Pixel Scroll 1/31/17 Is It A Scroll? Is It A File? No, Its Super-Pixel!

(1) GENRE L.A. At last weekend’s 2017 Genre-LA Creative Writers Conference, dozens of professionals were on hand to share their experience and insight, among them Howard Hendrix, Gregory Benford and Robert J. Sawyer. Thanks to Greg for the photo —


(2) LIFE GOALS. Steve Barnes also spoke at the conference, and posted afterwards about his mission as a writer.

Last weekend I spoke at the GENRE L.A. science fiction/fantasy writer’s workshop, and boy oh boy, do I wish you could have been there!   I did two panels, but more importantly connected with friends and students from across the country.  One panel was on “Editing secrets of the Pros.”

On this one, I was with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, my buddies and partners, and once again was overwhelmed with how blessed I’ve been to have these giants in my life.   The wisdom I’ve gleaned from them over the decades has made ALL the difference in my capacity to thrive in my chosen field…and I HAVE to thrive here, because it is about 50% of my planned outreach to change the world.

Grasp the importance of that: I don’t just write to make money. Or to express myself.   Or to have fun…although all those things are important.  I write to create ONE MILLION AWAKE, AWARE, ADULT HUMAN BEINGS on the planet.  That dream powers me through all obstacles.

(3) CUTTING IT CLOSE. You’ve got a little time left to submit your 31st Annual Asimov’s Readers’ Award Ballot. The online form must be completed by February 1,

From short stories and novellas to novelettes and poems – and even best covers! – let us know your Asimov’s favorites this year.  Winners join the pantheon of Asimov’s authors who represent the Who’s Who of science fiction writers over the past thirty years.

(4) MYSTERIOUS FIEND. Mac Childs argues the advantages of playing “Peekaboo with the Devil: Strategies for Hiding and Revealing Your Antagonist” on the Horror Writers Association blog.

Just like any relationship, the special bond between a horror protagonist and her antagonist benefits from a little bit of mystery. In this case, the hero is a proxy for your readers, and the mystery comes from your story’s scariest villain, be it a human serial killer or a demonic creature or the mad scientist who, when left unattended for a few minutes, will inevitably create a horrific zombie plague.

There are a host of reasons why keeping your baddie cards close to your chest can help your story’s tension and overall terror levels. Obviously, if your plot line is even remotely similar to a mystery, you don’t want to give away the killer in the first act. You can stoke the tension by keeping your villain shrouded.

(5) WHERE CREDIT IS DUE. George R.R. Martin wants to make sure people understand that Gardner Dozois is sole editor of a new anthology, however, they have plans to edit more books together in the future.

My friend Gardner Dozois, long-time anthologist and winner (many many times) of the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor, has a big new fantasy anthology coming out this fall. It’s called THE BOOK OF SWORDS, and it’s about… well… swords. Y’know. “Stick ’em with the pointy end.”

I have a story in the book. “The Sons of the Dragon” is the title.…

However, there is a lot that’s wrong out there as well. THE BOOK OF SWORDS is not my book. I didn’t write but a small part of it, and I didn’t edit it, nor even co-edit it. Gardner is one of my oldest friends and he and I have co-edited a number of anthologies together. We did OLD MARS and OLD VENUS together. We did SONGS OF LOVE & DEATH and DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS together. We did the huge award-winning cross-genre anthologies WARRIORS, DANGEROUS WOMEN, and ROGUES together. But we did not do THE BOOK OF SWORDS together….

Truth be told, I loved editing those anthologies with Gardner, and we want to do more together. We’re talked about MORE ROGUES and EVEN MORE DANGEROUS WOMEN, since those two books were hugely successful, and we have definite plans for OLD LUNA and, who knows, maybe eventually OLD MERCURY and OLD PLUTO and OLD URANUS. But we’re not doing any of that NOW. The anthologies, much as I loved them, were taking too much of my time, so I stepped back from them… until I finish THE WINDS OF WINTER, at least. Once that’s done, maybe I can sneak another one in…

(6) RECOMMENDATIONS. Editor Rich Horton shares his “Hugo Nomination Thoughts: Short Fiction: Short Story”.

Lots of stories listed there, and they are all good stuff. Noticeable is, of course, Rich Larson, who really had an excellent year. I think there’s a nice mix, too, af fantasy and SF, some funny stories, some quite dark, hard SF, far future SF, action, philosophy. I’m leaning towards the top five listed stories (though, really, as with the other categories, all these stories are worthy) for my nomination ballot.

(7) FUNDRAISER. I remember searching used bookstores to complete a run of these — Analog Science Fiction & Fact; The 25 Bedsheet Issues”. A Canadian collector is selling his for $300 to support a local convention. They are still up for grabs at this writing.

All proceeds from the sale of this complete set will go directly to benefit Keycon, Manitoba’s premier SF/Fantasy convention.

All 25 issues are in good+ and VG condition. No loose covers, torn, loose, or missing pages. Some minor shelf wear from long time storage, but less wear than may be expected for magazines of this age.. Each issue bagged. All proceeds from the sale of this complete set will go directly to benefit Keycon, Manitoba’s premier SF/Fantasy convention.

Analog bedsheet

(8) SUPER STARS. ScienceFiction.com says the actress we knew as Lois Lane will become a super-villain: “Teri Hatcher Returns To The Super-Verse With A Mystery Role On ‘Supergirl’”.

Teri Hatcher gained fame playing iconic comic book character Lois Lane on ‘Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman’, a romantic comedy spin on the comics that aired for four seasons on ABC television from 1993-97.  Now she is returning to the world of DC Comics with a recurring role in the back end of ‘Supergirl’ Season Two.  The role is a mystery, but is known to be the major villain and will span multiple episodes.

Hatcher played Lois opposite Dean Cain’s Clark Kent/Superman.  Cain, of course, has a recurring role on ‘Supergirl’ as Supergirl/Kara’s adopted father Jeremiah Danvers.  Fans can only cross their fingers in hopes that the two will have a ‘Lois & Clark’ reunion on ‘Supergirl’.

Hatcher previously made another guest appearance on a Super show, ‘Smallville’ on which she played Ella Lane, the mother of Erica Durance’s Lois.

(9) TRIVIAL FACT OF THE DAY. The shoes Neil Armstrong wore when he first walked on the moon — size 9-1/2 medium and worth $30,000 a pair — are still on the moon. They along with other material had to be jettisoned to compensate for the weight of the moon rocks the astronauts collected.

Even a pair of Air Jordans doesn’t cost that much!

(10) NOT DEAD, ONLY RESTING. The Spaceworks company wants to have a real-world stasis chamber ready by 2018.

A process traditionally used to treat cardiac arrest or traumatic brain injury is now showing promise as a possible method to enable long-term space travel through hibernation. Behind this effort is John A. Bradford, president of Spaceworks, and making this a reality is much closer than you might think.

Doctors refer to this strategy as something called “therapeutic hypothermia.” Essentially, the body is cooled slowly to a temperature between 32 and 34 degrees Celsius (normal body temperature is 37C). This will slow down both heart rate and blood pressure, giving doctors additional time to work on serious health issues.

The patient stays in stasis for about 2-4 days, although the technique has worked for as long as two weeks without any measurable harm. There’s evidence that even longer periods of stasis may be possible: a Japanese man once survived 24 days in a hypothermic state after a fall off a mountain ledge in Japan.

Bradford hopes through additional work to extend the safe period for stasis out to months, and says this technology and the equipment necessary can be automated easily and made space-ready.

Now, don’t assume that these stasis chambers will be like those you see in science fiction movies. While single person pods do work well, having enough of these would add a lot of additional weight to a spacecraft. Instead, Spaceworks is working on an open chamber capable of holding multiple crew members.

(11) CALL FOR PAPERS. The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP) has invited papers for its affiliate session about “Popular Print Culture” at the 2017 South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA) Convention, November 3-5, 2017, in Atlanta. Abstracts due by June 1. Contact details are at the link.

Potential topics include print culture, history of the book, authorship, publishing history, ephemera, illustration, publishers’ archives, production, circulation, and reception. Papers addressing this year’s convention theme, “High Art/Low Art Borders and Boundaries in Popular Culture,” are especially welcome. What connections can be made between print culture/book history and the diverse world of popular culture? How has print culture reflected popular taste from the early modern world to the present?

Possible topics include:

Genre fiction
Sensation fiction
Science fiction
Gothic Ghost stories
Historical fiction/fantasy
Pulp fiction
Detective fiction/thrillers
Adventure fiction
Westerns Popular magazines
Newspapers Romance novels (Mills & Boon, etc.)
Reprint libraries
Dime novels
Penny dreadfuls
Ephemera (postcards, pamphlets, broadsides, advertising, etc.)
The evolving study of middlebrow writing
The borderlands of popular print culture (historical, geographical, etc.)

…Proposers need not be members of SHARP to submit, but panelists must be members of both SAMLA and SHARP in order to present.

(12) BY HIS BOOTSTRAPS. Applications are being taken for the “Horatio Alger Fellowship for the Study of American Popular Culture” at Northern Illinois University through May 31.

The University Libraries, Northern Illinois University, invite applications for the Horatio Alger Fellowship for the Study of American Popular Culture. Funding is available to scholars who will be using materials from the Libraries’ major holdings in American popular culture. These holdings include the Albert Johannsen and Edward T. LeBlanc Collections of more than 50,000 dime novels, and the nation’s preeminent collections related to Horatio Alger, Jr., and Edward Stratemeyer. Eligible collections also include our comic book, science fiction and fantasy literature, and American Popular Literature Collections. Topics which could draw on the collections’ strengths might include the plight of urban children, image of the American West in popular literature, widespread use of pseudonyms, and stereotypical portrayals. Preference will be given to applicants who signify an interest in conducting research related to Horatio Alger, Jr.

The 2017 Fellowship award consists of a $2000 stipend.

The deadline for applications is May 31, 2017, with research taking place between July 1 and December 31, 2017.

(13) SCIENCE FICTION STUDIES. Four R.D. Mullen Fellowships are up for grabs. Applications are due April 3. Download a PDF with full details here.

Named for the founder of our journal, Richard “Dale” Mullen (1915-1998), the Mullen fellowships are awarded by Science Fiction Studies to support for archival research in science fiction. Starting with the 2017 competition, we have four categories of awards:

  1. Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Amount: Up to $3000

  1. PhD Research Fellowship

Amount: Up to $1500 Number: 2 awards are available each year

  1. MA Thesis Research Fellowship

Amount: Up to $1000 Number: 2 awards are available each year

  1. Collaborative Undergraduate Research Award

Amount: Up to $250 Number: 2 awards are available each year

Application Process All projects must centrally investigate science fiction, of any nation, culture, medium or era. Applications may propose research in—but need not limit themselves to—specialized sf archives such as the Eaton Collection at UC Riverside, the Maison d’Ailleurs in Switzerland, the Judith Merril Collection in Toronto, or the SF Foundation Collection in Liverpool. Proposals for work in general archives with relevant sf holdings—authors’ papers, for example—are also welcome. For possible research locations, applicants may wish to consult the partial list of sf archives compiled in SFS 37.2 (July 2010): 161-90. This list is also available online.

(14) WIELDING A BRUSH. Larry Correia tells readers how to get started in one of his favorite hobbies, painting miniature figures, in a tutorial at Monster Hunter Nation.

Since I usually post my Work In Progress minis on Facebook I’ve been having a lot of people asking me questions. So this is going to be the big tutorial post for everything you need to know to get started with basic mini painting. And if you search, there are a lot of other tutorials out there, from painters way better than me, and then there are higher level tutorials that go into great depth just about particular techniques. Every little thing I talk about, somebody else has a big article about just that step.


Miniatures. This is easy. If you don’t have a cool Local Game Store (always support your LGS!) go to www.frpgames.com or www.miniaturesmarket.com and pick whatever you think looks fun. Warning. This is addictive and these little buggers can get expensive. Always check the clearance bin. Especially when you are learning, it is cheaper to learn on something that you snagged for 75% off. If you want something really cheap to learn and practice on, look up Reaper’s Bones. They are a soft plastic, but they paint up just fine.  (also Bones are made out of a material that doesn’t require priming, so when you are starting out you can skip that step and just get to base coating)…

(15) BLADE RUNNER HOMAGE. A team of filmmakers has been working for three years on their self-funded homage to Blade Runner and other Eighties sci-fi movies called “Slice of Life”. They’ve created enough material by now to produce a trailer.

“Slice Of Life” is an original short Science Fiction film set in the Blade Runner universe. The whole film is made the old school way like the legendary SciFi movies of the 80’s (Star Wars, Alien and already mentioned Blade Runner). Think miniatures, matte paintings, rear projections – You won’t find any CGI here!!! Slice Of Life is a love letter to the Science Fiction genre of the 80’s. The production is on for the last three years and it is completely self funded.


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer Sylvester.]

105 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/31/17 Is It A Scroll? Is It A File? No, Its Super-Pixel!

  1. Amazon UK have the first four of Marko Kloos’ “Frontlines” series, Terms of Enlistment, Lines of Departure, Angles of Attack and Chains of Command for a quid apiece in their “40 Kindle Books Discounted to £1 Each” section. Monthly deals for February include Ted Chiang’s collection “Stories of your life and others” for £1.29.

  2. “In other news, my wife and I have made reservations for Helsinki, which means I get to visit my very first WorldCon this August!”

    Yay, tea and books for everyone!

    Not sure how to do with pub meets though. The only thing that is near Messukeskus is Holiday Inn and a Nepelse restaurant. Otherwise, it will be near central station.

    Anyhow, I will be there a few days before and do know people in Helsinki, so I will ask them for recommendations.

    Bah, 7 months left and I’m already planning…

  3. I am planning to go to Helsinki too, which means the chance to meet some of you other fine File 770 folks. Huzzah!

  4. @Rev Bob: I’m unconvinced. IIRC, in the book Tip has no relatives — possibly no human contact at all except Mombi. How much do you think dysphoria is tied purely to a physical form rather than the (learned) cultural trappings of that form? I think EC found one more place where they could tweak the circumstances to give a contemporary hook rather than finding something missing. Not that I hold any brief for Baum’s sense of reality (if I ever did, The Number of the Beast cured it); I just don’t think there’s any there there.

  5. Eilonwy has Left the cauldron

    Watched Hidden Figures and wondered why Glenn replied at one point with “Godspeed” instead of “Godstalk”. Must have been a typo in the script.

  6. I will also be going to Helsinki. I am looking forward to it and vaguely planning a trip to Lapland beforehand. I hope to meet some of you there!

  7. Eric and I have already made our reservations for Helsinki as well. We’ll get there a couple of days before WorldCon, since we’re doing a two-week Scandinavia trip with my niece and nephew beforehand. That trip ends when the kids have to be back for school, so there’s a bit of a gap.

    Friday, August 4th, we have a day in Stockholm with little or nothing planned before we take the overnight ferry to Helsinki. So, Hampus, when do you leave for WorldCon? Could be fun to meet for drinks or something.

  8. @Cherryh Joe H. This is the part where I get myself shunned (again) by saying I’ve never been able to get into Cherryh.

    Many people just can’t read Cherryh, and I don’t personally know any fan of her work who denies that prose is odd and for many people off-putting. Also, no one ever has any fun in a Cherryh book. She puts every single one of her characters through hell.

    And I say this as someone who was a big, big Cherryh fan until my depression closed in on me, and I still have fond memories. She writes truly alien characters.

  9. Iphinome, I would second Joe H.’s recommendation of Bradley P. Beaulieu’s Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, along with prequel Of Sand and Malice Made. And the next one in his Shattered Sands universe, With Blood Upon the Sand, comes out in a week. 🙂

  10. no one ever has any fun in a Cherryh book

    Nand’ Bren loves going out on his boat. I also get the impression that Cajeiri had a lot of fun while he was on the ship. The descriptions of atevi holidays sound like they have fun: food, fortune-tellers, dancing.

  11. Nand’ Bren loves going out on his boat. I also get the impression that Cajeiri had a lot of fun while he was on the ship. The descriptions of atevi holidays sound like they have fun: food, fortune-tellers, dancing.

    Hmm. I think that’s in the Foreigner series after I had mostly stopped reading Cherryh. So it’s quite possibly let that that particular ulnar warning about Cherryh may no longer be valid!

  12. Lis Carey: Many people just can’t read Cherryh, and I don’t personally know any fan of her work who denies that prose is odd and for many people off-putting. Also, no one ever has any fun in a Cherryh book. She puts every single one of her characters through hell.

    No disagreements here. But I do encourage people who aren’t utterly put off to try and try again. I read a book of hers in the usual flood of things and said, “meh” and years later I read another couple and was fairly negative but there was something in them that left me unable to quite write her off. There was just too much good in what I was seeing as the bad and it just seemed like it ought to be my kind of stuff. I finally tried again and it was like a light came on. “Oh, I get it. And I like it.” The difference between my having zero Cherryh books and missing one of my favorite authors and the 30+ I do have is mostly accidental perseverance.

    Incidentally, the Morgaine books may be less “bounceable” than some others. Her characters, especially Vanye, are not having a good time, true, but it’s not quite as dense as her more strictly sfnal stuff. (I do read them as SF in the background which provides a feeling of vast wonder but fantasy in the foreground which provides its own kind of smaller-scale wonder.)

  13. I admit I also haven’t read any of the Foreigner books. But I do distinctly remember some Alliance/Union books (Heavy Time/Hellburner, Rimrunners and Finity’s End in particular) where yeah, not a lot of fun was being had. They were very well-crafted, but incredibly (and deliberately, I assume) tense and claustrophobic and stressful.

  14. Must admit I was once mystified as to why folk find Cherryh ‘hard’, but now see that the intensity of the style might be a challenge. It is straight into the deep end, with not so much in the way of infodumps – just work it out as you go, whilst the cast goes through hell in a constant state of exhaustion!. Lately though, completed a re-read via audiobook of the entire Chanur sequence and found it undiminished by the years since I first read the books.

    The most notable thing I missed the first time around was Cherryh’s skill in getting the reader inside her alien’s minds, and so understand their motivations and actions. The Hani are of couse easy to like, all brave and golden. The support crew are harder to take. In ‘The Pride of Chanur’, the kif are a dark, violent and dangerous presence, simply to be feared, and resisted. By the time ‘Chanur’s Homecoming’ ends, one can understand why a kif does what it does. And know and respect them – perhaps like is a bridge too far, courtesy of the author’s depiction of ‘Skukkuk’.

    And then Cherryh rerpeats the trick with the stsho, hereto fluttering cowards but fleshed out in Hilfy Chanur’s adventure.

    The pace is relentless, and the extremis which the cast endure brings all aspects of character, both fair and foul into sharp relief. Makes for a more rounded and realistic view.

    I’m now listening to ‘Gate of Ivrel’, and enjoying the ride once more.

  15. Re Cherryh; to be fair, when you spot a title like Forty Thousand in Gehenna, you can probably guess in advance that it’s not going to be a barrel of laughs.

  16. @Chip: “How much do you think dysphoria is tied purely to a physical form rather than the (learned) cultural trappings of that form?”

    Are you seriously saying that if, for instance, you went to bed as an average-build man and woke up with a weight-lifter’s physique, you wouldn’t feel the slightest sense of “I’m in the wrong body”? Not even the slightest degree of disorientation, confusion, or unease, completely aside from anything cultural?

    Personally, I think it’d freak me right the hell out. Make it a sex change instead, and not only do you have that relatively tame “not my body” discomfort, but you’ve got to go through potty training and personal hygiene all over again. And all of that’s before you even go outside and interact with people!

    So, yes – if you treat Tip/Ozma as one personality with a body that is sometimes physically male and sometimes female, but was raised exclusively as a boy, I think that personality would find the first transformation extremely panic-worthy. I don’t see how it could be otherwise.

  17. 12) BY HIS BOOTSTRAPS. Applications are being taken for the “Horatio Alger Fellowship for the Study of American Popular Culture” at Northern Illinois University through May 31.

    … I see what you did there. 🙂

    14) Very nice work there! I don’t even want to contemplate painting tartan at that scale.

    If you want women with swords in Lackey, the Tarma & Kethry set is the way to go: Oathbound, Oathbreakers, and By The Sword which is sort of next-gen and features Kerowyn, a protege of the original pair who becomes a mercenary captain.

  18. *scribbles some notes* Thanks people

    Yes I’ve read The Deed of Paksenarrion, anyone want to see a photo of my autographed omnibus?

    And no to MZB, not going there, not even willing to think about thinking about going there when I’m seeking out comfort reads.

    @Bob, Yeah, Ozma’s a recipe for instant dysphoria, that first period would….. be bad. Bathroom too but I’m not sure about potty training. If you’d like to give it a try, sit down on the toilet and let go, that’s all there is to it, there’s no special trick. You might have been a bit too influenced by the old joke.

    TRANSSEXUAL: Doctor, after the surgery will I have to lean to pee all over.
    DOCTOR: No, you’ll automatically pee all over.

    The joke’s not about learning, it’s about the swelling and the stitches making the urine spray during early healing.

  19. Babylon Steel and the sequel Dangerous Gifts by Gaie Sebold have a swordswoman as the main character.

  20. @magewolf The description on goodreads goes outside of what suits me for a comfort read, but thank you for contributing.

  21. Oh! Female swordswoman in relatively low-magic (or maybe no-magic?) setting, and relatively accessible Cherryh to boot: The Paladin! (Although the setting is distinctly Japanese in flavor.)

    Which also brings to mind Jessica Amanda Salmonson’s Tomoe Gozen books, which I admit I haven’t read.

  22. @Iphinome

    Actually another that occurred to me this evening:

    The Privilege of the Sword

    Book two of a series but I read it out of order and first. It works as a standalone. I actually enjoyed it more than the rest of the series to be honest. Less a feudal feel than maybe Georgian. Fictional universe but more a Ruritania with no magic in evidence (at least in this book of the series). Young Katherine comes to the city expecting to become her mad uncle’s heir but finds herself instead being trained to be his personal swordsman (in a world where women do not bear swords).

  23. @Stoic Cynic I’ll wishlist it and watch for a sale. $12 is ouch after just a few weeks ago I gave Mike Shepard all of my monies.

  24. @Iphinome: (Ozma and dysphoria)

    I was half-kidding about “potty training,” but as a person who has a penis, I’m pretty sure there would at least be some anxiety the first time or two, simply due to unfamiliarity with the new equipment.

    (I’ll also chime in that I read both of the Babylon Steel books last year, and while they weren’t quite what I was expecting, they were enjoyable nonetheless. There’s substantial content dealing with sex, but it’s not erotica. I’d recommend a look at the Silverglass series if they were available as ebooks, and that in turn reminds me of a similar series that I can’t recall in sufficient detail to be useful. I know there were 5-6 of ’em, published in the 80s or early 90s, and that the name of the series/heroine was Raven – but I can’t recall any specific titles, and that’s not enough to search with. They MAY have had a unifying silver cover design. If anyone can help me nail these down, even if it’s not what you’re after, I’d like to find out.)

  25. @Standback: Congrats on your upcoming first WorldCon!

    @Various: We bought (him) and upgraded (me) our memberships and made hotel reservations just a few days ago. 😀 W00T! Now we’re looking at things to do before/after the con. We’ll probably stop over in Iceland (using Icelandair’s “stay over for up to X days without paying extra” thing). We may not have a lot of time in either country, but since who knows if/when we’ll ever return, I’d rather see a little of each. We might spend a little more time in Iceland than non-con time in Finland (sorry, Finland!), but we’re in early planning stages, so who knows. I’m not sure how long a trip we can make it, but here’s hoping we can make it long enough.

  26. @Rev. Bob, No argument about the anxiety, doing something for the first time and not having a choice about doing it any other way from now on… Yeah.

    But trust me, as a person without a penis, on the mechanics.

  27. Greg:

    If I remember correctly, I’ll still be in Stockholm then. I can take the day free if you want a guided tour of the stuff you are most likely to miss otherwise. But I guess you will have been around a bit by then.

    If you need help with research or translation before going, just tell me.

  28. I can give a fair tour of Stockholm’s Old Town, if I get a bit of advance notice. And you have the SF bookstore there if you want to spend all your money before WorldCon. 😉

  29. Setting aside genitalia, an immediate change from XY to XX (versus gradual) or vice-versa would have to create some issues. There are physiological differences that aren’t just socialized responses. You’re looking at changes in mass distribution, musculature, reflexes, pain tolerance, visual perceptions, hormonal balances, etc. The only parallel I can draw on is getting a new glasses prescription. There is always a mild sense of disorientation lasting a few hours while your eyes and body retrain themselves. A complete and immediate sex change would have to be magnitudes greater in impact even in the absence of socially trained concepts.

  30. If Ozma is lucky, she won’t ever have to fill a specimen container.

    There’s a sheet of instructions on the wall in the room at my doctor’s office where this task is carried out. I perused it one day, and was just a little disappointed that the instructions for men didn’t end with “put the seat down.”

  31. @Stoic:

    Yes, my point exactly. An overnight magical sex* change comes with a host of issues that are bound to catch the victim off-guard the first time around, even if they think they’re prepared for the change. Some sense of “this isn’t my body” is inevitable, because it’s literally true. It’s easy to forget, but most of the things we do every day without even thinking about them rely on trained muscle memory – and either the new form lacks that, or it’s miscalibrated. One might be generous and say that a magic spell could compensate for some of that, but if the spell compensates for all of it, just the realization that your new body “knows” a set of reflexes that you never learned is bound to shake even the most stoic** of minds.

    Yes, I’ve put a lot of thought into the subject. I did, after all, edit a novel where this very thing was the key plot device. Working with the author to figure out all of the usually-ignored complications of a modern-day spell-induced transformation was all kinds of fun.

    *Please note that I’m explicitly differentiating between physical sex and internal gender. This is about the mental impact of physically inhabiting a new body, not about socially-trained gender roles.

    **Sorry, had to do it. 😉

  32. @Joe H:

    Which also brings to mind Jessica Amanda Salmonson’s Tomoe Gozen books, which I admit I haven’t read.

    I have. They are very Japanese in terms of the culture, particularly in the treatment of women, even with a woman as the main character.

    They are fascinating books, but I wouldn’t really consider them comfort reading. They can be pretty relentless. As in, ‘spending an indeterminate amount of time fighting your way out of hell only to find out that the rest of your side died in the battle and you’re now a masterless samurai alone in enemy territory, and things get worse from there’ relentless.

  33. Has anyone mentioned Phyllis Ann Karr’s Frostflower and Thorn yet? I skimmed but didn’t see it. Thorn is one of my favorite swordswomen.

    And I have a question that’s been driving me nuts as I was thinking about female swordswomen books. There was a fantasy book a while back – would have come out in the 80s, I think, where the premise was a female protagonist facing giving up a herd of horses in tribute to a member of a conquering culture. I remember the culture having an Eastern feel to it but that was also decades ago. That ring a bell for anyone?

  34. @Cat Rambo — Hmmm … Sounds almost, but not quite, like some of Judith Tarr’s historical novels of the 1990s? White Mare’s Daughter, etc?

  35. @ Rev. Bob

    that in turn reminds me of a similar series that I can’t recall in sufficient detail to be useful. I know there were 5-6 of ’em, published in the 80s or early 90s, and that the name of the series/heroine was Raven – but I can’t recall any specific titles, and that’s not enough to search with.

    That sounds really familiar, but a browse through my fiction spreadsheets (both the still-in-possession and the used-to-have-but-deaccessioned ones) doesn’t have anything jumping out at me.

    ETA: My comment has a note “awaiting moderation”. Have I tripped something unintentionally or is this a random glitch?

  36. Just think about becoming a teenager; a surge of new hormones, a body that behaved differently than it used to, often a surge in height. (One person I know gained an inch in a month. OW.) The change can be physically painful, and pubescents are notoriously clumsier than close preteens (unless in some sport that requires vigorous and constant active training of the body, Eg. gymnastics)

    One reason a number of people didn’t take to Charles de Lint’s Trader is that the protagonist doesn’t feel any different in someone else’s body. (I thought the story worked on every other level, but I did notice that much more on the reread).

  37. Rev. Bob: that in turn reminds me of a similar series that I can’t recall in sufficient detail to be useful. I know there were 5-6 of ’em, published in the 80s or early 90s, and that the name of the series/heroine was Raven – but I can’t recall any specific titles, and that’s not enough to search with.

    Anne McCaffrey’s The Tower and the Hive series has 5 books, published in the early 90’s, with 2 characters whose last name is Raven. That might be what you’re thinking of?

  38. that in turn reminds me of a similar series that I can’t recall in sufficient detail to be useful. I know there were 5-6 of ’em, published in the 80s or early 90s, and that the name of the series/heroine was Raven – but I can’t recall any specific titles, and that’s not enough to search with. They MAY have had a unifying silver cover design

    Rev Bob:

    Was it This one?

  39. wrt Cherryh: My response to they-don’t-have-fun used to be a flip quote from Gigi about at once vs at last. But I’d put it more strongly than that: almost all of her stories (some of which take >1 book) are about one of the most difficult times in the protagonist’s life(*) — and in every case the protagonist comes out with \something/ better. Not everything, not unchanged, not without “Isn’t it nice to know a lot/And a little bit not.” — but usually they at least end up with a place to stand even if they don’t have the lever long enough. I find that to be a very fannish arc; Among Others points at this arc, but much more gently than I hear a lot of us oldpharts having lived through. (I get the impression it’s also true for a lot of younger fans, but I haven’t been listening-and-counting well enough to cite. I’m certainly not going to wave foot, stamp cane, and talk about how easy the younguns have it.)
    And yes, her writing is veryintense; it’s possible that I’m inured to it because I started reading her at age 23, when I was reading a lot.

    * I wonder whether this is a reflection of her interest in Classical cultures; drama in Ancient Greece (at least) focused on a single hinge point rather than an extended survey.

  40. @JJ: No, I’m pretty sure I’d remember McCaffrey being the author.

    @Randall: Yes! That’s them!

  41. @Cat Rambo: Ooh, I loved Karr’s two “Frostflower” books back in the day. They’re on my shelf; I should re-read them one day.

    @Various: I’m not really following the conversation that started with something about Ozma changing (she went girl-to-boy, was Tip for a while, then reverted to her original sex/gender), but it reminded me of the terms ozmagendered and ranmagendered. I just found a horribly incorrect and bizarre pair of definitions on someone’s blog, ugh. But this page has a partial definition closer to what I remember, around 2/3 of the way down. Methinks they’re missing something about how the magic aspect of the change makes it, well, magic – no adjustment, no re-learning how to use the restroom, etc. because magic. (Not that I remember Oz books having restrooms, being kids’ books aimed fairly young.)

    Anyone else remember those terms? I don’t even remember where I first read them, probably years ago.

  42. @Kendall:

    Part of what you may be missing in this Ozma/Tip discussion is that it’s particularly connected to the new Emerald City show, which is very much not sanitized or aimed at kids. I can’t properly describe it as either high magic or low magic… “undercover magic” is closer. (It exists, but it’s been forbidden.)

    In terms of the show canon, the question of how Tip should react has been answered rather decisively: with vehement and loud dysphoria, coupled with a determination to “undo” the M2F change. Given the setting, that felt so completely right that I wondered why it hadn’t (to my knowledge) been done that way before.

    Also, generally speaking and only for myself, I tend to equate “because magic” with “I don’t want to admit that I didn’t think of that and thus have no answer.” It’s barely above cheating; sometimes you have to use it, but it should be a last resort.

  43. @Iphinome

    Have you come across the Bone Doll’s Twin by Lynn Flewelling (and sequels)? Girl disguised as boy by magic to save her life, becomes one of the prince’s knight-companions, then leads a rebellion.

  44. @Dr. Bob: note also that in EC the potion that had to be administered frequently to keep Tip male is deplored, where magic in general is just forbidden. (The repetition also gave the writers a subtext of abuse.) “Because magic” may be a cheat today, but it’s hardly out of line in works from a century ago.

  45. @Chip:

    Look, I can buy directly related effects as “because magic.” For instance, if Tip gained or lost mass in the transformation, that’s cool. Linebacker turns into a waifish model – fine, it’s magic, whatever. I’m talking about unrelated effects – like, if boy-Tip woke up not only with girly bits, but also wearing a dress with feminine undergarments, I’d cry foul. That’s not something that can reasonably be explained away by a potion; nobody dosed the clothes.

    And yes, I’d object to that whether it was written today, last year, last century, or in the Middle Ages – because it’s sloppy and doesn’t make sense.

  46. @Rev Bob: the transformation in the book did not involve a potion; IIRC it involved several stages, but in any case it was done by spell[s] — to which the author can assign any properties he likes.

  47. And (coming back very late to the party here) I can’t believe I didn’t think to mention Jennifer Roberson’s Tiger & Del books (Sword-Dancer et al.) for the sword-wielding female main character.

    As far as gender transformation, yes, Lynn Flewelling’s Bone Doll’s Twin trilogy was good. And Judith Tarr also did something along those lines in one (or more?) of her Avaryan novels (which I’ve not read in 20+ years, so I’m fuzzy on the details, alas).

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