Pixel Scroll 2/9/22 I Have Tasted The Pixels In The Scroll Of The Universe, And I Was Not Offended

(1) TRIPLE TIP. What he tells you three times is true: “Hand Holding” by Mark Lawrence.

This is a blog-post about hand holding. The previous sentence was hand-holding, since the title and the image below make it obvious what the blog-post is about. 

Fantasy stories can be complicated beasts. They’re potentially confusing even if we forget all the technicalities and twistiness of battles, wars, duels, mysteries, espionage, lies etc that might well bedevil other genres….

…And the question through all of this is how much hand-holding the author does. Does the writer put the pieces of the puzzle in front of the reader and assume they’ll put them together? Does the writer put the pieces together for them then repeat the answer for the reader three times in three different ways?

Before I was published I used to share short stories on the now vanished Yahoo Groups. During that time I developed through observation and experience, what I called The Rule of Three.

The Rule of Three: If you want 90% of your readership to take onboard an important fact then you need to repeat it three times in the text….

(2) IAFA’S NEW LEADER. Dr. Pawel Frelik is the next President of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts.

A two-term Division Head of the IAFA, Pawe? Frelik is Associate Professor and the Leader of Speculative Texts and Media Research Group at the American Studies Center, University of Warsaw, Poland. His teaching and research interests include science fiction, speculative visualities, and video games. He has published widely in these fields, serves on the boards of Science Fiction Studies (USA), Extrapolation (USA/UK), and Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds (UK), and is the co- editor of the New Dimensions in Science Fiction book series at the University of Wales Press. In 2013-2014, he was President of the Science Fiction Research Association, the first in the organization’s history from outside North America. In 2017, he was the first non-Anglophone recipient of the Thomas D. Clareson Award. Within IAFA, he has served as Science Fiction Division Head since 2017. Dr. Frelik will assume the presidency at the end of the 43rd ICFA in March.

(3) DISCUSS RING SHOUT. The Gunn Center for Science Fiction Virtual Book Club will meet February 25 and Director Giselle Anatol invites you to the meeting.

(4) WIDE LOAD. Reddit’s r/printSF raised the question, “Are sci-fi books much longer than they used to be? If so, any idea why?” John Scalzi contributed a detailed reply which begins:

Novel lengths in science fiction and fantasy are essentially dictated by methods of publication *and* distribution.

For example, during the “golden age” of science fiction, the main publishing action of SF/F was in the short fiction arena, with novels (many of which were “fix-ups” of previously published shorter work) largely printed as cheap paperbacks which were fitted into racks at drug stores, groceries and other such places. Because distributors (and publishers!) wanted to fit a larger number of books into each rack, novel lengths were commensurately shorter — 40,000 to 60,000 words on average….

(5) BACK TO THE FUTURAMA. “’Futurama’ Revived at Hulu”The Hollywood Reporter says they’ve lined up the creators and the cast.

Nearly 10 years after it signed off, Futurama has been revived for a 20-episode run on Hulu, the third platform for the animated comedy from creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen.

The series that aired its first five seasons on Fox before being revived for three more at Comedy Central will return to production this month for a 2023 premiere. Following an extended deal-making period, original stars Billy West (Fry) and Katey Sagal (Leela) along with ensemble players who voiced multiple characters Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Lauren Tom, Phil LaMarr and David Herman will all return. John DiMaggio, who provided the voice behind the wise-cracking robot with the “shiny metal ass” Bender, is finalizing a deal to return as well though a deal has not yet closed.

(6) SCIENCE PLUS. The National Book Foundation Science + Literature Program “identifies three books annually, steered by a committee of scientific and literary experts, to deepen readers’ understanding of science and technology with a focus on work that highlights the diversity of voices in scientific writing. The selected titles will act as a catalyst to create discourse, understanding, and engagement with science for communities across the country.” Authors will receive a $10,000 prize. The inaugural winners are:

(7) IMAGINARY PAPERS 9. The latest issue of Imaginary Papers, ASU’s quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination, features an essay by science fiction and global futures scholar Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay on the oft-forgotten science fiction docudramas of the filmmaker George Haggerty, and CSI staffer Bob Beard on Richard Linklater’s 2006 PKD adaptation A Scanner Darkly and the dramas of self-presentation. There’s also a writeup of the “Speculating the Future” essay series from the Olaf Stapledon Centre for Speculative Futures. “Imaginary Papers, Issue 9”.

The Films of George Haggerty, Parts 1 and 2 (1975-1994)

What exactly counts as a “forgotten future”? One can google George Haggerty, the director, whose six docufiction films are presented in two anthology DVDs, released in 2017 by Screen Edge and MVDvisual. All six films—Hamburger Hamlet (1975), Mall Time (1988), Robotopia (1990), Home on Wheels (1992), LA Requiem (1993), and Cyberville (1994)—were produced by Mike Wallington, but searching that reveals little about the director or the films. It was the sleeve descriptions, which make Haggerty appear a maverick outsider figure, that first drew my attention to these anthologies. The films are unreservedly about the future, even as they operate at the interstices of the vanishing past and present. As a documentary producer and SF researcher, there is something disconcerting about finding a set of films that one is unable to locate easily in the developing history of the medium. (Drew Barrymore even appears in one of the films, but the title is absent from her IMDb profile.)…

(8) PEEK EXPERIENCE. Leonard Maltin says this was “Douglas Trumbull’s greatest visual effect” in “Remembering Douglas Trumbull” at Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy.

Sometime in the late 1980s my wife and I were invited to a warehouse-type building in Marina del Rey for a demonstration of Douglas Trumbull’s Showscan. A new film format from the man who was largely responsible for the incredible look of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and the modern era of visual effects? The same guy who directed Silent Running? Who could turn down an invitation like that? …

(9) MAKING TIME. GQ is convinced that “The Lazarus Project is your next sci-fi TV obsession” – at least for those in the UK who can access Sky.

Archie recruits him for the clandestine Lazarus Project: an organisation composed of people with the same vanishingly rare ability with which George finds himself stuck. They harness the time-bending power to prevent global catastrophes and apocalyptic scenarios (as a famous philosopher once said: “With great power, comes great…”) But when Sarah, the love of George’s life, is involved in a car accident, the ethics of such an extraordinary gift take centre stage — and what is George willing to sacrifice?

(10) TOM DUPREE (1949-2022). Writer, critic, and editor Tom Dupree died February 7. He was employed as the line editor for Star Wars novels with Bantam Spectra from 1992-1997. He was charged with handling the X-Wing series of novels. The character names “Dupas Thomree” (in Assault at Selonia and Showdown at Centerpoint by Roger MacBride Allen) and “Ree Duptom” (in Hard Merchandise by K.W. Jeter) are playful nods to him.

He had around a dozen published short stories. “With a Smile” (from Mob Magic, 1998) received an Honorable Mention in Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best.

He co-wrote John Maxwell’s critically acclaimed one-man show based on the life of William Faulkner (filmed in 2006).


1966 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Fifty-six years ago this evening, the thrilling sight of Lost In Space’s “War Of The Robots” first happened. In one corner of this fight, we have Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet.   And in the other corner of the ring (metaphorically speaking), we have B-9 from Lost in Space

Aired as the twentieth episode of the first season, the story is that while returning from a fishing trip, Will and B-9 find a deactivated Robotoid. Against the wishes of B-9, Will proceeds to repair and restore the Robotoid which apparently becomes a humble servant of the Robinson family. Sure.

The best part of this episode is the slow motion rock ‘em, sock ‘em battle between the robots. And yes it’s a very, very silly battle indeed as you can see from the image below. 

Lost in Space is available to stream on Hulu and Netflix.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 9, 1928 Frank Frazetta. Artist whose illustrations showed up damn near everywhere from LP covers to book covers and posters. Among the covers he painted were Tarzan and the Lost EmpireConan the Adventurer (L. Sprague de Camp stories in that setting) and Tarzan at the Earth’s Core. He did overly muscular barbarians very well! Oh, and he also helped Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder on three stories of the bawdy parody strip Little Annie Fanny in Playboy. Just saying. In the early 1980s, Frazetta worked with Bakshi on the feature Fire and Ice. He provided the poster for it as he did for Mad Monster Party? and The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck, two other genre films. He was inducted into both Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame. (Died 2010.)
  • Born February 9, 1935 R. L. Fanthorpe, 87. He was a pulp writer for UK publisher Badger Books during the 1950s and 1960s during which he wrote under some sixty pen names. I think he wrote several hundred genre novels during that time but no two sources agree on just how many he wrote. Interestingly nothing is available by him digitally currently though his hard copy offerings would fill a wing of small rural library. He’d be perfect for the usual suspects I’d say.
  • Born February 9, 1936 Clive Walter Swift. His first genre appearance was as Snug in that version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968). Several years thereafter he was Dr. Black in “A Warning to the Curious” (based on a ghost story by British writer M. R. James).Then he’s Ecto, whoever that character is, in Excalibur. He shows up next in the Sixth Doctor story, “The Revelation of a The Daleks” as Professor Jobel. (Died 2019.)
  • Born February 9, 1940 David Webb Peoples, 82. Screenwriter of Blade RunnerLadyhawkeLeviathan, and Twelve Monkeys which is not a full listing. He’s also been writing for the Twelve Monkeys series .
  • Born February 9, 1942 Marianna Hill, 80. Doctor Helen Noel in the excellent “Dagger of The Mind” episode of the original Trek. (This episode introduces the Vulcan mind meld.) She also had roles on Outer Limits (in the Eando Binder’s “I Robot“ story which predates Asimov’s story of that name), Batman (twice as Cleo Patrick), I-SpyThe Wild Wild WestMission: Impossible and Kung Fu (ok, the last one has to be least genre adjacent, isn’t it?). 
  • Born February 9, 1951 Justin Gustainis, 71. Author of two series so far, one being the Occult Crimes Unit Investigations series which he’s written three superb novels in so far, and the other being the Quincey Morris Supernatural Investigations series which has seven novels and which I’ve not read yet. Who’s read the latter series? 
  • Born February 9, 1956 Timothy Truman, 66. Writer and artist best remembered in my opinion for his work on Grimjack (with John Ostrander), Scout, and the reinvention of Jonah Hex with Joe R. Lansdale. His work with Ostrander is simply stellar and is collected in Grimjack Omnibus, volumes one and two. For the Hex work, I’d say Jonah Hex: Shadows West which collects their work together. He did do a lot of other work and I’m sure you’ll point out what I’ve now overlooked… 
  • Born February 9, 1981 Tom Hiddleston, 41. Loki in the Marvel film universe. And a more charming bastard of a god has never been conceptualised by screenwriters. Outside of the MCU, I see he shows up in Kong: Skull Island as Captain James Conrad and The Pirate Fairy as the voice of James Hook as well in a vampire film called Only Lovers Left Alive as Adam. 


  • Close to Home illustrates a friend who doesn’t quite get it.
  • Tom Gauld free associates.

(14) VERBATIM. The Comics Journal has posted the “Transcript of the McMinn County Board of Education’s Removal of Maus”. It’s been extensively discussed here in comments, but may still be news for others.

On January 10, 2022, the McMinn County Board of Education in Tennessee voted unanimously to remove Art Spiegelman’s Maus from its eighth-grade language arts curriculum, citing its use of profanity and depictions of nudity. This public document represents the unedited minutes of that Board’s meeting, presented as a service to all impacted parties.

(15) DAY-OLD NEWS. Someone – probably Upstream Review’s Michael Gallagher in “A Whitewashed Tomb: SFWA’s Best Can’t Sell Books” – got what you get when you poke the bear.

(16) POKÉMON TIME TRIP. “Pokémon Legends: Arceus review: breathing new life into Pokémon” promises The Verge.

…Which is what makes Pokémon Legends: Arceus so refreshing: it’s genuinely surprising. It does this by shifting the timeline back to long before the modern games in the series, during a period when pokémon were still barely understood. Instead of a world where humans and pokémon live in harmony, and anyone can buy an electronic device full of information on hundreds of species, players are thrust into a wild, untamed region where people are just doing their best to survive while surrounded by largely unknown and seemingly dangerous creatures….

(17) NEGATORY, GOOD BUDDY. If you’re sensitive to robotic (and other violence), do not watch the trailer for the game Atomic Heart. No, no, no.

(18) LONG MEMORY. Beckett’s “History of the Obscene 1977 Topps Star Wars 207 C-3PO” includes the interesting note that unlike most collectibles that have to be withdrawn, it’s easier to find the original version of this trading card than the censored replacement edition.

“C-3PO (Anthony Daniels)” is about a mundane caption as you can get.

To those working on the set at Topps and the licensor, nothing seemed to stand out.

Once the cards were out there, it didn’t take long for people to notice that something definitely was.

(19) BLOWN AWAY. BBC News reports “SpaceX loses 40 satellites to geomagnetic storm a day after launch”.

SpaceX has lost dozens of satellites after they were hit by a geomagnetic storm a day after launch, causing them to fall from orbit and burn up.

Such solar “storms” are caused by powerful explosions on the sun’s surface, which spit out plasma and magnetic fields that can hit the Earth.

The company, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, said up to 40 of 49 satellites from last week’s launch were hit.

They had been due to join its Starlink satellite internet project.

Starlink is Mr Musk’s bid to provide high-speed internet using thousands of orbiting satellites….

(20) ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK. “Asteroid sharing Earth’s orbit discovered – could it help future space missions?” asks The Conversation.

Research has shown that the Earth trails an asteroid barely a kilometre across in its orbit about the Sun – only the second such body to have ever been spotted. It goes round the Sun on average two months ahead of the Earth, dancing around in front like an excited herald of our coming.

This object, known as 2020 XL?, was first spotted in December 2020 using Pan-STARRS telescopes on the summit of Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui. But determination of its orbit required follow-up observations using the 4.1-metre SOAR (Southern Astrophysical Research) telescope in Chile….

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers:  Arcane:League of Legends,” the Screen Junkies find an animated series based on a video game that “taught your 13-year-old cousin all his favorite slurs” is actually pretty good.  The series features “cyberpunk, steampunk. skatepunk, and Punky Brewster” and is in a world where “magic is like science, and science is like Crossfit.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Jennifer Hawthorne, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Joey Eschrich, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

49 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/9/22 I Have Tasted The Pixels In The Scroll Of The Universe, And I Was Not Offended

  1. Clive Swift was Sir Ector (or Hector), King Arthur’s foster father, in “Excalibur”. Sir Ector appears in that role early in the Arthurian legendarium; he was the father of Sir Kay, and, with his son, was made a Knight of the Round Table when Arthur became King. He’s not to be confused with Sir Ector de Maris, Sir Lancelot’s brother, who was also a Knight of the Round Table.

  2. (12) It’s also Carole King’s 80th birthday. Surely the song “Tapestry” counts as genre: “He sat down on a river rock and turned into a toad/ It seemed that he had fallen into someone’s wicked spell…”

  3. Sam Long says Clive Swift was Sir Ector (or Hector), King Arthur’s foster father, in “Excalibur”. Sir Ector appears in that role early in the Arthurian legendarium; he was the father of Sir Kay, and, with his son, was made a Knight of the Round Table when Arthur became King. He’s not to be confused with Sir Ector de Maris, Sir Lancelot’s brother, who was also a Knight of the Round Table.

    Yeah I saw that he had been in Excalibur and was going to include that role but forgot to do so. My bad.

    Now listening to Michael Crichton’s The Great Train Robbery. No, not even genre adjacent in the least way. And it has one of the great movie posters ever done for a truly superb film.

  4. I got my tablet back from hospital security today, so I thought I’d stop by and report a successful heart bypass surgery. Not feeling particularly chatty tonight, but nice to know I’ll be around in the future.

    Must have been a particularly successful one, as I’m reporting from February 9, 4761.

  5. Scalzi seems to have remarkably thin skin. He also, apparently, spends a large portion of his day searching for mentions of himself on the internet so he can stir up drama on Twitter. What a sad way to live ones life.

  6. Chet Desmond: Or maybe Scalzi has friends “helpfully” pointing out every slighting remark. I know of another writer whose followers do that because they enjoy seeing the person erupt in a long obscene rant. Compare that to how Scalzi returns the taunts of people who try to bait him. I can think of other examples, but I won’t get into them now. It’s easy to find writers with a lot thinner skin than his.

  7. 21) Arcane – I somehow missed it when it was released late last fall. It’s everything you could want in animation, which shocks me given the tie in to the video game. I’m loving it, and if you haven’t seen it and love really good animation with a good story and good voice acting, I can easily recommend it. Even Honest Trailers couldn’t say much negative about it.

  8. (15) I noticed a bonus feature of this crossword puzzle: If you choose Star Trek as the answer, then the answer to 71 down is a famous quote from Star Wars–but if you choose Star Wars, it’s not.

    Eta: Whoops, posted this on the wrong Pixel Scroll. This refers to an item on yesterday’s scroll! Sorry!

  9. (15) Gallagher uses Scalzi’s and a few other SWFA-affiliated writer’s Bookscan numbers to show that the “woke” can’t sell books. He then spends the last paragraph praising writers like Larry Correia, John Ringo, and Jim Butcher who, he says, write message-free books that sell massively well and are beloved by readers everywhere. He does not provide Bookscan data for Correia, Ringo, and Butcher for comparison.

  10. Nancy Sauer says Gallagher uses Scalzi’s and a few other SWFA-affiliated writer’s Bookscan numbers to show that the “woke” can’t sell books. He then spends the last paragraph praising writers like Larry Correia, John Ringo, and Jim Butcher who, he says, write message-free books that sell massively well and are beloved by readers everywhere. He does not provide Bookscan data for Correia, Ringo, and Butcher for comparison.

    Ok, I’m confused. How does he use the Bookscan numbers to prove Scalzi et al don’t sell books when it clearly shows they do sell books in HUGE numbers? And how does he access individual level data that’s supposed to available only to the author on Bookscan? Or is he using only the gross data that Bookscan makes available to everyone? Or is he just being an ass and making up numbers?

  11. (15) I can understand wanting to take a shot at Scalzi. But trying to take him down a peg by attacking his sales figures??? That’s just silly. Even if the 5 million total is exaggerated, he’s still sold in the seven figure region, easily. Dude is killing it when it comes to sales.

    @xtifr that crossword really was clever!

  12. @Mike on Desmond:

    I’d just have asked Desmond what was the point he was trying to make? After which I’d ask him if he really felt that working for oneself while earning a multi-million dollar book deal can be any version of “sad”. (Not to mention having as much or as little free time as he desires, several media deals already in the bag and who knows how many others in the offing, a good handful of awards sitting on shelves he can point to any time he’s not too tired from writing a blog post….)

    But then I think I do tend to be a bit more confrontational.

  13. Bonnie says I guess it depends on whether or not you agree with the message. ?

    Is any fiction message free? I think not. And I don’t disagree with the right of any author to tell any messege that they want to tell so long as I can always decide which pieces of fiction, or for that matter non-fiction which also always contains a message as well, I get to read.

  14. (14) The subject was also discussed in the Board’s meeting of Jan 13. The minutes for that meeting have not yet been posted, but there was some coverage in the local paper.

  15. (12) I have a Frazetta calendar hanging in my bedroom right now. The pictures look much better on glossy paper than they do in tiny boxes on websites.

    Speaking of sword & sorcery, Timothy Truman did an obscure comic for Eclipse called “Killer Tales by Timothy Truman.” The first story adopted an unpublished sword & sorcery story by Gardner F. Fox, which I thought was a really cool idea. As far as I know, there was just one issue.

    (15) I don’t see this as an example of a writer with thin skin. People might think he’s the guy in the “someone’s wrong on the Internet” comic — but more likely, his critics are the ones hunched over the keyboards and missing sleep.

    He probably ignores a lot of what his “naysayers” claim. Once in a while, he bats one of their claims around like a cat with a toy. And like a cat with a toy, he’s soon on to something else (like writing a book). At least that’s my take on it…

  16. How weird to see an obit for Tom Dupree in an sf fanzine/blog that makes no mention of his contributions to fandom!

    Tom was also active as a young man in science fiction fandom. He was in Apa-45 and was Official Editor for a time; he actively wrote letters to science fiction fanzines.

    One example:

    “MonsterAPA is either dead or only vaguely alive, depending on whose information is more up to date. The 5th mailing came out in November, 2 months late, with 79 pages in 7 items. If a spark of life remains, the OE and founder, Tom Dupree (809 Adkins Blvd, Jackson, Miss 39211) needs’ as members anyone who is interested in monsters — or, I suppose, fantasy films in general. The November roster shows only 10 members, with a copy requirement of 30.”

    — April 7th, 1967: https://www.fanac.org/fanzines/Ratatosk/Ratatosk45.pdf

    And page 9 and 10 here in this horribly poorly scanned fanzine:

    There are plenty of other mentions in con reports and newszines and fanzines and apas!

    How easy it is to become forgotten as your cohort dies off.

    “He was employed as the line editor for Star Wars novels with Bantam Spectra from 1992-1997.”

    Also bizarre, since he was the main editor for all of their sf and plenty of other books!

  17. Scalzi seems to have remarkably thin skin. He also, apparently, spends a large portion of his day searching for mentions of himself on the internet so he can stir up drama on Twitter. What a sad way to live ones life.

    Wow, this all seems to be completely made-up libel with no basis in fact.

  18. I just remembered this, so I thought I should add it because of the emphasis on Bookscan numbers above. Years ago, in the pre-Puppy days, I attended a local book signing with Larry Correia. He gave a talk to the fans before the signing, and there were quite a few of them. Believe it or not, it was a lot of fun. He was clearly excited about his work, his publisher, and upcoming stories. His enthusiasm was catching. (And boy, is he tall!)

    He kept talking about the great sales numbers his books were getting. But looking back, it’s odd that he kept bragging to his audience that his books were outselling SFF books by those other publishers. It sounded fascinating at the time — until you ask yourself how he would know all their private sales numbers. So even back then, I wonder if he was looking at public Bookscan numbers and believing that he was outselling the major authors published by Tor, DAW, etc. I’m sure most of the people at the signing believed the same thing.

    Maybe this is a hobby for some authors — misreading Bookscan numbers and then persuading themselves that “nobody” is really buying those books by Tor because they don’t want to read “message” books about equality or whatever. Instead, I guess they want to read “message” books about gun rights or whatever.

  19. (12) Tom Hiddleston also starred in the J. G. Ballard adaptation High Rise.
    Most of R. L. Fanthorpe’s early output is available in digital form from the SF Gateway, in the UK at least. He has also contributed short stories to more recent anthologies that should still be generally available, e.g. Tales From the Vatican Vaults.

  20. Tom Dupree: https://www.facebook.com/tom.dupree/posts/10158355860942190

    From a humble start composing cover blurbs, he became Senior Editor at Bantam and later Executive Editor at HarperCollins. Tom worked across a wide spectrum: Louis L’Amour westerns, the Star Wars book series, fiction from Tom Robbins and Bill Fitzhugh, and wide-ranging pop culture books and memoirs, often featuring the very artists he so admired.

    Tom was one of the most important book editors to ever come out of sf, and all that’s mentioned of his long career is that he edited STAR WARS?


  21. Gary Farber: As I am aging out I find the amount of toxic pedantry I can take is continually decreasing.

  22. (12) Frazetta got his start drawing comic books in the 1940s and was a master of pen and ink illustration. He did a series of covers for Famous Funnies, featuring Buck Rogers, that are as good as anything ever drawn for that medium. Check them out.

    He submitted one illustration for the series that the editors thought was too violent. So he slightly redrew it, and sent it to William Gaines at EC Comics, who promptly bought the rights.

  23. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Larry’s books seem to be a Marxist parable: corporate leaders are secret monsters, quitting jobs is impossible but killing them is a beloved fantasy (even before they are revealed as monsters) – and true life satisfaction is only achieved by working as a mercenary for the State (apparently the world can’t be saved without a government agency to direct activity). Fine if you approve of socialism and think a government paycheck is the dream, but hardly appealing to a libertarian.

  24. To be fair to Chet Desmond (who may or may not deserve my fairness; I have no idea), if you don’t know the context, it may appear like Scalzi is being thin-skinned there.

    @Chet Desmond: In case you don’t know, Scalzi has been the target of a concerted on-line hate campaign by various far-right factions in SF for quite some time now (for reasons I don’t find entirely clear, though I have some speculations). For the most part, he ignores this, but he has commented that he’d rather have that hate focused on him, a successful straight white male, than some of the more vulnerable members of our community. And every so often, he seems to like to poke the bear, as it were. Possibly to help keep their attention focused on him.

  25. As long as I’ve been aware of Scalzi, he’s been viciously attacked by Larry and his ilk for no more than being fantastically successful when they are not. They’ve failed when he’s succeeded all his writing career, it’s no more complicated than that.

  26. Cat Eldridge: Scratching my head. What I remember from the Sad Puppy days are a number of posts where Correia and Scalzi were showing themselves to be collegial bestselling authors. Lots of other Puppies target Scalzi, though not Correia.

  27. I expect it depends on when you (collective noun) became aware of the relationship? I remember a time when Larry Correia was saying positive things about Worldcon too.

  28. Soon Lee: So have I just forgotten some attack? Seems like the kind of thing I usually notice, or at least want to be aware of. If things changed more recently please point that out.

  29. @Mike,
    I don’t think so.

    (There were pre-Puppy Days when people interacted (when they did) in a civil fashion. Some of those may well have included Correia Scalzi interactions. There certainly was no overt hostility I can recall until the Puppy Wars.)

  30. Re: Are sci-fi books much longer than they used to be? If so, any idea why?
    As usual, in these polarized times, people are trying to drag culture wars issues into an SFF discussion, and then use this as a platform to attack and demonize their ideological enemies. Simple cynicism about markets, writers, and human greed common across the entire political spectrum is probably more in order. Several years ago, I read an industry article that stated that a fat book (novel) at $27.95 was more profitable for a publisher than a less expensive one. Old time editors admonished their writers to cut, cut , cut, and keep the story moving and the interest up.
    The accountants and MBAs who dominate the big publishers today apparently believe that padding pays. I find myself reading SF novels, getting to page 125 or so, and thinking “dammit, nothing has happened yet, and thre’s still 600 pages to go. The ship hasn’t launched, the war hasn’t started, the aliens haven’t apeared, the experiment hasn’t begun, etc., ad nauseum”. In SF book groups, when a group is reading an older work that that has been recommended as a classic, if a fanatic in the group doesn’t bog us down with left wing or right wing complaints about their own perceptions of political orthodoxy, the younger readers will often express wonder that a book might be good and yet so short – only 180 to 225 pages – and yet so thoughtful, so gripping, and so full of action and so much story that they were astonished………

  31. He does not provide Bookscan data for Correia, Ringo, and Butcher for comparison.

    That was my big takeaway from Michael Gallagher’s hit piece also. He didn’t share Bookscan data for those authors because a side-by-side comparison of their sales to the other authors would undermine his attack. He must think very little of his readers to try to sneak that past them.

    The About page of Upstream Reviews is absolutely dreadful. I respect the truth in labeling.

  32. K: That’s the whole tradpub conspiracy theory behind fatter books — the indie, self-publishing counterpart is to figure out how to dilute the story so it can be presented in a series of modest-length books that can be sold as Amazon Kindle editions priced in whatever the writer thinks is the sweet spot for marketing. Because in the first round of this contest I’m judging I had the same criticism you bring up, I’m 20 percent through the book and it’s all been setting up a story that has yet to really start moving. And most of these entrants turn out to be the first books of series. The good ones make you want to find out what happened to the characters — except when a book ends without the payoff of resolving the crisis that those characters were confronting I feel cheated.

  33. Rcade: I went back and looked at the rest of Upstream Reviews posts from this month. The majority of the posts are what I call recycled advertising– identifying a well-known sf book that’s available as a Kindle $1.99 special or the like. (A blog of Meredith Moments if you will.) Rob Kroese, of BasedCon fame, writes a lot of these. My favorite Sad Puppy Declan Finn is another reviewer — his latest contribution explains that Tim Powers’ presence at Baen makes John C. Wright’s absence more tolerable, which is a critical thought process you won’t find anywhere else. The site also rolls in hype for Puppy publisher Newquist. So the larger context for this hit piece is about what you expect. And the comments are from loyal members of the tribe who live by faith that Baen authors are the real best sellers.

  34. @Cat Eldridge Bookscan figures are readily available with those with general access, for any number of reasons, and reading into them without further context unfortunately doesn’t much good. I tend to use multipliers, myself, to work it out, which is specific to each publisher, but even then it’s a crapshoot. With Tor I’d say it’s closer to 4x or 5x, which takes into account digital sales, the library trade, and even the mass market. Mind you, the pandemic has depressed or shifted sales all over the place. The paper shortages certainly aren’t helping. But in any case what’s far more interesting is something like the weekly reports, which you can breakdown by format, front or backlist, and then by subject category. It’s in there that you get some interesting results. (Like for the top 50 hardcover frontlist for science fiction, Tor dominates with twelve titles, the most of any publisher on that list.)

  35. Sean Wallace: Your comment does a good job of unpacking the reason I didn’t immediately run out and say “I’ll show ’em, I’ll get somebody to give me Bookscan numbers for these other guys”, because that info would be incomplete and all I would have done is give them the opportunity to write long posts about how they’re being victimized, which is their bread and butter (opportunistically followed by JDA videos based on their complaints, in which he lovingly pan-scans the unattributed text from File 770 as he rants.)

  36. As long as I’ve been aware of Scalzi, he’s been viciously attacked by Larry and his ilk for no more than being fantastically successful when they are not.

    Has Correia contributed directly to the online anti-Scalzi discourse? My impression is that the established professional writers—on all sides—have by and large refrained from addressing each other directly.

    Which makes sense to me, as they will have to interact professionally with each other on occasion. I do recall Scalzi saying once on his blog that he got along fine with John Ringo in person, and he had no interest in changing that.

    Granted I haven’t particularly kept up since the Puppy days. A lot could have changed since then.

  37. I recall that Scalzi and Correia were on a panel together at the height of the puppy wars and no fisticuffs broke out nor was blood shed.

    The attacks on Scalzi generally seem to come from puppies on the lower rungs of publishing or self-publishing. Correia attacks plenty of people, but usually only those he deems unimportant. In short, he only punches down, not up or sideways.

  38. I’m reading a Neal Stephenson novel on my tablet that has 4,400 odd pages.

    Keeping me occupied and distracted from the current real plague and Wife’s hospitalization. I read fast, but this reprint of all three volumes of his historical novel of the late 1600s and early 1700s in England and Europe — and even the colonies — is as good as I remember from reading the very heavy tomes when they first came out on paper.

    I admire Scalzi, also too, he wrote a great obit of a beloved cat the other day, followed up by the report of the death of his uncle. Part of getting to be in your 70s, lots of people you love are gone now.

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