Pixel Scroll 4/8/18 Do Not Go Pixel Out Of That Good Hive, Buzz, Buzz, Against The Flying Of The Five

(1) WALK / DON’T WALK. This not-quite-infinite series of variations on Le Guin’s famous story: “Once upon a time there was a city called Omelas, where everyone lived good and happy and fulfilling lives” is a hoot!

“…the best predictions of our scientists suggest that there will be a slight average decrease in various hard-to-measure kinds of happiness, which nevertheless in total adds up to more suffering than this child experiences.”
And Outis said to the elder, “I will have no part in this evil thing.” And he took the child and bathed him and cared for his wounds. And the average happiness increased in some ways and decreased in others, and the net effect might have been negative, but the best results on the matter had p > 0.05, so the scientists of Omelas could not rule out the null hypothesis.

(2) SUE ‘EM, DANNO. Dorothy Grant gives the rundown on a scam to inflate payments from Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program in “Book stuffing, KU reads, and Amazon’s Doing Something” at Mad Genius Club.

While I would hope that everyone who reads this is interested in being a real author making up real stories that are your own, writing them down, and publishing them, we are all aware that there are scammers out there, and people who care more about the money, than acting ethically or the readers. We also know that Amazon has a habit of taking a wide swath of potential wrongdoers, then filtering out and restoring the innocent.

Yep, they’re doing it again.

  1. David Gaughran gave us the first heads-up on twitter that Amazon has filed suit against an author for book-stuffing.

Forbes article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamrowe1/2018/04/07/amazon-has-filed-suit-to-stop-the-six-figure-book-stuffing-kindle-scam/#2af7a11b7344

Book stuffing is when authors take all their works and stuff them into the back of every other book to artificially inflate their page count. Some authors even stuff in newsletters: the goal is to inflate the page count as much as possible, and thus the payout on KU page reads.

(3) ATOMIC PILES OF LAUGHS. Scott Tobias profiles “artificial intelligence-assisted comedy” in “Can algorithms be funny? Veterans of Clickhole and the New Yorker team up to find out” at the Washington Post. What they do is put giant amounts of text into a computer and produce “interactive text collages.”  For example, they put all the Harry Potter novels into a computer and came up with a pastiche that said, “Ron’s ron shirt was just as bad as Ron itself.”  A lot of the weird pastiches they produce are sf.

Onstage at the Hideout, a small Chicago music club, two performers read passages from Civil War love letters. “Oh darling wife of the war,” one begins, “I shall always be a husband to you and the children and all the folks in our neighborhood.” He goes on to complain that “the boys from the army have taken my breakfast.” The news is worse back home. “Our horses are sadly on fire,” his wife laments. But they’re ever reunited, she promises, “I would kiss you as many times as there are stitches in the children.”

Rest assured, every word from these letters is authentic. It’s just that the words have been scrambled up by a computer algorithm and pieced back together, one by one, by writers with an ear for the absurd.

(4) WESTERCON BID NEWS. Seattle (SeaTac, using the same hotel as Norwescon) has formally filed what Kevin Standlee says is likely to be the only bid for the 2020 Westercon.

(5) REINCARNANIMATION. MovieWeb has learned that “Lucasfilm Has Digital Clones of Every Star Wars Actor”.

The digitally recreated Grand Moff Tarkin and Young Princess Leia in Rogue One were unsettling and creepy for some Star Wars fans. But that technology is almost two years old and only improving at an expedient rate. The next time an actor gets digitally inserted into a Star Wars movie, it’s gong to be a lot harder to tell the difference. And before long, the line will be completely burred. Soon, Lucasfilm and Disney could have the potential to create a whole Star Wars movie featuring an authentic young Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, which practical effects built around them. And this will be entirely possible, even for Carrie Fisher, as Lucasfilm has confirmed they have digital clones of all Star Wars actors both young and old.

Incredible, right? As of now, these digital clones are being used sparingly and are often mixed with live-action footage of the actor to create scenes that would be impossible to shoot or are deemed far to expensive to do practically. We’ve seen this with Tarkin and Leia in Rogue One, and we’ve also seen it in The Last Jedi, even if you didn’t know that’s what you were looking at.

(6) MCCANN OBIT. Chuck McCann died April 8 reports Mark Evanier. Much of his career revolved around children’s television, however, the Wikipedia recalls that he was in vogue as a TV/movie actor back in the Seventies —

In the 1970s, McCann’s life and career shifted west, and he relocated to Los Angeles. He made frequent guest appearances on network television shows including Little House on the Prairie, Bonanza, Columbo, The Rockford Files and The Bob Newhart Show. He appeared in the 1973 made-for-TV movie The Girl Most Likely to… and was a regular on Norman Lear’s All That Glitters.

In addition, he co-starred with Bob Denver in CBS’s Saturday-morning sitcom Far Out Space Nuts, which he co-created. The 1970s also brought him fame in a long-running series of commercials for Right Guard antiperspirant: he was the enthusiastic neighbor with the catch phrase “Hi, guy!” who appeared on the other side of a shared medicine cabinet, opposite actor Bill Fiore.

McCann impersonated Oliver Hardy in commercials for various products (teaming with Jim MacGeorge as Stan Laurel),

John King Tarpinian sent along a photo of McCann meeting Ray Bradbury.

Ray Bradbury and Chuck McCann

If you want to see his act, watch “Chuck McCann & Dick Van Dyke as Laurel & Hardy & The Honeymooners.”


  • Born April 8, 1974 – Nnedi Okorafor

(8) CANDLES ON THE CAKE. Steven H Silver celebrates Okorafor’s natal day at Black Gate in “Birthday Reviews: Nnedi Okorafor’s ‘Bakasi Man’”.

Nnedi Okorafor was born on April 8, 1974.

Okorafor won her first Carl Brandon Award for the novel The Shadow Speaker and she won the Carl Brandon Award and the World Fantasy Award for her novel Who Fears Death, which was also nominated for the Nebula Award. She won the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award for her novella Binti in 2016. Her fiction has also been nominated for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, the British Science Fiction Association Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Andre Norton Award. Okorafor has collaborated with Alan Dean Foster and Wanuri Kahiu on short diction. She co-edited the anthology Without a Map with Mary Anne Mohanraj.


  • Daniel Dern is right – Curtis knows how to throw a party.

(10) POISONING PIXELS IN THE SCROLL. Nature celebrates an April birthday boy: “Tom Lehrer at 90: a life of scientific satire”.

Much of Lehrer’s oeuvre — some 50 songs (or 37, by his own ruthless reckoning) composed over nearly three decades — played with tensions at the nexus of science and society. His biggest hit, That Was The Year That Was, covered a gamut of them. This 1965 album gathered together songs Lehrer had written for That Was The Week That Was, the US satirical television show spawned by the BBC original. ‘Who’s Next?’ exposes the dangers of nuclear proliferation. ‘Pollution’ highlights environmental crises building at the time, such as undrinkable water and unbreathable air.

The rousing ballad ‘Wernher von Braun’ undermines the former Nazi — who designed the V-2 ballistic missile in the Second World War and later became a key engineer in the US Apollo space programme. In Lehrer’s view, it was acceptable for NASA to hire von Braun, but making him into an American hero was grotesque. “‘Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?’/‘That’s not my department,’ says Wernher von Braun” — lines that still resonate in today’s big-tech ethical jungle.

(11) FINDING THE RETRO NOMINEES. Nicholas Whyte, with an assist from Carla, presents “How to get the 1943 Retro Hugo finalists” —

(12) CAST OF FAVORITES. And for your collecting pleasure, here is where you can get a copy of the Fifth Annual Science Fiction Film Awards (1978).

The 5th Annual (first televised) Science Fiction Film Awards. Hosted by Karen Black & William Shatner (who performs an absolutely jaw dropping rendition of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s “Rocket Man”) Starring Buzz Aldrin, Richard Benjamin, Ray Bradbury, Mark Hamill, Charlton Heston, Wolfman Jack, Quincy Jones, Piper Laurie, Christopher Lee, Paula Prentiss, Ralph the Robot, Lord Darth Vader, and many more. Included are the original broadcast TV commercials from 1978!

(13) GOOD IS NOT BAD. Rich Horton is working his way through the Hugo nominees. Here are his comments on Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty.

…But even before the award nominations, Six Wakes was getting some good notice, and I bought it and read it after the Nebula nod. And, you know what – I liked it. It’s a good fun fast-moving read. I’m glad I read it.

But – well – you saw that coming, right? There had to be a but. The thing is, there are lots of enjoyable novels published any year, and I’m glad when I encounter those. But I can enjoy a novel and not think it worthy of an award. And, really, that’s the case with Six Wakes. It’s fun, it’s pretty darn pure hard SF (with the understanding that “hard SF” absolutely does NOT mean “SF that gets all the science right”), it’s exciting. But, it also has some annoying logic holes, and it doesn’t really engage with the central (and very worthwhile) moral issues it raises as rigorously as I wish it had, and the prose is just OK….

(14) ARISTOTLE. Nitsuh Abebe explores the question “Why Have We Soured on the ‘Devil’s Advocate’?” at the New York Times Magazine.

…That name dates back to the 17th century, when the Roman Catholic Church created an office popularly known as the advocatus diaboli — a person tasked with making the case against the canonization of new saints, scrutinizing every report of their miracles and virtue. How could a claim be trusted, the thinking went, if it hadn’t been rigorously tested? Plenty of educators will still tell you that devil’s advocacy isn’t just useful as a practical matter but also as an intellectual exercise: Imagining other perspectives and plumbing their workings is essential to critical thinking.

But on today’s internet, the devil’s advocate is less admired than ever, and it’s often the advocate’s own fault. The problem isn’t just debate-club tedium. Last year, on Slate, the writer Maya Rupert neatly outlined just how toxic devil’s advocates could be on a topic like race. She noted that they often seemed to be adopting the stance of a disinterested logician in order to air beliefs they knew were socially unacceptable to hold in earnest; the phrase “just to play devil’s advocate,” she wrote, had come to occupy the same role in her life as “not to sound racist, but. … ” A black person continually asked to consider — just hypothetically, just for a moment — whether she was possibly inferior to other humans would have to be masochistically broad-minded to entertain this challenge more than a few times before dismissing it, and the sort of people who presented it, forever.

A little more than a decade ago, around the same time online sentiment began to turn against the devil’s advocate, it also seized on a close cousin: the “concern troll.” If the devil’s advocate playacts disagreement with you for the sake of strengthening your argument, the concern troll is his mirror image, a person who pretends to agree with you in order to undermine you. The concern troll airs disingenuous worries, sows doubt, saps energy, has reservations, worries that things are going too far. At first, the term described purposeful double agents — people like the congressional staffer suspected, back in 2006, of posing as a Democrat to leave comments on liberal blogs suggesting everyone abandon the candidate vying for a Republican incumbent’s seat. But the term has evolved in such a way that, at this point, a person can very easily qualify as a concern troll without even knowing it.

A tidy summary on the “Geek Feminism” Wiki site explains why this is the case: Even earnest concern-airing can be pernicious, turning every discussion into a battle over basic premises. …

(15) UNEVENLY DISTRIBUTED. The BBC reports “The Swedes rebelling against a cashless society” where the elderly are especially likely to be left out.

However, while Sweden’s rush to embrace digital payments has received plenty of global hype, and is frequently flagged as an example of the Nordic nation’s innovation, there are growing concerns about the pace of change.

Some worry about the challenges it poses for vulnerable groups, especially the elderly.

“As long as there is the right to use cash in Sweden, we think people should have the option to use it and be able to put money in the bank,” says Ola Nilsson, a spokesperson for the Swedish National Pensioners’ Organisation, which is lobbying the government on behalf of its 350,000 members.

“We’re not against the cashless society, we just want to stop it from going too fast.”

(16) THE LIGHTS IN THE SKY ARE… What we can see from the ground is only part of what happens: “Hunting mystery giant lightning from space”.

The electrifying effects of storms are frequently observed from the space station.

Yet when lightning strikes downward, something very different is happening above the cloud tops.

Known as Transient Luminous Events (TLEs), these unusual features were first spotted by accident in 1989.

Minnesota professor John R Winckler was testing a television camera in advance of an upcoming rocket launch, when he realised that two frames showed bright columns of light above a distant storm cloud.

(17) SOLVING FOR 2001. The BBC Culture post “Why 2001 remains a mystery” actually dwells less on mystery, and more on interesting parallels with Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove.

It’s been 50 years since the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and we’re still trying to make sense of it. Stanley Kubrick’s science-fiction masterpiece is regularly voted as one of the greatest films ever made: BBC Culture’s own critics’ poll of the best US cinema ranked it at number four. But 2001 is one of the most puzzling films ever made, too. What, for instance, is a shiny rectangular monolith doing in prehistoric Africa? Why does an astronaut hurtle through a psychedelic lightshow to another universe, before turning into a cosmic foetus? And considering that the opening section is set millions of years in the past, and the two central sections are set 18 months apart, how much of it actually takes place in 2001?

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Chadwick Boseman hosted Saturday Night Live last night, and appeared in a Black Jeopardy! sketch:

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Kevin Standlee, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Nicholas Whyte, ULTRAGOTHA, Carl Slaughter, Danny Sichel, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ky.]

109 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/8/18 Do Not Go Pixel Out Of That Good Hive, Buzz, Buzz, Against The Flying Of The Five

  1. Vicki,
    I think I recommend these whenever someone asks for books for that age:
    Lockstep, by Karl Schroeder — male viewpoint character, but also an important teenage female character. My 12-yr-old boy loved it.

    Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld — at the steampunky/ alternate history end of the SF range. One of the two viewpoint characters is a girl pretending to be a boy. These are favorite re-reads in our household.

    The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly is historical fiction, not SF, but it has an important science-related subplot. My daughter loves it and its sequel, The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate.

  2. She adores Joan Aiken’s Armitage stories, but bounced off The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.

    I’ll say what people are saying about THE COLOUR OF MAGIC, here —

    If she didn’t like WOLVES, then after some time on other things, a shot at BLACK HEARTS IN BATTERSEA would be worth a try. I started with BLACK HEARTS and never really warmed to WOLVES. But it’s also a lot more fun, and has a rather different tone…

  3. @Vicki Rosenzweig:
    * ULTRAGOTHA is spot-on about Pratchett.
    * second Kathryn Sullivan’s rec of Young Wizards.
    * and JJ’s of Revenger; it’s not as tech-complicated as most of his work.
    Lee&Miller’s Liaden isn’t to everyone’s taste — I bounced off some — but the first couple of Theo Waiteley books (Fledgling and Saltation) are largely teen adventure (IIRC, someone wants to be a romantic interest but she isn’t having any) and supply what background is needed; the later ones get more tangled.
    wrt Aiken, the rather wet lead of Wolves disappears in later books; the lead goes instead to Dido Twite, the scrapper who appears partway through. Is Underground is IMO the best of these (and loses the alternate-world emphasis that might confuse someone not up on UK history); it might work, or might be too young.
    And if she likes detecting at all, she might like The Beekeeper’s Apprentice — the apprentice is a feisty 16-year-old orphan who trips over Holmes, tells him what he’s doing, and is first mistaken for a boy. Romance isn’t seen until the end of the 2nd book.

  4. I seem to be the only person who liked The Colour of Magic, but not Pratchetts latter books (I gave up at Guards! Guards! when I hadn’t liked the last four books). But then I was only after the type of humour I had found in Hitchhikers Guide.

  5. (2) My wife spent most of a decade working in Amazon Legal, and fighting Kindle book-related scams was a large part of what she did (her job was created following the 1984 debacle). She’s not there anymore (it’s a long story and not germane to the subject at hand), and was always very tight-lipped about her job, but here are a few things I learned from her while I was there:

    This “stuffing” is the latest in a long series of what people have done to try to milk money from Kindle Unlimited. For a while, the scam was that the book started with a hyperlink to the end of the book, where there was a short story. The remainder of the book was a thousand pages of Lorem Ipsum. Or gibberish.

    Amazon has changed payout schemes for KU several times – for a while, it was a flat amount based on the list price of your Kindle book (which led to scammers listing their books for crazy-high prices). Then it was based on the percentage of the book read (which is how the hyperlink + lorem ipsum worked). Then it was based on the page count of your book (which is where the stuffing comes in). For a time, at least one author would unpublish and then republish her books with a different title (and ASIN), so it’d show as a new book by that author.

    All along, Amazon has occasionally filed suit against a scammer here-and-there to remind all of the scammers that this is a thing that they can do. And then they re-jigger their payment formulas and force the scammers to adapt again. They tweak their T&C’s to cut back on the scammers – but this is the internet.

    There is no foolproof way to get rid of scammers, and a lot of the available tools (for Amazon and others) tend to hit legitimate authors, too – and that’s bad PR, so Amazon tries to avoid it.

    They really are trying to help KU authors succeed, because success for KU authors means more profit for Amazon. And when a self-published Kindle author hits it big, it’s also good PR for Amazon.

  6. I’m saving these recs, and am going to pass a bunch of them on; thank you all. What I don’t think would be a good idea would be to tell her anything like “You say you don’t like carrot cake, but you haven’t tried my carrot cake recipe, here, eat some, it’s good for you” “I know you hated Pratchett, but this Pratchett is really good, so we’re going to push you to read it.”

  7. “My partner is looking for science fiction books for a twelve-year-old. “

    Susan Cooper, her Darkness Rising series would be an idea. I think I was around 12 when I read that. I know several filers echo my feelings about the series. But stay away from the film.

    Alan Garner’s Elidor is also one of those that I’ve never managed to forget. And for a bit more Harry Potter-feel, try Eva Ibbotson, The Great Ghost Rescue.

  8. “You say you don’t like carrot cake, but you haven’t tried my carrot cake recipe, here, eat some, it’s good for you” “I know you hated Pratchett, but this Pratchett is really good, so we’re going to push you to read it.”

    But that’s not quite the right analogy — it’s more like: the baker took some baking classes and started using different recipes and better ingredients, and everyone agrees that the hazelnut cookies (or whatever) he baked after 20 years of experience are much much better than the carrot cake he started out with that you disliked.

  9. I liked the Colour of Magic, too, though I’m uncomfortable with some of the descriptions of Twoflower. But Rincewind is my second favorite Discworld character after Granny Weatherwax.

  10. For whatever reason, an SF story that came to mind that a 12-year-old might like is Delany’s Empire Star. The relationship between the main character and another character isn’t quite a romance, and it’s not very long. It is a coming-of-age story, at least. It’s very rich and complex (or even multiplex) nevertheless; perhaps too much so? So. . . maybe?

  11. @Owlmirror:

    But that’s not quite the right analogy — it’s more like: the baker took some baking classes and started using different recipes and better ingredients, and everyone agrees that the hazelnut cookies (or whatever) he baked after 20 years of experience are much much better than the carrot cake he started out with that you disliked.

    That might work, if you were talking to me, an adult who knows that I can say “thanks, but I’ll go down the block and get a chocolate ice cream cone instead” or “I’m sure they’re good hazelnut cookies, but I don’t like hazelnuts.” It’s different with a twelve-year-old, who is already stuck reading things she dislikes because they’re part of her schooling/someone has decided she should read these specific books whether she likes them or not.

    And even as an adult, if you answered my “but I don’t like hazelnuts” and “I’m going to go get an ice cream cone” with “well, how about these almond cookies” and “it’s only got a little hazelnut in it,” I’d get annoyed, try to extract myself from the conversation without actually yelling at you, and probably make a note that you’re someone I don’t want to discuss dessert plans with.

    ETA: Also, stepping away from the analogy (because it may have gotten stale), we’re looking for science fiction, or maybe historical fiction, and most of Pratchett’s work, including the Tiffany Aching books, is fantasy.

  12. Ian McDonald’s Everness series is/was aimed at young readers. The main character, Everett Singh, is a 14 year old boy, but there are strong girl and women characters. The series seems to have petered out after 3 books but the first one, Planesrunner was pretty strong, and fun. Parallel worlds sf, probably at the YA level.

    I don’t know any 12 year old girls, and the info on this young reader’s likes and dislikes mainly went past me as I don’t know most of the authors mentioned. But I did enjoy the McDonald books, so for what it’s worth I add them to the list of suggestions.

  13. “Isn’t the Dark is Rising series fantasy?”

    So was the other examples in the original comment: Harry Potter, Tolkien, Discworld…

  14. Vicki Rosenzweig – how about Janet Kagan’s Mirabile? There’s a bit of romance, true, but it’s largely offstage

  15. Adrian on April 9, 2018 at 11:04 am said:

    Ultragotha, the Steerswoman series is a favorite of mine, and it’s been on my list of books to give/suggest to her when she grows up. I hadn’t thought of her as nearly mature enough for it. Partly because of the torture, but mostly how the overall adult concepts are handled. (Not scientific method so much as genocide.)

    Did anyone here start reading the series when you were young? I didn’t discover it until I was past 30.

    It depends on the 12 year old. Some would hate or not understand it, some would lap it up with jam.

    The themes are very adult–incipient genocide, as you said, that torture scene, the wars and battles, and the whole unfolding >spoiler< and how the wizards treat the folk. I'd have loved it at 12. But then I was enthusiastically reading Zelazny, Tolkein, McKillip's adult stuff, Silverberg, McCaffery and Brackett at that age. I had a membership in the SF Book of the Month club and was not afraid to use it.

    Come to think, she might like Brackett’s Hounds of Skaith. It’s also SF with a fantasy feel.

  16. Nickp on April 9, 2018 at 12:14 pm said:

    I think I recommend these whenever someone asks for books for that age:
    Lockstep, by Karl Schroeder

    Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

    The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate.

    Time to raid the library.

    StephenfromOttawa on April 9, 2018 at 5:12 pm said:

    Ian McDonald’s Everness series is/was aimed at young readers.

    I’d forgotten about that one. Loved the stuff he played with there and wish he’d do two or three more.

    Danny Sichel on April 9, 2018 at 5:38 pm said:

    Vicki Rosenzweig – how about Janet Kagan’s Mirabile?

    And another. I remember reading the short stories in Analog.

    Thank you all!

  17. Lots of good suggestions, but I’m reminded of “The Only Neat Thing to Do,” by James Tiptree Jr. It’s in the collection
    The Starry Rift
    , and I don’t know how YA-friendly the rest of the collection is, because honestly, that’s what I remember about that collection, but maybe take a look at it and see?

  18. Can I just say that I’m very much in favor of the idea of young people reading Leigh Brackett?

    Also, Tanith Lee’s Indigara might fit the bill.

    Additionally, although they don’t quite fit all the criteria, I’d suggest Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn trilogy (YA airship adventure) or L.A. Meyer’s Bloody Jack books (Napoleonic-era YA historical fiction about a London orphan girl who, in the first book, dresses up as a boy and joins the Royal Navy), although the Bloody Jack books do have some fairly discreet kissing parts as the series progresses.

  19. @Hampus: I am surprised you found HHG-style humor in Color but not later; what I found in that book was mostly ham-fisted pastiches, where the later ones had much more artful snark. However, they also have more real heart in them, which ISTM Adams’s work never quite got.

    @Vicki: I’d say Tiffany is good to the reader, rather than good for them — but it’s not worth arguing if you think the competence explanation won’t catch. (For that matter, I found Strata hilarious and stfnal despite having been written before tCoM — but it’s still Pratchett.) wrt historical — there’s a lot of Turtledove with no romance; she might find Household Gods interesting, if only from the debunking of MiniverCheevy-esque attitudes. (How the lead gets to the past is fantasy, but there’s no magic in the end-stage Roman Empire she ends up in.)

  20. Just read “And then there were (n-1)”. I spotted the murderer WAY before the detective did. It’s a cute idea, but I never completely bought into it (why weren’t they wearing numbers?). The bit jvgu gur Arohyn was pretty much a Dad joke: I laughed, but I didn’t want to.

  21. Filers, Vicki has asked specifically for science fiction suggestions. She provided fantasy titles as examples of the sort of fiction enjoyed by the young woman in question, but she is not asking for similar fantasy suggestions.

  22. Speaking of Hugo Homework:

    I’ve read the unillustrated e-book version of Summer in Orcus. Do y’all think I need to see the illustrated one to rate it for Hugo purposes? I spose I could find one in a B&N and leaf through it, looking at the pictures …

  23. Apropos of nothing, I’m glad my parents didn’t interfere very much with what I enjoyed reading in my spare time away from school and homework.

  24. Doc Science— I can pretty much promise an illustrated version will be in the voter’s packet, when it comes around, if that helps?

  25. Clip Hitchcock:

    Maybe the heart destroyed the HHG-feel for me then? 😉

  26. With the Chuck McCann clip, let’s give credit to “The Garry Moore Show,” where this first appeared.

  27. My guess is that all my YASF recommendations would be old, most likely outdated and even mire possibly visited by the suck-transformer, so I’ll skip out on the recommendations there.

  28. I’m currently being reminded of the things I both do and do not like about the Raksura books (rereading #1 at the moment).

    On the good side, I enjoy the characters and the politics. And as someone (I forget who!) put it the other day, it’s fun to have a male “warrior” type cast as the “spunky princess” character. And I’m also a sucker for feral-cat type characters, which Our Hero most definitely is in the early part of the series.

    On the bad side — I can’t think of many “serious” (epic/high type rather than UF/PNR type) fantasies that include shape-shifters, and there’s good reasons for that. Like conservation of mass and other inconveniences of physics. So using them here makes the story seem a bit light/juvenile/YA to me. Also, I keep comparing the different intelligent species to Star Trek aliens — humans with funny-looking facial appliances. Mostly they have different colored skin and maybe an odd appendage here or there but are otherwise pretty much the same (except for the bad guys!). I mean, Our Hero not only blends into the “groundling” population, he has sex with them without his partners noticing any physical irregularities — even though his species evolved as fliers and isolated from other species. And so on.

    So anyway — at times I have trouble taking the books seriously, but the story is still entertaining. So maybe I should just lighten up. 😉

  29. @RedWombat: Yes, it does! Thank you! I’ve been doing so much reading of the longer stuff on my own that I’d almost forgotten about the packet.

  30. I guess the Pixel Scroll will soon have the link to Junot Diaz’ #MeToo confession, The Silence. Quote:

    During that time I wrote very little. Mostly I underlined passages in my favorite books. This line in particular I circled at least a dozen times: “Then darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time, and I wandered far on roads that I will not tell.”

    Here’s hoping he comes back renewed and unstoppable as Gandalf the White.

  31. Vicki – what about “Off To Be The Wizard” by Scott Meyer? It’s SF dressed as fantasy (or perhaps vice versa). I’ve read and enjoyed the first book, haven’t read the others yet.

    Also, perhaps Jim C Hines “Terminal Alliance”?

  32. Dreadnought and Sovereign are both very good, though the second does spend a lot of time on relationship stuff.

    The Binti trilogy, and the Shadow Speaker, spring to mind as something that might click with someone who enjoys Tamora Pierce’s awesome heroines. I don’t remember how much romance is in the latter, though – it’s pretty minimal in Binti. All Nnedi Okorafor.

    I’m also a big fan of Claudia Gray’s sci fi YA (admittedly more her Star Wars stuff, but Defy the Stars was enjoyable), and the first two books in Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufmann’s Illuminae files (haven’t read the third yet), but there’s a TON of romance in those so definitely don’t put them in front of her yet (sorry, I’m doing the carrot cake recommendation thing as well aren’t I)

    I haven’t read Exo by Fonda Lee or Want by Cindy Pon yet, but both are Andre Norton Award finalists with sci fi plots, no romance in the synopsis and are on my TBR – i can report back and let you know once I’ve read them but it might be too late 😉

  33. (2) SUE ‘EM, DANNO. Gah! Stuff like this can hurt general impressions of self-/indie publishing. 🙁

    On the plus (?!?!?!) side, I guess this means get one of their books and you get all of them? Hmmmmm.

    @Cora: “stuffed books read mainly by bots”

    Wut. I’m obsolete (as a reader) now?! What the heck! 😉

    (5) REINCARNANIMATION. Suggested alternate title for this item: “Attack of the Clones” 😛

  34. SF for 12-year-olds — I’m going to recommend the books of Henry Melton, who has what can best be described as a captive publishing house. I haven’t read all of his work, but the ones I have read have been uniformly very interesting. Extreme Makeover is the one that first caught my eye; it’s about a young woman who develops the ability to control nanites, and how she figures out how to use this as a weapon when she and a classmate are kidnapped. (Unfortunately, there is some romance-y stuff in it, so a kid who’s still going “Ew, kissing!” may not be entirely happy with it.) Check out his books at the link and see if you think any of them will work for the person you’re buying/recommending for.

  35. Has anyone else mentioned Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin? It’s a coming-of-age story on a colony ship, with a female protagonist; there’s one brief romance bit, but that’s not the focus. It also has some good chewy discussion of ethical issues, and a very illustrative subplot about how an experienced bully can screw up an entire class of kids who have been raised not to be bullies but have also never been given any tools for recognizing or pushing back against a bully; they know something isn’t right, but they can’t figure out what.

  36. @ Arifel:

    I distinctly recall nominating Ms Daniels for the Campbell, as well as Sovereign for “Best YA” (to be fair, I don’t actively seek out YA, but if it happens to fall into my e-reader, I will not scoff at it), and it saddens me that neither made it to the final panel. I don’t recall (at all) if Sovereign made it to “top 6” for novels,

  37. Kendall:

    …read mainly by bots…

    A famous SF novella predicted this, but if I say which one, it’s a spoiler. Way to go, well-known and somewhat beloved author of the past!

  38. Lee, I LOVE Rite of Passage. I think of it as a set with Orbital Resonance and Falling Free. Teenage girls going to school in space, thinking “duh, of course” until their worlds get turned upside down. If her parents hadn’t made this explicit request, the girl might have gotten all 3 for her birthday in 6 months. Now I’m not sure I want to wait that long.

    One trivial thing is how all the kids play games. In Falling Free, there are little kids playing a cooperative 3D game the observer has never seen before. I have no idea what it looks like or feels like or what the rules are. In Orbital Resonance, the kids play a complicated 7-team game that can’t exist on earth, but it feels like I actually understand it. In Rite of Passage, they play SOCCER. And for a moment, it feels weird and alien, and I forget what it looks or feels like.

  39. Science fiction for 12 year old, likes fantasy but not romance… hm… don’t think these were suggested yet, no idea if still in print or what. If not, they should be?

    Unwillingly to Earth by Pauline Ashwell
    Going to See the End of the Sky by William Watkins
    The Luck of Brin’s Five by Cherry Wilder

    and a lot of books by H. M. Hoover

  40. @Avilyn/Vicki: I found Terminal Alliance terminally derivative and muddled. OTOH, a 12yo won’t notice the derivation (from a 50yo Harrison) and may not care about the muddle.

    @Lee: I thought I remembered all the relevant bits of Rite of Passage but am drawing a blank on a subplot involving a bully. Expand? (@Vicki: RoP would be an interesting test of your 12yo’s boundaries; I’m not sure JD is a “romantic subplot” but he’s not just a classmate. Absent that issue, I would strongly second Lee’s recommendation.)

  41. (13) I am enjoying Six Wakes thus far. It is the third nominee that I have read out of the six. It is the first book that I know is going above No Award on my ballot. I appreciate that Mur presented a long list of ethical issues associated with cloning without trying to define all of the answers. It gives the reader something to think about. It is also a very clever murder mystery. [There were one or two minor points that I could have lived without, but those are my personal bugaboos and don’t really influence a more objective reading of the book.]

    One of the six was good…very enjoyable…but just not worthy of being considered one of the six best books in 2017, IMHO.

    The other was in Dorothy Parker territory. Erg.

    Coolidge is dead – “How could they tell? – Dorothy Parker*
    *This is entirely coincidental, FWIW – D.

  42. Chip Hitchcock on April 10, 2018 at 9:26 am said:

    I found Terminal Alliance terminally derivative and muddled.

    I thought it was more a loving tribute myself, but I could see the ancestry as well. As I said to someone the other day, “It’s amazing how differently we interpret the same things.”
    And I think I’ll try putting it in the kiddo’s path and seeing what happens.

  43. @Adrian, Lee: I think of Rite of Passage and Orbital Resonance and Growing Up Weightless in a batch like that. Thanks for the reminder to give Falling Free another shot–it didn’t grab me and it didn’t repel me so it was likely just the wrong damn day for that poor book.

  44. @Kendall

    Wut. I’m obsolete (as a reader) now?! What the heck! ?

    Well, if you want to read bad boy romances penned by ghostwriters with a shaky grasp of English, copy and pasted public domain stuff and random garble-garble that looks like badly transliterated Russian, be my guest.

  45. @ Adrian & Chip: Now I have to say that in my post upthread, I confused the plots of Orbital Resonance and Rite of Passage. It’s the former, not the latter, that has the bullying subplot. Brain-fart because it was late, I guess. Thanks for the reminder that shook it loose!

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