Pixel Scroll 3/29/18 Two Scrolls Diverged In A Wood And I – I Took The One Less Pixeled

(1) EVERYONE MUST GET STONED. James Davis Nicoll shares “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson with the panel in the latest installment of Young People Read Old SFF.

Incredibly influential, Shirley Jackson died aged only 48 back in the 1960s. I sense that while some of her acolytes (and their students) are well known Jackson herself has declined in fame. If a young person has encountered Jackson, it’s most likely thanks to the film adaptation of The Haunting, in which an attempt to probe the secrets of an ancient house goes very badly indeed (and the second, lesser, adaptation at that.). “The Lottery” is a more constrained affair than The Haunting. It’s a simple account of annual celebration that binds a small community together. A classic or superseded by more recent works?

Let’s find out…

(2) ETHICS QUESTION. Charles Payseur asked Rocket Stack Rank to drop him from the list of reviewers they track. His thread starts here —

Although as reported in the March 27 Scroll, the RSR piece was a project by Eric Wong, it may be the case that the reviewers tracked are predominantly white, as that is the demographic of many well-known critics and bloggers. But what about the point of the project – and one of Payseur’s goals as a reviewer – to help get more eyeballs on good sff by PoCs? Therefore, isn’t RSR multiplying the effectiveness of Payseur’s reviews? Should a reviewer have a veto in a case like this? And as I do quote from Payseur in the Scroll somewhat often, I now wonder what would I do if he asked me to stop?

(3) VR. The Washington Post’s Steven Zeitchik talked to people who say “It could be the biggest change to movies since sound. If anyone will pay for it.” He visited the Westfield Century City mall, where people can experience the 12-minute Dreamscape Immersive virtual reality production Alien Zoo for $20.  He surveys the current state of virtual reality projects and finds that many of them are sf or fantasy, including an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Wolves in the Walls.

The Westfield Century City mall runs a dozen of the latest blockbusters at its modern movie theater here, but recently some of the most cutting-edge entertainment was playing one story below, at a pop-up store across from Bloomingdale’s.

That’s where groups of six could enter a railed-off area, don backpacks and headsets, and wander in the dark around the “Alien Zoo,” a 12-minute virtual-reality outer-space experience with echoes of “Jurassic Park.”

By bringing the piece to the mall, “Zoo” producer Dreamscape Immersive — it counts Steven Spielberg among its investors — hopes it has cracked a major challenge bedeviling the emerging form of entertainment known as cinematic VR.

(4) GENDER MALLEABLE. At The Verge, Andrew Liptak questions “Wil Wheaton and Amber Benson on depicting gender in John Scalzi’s next audiobook”.

Next month, Audible will release the recorded version of John Scalzi’s upcoming novel Head On, a sequel to his 2014 thriller Lock In. Like Lock In — but unlike most audio editions — this release will come in two versions: one narrated by Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wil Wheaton, and the other by Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Amber Benson, who are each popular audiobook narrators.


When Scalzi wrote Lock In, he made a creative decision to not reveal Chris’ gender, creating a character who readers could read as male, female, or neither. He explained that he did it as a writing challenge, and realized that in this world, gender might not be easily distinguishable for a Haden using a robotic body.

(5)  FIVE DAYS TO GO. The Kickstarter appeal to fund The Dark Magazine “for two more years of unsettling fiction” has achieved 70% of its $12,500 goal with just five days remaining.

The Dark Magazine has been around for five years and in that short period of time we have published award-winning stories by new and established authors; showcased great artwork from all corners of the world; and done it all on the backs of a small team of simply wonderful people. But now it is past time to take it to the next level, and help finance the magazine for two more years to allow us to increase the subscription base, increase the pay rate from three cents to five cents a word, and increase the amount of fiction we bring to you, with double Christmas issues. Because we don’t just like dark fantasy, horror, or weird fiction . . . we love it. And it means so much to us to introduce you to unsettling and thoughtful stories every month that we want to keep on doing it, with your help.

(6) F&SF COVER REVEAL. Gordon Van Gelder shared the May/June 2018 cover for The Magaine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The cover art is by Alan M. Clark.


  • Born March 29, 1968 – Lucy Lawless


  • John King Tarpinian spotted an especially funny Brevity  — at least I thought it was, because I’m familiar with the collectible they’re joking about.

(9) NATURE CALLS. The next issue of Concatenation, the British SFF news aggregator, comes out in a couple of weeks, but while you’re waiting, Jonathan Cowie, lead editor of the original zine, sent along this link to the new issue of research journal Nature which carries a piece on “The ageless appeal of 2001:A Space Odyssey.

Fifty years on, Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece looks more prophetic than ever, reflects Piers Bizony.

…Monoliths aside, 2001 was prescient in almost all its detailed predictions of twenty-first-century technology. For instance, in August 2011, the Samsung electronics group began a defence against a claim of patent infringement by Apple. Who invented the tablet computer? Apple claimed unique status for its iPad; Samsung presented a frame from 2001.

Samsung noted that the design claimed by Apple had many features in common with that of the tablet shown in the film clip — most notably, a rectangular shape with a display screen, narrow borders, a flat front and a thin form. In an era when computers still needed large rooms to accommodate them, Kubrick’s special-effects team rigged hidden projectors to enliven devices that looked as though you could hold them in one hand. Only the need to trim the film’s running length prevented ingenious mock-ups of touch-sensitive gaming screens and electronic newspapers from making the final cut.

(10) OFF WITH ITS HEAD. Can social media be saved? Should it? That’s the question Kevin Roose tries to answer in a New York Times column.

I don’t need to tell you that something is wrong with social media.

You’ve probably experienced it yourself. Maybe it’s the way you feel while scrolling through your Twitter feed — anxious, twitchy, a little world weary — or your unease when you see a child watching YouTube videos, knowing she’s just a few algorithmic nudges away from a rabbit hole filled with lunatic conspiracies and gore. Or maybe it was this month’s Facebook privacy scandal, which reminded you that you’ve entrusted the most intimate parts of your digital life to a profit-maximizing surveillance machine.

Our growing discomfort with our largest social platforms is reflected in polls. One recently conducted by Axios and SurveyMonkey found that all three of the major social media companies — Facebook, Twitter and Google, which shares a parent company with YouTube — are significantly less popular with Americans than they were five months ago. (And Americans might be the lucky ones. Outside the United States, social media is fueling real-world violence and empowering autocrats, often with much less oversight.)

(11) THE MATTER. “Ghostly galaxy may be missing dark matter”. i.e., it apparently doesn’t have any.

An unusually transparent galaxy about the size of the Milky Way is prompting new questions for astrophysicists.

The object, with the catchy moniker of NGC1052-DF2, appears to contain no dark matter.

If this turns out to be true, it may be the first galaxy of its kind – made up only of ordinary matter. Currently, dark matter is thought to be essential to the fabric of the Universe as we understand it.

(12) L’CHAIM! Shmaltz Brewing’s latest Star Trek beer is “Terrans Unite India Pale Lager.”


Available in 4-Packs and on Draft.

MALTS: 2-Row, Pilsen, Patagonia 90
HOPS: Pacific Gem, Centennial
5% ABV

What if there was another world, a world that appeared similar to our own, with the same people, the same places, and even the same advancements in technology, but a world in which the motives and ethics of its inhabitants were turned upside down? The heroic now villainous and the noble corrupt, valuing power over peace and willing to obtain their desires by any means necessary – this is the Terran Empire in the Mirror Universe.

Our universe may feel villainous and corrupt at times, but we can still find comfort in good friends and tasty beer. By spanning north and south, east and west, continents and traditions, Mirror Universe blends ingredients bringing together the world of brave new craft brewing. HOPS – MALTS – LAGER – UNITE!

(13) EXCEPT FOR ALL THE REST. Panoply took flak for appearing to overlook how far other podcasting pioneers have already taken the medium.

Here’s an example of the feedback:

(14) LEARNING FROM WAND CONTROL. Washington Free Beacon editor Alex Griswold, in “Harry Potter Is An Inspiring Parable About #Resisting Gun Control”, argues that “I’ve read all seven (Harry Potter) books on several occasions, and they make the strongest case for an armed populace and the evils of gun control I’ve ever read.”

…Even if you buy into the notion that fantasy books should dictate our policy, I find it surprising that so many of the children who read Harry Potter came away thinking we need more gun control. I’ve read all seven books on several occasions, and they make the strongest case for an armed populace and the evils of gun control I’ve ever read.

Instead of guns, wizards in Harry Potter use wands for self-defense. Every wizard is armed at eleven, taught to use dangerous spells, and released into a society where everyone’s packing heat and concealed carry is the norm. It’s an inspiring example the United States should strive towards.

But the reader slowly discovers there is wand control in the Harry Potter universe, and that it’s a racist, corrupt and selectively enforced. In the second book, Chamber of Secrets, we learn that the Hogwarts groundskeeper Hagrid has been forcibly disarmed after being accused of a crime he didn’t commit. When government officials again come to falsely arrest Hagrid, he lacks any means of self-defense….

(15) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. New Statesman advised “Forget Facebook, Russian agents have been pretending to be furries on Tumblr”.

Cambridge Analytica. Mark Zuckerberg. Steve Bannon. Russians pushing propaganda on Facebook and Twitter. Yeah, you’ve heard it all before, but did you know that Russian agents were posing as furries on Tumblr to destabilise the crucial ‘Riverdale stans’, K-Pop obsessive, secretly-looking-at—‘arty’-porn in the office demographic? Because they were. And Tumblr just admitted it.

(16) REN AND STIMPY CREATOR ACCUSED. Buzzfeed tells “The Disturbing Secret Behind An Iconic Cartoon”.

Robyn Byrd and Katie Rice were teenage Ren & Stimpy fans who wanted to make cartoons. They say they were preyed upon by the creator of the show, John Kricfalusi, who admitted to having had a 16-year-old girlfriend when approached by BuzzFeed News….

In the summer of 1997, before her senior year of high school, he flew her to Los Angeles again, where Byrd had an internship at Spumco, Kricfalusi’s studio, and lived with him as his 16-year-old girlfriend and intern. After finishing her senior year in Tucson, the tiny, dark-haired girl moved in with Kricfalusi permanently at age 17. She told herself that Kricfalusi was helping to launch her career; in the end, she fled animation to get away from him.

Since October, a national reckoning with sexual assault and harassment has not only felled dozens of prominent men, but also caused allegations made in the past to resurface. In some ways, the old transgressions are the most uncomfortable: They implicate not just the alleged abusers, but everyone who knew about the stories and chose to overlook them.

(17) TRAILER PARK. The Darkest Minds, due in theaters August 3, sure has a familiar-sounding plot:

When teens mysteriously develop powerful new abilities, they are declared a threat by the government and detained. Sixteen-year-old Ruby, one of the most powerful young people anyone has encountered, escapes her camp and joins a group of runaway teens seeking safe haven. Soon this newfound family realizes that, in a world in which the adults in power have betrayed them, running is not enough and they must wage a resistance, using their collective power to take back control of their future.

(18) SCOOBYNATURAL. Daniel Dern found this video via io9. Dern leads in: “Yes, there was the Farscape episode which turned the characters (and action) into an animated cartoon sequence. And the Angel episode where Angel got turned into a large-ish puppet. (That was fun.) And now this…”

“…as in, the Supernaturalists (if that’s the right word) somehow end up in a Scooby episode. (Note, this isn’t a show I’ve watched, and not clear I will catch this episode, but I’m glad I know about it.)”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Jonathan Cowie, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Brian Z., Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]

70 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/29/18 Two Scrolls Diverged In A Wood And I – I Took The One Less Pixeled

  1. Technically morning.

    Here in distant 6243, morning has become a rather uncertain concept, for reasons we don’t like to discuss.

  2. Alex Griswold misses a lot. Yes, the wizards of Harry Potter all have wands (to him, the same as guns). But they all also have years and years of training and instruction from experts on how to use those wands responsibly. That’s part of what we all mean by “gun control”.

  3. Also – no wand, no other magic. Which includes healing and much more. When you can use rifles to cure people, then we can discuss why there is a need for them.

  4. Also – no wand, no other magic. Which includes healing and much more.

    The Harry Potter books make the strongest case for universal healthcare that I’ve ever read.

  5. (2) I think Payseur is on shaky ground here. Can writers ask that people not review their work? Sure but it is not a request a reviewer should feel they should follow. Surely the same goes for people writing reviews – you’ve put them out there and it iis legitimate for people to create new things based on that.

    Or take something like the Fireside report on publishing of black speculative fiction in short fiction venues – would it be reasonable for a magazine to say they shouldn’t be included?

    On the other hand I can see that he has a reasonable concern if he feels his name is being used to lend legitimacy to an RSR collection or to a claim that it represents “The Best” in some sense. However, I don’t think that is what has occurred here.

    I think Payseur needs to think this through a bit more.

  6. Of course the Harry Potter books are playing in Great Britain, which Has Universal health care.

    A scroll is haunting Europe –the scroll of Pixelism

  7. (2) “Is it appropriate for white people to compile lists of recommended fiction by authors of color” is definitely a tricky question. I can see multiple sides to it — including, as Mike says, the pragmatic utility of drawing more attention to these authors, and as Payseur says, the question of who’s writing the lists, and (even indirectly) positioning themselves as an arbiter.

    And Payseur distaste for RSR is well established. Some for reasons I agree with, others not. But, well, I can see how RSR using Payseur’s name, and his recommendations as a metric, would be poorly received.

    I think Payseur and RSR have diameterically opposing outlooks on short fiction, that also affects how and why I love each of them.
    I go to RSR for its vast and varied indexes, for its succinct overviews of authors and magazines and issues, and that’s an incredible resource for finding stories that grab my attention. I disagree with the reviews as often as not, and that’s often part of the charm — it’s a good place to argue.
    Whereas Payseur offers immense appreciation and consideration of each and every story. He has analysis and insight; he always looks for what the author was trying to achieve, and what parts sang to him. Having read a story, I read Payseur’s review about it, and I feel enriched.

    I feel like these two modes complement each other beautifully. At the same time, I can see how they’re incompatible. To RSR, the idea of liking all the stories Does Not Compute. And from Payseur’s side it’s even worse: not appreciating a story is a real problem, often a fault and a failure of understanding on the reviewer’s side; and the suggesting that stories should be ranked, that readers need some kind of middleman to direct them to what’s “worth” reading, is antithetical to his entire ethos — and implies that a vast swath of stories isn’t worth reading, absolutely and objectively.

    ::sigh:: The niche of genre short-fiction is so small, and so personal. I hate that two of the reviewers most active online, with so much to say and each with their own approach, should be at loggerheads like this. I can see why that’s happened, but it’s a goddamn tragedy is what it is.

  8. (2) In a way, I see a parallel between RSR and Rotten Tomatoes. Both are great services for aggregating reviews, but also reduce artistry to a numbers game and value bland safeness in art over interesting mistakes or controversial new approaches.

    It doesn’t help that Greg has appeared a bit tone-deaf at time in what he says, or that they tend to overvalue simplistic statistical methods and aggregate numbers.

    (11) All theoretical physicists all over the word rejoice!

  9. 2) The way I see it there’s a line between news reporting venues, and something like RSR which is using Charles Payseur’s reviews to create a set of data for a particular, controversial purpose. In the first case, there’s a straightforward expectation that being reported on doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with the bias of the reporter, or the site. However, on RSR Payseur’s reviews are used as part of a unique system, where he’s one of a tiny number of overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male reviewers whose opinions are given weight. Because it’s so different, I don’t think it carries the same set of expectations that news reporting does, and I think it’s far more likely that a casual viewer on RSR would assume that reviewers are more actively bought into the biases and assumptions of the process than if the site was just presenting and linking short fiction reviews without all the data stuff.

    (It’s true Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t seem to suffer from this problem, but Rotten Tomatoes is aggregating a much larger number of reviews and covers a wider segment of its chosen field, so the illusion of objectivity is easier to uphold, even though the process is no doubt flawed in many of the same ways…)

  10. @Lis Carey: But it was Mel who told me something I hadn’t noticed about the story by getting into its demographics. I’d never considered the two-tiered selection before.

  11. Harry Potter’s world would have saved itself a lot of grief with better wand control against Voldemort’s followers.

    (I think I read something recently comparing the Parkland teens to Dumbledore’s army. Makes no less sense.)

  12. Huzzah, Scroll Title Credit is Mine! (Still celebrating that in the year 2553)

    13) Older than they think. That’s true of a lot of things.

  13. (18) “Scoobynatural” was a lot of fun (I’ve never seen Supernatural before, but couldn’t resist the Scooby gang).

  14. 11) The universe is amazing.

    10) Personally I don’t have a problem with social media, only with some of it’s users

  15. @Standback

    Agree with your thoughts re: Payseur and RSR. They are two of my favorite resources, and I was happy when RSR added Payseur as one of the reviewers whose recommendations they highlighted. Since Payseur sometimes raves about (above his generally positive response 🙂 ) stories that Greg doesn’t connect with, his recommendations offered a lot of balance. I use RSR to keep track of new stories coming out and for the discussions in the comments. I read Payseur for his insights.

    I get where Payseur is coming from. I would like to see recs from women and poc reviewers featured at RSR. But since K. Tempest Bradford and Lois Tilton are no longer doing their regular short fiction review columns, I’m not sure who else is out there.

    I will miss seeing Payseur’s recs highlighted at RSR. At the same time, I’m glad to see RSR immediately honor his request to be removed. And all RSR’s review pages have a link to search for other reviews so it’s still pretty easy to find alternate takes including Payseur’s.

  16. (6) Magaine > Magazine
    (Or possibly Migraine, but the context argues for ‘Magazine.’)

    Who was that Pixel I scrolled you with last night?
    That was no Pixel. That was my File!

  17. I keep a database of some dozen or more short fiction reviewers, because I send out review copies every month, but you could follow:

    Vanessa Fogg

    Charlotte Ashley

    Maria Haskins

    Paula Guran

    Karen Burnham

    They are indeed out there . . .

  18. @Laura: Unrelated to RSR, if you’re looking for women writing reviews, then A.C. Wise and Maria Haskins are both excellent.

    They both use the “spotlight” approach, recommending a handful of stories from a range of venues in each post. They’re both great 🙂

  19. @Sean: I think you’ve been spam-trapped, but thanks! I adore Charlotte Ashley’s writing, and I’m excited to see what stories she recommends!

  20. Let us randomly pick “ground floor, by the bay windows, across from the bar” for 13:00 Saturday, for the File770 meetup.

  21. … Is it appropriate for white people to compile lists of recommended fiction by authors of color …

    If the alternative is for white people to only compile lists of recommended fiction by white authors, I fail to see how that’s an improvement.

    Here’s what Rocket Stack Rank said it was trying to do: “Readers asked us to make it easy for them to find good stories written by authors with diverse racial backgrounds, and that’s what this list is meant to accomplish (author identity plays no role in our ratings).”

    That seems like a laudable goal to me, regardless of the diversity of the critics involved.

  22. @Sean and Standback

    Thank you very much! I will definitely check them out.

    (I wonder if any of them would have the overlap of venues they review with RSR to work with their recs-from-other-reviews feature.)

  23. rcade: If the alternative is for white people to only compile lists of recommended fiction by white authors, I fail to see how that’s an improvement.

    That was my thought. How is “stories written by POC authors get less bandwidth” an improvement on “white men give bandwidth to POC authors”?

    I think Payseur would have done better to request
    1) that the title “Best SF/F by People of Color” be changed to “SF/F by People of Color”
    2) that instead of dropping Payseur, RSR add to their list several diverse reviewers, such as those listed by Sean Wallace above

    It seems to me that everyone — diverse authors, Payseur, RSR, and readers who use RSR for reading referrals — has come out the loser, the way that this has shaken out.

  24. Meredith Moment: Ellen Kushner’s (really, really excellent) Swordspoint is currently $1.99.

  25. The John Kricfalusi story is horrifying. He groomed a 13- and 14-year-old girl who sent him fan letters because they wanted to be animators, then brought them to his studio as underage interns where workers looked the other way for years. Even his own attorney today admits Kricfalusi had a 16-year-old “girlfriend” when he was 40 (the correct term is “victim”). But we’re supposed to excuse that on the attorney’s rationale, “The 1990s were a time of mental and emotional fragility for Mr. Kricfalusi, especially after losing Ren and Stimpy, his most prized creation.”

    How about the mental and emotional fragility of these children? They lost a lot more than a cartoon at the hands of a predator.

  26. Quietly deletes line in tomorrow’s March 2018 in review where I brag I’ve read thus far in 2018 more books by POC than any site listed in the Strange Horizons’ count….

  27. @rcade: I agree, it’s a laudable goal.

    As I understand Payseur, his objections are to methodology and to the overall result. If you’re going to determine which stories by authors of color are “best”, perhaps the criterion by which you determine “best” shouldn’t be “recommended by multiple white people.” If you’ve found a bunch of notable stories by authors of color, maybe the default ranking shouldn’t be RSR’s own mini-review score. And so on.

    On the flip side, I think Payseur is underestimating the value of this kind of resource, even a highly imperfect one. You know, I am happy to read a bunch of short stories by authors of color that a bunch of white editors liked. This is a long list of over 100 stories; each summarized with a ton of helpful information of lots of types. I don’t feel like I’m being handed a small selection of stories I “should” consume by some authority figure; I feel like I’m being given a large pool of possibilities, compiled from a variety of tastes, and with enough information to choose a half-dozen stories I’ll really want to read.
    Something like Vasha’s very excellent list of fiction by black authors is more comprehensive and makes no judgement calls; any of a hundred “ten great stories you should read” might go into greater detail and be compiled by people with greater understanding and sensitivity, but neither of those will let me hone in on a selection of stories that appeal to me, that I’ll actually be excited about and be sure to make time to read.

    In that sense, complaining too much about the criteria is (to me) kind of missing the point. The point is to choose a wide range of stories, and then be extremely (and navigably) informative about them. You need some criteria just to keep the scope manageable, but what precisely that is, doesn’t matter too much.

    But again, that’s just me. If RSR means this, or if Payseur is interpeting this, as a statement that “short stories with two or more recommendations by prolific reviewers are inherently, objectively, qualitatively different than short stories without,” then that’s a whole different ballgame.

  28. Meredith Moment:

    Amazon’s Daily Deal in the US has a dozen or so Arthur C. Clarke titles at $1.99. They appear to mainly be short fiction collections.

    Here on 817, Pope Paschal I is avidly awaiting the Hugo nominations. Pope Stephen IV has no comment.

  29. @Laura:

    I wonder if any of them would have the overlap of venues they review with RSR to work with their recs-from-other-reviews feature.

    I’d say yes, in very much the same way RSR has begun making use of best-of-year compilations, etc. It doesn’t all need to overlap.

    But I really, really wouldn’t do that without asking their permission first

  30. (2) Payseur just tweeted:

    If an author asked me to take down a review or not review their work I WOULD DO THAT. You know what ethics I respect? The ethics of consent. Perhaps this makes me a terrible reviewer. Fine.

    In that spirit, I have replied:

    In that case, I do not consent to you writing about Rocket Stack Rank. Please don’t tweet or post about us or my reviews (with or without using our name), and delete all your historic “critiques” of our site. Thanks.

    For those who haven’t followed Payseur, he’s posted regular, bitter, and (we think) unfair critiques of Rocket Stack Rank for over a year now, even though we have never printed a critical word about his site. It would be very nice for those to stop. Let’s see if he really means what he says.

  31. And as I do quote from Payseur in the Scroll somewhat often, I now wonder what would I do if he asked me to stop?

    If you got a blanket request from someone asking that you never link to them on File 770, I would hope that you ignored it and continued to use your own news judgment. As long as something is publicly readable on the web, it should be fair game for links and commentary elsewhere.

    I could foresee exceptions on a situational basis — I edited an old post on my blog to remove someone’s name. He was looking for a new job and felt like my post high in search results hurt his prospects, and I thought honoring that request was the right thing to do. But being told “never, ever write about me” by someone who is out there engaging the public on a blog or social media is too much.

  32. 2) I don’t much like the label “best” for literature anyway. Perhaps an alternate like “favorite” or “highly rated” or “stories to check out” or some such could decrease some of the heartburn?

  33. Hampus Eckerman on March 29, 2018 at 10:25 pm said:
    Also – no wand, no other magic. Which includes healing and much more. When you can use rifles to cure people, then we can discuss why there is a need for them.

    This is the key problem with the argument that Harry Potter promotes a pro-gun and anti-gun control viewpoint (never mind the fact that the author is a British Liberal, who would never have expressed such a viewpoint deliberately) – wands in Harry Potter are more equivalent to batteries and simple machines than guns, since they power nearly all human magic. Without wands, one can’t heal, use magic to cook, power basic objects, etc. etc. etc. So the analogy, as you point out, breaks down pretty quickly.

  34. If an author asked me to take down a review or not review their work I WOULD DO THAT. You know what ethics I respect? The ethics of consent. Perhaps this makes me a terrible reviewer. Fine.

    I don’t agree with this. It’s one thing for Payseur to ask that his reviews not be used as part of RSR’s aggregation of reviews. It’s another thing entirely to suggest that authors should have veto power over reviews of their work. “Oh, you didn’t give me 5 stars on Amazon? Please delete your rating & never rate my books again.” I don’t think that ends well for anyone.

  35. @ Laura

    I would like to see recs from women and poc reviewers…[omitted the specification about RSR]

    The short fiction review site SFF Reviews: Short Reviews of Short SFF has a ratio of 2:1 reviewers whose bios have female pronouns to reviewers whose bios have male pronouns (no non-binary currently and sorry for the circuitous description but I’m trying to practice being precise).

    One of the qualms I have about review aggregation is very much the way in which the opinions of marginalized reviewers (and hence, very often, marginalized creators) get suppressed while less marginalized reviewers (and hence less marginalized creators) get amplified. Especially when it comes to things like award brainstorming, that sort of double-filtering and concentrated amplification is worrisome. A single reviewer will necessarily filter for the specific things they review and like. A review aggregation process will also filter for the reviewer opinions the aggregator considers worth paying attention to.

  36. @Jon —

    I’m with you. It seems pretty obvious to me that consent to criticize is implied the second you send your written words out into the public sphere. It’s that whole thing about freedom of speech, doncha know.

  37. Random Book Recommendation

    This isn’t an SFF book but I think there’s enough overlap of interest to justify posting.

    It’s been a long time since I plunged into a novel so deeply that I arranged my time in order to finish it within 24 hours. Jeannelle M. Ferreira’s lesbian Regency romance The Covert Captain: Or, a Marriage of Equals got my hopes up from the first moment someone (maybe Liz Bourke?) @-ed it into my twitter feed. This book has solid historical chops, a complex multi-layered plot, immersive and lovely writing, and only a couple of minor “wait, that seems a bit historically implausible” moments (one of which was satisfactorily justified later in the book). If you’ve ever asked yourself, “why aren’t there more well-written f/f Regency romances?” then you are solidly in the target audience for this book.

    (Content advisories: deals with military PTSD though of course not under that name, several brief, tasteful, sexually explicit scenes.)

    Currently only available from Amazon (print and Kindle) but I understand it will be more broadly available in three months when the initial contract is up.

  38. The debate, at least at the Tor article, is not over wands. Their analogy to guns is the Aveda Kadavra spell, not wands. I didn’t read the other article, but I’ll offer my opinion anyway so I have no opinion to offer.

  39. @Lis: Mikayla also spoke tolerably about the last offering — and ISTM she has a strong point (that the story hasn’t aged well — is the premise of The Prisoner (as opposed to its surrealism) really surprising today?). OTOH, complaints about “how could this have been set up” were my first thought on the Hunger Games world. (No, I don’t believe the explanation.)

    re Payseur: an author who puts something out in public doesn’t get to cherry-pick who talks about it. “Ethics of consent” in this context sounds like a manufactured back-patter for people who don’t want to strain their arms approving of themselves.

  40. I saw Ready Player One yesterday. Kind of an ok movie, but mostly forgettable and following the standard template too much. Will not watch again, I think I will find more things to irritate me then.

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