Pixel Scroll 2/11/24 It’s The Big Bright Green Pixel Machine

(1) BOUCHERCON KERFUFFLE. Writers are showering letters of protest on the Bouchercon mystery convention committee about the selection of Otto Penzler to interview guest of honor Anthony Horowitz on stage. They are pointing to Penzler’s record of misogynistic comments about women writers, and insensitive statements about race.

Here is the text of Lee Goldberg’s letter to Bouchercon:

To Whom It May Concern,

I am shocked and disappointed that Otto Penzler has been selected to interview guest-of-honor Anthony Horowitz on the Bouchercon stage. It sends a horrible message to the crime fiction community.

For decades, Otto has publicly and repeatedly trashed women crime writers. Here are just some examples out of many:

He wrote: “Men take [writing] more seriously as art. Men labor over a book to make it literature. There are wonderful exceptions, of course—P.D. James, Ruth Rendell.”

In an interview with Book Standard, he said cozy novels by women shouldn’t win Edgars.

“The women who write [cozies] stop the action to go shopping, create a recipe, or take care of cats. Cozies are not serious literature. They don’t deserve to win…”

He’s also said:

“We all have our prejudices (yes, you too). I admit that if I were on the Best Novel committee, books with cutesy pun titles would be eliminated before I read the first page. They may be fun, they may have their charm, but they are not serious literature and don’t deserve an Edgar. Which is why someone had the bright idea to create Malice Domestic, a conference devoted to fiction so lightweight that an anvil on top of it is the only way to prevent it from floating off to the great library in the sky.”

This is what Otto Penzler had to say when the International Thriller Writers was formed:

“A new organization has just started up as a counterweight to the literarilynegligible works honored at Malice Domestic.”

The ITW wisely and immediately disavowed his statement at the time. Those “literarily negligible works” honored with Agathas at Malice include novels by Ann Cleeves, Rhys Bowen, Laurie King, Kellye Garrett, Elizabeth George, Catriona McPherson, Louise Penny and so many others.

That attitude alone should make him the absolute wrong choice to interview a man who writes in the tradition of the literarily negligible works by Agatha Christie.

Otto doesn’t just spew sexism, he practices it. In the 23 years that Otto edited the Best American Mystery anthology series, it had 6 women as guest editors and not a single writer of color. Not one. And when Steph Cha, a woman he called “stupefyingly ignorant” and racist because she called for Linda Fairstein’s grandmaster honor to be rescinded, replaced him as the editor of the anthology, he wrote:

“This means that stories will no longer be selected for excellence, the major criterion evidently now being the race, ethnicity, or sexual preference of the author.”

And let’s not forget this is the same man who started Scarlet, a women’s suspense imprint for Pegasus, and then hired men to write the books under women’s names. That is Otto Penzler in a nutshell right there. The outcry was loud, immediate, and humiliating for the publisher, who swiftly and quietly killed the imprint.

That’s only a tiny sampling of his offensive words and conduct towards women writers…and yet Bouchercon still venerates this man. Yes, he did some admirable things for the genre a long, long time ago…but today he’s a dinosaur in a world that has changed around him…a man who doesn’t reflect our community or its basic standards (as expressed in the Bouchercon bylaws). I understand that Mr. Horowitz may have asked for Otto to be his interviewer because they edited an anthology together…but Bouchercon should have had the sensitivity and the courage to say no to his choice…and to explain why.

I am not saying Otto should be silenced. He has a right to his views, whether I agree with them or not. But with free speech comes the consequences of your words and actions (for example, all of his bookstore employees publicly disavowed, in a statement of their own, the views he expressed in his letter to the MWA in the Linda Fairstein Grandmaster controversy, which you ought to read). Another consequence of his offensive views should be losing the support and attention of the community he’s no longer philosophically and culturally aligned with. Unless, of course, Bouchercon agrees with his views. If so, you should keep him on the guest-of-honor stage with Mr. Horowitz.

If not, you should take a firm stand against the opinions Otto’s espoused by replacing him with an interviewer who actually respects, celebrates and champions the sexual, cultural and racial diversity of the crime fiction community this conference is supposed to reflect.

Lee Goldberg

Deborah Levinson is one of those who are echoing the call:

The Bouchercon committee responded to the first wave of messages on February 7 with a statement:

(2) DEADPOOL 3 TEASER. Uncorked during today’s Super Bowl broadcast, Deadpool & Wolverine Teaser.

(3) WICKED TEASER. Also advertised during the game, Wicked – First Look”.

After two decades as one of the most beloved and enduring musicals on the stage, Wicked makes its long-awaited journey to the big screen as a spectacular, generation-defining cinematic event this holiday season. Wicked, the untold story of the witches of Oz, stars Emmy, Grammy and Tony winning powerhouse Cynthia Erivo (Harriet, Broadway’s The Color Purple) as Elphaba, a young woman, misunderstood because of her unusual green skin, who has yet to discover her true power, and Grammy-winning, multi-platinum recording artist and global superstar Ariana Grande as Glinda, a popular young woman, gilded by privilege and ambition, who has yet to discover her true heart. The two meet as students at Shiz University in the fantastical Land of Oz and forge an unlikely but profound friendship. Following an encounter with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, their friendship reaches a crossroads and their lives take very different paths. Glinda’s unflinching desire for popularity sees her seduced by power, while Elphaba’s determination to remain true to herself, and to those around her, will have unexpected and shocking consequences on her future. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfill their destinies as Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

(4) CAREER IN A NUTSHELL. Chinaza Okorie discusses “Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki: Crafting Narratives and Shaping Worlds” at The Board.

… The synergy between Ekpeki’s writing and editing is palpable. His understanding of the craft, honed through his own creative pursuits, enhances his ability to curate anthologies that transcend mere collections of stories. Whether through his pen or editorial decisions, Ekpeki strives to redefine and expand the boundaries of speculative fiction, making room for narratives that challenge preconceptions and celebrate the diverse richness of African storytelling….

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to nibble garlic naan with Jo Miles in Episode 218 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Jo Miles

Jo Miles is the author of The Gifted of Brennex trilogy, which began with Warped State, continued in Dissonant State, which was released the week before our get-together, and finishes up in Ravenous State, which will be available February 20th. Jo’s short fiction has been published in magazines such as Fantasy & Science FictionStrange HorizonsLightspeed, and Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact, as well as in the anthologies Little Blue MarbleGame On!Do Not Go Quietly: An Anthology of Defiance in Victory, and others. Their story “The Longest Season in the Garden of the Tea Fish” in Strange Horizons was nominated for a WSFA Small Press Award. Jo is a graduate of the Viable Paradise and Taos Toolbox writers’ workshops.

Oh, and by the way — the ebook of Warped State is currently on sale for $2.99 in celebration of the upcoming release of Ravenous State.

We discussed how what began as a short story blossomed into a trilogy, the way to juggle multiple points of view and keep them balanced, the science fictional precursors which helped them create their sentient ship, how to properly pace the arc of a burgeoning romance, the importance of making sure a redemption arc feels earned, the way their mandate for writing optimistic science fiction came to be, the differing ways we were each affected by the pandemic, how the Taos Toolbox workshop teaches writers to break down the beats of their stories (and why that terrifies me), plus much more.

(6) THEIR RETIREMENT PLAN. Congratulations to authors Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni whose new Vortex Books & Comics store opened today.

… The store will be open for business Sunday at 10am. All that’s left to do is for Mike to finish Hylinus’s ear, after which we can move the glass display case which will hold the ashes of Dave Thomas and J. F. Gonzalez into place, and then steam clean the tiled floor. We also need to get the rare books and comics into their showcases, finish pricing and shelving the items on the stock cart, and finish the shipping and receiving area (which was finished before, but — based on initial online preorders — is going to be a very busy area and will need space for two employees to work with more room, so I decided we needed to reorganize it). We’ll also need to play with the cash register until we’re all confident with it. (I hooked it up yesterday while Justin Lutz installed our window decals, and while I’m not a man who suffers from anxiety, trying to figure the register out caused me a great deal of it)….

(7) MATTHEW PAVLETICH (1965-2024). New Zealand fan Matthew David Pavletich died from Motor Neurone Disease on January 26. A past president of the Stella Nova Science Fiction Club and veteran of the CoNZealand in 2020 Worldcon bid, Pavletich won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Services to Fandom in 2023. Here is the award citation that tells why he was honored:

Matthew has been active in New Zealand and international fandom for over 30 years.

He has lost count of the number of committees he has been on for running conventions. As a member of the Stella Nova Science Fiction Club he has been involved in all their activities over three decades, including serving as President.

Matthew was a keen actor, published writer, con-organiser and has lectured on Science Fiction both here in schools and seminars and overseas; plus his lifelong interest in spaceflight has seen him appearing as a recurring guest expert on breakfast TV shows and radio.

Matthew was a co-organiser, as a ground trooper, of the CoNZealand bid, being heavily involved in organising the parties at the World Science Fiction Convention and manning the Bid Table around the world every year from 2014 to 2019, and despite being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2021, found the energy to help at the Thank You party in 2022. For many WorldCon attendees the parties and the Bid Table, at which he enthusiastically promoted NZ and CoNZealand, was the only physical experience of a New Zealand WorldCon that was possible, due to COVID making the 2020 WorldCon virtual.

Matthew epitomises what this award is about. He meets every criteria of service to fandom you can think of.

Matthew is survived by his wife, Maree.

Matthew Pavletich in TV appearance.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 11, 1939 Jane Yolen, 85. And we come to one of my favorite writers who is on the chocolate gifting list, Jane Yolen. And no, that is not about how I ended getting name-checked as an ethnomusicologist in The One-Armed Queen asthat’s another story involving a successful hunt for a rare volume of fairytales.

Given that she written at least three hundred and sixty works at last count (and that may well be an undercount), the following is but a personal list of works that I like.

Jane Yolen. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Favorite Folktales From Around the World which garnered a well-deserved World Fantasy Award shows her editing side at its very best. She picked the folktales, some from authors whose names are forgotten, some who we still know such as Homer, Aesop, Hans Christian Andersen and Oscar Wilde, and gave them much need explanatory notes. If you like folktales, I’d consider it essential and quite delightful reading.

The Transfigured Hart poses the delicate question of if unicorns are real and neatly merges that question with a coming of a story, something she handles oh so well. Originally published forty years ago, Tachyon Press, a publisher that should be always be praised for its work, republished it a few years back.

Briar Rose is a YA novel which is a retelling, more or less of the Sleeping Beauty tale. It was published as part of Terri Windling’s Fairy Tale series. The novel won a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. Like everything else in that series, it’s most excellent. Or as I’ve said before, it’s just what Windling does. 

The Great Alta sequence consisting of Sister Light, Sister DarkWhite Jenna and The One-Armed Queen. Matriarchal warrior societies will rise and fall and rise again in this tale told with more than a bit of myth, poetry, and song.  Brilliantly told with characters that you’ll deeply care about and character you’ll hate. It’s a Meredith Moment at just $3.99. 

She also wrote the lyrics for the song “Robin’s Complaint”, recorded on the 1994 Boiled in Lead’s Antler Dance recording on which her son Adam Stemple was the lead vocalist. 

Let’s finish off with The Wild Hunt. Myth as interpreted by her and merged with the evocative drawings of Francisco Mora which complement the text perfectly. Dark and dramatic, they bring the tale to life. It’s a work of pure magic which should be destined to become a classic in the world of children’s literature. Don’t buy the Scholastic paperback edition, just HMH hardcover edition. 

And yes, she’s getting chocolate for her Birthday. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Thatababy has a new variation on a technopest.
  • Sally Forth somehow merges myth with Monopoly. This is bizarre.
  • In the Bleachers’ mermaid joke might actually be even more bizarre.

(10) DON’T MISS THE LITERARY ALLUSIONS. Colleen Doran lends readers a hand by deciphering “The Secret Language of a Page of Chivalry”.

Neil Gaiman’s Chivalry is a sweet and simple story on the surface, but is full of allusions and literary references, and the symbolism in the art, as well as the art style, serves as meta-narrative. 

One of the pages readers ask about the most is this one, where Mrs. Whitaker in the Oxfam shop finds an old book entitled The Romance and Legend of Chivalry (1912).

Written by Scottish author A. R. Hope Moncrieff, this popular tome was published in multiple printings and editions in many languages. While most of his books were intended for young boys, they would be over the heads and/or not to the taste of many modern readers.

They are dense and wordy, but I love them. 

You can find good copies of the first edition with the gorgeous cover you see here at reasonable prices. If you can spare $20-$30, you shouldn’t have to settle for cheap, modern editions which are ugly and don’t have that pretty gold stamping.

It should be obvious why Mrs. Whitaker has focused on this book during the course of Chivalry.

What some didn’t understand is the reference there in the top corner written in red pen: “Ex Libris Fisher”.

This translates to “From the Library of Fisher” as in The Fisher King.

(11) HELLO DOWN THERE TRAILER. Another “Super Bowl commercial” except it’s already been out for four days: “Hello Down There (Extended)”.

What does a highly advanced civilization have to do to get noticed around here? Watch the extended cut of Hello Down There, a tale of intergalactic outreach, directed by Martin Scorsese.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Now, it saddens me when I am reminded yet again that I do have some SFnal misconceptions. Let me be clear, I had heard of A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay but I had foolishly, stupidly, idiotically assumed that it was a novel about a spacecraft voyage to a distant world and what was discovered there…  How wrong I was. Fortunately, Moid over at Media Death Cult has taken a quick 8-minute dive into this. (Filmed in England’s Shropshire. Note the managed woodland and the carboniferous limestone geology…)

This Forgotten Masterpiece Inspired Tolkien We voyaged the Shropshire countryside to bring you this video. A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay

You can see the 8-minute video here. It looks like this may be the first of a few vids Moid will do covering forgotton early 20th century SF former classics.

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Scott Edelman, JJ, Kathy Sullivan, Anne Marble, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

13 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/11/24 It’s The Big Bright Green Pixel Machine

  1. I survived Boskone! (Challenging due to parking issues and my own mobility issues.) Didn’t see all the friends I hoped to see, but saw many. And David Gerrold was there for the first time in years, due to his recent move to Vermont.

    Did not quite manage to connect with Mark. My message to him apparently didn’t reach him. Moshe Feder reached me on his behalf, unfortunately after I had already asked the valet at the Omni to get my car. With no in/out privileges, I was stuck with the decision to leave.

    Cider performed like the champion she is, and was complimented by all.

  2. Jan Vanek jr: Ohmigod, I didn’t use a tag and Jan caught me. No denying it, the only thing I’m still qualified for is to run for President.

  3. (1) I know Otto Penzler is considered a major expert in the crime and mystery field. But he has huge blindspots. Many of his anthologies have been “sausage fests.” Saying men take writing “more seriously” than women is gross — and of course wrong. Even experts have to learn to grow — or get out of the way.

    Also, those remarks on cozies are icky. Cozies written by women shouldn’t win Edgars? Pshaw! There are some very deserving books by women that are called “cozies.” They’re just as deserving (or more so) than the books he republishes in his American Mystery Classics line.

    And yes, I know there are people who look down on the modern cozies — cute titles, bright covers, emphasis on crafting, recipes, and boutiques. But just because the books are cute (and clearly aimed at women), that doesn’t mean they are less deserving.

    But they can take my brightly colored cozies with the kitten covers when they pry them out of my cold, dead hands.

    I used to roll my eyes at the cute cozies, too. Then, earlier this year, my mother died, and the only thing I could read was a cozy mystery and “Bookshops & Bonedust.” So there.

    Cozies rule in this household. (Cozies Rule, Otto Penzler Drools.)

    (6) I am hoping to make a pilgrimage there!

    (8) Happy birthday to Jane Yolen!!!

  4. (8) My first exposure to Jane Yolen was when my son was about 2 or so, and started enjoying her Dinosaurs series of books, illustrated by Mark Teague. He’s 17 now, and I dug out “How Do Dinosaurs Go To School” and was pleasantly surprised at how much of it I could still quote (reading a book out loud 50 or 100 times will do that for you).

  5. @bill: Yes. Books that you read every bedtime will stick in your memory very effectively – or at least that’s my experience.

  6. I’ve reached the point in my relationship with File 770 where I’m ready to check the box next to “Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.”

    Things are going to start happening to me now.

  7. I’ve always thought that “Voyage to Arcturus” and its bizarre shape-shifting creatures was influenced by the weirder ideas of Theosophy’s pre-human intelligent species.

  8. Count me as another fan and advocate of “cozies”. They may be primarily targeted at women, but for some astounding reason, I find that being a cis-male does not magically prevent me from enjoying them! (Of course, they are as subject to Sturgeon’s Law as anything else, but anyone who thinks they’re inherently bad is utterly clueless at best!)

  9. (7) I had the great pleasure of befriending Matt Pavletich and his wife, Maree, when I lived in Auckland in the oughties. Matt was a wonderful fellow, always friendly and enthusiastic. (His only irritation seemed to be with those conspiracy theorists who deny the fact of human space flight.) He had a wide-ranging curiosity and was interested, among other things, in science fiction, space exploration, submarines, motorcycling, and classic rock. As we learn from the award citation, he was a pillar of New Zealand fandom. He will be missed.

  10. (7) I had the good fortune of being welcomed by Matthew and Maree on a trip to New Zealand. Matthew was a dynamo. Full of energy and active. He had opinions about all kinds of things, but in a very friendly way. He was a lot of fun to be around. He will be missed.

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