Pixel Scroll 3/21/16 The Incredible Sulk

(1) SCALZI PREDICTS. Today John Scalzi answered “Reader Request Week 2016 #2: Will Humans Survive?”

But we’re smart! I hear you say. Sure, that’s true, but does it then follow that a) we’re smart enough not to basically kill ourselves by wrecking the planet, b) that our intelligence means that evolution is done with us. The answers here, if you ask me (and you did) are: We’ll see, and probably not. In the latter case, there’s an argument to be made that our intelligence will increase speciation, as humans intentionally do to our species what natural selection did unintentionally before, and do it on a much shorter timescale, in order to adapt to the world that is currently rapidly changing under our feet, in no small part because of our own activities.

So, no. Human beings, meaning Homo sapiens, will almost certainly not be here a billion years from now.

(2) LASFS SPEAKERS. Three big names will be guest speakers at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society in the coming weeks.

  • March 24 – Jerry Pournelle Speaks (My Favorite Book (LASFS meeting)
  • April 7 — Robert J. Sawyer – Special Guest (LASFS meeting)
  • April 28 — Larry Niven – Guest Speaker (LASFS meeting)

(3) MILLENNICON RIP. Millennicon 30, held last weekend, ended the convention’s run. Con chair Christy Johnson announced on Facebook:

It is with great sadness to announce that Millennicon 30 was our last. We tried our best to keep going but all good things must come to an end. We wanted to go out with a good con, and I think we did.

We were hoping for a higher attendance and hotel room nights, but alas, it was not to be.

Thank you to the best con-com, our guests of honor, dealers, artists, fan clubs and our attendees. Thanks to all those that lived local and still got hotel rooms. Thanks to those that regularly stayed at the hotel to help keep our costs down. Thanks to those that brought in their friends and family to join us. We survived this long because of you.

We hope you have enjoyed yourself over the years and remember us with fondness. We, the con-com, became a family through Millennicon. Many of you were also a part of our family.

Thanks for 30 years!

(4) COVER MODELS. Jim C. Hines has several fascinating photos from Millennicon here, including a faux book cover pose with Laura Resnick.

(5) TAXING MATTERS. At the SFWA blog, the issue that is every tax auditor’s nightmare is covered in “Ask the Tax Czarina: Hobby or Business?”

Q: Is my writing is a hobby or a business?

A: There are a number of factors the IRS looks at. The most important factor is whether or not you have a profit motive. You are not in a trade or business unless you intend to make a profit and have some sort of plan for how you’ll accomplish that. Note that this doesn’t mean you must make a profit. Lots of small businesses fail. But the burden of proof here is on the taxpayer. If you’re losing money, the IRS may assert that you’re engaging in a hobby, especially if you only do it part-time or your primary support comes from another source.

So, wow. That sounds subjective, doesn’t it? Why yes, yes it is. It’s a facts and circumstances test and can be highly individual.

(6) AMAZON LANDS DOCTOR WHO. Amazon Prime, which is replacing Netflix and Hulu as online video streamer, will initiate service this month reports Variety.

The man that stops the monsters is back! Seasons 1-8 of Doctor Who will be exclusively available to stream on Amazon Video starting March 27, with Season 9 coming on September 6 2016 and ‘The Husbands of River Song’ following on September 25. Fantastic!

(7) NUSSBAUM’S FAVORITES. Abigail Nussbaum is back with “The 2016 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Publishing and Fan Categories”. Here’s just one example –

Best Fan Writer:

  • Nina Allan – Allan continues to be one of the smartest, most insightful reviewers currently working.  Her reviews for Strange Horizons never fail to convince me to read the books she raves about, and in her recent blogging about mystery novels she shows herself to be equally insightful about that genre as she is about science fiction.

(8) POLL WORKER. George R.R. Martin works to get out the vote in “Countdown to Liftoff”, which rounds up links to his Hugo recommendation posts, plus a few late additions:

I did overlook some good choices even in the categories I covered. Naomi Novik’s UPROOTED is her best work to date, a very strong fantasy (though I had problems with the ending) and probably worth a nomination in Novel. I forgot about EX MACHINA when talking about Long Form Drama, but it’s a gripping and well done film, worthy of consideration. I recommended OUTLANDER for Short Form Drama, but it should be noted that the first season was telecast in two eight-episode arcs, and only the second eight are eligible, as the first eight were broadcast in 2014. I think JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL should be nominated in Long Form as a whole, rather than in Short Form, by episode, but others disagree.

(9) A PIUS GEEK. In case you’re not getting enough of this, Declan Finn goes 15 rounds with Damien G. Walter, a bit of overkill, since he stretches Damien on the deck in the first round.

The level of stupid maybe be getting to me.  The Puppy Kickers — like Damien — seem to be going full on insane.  They’ve apparently decided that they can just spew insults, and it’s reality. Wright will never be a pro writer again because they hate him, and anyone they hate must be blackballed. Brad and Larry are demagogues, because Damien said so — and they “ran away” because Brad and Larry didn’t want to play with this crap anymore.

Then again, these ARE the same people that insist that Brad ran away to the Middle East, because being shot at was preferable to standing up to the great and powerful Puppy Kickers. Yes, there are some idiots who’ve actually stated this, online. In public.

See what I mean about the stupid? It burns a LOT.

Damien doesn’t even seem to consider that, had more of his friends came to play at the SP4 site, they could have taken over the list entirely. But that would have meant engaging with people who disagree with him.

(10) LISTING TO STARBOARD. Font Folly leads off its roundup “Keymasters and Gatekeepers” with this comment —

So the Sad Puppies have officially released their recommendation list. Yes, I said list, not slate. Last year’s was a slate because there were exactly five “suggestions” in each category and the puppy supporters were encouraged to vote the exact slate (whether they had actually read the stories or not) in order to ensure that they had whole categories locked up. This year different people are in charge of the Sad Puppy campaign, and they gathered a big list after taking recommendations for months. In all of the fiction categories, at least, there are more than five recommendations, so you can’t slate vote it.

A few other people have written about this year’s list. In sad puppies 4: the… better behaving?, Dara Korra’ti says a lot of what I was thinking when I saw the list. I’m glad that the Sad Puppies have taken a more transparent approach. I’m glad that the list isn’t dominated by stories published in only one very small publication house owned by one of the organizers. I’m really glad that three of the recommendations in a single category are not by the same author. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that the people running it this year are sincerely trying to do no more than get more of the works they like on the ballot, rather than push a political agenda. I’ve never objected to recommendation lists no matter who makes those recommendations.

(11) TO REMOVE OR NOT TO REMOVE. Kate Paulk has placed asterisks beside two works on “The List” at Sad Puppies 4 whose authors asked to have them removed altogether. And did so with a characteristic Paulkian turn of phrase.

No corrections have been made yet: I’m still catching up from Lunacon. I’ll note the edits at the top of the page when I make them. The Mad Genius Club post will NOT be edited so my typos and miscategorizations will remain there for all posterity. Or posterior, which I suspect is the more apt way to put it.

In comments on “The List” at Mad Genius Club Paulk made this response:


I will not insult those who consider your novella to be Hugo-worthy by removing you from the List. I will, however, be updating the version of this post at http://sadpuppies4.org/the-list/ to note that you prefer that your work not be purchased, enjoyed, and nominated without your prior approval.

Alastair Reynolds answered:

Hello Kate. You’re welcome to do that, of course, but it does not represent my position. Nonetheless thank you for publishing my comment and I wish you all the best.

(12) SCALZI COMMENTS. John Scalzi has been following the news.

(13) GODWIN IS HOLDING ON LINE TWO. Jim C. Hines weighs in on Twitter.

(14) LOL. If for some reason you’re unhappy being recommended by the Bay Area Science Fiction Association, Kevin’s your man.

(15) GOOD FORM. Rachael Acks’ handy guide to “Reasons why I will not be replying to your argument”. Here is item #4 from a list of 17.

4. You have thus far done such a good job at arguing with straw man conceptions of my words that I’ve come to realize my input is entirely superfluous. Please feel free to continue this argument without me.

(16) FREEDOM. Chris Meadows’ TeleRead article “’Sad Puppies’ Hugo campaign posts recommendation list, spawns new controversy” delivers gritty details along with a broad overview.

In the blog post’s comments, Hoyt explained the current plan was to put an asterisk next to the names of those who asked to be removed—which prompted chuckles from other Puppies, in reference to the controversy of last year’s Hugo Awards ceremony that involved the handing out of laser-cut wooden asterisks to every winner that year.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]

196 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/21/16 The Incredible Sulk

  1. If that’s what you want to do, more power to you, I suppose, but that’s a pitiful way to live.

    And complaining that people who don’t want to participate in such an activity, as either ammunition or examples, are the ones who look bad is just mind-bogglingly stupid.

  2. Lenora Rose: The live shows are great; Condos in particular. And if you get a chance to see actually see them performed, I highly recommend it. I’ve seen the last couple of times they came through town, and will be seeing them again on the next tour — it’s fun seeing Cecil et al. actually play off of the audience’s reactions.

  3. I haven’t listened to the newest episode of Alice Isn’t Dead, but I really liked the first one! I’m also an episode behind on WtNV, though. I just need some good crafting time, which is my favorite time to listen to podcasts and audiobooks.

    I love the live shows! I’m bummed I’m missing out on the newest tour(too busy), but they always seem to record in NYC, so I’ll just make sure to go see that one when they do it. Condos is great, and I love The Librarian(and going to The Investigators was such fun), but my favorite, is, oddly, the Thrilling Adventure Hour/Welcome to Night Vale Crossover Event, despite it’s potential lack of canonicity. I just find it so fun. And, after all, who doesn’t love a nice Destroy the Moon Festival?

  4. Just enjoyed a funny short story by our own Laura Resnick published in Urban Fantasy February 5, 2015 Dave the Mighty Steel-Thewed Avenger
    About a college student and the prophesy he fulfills with a rodent. Or is it his drunken adventure one night? It’s full of Laura’s typical humor and playing with tropes.

    Heard about it from the Kickstarter Unidentified Funny Objects 5 update today. Unidentified Funny Objects is a series of funny science fiction anthologies edited by Alex Svartsman.

  5. Tasha

    Thank you for the link to Laura’s story; I really, really loved it.

    I sometimes think that, over time, we have lost too much of our pleasure in humour in SF/F; if, say, Zelazny had written it people would have been far more likely to accept that a story could simultaneously be both brilliant and funny.

    Obvious next question: anyone know what the word count is?

  6. Speaking of humor in SFF, a friend just asked me for suggestions for fantasy novels written by women (he noticed that he wasn’t reading many female authors). “Easy!” I said, and gave him a list of a dozen titles. “I’d prefer light or humorous books….” he added.

    Um. Honestly, the only thing that sprang instantly to mind is the “White Trash Zombie” books. I mean, God Stalk has weirdly humorous moments, but…


  7. @Cassy
    I’d point your friend at the work of Rachel Aaron (aka Rachel Bach). She’s got a low fantasy series (Eli Monpress), Space adventure (Paradox series), and Urban Fantasy (Heartstriker)

  8. Paul, thanks! I also just realized <headdesk> that Laura Resnick writes those charming and giggleworthy “Esther Diamond” books…

  9. @Cassy. Yeah, it not like we don’t see Laura around these parts.

    Oh, wait. :headdesk:

  10. @Cassy – Try pretty much anything written by R. A. MacAvoy. I’m particularly fond of her Damiano trilogy, but it’s all pretty good.

  11. Steve Simmons, I’m one of today’s Lucky 10,000; I didn’t realize (or at least I didn’t remember) that R.A. MacAvoy was female.

  12. Talking of not realising people are female, one example I don’t think came up the last time this was discussed was Julian May.

    And another is Sydney Padua. I am reading Thrilling Adventures at the moment, and when she said ‘the Lady Novelist is played by Yours Truly the Indefatigable Footnoter’ I was rather taken aback. (There’s a precedent in Sydney Bowles, but I still wouldn’t normally think of it as a woman’s name.)

  13. For the third Alpennia novel I will make room, if necessary.

    Also. Because prior experience says very much worth it.

  14. @JoeH: The one live show they included in the freebie continuity (Since it’s a major climax to several plot threads) was Amazing and gave a hint (But only a hint) how good the others might be. The thing about discovering Night Vale late (I started listening to it either very late in 2015 or in early 2016, basically mainlining it) is that the only tour that came here was last September and I heard about it this February.

    I noticed the Librarians made a number of peoples’ Best Dramatic Presentation suggestions (The other two that did were The Record of High School Crushes, aka the caper, and Triptych — the latter is the one I put in as my vote.)

  15. @Cassy – it’s YA but honestly it’s one of the loveliest fantasy novels I’ve ever read – Snakehead by Ann Halam, not humorous, but very good-humoured. The myth of Perseus retold in a wonderful, rich, warm, down-to-earth way. Stands in stark contrast to the deep chill of her sf novel Siberia. Ann Halam is also Gwyneth Jones, by the way.

  16. Seanan Macguire’s Incryptid books are humorous. (So is her series of “Velveteen versus the…” stories, but I’m not sure those are available other than online; I’ve been reading them via her LiveJournal.)

  17. @Stevie
    Got an answer for you:

    Laura Resnick on March 23, 2016 at 4:14 pm said:

    @ Tasha: Is Dave the Mighty Steel-Thewed Avenger eligible for a Hugo this year? How many words is it?

    Yes. 🙂 It was originally published in a pro market in Feb 2015. It’s 5400 words, a short story.

  18. @Tasha:

    I’ve just started the new InCryptid myself. It’s already better than the Marvel Secret Wars graphic novel I read yesterday. Not that this is a great accomplishment, but still.

  19. Maybe I’m weird, but I’d class much of Patricia McKillip’s fantasy as humorous, if not specifically humor. She has a lovingly sly way with a sentence that results in frequent unexpected laugh-out-loud moments. Like the beginning of The Forgotten Beasts of Eld: “Once he got over his surprise…” Or the climax/reveal of Ombria in Shadow, which I will not spoil by quoting here. And then there’s the epic fight in the rosebushes at the beginning of The Riddlemaster of Hed

  20. Esther Friesner has some excellent humorous fantasy, although she sort of got pushed more towards YA in her later career (I think American publishers are dubious about humorous fantasy for grownups, despite Pratchett’s amazing success). Her early stuff, like New York by Knight, is well worth checking out.

    Patricia McKillip: yeah, not so much humorous fantasy, but definitely a strong element of whimsy threaded in her stuff. Plus, she’s freakin’ brilliant! Totally original; inventive, bizarre, but always entertaining. One of my absolute favorites.

    Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles are some pretty good humorous fantasy too. Haven’t gotten around to reading much of her other stuff (I’m really not a huge fantasy fan), but I greatly enjoyed these.

    And, of course, how could we not mention the fabulous Diana Wynne Jones? Howl’s Moving Castle is probably her best known work, having been immortalized by Studio Ghibli, but her entire corpus is wonderful. Some of my other favorites of hers are A Sudden, Wild Magic and Archer’s Goon.

    Diane Duane, though she tends more towards YA, has also done some fine light fantasy.

  21. Xtifr, I’m familiar with all of these authors (and most of the cited works) and I can’t believe none of them jumped instantly to mind. Thanks for the reminder!

  22. I also find Ilona Andrews’ work to be quite funny, especially the Kate Daniels series. This is a husband and wife team so it may or may not count.

  23. Mallory and Tasha, added to the list. These I don’t know; what’s the first book? From the name “Kate Daniels”, I’m guessing urban fantasy…?

  24. What about Jane Yolen? Her work is not broadly comedic, but I have found some of it enjoyable and twisted –like for example the short story “Lost Girls” in the collection “Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast”, in which a feminist girl is whisked away by Peter Pan and takes a good, hard, realistic, almost cynical look at just what he is doing.

  25. @Rev. Bob: Weird, actually Amazon’s shipping free if your order contains $25+ in books, or $49+ in other items. So it’s gone down and up.

    @Cassy B.: Filers are part of the collective memory we all rely on. “I need a rec for X” or “Where can I find Y” or “Tell me about dirt and/or cannabalism” – yup, Filers got ya covered. 😉

  26. Hi Cassy,
    Yes, these are urban fantasy. The first book is “Magic Bites”. I love her writing!

  27. @Kendall:

    Books? You mean, like, ink-stained Ent corpses? Who buys those nowadays? 😉

  28. Re urban fantasy, Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s works deserve greater reknown. I especially love A Fistful of Sky. Not humerous but whimsical, with a bit of edge. I revisit this book often.

  29. @Rev. Bob: Some of us are old and set in our ways. Or we just like the free shipping – take your pick. 😉 Mmmm, tasty, task Ent corpses. . . .

  30. @Kendall:

    I’ll see your free shipping and raise you instant gratification, malleable font sizes, and the ability to fix typos. 😛

  31. And so Mount File770 grows ever higher. Thanks, all, for your recs for my friend… and I’ll be dipping into a few of these myself when I need a unicorn chaser.

    You guys are the best.

  32. @Rev Bob
    You know you can buy a book in both formats at the same time. So while your awaiting the num num ent corpse you can read the ebook. 😉

    My husband and I are doing this on a number of books where he really wants the paper copy but I will only read in ebook. It’s really attractive option if the publisher has done matchbook pricing so it was $1.99 to buy the ebook as soon as we’ve finished purchasing the hard copy.

    What is with all you people who think everything is either this or that when you can have both. You know the world is full of nuances. Open your eyes and the number of options you’ll have will… Paralyze you or kill your budget. Bwahaha

  33. Cassy B said:

    Speaking of humor in SFF, a friend just asked me for suggestions for fantasy novels written by women (he noticed that he wasn’t reading many female authors). “Easy!” I said, and gave him a list of a dozen titles. “I’d prefer light or humorous books….” he added.

    Waking in Dreamland by Jody Lynn Nye is a nice light fantasy.

    ETA: Oh, and if we’re including sf, how could I not think of Changing Planes by Ursula K. Le Guin straight away! SF (ish), ranging from ha-ha funny to satirical.

  34. Petréa Mitchell, oooh, now I have to re-read Changing Planes…. (And you’re right about the Nye; I moderated a full month-long book discussion on that book when it came out…)

  35. Cassy B: Petréa Mitchell, oooh, now I have to re-read Changing Planes…

    I noticed last night that my library has that in its Overdrive collection, so I’ve put it on my list to read later. It sounds intriguing; thanks for the rec.

  36. Changing Planes is, as far as I remember, delightful. I wish I’d thought to recommend it to (*cough* impose it on *cough*) my husband before he departed on his current travels (which he’s been texting me about how much he hates).

  37. Books? You mean, like, ink-stained Ent corpses? Who buys those nowadays?

    Some things I only want in that form. Cookbooks in particular, but also dictionaries and other reference works.

  38. @Rev. Bob: I call! Or perhaps fold.

    @Tasha Turner: Print and ebook?! What magic is this! …just kidding, although it wouldn’t work for me since I don’t do Amazon ebooks, which IIRC is where this happens, but it sounds perfect for a print+ebook couple. 🙂

  39. @Tasha: Thanks for the Laura Resnick link. I may have to recalibrate one of my short story picks.

    To answer your question about why nominate on SP4: partially because sometimes you can win a few flies over with honey (vs. vinegar), and partially because I like promoting really good sci-fi and fantasy that deserves a wider audience. Had I known that Sad Puppies 4 would be jerks about removing people from the list, well, yeah, I wouldn’t have nominated.

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