reads:

    Completely coincidentally, all four of these novels involved intertwined strands
    set at different times, not necessarily involving the same characters, but
    always interrelated.

    Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind, Anne Charnock
    My rating: Interesting but ultimately disappointing

    Antonia Ucello is the (real-life) daughter of the 15th-century Florentine
    painter Paolo Ucello, and a gifted painter in her own right. Toni is a
    contemporary 13-year-old girl on a trip with her skilled copyist father to
    China. Toniah is a post-doc in early 22nd-century London, a member of a
    parthogenetic family. These three women are in some sense iterations of one
    another, and the intertwined storylines comment on the way women are restricted and challenged by the expectations of the societies they inhabit. While I enjoyed all of the individual pieces, in the end I thought that the connections between the three different strands were too tenuous to bear the weight being placed on them for this to work as a novel. (For a someone different viewpoint, here is a very thoughtful review, which I think JJ originally provided a link to, and which persuaded me to read this book in the first place.)

    The Thing Itself, Adam Roberts
    My rating: A brilliant piece of philosphical science fiction

    Charles and Roy are two British postdocs manning an Antarctic SETI experiment over the winter of 1986. Roy is a Kant-obsessed oddball who is convinced he is in sole possession of a fundamental truth: the answer to the question Are We Alone in the Universe? What happens between the two of them in the Antarctic night will affect both of their lives for decades. More than that I don’t want to say.

    I was very impressed by Roberts’ first novel, Salt. I have had very
    mixed (and often very negative) reactions to his later novels, generally because, to be blunt, the science is often egregious nonsense. This novel,
    however, has all of Roberts’ strengths and none of his weaknesses; the
    historical sections scattered throughout Charles’ tale go beyond pastiche to the sort of ventriloquism achieved by David Mitchell at his best, and in the end he ties the whole thing up perfactly. A genuinely thoughtful book; if it were
    eligible (unfortunately, the publication date is 2015) it would be on my Hugo

    Rawblood, Catriona Ward
    My rating: A masterpiece of Gothic horror

    She comes in the night. She looks into your eyes. One by one, she has taken us all. I’m not sure I want to say more than that, either, but: for
    generations the Villarca family have died young. In 1910, 11-year-old Iris
    Villarca and her father are the only ones left, isolated in the decaying family
    mansion on Dartmoor. Iris’s determination to break out of that isolation will
    have the most terrible consequences of all.

    Beautifully written and with a tremendous sense of place, this is the best
    horror novel I have read in years. It is also multi-threaded, jumping back and
    forth in time between Iris’s life and earlier periods in her father’s (and others’) lives. It is one of the most perfectly constructed novels that I have read: every single narrative thread is woven together by the end of the novel. It won the 2016 BFA Best Horror Novel Award (August Derleth Award). Fair warning: this is a horror novel. Terrible things happen to people who don’t deserve to have terrible things happen to them. But it is not without hope.

    Rosewater, Tade Thompson
    My rating: Hugo Award-worthy

    Decades before the events in this novel (which range from the 2040s to 2066) a mysterious alien organism landed and then buried itself in Hyde Park. Extraterrestrial organisms have been steadily infiltrating the Earth’s biosphere ever since, in ways both beneficial and horrifying. A rare few human beings, known as sensitives, can tap more directly into this ‘xenosphere’, giving them more-than-human abilities. Kaaro is one such sensitive, dwelling in the town known as Rosewater that has grown up around a particularly noticeable alien incursion, the domed enclave known as Utopicity. A pretty selfish and not particularly moral individual, Kaaro will be drawn unwillingly into events that have dramatic implications not just for his own life but for the future of the human species.

    I wouldn’t even know about this book’s existence if it weren’t for this review by James Davis Nicoll. (Is Apex POD? They seem to have zero bookstore distribution.) That general lack of visibility is really unfortunate, because this is a first-rate SF novel. It jumps around (not pointlessly) through a couple of decades of Kaaro’s life, showing how he wound up as the person that he is (and how he just might make himself into something else). He has a lot of flaws, which the novel does not excuse, anymore than it does those of its lovingly sketched but not at all idealized mid-21st century Nigeria. It is entirely stand-alone, but I would not be at all surprised to see more books set in the same milieu (we get just a glimpse near the end of the novel of a radically transformed United States, for example). If there are, I’ll be buying them. Rosewater jumped straight onto my Hugo ballot.

  2. (6) We’re going from this to a guy who thinks books are only good for propping up his massive ego. 🙁


    *waves* to Meredith.

    For millenniums -> millennia
    (Is spelling becoming a lost skill?)

    (5) GERONIMO!
    Best of luck to Neil Clarke.

    The joke isn’t funny anymore.
    The song remains the same.
    (I should probably stop with the music-related lines now)

    His last word may hold the key to what has sent him down this dark path.

    I’m guessing the last word would be…Khannnn!!!


    Jaime Jones had some 2016 work, the cover for Impersonations by WJW, and the cover for The Malice by Peter Newman.

    I disagree with presenting non-2016 work. This isn’t a career award, it’s an award for professional work published in the 2016 year. 5 of Chris McGrath’s 7 works are from 2015, which doesn’t make any sense, because he has plenty of 2016 work to pick from (as does Tommy Arnold, with 4 of 9 not from 2016). For David G. Stevenson, 3 of 4 works are not from 2016; Dominic Harmon 3 of 5 are not 2016; Goñi Montes 5 of 10 are not 2016 (must be someone’s favorite); John Jude Palencar 3 of 4 are not 2016; Jon Foster 3 of 4 are not 2016; Julie Dillon 10 of 14 are not 2016 (also clearly someone’s favorite); Richard Anderson 6 of 8 are not 2016, and so on.

    I absolutely admire and applaud and appreciate the intent and the effort of this. The execution, however, seems to dramatically unfairly advantage some artists and disadvantage others.

  5. @6: When did uchronia/alternate-world/counterfactual (The Underground Railroad) become “literary fiction”? Does it not have enough aliens for the NYT?

  6. Alive.

    Reading Girl of Fire by Norma Hinkens. Scientists on a planet being taken over by a malignant AI manage to smuggle a few of their young children off world. When the kids hit their late teens, a couple of them meet, discover they have a connection that could lead to answers about where they come from. Enjoyable despite some significant infelicities that suggest Ms. Hinkens hasn’t encountered a tough-minded editor.

  7. Saw Monster Trucks today with the son (age 10). I went in with very modest expectations, and they were pleasantly exceeded. The supporting cast was very good — I was unfamiliar enough with the movie going in that I was unaware that Rob Lowe, Barry Pepper, and Amy Ryan were all in it. They are all the sort of actors that can elevate a role, be it otherwise minor (Ryan) or cartoonish (Lowe and Pepper). The plot is well-worn (kids rescue an animal and set it free) (kids, in this case, being played by actors obviously in their mid-20s, but that is par for the course), and the villains are drawn in broad strokes, but the execution is pretty good (I was surprised that gur sngure qvq abg erqrrz uvzfrys va gur svany npg, though). It won’t win any Hugos, but was perfectly fine for an afternoon’s diversion.

  8. 7) “When he shall die,
    Take him and cut him out in little stars,
    And he will make the face of heaven so fine
    That all the world will be in love with night
    And pay no worship to the garish sun.”

    17) Canadian regulations require snow globes to bear a label saying that they may cause cancer. A mystery has been solved! May the Force be with Rosebud.

  9. (1) I’ve read part of one of Donita Paul’s books. It was heavy, really, really heavy on the xtian religion. If you like sermonizing with your dragons, go for it. DNF for me.

    (6) So glad Obama read The Sixth Extinction. Parts were so harrowing I had to stop reading for a bit. It’s an excellent, heart-breaking book. Definitely worth reading.

    Currently listening to Aaronivitch’s Hanging Tree and enjoying it. The reader is excellent!

  10. Read Leonie Swann’s THREE BAGS FULL, which several people here recommended, and enjoyed it. Went in forewarned it was about sheep, so no surprise there. But the next book I read was Connie Willis’ BELLWETHER*, where about halfway thru it was Suddenly, Sheep. (Sorry if that’s a spoiler.)

    Now I’m wondering if I’m entering a personal version of Steam Engine Time, only with sheep, when everything I read will have sheep in it. Are there sheep in Ken Liu’s THE WALL OF STORMS, which is next on top of the TBR pile?

    Other sheep in sf/fantasy: Cordwaiiner Smith’s NORSTRILIA, Brunner’s THE SHEEP LOOK UP (I -think- TSLU had a brief mention of actual sheep herds dying off because of ecological change).

    *If I’d known the meaning of the title word going in, I might not have been so surprised.

  11. Oneiros: Honourable mention for Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

    Also, for Scalzi’s The Android’s Dream.

  12. I am currently reading an ARC of House of Binding Thorns, Aliette De Bodard’s sequel to House of Shattered Wings. I am enjoying it as much as its very tasty predecessor.

  13. 13: Tradition only takes three years to take hold?

    in the world of Science Fiction and Fantasy literature, the creation of slates is a time-honored tradition

    Are we going to go through the whole menagerie? Sad Naked Mole Rats? Sad Denebian Slime Worms? Sad Screw Worm Fly Larvae? Sad Aye-Ayes?

    I say let’s be done with this. Lets inaugurate the Vox Day Award for Bullshit in Science Fiction and Fantasy. I recommend the following starting categories:

    Best Message Fiction Novel Claiming Not To Be Message Fiction
    (same for shorter work categories)

    Best Related Misogynistic, Homophobic, Racist Work

    Best Asshole Fan Writer

    Best Bubble-Making Fancast


  14. @James Davis Nicoll: Did you? I don’t recall anyone mentioning Rosewater here, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t.

  15. Tourist: I say, those ARE sheep aren’t they?

    Shepherd: Yeh.

    Tourist: Yes yes, I though so. Only, why are they up in the trees?

    Shepherd: A fair question and one that in recent weeks ‘as been much on my mind. It’s my considered opinion that they’re nestin’.

    Tourist: Nesting?

    Shepherd: Aye.

    Tourist: Like birds?

    Shepherd: Exactly. Birds is the key to the whole problem. It’s my belief that these sheep are laborin’ under the misapprehension that they’re birds. Observe their behavior. Take for a start the sheeps’ tendency to ‘op about the field on their back legs. Now witness their attmpts to fly from tree to tree. Notice that they do not so much fly as… plummet. (Baaa baaa… flap flap… thud.) Observe for example that ewe in that oak tree. She is clearly trying to teach her lamb to fly. (baaaaa… thud) Talk about the blind leading the blind.

    Tourist: Yes, but why do they think they’re birds?

    Shepherd: Another fair question. One thing is for sure, the sheep is not a creature of the air. They have enormous difficulty in the comparatively simple act of perchin’. (Baaa baaa… flap flap… thud.) As you see. As for flight its body is totally unadapted to the problems of aviation. Trouble is, sheep are very dim. Once they get an idea in their ‘eads, there’s no shiftin’ it.

    Tourist: But where did they get the idea from?

    Shepherd: From Harold. He’s that sheep over there under the elm. He’s that most dangerous of animals, a clever sheep. He’s the ring leader. He has realized that a sheep’s life consists of standin’ around for a few months and then bein’ eaten. And that’s a depressing prospect for an ambitious sheep. He’s patently hit on the idea of escape.

    Tourist: Well why don’t you just get rid of Harold?

    Shepherd: Because of the enormous commercial possibilities should he succeed.

    —Monty Python’s Flying Circus

  16. File last night under “whuff!”

    Remember the big Open Road Media “sale” from a month ago? I finally got all of those acquisitions taken care of, in terms of converting to EPUB, adding proper metadata, saving to a cleanup area, and running a first-pass demung on ’em.

    There’s still a lot to do before I consider them “ready to read” – renaming, fixing CSS (mostly font sizes), putting proper cover code in place, and fixing bugs – but this alone is a big step forward. The next milestone is getting everything renamed and prioritized (soonest, later, on hold) – and I’ve got a decent chunk of that done, from the last batch.

    Oh, and included in that bundle were some cheap books I bought with points last week – like Seanan McGuire’s DDDD novella and a few fun-looking indie books. I also made some patches to some recent reads, fixing typos and harmonizing formatting.

    It doesn’t pay, but it was productive nonetheless. I think I’ve earned myself some progress in Shift before I zonk out…

  17. (1) I’ve read part of one of Donita Paul’s books. It was heavy, really, really heavy on the xtian religion. If you like sermonizing with your dragons, go for it. DNF for me.

    Because I received one of her books as an ARC, I ended up reading and reviewing seven of her books (the ARC was the first volume of her new series that was related to and came after her initial six book series). The first is DragonSpell. The series starts off pretty weak, and basically goes downhill from there.

  18. (6) – I don’t trust any politician has actually read a list released by a flack. I really don’t trust the release of what the politician “thought” about the book.

  19. @airboy

    Your healthy skepticism about people’s honesty and motives is a lesson to us all. I’m applying it right now!

  20. I really don’t trust the release of what the politician “thought” about the book.

    Yes, it must be that Obama, who will never run for election again, is trying to suck up to that all-important voting contingent of “people who read Chinese science fiction books in translation” by faking his response to The Three-Body Problem.

  21. Rev. Bob, on the recommendation of several Filers, I “bought” (is it buying when it’s free?) and read Mortality Bridge. Very good, but trigger warnings for, well, EVERYTHING. Much of the book is set in Hell, and Hell is… vividly described.But I’m commenting to you because I noticed the book had some really irritating ebook-rendering errors. Most of the editing (spelling, grammar, etc.) was fine, but there were several instances where the paragraphing was messed up. Comments from one person and replies from another were in the same paragraph.

    Hell for copyeditors, it seems…

  22. @David W.

    I’ve never read or seen that discussion before. I just read the whole transcript and was just, well, pleasantly happy and surprised by the openness and general loveliness of the conversation and topics. I’ve always been happy to hear that our President has been an avid reader (the same was true of GWB, if i remember correctly) and I think the importance of that can’t be understated.

  23. “Because of the enormous commercial possibilities should he succeed.”

    I’ve used a butchered version of this a lot. It’s a good explanation whenever someone is doing something that is strange/pointlessl/futile.

    “So you want to be a Pixel Scroll Star then listen now to what I say”

  24. Somebody want to do a filk of the Ballad of Lan o’Lin, and how the faerie queen turned him into a sheep to hide him from his love?

  25. Bah, bah, black scroll, have you any wool?
    Yes Sir, yes Sir the whole triology on ebook!

    Im no poet, and, boy, do I know it!

  26. Some good links today, but I’ll only comment on the most shallow, because I need to go through and read the rest…

    (13) Poe’s Law applies here.

    ETA: (16) – Ha! Haven’t read the series, but that’s pretty weird/nifty. The last cover is perfect.

    So much sheep! I haven’t thought about that Monty Python sketch in years. I was hearing it in my head as I read it (though in Michael Palin’s voice, which may or may not be correct – he’s my favorite of the Pythons, vocally).

    I just finished All the Birds in the Sky. It was enjoyable, but a little cardboard, character-wise, and it seemed to me that the author kind of expected everyone gb unir ernq Gur Zntvpvnaf gb svyy va fbzr bs gur oynaxf va gur fgbel. V yvxrq gung gur obbx jnfa’g nobhg Cngevpvn’f gvzr va Zntvp Fpubby, gubhtu. Also enjoyed the San Francisco setting. I don’t think this one’s going on my short list, but I’m interested in checking out her writing in the future.

    After I finished that, I decided to go back to a book I bounced off of – the first Witch World novel. I read the first third several months back, but found the writing stilted and somewhat old-fashioned. I’m glad I gave the book another chance, because I’m enjoying the rest of it so far.

    Not sure what to go with next, but I did just grab The Sixth Extinction after reading this thread. I’ll just take it all one book at a time. Except when I read multiple books at once. Then I’ll take it two or three at a time.

  27. Just read:
    Crosstalk – Connie Willis. Suffers from a lack of sheep 🙂 This book is written in the same Willis style that I have enjoyed before, but I didn’t care for this book since I didn’t like any of the characters – the heroine esp. was incredibly self absorbed and horrible to everyone around her.
    Death’s End – Cixin Liu. Loved this book – the characters weren’t great here either, but the Big Ideas made up for it.

  28. “Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying. With sheep.”

    “Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying. With scrolls.”

    I should probably stop while I’m behind.

  29. “The merest accident of microgeography had meant that the first man to hear the voice of Om, and who gave Om his view of humans, was a shepherd and not a goatherd. They have quite different ways of looking at the world, and the whole of history might have been different. For sheep are stupid, and have to be driven. But goats are intelligent, and need to be led.”

    –Terry Pratchett, Small Gods

  30. I feel like I may have wandered into a Filers of Catan game.

    “I’ve got books for sheep! Who want to trade?”

  31. Jack Lint on January 17, 2017 at 12:19 pm said:

    “I’ve got books for sheep! Who want to trade?”

    Well, that’s better than having wood for sheep. 🙂

  32. @JJ: Thanks for the feedback on the RSR 2017 Professional Artists post.

    As creator of the post, my goal was to show each artist’s style with the least amount of work. 🙂 That means showing every image used in RSR reviews from 2016 (186), identifying each artist, and showing those artists’ work from 2015 and 2017 that also appeared in RSR reviews (77). Julie Dillon has many works here because Clarkesworld chose to use her art for 6 of 12 issues in 2015, and Uncanny for 2 of 6 issues. Ditto for Goni Montes with Tor.com. The extra work I did was not to dig up more art to stack the deck for some artists over others, but updating the code to show the year and highlight those captions to make clear which works are eligible, rather than keep last year’s simple captions “Go to issue” or “Go to book.”

    As for the cover art for 63 novels — none of which were reviewed by RSR — I used two 2016 meta-lists from Chaos Horizon and John DeNardo as well as the SFWA Nebula readling list for novels to pick the top N from each list, scrounged up 33 medium-sized images for display, and also included any 2015 work from those artists who appeared in last year’s Professional Artists page (30). This is much more tedious than getting links to RSR-reviewed magazine covers and story illustrations, so I’m loathed to do more than the minimum set in the meta-lists. 🙂

    All in all, I think there’s a net benefit to showing more art, not less, as long as they’re clearly marked and come for “free” from doing RSR reviews over the year. There are cons as you say, but the number clicks to artists’ websites recorded in last year’s page shows there’s also a strong pro to surfacing more of their art. We’ll have three years worth of art for next year’s page so there will be fewer singleton artists and I’ll set a max number plus a fair algorithm to choose works to fit under the limit for artists favored by magazines like Julie Dillon.

  33. If you want sheep in your SFF try Jane S. Fancher’s Ring Of Lightning.

    And now for something completely different… a joke that my father told me years ago:

    A ventriloquist was driving through the midwest when his car broke down. He walked a ways and found a farmer who would let him use his phone. Well, the farmer seemed to be a real stereotypical rural type, so the ventriloquist thought it would be possible to have some fun with him. The farmer began to lead him back to the house.
    Along the way, they passed a horse. The ventriloquist said to the farmer, “Is this your horse?” The farmer replied, “Yep.” The ventriloquist asked, “Can he talk?” The farmer said, “Nope.” The ventriloquist then said to the horse, “So, how do you like it here?” He then threw his voice, and said in a horse-like voice, “Oh, it’s pretty good. Every morning the farmer feeds me oats.” Upon hearing this the farmer was startled and quickened his pace.
    Soon they came to a cow. The ventriloquist asked, “Is this your cow?” and the farmer replied, “Yep.” He then asked, “Does it talk?” and the farmer replied, “I..I don’t think so.” The ventriloquist asked the cow, “How do you like it here?” and threw his voice again. In a cow-like voice, he said, “Oh, I like it just fine. Every morning the farmer comes and milks me.” Upon hearing this, the farmer squirmed. He looked down at the ground and continued walking.
    Soon they came to some sheep. The ventriloquist asked, “Are these your sheep?” and the farmer replied, “Yep.” He then asked, “Do they talk?” and the farmer exclaimed, “Yes, but they lie!”

  34. I prefer goats. One of the many good things about the Steerswoman books is that goats are key. And there are many goats in Earthsea, especially on Gont but also in Atuan.

  35. @Cassy B.: “Hell for copyeditors, it seems…”

    Oh, joy. I think I picked that one up, too. All the same, I’ll be impressed if it hits Skeleton Crew levels of bad.

    (ICYMI: The ebook of SC royally screwed up a lot of things. Scan errors, unreliable italics… It got so bad that I picked up a cheap used paperback just so I could fix the ecopy. On a similar note, It has the wrong copyright page entirely. Whoever converted King’s backlist really didn’t do it justice.)

    pixelscrolls they taste just like pixelscrolls

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