Pixel Scroll 6/3/18 And The Gates Scrolled Open. “It’s Old Filer; Pixel Means Friend”

(1) OVERCOMER. Robyn Bennis provides “A Debut Author’s Guide to Social Anxiety”.

….If, on the other hand, the above feels like a gross exaggeration of your social anxiety, then perhaps I do have a handful of weird old tips for you.

Perhaps the most important thing is to have someone on your side. I am extremely lucky to have talented and fearless people who want me to succeed, and it has helped immeasurably. Now, this may seem like a bit of a paradox. Social anxiety can make recruiting your friends not just a Herculean task, but a mild imposition on them, and therefore an impossible request. “How can I make such a request,” you say, “as worthless and unworthy as I am? My friend surely has better things to do—like staring into space or streaming the complete run of She’s the Sheriff. I can’t let them waste their time on me.”

To get over this, the first thing you have to do is acknowledge that your brain is lying to you. I mean, Suzanne Somers is great and all, but that show just doesn’t hold up. Good acting can only go so far in saving such a horrible premise.

Oh, and your brain is also lying about your worthlessness. You are worthy and deserving of the help of others. But seriously, who the hell thought that show was a good idea?

(2) THE BOVA ERA. Do my eyes deceive me, a kind word for Analog? Well, not about just any issue — James Davis Nicoll reviews the Special Women’s Issue from June 1977 in “Nothing Without a Woman or a Girl”. (So, perhaps Galactic Journey will say something kind about the magazine in another 14 years?)

I have excoriated Ben Bova’s fiction in the past, but I have nothing but admiration for his work as editor for Analog. While Disco-Era Analog might seem a bit stodgy to modern eyes, at the time Bova was a breath of fresh air. Rather than settle for being a second-rate Campbell, he did his best to be a first-rate Bova. He recruited new authors, many of whom differed (excitingly) from Analog’s Old Guard. He also bought more stories by women than did his predecessor1. While some old guard objected to Bova’s direction, enough readers enjoyed it to give him a remarkable six Best Editor Hugo Awards, as well as one nomination for the same category….

Eyes of Amber won the Hugo. The Screwfly Solution won a Nebula. Two major awards for stories from one issue is remarkable. Other stories, such as the Tellure, may not have won accolades but were memorable enough for me to remember as soon as I laid eye on them. All things considered, this was a pretty awesome read to be my third ever issue of Analog. It’s no surprise that Bova was nominated for a Hugo on the basis of his 1977 work.

(3) ON THE TABLE. E.D.E. Bell lists five vegan foods to try:

…In my mind, whenever someone asks what could be vegan about fantasy, it proves to me that they’ve never been a vegan reading fantasy. In addition to a lot of the violence and war in the genre (it’s usually a central component, even outside of grimdark), the best scenes feature someone riding their steed in a fine leather vest to grab a hock of ham. I’m not even sure I know what hocks are, but I have concluded they are key to the development of fantasy heroes. So, you know, my fiction is just focused a bit differently. In fact, I think that diversity and exploration is what fantasy is all about.

I’m not here to get into all of that, though. I’m here to talk about one of Cat’s and my favorite subjects: yummy food. Now, I’m not an authority on gourmet cuisine. Go to a vegan restaurant or check out many amazing online vegan chefs for that. (I’m particularly fond of Richa Hingle.) Hey, I’m not even a great cook. But I haven’t eaten meat in almost a quarter century, so I can definitely speak to “what we eat.” Don’t worry. This is just a quick blog to spark some ideas. But if you don’t mind eating plants, here are five simple foods you could give a spin….

(4) WHERE RIVERS AND FANS MEET. The 2018 Confluence will be held at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport Hotel from July 27-29, with Guest of Honor Catherynne M. Valente and special music guest S.J “Sooj” Tucker.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first Confluence, although it is not the 30th Confluence (they had to skip 1999 and 2013).

(5) TOURISTS. Stormtroopers and other Imperial military personnel dropped in to see the sf exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of History today. (Photo by John King Tarpinian.)


  • Born June 2, 1920 — Bob Madle, one of only two surviving attendees of the very first Worldcon. It’s possible Bob is the oldest living SF fan.


(8) PIONEER FILK. Rob Hansen has added what appears to be the earliest filking fanzine produced in the UK to his THEN fanhistory site: “Songs From Space (1957)”.

Presented here is what appears to be the earliest filking fanzine published in the UK, which is dated August 1957. It was published by Eric Bentcliffe, reworked lyrics were by Sandy Sandfield, and artwork by Eddie Jones.

The final song, Space Club Drag, is inspired by The Space Club, a clubroom for London fandom that Helen Winick had tried to establish around the turn of the year.

(9) OPENING IN JUNE. Parade’s Lambeth Hochwald, in “Incredibles 2: The 10 Most Incredible Reasons We Love the Parr Family”, interviews the cast and writer/director Brad Bird, who says that the two Incredibles films “major in family and minor in superheroes.”

The most incredible family of superheroes is back. The Parrs, the lovable, fearless family of five we first met in 2004 in The Incredibles, will return for another animated adventure when Disney-Pixar’s Incredibles 2 arrives in theaters June 15.

And although 14 years have passed, it’s like the clock has barely ticked at all: The new movie picks up seconds after the first one ended, with the same cast of characters. Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter) hurtles back into superhero work, while her husband, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), remains behind as a stay-at-home dad with the couple’s three kids, teenage Violet (Sarah Vowell), adolescent Dash (newcomer Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack.

(10) CONCAROLINAS. David Weber told his Facebook followers the terms under which he agreed to be a ConCarolinas special guest next year.

I have been in contact with Jada at ConCarolinas by Messenger, and she tells me that they will be making a live announcement at closing ceremonies, with the video to be on their Facebook group, which will make clear that going forward they will be inviting guests they feel are genre-related and that as a convention which has never taken a political stance they will not tolerate being told that guests must lean one way or another or that guests are uninvitable because of their political stances. They will expect anyone who attends to be able to be in a room with another person who disagrees with him/her and be civil to one another. They will also not be beholden to bullies or trolls and will not disinvite guests after such attacks. They will also mention what happened to John, and state that the mutual decision for him not to attend was wrong and that they apologize to John for the hurt and the frustration that was caused by their decision and for the fact that their initial statement did not make it clear that HE was the one being harassed and bullied by vile, unfounded allegations (which went so far as to drag his wife into the fire) and threats to harass him at the con which would have turned a regional con into a battleground. On that basis, I have agreed to attend the con as a special guest next year.

Weber also says the convention will give him a contract about his appearance.

Weber wrote at length about his expectations yesterday, concluding —

People, the object is to fix the problem, not to pile on (from either side) and not for anybody to issue masochistic mea culpas. But there is a point at which grown-ups have to begin the “fix the problem” conversation by acknowledging that they screwed up and publicly apologizing to the object of their screwing up. To be blunt, ConCarolinas owes John Ringo a public apology for not making clear who was the victim and strongly condemning the hatemongers who attacked him AS HATEMONGERS.

Coming from Weber, that is perhaps not a surprising characterization of those who had issues with Ringo’s selection as a special guest.

The ConCarolinas chair delivered the statement she negotiated with Weber this afternoon at closing ceremonies – here is the video.

Weber’s reaction to the video is:

At the moment, I am VERY satisfied. I’m sure that some people are going to wish that there’d been more self-flagellation and public contrition, but she was reading a prepared statement that she wanted to be sure got every point covered. Under the circumstances, I think this is a positive admission of the mistakes that were made, an apology to John, a proper characterization of the vileness of the allegations thundered against him, and a very decent starting point to move forward. And speaking as someone who’s had to eat a little crow in public himself upon occasion, I know how hard it is — especially coming back after the fact — to apologize in a case like this.

(11) FAN OVERBOARD. Honor Harrington fandom has been experiencing some rough sailing. Longtime volunteer Tom Coonradt announced his retirement as the Senior Master Chief Petty Officer of the Royal Manticoran Navy due to a conflict with leadership.

…It is with a very heavy heart that I say this.

It is my opinion that John Roberts is the worst possible fit for a first space lord this, or any, Organization could have.

Since before John Roberts became first space lord he has treated me with disdain, condescension, and disrespect. And I know I am not the only one. Culminating with a public outburst at a respected member of this organization at Manticon.

John Roberts refuses to communicate with me in writing, he says because he communicates poorly in writing. My concern is that there is ZERO accountability there. There is no recording of a spoken conversation that can keep a first space lord honest. He has out rightly and in writing (ironically) refused to discuss anything with me at all in writing, even if it is a simple message of “I want to talk to you about this topic, when can I call you?” I had on the phone, only a few short weeks ago, given him several possible solutions to our communication issue. When I thought we had reached a compromise, the only thing he sent me, ironically enough, is the new policy on how to replace the SMCPON. One he refused to discuss further with me after I gave my impressions.

He has no ability to be flexible, and in fact will refuse to listen or even acknowledge any advice, idea or criticism that he doesn’t agree with….

The group’s website defines The First Space Lord as the Senior Executive Vice President of The Royal Manticoran Navy: The Official Honor Harrington Fan Association, Inc.

The full text of Coonradt’s statement can be found attached to a comment on this post.

(12) DEPT. OF HARD TO KEEP SFF AHEAD OF REALITY. At TechCrunch “‘Upgrade’ director Leigh Whannell talks low-budget worldbuilding”.

TechCrunch: It’s interesting that it came from your imagination, because in some ways it feels very prescient. We had our own robotics event a couple of weeks ago and one of the big moments onstage was someone in a wheelchair who was able to take a few steps thanks to an exoskeleton.

Whannell: So the exoskeleton that helps people with paralysis walk and move, this movie is the internalized version of that, where it goes one step further and there’s nothing exterior. It’s a chip.

It has been interesting to watch the world catch up to my script. Because when I wrote the first draft of this script, automated cars and smart kitchens were still science fiction. And in the ensuing years, they’ve become ubiquitous. I mean, my wife’s car parks itself and talks to her. And my daughter thinks it’s perfectly normal to have a voice talking to her in the kitchen, and she asks it to play songs and it does. So in a way I feel like I’m living in the world of the movie I wrote all those years ago.

(13) PARVUS IS OPEN. Colin Coyle of Parvus Press says they are open for novel and novella submissions until July 15. See details on the publisher’s website under Submissions.

Coyle also notes that their Kickstarter for If This Goes On edited by Cat Rambo has raised $6,074 of its $10,000 goal in the first four days.

(14) DEPARTMENT OF MYSTERIOUS HINTS. Here’s your first clue:

(15) HEARTS OF TABAT. Marion Deeds reviews Cat Rambo’s Hearts of Tabat at Fantasy Literature.

…On the surface, Hearts of Tabat might be a slightly satirical comedy-of-manners, but the Beasts are growing restless and rebellious, and something (or someone) is trying to siphon away the magic that protects the land. When, abruptly, Bella Kanto is accused of sorcery and exiled, it is clear something is very wrong.

Rambo’s world is beautifully described, complex and plausible. Good people are complicated, and aren’t always good. Sebastiano works daily with the Beasts, seeing their natures, yet spouts standard bigoted lines about how they can’t be accorded the same rights as humans. Adelina’s infatuation with Eloquence causes her to ignore her own better judgment. Eloquence himself is charming and seductive, but we see a different side of him at home with his sisters.

A large part of the Tabat society is religion. The Trade Gods and the Moon Temples, with their different belief systems, are depicted convincingly. The effects of poverty are not romanticized. Frankly, Obedience has it so bad at home that when she is abducted along with a magic student I can only think that’s going to be a step up for her….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Cat Rambo, Jack Lint, Rich Lynch, Colin Coyle, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]

177 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/3/18 And The Gates Scrolled Open. “It’s Old Filer; Pixel Means Friend”

  1. Dann –
    Now a couple days ago, Jonathan LaForce was given a round of golf claps for suggesting that folks need to police their own.

    Here I thought he was saying that it should be pointed out when someone lies to go after another author regardless of if they’re on your end of the ideological spectrum or not maybe don’t do that.

    I’m guessing those upset about Ringo, like you, are probably not on the Klan end of that spectrum either. However if you saw threats of abuse you should share as mostly it appeared to be people who were not happy with the sudden addition of Ringo and were saying they weren’t going to go. Which is also within their right to do, just like if an author like Scalzi got added as a GoH a few weeks before LibertyCon and people went oh no, he’s a lizard person funded by Soros as evidenced by his burrito creations, I’m not going anymore because I can’ts stand what he does to burritos, I’d be also cool with because it’s their choice to go or not and make that decision both personally and professionally. I mean just like in this situation there’s plenty of evidence about his burritos online and he’s proud of the burritos he’s made (also my apologies for anyone else reading this that I’m conflating unprofessional behavior with disturbing burritos).

    It was/is a messy situation, and I think Weber is trying to be a good friend which isn’t always easy to do. People seem to really like his characters even when expressing disappointment.

    That doesn’t feel analogous to me.

  2. Even that is misrepresenting the facts. There was complaints about Ringo’s politics here on File 770 and elsewhere on the internet, but that was not what local fans, including other pros and long time convention staffers, where complaining about. It’s not why many of them walked. They walked because of John Ringo’s long history of boorish, disrespectful and duplicitous behavior. Some of them have been complaining for years, or decades. Maybe they finally had enough. Maybe cultural change within fandom made them feel empowered to stop taking his abuse. Either way, any political motivation is secondary to his abusive behavior. The attempt to turn the narrative into one about politics is an attempt to control the conversation by those who support Ringo. Do not play that game.

  3. That’s one of the reasons I eventually gave up on Clancy (in addition to the “too big to edit” thing that started infecting his later books) — the way that EVERY conservative/military/small government type was a broad-chested, strong-jawed hero, while EVERY person on the left side of the spectrum (or what he imagined to be the left side of the spectrum) was inevitably a coward, traitor, villain or some combination thereof — one egregious example being the gay woman who started spying for the Soviets, in exchange for which they agreed to kidnap the (happily married, straight) woman she was crushing on.

    Oh, and also the “environmentalists” who thought the solution to environmental issues was to release a humanity-destroying plague into the wild.

    I might go back and revisit some of his books someday, but if so it’ll just be the first few.

  4. Christopher Hensley –
    Even that is misrepresenting the facts. There was complaints about Ringo’s politics here on File 770 and elsewhere on the internet, but that was not what local fans, including other pros and long time convention staffers, where complaining about. It’s not why many of them walked.

    True, I apologize for what turned out to be an equally awkward analogy.

  5. “I never had a series that I loved sink so fast in my esteem.”

    Up to the very last chapter of the last Dexter book I read, I was really hoping his demon was metaphorical. Alas, it tipped over into fantasy and gained the distinct honor of being the first series to go from “buy in hardcover” to “never again” with the same book.

  6. For me, one of the most jaw-dropping of Jada’s statements in that entire doozy of a ConCarolinas closing ceremony was when she referred to the “unfounded rumors” about Ringo. Honey, no. There’s nothing “unfounded” about people sharing Ringo’s own words and descriptions of his actions.

  7. Andrew: Earlier examples of people expecting better treatment at Worldcon

    Ah, yes, Gifford was also the guy who whined and complained loudly on Usenet in 2001 that his book was the winner of the first voting count round in Best Related Work and therefore he should have been given the trophy.

    (To be fair, he did eventually walk that claim back and apologize.)

  8. Laura Haywood-Cory: No, however, she doubtless has in mind the FenCon story someone put here in comments.

  9. @various
    Clancy’s first couple of books were better, before he became Too Big To Edit. After about the third Ryan novel, I gave up: he was just doing the same one every time, with the details changed, and the climax kept getting bigger and ‘splodier.

  10. @steve davidson: it is probable that some authors feel all conventions should be like commercial/media conventions, where “guests” are treated like royalty (and paid). Like you, I grew up with we’re-all-fans model, and have no interest in such conventions.

    @microtherion: that sounds like the flip side of “…And Then There Were None.”

    The Filers who read several books before choking on Weber make interesting reading. I’d been reading SF heavily for something over a decade when L. Neil Smith made his appearance; this may have made me more … sensitive … to Weber’s hamfistedness even when he was starting out. (I’ll see your “Rob S. Pierre” and raise an “Edna Janof” and a “Voltaire Malaise”.) It also helped that I’d seen realistic strong women (Elena Konstantin and Signy Mallory were notable but not firsts), making Weber’s cartoon less appealing. It does sound like his later works have a bad case of Gordon R. Dickson syndrome(*), which makes me even happier to have missed them.

    (*) If the hero(**) in a Dickson book happens to make a slip of the tongue and say the sun rose in the west, the sun will stop in its tracks and reverse course. In later works it will blush first. Latest works may be worse; I gave up somewhere around The Final Encyclopedia.

    (**) We don’t need no stinking protagonists….

  11. Wow, that article about Von Ormy, TX was interesting, to say the least. With a population of only 1300, I would have thought that they could make it work for longer than … a couple of months.

    I guess I forgot that people aren’t really hyper-competent like Dagny Taggart, John Galt or Henry Rearden. (A problem that several have pointed out with Weber, as well.)

    So history would seem to say that any viable political system you expect to last more than a few years has to have checks and balances that takes care of fallible people’s tendency to screw up or power grab.

    We used to have a system like that. Then Trump came along to pick up the tools that the idiot GOP has been creating since Reagan. And now we’re one short step away from a dictatorship run by a man-baby who’s only goal in life is to grift.

  12. @Andrew

    @Tasha: I was surprised on rereading the Vorkosigan books recently how often there’s sexual assault in those books (“Shards of Honor,” “Barrayar,” “Warrior’s Apprentice,” “Falling Free,” “Mirror Dance” and probably some others that I’m forgetting).

    Yeah there is sexual assault more often than I’d like in the Mikesverse. I think Bujold does a better job of having characters deal with the consequences of their actions.

    It’s an easy trap to fall into – using sexual assault to “build character” or “create villains” or “give reasons to do x”. Tracking the frequency of it in books I’m reading has rarely fallen below 70% even when I trying hard to avoid by reading reviews and asking for recommendations as casual sexual assault (is it seduction?) easily flies under the radar.

  13. @steve davidson
    I have noticed this entitled behaviour among puppies and puppy affiliated authors for quite a while now. For example, one of the Mad Genii, complained noisly how the con must have hated them for their politics, because they put the Mad Genius on bad panels or panels at inconvenient times, etc… It’s not politics why no one wants anything to do with these people, it’s because they behave like entitled jerks.

    Regarding Tom Clancy, my high school German who was a bonafide Communist loved The Hunt for Red October for some reason and kept extolling its virtues. Mind you, this is the guy who berated students for reading Stephen King and yet he adored Clancy of all people.

    Unfortunately, I had no idea what Clancy’s politics were back then or even what the books were like or I would have given the German teacher (whom I hated) a mouthful. In fact, should I ever run into the man again, I will still give him a mouthful.

  14. Seen on Twitter:

    Richard Paolinelli: I for one would be fine with this scenario. Any business should have the right to decide who they will and will not conduct business with. Period.

    Unless, of course, it’s a Worldcon deciding that they don’t want a known harasser coming to their con.

  15. I enjoyed The Hunt for Red October, but I’m kind of a soft touch for stories involving submarines. It’s been years and years since I read it; I wonder what I would think of it now.

  16. I’ve only read one Weber piece: “Out of the Dark,” his contribution to the Martin/Dozois anthology Warriors. I was, to put it mildly, unimpressed. It was entertaining enough at first; my socks remained firmly in place, but I wasn’t regretting reading it.

    Until the end.

    Jung fgnegrq bhg nf n ernfbanoyl pbzcryyvat gnyr bs uhznaf hfvat threevyyn gnpgvpf ntnvafg n grpuabybtl fhcrevbe fcrpvrf (bs qbt-crbcyr, ohg, ru, V’yy yrg gung fyvqr) sryy syng ba vgf snpr jura, arne gur raq, jr svaq bhe urebrf nvqrq ol gur fhqqra nccrnenapr bs…


    Naq abg whfg nal inzcverf: sevpxva’ QENPHYN.

    Now, I’m not averse to some genre-mixing, but this was ridiculous. The only things that kept me from flinging the book across the room when I read that one were

    A: I happened to be in public when I read that story

    B: It wouldn’t have been fair to the stories in the collection that I liked


    C: It was a library book

    That was my first Weber work, and I’ve been content ever since to let it be my only Weber piece.

  17. Clancy’s first couple of books were better, before he became Too Big To Edit. After about the third Ryan novel, I gave up: he was just doing the same one every time, with the details changed, and the climax kept getting bigger and ‘splodier.

    He had help on the first few. Red Storm Rising and Hunt For Red October, for example, owe an enormous amount to Larry Bond.

    Then he became too big and went effectively nuts, and Jack Ryan went from a decent guy and history professor to President and a slavering anti-abortion anti-chinese lunatic and nope nope nope.

  18. Although I’m on a Royal Manticoran Navy mailing list, and have been to a couple of Manticons, I was rather disappointed when Toni Weisskopf admitted at one of them that David Weber was too big to edit. Not that it really matters, because none of the editors at Baen are willing to curb the excesses of their writers when it comes to caricatures of liberals, bureaucrats and military officers (with the exception of one or two hypercompetent officers, like Honor Harrington). The Twin Cities RMN has also had some high visibility departures lately, and also merger of some ships. I’m not sure if that’s because mundane life interferes, fandom politics or just that cosplaying RMN only has limited appeal. Having Flint, Weber and Zahn back as Manticon GOHs again just wasn’t enough of a draw to entice me back this year. I still read Flint’s 1632 series, but I just can’t work up the energy to tackle any on the Weber in my TBR pile.

  19. @Karl-Johan Norén
    Weber and Flint really do work well together. Flint wrote some very likable left-wing characters for the Honorverse: Catherine Montaigne is the one who comes to mind, but I’m pretty sure there were others. And in 1633, Weber was able to turn Flint’s cardboard villain from 1632 into a pretty interesting character.

  20. @William R.: (“Out of the Dark”)

    I suppose I probably shouldn’t tell you that Weber expanded that story into a novel, then.

  21. @Soon Lee: I thought it seemed too good not to have been used, but I rose to StephenfromOttowa’s excellent “We’d like to scroll a pixel bit about you for our File” with the best I could come up with at the moment.

  22. Yes, it’s a game we play here. I’ve thought up title suggestions only to find that it had been suggested before.

    By me.

    (So not only am I not very creative, but my memory isn’t very good either.)

  23. I like the Kris Longknife books better. Mike Shepherd is also conservative, but isn’t so bludgeony and infodumpy about it. I’ve spent a number of pleasant panels and one lunch with him. Try them if you want something HH-like with less mustache-twirling, many MANY fewer rants, and a fun AI. Kris is smart and rich, but not genetically engineered and she’s willing to let other people save the day sometimes. On rare occasions she even messes things up.

    Right-wingers are the very picture of entitlement. Anything that says maybe they shouldn’t get everything all their own way all the time makes them butthurt snowflakes who whine about their lack of safe space.

    Boorish behavior and a lack of politeness — like Ringo — isn’t acceptable regardless of politics or friendship.

  24. Ingvar: Treecats! Truly Credentials worthy of climbing trees in space to find!


    SJW Credentials don’t grow on trees, you know. 😉

  25. @ JJ, Lurkertype:

    But, but, Honorverse treecats!

    That aside, I’ve certainly had my fill of having to clamber up buildings, fetching cats from roofs.

  26. The last time I went ‘rescuing’ an apparently trapped and panicked cat from a roof, it waited for me to fetch & deploy the ladder, and clamber up top, before it calmly leapt down to a nearby cinder block wall. Then proceeded to ostentatiously groom itself…

    Which leaves the age old question: cats: evil or merely sociopaths? 🙂

    ( proud servant of two SJW credentials…)

  27. Lurker type:
    “Kris Longknife books”

    The main character’s name is a pun? That sort of thing can work in comedy, but in (what I assume is) dramatic milSF, it seems a bit much.

  28. @Lurkertype
    Depends on the SJW credential – my parents had one who liked heights generally, who loved being up in trees, and who would scare the birds by being 8 or 10 feet up, walking along branches. (I saw her trying to get on top of a wall-mounted fluorescent light once; she was also found once on top of an open door.)

  29. @Lurkertype–

    I like the Kris Longknife books better. Mike Shepherd is also conservative, but isn’t so bludgeony and infodumpy about it. I’ve spent a number of pleasant panels and one lunch with him. Try them if you want something HH-like with less mustache-twirling, many MANY fewer rants, and a fun AI. Kris is smart and rich, but not genetically engineered and she’s willing to let other people save the day sometimes. On rare occasions she even messes things up.


    They were highly recommended to me, and I read the first one.

    Kris Longknife not only made zero mistakes; she immediately solved serious problems that senior, experienced officers with specific training and experience in those areas were baffled by or didn’t even recognize.

    Yes, the writing is pretty good.

    If Kris Longknife doesn’t turn out to be genetically engineered it will be something else. And I won’t be reading.

  30. @P J Evans: she was also found once on top of an open door. Only once? Our late credential was regularly on top of a couple of doors (the ones next to an intermediate level) until he got to be ~7yo, when door-topping became infrequent (but not unknown). OTOH, this was a 15-pounds-in-trim part-Coon, so he had some advantage in reach; a couple of doors had to be closed because there was too much ~climbable shelving behind them. (Bookshelves weren’t an issue — too dense — but shelves with loose tools, bits of hardware, cloth, ….)

  31. Mike Moscoe (who writes as Mike Shepherd) is (or was) local and appeared at pretty much every single local convention. He’s likable and entertaining, so I bought a few of his books to support that sort of thing.

    They’re not great literature, but I really enjoyed The First Casualty (and the rest of that trilogy). Never managed to get into his Kris Longknife books, though. I’m not sure why, either. I just bounce right off of them (and I try again periodically – the first one has been on my shelf off-and-on since 2004, and is still only partially read).

  32. @Camestros Felapton

    @Dann it’s a little tricky to police comments we haven’t seen by people we don’t know of whose affiliations are unknown and where the content of what they said is also unknown.

    I agree with where you are headed with this.

    However, I would not think that the appropriate response would instead be to question the con’s claims that there were legitimate safety concerns. Or to re-re-frame the issue as being that Mr. Ringo posed the “real” safety concern.

    From the bits that I’ve read, he seems to have the capacity to be boorish and crude. Not good looks. That’s quite a bit different from posing a physical threat to other con attendees, IMHO.

    @Lis Carey

    Also, surely, it’s exactly the sort of policy Dann has been holding up as the Great Horror awaiting us in a dystopic future, if Wiscon isn’t shown the error of its ways.

    We’re already in the crazy years…..


    Here I thought he was saying that it should be pointed out when someone lies to go after another author regardless of if they’re on your end of the ideological spectrum or not maybe don’t do that.

    Yes. “Police your own when they lie about others” was certainly the main thrust of his message. I infer that the message includes policing other abusive/inappropriate behavior.

    I am also inferring from the con’s announcement that alongside the “I’m not coming if Ringo is a special guest” messaging there was other messaging that crossed a legitimate line with respect to his safety.


    Having said that, my personal feelings on libertarianism is that it would work fine on the clan/small village level and does not scale up at all.

    As the designated token libertarian, it is my sworn duty to suggest a different take.

    Perhaps the problem isn’t that minimal government fails to work at larger scales. Perhaps the problem is that larger scales offer more opportunity to devalue the personal reputation function that makes the minimal government model operate.

    Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” makes it pretty clear that people under a Constitutionally limited government who were otherwise free to pursue their own improvement did better than European nations still dealing with the legacy of monarchies. (And before any starts with a “but”, I am well aware that a non-trivial amount of that “improvement” came on the backs of slaves and is therefore illegitimate.)

    At the very least, I am highly suspect of China’s “social capital” initiative because it is being operated by the government. A government that is not impartial. Imagine that sort of thing going on in the US with Mr. Trump* in the Whitehouse. Would it be fair to deny access to government services to people that don’t measure up to his definition of positive social capital?

    *I’ll insert Hillary Clinton in the same spot and end up with the same result.

    Popular opinions, on subjects not palpable to sense, are often true, but seldom or never the whole truth. – John Stuart Mill

  33. @Chip
    Only once that I know about. (The door was the back door, next to the washing machine, so it was a fair leap to get to the top.) The light fixtures, on the other hand paw, were more frequently targeted. That cat was a jumper, though: I was holding a phone cord over my head, and cat jumped straight up from the floor, and got her front paws on it, four feet vertical jump.
    My mother did find the other cat in the pantry, once, where she’d either have had to climb straight up the front of the shelves or jump from the counter on the other side of the utility room (three feet horizontally, and a couple of feet vertically). Wasn’t seen doing it, so we’ll never know how it was done. (That one liked to be in one of the cupboards over the freezer. Heights.)

  34. I had a cat who used to jump from the floor to the top of a 7′ bookcase from the floor. She did this on a regular basis until shortly before she died at age 19-1/2 of kidney failure.

  35. @Dann

    Speaking as a former anarcho-capitalist branch libertarian (I was young, it was spring…) I now believe libertarianism only works where there is a common ideological and values framework in a community and no significant disparities in resources available to individuals. Absent such utopia, the natural evolution of libertarianism is for power and capital to accrue to the few leading ultimately to feudalism. For historical reference see for instance the company towns ( and company wars) of the late 19th and early 20th century. Doubt we’ll either convince the other to change positions, but 🙂

  36. Dann: I am also inferring from the con’s announcement that alongside the “I’m not coming if Ringo is a special guest” messaging there was other messaging that crossed a legitimate line with respect to his safety.

    Yes, you keep inferring — inventing — that information, even when none of the principles has said that happened.

  37. For my money, the best of Weber’s work is Path of the Fury and its later expansion In Fury Born. (If you just want to read one of them, I recommend the latter; you won’t miss anything thereby.) Yes, the kick-ass female protagonist is every bit as much of an unbelievable prodigy as HH, but the side characters more than make up for that, it passes the Bechdel test with flying colors (due to the nature of the side characters) the plot is engaging, and it’s a stand-alone, so you don’t have to worry about tropes repeating over and over again. It’s on my Desert Island Books list.

    @ Rev. Bob: Yep, that was in Texas; I don’t recall the name of the town, but IIRC it was near the one where the gun nut walked into the church and killed 20-odd people. And yes, that’s a spot-on analysis of why Libertarianism is a recipe for fail even without the ill-concealed white-male supremacy. If you want a society, you have to recognize that people must work together.

    Aside: If you’re looking to cast HH now, my top vote would be for Cobie Smulders (Agent Hill in the Avengers).

  38. Just about any political/social system will work better in a relatively small community, all of whose members believe in that system and are motivated to make it look good. There’s going to be a lot less cheating, however defined, when people want the experiment to work than when they don’t care, or are actively opposed to the principles of the community they’ve found themselves in.

    Small, internally communist religious communities groups come to mind. In that context, there was/is a strong social incentive to be (and be perceived as) a sincere believer who helped their neighbors, beyond the fact that the original members joined because they wanted to live that way. Consider the Oneida Colony and the Shakers, and their very different sexual teachings and practices. (Monasteries may also fit here, but they tend to be part of larger religious communities, rather than autonomous collectives.)

  39. At the very least, I am highly suspect of China’s “social capital” initiative because it is being operated by the government.

    From what I’ve read, China is quite clear that they are using social capital as a political tool. Criticize the government and you get dinged.
    That said, private ratings systems seem to have a lot of problems also. Estimates are 10% of reviews on Amazon and Yelp are fake. Analysts rarely rate stocks as a sell because that would jeopardize their employers other relationships with the companies. Student loans never go off your credit report because they have negotiated a special status with the credit rating agencies.

  40. @Vicki Rosenzweig: This reminds me of Greg Egan’s Diaspora, part of which takes place on an artificial island, the inhabitants of which are well aware of both the artificiality of the place, and the fact that without continuing efforts, the island will not last long.

  41. From comments I’ve read about the Netherlands, there’s actually a very strong community awareness about needing to band together in the face of the ocean.* Apparently libertarianism — going it alone — simply does not compute for many or most Dutch citizens, because you can’t successfully go it alone when the dams need constant tending or the entire community will die.

    Which is a real-world example of Andrew’s comment above.

    *So I gather, anyway; I’m not Dutch and my personal experience of the Netherlands is limited to an hour layover in the Amsterdam airport when I was about 15 years old….

  42. Correcting myself (to be polite to myself): it’s Egan’s Distress, not Diaspora with the artificial island.

  43. @Nickp: “The main character’s name [Kris Longknife] is a pun? That sort of thing can work in comedy, but in (what I assume is) dramatic milSF, it seems a bit much.”

    It’s not played for laughs at all. Longknife is her family name, and Kris is short for Kristine. Never had a problem with it, myself.

    @Eric Franklin: “They’re not great literature, but I really enjoyed The First Casualty (and the rest of that trilogy).”

    It’s up to four now, six if you count the first two Iteeche War books (with a third, maybe more, to come) that carry the “Rita Longknife” branding.

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