Pixel Scroll 4/30/17 Scroll Like No One Is Filing You

(1) IS THIS A GOOD IDEA? What did Ray Bradbury think would happen when he left his personal books to the Waukegan Library?

When I covered the legacy in 2013, Bradbury’s daughters had approved trading some of the books to the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies to get other books for the library’s collection. That was before plans for a Bradbury statue got off the ground. The latest on that front is told by The Verge in “Ray Bradbury’s hometown is crowdfunding a statue in his honor”:

The committee is looking to raise $125,000 to fund the project, and launched its campaign earlier this month. Donors who give more than $150 will be given a book from Bradbury’s library. Thus far, the committee has raised around $13,000, with another $20,000 promised. Richard Lee, the Library’s executive director and chair of the statue committee, told The Chicago Tribune that he hoped that the statue will remind area children of the famous author, and that it might inspire them to become writers themselves.

The link for donations is here.

Gifts of any amount will make this project reality. Donors supporting the project at $500 and above will be recognized permanently near the statue on the grounds of Waukegan Public Library….

Gifts of $150 and higher will be acknowledged with a book from Ray Bradbury’s personal library, which was left to Waukegan Public Library after Bradbury’s death in 2012.

(2) COSPLAY MELEE WINNER. Jacqueline Goehner won Season 1 of Syfy’s Cosplay Melee. See her interview here.

(3) CHARON DUNN HAS LAUNCHED AGAIN. And this time she’s following Camestros Felapton’s marketing advice: “I had my cat interview me this time, but he’s not nearly as articulate as Timothy. So much for idea stealing.”

“An Interview with Charon Dunn, author of Retrograde Horizon, by T.B. Kahuna”

I interviewed myself to promote the last book I launched, and it worked! People actually bought copies! I was feeling all self-congratulatory about my self-inflicted promotional ability, when I reflected that everything on the internet is better with a cat in it. Maybe I could get my own cat to interview me to promote my current book!  So I woke T.B. Kahuna from his nap, and bribed him with some catnip and a bilateral ear massage.

Me: Kahuna, I really appreciate your being able to fit this interview into your busy schedule.

T.B. Kahuna: I have food in the square kitty dish but not the round one! Please move it to the round one right now. It’s kind of an emergency.

Me: Sure, but before I do that, I just wanted to talk about my most recent book, Retrograde Horizon….

T.B. Kahuna: Oh no, my catnip-filled squirrel got stuck behind the couch again.

It’s interesting that you should bring up politics. I did a little rewriting after the U.S. presidential election, since one of my villains is a politician – I toned down the violence and opinion-slinging, and I made my bad guy more generic. My stories take place far in the future, long after the corpses of current politicians have decayed into dust and the social problems we’re fighting about have been solved for the most part, leaving room for a whole bunch of new ones (for instance: if we create sentient life, do we have to consider it a sovereign nation?). My goal is escapism for people taking a breather from politics, not to browbeat people about the world they’re trying to escape. [Retrieves squirrel.]…

(4) WELCOME TO THE CLUB. Well said.


(5) DOING JUSTICE. Is the studio doing enough to promote Wonder Woman? Here’s an uptick in marketing from the past couple of days. “Wonder Woman: Diana, Steve Trevor & Etta Candy Arrive in New Photos”

Warner Bros. has released a handful of new images for the “Wonder Woman,” featuring Gal Gadot as Diana Prince, Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Saïd Taghmaoui as Sameer and Lucy Davis as Etta candy.

The photos arrive amid criticisms that the studio isn’t promoting director Patty Jenkins’ film as heavily as it did last year’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad.” However, it was revealed late last week that advertising spending for “Wonder Woman” is outpacing that for “Suicide Squad” at the same point in pre-release


(6) HOW PLASTIC WAS MY VALLEY. Silicon Valley deconstructed by In the Circle, on NPR: “In ‘The Circle’, What We Give Up When We Share Ourselves”.

The Circle, the film based on the novel by Dave Eggers, presents a dystopian view of the direction Silicon Valley is taking the world. And, as a longtime Silicon Valley correspondent, I have to say there is a lot that this comic and spooky film gets right.

Let’s start with the main character, Mae, a recent college grad played by Emma Watson. Mae is eager, idealistic and versed in the kind of marketing verbiage that rolls off the tongues of way too many young people in Silicon Valley. When she goes for a job interview at the Circle — the world’s biggest tech company — she impresses her interviewer with a comically perfect description of the company’s main service.

Sounding like a commercial voice-over, she says: “Before TrueYou, it was like you needed a different vehicle for every single one of your errands. And no one should have to own 87 different cars. It doesn’t make sense. It’s the chaos of the Web made elegant and simple.”

(7) THE ROADS MUST BURROW. More SF from Elon Musk: underground highways to reduce traffic jams: “Ted 2017: Elon Musk’s vision for underground road system”.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Ted curator Chris Anderson, the founder of Tesla and Space X said that he was inspired to consider a tunnel system to alleviate congestion because he found being stuck in traffic “soul-destroying”.

Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment, “The Big Dig may have been exceptionally expensive, but I don’t see this happening for under a billion dollars a mile.”

(8) FEELS MUGGY. There is a fantasy design, and several of the other designs also include one or two sff writers.

This sturdy 11 ounce (i.e., normal size) white ceramic mug is both microwave and dishwasher safe. There are books all the way around it, so it works beautifully for both coffee and tea drinkers, and for both righties and lefties.

This set is of 20 of the most beloved fantasy books of all time, including Game of Thrones, The Fellowship of the Ring, Stardust, and The Last Unicorn.

You know I’ll never hear the end of it unless I show you the one with a Bradbury reference. (It’s the third book from the right.)

(9) PINNING AWAY FOR THE FJORDS. The same outfit sells book pins like these. Use your psychic powers to figure out which one John King Tarpinian now owns.

(10) ZAHN’S STAR WARS NOVELS. THRAWN by Timothy Zahn, was published by Del Rey on April 11.

One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond.

But Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, in Star Wars: Thrawn, Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power—and infamy.

Other Thrawn novels:

Thrawn Trilogy:

  • Heir to the Empire
  • Dark Force Rising
  • The Last Command

Hand of Thrawn:

  • Specter of the Past
  • Vision of the Future

Star Wars Legends:

  • Outbound Flight
  • Choices of One

Carl Slaughter notes, “I have not been able to find material in Wikipedia, Amazon, or Good Reads about the previous Thrawn novels that provides insight into the development of the Thrawn character and his place in the Star Wars Universe.  I would appreciate anyone linking to or writing such material. “

(11) PAINFUL BUT GREAT. Review of The Handmaid’s Tale TV show by Annalee Newitz at Ars Technica. “The Handmaid’s Tale is the most horrific thing I have ever seen”

What’s really stunning about The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t its evocation of a dark political future, however. It’s the way we’re drawn into the personal perspective of June, a book editor who paid very little attention to politics until one day her credit card stopped working. Because she’s fertile, June is sent to a reeducation camp for handmaids. Eventually she’s renamed “Offred” when she becomes the property of a man named Fred and his supposedly infertile wife. Other women aren’t so lucky. The infertile are sent to die cleaning up toxic waste in the colonies. Lesbian “gender traitors” are hanged in public places, where their bodies are left on display for days.

(12) A HANDMAID’S TRAILER. You might be curious to compare the trailer for the 1990 adaptation of A Handmaid’s Tale with the current one.

(13) ONE ADAM-12. Grammar brawl in progress. Proceed Code Three.

(14) IT’S GREAT TO BE A GENIUS OF COURSE. C. and Matt make a promising beginning as two snooty critics in “The 2017 Hugo Awards shortlist: a conversation between two SFF fans” just before completely embarrassing themselves:

C. …So when I say I looked at this year’s list with a sigh, I’m being pretty literal. I’m quite resigned to the fact that the Hugo isn’t the best award for my tastes.

Matt …So over the last last three years I have tried to get involved.  The Hugos are not perfect they have been prone to white US male for a long time but it’s changing.  This year I think we have an almost puppy free list and that finally allows a debate on the quality of the books!

Be that as it may – they decided to go ahead with their debate although each admits not having read half the nominees for Best Novel. Here’s a scorecard —

All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders

  • C: (Quit at page 150)
  • M: (Finished book)

A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers

  • C : (Refused to read – didn’t like first book)
  • M. (Read)

Death’s End, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu

  • C: (Read)
  • M. (Hasn’t read)

Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee

  • C. (Read)
  • M. (Read)

The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin

  • C. (Read)
  • M. (Hasn’t read)

Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer (Tor Books)

  • C. (Hasn’t read)
  • M. (Hasn’t read)

Yet they confidently offer this opinion about the award –

So, let’s face it: both of some of the most popular novels on the list aren’t novels that, to me, bring something new to the genre. They are certainly crowd pleasers but I really wonder at their future legacy.

How the hell would they know? And then they go on to cover themselves with even more glory, discussing what they haven’t read in the rest of the award categories.

(15) FIVE MISCONCEPTIONS. Vintage Geek Culture seeks to convince readers there are places where the narrative and factual history part company: “Top Misconceptions People Have about Pulp-Era Science Fiction“. There are five, which, as we know, is the magic number.

“Racism was endemic to the pulps.”

It is absolutely true that the pulps reflected the unconscious views of society as a whole at the time, but as typical of history, the reality was usually much more complex than our mental image of the era. For instance, overt racism was usually shown as villainous: in most exploration magazines like Adventure, you can typically play “spot the evil asshole we’re not supposed to like” by seeing who calls the people of India “dirty monkeys” (as in Harold Lamb).

Street & Smith, the largest of all of the pulp publishers, had a standing rule in the 1920s-1930s to never to use villains who were ethnic minorities because of the fear of spreading race hate by negative portrayals. In fact, in one known case, the villain of Resurrection Day was going to be a Japanese General, but the publisher demanded a revision and he was changed to an American criminal. Try to imagine if a modern-day TV network made a rule that minority groups were not to be depicted as gang bangers or drug dealers, for fear that this would create prejudice when people interact with minority groups in everyday life, and you can see how revolutionary this policy was. It’s a mistake to call this era very enlightened, but it’s also a mistake to say everyone born before 1970 was evil.

(16) SPACE AT ANY SPEED. CBS Sunday Morning’s  “Book excerpt: Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ‘Astrophysics for People in a Hurry'” inspires me to paraphrase Emily Dickinson’s line about death – “I could not slow for astrophysics, so astrophysics kindly slowed for me…”

Time is relative, but some of us still don’t have enough of it to fully take in the most salient aspects of such topics as dark matter, exoplanets, the Big Bang, and why so many objects in outer space are spherical.

Fortunately, we have Neil deGrasse Tyson, whose latest book, “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” (published Tuesday from WW Norton), offers a shortcut to scientific literacy, with entertaining, bite-sized chapters that explore cosmic questions.

Read the excerpts below. And make time for Martha Teichner’s interview with Tyson on CBS’ “Sunday Morning” April 30!

Excerpt from the chapter entitled “Dark Energy”

So what is the stuff? Nobody knows. The closest anybody has come is to presume dark energy is a quantum effect — where the vacuum of space, instead of being empty, actually seethes with particles and their antimatter counterparts.

They pop in and out of existence in pairs, and don’t last long enough to be measured. Their transient existence is captured in their moniker: virtual particles. The remarkable legacy of quantum mechanics — the physics of the small — demands that we give this idea serious attention. Each pair of virtual particles exerts a little bit of outward pressure as it ever so briefly elbows its way into space.

Unfortunately, when you estimate the amount of repulsive “vacuum pressure” that arises from the abbreviated lives of virtual particles, the result is more than 10120 times bigger than the experimentally determined value of the cosmological constant. This is a stupidly large factor — a consequence of what may be the most embarrassing calculation ever made, leading to the biggest mismatch between theory and observation in the history of science.

(18) SHARPEN UP THOSE SKILLS. CinemaBlend says “Machete Kills Again In Space Is Actually Happening”.

If you saw Machete Kills in theaters, then you probably also saw that hilariously ridiculous trailer for something called Machete Kills Again…in Space. At the time, we thought that was all we were going to get of the supposed third installment of the Danny Trejo-led franchise, but the man himself has confirmed that this is in fact in the works. Yes, we will be seeing Machete going berserk…in space! Trejo told Halloween Daily News that he and Robert Rodriguez, his Machete director, will be filming Machete Kills in Space. (Apparently they thought the “Again…” part was unnecessary.) We won’t even have to wait too long for it, as he also said that they will be “working on it this year.” If Trejo can’t land a part in Star Wars: Episode 7, 8 and/or 9, he’ll at the very least be able to brandish a lightsaber machete.

This is the 2014 teaser —

[Thanks to JJ, David K.M. Klaus, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

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168 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/30/17 Scroll Like No One Is Filing You

  1. @ Mike Glyer
    Exactly right!
    @ Greg Hullender & Xtfr
    One of the reasons good writing is good is that it is specific (and accurate). As Mark Twain said, the difference between the right word and the nearly right one is the difference between fire and firefly. “Centers around” sounds to me like the kind of sloppiness that has given us things examined with “a fine tooth-comb” (wrong) and not “a fine-toothed comb” (right). Idioms are usually colorful (there’s one where I live that describes a pushy person as “having knives on their elbows”), but rarely nonsensical, like “centers around”.

  2. Greg Hullender: To be an idiomo….a phase needs to be “unproductive,” meaning you can’t change it around the way you can normal phrases.

    I agree with that. Not that we’re taking a vote…

  3. @Lenore Jones

    Greg H: I’ve been seeing comments in Spanish Duolingo under your name. Is that you? They’re always very helpful, so thank you! (I’m jonesnori there.)

    Yep, that’s me. You’ll find my comments throughout the Spanish, Italian, and French lessons and part-way through German. Learning to read novels in foreign languages was my big retirement project up until Eric and I created Rocket Stack Rank. Since then, I haven’t have the time and energy for it.

    I’m glad my comments have helped you. The comments are an indispensable part of Duolingo. Without them, I don’t think it would work very well.

  4. @Msb

    One of the reasons good writing is good is that it is specific (and accurate).

    But only scientific papers and legal writing manage to be consistently specific and accurate, and both are pretty painful to read as a result. Most infodumps are pretty accurate and specific too.

    As Mark Twain said, the difference between the right word and the nearly right one is the difference between fire and firefly.

    Yes, but the right word or phrase is the one that produces the right response from readers. I don’t think it has anything to do with how specific the word itself is.

  5. Lenore Jones / jonesnor:

    “Dawww! Are you getting the cat in a month? I must have missed some backstory.”

    Yep, 3-4 weeks left now! Arrrgh, the waiting!

  6. “Centers around” sounds to me like the kind of sloppiness that has given us things examined with “a fine tooth-comb” (wrong) and not “a fine-toothed comb” (right).

    I can understand why it’s an idiom, but what it says to me is that his recipes don’t actually use the basics, but something sorta close to the basics, something in the neighborhood of the basics.

    Which may actually be true, but it’s not the impression I expect he wants to give. Still, turning off a minuscule part of the audience is not likely a concern. I already don’t like Wendy’s food, so big deal.

  7. Kurt Busiek: I can understand why it’s an idiom, but what it says to me is that his recipes don’t actually use the basics, but something sorta close to the basics, something in the neighborhood of the basics.

    So what we’ve learned here is that Dave is some kind of burger lawyer?

  8. With regard to comments here and in other threads, at MidAmeriCon II, I got to sit and chat with Becky Chambers and Sarah Frost after their signing lines were gone, and I talked with them for 1/2 hour.

    Chambers said she’d never seen Firefly until after she saw people commenting that her first book was “Firefly fanfic”. She said that after watching it, she can see why people say that, but that Firefly was not an inspiration, nor did it otherwise have anything to do with the book she wrote.

  9. Bill on May 1, 2017 at 8:45 am said:
    In 1632 they also had a town library and highschool, a cruise ship is going to have less in the way of reference material.

    I dunno, a cruise ship with capacity for 5000 passengers is like a small town. I suppose it would have something like a Chief Engineer. If he’s like every engineer I’ve ever known, he’ll have a bunch of technical books scattered around his office. And it’s more likely that they’ll be books on thermo (steam tables, classes of heat engines) and metallurgy (both of which would be sort of useful) than, say, circuit design (which wouldn’t be so useful).

    And I’ve seen machine shops on ships much smaller. The LST 325 came by a few years ago, and it had a small, well-equipped shop. A machinist will have reference books on hand, like Machinery’s Handbook.

    The ship’s medical officer might well have a copy of something like an emergency medicine reference book. The chef would have cookbooks. And many cruise ships have libraries.

    Well, they mentioned that the ship has a complete download of the ‘most popular’ websites to save bandwidth while at sea, so the onboard servers have terabytes and terabytes of stuff.

    Which is fine until they run out of electricity or some server component blows up until the last redundant server goes down.

    Medicine seems to be critical — the doctor mentioned that a lot of passengers will be in trouble when their meds run out, including her, since she is taking warfarin.

    I’m sorta curious to see where Flint and company go with this, although, again, my skeptic gland is thinking up problems much quicker than it did for “Island in the Sea of Time” or “1632: Ring of Fire”

    Still thinking that at least 90% of the people on that ship will be considered useless mouths to feed by the locals (and even some of their fellow uptimers) long before the ship runs out of food.

  10. Techgirl – I also loved the 3 S.M. Stirling Nantucket books. I also loved the next 6 books in the Dies the Fire series. I’m listening to The Sword of the Lady on my commute/gym time now.

    Suggestion – You might like Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen which a lot of the more modern time travel books have as a progenitor. It came out in the 1950s if I’m remembering correctly. Not sure if you would like it since it has a strong male meeting the eligible, beautiful, rulers daughter right off the bat. Another one that is good for this sort of thing is Janissaries by Jerry Pournelle – but it also has the strong male meeting the eligible and beautiful female right off the bat – but this time she is the heir in exile who has been raped repeatedly and beaten half to death before the hero meets her. Pretty grim start to that one.

    The Nantucket books have females as most of the lead characters.

    The 1632 series is odd because the edited fan fiction is much longer than the novel series. And some of the details that arise from that are quite technical – like the need to develop a chemical industry and how that could happen. I’ve read some of the technical papers, especially on firearms. It gets deep in the weeds very fast.

    On the cruise ship, if my wife was on it they would have a brief advantage. She was an ancient history major and keeps the “middle Little” English/Ancient Greek dictionary on her kindle all of the time. She kept her physical book from college and bought an ebook version when it went on sale. If you could keep enough power long enough to transcribe it to paper it would give a huge head start on the language issue. She has forgotten most of her ancient Greek, but the dictionary has not.

    The pictures from the Cosplay TV show are amazing. I watch so little non-sports TV that I’ve never seen it.

  11. Dr. Abernethy — thanks for the reminder of Lord Kalvan. I read the entire oeuvre of H. Beam Piper long ago. Wore out my paperbacks. Actually love Scalzi’s re-do of “Little Fuzzy” which kept the spirit and most of the letter of the original.

    And I have every book in the “Emberverse” series by Stirling. Also his Draka books (ugh, dark dark dark). And ‘Conquistador’ which intrigued me to go look up Southern agrarianism. And the two books about Mars and Venus written as though current scientific discoveries about their environments. I like Stirling a lot. He drops little nuggets here and there. In each of the “Island” books he makes a reference that would go over the head of anyone not a fanatic fan of Xena:Warrior Princess. I keep intending to mark them and I never do.

    I also remember reading an early ARC or drabble or something of “Island” where Walker and Marion have a conversation that makes it clear that Walker has delusions of grandeur. It didn’t make it to the published book, maybe Steve decided it gave too much away and would detract from Walker’s later treachery and theft.

    It sounds like the professor of history in the new book is a lot like your wife. It will be interesting to see if they decide to print out the ‘critical’ information from the servers. And how they decide what’s actually ‘critical’.

    I generally enjoy Eric Flint’s stuff, whether alone or in collaboration. I guess it will be interesting to see where they are going with this plot that is new and unique.

  12. Msb:
    Just to be non-sloppy about it, Twain said: “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.” A small enough difference, and yet.

  13. You might like Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen which a lot of the more modern time travel books have as a progenitor. It came out in the 1950s if I’m remembering correctly.

    1965. But yes, it’s really good.

  14. UPDATE: Baen e-books has the entire ARC of “The Alexander Inheritance” up, with 8 chapters free as a sample.
    1) So the ship has one of the new eco-wonderful engines that burns almost anything.
    2) Plot is clearly moving toward the uptimers becoming allied with Alexander’s two heirs.

    Still can’t decide if it’s worth springing for the $15 for the ARC or just waiting til publication….July isn’t that far off.

    So far the only characters I really care about are Philip III, (who the history books apparently declared to be feeble minded but seems to be on the autism spectrum. Which will clearly become a plot point once the ‘woke’ uptimers meet him and figure that out.) I also care about his mother Eurydice, and Roxane, Alexander’s widow and mother of his son.

    Isn’t this an example of the 8 deadly words? 😉

  15. @Anthony: A civilization capable of casting large bronze statues would be able to make cannon barrels. I’d read something about bronze cannon and forgotten — thanks for the reminder — but I wonder whether simply being able to do large statues is enough; ISTM that a statue doesn’t have the kind of abrupt stresses a cannon does.

    @Arkansawyer: oh, that kind of graph. It’s been too long since I studied discrete math (although I shouldn’t have forgotten that alternate meaning as I was so pleased to find Euler on Swiss money just after I finished that class).

    @World Weary: I read many years ago about Dahlgren’s development of structurally sounder cannon; Wikipedia says this started in 1849 although the larger guns happened later, so it’s not surprising that cannon were exploding at Gettysburg.

    @Xtifr: A set of circles centered on a point must be concentric or congruent. If the circles are not concentric or congruent, then they are merely centered around a point. Yes — but that’s not the meaning the writer seems to have intended.

    @Bill: how useful would tech manuals be? I certainly couldn’t teach chemistry from a “rubber bible”; ISTM such manuals are for the millions of numbers that someone who can understand them can’t memorize.

    @Dr. Abernethy: I would hope that most people wouldn’t bridle at the sexual politics in Lord Kalvan — at least not initially, where the prince’s heiress shoots Calvin because she’s leading the counterstrike party against a reported raid. The book does get more … 1950’s conventional … after that. (Yes, it came out in 1965 — but it was Piper’s last work, and he was a typical ASF writer.)

  16. Techgirl – you can pay $18 and get that entire ebook and a bunch more on the Baen Monthly Bundle. Your commentary is driving me to do so. You can pick up half of the ebook now and the full ebook on July 4th.

    Lord Kalvan is one of my favorite books of all time. I’ve read it so many times I’ve almost memorized it.

    If you like alt-history that much, I strongly recommend “Grey Tide in the East.” It is an alt-WWI where the Kaiser at the very last minute decides not to violate Belgian Neutrality. The UK does not enter the war. It is extremely well done. I did a full review of this which can be found at:
    People who know quite a bit about WW1 history have greatly enjoyed the book. It is more about warfare than individuals, but as a pure alt-history it is excellent.

    You can find it at: http://www.baen.com/categories/monthly-baen-bundles.html

  17. @rob_matic: Groovy for Jonathan French, though I don’t mind waiting for the publisher polishing before checking it out. Congrats to him!

    @Hampus Eckerman: Your tiger, I mean, kitten looks so cute and wannabe-scary! 😀

    @Greg Hullender: If someone said “X is kicking the bucket,” most folks would know what they meant, though. That doesn’t even rub my native-speaker-sense the wrong way, since it’s an obvious riff on a well-known, er, idiom. So we can say it, even if a linguist would scowl at such informal speech. 😉

    But yeah, “the bucket was kicked by Joe H.” makes me think he’s actually kicking a physical bucket. That one sounds more “off” to me.

    @JJ: I like hearing things like that (Chambers not having seen “Firefly”). People make a lot of assumptions about authors and writing. 😉

    Coincidentally, I finally started A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet last night. I know, I’m a Bad Person! I’m pretty sure I’m almost up to where the sample I originally read ended. I picked it up last year; the Hugo nom for the sequel is just the final nudge to get me around to reading it.

    Hugo Reading: Speaking of which, I just finished October Daye #1, Rosemary and Rue. The Daye (autocorrect keeps insisting it’s “Date”) book was pretty good and I can see the potential, though it wasn’t as good as the first Peter Grant book. That may be an unfair comparison, but both are Urban Fantasy and both series were nominated for the Best Series award, so (shrug) there ya go. 😉 Anyway, I hope for more Daye (autocorrect now pushes “Days”) in the packet. I’m just starting Peter Grant #3; fortunately, Yrfyrl’f ibvpr vf whfg qbar fyvtugyl fyheerq ng guvf cbvag, fb V pna haqrefgnaq ure yvarf.

  18. @C.: Thanks for coming here to respond to comments and criticisms. I read more review blogs than I have time for, but I’ll check yours out.

  19. Dr. Abernethy — glad I could bring awareness of a possible good read to you!

    I’ve been doing Baen books e-ARCS for a long time and was aware of the bundles. The PROBLEM is that the reason I generally buy e-ARCs (and then generally buy the published book later) is because I can’t wait!

    So signing up to be teased for more than one book at a time, and stretch the suspense out over 3 months? LOL NOT going to happen.

    This one is more intriguing than I thought it would be at first, now that I’ve read the first 8 chapters. Just not so intriguing that I GOTTA HAVE IT NOW.

    So waiting til July seems like the reasonable thing to do.

  20. @Chip
    @Bill: how useful would tech manuals be? I certainly couldn’t teach chemistry from a “rubber bible”; ISTM such manuals are for the millions of numbers that someone who can understand them can’t memorize.

    Depends on the book, I suppose. The CRC Handbook is pretty much tables of numbers, but others have more “meat”.

    It’s an interesting question: If you were going to back to pre-Industrial Revolution times, and could take a decent shelf of books with you (for personal survival and to kickstart technology), what would it be?
    Heinlein addressed this in Farnham’s Freehold:

    Most of his collection was functional: The Encyclopaedia Britannica-Grace had thought the space should be used for a television receiver “because they might be hard to buy afterwards.” He had grudged its bulkiness, too, but it was the most compact assemblage of knowledge on the market. “Che” Guevera’s War of the Guerillas-thank God he wasn’t going to need that! Nor those next to it: “Yank” Leivy’s manual on resistance fighting, Griffith’s Translation of Mao Tse-tung’s On Guerilla Warfare, Tom Wintringham’s New Ways of War, the new TR on special operations-forget ‘em! Ain’t a-gonna study war no more!

    The Boy Scout Handbook, Eshbach’s Mechanical Engineering, The Radio Repairman’s Guide, Outdoor Life’s Hunting and Fishing, Edible Fungi and How to Know Them, Home Life in the Colonial Days, Your Log Cabin, Chimneys and Fireplaces, The Hobo’s Cook Book, Medicine Without a Doctor, Five Acres and Independence, Russian Self-Taught and English-Russian and Russian-English dictionaries, The Complete Herbalist, the survival manuals of the Navy Bureau of Weapons, The Air Force’s Survival Techniques, The Practical Carpenter — all sound books, of the brown and useful sort. The Oxford Book of English Verse, A Treasury of American Poetry, Hoyle’s Book of Games, Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, a different Burton’s Thousand Nights and a Night, the good old Odyssey with the Wyeth illustrations, Kipling’s Collected Verse, and his Just So Stories, a one-volume Shakespeare, the Book of Common Prayer, the Bible, Mathematical Recreations and Essays, Thus Spake Zarathustra, T. S. Eliot’s The Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, Robert Frost’s Verse, Men Against the Sea-

    That’s a start. I’d add the Foxfire Books, Feynman’s Lectures on Physics, a good calculus text, a good basic (high school?) chemistry text, selections from David Gingery’s books on metalworking and making your own machine tools. The survivalist movement wasn’t such a thing when Heinlein wrote this, but googling “survivalist books” leads to a number of other books worth considering.

  21. @Dr. Abernethy: As a dabbler in classics myself, I have to correct you: that’s “Middle Liddell”, not “Little”. (If you’ve only heard it spoken, an understandable error.) It’s a cut-down version of the definitive Ancient Greek dictionary done by Liddell and Scott (and revised in the 20th century by Jones, so generally known as LSJ).

    SF connection: Dr. Liddell had a daughter named Alice. Yes, that Alice Liddell.

  22. Charles Stross plays with similar ideas in the Merchant Princes saga: if you come from a more primitive society but can access a more advanced one, how might you go about rapidly bootstrapping your world’s technology? For extra motivation, how about if the more advanced culture has hostile intent towards yours, but so far hasn’t been able to locate you? The clock is ticking…

    Stross has said that he was inspired by Zelazny’s Amber & H. Beam Piper’s Paratime Police. That’s clearly evident, but the final saga is just as clearly one that has a typically Strossian sensibility.

    A year ago, I would have noted that if you are a GOP supporter, you might find it too “message fiction” as the Republicans in power in this version America don’t come across favourably. But these days, not so much.

  23. @ Mark Twain fans who checked the text: thanks for the correction. That’s what I get for relying on memory. I will treat myself to another reading of the literary sins of J Fennimore Cooper as a reward. I can always use a laugh.

    @ Greg H
    No, the best fiction writers are extraordinarily careful and specific in word choices: one of the things I love best about LeGuin and Cherryh (and Bujold), for example. The poor Wendy’s guy sounds like a lot of my clients: somebody with very limited writing skills. The kind of writer who turns to the enormous toolbox of English and takes the same hammer out of it every time, because they don’t know what the other tools are or how to use them.

  24. The person who said The Long Way to… was Firefly fanfic seemed to be using ‘fanfic’ in a terribly broad sense, to mean just ‘inspired by’, in the way that, for instance, Brooks is inspired by Tolkien. Though as it turns out, even that isn’t true. ‘Crew of disparate persons travels through the galaxy’ isn’t the sort of plot you need a specific inspiration for.

  25. @David Goldfarb – My wife is the keeper of Ancient Greek knowledge. I bow to your superior wisdom.

    @Bill – Airboy is not planning to fly at 770. Airboy flys other places, especially those related to wargames who know him well.

  26. @David Goldfarb – Did not know about the Alice connection. Neither did my wife. That did give her a really big smile – something she needs right now. So thanks for the information and thanks for making my wife momentarily happy.

  27. @Greg: But only scientific papers and legal writing manage to be consistently specific and accurate, and both are pretty painful to read as a result.
    No. The reasons that so many are painful to read are: (1) a large fraction of them are authored by people who don’t have good writing skills, and (2) the journals impose an eye-glazing formal writing style (apparently in the belief that a paper must be a chore to read to be taken seriously). It has nothing to do with the specificity and accuracy of the language.

    Of course, a lot of these papers may be incomprehensible to the non-specialist reader because of content, but that’s a different issue.

  28. I was recently led by something or other back into the File 770 Hugo straw poll, and was struck by both the similarities and the differences with the actual shortlist. Has anyone done a comparison? (If not I might, but don’t want to duplicate the effort.)

  29. @Andrew re:The Long Way to…

    I believe it’s the similarity between engineer characters and generally driftiness of the plot that strengthened the comparison, not just the fact that it’s a crew of disparate persons traveling through the galaxy.

  30. I find that when I’m reading academic prose outside my specialty, it takes me between a half a chapter and a chapter and a half to adjust. If I haven’t by then, I’m not going to. The worst has been Habermas. I don’t get him at all. A week later I find myself using one of his ideas.

    The fault lies not in the stars, I’m afraid. Very afraid.

  31. @Andrew M

    You’ll see a comment there from me doing a brief unscientific comparison for the fiction categories, and was going to wait until we had the longlist for anything deeper, but go for it if you so wish.

  32. OK – you have covered the fiction categories effectively, but I’ll try to do the others. A couple of comments on the fiction categories:

    a. Novella is the one where we get nearest to the shortlist: I think this is because it’s the category where it’s clearest what the outstanding works of the year are. (It’s also the one with the closest overlap between Hugos and Nebulas.)

    b. Series has perhaps the biggest upset: Thessaly was top of our list but does not show up on the ballot; meanwhile, October Daye is a finalist without even being on our longlist. One might speculate about the reasons for this.

    (Mark’s analysis is here:

  33. Graphic and dramatic categories. (Working from lists compiled by Arifel: following Mark’s precedent., some lists may be shortened: * means the work was a finalist.)

    Best Graphic Story (18)
    *Monstress Volume 1, M Liu and S Takeda, (7)
    Stand Still, Stay Silent, Minna Sundberg, (4)
    *Black Panther: A Nation under our Feet Vol. 1, Ta-Nehisi Coates, (4)
    *Saga Volume 6, Vaughan and Staples, (4)
    * Paper Girls Vol 1, Brian K. Vaughan, (3)

    SSSS was the only F770 pick that did not make the ballot. We missed Ms Marvel and The Vision.

    Best Dramatic Presentation: Long (30)
    *Arrival, (20)
    *Rogue One, (14)
    *Hidden Figures, (8)
    Moana, (6)
    *Stranger Things S1, (6)
    Expanse S1, (6)
    Doctor Strange, (5)
    Kubo and the Two Strings, (5)
    Zootopia, (4)
    *Ghostbusters, (3)
    Star Trek Beyond, (3)
    Captain America: Civil War, (3)
    *Deadpool, (3)

    I’ve given the whole File 770 longlist to show that we did manage to spot all the actual finalists: however, two of them did a lot better in the wider world than they did here. Might the slate nomination have helped Deadpool over the edge? Arrival and Rogue One were always going to be there; so was Hidden Figures if enough people thought it eligible; but after that I get the sense it was a lot more open.

    I’m struck by the result for Stranger Things: it’s unusual for a series to be shortlisted, and I did wonder if this was a specific fan club thing, but he fact that it also did well here suggests that it does have genuinely wide support. Id be interested to hear what people see as distinctive about it.

    Best Dramatic Presentation: Short (19)
    *Game of Thrones: The Door, (4)
    *The Expanse: Leviathan Wakes, (3)
    Luke Cage: Manifest, (3)
    Outlander: Dragonfly in Amber, (3)
    *Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio, (3)

    Arifel notes that there is a long tail here; this makes the top five a bit random. We didn’t spot Splendor and Misery, or ‘San Junipero’; meanwhile, we aren’t as enthusiastic about Game of Thrones as the wider community.

  34. Other pro categories.

    Best Related Work (21)
    *The Geek Feminist Revolution, Kameron Hurley, (10)
    *Words are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, Ursula K Leguin, (7)
    *The View from the Cheap Seats, Neil Gaiman, (5)
    Trolling the Rabid Puppies, Chuck Tingle, (5)
    Bandersnatch, Diana Pavlac Glyer, (5)
    Writing Women Characters into Epic Fantasy Without Quotas, Kate Elliott, (5)
    Making Conversation, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, (4)
    Then: Science Fiction Fandom in the UK 1930-1980, Rob Hansen, (3)

    Our top three made the ballot, but we missed several – Carrie Fisher, Robert Silverberg and Sarah Gailey. Bandersnatch probably had a local booster effect. Tingle did better in another category (which I think was a better result, but may just be because there are fewer votes overall in Fan Writer).

    Editor Short, (25)
    *John Joseph Adams, (10)
    *Jonathan Strahan, (9)
    CC Finlay, (8)
    *Sheila Williams, (5)
    *Neil Clarke, (5)
    Ann Vandermeer, (4)
    Rashida J. Smith, (4)
    *Michael Damian Thomas and Lynne M. Thomas, (3)
    Lee Harris, (3)
    Scott Andrews, (3)

    Four out of six in the top spots. We missed Ellen Datlow. CC Finlay seems to be notably popular here; what do they edit?

    Editor Long (11)
    *Devi Pillai, (7)
    *Navah Wolfe, (4)
    *Liz Gorinsky, (4)
    Patrick Nielsen Hayden, (4)
    *Miriam Weinberg, (3)
    Jonathan Oliver, (3)
    Anne Sowards, (3)

    Four out of six again. We miss Sheila Gilbert, and a Mr Day. (This is the first clearly-a-complete-slate-thing nomination we come up against; might we have got five out of six without it?)

    Professional Artist, (16)
    *Galen Dara, (8)
    *Victo Ngai, (7)
    *Sana Takeda, (4)
    Cynthia Sheppard, (4)
    *Chris McGrath, (4)
    *Julie Dillon, (3)
    Jeffrey Alan Love, (3)

    Here we do get five out of six (we missed John Picacio), equalling our performance in novella. Again this may be because it’s fairly clear who the outstanding candidates are.

  35. @John A Arkansawyer: Unfortunately being a profound thinker doesn’t guarantee an engaging, or even accessible, prose style. And of course there are also those who adopt a deliberately obscurantist style to conceal that they have nothing to say.

  36. CC Finlay seems to be notably popular here; what do they edit?

    He is the current editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

  37. @PhilRM: I’m finding Habermas profound, to the extent that I can get him, but it’s weird to find yourself applying an idea you don’t fully understand.

  38. @John A Arkansawyer: …it’s weird to find yourself applying an idea you don’t fully understand.
    No need to worry – that’s pretty much the entire history of quantum mechanics!

  39. Aaron: thanks.

    OK, semipro and fan categories.

    Semiprozine (21)
    *Strange Horizons, (19)
    *Uncanny, (12)
    *Beneath Ceaseless Skies, (12)
    *Giganotosaurus, (6)
    Interzone, (5)
    Mothership Zeta, (5)
    *The Book Smugglers, (3)
    Shimmer, (3)

    We got fairly close to the actual ballot here, except for the slate nominee, though The Book Smugglers did slightly less well here than in the wider community.

    Fanzine (18)
    *Rocket Stack Rank, (8)
    *Nerds of a feather, (7)
    *Lady Business, (7)
    Galactic Journey, (6)
    James Nicoll Reviews, (3)
    Black Gate, (3)

    We missed SF Bluestocking and Journey Planet as well as the slate nominee. (Of course, as the number of votes decline, there is more chance of accidental divergence. Also, isn’t Black Gate a semiprozine?)

    Best Fancast, (12)
    *Tea and Jeopardy, (5)
    *Fangirl Happy Hour, (3)
    Verity!, (3)

    And even more chance of accidental divergence here, where there isn’t really a large enough sample to say anything significant. Also shortlisted were The Coode Street Podcast, Ditch Diggers, Galactic Suburbia, and slate nominee The Rageaholic.

    Best Fan Writer, (25)
    Camestros Felapton, (13)
    *Abigail Nussbaum, (10)
    *Mike Glyer, (6)
    *Chuck Tingle, (6)
    Charles Payseur, (4)
    James Davis Nicoll, (4)
    Adam Whitehead, (3)
    Alexandra Erin, (3)
    Cora Buhlert, (3)

    We missed Natalie Luhrs and Foz Meadows, and, unsurprisingly, Jeffro Johnson. Sadly, our top nominee, who clearly did have a local boosting effect, did not make the shortlist, though it will be interesting to see the longlist here.

    Best Fan Artist, (11)
    *Likhain, (5)
    Megan Lara, (4)
    Elicia Donze/Euclase, (4)

    Here again, too small a sample. We only got one right – the others being Ninni Aalto, Vesa Lehtimäki, Spring Schoenhuth, Steve Stiles and Mansik Yang – but I don’t think this can be seen as indicative of anything in particular.

  40. Morals:

    We are, for the most part, a fairly representative sample of the electorate. (If we were a definite bloc, not representative of the wider community, EPH would deflate our choices more.)

    EPH seems to be working pretty well; it is not unduly deflating works which do well because they have a wide consensus.

    This makes the works that turn up in the ballot without even being on our longlist even more intriguing. In some cases I think this may be the result of fan clubs which are to some extent disjoint from the wider body of voters. (Nothing conspiratorial; just a lot of fans voting for what they are a fan of.) These might actually get a boost from EPH, though we don’t need that to explain their success.

    And the mysterious disappearance – Thessaly. It’s odd that the results here should diverge so much; no doubt there are a lot of fans of Jo Walton here, but it’s not clear why there should be disproportionately many. They would overlap a lot with fans of Ada Palmer, and she hasn’t suffered. So I still wonder if this might be an EPH effect owing to overlap with Bujold. (Though of course it may turn out, when the longlist appears, that it was just under the cut-off point.)

  41. Some thoughts then:

    Stranger Things – I think it was really that it was because it a) was really good b) had a nostalgia element that will have attracted fans and c) nomming it as individual episodes just didn’t work given its narrative. I wonder if The Expanse series will be hovering just below the cutoff point – I’d have expected it to do as well as Stranger Things if not better given the book connection, but maybe its fans were content with short form noms.

    Editor Short – Datlow is mainly horror anthologies and we don’t have so many horror enthusiasts posting here, so I guess that’s why we underestimated her.

    Editor Long – Given the long tail it’s a bit amazing that we got as many as we did. PNH missing out this year is a bit odd considering he edited one of the Best Novel finalists.

    Best Fan Writer – Yep, local boosting propelled Camestros up our straw poll, but he did get recced by Rich Horton which I’d hoped was evidence of some wider popularity. Clearly his signature mix of reviews, satire, and imaginary animals has yet to catch on with the popular imagination.

    Series – Thessaly is a bit of a mystery – it got quite a lot of chat around here which may have got more to try it and become fans than in the wider population, but Jo Walton has plenty of fans anyway. So….I dunno! The McGuire result is also a bit odd – I was going to suggest that we’re not quite as representative of her fanbase, but Every Heart a Doorway topped our straw poll in novella so that doesn’t really fly, and if we weren’t a good sample of UF fans then we shouldn’t have got Rivers of London right.

    Generally – yes, we seem to be moderately representative, including representing how little voters agree sometimes and long the tail is!

  42. Mark-kitteh: Editor Short – Datlow is mainly horror anthologies and we don’t have so many horror enthusiasts posting here, so I guess that’s why we underestimated her….

    Best Fan Writer – Yep, local boosting propelled Camestros up our straw poll, but he did get recced by Rich Horton which I’d hoped was evidence of some wider popularity. Clearly his signature mix of reviews, satire, and imaginary animals has yet to catch on with the popular imagination.

    About horror — I give that a lot of news coverage, but you’re right, there’s not much attention to horror in the comments, that mostly goes to sff, and to comics and movies.

    And as for fan writing, humor is usually the gold standard for recognition in this category, so I expect him to catch on soon. Different segments of the electorate are trying to reward different things, but he overlaps more than one of these interests and the cream always rises eventually.

  43. The McGuire thing does not seem surprising to me: Every Heart is a new departure, which can therefore have appeal outside her regular fanbase, while her series will appeal only to those already familiar with it. Her Mira Grant books have previously done better than her urban fantasy, although her fans tend to say that the UF is better – I think that’s because they do not require so much prior knowledge and commitment.

  44. Series – Thessaly is only a trilogy, all the nominees are quite a bit longer. That may have been a factor in the nominations

  45. I’m catching up after a power/cable/internet outage, so be patient. 🙂 Before I get into this Scroll, two bits from the not-contentious part of the 4/28 thread (as comments are closed there):

    @Jamoche: “I think you’re mixing C# the chord and C# the language.”

    I prefer to think of it as linguistic hacking, but so… noted. (rimshot)

    @lurkertype: “@RevBob, how do you keep track of sales? I just hope to stumble upon them, and sometimes I do.”

    In the moment or after the fact? I subscribe to BookBub and a couple of other newsletters to find out about sales, as well as seeing things mentioned here and in a couple of other forums. (I also check my wishlists once in a while to see if any prices have dropped.) In the Open Road case, since I still have 150 books to log as owned on Goodreads, the 12/16/2016 date of their big giveaway is pretty well etched into my memory. When I heard about this Hambly deal, I checked my GR list, noted that I had the books and had acquired them on that date, and thus the connection was made.

    There’s no magic – just data. 🙂

  46. @John Arkansawyer

    I find that when I’m reading academic prose outside my specialty, it takes me between a half a chapter and a chapter and a half to adjust. If I haven’t by then, I’m not going to. The worst has been Habermas. I don’t get him at all. A week later I find myself using one of his ideas.

    Habermas is a chore to read even in the original German.

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