Pixel Scroll 1/27/16 The Young and the Rec List

(1) BROOKLINE SHOOTING INCIDENT. SF writer Michael A. Burstein faced an unexpected emergency decision today.

When I ran for Library Trustee of the Public Library of Brookline back in 2004 for the first time, I never expected the day would come when I would be saying the following over the phone to the Library Director:

“As far as I know at the moment, this is an active shooter situation in the town of Brookline. You have my complete authority as chair of the Library Trustees to send staff home, shut down the libraries, or do whatever you think you need to do to keep patrons and stay safe. Just keep me posted and I’ll check in with the police again once we’re off the phone.”

He, Nomi and their children were safe but rattled. At the time, Brookline police were responding to reports of two local incidents in which people were shot and/or stabbed.

Police have not yet captured the assailants, however, later in the day they found their car in Boston.

Police in Brookline said they have located the car from today’s shooting but are still looking for the driver and another suspect after three young men were shot and stabbed multiple times this morning in related incidents in Coolidge Corner and Brookline Village

(2) SFWA MAY ACCEPT GAME WRITERS. Science Fiction Writers of America will soon vote whether to allow sales in writing S/F games to qualify writers for membership. SFWA Vice President M.C.A. Hogarth discussed the question at the SFWA Blog.

The Gaming Committee has drafted solid credentials for admitting professional writers of SF/F games–tabletop or computer or console or app–to our numbers. The Board has reviewed them, made modifications, and chosen a final draft. Now it’s up to our members to vote to include our writing peers in the gaming industry into our numbers. The question will be going out on the election ballot at the end of Februrary.

Games, no less than books, tell compelling stories in our genre. I hope you’ll join me in opening our doors to our professional colleagues in SF/F game writing.

(3) HURLEY SAYS FIGHT BACK. Kameron Hurley on “Traditional Publishing, Non-Compete Clauses & Rights Grabs”.

One of the big issues we’ve been dealing with the last 15 years or so as self-publishing has become more popular are the increasing rights grabs and non-compete clauses stuck into the boilerplate from big traditional publishers terrified to get cut out of the publishing equation. Worse, these clauses are becoming tougher and tougher to negotiate at all, let alone get them to go away. Worser (yes, worser) – many new writers don’t realize that these are shitty terms they should be arguing over instead of just rolling over and accepting like a Good Little Author. What I’ve seen a lot in my decade of publishing is new writers on the scene who don’t read their contracts and who rely on their agent’s judgement totally (and that’s when they even HAVE an agent! eeeee). They don’t have writer networks yet. They aren’t sure what’s normal and what’s not and they don’t want to rock the boat.

I am here to tell you to rock the boat.

(4) DRUM LESSONS. M. Harold Page finds “Writerly Lessons from Louis L’Amour’s The Walking Drum” at Black Gate.

Even so, this literary failure is still a heroic one. The book not only displays the craft of a veteran adventure writer, it is also an object lesson in career strategy.

As an author I benefited from reading this book. Let me tell you why…

First, this book can teach us some craft. It confirms the idea that research can be layered (link). There’s a lot you don’t need to know when writing a Historical story and a lot you can put in on the final draft.

Identify the people who are a physical threat to your character and find the conflicts that link then.

However, what makes The Walking Drum truly illuminating is that it is like sitting Louis L’Amour down with beer and getting him to brainstorm historical adventure plots until we can see how he does it.

L’Amour clearly focuses on conflicts leading to physical threats. I’m a great enthusiast for exploring story worlds through conflict (link). However, L’Amour reveals a shortcut: Identify the people who are a physical threat to your character and find the conflicts that link them. I suppose L’Amour would say:…

(5) FINDING YOUR VOICE. Elizabeth Bear on authorial voice, in “he’s got one trick to last a lifetime but that’s all a pony needs”.

You have a voice, as an artist and as a human being. That voice is part of who you are, and it’s comprised of your core beliefs, your internalizations, your hopes and dreams and influences and experiences. You can develop it. You can make it better. But until you find it–until you find that authentic voice, and accept it, and begin working on making it stronger and trusting it and letting it shine through–you will always sound artificial and affected.  And there’s a reason we call it “finding your voice,” and not “creating your voice.” The voice is there. Whatever it is, you are stuck with it. So you might as well learn to like it, and work with it, and improve it.

(6) X-FILES. Steve Davidson has lots to say in “The X Files Return: Review & Commentary” at Amazing Stories. No excerpt. BEWARE SPOILERS.


  • January 27, 1967 — Astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee died in a fire aboard the Apollo 1 spacecraft during a launch simulation at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center

(8) MINSKY OBIT. Marvin Minsky (1927-2016), a leader in the field of artificial intelligence, as well as occasional sf author and convention participant, died January 24 reports SF Site.

He served as an advisor on the film 2001: a space odyssey and later collaborated with Harry Harrison on the novel The Turing Option.

The New York Times obituary noted:

Professor Minsky, in 1959, co-founded the M.I.T. Artificial Intelligence Project (later the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) with his colleague John McCarthy, who is credited with coining the term “artificial intelligence.”

Beyond its artificial intelligence charter, however, the lab would have a profound impact on the modern computing industry, helping to impassion a culture of computer and software design. It planted the seed for the idea that digital information should be shared freely, a notion that would shape the so-called open-source software movement, and it was a part of the original ARPAnet, the forerunner to the Internet.

(9) GRATEFUL. Mike Reynolds is one of the finalists who was not selected to be the teacher-astronaut aboard the Challenger.

The 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster this week has a deep meaning for college professor Mike Reynolds. At the time, he was a teacher at Fletcher High School and a finalist for the ill-fated Challenger mission.

Reynolds was picked out of thousands of educators nationwide, to fly in NASA’s teacher-in-space program, which was announced by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. It was teacher Christa McAullife who was ultimately chosen and perished during takeoff with the entire crew.

Reynolds witnessed the Challenger explosion from the Kennedy Space Center viewing area.

“It was so surreal. It took probably a minute, even for someone like myself who is familiar with launches, to really sink in what had happened,” Reynolds said….

Reynolds said the days and months that followed were the most painful in his life, but he made friends with families of the seven onboard, including Capt. Dick Scobee’s wife, June Rodgers Scobee, and Greg Jarvis’ parents. Reynolds said the horror the nation witnessed on that day deeply affected him.

“It’s really affected me, knowing that every day on this earth is a gift, so use that time wisely and stick to your mission and God’s given gifts, and that’s why I stayed in education,” he said.

(10) PLAQUE FOR PRATCHETT. The Beaconsfield town council knows Pratchett will eventually get one of those famous blue plaques. In the meantime, the city will honor Terry Pratchett with a commemorative plaque of its own.

Born in Beaconsfield and educated at John Hampden Grammar School in High Wycombe from 1959 to 1965, [Pratchett] went on to become a reporter at the Bucks Free Press in 1965 before making a name for himself as an author.

The town council hopes to install a plaque on the wall at Beaconsfield Library in Reynolds Road, where Sir Terry was a Saturday boy and returned to give talks.

Cllr Philip Bastiman, chair of the open spaces committee, said the council had been in touch with Sir Terry’s daughter Rhianna, who was “very supportive” of the idea of commemorating the author.

He said: “Because I believe he worked in the library and used the library a lot and he came back and actually gave talks at the library relatively recently, in their mind, it had a place in his affections.

“They feel it is wholly appropriate to have a commemorative plaque to Terry Pratchett at the library itself.”

Cllr Bastiman said they could have to wait “a number of years” for a blue plaque, which are commonly used to commemorate historical figures and places, so will remember him with their own plaque.

(11) COMMENTS DEFACE HARTWELL OBIT. The Register gave David G. Hartwell a nice obituary. Unfortunately, Puppification intruded at the third comment.

(12) WOMEN IN SF. Kristine Kathryn Rusch is working on an anthology, Women of Futures Past, that will be published by Baen. The project’s blog has a new entry by Toni Weisskopf.

[Kristine Kathryn Rusch] When it became clear to me that the sf field was losing its history, particularly the history of women in the field, I decided to do an anthology. And I immediately knew who would be the perfect publisher/editor: Toni Weisskopf of Baen. We’ve been the field for the same amount of time, and I knew, without checking, that all this talk about the fact that there are no women in sf had to bother her as much as it bothered me. We got together last February at a conference, and sure enough, I was right…

[Toni Weisskopf] …So I never experienced this mythical time of science fiction being an old boys club, with the Man oppressing women, keeping us down. What do these people imagine all the women in field before them did? I didn’t need Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg to remind me about the contributions of editor Bea Mahaffey at Other Worlds, or the obituaries to tell me about Alice Turner at Playboy; in my circles, they were both still remembered. Same with Kay Tarrant at Astounding/Analog and Cele Goldsmith at Amazing.

So one wonders who is really devaluing the work of women. Perhaps it is those who imply that the women who are successful in SF today need some sort of special consideration. Or is it simply that these people have not bothered studying the history of the field they are talking about? I finally begin to understand the purpose of those lists of names in epic poetry and the Bible: these people existed, they were there. It is my hope that Kris’s anthology will do something towards balancing the scales and prove a resource for anyone who loves great SF and cares about historical accuracy.

(13) SHORTCHANGED. Remembering that the sf genre had ANY women addresses a different question than the fairness issues that arise now that there are MANY women genre writers. Consider the next post about the horror genre…

Nina Allen asks “Where Are We Going? Some Reflections on British Horror, Present and Future” at Strange Horizons.

Somewhat conveniently for the purposes of this discussion, FantasyCon 2015 saw the launch of three “best of” horror anthologies: the latest (#26) in Stephen Jones’s redoubtable Best New Horror series, which has now been running for more than a quarter of a century, The 2nd Spectral Book of Horror Stories under the editorship of Mark Morris, and the twenty-fifth anniversary reissue of Best New Horror #3, from 1991. Looking down the table of contents of this last, I encountered many familiar, well-loved names—some sadly no longer with us, some very much still writing and contributing to the literature. I want to stress right from the off how important the Best New Horror series has been to me, both as a reader and as a writer. When I began developing a professional interest in horror fiction towards the end of the 1990s, BNH was where I first started to acquaint myself with the field: who was writing, what they were writing, how they related to one another. I would read each volume cover to cover when it first appeared, adding to my knowledge and developing my taste with each new outing.

When I look at the table of contents for BNH #3, I see the names of writers who first drew me into the genre (McGammon, Grant, Newman, Etchison), writers who deepened my understanding of what horror writing could do and cemented my allegiance (Campbell, Royle, Lane, Ligotti, Tem, Hand), as well as one more recent discovery, Käthe Koja, whose writing is everything that modern horror should aspire to be. A wonderful compendium indeed, and if I felt a little disappointed to see that of the twenty-nine stories listed, only four were by women, I reluctantly put it down to the times. While women have always written horror, the awareness of women writing horror was not then so advanced as it has become more recently. Any anthology that styled itself “Best New Horror” in 2015 would surely provide greater parity in representation.

How surprised was I then, when I turned to the table of contents for BNH #26 and discovered that of the nineteen stories listed, a mere three were by women writers.

Three must be somebody’s lucky number, and nineteen, come to that, because of the nineteen stories selected to appear in the 2nd Spectral Book of Horror Stories—and this from more than five hundred submissions received—only three of those were by women, also.

I honestly don’t see how this is a situation anyone can feel happy with. I’m not even going to get started on the representation of writers from minority ethnic backgrounds in these tables of contents, because it’s practically nil.

OK, those are the facts, the figures I’d brought with me for discussion on the panel. They speak for themselves, and what they say about the state of horror fiction in the UK in 2015 is that it’s very white, heavily male-dominated, and furthermore, that this situation hasn’t changed at all in the last quarter-century.

(14) MORE TO REMEMBER. The BBC has a little list of its own — 10 Women Who Changed Sci-Fi. The name that follows Mary Shelley is –

Ursula K Le Guin

Le Guin has been a significant player in the science fiction field since the 1960s and has nourished the sci-fi and fantasy genre with piercing visions of race, gender, ecology and politics. She has also been its heroic defender with a host of best-selling writers citing her as an inspiration.

(15) SHINDIG. The Hollywood Reporter details plans for the Star Trek 50th anniversary fan event in New York City.

This September, Star Trek marks its 50th anniversary by returning from the final frontier and landing in New York City for Star Trek: Mission New York, a three-day event based around a celebration of the beloved TV and movie franchise.

Taking place Sept. 2-4 at the Javits Center, Mission New York comes from New York Comic-Con organizers ReedPOP. Lance Festerman, global svp for the company, said in a statement that the new convention “will be a completely unique fan event unlike anything seen before, giving [fans] the chance to go beyond panels and autograph signings, and immerse themselves in the Star Trek universe.”


  • Born January 27, 1832 – Lewis Carroll.

(17) NEW JOURNAL. The Museum of Science Fiction has launched the MOSF Journal of Science Fiction. Journal editor Monica Louzon highlights the articles in the issue:

This first issue of the MOSF Journal of Science Fiction features four articles that explore science fiction through analysis of various themes, including—but by no means limited to—globalization, mythology, social commentary, and assemblage theory. Derrick King’s discussion of Paolo Bacigalupi’s critical dystopias explores utopian political possibilities that biogenetics could create, while Sami Khan’s analysis of Hindu gods in three Indian novels reveals how closely mythology and social commentary entwine with science fiction. Karma Waltonen examines how female science fiction writers have used loving the “other” as a means of challenging societal taboos about sex, and Amanda Rudd argues that Paul’s empire in Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965) is an entirely new assemblage composed of rearranged elements from the previous ruler’s empire and the indigenous Fremen culture.

(18) TYSON IN RAP BATTLE. Neil deGrasse Tyson and rapper B.o.B. are getting their clicks battling over B.o.B.’s flat earth claims. NPR has the story.

So, a Twitter spat between astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and rapper B.o.B over the flat Earth theory has turned into a full-blown rap battle (and it’s way better than Drake vs. Meek Mill).

B.o.B, whom you might know from his hits “Airplanes,” “Nothin’ On You” and “Strange Clouds,” kicked things off Monday when he started tweeting about how he believes the Earth is flat. He also tweeted about why he believes NASA is hiding the truth about the edge of the world. And he shared several meaningless diagrams about the planet including one about flight routes….

In a short series of tweets, Tyson explained why the Earth was round. He tweeted:

“Earth’s curve indeed blocks 150 (not 170) ft of Manhattan. But most buildings in midtown are waaay taller than that.”

“Polaris is gone by 1.5 deg S. Latitude. You’ve never been south of Earth’s Equator, or if so, you’ve never looked up.”

“Flat Earth is a problem only when people in charge think that way. No law stops you from regressively basking in it.”…

Here’s another: “I see only good things on the horizon / That’s probably why the horizon is always rising / Indoctrinated in a cult called science / And graduated to a club full of liars.” You can read the full lyrics on Gawker.

That was Monday night.

Tuesday afternoon, Tyson dropped his own dis track, called “Flat To Fact,” written and rapped by his nephew, Stephen Tyson. He tweeted: “As an astrophysicist I don’t rap, but I know people who do. This one has my back.” Here’s a sample:

“Very important that I clear this up / You say that Neil’s vest is what he needs to loosen up? / The ignorance you’re spinning helps to keep people enslaved, I mean mentally.”

(19) MEANWHILE BACK AT HARRY POTTER FANDOM. Jen Juneau explains “Why we’re crushing hard on Fleur Delacour from ‘Harry Potter’”. That was news to me, so I paid close attention….

My absolute favorite Fleur moment isn’t in the movies, which is a travesty (and one of the 32843 reasons why everyone who enjoyed the movies even a little bit should go read the books, stat!). It’s at the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Molly Weasley is tending to her son (and Fleur’s fiancé) Bill’s wounds. Molly starts lamenting over the fact that Bill will never be the same again, and that he was going to be married and everything, while Fleur is standing right there.

Fleur basically snaps and asks Molly if she thinks Bill won’t marry her now that he has been bitten by a werewolf. While Molly starts sputtering, Fleur is relentless, telling Molly that Bill’s scars are proof of his bravery and that she is good-looking enough for the both of them before snatching the ointment out of Molly’s hand and tending to his wounds herself. The scene ends with Molly offering Fleur her Aunt Muriel’s goblin-crafted tiara to wear on her and Bill’s wedding day, and the two cry and hug it out.

And though Fleur is not immune to using her beauty in the series to get ahead (but really, who hasn’t used a natural advantage to get ahead when they can?), there are two big lessons here: 1. Fleur is a certified badass who refuses to let looks define her or anyone around her, and 2. Read the books, y’all.

(20) THAT LOVABLE ROGUE VADER. Yahoo! Tech predicts Darth Vader’s role will be bigger on the inside than expected in Rogue One.

The next time we buy tickets for a Star Wars picture, we’ll be signing up for a movie that’s going to bring back the greatest villains in movie history. Darth Vader is returning to the Star Wars universe this December complete with original costume and voice and he’s going to have a bigger role than anticipated, a new report indicates.

Movie site JoBlo says it’s able to confirm that Darth Vader will indeed appear in the film, and his role will be bigger than just appearing in hologram messages. Even so, it’s not clear what Darth Vader’s role in the movie plot is. In fact, the actual plot of the picture is still secret.

What we know about the movie is that Rogue One tells the story of a group of daring rebels looking to steal the plans of the Death Star. The action in Rogue One takes place between Episode III and Episode IV.

(21) FORCEFUL CARTOONS. Nina Horvath posted examples of “Cartoons from the Dark Side: Star Wars Exhibition in Vienna” at Europa SF.

Tomorrow a new Star Wars exhibition will start and open its doors until March the 6th, 2016. It should not be confused with the Star Wars Identities exhibition that takes place in the same city at almost the same period of time, no, it is different: It shows funny cartoons inspired by the Star Wars universe. Like Darth Vader experiencing the result of his paternity test!


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and David Langford for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

192 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/27/16 The Young and the Rec List

  1. Ray on January 28, 2016 at 12:41 pm said:

    Resists the urge to be pedantic

    I see what you did their

    It’s a good thing you didn’t have fewer restraint.

  2. Non-compete clauses:

    I call bullshit. You want me to create stuff for you, and only for you, forever and ever amen? Put me on salary. Then maybe we can talk.

    Noncompete clauses can be sucky and suffocating even if you ARE getting paid well, but at least it’s a gilded cage. As a writer or any creator, all I have is my output and my ability to sell it. If you tell me who I can sell to, where I can sell it, and you get to take a cut of everything, you aren’t a publisher.

    You’re a pimp.

  3. Here’s a story that probably won’t wind up on Lionel Fanthorpe’s career highlight reel: “Porn Film Accidentally Shown at Funeral for Father and Baby Son in Cardiff”

    “I look at my congregations instead of the TV screen, but when I heard this noise and members of the congregation moving towards the screen, I realised something was wrong. Members of the family were very distressed. Thankfully an engineer came to fix it and turn it off. It seems to be some kind of electronic accident.”

  4. @ James Davis Nicoll
    Please keep up the self-serving shorthand. The Labalestier book sounds very interesting. Thanks also for the review of Herland. I agree with another filer that it’s better known than one might have thought. There was a lively discussion about it in the Guardian pretty recently. I have all Gilman’s novels (including the recently published “Unpunished”, a mystery novel) and a short story collection. They’re not very SF (except for one or two) but I especially enjoy the stories because they focus on the potential in the women men don’t see. I recently got her entire oeuvre (sans Unpunished) as an book for a couple of bucks.

  5. 1) Kip W on January 28, 2016 at 5:46 am said: “Second of all, damn that a knife was involved, because now the gun-fanciers will display their repetitive wit in another series of sniggering “Hey why don’t they have knife control haw haw” posts and letters.”

    Yeah, damn gun-fanciers! Always bringing up gun control politics when somebody gets killed. Those bastards!

    Oh, wait…

    12, 13, 14) In answer to the never-ending chorus of “but women are OPPRESSED!!!1!1! in North America!” I give you…

    …wait for it…

    … Fat Barbie.


    As much as I don’t want to drive traffic to Time Mag, this is just too good to pass up. Apparently the RageQueens of Tumblr and every SJW freak in the universe have been going after Mattel over Barbie’s shape forever. Death threats have been received, I am told. (No, really. It says death threats. Over a kid’s toy.)

    So in order to increase sales (because that’s what Mattel does, they sell stuff) the CEO decided to go with the SJW demands and has produced, for a limited run, Fat Barbie. There’s also Tall Barbie, Short Barbie and Regular Knock-Out Barbie, but the important one for the RageQueens is the fat one.

    Leaving aside the ‘body image’ debate for a moment to focus on the eeeevile Capitalist side, does anyone really think the little girls are going to buy Fat Barbie? Realistically, is this a serious action by Mattel to support slumping sales of their iconic doll?

    Or is it more a PR move to shut up a bunch of SJWs who are making so much noise it’s worth a couple hundred grand to get them off Mattel’s back?

    Related, is the ongoing effort to push women, POC/LGBTF/HP/KGB/FBI/CIA and so forth really about selling books? Or is it to shut up the likes of Alex McFarland and her ‘no more binary gender’ circus act?

    I think Choice 2. Fat Barbie ain’t going to sell at Toys R Us, and a bunch of PC approved grimdark penned by authors with the right minority credentials (but nothing else) ain’t going to expand the SF/F section at Barnes & Noble.

    Doing what SJWs say is business suicide, every single time. Chevy Volt, anyone?

    And by the way, just to take up the body image crap for one second, anybody want to comment on the probable sale-ability of Fat Ken? How about Middle Aged Bald Fat Ken? Hmm? How about Facial Acne Ken? Where’s my skinny-ass Aspergers nerd Ken doll, goddamnit?!

  6. James Davis Nicoll, thanks for the links to your reviews of those works regarding the presence of women in the science fiction field. I’ve ordered a copy of Larbalestier’s book.

    I am curious about the following statement, and wonder if you’d be willing to elaborate:

    Fred Pohl, for example, made a rather foolish statement that erased the work of two of his wives from history.

  7. I’ve mentioned before the Japanese legend of the night parade of yokai (memorialized in Studio Ghilbli’s Pon Poko, if you’ve seen that.) I’ve just noticed that there is a new kidlit book out based on the story. Don’t know if it is worth reading, but the cover art is nice, and I look forward to getting my mitts on it.



  8. @The Phantom
    The joke gets old, and the sniggering intent (and trivialization of murder and other violence) was rancid from the start. I understand your confusion, though. It can be hard to see something when you’re determined not to.

  9. Okay, the Star Wars Winnie-the-Pooh was ridiculously cute. I was on the fence until Eeyore the AT-AT.

  10. Jamoche on January 28, 2016 at 1:22 pm said:
    Cute overload: Star Wars characters drawn Winnie the Pooh style

    They’re changing the guard at Coruscant Palace
    Leia Organa went down with Alice
    Alice is marrying an Imperial Guard
    “A stormtrooper’s life is terrible hard,”
    Says Alice

    They’re changing the guard at Coruscant Palace
    Leia Organa went down with Alice
    The stormtroopers chased off a crazy old hermit
    “One of the sergeants looks after their helmets,”
    Says Alice.

    They’re changing the guard at Coruscant Palace
    Leia Organa went down with Alice
    We looked for the Emperor but he never came
    “Well, the Force be with him, all the same,”
    Says Alice.

    They’re changing the guard at Coruscant Palace
    Leia Organa went down with Alice
    The Emperor says he’s dissolving the Senate
    “I wouldn’t be Emperor for a thousand credits,”
    Says Alice.

    They’re changing the guard at Coruscant Palace
    Leia Organa went down with Alice
    A face looked out, but it wasn’t the Emperor’s
    “He’s much too busy a-building the Death Star,”
    Says Alice.

    They’re changing the guard at Coruscant Palace
    Leia Organa went down with Alice
    “Do you think Lord Vader knows about me?”
    “Sure to, dear, but it’s time for tea,”
    Says Alice.

  11. In honor of the opening of Hugo nomination season…

    “The Hugo”

    The screen glows white in my office tonight
    (Though it could probably use a clean)
    A webform for nomination,
    Of all the books that I have seen.

    The blogs are howling like a sack of cats inside
    Couldn’t ignore ’em, heaven knows I tried!

    Don’t let them in, don’t let them know
    You thought The Martian was only so-so,
    “Please think of me,” the authors post–
    Here come the trolls!

    The Hugo, the Hugo
    Can’t hold it back anymore
    The Hugo, the Hugo
    Click the button, fill the form!

    I don’t care
    What they’re going to say
    Let the blogs rage on,
    Awards never bothered me anyway!

    It’s funny how some distance
    Makes some people seem quite small
    And the fears that once controlled me
    Can’t get to me at all!

    (pretend there’s a sequence here with Mike Glyer building a magical ice palace or something)

    It’s time to go and make my vote
    For the longshots, but I hope
    No right, no wrong, just what I read–godspeed!

    The Hugo, the Hugo
    Some categories are all wet–
    The Hugo, the Hugo
    Maybe I should write a novelette!

    I don’t care
    What they’re going to say
    Let the blogs rage on,
    Awards never bothered me anyway!

  12. New-Barbie is in no way fat but rather a more realistic depiction of human bodies. Compare that with the unrealistic Classic-Barbie measurements.

    The “business suicide” idea doesn’t hold water either given that Barbie sales have been dropping. If anything, More-Realistic-Barbie might fix the dropping sales problem. [And it’s not like Mattel is going to stop selling Classic-Barbie either so it’s not an either/or proposition: no-one’s being prevented from buying Classic-Barbie.]

    The Eeyore AT-AT is adorable.

    @Matthew Johnson & @RedWombat,

  13. Re agents, There is a conflict of interest there. The agent cares about the best price, not necessarily the best contract.

    In theory, at least, the agent cares about the most lucrative contract, which is not quite the same thing as the best price.

    A larger advance for a deal that also takes movie rights may be a better price, but it’s not necessarily the most lucrative. Same for a deal that has a non-compete clause — the agent can make greater commissions if the client isn’t locked down to one publisher. Etc. etc.

  14. JJ: I don’t own the Larbalestier and the academic library it is in is at the local university I am not currently on the campus on, but as I recall, Pohl’s comment required Judith Merril not to have existed. Not sure of his other wives he failed to take into account. Could have been Leslie Perri or Carol Stanton. I think it was Perri. Sorry for not being more helpful.

  15. Today’s read — The House of Shattered Wings, by Aliette de Bodard

    Post-apocalyptic fantasy novel set in an alternative universe where fallen angels land on earth and fought a terrible war near the beginning of the 20th century. At first, I was carried along by the world. The author makes a good choice to drop the reader in with little background or information, learning bits and pieces from context. However, I slowly became annoyed by the amount we were being told about characters’ personalities rather than shown, and, more to the point, I realized I didn’t much care what happened to any of them. As a result, the exciting climactic conclusion spanning the last quarter or so of the book mostly left me thinking, “Eh. So?”

  16. At the moment, I think we must perforce bow to the Phantoms extensive knowledge of Barbie dolls, and feel happy that in 2016, a manly man who is manly and a man feels comfortable declaring that interest openly. Progress!

  17. James Davis Nicoll: JJ: I don’t own the Larbalestier and the academic library it is in is at the local university I am not currently on the campus on, but as I recall, Pohl’s comment required Judith Merril not to have existed. Not sure of his other wives he failed to take into account. Could have been Leslie Perri or Carol Stanton. I think it was Perri. Sorry for not being more helpful.

    No problem. It’s probably Perri, she was also a Futurian.

    Will you be at MAC II? Would you like to have the copy I’ve just ordered after I’m done reading it? (I no longer collect physical books, for a couple of major reasons.)

  18. At the moment, I think we must perforce bow to the Phantoms extensive knowledge of Barbie dolls, and feel happy that in 2016, a manly man who is manly and a man feels comfortable declaring that interest openly. Progress!

    It’s because SJWs always win.

    The Winnie-the-Poohicized Star Wars characters are completely charming.

    @Matthew Johnson, @RedWombat – applause

    (12) WOMEN IN SF – I’m really glad Toni Weisskopf’s experience was such a positive one. I wish she wouldn’t universalize from it though, because it just looks silly when people do that.

    (14) MORE TO REMEMBER – Growing up, I didn’t like the Andre Norton books I read and there wasn’t a lot of other SF written by women available to me. Then all of a sudden there was an explosion of women writers available in the library and on the local spinner racks. Ursula Le Guin was my first, best love from that time, but I also read James Tiptree, Anne McCaffrey and Joanna Russ.

    I almost think you had to have been there to understand what a relief it was to read so many books by so many women after so many years of reading mostly books by men. It was like finally finding a tribe where I actually belonged.

    Also, that photo of Pat Cadigan is badass.

  19. Should anyone be interested, Amazon UK has a big reduction on Jonathan Strange etc. This constitutes my good deed for the day, so I’ve got another 22 hours before I have to think about the next one…

  20. *snort* And here I was about to point out that our latest resident troll is profoundly ignorant of the history of Barbie if he thinks releasing new models is some kind of unprecedented bowing-to-political-correctness. I don’t know how many thousand Barbie variants there are, but just from my brief stint as a small girl, a LOT.
    (Internet says at least ten bodies, twenty faces, and 150+ careers)

    But he’s welcome to find an enthusiast to bend his ear–I have friends whom I love who are collectors and can wax enthusiastic about every variation that has ever been, yea, unto the ends of the world, but as I love them, I will not send them off on a fool’s errand.

    The reason Mattel is trying to find something new to do with Barbie is because Monster High and Bratz-style dolls have been eating Barbie’s lunch for years now. But yeah, probably an SJW conspiracy. That’s way more likely.

  21. 12) WOMEN IN SF

    A few months back I was re-reading a collection of MZB short stories, and came across this in one of the introductions:

    But such women as the first few to enter medical colleges (where they were preached against in church, ignored, and finally forced to fight through by being at least twice as good as men) — women who have proved themselves competing against men are not very sympathetic to protected women’s spaces and quotas. “Of course,” we say, “you can do it under those conditions — but we suspect you couldn’t have done it at all in the days when you had to prove yourself.” … I won my credentials when it had to be done the hard way … Women who had to be at least twice as good as men don’t take kindly to such comments as, “When will women be allowed to be mediocre, as men are allowed to be mediocre?” I think no one should be allowed to be mediocre.

    … which sounds an awful lot like what Weisskopf is channeling here, right down to demands for equal treatment being conflated with “quotas” and “protected spaces”.

    And my response to reading that was to think:

    So then you would say that only those women of such exceptional talent and iron will as yours should be allowed to “prove themselves” and become what they want to be? If you have to be twice as good as a man, does that mean that women who are only as good as a man, or half again as good — or even those who are indeed twice as good but lacking that iron will to deal with hostility and harassment — should be condemned to failure and locked up in little gender-appropriate cages? What a fucking waste. It’s also inaccurate to describe that situation as “competing against men”, because if it were, then a woman wouldn’t have to be twice as good in order not to be turned down in favor of an inferior male competitor. What she described there is women having to compete against sexist bigotry, which is an entirely different thing.

    That attitude is nothing but sheer, naked, ugly envy. “I had to do it the hard way, what makes you think YOU deserve it any easier?” Jealousy, envy, the need to pull yourself up by stepping on other people who never did anything to you — it’s all of that and more, and none of it worthy of someone who considers themselves a decent human being. Ideally, yes, no one should be mediocre, but (1) this isn’t Lake Woebegon; it’s the real world and some people are always going to be mediocre, and (2) who are YOU to say whether or not it’s “allowed” and for whom?

    This is the exact same argument by which today’s right wing can point at one or two exceptional people who made their way out of the ghetto by talent, persistence, luck, and circumstance, and present them as “proof” that the poor don’t need any help. After all, if one person could do it, ANYONE can do it if they just TRY hard enough, and if they don’t make it — well then, they just weren’t TRYING, were they? And it was no more true then than it is now.

  22. I won’t be at MACII because money and also being Vice turns out to require a swimming pool full of social energy when what I have is a shot glass. My idea was I would roleplay being social. I still think that can work but I cannot do it. I may revert to hard core reclusism in April.

  23. @The Phantom: God forbid a company tries to expand its audience and sell more toys! Oh, the humanity!

    Gun control: I don’t want to get too involved in this except to say that of course weapons should be regulated. And I say this as someone who happens to own swords (also weapons!) and various members of my friends and family also own weapons (swords and guns and bo and jo and tonfa!)

  24. I vaguely recall a puppy discussion that included the Bryn Mawr girls during the recent troubles. I think it had been updated from the Seven Sisters to the Ivy League, but the concept was overeducated women entering the publishing business who were ruining science fiction with those liberal beliefs they learned in their expensive colleges.

    Variations of the story about those nasty Seven Sisters/Ivy League women who ruin honest genres for honest folks with all their left and feminist beliefs exist in several genres. For the romance novel version, see Jayne Ann Krentz’s essay in Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women, a collection of essays by romance writers about the genre. Oddly enough, Krentz doesn’t even write the sort of rapey romance she defends against those nasty elitist editors.

    I’ve also seen complaints that young female editors ruined YA and children’s literature by publishing books that girls like, which turns boys against reading, and that those same young female editors from the same handful of universities ruined non-fiction by refusing to publish some man’s biography of some sports figure.

    It’s the invasion of the young female editors from Seven Sisters colleges, who are out to ruin publishing.

    Regarding Justine Larbalastier’s book about women in science fiction, it’s indeed very good. So is Galactic Suburbia by Lisa Yaszek. I haven’t read Eric Leif Davin’s book on the subject yet.

  25. Cora: I’ve also seen complaints that young female editors ruined YA and children’s literature by publishing books that girls like, which turns boys against reading

    Oh, FFS. If seeing girls read is actually making some boys not want to read (a dubious claim), then someone needs to sentence those boys’ parents to lengthy courses in How To Parent.

    Because boys don’t pick up that sort of attitude from nowhere. They are most likely learning it at home.

  26. As for Barbie, echoing what Red Wombat said, Barbie has had a lot of different heads, faces, bodies and skin colours over the decades. Ditto for Ken, Skipper, Francie, Midge and the rest of her supporting cast. Midge even was pregnant at one point.

    In fact the all blonde all the time Barbie that is stuck in many people’s heads is a later development. In fact, from her inception back in 1959 on, Barbie came in several different hair colours and also hair styles, including short hair. She only started sporting nothing but long blonde hair sometime in the mid to late 1970s and went back to different hair colours sometime in the 1990s. From the 1980s on, Barbie was also available in races and skin colours, though there have been African-American characters among Barbie’s friends since the late 1960s.

    So the SJW conspiracy to ruin Barbie has been going on for decades.

  27. Eric Leif Davin’s book on the subject yet.

    It’s the sort of book where the author divides a statement into an unsupportable on its own bit in the front of the book and the qualifying bit buried at the end of the book where it can be overlooked. A book that spends a surprising amount of time arguing that JWC wasn’t a racist.

  28. @RedWombat: “Monster High” is (like Barbie) a Mattel line, and not clearly that big a financial success. But more significantly, it was a factor in Disney’s recent decision to take the Disney “Princesses” concession (previously a Mattel deal) to Hasbro. Mattel really needs Barbie a lot more than they thought a few years ago, and her sales have been declining for even longer.

  29. It’s the sort of book where the author divides a statement into an unsupportable on its own bit in the front of the book and the qualifying bit buried at the end of the book where it can be overlooked. A book that spends a surprising amount of time arguing that JWC wasn’t a racist.

    Thanks. I guess I won’t be going out of my way to track it down then, especially since Galactic Suburbia and The Battle of the Sexes in SF both make the point Davin seems to be trying to make without unnecessary JWC defending.

  30. Regarding teen fashion dolls, I must confess that I never got the appeal of the Bratz dolls. Their proportions are even more bizarre than Barbie’s and those big heads make dressing the dolls (which is the point of teen fashion dolls) difficult. I do get the appeal of the Monster High dolls, though I wish their proportions were
    more like Barbie’s and less like Bratz.

    But then I haven’t been the target audience for any of these toys for a long time now and didn’t actually care about Barbie and her friends very much, when I was the target audience. I only started caring about Barbie when I developed an interest in fashion history in my teens and began first designing clothes for Barbies and later collecting vintage Barbies. I still have a nice collection including at least one genuinely rare doll, though I no longer actively collect.

    I may buy one or two of the new different body type Barbies, if they look interesting enough. Though I’m not sure how much diversity there can be, considering that one of the main characteristics of teen fashion dolls is that the clothes must always be interchangable between all dolls in the line.

  31. I never did have much fun with Barbie. My Little Ponies could stand on their own, which made it much easier for them to charge off on adventures.


    And yet, there’s still no way for a comic writer to get into SFWA for their comics work. Which, considering there’s been a Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story for the last seven years, is downright insulting.

    David Hayter and Alex Tse could get into SFWA for writing the screenplay of Watchmen, but Alan Moore can’t get in for writing the original comic, even though it’s one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 Books of the 20th Century. Brian K. Vaughan can get in for writing the TV adaption of a Stephen King novel, but not for writing Saga. Kurt Busiek can’t get in for writing Astro City. Scott McCloud can’t get in for writing The Sculptor, Howard Chaykin can’t get in for American Flagg, John Ostrander can’t get in for Suicide Squad or GrimJack

    I could go on for screens, but you get the point. This is an embarrassment.

  33. Glenn Hauman: while I have no problem with the notion of comic writers getting into SFWA, I think you’re confusing SFWA with WSFS! SFWA doesn’t give out Hugos. They give out Nebulas. It’s WSFS that’s been giving awards for Best Graphic Story, not SFWA.

  34. @Glenn Hauman: In addition to what Xtifr said (thank WSFS for the Hugos, not SFWA), I’m hoping comic writers will be addressed next – if the game writer thing passes. (In some ways comic writers seems like it should be an easier sell, but what do I know.) I’m not in SFWA and don’t know what’s next on their agenda; maybe they’re not even thinking about comic writers – maybe there’s no internal push and that’s what drives this sort of change. I wonder what lead them to work on trying to pass rules for admitting game writers. . . .

  35. This article argues we should just take the NRA’s rules and make them the law.

    That’s a great idea

  36. Yes, I’m well aware it’s WSFS awarding the Hugos. The argument still stands. After all, neither SFWA nor WSFS gives awards for Best SF Game.

    The idea that Warren Ellis’s five year, 1300+ page opus Transmetropolitan somehow doesn’t qualify as writing worthy of membership in SFWA is ludicrous.

  37. @Glenn Hauman – I gotta say I do find that quite surprising, though I guess I should have twigged onto that earlier. It would be far more straightforward and, well, organic to let in SFF comic book writers I guess.

    From the scroll, I see that there was something called the Gaming Committee that has come up with the draft credentials for game writers. Was there ever a previous effort or discussion for comic book writers? Given what they’re considering now, I find it really hard to believe that bringing in comic book writers never came up, but I suppose oversights can happen.

  38. Yes, the proposed rules were drafted by the Gaming Committee (of which I was the chair — I also chaired the committee that came up with the rules for qualifying through self-publishing, though in both cases the committee members deserve most of the credit.)

    The question of allowing comics writing has come up and I suspect we’ll look at it fairly soon.

  39. BTW, Glenn, we have very similar taste in comics! Glad to see I’m not the only one hoping against hope the Suicide Squad movie will at least slightly resemble the Ostrander comic…

  40. @The Phantom

    This is why I can never take ASJW* complaints seriously. You’re always wittering on about OTHER people’s stifling political correctness and lack of sincerity and overly delicate sensibilities, and here you are, getting all het up about Barbie.

    Do I think you care about Barbie? No. Do I think you know anything about the history of Barbie? No. In fact, I doubt you’ve spent one moment in your entire life prior to now thinking about Barbie. Instead, I think you saw a news item you could use as a pretext to launch into an anti-feminist rant, then run off on a wild tangent relating it back to Puppyish talking points.

    *Anti-Social-Justice Warrior, in case that isn’t obvious. I’m characterizing your ideological stance based on your characterization of your “other” as “every SJW freak in the universe”

    On a related note, the weirdest Barbie-related doll I ever had was Growing Up Skipper. You cranked her arm and she got taller and spouted breasts. Second weirdest was Sun Lovin’ Malibu Barbie, whose skin would darken if you left her in the sun or a bright light. She came with little stickers that you could use to block out part of her skin so it would leave her with, for example, this butterfly-shaped tan line.

    Third weirdest is Maleficent Barbie, although she technically belongs to my husband. Her body, under the robes, is the standard Barbie body, but minty green. My inner 10-year-old girl was pretty excited about that and wished Barbies just came in green. Which probably explains why Monster High dolls are a thing.

  41. Holy gods, that’s…disturbing.

    Okay, this has the potential to become a very popular manga series…

  42. Holy gods, that’s…disturbing.

    Yeah, little kid me just thought it was cool and wondered exactly how the mechanism worked. Adult me wonders what the hell anybody was thinking.

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