Pixel Scroll 6/1/22 The Ones Who Scroll Away From Pixelas

(1) BURKE TELLS MORE ABOUT HER BALTICON EXPERIENCE. Stephanie Burke has written a 2600-word comment on File 770’s “Balticon Chair Apologizes After Author Stephanie Burke Removed From Panels” post that goes into fuller detail about her experience. The link is here. In the last two paragraphs she says —

…It took me close to 20 years to build up my reputation there as a person who did her best to make sure everyone had representation, that willful ignorance would be avoided, to be someone who was safe for anyone to speak to, to offer info, links, and some perspective that may help them as well as learn how I can improv myself, and now it is gone here with no proof and no way to defend myself. All I got was the decision of the board still stands and I still don’t have an idea of what exactly I was supposed to have said. They told me they didn’t have the recordings in the room where ever panel was recorded so unless someone is lying about the recording, I’ll never get the chance to defend myself. Unless of course, the recording is found at the last moment but to me that sounds like looking for proof of guilt than proof of evidence of innocence.

One of the last things I told them and still remains true, was that closest feeling I could aquait with being walked out of that room like that was a time when I was a teen working at a summer camp when some woman claimed that I had stolen her wallet. I was marched out of the room like the cops knew I was guilty, the accusing eyes and twisted lips, only to be let back in a few moments later with the woman happily calling out that she just misplaced her wallet and just found it in her purse and everything was all good and okay now, right? The cops kind of shrugged at me and said okay and that was it but I went into the bathroom and threw up my lunch. This was the closest I had ever come to feeling like that and I never want to feel like that again. I know would feel it again if I walked into another Balticon event….

(2) FIRE DISPLACES SFF WORKSHOP. Taos Toolbox has moved to Albuquerque this year. Nancy Kress announced on Facebook.

Taos Toolbox is not going to be in Taos this year. The two-week intensive science-fiction writing workshop that Walter Jon Williams and I teach is usually held at the ski resort of Angel Fire, near Taos, New Mexico. However, the Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak wildfire is less than a dozen miles from Angel Fire and not yet close to being contained. Since it’s not good to incinerate workshop attendees, the workshop has moved to a hotel in Albuquerque….

Walter Jon Williams, the event’s founder, filled in the details on Facebook.

So quite a number of plans have gang agley in the last days, so I’ve been putting out fires— nearly literal fires.

Taos Toolbox, the master class for writers of science fiction and fantasy, starts this weekend, and has been held at the Angel Fire resort for the last decade or more. It’s a deluxe place in a beautiful mountain setting, and unless there’s a mountain bike rally or something, it’s not too crowded or noisy and we can concentrate on our work.

Except this year we have the Hermit’s Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in New Mexico history, over 300,000 acres and currently only 60% contained. It’s ten miles from Angel Fire, and when it gets a wind behind it, a fire can race along at 5 miles per day. Angel Fire has been at the “prepare to evacuate” stage for weeks now.

I mean, the pandemic wasn’t enough?

Now the fire is 60% contained, and the odds are Angel Fire would have been fine, but I couldn’t guarantee that. I couldn’t absolutely promise that Hermit’s Peak wouldn’t blaze up again, or that we wouldn’t have to evacuate 20 people to lodging unknown. So I moved the workshop to the Sonesta ES suite hotel in Albuquerque, which is quite luxe, offers free breakfast, and has a fine view of the semi trucks running past on the freeway….

(3) ROYALTY IN GENRE. The British Science Fiction Association anticipated Jubilee Weekend by launching this discussion topic:

Here are two of the many responses.

(4) THE GODFATHER. Craig Miller who created the Official Star Wars Fan Club for Lucasfilm told Facebook friends about his new nickname.

During the Star Wars Celebration panel “Fandom Through the Generations”, Dan Madsen – the founder of the Star Wars Celebration conventions and Star Wars Insider – called me “The Godfather of Star Wars Fandom”.

That actually felt a little weird. I suppose not entirely inaccurate. Part of my job was to take Star Wars to Fandom and to keep Lucasfilm of the mind that fans are important. But I’d never thought of it that way….

The post also contains a photo of the plaque and trophy Craig received this weekend when he was made an Honorary Member of the 501st Legion.

(5) SHOULD IT BE A PERMANENT HUGO? Trevor Quachri expands on a DisCon III panel discussion about the proposed Best Video Game Hugo in “The Play’s the Thing”, his editorial in the May/June Analog.

…So it seems straightforward: games, particularly of a “science fiction, fantasy, or related subject” bent (per the award description) deserve a permanent spot on the ballot, right?

Well, let’s hit the pause button for a moment.

Everyone on that games panel quickly stumbled over the same basic question: Given all of that background, what’s the primary criterion for judging the “best” game in a given year? And what makes the Hugo for Best Video Game different from any of the other already-existing game awards given out by fans, professional game designers, and the like? Is it a “writing in games” award? The Hugos may be primarily literary, but well-written games may not actually be the best games, taken on their own merits. (Chess, for example, isn’t a lesser game because the pieces don’t each have an elaborate backstory.)

And how do you explain what makes a good game to folks unfamiliar with them? Games are built from readily-understandable art to one degree or another—the graphics are art; the music is art; voice acting is acting, which is art; and yes, the stories in games are art—but the thing that makes games unique—the game part—isn’t so easily grasped….

(6) CORA BUHLERT. Camestros Felapton continues his series of why-you-should-vote-for each Best Fan Writer finalist with “Cora Buhlert: Hugo 2022 Fanwriter Finalist”.

Cora Buhlert is a prolific indie author, champion of independent publishing, blogger, pulp historian as well as a teacher and translator. Based in Germany, her sci-fi writing and reviews are primarily in English but she is also a tireless ambassador for science fiction from beyond the insular English speaking perspective on the genre.

(7) FROM THE START. Wole Talabi shared some “Preliminary Observations From An Incomplete History of African SFF” at the SFWA Blog.

When Did the History of Published African SFF Begin?

Tricky. And there is probably no right answer since publishing from early colonial Africa was problematic and it depends on what you define as SFF. I’ve arbitrarily limited my scope to works published between 1921 and 2021, even though I don’t have any entries from 1921. Why 100 years? To quote Geoff Ryman: Because it’s easy to remember. And the first entry in the database is Cameroonian Jean-Louis Njemba Medou’s Nnanga Kon, a novel published in 1932 in Bulu. I suppose that’s as good a point as any to start. However, that’s only one way to look at things. Another is to observe the rapid increase in published works that begins in 2011, peaks in 2016, and has somewhat stabilized since (although this could simply reflect my inability to keep up with documenting new works).

(8) COVID TRACKING. Balticon 56’s “Covid Reports” page lists five attendees who report they have tested positive.

This page will continue to be updated as COVID-19 positive tests are reported after the con. If you attended Balticon in person and have a positive test result before June 15th, please email [email protected].

(9) BACK FROM CONQUEST. Kij Johnson reports on a successful Ad Astra Center fundraiser in “Summer starts with a screeching sound, as of hot brakes making a hard turn.”

…Last weekend was a benefit auction for the Ad Astra Center, held at ConQuest, the KC SF convention, this was fantastic fun: we had a great team of six people, and ended up with more than 300 auction items, and made (we think) close to $3000, which is pretty extraordinary, considering this was a small con this year. (I also was on panels with Fonda Lee, Katherine Forrister, and other cool people.) Chris McKitterick and I had a chance to talk about what Ad Astra is looking forward to doing, and I am ever more excited by what’s going to be possible….

(10) SHALLOW ROOTS. Abigail Nussbaum says there’s a reason for the sense of sameness in the series’ second season in “Love, Death, Robots, but no Women” at Lawyers, Guns & Money.

…There have been thirty-five Love, Death + Robots episodes. Something like thirty of them are based on a previously-published short stories. Only one of those stories is by a woman. (Also, only one of those stories—not the same one—is by a person of color.) And frankly, that’s not only reprehensible in its own right, but it tells in the final product. There’s a certain laddishness to the stories the show chooses to tell, a disinterest in the inner life of anyone but manly, taciturn men. Bug hunt stories abound, and despite the show identifying itself as science fiction, there is no shortage of episodes that are just plain horror, whose appeal seems primarily to be watching a lot of people get torn to bits cinematically (“The Secret War” in season 1; “The Tall Grass”, season 2; “Bad Traveling”, season 3). Though some episodes have female protagonists, there are also a lot of stories where women exist to be ogled (“The Witness”, season 1) or fucked (“Beyond the Aquilla Rift”, season 1; “Snow in the Desert”, season 2).

I watched the recently-released third season over the last couple of evenings and was not impressed…. 

(11) STRANGER TV. In contrast, Nussbaum enthuses about “Stranger Things Season 4, Volume I” on her Tumblr.

Folks, I am somewhat flabbergasted to report that the fourth season of Stranger Things – a show that I would previously have described as “derivative fun, if you don’t think about it too hard” – is not only its best, but genuinely good TV. There are some caveats to this claim – the last two episodes haven’t been released yet, and the protracted episode runtimes (ranging from 63 to 98 minutes) are impossible to justify – though for the most part the show wears them pretty lightly. But even so, this sort of thing just doesn’t happen…. 


1984 [By Cat Eldridge.] I still remember The Dune Encyclopedia fondly as it is an amazing creation. Published by Berkley thirty-eight years ago, it was written by Willis E. McNelly and forty-two other individuals not as a work of non-fiction but rather as an in-universe work. Everything in it was something that was supposed to actually be true. It was edited by Hadi Benotto, an archaeologist you’ll find in God Emperor of Dune and Heretics of Dune.

It was authorized by Herbert, who considered it canon, and went into detail such things as character biographies, looks at the worlds in that universe, a look at the spice melange, how such things as the stillsuits and the heighliners of the Spacing Guild function.

Herbert wrote the foreword to The Dune Encyclopedia and said: “Here is a rich background (and foreground) for the Dune Chronicles, including scholarly bypaths and amusing sidelights. Some of the contributions are sure to arouse controversy, based as they are on questionable sources … I must confess that I found it fascinating to re-enter here some of the sources on which the Chronicles are built. As the first ‘Dune fan’, I give this encyclopedia my delighted approval, although I hold my own counsel on some of the issues still to be explored as the Chronicles unfold.” 

Brian Herbert later, being the, well, I can’t use the word I want to use, declared everything here non-canon. That allowed him to write anything he wanted to in the novels he and Kevin J. Anderson have putting out by the armload. He even said his father never intended it to be canon.

If you’d like to purchase a copy today, it’ll cost you dearly, particularly in hardcover. A good copy is now running around two hundred and fifty dollars. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 1, 1926 Andy Griffith. His most notable SFF genre credit is as Harry Broderick on the late Seventies Salvage I which lasted for two short seasons. Actually that was it, other than a one-off on The Bionic Woman. It’s streaming for free on Crackle whatever the Frelling that is. (Died 2012.)
  • Born June 1, 1928 Janet Grahame Johnstone, and Anne Grahame Johnstone. British twin sisters who were children’s book illustrators best remembered for their prolific artwork and for illustrating Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians. They were always more popular with the public than they were with the critics who consider them twee. (Janet died 1979. Anne died 1988.)
  • Born June 1, 1940 René Auberjonois. Odo on DS9. He’s shown up on a number of genre productions including Wonder WomanThe Outer LimitsNight GalleryThe Bionic WomanBatman Forever, King Kong, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryEnterpriseStargate SG-1 and Warehouse 13He’s lent both his voice and likeness to gaming productions in recent years, and has done voice work for the animated Green Lantern and Justice League series. He directed eight episodes of DS9. And he wrote a lot of novels, none of which I’ve read. Has anyone here read any of them? (Died 2019.)
  • Born June 1, 1947 Jonathan Pryce, 75. I remember him best as the unnamed bureaucrat in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He’s had a long career in genre works including Brazil, Something Wicked This Way Comes as Mr. Dark himself, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Governor Weatherby Swann, The Brothers Grimm, in the G.I. Joe films as the U.S. President and most recently in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote as Don Quixote. 
  • Born June 1, 1948 Powers Boothe. Though not genre, he played saloon owner Cy Tolliver on the Deadwood series, and “Curly Bill” Brocius in Tombstone, one of my favorite films. Now genre wise, he’s in the animated Superman: Brainiac Attacks voicing Lex Luthor, The Avengers as Gideon Malick, Gorilla Grodd and Red Tornado in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited and a recurring role as Gideon Malick in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series. (Died 2017.)
  • Born June 1, 1954 Michael P. Kube-McDowell, 68. A filker which gets major points in my book. And yes, I’m stalling while I try to remember what of his I’ve read. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read both of his Isaac Asimov’s Robot City novels, and now I can recall reading Alternities as well. God, it’s been at least twenty years since I read him which I thought odd, but then I noticed at ISFDB that he hasn’t published a novel in that long. 
  • Born June 1, 1966 David Dean Oberhelman. Another one who died far too young. Mike has an appreciation of him hereThe Intersection of Fantasy and Native America: From H.P. Lovecraft to Leslie Marmon Silko which he co-wrote with Amy H. Sturgis was published by The Mythopoeic Press. ISFDB lists just one genre essay by him, “From Iberian to Ibran and Catholic to Quintarian”, printed in Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy. (Died 2018.)
  • Born June 1, 1996 Tom Holland, 26. He’s known for playing Spider-Man in five films: Captain America: Civil WarSpider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and the recently out Spider-Man: Far From Home

(14) IT’S GOT ISSUES. At The Verge, Alex Cranz says, “The merging of Comixology and Kindle has created a hell I’d like to escape”.

In February of this year, Amazon finally completed its consumption of the once independent app for downloading comics, Comixology. Amazon had acquired the app way back in 2013, and apart from removing the ability to buy comics directly from the app, it left it untouched for nearly a decade. But this year, Amazon changed things — incorporating Comixology’s digital marketplace directly into the Kindle ecosystem and totally redesigning the Comixology app. It has taken two distinct mediums — digital comics and digital books — and smashed them together into an unholy blob of content that is worse in every single way. Apparently, if you let one company acquire a near-monopoly in the digital books and comics spaces, it will do terrible things that make the experience worse….

…The new Comixology app is largely just… annoying. That’s the best word for it. Everything you need is still there, but the design isn’t really intuitive, and it can make a large collection of comics (I’ve been using Comixology since 2011) difficult to navigate. It feels sort of like when you go to the grocery store after they move aisles around. Everything is still there, but the change feels so dramatic after years of the familiar.

But where my local Food Bazaar will helpfully label the aisles, Comixology has not. There are no clear labels for useful built-in tools like its “Guided View,” which is designed to fluidly move you from panel to panel with a swipe instead of having each page take up the whole display. The Guided View is still there, but the clear explanation of what it is or how to use it is gone. You access it by double-tapping — which I only know because I was trying to access the menu to leave the book.

(15) CONFRONTING THE BLANK PAGE. Neil Clarke wrestles with the question of what he should be doing in his monthly Clarkesworld editorial: “Managing This Expectation”. He posits several ideas – here are two of them.

…Or perhaps, I’m filing a report of “criminal” acts? Earlier this week I was the victim of an ageist attack suggesting that I was “too old to be editing one of the leading science fiction magazines” and I should “get out of the way” so someone younger can do it. I’m only fifty-five, not the oldest editor I know, and not about to give up the magazine I started over one person’s disrespectful opinion on the matter. Their punishment is measured by the amount of time I continue to edit Clarkesworld.

Could be that it’s like being a referee, outlining how we’d like to see the game played? It’s perfectly fair to criticize or celebrate the finalists or winners of any award. Science fiction is a broad field with a variety of styles that might not appeal to everyone and the awards will reflect some of that. It’s only natural to be thrilled or disappointed when your favorite player wins, loses, or is benched. That said, we want a fair fight here. There should be no punching below the belt–criticizing or campaigning against based on anything other than the work they’ve done….

(16) FANTASY ART ON EXHIBIT. [Item by Bill.] The Hunter Museum of Art in Chattanooga, TN is holding this exhibition through September 5: “Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration”.

For hundreds of years, artists have been inspired by the imaginative potential of fantasy. Unlike science fiction, which is based on fact, fantasy presents an impossible reality—a universe where dragons breathe fire, angels battle demons, and magicians weave spells. Enchanted offers a thoughtful appraisal of how artists from the early 20th century to the present have brought to life myths, fairy tales, and modern epics like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. Featuring nearly 100 artworks, the exhibition explores Greek myths, Arthurian Legends, fairy tales, and modern superheroes.

The Hunter’s description of the event isn’t much, and a better one can be found here at the Norman Rockwell Museum, which organized the event.

There is an accompanying book available from Amazon and Bud’s Art Books.

If you can’t make it to Chattanooga, the exhibition is also travelling to Flint, MI and will be on display at the Flint Institute of Arts from September 24, 2022 – January 8, 2023.

(17) SOME CAN AND SOME CANTON. Camestros Felapton, in “Some Swiss news about far-right publisher Vox Day”, covers Vox Day’s announcement that he’s threatening to sue [Internet Archive link] the journalists who reported his purchase of a Swiss castle.

The journalists’ article includes this paragraph:

…On the internet, Vox Day summarizes the alt-right – to which he avoids being directly attached – as the defense of “the existence of the white man and the future of white children”. The blogger also confesses a certain admiration for Adolf Hitler. “National Socialism is not only human logic, it is also much more logical and true than communism, feminism or secular Zionism,” the Minnesota-born American writes on his blog. …

Vox always objects to being identified with Hitler and Nazis (see “Complaint About Term ‘Neo-Nazi’ Results in Foz Meadows Post Moving from Black Gate to Amazing Stories” from File 770 in 2016).

(18) YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE. JustWatch determined these were the “Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows in the US in May 2022”

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Spider-Man: No Way HomeStar Trek: Strange New Worlds
2Sonic the Hedgehog 2Obi-Wan Kenobi
4Ghostbusters: AfterlifeStranger Things
5MoonfallDoctor Who
6FirestarterMoon Knight
7Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomThe Man Who Fell to Earth
8Jurassic WorldThe Time Traveler’s Wife
9The BatmanHalo
10Sonic the HedgehogThe Twilight Zone

*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org

(19) BAGEL POWER. Accented Cinema is prepared to tell you “The Hidden Meaning of Everything Everywhere All at Once”.

Here it is! My analysis of the metaphors hidden in Everything Everywhere At at Once. Did you know why Michelle Yeoh put a googly eye on herself? Let’s find out!

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodhunt,” Fandom Games says while earlier installments of this franchise “turned a bunch of nerds into enerds wearing eye shadow,” this installment is “the latest in the ‘kill people in a rapidly shrinking circle genre.”  The narrator thinks the game is boring and says, “call me when Bloodhunt has Ariana Grande and industrial dancing!”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Bill, N., John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Maytree.]

29 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/1/22 The Ones Who Scroll Away From Pixelas

  1. (12) I’ve got a copy of the Dune Encyclopedia (trade paperback) – great stuff.

    (13) Griffith is in the genre adjacent Spy Hard as General Rancor, a cyborg villain.

    Pryce also played The Master in The zcurse of the Fatal Death

  2. As I said elsewhere, I was at one of Stephanie’s panels on Friday, and a) found it helpful for the novel I’m working on, and b) heard nothing whatsoever that bothered me. With all that’s going on, I’m starting to question the motives of the person who filed the complaint.
    Royalty? A lot of writers have them in their books. For some odd reason, most of them do not in any way resemble actual royalty in history, most of whom were self-serving scum (and the peasants are revolting).
    I can easily seen Herbert authorizing it – it would have been amazingly useful. Eric Flint’s 1632 universe has a database and spreadsheet for authors (ObDisclosure: I have three stories published in the Grantville Gazette, one in the current issue), as it’s over 9 million words, and trying to keep track of everyone and everything….
    15: Gee, so someone complained that the guy who started the magazine, and whose name it bears, is “too old to run it”? I’m not happy that they keep bouncing my stories… but if I felt that way, why, gee, maybe I’d start my own magazine, and show him how I could do it better….

  3. mark says I can easily seen Herbert authorizing it – it would have been amazingly useful. Eric Flint’s 1632 universe has a database and spreadsheet for authors (ObDisclosure: I have three stories published in the Grantville Gazette, one in the current issue), as it’s over 9 million words, and trying to keep track of everyone and everything….

    Yes Herbert authorised it, and declared it canon. He used chunks of it in his novels. His son decided that it was “inconvenient” so he officially declared that it wasn’t canon so he could write, and yes this is my opinion, the utter crap that he keeps putting out.

    Now listening to Rex Stout’s Fer-de-Lance which of course is quite delicious. Speaking of delicious, I’m nibbling tonight on Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups.

  4. Cat – well, he’s writing with KJAnderson, who I have issues with (specifically, his saga of seven suns). But then, what I’m still waiting for… back in the mid/late seventies, there was a review of the latest Dune novel by Herbert, and the comment I have always remembered is, “when Mr. Herbert finishes the series, some time around 1996 with Imperial Morticians of Dune”.

    And thanks, now I have to go downstairs and get chocolate….

  5. mark comments well, he’s writing with KJAnderson, who I have issues with (specifically, his saga of seven suns). But then, what I’m still waiting for… back in the mid/late seventies, there was a review of the latest Dune novel by Herbert, and the comment I have always remembered is, “when Mr. Herbert finishes the series, some time around 1996 with Imperial Morticians of Dune”.

    I will openly confess that I tried reading beyond Dune Messiah and failed miserably.

    And thanks, now I have to go downstairs and get chocolate….

    I always keep lots of dark chocolate on hand here in case the urge hits.

  6. 3) My 2 cents: Royalty is fine in fantasy, not in SF. Their existence in the past is a fact, but I hope to avoid them in the future.

  7. 14) I don’t think it’s a matter of monopoly and such, but rather, the software engineers working on customer-facing applications at Amazon just plain suck. Beyond belief. They will never encounter a piece of software they can’t make worse.

  8. (12) I hope someone can get it either reprinted or in digital form. (I would have bought it then, if I’d known about it. And had money.)

  9. 1) A lot of words from both sides, or at least one of them, but what did she actually say on the panel that started it? Can’t find it in all the verbiage.

  10. 14) Rochrist, rumor has it that Jeff Bezos personally interferes with User Interface Design… and he doesn’t know what customers actually want or need. There was also a lot of unhappiness about the most recent Kindle Firmware update 5.14.2. The mess might not be the engineers’ fault.

  11. @Jan-Erik Zanderson

    According to Stephanie Burke, she said:
    “ As for strapping and not taking meds, I said that when I was a child, there were no ADHD meds. I was strapped on the thighs by my grandmother’s pocketbook strap and told to sit still. After that I said that I learned to park my but on a bench but later learned other coping mechanisms. That’s all that I said about meds and strapping. I didn’t call for it, I just said what had happened to me as a child. Then I told the audience that I had ADHD, bipolar depression, anxiety, PTSD and a few other divergencies, about on par with my fellow panelists and the conversation went on after a laugh or two.”

    (Posted on this site https://file770.com/balticon-chair-apologizes-after-author-stephanie-burke-removed-from-panels/comment-page-2/#comments )

    Context is important but it seems that somebody interpreted that as meaning that the medications aren’t needed and that the strapping actually helped.

    I think that this is a misunderstanding, even though the second part looks like quite a stretch based on the information here.

    The words do seem a bit insensitive to me – although what was actually said may have been better (or worse, though I think that less likely) – context matters. But I don’t see it as rising to the level where I would think that a complaint was justified,

    The over-reaction by con staffers seem to be a bigger problem than the complaint. Though we have yet to hear their side of the story.

  12. I generally find monarchies in SF to be extremely unbelievable, but there’s a long list of preposterous ideas in SF that stick around because people are used to them. Monarchies and empires are not the worst of these.

    ETA: Maybe SF writers like to write about royalty because they hope their books will earn royalties! 🙂

    @rochrist: While I agree about the low quality of Amazon’s software, I suspect that low quality is a largely consequence of their monopoly position. With no competition to speak of, they have no incentive to do better.

  13. 17) Foz’s article can be found here

    Daybeale made threats, no lawsuit transpired, probably because there was little to nothing to hang a suit on in the original publication and perhaps strengthened by the explanation of the history and previous usages of the term “neo-Nazi” provided in the afterword. Or maybe, as other puppy-affiliates had earlier admonished, to deny oxygen to Amazing Stories (none of them really liked my championing of the “No Award” strategy for the Sasquan Hugo Awards).

    I addressed the new-nazis, alt-right and puppies the way I did because of its odious ideology and past history of demonstrated “accomplishments”, and the strong belief that while you can never entirely eliminate such thought, you DO have to knock it back every generation or so to manageable levels.

    “Monarchical” systems fit SF empires if the presumption is that travel between realms is similar in duration to land/sea travel prior to say, 1800s. Fiefdoms, owing a central authority honor and loyalty.

    How do you control an interstellar empire without a central authority? Take a look at the US Congress for a perfect example of how and why independent, some-form-of-representative-government systems would never work in the face of an external threat. “No, sorry, we’re not sending troops or weapons or supplies…we don’t want to be seen as antagonists. We don’t want to widen the scope of the war” (Even in the face of existential threat…Sound familiar?)

    Saberhagen’s berserker universe incorporates this to some degree…it took great effort to create a coalition sufficiently strong to beat back the machines, and it was almost sabotaged by non-participating systems.

    Look at what happens in Russell’s “And Then There None”: an entire interstellar empire brought to its knees by one (1) uncooperative planet!

    But, so far as I am concerned, the only justification needed for monarchies in SF is Anderson’s The High Crusade.

  14. Add me to the list of those that hate the latest Kindle update, which seems designed specifically for use on something like a Kindle Fire (with a color screen and a better processor), but for those of us who still use Kindle eReaders (I have an Oasis), it just gunks things up and makes it sluggish.

    12) I used to have a copy of the Dune Encyclopedia, and I also wish it was still more widely available. Didn’t remember it coming out as late as 1984, but that was a long time ago.

  15. 10: I don’t disagree with Nussbaum’s remarks on the narrowness of the subject matter and source material of LOVE, DEATH, + ROBOTS, but I do think the main reason for this is that the co-creator of the series, Tim Miller, is the primary curator. He has a ~350 title long list of stories he’d love to adapt, and they’re clearly all works that appeal to him personally. The crass military SF/horror stuff clearly is his wheelhouse, and it looks like for the most part his main consumption of SF short fiction was in the mid-’00s based on the selections he’s made so far (Scalzi’s works being an exception).

    I had the chance to ask him on a Clubhouse Q&A whether he could name any other SF authors he’d like to work with, and his initial answer was, “All of them.” But then he did say that there’s a specific Dan Simmons story he really wants to adapt, and went so far as personally calling Simmons at his home only to have his wife eventually tell him that Simmons wasn’t available after he explained he was from Netflix. David Fincher (also part of the Q&A) claimed he’d try to contact Simmons “if he’ll still talk to me.” [Fincher was many years ago attached to a feature film adaptation of THE TERROR that fell through.]

  16. @Elio: This is partly just another way of saying the same thing, but: LD&R was originally conceived as a remake of Heavy Metal (the movie). Miller was originally brought in on that version of the project. As someone who consumed a great deal of 1980s Heavy Metal (the magazine) and saw the movie, I can say that if someone a bit older than me had been very devoted to that material and it had been a formative influence on their tastes, and then they had to switch from literally remaking it to making something in the same spirit, they would come up with very much the kind of stuff described in Nussbaum’s review. I’ve only seen about 25% of the LD&R episodes, but the ones I saw are absolutely in line with that. Even the comedic stuff like “Automated Customer Service” is a type of thing that would have appeared in ’80s HM fairly often in between the more hard-boiled/lurid pieces. So I think it may be hard to distinguish between “this is Tim Miller’s personal taste” and “this is what you get if you closely imitate the most popular types of stories in ’80s HM and don’t stray far from those.”

  17. (3) Death to kings, now and forever. Sure, they’re historical, but so was typhus and I don’t really want to read about that either.

    I’ve quit reading books for uncritical monarchism, the last one that comes to mind was ‘The Priory of the Orange Tree’, and it was only the fact that I’ve really enjoyed Kate Elliot books in the past that kept me reading to the end of “The Servant Mage”.

    Instead of ranting further I’ll just end with this bit of analysis from Roast Beef Kazantzakis:
    “Schools are exactly designed to keep dudes from becoming kings” http://achewood.com/index.php?date=11022007

    (p.s. I am not a crackpot)

  18. @ELI: Yeah, the HEAVY METAL of it all is definitely a factor.

    I remember sneaking peeks at the magazine on newstands (in US Army base PXs and on-base convenience stores) when I was a a young teen in the early 90s. It was all very sexy and edgy and gory, and also very much geared to young men, which military bases tend to have a surfeit of.

  19. Steve D.: Look at what happens in Russell’s “And Then There None”: an entire interstellar empire brought to its knees by one (1) uncooperative planet!

    I love that story but don’t think the Empire is threatened by Gand. Those who came back to the ship having been Myob’ed by the populace don’t (or won’t, or can’t) see the appeal of the Gand philosophy, and those who saw how becoming a Gand could work for them and left the ship are no further cause for Empire bureaucrats to worry.

  20. @ Steve Davis
    Thanks for the link. Fine article, both reminding me of how SFF taught me to be a more thoughtful reader and showing the need to stand up in “real” life for the principles learned from reading.

  21. Powers Boothe was also FBI Agent Doyle in the underrated 2001 Horror movie, Frailty.

  22. Speaking as a Brit in the midst of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, I’m not sure that I believe in monarchy in the present, never mind in sci-fi.

  23. @gottacook

    the implication in the story was that another ship would be sent, and another, and another. At some point, the Gand philosophy would have made its way out into the empire – or, the empire would have wasted increasing resources to solve a perceived threat to its authority, a non-existent threat that they could never identify or eradicate.

    I think its pretty clear that the empire would eventually collapse

  24. Pingback: Top 10 Stories for June 2022 | File 770

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