Pixel Scroll 12/26/19 Demotic Space Opera

(1) HUGO VOTER ELIGIBILITY. The CoNZealand committee reminds fans:

If you would like to make a nomination for the Hugo Awards, you must purchase your CoNZealand membership by 31st December 2019, 11.59pm PST.

(2) PODCAST FINDER. The Cambridge Geek compiled a great tool for podcast listeners: “All of 2019’s Audio Drama/Fiction Podcast Debut Releases”. The various tabs include several for genre, such as Science Fiction – over 100 entries – plus Superhero and Urban Fantasy.

Right, here’s the big list of every new Audio Drama/Fiction/RPG show I found that debuted in 2019, sorted by genre. I think it contains 660 shows. It’s probably a fair chunk of data, so I’ve taken the embedded episodes out – you’ll have to look at a show itself to have a listen.

(3) ANOTHER FAILED PREDICTION. According to Vox, “The 2010s were supposed to bring the ebook revolution. It never quite came.”

Instead, at the other end of the decade, ebook sales seem to have stabilized at around 20 percent of total book sales, with print sales making up the remaining 80 percent. “Five or 10 years ago,” says Andrew Albanese, a senior writer at trade magazine Publishers Weekly and the author of The Battle of $9.99, “you would have thought those numbers would have been reversed.”

And in part, Albanese tells Vox in a phone interview, that’s because the digital natives of Gen Z and the millennial generation have very little interest in buying ebooks. “They’re glued to their phones, they love social media, but when it comes to reading a book, they want John Green in print,” he says. The people who are actually buying ebooks? Mostly boomers. “Older readers are glued to their e-readers,” says Albanese. “They don’t have to go to the bookstore. They can make the font bigger. It’s convenient.”

Ebooks aren’t only selling less than everyone predicted they would at the beginning of the decade. They also cost more than everyone predicted they would — and consistently, they cost more than their print equivalents. On Amazon as I’m writing this, a copy of Sally Rooney’s Normal People costs $12.99 as an ebook, but only $11.48 as a hardcover. And increasingly, such disparities aren’t an exception. They’re the rule.

(4) TOP SFF BY POC FROM 2018. Rocket Stack Rank catches up with its annual “Outstanding SF/F by People of Color 2018”, with 65 stories that were that were finalists for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction.

Eric Wong says, “Included are some observations obtained from pivoting the table by publication, author, awards, year’s best anthologies, and reviewers.”

(5) HEAD OF THE CLASS. The Oxford Mail, while spotlighting a photo gallery about the famed sff author, typoed his name in the headline. And you thought that kind of thing only happens at a certain well-known news blog…

(6) SMOOCHLESS IN SINGAPORE. That history-making kiss in a galaxy far, far away? Well, that history hasn’t been made everywhere in a galaxy close, close to us: “Disney Removes Same-Sex Kiss From ‘Star Wars’ Film in Singapore”.

The scene, which Disney cut to preserve a PG-13 rating in the conservative nation, was the first overt appearance of gay characters in the “Star Wars” franchise.

A brief kiss between two female characters was removed from screenings of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” in Singapore, a country with restrictive laws against gay people.

Though lasting just a few seconds and hardly a major plot point, the kiss between two minor characters was notable as the first overt appearance of gay characters in a “Star Wars” film. Disney cut the kiss to preserve the film’s PG-13 rating in Singapore, according to reports.

(7) MEMORIES, CAN’T GET RID OF THOSE MEMORIES. At The Cut, Hannah Gold wails that “‘Cats’ Has Plunged Us All Into a Horrifying, Ceaseless Fever Dream”.

Apparently the people who made this infernal movie are having to digitally retouch it as it’s in theaters, due to some last-minute suggestions, like that Judi Dench’s character Old Deuteronomy (unquestionably a cat) should not suddenly, for a single shot, have a human hand with a wedding ring on it.

(8) SHINY. BBC gives you a peek at Doctor Who’s remodeled ride: “Look inside the Series 12 TARDIS!”. Photo gallery at the link.

(9) FOILED AGAIN. People Magazine: “Martin Scorsese’s Daughter Trolls Her Dad by Wrapping His Christmas Gifts in Marvel Paper”.

Martin Scorsese‘s daughter is poking fun at the filmmaker following his comments about the Marvel franchise.

On Christmas Eve, Francesca Scorsese showed off the many gifts she got for her dad, which she hilariously wrapped in Marvel wrapping paper.

“Look what I’m wrapping my dad’s xmas gifts in,” Francesca wrote over the Instagram Story photo of the presents, which are adorned with comic book images of The Hulk, Captain America and many other super heroes.

Francesca’s timely joke comes a month after Scorsese, 77, made headlines for saying Marvel films are “not cinema.”


  • December 26, 1954 — The very last episode of The Shadow radio serial aired.  It was the program’s 665th installment and the episode was “Murder by the Sea” with Bret Morrison as The Shadow (Lamont Cranston) and Gertrude Warner as Margot Lane. This is the final episode of The Shadow to be aired on the Mutual Broadcasting System.
  • December 26, 1959 — In Japan, Battle In Outer Space premiered. It was produced by Toho Studios, best known for Godzilla. Directed by Ishiro Honda and featuring the special effects of  Eiji Tsuburaya, the film  had a cast of Ryo Ikebe, Koreya Senda and Yoshio Tsuchiya. It was released in the Stateside in an English-dubbed version by Columbia Pictures a year later where it was a double feature with 12 to the Moon. Reception in the States as usual praised the special effects and panned the acting. Rotten Tomatoes reviewers currently deciedly don’t like it giving a 37% rating. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 26, 1791 Charles Babbage. Y’ll likely best know him as creator of the Babbage Machine which shows up in Perdido Street Station, The Peshawar Lancers, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage webcomic, and there’s “Georgia on My Mind“ a novelette by Charles Sheffield which involves a search for a lost Babbage device. The latter won both a  Nebula and a Hugo Award for Best Novelette. (Died 1871.)
  • Born December 26, 1903 Elisha Cook Jr. On the Trek side, he shows up as playing lawyer Samuel T. Cogley in the “Court Martial” episode. Elsewhere he had long association with the genre starting with Voodoo Island and including House on a Haunted Hill, Rosemary’s Baby, Wild Wild West, The Night Stalker and Twilight Zone. (Died 1995.)
  • Born December 26, 1926 Mark R. Hillegas. ESF claims that he was one of the first to teach a University level course in SFF which he did at Colgate in 1961. The Future as Nightmare: H G Wells and the Anti-Utopians and Shadows of Imagination: The Fantasies of C S Lewis, J R R Tolkien and Charles Williams are his two works in the field. The former is listed in Barron’s Anatomy of Wonder as part of a core collection of genre non-fiction. SFRA awarded the Pilgrim Award. (Died 2000.)
  • Born December 26, 1929 Kathleen Crowley. She retired from acting at forty so she has a brief career. She appeared in only a limited number of genre roles, one being as Nora King in in early Fifties Target Earth, and Dolores Carter in Curse of The Undead, a Western horror film. She also played Sophia Starr twice on Batman. (Died 2017.)
  • Born December 26, 1951 Priscilla Olson, 68. She and her husband have been involved with NESFA Press’s efforts to put neglected SF writers back into print and has edited myriad writers such by Chad Oliver and Charles Harness, plus better-known ones like Jane Yolen.  She’s chaired a number of Boskones.
  • Born December 26, 1953 Clayton Emery, 66. Somewhere there’s a bookstore with nothing but the novels and collections that exist within a given franchise. This author has novels in the Forgotten Realms, Magic: The Gathering and Runesworld franchise, plus several genre works including surprisingly Tales of Robin Hood on Baen Books. Must not be your granddaddy’s Hood.
  • Born December 26, 1960 Temuera Morrison, 59. Ahhhh clones. In Attack of the Clones, he plays Jango Fett. In Revenge of the Sith, he came back in the guise of Commander Cody. See no spoilers? 
  • Born December 26, 1961 Tahnee Welch, 58. Yes the daughter of that actress. She’s in both Cocoon films as well in Sleeping Beauty which was filmed in the same time. Black Light in which she’s the lead might qualify as genre in the way some horror does.
  • Born December 26, 1970 Danielle Cormack, 49. If it’s fantasy and it was produced in New Zealand, she’s might have  been in it. She was in Xena and Hercules as Ephiny on recurring role, Hercules again as Lady Marie DeValle, Jack of All Trades, one of Kage Baker’s favorite series because, well, Bruce was the lead, as she was Raina in recurring role, Samsara on Xena in amother one-off and Margaret Sparrow in Perfect Creature, an alternate universe horror film.


(13) ARMORED SJW CREDENTIALS. Yeah, I think I missed this one last month — “This company makes cardboard tanks to help your cat conquer the world”. Upworthy’s profile includes pictures.

“Sit back and have a giggle at your cat ‘doing human things’ and help keep them away from clawing your favorite sofa!”

“These cardboard playhouses come in various humorous designs; the Tank, the Catillac, the Fire Engine, Plane, and for those kitties with a bit more style, the Cabin and Tepee.”

(14) RARE MEMORIAL. NPR reports “Hero Killed In UNC-Charlotte Shooting Immortalized As ‘Star Wars’ Jedi”

Riley Howell, 21, was praised as a hero by police officials, who said “his sacrifice saved lives.” Howell charged and tackled the gunman who opened fire in a classroom on campus in April. Police said his actions stopped the gunman from shooting more people. Ellis Parlier, 19, was also killed in the attack, and four other students were wounded.

Howell, who was a Star Wars fan, is now being honored by Lucasfilm with an entry in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker — The Visual Dictionary, which was published this month.

According to The Charlotte Observer, the newly released book named a character after him: “Jedi Master and historian Ri-Lee Howell,” who is credited with collecting “many of the earliest accounts of exploration and codifications of The Force.” Jedi Master Howell also has an entry on Wookieepedia, the Star Wars wiki.

(15) NOT EVEN SO-SO, OR LESS HASTE, MORE SPEED. “Cats: Lame opening for Cats at US and UK box office”

The movie version of Cats has failed to live up to expectations at the box office, taking just $6.5m (£5m) at the North American box office.

The $100m (£77m) film, which was expected to make double that amount, debuted fourth on the US chart, with the new Stars Wars movie on top.

In the UK and Ireland, it grossed £3.4m, having been panned by critics.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, an updated print of Cats was sent out to cinemas on Friday.

The trade paper reported that the film’s director, Tom Hooper, had ordered re-edits to his film with “some improved visual effects”.

…Hooper, who made Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech, has been open about the fact that he only just managed to finish his CGI-heavy movie before its world premiere in New York.

At the event, Hooper told Variety it was completed in a 36-hour sprint on the Sunday.

(16) FROM BLANK TO DARK. “His Dark Materials: How we animated Iorek Byrnison” – BBC takes you inside, with several shots showing buildup from virtual skeleton or real reaction model to finished picture.

Click looks at the visual effects involved in the hit BBC show His Dark Materials.

Russell Dodgson of visual effects company Framestore spoke with Al Moloney about how technology is used to create some of the most memorable scenes from the series including a dramatic bear fight.

(17) PUTINTERNET PREMIERES. “Russia ‘successfully tests’ its unplugged internet” – BBC has the story.

Russia has successfully tested a country-wide alternative to the global internet, its government has announced.

Details of what the test involved were vague but, according to the Ministry of Communications, ordinary users did not notice any changes.

The results will now be presented to President Putin.

Experts remain concerned about the trend for some countries to dismantle the internet.

“Sadly, the Russian direction of travel is just another step in the increasing breaking-up of the internet,” said Prof Alan Woodward, a computer scientist at the University of Surrey.

(18) WHERE THE TEMPERATURE IS ZIP, NOT THE CODE. “‘Christmas with the penguins will be bliss’” a BBC followup to a Pixel about the most extreme post office.

Sub-zero temperatures, dinner from a tin, an icy shower for emergency use only – Kit Adams is all set for Christmas in Antarctica.

Forget chestnuts roasting by an open fire. Not for him hot water or mains electricity.

But Kit, 26, from Newcastle, County Down, cannot believe his luck.

Spending Christmas in a hut thousands of miles from home is bliss…even when top of the chores is scrubbing penguin poo from the doorstep.

The County Down man and his friends are overwintering in remote snowy wastes on an island the size of a football field.

But when that remote piece of earth is home to a colony of Gentoo penguins, it’s paradise.

…Kit is one of a team of five – two Britons, an Irishman; a Scot and a Finn – from the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) who are spending five months at Port Lockroy on Goudier Island, Antarctica.

He is a mountaineer and adventurer by inclination but in Port Lockroy, he is also a postmaster.

…As well as stamp duties, the intrepid volunteers are also observing the penguins, how they meet; find a mate; build a nest, hatch and dispatch their chicks.

They will make an important contribution to a long-term scientific study of the penguin colony to better understand the impact of environmental changes on the site.

Guidelines state they must stay five metres from the penguins, but Kit said: “On an island the size of a football pitch this isn’t always possible.”

(19) A GALAXY DIVIDED. Annalee Newitz tells New York Times readers “‘Star Wars’ Fans Are Angry and Polarized. Like All Americans” in an opinion piece.

… “The Rise of Skywalker,” released last week, is a muddled and aimless homage to previous films in the series. Its countless callbacks to the older films feel like an effort to “make ‘Star Wars’ great again,” though it does manage to deliver a few liberal-sounding messages. Call it the Joe Biden of “Star Wars” movies.

To continue the analogy, you might say that “The Last Jedi,” “The Force Awakens,” and “Rogue One” are in the Barack Obama tradition. They gave fans truly diverse casts and grappled in a relatively nuanced way with the class and race conflicts that have hovered at the margins of every “Star Wars” story.

They also made fans of the early movies livid. Some used social media to demand that Disney stop with the politically correct storytelling, while others launched racist attacks on the Vietnamese-American actress Kelly Tran, who plays the engineer Rose Tico in two of the films….

(20) FUN WITH YOUR OLD HEAD. Popular Mechanics boldly equivocates “Head Transplants Could Definitely Maybe Happen Next Decade”.

…The secret, Mathew believes, is to separate the brain and the spinal column in one piece that will be introduced into a new body. This cuts out, so to speak, what Mathew considers the most daunting obstacle. If you never have to sever the spinal cord at all, you don’t have to solve any of the thorny problems created by all of the different proposed solutions before now.

There’s an inherent downside to Mathew’s idea, even if it were to become feasible in the next 10 years. If a surgery can only successfully be performed on people with intact spinal columns, that rules out one of the major suggested goals of such a transplant, which is to restore mobility to people with disabling spinal injuries who are trying to reverse them….

 (21) FOUND ON TUMBLR. Anne Francis on the set of Forbidden Planet.

Also, other publicity stills from the film here.

(22) GETTING INSIDE OF HEAD OF C-3PO. In the Washington Post, Thomas Floyd has an interview with Anthony Daniels about his autobiography I Am C-3PO.  Daniels talks about how he didn’t use a ghostwriter and how much of Return of the Jedi was directed by George Lucas “by proxy” because Richard Marquand couldn’t control the set. “C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels talks ‘The Rise of Skywalker,’ his new memoir and four decades of Star Wars”.

Q: The book also confirms long-standing speculation that “Return of the Jedi” director Richard Marquand struggled to command the set, leading Lucas to direct much of the film “by proxy.” Why did you want to share your perspective on that situation?

A: Because there has been so much speculation over the years. I am giving my point of view, and hopefully not in an over-elaborated way. Marquand was an unfortunate experience because, really, he should have had the courage to leave the set. It was an uncomfortable situation. He was a man who was clearly out of his depth with responsibility for other people. I didn’t put this in the book, but I remember hearing Harrison Ford was reportedly amazed, and in fact rather angry, to hear that Marquand claimed to have helped him with his performance of Han Solo, and that’s just ridiculous.

(23) OTHER BRAINS FROM A LONG, LONG TIME AGO. SYFY Wire springs a paleontological surprise. “500,000-year-old fossilized brain has totally changed our minds”.

… This is kind of a big deal when humans have known about the brain’s tendency to break down after death for so long that even the ancient Egyptians knew it had to go during the mummification process. There was no point in trying to preserve it like some other organs (never mind that the heart was believed to be the epicenter of thinking back then). It seems that an organ that can’t be mummified would never stay intact long enough to fossilize, but what appeared to be a stain on the Alalcomenaeus fossil that was recently dug up was found to be its brain.

…An Alalcomenaeus brain doesn’t exactly look like a human brain. It really has no resemblance to a human brain at all, but is more of a central nervous system that mirrors those of many extant arthropods, with an elongated brain structure that runs from its head to its upper back. Neural tissue connects to the creature’s four eyes and four pairs of segmented nerves. More nerves from the brain extend all the way down its back.

(24) MUSIC OF THE SPHERES. Since the Scroll took yesterday off there wasn’t a chance to share this clever bit, the “Star Wars Epic Christmas Medley | Carol of The Bells & Imperial March.”

[Thanks to Olav Rokne, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Eric Wong, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Contrarius, John King Tarpinian, StephenfromOttawa, Bill, Steve Davidson, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

82 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/26/19 Demotic Space Opera

  1. David Goldfarb says In terms of paper vs. e-book, I find that since I started commuting by car instead of bus, most of my reading time is in places where e-book is hugely more convenient: e.g., when I’m walking on a treadmill, or eating a meal. It’s gotten positively difficult for me to get a paper book read. I received two books from my wish list this year, and I was rather sad to get them on paper: I understand the desire to give a physical object, but still. Control of the display, and lack of storage space needed, are icing on the cake.

    If it isn’t autographed, I’ll be liquidating it. Mostly because I know I’m moving and I just don’t want to move a lot of stuff with me. And frankly, I won’t be reading the books again because I cannot read them (narrative and I aren’t getting along). It’s been fun gifting things to folks like books, statues of owls and more than one Ganesha.

    Thirty years worth of stuff is being pared down in part because I’m tired of not being able to find anything as there’s too much here. I just put Infinite Library, my iPad, down in an unfamiliar place, and it took far too long to find it. I need less clutter. I’ll end up with very few bookS but all personally signed.

    Almost all my fiction is now in the form of audiobooks though I have read, far albeit too slowly, several novels in the post-dying period. It just takes too long. If I know the characters and setting, say a book in a series, I can do it; if it’s a new setting and characters, no way. An audiobook with the latter is fine though.

  2. @Cassy, PJ, et al —

    Of the ones I’ve not read, I’m not familiar with Red Rising. Anyone here read it? Any good?

    I’m surprised folks here haven’t heard of this. It has been incredibly popular over the last coupla years — 209,000 ratings on GR. YA dystopia on the moon. I haven’t read them, but they have gotten lots and lots of hype. I have them on my longlist TBR, so I might get around to them eventually. Narrated in audio by Tim Gerard Reynolds, who is one of the best out there in terms of making you want to keep listening.

  3. Incidentally, a few of the books on that list are some of my all-time personal favorites — like Oryx and Crake, The Doomsday Book, Station Eleven, Flowers for Algernon, and so on. So it looks like a pretty good list to me!

    And woops, sorry — I said Red Rising was on the moon, but it’s actually Mars. Sorry sorry!

  4. I prefer physical books, and they are my medium of choice when at home, but they are bulky. I usually have a backpack with me when I’m out and about, but I don’t normally want to carry more than 1 or 2 books, and never big heavy ones. Ebooks may also be cheaper. So I read a fair number of ebooks, for reasons of price and portability. I do most of my Kindle ebook reading on a 10-inch ipad, but I also have a Kindle app on the little iphone SE I carry in my pocket, which is even more portable. Even when I don’t have the backpack, containing books/ipad, I can pull out the phone, often to read a story from F&SF (I have a digital subscription.)

  5. Oh, btw — in current reading, I finished Recursion by Blake Crouch just before Christmas.

    It was… pretty great, actually. Which surprised me, since I dnfed his book Dark Matter, and since this is yet another time travel book of sorts — everything is time travel this year! But in any case, I really enjoyed it, even if it does develop into a sort of high-tech Tebhaqubt Qnl for a while there. It’s exciting in the right places and moving in the right places.

    I’ve decided that there are so many time-travel books this year because everyone is desperate to escape the times we are living through right now!

  6. I’m a librarian. I can go on at terrifying length about the advantages of print books over ebooks, for many purposes, especially longterm information preservation!

    But I still have no space, eyes that aren’t what they used to be, and arthritis in my hands. 🙁

    @Contrarius–The times we are in are infinitely escape-worthy.

  7. @Andrew: does being taught in schools make a book a classic? I don’t think so; ISTM that just means that the book is sufficiently obvious that it can be taught (e.g., rather than discussed). I read The Giver after seeing the movie (as a favor to a friend), and was even more unimpressed than I was with The Hunger Games.

    correction: I’ve read 38 of the list (sometimes counting-on-fingers while scrolling slips a bit), and am not sure I’d heard of the Brown.

  8. Lis Carey says
    And a private equity company just bought Overdrive.
    One of the world’s largest private equity firms just bought one of the world’s largest library ebook companies

    This is certain to be bad news.

    Maybe, maybe not. There’s a number of ebook jobbers out there right now including 3M so it’ll be interesting to see how this still not terribly developed part of the book distribution ecosystem evolves. I know my local system used Overlook and abandoned early on as too costly, too restrictive, and are now 3M’s CloudLibrary.

    None are perfect as they all have to negotiate publisher by publisher for what they carry and how they can loan it out. Overdrive IIRC my conversation with a librarian correctly was extremely restrained on its number of simultaneous ebooks for popular titles that could be out.

  9. @Chip: I see your point. “The Giver” certainly has flaws; I read it as an adult (since it didn’t exist when I was a kid!) and I noticed the world-building problems, etc., but I still think it’s a classic – still in print (and selling quite well apparently) after over a quarter of a century, and part of the SF conversation.

  10. @Andrew: it may be part of some conversation — but I had never heard of it until it was made into a movie, and I’ve always paid attention to recommended works not aimed over younger readers’ heads. Maybe there’s an underground for it (as IIUC there was for the first Harry Potter book), or maybe it has academic recognition because of its limitations rather than in spite of them. (Yes, I’m feeling a little savage this evening.)

  11. @Chip —

    @Andrew: it may be part of some conversation — but I had never heard of it until it was made into a movie, and I’ve always paid attention to recommended works not aimed over younger readers’ heads.


    The Giver has 1.6 million ratings on GR, so it’s pretty obvious that it’s part of the popular sff conversation — regardless of whether you’d heard of it or not.

  12. @Chip: I could be assuming that everyone’s heard of it just because I have (one problem I’ve noticed in the last decade or so is that I’m aging out of the median population, so I shouldn’t assume that everyone will be familiar with things I’m familiar with and not familiar with things I’m not familiar with – but I don’t always remember to not make that assumption).

    @Contrarius: Following your suggestion, I found the Goodreads list of books published in 1993, in order of the number of people who have noted reading the book https://www.goodreads.com/book/popular_by_date/1993 – “The Giver” is at the top of the list with 1.6 million ratings – and the second book only has less than 400,000 ratings. Fascinating stuff.

  13. @Andrew —

    @Contrarius: Following your suggestion, I found the Goodreads list of books published in 1993, in order of the number of people who have noted reading the book https://www.goodreads.com/book/popular_by_date/1993 – “The Giver” is at the top of the list with 1.6 million ratings – and the second book only has less than 400,000 ratings. Fascinating stuff.

    For further comparison:

    A Wrinkle in Time — 1.0 million
    Brave New World — 1.3 million
    The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe — 2.0 million
    Fellowship of the Ring — 2.2 million
    1984 — 2.8 million
    Hunger Games — 5.9 million

  14. So is Goodreads now part of the genre conversation? I had the impression from comments here that it was considered more subject to fads and/or likely to recommend easy-reading work.

  15. @Chip —

    So is Goodreads now part of the genre conversation? I had the impression from comments here that it was considered more subject to fads and/or likely to recommend easy-reading work.

    Stop being disingenuous. The point is not the strength (or weakness) of the recommendations. The point is that millions of people have read the book (given that GR only represents a fraction of total readership) — thus making it a part of the conversation, no matter what you personally think of it.

  16. @Contrarius: Whose conversation? I’ve never heard of The Giver before and don’t know anything about it, unlike the other books you mentioned. But since I don’t dread goo, I’m not involved in Goodreads.

  17. @Jeff —

    @Contrarius: Whose conversation? I’ve never heard of The Giver before and don’t know anything about it, unlike the other books you mentioned. But since I don’t dread goo, I’m not involved in Goodreads.

    Andrew commented that the book is “part of the SF conversation”, and Chip contended that “it may be part of some conversation — but I had never heard of it until it was made into a movie, and I’ve always paid attention to recommended works not aimed over younger readers’ heads.” I noted that it has 1.6 million ratings on GR — more than either Brave New World or a Wrinkle in Time, for just two examples — and thus is indeed a very widely read (and thus conversed about) work of literature.

    Chip seems to assume that he is familiar with every single book that is part of the “sf conversation” as a whole — which I find quite astounding.

  18. Of the ones I’ve not read, I’m not familiar with Red Rising. Anyone here read it? Any good?

    Red Rising didn’t knock my socks off but it was a quality read. The world building and characterizations are solid. It spends too much time on fight scenes for my personal taste, but they are well written. I especially liked that it illustrated how bigotry hurts the privileged group as well as the oppressed one.

  19. @Contrarius: Having a lot of readers in general does not mean something is part of the SF conversation. It might be drawing its readers from elsewhere than the SF world. (I’ve never heard of it, though I don’t track YA very closely.) As far as literary worlds go, SF is still a pretty small one. A little bit of popularity in some other literary world can seriously boost a work’s numbers.

    I don’t know whether it is or is not part of the SF conversation, but I’m not particularly convinced by either side of this discussion at present. On the one hand, yes, decent numbers. On the other hand, it’s getting a lot of blank stares from people here on a heavily SFF-oriented site. So…I dunno? Not sure we have the data to draw any firm conclusions.

  20. @Xtifr: I certainly thought it was part of the conversation, but having run into people here not familiar with it, I’m less sure than I was (as I mentioned above, I’ve been growing used to finding out that I’ve drifted out of the center of cultural references). When I search on Tor.com this year (which screens out the references to the movie* (it’s natural for Tor to cover a new movie, regardless of how well known the book it’s based on is)), I see a review of a recent book (https://www.tor.com/2019/12/10/karin-tidbecks-amatka-and-the-use-of-language-in-dystopian-science-fiction/) which review mentions “1984,” “The Book of the New Sun” – and “The Giver”. I also see a comment in an article about “Citizen of the Galaxy” that mentions “The Giver.” So a few references to a book from 1993, but not a lot.

  21. The Giver is definitely a YA sci fi classic. Whether it’s a sci fi classic among adults (who weren’t YA-aged after 1994) is another matter.

    A little surprised it apparently hasn’t filtered through to “grown-up” sf fandom, actually, given how big a deal it is in YA circles.

    (Would also like to point out that sf/f con/zine/club fandom is not the be all and end all of sf/f fandom and conversation. On File770, that’s the main fandom, but it isn’t the only one and it isn’t the main one everywhere.)

  22. I was just popping in to say what Meredith just said–The Giver is very much a YA sf classic. Hard to miss if you follow that segment at all, and yes, I find it a little bit surprised that it’s apparently easily missed by adult fans. But, not aimed or marketed to adult sf readers, so it makes some sense.

  23. I have heard of The Giver, though I haven’t read it.

    As Lis and Meredith said, it’s a dystopian YA science fiction classic. It’s also frequently read in schools, which makes it even more ubiquitous for those who were teens sometime in the past 25 years.

    However, it’s also possible that someone who had already aged out of YA reading when The Giver came out is unaware of the book. Unlike e.g. Ender’s Game, The Giver was always marketed as YA and may therefore never have pinged on the radar of an SF reader with no interest in YA.

  24. @Cora Buhlert, @Lis Carey on book pricing rules in USA vs Europe:

    My understanding is that European rules on book discounting are justified as a measure to support businesses seen as playing an important role in the country’s arts culture.

    The contemporary USA view, more libertarian, argues that this is unjustified protectionism which benefits old incumbent players and works against upstarts. The USA has no worries about its cultural industries and would probably like to take over other countries’ cultural industries, seeing it all as mere entertainment product.

  25. E-books: I miss paper books, but the bottom line is that the Nook and Kindle ecosystems brought me back to buying books and reading some of them. Between the late 1980s and 2014, I read few books and essentially no SF. It helped that my personal e-book era coincided with the ~new golden age~ of SF.

    The prices on new-release e-books are enough of a discount from hardcover that I can allow myself to buy new releases and follow current discussions, which didn’t happen often in my 1970s-1980s fannish instance. Turns out that I love reading series as they are released, I feel so much more invested.

    Discounted e-books allow for retail therapy which doesn’t clog the house. :-). Also my wife and I can share and discuss a particular e-book without having to track who has the single paper copy.

    We have two excellent indie bookstores, an excellent used shop, and one more cozy indie store, and I feel guilty that I don’t support them more. I do buy an occasional paper book from them, but that sad book sits unread.

  26. @Xtifr, Chip, et al —

    What Meredith said.

    (Would also like to point out that sf/f con/zine/club fandom is not the be all and end all of sf/f fandom and conversation. On File770, that’s the main fandom, but it isn’t the only one and it isn’t the main one everywhere.)

    The “sf conversation” is not by any means limited to the Hugo-voting/770-posting/con-going elements of the sff-reading public. It is both exclusionary and elitist to believe otherwise.

  27. @Contrarius: it is so tempting to match your rudeness and dismissiveness, and your assumption that you know everything that I’m involved in, but it would be a waste of time as your mind is visibly made up.

  28. @Chip —

    and your assumption that you know everything that I’m involved in

    I have absolutely no idea of “everything you’re involved in”, nor is it relevant to this discussion.

  29. Red Rising – Was a 3-star DNF for me when I read part of it in the Hugo packet. The author could string together words. He just couldn’t create a combination of character(s) and milieu that kept me reading.

    3) Count me as a fan of ebooks for all the obvious reasons. On top of that my Kindle app syncs across my two devices so that I’m always on the last read page. I’ve had too many instances over the last year where one device wasn’t possible in a situation and having my cell phone handy allowed me to keep reading. I also enjoy the broader range of works made possible by authors not being forced to work with major publishing brands. A lot of what I read comes from small and mid-range brands or from self-published authors.

    When I was 14, I thought, ‘How wonderful to be a science fiction writer. I’d like to do that.’ I have never lost touch with that ambitious 14-year-old, and I can’t help chuckling and thinking, ‘You did it, and you did it right.’ – Robert Silverberg

Comments are closed.