Pixel Scroll 5/30/23 Wouldn’t You Love To Teach The File To Scroll In Pixel Harmony?

(1) MEMORIAL DAY CONTINUED. Rob Hansen forwarded the link to a Find-A-Grave page devoted to PFC Alden L Ackerman (1924-1945), Forry’s brother, who died in the Battle of the Bulge.

He also sent this link to the Fancyclopedia page on War, which at the bottom has a list of fans and writers who died in World War II that we know of.

Sam Moskowitz paid tribute to them at Newarkon II (1946) the first post-war con: Fantasy Times 12. Read his speech at the link.

(2) GETTING THERE IS HALF THE FUN. Cora Buhlert is still working on her Metropol Con report. However, she has completed her post about her adventures in Berlin before the con began. Includes a visit to an awesome bookstore: “Cora’s Adventures at Metropol Con in Berlin, Part 1: Pre-Con Wanderings”.

…In many ways I was reminded of one of my first visits to Berlin in the spring of 1990, when the Wall was already open, but East Germany still existed as a state. At the time, we decided to walk from the Victory column in (West) Berlin to the Brandenburg Gate. Because the Wall and the Gate were open, we just walked through and had our passports stamped by the friendliest East German border guard I’ve ever seen and just kept walking into East Berlin, walking along famous streets and buildings we knew existed, but had never actually seen, until we reached Alexanderplatz (BTW, I tried to walk that memorable route again from the other side and gave up halfway through, because it’s a very long walk and I’m no longer 16), got tired and decided to take the train back to West Berlin. So we went to Friedrichstraße station and looked at the network plan on the platform, only to find a huge gray hole where West Berlin should be. So I went to a train attendant and told him, “We need to go back to West Berlin to Uhlandstraße station [at any rate, I think it was Uhlandstraße], but West Berlin doesn’t exist on your map, so which train do I need to take?” The East Berlin train attendant apologised for the maps – they hadn’t gotten around to replacing them yet – and told me which train to take….

(3) THE CWCU. Literary Hub’s Joel Cuthbertson is a fan: “In Praise of Sci-Fi Legend Connie Willis’s Cinematic Universe”.

Whenever a film buff brings up The Philadelphia Story, I like to shock them with blasphemy. A foundational Hollywood picture, the 1940 film stars Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and Katherine Hepburn at the height of their powers, a nuclear trio of contrasting charms, the suave versus the folksy versus the imperious. My sin is that I prefer its slick remake. Released in 1956, High Society is not as edgy, complicated, or electric. The star trio—Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Grace Kelly—still radiates, but gently and casually. Aside from adding musical numbers, the film’s main goal is to capture an echo of interwar charm in Technicolor.

If this is an elaborate way to introduce Connie Willis, sci-fi’s queen of time travel fiction, we find ourselves already close to the heart of her work, which thrives on unlikely crossovers. A devotee of Golden Age cinema, Willis has authored at least ten standalone novels and dozens of novellas and short stories. She’s the kind of movie enthusiast guaranteed to have an opinion on Bing versus Cary and Grace versus Katherine, and the kind of novelist to include the debate as a plot point.

Her newest, The Road to Roswell (out June 27th from Del Rey), is an ode to westerns, road trip movies, late-night creature features, and any scene where a guy and a gal share a look and know they’re in love. But it’s only the latest in a long line of film-loving fiction. In 1995, her sci-fi satire Remake took aim not only at Hollywood’s IPO vampirism but its faddish moralism as well. This was before there was a single Star Wars prequel….

(4) NO SEX, PLEASE, WE’RE FANNISH. At Vox.com, Aja Romano talks about the rise of Puritanism in fanfiction and elsewhere on the internet: “Fandom, purity culture, and the rise of the anti-fan”.

How did the internet become so puritanical? On social media, outspoken anti-sex advocates increasingly cry “gross” at everything from R-rated rom-coms to fictional characters and queer people having sex to consenting adults with slight age gaps to dating short people. They see oversexualization in just about everything. They often accuse the things they dislike of being coded fronts for pedophilia, and the people who enjoy those things of being sexual predators. These social media users frequently form enclaves that turn as nightmarish and troubling as the things they’re ostensibly trying to police.

This dovetails with what we’re being told right now about Gen Z and sex: They’re having less casual sex, they hate dating, they’re more reserved about relationships in general. It’s easy to pigeonhole online anti-sex police as being teens and young adults, a.k.a. “puriteens.” Because so much of this comes down to carnal horror, you might assume that everyone who’s horrified is a teen who just hasn’t arrived at a mature view of sex and other adult activity. Such anti-sex zeal increasingly forces sex-positive communities back into the internet’s underground. It also aids and abets the larger cultural shift toward regressive attitudes and censorship of sexual minorities and sex-positive content.

Yet overwhelmingly, the common thread among this new generation of “antis” — a broad label for people who are opposed to sexual content in media — isn’t that they are minors who are scared of sex. It’s that none of them distinguish between fictional harm and real-world harm. That is, regardless of their ages, they believe fiction not only can have a real-world impact, but that it always has a real-world impact.

(5) TURNING THE PAGE ON A NEW SEASON. Amal El-Mohtar picks new sff novels for summer by authors Fonda Lee, Martha Wells, Nick Harkaway, Kelly Link and Emma Törzs: “The Magic (and Malaise) of Families” in the New York Times.

….Emma Törzs’s INK BLOOD SISTER SCRIBE (William Morrow, 407 pp., $30) is astonishing and pristine, the kind of debut I love to be devastated by, already so assured and sophisticated that it’s difficult to imagine where the author can go from here.

In Törzs’s world, books of magic, all written in human blood, can do incredible things when someone feeds them a drop of blood and reads them aloud. Abe Kalotay collected these books to protect them from falling into the wrong hands, and raised his daughters, Joanna and Esther, as stewards of a beautiful and dangerous library that had to be kept hidden at all costs; in Esther’s infancy, her mother was murdered by powerful people who wanted the books….

(6) SCENE PAST ITS OFF-SALE DATE. “’Monty Python’ Star John Cleese Says ‘Life Of Brian’ Scene Won’t Be Cut Despite Modern Sensitivites” reports Deadline.

The Monty Python crew always looked on the bright side of life when it came to its classic film parody, The Life of Brian.

But Monty Python star John Cleese insists he never said that he would remove a politically incorrect scene from a stage adaptation of Life of Brian, even though the film’s 1979 sensibilities will not draw quite the laughs it once did, owing to the rise of trans issues awareness.

Cleese claims it was “misreported” that he was planning to cut the “Loretta” scene for an upcoming stage adaptation of the religious satire film. Instead, he said he has “no intention” of removing it.

The scene in question features a male character declaring that he wants to be woman named “Loretta,” and wants to have a child. Cleese’s character tells the man that the notion is ridiculous, while another suggests that they all advocate for his right to childbearing.

“I want to be a woman. … It’s my right as a man,” the character claims “I want to have babies… It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.” After Cleese’s protest, the character snaps, “Don’t you oppress me!”

Obviously, times have changed the impact of that humor….

(7) BOOK ‘EM, DANNO. “Wake Up Besties, the Barbie and Ken Mugshot Meme is Everywhere”. People have been running with it, creating their own version using other characters.There’s a roundup of several dozen of these tweets at Gizmodo.

After an eagle-eyed Twitter user (@kojironanjo) realized that the Barbie trailer was ripe for meme-ification, Twitter fandom did what fandom does best, and immediately took the joke to the extreme. Reaching all corners of the world, fandoms immediately drew their favorite pairings using the Barbie mugshot screenshots as inspiration. With Margot Robbie’s concerned Barbie and Ryan Gosling’s cheesing Ken, the absurdity was truly just too good.

The key is having one character look slightly terrified and utterly baffled and possibly regretting every choice that has ever led to them getting their mugshot taken and the second character has to be a complete and total himbo, just an absolute dummy, no thoughts, just vibes….

Here’s an example:


2013[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria is the source of our Beginning this time.

It was published by Small Beer Press, the source of oh so many wonderful publications, a decade ago. It’s now available from the usual suspects. Josh Hurley’s the narrator of the outstanding audio version. 

It was her first novel and it won the William L. Crawford Fantasy Award, the BFA Robert Holdstock Award and the World Fantasy Award. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer the same year.

She has now published two genre novels. Oh, and The White Mosque A Memoir by her is outstanding. It’s about a trip to Uzbekistan in search of the followers of a century-gone Russian Mennonite religious leader. (Her bio says she’s Somali and Mennonite.) 

And now for the Beginning…

Childhood in Tyron

As I was a stranger in Olondria, I knew nothing of the splendor of its coasts, nor of Bain, the Harbor City, whose lights and colors spill into the ocean like a cataract of roses. I did not know the vastness of the spice markets of Bain, where the merchants are delirious with scents, I had never seen the morning mists adrift above the surface of the green Illoun, of which the poets sing; I had never seen a woman with gems in her hair, nor observed the copper glinting of the domes, nor stood upon the melancholy beaches of the south while the wind brought in the sadness from the sea. Deep within the Fayaleith, the Country of the Wines, the clarity of light can stop the heart: it is the light the local people call “the breath of angels” and is said to cure heartsickness and bad lungs. Beyond this is the Balinfeil, where, in the winter months, the people wear caps of white squirrel fur, and in the summer months the goddess Love is said to walk and the earth is carpeted with almond blossom. But of all this I knew nothing. I knew only of the island where my mother oiled her hair in the glow of a rush candle, and terrified me with stories of the Ghost with No Liver, whose sandals slap when he walks because he has his feet on backwards.

My name is Jevick. I come from the blue and hazy village of Tyom, on the western side of Tinimavet in the Tea Islands. From Tyom, high on the cliffs, one can sometimes see the green coast of Jiev, if the sky is very clear; but when it rains, and all the light is drowned in heavy clouds, it is the loneliest village in the world. It is a three-day journey to Pitot, the nearest village, riding on one of the donkeys of the islands, and to travel to the port of Dinivolim in the north requires at least a fortnight in the draining heat. In Tyom, in an open court, stands my father’s house, a lofty building made of yellow stone, with a great arched entryway adorned with hanging plants, a flat roof, and nine shuttered rooms. And nearby, outside the village, in a valley drenched with rain, where the brown donkeys weep with exhaustion, where the flowers melt away and are lost in the heat, my father had his spacious pepper farm.

This farm was the source of my father’s wealth and enabled him to keep the stately house, to maintain his position on the village council, and carry a staff decorated with red dye. The pepper bushes, voluptuous and green under the haze, spoke of riches with their moist and pungent breath; my father used to rub the dried corns between his fingers to give his fingertips the smell of gold. But if he was wealthy in some respects, he was poor in others: there were only two children in our house, and the years after my birth passed without hope of another, a misfortune generally blamed on the god of elephants. My mother said the elephant god was jealous and resented our father’s splendid house and fertile lands; but I knew that it was whispered in the village that my father had sold his unborn children to the god. I had seen people passing the house nudge one another and say, “He paid seven babies for that palace”; and sometimes our laborers sang a vicious work song: “Here the earth is full of little bones.” Whatever the reason, my father’s first wife had never conceived at all, while the second wife, my mother, bore only two children: my elder brother Jom, and myself. Because the first wife had no child, it was she whom we always addressed as Mother, or else with the term of respect, eti-donvati, “My Father’s Wife”; it was she who accompanied us to festivals, prim and disdainful, her hair in two black coils above her ears. Our real mother lived in our room with us, and my father and his wife called her “Nursemaid,” and we children called her simply by the name she had borne from girlhood: Kiavet, which means Needle. She was round-faced and lovely, and wore no shoes. Her hair hung loose down her back. At night she told us stories while she oiled her hair and tickled us with a gull’s feather.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 30, 1908 Mel Blanc. Where to begin? Yes, he delightfully voiced Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and a multitude of other characters from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. Blanc made his debut in 1940 “A Wild Hare”. Did you know that he created the voice and laugh of Woody Woodpecker but stopped doing it after the first three shorts as he was signed then to an exclusive Warner contract? His laughs did continue to get used however. Blanc, aware of his talents, fiercely protected the rights to his voice characterizations contractually and legally. (Died 1989.)
  • Born May 30, 1914 Bruce Elliott. His fifteen stories in The Shadow magazine in the late Forties are generally held in low esteem by Shadow fans because of his handling of the character, best noted by the three stories in which the Shadow does not appear at all in his costumed identity. Oh, the horror! He also wrote three genre novels — The Planet of ShameAsylum Earth and, errr, The Rivet in Grandfather’s Neck. And he had stories in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction including “Wolves Don’t Cry” and “The Last Magician”. (Died 1973.)
  • Born May 30, 1919 Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes. British author best known for his ghost and horror stories though his first published work was the SF novel The Man from the Bomb in the late Fifties. The Monster Club, a series of linked tales, is a good place to start with him if you’ve not read him and it became a film with Vincent Price co-starring John Carradine. He won the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement, and also a British Fantasy Society Special Award. (Died 2001.)
  • Born May 30, 1922 Hal Clement. I’m reasonably sure Mission of Gravity was the first novel I read by him though I’ve not re-read it so the Suck Fairy not been tested. Much to my surprise, his only Hugo was a Retro Hugo for a short story, “Uncommon Sense” which he got at L.A. Con III. He did get the First Fandom Award. My favorite novel by him is Mission of Gravity, and I’m also fond of The Best of Hal Clement which collects much of his wonderful short work. He’s reasonably well stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2003.)
  • Born May 30, 1936 Keir Dullea, 87. David Bowman in 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequel, 2010: The Year We Make Contact. I know I saw 2001 several times and loved it but I’ll be damned if I can remember seeing 2010. He’s done a number of other genre films, Brave New WorldSpace Station 76, Valley of the Gods and Fahrenheit 451. And lest we forget he was Devon in Starlost. 
  • Born May 30, 1952 Mike W. Barr, 71. Writer of comics and sf novels. Created along with Jim Aparo Looker (Emily “Lia” Briggs), a hero in the DC Universe. She first appeared first appeared in Batman & the Outsiders #25. He worked for both major houses though I’d say most of his work was at DC. He wrote the “Paging the Crime Doctor” episode of Batman: The Animated Series
  • Born May 30, 1971 Duncan Jones, 52. Director whose films include Moon (2009) which won a Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation-Long Form and a BAFTA Award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer, and Source Code (2011) which was nominated for both a Hugo and a Ray Bradbury Award. He also directed Warcraft (2016), which up to that year was the highest grossing video game adaptation of all time. He is totally not best known for being David Bowie’s son. (Alan Baumler)


(11) JOCULARITY. In the New York Times, Paul Rudnick reveals “What Would Happen if a Robot Tried to Write ‘Law & Order’?” – and a number of other shows.

As the strike by unions representing thousands of film and TV writers approaches its second month, the role that A.I. might play in writing scripts remains one of the biggest issues. While the Writers Guild of America has expressed a willingness to work with A.I. as a tool, some producers are dreaming bigger: They want to replace humans with chatbots. What might A.I.-written scripts look like? Here’s a guess:

Prompt: An episode of any “Law & Order” series.

Scene 1

DETECTIVE: Someone has killed this dead body.

Scene 2

DETECTIVE: Did you kill that dead body?

CRIMINAL: No! I’m not a criminal!

Scene 3

DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Did you kill that dead body? And remember, you’re under oath.

CRIMINAL: No! Yes! But it was during a double-cross over a deal for buttcoin.

JUDGE: Spell check!

(12) COSPLAY, BOOKS, AND SCIENCE ALL IN ONE PLACE. The Baltimore Banner has a gallery of photos from last weekend’s convention: “Welcome all aliens to Balticon”. Includes a photo at the autograph table with a kind of what-was-strange-about-the-dog-in-the-night caption that tells about Adam Stemple (often mentioned here on File 770) but doesn’t name the other person in the picture – who happens to be John Scalzi.

Welcome, aliens! Balticon 57 is the area’s oldest science-fiction convention and by far the largest. It’s also the first of such conventions each year.

Balticon can be described as a “Big Tent” four-day celebration of science fiction and fantasy hosted by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society at the at Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel….

(13) TINY TYRANOSAURS. At Vanity Fair, Anthony Breznican has a great article about the making of the alien invasion TV show V“The ‘V’ Files: The Shocking Legacy of an ’80s Sci-Fi Cult Classic”.

Even 40 years later, V is still getting under people’s skin. The writer, producer, and director Kenneth Johnson has never stopped getting fan mail about the miniseries he created back in 1983, which rattled America with its depiction of cold-blooded authoritarians conquering the world. The invaders in red jumpsuits, dark glasses, and ball caps were actually beings from another planet, but Johnson intended the sci-fi drama to be more than mere escapism. To him, it was a warning.

When he gets new letters from viewers, Johnson opens them hoping they got the message, which seems as obvious to him now as it did back then. “I got to thinking, God, how would everyday people feel if suddenly there was a sea change in our life that turned it all around, if suddenly some hyper power rolled over us, just like the Nazis rolled into Europe?” he says. But in recent years, far-right conspiracy theorists, QAnon followers, and garden-variety lunatics have instead homed in on the fact that V’s extraterrestrials were secretly reptilians disguised as humans to mislead us. Many harbor a sincere belief that a reptoid cabal really does control the world. “I’ve gotten emails over the years and letters from people on the fringes who say, ‘Oh, you get it!’” Johnson says. “‘You know that there are lizards among us!’”…

(14) CAN YOU IMAGINE? Collections Etc. brings you a Fully-Functioning Tiny Arcade Atari 2600 Console – how bizarre!

Fully functional, detailed mini replica of the Atari 2600 game has all the classic features of the system you loved in the 80s! 10 games include Combat, Warlords, Millipede, Tempest, Centipede, Pong, Missile Command, Asteroids, Breakout, and Pac-Man! Includes hi-res TV with adjustable screen, iconic 2600 joystick and classic game console. Req. 3 “AAA” batteries (sold separately). Plastic. Ages 8 years & up. TV is 6″L x 5″W x 4″H.

(15) UNSEEN MENACE. Fear The Invisible Man will be released in the UK on June 13.

Outline: In an intriguing narrative, a youthful widow from Britain offers sanctuary to a former medical school comrade who has mysteriously acquired the ability to render himself unseen. As his seclusion intensifies and his mental stability unravels, he plots to unleash a merciless wave of slaughter and dread throughout the city, with the widow serving as the sole harbinger of his existence.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Rob Hansen, Cora Buhlert, Michael J. Walsh, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dan’l Danehy-Oakes.]

27 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/30/23 Wouldn’t You Love To Teach The File To Scroll In Pixel Harmony?

  1. (14) Whatever the version of Pacman in the picture is, it’s certainly not the 2600 one.

  2. I’d like to buy a Mokie-Coke for Mitchell Courtney

    (9) One of my favorite con photos is Hal and my then 2-year-old son at a children’s program event.

    (13) Watched it religiously and read the book (I mean It Can’t Happen Here)

  3. 5) I saw Witch King on my kindle earlier today but my head hurts too much to read it now. Tomorrow.

  4. (4) Hell, yes. The rich Christianist extremists, with the courts packed with activist judges, have even gotten into fandom. At Windycon, I’ve seen pieces in the art show that were not only in a special section “for adults”, but even then there was TAPE OVER THE “NAUGHTY BITS”. Costumers have gone from “no costume is no costume” to “NO NUDITY AT ALL IN ANY WAY”.

    All of the above I find mind-bogglingly unfannish. Go read classic sf*, and many authors, from Doc Smith to Heinlein to others had whole societies with nudity being normal. (And, yes, in my fiction, I do have societies with it being just fine.)

    I find all of this offensive, and a violation of our First Amendment rights (you know, the one about “no laws concerning religion”?), since ALL OF THAT is religious.

    And I suppose there are folks who have this delusion that skinny dipping parties were solely for exposure and voyeurism (and everyone who did was selected by a special committee to be attractive).

    Oh, that’s right, now we have “is classic sf relevant/readable?” (If you’ve read, say, Jane Austin, then you have no right to ask that question. Or watched Downton Abbey. Or….

    Birthdays: And Harry Stubbs was a lovely person. As more than one person has said, he was like a favorite uncle for a lot of younger fen.

  5. (9) Mel Blanc went to high school here in Portland (he later spoke of the fun of doing things like the laugh that later became Woody Woodpecker’s in the empty halls of Wilson High), and got his start on KEX, a local radio station.

    I heartily recommend his autobiography, That’s Not All Folks!.

  6. @Andrew (not Werdna): Moke-head!

    (8) I was startled to learn I’d missed three novels by Samatar, but that isn’t true: she’s published two novels (in some ways I think the sequel to A Stranger in Olondria, The Winged Histories, is even better, but they’re both brilliant), and one collection of short stories, Tender, plus a book illustrated by her brother that’s a mix of autobiography, fiction, and nonfiction, Monster Portraits. I’m looking forward to reading The White Mosque.

  7. (4) I’ve seen “antis” posting on social media — and most of them don’t seem to be conservative Christians. Many are supposedly leftist. (Older leftists are aghast.)

    Some think the beliefs about sex may have come from rebellion against the previous generation (millennials). (Meh?) But that doesn’t explain the extremes of these beliefs — such as claiming that a short character is “minor coded” no matter what their age. That hints at a lack of being able to sniff out the BS when somebody in their group says something nutty like that.

  8. 9) Dullea played the founder of the definitely-not-Sc**nt*l*gy cult in “The Path”, which is… genre adjacent adjacent?

    14) An emulator and fell-off-the-back-of-a-truck ROMs will provide a better experience.

  9. RE #4, From classical literature and on, it’s been the case that some things are left unsaid, such as how did the characters pee or crap when onboard ships, or exactly what happens then the curtain is pulled and the hero and heroine ‘get it on.’

    As a reader, one assumes the characters take care of their bodily functions and grooming, and have sex as the reader would.

    By spelling everything out in great detail, the writer is bound to offend some readers.

    By Not doing so, the writer engages the reader’s imagination in filling in the particulars. It saves valuable word-space, and entices the reader to draw his own conclusions as to the intimacy and experience of the scene.

    If you’re writing for a specific demographic, such as Playboy readers, that’s one thing, but if you’re writing for the general public, it’s quite another.

  10. 4.) Too many people underestimate the degree and duration of Christianist influence in child-rearing spaces over the past 30-some years. The charter school movement and the private school movement didn’t come from nowhere–it really got going in the ’90s and of course that influence is going to only become stronger now that people raised under that influence are in their early adult years.

    That said, I think it’s more of a vocal minority than a majority.

  11. @Carl Andor: These days, almost anything you put in a story is likely to offend some readers, and to attract others. I suspect that both the writers of Amish romances and writers like, say, Diana Gabaldon know exactly what their readers are looking for.

    (Note that I have not actually read any Amish romances and so might be surprised at what goes on).

    And a Meredith Moment: Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Talents is $1.99 on the Kindle and Nook stores.

  12. @Carl Andor: That’s one opinion. Does it surprise you that it’s not universally shared?

    There are many people who are offended by the presence of characters in fiction who aren’t white, straight, and Christian. (God forbid that they should add insult to injury by enjoying sex with one another.) Should all such characters be out of bounds to ensure no one is offended?

    Apparently you’re also going to be surprised that there are many writers who don’t feel they have a responsibility to avoid offending anyone by what they write.

  13. Thanks for responding, Jim and Phil.

    I know others may be turned off, angry, or boycotting books due to content, or (aghast!) titles alone. There’s a lot of false virtue signaling out there.

    There are a good number of people demanding stories with characters that all resemble them, belong to the same organizations, and follow the same religious tenets. Everyone else is a heretic. Wars have been fought over stuff like that.

    As far as offense: I’ve encountered people who misgender tall, genetic women and short men, and those who will make loud comments about fat people or any other “other than average” looking people. So, prejudices run deep. So does triggering in this day and age. It’s no surprise that some find malice in the most innocent of literature. I’ve not heard of a boycott of “The Scarlet Letter,” about a woman who gets pregnant and is not married. (gasp!)

    Speaking of triggering, I recall one time I said “Good morning!” to one of the supervisors of a business I used to work with. She bit my head off and just ‘“KNEW I meant something by it.’ It was a simple “Good morning!” Turns out she was bipolar and having a ‘Mr. Hyde’ day!

    RE: Amish: While there’s evidence that some Amish do read Amish romance, the books cater more to a non-Amish, denomination-curious Christian readership. I find that a curious bit of trivia, but I’m not casting stones.

    Who writes them?

    The three most successful authors of Amish romance Beverly Lewis, Cindy Woodsmall, and Wanda Brunstetter who have sold over 24 million books.

    Do I read them? No. I don’t read romance novels. I don’t disparage those that do, mind you. It’s just not my area of interest.

    RE: sex in SF, there’s Ursula Le Guin’s “The left Hand of Darkness” – the line I most remember is “The king is pregnant.” This would be banned in Florida, I think, IF they knew about it.

    Also, one might count the woman-hunting “Boy and his Dog,” by Harlan Ellison. I don’t recall if he got the girl or not. Again, not my forte.

    That my opinion may not be shared by all is not a surprise at all.

    There are thousands upon thousands of other opinions on any subject, from conservative to liberal, divergent religious views, and from down to earth scientific fact nit-picking to whacked out social media-influenced nut jobs.

    Authors of different genres may disagree vehemently, others that dismiss any opinion but their own. There are also authors who go out of their way to offend as many people as possible. We all know at least one of them, if not by meeting by mischance, then acquaintance by reputation.

    Its worth mentioning that there are some books that don’t describe race, color, or ethnicity, and each reader envisions the characters as mirroring their own. There’s nothing wrong with that, either. The man focus of a novel is that people enjoy and are engaged by the story. If it makes money, so much the better for the author.

  14. @Carl Andor: Actually, Hester Prynne in “The Scarlet Letter” is married. Her husband is nowhere in the vicinity and thought to be dead when she becomes pregnant by another man. He later turns up alive and is a major character in the novel.

  15. Thanks for responding, Anne. It’s been ages since I was required to read this in what is now called “middle school.”

    All I recall is that she got pregnant out of wedlock and was forced to wear a red letter on her chest to shame her publicly. Not much different than today’s anti-abortion laws in some states regarding “no exception for rape.” The “shame” is always put on the woman, never the man. Only a very small number of rapists are caught and tried, and only a very small number of those are convicted and jailed.

    (by the way, my view on abortion is that I would NEVER and have NEVER placed any woman in a position to need one, nor for any woman to have to contemplate an unwanted pregnancy)

  16. 4: Mark, the weirdest thing is how many of the people espousing this are not Christian or extremist about anything but their desire for no sex whatever, or describing any woman not at least two inches taller than the average as “pedo-coded”. These may be rich or otherwise privileged kids, but they are disturbingly often liberal to leftist people.

    And as ever, the issue isn’t whether they personally have a given set of tastes, which is fine, it’s how they try to treat their tastes as a universal code for what is right, and assumptions they make about people who disagree with their concerns. They haven’t yet joined the Christianists in the rush to remove sex ed books and personal biographies from school boards, but at the same time, their demands seem to be that writers choose for themselves to not show these things in the first place, at all, ever.

    It’s the assumption that because some fiction can be harmful, and that some depictions in fiction have done damage, that all fiction that doesn’t toe their exact line is harmful.

  17. Carl Andor: Your last paragraph is absolutely unnecessary, and so shallow as to seem ignorant of the nuances — and also irrelevant, both to the actual legal and medical issue, and to the expression of the subject in fiction. Laws are not made based on your actions alone.

  18. I believe it’s Hester Prynne’s steadfast refusal to name the father, and the resulting mystery, that drives most of the story. Richard Armour’s The Classics Reclassified has a truly memorable summary of this and many other commonly assigned books, but is tragically long out of print. If you can find a copy with the original illustrations, they are half the fun.

  19. Carl: I’ve read your response twice and still don’t understand what argument you’re making. In your first comment you explicitly stated that writers shouldn’t include sex scenes unless they were specifically aiming at a demographic mainly interested in erotica – as though the only possible purpose of sex in fiction is titillation**. This, you argued, was because detailing the scene might offend someone in the general public. The problem with any such argument (setting aside the fact that I don’t for a moment agree with your premise), as I pointed out, is that the general public (taken to be the entire audience of possible readers) is likely to get offended by an almost unlimited variety of things, leaving the writer with the sole recourse of producing lowest-common-denominator inoffensive pap.

    Now you seem to be arguing that there’s no such thing as the “general public”, just a wide variety of people with wildly varying opinions. I agree! But this completely negates any truisms about what any writer should do to avoid offending this non-existent collective readership.

    The main focus of a novel is that people enjoy and are engaged by the story. If it makes money, so much the better for the author.

    That is basically the definition of commercial fiction. (Not that there’s the slightest thing wrong with that.) There are a lot of ambitious writers who wouldn’t agree at all that that is their intent in writing fiction. Many of them even write SF. I am quite sure, though, that they would all still like to make money.

    **Playboy was really not a good example: the magazine had a long history of publishing first-rate fiction (not limited to the tenure of long-term fiction editor Alice K. Turner from 1980 to 2000), including first-rate SF.

  20. Thanks for your comments, Lenora. I stand by my personal viewpoint, regardless of the current spate of laws.

    And my, aren’t there a lot of viewpoints out there!

    Phil: Commercial fiction is what sells to the mass market most effectively. That doesn’t necessarily make it good fiction, or memorable fiction. As one English professor I knew once said, “Ninety percent of anything is crap.”

    Regarding “making arguments,” I’m merely stating observations. If you’re looking for arguments, look elsewhere, like board that ask “Which is better, Star Trek or Star Wars?”

    Crap is in the eye of the beholder.

  21. @Carl Andor: And here I was thinking you were trying to say something coherent. My bad.

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