Pixel Scroll 5/11/17 I Got Two Pixels When I Scrolled The Bones

(1) THE ROARING 20. James Davis Nicoll continues his series of “core” lists with “Twenty Core Trader Speculative Fiction Works Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”.

(2) PRIME TIME LE GUIN. Rare video of Ursula K. LeGuin’s Guest of Honor Speech at Aussiecon (1975) has been uploaded to YouTube by Fanac.org.

AussieCon, the 33rd Worldcon, was held in Melbourne, Australia in 1975. Guest of Honor Ursula K. Le Guin gave an insightful and entertaining speech about the state of science fiction, and her part in it. There’s a real sense of community evident here, as well as a delightful sense of humor (look for the propeller beanie). Le Guin’s comments on the place of women in the field are particularly interesting. The bearded gentleman who introduces her is Robin Johnson, chairman of Aussiecon. Thanks to S.C.I.F.I. for digitizing, and to Elayne Pelz for providing us the footage.


(3) I FOUGHT THE LAW. Litigation begins: “Bookseller Suing California Over ‘Autograph Law'”. {Publishers Weekly has the story.

Last year, the California legislature broadened a set of civil code regulations focused on autographed collectibles to include “all autographed items” with a value over $5. Assembly Bill 1570 requires anyone selling autographed books to provide an extremely detailed “certificate of authenticity” with each book, describing the book, identifying the signer, noting witnesses of the book signing, insurance information, and other details. Per the new law, booksellers must keep the certificates for seven years or risk substantial damages, court fees, and a civil penalty if the autographed book gets questioned in court.

These new regulations took effect in January, prompting protests from around the state—including a Change.org petition with over 1,700 signatures urging the state legislature to repeal the bill. Petrocelli’s suit marks the first time a California bookseller has challenged the law in court.

The Pacific Legal Foundation, a non-profit law firm defending “private property rights, individual liberty, free enterprise, [and] limited government,” mounted Petrocelli’s lawsuit free of charge, as it does for all its clients. “We spoke to booksellers up and down the coast,” said Anastasia Boden, one of the PLF attorneys representing Book Passage in the suit. “But Bill was the only one so far brave enough to join a constitutional lawsuit and act as a civil rights plaintiff.”

The lawsuit argues that common bookstore practices like guest author lectures and book signings “are fundamental to First Amendment freedoms.” By that argument, the regulations Assembly Bil 1570 places on booksellers violates a basic freedom accorded to all Americans by the Constitution.

According to the lawsuit, the new paperwork and penalties “significantly burdened and seriously threatened” Petrocelli’s efforts to sell books autographed by their authors. Book Passage hosts around 700 author events every year, as well as a “Signed First Editions Club” for dedicated members. These programs, under the new law, would generate thousands of pages of paperwork, as well as the potential for massive liabilities.

(4) POPCORN V. PROTEIN BARS. Yahoo! Beauty finds “Wonder Woman Fans Angry Over ‘ThinkThin’ Movie Promotion Deal”.

Wonder Woman is viewed as a strong and fearless female character in popular culture — and one would think that the production company about to debut a major feature film based on the character would align its marketing tools with the same profile.

Instead, Warner Bros. has partnered with the protein-focused nutrition company ThinkThin to promote the upcoming flick, and it’s causing quite a stir, as many users believe it sends the wrong message.

“We wanted to celebrate a hero film featuring a woman in the leading role,” Michele Kessler, the president of ThinkThin, said in a press release on the partnership. “We love that Wonder Woman has super strength, and we’re proud to offer delicious products that give women the everyday strength they need to power through their day.”

But despite ThinkThin’s belief that its variety of protein smoothie mixes and bars are fit for powerful women — the primary target the upcoming film is celebrating — fans still have a lot to say about the partnership. Many believe teaming up with the company sends the wrong message from the film.

There have proven to be two sides to the controversy — as this pair of tweets shows:


(5) OPEN DOORS. Bryan Thao Worra, President of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, told Specpo readers — “’Science Fiction is for Everyone’ Panel at LA Harbor College a success”.

On April 25th, the Cultural Equity Workgroup invited five science fiction authors and fans to LA Harbor College to discuss the subject “Science Fiction Is For Everyone,” for a room that was at times standing room only.

Held in Tech 110, I was presenting with Stephanie Brown, Michael Paul Gonzalez, Jaymee Goh, Gregg Castro and Steven Barnes. It was a great line-up with some touching comments that drew on diverse fields of knowledge and experience, from the work and influence of Nnedi Okorafor and Octavia Butler, to the way readers and writers have been brought into the world of science fiction not only in the US but around the world. There was a strong highlight on the appeal of steampunk and afrofuturism.

During my portion of the panel, I focused on a discussion of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, and had the honor of previous SFPA president Deborah Kolodji in attendance as well as fellow SFPA member and community builder Denise Dumars facilitating the conversation. Overall, our audience was very engaged with our varied approaches to the speculative arts. I demonstrated that speculative poetry draws on a very extensive tradition back to the very roots of poetry itself. The work of Edgar Allan Poe was cited as one of the key efforts to develop a distinctive American voice in poetry that was distinct from what was found in Europe at the time.

(6) PROMETHEUS ONLINE. The Libertarian Futurist Society has launched a new blog devoted to science fiction, Prometheus Blog which replaces the society newsletter.

The new blog complements our main mission of awarding annual literary awards, the Prometheus Award and the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, along with periodic special awards and Hall of Fame awards for notable authors.

..We will be offering news about our organization’s awards and actions, and we’ll be publishing reviews of science fiction books and other artistic works of genre interest, and essays on science fiction.

The blog’s introductory post is “Freedom in the Future Tense: A Political History of SF” by Eric S. Raymond, author of The Cathedral and the Bazaar and a longtime SF fan.

One: people whose basic political philosophy is flatly incompatible with libertarianism will continue to find the SF mainstream an uncomfortable place to be. Therefore, sporadic ideological revolts against the Campbellian model of SF will continue, probably about the established rate of one per decade. The Futurians, the New Wave, the cyberpunks, and “Radical Hard SF” were not the end of that story, because the larger political questions that motivated those insurrections are not yet resolved.

Two: all these revolts will fail in pretty much the same way. The genre will absorb or routinize their literary features and discard their political agendas. And SF will continue to puzzle observers who mistake its anti-political DNA for conservatism while missing its underlying radicalism.

And the blog’s coming attractions:

In the next few weeks, we will publish book reviews of all of the current nominees for the 2017 Prometheus Award. A survey of the works of Jack Vance will soon by published. Many other articles are in the pipeline.

(9) STATION INFESTATION. Here’s a rare opportunity to watch a monster movie within a stone’s throw of the locale they terrorized — “Off-Ramp Recommendation: Scientists needed! Giant ants invade Union Station Friday night!”

Let’s face it. Ants are nobody’s favorite. They ruin summer picnics, sneak under the door to steal your crumbs, and are… HUGE?! In 1954 sci-fi film “Them!” ants are gigantic, radioactive, flesh-eating, and coming directly for you!

Friday night, as part of the Metro Art series, Union Station is screening the second film in its “Sci-Fi at Union Station” series. It’s the 1954 sci-fi classic “Them!” LA Times entertainment reporter and classic Hollywood expert Susan King will provide a background on the film and its historical significance to both the sci-fi genre and LA.

Director Gordon Douglas helped created the nuclear monster genre with “Them!” and due to its campy horror, the movie has become a cult-classic. “Them!” follows the creation and subsequent terror of carnivorous insects and their pursuit of film stars James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, and Joan Weldon. The film culminates in a battle scene set in our very own city, featuring shots of beautiful Union Station, LA’s neighborhoods, and storm drains.

And if that’s not enough – young Leonard Nimoy appears in the film (in a very minor role)!

(10) MORE FROM WJW. Flyover Fandom has Part 2 of its interview with Walter Jon Williams.

DAF: The Praxis is a very stratified society. What did you look at for inspiration, because at times you will have Peers engaged in almost comedy of manners escapades. At other times they engage in white collar crime. What did you pull from?

WJW: There are almost too many to mention. But certainly the books reflect class and class resentment in the 19th century British empire. Which became more class-based as the century went on, but in addition to the diehard imperialists out to conquer the world, they also produced Bertie Wooster and Oscar Wilde.

The social setting is based on Republican Rome, as that experience came down through Spain and the colonial experience in New Mexico where I live. There are certain practices common in Rome that are still common in New Mexico, such as the patron-client relationship exercised by the leading Spanish families and their descendants.

The underground movements of World War II are another great inspiration. At one point Sula is leading the an underground movement against an occupying army, and I gave her an alias taken from a real-life French resistance heroine, Lucie Aubrac.


Twilight Zone Day

The Twilight Zone was created by acclaimed television producer Rod Serling in 1959, with the first episode premiering on October 2nd. At the time of its release, it was vastly different from anything else on TV, and it struggled a bit to carve out a niche for itself at the very beginning. In fact, Serling himself, though respected and adored by many, was famous for being one of Hollywood’s most controversial characters and was often call the “angry young man” of Hollywood for his numerous clashes with television executives and sponsors over issues such as censorship, racism, and war. However, his show soon gained a large, devoted audience. Terry Turner of the Chicago Daily News gave it a rave review, saying, “Twilight Zone is about the only show on the air that I actually look forward to seeing. It’s the one series that I will let interfere with other plans.” The Twilight Zone ran for five seasons on CBS from 1959 to 1964.

(12) EXOPLANET STUDY. James Davis Nicoll calls this “more evidence we live in a Hal Clement universe” — “Primitive atmosphere discovered around ‘Warm Neptune'”.

A pioneering new study uncovering the ‘primitive atmosphere’ surrounding a distant world could provide a pivotal breakthrough in the search to how planets form and develop in far-flung galaxies.

A team of international researchers, co-lead by Hannah Wakeford from NASA and Professor David Sing from the University of Exeter, has carried out one of the most detailed studies to date of a ‘Warm Neptune’ – a planet that is similar in size to our own Neptune, but which orbits its sun more closely.

The study revealed that the exoplanet – found around 430 light years from Earth – has an atmosphere that composed almost entirely of hydrogen and helium, with a relatively cloudless sky.

This primitive atmosphere suggests the planet most likely formed closer to its host star or later in its solar system development, or both, compared to the Ice Giants Neptune or Uranus.

Crucially, the discovery could also have wide implications for how scientists think about the birth and development of planetary systems in distant galaxies.

(13) CRY ME A RIVER. Break out your tissues – ScreenRant is ready to show you “Doctor Who: 15 Most Heartbreaking Moments”. (Boo Who!)

  1. River is saved in The Library

Entire books could be written on The Doctor and River Song and how their relationship is a mess of mixed up timelines. The Doctor’s first moment with her is River’s last with him and wrapping your head around that is a sadder thing than most. As the audience, our relationship with their story begins from The Doctor’s perspective and it’s not until later seasons do we realize just how lovely it really is.

River’s first appearance coincides with her death and it’s tough for us to watch, let alone for The Doctor to experience. She knows his true name, has his screwdriver, and is aware of every moment of their future together but–for the sake of spoilers–knows she can’t divulge too much.

In her dying moments, she talks about her last night with him and how beautiful it was before saying goodbye to the man she’s loved for years, knowing that he’s only just met her.

In a final and also first act of love–The Doctor realizes his future self had a plan and is able to restore River’s mind (saved in the sonic screwdriver) to a computer where she can, in a way, live on for eternity.

(14) MY VOTE. Is it too late to pick Hayley Atwell as the next Doctor Who? ScreenRant sells the idea.

If the series does decide to go for a female Doctor in season eleven, we’re looking pointedly in the direction of Marvel star Hayley Atwell. The British actress shot to fame as Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger, a role that eventually led to her own spin-off series, Marvel’s Agent Carter. Agent Carter was cancelled after two seasons, to the disappointment of its huge fan base, and Atwell went on to work on Conviction, which was cancelled after only a single season. Although we would have loved to see Atwell find success with the show, this leaves her in need of a new project – and what better than Doctor Who?

Atwell has everything that we are looking for in a new Doctor. She’s British, which is something of a requirement (it’s easier to envision a female Doctor than an American one, for most fans!), and she’s very used to dealing with a major role in a huge franchise, thanks to Marvel. Her role as Agent Carter also proved her ability to work with a sci-fi/fantasy role, and to get physical with a part. Peggy Carter is not afraid to do things her own way, or to get her hands dirty; and while the doctor isn’t as violent as Peggy has been, he certainly does his fair share of physical adventuring. She’s got a genius for comedy, which is a vital part of the show, and she’s mature enough and experienced enough to handle a character as complicated as the Doctor. She’s also much younger than Capaldi – and we’ve seen from past Doctors that the current fandom seems to connect more with younger regenerations. Although longtime fans loved Capaldi’s take on the character, there is no denying that some viewers did find him less appealing than the more boyishly charming Smith and David Tennant.

In addition to all of this, Atwell herself has said that she would like to take on the role. In a Twitter Q&A, the actress said “I’d like to BE Doctor Who”, setting the fandom alight when it happened in 2015. At the time, she was busy with Agent Carter, but now that she’s looking for a new project, we would be surprised if she doesn’t throw her hat in the ring with the BBC. Having a longtime fan join the franchise is always a good thing, as it means that the new star is approaching the role with an in-depth understanding of who, exactly, the Doctor really is.

(15) SCI-FI ORIGINS. This is as exciting as paleontologists finding a record-setting homonid fossil. Yesterday in comments, Bill pointed to a 2014 post by Fred Shapiro claiming an earlier origin for the term “sci-fi” than previously known:

There has been a fair amount of attention given to the question of what is the earliest use of the term “sci-fi.”  The OED’s first use is dated 1955.  The OED web site of science fiction citations has a December 1954 usage by Forrest J. Ackerman, who is often said to be the coiner.  A supposed usage by Robert A. Heinlein in 1949 has been shown to be erroneous.  The term looks very much like a Varietyism, and in fact I have now found an earlier occurrence in Variety:

1954 _Variety_ 17 Feb. 38 (ProQuest)  New Telepix Shows … The commercial possibilities are there as well since “Junior Science,” aside from its positive qualities, is a rewarding change of pace from the more thunderous sci-fi and spaceship packages.

(16) GRAPHIC STORY. Deadline: Hollywood displays the new SyFy logo.

For the first time since the NBCUniversal cable network changed its name from Sci Fi to Syfy in 2009, it is changing its logo, introducing a new identity brand refresh ahead of the channel’s 25th anniversary in September.

(17) SYFY REBOOT. io9 says the logo is a minor change in comparison to what will be happening to Syfy programming: “Syfy’s Plan to Save Itself: Harry Potter, Comic Books, and George R.R. Martin”.

Of course, all of that is window dressing compared what Syfy will actually put up on screens. McCumber said the goal was to go back to high-end, scripted television, with four focuses: space and scifi, fantasy, paranormal and supernatural, and superheroes and comics.

The Expanse and The Magicians are clearly the network’s flagship returning shows, mentioned many times and with pictures all over the presentations. For new projects, it was announced Tuesday night that Happy!, the adaptation of a Grant Morrison comic starring Christopher Meloni that was announced last year, will get a full season. Similarly, the Superman prequel Krypton has a full series order.

The only new project announced was the development of George R.R. Martin’s Nightflyers, a scifi-horror novella he wrote in 1980, which was actually adapted into a movie in 1987.

(18) NEW GRRM TV PROJECT. The Hollywood Reporter says “George R.R. Martin Novella ‘Nightflyers’ Headed for TV on Syfy”.

The ‘Game of Thrones’ creator is teaming with writer Jeff Buhler to develop the drama for the small screen.

Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin is expanding his TV footprint.

The author and exec producer of HBO’s fantasy drama is teaming with Syfy to adapt his 1980 novella Nightflyers for the small screen, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Set in the future on the eve of Earth’s destruction, a crew of explorers journey on the most advanced ship in the galaxy, The Nightflyer, to intercept a mysterious alien spacecraft that might hold the key to their survival. As the crew nears their destination, they discover that the ship’s artificial intelligence and never-seen captain may be steering them into deadly and unspeakable horrors deep in the dark reaches of space.

(19) DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT THIS. The editor of Rabid Puppy Hugo nominee Cirsova apparently is getting it from both sides.

Here’s an example from “his side.”


And I guess this is what provoked Cirsova’s comment. (Waves hello!)


(20) NODDING OFF. Did any SF writers think getting a good night’s sleep in space would be this difficult? “The quest to help astronauts sleep better”.

But getting a good night’s sleep in space is not easy. There are no beds or pillows – astronauts sleep strapped to the wall in sleeping bags. And that’s not all. “There’re probably several reasons they don’t sleep properly,” says Elmenhorst. “Isolation, a sunrise every 90 minutes and [with the ventilation system] it’s quite noisy in the ISS.” Often, astronauts have to work shifts to monitor experiments or capture visiting supply ships.

To investigate how this lack of sleep affects astronauts’ performance, Elmenhorst’s team has been subjecting groups of paid volunteers to sleep deprivation experiments. “We want to show how sleep loss affects cognitive function,” she says, “and how some people cope better than others.”

(21) SEE-THRU. “Scientists 3D-print transparent glass” – a video report. Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment, “It will be interesting to see whether they ever make their goal of printing photographic lenses, which would require very fine control.”

(22) BUDDHISM AND SCIENCE. How did the religion gain its reputation for being less incompatible with science than many others? At NPR: “Buddhism, Science And The Western World”.

Of course, by its very nature religion, all religions, are changed by their encounters with new cultures. This is particularly true of Buddhism and its steady march eastward from its birth in India 2,500 years ago. Religions always have a way of outgrowing their own scriptural and ritual basis, while simultaneously holding on to them. As author Karen Armstrong has shown, practitioners in any age are always selecting out those parts of their religions that are meaningful to them while ignoring the parts that seem dated. She called the process “creative misreading.”

[Robert] Sharf has no problem with the creative misreading that allows Buddhist Modernism to share space with scientific worldviews. “My concern,” he told Tricycle, “is not with the selectivity of those who read Buddhism as a rationalist and scientific religion — it is perfectly understandable given the world in which we live. It is really not a question of misreading. It is a question of what gets lost in the process.”

(23) SITH REALITY. Cédric Delsaux has put an interesting spin on Star Wars by incorporating its imagery into real photos.

“Over the years, many artists have interpreted Star Wars in ways that extend well beyond anything we saw in the films. One of the most unique and intriguing interpretations that I have seen is in the work of Cedric Delsaux, who has cleverly integrated Star Wars characters and vehicles into stark urban, industrial – but unmistakably earthbound – environments. As novel and disruptive as his images are, they are also completely plausible.”

George Lucas

(24) WRITE A BIG CHECK. An early visualization of the idea for Disneyland will be auctioned soon, and it won’t go cheap — “Original Disneyland concept art shows park origins, growth”.

Tomorrowland was originally going to be called World of Tomorrow. Frontierland was Frontier Country. Lilliputian Land never became a reality at Disneyland. And no one could have foreseen a “Star Wars” land opening in 2019.

Walt Disney spent a marathon weekend in 1953 brainstorming ideas for the new family amusement park he envisioned called Disneyland. There would be a train station and an old-fashioned Main Street square. The park would have a princess castle and a pirate ship, maybe even a rocket. Disney wanted to get investors on board, so he described the various elements he imagined to artist Herb Ryman, who translated them into a hand-drawn map — Disneyland’s first.

That original concept art could fetch as much as $1 million when it goes up for auction next month, auctioneer Mike Van Eaton said.

(25) ANIMATION ROUNDUP. Financial Times writer James Mottram, in “Are animation movies growing up?”, gives an overview of current arthouse animation projects, including Tehran Taboo, Your Name, and the Oscar-nominated film which is My Life As A Zucchini in the US and My Life As A Courgette in the Uk.  He includes an interview with Michael Dudok de Wit, director of the Oscar-nomnated, Studio Ghibli-backedThe Red Turtle. (The link is to the Google cache file, which worked for me – I hope it will work for you!)

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, James Davis Nicoll, rcade, Eli, Bill, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]

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238 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/11/17 I Got Two Pixels When I Scrolled The Bones

  1. But if you factor that in, then maybe the list of winners of the Prometheus Awards make a little more sense. Maybe.

    One work that has been put forward for the Prometheus Hall of Fame a couple of times is The Lord of the Rings, which has Sauron on the one side and the divine right of kings on the other. Where is the libertarian theme in that?

  2. I’d consider bars like that – and I’ve eaten that kind of thing, on occasion – to be something more like a candy bar: a snack, a treat, but not to be considered as actual nutritional food. Also, read the labels and know what your limits are.

  3. Andrew M:

    “To me libertarianism has always been a dimension, which has to be combined with other things to make up a complete political position; it has right-wing forms and left-wing forms, and some people, both on the right and on the left, are more libertarian than others (but you can also be more libertarian in some ways and less libertarian in others). I think that this is quite a common way of seeing things in Europe; libertarianism as an identity, from which one can work out someone’s political views in a fairly specific way, seems to me to be largely an American thing.”

    I can’t speak for the rest of Europe, but in Sweden, that is how liberalism is often seen (even if one party renamed themselves The Liberals – no one believes them anyway). Liberalism is a dimension. Liberatarianism, though, that is seen as a pure right wing movement.

  4. @Xtifr, @Andrew M

    “Libertarian socialist” isn’t really used much outside the states – we generally just say “anarchist” and reserve “libertarian” for anarcho-capitalists. And libertarianism is usually considered an American import.

    (And most anarchists consider libertarianism not to be “real” anarchism, inasmuch as it ignores the power of capital… but I doubt libertarians have a good opinion of anarchists, either.)

  5. @Dann: Ninefox Gambit was written as fantasy, so no surprise to me. Oddly enough, IIRC Yoon Ha Lee has a math degree (undergraduate).

    I’ve forgotten what the message is in Too Like the Lightning.

  6. Dann on May 12, 2017 at 9:18 am said:

    Too Like The Lightning: Would have flown across the room if it were a physical book. A poster child for using the phrase “message fiction”* as a pejorative

    Well, I have to say that I am singularly impressed that you have discovered the message in Too Like The Lightning. I’m not doubting it has one but I’ve pulled both it and the sequel apart down to their component pieces and I still don’t know what the message is.

  7. @3“We spoke to booksellers up and down the coast,” said Anastasia Boden, one of the PLF attorneys representing Book Passage in the suit. “But Bill was the only one so far brave enough to join a constitutional lawsuit and act as a civil rights plaintiff.”
    If I was one of those booksellers, I think my reaction now would be a big “Fuck You, you smug ass, I certainly won’t join now.” But that just may be me.
    @6–I went to check it out even though I knew I’d roll my eyes over a lot of it. I tend to have a very low level of patience any more for this kind of political-ish writing–whether it’s libertarian (Ooh! those Futurians were commies and Marxists!); Marxist-Leninist-Mao apologetics; Puppy-whining refusals to give a goddam example of what’s so horrible or a lot of the current re-writing of gender that’s happening. Or rather the attacks on those who don’t go along with re-writing gender.
    While I do enjoy reading some analytics/thought pieces/whatever; sometimes I just want to enjoy a book or movie without having to wonder if I’ve compromised myself somehow.

  8. One work that has been put forward for the Prometheus Hall of Fame a couple of times is The Lord of the Rings, which has Sauron on the one side and the divine right of kings on the other. Where is the libertarian theme in that?

    Well, most obviously in the organisation of the Shire, which has continued for about a thousand years as a peaceful and prosperous society without anyone actually governing it as such. But I think that’s meant to be an example of how things ought to work: Tolkien generally favoured limited government. It’s harder to see elsewhere because we see places mostly in wartime.

  9. Ghostbird on May 12, 2017 at 1:13 pm said:

    @Xtifr, @Andrew M

    “Libertarian socialist” isn’t really used much outside the states […]

    Aside from my joking use of it a couple of decades ago, I don’t think it’s used at all in the states. On this side of the pond, most of the people I know (e.g. anarcho-sydicalists) who might reasonably be described as libertarian socialists tend to call themselves “anarcho-syndicalists” or whatever.

    What currency the term may have ever once had was (as far as I can tell) mainly in Europe. I’m sad to see it disappearing–if only because it tends to make American Libertarians’ brains explode. 😀 (Which is, of course, the main reason I ever used it–it wasn’t actually a particularly accurate description of me.)

  10. I think it would be fair to say that the bits of TLTL about the Utopians are message fiction (though I may be relying on my independent knowledge of Palmer’s views there). That message is straight out of Heinlein, though.

  11. I’ve certainly heard people describing themselves as ‘libertarian left’. (You can’t use ‘liberal’ that way in the UK, since it is and always has been identified with one party.)

  12. Hmm, the message of Too Like the Lightning?

    The author really, really, really likes Enlightenment philosophers? =)

  13. George Orwell has been described as a libertarian socialist. In context, I’d take ‘libertarian’ in a political sense to mean any ideological commitment to personal liberty as an important political virtue. Given the spectrum of beliefs that right-wing capital L, libertarians have I think that still fits with overt anarcho-capitalists at one extreme and Friedmanite free-market conservatives closer to the conservative mainstream.

    Anarchism in terms of how it shapes an ideology may come to a similar place but I would still see a difference in emphasis. Anarchism as broad tradition has emphasised that government is unnecessary and harmful and that societies of people can be self-organising and structured (and peaceful and nice etc) better without government. That may come from a desire for individual liberty but the two ideas are different. Some of the mechanisms by which a society might function ‘anarchically’ may even sound quite oppressive (for example using models of religious communities, the notions of societal pressure rather than laws, ‘shunning’ those who don’t contribute etc). Likewise ‘market forces’ and control of property sound distinctly at odds to personal liberty to a person like myself.

    tl:dr societies organising themselves by means other than government/laws/police etc is the key aspect of how I see things I’d call ‘anarchism’, Whereas, emphasis on an individual being to do what they please (within some kind of limits) is the key aspect of how I’d see things I’d call ‘libertarian’. And those two things are often intertwined in people’s visions of how society could be different (e.g. X may claim that if we had anarchism-flavour X we would have personal liberty-flavour Z and/or personal-liberty flavour Y is achievable because we don’t need government to do Z)

    I’ll shut up now.

  14. Well, most obviously in the organisation of the Shire, which has continued for about a thousand years as a peaceful and prosperous society without anyone actually governing it as such. But I think that’s meant to be an example of how things ought to work: Tolkien generally favoured limited government. It’s harder to see elsewhere because we see places mostly in wartime.

    Except that the Shire was ruled, by landed gentry starting with the Thane who owed allegiance to the “true king”. The Shire is only “limited government” if you ignore the fact that it is an aristocratic society, which is easy to miss because other than Sam, basically every character in the fellowship (and most of the characters in the book) is a member of the landed gentry. Even the Hobbit is about restoring a “true” king to his throne.

    There’s also the fact that the Shire being unable to defend itself is a major plot point. It is only those who have assisted in the restoration of the true king to the throne of Gondor who are able to save it, at which point they mostly take up positions of power and authority in the region and rule over it, having been vested with such authority by the king they helped to put onto his throne.

  15. Ryan McNeill on May 12, 2017 at 3:58 pm said:

    Hmm, the message of Too Like the Lightning?

    The author really, really, really likes Enlightenment philosophers? =)

    Even that doesn’t work 🙂 . Where is Immanuel Kant? Where is David Hume?* Yet Thomas Carlyle who was Victorian rather than enlightenment gets a major character named partly after him as well as a direct namesake in the worldbuilding backstory.

    *[rhetorical question – I think I know why Hume, in particular, doesn’t get a name check]

  16. Dr. Abernethy: Your ability to read my mind is seriously flawed. I would suggest that you stop, but it makes me smile every time you attempt to do so.

    Guardians of the Galaxy has ties to Doritos [and] Dairy Queen and who knows what other types of junk food. But some are offended by Protein Bars with WW and are trying to make some weird political point about it?

    No mind reading was required, nor was it attempted. All I had to do was read your words — which were addressing something different from the actual issue, and which you’ve just done again with your comment I just quoted.

    The issue is not whether superhero movies with tie-ins to food products are tied to healthy products. If you wish to argue about that, fine, but it is not the issue here, so please stop pretending that it is. What people are concerned about is not — as you so derisively put it — “whining” or “some weird political point”. Nor are “the food police deciding what people can and cannot eat”. Seriously, dude, you’re just making a caricature of yourself with these ridiculous statements.

    As I pointed out previously (and as you so very obviously are choosing to ignore), the actual issue is that the food tie-in for a movie featuring a role model for girls and young women is to a “Thin” product sends the message that women must be thin to be heroic or desirable.

  17. Dann: I’m working on a review of Cirsova #2. P. Alexander has been most cooperative and cordial behind the scenes when I asked questions about him and his publication.

    Well, that’s all very nice, but it doesn’t change the fact that he actively campaigned to get himself and his magazine on the Puppy slate, and was happy to use that unfair advantage to garner a Hugo Finalist position since he and his magazine couldn’t get there on their own merits.

    I’ll be reading whatever he’s submitted to the packet, but the magazine will still be going below No Award on the ballot, because I’m not going to reward deliberate cheaters.

  18. The only protein bars I eat have to have more protein than carbs — 20g, give or take. They are still products of the laboratory more than the farm. Think Thin aren’t going to lead to thinness, and Wondy would scoff at them. I remember when Gadot got the part, all the menz were whining that she was too skinny, so there’s some irony for you.

    Honestly, they couldn’t have gone with something that didn’t reinforce the societal pressure for women to be scrawny? Your role model for girls is made to endorse the idea that you must be THIN to be heroic and attractive?

    Maybe go with Luna High Protein Bar? Those are always pitched towards women, and have a nice name and some of their flavors are very tasty. Plus fewer calories, fat, and carbs, even though it’s just as processed. It’d be a little better health-wise, and certainly better PR. (Nancy Sauer — check ’em out.)

    @JJ: I guess I forgot the Cirsova denials since they were so transparently false?

    Comparing and contrasting who goes on Twitter rants and whines about how oppressed they are, the “triggered snowflakes” don’t seem to be liberals.

    Message in TLTL: We’re gonna learn about the Enlightenment! Strap in!

    I’ve heard libertarians described as “Republicans who wanna do drugs” and it’s broadly true. The American libertarian movement is not really down with the liberties of PoC, women, LGBTQ, the elderly, the poor, or the disabled. Which is really ironic considering how many of them are autistic.


    Most importantly, a couple weeks of to-ing and fro-ing, with some help from OGH and Filers to be named later, has resulted in me getting to vote on the Hugos! YAY!

    I have submitted a provisional ballot in case of crisis. I seem to be getting grumpier in my advancing age, or perhaps just pickier; there were things below No Award that weren’t Puppy-related. I expect to rearrange the Best Series category right up till the last minute. Thus lie the perils of buying/reading everything in one category before awards season; you’d think it would make it easier, but no!

    I still have one novel to read, but I don’t think it will displace my top or bottom choices. The free online stuff has made it much easier while awaiting the Packet. How did they decide Dramatic Presentation before home video? I guess everyone just went to the lower number of movies.

    OGH is #1 in his category, of course; Chuck Tingle is above NA this year.

    My first No Award criterion, for the 30+ years I’ve been voting for the Hugos, is “Why the !@#$ is this even on the ballot?!” If I have that reaction, it goes below NA (That explains why the Puppies are down there; besides cheating their way on, the stuff is crap).

    My second criterion is “Is it Hugo-worthy?” Because there are a lot of good works which I enjoy and love and re-read/watch, but I don’t think they deserve a major award. Maybe A Major Award.

  19. Just read the Raymond essay. So many flaws in analysis that objectively are false. I’m not sure I’ve got the energy or desire to pick it apart at the moment but metaphorically just shaking my head…

  20. @airboy: “cheap food is a benefit to all – it is not a problem.”

    You’re confusing cheap (inferior quality) with inexpensive (low cost). To avoid both terms, the problem is the unhealthiness of affordable food – or, if you prefer, the unaffordable pricing of healthy food.

  21. @Rev. Bob -“You’re confusing cheap (inferior quality) with inexpensive (low cost). To avoid both terms, the problem is the unhealthiness of affordable food – or, if you prefer, the unaffordable pricing of healthy food.”
    Very true. There is also the issue of keeping food costs low by growing it in ways that reduce the fertility of the soil or require some fairly sketchy chemicals. “Cheap food” is a bumper sticker phrase that won’t cover a complex system.

  22. @Cat Eldridge: Kage Baker did three novels in that world. The Anvil of the World, its prequel The House of the Stag, and the less directly related The Bird of the River.

  23. Aaron: You’re half-right. The Shire did have landed gentry, and the hobbit heroes of both books are all members of it except for Sam. But the Thane, who was originally designated as a military leader in case of need, didn’t rule with an oppressive government. The only government was that presided over by the Mayor, who was not part of the gentry and who also presided more than ruled.

    So the Shire was not oppressed by government. You could say that it was oppressed by social customs and social roles, and that could be true, but if so it wouldn’t bother libertarians, who don’t seem to be concerned by any oppression unless it comes from governments.

    You write, “Even the Hobbit is about restoring a “true” king to his throne.” Well, yes, though in practice it’s more about restoring to Thorin his grandfather’s property which had been stolen by a thief. But, either way, that has nothing to do with the Shire.

    Your last paragraph, which is apparently about Merry and Pippin, is totally off. First, their ability to save the Shire is not because they restored the true king, but because they’ve been tested in battle and other experience. The goal of doing so is not the enabling factor which enables them to save the Shire. Second, it’s not what enables them to take up their authority, which they inherit from their fathers. (It says more about Frodo, that his two closest friends just happen to be the heirs to the two most prestigious hereditary positions in the Shire. What a suckup.) Thirdly, they are in no way authorized to do so by the king. He leaves the Shire alone to be governed in its own way, and this is it.

  24. The only government was that presided over by the Mayor, who was not part of the gentry and who also presided more than ruled.

    The Mayor is part of the landed gentry. Did you miss that? Every aspect of the Shire’s organization is that of an aristocracy ruling over the rest of the hobbits. That they do so with a light hand doesn’t make it any less of a rule by birthright.

    Well, yes, though in practice it’s more about restoring to Thorin his grandfather’s property which had been stolen by a thief.

    So, the throne was his grandfather’s property? The right to rule over others was his grandfather’s property? “Restoring his grandfather’s property” is a pretty facile way to describe putting the “true king under the mountain” back on his throne.

    First, their ability to save the Shire is not because they restored the true king, but because they’ve been tested in battle and other experience. The goal of doing so is not the enabling factor which enables them to save the Shire. Second, it’s not what enables them to take up their authority, which they inherit from their fathers.

    This is the most amazing set of rationalizations. They got their experience participating in a war to restore the true king to his position. They explicitly assert their status as representatives of the king when restoring their authority. As Pippin says: “I am the messenger of the King. You are speaking to the King’s friend, and one of the most renowned in all the lands of the West.” The returning hobbits explicitly cloak themselves in royal authority.

    But the idea that they inherited their authority from their fathers being some sort of contradiction of my previous point is almost incredible. Where do their fathers get their authority? It descends from the king – Tolkien takes great care to establish that the Shire was originally founded based upon a dispensation of royal authority, and that those who wield power do so based upon the grant thereof. Further, the notion of inherited authority is part and parcel of a hereditary aristocracy, which what I already pointed out was the basis for the Shire’s power structure. You aren’t arguing against my point, you’re making it for me.

  25. It says more about Frodo, that his two closest friends just happen to be the heirs to the two most prestigious hereditary positions in the Shire. What a suckup.

    Why would you not expect members of the aristocracy to have friends who were also members of the aristocracy? Frodo is friends with Merry and Pippin because they are his social peers.

    The real point here is that you’re really reaching to make the claim the The Lord of the Rings is libertarian. There’s only one aspect of the book that one can even make an argument in favor of its libertarian nature – the government of the Shire – and that is at best a tertiary element of the book. Not only that, you have to make a pretty attenuated argument that ignores a lot of what is in the book in order to make the claim that the Shire is libertarian in nature. That something could be nominated for the Prometheus Award Hall of Fame based upon a thread that thin really doesn’t help make the case that the term “libertarianism” means much of anything in the hands of the Libertarian Futurist Society.

  26. The Thane has power only in wartime, and the Mayor’s main function is to preside at banquets. This is explicit. The point of the struggle is to preserve this kind of set-up. Of course, this is not to say that government has no role to play at all; it is needed in a crisis, to preserve this kind of liberty, and that’s where the King is relevant.

    There is undoubtedly a class which is more powerful, because wealthier, than the rest of the people. But would self-identified libertarians object to that? It would seem to me much more in line with their outlook than the Scottish socialist works that often get nominated.

  27. The Thane has power only in wartime, and the Mayor’s main function is to preside at banquets.

    The Mayor runs the post office and is the Chief Shirrif. The most public function of the Mayor is presiding at fairs, but the notion that this is his only function is simply not borne out by the text. After Whitford was released from imprisonment following the scouring of the Shire, Frodo took over his duties for half a year while he recovered, because doing them would have been too taxing for the Whitford. I’m starting to wonder if you actually paid attention when you read the books, or if you just read what you wanted to see.

  28. “Lisa Yaszek mentions in a number of places that one of the … reforms… Campbell instituted was eliminating the women writers who had been selling to Astounding before he took over. It’s the same basic process we saw in the 1980s, where people just wrote women SF authors out of the history.”

    Umm, how about C.L. Moore, preceeded JWC’s editorship at Astounding by several years. To be accurate, he got rid of a lot of male regular authors from the Clayton and Tremaine eras, too; that’s what the Campbellian revolution was about. He also went on to publish women like Judith Merrill, Katherine MacLean, Leigh Brackett, and Wilmar Shiras, and more. The point made about lefty/utopian Mack Reynolds is also a good one. Younger readers bombarded by anti-JWC propaganda might be surprised to learn that Reynolds was one of Campbell’s most prolific writers in the 1960’s, when Campbell was spouting some of his most conservative vitriol. Analog’s AnLab reader feedback poll has been analyzed, and (astoundingly!!!) Reynolds appears to have been his most popular writer in the 1960s and ’70s. John W. Campbell was a flawed person (who isn’t?), but he was far more complex and multilayered as a person and as an editor than the cartoonish straw man of the literary and online show trials and lynchings of the political correctness crowd would lead one to believe……..
    I’ve read Yaszek’s book (Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of SF), and it’s a very good companion to Eric Leif Davin’s book of women’s SF history, Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction, 1926-1965, but the Yaszek book is not without flaws, and Lisa Yaszek reveals herself to be as prone to axe-grinding as Campbell ever was……

  29. Aaron: I’m starting to wonder if you actually paid attention when you read the books, or if you just read what you wanted to see.

    Sure, we’d have suspected someone hacked your account if you just argued the facts and failed to sign off with a kick to the balls.

    Which is to say, I’m growing less willing to tolerate that.

  30. @Mike: Sorry. I wouldn’t have added that line had Andrew not put in the line about “this is explicit” while ignoring a pile of other stuff in the text. But if you want that to be a line not to go across, I’ll abide by it.

  31. Minus the vitriol, Aaron’s absolutely correct. Middle-Earth is completely feudal. It’s all inherited offices with power bestowed directly or indirectly by the King(s).

    The Shire doesn’t innovate anything. Hobbits who are the least bit adventurous or forward-thinking are ostracized. The oddest hobbits live in Bree, which is “the big scary city” to Shire types, and a boring conventional village to all of us. No outsider other than Gandalf or those directed by him ever comes to Hobbiton, and (we know) Gandalf is a freaking demigod.

    Minas Tirith is feudal. The dwarf King under the Mountain, feudal. Rohan? Also a kingdom. Elves have Kingdoms. The lovely and talented Aragorn son of Arathorn, literally “The Return of the King”.

    Inherited rulers and customs keep everyone “in their place” in all the kingdoms; there’s no room for advancement no matter how clever or talented you are. There seems to have been no improvements in technology in thousands of years, except for the eeeeevil Sauron.

    It’s all pretty much the opposite of libertarian.

  32. And the reason government is so un-intrusive in the Shire is that almost everyone goes along with the strictures of the social order. They’re not independent free-thinkers, they’re mostly happy little sheep, content to stay in their proper place, and tetchy when anyone shows signs of lacking homogeneity.

    Government power doesn’t have to raise its hand if everyone just obeys.

  33. KBK: ……………………………….

    Oh, look, it’s Eric Leif Davin’s best buddy, showing up once again to defend Campbell and to declare yet again that it’s been definitively proven (by Eric Leif Davin, of course) that women have never been discriminated against in SF history. 🙄

  34. @JJ: Yeah, I decided to ignore the ignoramus.

    A casual glance at Campbell’s own words shows him to be racist, sexist, and REALLY into woo-woo pseudoscience. I read some of his Analog editorials a few years back and LOL at his support for anti-gravity gyroscopes and the “science” of Dianetics.

  35. lurkertype on May 13, 2017 at 4:54 pm said:

    Yes, racist, pretty much sexist, but some of his editorials are worth reading, even if some were WTF out there, and he did run a lot of good stories. (Also – he was the one who ran “Weyr Search”, the first appearance of Pern and dragons.)

  36. I’m torn on this whole libertarian-Shire thing. Yes, it is a quasi-monarchist class based semi-feudal land with a distinct class structure and control by the wealthy but…well I think many of the ‘libertarians’ I’ve met over the years would find that quite ‘libertarian’.

  37. Lisa Yaszek reveals herself to be as prone to axe-grinding as Campbell ever was……

    Like Davin, you mean? 🙂

  38. Frodo is friends with Merry and Pippin because they are his social peers

    Frodo is friends with Merry and Pippin because they are cousins of his. I mention this not because it undermines the point about Frodo’s social class (I should think it does the opposite) but because I’m feeling persnickety tonight.

  39. @Camestros Felapton I have to agree with your experience. I’ve had more than one self-professed Libertarian try to convince me that feudal monarchy was a better system for libertarians than democracy. Usually including that old saw about what happens when people learn they can vote themselves largess.

    They never seem to have really researched the nature of monarchy, or prrhaps they assume they would be the nobles, not the peasants.

  40. @Rose Embolism: perhaps they assume they would be the nobles, not the peasants.

  41. Yes, it is a quasi-monarchist class based semi-feudal land with a distinct class structure and control by the wealthy

    Basically, the Shire is an idealized version of the Edwardian manor life that was in vogue when Tolkien was a child, and for which he held romanticized nostalgia. I don’t think that Edwardian England fits any definition of “libertarianism” that makes any sense, but then again, “libertarianism” has become a mostly meaningless slogan used to mean an enormous (and often self-contradictory) set of positions.

  42. @Rose Embolism, I had this discussion some years back with a salesman at the office where I worked. He’d just gone to “Medieval Times” (Medieval-themed restaurant where you ate with your fingers (including corn-on-the-cob! <eyeroll>) and watched jousting) and declared that he wished he lived in the Middle Ages.

    “No, you don’t,” I informed him.
    “Yes, I do; it would be cool.”
    “Freezing in the winter, more like. Roasting in the summer. Bad food, and not much of it if the crops fail. Lice. Rats. Disease. Arbitrary nobles with little justice for the peasants.”
    “I’d be a noble.”
    “No, you wouldn’t.”
    “Why the hell not?”
    “Dan….. you’re Jewish.”

    The shortfalls of our educational system sometimes astound me. I had to explain pogroms. And he didn’t believe me.

  43. The Shire…a libertarian paradise…I have to say that it is one of the funniest fan theories I’ve seen in quite a while. The only scary thing would be if someone took it seriously–but that’s true of a lot of fan theories!

    Have I mentioned to you guys recently that Sauron is obviously Sith? 😀

  44. The ents seem to be quite libertarian or anarchist. And Bombadil, but maybe he doesnt count, beeing a one of a kind.

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