Pixel Scroll 3/7/16 Burning Down the Scroll

(1) MILLION WORDS (IN) MARCH. Up and Coming: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible Authors, curated by SL Huang and Kurt Hunt, is available as a free download at Bad Menagerie until March 31.

This anthology includes 120 authors—who contributed 230 works totaling approximately 1.1 MILLION words of fiction. These pieces all originally appeared in 2014, 2015, or 2016 from writers who are new professionals to the science fiction and fantasy field, and they represent a breathtaking range of work from the next generation of speculative storytelling.

All of these authors are eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2016. We hope you’ll use this anthology as a guide in nominating for that award as well as a way of exploring many vibrant new voices in the genre.

(2) MANLY SF. And then, if you run out of things to read, the North Carolina Speculative Fiction Foundation has announced the preliminary eligibility list of 116 titles for the 2016 Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Or you could just look at all the pretty cover art in the “2016 Manly Wade Wellman Award cover gallery” at Bull Spec.

(3) ALPINE PARABLES. An overview of “The Swiss Science Fiction” at Europa SF.

„Swiss science fiction? Never heard of it !

Yet for a long time, the Swiss SF has engaged in speculative fiction game.”

(4) TOO SOON TO REGENERATE? Radio Times has the scoop — “Peter Capaldi: ‘I’ve been asked to stay on in Doctor Who after Steven Moffat leaves’”.

Now, RadioTimes.com can reveal that the BBC has asked Capaldi to stay on as the Doctor after Moffat’s departure — but the actor himself isn’t sure whether he’ll take up their offer.

“I’ve been asked to stay on,” Capaldi told RadioTimes.com, “but it’s such a long time before I have to make that decision.

“Steven’s been absolutely wonderful, so I love working with him. Chris is fantastic, and I think he’s a hugely talented guy.

“I don’t know where the show’s gonna go then. I don’t know. I have to make up my mind, and I haven’t yet.”

(5) ASTRONAUT SHRINKS. Scott Kelly had reportedly grown taller while at the International Space Station, but he’s back to normal now.

US astronaut Scott Kelly said Friday he is battling fatigue and super-sensitive skin, but is back to his normal height after nearly a year in space.

Kelly’s 340-day mission — spent testing the effects of long-term spaceflight ahead of a future mission to Mars, along with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko — wrapped up early Wednesday when they landed in frigid Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz spacecraft.

One of the effects of spending such a long time in the absence of gravity was that Kelly’s spine expanded temporarily, making him grow 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters), only to shrink as he returned to Earth.

His twin brother, Mark Kelly, said they were the same height again by the time they hugged in Houston early Thursday.

According to John Charles, human research program associate manager for international science at NASA, any height gain “probably went away very quickly because it is a function of fluid accumulation in the discs between the bones in the spinal column.”

(6) AUTHOR’S PERSPECTIVE. Rose Lemberg provides “Notes on trans themes in ‘Cloth…’”

Grandmother-na-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” is a Nebula nominee. As such, it is getting a lot of attention.

I usually let my stories stand on their own. When this story came out, I had written brief story notes focusing on Kimi’s autism in the context of the Khana culture. Even that felt too much for me. I want readers to get what they need from my work, without my external authorial influence.

But as this story is getting more attention, I’d like to write some notes about the trans aspects of this story…..

Many of us are pressured by families. Especially trans people. Especially trans people (and queer people) who are from non-white and/or non-Anglo-Western cultural backgrounds, and/or who are immigrants. Many trans people I know have strained relationships with their families, and many had to cut ties with their families or were disowned.

This story came from that place, a place of deep hurt in me, and in many of my trans friends. It came from a place of wanting to imagine healing.

It also came from a place of wanting to center a trans character who comes out later in life. For many trans and queer people, coming out later in life is very fraught. Coming out is always fraught. Coming out later in life, when one’s identity is supposed to be firmly established, is terrifyingly difficult. This is my perspective. I am in my late thirties. There’s not enough trans representation in SFF; there’s never enough representation of queer and trans elders specifically. I write queer and trans elders and older people a lot.

(7) DEVIL IN THE DETAILS. The historianship of Camestros Felapton is on display in “Unpicking a Pupspiracy: Part 1”.

I’m currently near to finishing an update to the Puppy Kerfuffle timeline. The update includes Sp4 stuff as well as some extra bits around the 2013 SFWA controversies.

One issue I thought I hadn’t looked at what was a key piece of Puppy mythology: basically that their enemies are being tipped off by Hugo administrators to enable shenanigans of a vague and never entirely explained nature. A key proponent of this Pupspiracy theory is Mad Genius Dave Freer. In particular this piece from mid April 2015 http://madgeniusclub.com/2015/04/13/nostradumbass-and-madame-bugblatterfatski/

Freer’s piece has two pupspiracies in it; one from Sad Puppies 2 and one from Sad Puppies 3. I’m going to look at the first here and the second in Part 2. However, both use a particular odd kind of fallacious reasoning that we’ve seen Dave use before. It is a sort of a fallacy of significance testing mixed with a false dichotomy and not understanding how probability works.

(8) CLASS IN SESSION. “’You can teach craft but you can’t teach talent.’ The most useless creative writing cliché?” asks Juliet McKenna.

So let’s not get snobbish about the value of craft. Without a good carpenter’s skills, you’d be using splintery planks to board up that hole in your house instead of coming and going through a well-made and secure front door. Let’s definitely not accept any implication that writing craft is merely a toolkit of basic skills which a writer only needs to get to grips with once. I learn new twists and subtleties about different aspects of writing with every piece I write and frequently from what I read. Every writer I know says the same.

Now, about this notion that you cannot teach hopeful writers to have ideas, to have an imagination. The thing is, I’ve never, ever met an aspiring author who didn’t have an imagination. Surely that’s a prerequisite for being a keen reader, never mind for taking up a pen or keyboard to create original fiction? Would-be writers are never short on inspiration.

(9) DONE TWEETING. Joe Vasicek comes to bury, not praise, a social media platform in “#RIPTwitter”.

All of this probably sounds like a tempest in a teapot if you aren’t on Twitter. And yeah, it kind of is. In the last two weeks, I’ve learned that life is generally better without Twitter than it is with it. No more getting sucked into vapid tit-for-tat arguments in 140-character chunks. No more passive-aggressive blocking by people who are allergic to rational, intelligent debate. No more having to worry about being an obvious target for perpetually-offended SJW types who, in their constant efforts to outdo each other with their SJW virtue signaling, can spark an internet lynch mob faster than a California wildfire.

The one big thing that I miss about Twitter is the rapid way that news disseminates through the network. I can’t tell you how many major news stories I heard about through Twitter first—often while they were still unfolding. But if the #RIPTwitter controversy demonstrates anything, it’s that Twitter now has both the means and the motive to suppress major news stories that contradict the established political narrative. That puts them somewhere around Pravda as a current events platform.

Am I going to delete my account the same way that I deleted my Facebook account? Probably not. I deleted my Facebook account because of privacy concerns and Facebook’s data mining. With Twitter, it’s more of an issue with the platform itself. I don’t need to delete my account to sign off and stop using it.

(10) OR YOU CAN ENGAGE. When Steven A. Saus’ call for submissions to an anthology was criticized, here’s how he responded — “Just Wait Until Twitter Comes For You: Addressing and Fixing Unintended Privilege and Bigotry”

TL;DR: When a social justice criticism was brought to us, we acknowledged the mistake, engaged with those criticizing, and fixed the problem instead of doubling down or protesting that wasn’t what we meant. It worked to resolve the problem and helped us clarify the message we meant to send….

So why have I written a thousand words or so about it?

Partially to acknowledge the mistake honestly, and to note how it was fixed.

Partially to demonstrate that there are people in publishing that will listen to your concerns, and that voicing them honestly may effect real change.

Mostly it’s for those people who warned me about Twitter coming for me. It’s for those people who get angry or scared because they’re afraid they’ll use the “wrong” term. It’s for those people who think the right thing to do is to double-down about what they intended and just saw things get worse.

Because they told me that listening to and engaging others would not be useful.

And they were wrong. You can act like a bigot and never mean to. Privelege can be invisible to you – but still lead you to cause real, unintended harm.

I’m here to tell you that if you’re willing to really listen, if you’re willing to put your ego to the side, to forget what you meant and focus on what was heard, if you’re willing to acknowledge the damage you did and willing to try to fix it…

…then you only have to fear making yourself a better person.

(11) ADVANCE NARRATIVE. io9’s Katherine Trendacosta gets a head start on disliking the next Potterverse offering in “JK Rowling Tackles the Magical History of America in New Harry Potter Stories”.

The idea that Salem cast a long shadow over American wizarding history is one that drives me crazy, by the way. First of all, there was a whole thing in the third Harry Potter book about witch burning being pointless because of the Flame-Freezing Charm. But thanks for showing people screaming in fire in the video anyway! Second of all, not to get all “America, fuck yeah!” on people, but please let’s not have the a whole story about the amazing British man saving America from its provincial extremists. Third of all, skin-walkers are a Native American myth, so let’s hope the white British lady approaches that with some delicacy.


(12) WORKING FOR A LIVING. Mindy Klasky adds to the alphabet for writers in “J is for Job” at Book View Café.

Other aspects of “job culture” bleed over into the life of a successful writer.

For example, writers maintain professional courtesy for other writers. They don’t savage other writers without good reason. (And even then, they make their attacks in the open, instead of lurking “backstage” in corners of the Internet where their victims can’t follow.) This doesn’t mean, of course, that all writers always must agree with all other writers at all times. Rather, disagreements should be handled with respect and professionalism.

Even more importantly, writers maintain professional courtesy for readers, especially reviewers. It’s impossible to publish a book and get 100% positive reviews. Some reviewers—brace yourself; this is shocking—get things wrong. They might not understand the fine points of the book an author wrote. They might mistake facts. They might have completely, 100% unreasonable opinions.

But the professional writer never engages reviewers. That interaction is never going to work in the author’s favor. The author might be considered a prima donna. He might attract much more negative attention than he ever would have received solely from the negative review. Even if the reviewer is completely absurd, engaging solely in ad hominem attacks, the writer is better off letting the absurdity speak for itself. The cost of interaction (especially including the time to engage) are just too high.

(13) RECURSIVE FILES. Camestros Felapton knows the thing fans are most interested in is…themselves.

I predict his graph of File 770 comment topics, “Trolling With Pie Charts”, will get about a zillion hits.

(14) THEY STUCK AROUND. The Washington Post’s “Speaking of Science” feature reports “Lizards trapped in amber for 100 million years may be some of the oldest of their kind”.


Tree resin can be bad news for a tiny animal: The sticky tree sap can stop small creatures in their tracks, freezing them forever in time. But that’s good news for scientists. If you’ve ever seen “Jurassic Park,” you have some idea of how great tree resin is at preserving finicky soft tissues. The hardened amber can keep specimens remarkably intact for millions of years.

Now, scientists have examined a flight of lizards locked away in the stuff about 100 million years ago. Among the specimens is a tiny young lizard that could be the oldest chameleon ever found — a staggering 78 million years older than the previous record breaker. One of the geckos may be the most complete fossil of its kind and age. These and 10 other fossilized lizards are described in a paper published Friday in Science Advances.

(15) THE TATTOOINE BRASS. The Throne Room march from the original Star Wars movie as performed by a mariachi band!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Andrew Porter, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

242 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/7/16 Burning Down the Scroll

  1. @JJ You don’t speak for me, either. You made it very clear to me that there is no “we” here, so when you say things like “anyone else here,” please think about it in that “light.”

  2. Will R.: JJ: You don’t speak for me, either. You made it very clear to me that there is no “we” here, so when you say things like “anyone else here,” please think about it in that “light.”

    Well, unless Brian Z is your mouthpiece and you are his sycophant (which has certainly seemed on numerous occasions a likely possibility), he doesn’t speak for you, either.

  3. @JJ The charitable thing for me to say is probably that you’ve missed my point.

  4. Will R.: JJ: The charitable thing for me to say is probably that you’ve missed my point.

    Oh, I got your point, all right — but mine is that you’re complaining that I’m telling Brian Z. that everyone else here has the right to speak for themselves.

    Granted, you spend the majority of your time on here serving as Brian Z’s echo chamber, and are certainly giving every indication that you’re happy to let him speak for you. That’s not going to stop me from advocating that you still have the right to speak for yourself.

  5. “You do not speak for anyone else here.”

    That sure sounds to me like a claim that you do speak for everyone else here. Your baiting doesn’t do a lot to change my read of it.

  6. Will R. on March 10, 2016 at 4:53 am said:

    “You do not speak for anyone else here.”

    That sure sounds to me like a claim that you do speak for everyone else here. Your baiting doesn’t do a lot to change my read of it.

    Would a more acceptable statement be “You speak for yourself; you do not speak for me”?

  7. Lighten up, folks! Vox just nominated “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” by Chuck Tingle!

  8. Lighten up, folks! Vox just nominated “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” by Chuck Tingle!

    That’s an ambiguous title. At the risk of spoilers, are the space raptor butts doing the invading, or being invaded?

  9. I’ve heard Mark Oshiro read several of Mr. Tingle’s, err, oevre. On the basis of this sampling of his previous work, I’d venture to guess that the space raptor butts are doing the invading, and are strongly, nay, inescapably, sexually interested in our narrator.

  10. Brian Z: The Hugo Administration Subcommittee is more than one person. John Lorentz is one of those people, but he was not the only member of the committee. The names of the Administrators are listed on the Hugo Awards web site and on the Hugo Awards nominating ballot because they are the people explicitly ineligible for Hugo Awards that year.

    You possibly have not checked the names of the 2015 and 2016 Hugo Award Administration Subcommittees to see if there might happen to be any people in common between them.

  11. “You do not speak for anyone else here.”

    Will R.: That sure sounds to me like a claim that you do speak for everyone else here.

    Except that it’s not.

    I am sure that with some concerted thought about how the English language works, you can develop an understanding of how “You do not speak for anyone else here” is quite different from “I do speak for everyone else here”.

  12. All right, let’s try it in logical language if that makes it easier for you.

    A = Brian Z.
    B = Speaker for everyone here
    C = JJ

    I said “A is not equal to B”.

    You are claiming that this therefore means “C is equal to B”. Which of course it doesn’t.

    And yes, you’re right, your claiming that those two are equivalent is indeed “weaksauce”.

  13. @Will R., JJ:

    I see Will’s point that “you do not speak for anyone else here” can sound like a positive claim: “everybody agrees that you do not speak for them.” From that perspective, JJ’s statement can look like a claim to speak on behalf of all not-Brian Z Filers.

    However, I also see JJ’s point that the language supports a neutral claim: “you only get to speak for yourself, not others.” Peace’s reformulation is clearer, but less inclusive: “your use of ‘we’ is valid, but count me out of it” as opposed to “your attempt to define and speak for a ‘we’ is invalid.”

    If I were trying to write a short statement to get across the idea that Brian Z is acting improperly in claiming to speak for anyone besides himself, I’d probably write something very close to what JJ did. Using “everybody” instead of “anybody” is one alternative, but it results in a claim that I think is too weak. “Anybody” is stronger and sets a more accurate default, but at the cost of the possibility that there are some anybodies who disagree. Thus, if my goal is to say that Brian Z’s “we” is unjustified and presumptuous, I’d use “anybody” – just as JJ did, and for what appears to be exactly that reason.

    tl;dr: Language can be fuzzy. Your positions are both clear. You’re both partly right and partly wrong, but I don’t believe either of you is participating in bad faith – nor do I believe that you disagree on the fundamental concept that Brian speaks for Brian and only Brian. Now, can we* please stop playing the troll’s game?

    * Yes, that pronoun was deliberate. 🙂

  14. JJ has been abundantly and pointedly clear on many occasions what he means: namely, that he can speak for everyone here but that the unspecified “us” of non-conforming Filers (a status I am recently surprised to find I can claim) can’t even utter the word “we,” despite it having a hell of a lot more natural wiggle room than the very specific words like “no one,” “anyone,” and “everyone” that he seems so fond of. (I’m reminded of the “things and ham” scene in “Lost in America.”)

    He came loaded for Baen this morning and has been on a tear ever since. Maybe a cup of tea or something would help.

  15. @JJ

    Let me help you with that:

    A. Everyone else here thinks X.
    B. Will is part of everyone else.
    C. Will thinks X.

    Maybe I do and maybe I don’t–don’t presume to speak for me.

  16. @Bob I do thank you for acknowledging that. I appreciate the fuzziness of language. If it were one incident, if the point weren’t made so clearly, in bold type, again and again, and in such personal terms, I certainly would let it slide. In fact I do let it slide nine times out of 10. But sometimes the phrasing more or less demands a roll call. If I stay silent, I am tacitly consenting that JJ has my proxy. He does not.

    Clarity would help. I definitely have better things to do, as I’m sure everyone else does.

  17. Will R.: Let me help you with that: A. Everyone else here thinks X.

    Will, That is not what I said. Not by the wildest stretch of the imagination. I simply said that Brian Z. does not speak for anyone else here. I did not say anything about what anyone else here thinks.

    And I am deeply unappreciative of your mendacious, disingenuous attempt to pretend that I said something I did not say, so that you can pursue your little agenda of being “affronted” by what you are pretending I said.

  18. @JJ At least two other people have seen how it could be read the way I read it.

    People also don’t appreciate being told their reactions aren’t genuine, FYI.

  19. Will R.: People also don’t appreciate being told their reactions aren’t genuine, FYI.

    And if I thought that your interactions here on File770 had been more honest, I might care more about your reaction. But I don’t. When you post bullshit like this:

    Will R.: JJ has been abundantly and pointedly clear on many occasions what he means: namely, that he can speak for everyone here but that the unspecified “us” of non-conforming Filers

    don’t be surprised if I don’t give a shit about your “reaction” to the twisted version of what you are claiming I said.

    By the way, have you gone out and corrected the falsehoods and included citation links in that blog entry of yours from a year ago? I’m not going to bother looking. I know you haven’t. And this is why I don’t care, when you make up shit I didn’t say and then get all offended about it.

  20. Will R. and JJ: The subject has been made completely clear. May I suggest you each retire to your corner and get your managers to serve you the libation of your choice? 🍹

  21. “And this is why I don’t care, when you make up shit I didn’t say and then get all offended about it.”

    Well, perhaps we should leave it on a feeling we actually do share, then.

  22. @James Moar: Thanks. Usually when I see something like that here, B is replying to A and quoting them at length because B feels A is getting close to the line or whatever.

    @Lele E. Buis: If I misinterpreted, please accept my apologies.

  23. @ Kevin,

    Lorentz explained what happened.

    I’m not trying to “sue Worldcon” or go after any particular persons who might have been involved. I think the world doesn’t need to know how many fans voted for Hao Jingfang versus how many voted for Hao Jingfang in addition to Chuck Tingle. It’s not fair to the authors or their fans. If that kind of information starts to get released selectively in certain circumstances for certain groups of authors, and the decisions get made by people like staff system administrators who don’t consult or even inform the Hugo Administrators, that does not bode well.

    Judging by the way things have been handled, the SMOF impulse is probably to discuss what to do next quietly behind closed doors. It would be better for the Hugos to have an open and transparent discussion.

  24. Tasha Turner: Seems like another good time for us to drink to world peace.

    Make mine a double!

  25. Let’s all take a drink whenever people who could have just said why they disagree with something instead reach for the nearest rhetorical bludgeon and flail it around wildly over their heads.

  26. Brian Z on March 10, 2016 at 9:48 pm said:

    Lorentz explained what happened.

    Yes, and you seem to think that John Lorentz, and only John Lorentz, and no other human being in the entire world, is the One And Only True And Unique 2015 Hugo Award Administrator With 100% Authority To Make All Decisions. This is not true.

    What may be true is that the full subcommittee to make such decisions did not do the greatest of jobs of discussing and making decisions among themselves, which is why John (who is a friend of mine; he was at my wedding, for instance) was surprised by the decisions taken. But you choosing to misinterpret what he said as if he were the only person who could possibly have made any legal decisions is disingenuous.

    Do you really have to have things spelled out for you? A member of both the 2015 and 2016 Hugo Award Administration Subcommittees shared the data with himself.

  27. @Kevin Standlee Do you really have to have things spelled out for you? A member of both the 2015 and 2016 Hugo Award Administration Subcommittees shared the data with himself.

    That is pretty clear. Thanks for spelling it out for our local trollitariet. Maybe he can move on now.

  28. I’m not challenging the legality. (Though someone might.) I’m questioning the poor judgment.

    Linda Deneroff’s statement said “Sasquan passed its nominating data to MidAmeriCon II.” Nowhere did it mention that one volunteer, the “Sasquan Hugo staff system administrator,” came up with the idea of sharing the data with “himself, a MAC II Hugo Administrator.”

    But John Lorentz already indicated above that this is more or less what happened.

    And it is blindingly obvious that Worldcons should develop policies – with or without a rules change – to ensure the responsible disposition of our ballot data.

    Is the precedent that any future Worldcon staff member who helps manage a database or otherwise handles a ballot should feel free to pass the ballots out to anyone they like?

    If so, who would have the authority to sign a nondisclosure agreement with selected parties and assume the right to dictate, under threat of legal penalties, what specific information or analytical conclusions they will be allowed to report?

    Not the Hugo Administrator of a different convention.

    The published Hugo results have already been used to smear authors and their fans through “guilt by association.” Now the private ballots are being examined to uncover “patterns.” Details about these “patterns” have been selectively publicized in the service of political purposes.

    As I stated upthread, there are signs of hardworking Worldcon volunteers having less than perfect judgment, not malice. One might argue that even if tempers have been running too high, our Fannish Wars are not as gravely consequential as, for example, the Hollywood witch hunts. But that doesn’t make it alright to look the other way if there is any hint whatsoever of such tactics resurfacing in any form.

    Don’t open that door. Not even a crack.

  29. @Brian Z
    Do you attend Worldcon? If so do you attend the business meetings?

    If you are this passionate about this you need to be going in person. You need to draft proposals. You need to get people to co-sign your proposals.

    Otherwise your trollitariet (sp?) behavior is continuing to be boring and repetitive. Please try something new and interesting. Bring new facts. Write a proposal. Try being part of the solution instead of the troll who called wolf ignoring all facts which don’t play into your poorly constructed argument/claim/attempts to discredit EPH and those working with the data.

    Thank you. Tasha speaking for herself giving you free advice on how to be taken seriously.

  30. Brian Z: I’m questioning the poor judgment.

    I’m just going to let that sit there in all its blindingly ironic beauty.

  31. JJ: SMOFs are thoughtful, hardworking and intelligent people. If it were you, I’d have questioned your base ineptitude, beggarly rancor and vapid maleficence.

  32. My point, Brian Z., of which I am sure you are well aware, is that you are the King of Poor Judgment and hardly in a position to question anyone else’s judgment.

    Explain, exactly, how “the published Hugo results have already been used to smear authors and their fans through ‘guilt by association.’ ” I can’t wait to hear this one.

  33. Explain, exactly, how “the published Hugo results have already been used to smear authors and their fans through ‘guilt by association.’ ” I can’t wait to hear this one.

    I’m going to guess that Brian probably doesn’t even understand what “guilt by association” actually means. Most people who invoke it don’t.

  34. @Red Wombat: I know I’m a bit late, here, but seriously, seriously? “The Lady’s Not for Burning” is about your ancestor? Wow. Fry just added Thomas Mendip and moved it a bit in time and place, is what you’re saying? Very, very cool.

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