Pixel Scroll 5/6/16 Waggin’ Train

(1) WELL WISHING. James H. Burns, the frequent File 770 columnist, is in the hospital – keep him in mind.

Hey, folks: Quite unexpectedly, I’m in Mercy Hospital, in Rockville Center, at least through the weekend. Cards and visitors welcome! Room 245A.1000 N Village Ave.Rockville Center, NY.11570

(2) NEW BEST FANZINE FINALIST. Lady Business acknowledged its nomination in “Hugo Ballot Finalist Announcement, or More Ladies and Queers on Your Ballot”.

We at Lady Business are excited to announce that we have accepted a place on the final ballot for Best Fanzine in the 2016 Hugo Awards.

This is a strange year to be be a Hugo finalist. If you’ve been following the Hugo Awards, you know that the last couple of years have been controversial. We prefer not to dwell on the controversy here, but if you’re unfamiliar and would like a summary, Fanlore has a good overview. After the 2016 finalists were announced, one of the original five Fanzine finalists, Black Gate, withdrew from consideration. The Hugo administrators contacted us to let us know that we were next in the voting tally, and offered us the open slot. After some conflicted deliberation, we decided that we wanted to acknowledge the people who voted for us in the nomination phase, and we accepted a place on the final list….


(4) PARTY PLANNER. George R.R. Martin welcomes “The Replacements”. And contemplates their impact on the Alfies.

…((Though I am curious as to whether these two new finalists were indeed sixth. It seemed to take MAC a rather long time to announce the replacements after the withdrawal, something that could presumably be accomplished in minutes just by looking at the list and seeing who was next up — unless, perhaps, there were other withdrawals along the way? We’ll find out come August)).

Short Story and Fanzine were two categories where the Rabid Puppies had swept the field, top to bottom. Accordingly, they were also two categories that I had earmarked as being in need of Alfies. But the withdrawals and replacements broke the Rabid stranglehold, leaving me with a decision to make — do I still present Alfies in those categories, or no?

I am going to need to ponder that for a while.

(5) KNOCK-ON EFFECT. With SF Signal’s announcement fresh in mind. Adam Whitehead discusses “Blogging in the Age of Austerity” at The Wertzone.

…For bloggers who do have day jobs and families, it’s become clear that the lack of material reward for blogging means greater pressure to step away and spend that time instead with loved ones or doing other things. And that’s why it’s easy to see why the guys at SF Signal decided to step away. If I get one of the several jobs I’m currently going through the recruitment process for, the amount of blogging on the site will have to fall as I devote time to that instead.

Is there a way around this? Should there be? Kind of. For a lot of bloggers, blogging is a springboard into writing fiction and once they make that transition, the blogging is left behind. For me, I have no interest in writing fiction day in, day out. I may one day try my hand at writing a short story or a novel if a story demands to be told, but I’m never going to be a career fiction writer. I much prefer writing about the genre as a critic, but the paid market for that is much smaller. After over five months doing the rounds with my agent, A History of Epic Fantasy has failed to garner as much as the merest flicker of interest from a professional publisher, despite the people nominating it for awards (and in any year but this one, it might even have stood a chance of making the shortlist) and clamouring for the book version (look for an update on that soon). But even if that takes off, that’s just one project. Being an SFF critic isn’t much of a career path these days, especially with venues drying up (even the mighty SFX Magazine seems to be in financial trouble and may not last much longer)….

(6) WITHOUT MUMBLING. At Fantasy Literature Sam Bowring takes up the perpetual challenge — “Coming Up with Fantasy Names: A Somewhat Vague and Impractical Guide”.

One of the hardest aspects of writing a fantasy story, I find, is conjuring a bunch of made-up names that don’t sound like I spilled alphabet soup on a crossword puzzle. It’s important to get names right, of course. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has flung away a potential read in disgust because the blurb said something about a protagonist called ‘Nynmn’dryhl of the Xyl’turym’. Can I buy a vowel, please? I’m also guessing this is one reason why so few fantasy worlds include any equivalent of telephones, for everyone would be forever spelling their names over them.

That said, personal appreciation of fantasy names is about as subjective as it gets. One person’s ‘Nynmn’dryhl’ may be another’s ‘Bilbo Baggins’. It would be arrogant for me to sit here (I really must get a standing desk so I can sound more authoritative when I type) and tell you what does or does not make a good fantasy name, especially when I myself have created names I know for a fact that others find cringe-worthy. One of my good friends, for instance, never lets me forgot that I named a place ‘Whisperwood’. ‘Whisperwood,’ he will say, years later, out of the blue, shaking his head in dismay.

Thus instead I’ll merely tell you about general approaches I find to be useful. One such, which I imagine is a common starting point for many authors, is to simply diddle around with various syllables, rearranging them in different ways until striking upon a pleasing combination. I do not own the patent for this, and mind altering drugs are optional. Losara, Olakanzar, Lalenda, Elessa are all the results of such a ‘process’, as we shall kindly call it…

(7) SCIENCE TOO. The Traveler at Galactic Journey begins “[May 6, 1961] Dreams into Reality (First American in Space)” by connecting the dots.

I’ve been asked why it is that, as a reviewer of science fiction, I devote so much ink to the Space Race and other scientific non-fiction.  I find it interesting that fans of the first would not necessarily be interested in the second, and vice versa.

There are three reasons non-fiction figures so prominently in this column:

1) I like non-fiction;

2) All the science fiction mags have a non-fiction column;

3) Science fiction without science fact is without context.

(8) SENSE8. From SciFiNow, “Sense8 Season 2 sneak peek photos give a look at what’s to come”.

Sense8‘s co-creator Lana Wachowski shared a tonne of brand new Season 2 production stills on the show’s official Tumblr page recently (sense8.tumblr.com if you’re bored…), and they are absolutely delightful. They also look potentially spoilerific, so browse through the above gallery with caution.

(9) TRIBAL THEORY. Damien G. Walter takes up the topic “Have the Locus awards been hit with ‘myopic sexism’” at The Guardian.

Taken as a whole, the Locus awards were broadly representative of a sci-fi field that is continuing to grow in diversity: 18 female to 17 male writers, with many upcoming writers of colour among the voters’ top picks. Placed in that context, the way the YA category has turned out seems less like myopic sexism, and more indicative of the older demographic of readers who read Locus magazine and see the YA genre from their own preferences. When I caught up with Joe Abercrombie, nominated twice in the category for his Shattered Seas trilogy, he agreed.

“I think this has much more to do with adult SF&F readers voting for the authors they recognise, and tending to read YA that crosses over into SF&F territory.” Abercrombie’s popularity among adult readers has carried over to his YA books, which in America have been sold and marketed as adult fantasy; it’s that adult readership, who recognise Abercrombie as one of their tribe, whose votes count in the Locus award. “I’m pleased people voted for me,” he says, “but I don’t think it’s ever a good thing when someone’s on the same shortlist twice.”

(10) SF IN PORTUGAL. Luis Filipe Silva’s new entry on Portugal for the Science Fiction Encyclopedia chronicles the past century of sf/f there. The focus is on fiction, as one would expect, with this being the only comment about the interaction between literature and national politics:

Nevertheless, if utopia bewitches the faithful, it frightens the unbelievers. A decade of political and social turmoil, following the Regicide in 1908 that turned Portugal into an uneasy Republic, inspires some highly pamphletary Dystopian fiction: in A Cidade Vermelha [“The Red City”] (1923) by Luís Costa, the misguided Portuguese people welcome a full Republican/Communist government, only to see the country devolve into absolute chaos; it is not surprising that the people then cry for the return of the unjustly deposed monarch, who comes back from exile and sets things right again. Amid such strong ideological trends, any text that pictures an ideal future based solely on the workings of science and technology becomes a rarity: in the landmark vision of Lisboa no Ano 2000 [“Lisbon in the Year 2000”] (1906), Melo de Matos (years) turns Lisbon into a major world economic hub thanks to advances in Transportation and Communication made by Portuguese Scientists.

I was curious, after reading many posts by Sarah A. Hoyt.

(11) COMMONWEALTH SHORT STORY PRIZE. Locus Online reports a speculative story by Tina Makereti is one of five winners of the 2016 Pacific Regional Commonwealth Prize.

The 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize judges have announced this year’s five regional winners, including the speculative story “Black Milk” by Tina Makereti (New Zealand) for the Pacific region.

…The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded to the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English, and short stories translated into English from other languages (stories may be submitted in their original language if not in English). Five winning writers from five different Commonwealth regions receive £2,500 (USD $3,835), and the overall winner receives £5,000 ($7,670)….

(12) BLAME HARRY. Fantasy causes brain damage, according to a school headmaster in the UK — “Nailsworth teacher claims Harry Potter books cause mental illness”.

A headmaster has urged pupils not to read Harry Potter – claiming the books cause mental illness.

Graeme Whiting also said other fantasy titles such as Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games and Terry Pratchett encourage ‘difficult behaviour’. He told parents to steer clear of JK Rowling’s ‘frightening’ books and they should read classics like Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley and Shakespeare. Writing on his blog, Mr Whiting, head of the independent Acorn School in Nailsworth, Gloucester, thinks that people should have a ‘special licence’ to buy fantasy books. He wrote: “I want children to read literature that is conducive to their age and leave those mystical and frightening texts for when they can discern reality, and when they have first learned to love beauty….”

(13) AFTERMATH. Anne Heche and James Tupper have been cast as the leads in Syfy’s forthcoming post-apocalyptic series Aftermath. Deadline reports the former Men in Trees co-stars will reunite on screen  as a married couple who “have to contend with supernatural creatures as well as their own teenage children after a series of natural disasters finally sticks a fork in life as we know it.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

215 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/6/16 Waggin’ Train

  1. I started Discworld at book one and went on from there. Aside from a 10 year delay between reading books 2 and 3, I have no idea why you’d say that.

    Lots of reading alt.fan.pratchett and noticing the trends of people who bounced off the first two and only came back when someone suggested one of the later ones.

  2. Emma: It might behoove Locus to put a bit more thought into this list in any case—they tried to put Steles of the Sky on this year’s rec list, even though it won a Locus Award last year. I have no idea what sort of process is used to make the list, but it can’t be that rigorous, if this result can occur.

    I don’t think that they put any thought into the actual recommendation list. The thought part has all been done ahead of time, during their reviews. At the end of the year, someone goes through and lists all the books which attained a certain level in their Locus review. Steles probably got onto the list via an error of collation, or possibly because the paperback came out in July 2015.

  3. >The book has a swimming giant llama? This is somewhere on my TBR list, but I may have to move it up now.

    Silly. It’s a moose.

  4. @Jamoche,
    Re: Discworld.
    The first two are so clearly different from the latter books that I wouldn’t recommend them as entrypoints to the setting. (Depending on the reader I’d go with “Pyramids”, “Guards! Guards!”, or “Mort”)

  5. @Jim Henley: People like Graeme Whiting used to gall me. Now there are so few left I feel there should be rules against hunting them, and funding campaigns to preserve their habitat.

    A little house where he can have a nice gruel and never see anything unexpected.

  6. Silly. It’s a moose.

    More or less, although I think that the one on that cover is far too large.

  7. Emma: My general point being: I think talking about the Locus Awards without discussing the Locus Recommended Reading List is problematic…The short fiction categories are always sure to be stacked with choices that stand to promote the financial interests of those making up the list. These are structural biases that have little to do with subjective ideas about taste.

    I’ve been noticing this myself, plus others have also done analyses of the Locus list and noted an obvious bias. Then note the correlation of the Locus list with other awards. Likely the strong influence of financial interests is the basis of some of the Sad/Rabid Puppies complaints.

    About changes in the Locus awards after 2004, do you think this had to do with a change in the writing between men/women, or maybe a change in reader taste?

  8. More properly shouldn’t that be a Møøse?

    A Møøse once bit my sister…

    (Not sure the ø characters will display correctly but worth a shot…)

  9. FWIW, the first Pratchett I read was “Going Postal,” bought at a book fair in my office building. Loved it. (I started “The Thief of Time” earlier, but bounced off it because I wasn’t really in the mood for that kind of book right then.)

    I read one of the Lensman books, might have been “Grey Lensman,” at 12 or so, probably the best age to read it. Liked it, but remember thinking it was loooong. Never read any others.

  10. Has anyone ever seen a photo of Janet Kagan? I tried Googling, but there don’t seem to be any extant on the Internet.

  11. Regarding the cover of Mirabile:
    With those front flippers, it’s probably one of the creatures from the first story, an bqqre (rot13ed, not to spoil the story). (though, yes, probably larger in the illo than it should be)

  12. I just looked at the e-mail directory where I file the correspondence for the Locus RecRead process. First message for the 2015 list came in mid-October of last year and the last is dated January 5. The distribution list ran to 17 names (nine women, eight men). The nearly 90 messages include calls for suggestions, list revisions, eligibility and source queries, general comments. (Since I read little short fiction, I participate only in the long-fiction part, with a handful of exceptions for the contents of collections and anthologies I review. But I’m copied on the entire process.)

    These are mere facts and figures and do not address matters of institutional culture or how much more thought it might behoove the reviewers, editors, writers, and commentators who compile the list to give it. Neither Emma nor JJ seem to have much idea of exactly what goes into making it–in fact, JJ has a precisely wrong idea about the process. (One might start by Googling “Locus Recommended Reading” and look at the 2015 list posted on the Locusmag site–it includes a partial list of the people involved.)

    I do not speak for Locus, but I do think I can speak of it. I have written for the magazine for more than 26 years and known some of the people involved in the list-making for decades, and looking for obscure or unhealthy influences on this process–or on the Locus Poll, which is open to anyone who cares to fill out the ballot–is a mug’s game.

  13. And what’s in the news today… Voxman’s apologists lowering the bar for victory further still, so nothing nothing new then.

    As for Lensman, I tried reading Smith at 14, when I’d happily read any piece of turgid crap that happened to have a spaceship on the cover (hi, Brad!). Even then I bounced off his stuff.

  14. The first two are so clearly different from the latter books that I wouldn’t recommend them as entrypoints to the setting.

    Yep, that’s the point. There are people who think they should always start with the first books, and that’s not always a good idea. Triplanetary is older than the Lensman series, but it wasn’t originally written as one and it’s not a good starting point. Likewise, influential as it is, I would *not* recommend Skylark unless you absolutely loved Triplanetary; it’s from the 20s and the age shows.

    I knew someone who kept picking up Rincewind books and hating them, and had given up on Pratchett but she trusted me when I said she’d love the Guards and the witches.

  15. Those are very good pictures of Janet as I remember her–thin, blonde-ish, glasses, big smile–and if you want to imagine her at a convention, you should add a wonderful hat. I particularly recall an orange one with a large, flat brim. I recently learned that Janet’s hat collection was inherited by Alison Hartwell, who wore an appropriate black one to her father’s funeral.

    Janet is the Pirate Queen in John M. Ford’s How Much for Just the Planet. (The bride is Diane Duane, who got married at around that time, and the innkeepers ore Pamela Dean and David Dyer-Bennett, if I recall correctly; and I believe there are some other avatars that I can’t remember–and the author himself, of course.)

  16. In How Much for Just the Planet, Ilen the Magian is Neil Gaiman. Mike gave him a great song, “Monochrome.”

    You’re right about who the innkeepers are, and Janet makes a splendid pirate queen. Doesn’t Ricky appear there as well?

  17. @ JJ: I haven’t scanned it, but somewhere around here I’ve got a picture of Janet Kagan at Nolacon in 1988, resplendent in a tie-dye caftan that garnered her a hall costume award. I will always treasure the memory of being able to sit down with her for a while and geek out about her books.

  18. Kathryn Sullivan, thank you very much for making the effort to post those for me. 🙂

  19. Lee: I haven’t scanned it, but somewhere around here I’ve got a picture of Janet Kagan at Nolacon in 1988, resplendent in a tie-dye caftan that garnered her a hall costume award. I will always treasure the memory of being able to sit down with her for a while and geek out about her books.

    Lee, I’ve sent you a message via your website. 🙂

  20. Also, thanks to all for the comments about How Much For Just The Planet?.

    It’s been decades since I read that book, but it’s one of the few in the series which stuck in my memory (I made it up to around #90 before deciding that the quality was going downhill and I wanted to read more SFF that wasn’t Star Trek). I bought it on Kindle a few months ago, and am looking forward to re-reading it with the information enhancements you’ve provided.

  21. Well. I didn’t expect to see an illustration of a gigantic silver-colored Moose/Otter mashup today. Every day is different here on File770!

  22. James Davis Nicoll: John M. Cowan, I reread Gray Lensman in 2015 and came to the conclusion it was the wrong book to have had as my first Smith.

    Really, James, that’s what I hate about your reviews; they’re always so milquetoast.

    Can’t you express a strong opinion once in a while?   😉

  23. James Davis Nicoll: The Lensman books are among those best read while you’re still in the golden age of sf — which as you know is 12. I read them all when I was around 14-15. I really enjoyed them. (I was still young enough to admire the strict ethics of someone who kept his promise, even to a spider…) Yet by the time I was around 20 I had written an article for Roy Tackett’s Dynatron comparing the series’ elements to issues coming out of the Vietnam War — a piece which was handicapped by my inability to decide whether I was being satirical or serious. Either way, I had demonstrably outgrown my golden age…

  24. @Mike Glyer Either way, I had demonstrably outgrown my golden age…

    So many things about aging they don’t warn us about. Or how early it starts.

  25. I actually think the second Discworld might be a reasonable place to start—since that’s where I actually started.

    I found a copy of A Light Fantastic when it was first published, and gave it a try, more or less at random, since Pratchett wasn’t particularly famous at that point. I found it enjoyable but unexceptional. Good enough that I was willing to read the next one when it came out.

    I didn’t manage to track down The Colour of Magic until many years later. When I finally did read TCoM, I was so stunned at how weak it was compared to later books that I had to immediately go back and re-read ALF to see if I had simply forgotten how weak it was. And I concluded that it wasn’t anywhere near as weak.

    I’m not sure I’d actually recommend starting with A Light Fantastic, but I think it’s certainly a better starting place than TCoM. 🙂

  26. Xtifr,

    There’s the reason a lot of writing advice (rightly or wrongly) call for a book to start in media res.

  27. Late to the party (but not as late as @Lela E. Buis, it seems 😉 ):

    @JJ: I’m surprised “middle of the pack” goes below No Award for you, but we all do it differently. I guess I’m a weak No Award and you’re a strong (stern?) one.

    @JJ & @Doctor Science: S.K. Dunstall has a The Atlantic Gene book, third in a series starting with The Atlantis Girl), but not with the word Origin, like the one JJ found, which I didn’t when I went looking, ‘cuz either way, the title sounded so familiar to me! Anyway, I don’t know which books Doctor Science meant, but FYI, there’s room for author/title confusion here. 😉

    @Mike Glyer: “I also wonder if they didn’t build a couple of days of waiting into the process to see if any more people would announce they were dropping off.”

    That was my first thought, when people were wondering what was taking so long. Then the announcement came, and my second thought was, “That really wasn’t very long at all, folks.” 😉

    Also: Thanks for the note re. the slate impact post update! I commented over there, I think??? I’ve been horribly behind on File770.com for a while now, but I’m starting to catch up. If you could post less, and people could freaking comment a lot less, that would help a lot KTHXBYE. No? Ah well, worth a shot. 😀

    which as you know, Bob, is 12.

    FTFY. 😉

    @Darren Garrison: I’m not a fan of those Baen Kagan covers, but I’m unfamiliar with her books, so maybe they’re a good fit? Also: LOL at the Transformer line of pens! Those Sailor Moon pens, though. Hmm.

    @BigelowT: ROFL at your excellent Beatles/Voxman filk, thanks!

    @Emma & @Russell Letson: Interesting comments about the Locus Awards and the Locus Recommended Reading List, thanks!

  28. Sorry that’s one big wall o’ text; I couldn’t figure out how to break it up logically without making all separate posts, which I didn’t want to do.

    Also: I forgot to check the box! As per usual.


  29. Kendall: I’m surprised “middle of the pack” goes below No Award for you, but we all do it differently. I guess I’m a weak No Award and you’re a strong (stern?) one.

    I think I’ve gotten sterner in recent years, as I’ve become more experienced and self-confident about my assessments of books and stories.

    To me, books are like movies: I enjoy the vast majority of movies I see, but would I be okay with each of them appearing on the Oscar ballot? Hell, no. An Academy-Award-level movie needs to be something pretty special.

    Likewise, I enjoy the vast majority of books and stories I read, but do I think most of them are special enough to deserve a place on the Hugo ballot? No, and that’s the question I ask myself now when evaluating Finalists. An entry doesn’t need to have been one of my personal favorites — but it does need to have what I would consider something that makes it stand out amongst the year’s crop.

    This particular year, I’d have been fine with any of the top 10 or 12 of the 30 Novellas I read making the ballot. Anything I ranked below that generally gets at best the description “fine” or “enjoyable”, but doesn’t make the grade for “Hugo-worthy”.

    (For comparison purposes, of the 70 novels I read, I wouldn’t argue with any of the top 20 showing up on the ballot. This year, 3 of them did. A 4th is a definite No Award. I haven’t read one of the others yet, but I don’t expect to be incrementing the number 3.)

  30. @Ray: I kinda hope more people who can’t be there ask Zoe Quinn to accept for them.

    @Cally: Excellent info-gathering. Don’t our parks need to be next to each other for all the Ancillary jokes to work? Also that way, it could be made into one big park. We want high traffic, right? GET THE BEST SPOTS NOW!!! Inflated raptors would be great, after all they’re now in two recent nominated stories, SBRI and “If You Were”.

    @robinareid: And unlike Baen’s usual, the covers for the Kagan books aren’t hideous! Must buy soon.

    I’m one of the Lucky 10K today about her (and others) in “How Much For Just the Planet?” Must read the paperback again, it’s been a few years.

    I’ve got to say this once. Mayor KHAAAAAAAAAN! (I’ll show myself out).

  31. I started with Color of Magic, but there weren’t any better one published then.

    I remember being slightly late for a great uncle’s funeral because we needed to stay in the car to listen to an episode being broadcast as part of BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour. Never worked out if they thought Terry was really Theresa.

  32. @JJ: Thanks, that makes sense to me, even as I do it differently. This is the money quote for me, BTW: “it does need to have what I would consider something that makes it stand out amongst the year’s crop.” That’s a good metric, and – except for including No Award on my ballot – is what I sorta do, though I’m probably more easy-going than I should be.

    BTW, I’m curious, do you ever leave things off your ballot, but not put No Award on your ballot? Just curious/nosy, and of course, no need to answer if you’d rather not.

    @lurkertype: “I kinda hope more people who can’t be there ask Zoe Quinn to accept for them.”

    That’s just what I was thinking! 😀 Or even, hey, how about if people who are there ask her to help them go up to pick up their award or something. (Okay, it’s late and I’m punchy – don’t take that idea seriously.)

  33. Kendall: I’m curious, do you ever leave things off your ballot, but not put No Award on your ballot? Just curious/nosy, and of course, no need to answer if you’d rather not.

    I generally rank everything (whether it’s below No Award or not), because I usually have a preference.

    I could count on the fingers of one hand (or less) the number of times I used No Award before 2014 * cough That Leviathan Whom Thou Hast Made cough*.

    But between the Puppy works from the last couple of years, and the execrable novelette which took the rocket last year, I think that my threshold for No Award has risen a fair bit. 😐

  34. @Kendall BTW, I’m curious, do you ever leave things off your ballot, but not put No Award on your ballot? Just curious/nosy, and of course, no need to answer if you’d rather not.

    I’m not JJ but I thought I’d give another perspective. Prior to puppygate I didn’t use NA. However I didn’t always get to everything. If I don’t read something I leave if off the ballot.

    There are also several categories I don’t participate in since the car accident in 2012: Dramatic Presentation (long and short) and Fancast because I can’t watch/listen. I leave all 3 categories blank.

    Long and short editor is always difficult. If the samples included or the names are ones I know I’ve read a lot of work from in the given year I rank. For editors who don’t give enough for me to work with I leave off my ballot. Some years this means Long Editor is left blank. Short Editor usually has at least one editor I’ve read stuff by.

    I started using NA during SP1. I’ve gotten more comfortable with when I use NA and when I leave work off the ballot. This will be my first year ranking work under NA (possibly Chuck Tingle).

  35. @Cora Buhlert: VD’s insistence on slating Supernatural is one of the things about him that I really don’t understand. Yes, Supernatural has a strong fanbase, so one could suspect that VD is trying to tap into that fanbase (which is probably what he tried to do with My Little Pony). But Supernatural‘s fanbase are exactly the sort of people Vox doesn’t like, namely youngish tumblr users with SJW tendencies and a preference for slash. Besides, Supernatural is the slashiest show on US TV, extremely critical of religion and features men having emotions. Of course, it’s possible that he really is a fan, but I still wonder what he sees in it, since it doesn’t seem like his sort of thing at all.

    My Little Pony’s ethos is Liberté, égalité, fraternité. There’s nothing in The Cutie Map that counters it, but various parties have taken its opposition to conformism and used it to support their own political goals. In the Federalist’s case, that’s opposition to social equality, in Beale’s case it’s that and his particular form of phrenology.

    In the context of other nominations– He’s trolling. For all I know he sat in his house and chortled over using the tools of his enemies against them. It didn’t work out with Space Raptor Butt Invasion. Nope, it did not.

  36. @Mokoto

    ‘Puppies! I mean, say what you like about the tenets of Bronyism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos’.


    On Supernatural: It’s possible Beale is trying to rope in a large existing fandom. Then again, I’m leaning towards he may just enjoy the series. Action adventure, heroic manly buddies, an iconic gun, an iconic car, and a Christian themed mythos – I could see all that working for him. Sure there are other elements but they may not bother him or he may just be blind to them. I’m not sure I entirely believe but it’s alleged some folks didn’t realize Colbert was parody. Overlooking some of the elements of Supernatural, or having a different interpretation of them, doesn’t seem as far out as that.

  37. Leila E. Buis wrote:
    “Likely the strong influence of financial interests on the Sad and Rabid Puppies’ motivations is the basis of some of the Sad/Rabid Puppies complaints” [additions in bold are my own]

    Yes, the Sad and Rabid Puppies’ leaders were probably cheating because they hoped to end up richer out of it. Partly it was a platform to signal their conservative virtue to their natural audience and partly it was a belief that Hugo Voters could be bamboozled into giving awards to Puppies’ poor quality works, and that better sales would inevitably follow.

    But this is old news.

    I don’t think it’s worth speculating on whether Beale, in what passes for his heart, is capable of liking some work for its own sake. I doubt even Beale knows and in any case who cares what a cheater likes?

    Regarding the Lensman books–I am pretty sure I read (one of?) them as a teenager. It started out with some kind of parade drill in which some device that cancelled inertia was used. Basically magic, but okay. Then it turns out that only men can have magic because reasons. Annoying. Then we have what appears to be the major female character sobbing on her bed because she has fallen in love with the major male character–and wishing he had never been born.

    That was the point at which I said “Some really old books overcome their background; this one didn’t. I made allowances and this is still not worth my time.”

    My first Pratchett books were The Color Of Magic (US edition) and The Light Fantastic, and I enjoyed them a lot, but was not yet the “pursue works by a particular author” type of fan so it was many years before I stumbled over his later books which were Even Better. I think it was The Truth where I suddenly looked up from the book and thought “this is both a funny comment on society and a look at human nature that is simultaneously unflinching and kind-hearted. This writer is a genius.”

  38. First Pratchett book: I came to Pratchett from hearing a friend’s fantastic presentation on wizards vs. philosophers in the Discworld (casting my mind back into the hoary mists of time, I think it was at a Pop Culture, and it was sometime during the 1990s–in any case, it was rather hard to get Pterry books in the US at that time). I grabbed him afterwards, and asked what he’d recommend to start with, and he rec’d Small Gods as a stand-alone, but showing a great deal of the DW. Read it, loved it, started scouring the bookstores and soon amazon for MOAR. (I tend to rec that as the first, or Guards! Guards!–made a disaster of a mistake once and rec’d Hogfather.)

    I cannot remember what exact order I read them in, but yes, the first/earliest in the DW series were weaker (I managed to track down Stratos, The Bromeliad, and the Johnny Maxwell series because completist, and although I don’t enjoy those as much, they’re interesting to see in light of his development as a writer.

    The only thing I really like about the Rincewind series is the Librarian who is (sure I am among many) one of my favorite characters–well, things, maybe, cannot forget The Luggage!

    There’s only been one Pratchett I wasn’t able to complete, and it was the railway one (I quite enjoy Moist as a character, but that one bugged me–especially the lack of Adora Belle Dearheart.

  39. Re: Pratchett.

    I think I’ve talked about Pratchett before (when he passed away). My first Pratchett, divorced from Discworld, was Good Omens. I’d heard good things about it, hadn’t read much Gaiman OR Pratchett, and so tried it, liked it.

    Not much long later, I decided to try this Discworld thing. The first few Discworlds I found to be cute deconstructions of fantasy, but not really, you know, proper stories and novels. It was probably around Pyramids! and Guards! Guards! that I really started to grok what Discworld was, and what it could be, and really got hooked.

    One of my favorite bits of Vernor Vinge’s RAINBOW’S END is the VR people who have based their consensual reality on a set of Discworld novels, but amusingly at the time, set in a city that Pratchett hadn’t *yet* written about. Sadly, and tragically, of course, Pratchett in OTL never got to write about that Discworld city (which felt more like a Discworld entrepot with notes of Cairo and Damascus with a bit of Samarkand thrown in)

  40. @Paul – I feel we’ve all discussed Pratchett and our introductions to his work off and on here, but I kind of like it. I half-remember some people’s stories, and haven’t read others.

    Anyway… I got bored with short stories and novellas/novelettes last night, so I went back to The Truth. Given the caveats that I’ve only read one book out of order in Discworld (Maurice and His Amazing Rodents), this is feeling a lot like regular Middle Discworld to me. By which I mean, early Discworld sometimes has a skeletal plot that seems to exist mainly for the goofy jokes, puns, and (pop or-not) cultural references. As the series moves on, some of the recurring characters flesh out, and Pratchett’s essential… Pratchettness(?) humanity(?) starts coming through. By the point I’ve come to in Discworld, over half-way through, every book makes me glad I continued past the first few, and sad that it’s such a hard series for non-SFF people to get into, because it’s so wonderful, to the point that it almost makes me start believing in humanity.

    I need to go re-read the entire series when I’ve finished and make notes on each book and see if my tentative ideas about the series make sense, and flesh them out more. At one point, I was reading three or four consecutively and that makes some of them blur together in my head.

    Also, I love The Librarian, too. Such a great character. I almost wonder if he isn’t Pratchett’s wish-fulfillment character.

  41. @kathodus. If the Librarian isn’t a wish-fulfillment character, L-Space definitely IS wish-fulfillment of the highest order.

    (which, random plug, reminds me of Genevieve Cogman’s THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY, which is coming to US shores soon. I bought a UK copy and had it shipped over)

  42. The parks:

    @Cally: Excellent info-gathering. Don’t our parks need to be next to each other for all the Ancillary jokes to work? Also that way, it could be made into one big park. We want high traffic, right? GET THE BEST SPOTS NOW!!! Inflated raptors would be great, after all they’re now in two recent nominated stories, SBRI and “If You Were”.

    And maybe various folks could sometimes hide among the dinosaurs and occasionally spray passers by with a super soaker. Just an idea for another story salute.

    Pratchett–I read Good Omens years ago when it first came out… Late 80s? Early 90s? Have meant to revisit but haven’t yet.

    Otherwise I got into PRatchett via audiobook Rex’s, starting with The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents and then the first 2 if the Tiffany Aching books (Wee Free Men and Hat Full of Sky). I have Wintersmith but never got around to it yet. Then started with Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, I think I listened to Colour twice (because I couldn’t remember much about it when I wanted to stare Light) and then listened to part of Equal Rites and then wandered off to something else.

    Odd that I haven’t actually READ any Pratchett since Good Omens.

    I know, I should just ignore Equal Rites and move onto Mort, at least for now.

  43. Let’s not have Surprise Super Soakers, please. Story salute or not, that’s rude.

  44. Surprise Super Soakers would spoil my enjoyment of the parks. Some story salutes are better imagined than carried out, perhaps?

  45. Pratchett: I started with Sourcery when Mom handed it to me when I was about 11 and in and out of hospitals. The humor hit me in just the right spot; I hadn’t seen anything like that sort of genre-send-up satire before, nor the humorous footnotes. The book made a big impression on me.

    It also left me with a fondness for Rincewind; today I think it’s actually the best of his books. It does a great job of showcasing what happens when a character’s natural cowardice/apathy/tendency to say “this has nothing to do with me” meets its limits in his or her sense of “someone has to do something, and there’s no one else around to do it, so here I go.”

    I was less enchanted with The Color of Magic/The Light Fantastic when I later tracked those down. But I fell in love with them unexpectedly through Mark Oshiro’s reading of them. He’s been reading through all the Discworld books in publishing order, and something about his reactions to them makes them fresh and new again, and heart-warming in unexpected ways.

    His reading of Eric/Faust, however, guaranteed I will never be able to reread that one. Not saying that’s not a good thing, mind you…

    Werewolves/Kitty Norville: What’s been mentioned here about how the first book re-perspectives the werewolf pack trope is absolutely true. I’d add that this continues to be a theme throughout: the difference between dysfunctional packs (families) and healthy ones. You might even say that’s the real story of the series, or at least a parallel story: how Kitty finds/builds her pack. Vaughn put a lot of thinking into these and other aspects of werewolves, deconstructing/subverting tropes at need, reinventing others, and resulting in a much more satisfying story set in a much more complete and believable world peopled with characters who act like real people.

    I’m a big fan. 🙂

  46. Camestros Felapton :

    So there is a Neal, a Neil, a Nora, now two Naomi’s, and a Nnedi on the ballot. Clearly a disproportionate number of N’s. I may ask Dave Freer to work out the odds of this being a conspiracy – have the non-n’s been disNfranchised? ?

    Subliminal conditioning from Fallout 4?

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