Pixel Scroll 2/6/18 If Only The Contents Matched The Packaging

(1) WITH ADDED SHARKE. New Shadow Clarke juror Gary K. Wolfe gives his opening statement in “Conversations in a Noisy Room: Introducing Gary K. Wolfe”.

I initially came to SF criticism through academia, where matters of grace and clarity are not always the highest priority. My earliest publications were in scholarly journals or with university presses, at a time when everyone seemed enamored of structuralism as a theoretical model. (A few years later, of course, we escaped that cage, only to find everyone equally enamored of post-structuralism.) It was essentially a grammar of analysis and taxonomy, modeled largely on the language of the social sciences, and to the extent that it was evaluative at all, it was mostly in passing. It was also a language marvelously well-suited to disguising thinness of thought.

Then I was invited to begin writing for a now defunct magazine, Fantasy Review, for a very different kind of audience.  What models I had for SF criticism consisted of those early volumes by Damon Knight, James Blish, and even Kingsley Amis, and the succession of remarkable reviewers in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction – Judith Merril, Joanna Russ, Algis Budrys, and others. Budrys became a kind of mentor in my shift toward real-world reviewing and criticism. We disagreed a lot, but he showed me that while my opinions might be worthwhile, they were a lot more worthwhile if they had solid reasoning behind them, and if they described a context for the works under discussion….

(2) BEST SERIES. Now that voting has opened for Hugo nominations, keep in mind JJ’s tool: “Best Series Hugo: Eligible Series from 2017” and discussion thread.

To assist Hugo nominators, listed below are the series believed to be eligible as of this writing for the 2018 Best Series Hugo….

OTHER AIDS. JJ is also curating —

(3) BEST SERIES CAVILS. Martin P. advocates that voters impose additional criteria beyond the rules: “On the Hugo Award for Best Series”

…However, just because something can’t be legislated doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be kept in mind while nominating and voting. The standard I intend to apply is that to be worthy of a Best Series Hugo, a story must be fully satisfying even if no other installments are ever published. This does not necessarily mean a story must be conclusively over. For instance, while I can certainly imagine new installments in the Vorkosigan Saga, last year’s winner in the award’s trial run (and if Lois McMaster Bujold wants to write them I’d happily read them), my enjoyment of the series will not be diminished if Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen is ultimately the final installment. But I don’t think a series that is clearly incomplete is award-worthy, and I’m not inclined to grant credit for future work. Everybody can think of a series that started strong and then went off the rails. I’m not comfortable coming back in the future and saying “this received the Best Series Award but you need to ignore its conclusion”. I don’t even love new books getting a “Hugo-Nominated [or Hugo Winning] Series” stamp from their publisher when the Hugo electorate hasn’t had a chance to read the book yet, although I recognize that marketers are going to pull that kind of thing regardless.

I do not intend to nominate any series that does not meet this criteria, and I urge others to do likewise. I will also likely rank any clearly incomplete series nominated below No Award, although I might consider a series whose final installment is published in 2018 before the voting deadline, as such a series would be ineligible for future nomination. And yes, I fully anticipate that I will rank something I quite like below No Award.

…While it might be difficult to find satisfactory completed series every year, N. K. Jemisin’s exceptional Broken Earth trilogy is eligible for the 2018 Best Series Hugo. I’m nominating it. If you haven’t read it, I highly encourage you to do so.

(4) THANKS BUT NO THANKS. Despite endorsements like Martin P’s, author N.K. Jemisin, in “Hugo Nomination Rumination”, wants Hugo voters to leave her trilogy out when nominating in the Best Series category.

As I’ve mentioned on social media, I only have two works eligible for awards nomination from 2017: The Stone Sky, and my Uncanny short story Henosis. Last year was tough, so I didn’t get much writing done. I’m sure a lot of you can relate.

But since people have asked for my thoughts on this… Please, if you’re going to nominate The Stone Sky in any form, do so in the Novel category, rather than nominating the whole Broken Earth trilogy for Series. I mean, I can’t stop you from nominating it however you like — but let me point out, if you didn’t know, that The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate have both won Hugos already. This is awesome, but in my eyes, it simply wouldn’t be fair for those books to effectively get a second bite at the apple in the Series category. That this possibility exists has always been a potential problem of the category, IMO.

And here’s the thing: I understand that some folks believe I’d have a better chance at scoring a third Hugo in the Series category. I’m super-grateful to those of you who think about stuff like this, but as someone who never expected to get even one Hugo… y’all, I’m okay either way. If TSS doesn’t get nominated or win in the Novel category, and some other deserving work does win, then so be it. TSS is a New York Times and Locus bestseller and the series has been picked up for a TV show; I’m doin’ all right by most other measures. I’m not going to pretend I wouldn’t squee my head off if I won Hugo #3 at any point, but there won’t be any tears in my beer if I lose, either. (If for no other reason than that I don’t drink beer.)

(5) JUICY RUMORS. Been suffering from a lack of A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones gossip? Reddit’s ASOIAF discussion group delivered a spicy serving today.

(6) YET ANOTHER STAR WARS SERIES.  With Thrones creators D&D’s work on their HBO series ending, the pair have hooked up with Disney to make more Star Wars movies — “‘Game of Thrones’ Creators to Write, Produce New ‘Star Wars’ Series of Films”.

Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are going to write and produce a new series of “Star Wars” films, Disney announced on Tuesday.

The new series will be separate from the main episodic Skywalker saga that started with “Star Wars: A New Hope” and is slated to wrap up with 2019’s “Star Wars: Episode IX.” It will also exist independently from a Rian Johnson-helmed series that was announced last year.

“David and Dan are some of the best storytellers working today,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, in a statement. “Their command of complex characters, depth of story and richness of mythology will break new ground and boldly push Star Wars in ways I find incredibly exciting.”

It also comes at a time of transition for Benioff and Weiss. “Game of Thrones,” their sprawling fantasy epic, will end its run on HBO in 2019.

(7) KEEPING READER TRUST. Sandra M. Odell shares tips on “Building The Disabled World” at the SFWA Blog,

I love intricate, detailed worldbuilding; it’s the backbone of science fiction and fantasy stories, even those set in the modern era.  Sadly, few things make me stop reading faster than the realization that a writer gave more thought to the description of a meal than they did to the how or why an accommodation for a character with disabilities came to be in a story. Inclusion and representation matter, and so do the supports that allow an individual with disabilities to interact with a writer’s world. You don’t need to include every last detail about the world on the page, but there should be enough detail and consistency in the presentation that I can trust that you know what you’re talking about.

When creating a world where individuals with disabilities play a role, you should answer four basic questions…

(8) CLOVERFIELD. Netflix put up The Cloverfield Paradox on Sunday. The trailer —

Yahoo! Entertainment has a spoiler-filled discussion: “How Does ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ Fit With the Other Two ‘Cloverfield’ Movies?”

One of the bigger developments of Super Bowl Sunday, aside from the game itself being outstanding, was the news that “The Cloverfield Paradox” (previously known as “The God Particle”) would be surprise  dropping on Netflix right after the game. It was a genius move from a marketing standpoint — the number of folks who watched the movie Sunday night probably far exceeded what the movie would have done at the box office. But now that we’ve seen it, it’s left a bunch of us scratching our heads.

Looper also has analysis (video) —

The Cloverfield movie-verse has now officially expanded into some wild new territory. Netflix surprised fans of the sci-fi film series by dropping the third installment, The Cloverfield Paradox, on Super Bowl Sunday without warning. Like the first two films, Cloverfield 3 offers a new perspective on why all of those giant monsters have appeared on Earth. If you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to click away now because we’re about to take a deep dive into outer space…


(9) CONAN UP THE AMAZON WITHOUT A PADDLE. According to Deadline, “Conan the Barbarian TV Series In Works At Amazon From Ryan Condal, Miguel Sapochnik & Warren Littlefield”.

Amazon is developing drama series Conan, based on the books by Robert E. Howard, Deadline has learned. The project hails from Colony co-creator Ryan Condal, Game of Thrones director Miguel SapochnikFargo and The Handmaid’s Tale executive producer Warren Littlefield, Pathfinder Media and Endeavor Content.

Created and written by Condal, Conan retells the classic character’s story via a return to his literary origins. Driven out of his tribal homelands, Conan wanders the mysterious and treacherous world of civilization where he searches for purpose in a place that rejects him as a mindless savage….


  • Born February 6, 1947 – Eric Flint

(11) SALUTE TO THE BIRTHDAY BOY. At Black  Gate, Steven H Silver continues his series – “Birthday Reviews: Eric Flint’s ‘Portraits’”:

“Portraits” first appeared in The Grantville Gazette, an online magazine tied to Flint’s 1632 series, which allows various authors to discuss the setting and try their hand at fiction. When Baen decided to publish hard copies of some of the articles and stories, “Portraits” was reprinted as the first story in Grantville Gazette Volume I (2004) and provided the volume with its cover art. It was subsequently reprinted in Flint’s collection Worlds.

“Portraits” tells the story of Anne Jefferson, an American nurse posing for the Flemish artist Pieter Paul Rubens. The story assumes knowledge of the 1632 situation and characters Flint introduced three years earlier. This is a story which relies on its published context to be fully appreciated.

(12) LISTEN UP. Marvel New Media and top podcast listening service Stitcher have released the trailer for Wolverine: The Long Night. The 10-episode series airs weekly beginning March 12, 2018 exclusively on Stitcher Premium. It will see a wide release across all podcast platforms in fall 2018.

Listen to the trailer for Wolverine: The Long Night” here: www.WolverinePodcast.com

The “Wolverine: The Long Night” story is a captivating hybrid of mystery and the larger-scale fantasy of the Marvel Universe. It follows agents Sally Pierce (Celia Keenan-Bolger) and Tad Marshall (Ato Essandoh) as they arrive in the fictional town of Burns, Alaska, to investigate a series of murders and quickly discover the town lives in fear of a serial killer. The agents team up with deputy Bobby Reid (Andrew Keenan-Bolger) to investigate their main suspect, Logan (Richard Armitage). Their search leads them on a fox hunt through the mysterious and corrupt town.

(13) FALCON HEAVY. It worked: “Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy rocket launches successfully”. As of the time the BBC posted this article, two of the three first-stages were known to have detached and landed safely. They were still awaiting news of the third, which was making a sea landing.

It is designed to deliver a maximum payload to low-Earth orbit of 64 tonnes – the equivalent of putting five London double-decker buses in space.

Such performance is slightly more than double that of the world’s next most powerful rocket, the Delta IV Heavy – but at one third of the cost, says Mr Musk.

For this experimental and uncertain mission, however, he decided on a much smaller and whimsical payload – his old cherry-red Tesla sports car.

A space-suited mannequin was strapped in the driver’s seat, and the radio set to play David Bowie’s classic hit Space Oddity on a loop.

…Two came back to touchdown zones on the Florida coast just south of Kennedy; the third booster was due to settle on a drone ship stationed several hundred kilometres out at sea.

During the launch, the video signal from the drone ship was lost, so the fate of the third booster is not yet clear.

(14) FRESH CYBERPUNK. Speculiction’s Jesse Hudson finds a winner: “Review of Graft by Matt Hill”

Cyberpunk is now roughly forty years old.  With relevant works from writers like James Tiptree Jr. and John Brunner appearing in the 60s and 70s, it coalesced into a recognizable trend in the early 80s—the four decades since having seen a full exploration of the idea of ‘cyberpunk’ through hundreds of stories and books.  Thus, in 2016, how does a writer do something original with the form?  With its imagery and characters, settings and ideas well established, there is probably only one way: deliver unique prose combined with a competent package.  Matt Hill, in his 2016 Graft, does precisely this….

(15) SPEAKER TO ALIENS. At Quick Sip Reviews, Charles Payseur delivers “Quick Sips – Lightspeed #93″, reviews of four stories, including —

“Four-Point Affective Calibration” by Bogi Takács (1450 words)

No Spoilers: A person must undergo a special kind of mental exercise to calibrate a machine that might allow them to communicate with aliens. The piece dissects emotions and the supposed universality of certain “core” emotions, as well as looks at the idea of expectation, immigration, and appearance. Quick but dense with hope, fear, and the barriers of language.
Keywords: Aliens, Emotions, Transcript, Non-binary MC, Immigration, Communication
Review: For me, this story hinges on understanding and communication. The piece is framed as a transcript of a sort of mental calibration—part test, part measurement to set a baseline to allow the narrator to communicate with aliens. I many ways, though, I feel like the communication with the aliens isn’t the most important relationship being explored. Or, I guess I mean, what I keep getting out of the story is that for the narrator, it’s not communicating with the aliens that seems fraught or difficult—it’s communicating with other humans. Because of the barriers that humans erect between each other in order to try and ease communication, but in practice make things much more difficult for many people, especially those who don’t fit in well enough, for whom the burden of communication and understanding is always on appeasing the dominant voices, the dominant empathies. For the narrator, this seems another way that they have to grapple with ideas, “core” emotions, that they might not feel the same as others—because they are autistic, because they aren’t a cisgender person. These things that people take for granted the narrator cannot, nor do they react to this central frustration in the ways that people expect, in ways that are expected of them. And it’s a short but very complex and moving story about the hazards and difficulties of communicating, and of being understood. That there is this frantic kicking of thoughts, worries, fears, just under the surface of the narrator’s thoughts, laid bare here by this test in the hopes that they’ll be able to have this opportunity, to be allowed to have a conversation that excites them. It’s a wonderful read!

(16) SHIMMER PROGRAM. Another Chinese story in translation is available at Clarkesworld.

(17) ANSWER WITH A QUESTION. Steven H Silver reports this was “a triple stumper” on today’s Jeopardy!

(18) FOR SALE. Mel Hunter’s original art “Lunar landscape,” which appeared on the cover of the June 1960 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (with small painted rocket ships superimposed on the landscape), is offered by Illustration House. It is expected to bring $3,000-$4,000.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Nothing to do with sff whatsoever. Loved The Parking Lot Movie, recommend it highly. Here’s the trailer —

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, StephenfromOttawa, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Mark Hepworth, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dann.]

127 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/6/18 If Only The Contents Matched The Packaging

  1. @Kip W: “The problem’s all there in the file . . .” – LOL and bravo! 😀 Also: Bonus points for using my name; yay, I’m poetically correct!

    @Joe H.: Re. the Meredith Moment – that’s how they get ya! Just ask my overloaded iPad about some of the first-books-in-series awaiting my reading pleasure.

    @Johan P: LOL at the cat-in-mini-Tesla tweet, thanks.

  2. (3) BEST SERIES CAVILS. I understand not nominating. The feeling of whether something concludes enough to nominate will vary person-to-person. But No Awarding seems extreme to me; why not just leave it off your final ballot? Oh well.

    (4) THANKS BUT NO THANKS. I find the “it wouldn’t be fair” part weird. It makes total sense to me that a Best Series nominee (let alone winner!) would have a Best Novel as one of its parts. Anyway, it doesn’t sound like she would turn down the nomination; I certainly feel it’s one of the best qualifying series (and hey, it’s complete!) I’ve read that had an entry last year, so I’m nominating it. 😛

    @Dann: I’m skeptical anyone would break up a series (which BTW needs editor & publisher collusion, too) to try to game the barely-started Hugo Best Series. Too many practical reasons to split/not split up a series anyway, methinks.

    @JJ & @Mike Glyer: JJ’s comment seems to inadvertently support Mike’s comment. Mike said won, not nominated. And indeed, the winner was Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga*; she’s got 8 noms for individual books in the series and 3 of those won. Lots of Hugo love. But I hasten to add, we can’t really go by one winner in a new category! 😉 Who knows what the future holds (except more books, heh).

    * BTW wow, 8 Vorkosigan noms and 3 wins! Of course, as I devour audiobook after audiobook (just finished Memory) in the series, I can see why. 😉

    I kinda expect (perhaps even hope???) series winners will have at least one Hugo-nominated novel in the series, if not a winner. I know, I know – the whole may be more than the sum of its parts, etc. But if none of the novels were nominated, I’d kinda wonder why a series won (not why it was nominated – that, I totally understand).

  3. Oh and speaking of the Vorkosigan Saga, as I just said, I just finished Memory in audiobook. It was very good! The pacing seemed a little uneven, or maybe it’s always a little uneven and I just noticed this time? The stuff by the lake, mid-to-late in the book with Miles and Simon, probably came the closest to boring me that any scene has so far in the series. (N.B.: I haven’t read/heard the pre-Miles novels yet, like Falling Free or the Cordelia/Aral books.) Still, overall the introspection was good and I’m excited to see how Miles gets on now that his life’s changed so much, and how the series progresses. The mind fairly boggles to think I’ve got an Ivan novel in my future. 😛

    Now I’m listening to Beneath the Sugar Sky which I’m digging. The narrator’s good, though she does Rini just a little too high and excited for my tastes.

  4. @ Kendall:

    One of my examples of why I think a “Best Series” Hugo is better than not having a “Best Series” Hugo is The Dresden Files. It certainly was the case that I was seriously considering nominating Skin Game (the 15th book) for a Hugo, but one of the reasons I didn’t is that for the book to work, you probably need to have read at least a carefully-chosen half of the previous 14 books.

    So, with that in mind, I think the “Best Series” is a category that should exist, and I think that conflating nominations in “Best (not a series)” with nominations in “Best Series” is doing yourself (and the categories involved) a disfavour.

    What makes for a good novel is not necessarily what makes for a good installment in a series. And the quality of a series can transcend the quality of each individual installment (and, indeed, go the other way, although I can’t think of any specific examples there).

  5. And the quality of a series can transcend the quality of each individual installment (and, indeed, go the other way, although I can’t think of any specific examples there).

    Octavia Butler’s Patternmaster series is an example of the inverse for me, with the more deeply-felt later books leading up to the relatively conventional post-apocalyptic setting of the first-published.

    (There are also things like Asimov’s and Heinlein’s late books welding early ones together, though those are much easier to just ignore.)

  6. @ ULTRAGOTHA: I ALSO hold that they can be validly viewed as two different series. (I do firmly put Hunt in with Curse and Paladin.)

    I would say that The Hallowed Hunt actually has stronger ties to the Penric stories than to the Chalion books, via the role that shamanism plays in Penric’s career.

  7. @Ingvar: To clarify, in case I fumbled this – I was not implying all books in a Best Series need be Best-Novel-worthy ones. Just that I’d hope at least something in there rose to the level of a Best Novel nomination.

    Anyway, the other category isn’t “Best (not in a series)”; it’s Best Novel, and IMHO a series installment can be a Best Novel. I expect a little overlap. But I don’t expect complete overlap! 🙂

    Not sure if I’m making sense or just muddying things more. Obviously we come at this from different places.

  8. Kendall on February 7, 2018 at 10:12 pm said:
    Oh and speaking of the Vorkosigan Saga, as I just said, I just finished Memory in audiobook. It was very good! The pacing seemed a little uneven, or maybe it’s always a little uneven and I just noticed this time? The stuff by the lake, mid-to-late in the book with Miles and Simon, probably came the closest to boring me that any scene has so far in the series. (N.B.: I haven’t read/heard the pre-Miles novels yet, like Falling Free or the Cordelia/Aral books.) Still, overall the introspection was good and I’m excited to see how Miles gets on now that his life’s changed so much, and how the series progresses. The mind fairly boggles to think I’ve got an Ivan novel in my future. ?

    Both Barrayar and Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance are very good books, in very different ways. As is Shards of Honor, although clearly not as mature as later books. Ivan is my favourite character in the whole saga, and I like Aral and Cordelia more than their son as well.

  9. @ Kendall:

    I’d argue that all of “novel”, “novella”, and “short story” are compatible with “Best Series”.

    I would not be surprised to see an overlap, but I would also not be surprised seeing a really good series, worthy of winning, on the final list, and even winning, that has not ended up with any installment in any of the previous categories. Having had one (or more) installments as a finalist, or even winner, in a relevant “Best (not a series)” category, is probably a sign that it is a good series, though.

    But I remain adamant in my (possibly foolish) conviction that it’s perfectly fine to have finalists (and even winners) in Best Series that have not been a finalist in any “Best (not a series)” category (and having not been a finalist, by necessity not a winner).

  10. @Kip W: applause!

    @Xtifr: if there is no larger arc, is it actually a series rather than a set of novels that could happen in any order? The definition merely suggests common elements, but uses the word “installment” which ISTM is sequential (although I wonder whether the clause writer saw this). OTLH, I doubt many voters will care about the exact form of the connection(s) among the books in a series.

    @ULTRAGOTHA: Since Curse, Paladin, Hunt and the Penric novellas are all unified by elements such as characters, setting, and presentationAre there any characters who appear in >1 of Curse/Paladin, Hunt, and the Penrics? Certainly presentation is common and setting is somewhat common, although I’ve read that Bujold intended a novel for each god with (aside from the first pair) no coupling of characters or setting-specific-to-that-story.

  11. PhilRM on February 7, 2018 at 3:06 pm said:

    @Xtifr: I’m with Johan P. It seems to me that your interpretation of ‘series’ would count e.g., Iain Banks’ Culture novels or Ursula Leguin’s Hainish novels as series

    It seems to me to fit within the rules: “A multi-installment science fiction or fantasy story, unified by elements such as plot, characters, setting, and presentation,[…]”. If the words I highlighted weren’t present, I would interpret that very differently, but they are, so I don’t. 🙂

    As Mike said, “[f]ocusing on edge cases is counter-productive.” I have faith in the Hugo Voters to make reasonable choices for the most part. Flexible rules allow problems, but they also allow creative solutions that more rigid rules might prevent.

    And yes, if Banks were to crawl up out of the grave and give us another Culture novel, I would very likely toss a Best Series nomination his way. On the other hand, a new Chanur novel would see me nominating Chanur as a series, rather than Alliance/Union. But I wouldn’t be upset if A/U ended up on the ballot instead.

    As for incomplete series, again, that strikes me as focusing too much on edge cases. While series do vary in quality from story to story, I find it hard to think of any cases where a series has dropped off in quality so much that it crosses the line between what I think of as Hugo-worthy and not. Unless it was barely Hugo-worthy to start with–but in that case, I doubt it would win.

  12. Addendum: @Chip Hitchcock, I think your definition of “installment” may be different from, and much narrower than mine. I think something can be an installment of “the series” even if it’s not an installment of “the story” (in a case where a series doesn’t have a “the story”).

    Dictionary.com says “a single portion of something furnished or issued by parts at successive times.” I think “the latest installment of the Chanur books” is a perfectly reasonable formation, as well as something to be devoutly wished for. 😉

  13. Me:

    Since Curse, Paladin, Hunt and the Penric novellas are all unified by elements such as characters, setting, and presentation

    Chip Hitchcock on February 8, 2018 at 10:09 am said:

    Are there any characters who appear in >1 of Curse/Paladin, Hunt, and the Penrics?

    The Father, The Mother, The Son, The Daughter, and The Bastard.

  14. @Ultragotha

    The Father, The Mother, The Son, The Daughter, and The Bastard.

    What you did there, see it we do.

    And that’s fascinating, because we (I?) aren’t used to thinking about gods as characters, but those Five are real and present in all of the books. I would have told you that they didn’t share any characters. This may reveal more about my thinking than about the book, though.

  15. It’s those five characters that make me feel that all the stories in The World of the Five Gods are one series.

    Even while simultaneously acknowledging that the Penric stories can certainly be a separate series.

    I am legion.

  16. In re series Hugo voting, jumping into the discussion a bit late —

    1. I don’t see any problem with voting for an unfinished series. After all, we are voting for the series that is best **at this time** (in its current state), not the series that may be best at some point in the future (as in, when it finally gets finished).

    2. Complex series-within-a-series — A good example this year is the complex Robin Hobb series. Is the “series” just the Farseer/Tawny Man/Fitz and the Fool books? Any subset thereof? Or does it include the Rain Wild and Liveship books as well?

    3. I also feel prejudiced against voting for a trilogy as a series. I wouldn’t rule it out, but to me “series” means four or more books. That’s why we have a separate word for “trilogy” — because it’s a different beast!

  17. if there is no larger arc, is it actually a series rather than a set of novels that could happen in any order?

    Sure. The Oz books are a series, the Famous Five books are a series, SUPERMAN is a series, even during the era when there was no story-to-story continuity.

    In some series, there’s no overall arc, but there are developments along the way that make the order of the stories matter (the Oz books and the Compleat Enchanter stories come to mind), but the author isn’t spinning some big unified story, they’re just telling the next story in the series.

    Arcs that run from installment to installment have become more commercial and more common over time, but there used to be lots of TV series that told a complete story every episode and rarely had things happen that disturbed the status quo. They’re still series.

    Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op stories could mostly happen in any order (except the ones that make up the novels, and a few others), but it’s still a series.

    Maybe we’re talking about the difference between a serial and a series, here?

  18. @Ingvar: Gah, yes, of course those are all compatible with best series. I focused a bit too much on Best Novel as a precursor; I didn’t mean to forget short story, etc. Thanks.

  19. Personally I am nominating the Doctor Who novelisations, on the strength of the 2017 publication of James Goss’s adaptation of the Douglas Adams script of the 1978 story, The Pirate Planet.

    There was very little difficulty with overlapping series last year. Only two cases hit the top sixteen. One person nominated the Penric stories and 83 nominated the World of the Five Gods. And 82 nominated the Mistborn books by Brandon Sanderson, while 5 nominated the Cosmere books (of which Mistborn is a sub-set), and 4 nominated the Wax and Wayne books (which are a sub-set of Mistborn). The Graphic Story category gave me much worse problems in this regard.

  20. @Contrarius: “2. Complex series-within-a-series — A good example this year is the complex Robin Hobb series. Is the “series” just the Farseer/Tawny Man/Fitz and the Fool books? Any subset thereof? Or does it include the Rain Wild and Liveship books as well?”

    I’ll go you one better: Discworld. Or, for something still going, 1632.

    I like seeing an author establish a world that contains multiple series, which may or may not cross paths with each other. If you like the whole thing, feel free to read it all. If not, you can leave out the parts that leave you cold. It’s important to keep the “small universe” problem in mind, of course; while it’s reasonable to have some characters meet now and again, it can quickly become unrealistic for them to have too much contact.

  21. Amusingly, when I see “World of Five Gods”, I actually think “Trudi Canavan” rather than “Lois McMaster Bujold”, although they were actually called The Age of FiveTrilogy (also features gods as characters in their own right, with personalities, desires, peculiarities and in at least one case even a bit of character development through the series).

  22. @UULTRAGOTHA: I was thinking of people rather than (generally) walk-on supernaturals — but I also note that so far each of the full-length books has focused on a different one of the five gods, with the others being completely offstage. (Yes, the Father makes a cameo in Paladin…, which belongs to the Bastard — but IIRC we haven’t seem him elsewhere.) I don’t consider a god being worshiped, or even being associated with by a funeral animal, as a character present in a story. YMMV.

  23. Chip, They’re there, though. The entirety of Curse is due to a drop of The Father of Winter’s “blood”. The Mother of Summer is the God who came to Ista with the way of breaking the curse. The Bastard and the Daughter of Spring are entwined in Cazaril. Even the Son of Autumn has a role in sending helper after helper to Teidez, all of whom failed to follow through.

    We see The Son of Autumn in Hunt, but also in Penric’s Shaman. The Father of Winter appears in both Paladin and Shaman. The Daughter of Spring is in Curse and The Prisoner of Limnos.

    And of course, The Bastard is in all of them.

    But even if you remove the characters part, they are still unified by elements such as setting and presentation.

  24. @Rev. Bob —

    “I like seeing an author establish a world that contains multiple series, which may or may not cross paths with each other. If you like the whole thing, feel free to read it all. If not, you can leave out the parts that leave you cold.”


    I’m especially interested in the Hobb books this year because if we consider only the final trilogy as eligible, I personally don’t think the Fitz and the Fool books deserve a Hugo series award — but if we take all the books together as a series, I absolutely think it does. And this is despite the fact that I haven’t read either the Rain Wild books or the Liveship books.

    Tis a puzzlement!

  25. In any case, if we want to say that Best Series is limited to serials (thank you for the mot juste, Kurt), just because the description says “installments”, then we’ve already blown it! The Vorkosigan Saga is just a set of related novels, which don’t even all have the same protagonist, let alone an on-going story arc. (Not even in the Miles books.)

    Now, maybe some are upset because 100% of the Best Series winners don’t match what they believe the definition should be. But I believe that 100% of the winners have been exactly what they should be! 🙂

  26. …and, this, very much in l’espirit de l’escalier, is an excellent summary of what I think about Musk and Falcon Heavy, as part of a larger article that’s also very good:

    What happened today was an incredible achievement, but it is an achievement that does not belong to Musk, much as he will reap all the credit for it. This was the work of engineers, physicists, programmers, factory workers, janitors, and their neglected families as all of them worked inhumane hours to realize Musk’s childish fantasies and cynical ambitions alike. They should all be incredibly proud of what they accomplished. Musk just made some dumb tweets and stuck a car in it, all while holding their lives hostage with the implicit contract that binds all workers under capital: work for me if you want to eat.

    – Donald Borenstein, “A style guide for writing about the rich”

  27. Pingback: Top 10 Posts for February 2018 | File 770

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