Pixel Scroll 2/4/18 For There Is No Joy In Scrollville, Mighty Pixel Has Struck Out

(1) LEFT AT THE ALTER. Damien Walter, never easy to please anyway, declares “Altered Carbon was always doomed”.

Imagine somebody wrote a novel about the cat and the fiddle, and the cow that jumped over the moon. In fact, imagine somebody wrote a trilogy of novels, starring the luna leaping cow. Then imagine that Netflix turned the first novel into a 10 hour premium tv series, with Joel Kinnman?—?swiftly becoming this generation’s Christopher Lambert?—?as the cow.

If you’re really into the cat, fiddle and cow genre, if you’re MEGA excited by animals leaping over celestial bodies, you’ll be happy.

For everybody else, the experience of watching Altered Carbon is going to be about as enjoyable as 10 hours of kids nonsense poetry. You might have some patience for the first hour, but by episode 3 the audience will be desperate to jump ship.

(2) NOM DE GUERRE. “Anthony Boucher & I Discuss Pseudonyms” – “I think that says it all,” writes Kim Huett of Doctor Strangemind.”Beware though, I am particularly verbose in this installment.”

Their names are Legion, for they are many.

According to The Illustrated Book Of Science Fiction Lists (edited by Mike Ashley for Virgin Books in 1982) E.C. (Ted) Tubb has 45 pseudonyms credited to him, Robert Silverberg is well behind with 25, Henry Kuttner further back yet with 18, while Cyril Korthbluth trails with a mere 13.

I suspect that in this, the future world of today, the question the above information raises is not why so many pseudonyms but why any at all? I know that when I were a lad it was a given that authors used pseudonyms all the time while we, their audience, didn’t but nowadays it seems to be very much the opposite. So yes, I can understand why the above numbers might seem inexplicable to many of you.

So why were authors fond of pseudonyms once upon a time? Luckily for us editor, author, and co-founder of The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Anthony Boucher, decided to offer some explanation in Rhodomagnetic Digest #2, published by George Blumenson in August 1949 for The Elves’, Gnomes’ & Little Men’s Science-Fiction Chowder & Marching Society. Boucher was certainly qualified to write on this topic since his real name was William Anthony Parker White….

(3) KICKSTARTER. Hampus Eckerman says “I’ve always regretted I was out of cash when the Swedish edition was made. I’ll back this one for sure.” — “The Keyring RPG”.

The Keyring RPG is a combination of the idea of creating a procedural role-playing game and the discovery of a really cute notepad. Mashing those ideas together gave rise to the Keyring RPG.

From the FAQ —

What is the resolution mechanic in the game?

You have three basic abilities, strength, charisma and mental strength. Each of those abilities have a number of dots. Each dot represent a die. To determine if you succeed, you roll as many die as you have against a set difficulty, and you add the skills to the result of the die roll to improve your results.

I have 2 dots in strength, and I need to climb a wall. The wall has a difficulty of 3. Both of my rolls fail, a one and a two, but I have two dots in the skill problem solving. I add my dots in problem solving to the roll and succeed. From a narrative perspective, I use problem solving to create a sling harness and have my friends haul me up the wall.

Key features (no pun intended):

  • The Basic Game is very small, only 7 x 3 x 2 centimeters. You can carry it on your keyring.
  • It features a procedural adventure building system
  • A full rules set that allows for a lot of flexibility when playing
  • Five sets of generic maps
  • Mission cards
  • Location cards
  • Obstacle cards
  • Reward cards
  • Motivation cards
  • Character sheets

They’ve raised $3,795 of their $7,590 goal with 13 days to go.

(4) THE 39 CANDLES. Galactic Journey hopes you didn’t miss Rod Serling’s guest appearance on Jack Benny’s show — “[February 4, 1963] Fiddler in the Zone (a most unusual episode of Serling’s show)”.

As Benny walks home in the dark, a Twilight Zone-like fog envelops him and the music takes off on a Twilight Zone-like theme.  Before long he runs into a sign reading, “Welcome to Twilight Zone.  Population unlimited. [an arrow left] Subconscious 27 Mi./ [an arrow right] Reality 35 Mi.” (It gets a laugh, if only canned.) Benny finally sees his house across the street and goes and rings the bell.  Rochester answers but doesn’t recognize Benny.  Rochester calls on his employer, “Mr. Zone” (Serling) to deal with the situation, and Serling explains that the town is named after him (“You can call me Twi”), and he is the mayor.

(5) CLARKE CENTER PODCAST. Into The Impossible, a podcast of stories, ideas, and speculations from the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, has posted Episode 14, “Alien Contact”:

We’re digging in the vaults to explore ideas of alien contact, with Jill Tarter (SETI Institute) and Jeff VanderMeer (bestselling author of the Southern Reach trilogy). We’ll talk about the Drake Equation, the faulty math of the film Contact, manifest destiny, whether we’re alone, flawed assumptions about the concept of intelligence, what fiction can do to help us think about the very alien-ness of alien contact, and how it may be happening all around us.

(6) DOCTOROW TO SPEAK AT UCSD. On February 9, bestselling author and blogger Cory Doctorow will be back on the University of California San Diego campus for a lecture on “Scarcity, Abundance and the Finite Planet: Nothing Exceeds Like Excess”.

His 5 p.m. talk and a public reception are organized by the Qualcomm Institute’s gallery@calit2.

The event in Atkinson Hall is open to the public and the UC San Diego community, and admission is free. RSVPs are requested to [email protected].

In 2017, Doctorow was a Writer in Residence in the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, hosted by the Clarke Center (also located in Atkinson Hall) on the UC San Diego campus. You can hear Cory and fellow 2017 instructor Nalo Hopkinson talk about the Clarion Workshop in an interview with Maureen Cavanaugh at KPBS last summer.

(7) CASE OBIT. David F. Case (1937-2018) died February 3 at the age of 80. Stephen Jones remembers him:

Since the early 1960s he has lived in London, as well as spending time in Greece and Spain. A regular contributor to the legendary Pan Book of Horror Stories during the early 1970s, his stories “Fengriffin” and “The Hunter” were filmed as, respectively, —And Now The Screaming Starts! (1973) and Scream of the Wolf (1974), and Arkham House published his novel The Third Grave in 1981 (soon to be reprinted by Valancourt Books). The author of an estimated 300 books or more under various pseudonyms, his powerful zombie novella “Pelican Cay” was nominated for a World Fantasy Award in 2001, and David was Guest of Honour at the 2010 World Horror Convention held in Brighton, England. He was always a bigger-than-life character, and I’ll miss him.


  • February 4, 1938 — Disney releases Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
  • February 4, 1950The Flying Saucer opened theatrically.
  • February 4, 1951Two Lost Worlds premiered.
  • February 4, 1995 — Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys appeared in theaters.


  • Born February 4, 1914 – George Reeves, 1950s TV’s Superman.


  • Mike Kennedy says Brewster Rockit is always genre, and this one doubly so.

(11) SPANNING THE DIVIDE. Derek Kunsken told Black Gate readers he’s doing his best at “Bridging the Cultural Gap between Canada and the USA”.

But on an ongoing basis, now that I have a New York literary agent, I do my best to provide her with as much information as possible about how to best handle a Canadian client. I’m aware that what is normal for me might not be normal for her, so I send her videos and articles.

For example, Canada is going through its own crime wave. Last year in Miramichi, some people tried to go through a McDonald’s drive-thru on a chesterfield pulled by an ATV. This year, a bank was robbed in New Brunswick and the thieves were only caught when they stopped in their get-away to go through a Tim Horton’s drive-thru….

(12) HUGO RECS. Rich Horton tells his “2018 Hugo Recommendations: Novelette”.

The top candidates for my ballot are:

  1. Yoon Ha Lee, “Extracurricular Activities” (Tor.com, 2/17) – a quite funny, and quite clever, story concerning the earlier life of a very significant character in Lee’s first novel, Ninefox Gambit. Shuos Jedao is an undercover operative for the Heptarchate, assigned to infiltrate a space station controlled by another polity, and to rescue the crew of a merchanter ship that had really been heptarchate spies, including an old classmate….

(13) NEWITZ REVIEWED. Abigail Nussbaum’s latest column, “A Political History of the Future: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz”, has been posted at Lawyers, Guns & Money.

Welcome back to A Political History of the Future, an irregular series about how contemporary SF and fantasy address current political issues, and how they imagine worlds different than our own in their political, social, and economic functioning. Our first subject, published last fall, is the first novel by io9 co-founder Annalee Newitz, a technothriller about a world in which the ready availability of non-human labor fundamentally changes the meaning of freedom.

The title of Autonomous is a pun, and a thesis statement. “Autonomous”, in our understanding and in the current common usage, refers to machines that can function without human interference–autonomous cars, most commonly. Despite its connotations of freedom, it’s a designation that denotes inhumanity. It isn’t necessary, after all, to specify that a human being is autonomous. In the world of Autonomous, this is no longer the case. Its citizens–human and machine–are distinguished as either autonomous or indentured. So a word that connotes freedom becomes a reminder of how it can cease to be taken for granted, and a usage that connotes inhumanity is transformed in a world in which personhood is a legal state and not a biological one. In both cases, it’s a reminder that the hard-won ideas of liberty and human rights that we take for granted are not set in stone; that core assumptions about how society could and should function can change, in many cases for the worse.

(14) BOY STUFF. NPR’s Scott Simon interviews the author about her new book: “Tamora Pierce Writes One For The Boys (But Just One) In ‘Tempests And Slaughter'”

On writing her first male hero

I thought it was fair. I thought I owed the boys some. And Arram is so popular, and gets into so much trouble, that I knew I could do it. Which was an act of hubris on my part that still leaves me breathless. See, I’m kind of notorious for one thing in particular as a writer — I’m pretty straightforward about teenagers and sex. I’ve lost count of the mothers and father’s who’ve come up to me and said, “Thank you for explaining it to them.” The thing was, in my first book, I had a girl disguised as a boy. And when you’re a girl disguised as a boy, going through puberty, the changes in your body become a major part of the plot. So I just stuck with it as I went on. And when I was working on this book, I got to a point and I went, “Oh my god, I can skip it, but that wouldn’t be right.” So I went to my writing partner, Bruce Coville, and first he laughed himself silly at me, but all those embarrassing little questions, he answered them for me. But it was important, it had to be done. I had to be as fair to the guys as I was to the girls. Which is one reason why I’m going back to girls after this is over.

(15) MOURNING LE GUIN. Ricky Grove told Booklad readers, “Ursula K. Le Guin, My Book Parent, Has Died”.

…Ursula was not just a great author to me, she was one of several of my book parents. Growing up as I did with a family who was more interested in drinking and violence, I never got guidance in how to live. Through her books, Ursula taught me that you could deal with a problem by thinking rather than fighting. She taught me that gender differences don’t make one gender superior to the other. And she also helped me understand that we all have shadow parts of ourselves that we fear, but the way to cope with the shadow is to accept it with courage….

(16) BILL SCHELLY AUTOBIOGRAPHY. Now available for pre-order, Sense of Wonder, My Life in Comic Fandom – The Whole Story by Bill Schelly. (Publishing date: April 17.)

A fascinating story of growing up as a gay fan of comic books in the 1960s, building a fifty-year career as an award-winning writer, and interacting with acclaimed comic book legends.

Award-winning writer Bill Schelly relates how comics and fandom saved his life in this engrossing story that begins in the burgeoning comic fandom movement of the 1960s and follows the twists and turns of a career that spanned fifty years. Schelly recounts his struggle to come out at a time when homosexuality was considered a mental illness, how the egalitarian nature of fandom offered a safe haven for those who were different, and how his need for creative expression eventually overcame all obstacles. He describes living through the AIDS epidemic, finding the love of his life, and his unorthodox route to becoming a father. He also details his personal encounters with major talents of 1960s comics, such as Steve Ditko (co-creator of Spider-Man), Jim Shooter (writer for DC and later editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics), and Julius Schwartz (legendary architect of the Silver Age of comics).

… Note from the author: This is NOT the same book that was published in 2001 under the title Sense of Wonder, A Life in Comic Fandom (which is out of print). This new book contains two parts: the text of the first book, and a sequel of equal length. Part one covers my life up to 1974; part two picks up the story and continues it to 2017.

(17) IT’S A THEORY. According to MovieWeb, “Secret Gay Porgs in The Last Jedi Have Twitter Freaking Out”.

Before The Last Jedi hit theaters, there were rumors circulating that Finn and Poe would have a relationship in the movie, marking the first openly gay characters in Star Wars. That rumor was obviously proven to be false, but The Last Jedi did feature a brief gay relationship between two other characters that many Star Wars fans did not notice right away and now everybody is freaking out. Rian Johnson has not confirmed the scene yet, but he will more than likely address it since he has talked about nearly every decision he made while making The Last Jedi.

An eagle-eyed Twitter user spotted two Porgs snuggling with each other in the background of a scene on Ahch-To and noticed that both of the creatures were male. Officially, male Porgs are slightly larger and have orange feathers around their eyes, which both of the Porgs in question have. The image of the two gay Porgs has since taken the internet by storm and people are freaking out that they didn’t notice the small detail right away.


(18) PORTMAN ON SNL. Natalie Portman answers Star Wars questions in her Saturday Night Live monologue….

And her Stranger Things 3 preview is hysterical.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Hampus Eckerman, Will R., Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, and Steve Vertlieb for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jenora Feuer.]

68 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/4/18 For There Is No Joy In Scrollville, Mighty Pixel Has Struck Out

  1. Maybe first!
    That’s a great reward for just finishing “Clockwork Boys” by someone called T. Kingfisher. 🙂

    Loved it, loved the character development and the use of language. Roll on part 2.

  2. (1) I guess I belong at the kid’s table. I ran through the whole thing in two nights. Joel Kinnman is mesmerizing. I suspect Damien Walter may have a future with the Sharkes.

    But I have to say, he didn’t really seem to actually read the Richard Morgan novel if all he got out of it was ‘…is about nothing much more than how moving between cloned human bodies, or jacking a gun into your nervous system, are JUST TOTALLY RAD MAN.’

  3. Fifth!

    Gmail put my nomination announcment in promotions, so I’m glad I knew it should be here. “Promotions” is a firehose of messages I rarely check.

    Checks to see if anyone else has snuck in a comment.

  4. (1) I have not watched Altered Carbon. Friends who have report serious casual violence against women problems.

  5. My nomination link is here too – and also got filed into promotions, for the record. Can I express the tiniest grumble that they aren’t using the excellent (to me) system from last year? I know and appreciate that volunteers are doing their best as always, but it’s a bit of a shame to have lost that… also, I’m such a fundamentally disorganised person that digging up a membership number and PIN every time, instead of just going to a bookmarked URL (or one that Chrome remembers for me), is more of a struggle than it should be.

    Anyway. Time to fill things out and/or panic. One of the two!

  6. Gotta check for my nomination link. Horror of horrors, it didn’t wind up in spiced pressed meat, I hope.

    1) I am going to watch some of the show, or all of it if I can, between now and the end of next week. I re-listened to the audio book last week and will watch some of the show in prep for a SFF Audio podcast on it.

    I have noticed that a number of genrefolk, particularly women, have come out hard against it, and others have had a much more positive reception. I have not seen (but then not looking hard for it yet) many reviews and views that compare it to the original material.

  7. NickPheas on February 5, 2018 at 1:43 am said:
    (1) I have not watched Altered Carbon. Friends who have report serious casual violence against women problems.

    There’s a lot of casual violence against everybody.

    I’ve watched the first six episodes and I’m enjoying it. They’ve gone for the generic dark cyberpunk look, but they’ve obviously spent plenty of cash and it works well.

    Of the leads, I really like the performance of Martha Higareda.

  8. 1) If AC had been a John Varley story from the 70s filmed by Ridley Scott in the 80s it would have been more original. If the script had been less confusing and the dialogue not constantly mumbled it would have been watchable.

  9. @Arifel

    I’m also a bit disappointed that last year’s elegant software hasn’t been kept. IIRC the main impetus for the change was the problem of confirmation emails stacking up when usage got really high close to deadline. Maybe they’ve altered the old software to fix that though.

  10. 18) The first Natalie Portman clip is from her earlier hosting gig over a decade ago. I knew as soon as I heard the late Don Pardo introducing her.

  11. Balloting info arrived at this end of the wire as well. I suspect that the number of cousins in the family of #REF is quite large…

  12. If you have an issue with your Hugo PIN, write to [email protected] and explain what happened.

    With more than 10,000 messages being sent out, even it waves by a system that is supposed to minimize the issue, it’s not surprising that they get flagged as “promotions” or “spam.” (My own PIN mail was so treated.)

  13. Thanks all for mentioning that their Hugo pins went to “promotions” in gmail; I likely wouldn’t have seen it without your comments!

  14. 1) Will be binge watching this ASAP. AC is one of my absolute favourite SF novels of the last ten years.


    As others have said, it is a pretty graphic and visceral novel. I’d expect the series to reflect that. It’s a setting where physical life is cheap and murder has become Organic Damage due to body backup drives.

  15. 1) Aw, poor Christopher Lambert. He wasn’t that bad! I’ve been hearing that about the violence against women too though, and it’s putting me off.

    @GiantPanda: When you think about it, San Jose Worldcon… (I think all the PINs start with SJ. I got a laugh out of it.

    I may have filled in my nomination already, even though I still have a ton of reading to do. Just in case. (It was in promotions in gmail.)

  16. I’ve done a test by adding a couple of early noms, and unfortunately the system still sends immediate individual emails each time you save, so it will be vulnerable to the last-minute server problems we saw two years ago.

    On a different note, the confirmation emails ended up in spam even though the reg email didn’t for me, so another good reason to check your spam.

  17. Yes, my PIN arrived too. *rubs hands*

    I’ve actually got a fair amount of categories sorted through already. Woefully behind on short fiction, though.

  18. 1) My heart sank when in the 2nd episode AC showed that, 250 years after the fact, the Envoy rebels were still being portrayed as terrorist boogeymen. A little girl even remarks that her mother told her that history is written by the victors.

    History is written by everyone, and sometimes it is the losers whose version of history becomes the consensual version of events : the romance of the great Lost Cause. Think of the Scottish rebellion, or the Confederacy.

    Historical events are always being re-interpreted.

  19. I’ve had the same experience as Mark – the initial email arrived without problems, the nominations link works just fine, but the confirmation went into spam.

  20. @2 is an interesting example of attempting to apply reason to something basically mystical, namely marketing. AFAIK “Analytical Lab” was the only thing resembling market research in genre, and MR in general, while it had existed for a few decades, was probably way too expensive for pulp publishers — so editors and publishers went with guesses and gut feelings.

    @11: [snort]

  21. @mark, oh so was mine!

    “This message has a from address in worldcon76.org but has failed worldcon76.org’s required tests for authentication.”

  22. (2) Another example of a “snob” pen name would be Stan Lee, which was created for comic book writing so his “real” name, Stanley Lieber, could be saved for “serious” work.

  23. Muccamukk on February 5, 2018 at 8:46 am said:

    “This message has a from address in worldcon76.org but has failed worldcon76.org’s required tests for authentication.”

    Yep. Along with the #REFs (which I’ve been assured will be corrected and resent), it appears to have something to do with how the mailing software interacts with the rest of the convention’s systems. The relevant people on the Worldcon 76 committee are aware of the issue and are doing what they can to fix it. As I’m sure many of you know, some things just don’t show up in testing, only in production.

  24. @Kevin Standlee:

    For two reasons, one being that it’s surprisingly hard to make a test environment as stressful as a production environment. The other being (I suspect) a close relative of the Demo Demon, the perverse force that causes any and all live demos to fail in new and interesting ways.

  25. @Kevin. That’s good to hear! As long as the bugs are worked out by oh, say, 11:59pm on 16 March, I’m happy. I appreciate all the work you folks are doing.

  26. Still no Hugo PIN, neither for me nor for my Mom. Knowing how busy they are, I’ll give it a couple of days, before I contact them about it.

  27. @Muccamukk

    Lambert’s ‘Scottish’ accent in Highlander was laughable at best. Still like the film though.

  28. Hugo Season again! Sadly, I can’t make it to WorldCon this year.

    I use the link at http://bit.ly/hugoaward2018 as a jumping-off point/memory jog for my nominations. Lots of good eligible nominees on their lists. And a fair number of less-good eligible nominees, too. YMMV and all that.

  29. I got two Hugo emails before I looked, the first all excited about #REF! #REF! and the second with my less enthusiastic actual name. I haven’t tried the link or the ballot yet because I have miles to go (or actually piles to read) before I nominate. I hope me not jumping on it means they have time to iron out any wrinkles. Like they did between the 1:30 am #REF! mail and the 2:21 pm corrected one. Yay, SJWorldcon for fixing it so quickly.

  30. I binged-watched all of Altered Carbon over two days. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. It has been over a decade since I read the books (by the time I got to them, the first two had been published but the third one hadn’t been published yet) so while I could recognize plot points I remembered, I was less able to notice things that had been changed. I decided to reread the books and am about a third of the way through the first one, and I see that the changes in the series are massive.

    And yes, there is lots of casual violence against women–except for when there is lots of casual violence against men. Anyone singling out one over the other has an agenda that they are pushing. (Also, lots and lots of nudity, male and female.)

  31. 1) Actually, no. Some people enjoy cyberpunk, noir science-fiction, and detective stories. Other people just like good TV. AC isn’t the best thing Netflix has done, but they’ve done a damn good job with Richard Morgan’s stellar novel, and I’m very pleased with the result. It plays with some very interesting ideas, and I’m enjoying my time in the world again. It’s not for everyone, and that’s fine, but it’s hardly terrible TV, either. Damien, your contrarian knee jerk is showing, put it back in your pants.

  32. Cora on February 5, 2018 at 12:13 pm said:

    Still no Hugo PIN, neither for me nor for my Mom. Knowing how busy they are, I’ll give it a couple of days, before I contact them about it.

    According to what I’ve been told and what was posted at Worldcon 76 today, all of the Hugo PIN e-mails, including the re-sends to fix the #REF issue, have now been sent. Check your junk/spam/promotions/clutter folders. If you haven’t received it by tomorrow, go to the Hugo PIN Lookup Page and request it be sent again. If that still doesn’t work, write to the HugoPIN e-mail on that same page.

  33. February 4, 1995 — Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys appeared in theaters.

    I think this is off by a year or so; my wife and I saw 12 Monkeys at the Uptown, the big-screen Washington, DC theater, during her first pregnancy, so I know it was the winter of 1995-96 and not the year before. Wikipedia and IMDB (although neither is always trustworthy) concur that the date of wide U.S. release was 5 January 1996, with limited showings in December 1995 for awards eligibility.

  34. @Kevin Standlee

    According to what I’ve been told and what was posted at Worldcon 76 today, all of the Hugo PIN e-mails, including the re-sends to fix the #REF issue, have now been sent. Check your junk/spam/promotions/clutter folders. If you haven’t received it by tomorrow, go to the Hugo PIN Lookup Page and request it be sent again. If that still doesn’t work, write to the HugoPIN e-mail on that same page.

    Thanks. I just checked and still no Hugo PIN, not in the spam folder either. We’ve had issues with Hugo PINs and other WorldCon mailings before, probably because my Mom is signed up via my e-mail address, so there are two people using the same e-mail address. Plus, my ISP occasionally has hickups and refuses legitimate e-mails as Spam, particularly English language e-mails.

    So I’ll wait until tomorrow and request a resend.

  35. Another example of a “snob” pen name would be Stan Lee, which was created for comic book writing so his “real” name, Stanley Lieber, could be saved for “serious” work.

    Or so he has said, but then again, Stan says lots of things.

    It’s a better-sounding story, years after the fact, than “I didn’t want to use a Jewish-looking name because anti-Semitism,” but it’s not necessarily more accurate.

  36. @Kurt, I was wondering about that, too. “Snob” isn’t the first think I’d think of with a name change like that at that time.

    @Darren (And yes, there is lots of casual violence against women–except for when there is lots of casual violence against men. Anyone singling out one over the other has an agenda that they are pushing.)
    Yeah, similarly, “agenda to push” isn’t the first thing I’d think of there. More aware of violence of a kind that is a horrifying daily reality for 50% of the population, either in threat or actuality, maybe. Or possibly violence directed at female characters has more sexual overtones than violence against male characters (I haven’t watched this show, but it’s certainly true in a lot of genre tv I’ve seen). Multiple women telling me, “Wow, that really had a lot of violence against women!” doesn’t come out of thin air.

  37. So, Boucher’s reasons for why a writer would use a pseudonym:

    The reasons for adopting a pseudonym are many, and the simplest is that the author’s proper name may be unsuitable as a by-line.
    1. To distinguish two different types of work — for instance fiction and serious articles; or terror and humour.
    2. To keep series characters and events straight – so that all the stories under one name are part of the same series.
    3. To please different publishers — so that each has an ‘exclusive’ name author.
    4. To differentiate markets — for instance, one name for slicks and another for pulps; or a separate name for selling rejects to poor markets without damaging the well-established name.
    5. To use when two stories appear in the same issue of the same magazine — as frequently happens when an author is selling heavily to one market.
    6. Allied to 5. is the problem of the ‘house name’ — a name owned by the publisher. This is legitimate enough when, as in The Shadow, a freelance series is supposedly all written by the same non-existent ‘author’. It’s more questionable when the house name is simply stuck on a story of any type by anybody when there are two by one writer in the same issue.
    7. The oddest pseudonym-reason I know occurred in this wise: an extremely prolific writer was turning out so much that his own by-line had become almost meaningless; you never knew whether it indicated a small masterpiece or a trashy quicky. He adopted a pseudonym and henceforth published all his really good stories under that name, with the result that the pseudonym came to be one of the top names in the field, while the original by-line usually connotates a competent hack story.

    Huett wants to argue, and I feel like arguing back:

    Much as I find the above interesting I do think Boucher rather stumbled out of the gates with the idea that anybody’s given name might make for an unsuitable byline. Is Hieronymus Zuckerswilling any more unprintable than G. Peyton Wertenbaker, A. Hyatt Verrill, or Clare Winger Harris?


    For one, lots of people don’t know how to pronounce “Hieronymous,” and “Zuckerswilling” has at least resonances that could be considered crude.

    But “unsuitable” is in the eye of the beholder. In one timeline, young Hieronymous Zuckerswilling may be quite proud of his name, and embrace it because it’s memorable and distinctive; in another, he may think it’s unsuitable and go with Harry Zane. It’s a choice, and neither choice is wrong. In any case, Boucher is listing reasons, not requirements. It’s certainly a reason.

    Plus, of course, “unsuitable” doesn’t need to mean long or complex. Martin Cruz Smith was advised to use his middle name because “Martin Smith” is a dull name and thus bad marketing — that’s an example of someone thinking the name was unsuitable. Not because it’s long, but because it’s very plain.

    I considered using a pseudonym when I started writing, because “Busiek” is so often mispronounced. My mom would have been disappointed, though, so I didn’t. My best friend, Scott McLeod, went with “McCloud,” for much the same reason. Suitability is a flexible concept.

    Take the idea that an author would use a different name for a particular series of stories. Imagine for a moment that you’re the young Isaac Asimov, a rising star within the pages of John W. Campbell’s Astounding.

    Imagine that you’re not Isaac Asimov, since Asimov didn’t do that with the Foundation series. Imagine, instead, that you’re Barbara Mertz, who wrote as “Elisabeth Peters” and “Barbara Michaels” (in addition to her own name); worked out fine for her. Imagine that you’re Donald E. Westlake, who, over time, began using his own name largely for comic crime novels, because it was successful, and used a host of other names (notably Richard Stark) for various series. It may have made it hard to follow all of Westlake’s work, if you’re a fan — but if you’re a Richard Stark fan, or a Samuel Holt fan, it made it easier to know when one of the series you particularly like was out.

    Currently, Joanne Harris uses “Joanne C. Harris” for her Norse-myth-based fantasy fiction, and “Joanne Harris” for other fiction, including fantasies like the CHOCOLAT series, because it encourages bookstores to track the sales separately, rather than to assume one set of books should be ordered based on the performance of another series.

    Using different names for different types of work also seems to me to be giving up the hard won selling power of your name for no real gain.

    It’s certainly giving up the power of the name-as-brand, but it’s also sidestepping the confusion of having the same brand on different kinds of books that may have different audiences, and allows you to build up multiple names that each have selling power to a different crowd. That’s not “no real gain.”

    If however two different editors wanted an exclusive name for their magazines then why would an author argue with them?

    If they wanted the sale, they might not argue. A lot of Huett’s examples assume the author is already famous — many authors who used house names weren’t. They just wanted the money.

    In which case it wouldn’t surprise me if at one time the slick magazines preferred to hide authors who had made their names in the pulps behind pseudonyms.

    Is there much of a history of slick magazines doing this?

    What is however easily provable is the use of the ‘house name’ in certain magazines. Again this is a practise the benefits of which I don’t always understand.

    It doesn’t benefit the writer, it benefits the house who owns the name. If WUTHERING SF keeps publishing various stories by “Rod McKenzie,” and readers like them, then WUTHERING has a reason for brand loyalty.

    That doesn’t make it not a reason — it makes it another version of the reason for the house name on novels. The publisher sees a benefit to having a name they control, the writer wants the money, and there you go.

    If you’re a famous writer, then maybe you don’t make that deal — then again, if you’re a famous writer, they’ll see value in sticking your name on the cover. If you’re not a famous writer, and you’ve failed to sell “Goblins of Venus” to the markets that’d use your real name, you may be open to being “Rod McKenzie” for a check.

    I can’t see how the indiscriminate us of house names benefited anybody seeing as such a system surely didn’t encourage any of the authors concerned to submit their best.

    The per-word rate had a lot more to do with where a writer sent what they thought was their best stuff first, not what name it’d get published under.

    Anything published this way under a house name isn’t going to improve an author’s reputation, and indeed isn’t likely to harm it, so authors have every incentive to send to such editors the stories they can’t sell elsewhere. Mystifying.

    Not really. Low-paying magazines already know they’re in the market for stories the writers can’t sell anywhere else. So that’s not going to deter them.

    That leaves me with only the last item on Boucher’s list to comment on. So who was the extremely prolific author who was writing so much of such varying quality that his name had become almost meaningless? It was Henry Kuttner and according to Anthony Boucher the pseudonym he began to publish all his best work under was Lewis Padgett. Which is true as far as that goes but it was extremely remiss of Boucher to not mention most, if not all, the Lewis Padgett stories were written to one degree or another in collaboration with C.L. Moore. I can’t believe Boucher didn’t know about the collaborative nature of this pseudonym so again I’m mystified as to why he didn’t mention it.

    Well, it was 1949. Kuttner & Moore were still writing, and maybe Boucher didn’t think it was his place to blow their cover. Also, he’d already mentioned collaborative pseudonyms, so that was covered — and it made for a fun anecdote to finish out the piece.

    Kuttner and Moore also wrote as “Padgett” (and, indeed, as “Kuttner”) because those names got higher pay than Moore’s name alone, which is another reason for a pseudonym that Boucher doesn’t cover. And Kuttner did write solo stories under the name Padgett, so the anecdote still holds, even if he didn’t go into all the details.

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