Pixel Scroll 4/27/17 The Pixel You Scroll, The Filer You Get

(1) MORE CORE. This time James Davis Nicoll lists “Twenty Core Military Speculative Fiction Books Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”.

Is there any overlap between your list and James’s?

(2) ENVELOPE PLEASE. Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off has a winner — The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French. The results were based on scores given by the reviewers at 10 different blogs.

All in all The Grey Bastards is a runaway winner and I must commend it to your attention.

2nd placed Path of Flames by Phil Tucker was favourite with three blogs and I’ve read it and can see why!

3rd placed Paternus by Dyrk Ashton was favourite with one blog.

All of these books were someone’s choice for finalist and they all scored 7+ with two or more bloggers, so check them out. You never know what will hit a chord with you.

Huge thanks to all ten bloggers/teams for their very considerable efforts and to Katharine of Ventureadlaxre for stepping in to fill a gap. The bloggers are the stars of this show so be sure to keep checking them out now we’re done.

Our most generous scorer this year was Fantasy-Faction, taking the crown from Bibliotropic last year. The Elitist Book Reviews remain the harshest scorer, though they were slightly kinder this year.

(3) FILE 770 TODAY, PBS TOMORROW! Masterpiece Theatre is broadcasting King Charles III  on May 14 with Tim Pigott-Smith as Charles. (Martin Morse Wooster reviewed the stage play here last month.)

(4) WORLD MAKER. Larry Correia provides a very interesting and expansive answer to a fan favorite question in “Ask Correia 18: World Building”.

Always Be Asking

Since I usually start with a basic plot idea, the first thing I do is think about what does my world need to have/allow for me to write this? Some are pretty obvious. Monster Hunter is our world but supernatural stuff exists in secret. Others ideas require something more complicated. For Son of the Black Sword I needed to figure out a world with brutal caste systems, where the low born are basically property.

Take those must haves, and then ask yourself if that’s how things have to work here, what else would change? Always be asking yourself how are those required things going to affect other things?  This doesn’t just make your setting stronger, but it supplies you with tons of great new story ideas.

Besides creative questioning, his other subtopics are: The Rule of Cool, Using Cultural Analogs, Nuts and Bolts, You Need To Know Everything but the Reader Doesn’t, How Much is too Much? and Have Fun.

(5) SCIENCE FICTION IS NEVER ABOUT THE FUTURE. That’s why Trump’s election wrecked an author’s plans — ‘Sci-Fi Writer William Gibson Reimagines the World After the 2016 Election”.

But last fall, Mr. Gibson’s predictive abilities failed him. Like so many others, he never imagined that Donald J. Trump would prevail in the 2016 election. On Nov. 9, he woke up feeling as if he were living in an alternate reality. “It was a really weird and powerful sensation,” he said.

Most people who were stunned by the outcome managed to shake off the surreal feeling. But being a science fiction writer, Mr. Gibson, 69, decided to explore it.

The result is “Agency,” Mr. Gibson’s next novel, which Berkley will publish in January. The story unfolds in two timelines: San Francisco in 2017, in an alternate time track where Hillary Clinton won the election and Mr. Trump’s political ambitions were thwarted, and London in the 22nd century, after decades of cataclysmic events have killed 80 percent of humanity. In the present-day San Francisco setting, a shadowy start-up hires a young woman named Verity to test a new product: a “cross-platform personal avatar” that was developed by the military as a form of artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, characters in the distant future are interfering with the events unfolding in 2017, through technological time travel that allows them to send digital communications to the past….

… “Every imaginary future ever written is about the time it was written in,” he said. “People talk about science fiction’s predictive possibilities, but that’s a byproduct. It’s all really about now.”

(6) REASONS TO BELIEVE. The Vulture interviews the evangelist of American Gods – the author: “The Gospel According to Neil Gaiman”.

Pony sushi?

Pony. Because Iceland, what it actually has a lot of, is ponies. And then I walk into the downtown tourist office, now closed, and they had a fantastic tabletop diorama basically showing the voyages of Leif Erikson. You start out in Iceland, you nip over to Greenland, you go down the coast in Newfoundland and have a little thing where you build your huts, and so forth. I looked at it and I thought, Y’know, I wonder if they brought their gods with them. And then I thought, I wonder if they left their gods behind when they came home. And it was like, all of a sudden, all of the things that I’d been thinking about, all of the things that had been circling my head about immigration, about America, about the House on the Rock, and this weird American thing where … In other places in the world, they might look at a fantastic cliff and go, “Ah, here we are in touch with the numinous! We will build a temple or we will build a shrine!” In America, you get a replica of the second-largest block of cheese in the world circa 1963. And people still go to visit it! As if it were a shrine! I wanted to put that in. And it was all there. I wrote an email to my agent and my editor saying, “This is the book,” and ending with, “The working title is going to be American Gods, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something better.”

(7) WHATEVER IT IS, IT’S EXPENSIVE. Carl Slaughter asks, “OK, one of you science geeks explain to me, what exactly is laser based energy transmission?” — “LaserMotive raises $1.5 million to boost innovations in laser power transmission”.

LaserMotive, a stealthy pioneer in laser-based power transmission that’s based in Kent, Wash., has raised more than $1.5 million in an equity offering.  LaserMotive focuses on laser applications for transmitting power. In 2009, the company won a $900,000 NASA prize in a competition for laser-powered robot climbers. In 2012, it kept a drone flying for 48 hours straight during a beamed-power demonstration for Lockheed Martin. And in 2013, it unveiled a commercial product to transmit electrical power over fiber-optic cables.

(8) LORD OF THE (SATURNIAN) RINGS. NPR and BBC on Cassini’s successful pass (“shields up!”) inside the rings:

“Cassini Spacecraft Re-Establishes Contact After ‘Dive’ Between Saturn And Its Rings”.

NASA said Cassini came within about 1,900 miles of Saturn’s cloud tops and about 200 miles from the innermost edge of Saturn’s rings. Project scientists believe ring particles in the gap are no bigger than smoke particles and were confident they would not pose a threat to the spacecraft.

“Cassini radio signal from Saturn picked up after dive”

The probe executed the daredevil manoeuvre on Wednesday – the first of 22 plunges planned over the next five months – while out of radio contact.

And the day before, a Google doodle showed Saturn “ready for its closeup”: “Cassini Spacecraft Dives Between Saturn and its Rings!”

By plunging into this fascinating frontier, Cassini will help scientists learn more about the origins, mass, and age of Saturn’s rings, as well as the mysteries of the gas giant’s interior. And of course there will be breathtaking additions to Cassini’s already stunning photo gallery. Cassini recently revealed some secrets of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus — including conditions friendly to life!  Who knows what marvels this hardy explorer will uncover in the final chapter of its mission?

(9) I HEARD THE NEWS TODAY. Two long-time sff editors and SFWAns have become editors of an Eastern Maryland publication — “Peter Heck and Jane Jewell Named Chestertown Spy Co-Managing Editors”.

The Community Newspaper Project, the parent nonprofit organization of the Chestertown Spy and Talbot Spy, has announced the appointment of Peter Heck and Jane Jewell as co-managing editors of the Chestertown Spy, effective immediately.

While Peter has been best known locally for his many years as a reporter for the Kent County News, he has also written over 100 book reviews for such publications as the Kirkus Review and Newsday, as well as spending two years as editor at Berkley Publications. A native of Chestertown, with degrees from Harvard and Johns Hopkins, Heck also has written ten novels, two of which were genre best sellers.  He is also an accomplished musician, playing guitar and banjo.

Jane, Peter’s wife, also comes to the Spy with a distinguished background in writing, editing, and photography. Since moving to Chestertown, Jane worked at Washington College in the computer department, then as the executive director of the Science Fiction Writers of America. She also has contributed photos to the Kent County News. Jane currently serves on the board of the National Music Festival and has been active as a coach with the Character Counts! program in the Kent County Public Schools.

(10) BIG DATA IS WATCHING. Tracking whether a driver was texting: “‘Textalyzer’ Aims To Curb Distracted Driving, But What About Privacy?”

If you’re one of the many who text, read email or view Facebook on your phone while driving, be warned: Police in your community may soon have a tool for catching you red-handed.

The new “textalyzer” technology is modeled after the Breathalyzer, and would determine if you had been using your phone illegally on the road.

Lawmakers in New York and a handful of other cities and states are considering allowing police to use the device to crack into phones because, they say, too many people get away with texting and driving and causing crashes.

(11) A FACE IN THE CROWD. Using face-recognition software at a soccer match: “Police to use facial recognition at Champions League final”.

Police in Wales plan to use facial recognition on fans during the Champions League final in Cardiff on 3 June, according to a government contract posted online.

Faces will be scanned at the Principality Stadium and Cardiff’s central railway station.

They can then be matched against 500,000 “custody images” stored by local police forces.

South Wales Police confirmed the pilot and said it was a “unique opportunity”.

Chip Hitchcock sent this comment with the link: “It will be interesting to see how many false positives they fess up to and how many known troublemakers they miss; I have the impression that FR software is not ready for prime time.”

(12) ANOTHER COMMENT ON ODYSSEY CON. Bill Bodden also dropped off Odyssey Con programming, as he notes in “Timing Is Everything”.

Monica’s resignation as a guest went down on Monday. By the end of the week, all three Guests of Honor had withdrawn from the convention, and the harasser was no longer part of the convention committee. I myself tendered my withdrawal as attendee and panelist on Tuesday April 11, when it became clear that vocal members and friends of the Odyssey Con committee had taken it upon themselves, in a campaign of damage control, to try to spin the discussion to make Monica look bad. To my mind, Monica pulled out from an untenable situation, and while I’m deeply sorry it had to happen at all, I absolutely support her decision. I apologize in the unlikely event that anyone was coming to Odyssey Con specifically to see me.

Just the week before he’d gone 15 rounds with misogynistic trolls in “What the Hell Is Wrong With Gamers?”

Green Ronin Publishing recently put out an open call for female game designers for a specific project. I used to be one of the Ronin, and I was proud to see them doing something that everyone should have been doing years ago: forcing the issue to give women more of a chance to be game designers. Here’s the LINK so you can read it.

The outcry was immediate and vitriolic. I refuse to link to any of the trolls involved, but cries of discrimination against white men were on all the major gaming discussion boards, some gamers even suggesting that Green Ronin was destroying their company, alienating their fan base by committing such a heinous act against men….

Maybe those men who say they don’t behave that way really don’t, but I’ll bet they also don’t stand up — or even notice it — when other men do. Know how I know that? Because I had an experience over the last few years that proved to me how blind I was to this sort of thing. An individual was labeled harasser by a number of women, and I had a difficult time believing it was true because this person was a friend of mine in one of the circles with which I sometime engage, and I’d never seen him behaving that way. However, now being aware that it was an issue, the next time I saw him interacting with others, the harassment of women was clear, and obvious. It opened my eyes.

(13) FLYING FINISH. With the official Clarke Award shortlist coming out next week, the Shadow Clarke jury is pouring on the speed. Perhaps that explains their reluctance to break for a new paragraph?

Just over a third of the way through Christopher Priest’s The Gradual, the modernist composer, Alessandro Sussken, is told by Generalissima Flauuran, the dictator of the totalitarian Glaund Republic, that she wants him to compose a full orchestral piece celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Republic but ‘we do not want irony, subversion, subtlety, cryptic statements, cross references, allusions, knowing asides, quotations, hidden meanings.’ Instead, the stipulated requirements include a minimum of four movements, three major instrumental soloists, four operatic soloists, a mixed chorus of over three hundred voices, a sequence of peasant celebration, a triumphal march and ‘cannon effects in the climax’. It’s difficult not to see this – especially in the context of shadow Clarke discussions concerning the relationship between SF and the ambiguity of the modern condition – as a commentary on the ironies of being a writer torn between desiring the possibilities that the genre opens up for interrogating the limits of consensus reality while hating the conformist demand to meet certain expectations that it also embodies. It is as though Gollancz had said to Priest, ‘We’ll leave you alone to write your weird stories of alienation and separation, as long as you knock out a mass-market, three-act space opera with a world-weary hero, feisty heroine and cynical robot as the three main characters, and include alien sex, a heist sequence and a climactic space battle.’ Would Priest indignantly decline or take the money and run as Sussken does? The answer, based on the evidence of The Gradual, is not as obvious as one might think.

Time travel TV shows can be broadly divided into two categories based on whether they’re about conserving history or changing it. On the one hand, Legends of Tomorrow or Timeless are about characters from our present preserving the status quo of our past, no matter how many historical atrocities must be committed to make that happen. On the other hand, 12 Monkeys or Travelers are (generally better) shows about characters from our future attempting to change the status quo of their past: our present is the error they’re setting out to change. The first category is big on costumes and cliché historical settings. The second is usually about future dystopias that must be prevented by taking action in our present: depending on budget, we may see more or less of the future dystopia itself, which features its own set of clichés….

All historical fiction is alternate historical fiction, to a greater or lesser extent.

The setting is always other than it was; necessarily so, because we can only access the past through the imperfect lens of the present.   Our 21st century way of knowing the world may be intimately connected to the experiences of human beings one hundred, five hundred, even two thousand years ago, but it is also paradigmatically alien.  When we imagine, interpret and co-opt those experiences to tell stories we do so in the spirit of conjecture.  Which is not to say that historical fiction cannot strive for factual veracity, only that it can never be completely achieved. Speculation creeps in – in some cases more than others – and because of that historical fiction shares some essential qualities with science fiction: the will to imagine otherwise; the displacement of human experience in time; and the estrangement of the reader from the contemporary familiar.  The great historical fiction writers of the last century – Mary Renault, Dorothy Dunnett, Patrick O’Brian, Hilary Mantel – wrote (and write, in the last case, we hope and pray) with the ferocious enquiry that I also associate with great SF.  For which reason I have few qualms about the eligibility of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad – a book that harvests and reaps influences from both genres – for a science fiction award. I would have equally few about its eligibility for a historical fiction prize….

Before I get on with the review – feel free to skip ahead to the subheading at any point in what follows – I should note that my participation in this Clarke Award shadow jury has not progressed in the manner I anticipated. First an industry-standard biannual workplace restructuring took an unexpected detour into poorly-executed dystopian satire during March and, second, an unexpected family bereavement has wiped out the first half of April. I had anticipated being pretty much through reviewing my six titles by this stage and to be on the verge of subjecting unwitting readers to my own idiosyncratic analysis considering the wider issues of contemporary SF and the state of the novel today. However, as I still have four novels to write about, I have no choice but to try and weave any hot takes I might have gathered from the process in with the narrative analysis and close reading of the text in question. The time-honoured way of doing this for academics is to riff off the work of other academics and, therefore, I am going to consider a couple of points from fellow jurors.

(14) EMOTION PICTURES. In her latest column for Amazing Stories, Petréa Mitchell reviews installments of eight animé series: “Anime roundup 4/27/2017: The Strong Survive”.

The Eccentric Family 2 #2-3 – The magician Temmaya was a friend of the people who ate Yasabur?’s father, until he fell out of favor with Benten and/or her colleague Jur?jin. He’s also stolen something that belongs to the Nidaime. And to complicate things further, Benten’s back and doesn’t seem to be getting along with the Nidaime either. The old bit of tanuki wisdom about not getting involved in the affairs of tengu is sounding very wise about now; although none of them is strictly a tengu, three humans with serious magical powers having an argument looks bad enough for the supernatural society of Kyoto. Unfortunately, Yasabur? is already too entangled to extricate himself….

Everything about this show is still top-notch. Kyoto feels like a living, complicated city, practically a character itself among the complicated individuals populating it, from Temmaya to Yasabur?’s grandmother the venerated sage. This is going to be a real treat.

(15) STREET ARTISTS. It’s a paradox — “In Hollywood, superheroes and villains delight crowds – and sleep on the streets”. The Guardian tells why.

In a parking lot off Hollywood Boulevard, Christopher Dennis recently changed into a Superman outfit, complete with a muscle suit and calf-high red boots. He headed out through the crowds, a habit he was resuming after a forced absence.

“You look like you’ve come out of the movie screen, man!” said a parking attendant.

“Man, you’re back!” said a street vendor selling imitation flowers.

Many people who frequent the boulevard – not least the other superhero impersonators, who pose for tourists for tips – know the reason Dennis was gone. For about seven months he was homeless, and lived in a tent and under tarps in different places in the city.

Among the characters showboating in front of the Chinese Theater and parading in their regalia along the Walk of Fame, his situation is not unprecedented. There is a Darth Vader who has spent nights sleeping on the sidewalk with a costume in a backpack, and a Joker whose survival strategy sometimes involved trying to stay awake when it was dark out….

(16) E-TICKET RIDE. A little bonus for the tourists on Tuesday – not an imitator, but the real guy — “Johnny Depp Appears as Captain Jack Sparrow on Pirates of the Caribbean Ride in Disneyland”

It’s not the rum, Disneyland visitors — that was Johnny Depp in the flesh!

Riders on the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, got a special surprise on Wednesday night: Depp transformed back into Captain Jack Sparrow and greeted those who visited the inspiration behind the film franchise.


[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, James Davis Nicoll, Mark-kitteh, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Michael J. Walsh, Carl Slaughter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ken Richards.]

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143 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/27/17 The Pixel You Scroll, The Filer You Get

  1. @Oneiros
    I use BeyondPod. There’s a paid for version that allows simultaneous downloads, but the free version is fine.

  2. Surprised to see The Outback Stars on the list. I thought I was one of the few people who’d even heard of that one. I enjoyed it quite a bit, though the sequels were…odd.

    The sequels got away from what I liked in the first one, which was thrilling tales of inventory tracking << NOT KIDDING. You can have the best toys in the universe but if you cannot get them to where they need to be, that won’t matter.

  3. @James Davis Nicoll thrilling tales of inventory tracking

    Sold and downloaded. (The best/worst thing about ebooks is how easy it is to make impulse purchases.)

  4. @James Davis Nicoll: I think adding that link is a great idea, but I don’t think it’ll speak to those who will always prefer to be one of The 300. Some folks you can’t help.

  5. I, too, am puzzled by the idea that every true SFF fan must have twenty works of each significant subgenre on their shelves. I am also rather uncertain that each subgenre actually has twenty core works.

    Soon Lee’s reading of what is happening is a natural one, but I’m not sure it coheres perfectly with James’s insistence that his lists are chosen entirely on merit.

  6. @Mark —

    Thanks for the tip on the Aaranovitch short story, I just listened to it with glee. I’m not much for listening to books – I’m too distractable – but I absolutely love that narrator. Does he do all the books in the series?

    Yes, he does the whole series, and yes, he’s marvellous.

    As it happens, I’m also listening to these right now. I had listened to the first four a couple of years ago; just now did a re”read” of #4, then “read” #5, and started #6 last night. They’re all a lot of fun, and it’s a pleasure listening to Holdbrook-Smith.

    OTOH — I’m becoming more and more convinced that listening and reading can lead to vastly differing opinions of a book. The narrator really can make or break the experience. And since the author can’t control the narration to any great extent, is it really fair to the author to judge a book by its audio version? I’ve been having a slow-motion philosophical debate with myself over this.

  7. @Mark(kitteh) & NickPheas: thanks for the suggestions, will check both out; I’m sure given that in the foreseeable future I will have a massive four(!) podcasts to listen to, either will suit my needs just fine. I’m also not above paying a bit to remove ads/add in some nice optional features to a decent app too.

    (Four because I’m pretty sure that Alice Isn’t Dead and Within the Wires will be at least half as good as WtNV and will therefore be compulsive listening once I’m fully caught up – I’m already at episode 30 of WtNV and I’ve only been listening for a couple of days – but given that time doesn’t exist and none of the clocks are real I’m not sure what this means anymore.)

  8. I read Bloom County: Episode XI A New Hope last night. All of the Bloom County ebooks can be purchased in a Humble Bundle for $25.

  9. I read a lot of Military SF and hang out with a lot of wargamers who read a ton of Military SF. Mr. Nicole can recommend whatever he likes – but this leaves off many of the Military SF authors that people who regularly read the genre admire.

    The list reads more like “Military SF for people who really don’t care for Military SF.” Some of the comments today follow along this line. Example: “But don’t you see, that’s the whole point of James’ lists! It’s a rebuttal (and gentle trolling) of all the “essential” lists that are dominated by Straight White Male writers, with typically one token female writer included (Ursula K. Le Guin more often than not).” Aside from the demographic cracks, I agree with this comment.

    Much Military SF is written by people who served in the military.

    I’ve read several on Nicole’s list and liked them. But they would not rise to top of mind when thinking of military SF.

  10. airboy – look at the authors on JDN’s list again. Not the titles, the authors’ names. Notice anything they have in common?

    That’s what Soon Lee means by “gentle trolling”.


    Anybody read any of these? I’m adding them to my wishlist – I’m always interested in reading self-published stuff that isn’t terrible, so this type of exercise is useful for me.

  12. The list reads more like “Military SF for people who really don’t care for Military SF.” Some of the comments today follow along this line.

    So we’re a bunch of wrongfans having wrongfun?

  13. Yeah, youre not a real fan of MilSF if you dont read, what people from the military read. In my case thats actually true.

  14. (1) More core – JDN, thanks for the list. I’ve read several items (The King’s Peace is one of my favorite books), but would like to explore more. Melissa Scott, for example, co-wrote one of my favorite books about Shakespeare: The Armor of Light in which theatre saves the world (as it does).

    (12) thanks for introducing me to Bill Bodden; I like his writing.

    @ Kendall
    Thanks for the tip about the Aaronovitch story. Got it! Yippee!

  15. @airboy this leaves off many of the Military SF authors that people who regularly read the genre admire

    A timely reminder. We shouldn’t forget those persons of the male persuasion whose occasional contributions add a note of grace to the genre and provide a welcome alternative viewpoint.

  16. @Contrarius: And since the author can’t control the narration to any great extent, is it really fair to the author to judge a book by its audio version? Of course, reading experiences vary a lot, too. Is this reader tired? Angry? Suffering from low blood sugar? In pain from a not-yet-diagnosed illness? Newly in love? Just laid off? Basking in contentment after a really good meal of favorite foods? Thinking about a long-time friend who only recently came out as transgender and started transitioning a couple months ago? Mulling over Greg Feeley’s recent Facebook commentary on Charles Brown and what Locus was and wasn’t?

    Any of those things might bear very directly on the reader’s comprehension and interpretation, and are absolutely outside the writer’s control, along with, oh, the quality of the reader’s eyesight and if they’re using any corrective devices they should, the lighting, the ambient noise level and the nature of the ambient noise, and countless other things. But all of us who read a lot are familiar with those and tend to take them in stride. Taking audiobook-related variation into consideration isn’t really any different, it’s just that the particular considerations are less familiar to some folks. But they’re not any more extreme, just different, and people who listen to audiobooks regularly do take them into consideration.

    Also: as a group, longtime sf/f/h fans are (in my experience) somewhat more likely to read aloud to friends and loved ones than the general adult population. I know several couples, and at least a couple polyamorous groups, who trade reading and being read to regularly. There’s never been a move to bar them from nominating and voting, or even to restrict or footnote their participation.

  17. I respect the guys but I can’t help but notice the trend of Janet’s Isaac, Catherine’s Henry, Judy Lynn’s Lester, Judith’s harem and so on. I am sure the boys contributed somewhat to the works under their name, of course.

  18. airboy:

    “The list reads more like “Military SF for people who really don’t care for Military SF.” […] I’ve read several on Nicole’s list and liked them.”

    Does that mean that you are one of those that do not care for Military SF?

  19. Kathleen Crowely, an actress with a few minor genre credits in the 1950s and 1960s, died a few days ago.

  20. @Stoic Cynic: JDN’s list is novels; you have at least one each novella (“The Scapegoat”) and short story (“Second Variety”).

    @JDN: was recommending The King’s Peace without The King’s Name (first chunk of the story) intended to be even more provocative? Walton was kind enough to steer me away from reading the latter until the former had come out; ISTM that your listing is a bit like replacing the Dickson with Return of the King.

    @Xtifr: I’d certainly pick The Forever War over any Dickson; not only is Haldeman one of the few capable writers to know what they’re talking about (others I can think of are Moon and Kornbluth (does guerrilla resistance qualify as MilSF?)), but Dickson’s heros make the average Mary Sue look like a fumbling wallflower.

    @Hampus Eckerman: I can’t see why a true SF fan should need to have have any military SF on their shelves. Well, possibly Slaughterhouse 5. [several strong remarks deleted] Aside from the unlikelihood that we’ll all live in simple peace and harmony (“Horse!” “Mule!”), said unlikelihood making future war a reasonable subject, would you really block out (e.g.)The Forever War? I suppose its only use in Sweden would be to make Swedes smugger….

    @Andrew M: see https://file770.com/?p=34697&cpage=1#comment-625626

  21. @James Davis Nicoll thrilling tales of inventory tracking

    Much like Ghostbird, this is the phrase that sold me. On the TBR it goes. Will I ever get around to it? Who knows?

  22. Chip Hitchcock: I’m not sure which comment you mean to link me to. What actually comes out at the top is Mike replying to a title suggestion.

  23. Chip Hitchcock:

    “Aside from the unlikelihood that we’ll all live in simple peace and harmony (“Horse!” “Mule!”), said unlikelihood making future war a reasonable subject, would you really block out (e.g.)The Forever War? I suppose its only use in Sweden would be to make Swedes smugger….”

    I actually liked Forever War and we aren’t that smug anymore since we were stupid enough to get involved in Afghanistan. But Slaughterhouse V is the only one I find essential. No one should meet the end of their lives without being able to say:

    “So it goes.”

  24. @Simon Bisson: Holy cats. Well, there’s my new favorite band for the week.

  25. @Mr. Nicoll: – My apologies for misspelling your name. It was accidental.

    @Hampus – I like Military SF and alt-Military Fantasy (say 1632, Lord Kalvan, some Turtledove) quite a bit. Perhaps own 100+ books in the area? But it is not all that I like and I like some of Mr. Nicoll recommendations.

    @The less kind comments – You can read what you want. You can like what you wish. If you interpreted my initial post otherwise, it is due to your baggage not mine.

  26. @Ghostbird: Your comment to airboy: A timely reminder. We shouldn’t forget those persons of the male persuasion whose occasional contributions add a note of grace to the genre and provide a welcome alternative viewpoint.

    *iz ded from laffing*

    *salutes you with Coke Zero*

    *offers you this shiny internet*

  27. @Chip Hitchcock

    Au contraire, mon frere? James’s list includes The Battle of Candle Arc which at 7973 words would be a novelette (or possibly an omelette, autocorrect is very insistent regarding it’s egg-iness).

    One more I forgot on my personal list: Voyage of the Star Wolf, David Gerrold.

  28. thrilling tales of inventory tracking (JDN)

    Welp, make me the third or moreth person to buy the book because of that rec!

  29. @Bruce Baugh: You know you can’t go wrong with a surf guitar recommendation from either Spike or Tom.

  30. I prefer Rimrunners to Hellburner from Cherryh, for Bet Yeager.

    Also passing fond of We All Died at Beakaway Station by Richard C Meredith which sits next to Forever War on my bookshelves.

    Is Use of Weapons MilSf?

  31. A list by itself is not a conversation but a conversation-starter. And the more elaborate the inclusion/exclusion rules, the more likely that any conversation is going to veer away from the supposed topic at hand and toward the rule-set. That’s one reason I find most lists tiresome and/or tendentious and why I find my annual Locus wrap-up essay harder to write than most of the columns that precede it. My N-most-bestest books of the year are the N books I reviewed.

    Now, a catalogue raisonné or annotated bibliography or a volume such as Jo Walton’s What Makes This Book So Great is something else again. Especially the Walton model.

    Just for the hell of it, herewith a list of some of the military-SF novels I’ve enjoyed over the last couple decades–the reasons for inclusion are in my columns. A conversation about what the list says about itself (which is to say, about my preferences, tastes, assumptions, etc.) would be a whole other thing.

    Eleanor Arnanson, Ring of Swords
    Greg Bear, War Dogs series
    Zachary Brown, Darkside War series
    C. J. Cherryh, Hellburner
    Kathleen Ann Goonan, In War Times
    Ann Leckie, Ancillary series
    Susan Matthews, Jurisdiction series
    Linda Nagata, The Red trilogy
    Nancy Traviss, Wess’har Wars series
    Scott Westerfeld, Succession series
    Walter Jon Williams, Dread Empire series

    There is a slight recentist skewing here, which I take to signal that there was a stretch when I wasn’t finding the “military SF” story space particularly interesting–though I was reading Bernard Cornwell and Patrick O’Brian at the time.

  32. Welp, make me the third or moreth person to buy the book because of that rec!

    And make me the fifth!

    “Fifth scroll and Seven Pixels Ago…”

  33. (3) I’d like to watch KING CHARLES III, partly because one of my secret guilty vices is books and movies about the British royals. (I have no excuse.) Partly our of curiosity (portraying the imagined future of a real life person who is still alive and likely to encounter the story’s main event (inheriting the crown) in our lifetime). And partly to see what was probably Tim Pigott-Smith’s final role (or at least nearly-so?). I saw him onstage once many years ago in a one-man show, LIVES OF A BENGAL LANCER, which I thoroughly enjoyed. And I recently re-watched THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN, and he was excellent in that. (I’m always meaning to read the Raj Quartet but never getting around to it…)

    (12) I read that Bill Bodden experienced attempts to interfere with his site’s tech function after he posted in support of Monica Valentinelli and other withdrawing GoHs standing up against harassment. That’s how scared the pro-harassment contingent of sf/f, gaming, and internet trolling is that sexual harassment might one day be DEnormalized and no longer shrugged off or considered cool.

  34. (16) I used to be a Johnny Depp fan years ago. Lost track of him for some years (and lost interest after seeing Pirates #4). He’s reappeared on my radar recently, and not in ways that flatters him. I saw a really weird, incoherent, vaguely repugnant video of him with his daughter on social media–something about them bringing their dogs illegally into another country. Which is not cool and, IMO, not an easy, understandable mistake. Anyone who travels across borders knows you need permits and papers, etc., for goodness sake. And then it turned out that the youngster with him in the video was not his daughter, but rather his wife (who’s 22 years younger). And then they had a very ugly divorce in which she made allegations that he was physically abusive. And then I saw him in some heavily airbrushed ad’s for designer men’s cologne–posters covering the windows of Macy’s or Sax or something as I rode past on the streetcar recently… and I remember him talking years ago about pulling out of his Jump 21 contract because he DIDN’T WANT TO BE MARKETED LIKE A PRODUCT, and now here he was, choosing to be marketed as a product. (In the cologne photos, he’s in the desert, staring off romantically into the distance, shift unbuttoned down his chest like the cover of an old romance novel, etc.) And then I read that he’s suing his money managers for $25 million, and they’re counter-suing him, and his lifestyle costs $2 million per month, and without knowing or caring who (if anyone) is telling the truth in that dispute, I think they ALL come off like jerks. And I realized that my only exposure to Johnny Depp in the past few years, apart from these recent incidents, is seeing John Oliver insult him on Last Week Tonight. Insulting Depp is such a minor and infrequent part of Oliver’s episodes that I didn’t know or care what the story behind that was…. but with just a very little exposure to Depp lately, now I think I get it.

  35. @Chip Hitchcock @Stoic Cynic: Au contraire, mon frere? James’s list includes The Battle of Candle Arc which at 7973 words would be a novelette (or possibly an omelette, autocorrect is very insistent regarding it’s egg-iness).

    James’ list also includes The Citadel of Weeping Pearls, which isn’t a novel, either; I don’t know the exact wordcount but Asimov’s published it as a novella.

  36. (5) I treasure my copy of Alternate Presidents (ed. Mike Resnick, no surprise there) which is a collection of stories based on the premise that “the other guy” won each US Presidential election, all the way up to Dukakis in 1988. I learned so much about US political history from that book (as a UK citizen) even though it’s ostensibly all fiction…

  37. I enjoy Nicoll’s lists. They rarely include more than two books I’ve read, and most of the authors are entirely new to me. I also like the hubris of the title.

  38. It’s 106 books on Mt Tsundoku, we got a file full of hivers, half a pack of pixels, it’s dark… and we’re wearing reading glasses… Scroll it!

  39. @DAvid I remember that one. That’s the one where in the Dukakis story he discovered that… {spoilers}? :). Timeline alternation was indicated, shall we say.

  40. Kendall, thanks for that audio link!
    JDN’s “I respect the guys” comment is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long, long, time.

  41. @ Andrew
    Sixth! The sample looked fascinating.

    @ IanP
    Seconded for Rimrunners: “Master Sgt Elizabeth A. Yeager, sir. Retired.”

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