Pixel Scroll 5/15/16 Think Baloo, Count Two

(1) TWO FIVES WORTH OF WISDOM. Cecilia Tan shares “Ten Things I Learned at SFWA Nebulas Weekend”. Here’s the outline, click through for details:

  1. We Clean Up Pretty Good
  2. Kickstarters Should Be Pretty
  3. At Patreon a Little Means a Lot
  4. Dictate for Artistry
  5. The Myth of Self-Publishing
  6. White Knights and Online Harassment
  7. Think Globally
  8. You Can’t Be in Two Places at Once
  9. John Hodgman is Really Funny
  10. Not the Hugos or the Worldcon

[Warning: One Filer says this was flagged on her system as NSFW. I don’t see anything problematic on that page. However, Tan does write some NSFW things which may be elsewhere on her site.]

(2) NEBULA WINNERS PHOTO.

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(3) NEBULA LOSERS CELEBRATION. Meanwhile, an informal survey showed only 50% of SFWAns know how to make an “L” sign on their foreheads.

(4) GRANDMASTER CHERRYH. Black Gate’s John O’Neill has posted a video of C.J. Cherryh’s SFWA Grandmaster panel.

This weekend I attended the 2016 Nebula Conference here in Chicago, where CJ Cherryh received the SFWA Damon Knight Grand Master Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Part of the Friday afternoon programming included “An Hour With CJ Cherryh, SF’s Newest Grandmaster.” I sat in the front row, with Nebula nominees Ann Leckie and Lawrence M. Schoen, and captured the first part of the speech, in which Cherryh entertained the audience with recollections of her childhood ambition to be a writer, discovering science fiction, her early career, selling her first novel to Donald Wollheim at DAW Books, and her recent marriage to fellow novelist Jane Fancher.

 

(5) SAME NIGHT, AT THE BRAM STOKER AWARDS. Ace Antonio Hall knew from the look of Scott Edelman’s piñata-colored jacket there was still some candy left….

(6) WISE INVESTMENTS FOR YOUR PLAY MONEY. From Die Welt, “Game of Thrones: Real estate and Prices in Westeros”.

The dungeons and castles located on the continent of Westeros have kept the families known from the tv-show “Game of Thrones” safe and sound for centuries. What if several properties from the show were suddenly listed for sale? Christoph Freiherr Schenck zu Schweinsberg, leading expert on castles for the real estate agency Engel & Völkers, checked out some of the unreal estate objects….

Andrew Porter is skeptical about these exorbitant valuations:

I don’t believe any of the properties have indoor plumbing, and the thought of being shot with a crossbow while sitting on the throne (no, not the Iron Throne!) may give you second thoughts about buying any of these…

(7) TOLKIEN’S FRIEND. Tolkien scholar John Garth contributed to “Robert Quilter Gilson, TCBS – a documentary”.

When Tolkien writes in the Foreword to The Lord of the Rings that ‘by 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead’, he is referring to his friends in a clique formed at school but later bonded by the First World War – the TCBS. Of these, Robert Quilter Gilson was the first to be killed, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 100 years ago this July. Tolkien’s shock and grief infuses one of the first items in The Letters of JRR Tolkien: ‘His greatness is … a personal matter with us – of a kind to make us keep July 1st as a special day for all the years God may grant to any of us…’

Geoffrey Bache Smith never returned from the Somme either; only Tolkien and Christopher Luke Wiseman, a naval officer, survived the war. The letters written by Tolkien, Gilson, Wiseman and Smith form the heartbeat of my book Tolkien and the Great War. For Gilson, thanks to the wonderful generosity of his relatives, I was also able to draw a little from the many letters he wrote home from the training camps and trenches to his family and to the woman he loved.

Now, with my help, Gilson’s letters have been used as the basis for a 40-minute documentary by the school, King Edward’s in Birmingham.

 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 15, 1856 L. Frank Baum. John King Tarpinian has a Baum story —

A number of years back I went to an author event for a friend. She raises Cairn Terriers aka Toto Dogs. The author, a grand nephew of Baum was using a rubber stamp made from an imprint of Toto’s paw to sign the books.

Baum’s house was in Hollywood, just behind Musso & Frank Grill. It is now a mid-60s apartment building. In those days just about every house had an incinerator for burning trash, my parent’s home had one that also worked as a BBQ & wood burning oven.

Shortly after his death a niece came over to the house to visit her aunt to see how she was doing. Baum’s wife was in the back yard burning his papers. She figured since all of his books were on the shelves there was no need for the old papers. The niece explained to her why that was not a good idea to continue. You could feel the people in the event audience shudder at the thought.

(9) CHOOSING HELL. Brad R. Torgersen takes SFWA’s choice of Max Max: Fury Road for its dramatic award as the text for his message, in “The Martian and Mad Max”.

…Of course, The Martian was every inch a Campbellian movie, while Fury Road was almost entirely New Wave.

Guess which aesthetic dominates and excites the imaginations of SF/F’s cognoscenti?

I know, I know, I am a broken record about this stuff. But it never ceases to amaze me (in an unhappy way) how the so-called writers of Science Fiction, seem to be in such a huge hurry to run away from the roots of the field. I’ve read and listened to all the many arguments — pro and con, from both sides — about how Campbell rescued the field from the Pulp era, but then New Wave in turn rescued the field from the Campbell era. So it might be true that we’re finally witnessing the full maturation of SF/F as a distinct arena of “serious” literature, but aren’t we taking things too far? Does anyone else think it’s a bad idea for the field to continue its fascination with cultural critique — the number of actual nutty-bolty science types, in SFWA, is dwindling, while the population of “grievance degree” lit and humanities types, in SFWA, is exploding — while the broader audience consistently demonstrates a preference for SF/F that might be termed “old fashioned” by the modern sensibilities of the mandarins of the field?

Now, I think there is a very strong argument to be made, for the fact that Campbellian vs. New Wave is merely the manifestation of a deeper problem — a field which no longer has a true center. The two “sides” in the discussion have been taking shots at each other since long before I was born. The enmity may be so ingrained — in the internal conversation of SF/F — that nothing can reverse it. Save, perhaps, the total explosion of the field proper….

(10) BAD DAY IN SANTA FE. Bleeding Cool posted screencaps of a con committee’s rude Facebook comments in “Santa Fe Comic Con Makes Social Media Faux Pas”.

Instead of faux pas, how about we just say you shouldn’t call anyone a boob model?

(11) TIME TRAVEL ON FALL TV SCHEDULE. NBC’s new drama Timeless, starring Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter and Malcolm Barrett, follows a team chasing a criminal intent on destroying America through time.

(12) AND THIS. NBC’s new comedy The Good Place follows Eleanor Shellstrop and her mentor as she tries to become a better person in the afterlife.. Stars starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson.

(13) TIME OUT. Trouble, as one of last year’s Best Graphic Story Hugo nominees goes on hiatus. Mad Art Lab reads the Twitter tea leaves in “Tess Fowler Pushed Out of Rat Queens?”

Comic book fans were deeply saddened by the recent news that Rat Queens, the Eisner Award-nominated comic book series, was going on hiatus. As fans likely know, Rat Queens has had a tough run since the series launched in 2013. In 2014, artist/co-creator Roc Upchurch was removed from the series after being arrested on charges of domestic violence. His departure made room for Tess Fowler, who was a natural fit artistically – but also seemed to some a symbolic choice, given her history of speaking up for women in comics. Unfortunately, it seems that is at an end. Fowler announced she would be leaving the series a few weeks ago, with creator Kurtis Wiebe making the news of a hiatus official…

(14) MEMOIR COMPETES AT SF BOOK FEST. Congratulations to Francis Hamit – A Perfect Spy received recognition at the San Francisco Book Festival.

A Perfect Spy, Francis Hamit’s memoir from fifty years ago of his adventures as an undercover police operative fighting the drug trade while a student at the University of Iowa has been awarded runner up (or second place) in the Biography/Autobiography category by the 2016 San Francisco Book Festival.  It is an excerpt from a larger forthcoming work entitled OUT OF STEP: A Soldier’s memoir of the Vietnam War Years.

The book also includes Hamit’s encounters with notable figures such as novelist Nelson Algren, filmmaker Nicholas Meyer and the poet Donald Justice, and his enthusiastic participation in the Sexual Revolution even as he resisted the onslaught of the drug culture.  It was a transformative time for him that led to his abandonment of a theatrical career for one as a writer and his enlistment in the U.S. Army Security Agency at the height of the Vietnam War when most of his contemporaries were trying to evade military service.

(15) NEW BFG TRAILER. Disney’s The BFG comes to theaters July 1, 2016.

(16) STUDY TIME. Paul Fraser at SF Magazines reviews the stories in the June 1940 issue of Astounding, including Retro Hugo nominee “The Roads Must Roll” by Robert Heinlein.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, Mark-kitteh, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

202 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/15/16 Think Baloo, Count Two

  1. Robert:

    It’s confusing for people who live inn the past to confront the future.

    Particularly if it’s snowy around the inn.

  2. Kurt Busiek: But Commander Lewis would have to use botany to survive (from crew botanist Watney’s great notebooks, surely) and fixing the habitat and all and that would be all touchy-feely nurturing growing things and nesting. Who wants to see that kind of SJW crap unless it’s a man doing it, because then it’s farming and building!

    But at least there’d be a scene in the end where she tells Watney that she’d have died if not for his helpfully-indexed notebooks, so she sleeps with him.

    How did this movie not get made already?

    Fortunately you have the strength of character to leave that hundred million dollars on the table!

  3. Fortunately you have the strength of character to leave that hundred million dollars on the table!

    I’m all manly and shit, like that.

  4. Torgensen:

    Now, I think there is a very strong argument to be made, for the fact that Campbellian vs. New Wave is merely the manifestation of a deeper problem — a field which no longer has a true center.

    Matt Y on May 16, 2016 at 4:45 am said:
    Of all the things wrong in Torgersen’s article my favorite is the assertion that SF writers/readers fall into two categories….

    Of all the things wrong in Torgersen’s article MY favorite is his idea that the growth of the SF genre is somehow a ”problem”.

    {Shorter Brad: “People are STILL writing and reading things that I don’t like.”}

    Ridley Kemp on May 16, 2016 at 9:19 am said:
    Torgerson’s comments are borderline hilarious, aren’t they?

    I think they’re well over the border, and deep into “point-and-laugh” territory. I’m baffled at a SF writer who has said that he views the convention-destroying genre of science fiction as “comfort reading.”

  5. There’s also the minor detail that Martian soil is toxic- no amount of poop will change that. Fury Road is arguably harder SF, which goes to show the term doesn’t have much meaning.

    Or maybe the meaning is Manly Men Solve Apparently Plausible Problems. It doesn’t matter if the science is actually realistic, as long as it looks plausible, and is appropriately masculine.

  6. I would imagine that of the however many votes were cast for the Nebulas, some of the races were likely quite close. So I agree that the fact that Fury Road won and not The Martian is no proof that SFWA members hate The Martian. Since SFWA doesn’t usually release the numbers (expect for elections), we’ll likely never know. There definitely weren’t any nominees booed during the ceremony, although there was enough increase in volume for some entries that you could make a good guess which entry was in the envelope.

    In the only contested board race (three nominees for two positions), the difference between the first place candidate and the third place was about 30 votes (each of them in the low to mid 200s).

  7. Like I said, I haven’t read the book of the Martian, but do they ever get around to explaining why they sent a botanist to a dead planet? I don’t remember them explaining that in the movie.

  8. The Gernsback of Notre Dame

    Is that an offensive or defensive position? My football knowledge is so limited…

  9. @BGHilton:

    “It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it.”

    Martian soil may be toxic from a Terran perspective, but if they discovered what could be signs of Martian plant life – even extinct – I’d want a botanist on hand to check it out instead of relying on limited bandwidth and secondhand data.

  10. @BGHilton: I don’t recall if it was mentioned in the movie, but he was there to do experiments on how things grow in Martian gravity. Since they were going in and out of the hab in their suits, they had to have a solution for some of the toxicity of the Martian soil. Otherwise, they would have been bringing toxins in with them on every EVA.

  11. @Rev Bob – Granted the alternate NASA in the movie is infinitely better resourced than our own, it is still only able to send half a dozen astronauts to Mars at a time at a cost of billions*. It seems like a huge longshot to risk a billet on a specialist whose skills probably won’t be useful.

    Perhaps if the ship itself had a hydroponic garden to supplement food supplies for the journey, then that might justify Watney’s presence, but I didn’t see any sign that this is what they were doing.

    * As an aside, I’m not sure why a movie that runs ‘Government employee saves own hide by accessing billions of dollars in taxpayer funded equipment’ is so beloved of libertarians, but then, I guess I just don’t get libertarians.

    @Rail – Ok, that makes sense.

  12. Maybe better linked over at the EPH thread (if not already), but GRRM has some award thoughts.

    A chilling line:
    “Neither EPH nor 4/6 is going to prevent us from having VD on the Best Editor shortlist from now until the heat death of the universe.”

  13. BGHilton: Watney is supposed to try to grow plants on Mars. Not enough to live on – just as proof of concept for a future Mars colony. But that’s why he has some seeds and Earth soil that get him started with the potatoes.

  14. “Neither EPH nor 4/6 is going to prevent us from having VD on the Best Editor shortlist from now until the heat death of the universe.”

    On the bright side, that means that VOXMAN and his followers will be helping to fund WSFS, Worldcon, and the Hugos for the foreseeable future. 🙂


  15. Xtifr on May 16, 2016 at 6:09 pm said:
    On the bright side, that means that VOXMAN and his followers will be helping to fund WSFS, Worldcon, and the Hugos for the foreseeable future. ?

    You know, first I laughed (because way to make lemonade), but then I realized that inside the humor is an interesting truth. VD and his clown car are financing an institution they say they want to destroy. Er, that’s some sooper genius strategy.

  16. nickpheas said:

    The Santa Fe thing seems strange to me, but I don’t really know how American commercial cons work. The cosplayer’s demands would be a ludicrous thing to ask of a Worldcon or an Eastercon.

    I’m not sure if Santa Fe Comic Con is commercial or not (their “About Us” page is blank), but the thing to know is that some people have declared themselves professional cosplayers, have built up a fanbase, and can manage to get invited to media cons for that in a kind of reinvention of the Fan Guest of Honor.

    Minus the horrible social media missteps, the exchange amounts to: “I’m a celebrity and want to be a guest at your con.” “Sorry, we don’t consider you a major enough celebrity.”

  17. Lee Whiteside: I would imagine that of the however many votes were cast for the Nebulas, some of the races were likely quite close. So I agree that the fact that Fury Road won and not The Martian is no proof that SFWA members hate The Martian.

    Based on SFWA’s recommendation totals, each movie had lots of SFWA voters who loved it.

    All of the Bradbury finalists were well-loved by SFWA members. For BT to claim otherwise — well, that’s just more of his usual infantile tantrums.

  18. Kendall said:

    CJ Cherryh is married to a woman? I’m so out of it.

    As it’s a recent marriage, you’re not the only one it’s news to. Congratulations to them!

    (They have been together for a while, though. ISTR Fancher being described as Cherryh’s “roommate” nigh on 25 years ago; it was only a few years ago, when I heard they were still living together, in a completely different city than before, that the full truth of the matter finally dawned on me.)

  19. I haven’t read the book of the Martian, but do they ever get around to explaining why they sent a botanist to a dead planet?

    Everyone in the crew had a double specialty. Watney is also a mechanical engineer.

  20. @ BG Hilton & Rev. Bob: In the book of The Martian, most, if not all, of the crew have double specialties. Watney is their botanist and also a mechanical engineer so not such a waste of a billet if he finds out nothing can grow.

  21. Fond as I am of potatoes, there is just no overcoming the Doof Warrior. Fury Road had my vote.

  22. JJ,
    The SFWA’s recommendation totals has me curious about their nominating & voting totals. Do you happen to know how many members the SFWA have? Is it comparable to a typical Worldcon membership? (I stopped paying attention to the Nebula awards for a while but more recently their nominees & winners have been more to my taste, whereas historically the Hugos have generally been more reliably to my taste.)

    ETA: RedWombat,
    Watney was probably trying to grow Russet Burbanks…

  23. Poor Brad

    Still fighting the battles of the late sixties.

    Pretty much my reaction. Trying to remember the last time I heard anyone arguing about Campbell and New Wave… I think it was during the Carter administration.

  24. As it’s a recent marriage, you’re not the only one it’s news to.

    Last summer, as I recall.

  25. Soon Lee: Watney was probably trying to grow Russet Burbanks…

    What drove me absolutely aggravated about that scene was that he cut all the potatoes into quarters — instead of cutting each potato into sections, each of which contained one eye.

    I mean seriously, did none of the directors, writers, or actors on that film ever do the grade-school thing where you dissect monocots and dicots to see how they’re structured, then engage in an exercise in which you get each type to sprout?

  26. I honestly wouldn’t know Campbell or the New Wave from a hole in the ground–I think I mentally file it with Alinsky as “stuff I am apparently supposed to care about according to…somebody or other…but don’t.” It’s all in a pile with the Golden Age of comics and pulp magazines and other historical tidbits that undoubtedly led to our current state in a roundabout fashion, but rather less interesting to me than Lovecraft or Machen.

    This is not to disparage anyone who DOES care about it–you do you! I care strongly about vegetable varieties that lost traction with the rise of refrigerated shipping cars, I don’t get to lecture anyone else on their historical obsessions! But I also don’t assume that anyone else is voting for something because of the historical resonance of the Mortgage Lifter tomato in modern culture wars, because that would be silly.

  27. @ Steve Davidson:

    Literature (including SF) does not stand still. A complicated dance of market forces, the body of existing work, the author’s creativity, the audience, current events, scientific advance, personal experience go into the stew of a new story.

    To point at any single work in the field and say “this is SF”, implying that everything else is not, is begging to be contradicted with solid evidence.

    Putting a wall around SF negates the very thing you are trying to define.

    Good post. Whole thing, very well stated.

  28. Re Cherryh/Fancher: Yes, the marriage is recent, because it’s only been recently that they could. They’ve been together for ages; I think I found out about it about the time of that short-lived graphic adaptation of Gate of Ivrel. Which, hmmm, maybe that would be something that could get finished now that self-publishing is much more of a reality than it was back then?

  29. THANKS FOR THE LOLs!

    @Lisa Goldstein: “He will build that wall! And he will make the SJWs pay for it!”

    ROFLMAO!!! OMG, thanks, I had a long day and this just made it. 😀

    @kathodus: “I can see why you’re so upset, though, if that’s all you’ve had for reading material since 2014.”

    ::snort::

    @Kurt Busiek: “Particularly if it’s snowy around the inn.”

    ::shaking fist:: Damn, I was going to write something like that! 😀

    @RedWombat: “But I also don’t assume that anyone else is voting for something because of the historical resonance of the Mortgage Lifter tomato in modern culture wars, because that would be silly.”

    Damn, you found me out! 😉

  30. @Arifel: Too Like the Lightning has a physical book for sale at Amazon.co.uk, and it seems to also have an audiobook version; there’s an Audible link on the physical book page. But @P J Evans quotes PNH as saying there’s no non-North American audiobook, so maybe that doesn’t work for U.K. folks?!

    @Petréa Mitchell: Yes, congrats to them. Re. your parenthetical, yeah, really I just didn’t realize Cherryh was gay/bi/what-not (especially, what-not). 😉

    @JJ: I never did anything with potatoes in school. Was this in first grade (when I was out of the country), or did I just go to a bad school? (I suppose it’s very possible I just don’t remember, as my memory bites.

  31. Re: The Martian – Watney is very careful in the book to include two eyes iirc per potato chunk.

    I judge all of my SFF based on Luther’s 99 complaints. I find pretty much all SFF fails.

  32. An animated short film showing many ways to die in space. Something upbeat for the late (or early, depending on your locale) crowd! 😉

  33. Oh, yum, mortgage lifters.
    It snowed here yesterday, which us why I never plant annuals until the very end of May. May lies.

  34. But @P J Evans quotes PNH as saying there’s no non-North American audiobook, so maybe that doesn’t work for U.K. folks?!

    Or maybe PNH was mistaken or his info was out of date. If it’s for sale there now, odds are it’s a real deal. Unless someone tries to buy it and gets rebuffed.

  35. RedWombat on May 16, 2016 at 9:16 pm said:
    I honestly wouldn’t know Campbell or the New Wave from a hole in the ground

    The hole in the ground is where you plant your rare vegetable. The Campbell/New Wave debate is what you use for plant food.

  36. Pretty much my reaction. Trying to remember the last time I heard anyone arguing about Campbell and New Wave… I think it was during the Carter administration

    The best I could come up with, while ranting at the husband, was that it’s like asking whether the impressionists or the cubists won the art wars.

    RedWombat, have you read “Epitaph for a Peach”?

  37. @Kendall thanks – not sure how I missed the audiobook link! I’ve been a bit fed up with the medium since struggling for ages to listen to Radiance – finally realised that any book which includes pages detailing spaceship cargo and constant jumping around in time and format is definitely something to be read, not heard. Gonna test out Too Like the Lightning and will hopefully have a better experience…

    Just got a copy of the Martian to watch for Hugo research and am disappointed to learn I won’t be blown away by the botanical accuracy. Not that I expected to be swayed from my TFA obsession in the next couple of months anyway. Sorry, competent men!

  38. @arifel: just checking if you saw my suggestion earlier in the thread.

  39. @brightglance I hadn’t seen your or PJ’s comments but I have now – thanks for the info, and I shall keep that website in mind!

    For the record I also know it’s possible to Hfr n aba HF perqvg pneq gb ohl na Nznmba HF tvsg pneq, gura hfr gur tvsgrq perqvg gb ohl gur xvaqyr obbx but at best it’s a total faff (though Tor books all come DRM free I think? Which at least makes getting it on the right device Officially Possible…)

  40. […] that short-lived graphic adaptation of Gate of Ivrel.

    That was actually my introduction to Cherryh.

  41. The hole in the ground is where you plant your rare vegetable. The Campbell/New Wave debate is what you use for plant food.

    Excellent summary!

  42. @Arifel: Yes, Tor books should all be DRM at this point. Shoot you could try Kobo, but I think they may look at the address on your card and not let you buy it … although if I change the URL for the book from /en-us to /en-uk it works…but that may mean nothing. I’m not sure how strict Kobo is (or how strict they allow publishers to be, I should really say) about jurisdiction of credit card versus ebook sale jurisdiction.

    @Kip W & @Leslie C: LOL!

  43. I love some of the more outre names given to various vegetable and flower varieties. Mortgage Lifter tomatoes got their name because, reputedly, in Depression days even a household garden bore harvests abundant enough that excess could be sent to market to earn extra money.

    But my favorite name is a rose variety, “Mad Dog Road Tea”. It makes me think of overheated Englishmen in the colonies, stopping at a roadside inn for a tall pint of chilled tea, with mint and lemon perhaps.

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