Pixel Scroll 2/13/17 Scroll Me The Pixel Of Alfredo Garcia

(1) DOG DOESN’T BITE MAN. Can you believe it? Someone is not getting sued. His name is Wil Wheaton: “The library for Storytime With Wil just got a little deeper…”

For a few weeks (months?) I’ve been doing this silly and fun thing on Monday nights. I pick a random Choose Your Own Adventure book from my collection, and I read it on my Twitch channel, letting the audience make the choices for me…

So it’s pretty much a regular thing, now, and I seem to have settled upon 6pm Pacific time every Monday, unless there’s a Kings game or I have some other pressing engagement.

Anyway, I always point out that I am not doing this for money, and I don’t mean to infringe on Choose Your Own Adventure’s IP rights or anything like that. I always point out that I’d rather beg forgiveness than ask permission, and I hope that if CYOA ever stumbles upon my thing, they’ll treat it as free marketing and not a thing to throw lawyers at.

So last week, someone from CYOA emailed me … and it turns out a lot of them at the publisher are fans of my work, including my Storytime with Wil thing!! Not only do they not want to sue me to death, she offered to send me a care package, and it arrived today.

See what good things happen when, for a random example, you don’t raise half-a-million dollars on Kickstarter to turn a fan thing into a moneymaker?

(2) FIRST TIME. Jodi Meadows has written an addendum to her post Before She Ignites cover reveal” responding to comments like those made by Justina Ireland (reported in yesterday’s Scroll.)

A few people have mentioned they see this as an important cover, because it has a Black girl in a dress. That’s what I want to talk about. I didn’t realize when the cover was being designed (that’s my privilege), but this is the first time a big publisher has this kind of cover.

It shouldn’t be the first time.

The first time a major publisher designed a YA cover with a Black model in a gown, it should have gone to a Black author.

Again, me not realizing that hadn’t happened yet: that was my white privilege at work.

The fact that mine came first is a symptom of the problems in publishing, and who publishing is designed to work for. By the time I knew what was at stake with this cover and the timing, the model had already been hired and her photos taken. At that point, changing the cover would have meant telling a Black model that she couldn’t be on my cover because she’s Black.

I hope it’s obvious why I wouldn’t do that.

Dhonielle Clayton told me I should say all this upfront, but I resisted because I couldn’t think of a way to do that without seeming preemptively defensive or like I wanted a pat on the back. So I just didn’t talk about it. Now I see that was the wrong decision, because this hurts people. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.

Meadows also discusses a soon-to-be-published YA novel by a black author that will feature such a cover.

Some of the names involved in the Meadows story are also sources for Everdeen Mason’s recent Washington Post article, “There’s a new way for novelists to sound authentic. But at what cost?”, which reports how publishers are hiring “sensitivity readers… who, for a nominal fee, will scan a book for racist, sexist, or other offensive content.”  From Mason’s article, it appears these readers are used most often for YA fantasy novels.

For authors looking for sensitivity readers beyond their fan base there is the Writing in the Margins database, a resource of about 125 readers created by Justina Ireland, author of the YA books “Vengeance Bound” and “Promise of Shadows.” Ireland started the directory last year after hearing other authors at a writing retreat discuss the difficulties in finding people of different backgrounds to read a manuscript and give feedback about such, well, sensitive matters.

One reader for hire in Ireland’s database is Dhonielle Clayton, a librarian and writer based in New York. Clayton reviews two manuscripts per month, going line by line to look at diction, dialogue and plot. Clayton says she analyzes the authenticity of the characters and scenes, then points writers to where they can do more research to improve their work.

Clayton, who is black, sees her role as a vital one. “Books for me are supposed to be vehicles for pleasure, they’re supposed to be escapist and fun,” she says. They’re not supposed to be a place where readers “encounter harmful versions” and stereotypes of people like them.

(3) WHO’S SECOND? The “America First, <yourcountry/etc here> Second” meme (explained in this CNN news segment) has inspired at least two fannish responses –

  • Mordor Second

  • Mars Second

(4) HE’S ON THE FRONT. Cool cover by Tom Gauld for the Guardian Review:

(5) ROUNDTABLE REMOVED. Apex Magazine has pulled the “Intersectional SFF Round Table” that Mia Sereno (Likhain) protested in an open letter to the editors quoted in yesterday’s Scroll. Jason Sizemore passed responsibility to those who packaged the roundtable, who also are “Likhain’s publisher” (bolded in the original as shown).

…One correction I need to make regarding Likhain’s email since this is a discussion she chose to take public rather than giving Apex a chance to respond. She says: “It is not your choice to publish RH that I find appalling, but your specific choice to ask her to contribute to a roundtable on, of all things, intersectionality.”

This is not true. Djibril and Rivqa, Likhain’s publisher, invited Benjanun to be on the round table. The round table contains four other people with greater wisdom on what is and is not appropriate when it comes to intersectionality than I will ever possess: Cassandra Khaw, Vajra Chandrasekera, Miguel Flores Uribe, and Rivqa Rafael. Since they participated in the discussion I could only assume they had no issue including Benjanun. Djibril had no issue with Benjanun. Therefore, I felt it was okay to move forward.

In consideration to the concerns expressed by Likhain’s public post, our readers, and the counsel of several friends in the genre community, I have decided to remove the round table from our website….

(6) WHAT WATCH? James Gleick asks Guardian readers “Do we still need Doctor Who? Time travel in the internet age?”

Two generations of TV watchers have been schooled in temporal paradox by Doctor Who, and when one Doctor gives way to the next, as will happen in the next series, the reincarnation generates almost as much speculation as the royal line of succession. Who will follow Peter Capaldi? She will be a Time Lord, after all.

Nor does time travel belong solely to popular culture. The time-travel meme is pervasive. Neuroscientists investigate “mental time travel”, more solemnly known as “chronesthesia”. Scholars can hardly broach the metaphysics of change and causality without discussing time travel and its paradoxes. Time travel forces its way into philosophy and influences modern physics.

How strange, then, to realise that the concept is barely a century old. The term first occurs in English in 1914 – a back-formation from HG Wells’s The Time Machine (1895). Somehow humanity got by for thousands of years without asking, what if I could travel into the future? What would the world be like? What if I could travel into the past – could I change history?

(7) REVISITING AN OLD FAVORITE. Cat Rambo walks the razor’s edge between a fisking and a fond reading of the Doc Savage novel Quest of Qui in her latest blog post.

Cassy, in the process of shedding a box of Doc Savage novels, found out I loved them and passed them along. I remember Doc and his men fondly; while at my grandparents for a Kansas summer when I was twelve or thirteen, I found my uncle’s old books, which included a pretty complete run of the Bantam reprints and reveled in them for years to come.

I’m going back and rereading while making notes because I loved and still love these books; my hope is that I’ll start to notice some patterns as I move through the books and that I’ll be able to talk about pulp tropes, gender assumptions, reading fiction aimed at a gender other than your own, and writerly techniques in an entertaining and (maybe) useful way….

You’d think Doc would train himself out of that tell, but even the Man of Bronze has limits. An alarm clock rings and a knife appears from nowhere and hits Doc in the back. At this point, we discover that he habitually wears a fine chainmail undergarment. The material of the undergarment isn’t specified. Neither Renny nor Doc can figure out where the knife came from; at least, Renny can’t. Doc’s a cagey dude and you’re never really sure what he knows and what he doesn’t. The knife is an ancient Viking relic.

The phone rings; it’s another of Doc’s men, Monk, aka Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Blodgett Mayfair (“Only a few inches over five feet tall and yet over 260 pounds. His brutish exterior concealed the mind of a great scientist,” the frontispiece helpfully informs us) What’s new, pussycat, he asks Doc, only not in those words. An alarm clock just rang in my office and then there was a knife out of nowhere, Doc retorts. Of course the phone goes dead at this point….


  • February 13, 1923 – Chuck Yeager, the first man to travel faster than the speed of sound. Born in Myra, West Virginia.

(9) AVOID THE KISS OF DEATH. Leading up to Valentine’s Day, the Horror Writers Association blog presents Mac Child’s latest piece of writing advice, “Love is a Disease: Prevent the Romantic Storyline from Strangling the Scary”.

First, a caveat: There’s nothing wrong with paranormal romance; it’s simply a different genre from horror (and the two genres frequently have a substantial overlap in readers). A romantic storyline, in and of itself, is not a terrible thing at all. This argument is by no means a condemnation of love and the readers who love it.

Romantic fiction uses a different kind of tension—will the protagonist suffer heartbreak? Will the couple get together? End up together?—than the frequently external threats and emphasis on surviving found in horror. In a horror, too much ink spilled about love ends up replacing one tension with another, pulling focus away from whatever monster, human or not, is menacing your hapless heroes.

(10) NEXT CONRUNNER PLEASE. Steve Cooper discussed the latest Conrunner on Facebook and announced he and Alice Lawson will be organizing Conrunner 5.

…We even have a provisional theme – “new con-runners” and with that in mind Conrunner 5 will have a Y.A membership category for those who will be under 40. And we hope to provide bursaries to help members who are relatively new to con-running. We’ve already spoken with the chair of INNOMINATE who will try to find some money for this after pass-along to follow on from the generous donation by Satellite 4 to Conrunner 4. We’ll also be following this up with Follycon and the 2019 Eastercon. There will also be a 2nd Pete Weston memorial scholarship – but how that will be targeted has not yet been fixed.

But Alice and I don’t “Run” Conrunner – we provide the back-bone for others to put on a con-running programme. Claire [Brialey] & Mark [Plummer] did a stirling job this year. Now it could be your turn.

…But let me end by thanking the 70 con-runners who came to Nottingham, and participated in the convention especially the two thirds of members we managed to get on panels. (Next time join earlier and we’ll try and get that closer to 100%). We hope you had an enjoyable and instructive weekend and look forward to seeing you all and many others at Conrunner 5

(11) SELECTIVE EXCERPTS. That’s what Dave Freer always calls these representative quotes, but today I’m really doing it. Plucked from his typical stew of complaints against Puppy-kickers, Scalzi, Tor, and David Gerrold (as well as a big plug for Jon Del Arroz based on taking his story at face value) comes this spot-on statement about the movie Starship Troopers – “Truth in Advertising” at Mad Genius Club.

The other relevant aspect is you shouldn’t be just selling once. The key to success as an author is building a customer base, building a name. Now over on Tor.com they were busy displaying how not to understand this. You see –according to the genius on Tor.com (I hope he runs marketing for the company) – Paul Verhoeven’s STARSHIP TROOPERS was a work of genius satirically parodying that nasty evil Robert A Heinlein that the modern literati of sf love to hate.

(shrug) I don’t care if you agree, or disagree, adore the movie or hate it… the problem is one the writer of the article seems blind to, and yet, when you think about it, is behind almost all the adverse reaction the movie received.

…If Paul Verhoeven had called the movie I HATE HEINLEIN, or HUMAN FASCISTS KILL INNOCENT BUGS the same people now calling it ‘brilliant satire’ would still have loved it… (possibly less, because they enjoyed watching the Heinlein fans get furious), but it would have engendered almost no disparagement. It would also have lost a huge volume of sales to the suckers who believed the advertised name.

(12) LIFE INTERRUPTED. Is it dead or not? There’s a thematically appropriate question for a magazine about ghoulish movies, Fangoria, especially now with there being disputed claims that the magazine has produced its last print issue. Former editor-in-chief Ken W. Hanley announced on Twitter –

Today Fangoria officialdom issued a statement admitting that print publication has been “interrupted” but they hope to make a comeback –

These words are in no way excuses, more the bitter truth about the current circumstances involving our print publication and interruption of production. With time and continued patience from our fans, writers, artists and subscribers we will be working endlessly to make good on any funds owed for magazines and/or articles written. In the meantime, we’ll continue trying to conquer the uphill battle to restore our print issues that our fans urgently long for.

(13) JOCULARITY. Adam Rakunas and Patrick S. Tomlinson have a plan for boosting author revenue – let’s see if this starts trending.

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Lex Berman, Daniel Dern, Paul Weimer, John King Tarpinian, and an untipped hat for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

102 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/13/17 Scroll Me The Pixel Of Alfredo Garcia

  1. I read around 40-50 destroyer books, I think. There around 150 of them last I looked. My younger self loved them, but when I tried to read them again 5-10 years ago, it didn’t work at all. 😛

    And I actually liked the movie. ^^

  2. I will never understand why some people think Heinlein’s work is immune to visits from the Suck Fairy. Most of his work is now well into “how to be a fan of problematic things” territory, and some of it is beyond that.

    I didn’t go to see the movie because I’d already found out it didn’t have the power suits; as the suits are almost a character in their own right in the book, that told me immediately that whatever the movie might be, it wasn’t going to be Starship Troopers.

    That the book is still popular doesn’t surprise me. There are always upcoming generations of 17-year-olds. I’m sure that Ender’s Game remains popular for the same reason.

  3. If we are talking Heinlein, I didn’t like any of his books from the 70s and forward. There was some kind of breaking point there and after that, he either was too caught up in his own sexual revolution or tried to connect all his books into one metaverse.

    But Heinlein before that ruled (with a few exceptions).

  4. Some time ago, I blogged about why I hated the Starship Troopers flick. I should now add that the director knowing diddly squat about the source material is a battleship-size red flag. I’m left-wing, and I say that just because a story is right-wing does not make it bad. What does? From my blog post:

    …giant bugs in another star system threw an asteroid at Earth. In other words, they threw a big rock. At Earth. From another star system. The rock had no warp drive, no hyper-drive, no lightspeed drive, no nothing except rock. I will pause here to let you think about that. (ONE SECOND PASSES!) Okay, you should have thought of this: A ROCK WILL TAKE A VERY LONG TIME TO TRAVEL SEVERAL LIGHT-YEARS!

  5. @Hampus – I looked up the chronology of Heinlein and agree that after 1966 (Moon is a Harsh Mistress) I also did not like his work.

    and as you said: “But Heinlein before that ruled (with a few exceptions).”

    The Audible versions of his books are mostly very good. The Puppet Masters is an exception to that.

  6. I think Starship Troopers was my fifth or sixth Heinlein, coming out of my Dad’s collection of the juveniles after Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, Tunnel in the Sky, Citizen of the Galaxy, etc. He called it ‘Practical Fascism in the Face of Extinction, which at the time, didn’t mean anything to me. It was just awesome marines in power armor killing giant bugs, like something out of Robotech or the popular power-armor franchises of the 80s at the time. It wasn’t until later in high school that I read it with any kind of critical eye, and to me, it was essentially Heinlein creating a giant ‘lifeboat’ condition to justify a militarily dominated franchise in the face of the war. The idea that service (even if pointless and without worth) was the sole qualifier for political participation in the face of a relentless (and empathy devoid) foe is essentially the Captain with the sidearm making the rules on the lifeboat, because presumably, he’s the one who sees the situation the clearest and most ruthless to ensure at least some survive.

    To be honest, I don’t think it was written as satire or as an extension specifically of Heinlein’s ideal of a society as much as it was his obsession at the time of what he felt the veneer of civilization barely covered and how the strong minded characters were able to accept that truth in the face of adversity. Tunnel, Citizen, Farnham’s Freefold, Double Star, all within a few years of ST dealt pretty heavily with the same theme.

    FWIW: There was a computer animated ST television show I vaguely recall that hewed much closer to the books in terms of the power armor and the like.

  7. I believe the “breaking point” for Heinlein was his medical issues. His earlier works, particularly the juveniles, were much better written although they still do suffer from the blandishments of the Suck Fairy.

    I read all of his early stuff, and liked it (with the singular exception of Podkayne*). Tried watching the movie, and found it too boring. Not only am I a feminist and a bleeding-heart Liberal, I don’t own any guns (but I do have a small collection of Really Nice Knives); however, I have been known to watch shoot-em-up movies with pleasure. Manly men doing manly things! Yeah! Wait, I mean, Personly people doing personly things! Yeah!

    I also read most of the Destroyer books, up through the early 1990s, and didn’t bother to try that movie.

    *Well, also Farnham. We shall not speak of that.

  8. Heinlein was able to write page turners. Even books that lack in story, like friday where quite entertaining imho (at least to my younger self). The latter books would have been much better without the cringeworthy sex though…

  9. If I’m required to like ALL Heinlein books in order to like ANY Heinlein books, I shall just point to I Will Fear No Evil. And laugh, hysterically.

    And yet, I re-read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress every few years. And I have a certain fondness for Tunnel in the Sky….

  10. I’m trying to decide where I’d draw the jumping the shark line for Heinlein as well. The problem is that The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is IMO my favorite Heinlein novel, but it comes immediately after Farnham’s. Can I draw a sort of squiggly line with some time travel involved?

  11. Intermission: Im looking for name and author of a certain SF novel: It was about windows that slow down light, so they would show what happend say 70 years ago (depending on glass) . The inventor tried to find a method of releasing the light if needed, IIRC to solve a murder case?
    I thought it might be Bob Shaw, but I cant find a title that would fit, so I probably misremembered.

  12. I don’t know. One of my favourite Heinlein’s is one of his last, JOB. It’s problematic at points, but tremendously readable and clever. And it came after Number of the Best and Friday, which were just drek.

    I read through the whole Lazarus Long sequence at about 12, so Time Enough For Love was interesting, and it went right down the rabbithole of awful with The Cat and To Sail. Even my father, a Heinlein fan from the days of his stuff in the Scout’s magazine, read everything from I Will Fear No Evil out on out of a sense of loyalty.

  13. I’ve done the sensitivity reading thing – or am doing, I guess (one reader owes me a response. Depending on her words, am considering a third, but I need funds). I don’t consider the fee “nominal”. Tthe average is $250.00 / 100k words. It’s a *Fair* price, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not a *nominal* one. It’s a strain on my resources, especially as the MS is over that length so the fees go up.

  14. The Starship Troopers debate has been going on since the book first appeared in F&SF. It is clearly didactic in a way that much other politically-engaged SF of the Fifties–particularly the Galaxy school, which tended toward satire as the delivery system: Pohl & Kornbluth, Sheckley, Tenn–is not. The book was written at a time in RAH’s career when his political ideas had shifted “right”* in response to a familiar constellation of Red Menace/Cold War/nuclear annihilation nightmares and long after his personality seems to have completed the turnabout that I suspect began when he married Virginia.

    I read ST as soon as the Signet paperback was released in 1961 and even at 16 found myself arguing with its givens–and I was part of the book’s original “juvenile” target readership. (Context-setting: I was also reading the plays of G. B. Shaw, Clarence Darrow for the Defense, and similar non-National-Review-friendly fare. I was also familiar with my father’s stories of Navy life during the war that Heinlein had desperately wanted to be part of.) Even back then I recognized the lifeboat-morality-as-a-political-system notions (to echo Dex) that drive much of the book (though I might not have been able to articulate the recognition as sharply as I could years later), just as I came to recognize both the seriousness and the subjunctivity of even the most annoying of Heinlein’s later work. (Not all of which is executed with the same degree of skill.) Reading Patterson’s biography has reinforced my reluctance to dismiss the work or slap a simple label on the writer. (BTW, the section of Patterson that deals with this period of RAH’s career and in particular the reception of ST and his reception of that reception is quite interesting.)

    * Scare quotes because the political space is not two-dimensional.

  15. The cat have 29% Five star reviews , sail 50%, Beast 46% (I dont recall that as bad as the other two…), Friday 56%, Time anough for love 67%, Job 67%
    farnham 46%. I dont want to wade through the medium known stuff (but I am disappointed that Sixth column only reached 55%), but finish with a happy 72% for Moon is a harsh mstress.
    Make of that what you will…

    @Ghostbird, Kathryn, Leonora: Thanks! Yes, its Other days, other eyes, which contains the shirt story Light of other days. It was one of my dads favorites, but got lost in their move. Id like to track down a new copy for him ( I also liked it, but I really liked everything Shaw)

  16. The more I read about the ST movie the more I lean towards the screenwriter basically trying to rip off Heinlein and getting caught. Granted, I haven’t watched the movie credits but I can’t find anything that gives the name of the writer of the ‘original idea’ for “Bug Hunt”. And Paul V. basically couldn’t be bothered to read the source material.
    If it’s satire it wasn’t very good at it and if it’s not, well, remember “Showgirls”. It’s not called 90210 in Space for nothing.

    But then, I don’t get those people who foam at the mouth about the book. I’ve read lots of things that had a message that irritated me(Monster Hunter), but I don’t carry on like trash about it.

  17. Dex notes FWIW: There was a computer animated ST television show I vaguely recall that hewed much closer to the books in terms of the power armor and the like.

    That’d be Roughnecks: Starship Trooper Chronicles which ran which ran for 36 EPs starting in ’99. It’s quite excellent and skips past the politics of the source material to focus on the troopers and their battles, personal and with the bugs. Greet CGI for the time.

    Verhoeven planned it to 40 EPs but Sony, the money folk, canceled it 4 EPs short of that. Yes Verhoeven. Duane Capizzi who did a lot of DCU animated work was the prime developer of the series.

    It’s very, very good.

  18. @ Ghostbird: I didn’t realize that there was an actual collection of slow glass stories! A copy is on its way to me now.

    @ Russell: ITYM that political space is not one-dimensional, along a line from “right” to “left”. Two dimensions gives a better view, with right to left on one axis and Authoritarian to… I’m not sure what the word is for the opposite of Authoritarian… on the other. If you add a third axis, you can include reality-based to functionally delusional (the term for people who believe as an article of faith things like “Obama is a secret Muslim” or “there are preserved alien bodies in Area 51”).

  19. Hampus Eckerman: And I actually liked the movie

    I’ll tell you one thing I really liked about it — the theme music, and I wish the composer had developed it beyond the signature couple of bars that arrested my attention.

    And I had no complaint about Kate Mulgrew as a military officer — I now think of that being an Ensign Janeway character, foreshadowing her work in Voyager.

    Joel Grey should not have been cast as Chiun, in my view, anyway. I’m sure the person who made that choice — thinking of his work in Cabaret — was thrilled to be able to tell people “We’ve got Joel Grey!” I thought he looked awkward in every way — appearance and movement. (And all that before even raising the issue that bothers people about the casting of Doctor Strange, that Grey is playing a Korean.)

    Fred Ward as Remo was a choice I was willing to live with. He didn’t look very nimble, but he looked like the New York cop he was supposed to be, and that helped him play off Chiun’s complaints about the material he was given to train.

  20. I remain primarily a fan of Heinlein, excepting Farnham. I particularly credit Friday with getting me seriously interested in reading the rest of his catalog – and if I still had my original paperback copy, I could even point to the specific review quote. I’ll read just about any of his books at the drop of the proverbial hat, especially Friday, The Past Through Tomorrow, Double Star, Assignment in Eternity, and The Door Into Summer.

    But I won’t pretend they’re perfect or contain no objectionable/problematic material.

    I liked Starship Troopers as both a book and a movie franchise. Honestly, I have trouble understanding how anyone could watch the movie, get to the scene with the children viciously stomping on insects, and not realize that at the very least, the propaganda dimension of the movie was blatant satire. It’s hard to get much further over-the-top than that, folks.

  21. Jonathan Edelstein on February 14, 2017 at 7:53 am said:

    I’ve been informed by the Nebula Awards Commission that Hidden Figures is not a genre film and therefore ineligible. Am I correct in assuming that the “or related subjects” language in WSFS rule 3.3.7 would make it eligible for the Hugos regardless of its genre status?

    Yep. The “or related subjects” language, in my opinion, translates more or less as “Administrators should not make subjective decisions. If the members think it qualifies, then it qualifies.

  22. of a relentless (and empathy devoid) foe

    One that the Skinnies had no trouble co-existing with. The humans, on the other hand, terrorized the Skinnies. Not only that but knowing the unitary Human State believes

    Either we spread and wipe out the Bugs, or they spread and wipe us out—because both races are tough and smart and want the same real estate.

    May be why the Bugs attacked. And it suggests a grim fate for the Skinnies once the humans don’t need them anymore.

  23. In honor of the day, and the fact that we have several folks around here involved in Romance as well as SF, to some degree or other, I present the following (shamelessly stolen from the “Your Mom is So Berkeley” FB group):

    Roses are red;
    Gender’s performative.
    Mass market romance
    is heteronormative.

  24. On Starship Troopers, the book: I read it as teenager, and I remember liking it, because I liked everything Heinlein at that time. Rereading it about 10 years ago, I thought, “For a book about space war, there’s a whole lot of talking and not very much, you know, fighting?” It seemed more about training and lectures that actual combat. Give me David Drake any day.

    On Starship Troopers, the movie: I liked it, and I don’t know if I thought it was a satire or what. The first part of the movie sort of followed the book, which was fine. The rest of it actually had battles, and the action scenes were pretty good, which is all I expected. Although the end with Neil Patrick Harris doing telepathy on the aliens out of nowhere? Color me confused. On the other hand, Denise Richards. *sigh*

    On the Destroyer (books): These were so much better than the typical “Men’s Adventure” novels of the 1970s (The Executioner by Don Pendleton was the first major series, followed by a lot of derivatives, mostly poorly, uh, executed.) Like The Executioner, these still seem to be going strong thanks to a bunch of ghostwriters. Haven’t read any in years, for various reasons. But at least the original authors decided early on that they weren’t interested in writing the same book over and over again, which resulted in some interesting stories and a complex (maybe too complex over time) mythology.

    On the Destroyer (movie): Fred Ward was a good Remo, but the producers completely missed the point. I kept waiting for Remo to grasp the powers of Sinanju and kick ass. They missed the opportunity to really show what Remo would become capable of doing.

    As a last point, Doc Savage is great.

  25. I loved Starship Troopers the book, which I read for the first time in the early 70s. Even on the first read, though, there were things that bothered me, even though I really couldn’t articulate exactly what the problem was. On subsequent readings, the problems became clearer and clearer to me.

    I still love the book, though I don’t reread it as often.

    But Starship Troopers the movie beautifully captured the basic problem. Heinlein didn’t intend a fascist society, but that’s what you’d get.

    I love the book and the movie for different reasons.

  26. Just finished watching Arrival and I do believe I need to toddle off and take a look at my Hugo long-form ballot …

  27. 7) Thoroughly enjoyed this, even though I have read very little Doc Savage, since they were hard to come by where I lived.

    9) The actual article isn’t bad and the author explicitly states that he doesn’t intend to bash the romance genre. But that headline is romance bashing at its finest.

    11) I assumed Dave Freer had suddenly decided to air his anger at Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers, because Verhoeven is currently head of the jury at the Berlin film festival, which means his older films get a lot of coverage. Though infuriatingly, a Paul Verhoeven profile on German TV completely glossed over his entire SF output – not just Starship Troopers, but also Robocop and Total Recall – as “Hollywood trash he had to make” and focussed instead on his early Dutch films and Basic Instinct. Also it’s not nice to show film clips featuring graphic rape scenes with zero warning.

    But it turns out Dave Freer is not following the Berlin film festival after all, he’s just upset about a post at Tor.com which does not grant Heinlein the proper veneration.

    Regarding Starship Troopers, I’m not a huge Heinlein fan, but I have enjoyed some of his works. Starship Troopers is not one of them. For me, it was a case of “This is clearly a horrible dystopia, but I’m not sure the author knows it.”

    As for the Verhoeven film, it was obvious to me that Verhoeven had grasped that the world of Starship Troopers was a horrible dystopia (okay, so it turns out he hasn’t actually read the book) and that he had decided to decided to turn it into satire. However, the satire doesn’t work (though it has it’s moment, the fake news and propaganda clips are great) largely because the actors, Casper Van Dien and Denise Richards most of all, aren’t suited to that sort of material. Also he should have kept the power armour.

    I also think a lot of Heinlein fans upset about the film don’t understand where Verhoeven is coming from. Verhoeven is Dutch and was born in 1938, i.e. he has first hand memories of the Nazi occupation and WWII bombings. Someone of that generation and with that background would be put off by Heinlein’s glorifying of was and military service. Plus, like most European countries, the Netherlands had compulsory military service up to the 1990s. Many people in those countries viewed compulsory military service as incredibly coercive, so their reaction to Heinlein’s “You only get citizenship if you do military service” world would be far more coloured by this aversion (it’s what killed Starship Troopers for me), whereas in the US, which only has compulsory military service in wartime, the whole set-up is more of a thought experiment.

  28. I’m thinking it would make the most sense to nominate Hidden Figures in the related work category. It’s a category I have trouble filling up anyway, while there are lots of candidates for Dramatic.

  29. “I also think a lot of Heinlein fans upset about the film don’t understand where Verhoeven is coming from. Verhoeven is Dutch and was born in 1938, i.e. he has first hand memories of the Nazi occupation and WWII bombings.”

    I doubt if Heinlein fans care about Verhoeven’s background. I’m irritated that I wasted 2 hours of my life and some bucks watching something called “Starship Troopers” instead of “Space Marines.”

    Heinlein wrote Starship Troopers in part as a protest against Eisenhower’s negotiation of the Korean War Armistice and the belief that there were US troops still in the hands of the North Koreans or the Chinese. I don’t know if Heinlein’s belief was accurate, but he held it very strongly.

  30. I saw Starship Troopers the book as being a reasonably realistic thought experiment. History is full of societies ruled by the warrior caste and they have written plenty of arguments for why they deserve to rule, no reason it couldn’t happen again in the future. It’s not the future world I would choose but it doesn’t seem any more dystopian than average. It’s better than Barrayar for example which has the militarism plus class based discrimination plus sexism and abelism.

  31. bookworm1398: I’m thinking it would make the most sense to nominate Hidden Figures in the related work category. It’s a category I have trouble filling up anyway, while there are lots of candidates for Dramatic.

    I would recommend against that, for a couple of reasons: 1) everyone (including me) whom I’ve seen say that they’re going to nominate it has said they are doing so for BDP-LF; so I think it would not stand a chance in Related Work, and 2) the rules for Related Work say “and not eligible in another category” — in other words, even if it did get enough nominations in RW to make the final ballot, I think it would be disqualified because it is eligible in BDP-LF.

  32. I read Starship Troopers as a cautionary tale — how such a dystopia might arise and preserve itself — and as a source of information.

  33. You have to like EVERYTHING by Heinlein, otherwise you do not like him at all. And by EVERYTHING, I mean Starship Troopers.


    I also don’t like various of the late-period Heinlein novels, and FOR US, THE LIVING was justifiably unsold and, except as a curiosity, probably deserved to stay that way.

    But then, I also like the movie of STARSHIP TROOPERS. I wouldn’t want to live in either the world of the book or the movie, but I can happily take the two on their own terms and enjoy them for what they are.

  34. Aaron: And The Day After Tomorrow (also known as Sixth Column)

    12-year-old me loved the sciencey bits of that novel — but I remember being, even then in my naive state of awareness, extremely uncomfortable with the racism parts of it.

    I re-read it last year, when I got it from the library to see what sort of horrible sacrilege had been done to it by Weisskopf and The Marmot (and the sacrilege was indeed pretty horrible — which is probably why Baen no longer has reprint rights to Heinlein’s works). I still love the sciencey parts, and I loathe and grieve the racism parts. 😐

  35. Hampus Eckerman : I read Starship Troopers after I had read John Steakley’s Armour and found the latter superior.

    I agree – but Armour came out nearly 30 years after Starship Troopers, and after the Vietnam War suggested a rethink on how Americans viewed war. It’s a better book, but it’s there only because ST was there first. Regardless of whether you like it or not, you have to acknowledge ST was seminal in sf.

    Steve Davidson : My comment was the following: in order to get satire, the audience needs to know what is being satirized.

    “American military glorification” sorta springs to mind, Steve.

    It was a terrible film with ridiculous dialogue, terrible acting, ridiculous-beyond-being-able-to-use-satire-as-an-excuse military tactics.

    Quite correct – and Galaxy Quest didn’t really cover the technology of space travel well, either.

    The film reduced the human elements of its warriors to something out of a bad telenovela, substituting melodrama for actual human emotion, and the military aspects to something out of a children’s cartoon, substituting spectacle for actual tactics or strategy. This, I would suggest, was *deliberate* – PV had no intention of producing something that was a realistic statement on an actual war.

    Choosing cheesy, limited actors was pretty damned inspired. You’ll notice the supporting actors actually have a better range than the mains.

    [Starship Troopers the novel] was also a carefully constructed debate between two political systems/societal structures and a message that one can not enjoy the luxury of nuanced political debate when survival is the goal.

    Or, as Spider Robinson pointed out about “Ender’s Game”, a diatribe disguised as a novel by setting up the circumstances artificially so your ideological position is the only solution possible.

    Dave Strom : …giant bugs in another star system threw an asteroid at Earth. In other words, they threw a big rock.

    With all due respect, that’s what a character in the movie said. Remember how many people supported invading Iraq because “they attacked us on 911”?

    It’s an excuse for action – its plausibility or truth is beside the point.

    Harold Osler : If it’s satire it wasn’t very good at it

    Are you still thinking it’s a satire of the book?

  36. I didn’t like the movie Starship Troopers at all. The satire was hamfisted and everything turned into manly men doing glorious war anyhow, winning fame and being admired. Didn’t help that the I found the action sequences.

    Was not very fond of the book either. I read it on a holiday, but I have forgotten most of it. Was not much to remember. My mother was out of books on the same holiday and tried it, but couldn’t finish it. But the book was better than the movie in that it didn’t have that awful ending.

  37. I doubt if Heinlein fans care about Verhoeven’s background. I’m irritated that I wasted 2 hours of my life and some bucks watching something called “Starship Troopers” instead of “Space Marines.”
    Heinlein wrote Starship Troopers in part as a protest against Eisenhower’s negotiation of the Korean War Armistice and the belief that there were US troops still in the hands of the North Koreans or the Chinese. I don’t know if Heinlein’s belief was accurate, but he held it very strongly.

    So Verhoevens background doesnt matter, but Heinleins does?
    Dont get me wron, if you want to go solely with your taste, thats fine. If you want to put perspective by also thinking about the background, thats fine too – but it should be consistent, shouldnt it?

  38. @ Cora: Technically, the US does not have a draft now, and hasn’t since shortly after Vietnam. We do have compulsory registration, which is the infrastructure that would allow a draft to be reinstated — but to actually do that, in the absence of the US being attacked on our own soil, would be political suicide for whichever side did it. One of the running right-wing talking points right now is that we were “at war” for all 8 years of Obama’s term (and how that differs from the war Bush got us into and Obama got us out of, I have no idea), but there’s still no draft here.

  39. @airboy – thanks but

    we DO NOT care about 5 star reviews or how popular the book is with a general audience. Treat that as a royal “we” or stand-in for the collective.

    (Considering that the book was released 57 years ago, 69 five star reviews looks pretty damn bad…)

    How often do you see others here, regular contributors, injecting sales or review numbers into a discussion? Hardly ever.

    Do you not understand that commercial “success” is about the least important factor? Scientology sent their minions out onto the street to buy L Ron’s crap in enormous numbers…so I guess Hubbard must be the greatest SF author ever….lets worship him for a while….not.

  40. (10) I’m amused by the idea of “Y.A.” meaning “under forty.” Especially since I’m 36, been working conventions for over twenty years, and ran my first one at 21.

  41. If ‘YA’ literally meant ‘young adult’, i.e. person who is an adult, and is young, that would be a perfectly sensible way to define it.

    It’s one of the weirdnesses of the modern world that while publishers have borrowed ‘young adult’ to mean teenagers, and it’s now beginning to edge into the pre-teen age band, the range of ‘adult’ itself seems to be shrinking, with people often talking as if adulthood begins at thirty.

  42. I just mostly don’t like the implication that “Under 40” means inexperienced. I know people in their twenties who have been working cons for a decade.

    I’ve found a lot of hostility to these younger con runners (and experienced it myself when I was one) from some (not all — but some) older fans. It’s why a lot of science fiction cons lost the younger attendees twenty years ago, and a lot of us struck out on our own.

    If I’m considered inexperienced a couple decades into working cons, it’s ridiculous. I obviously only have experience with the con scene on this side of the Atlantic and not theirs, but I know I’d be put off of getting involved with Conrunner based on this.

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