Pixel Scroll 4/18/17 There Is A Scroll In Everything, That’s How The Pixel Gets In

(1) WISDOM. Chuck Wendig’s birthday gift to himself can also be shared with the universe — lucky us: “What I’ve Learned After 5 Years And 20 Books: 25 Lessons”. JJ’s favorite is #21. This is my pick —

  1. The Opposite Of ‘Kill Your Darlings’ Is ‘Know Which Hill To Die On’

Early on you learn to kill your darlings. Your work has these precious, preening peacocks who strut about for their own pomp and circumstance. These darlings are like chairs you can’t sit on, food you can’t eat — they’re just there to look pretty and take up space. So, you kill them. You learn to kill them. You get good at killing them. And then, one day, you realize maybe you got too good at it. Maybe you went too far. You started to think of everything as expendable, everything as negotiable. But it isn’t. It can’t be. I learned this writing Star Wars: yes, those books are not purely mine. They belong to the galaxy, not to me. Just the same? It’s my name on those books. If they fail, they fail on my watch. If there’s something in there you don’t like, it doesn’t matter if it’s something Mickey Mouse his-own-damn-self demanded I put in there: it lands on my doorstep. That’s when I saw the other side of the brutally execute your peacocks argument: some peacocks stay. Some peacocks are yours, and you put them there because that’s where you want them. Maybe they add something specific, maybe you’re just an asshole who demands that one lone peacock warbling and showing its stuff. But you own that. You have to see when there are battles to lose, and when there are wars to win. There are always hills to die on. It can’t be all of them. You want to die on every hill, then you’re dead for no reason and the book will suffer. But some things are yours and you have to know which ones to fight for, and why. You have to know why they matter and then you have to be prepared to burn the book to ash in order to let it stay.

(2) WRITE LIKE THE LIGHTNING. Too Like the Lightning author and Hugo nominee Ada Palmer is interviewed in the Chicago Maroon.

CM: Where’d your inspiration arise from, and what made you want to write a book with such an intersection of so many topics like philosophy, politics, science fiction?

AP: I mean, good science fiction is like that. Great science fiction is full of ideas, not just one, or two, or five ideas, but new ideas in every page. Also, I was inspired by reading pre-modern science fiction, which I do as a historian. We think of science fiction as a late 19th- and 20th-century genre, but Voltaire wrote a science fiction short story called “Micromegas,” in which aliens from another star and from Saturn come to the Earth. When they make first contact with people, the first thing they discuss is, “Is Plato or Descartes correct about how the soul and body connect to each other?” and “Is Thomas Aquinas’s discussion of Aristotle’s divisions of the parts of the soul true?” Voltaire’s society was obsessed with providence, so providence and the existence of God and the immaterial soul was what his people talked to aliens about, and it was as plausible to him as our science fiction works are to us.

So I wanted to write science fiction that used the amazingly sophisticated vocabulary of modern science fiction, all the great developments we’ve had in terms of thinking about AI and flying cars, but to ask questions like Voltaire would.

(3) GOT TO HAVE IT. A couple of other Hugo nominees woke up the internet.

Ditch Diggers has been nominated for a Hugo Award! You did it! Mur and Matt will go up against the likes of The Coode Street Podcast and Tea & Jeopardy in Helsinki for Best Fancast (even though we’re all professionals. Because there’s only one podcast category)! Thank you to all Ditch Diggers listeners who supported the show and don’t forget to vote for Mur and Matt for the Hugo itself!

(4) PROFESSIONALISM. Michi Trota reinforces the lessons of Odyssey Con in “Volunteers, Professionals, and Who Gets to Have Fun at Cons”.

…Being on the job at a con doesn’t have to ruin my fun–or anyone else’s for that matter–but you know what does? The dude with the grabby hands and eyes trained on my chest. The person who kills a conversation with their racist jokes. The gatekeeper who quizzes me on the X-Men then tries to play Gotcha! with a question about Legend of Zelda because obviously the brown Asian woman’s just playing at being a nerd. The asshole selling misogynistic art. A concom that selectively enforces their code of conduct and dismisses concerns I’ve expressed about my safety because “Stories about X’s behavior are just exaggerated.” Not only does that ruin any fun to be had, it also makes my job that much harder to do, potentially costs me opportunities as a creator, and makes me wonder how much of my investment that con is actually worth (Elise Matthesen had some excellent things to say about the real costs of harassment and who pays them).

This is where the argument that having things like rules, codes, and policies that attendees and organizers are expected to abide by also ruins everyone’s fun usually comes up. But it begs the question: just whose fun are we referring to here? Because let’s be real, con’s haven’t always been fun for everyone.

… The widespread adoption and implementation of anti-harassment policies and codes of conduct has made it a bit easier for people like me to be more involved in fandom. They don’t mean that I never run into problems, but it’s less likely those problems will outweigh the time and effort I invest in those cons. It’s because of my participation and attendance at cons as both a fan and a pro that I was able to meet people and find opportunities that helped me get to where I am now. Expectations of professionalism on the part of con organizers are not unreasonable simply because those organizers are volunteers. There’s absolutely nothing wrong about professionals treating cons as a workplace (particularly if they’re guests who have been contracted by the con for their presence) and nothing preventing pros and fans from being friendly with each other. There’s nothing about running your con with a minimum of professional standards, practices, and behavior that excludes everyone also having fun.

If your fun is dependent using your status as a volunteer as an excuse to not act responsibly, if it requires victims to stay quiet about mistreatment: then it’s not really a fun time for “everyone” is it? It’s not the expectation of professionalism that’s killing the fun at cons, it’s the lack of it.

As Deb Geisler says, “Never, ever, ever should “but we’re just volunteers” be an excuse not to do the finest job of which we are capable.”

(5) STUMBLING BLOCK QUESTIONS. Alyssa Wong says it in her own way in “Why ‘I’m a feminist, but –‘ isn’t enough”.


Incidents of sexual harassment in the SFF field are distressingly numerous. And it’s nothing new; Isaac Asimov was so well known to grope women that in 1961 he was asked to deliver a “pseudo lecture” on “the positive power of posterior pinching” (read the correspondence between Earl Kemp, chairman of Chicon III, and Asimov here).

But this isn’t 1961. SFF is more global, diverse and inclusive than ever, and much richer for it. Writers who challenge and explore systematic injustice and oppression through their work are myriad; their work can be found in bookstores, presses, and online across genres, across the world.

And yet we keep asking:

are you sure she didn’t just have a vendetta?

how could it be sexual harassment if he didn’t touch her?

why do we need to be so politically correct?

Why? Because real people are affected. Because both macro- and microaggressions are harmful.Because everyone deserves to feel safe in professional settings, and for writers and industry professionals, that is what conventions are. Moreover, Wiscon is a feminist SFF convention. If safe feminist space exists in genre, Wiscon should definitely be part of it.

What concerns me is the number of women and men who continue to stand up for known abusers. In this sense, it seems that Jim Frenkel is not alone.

(6) CARPENTRY. Cat Rambo also says it is “Time to Fix the Missing Stair”, in a multifaceted post that includes this allusion to a Superversive SF post, and highlights from a relevant panel at last weekend’s Norwescon.

…[Re: Monica Valentinelli’s departure as OdysseyCon guest] One manifestation of that is a brief statement asking why she hates women, declaring that her example will make conventions reluctant to invite any women in the future. Let’s unpack that one a little because the underpinnings seem ill-constructed to me.

There are many kinds of humans in the world. That means there’re also many kinds of women. The logic of the above statement says two things: 1) that it is wrong for people speak out about conditions that are uncomfortable, unprofessional, or sometimes even dangerous and 2) that only people with the strength to survive a gauntlet that can include being groped onstage, being mocked publicly, having their work denigrated for no reason other than having been produced by a woman, and a multitude of other forms of harassment deserve careers and the rest are out of luck. Does that really need to be demanded for someone to have a career? Writers are notoriously unstable mentally as it is. Serial harassment is a professional matter.

This was underscored for me on a Norwescon (a con that does a great job with selecting programming and volunteers and understands the issues) panel that I moderated last Friday, Standing Up to the Mob, with panelists Minim Calibre, Arinn Dembo, Mickey Schulz, and Torrey Stenmark. The description was:

How do you support female creators who are being harassed online by the ravening hordes of the unenlightened? Tips for voicing your support in ways that mean something.

Here are Arinn Dembo’s excellent notes on the panel overall.

(7) THEY’RE GONE. Would you like to bet this writer’s stance was a factor in today’s decision to retire the Lovecraft nominee pins?


(8) THE ONE-PERSON SALES FORCE. A lot of things affect an indie author’s sales and it isn’t easy to keep all of them in mind, as Amanda S. Green explains in “It really is a business” at Mad Genius Club.

The next thing I looked at happened to be my product pages. Oh my, there is so much there we have to take into consideration and we don’t tend to. At least I don’t. Sure, I want to have the best possible cover to draw the reader’s eye. I want a snappy and interesting blurb to grab the reader and make them want to buy the book. But I don’t tend to check the product page on anything other than my laptop. I forget to look at it on my Kindle Fire or Mom’s iPad. I sure forget to look at it in my phone. Or, more accurately, I used to forget it. After the last few days, I won’t. What I learned is that the longer blurbs will work on a tablet or computer screen but, on a phone, they are a pain because you have to keep scrolling. Not good. Scrolling for a screen or two is one thing but for screen after screen after screen — nope. Not gonna happen. Fortunately, most of mine weren’t that bad and those that were happen to be on two titles I am going to withdraw because they were supposed to be short term promo titles initially.

(9) I’M A DOCTOR NOT A MILLIONAIRE. By the way, if you want to know how much the tricorder X Prize was worth, the Washington Post article says that Final Frontier Medical Devices, led by Dr. Basil Harris, won the $2.6 million first prize in this contest, with Dynamical Biomarkers Group got $1 million for second place.

(10) MAGAZINE LAUNCH. Anathema has published its first issue. The free, online tri-annual magazine publishes speculative fiction by queer people of color. The magazine was funded by a 2016 IndieGoGo campaign.

Exceptional art is a bruise: it leaves its mark on you. At its best it leaves us vulnerable and raw, transformed by the experience. At Anathema we’re interested in giving that exceptional work a home. Specifically the exceptional work of queer people of colour (POC). As practicing editors we’re keenly aware of the structural and institutional racism that makes it hard for the work of marginalized writers to find a home.

So Anathema: Spec from the Margins is a free, online tri-annual magazine publishing speculative fiction (SF/F/H, the weird, slipstream, surrealism, fabulism, and more) by queer people of colour on every range of the LGBTQIA spectrum.


  • April 18, 1938 – Superman made his first appearance in Action Comics #1. (Cover-dated June, but published in April.)

(12) TAFF. SF Site News reports John Purcell has won the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund race. Voting details at the link.

(13) CARTOON OF THE DAY. Martin Morse Wooster recommends The Bigger Picture, a cartoon by Daisy Jacobs done in the style of a painting about two brothers feuding over their ailing mother. It was a 2015 Academy Award nominee

(14) DEVIL’S DICTIONARY. In McSweeney’s, Rajeev Balasubramanyam’s “A Short Description of Cultural Appropriation for Non-Believers” supplies a wryly amusing 10-point illustration of the term.

(15) WINTER IS HERE. Dave Truesdale, who had a lot to say about “special snowflakes” at last year’s Worldcon, has been using an F&SF forum discussion to call into account Liz Bourke’s Tor.com post “Thoughts on the 2017 Hugo Awards Ballot”.

….Going back to 1993, women received the majority of the 15 Hugo short fiction nominations that year. Hardly discrimination by the entire SF field. And that was just shy of 25 years ago!

But now it’s not yay!, look how far we’ve come in a positive celebration for a year in which women and poc dominate several major awards ballots, it’s neener neener we dominated an award ballot and “This year is a historic one for the Hugo Awards in more ways than one. In addition to the changes to the awards process, this is the first year in which the Best Novel nominees have been so completely devoid in white men.” [[Link added]]

Why the F bring up white men I ask for the umpteenth time. Why not white straight women too, then, who have been on the ballot plenty over the past 40 or 50 years and have taken up plenty of slots that could have gone to poc, especially in the past decade or so (pick your starting point).

Why just white men? An unconscious bias perhaps? A conscious prejudice? Give me a sound reason why not just “white” people, or “men” were noted in the article, but “white men.” There’s something else going on here. The article doesn’t have to come right out and be the instigation of a flame war in its use of inflammatory language and tone to reveal certain things about the writer or her view of the situation. That she’s more subtle in doing it doesn’t give her a pass.

He came back again and added:

In the stuff-you-always-think-of-later department:

CJW wrote: “She noted the lack of white men on the Best Novel list, because there were no white men on the Best Novel list.”

There were also no black, brown, yellow, or red men on the list either. So why single out white men I ask again for the 3rd or 4th time? Subconscious prejudice bubbling to the surface because that is her default–that pesky white color? What could possibly be the reason she forgot non-white men? I mean, there has to be a perfectly reasonable explanation for her discriminatory statement.

Although other commenters weren’t interested in engaging with Truesdale’s complaint, they couldn’t resist dropping in another coin to see him go off again.

SHamm ended a reply —

P.S.: Dave, I am not quite sure from your phrasing: are you under the impression that Milo Yiannopoulos is a “straight white male”?

P.P.S.: Dave, I believe Best Novel nominee Liu Cixin qualifies as a “yellow man,” in your parlance, although I am told that particular descriptor is no longer much in vogue.

P.P.S.: Dave, does it have to be a “straw MAN”? Asking as a man.

Truesdale answered:

SHamm, of course Milo is gay, but he doesn’t agree with the party line and so is reviled and efforts are made to silence him.

Liu Cixin is a yellow man in historical terminology, which makes the essayists use of “white men” even more telling. Person of color=OK. White men not OK.

Straw man is just a phrase we are all familiar with. No need to make anything out of it.

Why bring Puppies into this? No Sad Puppy I know of is afraid of women/people of color/LGBTQ writers dominating the awards. Certainly not me. I’ve said it a hundred times, the more the merrier. The problem for me arises when these same people heralding diversity for their own benefit try to silence diversity of thought from everyone else. And if you dare speak out you suffer the consequences–inside and outside the SF field, witness Milo and others lately who have suffered similar fates while trying to express differing views on university campuses (though maybe not with the violence attendant at Milo’s cancelled talk). It’s the darker underside agenda of those rallying behind good causes such as diversity that puts the lie to their true agenda. And it’s hurting SF. Again, writers aren’t taking the kinds of chances in speaking of social or political issues they used to, for fear of various forms of reprisal from those waving the banner of diversity. Their diversity only runs in one way, and its killing free speech and controversial thought experiments in our stories. That Puppy crap still being thrown out is ridiculous and an intellectual dodge. Besides, there was no SP this year as far as I know, but every time this discussion comes up someone thinks that tossing in SP or RP is the answer to everything, when it is an excuse to honestly address the issue.

(16) MAKES SENSE. The head of Netflix isn’t worried about Amazon and HBO because, he says, they aren’t the competition.

But today, on Netflix’s Q1 earnings call, [Netflix CEO Reed] Hastings got a little more expansive, in a bong-rip-in-a-dorm-room way, if that’s still a thing. (Is that still a thing?) Here’s the answer he gave to an Amazon competition question; we join this one mid-response, right after he finished praising Amazon and Jeff Bezos:

They’re doing great programming, and they’ll continue to do that, but I’m not sure it will affect us very much. Because the market is just so vast. You know, think about it, when you watch a show from Netflix and you get addicted to it, you stay up late at night. You really — we’re competing with sleep, on the margin. And so, it’s a very large pool of time. And a way to see that numerically is that we’re a competitor to HBO, and yet over 10 years we’ve grown to 50 million, and they’ve continued modestly growing. They haven’t shrunk. And so if you think about it as, we’re not really affecting them, the is why — and that’s because we’re like two drops of water in the ocean, of both time and spending for people. And so Amazon could do great work, and it would be very hard for it to directly affect us. It’s just — home entertainment is not a zero-sum game. And again, HBO’s success, despite our tremendous success, is a good way to illustrate that.

(17) AND NOW FOR MORE SCIENCE. This unauthenticated video may date before the Ice Age. Or before breakfast today.


(18) INKLINGS NEWS. Inklings Abroad is developing an international registry of known Inklings groups.

(19) DANCE WITH ME. Believe it — Guardians of the Galaxy has a La La Land moment!

(20) THINK TWICE BEFORE GETTING THAT EXTRA LARGE SODA. In its own way, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 threatens to have as many endings as Return of the King. As ScienceFiction.com says — “Just To Outshine The Rest Of Marvel’s Movies, ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2? Will Have 5 Post-Credit Scenes!”

Director James Gunn blew away expectations with his first foray into Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, and now he’s doing it again by adding five post-credit scenes at the end of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘! Originally it was being announced that he had four included from early press screenings and now Gunn himself took to clarify that it would be five. That’s one announcement he could make that would easily top his return to helm ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, ‘ but honestly, I think we were all hoping that was going to happen anyway.

This will set an all new record for the most post-credit scenes in a superhero movie, possibly of any genre.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo. and Kate Nepveu for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Schnookums Von Fancypants.]

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178 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/18/17 There Is A Scroll In Everything, That’s How The Pixel Gets In

  1. Dann –

    My big hobby horse remains authors that put diminutive 8 and a half stone girl in plate armor and expect her to beat a similarly attired 14 and a half stone man in battle. That has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with physics.

    You’ve never seen Gracie versus Abbott?

  2. On an unrelated note, I just noticed that Charlie Jade is streaming on Amazon Prime. I cannot recommend the show highly enough — a 2005 SF noir detective series filmed in South Africa about a guy who can travel between three parallel versions of the universe — a kind of high tech Blade Runner dystopia, our world, and the Hippieverse.

  3. Dann – Or for that matter Gracie vs Akebono? You’re never going to see a bigger weight difference in a fight 🙂

    That said I mean it’s sort of a common story telling device to have a protagonist that ha to face an antagonist that smarter, stronger or both than they are and yet manages to overcome the odds and rise to the challenge to defeat the bad guy.

    Can you believe a 14 and a half stone man in armor can defeat a 200+ stone fire breathing lizard with scales? If so than the example you provided shouldn’t really be that preposterous!

  4. Japan does some super imbalanced MMA fights. Butterbean vs Genki. Minowa vs Silva. Crocop vs Hong Man Choi (and the fight against Jose Canseco was uh, a thing).

    But like the idea that men can fight vampires, ogres, trolls, uruk-hai, dragons, werewolves, demons, etc and no cognitive dissonance there but a woman beating a man is beyond imagining is interesting.

  5. @Hampus Eckerman: “Maybe the people who hired her were box checking. Or perhaps they only thought that there should be some kind of representation from everyone. Maybe those are the same thing.”

    And maybe they were the best people for the job. I’m trying to figure out how to apply this in a literary sense. Maybe the characters in Jemisin’s book were simply the people who best fit the roles she needed. Be they male, female, trans, etc. or what have you.

    @clif: “making a point of mentioning”

    As opposed to just, you know, mentioning it.

    @JJ: Random art comment – I’ve always liked the cover to Attanasio’s book (in the most $$$ tier of the Humble Bundle). I’m not a unicorn aficionado, but if they ever make a Humble Centaur Bundle, I know someone who’d probably be interested!

    @Greg Hullender: “I’ll bet a dollar to a doughnut that most trans people feel the same way.”

    Feeling differently about gay/bi characters in stories, I’d bet the other way, even before reading @lurkertype’s comment. But everyone’s different. 🙂

  6. P.S. I do love reading people discussing The Fifth Season, which I loved. 🙂 Even if it’s a box-checking discussion.


  7. Here’s the thing about box checking, from a writer’s perspective.

    Depending on your definition, I kinda DO do it.

    I have rewritten male characters into female. I have rewritten white characters into other races.I have created characters of varied gender and race as they are from scratch. I have written a full range of sexualities. I have deliberately gone out of my way to take default characters and make them non-default, both before putting fingers to keyboard, and after they were established. I have gone out of my way to consciously, deliberately, say, “This tiny minor role here is going to involve a woman hanging off her girlfriend, or a foreign stranger with an accent and trouble understanding the language. If I haven’t ever included a person of any given non-default, I think deliberately about why, and whether I can sneak one in. (Sometimes I can’t because it just wouldn’t make sense, but I do consider it.)

    But here’s why: It almost invariably makes the story BETTER from a story standpoint. It means that rather than follow a well-worn track mindlessly, I have to intentionally shun the cliches, the easy answers, so even when the character remains a white male, it’s by deliberate choice on my part and not some incidental blind spot. Every single time I have made a conscious change away from the traditional hero or heroine molds, it has made the story more interesting. I have never once said “That was a mistake, this story would have been better if I didn’t think about it/include that character/add that passing mention of dark brown skin.”

    It also almost invariably makes the Earth the characters live on look MORE LIKE the Earth I live on, where my city was founded on Treaty One Territory, where half our church choir is GBLTetc, a trans woman I know personally recently ran for a provincial seat and the boy in my son’s kindergarten class that he plays with the most was a Syrian refugee who barely spoke English at the start of the school year. Oh, and my (blue-eyed-blond) son is NOT neurotypical. I might myself be a white able neurotypical middle class cis woman in a practically traditional mold**, but mine is far from the only face I see daily. And that includes in crowds, when people watching.

    I also, as a reader, go out of my way to look for reviews from sources that consider, and comment on, and seek out, good stories which include these people, and which can reliably tell me not only which ones are a cracking good read, but which ones don’t depict them horribly along the way. Then i hunt down those books in particular. I like to see myself in stories (or wish-fulfillment versions of me) — so therefore I want other people to have the chance see themselves (or see their wish fulfillment selves) in the same way. .. Conversely, I also like to see people unlike me in stories, and it’s extra cool when they’re unlike me in some new different way, not because they are yetanother steely-jawed rich playboy with a secret superhero alter ego.

    ** Almost.

  8. My only dismay on that humble bundle is the presence of Piers Anthony stuff. Oh, well, nobody said I had to read it.

  9. Ohhhh speaking of Japan and women warriors, what about the onna-bugeisha? (Female samurai, basically)

  10. @Dann:

    Haven’t we all run into authors that present flat characters? It should still be acceptable to point out where an author is being lazy.

    I have similar reactions to zombies and sparkly vampires. After reading so many books with those features, I get a little tired of seeing the same thing over and over and over.

    (Emphasis added.) The only books I’m aware of that feature sparkly vampires are the Twilight series – which, I admit, I never imagined you reading. (Neither have I, but I absorbed quite a bit of info through osmosis.) I’ve seen them pop up in a couple of other places, but those are parodies and satires of Twilight.

    So, color me curious: where are all these other Sparkly Vampire books? Can you name a few, since you’ve read enough of them to grow tired of seeing the SVs come up so frequently?

    @Lenora Rose: “I like to see myself in stories (or wish-fulfillment versions of me) — so therefore I want other people to have the chance see themselves (or see their wish fulfillment selves) in the same way.”

    EXACTLY. I’ve got loads of books literally piled up in my house that are about people who look (generally) like me saving the day through straight white cismale awesomeness. Most of the rest star straight white ciswomen who always seem to wear leather pants and pose for their covers with their backs to the camera. Seeing something different is just refreshing.

  11. Dann:

    “My big hobby horse remains authors that put diminutive 8 and a half stone girl in plate armor and expect her to beat a similarly attired 14 and a half stone man in battle. “

    I bet you had the same reaction about Sebastien de Castell’s Traitor’s Blade where na beqvanel zna znantrq gb orng n fnvag jub jnf zbivat fb snfg ur pbhyqa’g or frra naq jurer n zna frevbhfyl uheg fgvyy znantrq gb orng frireny hauheg crbcyr ng bapr.

  12. Used to be, lots of different kinds of people were ignored in fiction unless there was a “reason” for them to exist in it. Black characters were slaves or servants and/or confronted prejudice. Women were prizes and captives. Etcetera.

    Bit of a random example, but I remember watching the early 80s mecha anime Fang of the Sun Dougram, and slowly realising that, though it’s a very long series with lots of bit parts, with the exception of one of the leads women only ever appeared in roles which are strongly coded as feminine (nurse, dancer, secretary and the like). Everyone else, men.

  13. @Kurt Busiek:

    The idea that a story should only cover the minimum needed to understand it is a legitimate approach to writing, but it’s only one of the nine-and-sixty ways.

    It’s also worth remembering that Chekov’s Law, as originally defined by Chekov himself, applied to theatre, which has a very different set of constraints from prose fiction. This includes financial ones: on a theatre set every new prop requires money to make (and likely replace) as well as time for the stage hands to set up; in prose off-handedly mentioning some piece of scenery takes a tiny fraction of a cent of ink/paper/electrons.

    The firmness of Chekov’s Law is rather media-specific.

  14. @Oneiros:
    Jessica Amanda Salmonson’s Tomoe Gozen trilogy has been mentioned at least once on here; it stars a female samurai in an alternate-universe version of Japan with actual magic and Japanese legends. Admittedly, female samurai in the book were about as common as female samurai in real history, which is to say that they happened but not often.

    I think the last time it came up, someone was looking for comfort reading with female warriors, and I noted that I would not define Tomoe Gozen as comfort reading, as it can be rather relentlessly bleak at times. In that particularly Japanese ‘stoicism in the face of misery’ way.

  15. @Jenora Feuer: And even that said (re. Chekov’s so-called “Law”), at least these days, theaters frequently try to have interesting sets and props. It’s mostly plot-irrelevant, but it’s part of the spectacle. 🙂 I’ve been to various versions of the same play or musical that do wildly different things; it’s world building, essentially. It creates an environment to assist the viewer’s imagination in immersing them in the play/musical. Much like character traits and descriptions.

    For example, I’ve seen many versions of “Joseph and the Amazing Technical Dreamcoat” and “Godspell” that did very different things with set, props, even framing sequences, and none were plot-irrelevant. They all just made a more interesting world and made the musicals more visually appealing. And I remember them still, when I hear the soundtracks (this is A Good Thing, IMHO). Much like when I think of Tonkee, I’ll remember various visual and personality traits described in the book that were plot-irrelevant.

    (I’ll also remember Robin Miles’s voice for Tonke, heh – another added dimension that isn’t plot-relevant either.)

    /ramble 😉

  16. @Kendall —

    (I’ll also remember Robin Miles’s voice for Tonke, heh – another added dimension that isn’t plot-relevant either.)

    Robin Miles is great. 🙂

  17. @Kendall:
    Heh. Granted, some of my first exposure to theatre was from the Kaleidoscope Theatre troupe in Victoria, B.C.; they tended to do small-scale productions because they often performed in elementary school gymnasiums. The person playing the butterfly in a production of The Last Unicorn wore a black bodysuit and just kept constantly moving around the stage area while holding a tie-dyed sheet that fluttered through the air behind him. And then I saw Theatre Beyond Words during a tour; they did amazing things with background noise and a single long piece of rope that became the strings for a string trio, a boxing ring, a rising waterline… Not to mention the amateur productions I saw (or was involved with) in University.

    (The string trio bit was impressive: there was one person in the middle with the rope that went over a shoulder, under one foot, over the neck, under the other foot, then over the other shoulder; he mimed playing an upright bass on the four ‘strings’ while two others took the ends of the rope and slung them over their own shoulders, each pulling the rope taut with a hand and miming running a bow over it like a violin or viola. All set up within five seconds for about ten seconds of ‘music’ before switching to the next scene.)

    So, yes, I may have a more minimalist experience with theatre than is common nowadays.

    In the other direction, of course, there was a production of Phantom of the Opera here in Toronto for quite some time where the theatre stage had been completely rebuilt specifically to be able to pull off some of the fancier stage directions.

  18. Seconding the “Charlie Jade” recommendation. It was on Syfy at like 3 AM for one run-through back during the primetime rasslin’ years (ooh, linking up topics here), and deserves a wider audience. It was good.

    @Rev. Bob: Dann may be using “sparkly vampires” as a non-literal description, meaning vampires who are all sensitive and never prey upon people and frequently find themselves in love triangles with Mary Sues and often weres. And I sympathize entirely with being tired of that. I’ve heard other people use “sparkly vampires” to describe this now-trite kinda thing.

  19. @lurkertype: “Dann may be using “sparkly vampires” as a non-literal description, meaning vampires who are all sensitive and never prey upon people and frequently find themselves in love triangles with Mary Sues and often weres.”

    Then “sympathetic” or “vampires with souls” would have been much better terms. “Sparkly vampires” is extremely specific; as I noted, the “sparkly” trait only appears in the Twilight books and parodies of them. “Sympathetic” goes back at least to Fred Saberhagen and Anne Rice in the mid-1970s, not to mention Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

  20. Thanks for the birthday wishes, Cassy and Cheryl.

    Having read quite a bit of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, I agree with Rev. Bob. “Sparkly vampires” are specific to Twilight. Tortured or sympathetic vampires are quite common and have been around for much longer than Twilight, though I’d place the start of the trend in the 1960s with Barnabas Collins from Dark Shadows.

  21. Varney the Vampire came out in the 1840s. Varney was often sympathetic, and intermittently tortured. Not that Varney could be said to represent the start of any sort of trend, but we’ve had sympathetic vampires for quite a while.

  22. The funny thing is, most of the time when I see people referring to ‘Chekhov’s Gun’, they invert the sentiment: if a gun goes off in the third act, it should be on the mantelpiece in the first act. A.k.a., avoid deus ex machina by foreshadowing your plot points well enough in advance.

  23. @Jenora Feuer: I’ve stumbled across the Tomoe Gozen books more than once, but I’m a little off-put by the tangling up of the historical Tomoe Gozen with a fantastical Japan written by a Western author. I had a read of the Amazon sample and I’m also not wild about bushido and sword-as-soul (and other modern takes on the samurai), or twin long swords…

  24. Another post-apocalyptic story with a diabetic character is Piers Anthony’s “Ring of Ice” – I think diabetes has become every author’s go-to “condition requiring access to medicine that will be hard to get post-disaster” example (though Cory Doctorow’s “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth” has medications used by characters with Asperger’s condition as the medication that will be hard to get post-disaster as an alternative.

  25. More Charlie Jade: I had been hearing about it on a podcast (name escapes me at the moment) who were very enthusiastic about it, and were getting episodes through … dubious means. When it started airing on SciFi at 3:00 a.m., I actually missed the first episode (the one that sets up the entire structure of the parallel worlds, and kicks off the plot), which turned out to be an interesting way to watch it — basically, kind of figuring things out in parallel with the protagonist.

    It’s also the chief reason (secondary reasons being the second season of Hex, and all of Blake’s Seven) that I own a region-free DVD player.

  26. @Lurkertype

    Thank you. You are largely correct. Mostly I was expressing a mild frustration with fads and trends.

    I apologize for the delay.


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