Pixel Scroll 3/10/22 No Pixels Were Harmed In The Production Of This Scroll

(1) ANALYZING SANDERSON’S KICKSTARTER SUCCESS. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has an in-depth commentary about a seismic event in self-publishing, “Business Musings: Brandon’s Kickstarter”.

… If the past is any indication, however, these big Kickstarters increase the people who watch  the category and, to use the cliched phrase, they will become the rising tide that will lift all boats.

That’s the small picture.

The larger one? Smart traditionally published bestsellers should be looking closely at this. Smart unpublished writers should use this as a wake-up call.

Traditional publishing will never pay its writers tens of millions for unnamed projects. Traditional publishing can barely afford the million-dollar advances these days.

And please, remember, the Kickstarter numbers are only the beginning of the earnings on these books. These books will live for decades. Brandon will earn money on them for decades—without licensing any of the copyright to some gigantic corporate entity that does not have his best interest at heart.

Also, remember that this Kickstarter is advertising. It’s introducing millions of readers to Brandon Sanderson. These new readers are asking Who is this guy and why is he getting so much money? What are these new readers going to do? Why, they’re going to buy a backlist book and try to read it before the Kickstarter ends.

His published book sales are going to increase dramatically. So the tens of millions he’s earning on the Kickstarter does not count the other ways this Kickstarter is benefitting him financially. Nor is it counting the promotion value that he’s getting from projects that he felt inspired to write.

There’s a lot more to unpack—from some of the innovations he’s doing to the impact on the fantasy and science fiction field. But for the moment, I’m stopping here.

If you’re one of the sour grapes people, perhaps you should ask yourself why you’re being so very negative. Are you jealous? Or scared?

The rest of you should watch what happens next. This is a very big deal. For all of us.

(2) KDP WTF. Philip Beaufoy, author of the Lochwood Series, is another casualty of a sudden and unexplained Kindle Direct Publishing account closure.

(3) LOVE IS ALL AROUND. The SFWA Blog’s “Romancing Sci-Fi & Fantasy” series begins with Alex Chantel’s “I See Romance … Everywhere!”

… I see romance everywhere, on all levels, and it makes me love the books I read even more. There are books without romance, that don’t need romance, and readers that are perfectly happy without it. But borrowing from the romance genre can strengthen a story and the readers’ connection to the characters. 

We all want to craft memorable characters, and the strong ones can become more enduring with a partner—two are stronger than one, as the adage goes. Princess Leia and Han Solo from Star Wars—closely followed by Ben and Rey. Paul and Chani from Dune. Nahri and Ali from S.A. Chakraborty’s Daevabad Trilogy. K and Chloe from Terry Miles’s Rabbits. Euthalia and Conrí from Jeffe Kennedy’s Forgotten Empires series. Niko and Petalia from Cat Rambo’s You Sexy Thing. Some of those names may strike a romantic chord within you?…

(4) DISNEY RECORD ON LGBTQIA+ SET STRAIGHT. Deadline reports a “Internal Pixar Letter Disputes Disney’s Support Of LGBTQIA+ Employees & Questions Company’s Commitment to Change”. (The full text of the letter is quoted at the end of Variety’s coverage.)

Shortly after Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke out publicly against Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill today, a very pointed response began circulating internally at the studio. A letter signed by “The LGBTQIA+ employees of Pixar, and their allies” took Chapek to task. It refuted, point by point, an internal memo Chapek sent to employees on Monday and also criticized the fact that the company “did not take a hard stance in support of the LGBTQIA+” at the shareholder meeting.

“Monday’s email, ‘Our Unwavering Commitment to the LGBTQ+ Community,’ rang hollow,” read the LGBTQIA+ letter. It said Chapek’s communication “began with the claim that Disney has a long history of supporting the LGBT community, but Disney Parks did not officially host Pride until 2019, in Paris alone. Disney has a history of shutting down fan-created Pride events in the parks, even removing same-sex couples for dancing together in the 1980’s.”

The letter goes on to say the corporation is “capitalizing on Pride” through merchandising, specifically The Rainbow Mickey Collection.

“It feels terrible to be a part of a company that makes money from Pride merch when it chooses to ‘step back’ in times of our greatest need, when our rights are at risk,” the letter asserts.

The “step back” bit is likely a reference to Chapek’s assertion at a shareholders’ annual meeting today that “we chose not to take a public position on [the bill] because we felt we could be more effective working behind the scenes, engaging directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.” It later came out that Chapek had only reached out to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis very recently….

… Finally, the letter damningly addresses Chapek’s repeated insistence that the best way for Disney to make change is through creating “powerful content that changes hearts and minds.”

It reads [in part]:

“We at Pixar have personally witnessed beautiful stories, full of diverse characters, come back from Disney corporate reviews shaved down to crumbs of what they once were. Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest, regardless of when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar. Even if creating LGBTQIA+ content was the answer to fixing the discriminatory legislation in the world, we are being barred from creating it.”

(5) CALL TO REMOVE A 2023 WORLDCON GOH. SF² Concatenation has tweeted the link to an editorial comment ahead of its next seasonal edition (slated for April). Read it here.

Science fiction is far more than a genre, it enthuses science and warns of possible futures, among much else. More, many of its aficionados are part of a community: a community that crosses nations. Sometimes that community needs to nail its colours to the mast. Now, at this moment in time, due to circumstances up-to-now unthought-of in the early 21st century, those colours are blue and yellow….

On Wednesday, 2nd March (2022), the UN moved to condemn Russia’s war on Ukraine. 141 nations supported that call: only Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea supported Russia, while China, Cuba and Venezuela abstained. And here’s the thing, if China is abstaining then arguably the 2023 SF Worldcon should dis-invite Sergei Lukyanenko as a Guest of Honour: Lukyanenko has repeatedly and publicly proclaimed his support for his nation’s war against Ukraine…

In particular, there is one person in the west who is currently due to share the platform at the 2023 Worldcon with Lukyanenko. Is that something he really wants to do?…

(6) REVIEWING SFF. Strange Horizons hosts “The Author and the Critic I: Christopher Priest and Paul Kincaid”, featuring the two named figures discussing the present and future of sff criticism. They begin at the beginning.

Christoper Priest: Before I wrote and published my first novel I had already written several amateurish book reviews. I was young and inexperienced, unguided, learning slowly as I went along. I was writing for fanzines published by Peter Weston and Charles Platt, and others. It was a way of writing something and seeing it in print—or at least, typed out by someone else, which at the time felt almost as good because after the process of being retyped, with bits cut out or changed or just got wrong, it looked different. By looking different it made me read it again and look at it with some objectivity. Overall, it was much easier and quicker to write an opinion piece on a new book by Brian N. Ball or Ken Bulmer than write a novel of my own. None of this counted in the long run, of course, although I still think for a beginning writer it was a good way to learn.

Paul Kincaid: Personally, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read reviews. This goes back to a time when newspapers used to publish things like book reviews and film reviews. But I never thought about writing them until I started getting involved in fandom…. 

(7) MORE FROM THE WORLDCON. Morgan Hazelwood posts her notes about another DisCon III panel: “The Nuts and Bolts of Chapters”. (She also presents the material in a YouTube video.)

The panelists for the titular panel were: Ada Palmer, Aparna Verma, Elle E. Ire, Nancy Kress, and Patricia A. Jackson, with Delia Sherman as moderator.

The panel description was as follows:

Do you even need chapters? How long should they be? Should you title your chapters or just number them? Where do you break a chapter, and how do you write a good cliffhanger? How do you write chapters with multiple character points of view? So much to discuss for such a small topic!

While the panelists didn’t address all of these, they shared some valuable tips.

(8) UNMADE HITCHCOCK PROJECT. “Alfred Hitchcock once planned a sci-fi epic, which he envisaged as ‘a projection into the life of a generation ahead’” – BFI looks back at “Hitchcock’s sci-fi movie, ‘a forecast of days to come’”.

… News of Hitchcock’s sci-fi project broke in October 1926, a month after The Lodger was first shown to the press. P.L. Mannock of the Kinematograph Weekly, who had spoken to Hitchcock about his “film laid in the future”, wrote that “If we except ‘Metropolis,’ it will be the first screen forecast of days to come,” the last words being a deliberate reference to a novella by one of Lang’s inspirations, H.G. Wells. “Television will be used dramatically, and Sir Alan Cobham will probably be consultant on big episodes of the air.”…

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1964 [Item by Cat Eldridge]

“My specialty is wisdom. Do you know what wisdom is?””- Dr. Lao

“No sir.” – Mike 

“Wise answer.” – Dr. Lao

Fifty-eight years ago, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao premiered. It was George Pal’s last directorial effort. As you well know, it’s based off of Charles G. Finney’s The Circus of Dr. Lao. (There is now a Kindle edition of The Circus of Dr. Lao though it won’t be mistaken for a Meredith Moment.) It was nominated for a Hugo at Loncon II, the year Dr. Strangelove won. 

The screenplay was by Beaumont, who wrote twenty-two Twilight Zone episodes which given he died at 38 is quite astonishing, and Ben Hecht (originally uncredited), whose most notable work was Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound and Notorious, though he did have a genre credit writing The Thing from Outer Space, an early Fifties film. He also did uncredited work on Casino Royale.

Tony Randall played myriad roles in the 7 Faces of Dr. Lao including of course Dr. Lao, the Mysterious Visitor. And if you look carefully, you spot Randall simply as himself sans any makeup as a silent audience member. He also voices the Serpent, a stop-motion animated snake which has the face of another actor. Quite a performance indeed. 

Pal originally wanted Peter Sellers for the role of Dr. Lao and Sellers very much wanted to do the role. However, MGM had Randall under contract who was far cheaper than Sellers would’ve been. 

Pal also saved quite a bit of money here by reusing footage from Atlantis, the Lost Continent and The Time Machine. The Woldercan spectacular that Dr. Lao does as his grand finale of his circus is drawn entirely from the former. 

Pal has stated that it’s only film that he lost money on. It made just one million and I can’t find any mention of how much the production costs were but they were obviously higher than the very small box office was.

So how was it received? The Hollywood Reporter at the time said Randall’s performance was “a dazzling display of virtuosity, in some stunning makeup created by Bill Tuttle.” Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give a very strong rating of seventy-eight percent.

I don’t believe it’s streaming anywhere but you can rent it pretty much everywhere. Or you can buy it for little more than a Meredith Moment. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 10, 1891 Sam Jaffe, His first role was in Lost Horizon as the High Lama and much later in The Day the Earth Stood Still playing Professor Jacob Barnhardt. Later on we find him in The Dunwich Horror as Old Whateley, voicing Bookman in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, playing The Old-Man in The Tell-Tale Heart, and in his last film, appearing in Battle Beyond the Stars as Dr. Hephaestus. John Sayles wrote the script for the latter surprisingly enough. (Died 1984.)
  • Born March 10, 1905 Richard Haydn. Actor who appeared in a number of genre undertakings including voicing the Caterpillar in the early Fifties Alice in Wonderland, Professor Summerlee in the early Sixties version of The Lost World and Herr Falkstein in Young Frankenstein. I’d be very remiss not to note his appearance on The Twilight Zone as Bartlett Finchley in the chilling “A Thing About Machines”. And he had one offs on BewitchedShirley Temple’s Storybook and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., in the “The Mad, Mad Tea Party Affair” an unusual episode as it takes place almost entirely within U.N.C.L.E headquarters. (Died 1985.)
  • Born March 10, 1918 Theodore Cogswell. He wrote almost forty science fiction stories, most of them humorous, and was the co-author of a Trek novel, Spock, Messiah!, with Joe Spano Jr. He’s perhaps best remembered as the editor of the Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies in which writers and editors discussed theirs and each other’s works. A full collection of which was published during 1993 except, as EoSF notes “for one issue dealing with a particularly ugly controversy involving Walter M Miller.”  Having not read these, I’ve no idea, what this details, but I’m betting one of y’all know. (Died 1987.)
  • Born March 10, 1921 Cec Linder. He’s best remembered for playing Dr. Matthew Roney in the BBC produced Quatermass and the Pit series in the later Fifties, and for his role as James Bond’s friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter, in Goldfinger. He also appeared on Alfred Hitchcock PresentsVoyage to the Bottom of the Sea, the Amerika series, The Ray Bradbury Theatre and The New Avengers. (Died 1992.)
  • Born March 10, 1938 Marvin Kaye. Editor of Weird Tales, he also edited magazines such as H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. His Cold Blue Light novels with Parke Godwin are quite superb. The Fair Folk anthology which is most excellent and which he edited won a World Fantasy Award. He wrote the “Marvin Kaye’s Nth Dimension” for the Space and Time website. (Died 2021.)
  • Born March 10, 1938 Ken Sobol. New to our Birthday honors list. I will single him out for having personally received Astrid Lindgren’s personal blessing to write the Pippi Longstocking series which he worked on with puppeteer Noreen Young. He also contributed scripts to Batman, Curious GeorgeG.I. JoeGeorge of the JungleHardy BoysHighlander, Superman, and Wizard of Id, and that’s hardly a complete listing.  He also wrote one of the best works done on baseball, Babe Ruth and the American Dream. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 10, 1951 Christopher Hinz, 71. His Liege Killer novel, the first in his most excellent Paratwa Saga, won the Compton Crook Award, the BSFS Award for the Best First Novel. (And yes, there is a prequel, Binary Storm, which was written much later.) He was nominated for an Astounding Award for Best New Writer. 
  • Born March 10, 1956 Robert Llewellyn, 66. He plays the mechanoid Kryten in the Red Dwarf series. His It2i2 which was a television show about AI depicting fictional events but presented as a documentary. And he played a gryphon in the oh-so-superb MirrorMask

(11) AFROFUTURISM. The Schomburg Center’s 10th Annual Black Comic Book Festival in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Afrofuturism Festival! Presents “Black Feminist Futures Series: Planting for the Future”.

The Black Feminist Futures Series features programs highlighting the powerful and long-standing relationship between Afrofuturism and Black feminism in genres ranging from literature, film, art, fashion, and community organizing. Planting for the Future, a virtual conversation on Black women’s participation in Afrofuturism through literature, film, art, fashion, and community organizing. The program features Dr. Andrea Hairston (author of Master of Poisons), Sheree Renee Thomas (author of Nine Bar Blues), Tananarive Due (author of The Between: A Novel), and Tanaya Denise Fields (founder of Black Feminist Project & Black Joy Farm, and author of “Dirty Business: The Messy Affair of Rejecting Shame” in the book You Are Your Best Thing). Moderated by Dr. Chesya Burke.

(12) GAIMAN MIRACLEMAN REPRINT. Following the herald of his return in Timeless #1 and the announcement of an all-new omnibus, Marvel Comics continues to mark the 40th anniversary of Miracleman’s modern era with a new printing of award-winning writer Neil Gaiman and artist Mark Buckingham’s redefining work on the character.

 Arriving in October, Miracleman By Gaiman & Buckingham Book 1: The Golden Age TPB will collect the first six issues of Gaiman and Buckingham’s groundwork to give a legendary super hero a fascinating future —a future that will now come to pass! Available for the first time in paperback, the Miracleman By Gaiman & Buckingham Book 1: The Golden Age TPB will give fans a chance to revisit this beloved era of Miracleman ahead of the exciting plans Marvel has in store for the iconic character later this year.

Atop Olympus, Miracleman presides over a brave new world forged from London’s destruction. It is a world free of war, of famine, of poverty. A world of countless wonders. A world where pilgrims scale Olympus’ peak to petition their living god, while miles below the dead return in fantastic android bodies. It is an Age of Miracles — but is humankind ready for it? Do we even want it? Is there a place for humanity in a world of gods? Gaiman and Buckingham delve into the lives of lonely idealists, rebellious schoolchildren and fracturing families, exploring the human constant in a changing world of gods and miracles.

(13) STAR WARS FAN NEWS. “’Star Wars’ fans are raising money for transgender youth”Yahoo! Life has the details. (The direct link to the GoFundMe is here: “Fundraiser by The Amidala Initiative (A Community Effort) : The Amidala Initiative for Equality Texas”. They have raised $8,292 of their $25,000 goal as of this writing.)

…Fans of the Star Wars franchise can relate to Padmé Amidala, a character from the Star Wars prequel trilogy played by Natalie Portman, for a multitude of reasons, from her troubled romance with Anakin Skywalker to her desire to do her best to protect her people.

It’s the latter that inspired the Amidala Initiative, a group of Star Wars fans and content creators who have joined … forces … to raise money for Texas advocacy organization Equality Texas after Texas Governor Greg Abbott directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate the parents of trans children who have had or are seeking elective gender-affirming procedures or treatments.

“We, the undersigned, are 77 fan content creators, podcasters, YouTubers, TikTokers, artists, writers and cosplayers who have joined together to use our limited platforms to stand in solidarity with our trans siblings and their families in Texas,” a GoFundMe site for the Amidala Initiative states. “No child should fear that their teachers will report their parents to the government for allowing them to live as their true gender. No parent should fear criminal charges for supporting their transgender child and helping them seek therapeutic and medical support to treat their gender dysphoria … this is something we refuse to stand by silently for.”…

(14) DOES NOT PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS. Radio Times listens in as “Christopher Eccleston rules out Doctor Who multi-Doctor story return”.

…However, according to the latest comments from The A Word star, there’s seemingly no chance he would return for a 60th anniversary team-up special currently rumoured for 2023.

He told crowds at Australian convention Supanova: “I’ve never been a fan of multi-Doctor stories. When I worked on the series, I had really strong ideas about what works and what doesn’t, and I always think that multi-Doctor stories are a bit of a cash-in, and a bit of exploitation.

“Creatively, they never worked for me. I looked at the script for the 50th anniversary and I felt as soon as I said I wasn’t doing it it got better because, well, if I’m not in it, it’s better. The creation of the War Doctor introduced a whole new facet to the canon.”

Interestingly though, a later comment from Eccleston suggested he would consider returning to Doctor Who in live-action for a solo storyline following the Ninth Doctor.

He added: “The Ninth Doctor, in particular, is a one-man band. Definitely. So he doesn’t work with other Doctors. If you want me back, you’d get me on my own.”

(15) HEAR FROM EDITORS. Space Cowboy Books will host an online panel discussion “Beyond the Submission Guidelines” on March 29 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here.

Join us for an online panel discussion with editors of SF/F magazines. Learn about the behind the scenes of running science fiction and fantasy magazines with editors: Arley Sorg (Locus & Fantasy Magazines), F.J. Bergmann (Mobius & Weird House), Rob Carroll (Dark Matter Magazine), and JW Stebner (Hexagon Magazine)

(16) PREDICTING THE PAST. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Inscriptions provide an invaluable insight into the ancient world. But over the centuries, many inscriptions have been damaged and exist in fragmented or semi-legible forms, making the job of reading and interpreting them extremely difficult. In this week’s issue of Nature, “Restoring and attributing ancient texts using deep neural networks”, Yannis Assael, Thea Sommerschield and their team introduce Ithaca, a deep neural network designed to help historians restore and understand ancient Greek inscriptions. Working alone, Ithaca is able to restore damaged texts with a 62% accuracy, but when historians use Ithaca, their accuracy on the same task rises to 72%. Ithaca can also determine the original geographical location of inscriptions with 71% accuracy, and can date them to within 30 years from the date ranges proposed by historians. The researchers say that such cooperation between artificial intelligence and historians could help transform studies of the ancient world. 

(17) SOUNDTRACK OF SPACE. NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory page hosts a “Sonification Collection” – maybe there is a “music of the spheres.”

…By translating the inherently digital data (in the form of ones and zeroes) captured by telescopes in space into images, astronomers create visual representations that would otherwise be invisible to us.

But what about experiencing these data with other senses like hearing? Sonification is the process that translates data into sound, and a new project brings the center of the Milky Way to listeners for the first time. The translation begins on the left side of the image and moves to the right, with the sounds representing the position and brightness of the sources. The light of objects located towards the top of the image are heard as higher pitches while the intensity of the light controls the volume. Stars and compact sources are converted to individual notes while extended clouds of gas and dust produce an evolving drone….

There’s a demonstration in this tweet:

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Arthur C. Clarke chats with Dick Cavett about 2001, life on other planets, and perpetual motion machines in this clip from a 1972 Dick Cavett Show. “Arthur C. Clarke on Why Aliens Would Be Superior To Humans”.

English science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke discusses the on-going research in astronomy into discovering new planets and how he believes there is life on other planets, although we don’t know it yet.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, rcade, Phil Nichols, mlex, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

35 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/10/22 No Pixels Were Harmed In The Production Of This Scroll

  1. First, and may I say that the Scroll title is absolutely brilliant.

    I need to read The Circus of Dr. Lao again to see
    how different it is from the film it got made into. Anyone here care to compare the two?

  2. (10) I love Kaye’s The Incredible Umbrella (and yet gave not read the sequels – what’s wrong with me?)

  3. 3) One of the biggest genre related surprises I ever had occurred when I realized that Sharon Shinn’s Twelve Houses fantasies were all genre romances in disguise. It was a pleasant surprise but still quite startling.

  4. (9) I have read The Circus of Dr. Lao and have reread it several times over the years, and my impression is that the author would have loathed 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.

    Furthermore, there is no particular need (i.e., story need) for Dr. Lao to transform into all those other roles; it certainly doesn’t happen in the book.

    Fifth and proud.

  5. @Rob Thornton
    Try Shinn’s Angelica series, which I liked more. Great world-building!

    So many of my favorite books/authors have romantic threads: Bujold, Pratchett, Megan Whalen Turner, Martha Wells, Robin McKinley.

  6. (9) The film is a very loose adaptation of the novel. Beaumont simply invented the overall plot of the film involving Stark and the railroad. The novel ends jvgu gur crbcyr bs gur gbja fpnggrerq gb gur sbhe jvaqf naq ab bar univat yrnearq nalguvat, which I suspect pretty much summed up Finney’s view of humanity.

    I love the film, but I agree with gottacook that Finney probably hated it.

  7. (10) Theodore Cogswell. His “The Specter General” (Astounding 1952) was included in “The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume 2B” (1973 on) after reprinting in “The Wall Around the World” (1962). It may have aged out that status as time as gone on, but still a fun story. My personal favorite of his is “The Wall Around The World”, from “Beyond Fantasy Fiction” September 1953, otherwise available in “The Wall Around the World” (1962 collection), “The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus” (1973 on), “The Great SF Stories #15 (1953)”, and “The Mammoth Book of Fantasy” 2001. Worth a read.

  8. Scrollenschade: the feeling of being irked because “I should have thought of that”, only to discover that apparently one did think of that once. Anyway, thanks for the title credit, which of course I totally remember, maybe.

    On The Circus of Dr. Lao, I remember the book as taking a very distanced and ironic tone, like Jack Vance with plainer language. Or maybe Ambrose Bierce. The movie is much warmer and more sympathetic to its people. Sellers would have been brilliant in that, too bad it didn’t happen. Also, the book has a wonderful appendix.

    PhilRM wrote

    which I suspect pretty much summed up Finney’s view of humanity.

    Working as a reporter will do that to you.

  9. @Soon Lee:
    Good idea, but wouldnt ““Objects in the Scroll are more pixelated than they appear.” work better?

    (Maybe not)

  10. 1) I remember when a similar seismic event happened with video games there was a wave of excitement and a bunch of projects from well-known designers, but it faded over time as projects failed or under delivered and the market got saturated. And I don’t think it did much to help or harm smaller indie projects – they had a very different audience.

    Not all of that will apply in this case – a novel is less of a project – but it’s worth remembering all the same

  11. 3: Veronica Scott, a leading author of SF&F Romance, offers a weekly intro to newly released SFR every Thursday on Amazing Stories.

    I imagine that years…centuries from now…some history or language or sociology student is going to ask: “LGBTQIA+? Why’d they create such a complicated word for normalcy?”

  12. @ Steve Davidson:

    I imagine that years…centuries from now…some history or language or sociology student is going to ask: “LGBTQIA+? Why’d they create such a complicated word for normalcy?”

    This. Very much this.

  13. Sam Jaffe. Wasn’t he in the movie version of “The Nine Billion Names Of God”? 🙂

  14. (1) That was a great analysis of the project. And an interesting look into publishing.

    (9) The movie sometimes plays on Turner Classic Movies. That’s how I managed to see it recently. It aged better than I’d expected, despite the “Magical Asian” trope, etc.

    I read the book, but it was an eon ago. So all I remember is that it had words in it.

  15. Jon Meltzer says Sam Jaffe. Wasn’t he in the movie version of “The Nine Billion Names Of God”?

    Huh? Someone made a film of it? Scurries off to Google…. Yes, someone made a film. In French. A very short one which make sense given it was a short story. And no, he wasn’t in it.

  16. 1) I don’t think Sanderson is going to make ‘millions’ from his Kickstarter. He has staff to pay, expenses to cover, and he has to make something north of 200,000 copies of each and every reward he’s promised. His first problem, I think, will be finding a printer and bookbinder that can handle the volume he needs at the quality he’s committed to. At least he didn’t promise to sign them all!

  17. I recognised that the Sharon Shinn Twelve Houses books were romances pretty quickly. I still like them, despite not really being a romance reader. But I think The Shapeshifter’s Wife is better (but maybe not quite a romance? I confess that I don’t know exactly what qualifies).

    Another set of fantasy romances is also worth reading – The Saint of Steel series by an author well-known in these parts :-). Set in the same world as a number of her other works there’s certainly enough other stuff to keep the reader’s interest (like the gnoles). Three so far, and another being written, I believe.

  18. 9) When Forry Ackerman led me through the Ackermansion, I was captivated by the rubber seven-headed Dr. Lao/Loch Ness Monster used for stop-motion animation (Jim Danforth’s SFX were nominated for an Oscar, though he didn’t win). I wonder where that model (already deteriorating a little in the 1990s) is now?

  19. (9) Early risers could have watched the “7 Faces Of Dr. Lao” on its birthday. Turner Classic Movies ran it at 6:30 AM. Can’t possibly have been a coincidence. I guess some ‘nerd’ in the programming dept, wanted to celebrate the movie, but didn’t have enough pull to get it a prime-time slot.

  20. Cat Eldridge:

    That was a joke … the two programmers in “Nine Billion Names” nickname the head lama “Sam Jaffe”.

  21. Jon Meltzer says That was a joke … the two programmers in “Nine Billion Names” nickname the head lama “Sam Jaffe”.

    It’s been thirty years or so since I read the story, so that I forgot. And it did get turned into film as it turns out. You can see the trailer here.

  22. @Jim Janney: Finney’s rather eccentric short story collection, The Ghosts of Manacle from 1964 – the only other book of his I’ve read – is written in that same style. Perhaps that’s also a legacy of his newspaper days.

  23. @Steve Davidson

    Veronica Scott, a leading author of SF&F Romance, offers a weekly intro to newly released SFR every Thursday on Amazing Stories.

    In case I never said so before, thanks for running those columns. Because I find it annoying that so many SFF fans like to pretend that SFF romance is not part of the genre. You don’t have to like SFF romance, but it’s very definitely part of the genre.

    I imagine that years…centuries from now…some history or language or sociology student is going to ask: “LGBTQIA+? Why’d they create such a complicated word for normalcy?”

    Yup, this.

  24. 1) I normally respect Kristine Kathryn Rusch, but she is mistaken here. For starters, a lot of small presses already use crowdfunding to finance anthologies or magazines and writers use it to crowdfund books or at least special editions as well. I might do it myself eventually, to raise funds for print editions or audiobooks.

    Some of these magazine or anthology Kickstarters do well enough, usually if they are social media savvy or have an existing fan base to tap into. See Uncanny or Tales from the Magician’s Skull. Others struggle to make their funding goals.

    Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter won’t be the rising tide that lifts all boats, because his fans are primarily Brandon Sanderson fans. They may read other big name epic fantasy authors like Steven Erickson, Mark Lawrence or Joe Abercrombie, but they’re not suddenly going to throw money at an anthology of cozy LGBTQ fantasy or a magazine like Anathema or Mermaids Monthly or khoreo. They’re not even money at Tales of the Magician’s Skull, even though the interest overlap there is far bigger.

    As for Kristine Kathryn Rusch saying that crowdfunding levels the playing field, she’s missing that fact that Tor.com literally shoves Sanderson’s books into my face everytime I visit their side via their endless rereads, etc… Amazon also shoves Sanderson into my face everytime I browse the science fiction and fantasy category. I’ve only ever bought a single book by Sanderson (and not online), but they still shove him into my face. If Sanderson had started out self-publishing, he would likely still be successful, because he’s a consistent writer and delivers what many people enjoy, but he would not have been so successful without the push he got from Tor.

    Also, Tor has been pushing Sanderson heavily from the very first book on, most likely because they knew their cash cow Robert Jordan was dying and that they would need someone to finish the series and Sanderson was available, consistently prolific and similar enough.

    This does not take away from the fact that Sanderson worked hard to get where he is. But he also had a lot of help and promotion along the way, help that other writers did not get.

  25. I did hear of some Kickstarters that were running around the same time as Sanderson’s and did better than expected, which may have been because they were promoted at the bottom of those project update e-mails Kickstarter sends out. However, those were RPG Kickstarters, not fiction Kickstarters. And since there is a significant overlap between Sanderson’s audience and gamers, this makes sense.

  26. Re: (5) CALL TO REMOVE A 2023 WORLDCON GOH
    “…..the 2023 SF Worldcon should dis-invite Sergei Lukyanenko as a Guest of Honour: Lukyanenko has repeatedly and publicly proclaimed his support for his nation’s war against Ukraine…
    “In particular, there is one person in the west who is currently due to share the platform at the 2023 Worldcon with Lukyanenko. Is that something he really wants to do?…”
    Hell, yes! My first reaction was to support disinviting him – and I was dead wrong. That’s cancelculture – that’s how the censorious do things in China and Russia. That’s how extremists on BOTH ends of the political spectrum, Left and Right, would like to see things done here. Wouldn’t it be more shocking – and enlightening – to the Chinese guests to see how a World SF culture, embracing liberal values of free expression, put up either a second guest or at least philosophically and politically opposed writers/editors/speakers to debate Lukyanenko and win? Can’t the rest of the world’s SF culture put up opponents smart and thoughtful enough and tough enough to take this bozo on?

  27. I recall seeing clips of Dr Lao on the Academy Awards for best special effects.

    It was pretty much like the book.

  28. @ K

    This idea that “cancel culture” exists and is somehow evil plays directly into authoritarian hands. Ever heard of a boycott? Have you ever snubbed somebody because you don’t like their politics?

    Humanity has been “canceling” each other as long as humanity has been around, sometimes violently (see Socrates and the hemlock). That’s why the word “pariah” is with us.

  29. @K

    Wouldn’t it be more shocking – and enlightening – to the Chinese guests to see how a World SF culture, embracing liberal values of free expression, put up either a second guest or at least philosophically and politically opposed writers/editors/speakers to debate Lukyanenko and win?

    The role of a Guest of Honor is hardly suited to that purpose. Declaring a person worthy of honor conveys an automatic advantage to him in such a ‘debate’ from the start, and people who would want to debate him on the war during a convention bent on honoring him for SFF would necessarily be seen as trying to derail the convention’s plans for the role the honored guest is supposed to play…putting the potential ‘debaters’ at a disadvantage. This disadvantage may become a lot more marked depending on just HOW fixated the convention is on standing by their choice of GOH – based on simple stubbornness, personal political convictions, OR the political pressures of authorities the convention organizers may be subject to that we will not be able to fully understand or be informed of. Debate under those circumstances could become downright hazardous and is not a good idea.

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